Story Three: Recent Sole-Genealogical Progenitor Adam


(Ann Gauger) #25

You missed my joke?
It seems to me that if you want the term to apply only to Adam (and Eve), you need to say so. We have many genealogical ancestors, especially in your model. You say that Adam and Eve are the only ones to come from the Garden and who transmit original sin. But but your term does not specify that. You need an extra qualification. Sole geneological transmitters of original sin?

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #26

Ah I see what you are saying. I want to keep things more theologically neutral because there are several ways they might confer unique theological status.

What Is a say is that they are our sole-genealogical progenitors, defining this that they are the single unique couple by which we genealogically inherit an “important theological status.” The definition covers this, and when I use the term in print (not always in a forum), I usually have a footnote or other clause to fully expand the definition. Because no one has used the term before, I do get some latitude in how I use it. Kemp’s version of monogenesis might be considered sub-subclass, though I am resistant to the notion of connecting the Image of God to genealogical descent.

(Dr. Patrick Trischitta) #27

A very large number of genealogical ancestors. And they may even include Neanderthals and Denosivans. Now of course, if you pick a location and a time period, you can limit each of our genealogical ancestors. But each of these genealogical ancestors will be a huge mix of their genealogical ancestors.

(Taylor Smith) #28

So, I am wondering how the Genealogical Adam idea can answer ‘why’ God would do it this way? Why would this be necessary. I understand science does not usually answer ‘why,’ and that this is looking for a theological answer. But, has anyone considered why an Adam and Eve would need to be created de novo, separate from those outside the garden? Beyond the scope here?

(Guy Coe) #29

You might enjoy Dr. Hugh Ross’ book on that subject, “Why the Universe is the Way it Is.”

(George) #30


THESE are the questions this group was intended to discuss.

The nature of the moral laboratory described in the texts on Eden is very specific. Adam and Eve are tested EVEN WITHOUT any knowledge of Good vs. Evil.

Some say it was all necessary to create the machinery of REDEMPTION. I like that approach to the solution.

Eusebaeus described the situation and sin in those terms!

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #31

Welcome @TaylorS. Thanks for the thoughtful questions and welcome to the forum. I’ve been thinking about some of them too.

Before we dive in can you tell us more about yourself and what draws you to this conversation and these questions?

(Taylor Smith) #32

Hi! Sure. I am a theology student at SEBTS and I run the young adult ministry at my church. I teach Sunday School also and they have been asking lots of apologetic questions lately. I just joined CAA group on Facebook and have been reading lots of the posts there. I really like the things you shared and followed the links to Peaceful Science. My students want to learn how to answer questions from atheists and are looking to me for help. I am an OEC girl, and interested in your genealogical Adam rapprochement ideas. But, I know my students will be wanting more of a theological response than just science answers. I don’t know where the best place is to ask questions is, so I took a gamble and asked on your forum. Thanks!

(Dr. Patrick Trischitta) #33

I actually read Hugh Ross’ book. It is right there on the science, wonderfully described. Very factual and current. Hugh Ross stays on top of the latest findings in astronomy and cosmology. Given that astronomy and cosmology are now precision measured sciences and are neutral on the God hypothesis, you can just delete them from Hugh Ross’ book and have a real good textbook for a high school or lower undergraduate astronomy / cosmology class.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #34

That’s really helpful context. Thanks.

I was just at SEBTS this last April, at Ken Keathley’s invitation, and engaged with several scholars there on the Genealogical Adam. You might want to reach out some of them to discuss more too.

Now to get to your questions…

First off, most of the work I’ve published so far is exclusively on the what science allows. Not much is out there on the theology. Informally, we have been exploring the question here, for example: Does De Novo Adam in an Evolved Population Make Sense?.

I did present a paper at the Dabar Conference (Ken Keathley: Notes from Dabar and a Baptist's Hope), where I did discuss a theological model to make sense of this. Would you like to confidentially see the Dabar paper I presented? That might begin to answer some of your questions.

Also, @jongarvey has been doing work building up the theology too, and has several excellent posts on his blog: Of note, he draws heavily on Sailhammer, who was an exegete at SEBTS. You might appreciate his work. This thread has some the key posts from this series: The Genealogical Adam as Israel. @deuteroKJ has been a regular here too, and we are considering putting together a ETS session for 2019.

A question of “why” or “coherence”?

You asked “why” God would do it this way. I think a better way to approach the question might be “is this theologically coherent?” The reason why is that we already know God does very surprising things, such as give His only Son to suffer and die for us. Why did He doe it this way? Difficulty answering this question is unavoidable. The difficulty however is just because God’s ways are not our ways. There is thing called the “Scandal of Particularity” which brings this to the forefront too (perhaps @Philosurfer can elaborate)“why-mary”-c-s-lewis-on-the-scandal-of-particularity/. Suffice to say that God often does surprising things.

Rather than rejecting surprising things that are at first non-intuitive, a better strategy in this case is to ask if this model could be theologically coherent.

Theological coherence

I think there is a coherent way to think about this that preserves traditional theology of Adam. The Dabar paper explains my take, and I’m building into a book right now. Ken Keathley explains:

I can summarize the basic idea here:

God creates all mankind outside the garden, and then creates Adam in different way (parallel to how Jesus enters the world in a different way) in order to support a special purpose for him. He is to function as a good and sinless ruler to invite all mankind into the death-free Garden. Then He falls, and his original purpose is distorted into original sin. This telling has some positive qualities. For me, it makes sense of the passage in the NT about The Second Adam: Choosing vs. Refurbishment vs. De Novo. It tightens the typological connection between Adam and Jesus, and also makes sense of what is happening outside the Garden in Genesis 2. Mankind outside the Garden, the way I see it, is in God’s Image too, just not fallen into transgression and original sin.

You can see some of our discussion on this here: The Theological Signifance of Descent From Adam and Adam and adams, not Adamites and Which Scenarios of Adam Will be Helpful? and Suarez and Swamidass on Original Sin.

Other ways

Of course, this is not the only way to think of this.

We had an exchange on A Catholic Approach to the Genealogical Adam. The first theological book on a Genealogical Adam is likely going to hit print before mine, and is by @Andrew_Loke. Other theologians I expect to be writing up their own models. The question will be whether or not any of these is sufficiently coherent for the Church. I am guessing that there will be several ways to make this coherent, and it might be more defined by denominational considerations than science or Scripture. There is just an immense amount of new possibilities opening up now, so its hard to know for sure how the dust will settle.

If you are theology student, it is a great time to get in the mix. One from TEDS, I know, is about to publish an extended engagement with one of the theological questions raised by this work. If you are looking for a good topic, I’d love to hear more about your interests. There might be some interesting connection points. The way I see it, questions about human origins bring us to the grand question: What does it mean to be Human? This is a central nexus of just about everything including theology and science. We want to support the work of theologians like you as you get interested here.

So, I hope that is a helpful start @TaylorS. Let me know if you’d like to see a copy of my Dabar paper, or be a reader on the manuscript I’m working on: Starting My Book. Welcome to the conversation too. I’m looking forward to learning from you.

Which Scenarios of Adam Will be Helpful?
Literal Interpretations and the Genealogical Adam
A Genealogical Rapprochement on Adam?
(George) #35

Wow, @swamidass… nice details in the post above!

(Taylor Smith) #36

Wow! This is great information! Thank you so much for taking the time. I would love to see your Dabar paper if you are willing to share. I’m going to look at all the links you shared too.

I like the idea of Adam being created in a special way, just as Jesus was, tightening the typology. You are opening my eyes.

I have reading to do! Thanks!

(John Harshman) #37

Possibly naive question: If Adam and Eve were created de novo, without connection to the prior human population, doesn’t that result in the deceptive God scenario?

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #38

Great question, that comes up periodically. The answer is “no”, because this is just a proposal of material facts, not of divine intent to deceive us.

These material facts, however, do raise a question. Why? Why would He do this? Answers should be judged on whether they are theologically coherent, within the context of both Scripture and theology. If we say that “God did it to deceive us”, then yes, your objection apples, because that is not theologically coherent. So the question is really, could there be any theologically coherent reasons for God to do this? There are at least two classes of answers others have put forward in this specific case:

  1. The first answer is to appeal to mystery and paradox, emphasizing that we know God’s character (he is truthful in this case) better than we know the precise details. In this case, we can just say we do not know why, but posit that God has some reason He has not told us. This is always a valid response, in my view, and should end facile objections to the scenario. Of course, we want to know the full picture, but we do not need to know the full picture to know that God is not deceptive. This answer remains true, even as we consider the second class, and might be enough for some people.

  2. The second answer it to posit a particular purpose other than deceit to give an account for this feature of the world. We might judge these answers both by the degree they account for the details of the model, and the degree the comport with theology and Scripture.

Now, going to answers in the second class, I’ve considered three answers, all of which are versions of “natural theology,” where inferences are made from nature (as proposed in this model) that are hopefully consistent revelation and theology:

  1. John Sanford (who does not accept interbreeding) suggested a concept of “Designed Ambiguity”, where God wants for our character development for the evidence in nature to be ambiguous. I imagine that Todd Woods might agree, as would most honest YECs. I like this approach because it at least acknowledges there is validity to scientists saying that life appears like it shares common ancestry (rather than that absurd dismissiveness we typically see). While this might be coherent with theology (in my view), it is certainly not coherent with AIG’s version of YEC that wants’ to claim they are obviously correct and there is no validity to evolution.

  2. I suggested that God might want to be ambiguous in nature (in this sense it is a Designed Ambiguity concept too) because he does not want to distract from the One Sign by which He reveals Himself to all people, the death and Resurrection of Jesus ( Contra Sanford, I’m saying here that God wants to make it easier for us to avoid the idolatry of scientific YEC, rather than harder to find the truth for the purpose of character building. Suffice to say that most professional YECs and ID dislike this suggestion, but many Lutherans (@Philosurfer, @CPArand) say this perfect sense to them.

  3. My current response, however, is that if God did this (de novo Adam reproductively compatible to other population), then we can reliably infer that God originally intended Adam’s lineage to interbreed with those outside the Garden. I say “originally” because with the Fall (and in the test of Genesis 6) it seems that God should not want his lineage to interbreed. So this speaks to God’s original intent for Adam’s lineage. That is de novo created but biologically compatible. Why would that be necessary? We infer that original purpose too. God original intent was for Adam’s lineage to welcome everyone into the Garden and for Adam to be a truly good (free of sin) leader of a Gardened humanity (perhaps a good civilization). His task was, then, to expand the Garden. In the fall, this is corrupts the original intended blessing into a curse (perhaps an evil civilization).

This last only makes sense if there is interbreeding, and also undercuts any notion that this is “beastiality”. It clearly is not the case, because God intended it from the beginning. This means it is not consistent with the current RTB model, which has not yet explained why Sapiens and Neandertals can interbreed. It is also not consistent with the official YEC models (Sanford, AIG, Woods, etc), however it is compatible with how many YECs in the pew think about the story.

In this last answer, I’ve answered the original question, and several follow up question that arise, in a way that appears to be theologically coherent, does not infer deceit, and also makes sense of many strange details of the narrative. I won’t explain fully here, but it also provides possible resolutions to several long standing paradoxes in theology. Moreover, I can show how the traditional understand of Adam and Eve is still correct, but just not complete. I’m not calling for a revision of theology, but an extension of it that increases its coherence.

For these reasons, if all those claims are correct, we can objectively say it has very high coherence. That is why it is getting play, even within very conservative theological circles. I also think the second answer (about putting focus on Jesus) is also true, but (oddly) there is more resistance here among Christian scholars (go figure). So this is less emphasized by me.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #39

@TaylorS, you might appreciate my answer above to this question:

Let us know how people are responding to what we’ve shared with you. I’m curious!

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #40

One final piece of this is to remember the original context of the deceptive God objection.

It arises as a response to the Omphalos Hypothesis that God created the world to look old for the purpose of deceiving us. It is not that the appearance of age implied deception, but that deception was actually part of the proposal.

In this case, we do not have an appearance of evolution without common descent. It looks like we share common ancestors with the great apes, and we do. So the appearance is not even out of line with the truth. It is much harder to see how the “deception” argument applies in this context.

(Joshua Hedlund) #41

I was thinking about this the other day (forgive me / point me elsewhere if this has been discussed elsewhere or if there is a better thread for it) … Rather than treat the Gen 1 and 2 creation stories as more or less equally metaphorical, on the one hand, or shoehorning Gen 2 into day 6 of gen 1, on the other hand, would this approach essentially view the creation of “male and female” humanity in Gen 1 as the general creation of human beings, and then view Gen 2 as the subsequent de novo creation of Adam and Eve, thus actually maintaining (in some specific aspects, at least) more of a “literal” interpretation of both chapters then even the YEC crowd?

(Joshua Hedlund) #42

I think the question here is if de novo Adam and Eve’s genetics would be similar enough to the rest of humanity to make them “deceptively appear” to have been commonly descended from the rest of humanity. In keeping with the tightening of Adam-and-Jesus theology, this raises in my mind an interesting question of whether Jesus as a human being would have “deceptively appeared”, on a genetic basis only, to be “merely” a commonly descended human being. There are differences, of course, but at first glance I suspect a satisfactory answer to the second question would have bearing on a satisfactory answer to the first.

(George) #43


I think you’ve captured the sense of what is intended.

Two kinds of human creation… Genesis 1 for one and Genesis 2 for Special Creation.

(John Harshman) #44

Lacking any preserved genetic material, this question is unanswerable empirically. But it could be interesting in an angels-on-pinheads way to ask what Jesus’s genetics would have looked like. Where would the paternal half of his genome have come from? Fiat creation, in which case it could be anything? Parthenogensis by Mary, in which case his presumptive Y chromosome would still need explanation? Is there in fact a theological viewpoint on this?