Taylor Reynolds: Adam and Eve, Strange Allies, and the Quest for Common Ground

One of the most expansive and best “reviews” of the book, by our very own @TWReynolds.

An atheist, a Christian, and a Jew start talking about science and faith. This might seem like it is either the lead up to joke or the beginning of a fight. Instead, it was the setting of a meeting I attended last January where Dr. S. Joshua Swamidass gathered scientists and theologians of nearly every stripe to discuss his new book, The Genealogical Adam and Eve, from Intervarsity Press. Its argument, that there is no intrinsic contradiction between conventional evolutionary theory and belief in Adam and Eve as a couple specially created six thousand years ago. We met on the Washington University in St. Louis Medical School campus. I was easily the youngest in attendance, but I’ve also known Dr. Swamidass since I was a freshman at Wash U. We’ve collaborated on Veritas Forums and other events in the nearly seven years since then in addition to my having the pleasure of getting to know his wife and two boys.

In fact, if you were to open this volume without seeing the title or cover, it might strike you as a strange amalgamation of a Michael Crichton novel mixed with an N.T. Wrightesque historical critique and a Sam Harris style popular-level science book. This volume is one which collects strange allies.

He never presents his own opinions on the issue of origins. He describes others views and expounds on how they are historical or ahistorical, scientifically sustainable or untenable scientifically. This posture means that the book has the potential both for wide appeal and distrust. Fundamentalists both of science and Christianity will most likely have a hard time buying and opening the book—although I would argue that once they cross the barriers to entry, they will be rewarded, surprised, and excited by what they find. For anyone who is weary of endless conflict that the creation wars have been though, this book declares that there don’t have to be winners or losers. There is room for all.

@Patrick, you get a shout out:

I had the privilege to watch Swamidass speak about this book at a Veritas Forum at Columbia University. There we both met for the first time in person an atheist from the Peaceful Science forum. He made a comment to me that strikes me as an apropos moment to conclude. He said to me that when the fundamentalists attacked Dr. Swamidass for this book, the atheists would have his back. It reminded me of the Book of Acts when Gamaliel tells the Sanhedrin not to execute the apostles because if their movement is of men, it will soon fall apart as have many other messianic movements of the time. However, if it is of God, then they are putting themselves at enmity with God. Without going into all the ways I believe this passage could be used in today’s wars within evangelicalism, I would like to submit that if you disagree with the book’s thesis you should at least read it and consider it with this attitude first.