Valerie's Review of GAE

@swamidass I finally finished the book! :partying_face:

My review turned into a very long essay. I hope it will be a blessing to all who read it–especially if they manage to finish reading it. :blush: :joy:

The fact that Adam and Eve could have lived 6000 years ago and easily be genealogically ancestors of everyone by 1 A.D has set me on a weird and wonderful journey. In the past few months, I’ve learned more about God, Genesis, science, and myself than I ever expected. I appreciate that GAE and the Peaceful Science forum helped me to do so. Finally finishing the book itself has ended one short chapter of my life, and it’s made me all the more excited to turn over the next one and continue learning in all the areas I mentioned. For that I’m forever grateful to @swamidass. Yes, it took me too long to finish the book. (Science was more fun. (Sorry not sorry to its author)) :blush: But I believe this was providential as it allowed me to think deeply about the questions the book raised and how I wished to respond to it.

GAE is a book most-suited for scientists interested in theology, but I’d recommend it to anyone. We can’t escape thinking about origins, and this book brings many of the questions together in a unique way. I found chapters 6 and 9 regarding antipodeans and the image of God to be fascinating. These are topics that deserve further exploration. Many articles linked in the footnotes are also great nuggets of information. I’m already planning to go through the footnotes to see what I missed. I only realized the depth of what was there about halfway through the book.

It is obvious the author longs for peace and bends over backward to accommodate the philosophies of as many as possible. I too share this longing for peace. Some of my favorite verses in the Bible are from Luke 1: “….the Dayspring from on high has visited us; To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” In a world devoid of peace, our hearts cry out for its light.

While reading this book and thinking on the issues of origins the past few months, I’ve come to appreciate that, in the church, the issues of origins aren’t just about hermeneutics, they also touch on the character of God and how we handle evidence in the world around us. The most important discussions to be had in the church are always ones about who God is. Regarding Adam and Eve and our origins, we must speak the truth in love with our fellow brothers and sisters so that we may grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 3:18)

Why do the issues of Adam and Eve and origins touch on the character of God?

The author himself makes this point. In interviews I’ve watched he has made this statement or ones similar to it: “It would have been very easy for [God] to create us with genomes that falsified evolution….He could have disproven it in the evidence but He didn’t.” Sometimes a similar statement seems to hang in the air as if it’s a question waiting for an answer or a challenger: “If evolution isn’t true, then why does it look like it is?” I’d like to answer that challenge through positing several questions of my own and answering them.

What does God reveal to us about how He makes himself known in the world? Who Is He?

We know that the sign for us of the truth of the Bible is Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection (Matthew 18:40). And we know it is true because Jesus changed history and he changed us–we have encountered the risen Jesus. We know Jesus exists. We know of his resurrection and the new life he gave us through that resurrection. We also know “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.” He is “the way, the truth and the life.” And “For in him we live and move and have our being.” Jesus is

“the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.” Colossians 1:15-18.

We do not have life apart from our Savior. We do not have life apart from God. It is He who has made us alive, otherwise we were dead in our sin and trespasses. (Ephesians 2:1) In our sins, we are dead and our hearts grow dark:

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools… Romans 1:20-22

When we consider Jesus’s existence, we don’t typically think of having to prove his virgin birth scientifically or historically. Instead we look at the evidence in Scripture God has given us, and believe the truth of his conception and birth by faith. In a similar way, by faith we believe the Bible’s account of creation:

By faith understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible” Hebrews 11:3.

Who is right—grandma or most scientists?

One reviewer of the book GAE has written:

Perhaps my favorite part of all this is that your poor, pious grandma - who just wanted to believe the Bible and didn’t know or care about science - was right all along. The Bible, interpreted at this level of analysis, can be understood exactly how your grandma would have understood it, and she would have been essentially correct.

I believe this review is a helpful examination of the narrative that incorporates GAE described at the end of the book. If the GAE narrative of people outside the garden and evolution is true, pious Grandma is “essentially correct,” but most scientists know what’s actually true. Grandma herself wouldn’t be able to tell a non-human person from a human person to save her life. Instead it would be most of the scientific community and maybe some religious elite who navigate the weeds of the Bible who would know the truth according to the book’s narrative: humans descended from many generations of animals and non-human persons who lived and died. Matter was birthed by stars and later life by the sun.

In God’s plan, would there be a reason for Grandma to know the truth rather than scientists? Why would Grandma ultimately win the battle for truth? How do we see God winning battles in Scripture?

Sometimes we see that God wins battles through his creation—through the flood, the Red Sea, the mouths of lions.

Alternatively, sometimes God chooses not to fight at all—he sends His people into exile, because He is gracious and has a better plan once His people are ready to seek Him again.

When God does fight a battle using His people, scripture seems to emphasize that He almost always chooses an unfair fight: He puts the ones He loves at a disadvantage in order to glorify Himself when they win. God chose little children shouting “Hosanna to the Son of David” to defeat the religious elite (Matthew 21: 15-16). God chose runaway Jonah who hated Nineveh to preach there; only 300 of Gideon’s men to defeat the Midianites; a shepherd boy to kill a giant. God chose female nobodies Rahab, Esther and Mary who forfeited their lives to help deliver God’s people; and God chose a teenage eunuch who longed for Jerusalem but never returned and instead in exile converted two emperors who then proclaimed God throughout the world. God chose lowly shepherds to hear the proclamation of Christ’s birth; a woman embarrassing herself at Jesus’ feet in front of religious and educated men to be great example of love for him; a despised tax collector to be the writer of the gospel of the kingdom; uneducated fishermen to proclaim the fulfillment of the law, and a Jewish scholar to be a preacher to the Gentiles.

When God fights a battle using His people, He even chooses ones His people wouldn’t choose in order glorify Himself. The Israelites would not have chosen Ruth to be a mother in the line of David and the Messiah. The church would not have chosen Saul to be an apostle, nor Lydia to be the first believer in Europe. All of these were chosen in their time, for such a time as this—the time God chose to call and use them.

Maybe God would also choose grandma to win the battle for truth. Maybe at the right time God chooses me and chooses you. When He does, He will be proclaimed and glorified and His church gathered. I’m looking forward to that final day of peace.

What does God tell us about how to use evidence?

When Joshua and Caleb spied out the land of Canaan as described Numbers 13, all of the spies bring back the same evidence. But it is Joshua and Caleb who have a good report because they focus on the evidence of God’s promise and recognize God would fight for them. Unlike the others they don’t focus on the evidence of what needed to be overcome.

In Deuteronomy 1, Moses reminds Israel of what had happened:

So we departed from Horeb, and went through all that great and terrible wilderness…And I said to you, ’Look, the Lord your God has set the land before you; go up and possess it, as the Lord God of your fathers has spoken to you; do not fear or be discouraged.’ “And every one of you came near to me and said, ‘Let us send men before us, and let them search out the land for us, and bring back word to us of the way by which we should go up, and of the cities into which we shall come.’

“The plan pleased me well; so I took twelve of your men, one man from each tribe. And they departed and went up into the mountains, and came to the Valley of Eshcol, and spied it out. They also took some of the fruit of the land in their hands and brought it down to us; and they brought back word to us, saying, ‘ It is a good land which the Lord our God is giving us.’

“Nevertheless you would not go up, but rebelled against the command of the Lord your God; and you complained in your tents, and said, ‘Because the Lord hates us, He has brought us out of the land of Egypt to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us. Where can we go up? Our brethren have discouraged our hearts, saying, “The people are greater and taller than we; the cities are great and fortified up to heaven; moreover we have seen the sons of the Anakim there.” ’

“Then I said to you, ‘Do not be terrified, or afraid of them. The Lord your God, who goes before you, He will fight for you, according to all He did for you in Egypt before your eyes, and in the wilderness where you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a man carries his son, in all the way that you went until you came to this place.’ Yet, for all that, you did not believe the Lord your God, who went in the way before you to search out a place for you to pitch your tents, to show you the way you should go, in the fire by night and in the cloud by day.

Paul describes God’s promises similarly in 1 Corinthians 3:18-23:

Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”; and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.” So then, no more boasting about human leaders! All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.

Despised and Fools?


I have this symbol in a tattoo on my wrrst. Some may not be familiar with it. It’s an Arabic “n” for Nazarenes/Nasrani. When ISIS invaded Mosul and put this letter on Christian homes, they reminded us that even though we are now Christians–anointed prophets, priests, and kings, our name first was Nazarenes—despised ones. When I think back to the 2015 video of Egyptian men in orange kneeling on a Libyan beach, I realize that to the world it may have appeared that the men in black won. But I’m foolish, and I know who won. The men in black faded away. It was the message of those who carried the cross delusion that radiated in orange and won. It went out to the world, and they won that day. Some will look at the evidence of the video and come to a different conclusion than me–they will say I am a fool—but they don’t know how God fights battles.

God Receives All the Praise

2 Corinthians 2:14-16

But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task?

Glory be to God for dappled things –
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.

Romans 11:33-36

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!

“For who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has become His counselor?”

“Or who has first given to Him
And it shall be repaid to him?”

For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.

God bless you. Thank you again, and I will continue to pray for you. Your sister - Valerie

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Thanks for the kind review @thoughtful. I saw you also put a review in Amazon. Thanks!

Is that not the case! :slight_smile:

That is some common ground for us.


I wonder if there is a bit of misunderstanding here though. Let me show you what I mean.

That is a great quote from @naclhv, but I wonder if you misread us. Grandma was be correct, and so would scientists, but neither would have the whole story alone. That really levels the playing field. I’m not sure how you are reading it as a science over Scripture telling here.

I’m not sure how you got this. I don’t think anyone can tell the difference between Adam and Eve’s descendents and the rest…

Well, we can’t be sure what God’s plan is unless he tells us, can we? In this case, it would not be an either-or, but a both-and. They would both be correct.

Can you clarify a bit more about why you read it this way?

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Say what? I thought you were arguing that all modern humans are plausibly descended from single pair - the “genealogical Adam and Eve”. So who are the “rest” of which you speak?

“The rest” would be the people outside the garden, and a decreasing proportion of people up until around 1 AD, when everyone has A&E in their lineage.

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@John_Harshman’s right.

I though @thoughtful was talking about people who don’t descend from AE in the distant past. We don’t have a way of telling the difference between those people and AEs descendants.

I was referring to people who came before AE were de novo created. I thought part of the book’s purpose was to explore that distinction and make a theological argument about the ways in which such a distinction could be acceptable. But maybe I missed the point because I I honestly got lost in all the ways to distinguish between AE and everyone else - mono, phylo…lol… I don’t know. Haha :sweat_smile:

OK. So Grandma would not understand that the universe is actually 13.7 billion years old, the earth is whatever millions of years old (4.5?) and there were lots of people and animals before AE who lived and died. Scientists would not understand that AE existed.

If one looks at it this way, seems like the playing field is tilted in favor of scientists having more knowledge about history.

Yes, we can only know if He tells us:

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.

Grandma’s views will always be looked down on. The world is never going to think that they are correct even if they fit into science because they don’t believe in God.

For those who hold to evolutionary creation, Grandma is only “essentially correct” not correct. Again, she only knows about 6,000 years, not the previous 13,699,994,000.

Grandma is older than I thought.

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I wonder whether it’s helpful as a metaphor to immediately understand that (in this story that @swamidass is telling), the offspring of Adam and Eve immediately take their partners from the other human beings around the garden. I’m descended from my paternal grandmother but also from my maternal grandmother.

Saying “By 1 AD everyone on Earth was descended from Adam and Eve” is not the same thing at all as saying “By 1 AD all the naturally evolved humans had died out and only the direct descendants of Adam and Eve alone (whose offspring bred incestuously) existed”.

I don’t understand your comparison. Why are you making it?

(Also, you should quote or tag whoever you’re reply to, so that they get a notification. For some reason your replies aren’t directed to anyone in particular. Hit reply under a specific post, rather than at the bottom of the thread.

My reply was a general comment on the tenor of the whole thread to date, not a comment in response to someone in particular. I do quote when it’s apposite, but sometimes I’m synthesising a number of thoughts and impressions from a number of posts.

There seemed to be confusion on the part of some (or maybe just me!) about whether the ‘Eden descendants’ and the ‘evolved descendants’ intermingled to the point of indistinguishability, or whether the two populations continued largely separate - the sons of God and the sons of man - and the latter died out and the world fell to the former.

Maybe no-one had that misconception, but it sure sounded like it in some posts.

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I don’t think the confusion lies on my part. The “latter” may have died out for reasons of genetic drift or from the effects of positive natural selection in favour of having a soul. Of course, deciding this question would require physical evidence that the possession of a soul provides a differential reproductive advantage in the struggle for existence.

In any case, it would seem equally likely that the ensouled allele would die out, leaving only we uncreated folk to labour under the misapprehension that we are, in fact, Imago Dei. But greater mistakes than this have been made in the history of theology.

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They were confused about me being confused. :sweat_smile: I thought perhaps @swamidass was making a point in the book about their distinguishability but he’s actually saying there would be none biologically, but perhaps theologically?

My point was - humans are humans. I’m not interested in making biological or theological distinctions and I think “grandma” would be confused too. I prefer the easy answers I guess :slight_smile: My position is that we should make exegesis simple - science can be difficult because there will always be hard problems in science.

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This is not the GAE position. In GAE, it’s likely that none of Adam’s or Eve’s genome survives, and the only ancestry they contribute is genealogical. Nor does the difference between them and the other people involve possession of a soul; everybody has one in the scenario, and there’s no selection involved. Also, everybody has the imago Dei.

Exactly.

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Hi Valerie! I’m the guy who wrote that ‘grandma’ quote.

OK. So Grandma would not understand that the universe is actually 13.7 billion years old, the earth is whatever millions of years old (4.5?) and there were lots of people and animals before AE who lived and died. Scientists would not understand that AE existed.

If one looks at it this way, seems like the playing field is tilted in favor of scientists having more knowledge about history.

Certainly, the sciences will continue to advance and we’ll learn more through it. If you look at the Genesis creation story only as a science textbook, it’s very unsatisfying. And yes, in that regard the sciences have much to teach us.

But that’s not how the story was intended when it was written, nor how we are to read it. Instead, as the first story in the Bible, God intended it to communicate some very important things about who he is and how he interacted with us - things that are far more important than the age of the universe, or the specific mechanisms of evolution. And in this all-important area, grandma would have an insurmountable advantage over any non-Christian scientists.

I talk about this more in my blog post:

That section may be helpful to you. The whole post is much longer, but it may be helpful to others in this thread, as there seems to be some confusion about the GAE position.

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I enjoyed your book review, Valerie. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. Its great that you took so much time to read the book and its encouraging to read about the journey you are on.

The way our culture here in America frames science versus faith as a battle has been to the great detriment of both faith and science in this country. This battle idea pulls scientists away from thinking about the possibility that there could be a God and pulls Christians away from a willingness to learn and understand science.

The way I read it, the GAE is looking for a better way by pointing out what science cannot tell us. This opens up space for theology to fill in those details about which science cannot speak and opens up a path for greater dialogue between science and faith.

At the same time, people of faith need to be willing to accept the truths that science has revealed (e.g. the age of the universe) and to understand what scriptures are not teaching. The Bible is not a science textbook, leaving space for the work of science in adding to the understanding of God’s creation.

Thus as @swamidass and @naclhv point out: both can be right and can have a peaceful dialogue together.

Just to be clear: there are many scientists who are also believing Christians, so this does not have to be an either/or proposition.

Both Grandma and the nonbelieving scientists are right about some things and wrong about others. They will both come to understand the more complete and true picture if they come together and learn from one another.

Grandma knows very important spiritual truths about the universe: the existence of God and the state of her eternal soul. Hopefully, she will not drive the younger generations away from what is most important and true about her faith by demanding that the faithful should not believe the physical truths that science teaches us about the universe.

As a side note: God exists outside of space/time. So knowledge about certain time-spans are not more or less important than others.
2 Peter 3:8-9

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

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This is the kind of thinking that I was writing against in my review. Let me ask you. How often has science changed in the history of science? How do you know it reveals truth?

I wrote a post about biblical cosmography. It fits with a negative energy proposal that fits with simulations about dark matter. I don’t know if it’s right, but if it is, it throws the age of the universe into question. So what should I believe about scientific “truths”?

The truth of the Bible can never drive people away from God. Instead I see a lot of people who are driven away from God by thinking all life can start from a single cell we cannot build.

To be clear here, both grandma and the scientist would be right on physical truths.

So @Michelle may have mispoken, in a way that undermines @thoughtful’s objection.

She can clarify, as well as the forum member who wrote about “grandma” but it’s pretty clear that both grandma and I are denying physical “truths” and demanding the faithful should not believe “truths” that science teaches because we are only “essentially” correct about truth.

My confidence rests in the one who is despised and the cross delusion. That’s what I was conveying.

My confidence is in Christ too, which is why I’m not concerned about the scientist’s knowledge. Grandma isn’t denying physical truths, but perhaps you are.

Then why did the reviewer say pious Grandma was essentially correct? There must be something she is incorrect about.

Perhaps I’m denying the wisdom of this world. I get my kids vaccinated on schedule, I’ve argued against COVID disinformation, even decided against going on a family vacation being willing to disappoint my entire family this summer because I decided against endangering others and wanted to obey the government.