What did Haarsma Mean?

Hi Joshua,

GAE is at to the top of my Christmas wish list, and I look forward so much to reading it!

I think that perhaps you are misconstruing Haarsma’s statement. Permit me to quote it again:

evolutionary creationists cannot affirm a traditional de novo view of human origins

I think that what Haarsma means by “traditional de novo view of human origins” is the view that prevailed throughout most of Christian theological history: before God created Adam and Eve, there was never a Homo Sapiens individual. According to this traditional view, all H. Sapiens individuals that have ever existed are direct descendants of Adam and Eve.

Notice that Haarsma does not reject in this statement a de novo origin of the 2 individuals named Adam and Eve. The view she is rejecting is that all H. Sapiens individuals who have ever existed are direct descendants of A and E.

As far as I can tell, the only way to affirm this definition of the traditional de novo view of human origins referred to by Haarsma is to reject much of evolutionary science.

The wonderful innovation in your book is that you are defining the key de novo origin as that of Adam and Eve, rather than H. Sapiens as defined by biologists and Haarsma. This new concept is very promising because it shifts the ground of the discussion. I look forward to seeing what happens as you go on your book tour and Christians begin to read your book.



Thank you for your concern. I’m sure in this case I am not misconstruing. She was very careful to explain what she meant in the comments. She explained at the time that:

  1. Evolutionary creationists cannot affirm de novo creation.
  2. Evolutionary creationists believe the traditional view is sole genetic-progenitorship.

I have shown, however, how de novo creation can be compatible with evolutionary science, and that the traditional view is not sole-genetic progenitorship. She has never said anything since then to reframe or update her views in public. For this reason, she is stating

evolutionary creationists cannot affirm a traditional de novo view of human origins

It is important that she is speaking here for EC as a whole, not her personal views.

Can you please show me a reference to “Homo sapiens” from source dating before 1000 years ago? For example, where exactly are Homo sapiens discussed in Scripture?

I’m concerned about concordism here (meaning eisegesis). Traditional theology and scripture do not mention “Homo sapiens” or DNA. These are modern scientific concepts that cannot possibly be the teaching of Scripture or of tradition.

Actually, yes, she does reject this view. She explains in the comments of the blog that she does.

Except this is not the traditional view. It is a concordist definition that cannot be found in the tradition.

With all due respect, it is not a new concept. The idea of “human=Homo sapiens” is very new, and I’m just turning back the dial to a more traditional understanding.

Now, Deborah is free to disagree with me, and so is BioLogos. At this point, they have been very clear publicly that they do not make space for any version of the traditional de novo view of AE. This could change in the future, but we need to accept their public statements on this matter.

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@Chris_Falter, perhaps this might be helpful to you: What is "Traditional" any ways?.

It is important to keep in mind that this quote by Haarsma is from over 1.5 years ago. She has had opportunity to clarify the situation, or alter The BioLogos Statement on Adam and Eve to make space for the traditional view. She elected not to do so. The right thing to do is take her at her word on this. She can adjust her position at any time.


I think you’re splitting hairs that aren’t really there. It’s not a question of Homo sapiens but of people. The traditional view is that Adam and Eve are the sole ancestors of all people, and that there were no people before them. There have been minority positions on that (Lilith, perhaps?) but that’s the traditional view. Has Haarsma ever explicitly rejected the addition of created A&E to a previously existing, evolved population?


Yes she has explicitly rejected it, when she made the statement I quoted, about 1.5 years ago.

She recently acknowledged there is no evidence against de novo creation, but has not stated it is an acceptable position for evolutionary creation. The BioLogos Statement on Adam and Eve does not acknowledge de novo creation as a viable position.

There has been much discussion about changing this statement, but now, 2.5 years later, no change.

Well, I show in my book that this is not the case. I show several examples of traditional understandings of Genesis that have people outside the garden. The actual traditional position is mystery outside the garden.

Of course, you can disagree with me, but that is my point. It is established with evidence from historical theology. I’m not supposing a contemporary populist view, but the historical tradition.

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Hi Joshua,

I agree with you that BioLogos would do well to explicitly affirm GAE as a viable option. I hope that with the publication of your book (ranked #1 by Amazon in the “Creationism” category!) the good folks at BL will do exactly that.

I have just read the official BioLogos statement you linked to. It does not contain the sentence you quoted.

The two affirmations it does make are as follows:

At BioLogos, we are persuaded by the scientific evidence that Homo sapiens evolved, arising about 200,000 years ago and sharing common ancestors with all other life on Earth. Furthermore, it increasingly appears that the genetic diversity among humans today could not have come from just two Homo sapiens individuals, but a population of thousands.

Haarsma clarifies in a forum post dated April 2018 that the scenario BL was rejecting was exactly the one I said they were rejecting–to wit, a de novo A&E created ~6000 years ago that were the sole progenitors of the entire H. Sapiens species. In her own words:

I was describing the “traditional de novo view” in a way to distinguish it from other de novo views, and the key word there is “genetic.” I was describing the view that many Christians hold, that I grew up with, and that Wayne Grudem clearly holds (the inverse of his “twelve theistic evolution beliefs that conflict with the creation account”), in which Adam and Eve were not only created de novo from dust and rib, but recently, and as the sole genetic progenitors of all humans (i.e. no other human-like creatures for their descendants to interbreed with).

In fact, here is the original quote, which includes a statement portion that I think you should have included but did not:

it is true that evolutionary creationists cannot affirm the traditional de novo view of human origins (in which God miraculously creates the first pair roughly 10,000 years ago, with this pair as the sole genetic progenitors of all humans today) [emphasis added]

You see, Joshua? Haarsma is not ruling out GAE. I’m not sure why you omitted the remainder of Haarsma’s statement, but I think you would do well to include that remainder whenever you quote it in the future.

The official BioLogos position in fact cites your ASA paper in offering a historical A&E living 6000 years ago as a viable option:

In another version Adam and Eve are recent historical persons , living perhaps 6000 years ago in the ancient Near East rather than Africa. By this time Homo sapiens had already dispersed throughout the earth. God then revealed himself specially to a pair of farmers we know as Adam and Eve. God could have chosen them as spiritual representatives for all humanity. Genealogical science suggests that a pair living at that time and place could be part of the genealogies of all humans living today.

This statement certainly does not reject a de novo A&E.

In fact, Haarsma made another statement in which she expressed interest in the GAE hypothesis:

As our history expert Ted Davis mentioned to me in a recent email, common ancestry and separate de novo creation have nearly always been seen as contradictory ideas. So, this idea is new to all of us; we’re getting up to speed on the picture of a de novo Adam and Eve having descendants interbreed with other human-like creatures. Since it is so new, I wasn’t ready to highlight it in the response to the Moreland et al book, and merely used “genetic” to be specific about what is ruled out by scientific evidence. Josh has done important work on recent universal genealogical ancestors that we’ve affirmed as good science and inside the BioLogos “tent” , with the peer-reviewed publication only last month at Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith ; the de novo arguments are even newer.

With my prayers for a smash best-seller,


Sorry, but that’s ambiguous.

I will grant the possibility that there are several traditional positions, but if there were a first choice, I don’t think that would be it. Do you show several examples of traditional understanding in which there are no people outside the garden?

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@Chris_Falter and @John_Harshman, I appreciate the comments on this. I am closing this thread temporarily.

I will explain more later. In my absence, however, I also don’t want this conversation to turn into a referendum on BioLogos or a well-intentioned but uniformed defense of the indefensible.

@Chris_Falter and @John_Harshman, I’ve thought about this conversation the last couple days. I think it is important for us to focus on what has been publicly said and done. In this case, I also have confirmed my interpretation in private conversation.

I understand you question my interpretation. The correct way to resolve this is not a litigated back and forth with me. I encourage you to ask Deborah Haarsma directly and publicly where she stands on these matters. She can always clarify her position in public, and she has a large platform to do so. She has elected not to do so, which makes perfect sense if my interpretation is correct.

She stated:

evolutionary creationists cannot affirm a traditional de novo view of human origins

She then publicly explained the reasons why:

  1. She was not comfortable with de novo creation.
  2. She believes traditional understanding requires sole-genetic progenitorship.

She has never said anything since then to indicate she has altered her views. In fact, these points have been reaffirmed repeatedly by BioLogos’ public statements and actions. Perhaps individual people within BioLogos feel differently, but the policy has followed Haarsma’s public position on this.

Going forward, that could change. If you disagree with my interpretation, or you would like the situation to change, please ask Haarsma herself where she stands. I am not allowed to post on the BioLogos forum, but you can. She can respond however and whenever she likes.

At this point, it would be really pointless for us to be debate what is going on in her head. All we have is what she wrote. Let’s just ask her directly how her position has evolved.