William Lane Craig & Joshua Swamidass: Was there a historical Adam & Eve?

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I’m starting to wonder if Craig has seen my critiques of his position. The only thing I was wrong about in my entire series was that Lewis never stated his position on the Genesis creation story. Craig argues that his position is the same as Lewis’ three separate times in this interview, despite having argued previously, and correctly, that Lewis’ definition of “myth” and his differ dramatically and downplaying the comparison. Interesting. Am I living rent-free in William Lane Craig’s head?

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So let’s recap Craig’s argument:

I’m with C.S. Lewis (argument from authority)

There’s no way this story was real (personal incredulity)

I’m with C.S. Lewis (again)

I want Christians to have access to a multiplicity of views (???)

I’m with C.S. Lewis



That is not his argument. You will be quite surprised with his book I am sure.

I doubt it, unless he’s come up with something new since his Defenders series on this 2 years ago, which was finished only a few months before he finished the book. In the future I’d recommend making the basic argument from the book in appearances promoting the book.

If I were to summarize the outline of Craig’s argument, based only on the Unbelievable? podcast, it would rather be something like:

(1) Textual analysis of Genesis shows elements of myth.
(2) Textual analysis of Genesis also shows elements of history.
[Craig referred to the mixing of these two as mythohistory]
(3) It is unclear from the text exactly which parts are meant to be mythical and which are meant to be historical.
(4) There are broader theological reasons (Craig mentions the introduction of sin) for thinking that the existence of Adam and Eve are meant to be historical figures and the first hominids with rational souls, from which all of us descended.
(5) In agreement with Swamidass, Craig argues that this historical understanding of Adam and Eve is not ruled out by current understanding of human evolution.

Craig then presents one specific scenario that is consistent with the above, but does not advocate this scenario. Craig seems to remain agnostic about how exactly all of this works out. Since Craig believes (3) and (5), he doesn’t think textual analysis or science will be able to uniquely identify who Adam and Eve really were or how specifically sin entered into the world.

As @swamidass said near the end (paraphrased), Adam and Eve become less clear and Jesus becomes more clear, the deeper you look into it.


That’s a great summary.

This point is central to WLCs case, but I don’t see how he establishes it with confidence. Many people will dispute him, and many will agree with him here.

Missed by many is that the way he agrees isn’t by defending AE as sole-genetic progenitors (no interbreeding), but as genealogical universal ancestors. He is proposing an ancient GAE, in contrast with a recent or young GAE.

That’s, in part, because he doesn’t see any references in theology or scripture to DNA. Likewise he doesn’t deny the existence of a larger population of reproductively compatible individuals.


Likewise there will be much debate on the particulars of what exactly mythical and what isn’t.

Craig turns the dial so far towards myth that a lot of people are going to be surprised. I don’t know if his argument here is well justified, but perhaps in can be.

It’s notable to me that he seems more guided by theological commitments (Adam and Eve the progenitors of humanness) than a biblical theology. His use of Scripture to justify this (and object to the YAC in GAE) comes off a bit like proof texting to me: selective hyperliterism in the context of a nearly mythological reading.

Whatever the strengths and weakness of his reasoning, he is filling a key role in expanding the range of options considered by the church.


I see it that Craig’s exploring (but not advocating) an ‘endmember’ case. He’s finding out how far in one direction the story can be pushed, within the bounds of what the text and science allows, without running into what he thinks are serious theological problems.

In your book, you explore (but do not advocate for) the other clear endmember. Adam and Eve created ex nihilo roughly 6000 years ago. Everything about the garden could be literally true. But pushing your story further would create problems.

If the Earth or universe were taken to be created in seven literal days, and the fall were taken to be the literal origin of any kind of animal death, this version would come into conflict with science.

Both of you carve out useful endmembers, and neither of you seem to advocate for a specific position in the middle.

If you had to place a date when Adam and Eve lived, how long ago do you think it would be?

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Yes we are in a sense arguing for the legitimacy for different brackets of a range.

Our work with RTB is the third leg of the stool, showing the legitimacy of a intermediate date.

It’s notable that EC seems to have slowly acknowledged all but the last leg of this. So there is more work to do.

“If you had to place a date when Adam and Eve lived, how long ago do you think it would be?”
6184 years.
The Greek Great Year of 4000 Years

All the data dependent on the 480-430-215 year scheme, as well as the date of the Exodus in the year 2666 and Abraham’s birth in 1946, are explained within this Hellenistic ontology of time.

Adam… 1AM
Birth of Abraham…1946 AM
Call of Abraham…2021 AM
Entrance into Egypt…2236 AM
Exodus from Egypt…2666 AM
Solomon’s temple…3146 AM
Exile to Bayalon…3576 AM
Edict of Cyrus…3626AM = 538 BCE
Rededication of the temple 4000 AM =164 BCE

This is how we know the universe is 6184 years old… give or take 14 or 15 billion years.

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