Fictitious or real? Unfortunately, this is another one of those theological battles that is rearing its ugly head again, this time, using the human genome for defense. There are scientist who are dabbling in theology, saying that there just isn’t enough time for the population to be as large as it is, with as much diversity as there is, given our start with one couple.
Al Mohler writes:
A report from Barbara Bradley Hagerty of National Public Radio a few weeks ago is an undeniable sign that even the secular world now recognizes that this is a question central to Christianity. Hagerty, a skilled religion reporter, talked to me and several others about this subject. Her interviews were broadcast as a report on August 9, with Steve Inskeep of NPR as host.
Inskeep got right to the point: “For many Evangelicals, a historical Adam and Eve is a critical part of their theology, but now some conservative religious scholars are saying, publicly, that they can no longer believe it.”
Hagerty asked Dennis Venema, a professor of biology at Trinity Western University, if all humans descended from Adam and Eve. “That would be against all the genomics evidence that we’ve assembled over the last 20 years, so not likely at all,” Venema said. He explained that there is simply too much genetic diversity among human beings than would be possible with an original reproducing pair. Venema affirmed the standard evolutionary line of argument and explained that, in Hagerty’s words, “modern humans emerged from other primates as a large population – long before the Genesis time frame of a few thousand years ago.”
Hagerty is counting on us not looking at the Biblical record and knowing just how prosperous Adam and Eve actually were. Adam lived to be 930 years old. This was at a time when humans lived much longer than we do now. As we can assume, the genetic pool wasn’t as diluted as it is today. In fact, I would argue that human sin had not corrupted genetics to its fullest extent and we see the longevity of mankind remaining around 900 years until after the flood of Noah.
Given this reality, Adam and Eve could have had many more children than the three that are listed, Cain, Abel and Seth. If we just assume that Eve remained fertile for at least half that time, and they had a child every 2 years for the sake of argument, Adam and Eve could have had 225 children. Given that this first generation could have also had children in the time span before the flood, and that those people formed 112 couples, and they all had 225 children, that would be roughly 25,200. This went on for some 10 generations which would have led to 252,000 people just from that first set of children. I’m sure the numbers were much higher before the flood came along. But you can see that already, there were plenty of children on the earth by the time Noah entered the ark.
It’s interesting to note that the argument is that Adam & Eve could not have had enough children to bring our world to the present day population and diversity. What these scientist should be doing is arguing from the point of Noah and his family entering the ark. But that would be a concession on their part since it would mean they believed in a world-wide flood that wipe out the entire population of the earth except eight people. Their view of Scripture, science and evolution keep them from making that argument. They have to attack the validity of Scripture from the stand point of Adam & Eve, not Noah and the flood.
The other attack on Adam & Eve is actually more insidious. It’s the claim that the account of Adam & Eve are fiction because the Bible is actually a library of books where some of those books are fiction and others are not. Mohler writes:
Karl Giberson, who has also been affiliated with BioLogos and is the author of Saving Darwin: How to be a Christian and Believe in Evolution, goes so far as to argue that the biblical account of Adam and Eve “was never intended to be read as literal history.” But, he was asked, what does this then say about the Bible’s truthfulness and authority?
Giberson then wrote:
The Bible is not a book. It is a library — dozens of very different books bound together. The assumption that identifying one part as fiction undermines the factual character of another part is ludicrous. It would be like going into an actual physical library and saying “Well, if all these books about Harry Potter are fictional, then how do I know these other books about Abraham Lincoln are factual? How can Lincoln be real if Potter is not?” And then “Aha! I have got you! So much for your library.”
That is an amazing and deeply troubling paragraph. Giberson uses the metaphor of the Bible as a library of books — a metaphor popularized by author Brian McLaren. But Giberson then goes where many others lack the courage and candor to go — he is ready to identify part of the Bible as “fiction.” In his words, “The assumption that identifying one part as fiction undermines the factual character of another part is ludicrous.” What can his argument mean but that Adam is to be understood as like Harry Potter, a fictional character, while Jesus is like Abraham Lincoln, an historical figure who really existed?
This points to more Leopard Theology by liberals. Remember Leopard Theology is the view that the Bible has spots of truth and it takes liberal theologians to help us spot the spots that are true.
But back to my case against Giberson and McLaren. If they are saying that Adam and Eve are fiction, then why do the gospel writers tie Jesus to Adam & Eve via genealogy? It stands to reason that if they were truly fiction, how can a true and historical genealogy tie Jesus to that couple? That would be like me tracing my genealogy back to Santa Claus. It makes for a good Christmas story, but it’s not true and would show me to be a liar. If Jesus is not tied to Adam & Eve, then why does Luke record this in chapter 3 of his gospel? Are we to believe the McLaren and Giberson know more than the writers of the gospels? Are we to believe that God sent them along to correct the historical record, that has somehow been wrong for 6,000 to 10,000 years?
The other argument against this notion that Adam & Eve are fiction is that the Apostle Paul also treats Adam as a real person. He does not refer to Adam as a fictional character, but as a real man that sinned and brought sin and death to all mankind.
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned— 13 (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.
Paul isn’t treating Adam as a fictional character. Fictional characters don’t bring death and sin to humanity. That takes a real man to do that. He also relates Adam to Christ. Adam was our representative in the Garden of Eden. This is why sin is passed to all of us. He was our federal head, so to speak. We may complain that we don’t care much for his representation, or say that we didn’t vote for him, but God wasn’t asking. We must trust that had God chosen us to be the representative, we would have fallen as well.
But Paul is pointing back to Adam as our federal head, to show us that we have a new federal head, that of Jesus Christ.
Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.
Just as Adam was real, so to is Christ. He is God’s grace to fallen humanity, for where Adam sinned, fell and took the entire human race with him, Jesus lived a perfectly obedient life in order to provide salvation to those who believe.
It’s amazing that men like Giberson and McLaren, both men who are supposed to preach the gospel, can get one of the fundamental tenants of the gospel so wrong. For if Adam and Eve are fiction, then is the sin that is passed to all humanity really there? Do we really have a problem that needs the life of God’s Son to atone for us? When you look at what they are saying, they are undermining the very gospel of Christ and His atoning work. It’s sad that these men are put forth as teachers of truth, because they are not.
We can trust the word of God to be true. All we have to do is look around at fallen humanity and we see the evidence of Adam’s fall among us. Every time we transgress against someone, or they sin against us, Adam’s fall scream as us. Every time we attend a funeral, again, the evidence of Adam’s disobedience. Even when there are earthquakes and hurricanes, more evidence of Adam’s rebellion against God. It’s hard to believe that some people would try to make the man out to be fiction. The evidence for his existence is all around us.