Do We Really Need Adam and Eve?

Regis Nicoll
Regis Nicoll

The American Scientific Affiliation (ASA) bills itself as “a fellowship of Christians in science.” According to a 2010 survey, less than 12 percent of the fellowship believes “Adam and Eve had no contemporaries, and were the biological ancestors of all humans.” Many survey respondents referred to Adam and Eve as “metaphors,” “symbols,” “representations,” or “fictional characters.”

If you think these beliefs are limited to liberal-leaning laymen, you would be badly mistaken: They are shared by A-list Christian scholars and theologians, like popular author and Bible commentator N. T. Wright.

Early hominoids

In his book “Surprised by Scripture,” Rev. Wright suggests that the biblical significance of Adam and Eve is not their order in the creation, but their calling. As he explains, “God chose one pair from the rest of early hominoids for a special, demanding vocation.” [Emphasis in original.]

In case “early hominoids” doesn’t make his point sufficiently clear, Wright adds, “This pair (call them Adam and Eve if you like) were to be the representatives of the whole human race.” [Emphasis added.] All this in a chapter tellingly titled, “Do We Need a Historical Adam?”

For the reader not sufficiently surprised by that rendering of Scripture, the former Bishop of Durham frames “young-earthism” as not only a “regrettable alternative” (to the creation narrative), but a “false teaching.”*

The “Wright alternative,” the “true” teaching, given the Bishop’s prominent association withBioLogos—a faith and science forum that promotes theistic evolution—is a glacial, mud-to-man process inwrought in nature by God.

More recently, Old Testament scholar John Walton weighed in on the Adam question. Continue reading here.

Originally published April 11, 2015.

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