Aren’t Adam, Eve and Noah just legends?
Is theistic evolution a credible alternative?
Theology by revelation (Scripture) always stands supreme above natural theology (study of the world around us), yet the two are not in opposition. The difference is between a perfect mirror (James 1:23–25) and a broken one (Romans 8:22). In addressing any subject (not just creation) there is an age-old principle which is vital: Scripture is its own interpreter. Thus, if a matter is much spoken of in the Bible (and creation is!), then the correct exegesis (study of original words) and exposition (comparing with other verses) will make the matter plain.
So are the first 11 chapters of Genesis to be regarded as historical? Theistic evolutionists, Christians who believe that God used evolution as His method of creation, do not regard the first 11 chapters of Genesis as truly historical. However, the answer from other parts of Scripture is that the early chapters of Genesis are historical. Consider the following:
- Jesus Christ, the pre-existent Creator of the world, when on earth in human form spoke of the major characters and events of Genesis as historical. Adam and Eve are referred to indirectly (Matthew 19:4), Abel directly (Matthew 23:35; Luke 11:51), Noah directly (Matthew 24:37; Luke 17:26), and the Flood directly (Matthew 24:38,39; Luke 17:27).
- The genealogy of Christ in Luke 3:23–38 backs up the genealogy of Genesis 5 and 11 (and also that of 1 Chronicles 1:1–27). When God mentions something twice we should consider it carefully. When He speaks three times, we must surely consider it as vital.
- The Apostles regarded the major characters and events of Genesis as historical. Paul refers to Adam and Eve directly (Romans 5:14; 1 Corinthians 15:22,45; 2 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Timothy 2:13,14). The latter reference specifically depends on the order of creation of the first pair of human beings. The possibility of Genesis not being literal, with no real Adam and Eve, makes the argument of 1 Timothy 2 nonsense. (It is also true that allowing for a real Adam and Eve, yet having many ‘hominoid’ ancestors to this pair, removes the meaning of this chapter.)
The writer of Hebrews (11:4 and 12:24) refers to Cain and Abel as historical. John and Jude confirm this in 1 John 3:12 and Jude 11. A further reference in Jude (verse 14) speaks forcibly of the genealogy from Adam to Enoch as history when it refers to Enoch being the seventh from Adam.
Peter, in both his epistles, refers to Noah historically (1 Peter 3:20; 2 Peter 2:5). In the second reference it is clear that Peter regards the Flood as a major catastrophe in history, not so far removed from his own time. Chapter 2 describes the Flood of the ‘old world’ and the ‘world of the ungodly’ (verse 5). The following chapter leaves no room scripturally for any argument concerning ‘local flood’ theories (3:3–7).
The Word from God which brought the Flood on the world is the same Word which reserves the world to final judgement. If the latter is world-wide (and of this there is no doubt) then so is the former.
The conclusion must follow that the New Testament leaves no doubt that Adam and Eve were historical, with their ensuing Fall, that the genealogy to Noah is historical, and that the Flood was a world-wide, historical event.