Seeking the First Man, Adam
Review of In Quest of the Historical Adam by William Lane Craig,
Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids, MI, 2021
William Lane Craig’s new book In Quest of the Historical Adam should be viewed by young earth creationists as a positive turning point in the debate over origins. Craig is a prominent, accomplished, and intelligent Christian apologist who has conquered every obstacle he has ever faced. Yet he ran into a brick wall when he tried to come up with an alternative to the traditional interpretation of Genesis.
Prior to the publication of the book, Craig very publicly admitted his struggle with this issue. His characteristic confidence disappeared. Craig studied this issue, as well as atonement theory, because he felt his knowledge of it was weak. He wanted to shore up his knowledge before writing his systematic theology.
But he found something he did not like, and he was shaken to his core. Instead of the confident answers he’d always found before, he encountered only doubt and difficulty. He expressed fear that young earth creationism might be true, and seems painfully aware that he has not offered a satisfactory alternative. Craig’s alternative is that Genesis 1–11 belongs in a genre called “mytho-history”, but he confesses mostly ignorance as to what the text actually means. As such, Craig’s alternative is only half a hermeneutic. Other reviewers have noted the madness.1,2 This review exposes the method.
Points of agreement
Craig has made seven major concessions to young earth creation:
- He admits right out of the gate that young earth creationism is the “traditional” view and all “revisionist”, that is old-earth, interpretations of Genesis are quite recent in history (p. xii). This is a refreshing admission and a change from what Craig was entertaining just three years ago.3
- He admits that the Genesis author understood the days of creation in Genesis 1 as twenty-four hour days (pp. 109–110).
- He disagrees with old earth creationist Hugh Ross that Noah’s Flood as described in Genesis was merely a local flood (pp. 122–127).
- He debunks the popular claim that the Hebrew word rāqîaʿ translated as “sky” or “expanse” means the ancient Hebrews thought the sky was covered with a solid dome in which the stars were embedded (pp. 188–191).
- The second half of the book discusses archaeological and paleontological data showing that Neanderthals, Denisovans, H. Heidelbergensis (and possibly some specimens of Homo erectus) were in fact quite similar to modern humans in every respect except minor differences in physical appearance.
- Craig has admitted that his denial of the historicity of Genesis 1–11 is based largely on subjective, disputable criteria. (p. 43)
- Craig accepts that Adam and Eve existed in real history and (unlike Joshua Swamidass) he affirms that they were the ancestors of all humans.
Young earth creationists agree almost entirely on the first five points. The rest of this review will focus on the last two points and offer a critique of Craig’s analysis of Genesis.
Is Genesis myth?
Craig argues that Genesis 1–11 contains enough “family resemblances” to Ancient Near Eastern (ANE) etiological myths to classify it as such (p. 43). “Etiology” means “the grounding of present-day realities in the primordial past” (p. 65). Young earth creationists could easily agree with this definition. After all, that’s what we say Genesis actually is. The world today exists because of what happened historically as documented in Genesis.
Craig argues that Genesis 1–11 is both etiological and not fully historical. This raises the question of how the narrative in Genesis 1–11 could be the correct explanation of present realities if the events described never actually occurred historically. Craig never addresses this question. Instead, he tries to show that these “family resemblances” to other ANE etiological myths indicate the story is non-historical. How Craig does this reveals the weakness of his argument.
Craig begins the foundational chapter 6 called “Are Myths Believed to be True?” by saying that “it is not in dispute that myths are not taken to be fictitious by members of the society in which they are embraced.” (p. 159) Craig then evasively argues that it depends upon what the meaning of the word “true” is:
“The predicate true has a wide range of meanings, as is evident in such expressions as “true gold,” “a true friend,” “a true line,” “the true path,” “a true statement.” Why should we think that these tribal societies’ conception of truth with respect to myths is the philosopher’s notion of truth as correspondence?” (p. 160)
Of course, Genesis could contain truths in all of the above senses and still also have been believed by the ancient Hebrews to be historically true as well. Craig needs to differentiate between these other kinds of “truth” and history. To do this, he suggests two criteria: plasticity and flexibility (p. 162). If a society entertains multiple different versions of the same myth, it’s an indication that they did not consider it to be historically true. Plasticity means there are multiple versions of the same myth existing at the same time. Flexibility means multiple versions of the same myth existing at different times, often meaning the myth has been changed to accommodate new information previously unknown to the society. So, are there multiple versions of Genesis?
Craig ignores this question for quite some time, preferring instead to go over many examples of other ANE myths. After all this, he abruptly admits that there are no alternate versions of Genesis:
Since all we have of the primaeval history is the one written account, it is very difficult to know, given the lack of consensus concerning the tradition history of these accounts, the degree to which these narratives exhibit the plasticity and flexibility characteristic of myth. (p. 198)
If Craig’s claim is that alternate versions of the myth are evidence against the historical interpretation, then surely the lack of alternate versions is evidence of the opposite conclusion. After all, Craig found alternate versions of the story of Jannes and Jambres (2 Timothy 3:8) in the Jewish pseudepigrapha (p. 219). It’s not quite fair play to continue to claim that Genesis 1–11 is non-historical myth even if he didn’t find other versions of it in all that extra-biblical literature.
Previously Craig had argued that the creation accounts in Genesis 1 and 2 counted as alternate versions of the same myth,4 but he appears to have dropped this claim with the admission that there are no alternate versions. Strangely, he attempts to slide the same argument in through the backdoor anyway, referring to “inconsistencies” in the order of the events of creation. Instead of directly claiming the creation accounts of Genesis 1 and 2 are inconsistent, separate, mythical accounts, Craig merely claims that the author could have easily resolved these “prima facie” discrepancies if he really did view his work as historical (p. 199).
Of course, this assumes that the author actually understood these inconsistencies to exist, which is the very point under dispute—i.e. begging the question. Craig’s prima facie belief those inconsistencies exist is now supposed to count as evidence that the ancient Hebrew author not only understood them to exist, but ignored them almost on purpose, even if those supposed discrepancies can easily be resolved as has been argued elsewhere.5 Much more plausibly, the author may have simply not anticipated such extreme pedantry from his future readers several thousand years in the future. All of this represents a tactical retreat on Craig’s part in addition to not being very convincing. One must also wonder if all the alleged ‘inconsistencies’ in the Gospels proves that they too share this family resemblance to myths (although he does agree that the Gospels are in the genre of ancient biography, pp. 43–44).
Bereft of any objective criteria with which to classify Genesis 1–11 as non-historical etiological myth rather than historical etiological myth, Craig turns to subjective criteria. He argues that many elements of Genesis 1–11 are “fantastic” and “palpably false” (p. 106). When confronted with the objection that this is an argument from personal incredulity, Craig simply replied, “Some things are incredible, I think.”6 In his latest writing, Craig challenges critics to show how his subjective criteria applies equally well to the rest of the Bible as it does to Genesis 1–11.7 But of course, Craig gets to determine how “fantastic” and “palpably false” apply to any given Scripture, because these are subjective criteria only he can define. If one makes any argument showing Craig’s inconsistency here, Craig will inevitably answer with a whirlwind of arbitrary distinctions.
For example, when confronted with the possible objection that Balaam’s talking ass in Numbers 22 is just as fantastic a story element as the talking snake in the Garden of Eden, Craig responds that God was responsible for the former but not the latter,8 as though that eliminates the fantastic story element inherent to a talking animal (p. 107). He claims that the Israelites would never have understood the cherubim God placed at the entrance to the Garden in Genesis 3 as real, because graven images of real creatures on the ark would be a violation of the second commandment (p. 119-120). But it doesn’t seem to matter to Craig that God directly told them to do that in Exodus 25. After all, God tells Moses to craft a bronze snake so the people may be healed of their snakebites simply by looking at it (Numbers 21:8-9). The bronze basin in Solomon’s temple was put on the backs of twelve bronze bulls (1 Kings 7:23–26). Clearly, God had no qualms ordering the Israelites to make sculptures of real creatures, nor did they show any hesitancy.
What excuse is Craig going to come up with to explain the story of Jacob wrestling with an angel or the fantastic destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah with fire from heaven where Lot’s wife turns to a pillar of salt? How does Craig explain away Jacob’s ladder as a non-mythical element after describing similar motifs in two other myths? (p. 182)
Especially problematic, what is Craig’s explanation for why the “fantastic” long lifespans of people in Genesis 5 and 11 are wholly distinct from the “fantastic” lifespans of the patriarchs Abraham (175, Genesis 25:7), Isaac (180, Genesis 35:28), and Jacob (147, Genesis 47:28) recorded in Genesis 12–50? (p. 120) How long does a human being have to live before Craig considers his lifespan “fantastic”? Genesis records ages of 900+ years to 110 years and every age in between. At what point does Craig start believing these ages are real? He gives us no answer.
Craig is not consistently applying his subjective criteria even within Genesis itself, much less to the entire Bible. After all, Aaron was 123 when he died on Mt Hor (Numbers 33:39), and Jehoiada the priest in the time of King Joash lived to 130 (2 Chronicles 24:15). For comparison, only one modern person has even lived past 120, Jeanne Calment (21 Feb 1875 – 4 Aug 1997) aged 122.5.
In any case, the atheistic evolutionists who Craig tries to appease think that it’s absurd to believe that a man really could rise from the dead. Of course, much of Craig’s apologetic career has been demonstrating the historical facticity of the Resurrection. But then the same allowance should be made for Ph.D. creationist scientists who have done the same for the global Flood, decaying lifespans after the Flood, and other Genesis events where Craig joins the scoffers (2 Peter 3:3). For instance, the exponential decay of lifespans is just what would be expected from Noah’s great age at fatherhood followed by a sharp and short bottleneck.9
The genre switch
This brings us to the most glaring problem with Craig’s thesis: his claim that Genesis changes genres between chapter 11 and chapter 12. Craig himself says this transition is “seamless” (p. 137). If it’s seamless, how can the author have intended his audience to note a change in genre? Craig has argued that if the author intended the early chapters to be historical, he should have fixed supposed inconsistencies.10 By the same token, why didn’t the author more clearly indicate a switch in genre between 11 and 12 if that was his intention? Craig says the genealogies were “indisputably taken to be historical” (p. 363). Chapters 5 and 11 are indisputably genealogies, while chapters 4 and 10 certainly contain genealogical information. Craig suggests that while the documentary hypothesis, which splits the Pentateuch into sections according to supposedly different sources, might not be totally reliable, he still claims that multiple sources are evident (p. 54). Why not split Genesis according to these hypothesized multiple sources based on his own genre analysis? Why not say Genesis 1–3 and 6–9 is myth or mytho-history, while the remaining chapters are historical narrative, perhaps excluding the Tower of Babel story or elements of Cain’s story as needed?
Craig’s own argument suggests this. The only real textual evidence Craig presents for the genre switch between 11 and 12 is a “narrowing of focus” to Abraham (p. 23). A similar narrowing of focus to Noah occurs shortly into chapter 6, and Craig has previously argued both a narrowing of focus between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:211 and a shift in focus between the two creation narratives of chapters 1 and 2 (p. 89). And after that, there is a narrowing of focus to Isaac, then to Jacob. This is explained not by going from myth to history, but by God’s outworking of His messianic program in history: dismissing the other lines of humanity then focusing on the line through whom the Messiah would come.
Dividing the text based on a narrowing or shift of focus in the narrative makes about as much sense as the toledoth divisions Craig rejects for equally applicable reasons (p. 133–134). If one was really looking at Genesis objectively and had already concluded that some parts must be myth and other parts historical, virtually any other set of divisions makes more sense than dividing the text between 11 and 12. Given a choice with no ulterior motives, we would identify 11 as history and 12 as myth. Chapter 11 is nothing but people living, having children and dying. Chapter 12 starts with a deity audibly speaking to a primordial tribal leader. This deity promises blessings including huge tracts of land which the tribe wants to conquer at precisely the time the text was written. What could be more etiologically mythical than the Promise?
One must also wonder why later authors never seemed to notice the genre switch. For example, the genealogies in Luke 3:23–38 and the first nine chapters of 1 Chronicles move seamlessly from people in Genesis 1–11 and Genesis 12–50. The ‘heroes hall of fame’ in Hebrews 11 starts with Abel, Enoch, and Noah. There is no hint that they (or the things they did) were any less historical than the other people who are meant to be a good example for us.
Craig has no response to this except to argue from the authority of commentaries that often refer to Genesis 1–11 as the primaeval history.12 This might be appropriate for purposes of commentary or devotional, but that’s no different than adding chapter titles and divisions to the text. It’s not evidence of a genre switch by itself. Such an argument requires evidence which supports the specific claim that an actual genre switch occurs, and occurs at that location rather than some other location. The conclusion that a genre switch takes place there does not follow from the mere existence of a modern, conventional division. Craig even divides Genesis into three parts, but he never claims a genre switch occurs at the second division (p. 133). Why is the first division a genre switch but not the second? Since Craig has given no textual reasons, we are under no obligation to just take his word for it that this genre switch was intended by the original author.
Is mytho-history a distinct genre?
The very idea that such a genre as “mytho-history” even exists can also be called into question. The only other example of literature included in this unique genre is the text called the Eridu Genesis. The scholar Craig depends upon, Thorkild Jacobsen, cobbled this text together from three separate ancient fragments from different times in history (p. 152). In other words, Jacobsen modified what little survives of these ancient texts to reconstruct what he guesses was a cohesive ancient myth and then makes up a new genre to put it in. Craig then weakly claims that ancient Greek myths like Odyssey and Iliad count as mytho-history too.
According to Craig’s own presentation of the subject, the category of “myth” does not need the extra designation “history,” since the societies that believed and maintained ancient myths always believed they were true and had some historical roots. Craig later identifies the very same Greek myths he just claimed were “mytho-history” as “paradigm examples of myth.” (p. 39) His readers might rightly wonder what exactly is the distinction between the genres of “myth” and “mytho-history” in the first place.
The historical Adam
Craig finally concludes that the historical Adam and Eve really existed (p. 363). His argument for some sort of historical Adam depends almost entirely on the New Testament. He argues that the genealogies show the author of Genesis understood Adam as a historical person, but he expresses uncertainty about what parts of Genesis 1–11 are historical and what parts are myth. His main argument for the historical Adam comes from Paul’s discussions in Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15, which do not refer to the genealogies at all (pp. 224–229). In these passages, Paul is talking about the Adam from Genesis 1–3.
But even though Craig claims the Adam and Eve in Genesis 1–3 are merely characters in a non-historical myth, he says Paul’s teaching in these New Testament passages asserts the historicity of Adam. This entails that Paul wrongly asserts that the non-historical Adam from Genesis 1–3 is in fact historical. In other words, Paul believes in the historical Adam because of Genesis 1–3, but we must believe him only because he wrote inspired Scripture and not on the authority of Genesis 1–3 as Paul did.
Craig accepts the historicity of the genealogies in 5 and 11, but not the chronology in those same chapters. He accepts the historicity of Paul’s New Testament Adam, but refuses to accept the historicity of the stories in Genesis 1–3 upon which Paul’s Adam is based—as shown by direct quotations and allusions in 1 Corinthians 15! It is difficult to imagine a more contorted way of asserting the historical Adam and Eve. Craig is trying to argue for the existence of the historical Adam to Christians who don’t believe it. It seems unlikely his argument will convince anyone who values simplicity and common sense. All he has done is shown how difficult it is to separate the historical Adam from the historical interpretation of Genesis. What Craig imagines as strengthening the truth of God’s word against those who don’t believe in the historicity of Adam ends up detracting from it instead.
Craig ignores 2 Peter 3
Craig rightly points out that authors can make illustrative references to other stories without asserting those other stories’ historicity (p. 207). He gives several examples of allusions to non-canonical stories made by New Testament authors, arguing that they are illustrations from stories not asserted by the text to be historical (p. 210). But he cannot make that argument for 1 Corinthians 15 and Romans 5 where Paul assumes the historicity of Adam in his argument. Paul’s arguments in these passages make no sense if Adam is not an actual historical person.
To be specific, Craig agrees that these passages are “clear assertions of the historicity of Adam … a progenitor of the entire human race through whose disobedience moral evil entered the world” (p. 242). After much obfuscation, Craig agrees “still it remains the case that Adam’s sin is, in Paul’s thinking, in some sense the fount of the sin and spiritual death that beset our world, which suffices for the affirmation of a historical Adam” (p. 242). Earlier, Craig had pointed out:
“An action that is totally internal to a fiction cannot have effects outside the fiction; only an action that is external to the fiction can have real-world effects. It follows that Paul not only believes but also asserts that Adam and his sin are historical.” (p. 239)
But Craig’s argument for the historical Adam from the New Testament is not applied consistently within the New Testament. While Craig discusses 2 Peter 2 extensively, he almost completely ignores any discussion of 2 Peter 3. Craig’s only response to this passage, buried in a footnote, is to weakly claim that it’s an allusion just like his other examples (p. 229). But this interpretation is belied by the passage itself and Craig’s own reasoning about assertions versus illustrations. Peter notes that the end of the world is coming, in real life not in a fictional allusion, then relates that some don’t believe in the end of the world:
“ … knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.”—(2 Peter 3:3–7)
Here, Peter’s argument makes no sense if there was no historical, global, world-destroying flood to compare with the end of the world. It would be like someone today denying that aliens will ever invade the earth, and someone else responding, “Ah, but you’re wrong. Didn’t you see Independence Day?” Peter would be trying to claim that a future, real event is made more probable by a similar, past, fictional event. In this passage, Peter clearly asserts a historical, global flood by the same criteria Craig shows Paul asserts a historical Adam.
Craig’s deference to consensus ‘science’
It is simply impossible that someone as smart as Craig actually arrived at his conclusion based on the arguments presented in the book, as he wants his readers to do. Normally, as Craig notes, it is bad form to guess at the motivations of others. However, in this case, appealing directly to Craig’s ulterior motives is not only more charitable than pretending these problematic arguments represent his formative thinking, but is also based on Craig’s own admissions.13 Craig admits the impropriety of giving scientific arguments priority over hermeneutical ones by putting the hermeneutical portion of his book first (p. 20). But of course, what matters is not the structure of the book but the structure of his epistemology.
In the very first footnote of the whole book, Craig appeals to Origen and Augustine14 as justification for reinterpreting Scripture if one’s original interpretation be found false (p. 3). Craig worries that if he cannot reinterpret Genesis to be in accord with the modern scientific consensus, “then a major revision of the doctrine of inspiration would be required, such that the teaching of error would be consistent with Scripture’s being divinely inspired” (p. 7). Craig never explains how he knows what “error” is, but it is not hard to see. “Error” in Craig’s epistemology is defined in this context by the modern scientific consensus. The order of the book notwithstanding, Craig has from the outset assumed that science holds epistemological authority over Scripture. He admits that young earth creationism is an “eminently plausible” hermeneutic, but then argues that “Bible-believing Christians had better hope that the young earth creationist’s hermeneutical claim is also false, lest we be thrown back onto the worst-case scenarios” (pp. 13–14). Craig’s worst-case scenario is the Bible teaching error, defined according to the modern scientific consensus, and he is more ready to adopt this position than to embrace a young earth.
Craig’s argument here shows that he was looking for an interpretation of Genesis consistent with ’consensus science’ all along. It is therefore completely fair to wonder whether Craig’s entire argument is motivated by both his commitment to consensus science as a superior source of knowledge, and his commitment that the ancient text be true within the boundaries described by modern science. Neither of these beliefs are acceptable within the field of hermeneutics as priors for interpreting the meaning of a text objectively, Scripture or not. Craig claims that he isn’t reading science into Scripture like many other views do (p. 16). But if we are really trying to interpret the text the way the ancient author and audience understood it, we cannot rule out interpretations because they don’t go well with the modern scientific consensus.
Young earth creation makes sense of the entire text, while Craig’s interpretation does not. Craig admits, “It is probably futile to try to discern to what extent the narratives are to be taken literally, what parts are historical and what parts not” (p. 201). He admits he has no explanation for the numbers in the genealogies, which make up a significant portion of Genesis 1–11 (pp. 136, 146, 149). The only solid conclusion he has made about them is that they cannot have been meant chronologically. He has chosen an inferior hermeneutic that explains very little of the text, and we know he did it because ‘science’ told him so. That is improper hermeneutics and an unacceptable admission of current cultural and philosophical biases into his method of textual interpretation.
Scholarship or storytelling?
One is driven to this understanding not by the desire to prove Craig wrong, but by the obvious conclusion that he is wrong. What does Craig actually mean by a “historical Adam”? He had previously explained:
Since these modern cognitive capacities did not in all probability evolve independently among ancient species of Homo, they are best regarded as inherited from a common ancestor, who is typically identified as Homo heidelbergensis, a large-brained, cosmopolitan species that may have originated anywhere in Eurasia or Africa prior to 750 ka. Members of this species migrated to diverse regions, where their regional populations evolved into Homo sapiens, Neanderthals, and other human species.
Adam and Eve may therefore be plausibly identified as members of Homo heidelbergensis and as the founding pair at the root of all human species. (p. 359)
But the real thesis of Craig’s book is this: “When reality in the world comes into conflict with myth, it is myth that must and does change” (p. 165). Craig assumed a priori that since science must be our least darkly shaded window to reality, Genesis must be the myth and therefore must change. So he set out to change it.
Instead of a serious scholar, Craig is just like all those other ancient peoples who willy-nilly changed their interpretation of their creation myths as it suited them. He believes in the Genesis creation myth, but he feels forced to adapt its interpretation to new realities. He assumed a face-value reading could not be true before he even started. Craig wants to remove intellectual barriers to faith and strengthen the Christian apologetic, but why should he expect anyone else’s faith to be strengthened by his treatment of this subject when his own faith was so clearly shaken? Genesis is the foundation of Scripture and thus the Christian faith, but Craig has made Genesis shifting sand. He has sacrificed it on the altar to the equally shifting sands of science. It’s not surprising that he, following in the footsteps of Western civilization, experienced the consequences.
References and notes
- Leinhart, P., Doubts about William Lane Craig’s Creation Account, firstthings.com, 1 Oct 2021. Return to text.
- Lisle, J., The Historical Adam – Part 1: an Introduction. biblicalscienceinstitute.com, 8 Oct 2021. This is the first of an 8-part series, completed 7 Jan 2022. Return to text.
- Craig, W. L., Defenders 3 – Excursus on Creation of Life and Biological Diversity (Part 5): The Day-Age Interpretation reasonablefaith.org, 19 Feb 2019. Return to text.
- Craig, W.L., Defenders 3 – Excursus on Creation of Life and Biological Diversity (Part 21): Why Read Genesis 1-3 Figuratively? reasonablefaith.org, 19 Jul 2019. Return to text.
- Batten, D., Genesis Contradictions? Creation 18(4):44–45, 1996; creation.com/genesis-contradictions. Return to text.
- Craig, W.L.,Excursus on Creation of Life and Biodiversity (Part 16): Genealogies in Genesis 1–11, reasonablefaith.org, 12 Jun2019. Return to text.
- Craig, W.L., Mytho-History in Genesis, firstthings.com, 5 Oct 2021. Return to text.
- Craig, W.L., Defenders 3 – Excursus on Creation of Life and Biological Diversity (Part 20): Why Think Genesis 1–11 is Mytho-History?, reasonablefaith.org, 10 Jul 2019. Return to text.
- Sarfati, J., Why don’t we live as long as Methuselah? Creation 40(3):40–43, July 2018; creation.com/methuselah. Return to text.
- Of course, when it suits his argument, Craig argues the author does fix inconsistencies, such as the time of Methuselah’s death corresponding to the Flood and the “need to fill the antediluvian period with people.” (pp. 148–150) Return to text.
- Craig, W.L., Defenders 3 – Excursus on Creation of Life and Biodiversity (Part 4): The Gap and Day-Gap Interpretations, reasonablefaith.org, 3 Jan 2019. Return to text.
- McDowell, S. and Craig, W.L., A Quest for the Historical Adam: A Conversation with William Lane Craig, https://youtu.be/8TQ8w_9qN4Q?t=2935, 22 Sep 2021. Return to text.
- McDowell, S. and Craig, W.L., A Quest for the Historical Adam: A Conversation with William Lane Craig, youtu.be/8TQ8w_9qN4Q?t=754, 22 Sep 2021. Return to text.
- Craig makes no mention here of the fact that both Augustine and Origen defended the historical accuracy of the Genesis chronogenealogies against pagan arguments that the earth was much older. Says Augustine: “They are deceived, too, by those highly mendacious documents which profess to give the history of many thousand years, though, reckoning by the sacred writings, we find that not 6000 years have yet passed.” (City of God, XII:10) Says Origen: “After these statements, Celsus, from a secret desire to cast discredit upon the Mosaic account of the creation, which teaches that the world is not yet ten thousand years old, but very much under that, while concealing his wish, intimates his agreement with those who hold that the world is uncreated. For, maintaining that there have been, from all eternity, many conflagrations and many deluges, and that the flood which lately took place in the time of Deucalion is comparatively modern, he clearly demonstrates to those who are able to understand him, that, in his opinion, the world was uncreated. But let this assailant of the Christian faith tell us by what arguments he was compelled to accept [this].” (Contra Celsum, I:XIX) There is therefore no possibility that Augustine and Origen actually meant what Craig implies. Both questioned the historical interpretation of Genesis 1-3 to varying degrees, but they drew the line at the chronologies in chapters 5 and 11 which are obviously historical. See also Cosner, L., and Sarfati, J., Non-Christian philosopher clears up myths about Augustine and the term ‘literal’, J. Creation 27(2):9–10, 2013; creation.com/augustine-myths-debunked. Return to text.
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