Why is Adam under pressure?1
Western culture is being increasingly dominated by ideologies that are either godless or anti-God. The deletion of God leaves a huge problem in regard to origins. Materialists need a different explanation for the origin of matter, life and humanity. Evolution of some kind is the only option for atheists.
Over the last 150 years evolution has become the only acceptable view of origins within education, academia and the media. However, it provides a totally different view of earth history from the traditional Christian understanding of the first part of Genesis. Adam does not fit into an evolved world.
Increasingly Christians, who have a genuine respect for and appreciation of the work of scientists, have felt under considerable pressure to somehow make the Bible line up properly with the ‘assured results of science’. This pressure has been increased still more by the findings resulting from projects like the Human Genome project. Modern genetics seems to provide a wealth of evidence in support of human evolution.
What is happening to Adam?
Pushed back in time!
This pressure was applied from an unexpected direction. The Princeton giants, William Green and B. B. Warfield, began the process of making the biblical genealogies elastic. William Green was the lecturer in Oriental and Old Testament Literature. He wrote a paper arguing that it was a mistake to try to use the biblical genealogies to produce accurate chronologies. Green admitted that it was the pressure from the scientific community that caused his re-evaluation of the genealogies. Instead of the roughly 6,000 years of Archbishop Ussher we have the 50,000 years (speaking humans) to 500,000 years (grunting humans) according to modern science.
If evolution is true then death is needed from the beginning. Biological death is removed from the list of consequences of sin and becomes an integral part of the creation that God proclaims as ‘very good’. Instead of Adam being the single biological ancestor of all humanity he becomes the head man of a tribe whom God made different from his human/humanoid Father. Humans living today may or may not be genetically related to Adam.
Adam died long ago but it seems he is dying again. The squeeze on Adam has become so strong in the minds of some that it has snuffed him out of reality. For people like Peter Enns (former lecturer at Westminster Theological Seminary) Adam has lost his historical reality altogether.2 Adam becomes just an image of what every human being does. Historically he is imaginary!
The problem for those who want an infallible Bible and an unreal Adam is that the Apostle Paul disagrees. Paul includes Adam as an integral part of his presentation of the Gospel. If we delete the first Adam we end up asking big questions about the last Adam.
When you rearrange a formula in mathematics what you do to one side has to be matched with what you do to the other side. The argument of the apostle Paul can be viewed as being a bit like a mathematical formula, where what you do to one side affects what you do to the other. When Adam and his actions are mythologised, there are logical consequences for Paul’s NT teaching (though people often inconsistently fail to acknowledge this):
As in (an imaginary) Adam all die (spiritually) → so in (an imaginary?) Christ shall all be made alive (spiritually?)! (1 Corinthians 15:22)
By one man’s (imaginary) disobedience many were made sinners, → so also by one man’s (imaginary?) obedience many will be made righteous. (Romans 5:19)
Adam presents us with a choice. Either we embrace evolution and face putting Adam under steadily increasing pressure or we reject evolution and fully liberate the biblical Adam to be the proper counterpart to Christ that Paul makes him.
As we look back to a real Adam we can look forward in hope. As we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly man (1 Corinthians 15:49).
References and notes
- This article is a modified version of one that originally appeared on www.evangelical-times.org, July 2014; used with permission. Return to text.
- Enns, P., The evolution of Adam: What the Bible does and doesn’t say about human origins, Brazos Press, USA, 2012. Enns is a contributor to Biologos.org and has claimed, “Most Christians understand that, even though the Bible assumes a certain way of looking at the cosmos, from a scientific point of view the Bible is wrong. And that is perfectly fine [emphases his]”, biologos.org/uploads/projects/enns_scholarly_essay.pdf, p. 1. Return to text.