Or so some paint it. I’ve now had a chance to read Christianity Today’s “The Search for the Historical Adam” by Richard N. Ostling (June 2011). Recommended to all. I’m not sure re crisis. I think it comes down to a simple choice. Linked here. Some notes follow:
The basic thesis of the article is that a huge conflict is shaping up between Christians who believe that “God directly created Adam and Eve, the historical parents of the entire human race.” and people who believe that such ideas “simply do not fit the evidence.”
It is illustrated by a grotesque picture of Adam and Eve as if they were only indifferently human (Adam doesn’t have a neck and Eve doesn’t have a waist). And the serpent probably moonlights as “Happy Snake” on Daycare TV.
The apple looks plausible, and tellingly rotten at the stem end. So Rob Day’s illustration brilliantly outlines the problem:
One thing the article does is make American Scientific Affiliation’s position crystal clear for the average pew sitter:
The Adam account in Genesis has long been subjected to scientific challenges, but “there was a lot of wiggle room in the past. The human genome sequencing took that wiggle room away” “
So ASA is not for scientists who don’t thinkthe current consensus should trump everything else.
Dumped biologians could make own Expelled film
Biblical exegete Daniel C. Harlow, along with theologian John R. Schneider, are being investigated for violating doctrinal standards at Calvin College, for their work in ASA’s Perspectives. BioLogos (Christian Darwinist think tank) has as its biblical expert Peter Enns, whose Old Testament theorizing led to his suspension from Westminster Theological Seminary (p. 26). Similarly, Tremper Longman III found that he was no longer an adjunct faculty member at Reformed Theological Seminary, due to an article he published at BioLogos, saying that nothing insists on a literal understanding of Adam. So, if this is the new orthodoxy, it’s revolution, not evolution. Also Bruce Waltke, from Reformed, for similar discordances. These people could make their own Expelled film; they were expelled for Darwinism, not for doubting Darwinism.
If the Bible is infinitely flexible, how can it really be authoritative?
Ostling identifies as critical factors, the genealogy of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke and Paul’s teaching that “links the historical Adam with redemption through Christ), helpfully providing the passages: Rom 5:12-19, 1 Cor. 15:20-23, 42-49; and Acts 17 (speech) (p. 24). The obvious problem is that if Biologos’s demand that we adopt the shifting sands of current science thinking and simply fudge the significance of these passages for salvation were accepted, Christianity would not so much change as be obviated.
How much attention should one pay to claims about what science shows?
Dennis Venema, Biologos’s senior fellow for science, would have us know (p. 25) that
the chimp genome(total genetic heredity encoded in DNA), which was fully mapped by 2005,displays “near identity”with the human genome as detailed by Collins’s team, with a 95 to 99 percent match depending on what factors are included.
As Reasons to Believe biochemist Fuz Rana has pointed out (and he’s quoted), that would merely suggest that genes don’t count for much in determining what an entity will be like. As a result, the figure is widely disputed. What historic theological positions should depend on the outcome of this squabble?
Interestingly, a recent Uncommon Descent book prize contest strikingly revealed what accepting current science findings as an orthodoxy would mean. (That wasn’t its purpose.) Contestants were asked to say what we know – no fooling – for sure about the relation between Neanderthals and modern humans. A winning entry was:
I would say the Neanderthal and Denisovan genomes have changed the understanding of the Human-Hominid relationship. It appears humans interbred with them, and that some human populations have relics of this meeting in their genome. That some, but not all humans have these genes supports proposed migration patterns.
That’s good to know but not a lot that we couldn’t have guessed if he had doubts about the insistence on widely different human “species.” So every time you hear an exotic speculation (e.g., we killed them all off!), that’s what you’re hearing – exotic speculation. The article certainly did not spell that out. Science, in whatever state, is treated as the real authority.
Very little attention is paid to intelligent design, identified as a “third option” (p. 24):
One gets the sense that evidence for design in nature would make no difference as to what we should consider plausible. It’s strictly Darwinism vs. the Bible.:
A third alternative is the newer “intelligent design” approach, which deems the Darwinian “natural selection” model of evolutionary theory to be improbable and posits that some designing force lies behind nature, but does not explicitly define this as the God of Judaism and Christianity.
Because Ostling and Christianity Today accept uncritically whatever Darwinists tell them as “fact,” there is no room for ID’s requirement that evidence be evaluated.
A Darwinian, not a Christian view of evil is floated, in defense of Christian Darwinism
This had to happen, of course: John R. Schneider at Calvin College weighs in, according to “The Search for the Historical Adam” (Christianity Today, June 2011 )
Vices we associate with consequences of the Fall and original sin, such as self-serving behavior, exist in lower primates and would have been passed on via evolution to humans. Thus Eden “cannot be a literal description of how things really were in the primal human past.” (p. 26)
So does the Evolutionary Agony Aunt chair the psychology department there? Yes, it’s real, just as real as Christian profs getting in on the act.
Old Testament scholar John Collins of Covenant Seminary is brought on to give the “conservative” view at various points, and clearly identifies what is at stake, for example:
“If Adam and Eve lacked ‘an actual existence we nullify so many things in the Bible it results in a different story.'”
Similarly, Pastor Tim Keller of a local church near NYC’s Harvard Club where the BioLogos team held a workshop, told them bluntly,
[Paul] most definitely wanted to teach us that Adam and Eve were real historical figures. When you refuse to take a biblical author literally when he clearly wants you to do so, you have moved away from the traditional understanding of the biblical authority. (P. 27)
But maybe, going this route, BioLogos can get new atheists like Sam Harris and Jerry Coyne to revise their bad opinion of Christians.
Prediction: Based on Christianity Today’s article on Adam and Ever reinterpreted by BioLogos:
Genome mapper Francis Collins, who funded BioLogos, is hailed in the article as “one of the most eminent scientists ever to identify as an evangelical Christian,” an unexpected paean, and one that furrowed my brow (p. 23). Given that he’s a supporter of human embryonic stem cell research (and many witnessed the look of joy on his face when Obama signed the death order) plus, he can live with abortion – and it’s 11 years since I wrote an article for Christianity Today that assumed that a stance against abortion was normal for an evangelical:
The prediction is: If the mag goes down this road steadily, in ten years, it will be flirting with theologians who are okay with involuntary euthanasia. Just a discussion among scholars, you know … And the fifth commandment really must be reinterpreted in the light of modern circumstances … .
This is only a crisis if you are trying to get away from the implications of being a human, not an animal, and a Christian as well.