Recently a movement in some Christian circles is saying that the Bible is not literally true regarding Adam and Eve. People are doubting 1) that Adam and Eve were the first man and woman, 2) that the Bible is literally accurate in what it says about Adam and Eve, and 3) that the whole human race descended from one couple. So there are various “alternatives” to believing Genesis that have been put forward.
One way is to take the early chapters of Genesis as mythological or allegorical. This is a very convenient copout because it means you can ignore the details of the text and take the meaning to be whatever symbolic concept seems convenient. From this kind of approach, different people may get different applications from the text and you would not expect there to be complete agreement between various Scripture passages about Adam and Eve, because none of them are taken as historical anyway. Indeed this is sometimes how scholars approach many things in the Old Testament since they have trouble believing the miracles and they question the historicity of much of the Old Testament. I think this whole approach is a serious mistake and that it mishandles God’s word. God revealed Truth to mankind using language and so we can do better than this sloppy approach.
The new challenge to believing in a real Adam and Eve comes from evolutionary genetics research. The idea goes something like this. Modern homo sapiens, according to evolution, did not all arrive at all our modern characteristics from one couple. It took a sizable population of maybe at least 10,000 so that some characteristics came from some and some from others. The evolutionists are hoping in chance, numbers, and time to provide the right combination of traits in our genome to make ape-man intermediates into humans. They do not allow for the possibility of God miraculously creating the first man and woman by design. With miraculous creation as Genesis 2 describes, there is no need for a sizable population at the start. Rather, the consequence of the Genesis record is that humans were created with an initially perfect genome, without mutations and with plenty of variability for what humans needed all built-in from the start. Then over the course of history, humans lost genetic information in the genome. With initially long life spans about 10 times that of us today, every married couple could have many kids with a variety of characteristics. Then there was a genetic bottleneck at the time of Noah’s Flood because the human population was reduced to 8 people. This is not just a story, according to Genesis, or even according to Jesus or the Apostle Paul. This is our history, our genesis, if you will. This does have implications for genetics and there is new evidence that this explains some aspects of human genetics beautifully.
So, another view that has been proposed on Adam and Eve is that long ago perhaps 2 million years ago there were some neolithic primative people who were farmers. God chose a pair of them to know him in a personal way. This pair of chosen primatives and their descendants have been called Homo Divinus. (You can laugh at this point if you want to.) These would have been anatomically modern humans but were very ignorant until God called them. So God developed a relationship with certain individuals as his chosen people among the many primatives. They learned and developed somehow with God’s help into more enlightened and capable people who had a faith similar to the ancient Jews. This may be a quaint idea but it will not make sense in a Christian world view.
I’d recommend reading the following blog entry commenting on this Homo Divinus idea by a well known evolutionary scientist, Jerry Coyne. CLICK TO GO TO Jerry Coyne is a well known scientist from the University of Chicago, from the department of Ecology and Evolution. Coyne has a number of very valid criticisms of this idea that I agree with. But there is another way of looking at the genetics that apparently Dr. Coyne does not know or accept. The evidence does not disprove the Bible. Scientists have learned wrong ways of approaching the problems. Science has to be rethought regarding origins and history. There is progress in this by young age creationists who have found they don’t have to turn to illogical ideas like the above to deal with the evidence. See this article by Robert Carter for a taste of this.
Dr. Coyne made an interesting point about the Homo Divinus idea above, “Of course there’s still a historical problem here: how did this pair of annointed farmers bring the curse of sin on humanity by contravening God’s will?” Dr. Coyne seems to reject Genesis altogether, but he raises a good point. Without a literal Adam and Eve, there is no explanation for what went wrong with the human race to make us need a savior!
Scripture is clear in teaching that Adam and Eve were real people. We cannot give up on the early chapters of Genesis about Adam & Eve, the Fall, and the Flood. First of all, if Adam was not a real person, why does Genesis 5 give his age? Also, who was Seth and Cain? 1 Chronicles 1 also lists Adam in the longest geneology in the Bible, thus implying he was a real person. Hosea 6:7 also mentions Adam. The New Testament mentions Adam even more than the Old Testament. In Luke 3:38 Adam is listed in Jesus’ geneology. In Romans 5:14 Adam is mentioned in the same sentence with Moses. Do we also question the existence of Moses? The Apostle Paul refers to Adam explicitly as the “first man” in 1 Corinthians 15 and in 1 Timothy 2:13 Paul says Adam was formed first, then Eve. So clearly the Apostle Paul accepted Genesis literally about Adam and Eve. Furthermore, there is no way you can make the creation of Adam and Eve from Genesis 2 agree with evolution.
We must resist Christian scholars or Christian scientists who confuse other Christians by questioning the early chapters of Genesis. The Bible hangs together logically and it is more certain and more authoritative than science. We can believe what it says, because God is able to do as He says.