False Start? The Controversy Over Adam and Eve Heats Up

by Albert Mohler

The denial of an historical Adam and Eve as the first parents of all humanity and the solitary first human pair severs the link between Adam and Christ which is so crucial to the Gospel.

Each generation of Christians faces its own set of theological challenges. For this generation of Evangelicals, the question of beginnings is taking on a new urgency. In fact, this question is now a matter of Gospel urgency. How are we to understand the Bible’s story, if we can have no confidence that we know how it even begins?

In terms of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the most urgent question related to beginnings has to do with the questions related to the existence of Adam and Eve as the first parents to all humanity and to the reality of the Fall as the explanation for human sinfulness and all that comes with sin.

A report from Barbara Bradley Hagerty of National Public Radio a few weeks ago is an undeniable sign that even the secular world now recognizes that this is a question central to Christianity. Hagerty, a skilled religion reporter, talked to me and several others about this subject. Her interviews were broadcast as a report on August 9, with Steve Inskeep of NPR as host.

Inskeep got right to the point: “For many Evangelicals, a historical Adam and Eve is a critical part of their theology, but now some conservative religious scholars are saying, publicly, that they can no longer believe it.”

Hagerty asked Dennis Venema, a professor of biology at Trinity Western University, if all humans descended from Adam and Eve. “That would be against all the genomics evidence that we’ve assembled over the last 20 years, so not likely at all,” Venema said. He explained that there is simply too much genetic diversity among human beings than would be possible with an original reproducing pair. Venema affirmed the standard evolutionary line of argument and explained that, in Hagerty’s words, “modern humans emerged from other primates as a large population – long before the Genesis time frame of a few thousand years ago.”

Hagerty then talked to John Schneider, who taught theology at Calvin College for many years. Schneider took the argument even further. As Hagerty reported: “Schneider, who taught theology at Calvin College in Michigan until recently, says it’s time to face facts: There was no Adam and Eve, no serpent, no apple, no fall that toppled man from a state of innocence.”

Now, we face a broader assault on the Bible’s main storyline. Schneider leaves no doubt about the radical nature of his proposal: “Evolution makes it pretty clear that in nature, and in the moral experience of human beings, there never was any such paradise to be lost. So Christians, I think, have a challenge, have a job on their hands to reformulate some of their tradition about human beginnings.”

At this point, we are looking at a repudiation of the Bible’s account of beginnings. We are not talking about an argument over the interpretation of a few verses or even chapters of the Bible. We are now dealing with the straightforward rejection, not only of the existence of Adam and Eve, but of both Eden and the Fall…

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RECOMMENDED RESOURCES: Who Was Adam?: A Creation Model Approach to the Origin of Man / Origins of Life: Biblical and Evolutionary Models Face Off / On the Reliability of the Old Testament / More Apologetics Resources >>>