Are evangelicals finally coming to their senses?

| 307 Comments

Well, no, not really, but a recent program on National Public Radio in the U. S. claimed that “Evangelicals Question the Existence of Adam and Eve.” More specifically, the program noted that Dennis Venema of Trinity Western University and a few other evangelical scholars argue, correctly, that evolutionary theory precludes the possibility that all of humanity descended from a single couple. Let us hope that they are the thin edge of the wedge.

Unfortunately, the bottom line is more likely a statement by Albert Mohler, the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary: “Without Adam, the work of Christ makes no sense whatsoever in Paul’s description of the Gospel .…” I have no idea whether this claim is true, but it is certainly not evidence for the existence of Adam. Venema and the others are on the right track when they note that the Bible consists of allegory and poetry, as well as history, and need not be taken literally. Mohler, by contrast, needs to learn the meaning of the phrase begging the question.

307 Comments

I think what Mohler means is that without Adam, there would have been no Original Sin and therefore the atonement and salvation through the crucifixion of Christ would be meaningless and the entire Christian theology would fall.

Science employs “theories” based upon physical evidence to express truths about the physical world. Their purpose is to predict and control the natural world.

Religion employs “myths” based upon the working of the human mind in order to express human values. Their purpose is to explain our actions.

The problem arises when these two forms of truth are conflated.

Adam and Eve is a myth. It describes why we have opposing good and evil capabilities, and the consequences of choosing evil. Macbeth serves a similar purpose—Yet we can take away moral lessons from Macbeth without ever believing that its characters were real historical people. Why can we not do the same with Adam and Eve?

(PN: Mark Twain posthumously published “The Dairies of Eve and Adam”. Entertaining—and even touching in places.)

andrewgao1 said:

I think what Mohler means is that without Adam, there would have been no Original Sin and therefore the atonement and salvation through the crucifixion of Christ would be meaningless and the entire Christian theology would fall.

The idea that the death of a God-man is necessary to forgive human sin IS meaningless, because it make God himself look limited in what he can do. A truly all powerful God could simply accept the repentance of a sinner and forgive him. No death is necessary. But it s a great way to guilt trip someone into following a leader that uses the name of Jesus and that wants you to jump through hoops the leader made up for life.

And fix that damned title above! “Are evangelicals is finally coming to their senses? WTF?!

With the amount of variety present in the human species, if it did come from one couple, that couple would have had to lived at least a hundred thousand years ago, or earlier, as it’s been that long since our last genetic bottleneck (i.e., population crash).

Henry

… the work of Christ makes no sense whatsoever in Paul’s description of the Gospel

Dang! And here I thought it was called “Christianity” … I guess it’s really “Paulism”.

I read Mohler at some length. He takes a very long time and very many words to say “The Bible says it. I believe it. That settles it.”

Destroy Adam and Eve and the original sin, and in the rubble you will find the sorry remains of the son of god. Take away the meaning of his death. If Jesus was not the redeemer who died for our sins, and this is what evolution means, then Christianity is nothing!”

–Bozarth, G. Richard, “The Meaning of Evolution,” American Atheist (February 1978), page 30.

As we have seen, there is no basis in scripture for thinking that Adam was meant metaphorically.

It is sometimes argued that since “Adam” was not a proper name at the time Genesis was written, but instead is just the Hebrew word for “man”, we are justified in treating Adam metaphorically. That this is specious becomes clear when you consider everything that Adam does.

In Chapter Two the specifics of his creation and that of Eve are used to explain the origins of marriage.

In Chapter Three, specific actions he takes result in the curse on creation.

In Chapter Five we are given a meticulous list of descendants linking him to Noah.

It seems a bit odd to think that a metaphorical man could leave literal descendants. And in the New Testament he is discussed in terms that make him sound as real as Jesus.

Metaphorizing Adam is easier said than done.

–Jason Rosenhouse, EvolutionBlog, 12-19-2010

FL

Mohler is both wrong and right. Without the Adam *allegory*, Paul’s description makes no sense whatsoever. And the context of Paul’s statements would indicate he was not relying on a historical Adam as well. (Though naturally, in that age, he would have had no difficulty with a historical Adam.)

Science shows that all of humanity are indeed descended from a single couple. We are all descended from Mitochondrial Eve’s parents. Of course there are lots of other couples from whom we are all also descended, but mere descent from a single couple is not an issue for science. It is the size of the population of which that couple were members that causes the disagreement between biologists and Biblical literalists.

I’d point out this quotation from one of the biologists:

That would be against all the genomic evidence that we’ve assembled over the last 20 years, so not likely at all.

It isn’t especially evolution that is incompatible with Adam being the sole ancestor of all humans, but also genetics. (As well as history, etc.) I would point out that evolution is an integrated part of biology, and knowledge in general. Those creationists who teach the kids to say, “How do you know, were you there?” recognize that, in the face of the overwhelming evidence for evolutionary biology, the only way out is some kind of nihilism, solipsism, or omphalism.

Is Matt Youg is finally going to read the title he chose?

Unfortunately, the science does indicate that we are all descended from Noah and his wife.

Modelling the recent common ancestry of all living humans

http://www.nature.com/nature/journa[…]re02842.html

The MRCA (most recent common ancestor) of all present-day humans lived just a few thousand years ago in these models. Moreover, among all individuals living more than just a few thousand years earlier than the MRCA, each present-day human has exactly the same set of genealogical ancestors.

But, in any case, evolutionists maintain that all humans are descended from a single individual who had fused chromosome 2s and went on to found the human lineage. This “Darwinian Adam” may not have been “human” as such but he was the progenitor of all mankind.

Joe Felsenstein said:

Is Matt Youg is finally going to read the title he chose?

… and am I finally going to learn to proofread? Matt Young.

Joe Felsenstein said:

Joe Felsenstein said:

Is Matt Youg is finally going to read the title he chose?

… and am I finally going to learn to proofread? Matt Young.

No. But error-correcting enzymes do a pretty good job. Of course, they are supposed to have themselves evolved through errors!

I would point out as a historical note, that for much of the late 19th Century into early 20th Century, Fundamentalist Protestant Christian Americans accepted as valid science (and scientific fact), evolutionary theory and biological evolution. It was only during World War I, in reaction to German intelligentsia’s embrace of “Darwinism”, or rather Social Darwinism, which gave their empire the divine right to wage war against “lesser” peoples, that Fundamentalists opted to reject evolution en masse, according to noted vertebrate paleobiologist Don Prothero. So a better title for Matt Young’s post might be, “Are Fundamentalists Returning To Their Senses?”

John said:

I would point out as a historical note, that for much of the late 19th Century into early 20th Century, Fundamentalist Protestant Christian Americans accepted as valid science (and scientific fact), evolutionary theory and biological evolution. It was only during World War I, in reaction to German intelligentsia’s embrace of “Darwinism”, or rather Social Darwinism, which gave their empire the divine right to wage war against “lesser” peoples, that Fundamentalists opted to reject evolution en masse, according to noted vertebrate paleobiologist Don Prothero. So a better title for Matt Young’s post might be, “Are Fundamentalists Returning To Their Senses?”

That is simply not true because it was only until the 1940s that scientists accepted Darwinian and Mendelian evolutionism. Nowadays, more and more scientists are abandoning the leaky ship of Darwinism and embracing alternative ideas. I guarantee you there will be no celebration of Darwin in 2059. That is a firm prediction.

circleh said:

andrewgao1 said:

I think what Mohler means is that without Adam, there would have been no Original Sin and therefore the atonement and salvation through the crucifixion of Christ would be meaningless and the entire Christian theology would fall.

The idea that the death of a God-man is necessary to forgive human sin IS meaningless, because it make God himself look limited in what he can do. A truly all powerful God could simply accept the repentance of a sinner and forgive him. No death is necessary. But it s a great way to guilt trip someone into following a leader that uses the name of Jesus and that wants you to jump through hoops the leader made up for life.

God does accept the repentance of a sinner and forgives him! Are you really this ignorant?

Atheistoclast said:

Unfortunately, the science does indicate that we are all descended from Noah and his wife.

Modelling the recent common ancestry of all living humans

http://www.nature.com/nature/journa[…]re02842.html

The MRCA (most recent common ancestor) of all present-day humans lived just a few thousand years ago in these models. Moreover, among all individuals living more than just a few thousand years earlier than the MRCA, each present-day human has exactly the same set of genealogical ancestors.

But, in any case, evolutionists maintain that all humans are descended from a single individual who had fused chromosome 2s and went on to found the human lineage. This “Darwinian Adam” may not have been “human” as such but he was the progenitor of all mankind.

The statistical argument in the article you cite (and for those of you who can’t conveniently get to the article, the paper presents a statistical argument) doesn’t actually support your contention that “we all descended from Noah and his wife”. A “Genesis flood” scenario is actually inconsistent with the assumptions of the model.

Atheistoclast said:

John said:

I would point out as a historical note, that for much of the late 19th Century into early 20th Century, Fundamentalist Protestant Christian Americans accepted as valid science (and scientific fact), evolutionary theory and biological evolution. It was only during World War I, in reaction to German intelligentsia’s embrace of “Darwinism”, or rather Social Darwinism, which gave their empire the divine right to wage war against “lesser” peoples, that Fundamentalists opted to reject evolution en masse, according to noted vertebrate paleobiologist Don Prothero. So a better title for Matt Young’s post might be, “Are Fundamentalists Returning To Their Senses?”

That is simply not true because it was only until the 1940s that scientists accepted Darwinian and Mendelian evolutionism. Nowadays, more and more scientists are abandoning the leaky ship of Darwinism and embracing alternative ideas. I guarantee you there will be no celebration of Darwin in 2059. That is a firm prediction.

Finally some semblance of intelligence from you, Atheistofool. Darwin postulated several theories of evolution of which one was to show that evolution did occur and then, another, which he - and independently of him, Wallace - identified Natual Selection as its primary mechanism, which noted evolutionary biologist Ernst Mayr has noted. It was the Theory of Evolution via Natural Selection which was in doubt for most of the latter half of the 19th Century and into the early 20th Century, when Gregor Mendel’s pioneering work on genetics was rediscovered. Natural Selection became the central core of Modern Synthesis Theory of Evolution thanks to the work of geneticists R. A. Fisher, Sewall Wright, and Theodosius Dobzhansky, zoologists Julian Huxley and Ernst Mayr and paleontologist George Gaylord Simpson, among others.

But you are still wrong in trying to explain away the fact that your fellow Fundamentalists DID ACCEPT the scientific validity of biological evolution until World War I.

IBelieveInGod the psychotic Xian creotard barked:

circleh said:

andrewgao1 said:

I think what Mohler means is that without Adam, there would have been no Original Sin and therefore the atonement and salvation through the crucifixion of Christ would be meaningless and the entire Christian theology would fall.

The idea that the death of a God-man is necessary to forgive human sin IS meaningless, because it make God himself look limited in what he can do. A truly all powerful God could simply accept the repentance of a sinner and forgive him. No death is necessary. But it s a great way to guilt trip someone into following a leader that uses the name of Jesus and that wants you to jump through hoops the leader made up for life.

God does accept the repentance of a sinner and forgives him! Are you really this ignorant?

I told you to shut up and to deal with your personal emergency, and then, try learning something about science, before coming back to Panda’s Thumb. But you refuse Biggy, and any sympathy I had had for your plight has long since evaporated.

Atheistoclast said: it was only until the 1940s that scientists accepted Darwinian and Mendelian evolutionism. Nowadays, more and more scientists are abandoning the leaky ship of Darwinism and embracing alternative ideas. I guarantee you there will be no celebration of Darwin in 2059. That is a firm prediction.

Thank you for recognizing that “Darwinian and Mendelian evolutionism” had no influence on those various social/political movements of the early 20th century.

WRT your prediction:

The Imminent Demise of Evolution: The Longest Running Falsehood in Creationism by G. R. Morton

John said:

But you are still wrong in trying to explain away the fact that your fellow Fundamentalists DID ACCEPT the scientific validity of biological evolution until World War I.

They did not accept evolution by natural selection. They may well have accepted some form of common ancestry but let us remind ourselves that the idea that all life is descended from a common ancestor is just as extreme as the Genesis account that all humanity is descended from Adam. It is, in fact, a radical extension of the latter.

The reason why sudden creationism is back in vogue is because 200 years of fossil hunting has produced a dearth of “transitional” specimens. I know you will claim many have since been found, but these can all be easily disputed and are certainly not as extensive, both quantitatively and qualitatively, to what Darwin predicted in the Origin. Scandals like “Piltdown Man” and hyped-up nonsense about “Ida” have also convinced many that evolutionism was essentially a hoax and a dogma.

Atheistofool the babbling psychotic Xian creotard barked:

John said:

But you are still wrong in trying to explain away the fact that your fellow Fundamentalists DID ACCEPT the scientific validity of biological evolution until World War I.

They did not accept evolution by natural selection. They may well have accepted some form of common ancestry but let us remind ourselves that the idea that all life is descended from a common ancestor is just as extreme as the Genesis account that all humanity is descended from Adam. It is, in fact, a radical extension of the latter.

The reason why sudden creationism is back in vogue is because 200 years of fossil hunting has produced a dearth of “transitional” specimens. I know you will claim many have since been found, but these can all be easily disputed and are certainly not as extensive, both quantitatively and qualitatively, to what Darwin predicted in the Origin. Scandals like “Piltdown Man” and hyped-up nonsense about “Ida” have also convinced many that evolutionism was essentially a hoax and a dogma.

I didn’t say that they accepted evolution via Natural Selection, moron. As for your observation that “sudden creationism” is “in vogue”, it is one replete in breathtaking inanity, moron.

I really wish these people would ask themselves WHY they believe what they believe. I’m not sure they’re even capable of introspection. I recently heard an (allegedly) educated and intelligent Episcopalian priest cite the (alleged) witnessing of Jesus after death as evidence of resurrection. Why on Earth does he find this convincing?! A fundamental law of biology is broken, and 2000 year old hearsay constitutes evidence in his mind? If a bunch of people go camping and return claiming that one had been dead for two days, would he also buy this?

Matt G said:

I really wish these people would ask themselves WHY they believe what they believe. I’m not sure they’re even capable of introspection. I recently heard an (allegedly) educated and intelligent Episcopalian priest cite the (alleged) witnessing of Jesus after death as evidence of resurrection. Why on Earth does he find this convincing?! A fundamental law of biology is broken, and 2000 year old hearsay constitutes evidence in his mind? If a bunch of people go camping and return claiming that one had been dead for two days, would he also buy this?

So, eyewitness testimony shouldn’t be accepted as evidence according to your logic?

SWT said:

Atheistoclast said:

Unfortunately, the science does indicate that we are all descended from Noah and his wife.

Modelling the recent common ancestry of all living humans

http://www.nature.com/nature/journa[…]re02842.html

The MRCA (most recent common ancestor) of all present-day humans lived just a few thousand years ago in these models. Moreover, among all individuals living more than just a few thousand years earlier than the MRCA, each present-day human has exactly the same set of genealogical ancestors.

But, in any case, evolutionists maintain that all humans are descended from a single individual who had fused chromosome 2s and went on to found the human lineage. This “Darwinian Adam” may not have been “human” as such but he was the progenitor of all mankind.

The statistical argument in the article you cite (and for those of you who can’t conveniently get to the article, the paper presents a statistical argument) doesn’t actually support your contention that “we all descended from Noah and his wife”. A “Genesis flood” scenario is actually inconsistent with the assumptions of the model.

A brief review of the literature suggests that this letter to the editor was not followed up with a publication, even though Joseph T. Chang has been quite active since 2004.

So, in your opinion, how old is the earth, was there ever a global flood, if so how long ago, and if so, is the biblical story of Noah’s ark literally true? Please do not bother to reply without answering all questions.

Is Matt Youg is finally going to read the title he chose?

Is he is, or is he ain’t? He is. He blames his trusty voice-recognition software, plus the fact that he is somewhat preoccupied.

harold said:

So, in your opinion, how old is the earth, was there ever a global flood, if so how long ago, and if so, is the biblical story of Noah’s ark literally true? Please do not bother to reply without answering all questions.

I am agnostic as to the age of the earth. I think the material the Earth is made up of may well be 4.6 billion years old, but the planet itself be much younger. It is like trying to date the construction of a mahogany table by determining the age of the tree that was used to supply the wood.

I doubt there was ever a global flood but I am sure there was some sort of catastrophic regional flood that created the Black Sea, Caspian Sea and other such features. It might have happened about 5000 years ago.

Noah was the first ethologist and zoologist. I regard the Ark as a primitive research vessel rather than an attempt to repopulate the Earth with every species.

John said: I didn’t say that they accepted evolution via Natural Selection, moron. As for your observation that “sudden creationism” is “in vogue”, it is one replete in breathtaking inanity, moron.

You didn’t define evolution. That is always the problem.

I am scientist..I reject Darwinism. There are many others like me who the likes of the NAS would claim do not exist. After all, 99.999% of life scientists are Darwinists just as 99.999% of Iraqis supported Saddam Hussein when he was in power.

Yes, with a caveat. I am referring specifically to Paul’s mention of Jesus’s appearance after Resurrection to “five hundred of the brothers at once” - an event that nobody else mentioned. I infer from the plain form of his words that he had heard of this from others, but I think that they had in turn had heard it from others still, through an unknown number of iterations. This is what makes it a tradition. It’s the transmission and the result, not the lapse in time. Paul said that some who were there were living still - but, tellingly, he didn’t say that he had spoken to them directly. We don’t know his sources, therefore. We can only say certainly that he is quoting a tradition.

Have a look at the “Angels of Mons” story for another example of what I mean. That’s a tradition still being handed on fifty and sixty years later, and it grew up in less than five, having been sparked (most likely) by muddled memories of a short story published in 1912 plus, probably, propaganda. But hundreds of soldiers later claimed to be witnesses to it, and at least some of them certainly believed it. Most likely they were mistaking other people’s stories for their own memories, something that is surprisingly easy to do. But it formed the basis of a tradition. I think Paul’s sources were operating in the same way.

Thanks, Dave.

Ironically, I think henry is somehow troubled by the direct, literal meaning of Paul’s comment (“I’m telling you what I was taught plus the big thing that happened to me personally”). Fortunately, I keep my irony meter behind osmium shielding when reading Panda’s Thumb.

This doesn’t square with your earlier use of tradition. “over generations” was your definition, not person to person as you now defined it.

Dave Luckett said:

Henry doesn’t like the word “tradition”. He’s latching on to a single word that he thinks he understands, and disputing its meaning in the hope that he can keep alive the nonsense he believes, that the Bible is the direct and inerrant word of God.

He thinks that “tradition” necessarily implies generations of transmission. It doesn’t. It can mean oral transmission from person to person of a story or practice or idea. That story or idea morphs or the practice takes on different meanings or values as it goes through an unknown number of minds, and this can happen in a surprisingly short time. That’s a tradition.

Paul at 1 Corinthians 15:6 says Jesus appeared to “over five hundred of our brothers at once”. Elsewhere he directly denies that he got anything from the original disciples, and states that he hardly ever even saw them, so it wasn’t them who told him this. He only encountered Jesus that once, on the road to Damascus. Therefore, he is speaking of what he has heard from unspecified other persons.

This is a tradition, a story handed down from people who knew people who’d told them of something they’d heard from someone else. “Rumour” is probably more unkind, and anyway Paul didn’t say that.

The point is not what we call this process. It’s that it’s not eyewitness testimony, and that it bears the marks of fabulation. Let’s say, if you like, that Paul accurately reported what he’d been told.

(There’s no particular reason to believe that, mind. Paul is himself guilty of fabulation, plainly. In his famously coy description of his experience on the road to Damascus in 2 Corinthians 12:2 ff, he says he doesn’t know if he was in or out of the body. The description at Acts 9:3 is plain: Paul’s body was never anywhere else but on the road: the voice from Heaven tells him to get up from it. So Paul is there romanticising his own experience, not surprisingly. What odds that he is projecting this figure of five hundred from some tale he’s heard that started out something like “A whole lot of people saw Jesus…”? But all that to one side.)

But suppose he did accurately report what he’d been told. So what? It’s a tradition, a rumour, a story. It isn’t eyewitness testimony, and it probably doesn’t even report eyewitness testimony. It isn’t original, and it comes from unknown sources, so it isn’t the direct and inerrant word of God, which is the screaming bleeping point. Quibbling over the precise value of a single word is completely irrelevant to that point. But if that’s all you got, that’s what you do.

Dave Luckett said:

Tradition in the historian’s sense of the word, means “interpretations passed on by word of mouth over generations”. It was in that sense that I was using the word, as it appears in the translation given by the Revised Standard Bible, which is better and more recent than whatever mash-up of the KJV you’re using there.

This reads:

(1 Corinthians 15:3) First and foremost, I handed on to you the tradition I had received: that Christ died for our sins, in accordance with the scriptures…

For the last bleeping time, whether Paul was a contemporary is irrelevant, and the other things he might have seen are also irrelevant. He wasn’t an eyewitness to the appearances of Jesus after the Resurrection that are mentioned in the Gospels. He wasn’t an eyewitness to the appearance of Jesus to five hundred people. He mentions it as something he has heard, but nobody else does - which is really odd. Why not?

The details of the appearances given in the Gospels are quite specific, but the separate accounts have almost nothing in common with each other except a brief, vague and unspecific mention of him appearing in the room where the disciples were gathered. Where specific details are given, they are divergent, telling completely different stories, and the accounts fail to corroborate each other.

It’s not enough simply to assert that the stories told of these appearances in the Gospels could all be true. The question is, why are they all different?

As I have said now several times, any historian knows what causes accounts to diverge like this. These are plainly variant narratives passed on by word of mouth, becoming embellished and mythologised in the process. They represent different traditions and different agendae of different writers. There may be a core of common experience within them. More than this is impossible to say.

This is to treat the Gospels as historical documents, written by human beings - because that’s what they are. They are not texts written at God’s dictation. Anybody who starts with that flagrantly lunatic idea has simply resigned reason and fled reality.

http://www.icr.org/

ICR has an article on Venema’s comments.

Henry said:

This doesn’t square with your earlier use of tradition. “over generations” was your definition, not person to person as you now defined it.

Dave doesn’t believe that everyone who has ever existed lived at exactly the same instant in time.

Mike Elzinga said:

Henry said:

This doesn’t square with your earlier use of tradition. “over generations” was your definition, not person to person as you now defined it.

Dave doesn’t believe that everyone who has ever existed lived at exactly the same instant in time.

Who does?

Henry, you’re right about that, and I should clarify. The words “over generations” were used inadvisedly. They are, in fact, incorrect. I withdraw and apologise for being loose and sloppy.

A tradition is something passed on by word of mouth until it is recorded in writing, through unknown numbers of people. This may be over considerable time, but the transmission might happen quite quickly. The essential marker of “tradition” is that the person recording it is an unknown number of separations from eyewitnesses, who are themselves unknown. This is the case with Paul’s story of the five hundred who saw Jesus at one time. He was not an eyewitness, and he was not reporting eyewitnesses. He was reporting a tradition.

OK, now?

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