Rethinking Adam? (part 1)

This week I started reading Peter Enns’ The Evolution of Adam.

Enns, an evangelical biblical scholar, gets down to business on the very first page. (Bonus points to Enns for getting straight to the point.) He writes:

The Human Genome Project, completed in 2003, has shown beyond any reasonable scientific doubt that humans and primates share a common ancestry.

To put it another way, here’s how Christianity Today summed up the findings of Francis Collins, who led the Human Genome Project (and who’s also an evangelical Christian):

Anatomically modern humans emerged from primate ancestors perhaps 100,000 years ago — long before the apparent Genesis time frame — and originated with a population that numbered something like 10,000, not two individuals.

What if mapping the genetic code proves the human race didn’t emerge from a single pair of humans — i.e. no literal Adam and Eve?

This is more than just an academic exercise. Enns’ views on the Bible and science cost him his job at Westminster Theological Seminary. Bruce Waltke, one of the most respected Old Testament scholars today, was forced from his post at Reformed Theological Seminary for suggesting that Christianity and evolution are compatible.

For many evangelicals, the very underpinnings of Christian faith are at stake. If we abandon a literal reading of the creation story, it’s feared that we sacrifice an orthodox view of the Bible, our understanding of how sin and death came into being, and the very fabric of redemption in Christ (which Paul connects to Adam).

So does Christianity fall apart without a historical Adam and Eve?

3 thoughts on “Rethinking Adam? (part 1)

  1. Regarding your question, “does Christianity fall apart without a historical Adam and Eve?”, I think the answer is an unequivocal no. We may, however, have to enter into the deep mystery of a truth that exists apart from history, and a view of scriptural inspiration that encompasses the ideas of story, narrative and metaphor.


  2. I would say that Christianity would fall apart without a historic Adam and Eve. Christianity requires scripture, a divine savior, and the promise of a literal resurrection (see Genesis 2:21-23, Luke 3:38, 1 Corinthians 11:8-9, 15:45).

    Mar 10:2-6 KJV
    (2) And the Pharisees came to him, and asked him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting him.
    (3) And he answered and said unto them, What did Moses command you?
    (4) And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away.
    (5) And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept.
    (6) But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.

    Jesus said that God created man and woman as male and female, and the same scriptures that he refers to calls Eve the “mother of all living” (Genesis 3:20). Considering that Jesus backs up Genesis, that means if Genesis was wrong, then Jesus wasn’t who he said he was, either. With that Christianity would fall apart.

    But since you’re reading his book, how does Peter Enns attempt to answer the evolutionists “male and female” dilemma? Or does he suggest that in the beginning, God created male and female … non-human fuzzy things?



    When Darwin’s daughter Annie died at age 10, Darwin came to hate the God he blamed for this. This was in 1851, eight years before Darwin released Origin of Species.

    Around the time of Annie’s death, Darwin also wrote that if Christianity were true, then it would follow that his grandfather Erasmus Darwin and many of his closest family friends would be in hell. Darwin found this utterly unacceptable, given that these men were wise and kind and generous. Darwin’s rejection of God was less an act of unbelief than a rebellion against the kind of God posited by Christianity. A God who would allow a young girl to die and good people to go to hell was not anyone whom Darwin wanted to worship.

    I find it interesting that Darwin’s atheism can be attributed to a reaction against “Eternal Conscious Torment” and a failure of the church to provide a biblical teaching on the coming resurrection and judgment.


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