Resources for studying Adam and Eve, Hell, Evolution, and Original Sin

Hello Everyone!

So, if you are not aware of it two famous Youtubers “Rhett and Link” recently talked about their “Spiritual Deconstruction”. They were Evangelical Christians, and now they are Agnostics.

I have not heard their full story yet, I am interested in watching the whole story though. However I did hear some of why they left.

The reasons (at least for Rhett), were:
Are Adam and Eve literal?
The whole Hell issue.
Evolution’s Truth and how it affects Adam and Eve.
And Original Sin, cause if Adam and Eve aren’t literal, then that effects Original Sin, Which effects Jesus Sacrifice, Burial And Resurrection.

So, I have wanted to study these things more in depth anyway, and since watching these guys for so long, It does bother me to see this “falling away”. I would like to ask if you all could share any resources you have on these 4 topics.

Adam and Eve
Hell
Evolution
Original Sin

I already have some ideas of where to start my research, but any additional information would be very helpful!

Thank you all and God Bless!

P.S. What are your thoughts on the recent falling away for some well known Christians?

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@Dev Thanks for sharing :slight_smile: I took the time to watch a bit about Rhett and Link’s background with Cru and also Rhett’s deconstruction testimony. Since Rhett specifically requested that those who respond to his story not question the reality of his relationship with Jesus, I’ll honor his request while making my observations. To keep things neat, I am going to provide some initial thoughts in this response and then create another one with resources on the specific topics you mentioned.

This story reminds me of that of Joshua Harris in certain important ways, though of course I do not want to over simplify the complexities of their narratives. Consider that in both cases we have the following:

  • young, charismatic man who is a clear leader but is not yet deeply rooted in their own faith and has not been exposed to many views outside of their own (Rhett had not examined the Bible deeply and Harris, by his own testimony, had been within the purity culture bubble growing up and knew nothing else)
  • ministry - Cru for Rhett and Church for Harris - exalts said young man because they see the clear leadership potential
  • as time passes said young man begins to be exposed to new ideas / questions about their faith they had not encountered - it is time for them to choose to own their own faith or not in the face of competing worldviews
  • said young man - now older - chooses that actually they find other views more compelling

Truthfully, this story is not that shocking. It is just a case of people growing up. We all have to own our faith at some point as we examine the evidence. Myself, I don’t find the arguments they offer for rejecting Christianity convincing, but I can understand how from their perspective they seem convincing.

I think part of what these guys faced was the shock of encountering outside perspectives after spending nearly 100% of their time in these super intense Christian bubbles. I’m sure that experience was super disillusioning. I’ve actually had a similar experience to Rhett where I served one summer at a camp and when I came back to Church I didn’t understand why everyone else wasn’t as fired up as I thought I was… I later grew and matured, but I can definitely relate to many of their experiences.

That said, I don’t find their reasons for rejecting Christianity convincing. I’ll provide some more resource shortly.

@Dev So, Rhett’s turning point on Adam and Eve was largely connected to his changing views on human evolution. He basically argues that if evolution is true then Adam and Eve cannot be real people, which destroys the foundation of the Christian faith. There are two important points that I would like to make regarding his problem with Adam and Eve.

  • very intelligent non-Christians, such as David Berlinski, point out the serious logical flaws with molecules to man evolution, which is the foundational assertion underpinning Rhett’s argument
  • modern genetics cannot rule out the possibility of humanity coming from a single pair

Below are some resources I would suggest just to get started. BioLogos is run by Christians who believe in molecules to man evolution and may offer some more technical counterarguments to the later stages of Rhett’s argument. I personally don’t hold this view and I think Rhett’s assumption of molecules to man evolution is likely false.

We also point to research papers in the peer-reviewed scientific literature written by leading geneticists that conclude that genetics models are useless for determining ancestral populations. Furthermore, we cite conservation biology field experiments that demonstrate that a pair or small population of individuals in a mammal species always generates more genetic diversity than what current genetics models would predict. Therefore, these field experiments establish that Biologos’ conclusion that the ancestral population of humanity was at least ten thousand individuals must be an inflated upper limit. Personally, I have observed the ancestral human population derived from genetics models decline over the past fifty years.

@Dev Below are some resources on the topic of Hell I hope provide some insight. I highly recommend the movie “Hell and Mr. Fudge” - it is available on Amazon. May the Lord Jesus grant you wisdom and understanding as you seek His face!

A few summary points:

  1. God will judge each person according to the knowledge they possess - the judge of all the earth will do what is right
  2. It is not clear that Scripture teaches eternal torment for those who reject Jesus - it is possible that after they are judged by God they will cease to exist - this view is called conditionalism

Within historic Christianity, there are 3 views of how God ultimately handles sin. The three views of how God handles sin ultimately are:

  1. Eternal torment - some form of eternal suffering or separation from God
  2. Conditionalism - those who reject God are judged and then cease to exist
  3. Universalism - sin is real, but all people will eventually be brought to repentance

Reasons I Currently Hold to Annihilation

I came to the conclusion that annihilation is the best explanation of the Biblical texts and have yet to hear a rebuttal I find convincing. Here are some reasons that I find annihlation convincing.

  • at this point I’m of the opinion that the idea of an inherently immortal soul is just not in the Bible. It was common in pagan philosophy, but I do not think it can be found in Scripture. The idea of an inherently immortal soul is one of the lynchpins of the argument for eternal torment/separation - if the soul is eternal then obviously God will not be destroying anyone, hence Lewis’ book ‘The Great Divorce’. If Hell is eternal and we do not think God tortures people and we do not think the human soul can be destroyed - what then becomes of the wicked? Lewis basically argues they become their sin, which is an interesting perspective.
  • the word for eternal in Greek - ‘aion’ or ‘aionios’ - does not necessarily suggest endlessness like its English equivalent. Bruce Waltke says, “That neither the Hebrew nor the Greek word in itself contain the idea endlessness is shown both by the fact that they sometimes refer to events or conditions that occurred at a definite point in the past, and also by the fact that sometimes it is thought desirable to repeat the word, not merely saying “forever”, but “forever and ever”…Both words came to be used to refer to a long age or period.” G. K. Beale says, “The context of the passage and of the book must determine whether this is a long but limited time or an unending period”. It can also mean ‘age’ or ‘of the age to come’ according to Steve Gregg.
  • eternal fire could be eternal in consequence - it destroys permanently - rather than eternal in duration (Jude 1:7). In fact, this is the very image often used - Jesus talks about the branches that do not produce fruit being burned up and John the Baptist about burning up the chaff with ‘unquenchable fire’. These images suggest the chaff / branches are destroyed.
  • Jesus’ reference to worms not die / fire not quenched is from Isaiah 66 and the people are very much dead in that description
  • the book of Revelation is apocalyptic literature and pressing the images too far is poor exegesis / method - Rev 14:10-11 and 20:10 are often used in support of eternal torment. But I think this is a misapplication of the apocalyptic genre.
  • Jesus talks about both soul and body being ‘destroyed’ in Matthew 10:28 in reference to Gehenna. I am aware of a counterargument that destroyed here can mean ‘ruined’, but I do not find it convincing given Jesus’ other talk of chaff and branches being burned up.
  • In Ezekiel 18/33 God says He ‘takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked’ and we see zero instances of God inflicting torture on people as punishment. I am not appealing to our personal emotions here - but rather saying that God never uses torture on His enemies throughout the OT. Why is He suddenly torturing people in the NT? I think you can make a Biblical - rather than emotional - argument that this is simply inconsistent with God’s character - even His wrath. Our God is a consuming fire - yes - and does allow people to suffer the evil they have devised for others (Haman in Esther or Matthew 18:34), but He Himself does not seek to inflict torment.
  • the idea that because God is infinitely holy He must punish sin with infinite punishment does not make sense to me. It makes an assumption about what God’s holiness means. Whenever an unholy person entered the holy of holies without being clean - like Nadab and Abihu - they were consumed - destroyed. Holiness to me is about being able to enter God’s presence and live - about being set apart - not about the duration of punishment. So I think this argument begs the question / involves circular reasoning by assuming one view of how a holy God responds to sin.

I do believe everyone will be resurrected to a Day of Judgment and that there will be terror / shame for the wicked, but it is unclear to me what that means. After that, I believe the wicked will be destroyed. I am always open to changing my mind if I am presented with good evidence.

Connect Threads

Hi Sean,

I agree with what you said. I too cannot speak on their relationship with Christ. I did hear in the beginning of Link’s story Video, that Rhett did mention that their Journey is not over, and I hope that they come back to Christ and see that he is The Truth.

I am saddened to hear and to see stories like this, it seems like you said, that they are believers who grew up in a Christian Bubble. And at the first challenge to their Faith it caused such a shock to them. These situations really make me belief that we really need apologetics in The Church, now more than ever.

You know, I saw some comments on Rhett’s instagram of people having similar stories. And one women talked about how she was brought up being told “obey or you’ll go to hell”. And, then she left Christianity. And you know many of these stories the people talk about being free, or having a weight lifted off of their shoulders. And honestly, if that is the version of Christianity that you are taught, I can understand why leaving it would be freeing. And, I see two common themes in stories like this.

  1. They did not seem (I say seem cause I don’t know their story personally) to know the Bible or the Christian Message fully.
  2. They seem to be in a bubble, or a more extreme form of Christianity, with some extreme theological views, or lacking certain Truths.
  3. They don’t seemed to be Challenged in a way to study and learn about the Truth of their faith regularly.

I certainly hope that these people find the True Christianity (not saying they didn’t have it before), and come back to Christ with the knowledge that it is True.

I personally have and still struggle with Doubts, and honestly I enjoy the Questions. They challenge me and my faith, and they cause me to search and seek out the Truth. Often Daily at times. Two saying I always remind myself of “What is Truth?” and “The Truth has nothing to Fear from Investigation”. Regardless of my feelings, desires, or opinions, I need to make sure that something is True. And I have found Christianity to be True. I hope these men will come back and see that as well.

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Thank you for the Resources! I will definitely be reading these books, and digging into these things. I was kind of unsure of where to start cause these are pretty heavy, deep, and complex questions. But, you have helped making that staring point more clear, and less intimidating. Thank you again and I look forward to the studying and learning!

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@Dev Amen! May the Lord Jesus open their eyes and hearts to Himself in His mercy.

I agree that doubt and questions are healthy; not something to be feared. One of my favorite quotes is from St. Anselm, “I do not seek to understand in order that I may believe , but rather, I believe in order that I may understand”. I believe that I work out my doubts in relationship with God; it is a journey that I continue each day.

Those are good observations. Sometimes a warped version of Christianity can keep people from ever seeking out the real thing, which is very sad. May God purify the Church and have mercy on those who living in such misrepresentations of Christianity.

Philip Yancey’s testimony is one of a young man who grew up in a toxic Church and made his way home again. I really enjoy his books as well. May be an encouragement :slight_smile:

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@Dev The Lord bless you as you study :slight_smile:

@Dev

I posted this elsewhere on Connect. It has less to do with the specifics of Rhett’s doubt about Adam and Eve, and more to do with “celebrity” deconversions generally. Maybe it will help some.

In the last 12-24 months there has been a handful of what might be called “celebrity Christian deconversion stories.” These would include folks like Hillsong worship leader Marty Sampson, popular pastor and author Joshua Harris, and now the YouTube entertainer Rhett McLaughlin (who I only know as one of the two “Bentley Brothers” from Phil Vischer’s What’s in the Bible? with Buck Denver ).

As I did not grow up Evangelical Christian, my experience with childhood faith was probably very different from many of these “celebrities.” However, I did have a deconversion from my childhood Roman Catholic faith. That deconversion happened over an extended period of time starting roughly in high school, and culminated sometime after I graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1997. However, at the age of 34 I had a dramatic, religious conversion when I stepped foot into an Evangelical church for the first time in my life. I saw and heard Jesus that day, and since then I have gone on to do two Master’s Degrees in Christian Apologetics and Systematic Theology. As someone who lived an extended time both as a non-Christian, and now almost 11 years as a committed Evangelical, I resonate with adults like Sampson, and McLaughlin, but also struggle to see this as shocking a phenomena as many make it out to be.

But, what are we to make of these deconversions? Many of which are being used by skeptics as arguments against the Christian faith. Here are a few points to consider regarding this trend, if it can be called that.

1) Deconversions are not evidence against Christianity.

For every one adult deconversion we could easily find an adult conversion story (I just related my own at 34). Thus the question poses itself: does the fact that some leave Christianity as adults outweigh the fact that some find Christianity as adults and, if so, why? The answer to this is obviously no, since all kinds and types of people deconvert, and all kinds and types of people convert. Thus, it would be fallacious to think that those who deconvert are more honest or genuine in their beliefs than those that convert, or more informed.

It seems therefore that a “deconversion vs. conversion metric” will be useless to determining the truth of Christian claims. That said, however, overall numbers can act as some evidence for the truthfulness of a worldview. The fact that there have been billions of Christians over an extended period of time, and throughout many cultures, can act as some evidence for the truth of its core claims. I would apply the same to Islam, Hinduism, and other world religions. There is at least something compellingly truthful about them, if they hold so much sway over so many different kinds of people over so many centuries of time.

2) However, celebrity Christian deconversions, or celebrity conversions, actually do matter.

In Book VIII, Chapter IV of Confessions , St. Augustine relates the conversion of a famed Roman rhetorician, Victorinus, whose public conversion caused great rejoicing. Augustine goes on to say that it is significant when someone of this stature converts to the Christian faith:

“For when many rejoice together, the joy of each one is the fuller, in that they are incited and inflamed by one another. Again, because those that are known to many influence many towards salvation , and take the lead with many to follow them. And, therefore, do they also who preceded them much rejoice in regard to them, because they rejoice not in them alone.” ( Confessions , VIII.iv.9)

Augustine goes on to suggest that the Apostle Paul even took the name “Paul” based on the first of his converts, Sergius Paulus (see Schaff, fn. 7 in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 1 , 120), an influential Roman pro-consul. Regarding Victorinus then, because he had been such a strong and celebrated opponent of Christianity, his conversion was that much more glorifying to the power of God unto salvation:

“For the enemy is more overcome in one [Victorinus] of whom he hath more hold, and by whom he hath hold of more. But the proud hath he more hold of by reason of their nobility; and by them of more, by reason of their authority. By how much the more welcome, then, was the heart of Victorinus esteemed, which the devil had held as an unassailable retreat, and the tongue of Victorinus, with which mighty and cutting weapon he had slain many; so much the more abundantly should Thy sons rejoice, seeing that our King hath bound the strong man.”

In short, the conversion of Victorinus, a sort of Richard Dawkins of his time, did matter. Not in the sense of God’s estimation, for God is no respecter of persons in this sense, but in the estimation of the culture and the church of his time. This means that whether it be Rhett McLaughlin deconverting, or someone like Chuck Colson converting, people of influence will make a difference in the life of the church, and its surrounding culture. There actions just will affect people, for better, or for worse.

3) Not being challenged early, and often, in one’s faith commitments seems to be worse for Christians than better.

It now seems almost trite to talk about the theoretical Evangelical kid who goes off to college only to have his faith smashed to bits by some biology or philosophy professor. We even have an entire series of movies (think God’s Not Dead ) dedicated to trying to address that dynamic. However, it seems to be that McLaughlin’s story adds evidence to this reality, as he admits in many places that only as an adult was he confronted with counter-arguments from both philosophy, science, and, most of all, biblical studies.

In my own experience, I also went through a tremendous time of intellectual struggle. However, this was after my adult conversion, while I was doing my MA in Apologetics. I was at that time forced to engage with counters to our traditional Christian claims. For example, I nearly lost my mind when I had to write my first research paper on the Historical Jesus. In needing to defend the historicity of Jesus’ existence, I had to engage with scholars like G.A. Wells, who argued rather carefully that Jesus was a mythological figure. These were men who had done far more historical research than I, so how could I be so arrogant as to reject their learned conclusions?

Yet, pressing forward in my studies, I realized that certainty is simply never the case, either way. And, scholarship also rests on the shifting sands of culture, and the broader philosophical movements that shape it. Thus, while McLaughlin is right to question some of his preconceptions about Christianity, it also seems from his testimony that maybe he has yet to really go deep enough to get a grip on the bigger problem of epistemic certainty. The reality is there just isn’t that kind of certainty for any worldview, and, it may be the case that Christianity still wins out in the end. Thus, I hope for McLaughlin’s sake, and for the sake of those he influences, he doesn’t quit in his pursuit of truth. I think he will still find in the end that Christianity is not only the most attractive view available to us, but the most truthful.

That said, it seems that if this kind of epistemic crises first occurs in one’s adult life, that the psychological toll will be much greater for the individual. Thus, we might consider how to challenge our own children early on, all the while realizing that we cannot engineer faith in anyone. Still, it seems that there can be some ways to increase the epistemic resilience in our children by not allowing them to go unchallenged for so long.

4) It is pretty obvious that intelligence has little to do with whether or not one converts as an adult, or deconverts.

Skeptics may want to claim that the more intelligent person is the one that deconverts, and the more gullible person the one who converts. But, there is no evidence this is the case. We can come up with examples of very intelligent people who have converted to Christianity from skepticism (e.g. Ed Feser, Alasdair MacIntyre), and ones who have deconverted to skepticism from Christianity (e.g. Bart Ehrman, Anthony Kenny). And, we could find examples of people less intelligent, as well as the vast majority in the middle.

Intelligence, critical thinking, and even access to data, are not what ultimately decides which direction one goes. Of course, theologically speaking, we have other explanations for how personal faith may work, to include this aspect of perseverance. Still, from a sociological standpoint, the determining factors in deconversion, or conversion, are probably manifold, and not reducible to just intellectual capacity, or any other single factor. They are too complex to discern, and we probably shouldn’t matter about it too much, unless we are in personal contact with someone who has deconverted. But, even there, who can really know the heart of another? We are utterly complex beings.

5. A handful of well-known deconversions does not a movement make.

Skeptics might again try and jump on these deconversion stories, most of which take place in the US & Canada, to try and draw a conclusion far too big to fit the data. On the whole, while we should take the deconversion of individuals seriously, when we look at the bigger numbers at the macro-level, things are going quite well for Christianity in the world. Scholar and Church Historian Mark Noll points this out:

“Changes in world Protestantism from 1910-2010 have been breathtaking. By 2010, of the world’s approximately 875 million Protestant or Protestant-type adherents, less than 12% lived in Europe. Another 15% lived in the United States. In former European colonies like South Africa and New Zealand, the numbers of Protestants have burgeoned, but mostly in non-white churches. By the 21st century, Protestantism had become a primarily non-Western religion. in 1910, 79% of the world’s Anglicans lived in Britain….By contrast, in 2010, 59% of the world’s Anglicans were found in Africa. Also in 2010, more Protestants lived in India than in Germany or Britain combined. About as many lived in each of Nigeria and China as in all of Europe. Much more than ever before, the Protestant world has become co-extensive with the world itself.” (Noll, Protestantism: A Short Introduction , 9).

In other words, the world is becoming not only more Christian, but more Protestant Christian, and that regardless of the western decline.

6. Finally, we probably shouldn’t assume that deconversions are “the end of the story” for the deconverted.

We only see people at particular moments in time over the course of an entire life. Although there is a theological discussion to be had here about perseverance, there clearly have been times in the lives of many saints (even Mother Theresa, for example), where it looked to be the case as if that person had totally lost their faith. There are times, often long times, of spiritual darkness and drought; there are “dark nights of the soul” that are real. For biblical proof of this, read Psalm 88 (and see Tim Keller’s sermon on it).

Thus a deconversion “moment” does not necessarily mean that someone is not still saved, and may not return to the faith in a very real, and perhaps more substantive way. Our life of faith is not a perfectly linear movement, it has deep drops, sharp turns, and rough edges. It would be premature, and almost faithless, to make any statement about where any of these folks may be when there time comes to give an account before God.

This, after all, is my own testimony.

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Hello. Thanks for bringing this question to connect.

Some general things I will bring to the table from my perspective.

  1. Adam and Eve must be real people because without that premise all our exegesis becomes nothing.
  2. Original sin must also be a real thing because without that premise all our theology becomes meaningless.

I think the idea that people are falling away from the faith is concerned, this is an ongoing thing IMO. To me, It’s just that now it makes the Christian news headlines. It does, however, open up a huge can of worms about eschatology because of the prophesy of many falling away near the end of the age. @SeanO might be able to tell you all about the mainline doctrines. To be sure, Revelation is in the Bible which means it is good for correction and exhortation (2Tim. 3:16, 17). Personally, I believe what my church preaches - that the “end times” are both a right now and a not yet. I also believe all Apocalyptic Literature is for equipping saints in the here and now to look toward the day when we are resurrected. I believe as Jesus comes down to earth for His bride at the end of the age that the dead who followed the Way will be the first to rise to be with Christ and then those who are still alive at the time will join Christ with those resurrected and that Jesus will then descend to earth to create His New Jerusalem. I will also say I trust science about as far as I can throw a boulder, which is not far. The reason I say this is because of the frequency that history is rewritten. I point to language and how it evolves over time for my point here. I will also say we are in the last days as it says in the last days knowledge shall increase. Still, I think “the end” is not yet come until the world becomes again like the days of Noah which I take to mean as wicked and sinful at least if not for other things that we may or may not know now.
Those are a few thoughts.

This may also be a useful resources for the questions surrounding an historical Adam and Eve. Swamidass has a new model that is getting a lot of attention, synthesizing both the genetic data from evolutionary biology, i.e. common ancestry, but maintaining both the historical reality of Adam and Eve and everyone being a genealogical descendant of that particular pair of humans. I am not necessarily endorsing the view, but it may be worth considering.

in Christ,
Anthony

I didn’t realize this was Philip Yancey’s testimony. I love his stuff! Thanks for sharing.

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@Trina_Dofflemyer Definitely :slight_smile: Yes, I’ve been inspired by Yancey’s story and writing again and again over the years. His humility and grace are a breath of fresh air in our polarized world.

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Yes, his humility, grace, and gentleness are indeed a breath of fresh air!

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Hi @Dev, you’ve already received a lot of good input here but I wanted to add another resource! Particularly, I wanted to add it because it comes from a different perspectiv than a few of the others offered.

I recently enjoyed reading Finding Ourselves After Darwin: Conversations on the Image of God, Original Sin, and the Problem of Evil. Haha, I read the title and was like, “Perfect! All the things driving me crazy addressed in one book. Finally!”

It might not be the resolution of all the issues, but it was a very constructive read for me. It features essays offering widely varied theological takes on these issues—diversity which I found encouraging and thought-provoking. Most of the scholars take a position which accepts (to greater and lesser degrees) evolutionary biology; while maintaining creedal orthodoxy they yet offer readings (of Scripture, theology, and data) I had not considered and therefore new possibilities with which to wrestle.

What I appreciated is that it was not a discussion of evolution from a Christian perspective which left me trying to connect it to my doctrinal concerns: leaving me asking “But what about the image of God? And what does that mean for the doctrine of the fall?” Instead, it discusses those connections directly: the contributors are examining and synthesizing theistic evolutionary perspectives with Christian concerns for doctrinal implications.

The essays disagree with one another—which I appreciate: it isn’t selling me a packaged conclusion, but giving me many ways to approach these challenging topics. In addition, this gives the gift of charity: it reminds me that there are numerous Christianly faithful ways to engage with these issues (and most issues!) allowing me to charitably disagree with my brothers and sisters on a number of topics. As the saying (attributed variously to a number of medieval theologians) so wisely exhorts us: “In essentials, unity, In nonessentials, liberty. In all things, charity.”

Hope you find this resource useful. It was a great blessing to me!

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@Lizibeth Sounds like an interesting read :slight_smile: From my perspective, I think we must accept a literal Adam and Eve if we are to be faithful to Scripture, even if, like N. T. Wright, we make the conjecture that they were chosen from among early hominids (a view with which I would not agree). Tim Keller makes this point in the following article on Romans.

To me, it seems very clear that Jesus and Paul believed in a historical Adam and Eve and in the historical reality of the fall. While there may be room there for seeing Adam / Eve as a kind of singularity where God stepped into evolutionary history and did something miraculous or special, I think going beyond that begins to directly contradict the teachings of Scripture.

Something I really like about Keller’s approach is that it is nuanced. He recognizes that accurate exegesis does not suggest the days of Genesis 1 must be literal, but it does suggest there must be a historical Adam and Eve.

N. T. Wright, in his commentary on Romans says: “Paul clearly believed that there had been a single first pair, whose male, Adam, had been given a commandment and had broken it. Paul was, we may be sure, aware of what we would call mythical or metaphorical dimensions to the story, but he would not have regarded these as throwing doubt on the existence, and primal sin, of the first historical pair.”

The key for interpretation is the Bible itself. I don’t think the author of Genesis 1 wants us to take the “days” literally, but it is clear that Paul definitely does want readers to take Adam and Eve literally. 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 biblical authority.

And it leads to my proposal: that just as God chose Israel from the rest of humankind for a special, strange, demanding vocation, so perhaps what Genesis is telling us is that God chose one pair from the rest of early hominids for a special, strange, demanding vocation . This pair (call them Adam and Eve if you like) were to be representatives of the whole human race, the ones in whom God’s purpose to make the whole world a place of delight and joy and order, eventually colonizing the whole creation, was to be taken forward. God the creator put into their hands the fragile task of being image bearers. If they fail, they will bring the whole purpose for the wider creation, including all the nonchosen hominids, down with them. They are supposed to be the life bringers, and if they fail in their task the death that is already endemic in the world as it is will engulf them as well. N. T. Wright

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Hey @SeanO! As always, thanks for sharing such excellent insights. Great perspectives from Keller and Wright. I don’t know entirely where I land on this yet, but I agree that the historicity issue is important. But there definitely is some valid flexibility in what that looks like (for instance, Wright’s pair of hominids seems to me to be an in-bounds proposal).

I am with you there! Nuance is critical to handling complex issues of this kind. It is no help to anyone when we oversimplify something to the point of being false.

What I love about the resource I recommended is the authors’ commitment to serious and nuanced scholarship, creedal orthodoxy, and charity (but no less rigorous discussion!) between believers. Also, a highlight for me is their commitment to marking the distinction between doctrine and theological theories. This is another nuance they bring to the fore and it I find it very helpful. Even that language brings a lot of clarity and charity to the table. In their words, this distinction they champion represents a commitment to

“create space at the interface of modern science and the Christian tradition”.

The space they created was effective for helping me see angles I hadn’t considered and to consider new (and for me, edgy) possibilities while remaining in a “safe space” where orthodox Christian faith was not in question. It was challenging, thought-provoking, and really healthy! It probably isn’t a go-to first read on the subject (and while accessible, it is written at a slightly higher level), but for those who have done a fair bit of reading and are still digging, it has potential to be a great resource.

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