Re: Dating Adam

Dave Koerner 818-354-8820 (
Thu, 30 May 1996 10:48:35 -0700 (PDT)

Dear Folks,

I am a newcomer to this list and have just read the archives on "Dating
Adam." As an astronomer, I have little background to evaluate the archeological
details of this discussion, but I find that even the basic assumptions and
motivation for this debate are not entirely clear to me from the archived
posts. Could someone clarify? I gather that both sides are trying to date the
first occurrence of the "image of God" in a hominid, but this concept doesn't
seem to be well defined. What precisely do you mean by the first occurrence of
the "image of God?" Must this appearance constitute an abrupt change within one
generation, or could the "image of God" appear gradually over many generations?
I confess some sympathy with Stephen Jay Gould's antipathy for any artificial
barriers between the human race and the rest of nature.

My background? I was a very conservative fundamentalist some 10 years ago, but
abandoned "creationist" views after majoring in geology for a time (a physical
anthropology class helped considerably). In my former literal view, Adam's act
had to be paid for by Christ with a literal substitutionary atonement. Belief
in evolution meant, for me, that Christ's death CANNOT be interpreted as a
juridical transaction with a vengeful God, i.e., I no longer believe in the
"substitionary atonement" theory. This was a drastic change, but seemed a
logical consequence of the fact that there was no literal First Man in
a Garden. Rather, the "Fall" and "Redemption" are to be understood in less
literal, more psychological, and more spiritual terms. The beginning of
Genesis is an "inspired" Creation Myth; the existence of parallel accounts in
other religions (of the flood for example) attests not to the historicity of
Genesis, but to its relationship to other primitive religions.

I retain a great interest in Origins and now work on the formation of planetary
systems by observing protoplanetary disks around young stars. Although hard-
core creationists dispute the current theory of solar system formation, I
gather this list is beyond that. The impact of science on religious views is
extremely interesting to me, hence my subscription.

Christ's Love to you all,

David Koerner, Ph.D.
Jet Propulsion laboratory