Re: Evolution and the Fall

Pattle Pun (
Wed, 9 Apr 1997 12:36:42 -0500 (CDT)

On Wed, 9 Apr 1997, Marcio R. Pie wrote:

> Well, tem me introduce myself. My name is Marcio R. Pie and I am a
> graduate student of the Ecology Graduate Program of the Universidade
> Estadual de Campinas, Brazil. I would like to start a new discution with you
> about a subjet that has bothered me for a while.
> A very common feature of the current proposals to conciliate the
> biblical account of the genesis (OECs, TEs, etc.) with the theory of
> evolution is that they do not (maybe avoid to)consider the Fall in their
> ideas. Since most of the orthodox theology is based in the Fall as a
> definite point in space and time, how to conciliate this with an "evolving"
> origin of man and mankind?
I agree with you that the historical Fall upon which orthodox theology of
the Incarnation and Redemption is based is the crux of the debate in
reconciling Genesis and Science. I surmise that the more seriously a
CHRSITIAN scientist/thologian takes on the significance of the Fall, the
more will he/she be leaning towards the progressive creationism/recent
creationism. In my article on a Theology of Progressive Creationism,
(JASA, Vol. 39, #1, March 1987, p. 9-19), I discussed the theological
implications of Theistic Evolutionism on the Fall: it will either deny
the historicity of the Fall or resort to a miraculous act of God
bestowing on two evolving hominids the spiritual capacity and thus
becoming the first human couple or variations of these positions.
The first position goes against Pauline
theology which stresses the historical significance of the first Adam and
the Fall as the pre-requsite for the incarnation and redemption of Jesus
Christ (Rm. 5). The second position also impinges on the naturalistic
paradigm on theistic evolutionalism, only allowing naturalistic processes
for the creation of man but not supernatural processes, which are
necesitated here. It also strains the Genesis account, upon which the
historical foundation of the Fall is built, for 2 reasons: (1) man was
created from "dust" and to "dust" will he return. If "dust" means evolving
hominids, the "to dust will he return" will not make sense in the curse.
(2) Gen.2:7, man became "a living being" (NIV) (nephesh in Hebrew) is the
same word used for living beasts or creatures in Gen. 1:20-21, 24.
Therefore man became living for the first time, just like the other
creatures, not changed from a living hominid.

Alternatively, one can suggest that the historical Fall does not mean much
and what counts is a personal encounter with the living Savior and his
spiritual deliverance of our sin. Then the whole matter of reconciliation
between science and theology is no longer necessary. However, Jesus
Christ's BODILY RESURRECTION is the basis of our hope in His redemption
and salvation. Therefore, Faith without history can become superstition.
Neoorthodoxy is coming around to begin to recognize this
theology, although not as evangelicals who adhere to the historicity of
the Fall.

The choice between Progressive creationism and Recent Creationism has to
be made by the seriousness a Christian SCIENTIST takes on assessing the
evidence on the antiquity of the earth, ie. from geology, fossils,
biological growth patterns (such as corals), radioactive dating. I surmise
that the weight of the evidence is on the side of the old age of the earth
and Scriptures seem to imply that as "The Last Days" were already
pronounced by Christ and his apostles, which only make sense if the earth
has been around for a long time, not only a few thousand years as the
Recent Creationists suggest. Scriptures also allow for long ages in the
word "yom" (Hebrew word for "day", i.e. Gen. 2:4, Ps. 90: 1-4). Most
orthodox theologians do not think that the age of the earth is an issue in
evangelical theology at all. But the Historical Fall is.

2:7, man became a "living being", (nephesh) is the same
used for

Dr. Pattle Pun
Professor of Biology
Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL 60187
Phone: (630)752-5303
FAX: (630)752-5996