The ASA list is once again trying to sort out puzzles generated by the
attempt to bring modern Western science and a particular reading of early
Genesis into concord.
One way to state the current question is, "Could the 'Eve' and 'Adam' of
population genetics have met?" The answer appears to be, "Not a chance!"
The next question is, "Where, then, do the Eve and Adam of early Genesis fit
into the story of human history being uncovered by the sciences?"
This has brought about all manner of clever (but not necessarily realistic)
systems of both biblical interpretation and scientific theorizing.
Having watched exchanges of this sort for decades, here are some of my own
conclusions. No one need agree. I merely state them for the record.
1. The likelihood that the biblical "Adam" and "Eve" are, at this time, best
(or even responsibly) interpreted as representing individual historical
persons is vanishingly small. (The 'Eve' and 'Adam' of population genetics
have nothing whatsoever to do with the biblical references from which these
2. Forcing the Bible (or any other sample of religious literature written in
historical and cultural contexts vastly different from our own) to conform
to our modern Western expectations for "matter-of-factness," or scientific
relevance, or historical precision is sure to generate far more heat than
light and to distract readers from the valuable religious insights that
could otherwise be found there.
3. It is time for evangelical Christianity to shed the biblicism (bordering
on bibliolatry) that it now practices and to display a more appropriate
humility regarding the certainty and completeness of its grasp on human
knowledge of God and of how the human race might apprehend and worship the
Source of our being, the Standard of our daily life, and the Hope of our
Howard Van Till
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