RE: [asa] Was Adam a real person?

From: Dehler, Bernie <bernie.dehler@intel.com>
Date: Tue Apr 08 2008 - 15:13:22 EDT

Thanks- David. When I said below

"Therefore, we know from science there was no first man named Adam, as
there is no such thing as a "first" man."

 

I meant:

"Therefore, we know from science there was no biological first man named
Adam, as there is no such thing as a biological "first" man."

 

Not only does the NT refer to Adam as a real person, but in my opinion,
the OT also does... by naming his offspring, ages lived, etc.

 

Obviously there are different genres, and I think the prodigal son in no
way presents itself as a historical story, as does Adam, Noah, and
Abraham (so someone would be off-base in claiming it was a historical
story). Therefore, I think the prodigal son is a poor example to relate
to the Adam "first human created" story.

 

You wrote:
"...Denis Alexander's presentation from last year's ASA annual meeting:
http://www.asa3.org/ASA/meetings/edinburgh2007/papers/Edinburgh_Alexande
r_text.pdf "

 

I didn't see my question directly addressed in that discussion (although
I find that discussion very insightful and powerful; I saw it before-
thanks for reminding me!).

 

You wrote:
"This seminary by the Academy of Christian Thought offers some further
ideas: http://www.actministry.org/eventDetails.php?event_id=115 "

 

It looks like the abstract indicates it will answer this question, but I
have to pay $10 to find out. Does anyone know the free answer?

 

...Bernie

 

________________________________

From: David Opderbeck [mailto:dopderbeck@gmail.com]
Sent: Tuesday, April 08, 2008 11:53 AM
To: Dehler, Bernie
Cc: asa@lists.calvin.edu
Subject: Re: [asa] Was Adam a real person?

 

Bernie, I've wrestled with this question as well. There is no straight,
crisp answer.

Loren and Deb Haarsma's book "Origins" offers several possibilities, as
does Denis Alexander's presentation from last year's ASA annual meeting:
http://www.asa3.org/ASA/meetings/edinburgh2007/papers/Edinburgh_Alexande
r_text.pdf This seminary by the Academy of Christian Thought offers
some further ideas:
http://www.actministry.org/eventDetails.php?event_id=115 There are
numerous PSCF articles on the ASA website about this as well.

To me, the "slippery slope of historicity" isn't the biggest problem.
We can recognize that the Bible contains many different genres, each of
which have to be read on their own merits. We don't worry, for example,
about whether the prodigal son was a historical person. Of course, the
New Testament assumes Adam was a real person, so that does complicate
things. But the bigger questions, for me, relate to anthropology and
original sin.

That said, I'd take issue with this statement of yours: "Therefore, we
know from science there was no first man named Adam, as there is no such
thing as a "first" man." IMHO, "science" can neither prove nor disprove
whether there was a "first man named Adam." The question here is what
we mean by "first man." Biologically there was no such "first man," but
theologically scripture reveals to us (IMHO) that there was such a
"first man." An interdisciplinary approach between science and theology
therefore suggests that what it meant to be the "first man" is something
other than merely biological. We can speculate forever about exactly
what that entailed, and what implications it carried for other human
beings who might have been contemporaries of the "first man," but it's
unlikely we'll ever be able to resolve those questions.

On Tue, Apr 8, 2008 at 12:36 PM, Dehler, Bernie
<bernie.dehler@intel.com> wrote:

Hi all-

 I still have a question. For those who think that Adam was not a real
person in history, how do you answer the critic that says this idea
undermines the whole Bible, since likewise if Adam didn't exist then
other characters maybe didn't exist either (Noah, Jonah, Abraham, &
Moses). If the Bible is undermined, then the faith is on shaky ground,
since it is difficult to know what is true and what isn't.

 I've asked before, but don't think I've gotten any straight, crisp,
answers. Can someone point me to some references or sources for the
answer? Is this a straight-forward question that is being routinely
ignored or shunted or re-directed?

 I'm not looking for answers as to why Adam must have been real, but
looking for answers to the criticism of those who say he was not a real
person.

 Here's what I think the answer is-- tell me if it looks reasonable:

The Bible must be studied with what we know of nature. If a Biblical
story conflicts with natural science, then we must pick the clearer over
the foggier; and if science is clearer, we must accept that. Example,
those who read the Bible with ancient science thought the sun revolved
around the earth. Now we know the earth revolves around the sun, so
science is therefore used to interpret Scripture. Likewise, we know
that evolution works on groups of people, and there was no "first,
unique" man... man evolved like all other life-forms, over vast amounts
of times within populations. Therefore, we know from science there was
no first man named Adam, as there is no such thing as a "first" man.

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-- 
David W. Opderbeck
Associate Professor of Law
Seton Hall University Law School
Gibbons Institute of Law, Science & Technology 
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Received on Tue Apr 8 15:16:38 2008

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