Re: [asa] Was Adam a real person?

From: Jim Armstrong <>
Date: Thu Apr 10 2008 - 01:19:36 EDT

Hi, Denis! Good to hear from you again!

Just to expand on this a little...

This is somewhat akin in my mind to the question, "What exactly do you
think that the 'moments' of the creation of man looked like?"

Just how would we imagine that the writers of Genesis might craft their
story in such a way that it would more accurately reflect (in English,
yet!) the Creation process as we have come to understand it? That would
arguably require that the Genesis writers create images and descriptors
beyond the boundaries of their context of understanding and experience.
But that is not the human way - the way we make sense of things is to
create mental models that are composite reflections of our experience,
bound together with a little speculation or extrapolation afforded by
our imagination. And when we tell a story or explain something, we [by
definition!] use just such models, crafting a portrait of the new, but
painting with the familiar. [Even the book of Revelation uses the
familiar in its descriptions to tell its story.]

Just as you say, we would not expect the writers of Genesis, under
inspiration or not, to describe with any accuracy that which was beyond
their ken, write something which was to them nonesensical. The
basic task of the author is to offer a narrative that is coherent and
understandable. That's just how a story works. It follows naturally that
the framework and details of the Genesis stories embodied concepts and
images and flow drawn from the understanding of their time.

It would appear quite unreasonable then to hold those Genesis writers
accountable for a creation story that is more consonant with 21st
century concepts and western-style accuracy of detail. Shucks, we don't
even require that accuracy of the best descriptions of biological
processes offered as little as 100 years ago, let alone thousands of
years! We simply smile in a respectful way as we read their best shots,
rendered through their lenses of understanding in their particular days.

Surely we can cut the writers of Genesis some slack for having written
the story in its native and remarkably and enjoyably timeless form.
Surely, we can read their descriptions respectfully, but not get stuck
with trying to make something of them that they were never intended to
be. That is just not the point of the story. The wrangling about the
scientific accuracy, or perhaps even a high degree of concordance of the
Genesis narrative (and literalist inerrancy in general) would seem to be
more about us than the essential messages of Scripture.

...or so it seemeth to me.

Respectfully, JimA [Friend of ASA]

Denis O. Lamoureux wrote:

> Hi Bernie,
> Everything you ask/state in your note is perfectly logical.
> Did the writers of Genesis believe in an Adam? Yes.
> Did Paul believe in an Adam? Yes
> Is young earth creation the closest understanding of the Biblical view
> of origins? Yes.
> So how can I as an evangelical Xian open the concluding chapter of my
> book
> with the following sentence:
> My central conclusion in this book is clear: Adam never existed,
> and this fact
> has no impact whatsoever on the foundational beliefs of Christianity.
> It takes me some 400 pages to get there, and obviously I can give a
> satisfying
> answer in one e-mail.
> However, the 'quick & dirty' answer is that the de novo creation
> (quick & complete)
> of humans is an ancient understanding of origins. In starting the
> revelatory process,
> the Holy Spirit accommodated to the origins science of the day. The Holy
> Spirit used de novo creation as an incidental vessel to deliver the
> Messages
> of Faith: the God of the Bible is the Creator, the creation is very
> good, and humans
> are created in God's Image.
> Another way of looking at it is to remember when we first met Christ.
> Did the
> Lord not come down to our level? So to with the ancient Hebrews. They
> would never have understood Big Bang cosmology or evolutionary biology.
> So one word: Grace.
> Hope this helps.
> Denis
> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Dehler, Bernie"
> <>
> To: <>
> Sent: Tuesday, April 08, 2008 10:36 AM
> Subject: [asa] Was Adam a real person?
>> 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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Received on Thu Apr 10 01:23:14 2008

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