Re: [asa] Who do Adam & Eve represent? (Was: Was Adam a real person?)

From: David Opderbeck <dopderbeck@gmail.com>
Date: Tue Apr 15 2008 - 10:28:18 EDT

To me, it depends how the narrative is supposed to be understood and what
you mean by "wrong."

The narrative pictures God directly shaping Adam out of dust and forming Eve
out of Adam's rib in a garden in Mesopotamia. Further, the narrative seems
to presume that this pair is the actual fountainhead of all humanity.

The fossil record and the record of molecular biology, however, seem to tell
a different story of the gradual emergence of a group of people out of
Africa, with no clear deliniation between "human" and "pre-human."

It seems to me there are two possibilities: 1. one of these stories is
true and one is false; or 2. the stories mesh together somehow.

Personally, I very much wish it were possible to argue persuasively that the
"scientific" story is false. But, while I don't think the scientific story
can be "proven" to be true, it seems to be based on quite reasonable
inferences from the empirical evidence.

I also very much wish it were possible to argue persuasively that the
Biblical story is false in the sense of being entirely non-historical even
if true in another sense. Some are persuaded this is possible; at this
point in my personal journey, I find this unravels too many things that are
important to me.

To me, right now, the stories have to mesh together in some sense somehow.
The Genesis story isn't "literal" but it also isn't non-historical. It
describes God's special attention to and relationship with the first pair to
be fully and truly "human," perhaps even directly created by God. This
first truly human pair can choose to obey God and thereby, in a sense, bring
all the creation "into the garden" through their stewardship. Perhaps this
involves also their headship over the rest of emerging humanity. But they
sin, are cast out of their state of idyllic fellowship and into the
slipstream of biological humanity. Yet they remain spiritually / federally
the heads of humanity and we all are bound to them in this sense, in the
same way that those who trust in Christ are bound to him. All of this is
known to us only by revelation and it is opaque to science. It probably
doesn't compeletly work, but it sort of works for now for me.

On Tue, Apr 15, 2008 at 10:05 AM, Alexanian, Moorad <alexanian@uncw.edu>
wrote:

> Why is the Genesis account of Adam and Eve wrong?
>
>
>
> Moorad
>
>
>
> *From:* asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu [mailto:asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu] *On
> Behalf Of *Bethany Sollereder
> *Sent:* Tuesday, April 15, 2008 9:51 AM
> *To:* Jack
> *Cc:* David Opderbeck; George Murphy; ASA list
>
> *Subject:* Re: [asa] Who do Adam & Eve represent? (Was: Was Adam a real
> person?)
>
>
>
> Hey,
>
> I've just finished "God in Creation" by Moltmann. I think he'd feel
> pretty strongly about rejecting the idea of "a fall upward". In fact, in
> one of his other articles ("Cosmic Christ") he even talks about evolution
> itself running counter to redemption.
>
> As for Adam and Eve, I also wasn't quite sure how to answer either,
> because if they are not real then they simply represent all that you would
> get from Genesis if you read the account simply: the creation of humanity,
> humanity's rejection of God, the devastating effects of sin on the world and
> on human relationships, the alienation of man from God... the list goes on.
> And it gets even more interesting if you start contrasting the Genesis
> creation myth with the creation myths of surrounding cultures (as you well
> know). The character of God in Genesis is absolutely unique.
>
> Bethany Sollereder
>
> On Tue, Apr 15, 2008 at 3:46 AM, Jack <drsyme@cablespeed.com> wrote:
>
> I dont know anything about Moltmann so maybe I should keep silent. But I
> see the trajectory differently.
>
>
>
> As far as I can tell there is nothing about our cognitive abilities that
> did not come through evolution. We are animals in that sense. But whoever
> Adam was, he was the first one placed into a relationship with God, and as a
> result of this was unique, the imago dei, a physical animal a spiritual
> being, the first Man. But the trajectory then turned downward at the fall,
> and Man became little more than animals again. Christ was then needed to
> show us what a spiritual/physical being is supposed to be. And he is
> necessary to restory us to that condition. The difference between my view
> and the falling up view, is that Adam had an opportunity that humans since
> then have never had, but he made the wrong choice, and condemed us to a
> condition with the need for redemption.
>
>
>
> The ancient sacrificial system is a "type" that forshadows Christ's
> ultimate atonement.
>
> ----- Original Message -----
>
> *From:* David Opderbeck <dopderbeck@gmail.com>
>
> *To:* George Murphy <gmurphy@raex.com>
>
> *Cc:* ASA list <asa@calvin.edu>
>
> *Sent:* Monday, April 14, 2008 9:58 PM
>
> *Subject:* Re: [asa] Who do Adam & Eve represent? (Was: Was Adam a real
> person?)
>
>
>
> George, I wonder in this connection if you've come across the notion of
> the fall as a "falling up" rather than a "falling down." I'm not sure if
> this resonates with the view of Robin Collins that Don mentions in the next
> post. The idea here is that human beings gradually developed the capability
> of moral reasoning and of relating intentionally to others and to God. As
> this capability developed we continually chose to do that which we had
> learned was wrong, and chose not to do that which we had learned was right.
> Under this view, the story of Adam & Eve is a representation of humanity's
> choices, which continue even today as our sense of morality, as well as our
> capabilities for contravening that sense, continue to evolve. But there is
> a difference today in that the cross reorients us towards God and changes
> our trajectory.
>
>
>
> I started reading Jurgen Moltmann's autobiography this week, though I
> haven't yet read any of Moltmann's work firsthand --- would I be correct in
> sensing that this idea of an "upward fall" that gets reoriented at the cross
> resonates with Motlmann's theology of hope?
>
>
>
> Here is a question about all this: does it really do justice to the
> ancient sacrificial system and the substitutionary atonement? (I trust that
> in pursuing this no one suspects me of waiving around any academic body
> parts.)
>
> On Mon, Apr 14, 2008 at 8:38 PM, George Murphy <gmurphy@raex.com> wrote:
>
> Well, the small number of responses to the "Who do Adam & Eve represent?
> thread in comparison with the large volume of "Was Adam a real person?" ones
> indicates that not many on this list are interested in pursuing the 1st
> question. I find this unfortunate. Perhaps I could have phrased that 1st
> question better but I think my intention was fairly clear - i.e., what
> do the texts about the 1st man & 1st woman in Genesis mean if those texts
> aren't to be understood as historical narratives &, in particular, if Adam &
> Eve were not historical individuals?
>
>
>
> The fact that folks here would rather debate the 2d question & instead of
> the 1st suggests that they aren't very interested in doing serious
> theological thinking about evolution. Neither those who believe in a "real
> Adam" nor those who don't want to wrestle with questions about what it means
> theologically for human beings - and, in particular, Jesus of Nazareth - to
> be members of an evolved species.
>
>
>
> So I think Gregory is right that most participants here feel safer dealing
> with science than with theology. I find his characterization of theology -
> really his *dismissal* of theology - most unfortunate. Theology is, in
> the classic phrase, "faith in search of understanding." Should Christians
> not want to understand? Or to put it even more simply, theology is just
> thinking about what we believe? Are Christians not supposed to think about
> that? Are we supposed to leave our brains at the church door?
>
>
>
> (Of course the "inevitable mythology" of theology is just Gregory's
> rhetoric.)
>
>
>
> Shalom
> George
> http://web.raex.com/~gmurphy/
>
> ----- Original Message -----
>
> *From:* Jack Haas <haas.john@comcast.net>
>
> *To:* Gregory Arago <gregoryarago@yahoo.ca> ; ASA list <asa@calvin.edu>
>
> *Sent:* Monday, April 14, 2008 8:01 PM
>
> *Subject:* Re: [asa] Who do Adam & Eve represent? (Was: Was Adam a real
> person?)
>
>
>
> There you go again Gregory: one more cheap shot about people you know
> nothing about!
> Jack Haas
>
> Gregory Arago wrote:
>
> Notice that few at ASA, especially those who don't accept 'Adam [as] a
> real person' are prepared (or willing) to speak about 'Who do Adam & Eve
> represent?' Perhaps people think there's not much 'science' in
> representation. It is much safer to speak about science, after all, as it
> gives a sense of legitimacy that theology doesn't seem to imply with its
> inevitable mythology.
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>
>
>
> --
> David W. Opderbeck
> Associate Professor of Law
> Seton Hall University Law School
> Gibbons Institute of Law, Science & Technology
>
>
>

-- 
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 15 10:29:40 2008

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