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

From: <>
Date: Tue Apr 15 2008 - 11:17:38 EDT
I agree with what you say here, but some of these activities took place before the time of Adam.  Even if Adam is not historical, the time that the narrative points too is probably neolithic, or late paleolithic,  so was after many large mammal extinctions.  This is important mainly for the question it raises about what exactly is sin?  Could these activities have been sinful before the fall?  Or was the fall something that happened well before the time that Adam is supposed to have lived?

On Tue Apr 15 10:49 , "Bethany Sollereder" sent:

"All of those things are not to be taken literally in my opinion..."

Of course they are not to be taken literally... that is why I called it a "myth"...  the fall of creation didn't happen in any ontological sense, but the Israelites were working to answer essential worldview questions, like "who are we?" "where did we come from" "what's the problem?" etc.  When a child would ask "what's the problem with the earth?  Why is farming so hard and why do snakes want to hurt us?"  There was an answer - the Genesis motifs.

But I still think that sinful human action has had a devastating effect on the world.  To leave modern ecological questions out of the conversation for now, even prehistoric man devastated mammal populations wherever he went.  Take a quick peak at how large mammal populations absolutely plummet to the point of extinction in every continent where man introduces himself, and we are talking about tens of thousands of years ago.

Bethany Sollereder

On Tue, Apr 15, 2008 at 7:25 AM, <> wrote:

Bethany said:  "...the devastating effects of sin on the world ..."

I think that the fall's effects are limited to man and his relationship with God.  I think the fall of man had little to no effect on creation itself.  If we are to take the story literally, the only effects mentioned are pain in childbirth, the snake slithering on its belly, and man being required to work the soil to get it to produce.  All of those things are not to be taken literally in my opinion, and are just further examples of the author of Genesis incorportating existing myths into the creation story.

On Tue Apr 15 9:51 , "Bethany Sollereder" sent:


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 <> 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 -----
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 <> 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.)   
----- Original Message -----
From: Jack Haas
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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