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

From: <>
Date: Tue Apr 15 2008 - 15:08:27 EDT

This is Dr Jack Syme ;)

George asked: "In an evolutionary view, why did the disobedience of the 1st humans condemn all later humans to be disobedient?"

That is an excellent question.  I was having a lot of trouble with the TE view of human origins until I realized one thing.  The theologians cant agree on the theological explanation for this either.

On Tue Apr 15 14:29 , "George Murphy" sent:

All -
I guess it just took a little nudge to get responses on this.  Bundling some quick responses:
Don:  Collins' approach is fairly close to mine - see, e.g., my chapter "Christology, Evolution, and the Cross" in the same book.  I wouldn't say - & I don't think Collins would - that through the work of Christ "the effect of original sin is reversed" because that suggests being brought back to an originally perfect state.  Instead, the evolutionary development of humanity is re-oriented toward the eschatological goal that God intends.
David:  I don't like the language of a "fall upwards" because that implies an actual improvement of humanity's relationship with God.  The whole idea of a "fall" has to do 1st with that relationship & not with our cognitive abilities &c.  The picture you give in your 1st paragraph, of humanity gradually getting farther & farther from God, is pretty much the way I see it.  (Thus the language of "fall" is not really helpful, traditional though it is.  & I don't think it's ever used in the Bible in this sense, though I haven't gone through the Hebrew or Greek or even the 3+ concordance columns of English use of the word.)
I read a lot of Moltmann 20-25 years ago but not so much recently.  In books I have I don't see that he deals with "the fall" to any extent.  (It doesn't help that none of them has a subject index!)  But the idea of reorientation of creation toward its eschatological goal (see above) certainly is consistent with the theology of hope.
There's no denying that sacrificial language is used in the NT to speak of the work of Christ but there's been a tendency to read scapegoat imagery as sacrificial, while the 2 are really quite different.  E.g., "Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world" (emphasis added) is really the idea of the scapegoat rather than the sacrifice.  (I know, lambs aren't goats.)  In any case, I think what is essential is to see the role of the cross, & not any particular OT imagery associated with it, in atonement.
Jack:  Of course I have my own answers to the question I posed (see above), but I really was primarily trying to provoke discussion.
On your statement that Adam "made the wrong choice, and condemed us to a condition with the need for redemption,"  I would go on to ask "Why?"  In an evolutionary view, why did the disobedience of the 1st humans condemn all later humans to be disobedient?
Bethany:  There were 1st human beings, & even if Adam & Eve aren't "real" in the sense of being historical persons, they still can be "real" in the sense of saying something that's true about the 1st historically "real" humans.  & the question then is, "What?"  E.g., does the fact that the 1st humans are pictured in Gen.2-3 as a single pair mean that the 1st historically real humans were a single pair?
Moorad:  I haven't suggested that the Genesis accounts of Adam & Eve are "wrong" - unless by "wrong" you mean "not historical narratives."  & on your later post, the Bible never says that creation was originally "perfect."  "Very good" doesn't imply "Couldn't be better."
David (again):  Picking up on just 1 phrase of yours, "This first truly human pair can choose to obey God," I would ask (a) if Gen.2-3 isn't straight history, does it have to be "a pair" (as above) & (b) given what we know about the evolutionary process & our nearest surviving primate relatives, how likely was the "can choose to obey God" option?  (I'm not arguing there, just prodding.)
drsyme (sorry, I can't think of your 1st name) & ensuing discussion:  The current state of the natural environment is one indication that human sin has had a deleterious effect on the rest of creation.  That isn't the same, however, as saying that creation has "fallen."
----- Original Message -----
From: "Don Nield" <>
To: "Gregory Arago" <>
Cc: "George Murphy" <>; <>
Sent: Monday, April 14, 2008 9:12 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] Who do Adam & Eve represent? (Was: Was Adam a real person?)

I sketch the view of Robin Collins as expressed (convincingly, in my
opinion) in a chapter in Keith B. Miller (ed.), /Perspectives on an
Evolving Creation,/ Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 2003
Genesis 2-3 serves as a symbolic story that provides a sketch of what an
ideal relation with God would be like. Adam and Eve play two
representative roles. They represent us and they represent the first
hominids who had the capacity for free choice and self-consciousness.
With this capacity, they became aware of God’s requirements, but more
often than not rejected them. The “Fall” refers to the sinful acts of
these ancestors creating a form of spiritual and moral darkness along
with an accompanying bondage to sin. Original sin refers to: (1) the
sinful choices of these hominids, (2) the continuing sinful choices of
the succeeding generations including ourselves, and (3) the resulting
bondage to sin and spiritual darkness that is inherited from our
ancestors and generated by our own choices. This inheritance acts at its
own (“spiritual”) level and cannot be reduced to some sort of cultural
or genetic inheritance, though it is deeply intertwined with these other
On Collins’ view salvation consists of fully sharing the life of Christ.
Because of the incarnation, this life is both fully divine and fully
human; and because of the cross, it is fully in solidarity with the
depths of human brokenness, sin, alienation, mortality and the like.
Because of its fully human component, and because it is in full
solidarity with the depths of our life situation, we can participate in
it. As Paul indicates in Romans 6, by participating in this life we are
redeemed from sin and reconciled to God and freed from spiritual bondage
and darkness. Thus the effect of original sin is reversed. Collins
defends his incarnational theory of the atonement as being scripturally,
morally, and theologically sound. It also works in well with the kenosis
theme of Phillipians 2:5-11.

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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