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

From: Alexanian, Moorad <alexanian@uncw.edu>
Date: Tue Apr 15 2008 - 19:40:59 EDT

Surely the statement I made was not a scientific but a historical statement supported by some theological considerations. I do not see how science can settle the issue. Science deals with the repeatable, then how can we settle the question of what unique event happened in the past?

Moorad

________________________________

From: drsyme@cablespeed.com [mailto:drsyme@cablespeed.com]
Sent: Tue 4/15/2008 1:28 PM
To: 'David Opderbeck'; Alexanian@smtp-relay.uncw.edu; Alexanian, Moorad
Cc: 'Bethany Sollereder'; 'Jack'; 'George Murphy'; 'ASA list'
Subject: RE: [asa] Who do Adam & Eve represent? (Was: Was Adam a real person?)

"It may be, in addition, that there was a perfect creation with Adam and Eve being quite different from present day humans. The consequence of the Fall is then to bring about the present, fallen nature of humans. "

I take it from this you mean that there was a physical change in humans as a result of the Fall? Given that not all humans are descendants of a couple in the Levant 10k years or so ago, how is this possible?

On Tue Apr 15 12:57 , "Alexanian, Moorad" sent:

        Thanks David. Very commonsensical and close to my own views. It may be, in addition, that there was a perfect creation with Adam and Eve being quite different from present day humans. The consequence of the Fall is then to bring about the present, fallen nature of humans. Of course, this is quite different from evolutionary thought where there is a gradual change from simplicity to complexity, rather than from perfection to imperfection and death. In this sense, the death and resurrection of Christ creates the opening whereby the Fall is reversed with humans being restored with God in eternal existence.

         

        Moorad

         

        From: David Opderbeck [mailto:dopderbeck@gmail.com]
        Sent: Tuesday, April 15, 2008 10:28 AM
        To: Alexanian, Moorad
        Cc: Bethany Sollereder; Jack; George Murphy; ASA list
        Subject: Re: [asa] Who do Adam & Eve represent? (Was: Was Adam a real person?)

         

        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

                To: George Murphy

                Cc: ASA list

                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

                        To: Gregory Arago ; ASA list

                        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 19:43:44 2008

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