RE: [asa] biological evolution and a literal Adam- logically inconsistent?

From: Alexanian, Moorad <>
Date: Tue Sep 02 2008 - 07:55:43 EDT

There is a letter of mine in the latest issue of Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, September 2008, where I consider the term “dust” to represent the purely physical aspect of man.


-----Original Message-----
From: on behalf of Dick Fischer
Sent: Mon 9/1/2008 9:50 PM
Subject: RE: [asa] biological evolution and a literal Adam- logically inconsistent?
Back to the original question. Bernie said: My original question is
how could people take "the making of man by forming dust" figurative and
then the immediately following story of the fall literally (real talking
serpent, real tree of life, etc.). Isn't it inconsistent to take one
literal and the other figurative?
The making of Adam from dust does not mean necessarily making mankind
from dust. Equating Adam with the ultimate precursor of humankind,
whoever that might have been, is the problem here. Modern humans lived
in Africa 100,000 years ago. Adam was formed from dust some 7,000 years
ago in the company of biological human beings. Where is the
Dick Fischer, GPA president
Genesis Proclaimed Association
"Finding Harmony in Bible, Science and History"
-----Original Message-----
From: [] On
Behalf Of David Opderbeck
Sent: Monday, September 01, 2008 9:21 PM
To: Bethany Sollereder
Cc: Merv;
Subject: Re: [asa] biological evolution and a literal Adam- logically
Hi Beth, glad you weighed in here. Two things:
-- I think I agree with you on the "literal" fall, but how would you
describe it -- and in your experience and theological training, how are
thoughtful people who are trying to remain orthodox without distorting
the scientific record desribing it?
-- on what "an ancient Hebrew" would have thought -- honestly, I'm not
sure we can be exactly that sure what any given ancient Hebrew would
have thought. Maybe "the man in the street" so to speak would have
heard a version of the story around the campfire and taken it simply at
face value -- though even then we have to ask "which version" -- the one
reflected in Gen. 1, where man is made after the animals apparently out
of nothing, or the one reflected in Gen. 2, where man is made before the
animals out of dust? And even then, what about the writers and
redactors of the final canoncial text? If the text was assembled during
the Babylonian exile, and like the histories its immediate purpose was
polemical, isn't it possible that the scribal class of authors /
redactors knew that they weren't putting together a simple something
literal and straightforward? Wouldn't they themselves, for example,
have noticed and known of the different versions of the story in 1 and
2? I dunno. I'm not trying to force a concordist interpretation or
something. I just think that literary / hermeneutical theory involving
such a wide variety of "authors" and "hearers" over such a long period
of time suggests that "what the story meant" can't be reduced so simply.
-- how was the Faraday? (ok, three things)
On Mon, Sep 1, 2008 at 8:31 PM, Bethany Sollereder
<> wrote:
David & Merv,

I think an important part of what's missing in the literal/figurative
debate is that regardless of how we see the story today, the original
audience of ancient Hebrews would have understood it as a real and true
account of their own origins (call that "literal" if you like). Ask an
ancient Hebrew "Where did you come from?" and he'll answer "from the
dust of the ground near the Garden of Eden". At the same time, we don't
have to try and force it into being concordant with modern science (like
asking how 'true' we being made from the dust of the ground is in terms
of elemental composition) because God is accommodating to the
understanding of the day. Evolution would have been completely outside
of the range of their interest/understanding of the world around them.

As for the fall, a literal fall is necessary for conceptions of original
sin and the cosmic fall. Also, it is important for the universal
sinfulness of man. But of course, it depends on what you mean by
literal. You can have universal sinfulness while not holding to the
"fall" of 2 people some 6000 years ago through eating from a forbidden
tree. But you'd have a harder time talking about a cosmic fall without
some such incidence.

Let's also keep in mind that more theology than we think comes from
Milton and his masterpieces than we sometimes realize. Genesis does not
speak of a fall at all, nor does the rest of the OT. Only Paul in his
famous "for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God" and
his groaning creation come close to the language of a fall as we usually
speak of it.

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Received on Tue Sep 2 07:55:51 2008

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