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

From: Dehler, Bernie <>
Date: Tue Sep 02 2008 - 18:03:51 EDT

"Where is the inconsistency? "

Hi Dick- I don't think you have a definitive position on whether Gen. 3 is figurative or not, do you? Do you believe in a literal talking serpent and literal tree of life? If you take it figuratively, and "being made from dust" as figurative, then yes, no consistency issue. My original question is taking the "made from dust" figuratatively (because of evolution) and the "story of the fall" literally- is that inconsistent? I think you take the story of the fall as a "real event," but not necessarily the talking serpent and real forbidden trees literally; is that a correct analysis of your viewpoint (in other words, the fall really happened, but not literally as explained in Gen. 3)?


From: [] On Behalf Of Dick Fischer
Sent: Monday, September 01, 2008 6:50 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 inconsistency?

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 inconsistent?

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 18:05:36 2008

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