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

From: Dick Fischer <>
Date: Thu Sep 04 2008 - 11:29:24 EDT

Hi Bernie:
Many of the themes in the OT are carried over from Akkadian legend which
is not surprising since the nation of Israel is of Akkadian descent.
Inanna's descent to the underworld where she lay dead hanging on a nail
for three days before being brought back to life by the god Ea is one
example. Dumuzi (Hebrew Tammuz) was a shepherd according to the
Sumerian king list and according to legend, and Christ was the good
shepherd. Moses was set upon the bulrushes in the same manner as Sargon
with other parallels in their lives. The Trinity is paralleled by the
Akkadian triad of early gods. And so forth.
The serpent and the sacred tree are themes seen often in legend and on
cylinder seals and decorative pottery during that period of Sumer and
Akkad from the flood at roughly 2900 BC to Abraham and the destruction
of Ur around 2000 BC. Since the Garden of Eden is first in the order of
historical events it could be that the legend surrounding Adam and the
Fall became incorporated in succeeding stories. Or it could be that the
serpent and the sacred tree, the Tree of Life, the date palm, were
applied retroactively back to the story of the Garden. I don't know how
to delineate between those two possibilities.
If the Holy Spirit can appear in the "bodily shape of a dove, and angels
can appear as men when they came to warn Lot, then I see no logical
reason the devil couldn't appear to Eve as a serpent. Further had Satan
appeared as an "angel of light" it would have given credibility to his
words. Coming from a lowly serpent it was only the force of a clever
argument that was her undoing. Even dark powers seem to play by some
set of rules.
Dick Fischer, GPA president
Genesis Proclaimed Association
"Finding Harmony in Bible, Science and History"
-----Original Message-----
From: [] On
Behalf Of Dehler, Bernie
Sent: Tuesday, September 02, 2008 6:04 PM
Subject: RE: [asa] biological evolution and a literal Adam- logically
"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
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 Thu Sep 4 11:30:06 2008

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