Re: (post?) [asa] promise trumps biology (accepting biological evolution for Adam)

From: George Murphy <>
Date: Tue Dec 16 2008 - 16:30:23 EST

Bernie -

Replies in brackets interspersed below.

  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Dehler, Bernie
  Sent: Tuesday, December 16, 2008 11:22 AM
  Subject: FW: (post?) [asa] promise trumps biology (accepting biological evolution for Adam)

  George said:
  "The theological proposal to be made here does not depend on the number of hominids to be considered the first humans or on when they came into being. "


  I understand completely, and that is not the question.


  George said:
  "But it does seem unlikely that the present human race can be traced to a single male-female pair."


  "Unlikely" . or is it really "impossible" according to modern evolutionary science?

  {See David Campbell's post last evening on this thread. "Impossible" seems much too strong a word given the complexity of the processes & the fact that our knowledge of the past is incomplete.}


  George said:
  "Of course evolution is a phenomenon of populations, not individuals, but mutations that spread through populations can begin with an individual. You hear geneticists talk about when the gene for red hair, e.g., arose "


  If this is your theory for Adam, that a mutation could start with him, then what kind of gene do you think he originated? If there is nothing you can identify- then why even hold it out as a concession? Are you afraid of persecution for saying what you really believe. that modern science says biological evolution happens only in groups over vast amounts of time ruling out a special biological creation for Adam? As for red hair, does one person suddenly get it, and then all others- or does it take many generations to even get to red- going thru other shades first? Then there's the definition of 'red.' Is 'dark red' red? How about 'light red?' How about 'orangeish red'?

  {I didn't say that some mutation was my "theory of Adam" but was simply pointing out that just the fact that populations evolve doesn't mean that what happens to individuals can't be significant.}


  George said:
  "I knew a lot of my readers would be concerned about the historicity of Adam and I saw no reason to turn them off right away by insisting on a point that isn't essential to my argument. But observe that I still made this concession in a very qualified way. & I was making a concession to others"


  I don't understand why you are compelled to give a concession. please explain that. Maybe this point is essential (overall, maybe not to the specific point you are trying to make), because what one believes on this point will affect hermeneutics in general biblical interpretation. You make it sound like it is a reasonable scientific hypothesis that Adam was a unique biological creation. but then also indicate that you don't believe that personally.

  {First, the "concession" I make is not "Yes, you're right" but "it's unlikely but you could be right." But why do I make any concession? Because what I want to convince people of is that basic Christian doctrines - creation, sin, salvation - can be held within an evolutionary scenario, & whether or not there was an "historical Adam" isn't basic one way or another. It would be counterproductive for me to give people the impression that they couldn't accept my core argument unless they accepted peripheral matters along with it.

  Another example. Suppose I'm trying to convince a YEC that the authority of scripture doesn't depend on 6 day creation & he/she finally says, "I guess each day could have been millions of years wrong." Should I say, "No, that would make the sequence of fossils all wrong, the sun was formed before the earth, &c"? Or "That's one way of thinking of it"? Allowing people a stay in a halfway house is OK.}


  George said:
  "If you want to push the origin of humanity as a single couple back a few million years you can accomodate the genetic data, as I noted in the 1st quote above. "


  Seems foolish to me, because the reason to do that is to make the Bible text true- that God created humans unique. but now another hole in the dam opens up- the geneologies are then out-of-whack. You can get it scientifically true- but then it fails historically. You can't get it both historically and scientifically accurate, because both are wrong (God didn't make man unique biologically, as we know from evolution; for history, human history does go back more than 6 or 10 thousand years).

  {I agree. I don't buy the idea either.}


  George said:
  "More generally, it's a mistake to tie theology to any particular scientific theory - the mistake many scholastics made with Aristotle. I've made the same point previously about big bang cosmology. Scientifically I'm 99.999% sure that there was a big bang (though whether or not there was anything "before" it is less certain) & a good deal that I've said about creation would have to be rewritten if it turned out that this was wrong but our fundamental understanding of what it means for the triune God to be the creator of the universe doesn't depend on a particular cosmological model. The same is true for our understanding of genetics."


  I think it depends on science. Yes, the big-bang could be subject to change- or what lies beyond the big-bang.. But some things won't, such as the idea that our solar system is heliocentric rather than geocentric- that won't change and you can bank on it. Similarly- isn't it obvious to you that DNA has given overwhelming evidence that humans evolved biologically? There's no way that can be re-interpreted scientifically. thinking of pseudogene arguments and fused human chromosome #2. How can that scientific evidence be over-turned or somehow explained with a hypothesis of special biological creation for Adam? If it can't be reversed, then why not teach this evolutionary science boldly to the faithful?

  {I agree that the evidence for evolution is pretty overwhelming but I'm still not going to write it into the creeds. OTOH general relativity allows you to use a geocentric reference frame if you wish.}

  {On your other post - yes, I've read Vilenkin's book. The idea of "quantum foam" is old - John Wheeler used that language 50 years ago. I'm not a fan of the multiverse. It can be accomoddated theologically but it seems to me too much of a copout.}


  I appreciate your insight- I just like to push against every major thought to see how squishy or solid it is ;-)



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Received on Tue Dec 16 16:31:30 2008

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