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

From: David Campbell <pleuronaia@gmail.com>
Date: Wed Dec 17 2008 - 15:08:05 EST

> In your theology, it doesn't matter if Adam and Eve existed or not. You say we are still sinners and need a Savior. For a YEC or an OEC it does matter, theologically. Also at stake is God's Word and how it is interpreted; if it is infallible, how it is infallible, etc. Someone doesn't know, and they would like to come up with a position of their own. What does science say? Is it possible there was a biological Adam and Eve- not evolved as standard evolution describes evolution as happening in _groups_ over _long_periods_of_time? I didn't see a clear-cut answer. My question cuts to the heart of whether you see evolution working in all of life the same, or if something special happened just for humans, biologically speaking only (not spiritual- such as when the spirit/soul was given to man).<

Actually, I do regard it as a matter of importance, but not
fundamental to Christianity (cf. the recent posts on the significance
of "necessary"). Not that I have particular theological authority but
just as an example-I would hold to the Bible being inerrant but not
particularly talking about scientific issues, dates, methods, etc. in
Gen. 1-10 (nor for most of the rest) and would say that my best guess
is to have Adam and Eve as real people but representatives out of an
existing physically similar population.

Evolution is the net change in a group over time, built up from all
the individual changes. These can happen relatively quickly or
slowly. There's nothing inherent in evolution to rule out humans
originating with a single pair with distinctive mutation(s),
geographic isolation, or newly spiritually acquired preferences in
mate suitability separating them from their relatives. However, the
data suggest that modern humans do not share a single common ancestor
pair more recently than, at a minimum, about 100,000 years ago. (A
complicaiton in terminology arises in that we can't tell the
difference between a dead-end mutant, or a variant within the general
species with no long-term significance, or the start of a new species
except in hindsight. For example, alien taxonomists studying earth in
the late Devonian would probably classify the first amphibians as a
small, specialized branch of one group of fish. In hindsight, we can
see that growing legs was the start of something big).

I know of nothing from biology that indicates anything exceptional
about human evolution. However, biology and other sciences are
generaly quite poor at addressing issues of theological and
philosophical interest.

The idea that Adam and Eve were representatives out of an existing
population has been around for centuries (at least) and is not
uniquely motivated by evolutionary concerns-e.g., where do spouses for
Adam and Eve's kids come from? More figurative interpretations have
also been around at least since Philo and Origen. These are really
issues that have been debated in the church for a long time, confused
by the popular baggage and scientific-looking trappings of mentioning
evolution. Evolutionary issues do not automatically lead to a
conclusion of errancy in the Bible, but they do quickly lead to
conclusions of errancy of certain interpretations.

-- 
Dr. David Campbell
425 Scientific Collections
University of Alabama
"I think of my happy condition, surrounded by acres of clams"
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Received on Wed Dec 17 15:08:42 2008

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