Re: [asa] promise trumps biology (accepting biological evolution for Adam, Dr. Campbell)

From: David Campbell <>
Date: Fri Dec 19 2008 - 13:45:34 EST

> Please forget about the whole question of the "spirit" and think only of humans- biologically speaking. You are saying that there is a possibility that an ape-like creature (male and female) changed from pre-human to human at one point in time (whether 10,000 years ago or up to 1 million, doesn't matter), in which we have an Adam and Eve?
> To me that seems to go against biological evolution, because I think biological evolution would say that it happens very gradually over many generations with many creatures. My position: There is NO point where you can say this creature is a non-human and this offspring is human (let alone the first simultaneous male/female human pair). It is all gray-scale- like the growth of a baby in the womb (starting from 1 cell to creating complex organs- you can't really pin-point exactly when the brain is made). I would like to know your opinion on that.<

Overall, there is a continuum, but it is ultimately made up of
individual changes. If you pick one of those individual changes to be
the dividing line, you can identify a first human (in theory, if you
had access to the relevant prehistoric population) . However, he/she
would be more similar to more primitive hominids than is the norm for
modern humans, unless you selected an individual that lived relatively

Biology would be hard-pressed to select a particular point of
division, unless it were something like the chromosome fusion that
produced reproductive isolation. (assuming that the chromosome fusion
does create reproductive isolation).

Evolution does not have to happen gradually, but it can.

My take on Adam and Eve is that they are the first of a new category
based on spirituality. It's not hard to envision that as a relatively
abrupt change, beginning with a single pair (though of course, it
could be the reaching of a threshold level with some progress apparent
in previous forms-not to mention possibility of further development,
and it's also not hard to envision multiple pairs, etc.).

I think that the short answer is that biological evolution can't rule
out a single pair for Adam and Eve. It makes it difficult (but not
impossible) to have a single pair physically ancestral to all later
humans-the genealogies would have to span huge lengths of time, and
the cultural level of Genesis 4 seems to be no older than about 10,000
years ago. Evolution can't tell us anything about a scenario with
Adam and Eve as a single pair, representatives of all humans out of an
existing population.

> Some Christians will hate that because then how could they be judged by God? But it is just more of the same traditional questions, such as when are children held accountable, as well as the mentally disabled, those who never heard, etc.<

Yes-I think that highlighting the continuity with existing ideas
within Christianity is a good approach.

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 Fri Dec 19 13:46:06 2008

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