Re: [asa] "Evolutionary Creation" book comments

From: Jim Armstrong <>
Date: Wed Sep 30 2009 - 00:03:51 EDT
NOT specifically responding to the post below... -

I suppose this is oversimplifying, and wouldn't claim any novelty, but it is very hard for me to buy into this real-or-not, or to-what-degree-real-or-not discussion.

It seems to me that this is a forest and trees problem. If humans truly have freedom to make independent choices, then there is automatically the capacity to make two categories of decisions, let's just call them "optimal" and "suboptimal".

Adam and Eve in the story pretty clearly had that capacity to make such choices, pre-"fall". Given our experience that we too apparently have that same capacity in our time, it would seem that nothing has really changed in this regard. So "real Adam or not" seems moot. It looks to me that any given degree of undesirability in choice is intrinsically part and parcel of free choice.

I recognize the difficulties that flow from this, but it's a simple observation (I think), and it seems to point to the story of the Garden as being a folk explanation of where bad things come from, if not from a capricious god.

JimA [Friend of ASA]

Schwarzwald wrote:
Heya all,

Since we're offering up various perspectives on how to consider Genesis (particularly with regards to Adam), I'll chime in with my own.

First, I'm never quite sure just where to consider the question of a "literal Adam" existing. If there was an Adam, a first human complete with a soul - but his biological parents were some kind of biological precursor, is that a "literal Adam"? What if the there was a command from God, an act of disobedience, and a subsequent and real spiritual fall for all humans thenceforth - but Adam functioned as some kind of leader or representative? What if there was a communal fall, but one man was chosen as representative of the story because - even if it was a 'communal' fall - the most important lesson was that of the individual acts?

I could go on with possible scenarios, many of which make questions of evolution superfluous, a non-issue, compatible, or otherwise. But for me, the greater point is that A) There are a wide range of reasonable possibilities that mesh with the grand theme of evolution, B) Most or all of them are still compatible with, ultimately, the same story we have, and C) It's not clear to me that these stories necessitate regarding either Adam or the fall as unreal. In fact, I lean towards the opposite view - I think there is this unfortunate, and often unexamined habit of thinking 'If Genesis 2 did not play out exactly the way as I personally interpret it to, there was no Adam and no fall.' Which I think is along the lines of thinking that, if we have the details of Socrates' personality wrong, then there was no Socrates. It's an illicit jump.

So I'd agree with Randy to a degree, except I'd put it this way: It seems reasonable to me, very reasonable, to regard Genesis 2 as describing a primeval event. Do I need to know the exact, specific details of that event? Honestly, no - no more than I need to know the exact action God engaged in when He formed the planets, the waters, etc. The repercussions are stated, and to a degree, rather obvious. The importance of that event, however allegorical or generalized or watered down from the fuller event, etc, is related to me faithfully. Sure, it leaves me with some questions - but all answers tend to do that anyway.

On Tue, Sep 29, 2009 at 9:27 PM, Randy Isaac <> wrote:
I hesitate to do so, but may I draw another parallel, even though it's quite a stretch?
My wife enjoys theater of the absurd. So I go along and attend all these plays by Samuel Beckett, Ed Albee, Harold Pinter, and the like. I confess that, ever so reluctantly, I'm learning to appreciate this genre of theater. (not that I'll admit it to her!) These plays do live up to their moniker--taken literally, the script is bizarre and absurd. It simply doesn't reflect reality as we know it. These plays can only be understood and appreciated when interpreted through emotion and intuition. The acting, coupled with the script, portrays emotions with which the audience can relate. At least, if those of us who are scientifically inclined leave our scientific minds at the door and listen by feeling rather than by thinking. It's far beyond me to describe it but I can see where, at some level, it really works. But when after the play, I start asking, "did he really do x, y, or z?" then the understanding disappears. The questions about reality destroy the signficance.
In some sense, the script of the Bible is similar. (sorry, I can't even bring myself to actually write the same adjective in the same sentence as the Bible--you get the point). It doesn't match the reality (i.e. history and science) as we know it. There are, however, enough points of contact with reality (just as in the plays) to make you think, well, maybe it does reflect reality. Dick, for example, keeps reminding us that there are many common points with other ANE literature, whatever the accuracy may be of their portrayal or history. Yet, when read at a totally different level, the text resonates with emotion and powerful theology. If we can somehow check our scientific and historical brains at the door and listen to the Word of God at that emotional, theological level, through the lens of the cross and the risen Christ as George appropriately keeps reminding us, and keep from asking these history and science questions at all, then perhaps we can understand what is being said. But now, we (or at least I) always come back to, well, what really did happen? What came first? When did that event happen? And then the magic disappears and the meaning fades and it all seems, well, absurd again.
Am I saying that as scientists we have to check our brains at the door of the church? Yes and no. Definitely no if one means we have an irrational faith with no basis. Yes, if you mean we should not interpret God's revelation with the mind of a scientist or a historian. Again, this does not in any way deny points of contact with reality. The incarnation and resurrection are a couple of those crucial points of contact. Neither of those are understandable from our scientific perspective and yet only through their perspective do we gain understanding.

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