One of the regular commenters on The Naked Bible (Jonathan) sent me this link to a discussion on the topic “Adam and Eve: Did They Really Exist?” He recommended I read the opening statements of both contributors, and I do the same to you. Jonathan also noted that it was Father Hensen’s view that seemed most akin to our discussion, since he zeroes in on the pre-scientific nature (he presumes) of Genesis 3. I’ll give this a couple days before chiming in, and will be continuing both the canon and Romans 5:12 issue as well.
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This debate was a great read. I must say, I don’t personally hold to Father Hansen’s (I apologize I gave the wrong spelling “Hensen” to Dr. Heiser) very liberal and unorthodox ideas of sexual morality and eternal judgment; however, I do believe he argues rightly when he asks: “if the people who wrote the Bible were fallible, how can the Bible be infallible?” and hits the mark by stating: “…inerrancy and inspiration have nothing to do with each other. Inspiration means filling with spirit. Inerrancy means having no errors.” He then begins to describe what he sees as errors in the Bible (scientific errors–flat earth view of the world–etc). I also must point out that Rev. Rankin (who argued for an inerrant, literal view of the Bible) gave some great arguments as well, even defending that the round Earth/globe view can be supported by scripture and is not necessary to conclude that the flat earth was the only view espoused (to name just one argument–though I think Dr. Heiser would disagree). Again, great debate and, personally, I think that though Rev. Rankin’s theology (morally) is right on, he failed to consider the rationality of Fr. Hansen’s views on inerrancy. (though, it was a debate after all)
One thing that IRKED me (Dr. Heiser…care to Chime In?): On the HISTORICITY of ADAM and EVE…Rankin has the better point that, if they weren’t REAL historical figures, it sort of makes the whole Crucifixion (which was to undo their sin and restore us) moot. Fr. Hansen believes Adam and Eve were just symbolic of all humanity but surely he sees the flaw in that? Sure, science is getting closer all the time to an actual genetic ancestor from which all humans descend (not just Mitochondrial Eve, in other words) but whether they find one or not…this does not negate the oh so basic truth that Jesus was the Second Adam from which I infer there was a first? Silly to think otherwise IMO.
Glad to see some a-political content.
At this point I will only share an observation, relevant to the recent high-point of the Christian Calendar. [btw…I would love a historic discussion about the artificial change in dating of “Easter”…its not Passover/Easter that is the pivot but the Constantinian corruptions at work]. John 20:22 is the Rebirth of a race of ‘men’ – equivalent to Genesis 2:7 – see Colossians 1 & 2. Jesus breathes into his ‘offspring’ the breath of new Life, new Creation, “born again”. The “LAST Adam” breathed His own life into them and they became “living souls”, fit to receive the Holy Spirit who was being given. The Holy Spirit does not inhabit the unregenerate. There is a sequence… Adam did not receive the soul-life from YHWH by spontaneous combustion.
@Jonnathan Molina: my take on this, in the context of the discussion on this blog, is that the question of whether there was an Adam and Eve isn’t a scientific one. Yes, science can tell us pretty obvious things (like there had to be an original male and female human to perpetuate the species — no kidding). I hardly think it’s “unscientific” to say that God created (whether by fiat or by intervention in an evolutionary process) Adam and Eve. The alternative would seem to be that we’d be saying God could not have performed such creative acts. The existence of God is outside the realm of science, and having a God by definition means letting Him actually do things like create. Science has no authority for determining the reality of God or His attributes. The issues (to me) seem to be that the Bible is clear there was an original human male and female, those people were distinct from any non-human species, and they had something to do with the fallibility and mortality of the rest of humanity (I word things like that because I don’t like traditional interps. of Romans 5:12; more on that). These are critical theological ideas.
@Cognus: maybe I can convince a friend of mine to do some guest blogging on the Easter question — he’s very up on that subject.
@MSH: agreed; nicely put. I look forward to how this ties in to Romans 5:12 (I also am dismayed at how this has been twisted around by young earth creationists and such as hold the “no physical death before sin” view. Honestly, what is fruit if not the death of the bloom, and the tree but the death of the seed? I guess we’re supposed to believe Adam ate some kind of fruit that existed outside the realm of natural science. And the arguments for carnivourous animals not eating flesh before sin is preposterous (they never were able to sin, the curse may have affected the ground (? and can we explain that while we’re at it?) but animals are as they always have been).