Very often it’s put to us as a stark choice: either you accept the biblical account of human origins, or you accept the scientific account. Either you believe that we are all direct descendants of Adam and Eve, or that we are all products of a long evolutionary process, stretching back a million years or more to a (non-human) common ancestor.
But can we have our cake and eat it? Can we hold both to the essential factual historicity of the accounts of creation in Genesis 1 and 2, and to the validity of evolutionary science?…
Do not forget that God pronounced man, the apex of his creation ‘very good’ too. Modern theories of sin, in so far as they deal with the origin of sin at all, assume that man must have been sinful from the very beginning. It is, according to such theories, ‘only natural’ to sin. Sin is inevitable; a central and unavoidable part of our nature. But Scripture does not teach this at all.
The Bible’s story of the Fall is, apart from all else, a relief from the problems inherent in such a doctrine.…
I must admit that I’m not sure about where to place Genesis 3 on a scale between the two extremes of ‘literal history’ and ‘pure fiction’. Here’s a summary of some the options:-
An historical account of a ‘Fall’
Traditionally, this account has been understood as a more or less literal description of an historical event in involving a ‘fall’ on the part of our first parents from a state of innocence. According to Kreeft & Tacelli, for example,
‘there are three reasons why the Fall can’t be mere moral parable or fiction:-
First, if the Fall is not historical at all, then its effects—suffering and death—also are not historical.
Last night, the BBC screened its 90-minute drama ‘The Ark’.
It was a re-telling, by Tony Jordan, of the celebrated biblical story of Noah (variations of which circulated in other ancient cultures).
Those who confuse the ‘traditional’ children’s version of this story with the biblical version complain that we don’t get to see the animals go into the ark. I was surprised to see Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali being (mis?)quoted as seemingly objecting to the animals being ‘banned’ from the ark in this film.…
What options are available for relating the biblical account of Adam and Eve to the scientific account of the evolution of the human race?
1. The historical view
The conservative writer Norman Geisler offers ten reasons for thinking that Adam and Eve were historical persons:-
Genesis 1–2 presents them as actual persons and even narrates the important events in their lives.
They gave birth to literal children who did the same (Genesis 4–5).
The same phrase (“this is the history of”), used to record later history in Genesis (for example, Gen 6:9; 10:1; 11:10, 27; 25:12, 19), is used of the creation account (2:4) and of Adam and Eve and their descendants (Gen.
‘What About Genesis?’, ask Denis Alexander, in his book Creation or Evolution: Do We Have To Choose? What follows is based on Alexander’s discussion.
Two preliminary points. The final authority of Scripture in all matters of faith and conduct is fundamental. Although modern science can shed light on the interpretation of the Bible, the relationship between the Bible and science is not such that we should relying on science to determine the meaning of the biblical text, or vice-versa.…
The habit of referring to God’s ‘two books’ – the book of Scripture and the ‘book’ of nature – goes back at least to Francis Bacon (1561-1626). Michael Faraday (1791-1867) spoke in the same terms, as did Galileo (1564-1642). Charles Darwin quoted Bacon in the preface to his Origin of Species:-
‘To conclude, therefore, let no man out of a weak conceit of sobriety, or an ill-applied moderation, think or maintain, that a man can search too far or be too well studied in the book of God’s work, or in the book of God’s word; divinity or philosophy; but rather let men endeavour an endless progress of proficence in both.’…
There’s a very real danger, I’m sure, of paying so much attention to theoretical questions about the origin of the cosmos that we neglect the much more practical ones about what it means to live as stewards of creation in the here-and-now. But the two things are related, and questions of origin do at least bring cosmology and theology into speaking distance with one another. And, in any case, Scripture itself begins with an account of the origin of the cosmos and so we have good warrant for giving it some air-time.…