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The Origins War, Part 3

On the necessity of the historical Adam and when Evolution compromises the intentions of Scripture.

Last entry I broke down the gospel into three parts–––historical (past), eschatological (future), personal (now). I argued how Young Earth theology, if championed too strictly as obligatory belief, can undermine the grace of the gospel. I also said that Evolution ought not to be synthesized with Genesis on the pulpit or corporate teaching, but ought to remain a personal belief since it requires an understanding of the natural sciences, which is fundamentally different than Scripture. The intention of Scripture must be understood first and foremost. Last, I said that I would continue to mark out the doctrinal boundary lines in this entry, and that belief in Evolution can negatively affect the historical gospel and more. Let’s continue.

I don’t want to imply that Christianity is, or ought to be, incompatible with science. Both speak of the real world, which was created by God, so how could I? The scientific method was born out of Christendom. Christian theology led to the birth of modern science because the Christian God is a rational lawmaker, so rational men expected rationality in nature[1]. They expected laws in nature because, as C.S. Lewis put it, “they believed in a Legislator”[2]. A rational and orderly God produced rational men and orderly laws of nature[3]. There is a union, here, that I cannot deny.

A Mutual Point of Contention. That said, what ought to be contended by all Christians, OECs included, is the enormous wave of Christian scientists, scholars, and laymen rejecting Genesis 1-11 as pure fiction, mythos, or folklore because modern science strongly suggests otherwise; even blurring fact with fiction under the guise of mythohistory. This is most propagated by theistic evolutionists and Evolutionary Creationists, while not typically by OECs who affirm Biblical authority and inerrancy, some do fall through the cracks. For it is true that Evolution (capital E), particularly common ancestry, can help support an unbelief in the historical accuracy of Genesis and the gospel: whether Adam is a fictional primordial symbol of mankind and not an actual person, that death always existed among humans (a wider population of hominins), that the genealogical record is just archaic symbolism lost in time, the flood is fake, Babel is babel, or Moses is no more than a moral philosopher–––all this misses the point. Suffice to say, the problem roots much deeper than Evolutionary belief itself.

Propagating a balancing act between Science and Spirit, where Science is right here but the Spirit is wrong there, reduces the theological and prophetic truth of Scripture to mere probabilism, on par or below theories espoused in the historical sciences, and weakens the resolution of spiritual understanding to something less certain than naturalistic understanding, which can further reduce belief in Christ to cerebral affirmation alone. A cerebral gospel like this does not penetrate the heart, which ought to a strike a chord with those who know what believing in the personal gospel entails: “to present your bodies as a living self-sacrifice” (Romans 12:1-2). It conflates truth with human knowledge, as though the summation of our knowledge (or justified true beliefs) alone is the threshold or standard by which something is true; as though the essential value of truth is entirely pragmatic and contingent upon our ability to discern it, determined by a balance of probabilities or favoured by a consensus among peers. But this statistical, reductionistic view for discerning truth hangs upon a priority structure greater than Evolutionary belief, the likes of which opens the floodgates to progressively devalue the gospel. OECs propagate this, perhaps inadvertently, through a false relationship: Nature is the so-called 67th book of the Bible.

Natural History v. Natural Theology

Of course, as I said before, there is no contention between Scripture and nature. Incompatibility between the two can only come about by misinterpreting Scripture, nature, or both. Through God’s word the world was formed and by His breath the Word was written (cf. 2 Peter 3:5; 2 Timothy 3:16), so the text and external world should independently corroborate and complement one another. That is precisely how we gauge whether something is (reliably) true or false in everyday life–––direct observation, eyewitness accounts, second-hand testimonies and consistent hearsay, universal consensus, demonstrative proof, forensic or physical evidence, logical coherency and consistency, contradictory accounts, a balance of probabilities, et cetera. Scripture and nature are held to these same standards of reliability. Not only is our sense experience, reason, and conscience necessarily reliable but also our discernment, wisdom, understanding, faith, perseverance, fear of the Lord and the revelatory power of God. The inner witness of the Holy Spirit, after all, is the source of our assurance, who intercedes and speaks to us in “wordless groans”, which happens outside of the Bible (Romans 8:26-27). To deny truth outside the text is to deny general revelation, and even the Spirit, as trustworthy. Truth doesn’t exist in a vacuum, despite how some Fundamentalists may preach; Old and New Testaments attest to this fact[4]. Scripture accurately testifies about reality because it comes from the Maker of it. This is a no brainer.

For instance, my wife Corie is a student of history and archaeology (a science in its own respect) and presents her findings for a living on The Daily Show. The archaeological data she discovers consistently corroborates the historical accounts relayed in the Bible. Equally as exciting is how insightful and full the context of Scripture can become as a direct result of her ancient cultural and anthropological studies. Outside evidence not only supports the text, but it also enhances our understanding of it.

“That is to deeply misunderstand natural theology as something purely natural.

However, that is not what is being said, here. Au contraire! It is not nature but science – the explanation of evidence by nature through nature and the harmonization of said probabilistic data into theory – that is co-equal to Scripture, the backbone of which is the gospel. And not just any science, but historical science, the sum of which cannot meet the most powerful standards or empirical reliability: direct observation, eyewitness accounts, universal consensus, et cetera. And as I said before, origins science is observably unfalsifiable because the end result of large-scale cosmological and biochemical processes cannot be fully empirically verified, tested, reproduced, and repeated. And that’s a major problem. How so? Nature can look one way, but that does not mean nature is that way–––especially when supernatural agency is involved. Again, the battlefield is not of contesting mainstream operational science that can be empirically verified, such as technological or medical evidence, but chiefly the dogmatic belief in the origins of life and cosmos against essential Christian doctrine because it necessitates an overarching framework (or lens of interpretation) that can have layers of hidden, interconnected assumptions. Such is the case with Corie and archaeology, there is always alternative perspectives, interpretations, and conclusions of the same data pending one’s overarching chronology, religious framework, et cetera. And yes, this is so with different areas of Scripture, as well, but not so with the doctrinal essentials like the gospel.

While it is true that we must interpret Scripture and nature, and God is the Author of both (cf. Acts 3:15), it is self-evident that we do not interpret natural history the same way, or with the same weight rather. That is to deeply misunderstand natural theology as something purely natural. Scientific inquiry cannot adequately test, reproduce, and verify supernatural agency, that would go beyond the scope of the natural sciences–––the progressive understanding of the physical world. But everything that exists is made by and through the Christ (John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:16-17). Therefore, to weigh the evidence of historical science against the historical gospel is to put the inner witness of the Holy Spirit, the same Spirit “hovering over the waters” and spoken through the prophets and apostles (Genesis 1:2; 2 Peter 1:19-21; Ephesians 3:5-6), a direct outpouring of hearing the personal gospel (Romans 10:17), at odds or on par with our cognitive faculties (Romans 8:16, 9-17; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; Ephesians 1:13-14; 1 Thessalonians 1:5). It naturalizes the Spirit (cf. Colossians 2:8-10).

Mythologizing the historical portions of Genesis sends profound deconstructive reverberations through all Scripture and doctrine profitable for discipleship. I don’t think I can stress how dangerous this line of thought is for the Church at large. It is so broad sweeping, for this entry I will focus most of my attention to how this stance affects the backbone of doctrine – the gospel – which is underpinned by historical, theological, and prophetic truths. The intention of the gospel and Genesis 1-11 clearly points to actual spiritual and physical happenings, not solely theological abstractions indiscernible from myth, legend, or fantasy. That would be to foster scientism at heart: theology is a subjective, unfalsifiable, private opinion. This is not so. We would do well not to take Paul’s theological assessment of creation lightly.

Purpose of Natural Theology and General Revelation

General revelation, spoke of in Romans, does not mean that studying creation will reveal the intimate details missing from the Genesis account (and it doesn’t rule it out, either). It means that through our immediate sense experience, necessity of objective truth, logic and existential reasoning, conscience and moral understanding as well as our implicit knowledge of God “in the things that have been made” like plants, animals, the order and law of nature, life-permitting function of lifeless things (i.e., hydrological cycle, plants produce edible fruits and vegetables) and so on, the highest conceivable Being – God – is plainly visible and “clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world”. External creation points to, if not, proves the reality of God inwardly[5]. More than just mere existence, but God’s “invisible attributes, namely, His divine nature and eternal power” – nonmaterial (Spirit), immutable (unchanging), self-sufficient, eternal, omniscient (all-knowing), omnipotent (all-powerful), omnipresent (ever-present), omnibenevolent (supremely good) and holy (set apart)[6] – is perceptible through reason and conscience as well, so that we are all “without excuse” (Romans 1:20). Basic theology of God is deducible from creation[7]. Indeed, from ancient philosophers like Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle who deduced an uncaused cause or “Prime Mover” to the late atheist philosopher Antony Flew who led the charge against God yet passed away a theist because of the evidence of modern science, natural theology is a simple fact attested to throughout secular history.

What is often overlooked is that it’s not just the positive evidence that attests to God, it’s the negative evidence, as well. A closer inspection of God judging Job’s sense of justice and judgment (Job 38-41) reveals that even our lack of knowledge attests to God’s unfathomable wisdom, divine nature, and eternal power. God uses numerous anecdotes from creation – origin of earth, water and light, land formations, water cycle, weather patterns, sunrise and sunset, constellations, animal behaviour – to emphasize how little Job understands. Suggesting that God’s creation reduces the threshold for general revelation to just sheer awe and wonder. Smart or dumb, we are truly without excuse. Job’s humility is later vindicated after he repents: “Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know….therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:1-6, emphasis added). Funny enough, epistemic humility is one thing these scientists may not know much about!

In Psalm 19, the psalmist David is first to plainly bridge these theologies together, that nature speaks of God through silent action:

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun. It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is deprived of its warmth. (NIV, Psalm 19:1-6)

From subliminal to evidential, nature arouses our implicit awareness of God. What’s more striking about this view is that David uses nature to illustrate a parallel between revelations: world and word, general and special (v.7-9). For instance, when David says, “The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes”, he parallels inward understanding given by God for following His commands to the sun’s light and warmth (v.5-6); a universal, constant, and impartial attribute of the sun, akin to God’s justice of which Christ Himself cites (cf. Matthew 5:45). David does so to draw a deeper relationship: Just looking at the world around us (v.1-6) and taking His word to heart (v.7-9), we fall short (v.10-14). Through the awe and majesty of the created order, God testifies about His divine nature and eternal power over the external world, and that through His intentional word (laws, testimony, precepts, commandment, fear, and decrees) He is more than just a passive, provisional power like the sun, but breaks through the distant, impersonal barrier laid by sin to verify His heart for humanity (v.7-9), that He is Lord of the outward and inward, of physical and spiritual, He is “my Rock and my Redeemer” (v.14). Only a God who is truly so ultimate, yet intimate would desire to forgive our “hidden faults” and sins (v.12), to “refresh our soul” and restore us blameless, innocent, and good.

This implicit fact of God, however, does not compel proper faith in God. With creation testifying God through and through, Paul clarifies a critical point. It is not that naturalism or bestial proclivities are the sole leading factors toward false worship, though it indicates the beginning phase toward such, rather it is that we cannot reject, rescind, or ignore our spiritual nature to worship, so we “exchange” it: the Creator for the things that have been made. When we conflate these attributes of God deserving of worship with nature (humanity included), we loosen our nature and bind things “contrary to [our] nature” (Romans 1:26). We substitute the natural order designed by God for bestial, unnatural worship. Having “exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator…. God gave them up to dishonorable passions….” (Romans 1:22-26). When our reasoning and conscience that points to a supernatural God is willfully naturalized, restricted to the observance of the material world, the natural world becomes the dominant frame of reference for moral, rational, and spiritual discernment. Outward looking, not inward. And once the knowledge of God is loosened or reduced, morality follows. Our spiritual nature is likewise reduced to a creaturely juxtaposition, as if it is more natural for us to behave like animals through bestial faculties, passions, and appetites, and less natural for us to be moral creatures designed as image bearers (cf. Romans 2:14-15). This view is a common frame of reference in our culture today, and frequently reinforced by naturalism and scientism because of common ancestry, which presupposes human nature is bestial by descent and religious belief/experience is untethered to our nature, floating weightlessly above material existence[8].

But if the requirements/works of the law is written on our hearts, and our conscience also bears witness to this fact, then our nature is moral and spiritual by default, and we must desensitize, denormalize, and demoralize our nature to a bestial status. Then, the binding obligation to truth, moral truth, follows soon after: “And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done” (Romans 1:28, 32). It is natural to be spiritual. It is normal for us to consciously worship God. It is this unique moral quality of humanness that sets us up as ambassadors of God here on earth, to take dominion through the reconciling power of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20; 1 Timothy 4:4; Genesis 1:26-28). The spiritual and natural harmonize by design. And it is precisely this sin-driven rebellion against God that splits the two and produces hardened hearts and those “slow to believe” spoken of throughout Scripture (Exodus 8:19, 32, 9:7, 34; Deuteronomy 15:7; 1 Samuel 6:6; 2 Chronicles 36:13; Job 9:4; Mark 6:52, 8:17; Luke 24:25; Romans 11:25; Hebrews 3:13-15). Our sin condition only worsens when this worship is no longer implicit or innate, when the Spirit is no longer vital to our “breath”. Hence, the need for the gospel.

Natural Theology and the Gospel

Paul is appealing to our deeply suppressed nature to worship God. In full spectrum, the Biblical authors do not set out to prove God’s existence against naturalism, atheism, agnosticism, or the like, as if we can truly doubt His existence (Psalm 14, 53). Rather, God is always assumed self-evident to all people, however subliminal or implicit He may feel. As sin deepens over time, a person’s heart becomes hardened to this fact–––cavalier, apathetic, cynical, abhorrent, indifferent. Yet even when God’s existence is reduced to mere possibility by a hardened heart, the possibility of God is still enough for one to cry out for Him as much as it is for God to judge them. Natural theology, then, is about the objectivity of hardened hearts. So, hardened to what, exactly? God’s existence? No. His forgiveness.

The gospel is about the Holy Spirit writing the law of God on our hearts and minds through the reconciling power of Christ who fulfilled the Law (Jeremiah 31:33; Ezekiel 11:19, 36:26; Hebrews 8:10, 10:16), to restore our fallen Adamic relationship with God in rightful worship (Romans 12:1). It splits the sheep from the goats, the light from the darkness (Matthew 25:31-46); and it starts right here, right now. By repenting, thereby devoting our life to His forgiving power, we must submit our breath to God–––repentance is submission, and submission is worship. Committing the gospel to heart, then, wages war against the hearts “hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:7-9, 12-16) and the “present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesian 6:12), the weapons of which are pride, lust, sloth, greed, envy, vanity, et cetera (2 Timothy 3:2-5; Galatians 5:19-21).

Now, the earthly argument is to challenge the existential necessity of repentance: ‘Repent for what? Something that happened to me? God set things up this way, did he not?’ Of course, no Christian thinks this argument to be sound. Why? Repentance is underpinned by the historical Fall, and the historical fall underpins natural theology. In fact, natural theology is the groundwork for the whole gospel – personal, historical, and eschatological – which is why Paul lays it as his foundation for the rest of Romans. It overviews how human nature has historically responded to the general revelation of God, even when confronted by His special revelation spoken through His prophets (Romans 10:12-21), which predicates Christian expectations for how one ought to personally respond to the crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ in the face of sin, death, suffering, evil, and futility (cf. Romans 10:16-18, 13-21). The gospel call to unharden our hearts is only relevant if the instinctual requirements/works of the law (the “dos and donts”) written on our hearts, mentioned earlier in Romans, is a hardened remnant, a fragmented impression as fallen image bearers. If humanity is not fallen and our hearts are not hardened by effect, then Paul contradicts the Prophets. God need not give us a “heart of flesh”, we have all we need.

This deepens the necessity of de novo Adam and Eve made in God’s image as well as an actual Fall that is uniquely Adam and Eve’s fault by which sin entered the world and reigned through death (Romans 5:12, 17-21). For if physical death is not uniquely humanity’s fault, Christ became flesh, died in the flesh, and rose in the flesh for nothing. The historical gospel, therefore, constitutes that actual sin and death entered the world as a direct consequence of an historical, humanly Fall; the likes of which will be fully restored and glorified when the Christ returns with new creation. The incarnation and eschatological gospel hinge on this historical fact. By implicating the speciality and reliability of the historical Fall, it is a ticking timebomb of spiritual growth and theological understanding–––sanctification. That the Fall may have happened is a very dangerous line to blur for living out the Christian life, for fully loving God’s redemptive power, and for sustaining theological doctrine profitable for corporate understanding and fellowship.

Natural Prophecy and the Genealogical Gospel

This theological wound only deepens, however, because prophecy is also disconnected from history and Scripture is de facto treated as a reliable ancient document that records claim of divine intervention. While people can still come to faith in Christ through historical reliability of the Gospels and Acts, this view when fully adopted renders the Prophets and Epistles exercises about divinity, not from divinity. Prophecy – from the Seed of Genesis to the return of Christ in Revelation – turns into ancient poetical or parabolic expressions of abstract moralism (cf. Ezekiel 20:49). Yet, prophecy is the backbone of the historical gospel.

A harmonization of Genesis 5 and 11, 1 Chronicles 1-9, the Gospels (Matthew 23:35, 24:37-39; Mark 10:6; Luke 3:23-38, 11:50-51, 17:26-27), and the Epistles (Romans 5:12-19, 8:19-22; 1 Corinthians 15:21-22, 45; 2 Peter 3:4-7; 1 John 3:12; Hebrews 11:4), to mention prominent examples, are all clear on what’s essential, immutable historical doctrine. In historical and theological context, the genealogy from Adam to Christ was intended to track the historical record of the Messianic line (hence, why it records only male names), as first prophesied by God Himself, “And I will put enmity Between you [Satan] and the woman [Eve], And between your seed and her Seed”(NKJV Genesis 3:15-16). God’s remark about “her Seed” when rebuking/cursing Satan has traditionally been understood as a Messianic prophecy of the virgin birth because, in ancient context, women do not carry “seeds”, men do. As presumably understood by Adam and Eve and recorded by Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15-19), this “Seed” to come was the One to save them from actual sin/death and restore the broken relationship between them, their offspring, and God. This One Seed prophecy grows into the root of the Abrahamic promise: “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed”, which contextualizes a universal intent in Genesis. God’s original plan was to bless all people through the faithful obedience of Abraham (NKJV Genesis 12:1-3, 22:15-18). The promise of a forthcoming “anointed one”, prophet, and priest-king is attested to throughout Scripture (John 1:45; Luke 24:44; 1 Samuel 2:35-36; Daniel 9:25-26) and is later proclaimed by Paul to be Jesus Christ (NKJV Galatians 3:16). This theme is central to Genesis and the gospel (Galatians 3:8). Therefore, “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (NKJV Galatians 3:29)

If the story of Adam and Eve is set to mere belief alone, of literary characters or otherwise, then the Messianic prophecy given by God in Genesis 3:15 is fiction–––there was no direct dialogue between God and Adam/Eve. So, the historical need to track the genealogical line of Christ, and justify that line in the Gospels, is mute. It morphs into a spiritual line, not a physical one, which strives against the context of Eve’s childbearing consequence (v.16a) immediately following Satan’s rebuke (cf. 1 Timothy 2:13-15). This Messianic genealogy was and is not intended nor was it believed by any of the authors of Scripture to be fictional, literary, or solely symbolic.

If the intention of the genealogies in Genesis 5 and 11 is parabolic, allegorical, or literary, why do Jesus Christ and the apostles Peter, Luke, Matthew, John, and Paul as well as the prophets Moses and Ezra place these fictional characters in a real-world historical context, whether by progeny or parallelism with real historical figures, such as when Paul said, “for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given…Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses” (Romans 5:13-14)?[9] Or Luke who “carefully investigated everything from the beginning” and traces the lineage of Christ to Adam “the son of God” (Luke 3:23-38). Context necessitates these characters are more than fictional literary devices profitable for “spiritual” use only.

Furthermore, Adam and Christ are constantly paralleled as two firsts of their kind, one natural and the other spiritual, where Adam is always regarded as one physical person: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit…. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.” (1 Corinthians 15:45-49)

What use is the historicity of Adam or Christ if not to affirm that God (not man) has conquered sin and will conquer death? The keystone of natural theology – human death is a result of human sin – is dislodged. If you rob the historical Adam of reality, then Paul’s prophetic words turn to dust (Romans 1:21-25, 2:14-15). As the Spirit testifies, yet again:

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned….Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come…. For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous….as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 5:12-21)

Just as Adam is a type of Christ, Eve is a type of Church. Just as “the two shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24), and the body of Christ is married to Christ, we are redeemed through Christ, the “Last Adam” and “firstborn” of new creation (Ephesians 5:25-33; Ruth 4:1-10, 14; Romans 8:29; Colossians 1:18; Hebrews 1:6, 12:23; Revelation 1:5). The One Seed prophecy given in Genesis 3:15, “I will put enmity between….your offspring and her offspring [Seed]; he shall crush your head, and you shall strike his heel,” is later revealed by Paul to be the Church, the body of Christ: “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.” (Romans 16:20) This only intensifies the relationship between this prophecy, theology, and history.

Virtually all theologians and scholars unanimously agree, the genealogical record of Genesis 5 and 11 is the crux of what binds Genesis to history. To disregard such, then, is to demote the entirety of Genesis 1-11 into the category of folklore, legend, or mythos–––no different than any other pagan myth. And the further into ancient history said genealogy is pushed back, say, hundreds of thousands of years (i.e., Adam is Homo heidelbergensis), the less and less historical it is. In fact, it’s a bit ironic; theistic evolutionists and OECs alike will broaden or push the genealogy back to appeal to methodological naturalism in origins science, but in doing, they only intensify the miraculous nature of the genealogies! To maintain an ancestral record of all who actually lived through oral tradition alone for hundreds of thousands of years is unheard-of, wholly unnatural. I would even say, the further Adam/Eve and Fall is pushed back into ancient history, the less likely man kept a record of it and the more likely Genesis was dictated by God. To concede such would strives against all historical and archaeological data of pagan creation myths that resemble the Genesis account (i.e., Sumerian Eridu Genesis, Babylonian Enuma Elish, etc.). Therefore, we are left with two options. The historical genealogies of Genesis are either (a) fabricated and mostly false, or (b) Adam and Eve lived within 10,000 years of recent history.

There is no way around this fact. To cloud Genesis in myth or dismiss it as fiction because of modern scientific evidence, even if the gist, theme, or intention of the text is retained in some literary sense, is very dangerous to the faith. It’s not just Genesis that’s under revision, which is bad enough, but the Spirit of Scripture, reliability of miracles and prophecy, eyewitness accounts, historical accuracy, the historical and eschatological gospel, you name it–––it’s the butterfly effect of hermeneutic. There’s everything to lose, and nothing to gain. And belief is soon to follow.

Adam and Eve cannot be literary, figurative, or symbolic representations of unknown human origins lest prophecy, theology, and the gospel fall. If Adam and Eve did not consciously and historically fall, and sin did not enter the world through them, then Paul’s theological assertion of sin/death is false and Christ’s redemption plan for sin/death is misleading, confusing at best, and Christ’s redemption plan for sin/death is strictly psychological or typological or allegorical, a “cleverly devised story” (2 Peter 1:16). Meaning, the New Testament is written by false prophets.

How Natural History Compromises Natural Theology

If creation was meaningfully spoken into existence by the word of God, then creation communicates Creator–––immediate intuition shouts divine intention. Direct intentionality, such as language, carries far more weight in a world of divine meaning than probabilistic implications. The dominant strands of theistic evolutionary presuppositions on the origin of life focus on methodological naturalism and, therefore, marry meaningless, stochastic processes with intentional life and theology too intimately, in my view; its affects seem to bleed over into Old Earth and Evolutionary Creationism (OEC) in subtle and striking ways. If science and Spirit are equalized, it can deeply modify presuppositions and conclusions for understanding Scripture and sanctification.

To equalize the two is a bit ironic. The stochastic process is heavily relied upon in the natural sciences – biology, chemistry, physics, neuroscience, et cetera – and refers to “any process describing the evolution in time of a random phenomenon”[10]. It has a random pattern (probability distribution) that may be analyzed statistically but may not be predicted precisely. The word stochastic roots from the Greek word stokhazesthai, which means “to aim at a mark, guess, or conjecture,” which is noticeably similar to the Hebrew word for sin, “to miss the mark”, and strikingly dissimilar to what Scripture says about the words of God (Psalm 19:7-11; Titus 1:2; Hebrews 4:12, 6:18; Numbers 23:19; 1 Samuel 15:29). Theology is not conjecture and prophecy is not guesswork. God’s word does not aim at a mark, it just hits it[11].

By contrast, while signs, wonders, and miracles (and prophecies) may appear unfalsifiable – randomly scattered throughout Scripture and Church history, not consistent, predictable, or testable – what makes them all so special is that the timing of the miracle (or prophecy) is perceived as impossibly intentional, meaningful, and good. A miracle, by definition, opposes naturalistic assumptions in more ways than just supernatural, given that naturalism opposes intentionality and meaning in nature. Yet, the wonderful, awe inspiring reality of ordinary experience is predicated on the miraculous, whether by one-time occurrence or continual sustenance (cf. Hebrews 1:3). While theistic evolutionists see evidence of God’s handiwork in nature, that He intended it to exist, they hold God speechless. How so? The Creator’s design loses implicit resolution in its communicative qualities (general revelation) when God’s explicit and direct message to mankind (special revelation) is less discernibly true; or at the very least, it is less useful or discernible for obtaining justified true beliefs (cf. 2 Timothy 3:16-17). By compromising the historical gospel, they compromise natural theology, thereby compromising the harmonization of science with Scripture. All this does is muddy the interpretive process and revelatory power of Christ.

Theistic evolution weds miraculous intentionality with arbitrary randomness like a yin-yang wedding band. It’s an open marriage doomed for divorce. Why? Scripture and science are unequally yoked. They are not of equal value. Arbitrary random inferences interpreted in nature have power over intentional truths of Scripture, even so far as to overwrite Genesis as pure myth, rendering NT theology mistaken or humanly inspired. The intentional truth value in Scripture is much stronger than the implied truth value in nature. Scripture is evidence of God’s love for mankind as image bearers, which is far more valuable to living a fulfilled Christian life, and not desirable nor deducible through scientific methods. Theology, as understood through the Epistles, is chiefly intended to encourage proper spiritual growth through our mutual salvation in Christ–––sanctification through discipleship (2 Timothy 3:14-17). Equalizing Science and Spirit undercuts the truth value of Scripture and undervalues its sanctifying power.

“When you put these two qualities in a cage and tell them to get along, one ends up swallowing the other. As a spoiler, the mythical always wins out.

Owen Strachan

There is no debating this fact: Adam and Eve were the first historical humans specially created in the image of God as the sole progenitors of humanity. Paul even highlights this fact in his apologetic to the de facto naturalists of Athens, Epicurean and Stoic philosophers, that God “made from one man [Adam] every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth” (Acts 17:26-27). Eve is called “the mother of all living” (Genesis 3:20), Adam’s name means “man”, which suggests that he is, indeed, the father of all living. Common ancestry is predominantly at odds with this fact; evolutionary biologists frequently undercut the underlying facts tied to the gospel to preserve scientific explanations first. Its labour has yet to yield fruit profitable for doctrine. Disconcerting to me, as one not educated in the natural sciences, forgive me if I’m mistaken here, is that evolutionary biologists admit that the genetic ancestry dilutes with each generation “to a number so small it is unlikely a descendant has any genetic material from most of their ancestors.”[12] In other words, the DNA passed down from Adam and Eve has left no trace in our modern genome. This is shocking. If we cannot know for certain if there was or was not an historical Adam or Eve, scientifically speaking, why make a stand for polygenesis at all?

Scripture makes claims about the origin of all created things that cannot be discounted, however generalized or simplistic the anchor points may appear. By marrying intentionality with stochastic presuppositions for life to exist/function with (intentional) theology, that is to place discerning probabilistic and contingent evidence inferred from random functions equal to or greater than discerning divinely inspired truth, it can be a very slippery slope for misunderstanding deeper Christian intentions, values, purpose, and living. That is, the two, faith and probability, become one–––as if faith needs a percentage of doubt! (cf. James 1:5-8) Prophecy is exchanged for prediction, humility for knowledge, stars for dust. It’s no longer a spiritual commitment, it’s a rational ascent. It puts a bottom-up view of reality on equal footing–––no–––at a higher advantage than God’s intended pattern for spiritual growth and further reduces the on-going process of sanctification to the compliance of bare-minimum prerequisites of ‘spiritual’ facts. And whether those facts have authority or act as arbitrary guidelines is a blurry line. It may not weaken God’s grace or damage the gospel per se, but it grieves the great commission.

Science Needs Scripture to be Reliable

There are serious implications if we accept the evidence obtained by historical science on par or above the historical gospel. For it is plain the harmonious truths of the Bible – its history, theology, prophecy, and doctrines useful for discipleship – is of the same Spirit that testifies to our spirit, if indeed the Spirit lives within you (Romans 8:16). If such truths are loosened, God appears reasonably arbitrary in His superintendence whereby intentionality loses its acute perceptibility in creation. In other words, if the intentionality of God is equally as (in)discernible in unspoken correlations scattered throughout creation as it is in intentional spoken language of Scripture, even when spoken through human idiolect as Scripture is the product of man “carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21), then we’re in quite the pickle: His intentional superintendence over nature, too, (our reason and conscience included) is equally as tenuous and unreliable as His intentional superintendence over the truths of Scripture (the gospel included), if indeed poor reliability in the Spirit’s intention is assumed. If Scripture is unreliable, then science would be, too, because God’s Spirit is unreliable even when it is directly and explicitly communicated. And if unreliable, then not trustworthy. We’re thrown into a Catch-22 not unlike naturalism. For science to be tenable, reliable, and trustworthy, it hinges on the manifest reliability of God’s clear and comprehensible intentions. So, here we are again: Do we bend our knee to scientific consensus or simply trust in God’s word from the start?

Conclusion

The historical Adam is vital. To trivialize such is to play a dangerously fine line. The deep-seated desire to affirm Evolution (capital E) as optimal or obligatory true belief can, has, and dare I say, will weaken spiritual patterns necessary for sanctification, or at least, indicate the beginning stages of steady decline. If the last two centuries has taught us anything, it’s that a steady rise in scientism and liberal scholarship leads to weak church fellowship and fallen faiths. Sanctification fails to soften the heart and falls prey to rhetorical temptation, sacrificed on the altar of social acceptance and the “secret knowledge” of scientific consensus – conflating miracles with mythology, splitting prophecy from history, divorcing natural from spiritual, subverting certainty in the Writer for certainty in the reader. The Church, then, is reduced to an optimist club of intellectual solidarity–––spiritually stoic, emotive, Gnostic. Progressive, but not possessive.

There is a peculiar spirit behind secularism that enforces Evolutionary belief in academia and onto laymen that doesn’t sit well with me (cf. 1 John 4:1). This spirit bleeds into the synthesis of Evolution with Genesis and has been for nearly two centuries. It’s cutting it too close for comfort. While many commentators, philosophers, and theologians today such as William Lane Craig, whom I respect, believe there is compatibility between Evolution and Genesis, or at least believe that a synthesis of science and Scripture ought to be sought after, they tend to bulk up the scientific evidence and thin out the Scriptural evidence, affirming incredulous notions like “mythohistory”, which in the words of Owen Strachan, “When you put these two qualities in a cage and tell them to get along, one ends up swallowing the other. As a spoiler, the mythical always wins out.”[13] James M. Rochford also faithfully and systematically deconstructs William Lane Craig’s newest proposal on Genesis as mythohistory for its destructive potential in sustaining sound doctrine (cf. Galatians 5:9; 1 Corinthians 5:6-8; Matthew 16:5-12).

I fear that fully adopting Evolution at the expense of Scriptural truth and the historical gospel will inevitably produce that cerebral Christianity that has no fruit to bear, showcasing a strength of intellect but a weakness in faith that lacks perseverance, and if given enough time will not fight the good fight, finish the race, and keep the faith (2 Timothy 4:7-8). What does Scripture say? God chose you “to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14) “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.” (Romans 15:4) Paul, elsewhere, advises us to be weary of stumbling through sanctification, so that we “may fight the battle well, holding on to faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and so have suffered shipwreck with regard to the faith.” (1 Timothy 1:18-19)

To reiterate what I said before; exploring the harmonization of science with Scripture is not the problem. It’s overturning, undermining, or rewriting the Spirit and truth of Scripture because of modern scientific explanations. Due to the direct intentionality explicit in Scripture, and the inner witness of the Holy Spirit, the degree of truth in theology is pre-set to a higher standard than the natural sciences. Therefore, when Old Earth and Evolutionary Creationism claims ‘Nature is the 67th book of the Bible’ or the ‘Nature is God’s other book’, is that scientific explanations on the origin of life and cosmos is equal to God’s intentional truths, no greater than scientific theory. Equalizing the playing field doesn’t seek to harmonize, it seeks to destroy. When you look at Genesis through the lens of nature, Genesis will always look like mythology.

Next Entry

There is a lot more that could be said, but I’ve grossly exceeded the length of this entry, so space forbids me. Now that we’ve established proper boundary lines, in the next entry I intend to examine/compare the YEC and OEC views of Genesis 1-11 far more closely, while also presenting my own views of Genesis chapter by chapter. Bear in mind; the theological, prophetic, and spiritual purpose of Scripture creates degrees of intention and interpretation for understanding the text, where the implications of what the Bible teaches will have degrees of strength when it is debatable, non-essential doctrine.

Continue Reading >

 

Matlock Bobechko | Published on November 1, 2021 – 9:00 AM EST


[1] It certainly did not rise out of naturalism, atheism, deism, nor was it inspired by other religious theologies or nation groups.

[2] Lewis, C.S., Miracles: a preliminary study, Collins, London, p. 110, 1947.

[3] Consider the founders of modern science – Francis Bacon, Galileo Galilei, Johannes Kepler, Robert Boyle, Sir Isaac Newton, Gregor Mendel, James Clerk-Maxwell, Louis Pasteur, and Lord Kelvin – all of whom were Bible believing Christians. Admittedly, Newton is debatable, and a challenger of the Young Earth view.

[4] James M. Rochford makes good note of this fact: “First, the NT repeatedly quotes non-biblical sources as truthful. Paul quoted Cleanthes and Aratus (Acts 17:28) and Menander (1 Cor. 15:33). He affirmed the statement of Epimenides, writing that his “testimony is true” (Titus 1:12-13). The non-believing Caiaphas makes a correct prediction about Christ’s death (Jn. 11:49-53). Paul refers to “Jannes and Jambres,” which were magicians, who were not mentioned anywhere else in the OT (2 Tim. 3:8). He also quoted words of Jesus, which were not contained in the four gospels (Acts 20:35). This shows that some non-canonical sources can contain truth in them…. Truth is truth—no matter where it is found.”
James M. Rochford, “(Jude 9, 14-15) Why does Jude quote the Assumption of Moses (v.9) and the Book of Enoch (v.14-15)?” Unseen Evidence.

(Jude 9, 14-15) Why does Jude quote the Assumption of Moses (v.9) and the Book of Enoch (v.14-15)?

[5] However subtle or saturated this proof of God is depends on the (hardened) conscience of each person of which God is the judge (Romans 2:15-16), given that our sin nature separates us from God. Therefore, it seems to me at least, that our nature post-Fall rests somewhere along the lines of deism and theism by default (not atheism or naturalism), meaning that we believe God is real but assume God is unknowable and impersonal. Or we could also say that from our nature we do not attempt to know God, despite our ability to implicitly deduce from creation that God is (or at least could be) knowable and personal, based on His divine nature and eternal power, but we would rather depersonalize Him than worship Him. This is a larger topic for another day.

[6] I do not think science itself reveals anything about God’s omnipresence (ever-present), omnibenevolence (supremely good) and holiness (set apart), which are, arguably, the most important and practical attributes for us to affirm. Those attributes rest purely on a person’s faith and conscience to affirm (cf. Hebrews 11:1-3).

[7] This high view of natural theology is often rejected by YECs. Instead, they argue only some of God’s attributes can be discerned given the curse bestowed on nature in Genesis 3:17-18 and “creation was subjected to futility” (Romans 8:20). But this understanding of natural theology is contrary to Paul’s point.

[8] Admittedly, this does not dissuade theistic evolution necessarily. It is often argued that God “renovated” our bestial selves into our present human self – anatomically, biologically, and spiritually human. But this stimulates an alternate problem. If our fleshly, bestial selves is a basis of sin (James 3:15-16), then God “renovated” us with pre-existing original sin intact (in the flesh) before the Fall, to act as “irrational animals” (2 Peter 2:12; Jude 1:10), rather than the potential of sin existing prior. In other words, we were created with actual (not potential) earthly temptations and proclivities toward sin. More on this in a later entry.

[9] The paraphrased counter argument to this view is that: If Paul placed the fictional Egyptian magicians from Jewish folklore, Jannes and Jambres, adjacent to the historical Moses in 2 Timothy 3:8, why couldn’t Paul do it again with “Adam to Moses”, or Adam and Christ? Comparing the historical Christ to a literary Adam of sorts? I think the answer to this is quite simple. He did so because in Scripture there were plural magicians mentioned in Exodus 7:11, 22, 8:7, but more than two rods placed on the ground to contend Moses’ serpent (Exodus 7:8-13). So, Paul had grounds to mention them by what the culture knew them as. Even though their names are only found in Jewish apocryphal literature, the names could still be correct, even if the apocryphal literature itself is not. Now, suppose the names Jannes and Jambres are not historically correct, and Paul referenced them as a memory aid for his Jewish audience, the context of “Adam to Moses” and comparing Adam to Christ is still intended to explain the historical reality of sin, the likes of which causes physical and spiritual death. Christ rose in the flesh to conquer the physical death, as well, not just the spiritual “second” death. Otherwise, Christ would only need to rise in the Spirit. Interestingly, if you were making up a story, this version would be much easier to explain away, given that the resurrection account would be unfalsifiable. Furthermore, the Biblical authors also do not assume that truth exists exclusively in the Bible alone, but often quotes or encourages readers to explore a variety of texts that are not Scripture such as the Book of the Wars of the Lord (Numbers 21:14), Jasher (Joshua 10:13), Acts of Solomon (1 Kings 11:41), among others; Jude quotes the Assumption of Moses (v.9) and the Book of Enoch (v.14-15) and Paul quotes the Wisdom of Solomon 13:1-10,14:22-31 in Romans 1:18-31.

[10] Stochastic Processes. Science Direct. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/stochastic-processes

[11] To be clear, there is no problem with the stochastic process itself, collecting scattered data that appears random to find statistical correlations. In fact, natural selection is a principle of order, not chaos. The problem is that direct, explicit, intentional meaningfulness is consciously depreciated in value and meaningless correlations, that require a larger operational framework of probabilistic interpretation, has a higher value. The entire process undermines meaning. A mechanism can still be orderly and meaningless. And meaninglessness, futility, vanity, purposelessness, and so on, is all at the center of sin (1 Timothy 1:6; Titus 1:10; 1 Corinthians 14:10-12,19).

[12] Joshua Swamidass, The Genealogical Adam & Eve: The Surprising Science of Universal Ancestry, 35-6. Extracted from Hans Madueme, Evolution and Historical Adam? A Provocative But Unconvincing Attempt. The Gospel Coalition. Published on March 2, 2020. https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/reviews/genealogical-adam-eve-swamidass/

[13] Owen Strachan, A Response to William Lane Craig on the Historical Adam: Adam Was the First Human and Genesis 1-11 is Not Mythical. Owen Strachan’s personal blog. Published on September 22, 2021.
https://owenstrachan.substack.com/p/a-response-to-william-lane-craig?justPublished=true&fbclid=IwAR1VLv7gMYxd_MO8vjUevXLSqc1JR84R9uD0MGXZvUiwUdOwlWlQRLf9nl4