BioLogos continues to embarrass itself with Adam and Eve

The people at BioLogos are literally obsessed with Adam and Eve.  The problem is obvious: genetic evidence shows unequivocally that all modern humans did not derive from a bottlenecked population consisting of one man and one woman.  The obvious thing to do, if you were a smart but committed Christian, would be to regard this story as some kind of metaphor, as many liberal Christians do, and find some metaphorical reason why our species is cursed with sin.

But BioLogos can’t do that.  Why? Because, for some reason that I can’t fully grasp (call me theologically naive), the physical existence of Adam and Eve is critical for the Christian narrative of sin and subsequent redemption through Jesus.  The attempt to find some physical explanation for Adam and Eve in the face of the genetic facts is perhaps the most ludicrous endeavor BioLogos has ever attempted.

About two weeks ago, Denis Alexander, a physicist and director of he Faraday Institute for Science and Religion at St. Edmund’s College, Cambridge, UK, began serializing his “reconciliation” of Adam and Eve with science over at BioLogos.  His first part is called “Models for relating Adam and Eve with contemporary anthropology, part 1.” You can read all the parts in a pdf available here.

It’s a turgid and leaden piece of apologetics, and I won’t bore you with the details.  Alexander rejects a reconcilation that he calls “the Retelling Model,” in which the Adam and Eve story really is a myth meant to convey spiritual truths.  Instead, he favors what he calls “the Homo Divinus Model,” to wit:

According to this model, God in his grace chose a couple of Neolithic farmers in the Near East, or maybe a community of farmers, to whom he chose to reveal himself in a special way, calling them into fellowship with himself – so that they might know Him as the one true personal God. From now on there would be a community who would know that they were called to a holy enterprise, called to be stewards of God’s creation, called to know God personally. It is for this reason that this first couple, or community, have been termed Homo divinus, the divine humans, those who know the one true God, the Adam and Eve of the Genesis account.12Being an anatomically modern human was necessary but not sufficient for being spiritually alive; as remains the case today. Homo divinus were the first humans who were truly spiritually alive in fellowship with God, providing the spiritual roots of the Jewish faith. Certainly religious beliefs existed before this time, as people sought after God or gods in different parts of the world, offering their own explanations for the meaning of their lives, but Homo divinus marked the time at which God chose to reveal himself and his purposes for humankind for the first time . . .

. . .This was the moment at which God decided to start his new spiritual family on earth, consisting of all those who put their trust in God by faith, expressed in obedience to his will.  Adam and Eve, in this view, were real people, living in a particular historical era and geographical location, chosen by God to be the representatives of his new humanity on earth, not by virtue of anything that they had done, but simply by God’s grace. When Adam recognised Eve as ‘bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh’, he was not just recognising a fellow  Homo sapiens – there were plenty of those around – but a fellow believer, one like him who had been called to share in the very life of God in obedience to his commands. The world population in Neolithic times is estimated to lie in the range 1–10 million, genetically just like Adam and Eve, but in this model it was these two farmers out of all those millions to whom God chose to reveal himself.

Of course there’s still a historical problem here: how did this pair of anointed farmers bring the curse of sin on humanity by contravening God’s will?  Alexander isn’t clear on this, and I’m not sure why, since if he’s making up crap like this from whole cloth, why not make up the rest of the story as well?:

The Homo divinus model has the advantage that it takes very seriously the Biblical idea that Adam and Eve were historical figures as indicated by those texts already mentioned. It also sees the Fall as an historical event involving the disobedience of Adam and Eve to God’s express commands, bringing death in its wake. The model locates these events within Jewish proto-history.

Alexander calls these two scenarios “models,” and that term is deliberate, since at the very beginning of his essay he draws a parallel between theological “models” (i.e., made-up stuff) and scientific models.  But these Biblical exegeses are not models—they’re just stories, fictions concocted to save an untenable mythology.  Indeed, it’s clear where this stuff parts company with science.  Alexander:

Given that both models presented here suggest that human evolution per se is irrelevant to the theological understanding of humankind made in the image of God, it is likely that a preference for one model or another will be made based on a prior understanding of the claims made by particular Biblical texts.

In other words, you decide between these “models” not by appealing to data, but to your own interpretation of scripture.  What kind of reconciliation is that? It certainly has nothing to do with science, or scientific “models.”

I’ve been accused of saying that all religious people are nuts.  I don’t think I’ve ever said that—though I think religion itself is nuts—and I certainly don’t believe that all of the faithful are insane.  BioLogos’s Karl Giberson, for example, is certainly not nuts.  He’s a smart guy, and shows no overarching signs of lunacy.  But I think that he, and other people who try to make up Adam and Eve stories, are deluded.  They’re deluded not just by others—those who indoctrinated them in Christianity—but also by their own preference for fooling themselves by not facing the palpable gap between their faith and the facts about the world.

I just can’t understand how people like Alexander and Giberson can take seriously the stuff they write when doing apologetics.  Do they really believe that a pair of unknown Neolithic farmers were anointed by God and then disobeyed him, bringing down the taint of sin on every other Homo sapiens?  Do they not see how ludicrous that sounds, and how pathetically bereft of evidence is this story?  Why do they expect us to take it seriously?

BioLogos just makes itself look even more ridiculous by their continuing obsession with Adam and Eve.  If they were smart they’d give it up, or write it off as pure myth.  But they can’t, for the physical reality of that transgressing couple is critically important to the people they seek to convert.  Still, you don’t have to be an Einstein to see that framing Adam and Eve as a pair of obscure farmers living in a Neolithic village isn’t a great way to win fundamentalists to Darwin.  Where’s the apple? Where the snake?  Their target audience won’t have it.

BioLogos is doomed to failure, for their tortuous and baseless reinterpretation of the Bible is anathema to Christian literalists, and laughable to the rest of us.

145 Comments

  1. justsearching
    Posted January 1, 2011 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned… so also as the result of one act of righteousness, justification brought life to all men.” (Romans 5:12, 18 NIV)

    Paul’s pretty picture with its nice symmetry wouldn’t look so pretty if one of the two men being spoke about never existed or only existed in some metaphorical sense.

    This attempt to retain a belief in a historical Adam and Eve is grounded in one theological perspective, and it is bereft of commonsense or evidence.

    • Achrachno
      Posted January 1, 2011 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

      Just: Paul’s pretty picture with its nice symmetry wouldn’t look so pretty if one of the two men being spoke about never existed or only existed in some metaphorical sense.

      And it gets worse when we look seriously into case for the existence of the 2nd one. It must be stressful being them.

    • Marella
      Posted January 1, 2011 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

      Well actually the picture is perfectly symetrical since neither of them lived, they are both pure myth, so no problem really!

      • justsearching
        Posted January 2, 2011 at 3:19 am | Permalink

        Methinks they wouldn’t appreciate your solution.

  2. Hempenstein
    Posted January 1, 2011 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    What a barking loon, and right off the bat, too: According to this model, God in his grace chose a couple of Neolithic farmers in the Near East, or maybe a community of farmers…

    Already he’s changed things from the original man and woman. Does he seriously think any religious group will pay any attention to such a swap?

    Relatedly, has anyone posted on a preacher actually spouting BL stuff from a pulpit, ie are there any accounts that any BL stuff is getting assimilated? If there are, perhaps such folk would like to be referred to as New Delusionists.

  3. CanadianChick
    Posted January 1, 2011 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    I really don’t understand this Adam & Eve obsession. The church I grew up in didn’t think this sort of bullshit was necessary – on the rare occasion the subject came up it was always clear that the story was allegorical; that it was a scientifically illiterate “best explanation” and never meant to be taken literally.

    • FreedToChoose
      Posted January 2, 2011 at 5:59 am | Permalink

      The conclusive evidence is in Genesis. Cain and Abel married women from the land of nod. This is consistent with many tribal cultures, which early Judaism was, in that a boy married a woman from a neighboring clan or family group.

      I saw the Black Swan yesterday and am still trying to differentiate the real from the imagined which may be the critical issue to a religious person.

  4. Graham Martin-Royle
    Posted January 1, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    Jerry, you answered your own question in the second paragraph.

    “the physical existence of Adam and Eve is critical for the Christian narrative of sin and subsequent redemption through Jesus”

    If these people give up on Adam & Eve, then they give up on original sin. If they give up on original sin then they give up on the need for a saviour. if they give up on a saviour then they give up on christianity and that they will never do.

    This being the case, they will look for any explanation, no matter how bizarre, no matter how far out, no matter how silly, to try to reconcile their beliefs with what they know of the world.

    • David Leech
      Posted January 1, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

      Graham, that’s it in a nutshell.

    • Posted January 1, 2011 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

      Giving up Adam and Eve means giving up original sin, but it also means giving up the distinction of humanity (the image of God, the soul, etc.) from the rest of the animals. And that won’t do at all.

      • Andrew B.
        Posted January 1, 2011 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

        Yes yes yes! That’s why so many of the cling to “theistic evolution,” too! They have to keep their God invested in the origin of humanity, otherwise he’s just some guy that came upon the scene and tries to sell us stupid shit we don’t need.

    • Posted January 1, 2011 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

      Graham, you have nailed it. The concept of original sin becomes theologically incomprehensible once the historicity of Adam and Eve is denied. Just check out the catfight caused by William Lane Craig’s recent remarks suggesting that the doctrine of original sin is not essential to the Christian faith: http://www.mandm.org.nz/2010/12/william-lane-craig-original-sin-and-original-guilt.html

      • Posted January 2, 2011 at 8:36 am | Permalink

        The fundie sect I was raised in didn’t accept “original sin” in the Augustian or Calvinistic sense, but they would have been baffled as to what sense to make of Christianity without a real, “historical” Adam and Eve. They did (and do) accept the Pauline notion of sin entering the world through Adam (Eve, as a woman, only counts when we need a woman to blame).

  5. mordacious1
    Posted January 1, 2011 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    Homo divinus? More aptly, Homo stupidus. A species that hasn’t evolved much in thousands of years.

    I am sorry, but I can’t say that people who believe such nonsense are merely deluded. There has to be a basis for their delusion. Three possibilities: Low intelligence, emotional handicap, or mental derangement. Saying that they’re deluded is just being nice and I’m tired of being nice to these people.

    • palefury
      Posted January 1, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

      Yes they are all deluded, and willingly – that is the scary part.

      If it were just a case of stupidity, one could maybe sympathize with the poor ignorant fools. But actually these educated people, sometimes with brains that function as normally as ours (I think?!?). Yet they are suckered in by this ancient story of woo.

      I am not sure if it is vanity – believing they are somehow superior to other creatures just by virtue of being human and one of “gods chosen people”? Is if fear of mortality, and hoping for there to be more than just this life? Is it indoctrination of religious guilt and fear at a critical time in brain development during childhood?

      • Posted January 1, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

        Two words: cognitive dissonance.

        Well, that, and some damned serious inertia. All Christians trace their roots (by way of endless schism) one way or another back to the Roman Catholic church, which itself inherited all the wealth and power of the Roman Empire. You could make a damn good case that there wouldn’t be any Christians today if Caesar hadn’t crossed the Rubicon. No Rubicon, no Emperor; no Empire, no Twelve Caesars; no Caesars, no Constantine; no Constantine, no Holy Roman Empire…well, you get the idea.

        Cheers,

        b&

        • Paul W.
          Posted January 2, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

          All Christians trace their roots (by way of endless schism) one way or another back to the Roman Catholic church, which itself inherited all the wealth and power of the Roman Empire.

          Not really. As I understand it, by the time the Roman empire fell in the west, the center of imperial power had already shifted to the east. At that time, most Christians did NOT think that the Roman church had any special claim to authority. The bishop of Rome was just that—the bishop of Rome, not the Pope. Most of the Catholic church at that time was more Greek than Roman.

          Only later did the Roman church manage to get most Catholics in the west to buy the Roman authority. (Based on alleged apostolic succession from Peter.)

          I think it’s truer to say that the Roman Church was a schismatic sect that managed to get western Catholics to buy into its heresy.

          If there’s a One True Catholic Church that goes back earlier than 500 AD, it’s not the Roman church. It’s eastern Orthodoxy.

          There was a lot of Roman Catholic propagandizing around this, oversimplifying and distorting the early history of the Church to make it sound like everybody except a few heretics always accepted Rome’s ultimate authority, and that the Eastern church was a schismatic splinter group. That’s pretty much the opposite of the truth.

          Charles Freeman’s The Closing of the Western Mind is an interesting account of the early history of the Church, and how the Roman church became so anti-intellectual, emphasizing blind faith and ditching Greek and Roman philosophy that had to be recovered from the East much later.

    • Achrachno
      Posted January 1, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

      Mord: I am sorry, but I can’t say that people who believe such nonsense are merely deluded. There has to be a basis for their delusion. Three possibilities: Low intelligence, emotional handicap, or mental derangement. Saying that they’re deluded is just being nice and I’m tired of being nice to these people.

      I understand your frustration. But, I think they’ve just been been indoctrinated into a belief system that doesn’t intersect with observed reality. Unfortunately, this set of ideas is so central to their whole mental organization that it’s essentially stuck in the middle of their minds and leaves no room for better ideas. We need to find ways to lubricate their minds so that they can pass this stuff on out. Some of them are very smart, but they still can’t,on their own, rid themselves of these weird ideas.

      It’s best to be nice to them, but firm and persistent about showing that their theological ideas are worthless. They can be changed. I’ve converted 3 conservative Christians that I know about, so I know it can be done if you just keep at it using good methods and clear arguments.

      You might say “But that’s 3 out of millions!” Yes, but I’m only one out of millions. If we all convert that many, we’ll thin their ranks considerably. I don’t see any other likely way forward.

      • Ichthyic
        Posted January 1, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

        Mord: I am sorry, but I can’t say that people who believe such nonsense are merely deluded. There has to be a basis for their delusion. Three possibilities: Low intelligence, emotional handicap, or mental derangement.

        you left out a big one: early exposure and reinforcement.

        read this:

        http://www.rci.rutgers.edu/~deenasw/Assets/bloom&weisberg%20science.pdf

    • Posted January 1, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

      Don’t overlook self-righteousness as a motive. It’s very seductive.

      • Michael Kingsford Gray
        Posted January 1, 2011 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

        Fame & income must be added to the mix of incentives to lie to one’s self.

    • J.J.E.
      Posted January 1, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

      Not to be overly aggressive, but that’s pure bullshit. People (you and I included) have all kind of cognitive blindspots. Deluded? Sure! Brainwashed? Very likely. Playing along with a socially sanctioned delusion/myth, certainly. But dumb, handicapped, or deranged? Nonsense. You fail to grasp how tenuous humanity’s connection to rationality really is. This is an act of hubris. We need to understand these delusions in order to really fight therm. Your hyperbole only gets in the way. And personally speaking, gratuitous preaching to the choir is grating.

    • Ken Pidcock
      Posted January 1, 2011 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

      Being nice is assuming that Alexander believes a word he says. Why can’t we acknowledge that we’re dealing with con artists here? Director of the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion at St. Edmund’s College, Cambridge? Eat your heart out, Elmer Gantry.

  6. Kevin
    Posted January 1, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    Brand new year.

    Same old crap.

    One wonders if there’s even a scale massive enough to quantify the level of “fail” at BioIllogical.

  7. Posted January 1, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    Christians are so obsessed with Adam and Eve because Jesus’s prime directive was to absolve humans of Original Sin™. If there weren’t any Original Sinners, there couldn’t have been an Original Sin, and thus no reason for Jesus to die on the cross.

    Of course, that’s the generous, inside-the-looking-glass explanation. Because, from where I’m at, all I see is a bunch of people obsessed with a story about a magic garden with talking animals an an angry giant. And they’re obsessed with that story because their favorite bit of fan faction relies upon it for continuity. What’s most bizarre is that said fan fiction is about a zombie king who wants people to eat him and thereby become his pet zombies…as opposed to those who don’t eat him, who’ll become his squeaky zombie toys.

    If only they’d read the Dead Sea Scrolls, Philo, Pliny the Elder, the Satirists, and the rest of Jesus’s contemporaries, notice the perfect absence of Jesus in everything written at the time, and wake up to the fact that it’s one of the most obvious bullshit fantasy stories ever sold.

    That’s really about the only level at which I see that it’s productive to engage Christians at. With a Scatologist, you’d ask about Xenu and his WWII bomber spaceships that nuked Hawaii elebenty brazilian years before the Earth was formed, and all the ghosts that got pissed off as a result. With a Moron, you’d ask about Joe Smith and the magical vanishing gold gravestones. With a Hindu, you’d ask about blue-skinned elephant-octopus-human hybrids. With a Muslim, you’d ask about creepy old guys who ensnare little girls with promises of flying horse rides. Why should Christians get any special treatment?

    Cheers,

    b&

    • Michael Kingsford Gray
      Posted January 1, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

      …all I see is a bunch of people obsessed with a story about a magic garden with talking animals an an angry giant.

      [Panto audience] “He’s beneath you!”

    • MadScientist
      Posted January 2, 2011 at 12:14 am | Permalink

      The funniest thing about “original sin” was that it was invented centuries after the original Jesus cult – by no other than Augustine the Hippo. Of course apologists claim that Augustine didn’t really invent it – it had always been the case but this Truth had been only been divinely revealed so much later in history (about 300 years after the fictional demise of the fictional Jeebus even).

      • Stephen P
        Posted January 2, 2011 at 8:19 am | Permalink

        Well, there’s a thing. I’d never thought to look it up before seeing your comment, but – if my searching skills haven’t deserted me – in the gospels Jesus refers to Adam and Eve and Eden exactly zero times. You’d think that would be some sort of measure of their importance.

        • Posted January 2, 2011 at 9:34 am | Permalink

          There’s an oblique reference to Gen 1:24 in the “made male and female” and to Gen 2:24 in the “become one flesh” statement about marriage in gMatthew 19:4-6. Other than that, I can’t think of any Jesus mention of Adam & Eve, either.

          Of course it’s highly unlikely that any of these Jesus statements were actually made by any historical Jesus — they were doctrinal statements by various religious factions, put into the mouth of “Jesus” to bolster their argument.

          • Posted January 2, 2011 at 9:37 am | Permalink

            Also, the parallel in gMark 10:7-9 would be earlier and probably gMatthew’s source.

          • Ichthyic
            Posted January 2, 2011 at 10:23 am | Permalink

            Of course it’s highly unlikely that any of these Jesus statements were actually made by any historical Jesus — they were doctrinal statements by various religious factions, put into the mouth of “Jesus” to bolster their argument.

            It seems most likely to me, that this explains pretty much ALL of the bible, and all other Abrahamic texts as well.

  8. Michael Dempsey
    Posted January 1, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    The determination of so many people, even some reputable scientists, to concoct stories like this testifies to the intensity of their desire to believe in an eternal perfectly happy afterlife (and its flip side, unsurpassable misery).

    Doubtless it’s been said before, but the inability of atheism to satisfy this desire explains the persistence of religion’s appeal.

    As religion tells the human story, “meaning” is inextricably tied to eternal life — can’t have one without the other. In other words, there is no such thing as “death”; what goes by that name is nothing more than the end of our lives on Planet Earth, lives that continue in another realm.

    This is what the overwhelming majority of human beings want more than anything else, despite life’s rampant frustrations and suffering (cue Woody Allen’s “Annie Hall” joke about the food in a Catskills hotel: “Terrible!” “Yes, and such small portions!”). They want it because not being able to have it would show that life has no Capital M Meaning or isn’t worth living (it might not be in many cases, but that’s another argument).

    So they decide, consciously or not, that wanting eternal life so badly proves they can have it.

    This is a uniquely tough mindset to counter. Whatever headway new/gnu atheists have made, atheism will never persuade most people to abandon the eternal life wish fulfillment fantasy unless it can find a way to present another vision that will have greater appeal for these individuals.

    • David Leech
      Posted January 1, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

      Up to a point you’re right but I think ridicule and laughter at such stupid ideas will go a long way in addressing the balance.

    • Posted January 1, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

      Whatever headway new/gnu atheists have made, atheism will never persuade most people to abandon the eternal life wish fulfillment fantasy unless it can find a way to present another vision that will have greater appeal for these individuals.

      If that’s the case — and I pretty emphatically think it’s not — then we’re simply fucked.

      If “the great unwashed masses” are unwilling to accept reality and prefer to cling to fantasy…well, then there really isn’t any hope. Offering them a different fantasy as a substitute is as useful as weaning somebody off heroin and onto methadone. They’re still addicted, they’re still messed up; all you’ve done is made the state the dope dealer instead of some guy on the street.

      From a long-term evolutionary perspective, dealing with reality is a more effective strategy than mistraking make-believe for reality. The big arc of history shows superstition slowly waning and rationality slowly taking its place.

      Either we as a species will eventually grow up an abandon all this childish nonsense or we’ll find ourselves in an evolutionary dead end. With the emphasis on “dead.”

      Fortunately, there’s good reason to think that religion is past its sell-by date. It’s not much of a factor in the non-American developed world. Americans pay it great lip service, but church attendance is at an all-time low and falling rapidly. More to the point, the younger generation is used to hearing Jesus dismissed as a zombie, and that kind of ridicule is severely toxic to the mindless reverence that religion so desperately needs.

      I have no clue how America will deal with the almost-fully-developed tyranny that’s just now emerging. I rather suspect that, like so many tyrannies, it will be a deeply religious one. But I very much doubt that what’s left after the disease runs its course will be religious in any significant sort of way. I just hope to live to see if I’m right or not….

      Cheers,

      b&

      • Michael Dempsey
        Posted January 1, 2011 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

        I agree with what you say.

        But let me clarify that what I mean by “another vision” isn’t a replacement fantasy for the eternal life fantasy.

        I mean acceptance of the truth that in no way, shape, or form can we expect to live forever and, therefore, we must seek some other source and type/types of “meaning”.

        • zilch
          Posted January 3, 2011 at 12:44 am | Permalink

          That’s the hook, all right: pie in the sky when you die. Or if you misbehave, you’re toast. A tried and true carrot and stick.

          Another attraction of religion that should not be forgotten: it works (more or less). That is, apart from whatever truth value they may possess, religions such as Christianity do organize societies and build cultures. People see that religion works in this sense, and that is another selling point.

          The question of course is, can secular societies succeed as well or better than religious ones? This is a complex question, but my answer would be yes. I live in a largely secular society, nominally mostly Catholic but basically not driven by religion at all, and life is better here than in America for most people.

          There are other factors involved as well, of course. But in general, I agree that it’s advantageous to lose illusions.

          cheers from icy Vienna, zilch

    • Helen Wise
      Posted January 1, 2011 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

      It’s often struck me that we’re in the position of taking away their candy (the make believe of eternal life) and replacing it with lima beans (death). That’s a pretty competitive playing field. When I look at it that way, it’s hard for me to think of these believers as anything other than children. Children with bombs.

      • zilch
        Posted January 3, 2011 at 12:48 am | Permalink

        Yep, atheism is cold comfort, a hard sell. The growing up necessary to face nothingness with equanimity is not easy.

        cheers from icy Vienna, zilch

    • Michieux
      Posted January 1, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

      I have found that abiding in a fundamental trust in, and acceptance of, reality goes a long way toward fulfilling my spiritual needs, such as they are.

      I think that people are quite able to find their way to such an understanding, especially when circumstances make it imperative. Scripture — of any kind — can help in this regard, but isn’t mandatory.

      So I think your summation relates more to certain kinds of mindsets, rather than the population at large.

      I think one can have faith without the Hollywood special effects.

    • Michael Kingsford Gray
      Posted January 1, 2011 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

      …but the inability of atheism to satisfy this desire explains the persistence of religion’s appeal

      No it does not. Not in any way shape nor form.
      Is the persistence of hookworm parasitism based on its ‘appeal’?
      Does it continue to infect folk because of doctors’ inability to develop a substitute infection?

      Religious memes flourish mostly as a result of parasitising homo “sapiens” evolved laziness & greed.

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted January 2, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

      I see this argument often, I don’t see it substantiated nor sourced, and I think it tells us a lot about the ones using it.

      Because the fact is that education has proven itself effective in making people abandon religion according to educational statistics, and according to national statistics knowledge and the empowerment of people (democracy, absence of poverty) is the main drivers of making populations less religious.

    • Posted January 2, 2011 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

      Michael – I believe that your opening paragraph strikes near the core of the appeal of many religions. Humans are among probably just a few species that comprehend finitude, and have thus constructed scenarios that make a path toward eternity. Of course eternity cannot be for everyone, and thus there are many restrictions defining who’s in and who’s out. Many of the restrictions are behavioural, others are confessional, some pit deeds versus grace, shalls versus shall nots, etc. All seem to be tied to “doing the right thing will bring eternal life” which can range from blowing up the infidels to loving your enemies. Most religionists cannot fathom the notion that one can be good without their version of God, and even if you were, it wouldn’t matter regarding your everlasting life!!

      • Tim Harris
        Posted January 2, 2011 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

        But in a great many religions there are no ideas of eternal life or living in Heaven after death; this idea is found particularly in Christianity and Islam. So it is simply not right to assert that all religion derives from a desire to overcome death. These ideas are not really there in Judaism, either: think of Saul and the Witch of Endor, and the summoning of the ghost of Samuel from the underworld – which reminds me, there is what amounts to a roughly ten-minute opera by Henry Purcell in which Saul, the Witch of Endor and Samuel appear: it is a brilliant piece of dramatic, and one of the most terrifying pieces of music I know. The best recording of it is Robert King’s, because of the quite extraordinary performance of the English bass-baritone Michael George asSamuel.

        • Tim Harris
          Posted January 2, 2011 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

          ‘piece of dramatic music’

        • Posted January 4, 2011 at 11:00 am | Permalink

          I did not say all, I said many; orthodox Judaism, much like orthodox Xian; Hindu, eternal reincarnation of the soul; Buddhist, after life either progresses to nirvana or back to earth for another try; Tao, afterlife will be whatever one believes; etc.

  9. Helen Wise
    Posted January 1, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    The new year is only 13 1/2 hours old and I’m depressed already.

    It’s not enough that we’re still trying to dig ourselves out of all the old superstitious nonsense of Adam and Eve, without these lunatics just make up new Adam and Eve crap?

    I’m going back to the post with the cat in the bathtub.

  10. Pieterz
    Posted January 1, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    Agh! It’s so easy to be religious. You must be uninformed, not think for yourself, and LIE, especially to yourself.

  11. Becca Stareyes
    Posted January 1, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    It does strike me that you could falsify this (in principle), at least, by looking to where Judaism came from. If there was no signs that monotheism existed in the Near East that far back, then the explanation needs to be tossed out, god or no god.

    Of course, AFAIK, determining religious beliefs of a single unspecified village of illiterate Neolithic farmers when you really want to believe that somehow you have God’s Chosen People ™ here is probably like trying to put together a jigsaw puzzle after the dog dragged it into the rain — an exercise in wistful thinking. Convenient that.

    • Posted January 1, 2011 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

      “like trying to put together a jigsaw puzzle after the dog dragged it into the rain” Nice!

      “wistful thinking” Very nice!

    • אביגיל
      Posted January 2, 2011 at 9:11 am | Permalink

      The Israelites themselves weren’t monotheists for most of their history in Canaan/Palestine. They were polytheist canaanites. Eventually YHWH came onto the scene (possibly introduced by cultural contact with Midian) and eventually they became monotheist.

      The Book of Judges is made up of pre-monotheist tales. Many Hebrew heroes had “Baal” in their name (Gideon’s original name: Jerubbaal) just as some had El (Samu-el, Isra-el.)

      The Hebrews were basically Canaanites. They worshipped Baal, Asherah, El, and eventually Yahweh. Monotheism came later. The Bible has a lot of retconning.

  12. Posted January 1, 2011 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    One of our “ancestors” ate a piece of fruit. This is why, year after year, FBI crime statistics are so overwhelmingly horrific.

    • Michael Kingsford Gray
      Posted January 1, 2011 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

      That’s a hellofa penalty for scrumping!

  13. Posted January 1, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    The Adam and Eve myth contains another coded message: women exist only as peripheries to men. And then we nag men into evil doings, i.e., being aware and curious about life and asking questions and all that.
    If you strip “god” from the myth, you get woman as an afterthought and definitively second class human.

    • Posted January 1, 2011 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

      Well, once you start deconstructing the Adam and Eve myth, you quickly realize that it’s really, really, really nasty.

      Imagine a single parent who leaves his preschool-aged kids alone. He tells the kids to help themselves to anything they like in the ‘fridge, only don’t drink the stuff in the apple juice bottle because it’s poison…though, in reality, he’s just laced it with ecstasy.

      The guy’s deadbeat brother stops by unannounced while the guy’s out, and the deadbeat sweet-talks the girl into drinking the juice and to convince her brother to join her. The deadbeat leaves.

      The guy comes home, finds the kids playing doctor. He sees the empty ecstasy / apple juice bottle next to them. He flies of into a rage, kicks them naked to the curb, and never lets them back in the house again.

      In a civilized society, the guy gets serious prison time and the kids get adopted out. But, if you’re a Christian, you worship the guy as the greatest hero imaginable and blame the kids — especially the girl — for everything evil you or anybody else ever does.

      If the term, “seriously fucked-up shit,” doesn’t apply to that, then I don’t know what does.

      Cheers,

      b&

      • whyevolutionistrue
        Posted January 1, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

        A comment of genius. Ben, I think you should rewrite the entire Bible in this style.

        • Posted January 1, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

          Gosh — thanks!

          Don’t know that I’d do the whole book — it’s awfully long — but I think I might be able to imagine doing the popular stories. You know, the ones that make it into all the children’s comic books? Might even use one for a template….

          b&

        • Michael Kingsford Gray
          Posted January 1, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

          Poe’s law might apply.
          It is notoriously hard work to parody that which is already preposterous.

      • Tulse
        Posted January 1, 2011 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

        Outstanding. (And don’t forget that the dad basically gave his deadbeat brother a key to the house.)

        • Badger3k
          Posted January 1, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

          And the Dad knew in advance what they all were going to do – maybe he paid the brother to do it?

      • Badger3k
        Posted January 1, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

        Don’t forget that the kids can have no idea what ‘poison” means, even to the extent that it is harmful – the original story had them have no idea of right and wrong when his nibs told them not to eat the fruit, but that might push the analogy too far off base.

      • Ken Pidcock
        Posted January 1, 2011 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

        Funny. I was earlier thinking what to put on a bulletin board for Blasphemy Day, after the Reason Project posted a collection of irreligious quotes. (Eddie Izzard: “If there was a God, don’t you think he would have flicked Hitler’s head off? ‘Oh, I’m not allowed to do anything.’ Well fuck off, then.”) Now I know.

      • Posted January 4, 2011 at 9:18 am | Permalink

        Awesome. I’ve thought about that before, too — if god was a human parent, we’d lock him up and throw away the key. Definitely going to file that one away in the arsenal.

  14. Microraptor
    Posted January 1, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    I figured out something I want to see happen in 2011: the demise of BioLogos.

    • Michael Kingsford Gray
      Posted January 1, 2011 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

      No!
      Keep it going PLEASE!
      With this clown-school in place, spewing nugatory infantilisms left, right and centre, they do more immediate harm to religion than the 4 horsemen could ever manage.

  15. Michieux
    Posted January 1, 2011 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    That grown people would endeavor to spin this nonsense to an educated public just seems sad to me. In my theological ignorance I smell a political, rather than a theological, motive for why anyone would attempt to do so.

    I see scripture as one of the towering, amazing accomplishments of the human mind as it struggles to know itself. As literature, it encompasses everything from the hideously awful to the sacredly sublime.

    There is great wisdom in those pages, but one wouldn’t know it from the nonsense spewed forth by the BioLogoses of the world.

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted January 2, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

      If it is enough noisy you could read anything into it, so it is truly “a thing of terrible beauty”.

      Other than that, gaussian noise also makes a great sleep inducer.

  16. Matt Bowman
    Posted January 1, 2011 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    You said it at the end——the literalists will never buy this garbage anyway!

  17. Darth Dog
    Posted January 1, 2011 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    So God selected two people out of a population of millions of Neolithic humans, and because they sinned it screwed things up for all humans who came after them. Sounds like the big screwup was on God’s part – he obviously selected the wrong two people. And here up to now I always thought the BCS was the worst selection process in all of history.

    • gruebait
      Posted January 1, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

      That’s the bit that bugs me. Apparently that god fella was too lazy to interview anyone for the position, and just picked names out of a hat or something. Some workforce, no wonder it all went wrong.

  18. Posted January 1, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    You know, I’m not sure I have the patience to wade through 9 pages of theological web-spinning, especially when it starts with this:

    Theological truths revealed in Scripture are eternal infallible truths, valid for the whole of humanity for all time, although human interpretations of Scripture are not infallible and may change with time over issues that are not central to the Gospel.

    What, pray tell, is a ‘theological truth’ if you never get to know what it is? Because if interpretations are fallible and changeable, and interpretation is all that you get, where is the truth? Even if, by some mischance, you hit upon it, you’d never know! After that beginning, can’t we just forget the rest? After all, even to know the issues that are central to the gospel, you have to have interpretations, so you can’t know these either. Logic is not his strong point, obviously.

    As to the demise of Biologos. Not going to happen. They keep shooting themselves in the foot. Hurts a lot, but unless it goes septic and they refuse to cut it, they won’t die. Clearly, Biologos has no brain, so shooting themselves in the head won’t help.

    • Kevin
      Posted January 1, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

      Brilliant observation, as usual.

      Under this logic, you could have “the truth” right and not know it just as easily as you could have it wrong and not know it.

      Total, utter sophistry. One wonders why they can’t see through their own bullshit.

  19. Posted January 1, 2011 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    The catholic church is very specific on this point. There were two, and only two, actual human beings who are the actual ancestors of all living human beings. The catholic church requires that the faithful believe in a literal genetic bottleneck of 2. This “community” bullshit would be heresy from a catholic.

  20. Ichthyic
    Posted January 1, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    calling them into fellowship with himself – so that they might know Him as the one true personal God

    Ha!

    it was just a couple who got duped into a threesome by some dude with a handful of rufies, then covered by claiming divine precedent!

  21. Sastra
    Posted January 1, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    Do they not see how ludicrous that sounds, and how pathetically bereft of evidence is this story? Why do they expect us to take it seriously?

    They don’t. They don’t even want us — meaning non-christians — to read it or discuss it or point it out in any way other than to say “how wonderful that they put so much effort into reconciling faith with science” or perhaps “this is so much better than fundamentalism” as we happily point Young Earth Creationists in their direction.

    Someone recently made a distinction between “hard” and “soft” apologetics: the former is meant to persuade skeptical outsiders; the latter is meant to reassure doubting believers and encourage them to stay in the fold. Obviously, the standards for “soft” apologetics are much lower — and looks like this Adam and Eve defense at Biologos is so squishy it’s turning into liquid mush.

    Atheism can’t compete with the “eternal life” benefit. True. But I think the package of Christianity also appeals to people for other reasons. They admire its supposed emphasis on selflessness and sacrifice, of seeing past pretense and renouncing false benefits for the sake of a greater principle. They also value the concept of truth, and following where it leads even when it’s not convenient. And they aspire to be humble, and to live lives that are disciplined.

    We actually got that stuff better than they do. Maybe it’s our secret weapon.

    • Helen Wise
      Posted January 1, 2011 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

      “They also value the concept of truth, and following where it leads even when it’s not convenient.”

      Pardon? You are saying that this is one of the things about Christiantity that appeals to people? But we’ve just written a dozen comments, the sub-text of which is that BioLogos is making new stuff up about Adam and Eve, because all the old stuff about them has been debunked by science. How is this “following truth wherever it leads, even when it’s not convenient?”

      • Sastra
        Posted January 1, 2011 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

        Generally speaking, if you ask them if Christianity encourages its adherents to follow truth even if it leads to a place which is inconvenient, they will usually say yes. They often visualize themselves as people who were forced by their own integrity to accept that the facts show that Jesus is Lord and now they have a very hard and difficult row to hoe indeed — but truth is truth so you suck it up. This is a real value for them. They’re sincere.

        The fact that yes, they’re fooling themselves and actually doing the opposite of what they pretend to do is a huge contradiction. It’s an internal contradiction which, if they recognized it, could in theory undermine the whole hoopla around “faith” and maybe, possibly, get them to change their own minds.

        Consider it this way: someone who comes right out and concedes that the evidence doesn’t support Christianity, it’s completely irrational, but hey all they care about is following the path of least resistance and doing what’s easy and intuitive can’t be rationally persuaded by any argument or evidence whatsoever. They’ve taken themselves out of the game. As the saying goes, you can’t reason someone out of something they didn’t reason themselves into.

        But the people who at least tell themselves that no, they value evidence and yes, they followed it where it lead and that’s the moral disciplined thing to do are at least open to the idea that they would have to change if it lead somewhere else. You’ve got them started on a common ground that they think is important.

        They may not stay there, sure. But it will piss them off when you point out that they left it. It could bother them. Value vs. value. Now what the hell do they do?

        Smug is bad: worried is good.

        • Helen Wise
          Posted January 2, 2011 at 7:58 am | Permalink

          “Smug is bad: worried is good.”

          Over at another, er, blog, I’ve been slugging it out with many religious people, who can never seem to say atheist without appending the prefix “smug” to it. It’s always “smug atheist”. Why? In the infinite lexicon of disparaging modifiers from one could choose, why is it always “smug”?

          • locutus7
            Posted January 2, 2011 at 9:02 am | Permalink

            “Smug” because many christians realize, deep down, that their belief system is fictional and that they are clinging to it because they are conformist and under severe social pressure.

            Thus they, on some level, see atheists as strong, even superior, so they impute to us the characteristics of smuness, arrogance, etc.

            Because we, in their minds, are so arrogant we think we can just blithely break from the country’s dominant social convention.

            Again, in their minds, we are making them look stupid by smugly thumbing our noses at their cherished beliefs.

            And no one wants to feel stupid, even if it is all in their minds.

            Just my opinion.

            • Helen Wise
              Posted January 2, 2011 at 11:34 am | Permalink

              But if they’ve arrived at their beliefs through any kind of thought process and not just swallowed whatever rubbish they’ve ever heard whole–and look how upset they get if one is so careless as to imply that they haven’t–how do they decide other groups who do that but reach a different conclusion = “smug”?

  22. Divalent
    Posted January 1, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    Can’t wait to hear their explanation for the Flood.

  23. Posted January 1, 2011 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    The alternative to all the ridiculous apologetics (aka making theological excuses) is simply to accept the whole shebang on faith. Many of the faithful do this, while intoning, “There are some things we’re not meant to understand.”

    I wonder if all the theological bending-over-backwards isn’t perhaps an indication of recognition that the stories, if taken at face value, are patently ridiculous, and that something must be done to validate the faith. The fact that these post hoc validation attempts don’t work may lead some to abandon the faith.

    But I’m not holding my breath.

    • MadScientist
      Posted January 1, 2011 at 11:58 pm | Permalink

      Even 2000 years ago people realized that they were cock-and-bull stories. Unfortunately, throughout history such people seem to have always been a minority. It didn’t help that the superstitious belief was enforced under penalty of exclusion or even execution. Even today you’ll find many people who wouldn’t say they don’t believe in jeebus, not because they do but because they fear becoming an outcast.

  24. Atheistoclast
    Posted January 1, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    “The problem is obvious: genetic evidence shows unequivocally that all modern humans did not derive from a bottlenecked population consisting of one man and one woman.”

    Except that….it does:

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v431/n7008/full/nature02842.html

    “MRCA of all present-day humans lived just a few thousand years ago in these models.”

    Fits well with the story of Noah, if not Adam and Eve.

    • whyevolutionistrue
      Posted January 1, 2011 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

      With all due respect, you don’t know what you’re talking about. The paper you’ve cited talks about the one person that could be seen in the ancestry of every living human. It says nothing about every human deriving from a bottlenecked population of two people. You are confusing individuals in genealogies with the source of the genes that all of us carry, which by no means came from a pair of contemporaneous individuals.

      • Ichthyic
        Posted January 1, 2011 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

        frankly, Jerry, when the ignorant make proclamations, there simply is no respect due.

        not even sarcastic respect.

        • Atheistoclast
          Posted January 2, 2011 at 9:45 am | Permalink

          Except when the “ignorant” publish peer-reviewed papers:

          http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/cplx.20365/abstract

          All that evolutionists have to offer is abuse and slander at their critics.

          • Ichthyic
            Posted January 2, 2011 at 10:18 am | Permalink

            evidently, all evolution “critics” have to offer are inanities.

            • Microraptor
              Posted January 2, 2011 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

              And misrepresentations of the evidence.

      • Atheistoclast
        Posted January 2, 2011 at 9:40 am | Permalink

        LOL!!!!

        What on earth is the difference between “one person that could be seen in the ancestry of every living human” and the progenitor of all mankind?

        This development can only happen under two circumstances:

        1) Population bottleneck (Noah)

        2) Founder effect (Adam)

        Anyway, read this and weep:

        http://www.sciencemag.org/content/279/5347/28.summary

        The mitochondrial DNA mutation rate is high enough to allow a re-calibration placing mTEve 6000 years ago.

        • Ichthyic
          Posted January 2, 2011 at 10:20 am | Permalink

          The mitochondrial DNA mutation rate is high enough to allow a re-calibration placing mTEve 6000 years ago.

          *sigh*

          you’re insane, you know that, right?

          the only thing mtDNA “Eve” has to do with a fictional goatherder story, is that the people who coined the term liked the symbolism of it.

          now run along and play with your straw puppets.

        • chaos-engineer
          Posted January 4, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

          OK, I see where you’re confused. The tricky bit is that Mitochondrial DNA can only be passed down in an unbroken female line. So if a woman only gives birth to sons, they’ll share her mDNA, but they won’t pass it down to their own children. In other words, her grandchildren will have some of her genes, but none of her mDNA.

          So mTEVE isn’t the only common ancestor of all humanity. We’re all descended from her, but it’s likely that we’re all also descended from other men and women who lived at the same time.

          (And even if there had been a population bottleneck six thousand years ago, that wouldn’t prove that the “Adam” and “Noah” stories were true. In fact, there’s geological evidence that proves they’re false.)

    • Becca Stareyes
      Posted January 1, 2011 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

      To use a toy model, if you have a village of 128 people, and everyone has two kids (that survive to adulthood and reproduce), thus keeping the population static, you only have to look back 7 generations in any given person’s family tree to see a set of ancestors equal to the size of the village (assuming no immigration). If the average human generation is 25 years, you can do it in under 2 centuries. Even adding a factor of 10 or so to the population size only adds 3 or 4 generations.

      So, if you have a small population of humans remaining in isolation long enough, most of us could trace our ancestors back to Adam and Eve… but also their neighbors, Ask and Emba, and Deucalion and Pyrrha down the street. But there’d be a larger pool of genes to draw from than four copies.

    • Ichthyic
      Posted January 1, 2011 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

      Except that….it does:

      wtf?

      I’d recommend you read The Ancestor’s Tale, which does a good job of explaining exactly what is meant by common ancestry, and why, for example, mtDNA “Eve” has fuckall to do with the ancient goatherder myth…

      but frankly, I think even that is above your comprehension level.

      you are a great case example of why ignorant people should ask questions instead of make proclamations.

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted January 2, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

      Are you completely daft? The abstract starts “If a common ancestor of all living humans is defined as an individual who is a genealogical ancestor of all present-day people, the most recent common ancestor (MRCA) for a randomly mating population would have lived in the very recent past.” I.e. it starts out with a population, in the same way that 0.5 % of the worlds males (8 % of the asian) may descend from Genghis Kahn.

      It is funny how people doesn’t appreciate that they can have cousins that married in their ancestry, as Coyne’s genealogies could lead to, when it is very obvious to the rest that such individuals are the most likely results of such ancestry! (O.o)

  25. Posted January 1, 2011 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    Faith doth that to people!
    Errantists and inerrantists both interpret the Buy-bull according to their beliefs as Willim Kaufman notes in ” Faith of a Heretic”: eisegesis is exigesis.
    Behold how errantists in the manner of Fr. Booth find good metaphors for the hard parts and that Yeshua overstates his evangel whilst we rationalist realize that nay, not only do their fables not tell the way of the heavens,ts has a sorry tale of How to get to Heaven!
    Theology is just dressed- up animism behind one Grand Spirit, but which contradicts the findings of science as the teleonomic argument notes that the weight of evidence eviscerates any teleological argument in that positing teleology contradicts rather than complements teleonomy so that yea indeed science and religion contradict each other!
    And the naturalist atelic argument notes that supernaturalists beg the question of those planned outcomes so that again teleology-planned outcomes contradict teleonomy of science-no planned outcomes as Jerry so well notes in “Seeing and Believing” and as Amiel Rossow notes in the essay on the yin and yang of Kenneth Miller @ Talk Reason.
    Again, errantis- non-fundamentalist- also make jejeune exegesis of their fables. Thus, Miller, Karl Giberson and Francisco Ayala- evolutionary creationists are as silly as Michael Behe- creationist evolutionist, and all four as silly in the end as any special creationist1
    Had Europe followed Carneades, Thales of Miletus and Strato of Lampsacus rather than Aristotle, we”d be even more advance now, I dare say! Not only were some of his findings harmful to science, but his introduction of teleology to science was truly harmful. However, he was a naturalist otherwise.
    To aver directed-evolution means advocating the new Omphalos argument that He hides Himself behind that very teleonomy- what obscurantism! See John L. Schellenber’s account of divine hiddenness.

  26. Posted January 1, 2011 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

    Sorry for the typos, hereby corrected;
    it has a sorry tale
    special creationists
    more advanced
    Ah, no edit function here and @ some other sites!

  27. Posted January 1, 2011 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

    Jerry, you know the “Faraday Institute for Science and Religion” is one of those Templeton creations, right? One of those creations that sound all sciencey and Oxbridgey but are really just Templetony.

    • MadScientist
      Posted January 1, 2011 at 11:49 pm | Permalink

      Michael Faraday himself was from some fringe religious sect. Still, it’s disingenuous to use his name to prop up a company which isn’t even remotely affiliated with Faraday’s superstition. However, I’ve never known the Templeton Foundation to support honesty or truth.

  28. Posted January 1, 2011 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    “…and find some metaphorical reason why our species is cursed with sin.”

    And that doesn’t seem so hard to do. Possibilities would be things like “we got too big for our britches when we started inventing too much/fighting each other too much/eating the wrong things/etc/”. Certainly any of those, off the top of my head, make more sense than a literal Adam and Eve. They wouldn’t satisfy anyone insisting on a literal Adam and Eve, but as you point out neither would the BioLogos version.

    It really makes you wonder what they think they’re really going to accomplish with their work.

  29. Ken Pidcock
    Posted January 1, 2011 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

    The question asked about
    those who lived prior to Adam and Eve is not dissimilar to other questions that we could ask. For example,what was the eternal destiny of those who lived in Australia at the time that the law was being given to
    Moses on Mt Sinai?

    The what of those who lived where now? You may not want to read the whole piece, but, if you skip to the paragraph before the conclusion, you’ll find Alexander trying to anticipate the questions of the kid who wanted to know if Jews go to Hell because they don’t accept Jesus. And if you were ever that kid, you know the answer: Christians who spend time speculating about such things can appear as if they are the judges of the world’s destiny, forgetting that that prerogative belongs only to God. OK, Dad, I guess that makes sense.

  30. loren amacher
    Posted January 1, 2011 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

    I recall asking my dad (he was a conservative evangelical minister)one day when I was about seven whether or not Mr. and Mrs. Swartz, down the street, were going to heaven when they died. They were an elderly Jewish couple who had done much good in the community duriny their active lives, and were generally loved by all, as long as you left out the Jewish bit. Dad said, after a little thought, ‘No. They’re Jews, you know that’. It was just about then that I began having serious doubts about the religion thing.

    • Ken Pidcock
      Posted January 1, 2011 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

      Oh, man, that’s cruel. I was led to understand, by my parents, that Jews had this kind of special deal, that they were sort of God’s immediate family and that he only killed his son for the rest of us. I had to realize how many other people weren’t covered to have serious doubts about the religion thing.

      • Posted January 2, 2011 at 8:40 am | Permalink

        My church didn’t even believe that most so-called “Christians” were going to heaven, and we certainly had no problem consigning Jews to hell, too.

        Believing that almost everyone you know, outside of your little sect (and some of them were doubtful, too), is going to hell plays havoc with a child’s mind.

      • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
        Posted January 2, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

        In the local lutheran sect that is one well covered ass. The Jews had their deal, the believers have their zombie, and the rest is in principle blissfully unaware until put to the choice (i.e being informed by sect expertise about “heaven and hell” and the rest).

        Apparently the gods sorts out the fallout, and the unawares goes to a lesser heaven if nice. (Or maybe just disappears, who knows.)

    • Posted January 2, 2011 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

      Ouch.

  31. ceilingcat
    Posted January 1, 2011 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

    Theistic evolution means that god guided evolution to produce Adam and Eve, whereupon he injected both of them with a soul. Prior to their arrival there were no humans with souls.
    I wonder how Adam and Eve dealt with knowing that their own loving parents didn’t qualify for a place in Heaven owing to their lack of a soul, and that for them there would be no celestial reunion after death.

    • MadScientist
      Posted January 1, 2011 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

      That’s an easy one – ever hear a newly converted fundamentalist christian telling their lovely parents that they’re hell bound? It happens, as in the case of an Army recruit (converted while at military school by an operation supported by the commanding officers) – and her parent’s aren’t even godless, they’re catlick. It’s easy to hate others when you have jesus/god/allah/mohammed stuck in your heart.

  32. Doc Bill
    Posted January 1, 2011 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

    You know, I thought I was familiar with Bible stories, but I don’t recall the one about the Two Chosen Neolithic Farmers. I’m glad the geniuses over at BioLogos cleared that up.

    It makes sense, thought, that Adam and Eve Flintstone raised vegetables. Misinterpretation through the ages has totally corrupted the original blessing of “Peas be with you.”

    Hopefully, BioLogos will be able to pool their efforts with Ken Ham and find out what happened to Dino. Did he survive the Flood? I worry a lot about that.

    But better than the articles are the comments at BioLogos or as I call it The Wankfest. Never fails to produce gems like this:

    “… unconstrained by the laws of physics.”

    Unconstrained is putting it mildly!

    • MadScientist
      Posted January 1, 2011 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

      That reminds me of Tom Lehrer’s comment: “… whose muse is unfettered by such inhibiting factors as taste.”

      But hey, why should religion make any sense in the context of the Real World when it’s all about the Other World, the Alternate Reality – Bizarro World!

  33. Posted January 1, 2011 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

    I don’t get it. What about all the other neolithic tribespeople and their descendents? Depending on the numbers, wouldn’t some of their bloodlines have no trace of “Adam” and “Eve”s DNA? Or are we even talking about DNA? Is Original Sin transmitted through mitochondria? The stupid, it hurts!

  34. Tim Harris
    Posted January 1, 2011 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    But it must be true! Just like those 70 virgins if you’re a Muslim. Imagine getting to Heaven after blowing up a crowd of kaffirs together with yourself and finding out that your virgins are metaphorical, all 70 or 72 of them… It’s enough to make you lose your faith even though you’ve made it to the after-life.
    Happy New Year to all!

    • MadScientist
      Posted January 1, 2011 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

      That’s 72 – don’t shortchange the martyrs! They wouldn’t do it for only 71 – not even 71.9 – it’s got to be at least 72.

      • Achrachno
        Posted January 2, 2011 at 12:07 am | Permalink

        It may well be that what the Quran says they’re supposed to get is 72 white raisins, not virgins. Problems in textual transmission/interpretation, again.

        “For example, the famous passage about the virgins is based on the word hur, which is an adjective in the feminine plural meaning simply “white.” Islamic tradition insists the term hur stands for “houri,” which means virgin, but Mr. Luxenberg insists that this is a forced misreading of the text. In both ancient Aramaic and in at least one respected dictionary of early Arabic, hur means “white raisin.”

        Wouldn’t that be a disappointment for those sex-starved martyrs?!

        • Tim Harris
          Posted January 2, 2011 at 12:18 am | Permalink

          But I don’t want metaphorical raisins, either!

          • Achrachno
            Posted January 2, 2011 at 12:30 am | Permalink

            Planning on becoming a martyr? Reconsider!

            Besides, I think the raisins are more imaginary than metaphorical.

            • Tim Harris
              Posted January 2, 2011 at 5:05 am | Permalink

              I think I’m having a crisis of faith.

        • Microraptor
          Posted January 2, 2011 at 12:33 am | Permalink

          While it’s a cute story, I’ve always had trouble believing that it’s a correct translation. The promise of your own private harem in the afterlife at least makes contextual sense.

          • Posted January 2, 2011 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

            Micro – others agree with you, esp considering raisins don’t have big breasts, etc. :-)

            http://www.digitalspy.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1334286

          • Posted January 2, 2011 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

            Isn’t a bit weird, how down they are on sex in this life, and how up (as it were) they are on it in the next?

            • Microraptor
              Posted January 2, 2011 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

              Muslims aren’t down on sex like fundamentalist Christianity- they’re down on female sexuality, yes, but sex itself was okay, and polygamy is still practiced in some Muslim countries.

              • Ichthyic
                Posted January 2, 2011 at 11:43 pm | Permalink

                meh…

                “what profit a man if he gain the world but lose his soul*”

                *applies to any given organized stupidity that requires one relinquish brains for acceptance.

              • Microraptor
                Posted January 3, 2011 at 12:35 am | Permalink

                Hey, I wasn’t trying to imply that there was something good about it; there’s a reason that fundamentalist Muslim countries regularly make the top ten list for having the worst woman’s rights, after all.

        • Posted January 2, 2011 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

          <HOMER>Mmm, raisins!</HOMER>

          (This might not work…)

  35. MadScientist
    Posted January 1, 2011 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

    We’re back in kindergarten here:

    Kid A: There really was an Adam and Even and god made them.

    Kid B: Na-ah! My daddy said human genes are from a diverse group and couldn’t have come from just 2 people. Besides most cultures have a taboo on incest because the kids are often deformed.

    Kid A: Well, Adam and Eve weren’t really the the progenitors of *all* humans – that’s obvious! They were really Neolithic farmers and the first people god gave religion to. Humans are all religious, so in a sense we’re all part of Adam and Eve’s family!

    I still find it difficult to believe that people like Alexander can come up with such mindless shit and they’re older than 4 years. I guess I *should* believe – the evidence is everywhere.

    So, did the collective IQ of BioLogos drop close to that of a potato after Collins left?

    • Achrachno
      Posted January 2, 2011 at 12:12 am | Permalink

      MadSci: So, did the collective IQ of BioLogos drop close to that of a potato after Collins left?

      Would you please stop insulting potatoes and the other hard-working root vegetables that made this country great?

  36. Ichthyic
    Posted January 1, 2011 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

    So, did the collective IQ of BioLogos drop close to that of a potato after Collins left?

    whaddya mean, ‘after’?

  37. zarquon
    Posted January 2, 2011 at 3:58 am | Permalink

    Being an anatomically modern human was necessary but not sufficient for being spiritually alive; as remains the case today.

    I wonder what the term is for anatomically modern humans who are not “spritually alive”. Perhaps it is untermenschen.

    • Posted January 2, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

      Zing.

      That is in fact just what the US army has been telling soldiers who do “badly” on the “spiritual fitness” section of its fitness survey. Not in German, of course, but the meaning is the same.

    • Posted January 4, 2011 at 5:36 am | Permalink

      “Unsaved”

  38. Mattapult
    Posted January 2, 2011 at 5:41 am | Permalink

    If Adam and Eve were farmers, wouldn’t they already have clothes and dominion over the animals?

    And as for Adam and Eve being a genetic roadblock, wasn’t the roadblock reset during Noah’s flood? After all it was Noah, his wife and their children floating around for months after the rest of humanity was destroyed. Well… At least as the story goes…

  39. Sili
    Posted January 2, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    Denis Alexander, a physicist and director of he Faraday Institute for Science and Religion

    Really?

    What happened to NOMA?

  40. Robert Hagedorn
    Posted January 2, 2011 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    Do a search: The First Scandal Adam and Eve.

  41. Posted January 2, 2011 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    Atheist missionary, William Lane Craig did not say that the doctrine of original sin was not essential to the Christian Faith, he said the doctrine of original guilt was not.

  42. Posted January 2, 2011 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

    I like to see the whole Adam and Eve myth as a diagram through which a culture rooted the structural moment where they became self-aware beings beginning the process of separating themselves from an “animal-like” (I cannot think of a better phrase) existence by technology (clothing, farming, tools, etc.). Really, is not every ideal transcendence merely a struggle to attain some original state, i.e. when we were just foraging animals unaware of ourselves?

  43. Gayle Stone
    Posted January 3, 2011 at 5:51 am | Permalink

    Take this,translate it into the English of James I under the title, “Alexiberish” and add it to the Bible; anywhere will do because it doesn’t have to agree with any previous “book” and Billy Graham can preach a comletely new sermon. I mean, its about grass roots farmers, so what can be more down to earth?

  44. Karen S.
    Posted January 3, 2011 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    Plenty of serious Christians (including yours truly) recognize that Adam and Eve never existed, and that this is a myth or teaching story.

    • Tim Harris
      Posted January 3, 2011 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

      But on what grounds do they recognize that it is a myth or a teaching story? What do they think it teaches? And do these Christians believe nevertheless that Jesus was the son of God, that he atoned for our sins by dying on the cross, that he was resurrected, that he allows into heaven those who believed sufficiently in him, and that he will come at the end of time to judge the quick and the dead? If they do believe this, then on what grounds do they believe it? Or are these, too, only ‘myths’ or ‘teaching stories’? And if they are, what do they convey?

      • Posted January 4, 2011 at 11:13 am | Permalink

        Fuh-cryin’ out loud; who died and made made you chief secular inquisitor? By serious Christian, I will assume that Karen means that she tries to live as the rabbi taught. Thus, none of your questions about beliefs are relevant – indeed, behavior always trumps belief. The athiest, agnostic and gnu xians seem to understand this as do a growing number of post-christendome folks. No faith in myths needed; praxis not dogma.

        • Tim Harris
          Posted January 4, 2011 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

          but the rabbi taught a lot of things…

          • Posted January 6, 2011 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

            Indeed. And just like all other humans, including a fair number of excellent scientists, he provided some very good guidance, some inscrutible stories, and some misguided thoughts. Thus we are free to discern what is relevant for our 21st century lives. We can even accept Ben G’s argument that the rabbi never existed, but ‘somebody’ wrote Matthew 5:24, 1John 4:8, Matthew 24:35 and so on. Even in fiction or myth, great truths can be found.

  45. Posted January 3, 2011 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    I know I’m late to the game here (130 comments already!) but I can’t help but point out a really obvious problem with the homo divinus model: As you say, we know for certainty that humanity never passed through a 2-person bottleneck. So this means that at some point, members of homo divinus got busy with and successfully reproduced with ordinary old soulless homo sapiens. What then?

    Do the children have half a soul? Or is the soul like a dominant allele, so that all of the first generation have a soul, but if the hybrid offspring were to mate with a non-ensouled individual, the second generation would have only a 50% chance of having a soul?

    Even if we take the “soul” as being perfectly viral, i.e. the offspring of an ensouled individual and a non-ensouled individual is always an ensouled individual, regardless of genetics, then this still raises a disturbing thought. Now, I don’t subscribe to the idea of P-zombies (I think the concept is as nonsensical as trying to imagine an internal combustion engine that functions exactly like the one in your car, down to all the individual working parts, except that this “P-engine” doesn’t “really” burn gasoline — it may look like it does, but the burning gasoline is epiphenomenal and has nothing to do with the function of the “P-engine”), but, in order to make a meaningful distinction between ensouled and non-ensouled individuals, you pretty much have to admit the P-zombie concept. And if you do, this means that at least some of the ensouled Israelites were getting busy with zombies. The offspring, being fully human, still had to deal with the fact that either their mommy or their daddy were zombies.

    Lastly, depending upon when we choose to date the dawn of homo divinus, we may be forced into considering the unseemly proposition that some long-isolated populations had no ancestors among homo divinus whatsoever. They are unfortunately extinct now, but I am thinking of the Tasmanian Aborigines. Until the Europeans arrived, they likely had no contact with any external population for 40,000 years. If the first homo divinus were Israelites, immediate ancestors of Moses and all them, then there would have been no possibility of interbreeding with the Tasmanians at all.

    The homo divinus hypothesis inescapably asserts that Tasmanian Aboriginals had no souls until the Europeans started raping them. Yay religion!

    • cornbread_r2
      Posted January 3, 2011 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

      IIRC, at least as far as the RCC is concerned, souls aren’t automatically inherited — they’re god-infused — one at a time, at conception. (Though I doubt you could ever get a RCC theologian to ever concede that any human was ever born without a soul.)

  46. Posted January 5, 2011 at 3:29 am | Permalink

    “I just can’t understand how people like Alexander and Giberson can take seriously the stuff they write when doing apologetics. Do they really believe that a pair of unknown Neolithic farmers were anointed by God and then disobeyed him, bringing down the taint of sin on every other Homo sapiens? Do they not see how ludicrous that sounds, and how pathetically bereft of evidence is this story? Why do they expect us to take it seriously?”

    Yes, they do. God said it, I believe it, that settles it. That is how these people operate. It is difficult to reason with someone who has rejected reason.

    “for some reason that I can’t fully grasp (call me theologically naive), the physical existence of Adam and Eve is critical for the Christian narrative of sin and subsequent redemption through Jesus.”

    It’s easy to understand. It’s the whole idea of Christianity. There has to be original sin, passed down through the generations via sex (which is why religion hates sex), so that everyone, no matter how obviously good, is “born in sin”. Thus, everyone needs to be saved. This requires that everyone be descended from the original sinners.

  47. Posted January 6, 2011 at 12:19 am | Permalink

    Paul’s pretty picture with its nice symmetry wouldn’t look so pretty if one of the two men being spoke about never existed or only existed in some metaphorical sense.

    Why think that, people draw paralells with fiction or myth all the time. Arnold Swarznegger has the body of Hercules. Just as Darth vader was seduced by the dark side, so Hitler was hitler…. He is as greedy as king midas, and so on.

    • Havok
      Posted January 11, 2011 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

      Matt: Why think that, people draw paralells with fiction or myth all the time.

      Yeah, it’s a bit rough comparing an actual Adam to Paul’s fictional/mythical Anointed Saviour:
      Romans 5:14 “Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come.”
      I suspect that isn’t what you meant :-)


6 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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