Bryan College forces its faculty to swear to historical existence of Adam and Eve

Things are in ferment at Bryan College in Dayton, Tennessee. Named after William Jennings Bryan, one of the prosecuting attorneys of the 1925 Scopes Trial (which also took place in Dayton), Bryan is an extremely conservative Christian school that adheres to Biblical literalism.

Until now. The press of science is beginning to discomfit even literalists, and is making incursions into Bryan.

The most recent scientific finding that’s causing Christian ferment is the calculation by evolutionary geneticists that the smallest size that the population of humans could have experienced when it spread from Africa throughout the world was about 2250. That comes from back-calculating the minimum size of a human group that could have given rise to the extensive genetic diversity present today in non-African humans. That figure is based on conservative assumptions and is very likely to be an underestimate.

2250 is, of course, not 2. That means that humanity could not have had two ancestors within the time frame accepted by Biblical literalists. In other words, Adam and Eve could not have existed—not in the way the Bible says. And that has huge repercussions for Christianity, for if Adam and Eve weren’t the literal parents of humanity, how did their Original Sin spread to us all? Original Sin is, of course, a pivotal part of Christian doctrine, as without it there is no reason for Jesus to return and exculpate humanity from that sin through his death and Resurrection. If Adam and Eve didn’t exist, but were simply a fiction, then Jesus died for a fiction.

More liberal Evangelicals have responded by  adopting a variety of desperation tactics, including assumptions that Adam and Eve were merely the “federal heads” of humanity: two individuals among many who were designated by God to represent everyone else. That, of course, fails to explain how Original Sin started and spread. Other more liberal theologians simply claim that the Adam and Eve story is a metaphor for our inborn “selfish” nature: our genetic endowment that leads us act for ourselves rather than others.  But that then includes all animals as bearers of Original Sin, and doesn’t explain how Jesus’s return helps us fight the tyranny of our “selfish genes”.  To a rationalist, all of these Sophisticated Theological™ gymnastics are amusing, and you can read those desperate apologetics at the website of BioLogos, an organization devoted to reconciling Jesus and Darwin. These theological gymnastics don’t convince anybody who isn’t wedded to the Christian mythos at the outset.

The least devious Christians (and that includes those at the Vatican, which professes the historicity of Adam and Eve) simply hold fast to literalism. Regardless of what genetics tells us, they say, the Bible takes precedence, and Adam and Eve were real historical figures from which we all descend.

And that, as reported by the Times Free Press of Chattanooga, Tennesee, is the new position of Bryan College, whose trustees have just added a rider to its “statement of belief” to expand that belief to a historical Adam and Eve.  Since the original statement of belief is, like the Bible, inerrant and unchangeable, the new language is said to be a “clarification.” And this clarification must be signed by all professors at the school. Here are the old and new statements from the paper:

Picture 1

What prompted this “clarification” is the advance of science, which shows that the Bible is simply wrong about Adam and Eve. Not every conservative Christian can comfortably ignore the new results from genetics (rejecting science smacks uncomfortably of being a backwoods hick), and some at Bryan have tentatively tried to find ways around the historicity of Adam and Eve.  Several biology professors, for instance, are teaching a multiplicity of views about creation, which doesn’t sit well with many of their coreligionists:

In 2010, Ken Ham, a nationally known creationist who runs the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Ky., wrote a scathing article criticizing Bryan College because of a graduate’s book. The graduate, Rachel Held Evans, wrote about how she had questioned the nuances of her evangelical upbringing and had come to new realizations about the world, including the belief that evolution was part of God’s creation plan.

Ham also criticized biology professor Brian Eisenback, who was quoted in USA Today saying that he taught all origin views and theories — including Genesis and evolution — without revealing his own beliefs.

“There are many colleges/seminaries — like Bryan College — across the nation with professors who compromise God’s word in Genesis and/or will not teach the authority of God’s Word in Genesis as they should. It’s about time that these colleges were held accountable for allowing such undermining of the authority of Scripture to the coming generation,” Ham wrote in a 2010 blog post.

Eisenback and Bible professor Ken Turner gained attention last year for their grant from the BioLogos Foundation to write a new curriculum on science education that will marry scientific evidence with evangelical Christian perspectives on interpreting Scripture and science. BioLogos is a nonprofit that believes God created the world over billions of years and works to further the ideas of evolutionary creationism.

BioLogos is the organization founded by present National Institutes of Health director Francis Collins; its aim was to get evangelical Christians to accept science, including evolution. But since then it’s taken a path that I can only describe as cowardly, refusing to take an official position on the historicity of Adam and Eve. But all the genetic evidence militates against that historicity, and it’s ironic that Collins is a geneticist (he no longer heads BioLogos). Nevertheless, BioLogos actively debates the “meaning” of Adam and Eve, and, by taking a grant from them to fuse science and religion, the Bryan professors only exacerbate the tension that exists between these fields.

In fact, Bryan’s president, Steven Livesay, decried this accommodationism, citing the primacy of scripture:

Last month, a chapel talk at Bryan featured a discussion with Wood and well-known evolutionary creationist Darrel Falk. At the end of their conversation, Livesay said he wanted to make a statement about Bryan College’s stance on origins. He said he did not agree with the views of BioLogos.

“Scripture always rises above anything else. Scripture rises above science. … Science at some point will catch up with the scripture,” Livesay said, according to an online podcast of the event.

Haynes, the trustee, said Livesay has brought up the need for clarification several times to the board. Christians have increasingly begun to question traditional interpretations of Genesis, though he believes the Bible is clear on the matter.

“When you review these things, the first thing you must do is go back to the scripture and make sure what you’re saying is compatible with scripture,” he said. “Scripture judges you.”

So much for the compatibility of science and religion! But remember that 64% of Americans, at least in 2006, claimed that if science were to disprove a tenet their faith, they’d reject the science and hold to their faith. That’s precisely what the Bryan kerfuffle is all about.

In the meantime, the students are also conflicted, for not all of them want to be seen as rejecting science wholesale:

Nearly 300 of the school’s 800 students signed a petition within a few days asking the trustees to reconsider the change. Joseph Murphy, in a Student Government Association letter to the administration, said the decision was made without faculty input and that the president and trustees were threatening academic freedom. He called the move unjust, uncharitable and unscriptural.

“We believe that this sets a precedent of fear and distrust in our community,” the petition read. “We believe that this will discourage potential faculty and staff from serving at Bryan and potential students from coming here.”

Remember, though, that what the students are objecting to is simply the new rider about Adam and Eve. They apparently don’t have any quarrel with the equally ludicrous claims about the creation of humans and Original Sin. As usual, you can pick and choose which statements of the Bible can be read as metaphor, and you don’t need good reasons.

The Times Free Press notes that statements of faith are not uncommon in religious colleges, and lists some.

Picture 3Our local Christian college, Wheaton College, which has a good reputation for academic rigor in other areas, also has a statement of faith that completely undercuts any notion of a university’s objective search for truth. It strongly resembles the Nicene Creed.

Bryan is fighting a losing battle, but it will be a long battle. These vestiges of superstition, and blind adherence to it, will eventually disappear as America becomes more secular. There will always be Biblical literalism, but I’m confident it will slowly wane. But it will wane not with the changing of minds, but over the dead bodies of its adherents, as the older generation dies off and the younger, exposed to secularism and doubt on the internet, begins to ask questions.  (It’s telling that it is the students of Bryan who are the biggest protestors.) I am patient, for I know this change won’t happen during my lifetime. But I also know that in one or two centuries, Adam and Eve will be regarded as we now regard Zeus and Wotan.

There are still those who engage in the futile battle to change the minds of literalist Christians. BioLogos tried and failed, and is now fighting a rearguard action that involves not promoting science, but soothing the ire of creationists. The National Center for Science Education, which has been highly effective in fighting public-school creationism in the courts, is still trying to reassure evangelicals that their faith is compatible with evolution:

“The position they’re staking out with this new statement is not shared among all evangelicals, all Christians,” said Josh Rosenau, programs and policy director at the National Center for Science Education, which advocates teaching of evolution and climate science. “The evangelical position doesn’t have to be an outright rejection of human evolution. There are ways to be a Bible-believing literalist without being at odds with science.”

Well, yes, of course some evangelicals are friendly to evolution, though 46% of all Americans (not just evangelicals!) are young-earth creationists. But to tell literalist evangelicals who that they can simply make their faith compatible with evolution simply isn’t on, for it misunderstands literalism, the tenacity of faith, and especially the role of Adam and Eve as buttresses reinforcing the whole edifice of Christianity. Such accommodationism tries to force Christianity into the Procrustean bed of science, and it just won’t fit.

To claim that Bible-believing literalism is compatible with science is like saying that eating broccoli is compatible with being a lion. It’s not only a theological statement—something that science-promoting organizations shouldn’t be making—but is just plain silly. Literalism is literalism, and Bryan College is fighting to hang onto it.

53 Comments

  1. Christine Janis
    Posted March 4, 2014 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    It’s amusing how many creationists believe that secular universities insist that their faculty sign a document avowing their belief in Darwin and their rejection of God. (I’ve heard this a lot on web discussions.)

    • Posted March 4, 2014 at 9:22 am | Permalink

      Christians always accuse atheists of their own worst faults.

  2. gbjames
    Posted March 4, 2014 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    sub

    • francis
      Posted March 4, 2014 at 9:36 am | Permalink

      //

      • Diane G.
        Posted March 4, 2014 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

        //

  3. Pliny the in Between
    Posted March 4, 2014 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    It’s not hard to swear to this – for example, you could be referring to Adam West and Eve Arden (who was great in Grease).

  4. TJR
    Posted March 4, 2014 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    Don’t they realise that we now know that Eve was half Cylon?

    We are all Half Ape Half Toaster.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted March 4, 2014 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

      I thought that final episode of BSG was a neat twist.

      And if Eve was descended from Six… that’s gotta be a big improvement on Genesis, is all I can say. :)

  5. uglicoyote
    Posted March 4, 2014 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Road.

  6. Daryl
    Posted March 4, 2014 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    ‘God originally created mankind in His image and free from SON’

    That’s a moderately amusing typo. Damn those second person of the Trinity haters…

  7. darrelle
    Posted March 4, 2014 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    I predict accusations from certain quarters that this article exhibits a profoundly unsophisticated view of christianity. (please make sure you realllllly emphasize “profoundly” when you read this)

    Believers are always revising history and the meaning of words. My understanding of the word sophisticated does not seem to match that of many “sophisticated believers” . . . say, for example . . . Reza Aslan.

    • eric
      Posted March 4, 2014 at 10:42 am | Permalink

      Jerry isn’t responsible for the statements of faith of the various colleges, or the fact that Bryan College is “clarifying” theirs with a reference to an historical A&E. If someone shows up here defending sophisticated theology, they’ll have to argue that Bryan College, Wheaton College are doing it wrong, not that Jerry is doing it wrong.

      • darrelle
        Posted March 4, 2014 at 11:34 am | Permalink

        As a response to my sarcastic comment I don’t understand how your response relates.

        Regardless of what I may think, believe, or wish to be the case, it is a fact that critiques aimed at believers that have clearly demonstrated that they do actually believe at least some of the silly stuff that sophisticated apologists scoff that no believers do, just like this article, are in turn criticized by sophisticated apologists claiming nearly verbatim what I said above.

        I think it is fine to make fun of that. Your mileage may vary.

        I also think that the typical sophisticated apologist’s ideas about religion are profoundly not sophisticated. I think it is okay to make fun of that too.

  8. Sastra
    Posted March 4, 2014 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    “The evangelical position doesn’t have to be an outright rejection of human evolution. There are ways to be a Bible-believing literalist without being at odds with science.”

    Well, there are ways to be a Bible-believing literalist without being at odds with some of the current discoveries of science — such as the theory of evolution. Just use the same misguided, sloppy, slippy, intellectually dishonest techniques you used to believe in God and Christianity in the first place. Pick and choose, emphasize and de-emphasize, mingle fact with metaphor and insist insistently that you are even MORE convinced of the evangelical position BECAUSE you accept evolution.

    Once you have this strategy firmly established, be sure to shake your head in sorrow over the evangelical Christians who haven’t adapted adopted the same wise position.

  9. Posted March 4, 2014 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    Accomidationists and wishy-washy religionists like to claim that atheists and fundamentalists are the close-minded extremes of a more reasonable middle-ground on religion. But I think these people at Bryan are more intellectually honest then their less extreme brethren. They know, sometimes only intuitively, that if they start to make concessions to science in their interpretation of scripture all of scripture will eventually fall to evidence and arguement – as surely as a row of dominoes. They make a stand at the begining..where they have to.

    • eric
      Posted March 4, 2014 at 10:47 am | Permalink

      IMO, there isn’t much intellectual honesty in adding a specific belief to a statement of faith but spindoctoring that it was always meant, you’re just “clarifying.” I also wonder why they’re doing it that way. I don’t understand the problem (from a literalist’s perspective) with the college just saying: “recent science has challenged the notion of an ancestral pair of humans, Adam and Eve. We ask all our professors to acknowledge the supremacy of scripture and state their belief in this pair, by agreeing with the following statement…”

  10. Andrikzen
    Posted March 4, 2014 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    If the bible is to taken literally, God created Adam, then Eve. They fckd-up and were expelled from the Garden of Eden.

    Adam and Eve, count is two, give birth to Cain then Able, count is now four, Cain slays Able because God prefers barbecue over couscous, count is now three, Cain goes to Nod, east of Eden and takes a wife??? (Genesis 4:16-17)

    Where does this wife come from?

    Is Adam and Eve God’s special in-group later to mix and mingle with “evolved” humans, or perhaps the wife was a Neanderthal.

    Somebody help me please. Stop acting, this stuff’s got to be made up.

    • Posted March 4, 2014 at 10:40 am | Permalink

      You forgot to consult with the man who knows everything about this – Ken Ham. It’s obvious from the literal reading of the bible that his wife was his sister! It’s an interesting read to see how Ham gets there.

      http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/nab/who-was-cains-wife

    • Jeff Lewis
      Posted March 4, 2014 at 10:44 am | Permalink

      If this is a serious question and not just sarcasm, I believe the creationist answer is that the Bible doesn’t mention every child that Adam and Eve had. So, Cain married one of his sisters. And inbreeding wasn’t a problem because there weren’t yet any harmful genes, which only came about later in the fallen world.

      I’m not saying it makes sense, just that there’s some semblance of an answer.

      • Andrikzen
        Posted March 4, 2014 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

        Yeah, It did not occur to me that Cain had a sister. If the Bible doesn’t specifically mention Cain’s sister(s) how can we assume it to be true? Where is the evidence? How can we even make the inference? By back- filling the gaps after the fact – truth by omission – to resolve inconsistencies in the inerrant word of God, this is my point; we are trying to fit an ancient creation myth to present day knowledge and understanding of the world.

        The shoe no longer fits and it is blatantly absurd.

        • eric
          Posted March 4, 2014 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

          It might be absurd, but that’s what they do.

          A&E having more children isn’t that absurd (particularly daughters, given the misogynistic bent of the times). What’s far more absurd is claiming all those folks lived into their 800s-900s.

        • Posted March 4, 2014 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

          Yeah, It did not occur to me that Cain had a sister. If the Bible doesn’t specifically mention Cain’s sister(s) how can we assume it to be true? Where is the evidence?

          Damn’ right! Time to ask Ham: Were you there?

          • Sean
            Posted March 4, 2014 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

            I think some versions of Genesis suggest that Adam “begot sons and daughters” [Genesis 5:3-4]

            Loophole found! Case closed. We all descended from A&E. NOT.

            ——————————

            On a side note seems like god is changing rules on us all the time (as any mad dictator should!). St Augustine writes:

            As, therefore, the human race, subsequently to the first marriage of the man who was made of dust, and his wife who was made out of his side, required the union of males and females in order that it might multiply, and as there were no human beings except those who had been born of these two, men took their sisters for wives,—an act which was as certainly dictated by necessity in these ancient days as afterwards it was condemned by the prohibitions of religion . . . and though it was quite allowable in the earliest ages of the human race to marry one’s sister, it is now abhorred as a thing which no circumstances could justify. (The City of God XV.16)

    • Robert Seidel
      Posted March 4, 2014 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

      I don’t even get why Christians insist on Adam and Eve having been the first and only humans. Consider this (Gen. 4:13-15):

      Cain said to the LORD: “My punishment is too great to bear.

      Since you have now banished me from the soil, and I must avoid your presence and become a restless wanderer on the earth, anyone may kill me at sight.”

      Not so!” the LORD said to him. “If anyone kills Cain, Cain shall be avenged sevenfold.” So the LORD put a mark on Cain, lest anyone should kill him at sight.

      So the Bible implies there are other persons besides that family. It all makes sense if you think of Adam and Eve as ancestors of the chosen people, those worth the name “people”, instead of mankind as a whole.

  11. ploubere
    Posted March 4, 2014 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    It’s nice when Kentucky is in the spotlight for ignorant beliefs, but somehow it always comes back to Tennessee.

  12. Posted March 4, 2014 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    O, where is the sneer of H.L. Mencken, now that we need him yet again?

  13. Posted March 4, 2014 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    But I like broccoli. And I’m not lyin’ with the cool cats;-)
    Seriously, I agree with your basic thesis—that Genesis as a statement of fact is totally incompatible with the scientific theory and facts of evolution.
    And I agree with you that BioLogos seems to be backtracking.

    But keep in mind two points when making blanket statements about Christians and the fact of evolution:
    #1 A few well-recognized evolutionists are Christians such as Eastern Orthodox Theodosius Dobzhansky (Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution).

    Furthermore, before the rise of fundamentalism in the United States in the early 20th century, many Christian leaders including American scientist Asa Gray accepted evolution as the accurate scientific account of how life came to be.

    #2 While it is true that Augustinian Christians (the majority of Roman Catholics, Reformed, etc. the majority of Christiandom), believe in “Original Sin,”
    other groups of Christians never did and don’t.

    Daniel Wilcox

  14. Posted March 4, 2014 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    But I like broccoli. And I’m not lyin’ with the cool cats;-)
    Seriously, I agree with your basic thesis—that Genesis as a statement of fact is totally incompatible with the scientific theory and facts of evolution.
    And I agree with you that BioLogos seems to be backtracking.
    But keep in mind two points when making blanket statements about Christians and the fact of evolution:
    #1 A few well-recognized evolutionists are Christians such as Eastern Orthodox Theodosius Dobzhansky (Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution).
    Furthermore, before the rise of fundamentalism in the United States in the early 20th century, many Christian leaders including American scientist Asa Gray accepted evolution as the accurate scientific account of how life came to be.
    #2 While it is true that Augustinian Christians (the majority of Roman Catholics, Reformed, etc. the majority of Christiandom), believe in “Original Sin,”
    other groups of Christians never did and don’t.

  15. Posted March 4, 2014 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    oops, sorry, please cut repeat.

  16. FitzRoy
    Posted March 4, 2014 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    My dogs love broccoli. I once had a cat who liked broccoli. What is the evidence that eating broccoli is incompatible with being a lion?

    • John Scanlon, FCD
      Posted March 5, 2014 at 6:54 am | Permalink

      My cat Jaffa would eat anything I cooked, including broccoli.
      Thai green curry made her sneeze, though.

  17. Posted March 4, 2014 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    I gotta wonder: is a degree from Bryan College useful as anything other than a placemat at the nearest greasy spoon?

    b&

    • Posted March 4, 2014 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

      Maybe it was before, but it’s unlikely to be any longer.

      If I had a degree from Bryan College and read about this latest assault on that degree’s market value, I’d be asking for my money back.

  18. docbill1351
    Posted March 4, 2014 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    I’m sorry, I just can’t get hopped up about an 800-student Bible college designed to accept stupid people and turn out stupider people forcing it’s deluded faculty to sign a Statement of Faith only slightly more delusional.

    Dembski got expelled, too, for heresy. Bring back the Inquisition, I say. We demand entertaining!

    • Posted March 4, 2014 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

      I am confident that there are intelligent people at that 800-student Bible college. I have frequently observed intelligent people selectively suspending rationality about this, that or the other. I don’t get how they’re able to do it for years but they are.

      • Sean
        Posted March 4, 2014 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

        Francis Collins….

  19. Aldo Matteucci
    Posted March 4, 2014 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    Actually, original sin casts a long shadow BACKWARD into the genesis of the Christian God.

    According to Christian dogma, the Godhead is tri-une, Father, Son, and (belatedly) Holy Spirit.

    God made the world, we know that. What was the Son’s role? none in Genesis – He does not even get a credit in the generics. According to the dogma, His role is redemption. Which means that the Godhead existing from time before time was already contemplating redemption BEFORE it had created mankind, and his Essence then depended on the contingent original sin of God’s favorite creature.

    Some surmise He nudged Eve, so He could have His day in the world.

  20. W.Benson
    Posted March 4, 2014 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    Romans 5 states:
    “12 Therefore as sin came into the world through one man [Adam] and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned—
    13 sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law.
    14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sins were not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.”
    According to Paul, sin came into the world with Adam, but before Adam and the Garden of Eden, althought people sinned, sin was not punished. We are left to conclude that people existed before Adam and Eve, they sinned, but sin was not imputed. This also implies that God invented law as an afterthought, and that it may therefore be amended or revoked. The Bryan College administration seems to have turned its back on the word of God.

  21. Posted March 4, 2014 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    The question I’ve never gotten any creationist to answer:

    If Adam and Eve are historical persons by God created in a special formative act and not from previously existing life forms, why is it that nothing distinguishes humans as being unrelated to other life forms – why does DNA show kinship with all life forms?

    • Jeffery
      Posted March 4, 2014 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

      Why, it’s just another one of the Devil’s evil tricks! There- that explains it!

      • Timothy Hughbanks
        Posted March 4, 2014 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

        That’s right. Satan is clever (as hell)! Obviously he didn’t stop at burying fossilized bones in just the right strata to make the humans appear to have evolved. While Yahweh – a big picture kinds guy – was putting the creatures together, he apparently didn’t sweat the molecular details. So while Adam was cobbled together from dirt, Satan was making sure that the underlying molecular hardware of man bore a striking resemblance to the rest of the mammals. Diabolical bastard!

    • een
      Posted March 4, 2014 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

      Sheer laziness, I believe.

    • Posted March 4, 2014 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

      Because ineffable reasons. Boo-yah!

      /@

  22. John Harshman
    Posted March 4, 2014 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    Last month, a chapel talk at Bryan featured a discussion with Wood and well-known evolutionary creationist Darrel Falk.

    “Wood” in this quote is presumably Todd Wood, famous as the world’s only honest creationist. I would be interested in what he said in that talk that so excited the crowd and what his views would be on the college’s response.

    And it turns out he talks about it on his blog:

    http://toddcwood.blogspot.com/

    Currently the second post down from the top. Can’t miss it.

  23. Jeffery
    Posted March 4, 2014 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    Genesis 1:25: “And God made the beast of the earth according to its kind, cattle according to its kind, and everything that creeps on the earth according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. THEN (emphasis mine) God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness…”

    Genesis 2:19: “Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them.”

    Right out of the starting gate the Babble presents two conflicting versions: the first has man created AFTER the animals; the second, on the very next page, has God creating the animals and parading them before an already-existent Adam for naming.

    Who BELIEVES this crap? It’s a sobering lesson in humility to realize how vulnerable minds are to the most blatantly outrageous nonsense. I suspect that the only way one can swallow this, and keep it down, is to reduce it mentally to a series of cartoonish “belief vignettes”: “Adam and Eve- first people- OK; Serpent tempted Eve- OK; big flood; killed all people but for Noah and his family- Check”, etc., etc. To consider logically, even for a moment, the implications and ramifications of it all (i.e.: an all-powerful, and thus, all-knowing entity creating a “grade-B” movie scenario while being fully aware of the outcome) would (should) cause the entire rotten mental structure to come crashing down.

    The fact that it doesn’t is the sobering part.

    • Dermot C
      Posted March 5, 2014 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

      The reason why your 2 quotations from Genesis are contradictory is probably because they come from 2 different sources. The Eden mythology comes from the J, Yahwist, source written in Judah probably in the 8th century BCE: the Sabbatical creation account which opens Genesis is from the P, Priestly, source from the later 6th century BCE, connected to the re-erection of the Temple after the Exile.

      Jesus ben Sirach, the rather repulsive misogynist who wrote Ecclesiasticus ca. 200 BCE, is the first we know of who interpreted the Eden story in terms of Eve’s sin. St. Paul in Romans, as you pointed out, continued to analyse the myth according to the iniquity of Eve’s man: Irenaeus around 200 CE coined the term ‘original sin’ and Augustine developed the idea into doctrine. How much each knew about the previous theologian, I don’t know, but Ecclesiasticus is quoted passim in the NT.

      The earlier and first books of the OT have at least 5 sources: the 2 which I mentioned plus, the E, Elohim, source, and the D, Deuteronomist, source: and the editor, probably around 400 BCE, who put them together with little thought for intelligibility, as shown by your demonstration of the creation accounts’ incoherence.

      Slaínte.

  24. paxton
    Posted March 4, 2014 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    Does Bryan College receive any sort of public support? Or do they forgo it like Bob Jones University, apparently does? Baylor University requires their faculty to be committed Christians, yet they seem to have an exemption from Equal Opportunity laws, which not only allows them to discriminate on the basis of religion, but to remain eligible for government research funding, student aid etc. And I assume that Bryan, like Baylor and probably Bob Jones also, are accredited institutions of higher education?

    • Posted March 4, 2014 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

      They’re accredited by the SACS, one of the six regional accreditors recognized by the Department of Education. I’m sure they don’t receive any substantial government funding; if any, it’d have to be very narrowly targeted.

      b&

  25. MIkeN
    Posted March 4, 2014 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

    There were several long discussions about this over at Strange Notions, supposedly a site devoted to fruitful dialogue between Catholics and atheists, where every now and then they conduct purges of most of the atheists and delete all their previous comments without acknowledgement.

    Anyway, the preferred solution to the bottleneck problem was that A&E were a couple of hominids among others, but were the first to be born with souls. Their descendants then mated with soulless hominids of the same species- apparently ensoulment is a totally dominant trait. Somehow this is not bestiality,even though the soul is supposed to be that which distinguishes us from animals.

    (Any attempt to continue to question this usually leads to the atheist commenter being banned)

  26. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted March 5, 2014 at 5:31 am | Permalink

    But we should, and could, count all populations that went into modern humans, I suspect. (Give or take religious magical claims of sudden genetic “ensoulment” of a pair among any of them.)

    The new Neanderthal nuclear genome sequencing permist us to estimate that. [“The complete genome sequence of a Neanderthal from the Altai Mountains”, Prüfer et al, Nature 2013] If we exclude the likely H. erectus (“unknown”) 5th known involved human/Homo population (Fig. 8) due to its unknown size, we have more or less concurrently one african sapiens of 4-8 times the size of the later european, and Neanderthal and Denisovan of about that size (Fig. 4).

    Meaning the total human population of the planet was oscillating between 5 and 10 times the 2 000 figure, or 10 – 20 000 total.

    [That is perhaps 1/10th of the Pan populations of today, shrinking as they are. Not quite “the successful ape” historically…]

  27. peterr
    Posted March 5, 2014 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    “…Adam and Eve will be regarded as we now regard Zeus and Wotan.”

    But Wotan does, and did, exist, indeed lots of them, cannot remember whether bass or baritone—at any rate, very competent at vocal creation.


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