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.