Adam and Creation Tossed Out of History

This month’s Christianity Today (June 2011) lead story is “The Search for the Historical Adam.” While the search is not new, the evidence that threatens to throw Adam out of history is. Francis S. Collins’ work on genome has put the historical Adam and Eve in the category of fiction instead of history. Based on his scientific research Collins concludes  “that ‘unfortunately’ the concept of Adam and Eve as the literal first couple and the ancestors of all humans simply ‘do not fit the evidence’” (CTi, June 2011, 24). Collins believes based on his scientific evidence that theistic evolution is the best model to explain the existence of Adam and Eve. For Collins and others our first parents evolved from primate ancestors 100,000 years ago through natural processes.

While it may be “convenient” to toss a literal reading of Genesis out and relate it all as myth to harmonize its account with science, I wonder how he (and others who affirmed theistic evolution at a BioLogos workshop in NYC in Nov 2010, [CTi, 27]) would read other portions of the Bible that build their argument based on a literal creation.  In particular I have in mind Isaiah’s concept of God as creator.

In Isaiah 40-55 the prophet is arguing that Yahweh is God alone. Isaiah’ purpose is to move his countrymen away from trust in idols back to the living God.  To prove that Yahweh is God alone Isaiah recounts numerous times that God worked as creator. According to R. Reed Lessing, “Isaiah employs wide variety of creational verbs. His list is impressive” (“Yahweh Versus Marduk: Creation Theology in Isaiah 4-55,” Concordia Journal, 36, no. 3 (Sum 2010): 234-244).  By my count Lessing notes that eleven “creation verbs” appear eighty times in these chapters. God as creator is vital to Isaiah’s argument.  If God did not create the stars and lead them (40:26) or stretch out the heavens (40:42; 42:5; 48:13) or give breath and spirit to all people (42:5) or form light and darkness (45:7) or make the earth and create man on it (45:12, 18; 48:13), or form his servant in the womb (49:5), then he is no better than the idols and Isaiah has lost his argument against Israel.  The purpose of Isaiah’s rhetoric is to show through special creation that Yahweh is God alone.

And there is more to explain. How would theistic evolutionist read God’s ability to “remake” nature on Israel’s behalf in these chapters? For Israel God will open rivers in deserts, plant cedars and others trees in desert (41:17), he will lay waste to mountains and hills (42:16) and make rivers in the desert (43:19).  The “creation” language of these verses indicates that God (as the subject) will do all these things based on his personal agency and not natural processes.  To argue that natural process will be the cause of these changes in nature is to rob Isaiah of his rhetoric to his comfort people based on God’s actions.

The implications of the historicity of the first couple or the truth of a six day creation does not simply impact the early chapters of Genesis.  If Adam, Eve and a literal creation are tossed out of  history, their loss vibrates through the rest of the scriptures as well.  Evangelicals cannot afford to have Adam and Eve tossed out of the Garden AND history.  While there is redemption for the first, there is little hope for the second.

A Librarian, bass player and son.

While this is “old news” and more family related than I usually post, it is note worthy enough to warrant a blog entry.  My librarian son’s band made the nightly news. (See the link here).  The Cry of the Scapegoat played before approximately 500 teens in April.  My son, Jeremy, is the bass player.  On the video around 14 seconds when the whole band is visible he is on the right with his electric bass. A number of teens recommitted their lives to Christ and a few made a profession of faith at their concert.

Sex and the Bible: Two New Books

There are two books out that deal with the Song of Songs (among other biblical texts) and sex in the Bible.  Boston University religion professor, Jennifer Wright Knust is the author of Unprotected Texts: The Bible’s Surprising Contradictions about Sex and Desire. (See a USA Today article here). The second is Michael Coogan’s God and Sex: What the Bible Really Says. (See a Newsweek article on both books here).  I hope to get a copy of each in the not too distant future and get to review them.  Although, based on the snippets I have read thus far, I doubt I will be “surprised” nor will I really find out “what the Bible says about sex” from these two books.

A Follow Up to 2 Chron 7:13-15

In response to my journal reading Tom asked, “For those of us who can’t access BibSac, what was Taylor’s conclusion, and why do you think he got it right?”

The reason Taylor got the application of 2 Chronicles 7:13-15 right is because he recognized that 1) “My people” in context is Israel: and not Christians or even some other modern nation. 2) “Heal their land” in context is not a call for “revival or spiritual awakening” for Christians today; it was a literal healing of the land of Israel in the form of providing rain and removing those diseases or insects that were a threat to the land. 3) While humbling oneself, praying, seeking God and repenting are applicable today, these do not carry the guarantee that one’s nation will be healed since “no nation on earth is a theocracy” (Taylor, BibSac, April-June 2011, 161). Thanks for the question, Tom.

In Case You Missed These

I was catching up on my journal reading last night and wanted to highlight three  articles that are (should be) of interest to those who appreciate the OT.  1) Richard Mayhue “The Bible’s Watchword: Day of the Lord,” The Master’s Seminary Journal 22 no. 1 Spring 2011.  2)  Jonathan G. Taylor, “The Application of 2 Chronicles 7:13—15” BibSac 168 no. 670 April-June 2011 (Taylor gets it right!)   3) Eugene Merrill, “Old Testament Scholarship and the Man in the Street: Whence and Whither?”  JETS 54 no. 1 March 2011. From his vantage point Merrill points out the contemporary issues facing OT scholarship.  An interesting read.

Another good article (though not directly related to the OT) for those who are watching the dynamics of social networking is the editorial by Andreas Kostenberger  in JETS (March 2011). Kostenberger recognizes the implications of social media on serious research by scholars.  It is worth the time to stop texting, Facebooking, Tweeting, etc and read the entire article.