Adam and Evolution

“The Place of Adam and Eve in the History of Salvation”

“Origins: What Are We to Make of It in Light of the Bible and Evolutionary Science?”

“A Theological Conversation: What to Do with Adam and Evolution?”

“Is Scripture Right About Adam? If So, Is It Wrong about Evolution? How Might a Biblically Faithful Christian Make Sense of It All?”


The above may all fit as titles to this essay. Let us explore the issue, and maybe we can figure out which title is the most accurate.

Positions Christians take[1]

There are three general positions regarding the relationship of biblical origins to contemporary evolutionary science held among Christians: creationism, intelligent design, and theistic evolution. Not always obvious is the fact that this conversation or debate is actually an intra-mural rather than an extra-mural one. By that I mean, it is a conversation or debate that goes on among Christians who all want to be biblically faithful, so that it ought to be conducted in a civil and brotherly manner.

Creationism may primarily accept either a very young earth creation date or a little older young earth creation date. With the former the year 4004 B.C. is pegged as the year of creation while the latter holds to dates of around 10,000 B.C. Both subscribe to the earth being created old-appearing; however, some of the mainline young earth creationists insist that the flood of Noah’s era was all that was necessary for the earth to have attained its present oldish appearance.

A creationist also believes that the entire universe was created by a supernatural being, and for Christians, this being is God as described in the Bible. In the generic sense, all Christians, whether young earth or oldish earth creationists, intelligent design advocates, or theistic evolutionists are all creationists; it is simply the how of it all which is at issue.

After science developed concepts about origins in the 18th century onwards, efforts were made by Christians to reconcile the new views with the Bible and its Genesis accounts of creation. By the beginning of the 20th century the creation-evolution controversy had developed, largely fomented by the popularity of Charles Darwin’s work, and the term “creationist” became associated with the rise of Christian fundamentalism. This view opposed any claim for development of separate species through evolutionary processes. The fundamentalist view predominated among Bible believers in that day and still boasts a considerable following. However, even in that early period when the debate flared up, there were “evolutionary creationists” who sought to harmonize the Bible with modern science.

            Intelligent Design adherents admit the reality of much of the science of evolutionary thought but insist that God built into the natural building blocks of life the information, without which there would be no life on earth. ID advocates reject the pure Darwinian theory that a combination of undirected processes—natural selection and random mutations—explains the whole story of species development and consider that it falls short of a biblical account of creation. ID promoters see information in the raw building blocks of life, principally DNA in the genetic code, to have been placed there by the Creator God of the Bible who is thus responsible for all that life is.

Intelligent design advocates are usually not concerned about the controversy between a young and old earth, but accept whatever science says about it. They see evolutionary theory, sometimes referred to as neo-Darwinism, to be an inadequate mechanism to describe what is observed. The debate continues.

Theistic evolution refers to the idea that a creator God set in motion all that life and earth are and let the process develop as it would. It essentially rubber stamps all true science regarding origins. Francis Collins, the scientist who led the effort to map the human genome, is a champion of theistic evolution and a sincere Christian, and with him is a growing number of Christians who also assume his position.

A current focus of the debate

At issue presently is what to do with the Genesis account of creation. Were Adam and Eve real people, or are they representatives of or metaphors for something less personal and historical? Real live people with names and story lines are certainly more interesting and more easily portrayed by a historian or script writer than an account of snail-like changes taking place over long millennia. However, at stake for many is the veracity of the entire Bible with its plan of salvation centered in Jesus Christ. If the Bible is wrong about one, what about the other?

The young or oldish earth creationists face the most crucial dilemma, since they depend on a literalistic rendering of the biblical accounts. For them there must be a real Adam, a real Eve, and so on.

It might be argued that a literal Adam and Eve is necessary for there to be a Fall, the remedy for which is blood atonement brought by the One who bruises the head of the serpent (see Genesis 3). I will leave this issue alone, since my view is that one is independent of the other. Life experience reveals the essential flaw, or evil, at the core of humanity. We need not have an Adam and Eve, a serpent/devil, all in a Garden of Eden, for it to be plain that humankind is lost and depraved.

At the base of the debate is perhaps a fear that somehow contemporary science is an enemy and that specifically evolutionary, godless thought must be challenged at every turn. Let me pose some pertinent questions: Is the debate a distraction? Are we spinning our wheels here and ignoring the simple proclamation of the evangelical gospel? I am reminded that I was a convinced believer in evolution immediately prior to my conversion, and that over four decades of pastoral ministry most of those whom I have seen profess faith in Christ were very much like me. Additionally, must a person hold one scientific concept or another in order to be a Christian? Some say yes and some say no—this is for me the key issue.

Views Christians hold

So then, some Christians hold to a young earth creation with Noah’s flood figuring prominently in the scheme. There are older earth creationists who have decided to admit some science unearthed by the archaeologists and geneticists. Very well and good.

Then there are those who opt for intelligent design, perhaps straddling the fence, and it makes for some fascinating reading, especially considering examples of what is termed “irreducibly complex” organic systems. Here is a safer haven for some who value evolutionary science and want to be what they would consider biblically faithful. Very well and good.

There are also a growing number of those who embrace theistic evolution. They might see the story of Adam and Eve as told in Genesis to be a useful mechanism for an inspired writer to dramatically reveal the circumstances of human beings—made in the image of God but who fall into disobedience and thus can no longer enjoy the fellowship and rest they had with their Creator. We are still doing fine.

An as yet un-named combination view

There are variations on the above schemas also. A fascinating one combines intelligent design and theistic evolution. Here God creates all there is, determines the mechanisms, encodes into all life forms the DNA building blocks, and the millennia march on–but a creature via evolution cannot be anything close to a being with whom God will have direct fellowship. So then, God steps in and creates Adam and Eve who are made in his image and with whom he does have fellowship. At some unknown, but fairly recently time, humans made in the image of God suddenly appear, not due to evolution, but due to a special act of creation.

Let me rephrase the as yet un-named combo view: As I see the theory developing—at some point in history, real time history, the Creator stepped in and made man, male and female, in his image. Adam and Eve, real people, not metaphors, a life form who had the capacity not through evolutionary processes, but a specially made capacity, to communicate with God and have fellowship with him and know him in the deepest sense. Evolution could not get the job done.

Typical of God, he did it himself. It is the primal doctrine of predestination, or election—God’s deliberate acting. He created a people for himself, and though they strayed from him, he pursued them and made them his own. From Adam and Eve, in direct descent, came Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Israel too, the chosen among whom he dwelt, and in time, the Body of Christ, the elect, the called-out ones.

What I mean is that the Bible records the fact that God is the author of all there is, and that Adam and Eve are the fountain head of the elect.

This combo view allows me to retain the creation account and does not force me to worry about young or oldish earth.[2] This view allows me to acknowledge intelligent design and perhaps theistic evolution as well, which I can also embrace, or at least not feel like I have to reject.

A restatement

Adam and Eve, not evolved but specially made in the image of God, perhaps even given life in a time frame endorsed by creationists, old earth or younger earth ones. This preserves a Fall and thus a need for the atonement. I can take the New Testament material about Adam face on and not have to alter it, and neither way would bother me much, because I see this as ultimately a fringe issue.

Such a combination view allows me to fit in rather harmoniously the material found in the early chapters of Genesis that have troubled me over the years. Let me list them:

One, where did Cain get his wife (see Genesis 4:17)? One would think, taking the Genesis account literally, that there was only Adam, Eve, and Cain alive on the planet. Adjusting upwards the numbers of years these people lived helps but does not solve the problem.

Two, the advanced state of husbandry and agriculture that had to be present for Cain to have a garden and Able to have his flock (see Genesis 4:2) is generally understood to have required considerable millennia before our ancestors mastered such delicate and complex processes.

Three, how was it that the passing of time—consider Methuselah’s 969 years in Genesis 5:27—could be so carefully calculated? Historically this has been problematic and likely was something that was not arrived at in a hurry.

Four, Cain’s son Enoch built a city (Genesis 4:17) extremely early on. It puzzles us, knowing the skills required, even if the walls were made of mud.

Five, Jabal dwelt in tents and knew animal husbandry (see Genesis 4:20). Tents constructed of cloth would require spinning wheels and looms, or at the very least, animal skins sewn together—any of which could be considered rather advanced technology.

Six, Jubal, the brother of Jabal, played the lyre and pipe (see Genesis 4:21). Wow. Imagine all the human tool-making skills that would have developed prior to something as complicated as musical instruments to be created.

Seven, Tubal-cain, the great grandson of Jabal “was the forger of all instruments of bronze and iron” (Genesis 4:22). Metallurgy—a rather recent skill indeed.

There is more, but the point is, I cannot help but think that there must have been considerable cultural and technical knowledge obtained over very lengthy time periods undergirding the activities of these men. No matter, the combo allows for such and retains, at face value, at least from my point of view, the essential biblical truths.

Adam and Eve inherited a great deal of what had been around for a long period of time; they were thrust into a world, that world referred to as “east of Eden” inhabited by other creatures just like themselves but not made in the image of God. (Look below for a discussion of the “sons of God” and “the daughters of God” and look above for the discussion of Cain and his wife.)

Another piece of the puzzle considered

The Books of Moses have a number of interesting stories embedded in them, one of which is found in Genesis 6:1-4. In this particular story may be a clue to the existence of a larger population on the planet that the seven instances mentioned above also suggest.

Moses speaks of “the sons of God,” “the daughters of man,” and the Nephilim or Giants. Though commentators differ as to who was who and what kind of relationships existed between them, one thing is certain: there are two or maybe three different groupings of people to which the writer refers. Some have theorized that the Nephilim were the product of the sons of God taking the daughters of man as wives. Was there intermarriage between the descendants of Seth, God’s called-out ones, and those humans who may have occupied the planet for long centuries? The “combo theory” not only allows it but provides a perfect scenario for it actually occurring.

And finally

A tempest in a tea-pot? A lot to do about nothing? A battle that will not be won? A distraction from Christian essentials? A demonic red herring placed in front of the narrow gate? Factioning? Dissensions? All of the above? I opt for this last one. But now for your decision: a title for this essay. I think I know the one I like best. How about you?

[1] The following descriptions are radically condensed and simplified. This is an essay, not a book. In addition, this essay is merely an opening statement which looks forward to more conversation and debate.

[2] Personally I opt for an old earth, say 13.8 billion years old, but for me the issue is a fringe one and essentially irrelevant.

Homophobic and Heterophobia: Two Sides of the Same Coin?

Homophobia and Heterophobia: Two Sides of the Same Coin? by Kent A. Philpott Homophobia – “A hatred or fear of homosexuals.” (from the Oxford Concise Dictionary). This expresses the core definition of homophobia as found in most standard dictionaries. Heterophobia – “A hatred or fear of heterosexuals.” This definition is not found in standard dictionaries, but the “Urban Dictionary” does not shy away from giving some rather politically incorrect definitions: From the Urban Dictionary, found online at • Heterophobics – “Gays who are afraid of heterosexuals usually due to their own heterosexual feelings or leanings.” This followed up with, “Gays, don’t be afraid, you’re probably just straight.” Homophobia – “a severe condition, usually prominent in Republicans and most of American culture, leading one to: 1. inaccurately use bible quoting for the justification of killing homosexuals; 2. restrict the rights of millions; 3. hide in their rooms crying if they looked at the male body of one of the same gender and do not vomit; 4. incessantly call things ‘gay.'” • Heterophobia – “an unreasoning disgust of heterosexuals, frequently supported by erroneous and faulty statements about heterosexuals.” • Homophobia – “the irritation of having faggotry shoved in your face.” • Heterophobics – “People who indulge in bigotry or intolerance because of the Heterophobia sickness.” • Homophobia – “an irrational fear of going home.” • Heterophobia – “The often irrational fear of heterosexuals. Usually experienced by a homosexual or bisexual who has had bad experiences with heterosexual coupling.” • Homophobia – “fear of homosexuals or possibly a condition where one person has the same fears as someone else.” • Heterophobia – “To hate heterosexuals out of some bizarre, irrational or innate fear of them. Probably due to repressed heterosexual feelings. Up with heterosexual pride!” • Homophobia – “Dislike, fear, hatred, and/or disapproval of gays and/or homosexuality, often (but not always) for religious reasons or because of insecurity about one’s sexual orientation.” • Heterophobia – “Queer frustration and hatred towards straight oppression. Often mistakenly perceived to be equivalent to homophobia, or other forms of discrimination.” • Heterophobia – “Unreasoning prejudice against heterosexuals or their sexuality, the LGBT equivalent of reverse racism, and the inverse of homophobia. Commonly manifested as disgust with the very idea of straight sexuality and/or reproduction. It copies the prejudices of homophobia, including the idea that straightness is unnatural, or unhealthy, or can somehow be ‘cured.'” • Heterophobia – “Frequently paired with prejudice towards the opposite sex. This is surprisingly common in the LGBT community, but is often not addressed due to concerns for political correctness.” Finally, let me add this, which I gleaned – and paraphrased – from Gay Religion, edited by Scott Thumma and Edward R. Gray, and published by AltaMira Press in 2005: Some homosexuals believe homosexuality is necessary for the earth to survive, as the “breeders” keep pumping out babies, resulting in the population growing to an unsustainable level. Therefore, homosexuality is a survival mechanism. Two sides of the same coin? Both phobias are based on fear, or so it would seem. I would suggest that “phobia” is the wrong word to describe either phenomenon. The term means an irrational fear of something or the other, such as agoraphobia – a fear of open spaces or public places. But are the so-called homo and hetero phobias based on fear? Is the homosexual fearful of heterosexuals? Is the heterosexual fearful of homosexuals? In both instances, I think not; My sense of it is that the “phobias” are something else all together. Heterosexuals may disagree with homosexuals as to the rightness of homosexual behavior. And should they not be allowed this? Equal rights, justice, fairness, civil rights, and so on, are what most heterosexuals would agree are owed to all people regardless of sexual orientation. What if heterosexuals think homosexual behavior is “sinful” and morally wrong? Is this a bad thing? Suppose it was a hate crime to even consider homosexual behavior wrong. Should certain kinds of thinking be criminalized? Should “homophobes “be marginalized and discriminated against? Most outrageous is the goal that anything short of complete acceptance of all that is homosexuality be stamped out and eliminated since such thinking is the seed bed for discrimination against homosexuals. Could it be that the pro-gay, LGBT community, the whole of it or segments thereof, might even justify the creation of a “thought police” that would be dedicated to eradicating anti-homosexual thinking? Have I gone too far? Irrational fear? Once again let me state that to believe certain behavior is wrong is not necessarily born of fear or anxiety. There may indeed be those who are homophobic, that is, having a fear of being molested or raped by a homosexual, or fear of becoming one, or identified as being one, and the list goes on. And for those who have been in the military, or in prison, or in other circumstances where a homosexual might have a certain amount of power and authority, say a high school sports team coach, there may be homophobia, and such would not be irrational or imaginary. Needless to say, heterosexuals in positions of power and authority over persons of the opposite sex have abused that authority in sexual ways. Certainly, there is much more of this than homosexuals exploiting those of the same sex. Both are wrong, plain and simple. I have been homophobic. In the Air Force there were homosexuals living in the barracks at Travis Air Force Base, and once in a while some would be caught doing what they ought not to have done and were either dishonorably discharged from the service or at least demoted and locked up for a while. In my thirty years as a volunteer at San Quentin Prison I found out that prison life was dominated by sex, some heterosexual, but mostly homosexual. I have also put five children through the school systems in Marin County, and I have been a freshman baseball coach for nine years. There are valid reasons why some have a fear of homosexuality. I don’t want to get specific or graphic, but I have been there and seen that. Yes, I have a certain amount of what is mistakenly called homophobia. So, what should be done with someone like me? Do I not have a right to it? Must the authorities be intolerant of it? As a Christian, must I repent of it? I do not want to be fearful of homosexuals, and in fact, to the best of my ability, I am not. With the growing numbers of gay people in American, if I were homophobic I would live a fearful and miserable life. I live in the world and am very much a part of it; I am a law-abiding citizen, and I will act according to the laws of the land. But I reserve the right to believe that homosexual behavior is wrong. For all have sinned What about heterosexuals? Many, perhaps most, heterosexuals are disturbed sexually to one degree or another. And how would we expect anything less, particularly in western societies where sex is distorted and confused? We have rapists, child molesters, sex-slave traffickers, pimps, brothel keepers, porn addicts and makers, and more than I care to know about, and in far greater numbers than do the homosexuals. The marketplace commercializes sex and throws naked flesh before our eyes daily to sell products. Much of the distortion has come along with the millennia-long patriarchal cultures that are in place in most parts of the world, cultures that falsely empower men to control those who are physically weaker. And our religions have either looked the other way or actually institutionalized this departure from biblical models, including Christianity. All of this morass has to do with what theologians call “the Fall,” that time when humans rebelled against the Creator God (who, by the way, is both feminine and masculine, see Genesis 1:27), and sex got completely tweaked. Moments after the Fall, Adam and Eve – or if you can’t handle that, the first man and woman – looked at each other, having a new knowledge of good and evil firmly implanted in their brains, and realized they were naked and were ashamed. Wow! Ashamed and guilty – and it is right here where the trouble is. Read the account below and see what you make of it. Here is Genesis 3:1-13: Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. 8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” Guilt and Shame A careful interpreter could reel off pages of commentary and never get to the bottom of all that is in the above passage. But there is certainly guilt and shame. The balance between the man and the woman was gone. Together they reflected the Creator; now separate and apart life drastically changed and not for the better. Heterosexual marriage is now a mere shadow of what it was intended to be. Not until that which is called heaven and paradise, symbolized as a wedding between Christ, the groom, and the Church, His bride, will there be restitution and realization of the original intent of the Creator. Until then, well, we know the story, don’t we? Pleasure, contentment, fulfillment, completion, happiness, rightness – it was all there for Adam and Eve. These wonderful gifts were replaced with guilt and an abiding sense of shame. No matter how much pleasure might be found in a sexual act, it would never be, for anyone, what it could have been. So we have sin lodged right in the core of the identity of the human sexual experience. And heteros and homos have forever attempted to overcome guilt and shame. Within marriage between a man and a woman, however flawed and imperfect, is contained a hint and a promise of what will come in the grand eschaton, that end point when there will be a recreation and a new heaven and a new earth. What God started will be completed. God’s laws, the thou-shalt-nots, were intended to make the best of what is. Adultery, fornication, and homosexual acts are a breaking of the law and thus guilt and shame arise. That is just how it is. Though the LGBT community may succeed in all its demands for equality and normality, guilt and shame will remain. Could it be that the homosexual, who in the quest to irradiate homophobia, is really being driven by guilt and shame? If homosexual behavior is normal and good, then ought not the negative and powerful emotions go away? But they will not go away, since the ‘wrongness experience’ is hard wired into every human being. God made sex and meant it for both procreation and pleasure; it is a strong bond that keeps a husband and wife together. It is in that “one flesh” relationship where sex can be experienced absent guilt and shame. God-ordained and -approved sex is a wonderful thing. A marriage between a man and a woman allows for the freedom to develop a very sexy relationship, which is not driven by lust and a never-ending quest for fulfillment. Such a sexuality opens a door to a “peaceful easy feeling.” Is achieving equality enough? Victory won, normalcy and equality achieved, backed by the law of the land, and clear sailing ahead. All will be well, right? This has certainly not been so for heterosexuals, and the trend seems to be downward rather than the other way around. Will homosexuals fare better? Probably not. Sexuality is the human core identity, but it is not larger than the kingdom of God and life eternal. The fuss about homo and hetero phobias is magnified, because sex has become so very distorted and filled up with the hope of ultimate satisfaction. In sexuality, even for the most well adjusted and blissful heterosexual married couple, there will be disappointment and frustration. As they say, “Get over it.” Phobias must not drive our behavior Both hetero and homo phobia are expressions of sinfulness, not the sense of fear itself, but the acting out on the fears to the detriment of others. We are called to love our neighbor as ourselves, so we have to admit that expressing these phobias is wrong. At least, let us deal humanely and rationally with each other, homosexual and heterosexual. Let us hear and respect each other’s positions while not having to approve of them. If I could say that homosexual behavior is right, I would do so, but I cannot. I cannot say that the heterosexual’s adulteries and fornications are right, either. To approve homosexuality in any form, or to approve sex outside of marriage, is unacceptable from a biblical perspective. And to many, such is unacceptable. There is hope, strength, and dignity in saying “No.” The aberrational, criminal, abusive, or exploitive quest of self-centered sexual pleasure cannot be tolerated by a civilized society where the rights of the weak must be safeguarded. Heading off the steep cliff without an observer shouting out a warning is both negligence and unloving to the extreme. Enough of this phobia talk.