Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Adam and Eve Debacle: Science Drives Theologians into Frenzy of Fabrication

As noted previously on this blog, the human genome project has scientifically confirmed that the Adam and Eve of the Book of Genesis never existed as historic people.  Thus, the story of the serpent, the fruit from the tree of knowledge and mankind's fall through the sin of Adam and Eve never happened.  Obviously, this blows the Hell out of the Christian story line and the need for a redemptive Messiah to atone for mankind's sinfulness.  Some denominations are trying to merely ignore this reality which has blown apart Christianity's entire premise as violently as the U-boat torpedo ended the Lusitania's reign as a queen of the seas.  Other denominations - e.g., the Southern Baptist Convention - that have stupidly held to the inerrant truth of the Bible are desperately seeking to fabricate a revised story line that avoids the total collapse of the story of the Fall and Christ's redemption.  A piece in Why Evolution is True looks at this desperate endeavor.  Here are excerpts:

Busily engaged in apologetics, BioLogos has a new post on the never-ending kerfuffle about the meaning of Adam and Eve:Why the church needs multiple theories of original sin.” It’s by Loren Haarsma, who has a doctorate in physics from Harvard and teaches it at Calvin College (he’s also the co-author, with his wife Deborah, of Origins: Christian Perspectives on Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design). 

The cynical—but correct—answer to the title question is: “Because science showed that there isn’t an Adam and Eve, so you have to make up stuff to save the meaning of Jesus.” And indeed, that’s precisely what theologians do, though of course they don’t admit it. Instead, they pretend that the scientific results showing that humans didn’t evolve from a single pair of ancestors simply means that we must reinterpret the Genesis story of Adam and Eve. But, as usual, theology cannot solve this problem, though Haarsma pretends that diligent theological study and proper interpretation of Scripture will yield an answer. It’s a prime example of how religious tenets are not only disproven by science, but, more important, how religion, unlike science, is powerless to find truth.

The facts first. Sheehan et al., building on an earlier paper by Li and Durbin (references below), calculated that the minimum population size associated with the worldwide expansion of humans out of Africa about 60,000 years ago was 2,250 individuals . . . . Note: 2,500 is larger than two.

Normally, such a scientific trashing of scripture could be absorbed, at least by liberal theologians. They’d just reinterpret Adam and Eve as metaphors. But that causes big trouble on two counts. First, if there really were 2,500 or more ancestors, then all of them must have transgressed to bring original sin into the world. That is hard to fathom: did everyone do something bad at the same time?

Second, if Adam and Eve were metaphors, and the source of original sin is mysterious, then we have no idea why Jesus died. After all, his death and Resurrection occurred precisely to save us sinful humans from the transgressions of Adam and Eve. If you have to turn that story into a metaphor, then Jesus died for a metaphor. That’s not very palatable to Christians.

But before Haarsma even gets to the science (whose truth he gracefully admits, because he has to), he discusses how the Church has historically dealt with the problem of atonement. The answer is that they’ve considered multiple theories and can’t settle on one. 

A variety of scenarios are being proposed by Christian scholars today for how we might understand the Adam and Eve of Genesis 2, and their disobedience in Genesis 3, in light of modern science.
1. Some scenarios propose Adam and Eve as two individuals living in Mesopotamia just a few thousand years ago, acting not as ancestors but as recent representatives of all humanity. As our representatives, their disobedience caused all of humanity to fall into sin.

2. Other scenarios propose Adam and Eve as two individuals, or as literary representations of a small group of ancient representative-ancestors, selected out of a larger population, living in Africa over 100,000 years ago at the dawn of humanity; they were ancestors—but not the sole ancestors—of all humans today . . .

3. Other scenarios propose that Adam and Eve’s disobedience in Genesis 3 is a symbolic retelling of the story of every human who, over our long history, became aware of God’s claims on how they ought to live, and then disobeyed.
[E]ach of these has its own set of problems if you want to save the idea of original sin. The first raises the problem of how the transgressions of two people could infect the entire species.

The second scenario, which proposes that Adam and Eve could be “literary representations” (i.e., made up) of an entire group of ancestors, also fails to explain how that whole group became infected with original sin.

The final alternative, if you wish to save original sin, is the one employed by more sophisticated theologians like Peter Enns (reference below). Enns, formerly a biblical scholar at BioLogos, but presumably expelled from Paradise by his science-y transgressions, simply says that the whole scenario is metaphorical. . . . In other words, the Adam and Eve story is fictional.

[T]he whole problem is this: what, exactly, is God’s revelation in Scripture? It used to be a literal interpretation of Adam and Eve, and still would be had science not taken that off the table. But maybe original sin is metaphorical, too, and perhaps even Jesus is!  Indeed, maybe God isn’t loving and good, either. After all, he’s pretty much of a hateful bully in the Old Testament.
In the end, the inerrant Bible crowd is left with nothing.  This, of course means their entire house of cards faith construct collapses.  Yet despite this reality, we continue to see folks like those at The Family Foundation and individuals like failed GOP candidates Ken Cuccinelli, "Bishop" Jackson, and Mark Obenshain seeking to impose precepts based on fictional myths on all citizens.  Thinking, decent people need to resist these efforts strenuously.

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