Monday, December 09, 2013

The Christianists' Continuing Problem of Adam and Eve's Non-Existence

The biblical inerrancy crowd continues to grapple with a serious (actually fatal) problem: science tells us that Adam and Eve did not exist.  As noted before on this blog, this poses a huge problem for Christianity - especially the conservative variety which claims that the Bible is literally true in all aspects.  Without Adam and Eve, the Fall as described in the Bible goes away as does the need for Christ's redemption of mankind.  Some Christofascists are simply doing what they do best: ignoring reality and believing only what they want to believe.  Others seem to realize their entire storyline is on the verge of collapsing and, thus, are trying to find a work around to stay in business, if you will.  I for one have little sympathy for the crowd that chants about Bible being the inerrant word of God.  The set the stage for their own debacle.  Andrew Sullivan looks at some of the feverish efforts to salvage the storyline. Here are highlights:
Noting that “genetic diversity in the human population is not consistent with what we would expect if all humans had descended from a single pair of individuals,” Loren Haarsma grapples with what that means for the Christian understanding of original sin:
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. 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. 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; they fell into disobedience against God over a relatively short period of time with a fairly distinct “before” and “after.” 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.
Jerry Coyne snarks:
Adam and Eve couldn’t have been the literal ancestors of all humanity. 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 2,000 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 that metaphor. That’s not too palatable to Christians.

An easy and sensible way to solve this conundrum is to assume that the whole scenario is concocted: humans don’t have original sin; there was no Adam and Eve; and the Resurrection and divinity of Jesus were fictions. But Christians won’t have that, for the meaning of Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection is the final, non-negotiable “truth” of Christianity.
In short, there really is no way around the problem.  Hence, we can expect the Christofascists to merely pretend that the problem doesn't exist.  Otherwise, their entire house of cards reality comes crashing down and they are - God forbid - required to think and make moral judgments not based on a book that is in the last analysis largely fictional. 

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