The Search for the Historical Adam

ASA has long been at the forefront of major developing trends in issues of science and Christian faith. Part of our mission is to explore and understand new scientific advances and their implications for our faith. Since 1954, more than two dozen articles have appeared in our journal where “Adam” appears in the title. In the last decade, the human genome project has catapulted the issue of historical Adam and Eve to the forefront. The cover story of the June 2011 issue of Christianity Today describes “The Search for the Historical Adam,” leaning heavily on key publications and talks from the ASA as well as the BioLogos Foundation.

Our goal continues to be to provide a forum for active discussion on seminal topics. The issue of historical Adam and Eve is extremely important to all of us. Scientific data now seem to dispel any alternative theories allowing for a one-couple human ancestry from the biological perspective. How does this impact our faith?

We encourage active and open discussion in this forum by ASA members to reflect the wide spectrum of views within our membership even as we are united in the body of Christ.

Specifically, members are encouraged to use this forum to comment on the following issues:

  1. Is your own understanding of the Bible in conflict with the scientific views of the origin of humans? Your church’s? How are you dealing with it?
  2. What actions do you feel are needed to make progress in this issue? What role can ASA play in bringing clarity to this issue?

84 comments to The Search for the Historical Adam

  • Preston Garrison

    George and John
    Do either of you have any ideas about what aspects of a human being constitute a trinity that somehow reflects the divine trinity, other than the aspects of creativity that Sayers deals with. I guess you might make an argument for a body, soul, spirit trinity. Any other way of looking at it?

  • John Mullen

    There is Augustine’s psychological analogy. (Augustine comes in for a lot of criticism, even in this blog, but when he’s not talking about sex he can be very enlightening.)  He was fond of comparing the human mind and its characteristic activity to the Persons of the Trinity.  The rational part of the mind is like the Father, the knowledge by which the mind knows itself is like the Son (begotten of the Father), and the love by which the mind loves itself is like the Holy Spirit (proceeding from both the Father and the Son).  So knowledge is begotten of rationality, and love proceeds from both rationality and knowledge.  Admittedly, this is highly abstract and introspective, and it probably works better if one is already sympathetic to a Platonistic brand of Christianity (as Augustine was).  Still, as a candidate for the Imago I like it better than the body, soul and spirit division.  The problem with that is that it is never clear how to distinguish between soul and spirit, so one starts to suspect that they are just two words for the same thing.  And then we must puzzle about how the “mind” relates to both of them.

  • George Murphy

    The suggestion that Mary’s virginity might in some undefined way have something to do with the fact that Jesus didn’t sin can hardly be disproven but it doesn’t seem to me particularly compelling or helpful.
    In trying to discern the meaning of the imago dei we need to start with Gen.1:26-28.  There is nothing there that would enable us to make connections with some quality or ability of humans, and God is not pictured there – the divine plural notwithstanding – as the Trinity of Christian theology.  It seems to me that in that setting the most natural way to understand the imago is in the following words “and let them have dominion … .”  I.e., humankind (plural) is to be God’s representative in ruling for the world as God rules it.  That means caring for creation, not exploiting it.  Humankind must then have the ability to do this or the potential to develop it, and that means rationality, ability to develop and use tools, &c.  The connection of those things with the imago though is a theological deduction, not something stated explicitly in the text.  To put it in other terms, humans are called to be co-creators.  Hefner (in The Human Factor) means by this that we are the creature “whose purpose is to be the agency, acting in freedom, to birth the future that is most wholesome for the nature that has birthed us – the nature that is not only our own genetic heritage, but also the entire human community and the evolutionary and ecological reality in which and to which we belong.”

    Now as Christians we believe that God is indeed the Holy Trinity, a relational community and not just a monad.  It is appropriate to see humankind as the image of this community.  The plurality the imago is then to be seen in the plurality of humankind, not in trying to discern some threeness in individual humans.

  • […] to offer him a position for which he was apparently the best qualified. The other is the ongoing saga of the implications of the study of human ancestry. It would be hard to argue that there should be […]

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