Sunday, 5 June 2011

Christianity Today Searches for Adam – But Does Not Seem to Find Him

Christianity Today is searching for Adam but seems unlikely to find him.

Joel Kontinen

Christianity Today (CT) is probably the best-known Christian publication. Founded by Billy Graham in 1956, the magazine has since then at least occasionally digressed from traditional Christianity.

The cover story of CT's June issue searches for the historical Adam. Written by Richard N. Ostling, a former writer for Time magazine, the article initially gives the impression of approaching the issue objectively, but it soon becomes obvious that it lets theistic evolutionists set the rules of the game. He mostly quotes the views of Francis Collins and Karl W. Giberson of the BioLogos Foundation. They are known as defenders of theistic evolution, which makes their arguments rather predictable.

Their view is fraught with both scientific and theological problems.

Biologist Jonathan Wells, for instance, shows that the arguments Collins and Giberson make about "junk DNA" are outdated.

In like manner, their view of the genetic similarities of humans and chimpanzees (95–99 per cent) is based on outdated data and does not take into account the enormous differences in the Y chromosomes of H. sapiens and Pan troglodytes.

CT does say that Fazale Rana, a biochemist known for his progressive creationist views, criticises the figures Collins and Giberson present.

Ostling’s main argument stems from Francis Collins’ book The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief (Free Press, 2006). According to Collins, anatomically modern humans appeared approximately 100,000 years ago in a population that numbered around 10,000 individuals instead of two as Genesis predicts.

However, there was another genetic bottleneck at the time of the Flood.

In their fresh book The Language of Science and Faith (InterVarsity, 2011) Francis Collins and Karl W. Giberson claim that the evidence does not support the traditional view that Adam and Eve were historical individuals.

Ostling mentions – albeit in passing – criticism of this view that is by no means in short supply. But although he brings up the Answers in Genesis’ approach to Earth’s age, he does not seem to regard it as a viable option.

Despite the evidence, we might add.

The theologians affiliated with BioLogos assume that the apostle Paul might have erred in supposing that Adam was a real historical individual. Their organisation does not leave room for a historical Fall so they will ultimately have to claim that Jesus was wrong in His teaching on the historicity of the people and events mentioned in Genesis.

CT also lets two pastors who are critical of the BioLogos approach say what they think. Tim Keller suggests: "If Adam doesn't exist, Paul's whole argument—that both sin and grace work 'covenantally'—falls apart. You can't say that 'Paul was a man of his time' but we can accept his basic teaching about Adam. If you don't believe what he believes about Adam, you are denying the core of Paul's teaching."

Richard Phillips says that theistic evolution is a Trojan horse that tries to destroy Christianity from the inside.


Ostling, Richard N. 2011. The Search for the Historical Adam. Christianity Today (3 June).