Is it essential for Christians to believe in a literal Adam and Eve? This is a much debated topic within Christian circles. Individuals choose sides in this debate based on a decision of authority. Each Christian must ask, ‘Is science authoritative, or is the Bible authoritative?’
While discussing this topic Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote, “Let us take as an example … a crucial passage which raises the whole question of the relationship between Scripture and modern science in an acute form, the argument of the apostle Paul in Romans 5:12-21. In these verses he is unfolding the glorious doctrine of our union with Christ. But you will notice that he develops it in terms of our former union with Adam. ’As in Adam … so in Christ.’ You cannot possibly believe the New Testament doctrine of the atonement and redemption in Christ unless you accept its teaching with regard to the fall, and with regard to sin … My assertion is that according to the biblical teaching, you cannot divorce the doctrine of the atonement from the doctrine of the fall and the doctrine of sin. And that puts you face to face with the question of history. Man was either created, as Genesis tells us, perfect, and then fell; or else man has been slowly developing from the animal and has never been perfect at all. It is either one or the other … So you see the danger of beginning to separate and to say that, in rejecting the first chapters of Genesis, you are merely rejecting what your ‘scientific’ knowledge makes impossible. But you are not merely doing that. You are rejecting an essential part of the doctrine of atonement.”
The Scriptures teach that God created a mankind, and that “sin came into the world through one man” (Romans 5:12). Adam is not only presented as a man in the New Testament, but Jesus Christ’s purpose and life work are contrasted with Adam’s failure. Christians believe that each person is born under the representative head Adam, but when they are redeemed they are brought under the representative head Jesus Christ. We read, “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22).
Should science trump the Bible? For the Christian the answer should be a resounding no, especially when that decision compromises their entire faith in the entire gospel.
Are all the religions of the world just many different paths traversing the same mountain in a variety of ways? Will we all eventually reach the summit of God’s presence via our different paths? Many people believe this to be the case:
- John Lennon: “I believe that what Jesus and Mohammed and Buddha and all the rest said was right. It’s just that the translations have gone wrong.”
- Homer Simpson: “I’m gonna die! Jesus, Allah, Buddha – I love you all!”
- Mahatma Gandhi: “All paths leading to God are equally good.”
- Oprah Winfrey: “One of the biggest mistakes humans make is to believe there is only one way. Actually, there are many diverse paths leading to what you call God.”
When discussing eternal matters with a Hindu friend, I said that while I respected her right to believe what she did, our religions are not parallel belief systems, but mutually exclusive. She was shocked at my statement. She maintained that as long as a person has a religious system and is sincere, they will go to heaven. She said to me that if Jesus had heard my statement he would be embarrassed by my narrow-mindedness. I in turn was surprised by her response, and said that I was simply being true to what Jesus said.
One of Jesus’ most outrageous, exclusive statements is recorded in the Gospel of John. Jesus is quoted as saying,“I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Regarding this verse, Thomas à Kempis tried to describe the fullness of what Jesus was saying with the following words: “Follow … me. I am the way and the truth and the life. Without the way there is no going; without the truth there is no knowing; without the life there is no living. I am the way which [you] must follow; the truth which [you] must believe; the life for which [you] must hope. I am the [only] way; the infallible truth, the never-ending life. I am the straightest way; the sovereign truth; life true, life blessed, life uncreated.” Jesus’ way has always been the ‘narrow way’, not the ‘broad way’ that leads to destruction.
With reference to the postmodern philosophy of pluralism Tony Walter says, “A new stage has been reached; people do not choose between different religions, they choose their own religion from the elements they like in all the others … Orthodox, institutionalised religion is out, but home-made, make-it-up-as-you-go-along spirituality is in.” But we must seriously question our faith in our own assessment of truth. Can we believe that all religions are equally true, when their definitions of who God is, how one is saved, and how God has revealed Himself are so contradictory? If Jesus claimed to be God, and the only way to heaven, then we cannot say that all other religions that discount the deity of Jesus are equally true. All roads cannot lead to heaven.
The origin of man is a hotly debated subject. Ever since Charles Darwin published his work, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of the Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life in 1859, atheists have had an intellectual argument for their position. With evolutionary theory’s widespread acceptance in academic circles, many Christians have sought to reconcile evolutionary theory with the creation account in Genesis 1-11.
Debate between the traditionally held belief – that God created a literal Adam and Eve, and that all other people came from them – and a view that seeks to marry evolution and mainstream Christianity, has hotted up in recent years. This largely due to the rise in prominence of theistic evolution. Some of the leading proponents of theistic evolution have written posts for the Biologos blog. The Editor of this blog notes in a post entitled Adam and Eve: Literal or Literary? that, “BioLogos takes a firm stand on the fact that Adam and Eve could not have been the sole biological progenitors of all humans, [but] science does not rule out the possibility of a historical Adam and Eve…” In this blog post, Daniel Harrell, writes, “If they are literal people, then the trove of evolutionary and DNA evidence can’t be right. It’s impossible for the human race to trace back to a single pair of parents (and this without mentioning a talking snake and God creating Adam out of the dirt and Eve from his rib).”
Is a belief in a literal Adam and Eve necessary for Christians? Conservative evangelicals argue that it is imperative. The reason for this is not petty, trivial or harping on a secondary or side issue. The Christian faith hinges on a salvation story that has its roots and foundation in Genesis 1-3. The gospel has four major themes: creation, fall, redemption and restoration. If there was no literal Fall when Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, then there is no need for redemption through Jesus’ death on the cross. If the world as we know it simply evolved (with or without God being some type of an absent clockmaker) then it was never a utopia to start with. Paradise was never lost, death didn’t result from rebellion against God, man is not born with original sin, and Jesus’ death on the cross was noble but of no effect. By removing the Fall from the gospel, evangelical Christianity’s primary teaching, the Doctrine of Salvation, changes completely.
If we are to interpret the Bible correctly we must join the dots. We must trace the cycle of creation to the Fall, the Fall to the redemption that God Himself provided in the person of Jesus Christ, and the hope of complete restoration at the consummation of time. If Adam and Eve didn’t sin against God, then disease and death were there from the beginning. The dots that we must join must also extend to the teachings of Jesus and the apostle Paul, who referred to Adam and Eve as being real people (e.g. Mark 10:3-9; Romans 5:12-14,19). Adam is also frequently referred to in genealogies in the Scriptures (e.g. Luke 3:38).
Without the bad news of the Fall (and man’s resultant negative standing before God), there cannot be any good news of salvation. The word ‘gospel’ simply means ‘good news’. This is the message that Christians are called to proclaim to the world: That God created a perfect world, and although mankind (represented by Adam and Eve) turned their back on God and sinned (which affected the whole of the created realm), God provided a means of reconciliation with Himself. He sent His Son to die for the the sins of man, such that mankind could be justified before Him by faith. This is the great hope of the Christian faith. No Adam, no need for Jesus. No Jesus, no redemption. No redemption, no ultimate restoration. No restoration, no hope.
Read more on this topic in a recent article The Non-Mythical Adam and Eve! by Robert Carter, and in blog posts by Albert Mohler entitled False Start? The Controversy Over Adam and Eve Heats Up and Adam and Eve: Clarifying Again What Is at Stake.
The word ‘God’ means different things to different people. But can we put God in a box, and quantify Him? (if He is a Him!) Some maintain that we can can, leaving the box empty and putting the label ‘God’ on the box, implying that God does not exist. Others would argue that God is outside of our time-space ‘capsule’, and that He is bigger than the box, and can never be confined to a box.
John Blanchard argues in his book Does God Believe in Atheists? that the word God has become meaningless in and of itself. He writes that when the word God is used it must be defined by the user. In explaining what he means he writes that in a worldwide poll taken in 1991, 80% of people professed to believe in some kind of god. He continues, “In a Western European survey, 75% of those polled said they believed in God, but when just one qualification was added – as to whether they believed in a ‘personal God’ – the figure dropped dramatically to just 32%.” Blanchard quotes David Trueblood, who says that, “Nothing is easier than to use the word ‘God’ and mean almost nothing by it. It is easy to be right if we are sufficiently vague … in what we say”
Renowned theoretical physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking believes that there is no God. He has been quoted as saying that, “What could define God [is a conception of divinity] as the embodiment of the laws of nature. However, this is not what most people would think of that God.” When asked about death, Hawkings replied, “I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”
God’s existence cannot be proven scientifically (by taking God out of a box and subjecting Him to various laboratory tests). But neither can God’s existence be rejected by scientists on an empirical basis. How then can Christians believe in a transcendent Creator who is outside of, and beyond, the Universe? Their worldview is not governed primarily by science textbooks, although many of them do practice and love science. In the hierarchy of books, one book stands above all other books. The reason for its preeminence has to do with its ultimate Author. Evangelical Christians believe that God’s attributes are discovered by means of God’s revelation which is recorded in the Book, not man’s empirical research that is recorded in books.
What divine attributes does God’s self-revelation, the Bible, yield when it is studied? Just one chapter of the 1189 in the Bible, Psalm 139, describes God as being omniscient, incomprehensible, omnipresent, self-existent and holy. Based on these attributes of God, Christians would argue that any God that could be measured, tested and observed under a microscope (or in a cage) would be no God at all. How many people would agree to believing in a God with all of these attributes if this question were put to them in a large scale survey.
Evangelical Christians believe that a God that man can put in a ‘box’ is not worthy of praise. Does this mean that Christians need to have blind faith, since they cannot know their incomprehensible God completely? No! Christians believe that God has revealed enough of Himself in His Word and in Jesus Christ for reasonable people to put their faith in Him.
Millions of people across the world watched the total eclipse of the moon yesterday. This was a relatively rare event in that it was not only a total eclipse, but a central lunar eclipse, i.e. the centre point of earth’s shadow passed across the moon. There is something very awe-inspiring about about the sun (which is 150 million kilometers from the earth) being aligned with the earth and the moon (which are separated by 385,000 kilometers).
The wonder that we experience when watching this cosmic alignment can have two sources. Firstly, for those who believe that our universe had an uncontrolled, explosive origin, and hold to philosophical naturalism, their awe is at the improbability of the event. Their amazement is at the order and mathematical predictability that ensued from such a chaotic beginning.
For those who hold a theistic worldview the awe is centered on the order that was introduced into the created realm at its genesis by God. Although the Psalmist David did not have access to the telescopes and scientific knowledge of the 21st century he saw enough evidence in the created realm to realize that God is transcendent, and that man is relatively insignificant. His amazement was multiplied by the realization that this Creator had a personal interest in individual humans. He wrote, “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:3-4).
In the movie Gladiator, Maximus, the main actor said: “What we do in life echoes in eternity.” If he is correct, then what we believe in this life is of cardinal importance. Further, how we interpret natural phenomenon, and life itself, will impact our ultimate destiny – if it exists! Perhaps it would be wise to use occurrences like the recent lunar eclipse to question and test our worldviews, and not just for ‘cool’ photographic opportunities?
As if Harold Camping’s two failed predictions of the end of the world aren’t enough (one in 1994, and one on 21 May 2011), it has been reported that he has revised his prediction to 21 October 2011. Perhaps he is hoping that it’s third time lucky. Atheists have had a field day with Mr Camping’s antics, as evidenced by the thousands of comments on CNN Belief Blog’s posts regarding his predictions. If Camping has achieved anything, it is to make Christians look stupid. This in spite of the fact that his views aren’t held by the vast majority of evangelicals. Along with Camping’s prediction (based on a hidden code that he – and only he – has found in the Bible), Albert Mohler writes that Camping denies the doctrine of hell, has called for an end to evangelism, baptisms, and the observance of the Lord’s Supper. He has also called for ‘true’ believers to leave their Churches.
Christians would do well to heed the warning that one of the great defenders of evangelicalism, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, gave. He wrote that, “the greatest enemies of the true Christian faith are not those who are right out in the world militantly persecuting Christianity, or flagrantly ignoring its teaching; but rather those who have a false and spurious Christianity … It is a false and counterfeit Christianity that has always been a hindrance to, and the greatest enemy of, true spirituality.”
Yahoo! News have reported that a large fossil spider has been found in China. It is the largest fossil spider ever found. How large is ‘large’? These spiders, named Nephila jurassica, can have bodies one inch wide and legs of legs 2.5 inches long. This wonderful find is a great opportunity to think about how fossils are formed.
This fossil spider was discovered in volcanic ash in Inner Mongolia. Jonathan Sarfati
What is interesting about the condescention that the Biblical teaching of a global flood receives is that many secular geologists agree that there were huge floods on Mars. Not one drop of liquid water has been discovered on the red planet. Yet these secular geologists deny a global flood on planet earth, which is seventy percent covered by water. In fact, it has been written that if “the entire Earth’s surface were levelled by smoothing out the topography of not only the land surface but also the rock surface on the ocean floor, the waters of the ocean would cover the Earth’s surface to a depth of 3 kilometres (1.8 miles).” Perhaps the reason why many people don’t want to believe in a global flood on earth is that they would then have to consider the posibility that it was Noah’s flood. If they believe in Noah’s flood, then they would have to believe in Noah’s God. That is not an exciting prospect for those those who don’t want to be accountable to anyone, least of all God!