Friday, October 24, 2014

What about Adam?

Is there any evidence for a "historical Adam?" Could he have been real? Is he our genetic father? Is his existence just a metaphor? Could he be a "spiritual father" of mankind? 

I think that depends on what you expect out of this historical Adam.

Is he the genetic father of mankind? 

There is no genetic evidence that Adam is the biological father of mankind. We've been able to trace several genetic bottlenecks (where the population dwindled down to a smaller number), but the smallest one, consisting of over 10,000 people, occurred over 150,000 years ago - not two individuals 6,000 years ago. We've also traced mitochondrial DNA back to a single female ancestor who lived 140,000 years ago, and we've traced Y-chromosome DNA to a single male who lived between 60-90,000 years ago. The rest of the DNA in our cells trace back to different times, some as far back as two million years. 

Those that claim that Adam has to be the genetic father of mankind do so primarily on the basis of two scriptures: Genesis 3:20 (Eve would become the mother of all the living) and Acts 17:26 (that Adam made every nation of men). But Genesis 4:21 says that Jubal was the father of all who played the harp and the flute. Does that mean that everyone who has ever played either of those instruments was a direct descendant? No, of course not.  Humans give others the title “father” based on their contributions – in addition to the Founding Fathers of America, Aristotle is called the Father of Biology, Galileo is the Father of Modern Physics, Hirodotus is the Father of History, Adam Smith is the Father of Modern Economics, Karl Marx is the Father of Communism, John Adams is the Father of the US Navy, Walter Camp is the Father of American Football… I could go on. 

I think that it's far more likely that Adam is our father the same way that the above individuals are the fathers in their fields. If we think of a Father as the one who begins something, who everyone looks to, and from whom everyone learns, then Adam is very much our Father. I think that it could entirely be possible that Adam was the “finished” evolutionary product in a long line of humanoids and was the first to receive a Spirit for he was the first to be truly made in "God's image" - physically, mentally, and emotionally - and I think that’s what matters to God. By being the first of man to have a covenant with God, I think he could very easily be called the “father of mankind.”

So how did Adam and Eve bring sin into the world if we aren't literal descendants of them? In the same vein, then, how did Christ bring redemption to the world if we aren't literal descendants of him? Romans 5:17-19 says it three different ways (vs 17, 18, 19) – that Adam brought sin into the world the same way that Christ brought redemption. Three different ways… something tells me that is awfully important.

17 For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)
18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.
19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

Therefore, our relationship to Adam is similar to our relationship to Jesus Christ. We do not have to be biologically related to Christ for his redemption to take place, nor do we need to be biologically related to Adam for the fall to have applied to all mankind. 

Evolution doesn't preclude the possibility of Adam being a real individual, placed in a Garden, and falling from grace. But it does suggest that, if Adam did exist, that his relationship to mankind is less of a physical one and more of a spiritual one. Beyond that, we can only speculate. Maybe he was the first true "human" in God's eyes, was given a spirit, and then all others who were born after him were then given spirits (all other beings have spirits, just not one of those reserved for "God's children"). Maybe his was a special creation, entirely separate from all of mankind, whose entire purpose was to fall and thus establish our relationship with God. But these are religious questions, outside of the realm of science.

It doesn't matter whether or not God created Adam separately from all the other animals on the earth or if He created all of us using evolution. The point is that He did it. That means that our ultimate common ancestor is exactly who it should be - our Father. 

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