“New polls by Gallup and Pew Research Center has found that 4 out of 10 Americans believe in the Biblical Genesis account of Adam and Eve. The story of Adam and Eve may be considered a central religious tenet in Evangelical Christianity yet, in recent times, more and more conservative scholars are beginning to admit publicly that the story is unlikely to be literally true.
According to Dennis Venema, a senior fellow at BioLogos Foundation (a Christian organization working on reconciling faith and science) and a biological scientist at Western Trinity University, for any one to hold the biblical story of Adam and Eve as the literal historical truth would be:
…against all the genomic evidence that we’ve assembled over the last 20 years, so not likely at all
The biblical story of Adam and Eve suggests that all humanity evolved from a single pair (though some groups such as Christian Identity and other groups promoting Anglo-Israelism insist that only Western European races may trace their origins back to Adam and Eve). In Genesis 2:7 we are told that the first human couple was made by divine act: “The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.”
But Dennis Venema says that recent developments in Genetics show that it is not possible to trace all humans back to a single pair of ancestors within the time frame the bible suggests. According to Venema, man evolved gradually from pre-existent primate population and evidence from the genetic variability of human populations suggests that we evolved from the substrate of a primate population that couldn’t have been less than 10,000 people at any time in evolutionary history.
Venema insists that for the biblical creation story to be true we would have to:
postulate that there’s been this absolutely astronomical mutation rate that has produced all these new variants in an incredibly short period of time. Those types of mutation rates are just not possible. It would mutate us out of existence.
John Schneider a theologian at Calvin College in Michigan urges Christians to face up to the facts. According to Schneider:
Evolution makes it pretty clear that in nature, and in the moral experience of human beings, there never was any such paradise to be lost…So Christians, I think, have a challenge, have a job on their hands to reformulate some of their tradition about human beginnings.
Other Christians still, however, insist on the literal truth of the Adam and Eve story.They insist that there really was an Adam who had a wife fashioned from his ribs, Eve. The more fundamentalist of Christians insist that there really was a talking serpent and and a real forbidden fruit–though not all think it was an apple. Christians who insist on a literal interpretation of the Adam and Eve Story typically base their position on the argument that the story is central to the meaning of the Christian doctrine and that without the story which explains how sin came into the world Christ’s redemptive death on the Cross at Golgotha becomes meaningless. Fazale Rana is a Ph.D in Biochemistry and vice president of Reasons To Believe an Evangelical group which challenges the Evolutionary theory. Fazale says:
From my viewpoint, a historical Adam and Eve is absolutely central to the truth claims of the Christian faith…But if the parts of Scripture that you are claiming to be false, in effect, are responsible for creating the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith, then you’ve got a problem
Albert Mohler president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, summarizes the position which insists on the centrality of the Adam and Eve story to Christian doctrine in the effort to avoid accusation of cherry-picking biblical truths:
Without Adam, the work of Christ makes no sense whatsoever in Paul’s description of the Gospel, which is the classic description of the Gospel we have in the New Testament…”
26 Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.’
27 So God created humankind in his image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.” ~ Genesis 1 (NRSV)