Western culture is increasingly dominated by ideologies that are either godless or anti-God. The deletion of God leaves a huge problem with regards to origins.
Materialists need a different explanation for the origin of matter, life and humanity. Evolution of some kind is the only option for atheists.
Over the last 150 years, evolution has become the only acceptable view of origins within education, academia and the media. However, it provides a totally different view of earth history from the traditional Christian understanding of the first part of Genesis. Adam does not fit into an evolved world.
Increasingly, Christians, who have a genuine respect and appreciation of the work of scientists, have felt under considerable pressure to somehow make the Bible line up properly with the ‘assured results of science’. This pressure has been increased still more by findings resulting from projects like the Human Genome project. Modern genetics seems to provide a wealth of evidence in support of human evolution.
What is happening to Adam in all this? He is being:
Pushed back in time
This pressure was applied from an unexpected direction. Princeton giants William Green and B. B. Warfield began the process of making the biblical genealogies elastic. William Green was a lecturer in Oriental and Old Testament Literature. He wrote a paper arguing that it was a mistake to try to use the biblical genealogies to produce accurate chronologies.
Green admitted that it was pressure from the scientific community that caused his re-evaluation of the genealogies. Instead of the roughly 6000 years of Archbishop Usher, we have the 50,000 (‘speaking humans’) to 500,000 (‘grunting humans’) years of modern science.
Pulled forward in time
Adam has not only been pushed back in time, but has been pulled forward as well! Large numbers of generations of human and human-like creatures need to be inserted on both sides of Adam, if the Bible is to be reconciled with modern science.
If evolution is true, then: death is needed from the beginning; biological death is removed from the list of consequences of sin; biological death becomes an integral part of the creation that God proclaimed as ‘very good’. Instead of Adam being the single biological ancestor of all humanity, he becomes the head man of a tribe who God made different from his human/humanoid father. Humans living today may or may not be genetically related to Adam.
Adam died long ago, but it seems he is dying again. The squeeze on Adam has become so strong in the minds of some that it has snuffed him out of reality. For people like Peter Enns (former lecturer at Westminster Theological Seminary), Adam has lost his historical reality altogether. Adam becomes just an image of what every human being does. Historically, he is imaginary!
The problem for those who want to combine the impossible — an infallible Bible with an unreal Adam — is the apostle Paul. Paul includes Adam as an integral part of his gospel.
If we delete the first Adam, we end up asking big questions about the second Adam. When you rearrange a formula in mathematics, what you do to one side has to be matched with what you do to the other side. The argument of the apostle Paul acts like a mathematical formula and what you do to one side inevitably affects what you do to the other: as in (an imaginary) Adam all die (spiritually) → so in (an imaginary?) Christ shall all be made alive (spiritually?)!
By one man’s (imaginary) disobedience, many were made sinners → so also, by one man’s (imaginary?) obedience, many will be made righteous (Romans 5:19).
Adam presents us with a choice. We either embrace evolution and face putting Adam under steadily increasing pressure or we reject evolution and fully liberate the biblical Adam to be the proper counterpart to Christ that Paul makes him.
As we look back to a real Adam, we can look forward in hope. As we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly man (1 Corinthians 15:49).
The author is pastor of Grace Evangelical Church, Carlisle, and online and reviews editor for Evangelical Times.