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John Bauer

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  1. Not from the dust of the ground, as described in the Bible? Yes, the Bible says that God made Adam from the dust of the earth—but then it says that about every single one of us! Along with Adam, we are all made of dust (Ps. 103:14; Job 10:9; 1 Cor 15:47–48; etc.). Yet every single one of us was born to parents. Right? So we have good reason to think Adam was born to parents, and no reason to think otherwise. Adam being formed of dust was not something unique to him, as John Walton pointed out. It's something that pertains to all humans. So when Scripture describes Adam being formed from dust, it is not conveying how Adam was different from us but, rather, how he was the same as us. [1] (This is important with respect to his role as covenant head.) Again, this is theological language we are dealing with here. That Adam and all of us are formed of dust from the ground communicates a very specific theological meaning that has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with God making sand castles in the shape of humans. [3] He was the first man, so were his parents human? He was the first man with respect to federal headship in the covenant context of redemptive history, in the same way that Jesus was the second man (see my earlier response to zapatos). He was not first with respect to human origins in the physical context of natural history. I think it's a safe bet that his parents were human. And where is evolution described in the Bible? It's not. Evolution pertains to science and natural history, whereas the Bible is about theology and redemptive history. -- John Bauer Footnotes: [1] John H. Walton, The Lost World of Adam and Eve: Genesis 2–3 and the Human Origins Debate (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2015), 75. [2] Ibid. [3] Joshua M. Moritz, "Chosen From Among the Animals: The End of Human Uniqueness and the Election of the Image of God," PhD diss., Graduate Theological Union, 2012. ProQuest (AAT 3459528); See also: Denis R. Alexander, Creation or Evolution: Do We Have to Choose? (Oxford: Monarch Books, 2008), 191–243.
  2. We are dealing with a religious text that is saturated in theological language. It must be understood accordingly. What is meant by Adam being the first? It must have something to do with Christ being the last (or second, 1 Cor. 15:47). How many people lived after Adam and before Jesus? Tens of millions, surely. Yet it said Jesus was the "second" man. How many millions more lived after Jesus? Yet it said he was the last. In as much as others lived after the last, so others lived before the first—because this passage is not talking about human origins but about two specific federal representatives of humanity. Again, this is covenant language explaining theological features of redemptive history. There are two—and only two—federal representatives of humanity in the covenant relationship between God and us. Adam was the first, in whom we are fallen, because nobody before him was a federal representative of humanity before God. And Christ was the second (and last), in whom we are redeemed, because nobody after him was a federal representative. That is the sense and meaning of this passage, which is made abundantly clear when the entire thing is read in context. The fact that they're both referred to as "Adam" is another clue because that isn't either person's real name. Since Adam (ha-adam) is a Hebrew word, and that language did not exist when he did, we can be sure that wasn't his name. "Adam and Eve would not have called each other by these names because, whatever they spoke, it was not Hebrew," John Walton explained. "Hebrew does not exist as a language until somewhere in the middle of the second millennium BC." [1] The names Adam and Eve, as their meanings reveal, are archetypal names that have been assigned to this couple for the purpose of conveying their significance—a man named Human (federal head of mankind) with a spouse named Life (whose line would bear the Savior). These possess important covenant relevance and christological hints of the gospel, facts which transcend the mere characters to whom the names refer. -- John Bauer ----- Footnotes [1] John H. Walton, The Lost World of Adam and Eve: Genesis 2–3 and the Human Origins Debate (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2015), 58–59.
  3. The Bible certainly can imply that, yes, but only on sophomoric interpretations which exhibit specific unwarranted assumptions—taking it for granted that Genesis 1 recounts the dawn of natural history, for example, or taking it for granted that Genesis 2 is a synoptic account of Genesis 1, and so forth. It is only under these unwarranted assumptions that you will find such an implication. However, those sort of assumptions just don't hold up under critical scrutiny for a number of reasons. Interpreting Genesis 1 literally—that is, in a way that genuinely allows the text to speak for itself in its original linguistic, cultural, and historical context—reveals that it's not about the dawn of natural history but redemptive history, that Genesis 2 is not synoptic but sequential, and so forth. The clues are in the very text itself, but they're easily missed when you approach it from an individualist modern cognitive context with a straight-forward reading of an English translation. This is what young-earth creationists do. On a properly literal interpretation governed by the hermeneutic rules of biblical exegesis, the blatant error of Adam being the first human cannot be found. According to the Bible, redemptive history began with Adam less than 10,000 years ago. It has nothing to say about the dawn of natural history, which should be expected because it is a religious text. Jesus himself clearly suggested that the Bible is strictly about redemptive history (and explicitly said it was about him). Not only does the Bible NOT imply that Adam was the first human, it contains hints that he wasn't. For example, after Cain murdered Abel he was exiled to wander the land. But he was afraid: "Whoever finds me will kill me." Apparently there were others who might kill him? Also, notice that God doesn't correct him. Moreover, God marks him for others to see. Additionally, he went off to live in the land of Nod where he took a wife and had a family. So if there were countless other humans around at the same time, all of that makes sense. We have no biblical reason to think Adam was the first human, and a wealth of scientific evidence demonstrating that he wasn't.
  4. Err, not exactly. It's my contention that he was born to parents and, like everyone else, they all belonged to the same human species which did evolve. So Adam had a belly button but, no, he didn't evolve. Individual persons don't evolve in a single life span; it is populations that evolve and over countless generations. He is merely the most well-known person to calculate the age of creation using Adam and biblical genealogies. According to the Irish bishop, the world began at 6:00 p.m. on October 22, 4004 BC. But he was certainly not the first to reason this way. "The first person known to propose an actual date for the beginning of the world was the second-century bishop Theophilus of Antioch"—the city in Turkey, not Syria. "Working through the Old Testament, he added up the dates of the patriarchs (the male descendants of Adam) and those of the judges and kings (who ruled Israel later)" in order to show that the total number of years since "the creation of the world" was somewhere around 5,698 years, give or take a few weeks. He was then followed by others over the next fifteen hundred years, from the Venerable Bede to Martin Luther and others, including Ussher in the seventeenth century. See: Martin Gorst, Measuring Eternity: The Search for the Beginning of Time (New York: Broadway Books, 2001), 14–16. And yes, obviously he got it wrong. -- John Bauer
  5. Vexen: As I said elsewhere, I am brand new to this discussion forum. If there is a sub-forum designated for introductions, please feel free to point me in the right direction. (I briefly had a look around but found nothing obviously intended for that.) Having said that, I wish to tackle these questions of yours but please notice that I have expressed them here in my own words. I did this in hope of demonstrating that I have properly understood what you were asking. If I have not, please be encouraged to explain your question more precisely. 1. Can evolutionary science disprove the God hypothesis? Does our evolutionary history preclude an intelligent designer? My immediate response to this question was, "There is no God hypothesis." But then my mind promptly drifts to that portion of my bookshelf where there is a book by Victor J. Stenger called God: The Failed Hypothesis (2007). [1] Okay, so I know that some have tried to pretend there is but, as with Stenger, their efforts are usually so embarrassingly weak or bereft of logical merit that we would all be doing them a favor by acting as if they never made the attempt. (Honestly, a first-year philosophy student could identify the glaring problems in Stenger's arguments, and yet he is an adjunct professor of philosophy? Or maybe the dust jacket was supposed to say "defunct" professor.) Nevertheless, God is not a working hypothesis proposed for anything, much less evolution. There is no God hypothesis for evolution to disprove. [2] So much for that question. However, there is more to be said. In the vein of science and critical thinking, it's worth pointing out that it would be impossible to even formulate a God hypothesis in the first place because there are two insurmountable problems at the outset: the first being the utter lack of a clearly defined God amenable to empirical testing, and the second being the complete inability to control for God in natural processes. In other words, this is not falsifiable even in principle, as there is no conceivable test for it. You cannot even begin. Anyone wanting to claim that evolutionary science rules out the involvement of deity in natural processes would find it more than a little challenging to formulate an adequate and falsifiable hypothesis for that. Furthermore, since it is a logical fallacy to assume the very thing to be proved, you cannot start with the premise that evolution is a "purely natural" process (i.e., that it operates without divine input) if you're reaching for the conclusion that evolution disproves or rules out God. It must remain a faith claim that one assumes, for it is not a conclusion reached scientifically. The scientific theory of evolution is a natural explanation but it is not a naturalistic one (viz. metaphysical naturalism). It describes natural processes but that does not automagically rule God out. You may speak of natural processes using scientific language—even describing or explaining things in exquisite detail—but you have not thereby magically ruled God out. As a strictly scientific theory, evolution is religiously neutral; God is neither excluded nor included. Whether or not he guided that process is a question which science cannot answer. It is a theological question, not a scientific one. Let us grant for the sake of argument a point made by Michael Shermer, that since divine providence appears to be indistinguishable from nature operating on its own (he is mistaken here), no supernatural explanation is called for when doing science. [3] This sentiment is akin to something which Pierre Laplace is supposed to have said to Napolean Bonaparte: "I had no need of that hypothesis." Indeed, I am in agreement with this. Leave out the supernatural when doing science. Historically, that is how the very best science has been done. (The irony escapes creationists who go on to use those results in their arguments for God.) But as a skeptic I would have to insist on the rational acknowledgement that the one proposition (no supernatural explanation is called for when doing science) is very, very different from the other proposition (nature operates on its own). Consider the following example. I might explain to my son that meteorology is the scientific study of the weather, particularly with regard to the atmospheric distribution of pressures, temperatures, and moisture which produce such phenomena as winds, clouds, storms, and precipitation. And these normal day-to-day weather changes are part of a larger pattern of fluctuation known as climate. Now, notice that my statements have not included any reference to a God who commands the weather. Does that allow my son to conclude that meteorology is therefore naturalistic, ruling out any supernatural activity of God? Of course not. Neither evolution nor science is naturalistic (i.e., godless). The presence or activity of God is simply ignored—and that's a good thing. I will allow Denis Alexander to explain why: "There is a tradition in modern science not to use 'God' as an explanation in scientific discourse. This tradition was nurtured by the early founders of the Royal Society partly in an attempt to let the natural philosophers (as scientists were then called) get on with their job without becoming embroiled in the religious disputes of the time, but also in recognition that the universe is, in any case, all the work of a wise Creator—so using God as an explanation for bits of it didn't really make much sense, given that God was in charge of all of it" (emphasis mine). [4] 2. And heaven, what is the demarcation for species that go to heaven and those that don't? On my view, the demarcation is a covenant relationship with God in Christ, which exists only with our species. 3. When did God impart souls to our species? I answered this question in the relevant thread you started. -- John M. Bauer ----- Footnotes: [1] Victor J. Stenger, God: The Failed Hypothesis – How Science Shows that God Does Not Exist (New York: Prometheus Books, 2007). [2] This should not be considered an odd statement for a Christian to make. I am indeed an evangelical Christian and obviously believe in God, nevertheless he is not a hypothesis. For Christians, God is not a conclusion to be drawn but a premise to be held, necessarily, an axiomatic presupposition, the predicate of all intelligibility and more. But a hypothesis he is not. [3] Michael Shermer, Science Friction: Where the Known Meets the Unknown (New York: Owl Books, 2006), 177. With respect to science, the expression "supernatural explanation" really bugs me. Why? Well, returning to Pierre Laplace and another salient point he made, it's because the supernatural explains absolutely anything, predicts utterly nothing, and ends the search. It is therefore scientifically bankrupt. [4] Denis R. Alexander, Creation or Evolution: Do We Have to Choose? (Oxford, UK: Monarch, 2008), 183–184. P.S. For what it is worth, I am an evolutionary creationist. This denotes a theological view that deals with how to understand the science of evolution from within a biblical world-view. It is not a scientific theory or research program, it is a theological view and thus argued by different principles and methods than that which governs science. It is the belief that natural processes, orchestrated by God's ordinary providence in accordance with his good pleasure and the purposes of his will, are the means by which God brings forth all things including the existence of mankind.
  6. Vexen: I am brand new to this discussion forum. If there is a sub-forum designated for introductions, please feel free to point me in the right direction. (I briefly had a look around but found nothing obviously intended for that.) Nevertheless, I belong to the set of Religious People you were inquiring after. I am specifically a fundamentalist evangelical Christian. Since your question is one that I personally find interesting, I wanted to take a crack at it. Although the view that I will be presenting is my own religious perspective—by which I mean that it's not an official teaching of any particular Christian church, so far as I know—it is derived from and consistent with a biblical world-view and does at least attempt to provide your question with some kind of answer. And maybe we can then explore how the consequences fall out vis-a-vis a commitment to science and critical thinking. Your question regarded the human soul, which you described as "the spiritual or immaterial" part of us that is supposedly "immortal," and you were wondering when that was "imparted to humans during the course of evolution." The very first thing I would have to be clear about is that I reject this Platonic or Cartesian anthropology as a widely believed yet utterly unbiblical tradition (never mind its complete lack of any scientific merit). Along with a growing number of Christian theologians, I believe that a soul is something I am, it is not something I possess. For example, when the Bible said that God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, the man "became a living soul" (Gen. 2:7, KJV). One should notice that it doesn't say he was given a soul; he became one. So, I am a soul, I don't have one. That said, the next thing I'd have to be clear about is that the human soul isn't now immortal. Again, returning to the Bible, one should notice that immortality is a gift of salvation bestowed on believers at the end, when "the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality" (1 Cor. 15:52-53). If immortality is something that redeemed human souls are clothed with at the last trumpet, then it is clearly not something anyone now possesses. No, it is a gift which believers seek (Rom. 2:7), brought to light through the gospel (2 Tim. 1:10), and it is bestowed only on believers and only at the last trumpet. No human soul is presently immortal. All human souls are mortal—dead in their trespasses and sin (Eph. 2:1)—and must remain so unless they are redeemed in Christ. Now, to your question: During the course of evolution, when did our species become souls? The Bible is fairly explicit that it first happened in the sacred garden east of Eden, with Adam who lived somewhere around eight thousand years ago (more or less around the same time as Ötzi the "Ice Man"). For the sake of the readers here, I will just skip over a huge amount of critical and relevant theological discussion and assert that the human "soul" is very specific language pertaining to the covenant relationship with God that we all have through either one of two federal heads, Adam or Christ. To simplify the intricate details horribly: (1) If the "soul" is covenant language, and (2) if God's covenant relationship with mankind is strictly and only through a federal head, and (3) if that relationship began with the federal headship of Adam, then (4) Adam and the rest of our species became souls roughly eight thousand years ago. What about the countless others who lived and died prior to that? It would follow that they were not souls. They were humans, of course, the species Homo sapiens, but they were not souls. Again, the term "soul" belongs to the language of biblical theology, not biological science. God's covenant relationship with mankind began with a specific federal head (Adam) and at a specific moment in time (the garden). During the course of evolution, that is when it happened. On that timescale, it was basically yesterday. (As an aside: Adam is the default federal head of mankind. On this view, regardless of who you are, where you live, what you believe, etc., your covenant relationship with God is through or "in Adam" by default.) Now of course other Religious People will have different answers to your question—in fact, so will other Christians. But they don't seem to be here answering you. And your question struck me as intelligent, sincere, and at least interesting to me and you, so I chose to take a crack at it and see where it goes. If other Religious People think there is a better answer to be given, let them provide their perspective. This one is mine, and it would be inappropriate to challenge my view here. -- John M. Bauer
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