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BioLogos and the June 2011 “Christianity Today” Cover Story

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May 31, 2011 Tags: Human Origins
BioLogos and the June 2011 “Christianity Today” Cover Story

Today's entry was written by Darrel Falk. You can read more about what we believe here.

The cover story of the June issue of Christianity Today, entitled "The Search for the Historical Adam" (the full article can be viewed here), notes that our website The BioLogos Forum has played a prominent role in moving the discussion surrounding the historical Adam forward and cites various blogs and articles that appear on these pages. We are pleased that a matter deemed so important by us is beginning to play a prominent role in the discussion for the Church as a whole.

As detailed extensively on these pages over the past two years, there is now little doubt that God has created all life forms, including human beings, through an evolutionary process. God could have created in an instant. After all, in the supreme divine act of all time Jesus was raised from the dead—in an instant. However, it now seems certain that this is not the way He chose to create the human body. God’s process was gradual, not instantaneous.

We are fully aware that interpretation of scientific data changes and this fact causes some to be skeptical about the scientific consensus regarding human creation. True, scientific revolutions do occur. However, the data with regard to human creation has been accumulating for 150 years, and the conclusions have been substantiated through a wide variety of scientific disciplines. Astronomy shows that the universe is billions of years old. Geology independently shows that the earth, though a little younger, is also billions of years old. Paleontology poignantly lays out the parade of created life forms and graphically documents the species-changes over hundreds of millions of years. Comparative anatomy and developmental biology show feature after feature in living bodies, each with its distinctive trademark pointing to gradual alteration from that which came before. And, with the sequencing of the human genome, genetics provides the final confirmatory lynch pin. Creation through a gradual process is not a hypothesis that emerges from a peripheral scientific sub-discipline. To show it wrong would involve overturning principles that independently lie at the very core of the findings of most of the natural science disciplines. True, they all together cry out in unison with a loud voice—“Created!” However, they also, in a subtle, but persuasive whisper, add the all-important qualifying phrase—“…slowly and not in an instant!”

The Christianity Today cover story is important because it engages the Church in one of the most important questions of all: was there a historical Adam and Eve? There has been much discussion of this point on these pages and although we strongly encourage ongoing discussion, BioLogos does not take a position on the issue. Denis Alexander, Director of the Faraday Institute and a frequent contributor to the BioLogos conversation says ‘yes’ in this BioLogos article, and Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City affirms it in this one. Denis Lamoureux and Peter Enns believe otherwise and have expressed their views here and here, for example. The scientific data are silent on the possibility of a federal headship—two unique individuals singled out by God from all others to enter into relationship with him and to bear his image. Similarly, science is silent on the veracity of the alternative possibility— that the story of Adam and Eve is not a story of two unique individuals. According to this latter view, the story of Adam and Eve is in a very real sense the story of all humankind—we have all sinned and we are all in need of redemption.

These are theological questions, not scientific ones. Science makes it abundantly clear, we believe, that God has created through an evolutionary process and that there was never a time when there were just two individuals on earth. It goes no further though. Beyond that, we are in a different realm, one deeply steeped in the traditions and creeds of the church, and in theology, biblical scholarship, and philosophy.

Although The BioLogos Forum has raised the issue and encouraged discussion, we also urge caution. The “Federal Headship” model that accepts the scientific findings while at the same time holding to the historicity of a real first couple has not yet been carefully worked out by theologians. The reason that we haven’t had many articles of that sort is because we haven’t been able to identify theologians who are looking at the question from that perspective. In general, our experience has been that theologians are in one of two camps. Either they work within the framework of a non-historical Adam and Eve or they believe the scientific conclusions will eventually prove to be deeply flawed and humans were not created through an evolutionary process after all.

The purpose of BioLogos is to show that there can be harmony between mainstream science and evangelical Christianity. We are in complete agreement with Richard Ostling (the author of the aforementioned article) and the Editors of Christianity Today that working through the historicity question is of the utmost importance to the Evangelical Church. Within the framework outlined above, it boils down to theology not science, and we urge the Church to reserve judgment for a while. Let’s keep both possibilities before us. Here’s hoping that some of our greatest theological minds will work on the question of what a model based on “Federal Headship” would look like. Here’s also hoping that some of our finest theologians will continue to work on how the view of a non-historical Adam would address some of the issues that puzzle and concern most evangelicals. Communication is key. This must move beyond theologians speaking to each other in language that is not readily accessible to the rest of us. Let’s figure out pastorally-responsible ways of putting the issues before the Church in a manner which is respectful of all views, while not shying away from the challenges that lay before us.

This is an exciting time for the Church because there is much interesting work to be done. Personally, I reserve judgment and I urge that all of us proceed with caution. Let’s see what emerges. Let’s see what our theologians and philosophers come up with, especially those who hold to a historical Adam and Eve. The Church is 2,000 years old. It has been guided by some of the sharpest minds that have ever lived and it has done so under the guiding wisdom of Emmanuel—God with us. This is God’s Church and we must proceed prayerfully, lovingly, and solemnly. We must listen intently to the wise voices of our deep past while following the Spirit’s guidance into a future where we have not yet been. We are not alone though. We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses whose lives and work remind us of the faithfulness of God through the millennia. This is still God’s Church and we are still God’s people. We are not alone. Emmanuel—God is with us!

More Pieces on the Historical Adam from BioLogos

Darrel Falk is former president of BioLogos and currently serves as BioLogos' Senior Advisor for Dialog. He is Professor of Biology, Emeritus at Point Loma Nazarene University and serves as Senior Fellow at The Colossian Forum. Falk is the author of Coming to Peace with Science.

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William - #61852

May 31st 2011

What if Adam and Eve have a different origin from evolved humans? Genesis says Adam and Eve were damned because their disobedience. And the consequences of that: “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children.” and “<meta http-equiv=“content-type” content=“text/html; charset=utf-8”>By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food” make one think their “evolved-like” body was received after that. That would reconcile creationism and evolutionism to a great extent.

AJH16 - #64177

August 23rd 2011

What you are suggesting there actually lines up better with Biblical text than the notion that Adam and Eve are sole parents of the species.  (See Gen 4:13-17)  When Cain is banished, he is afraid of “others” that are there and he finds wives that the Bible does not indicate are descendent from Adam and Eve.  The Bible simply does not back up the notion that Adam and Eve are the sole biological predecessors to the human species, even read literally, unless there was a long period of differentiation in the garden prior to the fall.  (Which then begs the question why other children of Adam and Eve are not mentioned, though perhaps only the one that killed the other was relevant to what the Bible wanted to say.)

It is worth noting that either of these possibilities explains the level of genetic diversification within the human species.

Uncle Bonobo - #61860

May 31st 2011

Well, this seems to dance around what is known by genetics—there was no time on this planet when there were only two people on earth who were the ancestors of all people alive today.  Such a severe bottleneck could not have occurred if we understand genetics correctly.

That seems to leave open only limited options for theology:

1. Not all people alive today are descendants of Adam and Eve—requiring a revamping of orginal sin theology;

2.  Adam and Eve are not historical and are metaphorical only—not requing a revamping of original sin theology.

3.  Omphalos creationism.  Theologically defective for a number of reasons.

I understand that the purpose of BioLogos is to show that there can be harmony between mainstream science and evangelical Christianity and agree that such a  mission is very worthwhile.  That means first accepting the validity of the science involved.

Jon Garvey - #61901

June 1st 2011

Just to draw attention (once more) to the fact that the two statements “there were only two people on earth who were the ancestors of all people alive today” and “not all people alive today are descendants of Adam and Eve” are not related logically.

Common ancestry and sole common ancestry are not the same thing (http://jongarvey.co.uk/download/pdf/adammrca.pdf). We have many common ancestors within the history of the species. So any characteristic or event that had ramifications for all an individual’s descendants would not be incompatible with our genetic history as we know it.

So whilst understandings of Genesis that require a single primordial Homo sapiens couple do not hold scientific water, interpretations that posit such things as the inheritance of spiritual nature, God’s image, or original sin are all valid options to be judged on their own theological merit. They are not impacted by genetics.

tokyojim - #61951

June 2nd 2011

“there was no time on this planet when there were only two people on earth who were the ancestors of all people alive today.”

Sir, how can you prove that?  God begs to differ from you.  The Bible is very clear on this issue.

“Such a severe bottleneck could not have occurred IF WE UNDERSTAND GENETICS CORRECTLY.”

So let me get this straight.  You are willing to bet that the fault lies with God as opposed to our current understanding of genetics. 

How do you know when the Bible can be trusted and when it can’t?  I’m just curious what standards you use to make that decision.

AJH16 - #64176

August 23rd 2011

“Sir, how can you prove that?  God begs to differ from you.  The Bible is very clear on this issue.”   Can you prove what you claim here?  The Bible says God directly created Adam and Eve but does not claim (to my knowledge) that they were the only created humans.  Gen 4:13-17, which tells of God’s punishment to Cain for killing his brother refers to the existence of other humans prior to Adam and Eve having other children. 

There are two possible explanations for this.  The first is that there is a time gap between Genesis 2 and 3 prior to the fall during which humans were effectively immortal with their days unnumbered and therefore not counted.  Much genetic diversification could have occurred during this time frame.  The other (and I’m starting to believe more likely) scenario is that Adam and Eve are the introduction of the human spirit as we know it to the human race and the capability to sin.  There seem to be other indicators in Genesis that Adam and Eve and their decedents were categorically different from other humans (mostly in the account preceding Noah).  After Noah, this would have been brought back to a single integrated line.

That all said, Noah brings about its own set of scientific mysteries to figure out that I’m still working on, but I am hard pressed to find a Biblical inconsistency with the notion that Adam and Eve are the only (and possibly even original) derivation of homo-sapiens.

Paul D. - #61877

May 31st 2011

Discussions of Adam and Eve always seem to greatly inflate their theological importance compared to the rather paltry number of biblical texts that even mention them. After Genesis, neither Adam nor Eve are mentioned again in the Hebrew Bible aside from a genealogical reference to Adam (if I recall). None of the dozens of other creation accounts mention them.

Eve gets two passing comments in the NT, and Adam gets a few, but none which rely on the historicity of Genesis 1.
tokyojim - #61957

June 2nd 2011

Mark 10:5,6

5 “It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law,” Jesus replied. 6 “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ 7 ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, 8 and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

Hmm.  Jesus said they were created male and female at the beginning of creation.  I wonder when that would have been.  A mere 100.000 years ago - after 99.99% of history has passed?   Well, we can forgive Jesus.  He didn’t have access to the current scientific knowledge that we do today.  Obviously science is right!

AJH16 - #64179

August 23rd 2011

Note that this does not say he made them Adam and Eve, but male and female.  What you reference is a logical falisy.  Whether Adam and Eve were sole predecessors of the entire species or not does not change the fact that the design of the species was that male and females of the species would get together and make babies.

Norman - #61878

May 31st 2011

Dr. Falk,

That was a much needed call for strong consensus building regarding the meaning of Genesis and its implications for the Adam and Eve story. Indeed we need our best theological minds tackling these issues from the pastoral vantage point so that the Genesis narrative can become comprehensible to the body of the faithful. I believe the four men you listed; Denis Alexander, Tim Keller, Denis Lamoureux and Peter Enns have all contributed worthy dialogue to the ongoing debate and should be honored for their contributions. However I believe a synthesis of all their positions may be in order when everything becomes more settled.

It seems from the ANE world view and their limited knowledge that they were in no way prepared or considered writing about prehistoric humans as we might think, and so this rules out the likely hood that Adam and Eve transcended back into pre historical and civilizational times. In all probability the Federal Headship is in regard to the origins of Israel’s foundational belief of worshiping one God instead of a multiplicity of pagan like entities. It appears the Adam figure represents Israel in this manner and therefore is very likely limited to a rough tradition that had been passed down or promulgated through the ages.  The Hebrews most likely considered the historicity of this individual as true but they were also possibly not as concerned with getting the details into a format that would be desirable today.  The Hebrews felt like their history demanded a beginning and it likely did. Monotheism was not a common approach in the ancient world and going outside the traditions of the ancient cultures would have been noticed. Much like the Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaten who attempted to change the traditional religious order of Egypt during the 2nd millennium BC.  Adam and his progeny was the beginning of monotheism according to Gen 4:26.

Gen 4:26 … At that time people began to call upon the name of YHWH.

However it might be presumptuous to expect a 4th Millennium BC historical figure or period of change to have survived in detail through 2000 years of myths and legends in an accurate record keeping manner. That history would have been sparse as indeed it appears to have been. Fittingly it survived to serve its purpose as the origins of a called special people of God. After all there had to be a beginning somewhere and somehow to Abraham and Israel. 

We also might want to consider that many of the Hebrew stories of the OT and indeed the NT were framed in the Husband and wife motif to encourage the idea of the intimate relationship of the leader of God’s people with his bride. So the possibility that the historical Adam’s details of relationship emulating Eve as his wife very likely has theological implications well beyond the simple narrative implications that one perceives at first glance. The typical Hebrew method often has the story within the story as the main point to keep in mind. Again in the NT Paul picks upon many of these Genesis motifs and essentially portends that the woman bearing children in pain was the picture of Israel transforming from Judaism to Christianity. The woman who’s desire for her husband emulates Israel being enthralled with the Law bearing the burden of bondage to a burdensome husband.

Hos 2:16 And it hath come to pass, in that day, … Thou dost call Me—My husband, And dost not call Me any more—My lord. [Master]

Rom 7:2 for the married woman to the living husband hath been bound by law, and if the husband may die, she hath been free from the law of the husband;

2Co 11:2 For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ.

Norman - #61879

May 31st 2011

continued from above but I don’t know what happened to the formating. So I’ll repost the small test below.

Lamoureux and Enns are correct also in pointing out the mythological or prescientific issues that surround these stories. Perhaps though they sometimes overextend those realities in not realizing that even Paul read Genesis from an analogical understanding and didn’t attribute the messages as purely literal and so ancient science may have had less of an influence than conceivably assumed.  Paul applied analogy to scripture in his application of the spiritual separation from God which he classified as Death. He also clearly called Gen 2:24 a mystery in Eph 5:31-32 that should be understood as concerning Christ and the Church, so he was reading it theologically and as prophecy instead of rigid history. We might do well to pay Paul closer attention at times.

Eph 5:31-32 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”  (32)  This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.

Gal 4:24 Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants.

If indeed we can meld the two schools of thought together without setting arbitrary barriers to a good exploration then perhaps the coming generations of New Scholars will bear us fruit. Generally it takes a generation to allow fresh ideas to gain traction and these are ideas that need to have our best brilliant minds working the details out. I’m fully convinced that it will occur because human nature doesn’t like a vacuum left empty or unsettled.

Norman - #61880

June 1st 2011

Adam and his progeny was the beginning of monotheism according to Gen 4:26.

Gen 4:26 … At that time people began to call upon the name of YHWH.

However it might be presumptuous to expect a fourth Millennium BC historical figure or period of change to have survived in detail through 2000 years of myths and legends in an accurate record keeping manner. That history would have been sparse as indeed it appears to have been. Fittingly it survived to serve its purpose as the origins of a called special people of God. After all there had to be a beginning somewhere and somehow to Abraham and Israel. 

We also might want to consider that many of the Hebrew stories of the OT and indeed the NT were framed in the Husband and wife motif to encourage the idea of the intimate relationship of the leader of God’s people with his bride. So the possibility that the historical Adam’s details of relationship emulating Eve as his wife very likely has theological implications well beyond the simple narrative implications that one perceives at first glance. The typical Hebrew method often has the story within the story as the main point to keep in mind. Again in the NT Paul picks upon many of these Genesis motifs and essentially portends that the woman bearing children in pain was the picture of Israel transforming from Judaism to Christianity. The woman who’s desire for her husband emulates Israel being enthralled with the Law bearing the burden of bondage to a burdensome husband.

Hos 2:16 And it hath come to pass, in that day, … Thou dost call Me—My husband, And dost not call Me any more—My lord. [Master]

Rom 7:2 for the married woman to the living husband hath been bound by law, and if the husband may die, she hath been free from the law of the husband;

2Co 11:2 For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ.

{It looks like using script numerals triggered bad formting somehow}

Papalinton - #61885

June 1st 2011

“Science makes it abundantly clear, we believe, that God has created through an evolutionary process ....”

Science does no such thing.  Science makes it abundantly clear that man resulted from the evolutionary process.  End of story.  Any further attribution to the existence of humans is purely and solely a derivative of theology.

Darrel F - #61893

June 1st 2011

Dear Papalinton,

I am writing for Christians.   The existence of  God is presupposed throughout this essay.  Given our common belief in God, “science makes it abundantly clear that God has created through an evolutionary process…”  As an atheist, you are welcome to look on, but please be aware of our presuppositions…

Uncle Bonobo - #61903

June 1st 2011

I apreciate this comment, but, since Hawking was cirticized so heavily for melding scicnce and philosophy in essentially the same sentence, I can understand Papalinton’s concern.  Scientists are no no different than other people—they’re entitled to their own philosphy.  As you say, the scientists at Biologos operate from a Christian basis.  Not all scientists do.  Yet, those who do solid science will get to the same results regardless of their philosophy or religion.

That’s an important point for Biologos.

Papalinton - #61928

June 1st 2011

A Jewish scientist will derive the exact same results from scientific investigation as a christian scientist or an atheist scientist would.  A Jewish scientist however will not in any part of his presupposition [that “science makes it abundantly clear that god has created through an evolutionary process”],  include any mention of a jesus as part of that claim.  Equally, a Hindu scientist will neither make the claim of the christian god nor jesus having anything to do with his presupposition.  

You can see the dilemma.  There is no evidentiary causal link that any of these presuppositions have any relationship with science other than as a preferred personal idiosyncrasy or a particular group peculiarity.

I can appreciate Darrel F’s perspective, and I can respect it as a personal proclivity.  But I cannot accept it as fact.  The worrying and somewhat dangerous aspect in holding such a presupposition is that most christians do not understand nor appreciate that holding a belief in ‘divine creation’ [as with all creation myths] and its relationship to science investigation, is founded on the most tenuous of links.  This danger is no more clearly characterized and in evidence than the occasion  of the  Kitzmiller v Dover trial.  The Creation Museum, the Discovery Institute, and Christian Ministries International [CMI] are all testament to the worrying aspect of accommodationism.
AJH16 - #64182

August 23rd 2011

The word order choice is slightly unclear in the quote you made of the poster originally, but I did not interpret his statement as really being out of line.  My basic read of it was that science has made it abundantly clear that God’s mechanism of creation was evolution.  The emphasis is not on God’s creation, but rather on the mechanism of it.  In effect, he is stating (and perhaps could have more accurately stated) that based on the religious assumption that God created, science strongly indicates that evolution was the mechanism of that creation.

tokyojim - #61959

June 2nd 2011

Science does not make either of those things abundantly clear.  Clearly, that is the consensus, but more and more real scientists are beginning to doubt Darwinism.  There is still a controversy no matter how dogmatic these guys are.  Their dogmatism is beginning to look a bit dishonest.

Roger A. Sawtelle - #61964

June 2nd 2011


Thank you for this confirmation concerning problems with Darwinism.  

Are you are talking about how evolution happened or if evolution happened?

tokyojim - #62043

June 3rd 2011


I guess that depends on what you mean by evolution.  If you mean macro-evolution, meaning that every living thing descended from a single cell that somehow came to life, then I am talking about “IF” evolution happened. - My personal opinion is that it did not happen.

But when I said that more and more are beginning to doubt Darwinism, I guess it would be more accurate if I say “how” evolution happened.  Although I think  there are more and more, still a minority, but a growing minority that actually question common descent.

AJH16 - #64183

August 23rd 2011


I would challenge the notion that macro-evolution would be difficult to occur.  We have observed instances of changes in the number of chromosomes in an individual and the math about how they can speciate and become unable to reproduce with each other is actually quite compelling.  Basically it is a reasonably common genetic mutation to have two chromosomes attach end to end, but it has an impact on the ability to reproduce as half the time, insufficient genetic material is present leading to difficulty in producing offspring, two of these individuals will have normal luck in which 1 of 4 offspring will have the original number, 2/4 will continue to have difficulty but be able to reproduce with the original species and 1 of 4 will only be able to reproduce with those with the extra or 2 extra chromosomes (with those of their own new species having normal birth rates).

With an established mechanism of how speciation can occur, it shouldn’t even take a substantial stretch of the imagination to see that direction in the process would make it even more sure to work.

Papalinton - #62001

June 2nd 2011

@ tokyojim

” ... but more and more real scientists are beginning to doubt Darwinism.”  
Cough up the names of these ‘real scientists’.  I will be very interested to read their peer-reviewed findings establishing the doubts they suspect.  I would also be interested in  their level of  predilection towards superstitious supernaturalism, if you don’t mind doing a little extra legwork.

Would appreciate the effort greatly.

tokyojim - #62044

June 3rd 2011


There is a list at this website address: http://www.dissentfromdarwin.org/

Also more at this site: http://creation.com/scientists-alive-today-who-accept-the-biblical-account-of-creation

I’m sure there would be a lot more too if they didn’t have to fear retribution or a negative impact on their career as the documentary Expelled showed.


AJH16 - #64184

August 23rd 2011


Just so you know, at first I loved Expelled, but do a little digging on it.  They used crap techniques for making the documentary and intentionally selectively edited to make it look bad.  It is propaganda, not a documentary.  I recommend reading the wikipedia page on it as much of the manipulation is exposed by the article and actually has links to the original context of the interviews that are presented in it.

Roger A. Sawtelle - #61891

June 1st 2011

For me the basic problem here is the assumption that genetics creates a human being, in other words a genetically human being acts like a human being.which I do not think is true.  Much more likely is a genetically human being has the capacity to think and to act morally like human being.  Just because a person is smart does not mean he or she can think, if you know what I mean.   

The Adam and Eve event marks the transformation of humans from acting based on “instinct” to acting based on thought.  It is not a scientific event about the physical characteristics of humanity, but a philosophical/theological event concerning how humans relate to God and others as thinking, self aware beings.

The spiritual content of the narrative is revealed by the symbolic nature of some aspects, the walking, talking snake; the two trees; and God walking and talking with the couple in the Garden.  If Christians make the mistake of ignoring the spiritual depth and insight of the narrative by treating it as mechanistic explanation for the existence of evil, they will miss the point of the narrative.  

If Christians make the mistake of ignoring the meaning of sin as revealed by the narrative and instead focus on Paul’s statement of Jesus as the second Adam, then they will miss the purpose for which Jesus came to earth.  Jesus, the Logos, should control our understanding of Adam as our spiritual father in the flesh, not the other way around as many seem to think.

Again the Word of God is Jesus, not the Bible.  The Word teaches salvation which can only come from God.  God has given humans the ability to discover science and understand our world.  God does not do for us what we can and should do for ourselves, such as earn a living and govern ourselves.  I do not mean that God will not help us when we need help, but God will not even save us if we do not chose to be saved.  


dopderbeck - #61911

June 1st 2011

I’m glad CT addressed this and I think the article did a fine job.  The article did contain, however, one misleading reference and one glaring omission.

The misleading reference (I don’t mean here that it was intentionally misleading, of course), was to the Roman Catholic position.  Yes, the documents mentioned in the article presume a “literal” Adam.  However, Catholic theology, including the theology of how such documents are received and interpreted, is much more subtle than this.  I don’t think many contemporary Catholic theologians would have much trouble with a “less-than-literal” or even “metaphorical” view of Adam—though, as in evangelical circles, there can be a divergence between “academic” and “popular” views.

The glaring omission is to Eastern Orthodox theology.  Because the Eastern Orthodox view of sin is not as influenced by Augustine, in general Eastern Orthodox theology has little problem with human evolution.  In fact, the most fruitful work being done on this issue (IMHO) is recovering early Patristic thinking about both scripture and Adam, which tends to be far from “literal” or rationalistic, and which most directly influences contemporary Eastern Orthodox thought.  In this vein, even though I think this is an “important” question, I find it annoying when the suggestion is made that the issue of a “literal” vs. a “metaphorical” view is central to “orthodoxy.”  Someone needs to tell that to the Orthodox Church, I suppose!  (Where it is “central” is to conservative Reformed orthodoxy—but it should not have to be said that conservative Reformed theology is not the sum of pristine, historic Christianity).

Finally—I think Jon Garvey and Roger S. make great points above that these are theological categories and that thinking about them theologically requires viewing it all through the lens of Christ.  Not surprisingly, this tends to be how the early Fathers read things, and how Eastern Orthodox theology reads them today. 

Uncle Bonobo - #61932

June 1st 2011

Agree as to Catholic and no knwledgeable as to Orthodox.

There in fairly acacute alnguge in the document “Communion and Stewarship, Human Persons Createed In the Image of God  (Imago Dei).”

From the Document, delivered to then Cardnial Ratzinger, who approved its publication:

According to the widely accepted scientific account, the universe erupted 15 billion years ago in an explosion called the “Big Bang” and has been expanding and cooling ever since. Later there gradually emerged the conditions necessary for the formation of atoms, still later the condensation of galaxies and stars, and about 10 billion years later the formation of planets. In our own solar system and on earth (formed about 4.5 billion years ago), the conditions have been favorable to the emergence of life. While there is little consensus among scientists about how the origin of this first microscopic life is to be explained, there is general agreement among them that the first organism dwelt on this planet about 3.5-4 billion years ago. Since it has been demonstrated that all living organisms on earth are genetically related, it is virtually certain that all living organisms have descended from this first organism. Converging evidence from many studies in the physical and biological sciences furnishes mounting support for some theory of evolution to account for the development and diversification of life on earth, while controversy continues over the pace and mechanisms of evolution. While the story of human origins is complex and subject to revision, physical anthropology and molecular biology combine to make a convincing case for the origin of the human species in Africa about 150,000 years ago in a humanoid population of common genetic lineage. However it is to be explained, the decisive factor in human origins was a continually increasing brain size, culminating in that of homo sapiens. With the development of the human brain, the nature and rate of evolution were permanently altered: with the introduction of the uniquely human factors of consciousness, intentionality, freedom and creativity, biological evolution was recast as social and cultural evolution.

The Catechism of the Catholic Churhc has this tantalizing section:

390 The account of the fall in Genesis 3 uses figurative language, but affirms a primeval event, a deed that took place at the beginning of the history of man. Revelation gives us the certainty of faith that the whole of human history is marked by the original fault freely committed by our first parents.

Chip - #61918

June 1st 2011

there is now little doubt that God has created all life forms, including human beings… [most of the natural science disciplines] all together cry out in unison with a loud voice—“Created!”

Dr Falk,

My strong impression is that yours is a minority view, to say the least.  Most mainstream scientists—or at least the vocal ones—seem to consistely argue that mindless and explicitly undirected natural forces have cobbled all of life together, and that the natural science disciplines all together cry out, “Accident!” 

Given this, what scientific (as opposed to theological or anthropoligical) evidence is there to support your view that “God has created… through an evolutionary process”?

Darrel F - #61924

June 1st 2011


You have taken a fragment from one previous paragraph and then with an elipsis have created a whole new thought by attaching that fragment to some wording I use about 250 words later.  By doing so you have converted my words into a whole new thought, something I didn’t say nor do I believe.  It’s not very often I see people do that anymore.

Many, if not most leading scientists would not think that the findings of biology cry out…“Created.”   Quite the opposite, I suspect. 

I am a Christian.  I have chosen to become a Christian for a number of reasons; reasons that are highly rational and, I believe, well thought out.  I see the natural sciences through the lens provided by my Christian perspective.   If you want more information on what I mean by saying that the findings of the natural sciences cry out “Created!” to the Christian,  I urge you to listen to the series of excerpts from the John Polkinghorne lecture that we posted several months ago.  (Just go to our author section [upper right] and find your way to Sir John P.)

bren - #61930

June 1st 2011

Your argument does not seem to mesh very well with the conclusions or even the available methodology of modern science.  I can only assume you take the popular writings of Dawkins and company as as the final say on what conclusions the scientific world has come to.  There is a big leap between the biased interpretation and loaded terms used by the new atheists in plugging a certain view of the universe and what you will regularly find in scientific reviews.  You may find (or maybe not, feel free to check) that words like “mindless” and conclusions like “accident” show up somewhat less than you would expect in this context.  How on earth could anyone conclude based on the evidence we now have that “the natural forces are explicitely undirected”, I can’t even imagine a hypothetical test for that one!  If you mean by “undirected” that there is no underlying purpose to the existence of such forces (as opposed to meaning that they tend to be isotropic, which would be a bit trivial), then you have overshot the limits of science by a rather impressive margin and I would personally advise that you stop seeking your global scientific consensus from books that have questionable philosophical agendas.  Finally, the opinion that “the natural science disciplines all together cry out, ‘Accident!’” simply fails to address the current reality of the natural science disciplines.  The acting impulse behind efforts to formulate a testable or at least consistent multiverse hypothesis is the fact that we have trouble making the universe seem “natural” (undesigned or “undirected”).  Do what you will with that, but don’t tell me “we’ve all agreed that there is no purpose behind the universe”, which has nothing to do with science and everything to do with prior philosophical commitments.

R Hampton - #61920

June 1st 2011

It’s not a big deal.

Does God create lightning? Well yes, but not by divine intervention. Strictly speaking,  the processes that bring forth lightning are ‘mindless’. Theologically, a Christian would argue that God created Nature and gave it a capacity to produce all manner of phenomena. Emperically, a Scientist would argue that supernatural claims can not be measured nor tested, so lightning can only be attributed ‘undirected natural forces’. Yet both statements are True, given the different scopes of discussion.

AJH16 - #64185

August 23rd 2011

Or put more simply, it is impossible to prove or disprove the existence of a god (general sense).  Either view is rationally supportable given a base assumption about the issue.  In either case, the base decision of the rationality of existence from a more powerful being or by accident still do not answer the question of where or why things are at all, so either can be rationally backed.  Science can not prove or disprove the untestable, so can never prove or disprove a general god.

Nancy R. - #61938

June 2nd 2011

Darrel - a question. If in regards to the historicity of Adam,  “BioLogos does not take a position on the issue,” then what do you mean when you say “Let’s see what our theologians and philosophers come up with, especially those who hold to a historical Adam and Eve.” If you’re especially interested in one viewpoint over another, I don’t see how you can claim that Biologos is neutral on the issue.

While I found the Christianity Today piece to be a good overview of the controversy, I noticed that the rationale advanced for believing that the story of Adam and Eve as being non-historical was a reaction to scientific developments, specifically our greater understanding of the human genome. This plays into the anti-evolution bias, promoted in particular by Ken Ham and his “Answers in Genesis,” that holds that Christians who accept evolution are “compromisers” who twist and manipulate scripture in order to accommodate their scientific views. If that is true, then how do we defend our beliefs on theological grounds? 

That bias ignores the fact that some theologians, Denis Lamoureux and Peter Enns in particular, provide a strong theological rationale for accepting a reading of Genesis that goes beyond a simplistic, literal interpretation. Believing that Adam and Eve were not real people is not necessarily a compromise with scientific beliefs (in which, sadly, we give scientific theory greater significance than divine revelation).

Trying to prove that Adam was a real person may end up being a theological as well as a scientific-historic dead end. I’d like to see Biologos more thoroughly explore the valid theological reasons for a non-literal interpretation of Genesis - and the implications of that view. 

Darrel F - #61944

June 2nd 2011

Nancy R,

Thanks for your comment, since it gives me an opportunity to clarify what I meant.  

You’ll note that I said that we’ve had no difficulty finding theologians who will write on a non-historical Adam.  My call for this huge branch of Christian theologians was for them to also work on how to communicate their thinking to the Evangelical Church at large.  It is a call for them to be pastoral as they do their theology.

I singled out the other branch (the view that Adam and Eve were real historical individuals, but not the sole genetic progenitors of humankind) because I know of very few theologians developing this line of thinking.   

It is not that I am giving undue favor to the historical view over and against the non-historical, and am, thereby, not truly neutral.  Rather, I am asking that theologians not all gravitate to one side as they consider the ramifications of the scientific data.  Let’s be careful, I am saying, not to dismiss the historical view too hastily.  Let’s be sure, as we move into the future, that we are placing great value on the traditional views of the Church.  So this is a call for balance where I think balance doesn’t currently exist.
Nancy R. - #62100

June 4th 2011

Darrel - thank you for your response. I admit that I am still a bit perplexed by your urging of theologians to seriously consider and support the view that Adam and Eve were historical but not our only human parents - that is, the position that both allows for common descent and evolution, and a historical Adam.

I am neither a scientist or a theologian, so please correct me if my assumptions as to how they do their work is incorrect. You are urging theologians to develop a particular interpretation of scripture for the sake of balance and for a respect for historical traditions. It sounds like you’re advancing a theory and asking the professionals to come up with the supporting data. For both scientists and theologians, shouldn’t it be the other way around? Examine the data thoroughly, and then develop a theory that takes all the data into account. Asking people to advocate a particular point of view for “balance” is rather like asking scientists to not completely dismiss the notion of a geocentric universe - a theory that respects the traditional thinking of the church as well.

I’ve seen enough of the young earth creationists’ work to see that they go about this process backwards - they have chosen their conclusions and then try to manipulate the data to fit them.

If there were truly solid scriptural reasons to support the historical Adam + evolution approach, I imagine you would have no trouble finding theologians who advocate it. After all, many of them are employed by conservative Christian institutions. And they are probably more likely to remain employed if they can reasonably argue for a historical rather than a metaphorical Adam. They would do so, I imagine, regardless of your request for balance.

beaglelady - #62603

June 14th 2011

A call for “balance” is right out of the creationist/ID playbook.  I’m just wondering how BioLogos will go about finding theologians with the desired view.  Orthodoxy can be enforced with threats, money, and weapons.  Or so it will seem to onlookers.

AJH16 - #64186

August 23rd 2011

Darrel, thanks for the clarification.  You really hit the nail on the head about where my views tend to sit right now in my theological study.  There seems to be great Biblical evidence that Adam and Eve are in fact not the sole genetic progenitors of the human race (such as Gen 4:13-17 which I referenced in some of my other posts in these comments).  I try to avoid forming any single conclusion but rather accept the fact that the Bible is very clear that God does not conceal himself therefore I believe that anything we can observe about creation should be consistent with truth, so while I hold that the Word of God is truth, I believe that the interpretation of that must stand up to our observations of the world and my study revolves around finding the possible interpretations of scripture which result in a consistent, scientifically supportable viewpoint.

penman - #61943

June 2nd 2011

Some of us think there are compellingly good scriptural grounds for believing in a historical Adam & Eve. The most candid way to evade it (I think) is to say that scripture does teach it (both Testaments) but that, at that point, the biblical authors were wrong - they adopted the ideas of their time which we now know are false. For various reasons I’m unwilling to travel that road.

However… the historicity of Adam & Eve doesn’t actually require all the baggage that’s often loaded onto it. It doesn’t require “creationism” (young or old earth), or a belief that Adam & Eve were the sole progenitors of image-bearing humanity. There’s a lot of disentangling to be done here. All it requires is belief in a historical couple who sinned, & whose sin somehow incorporated the whole image-bearing race.

There are ways of understanding this other than Adam & Eve as “sole genetic progenitors”, as Jon Garvey has reminded us. You can still have a pretty classic view of original sin (Augustinian or Eastern: there is an Eastern doctrine, minus “imputed guilt”) & be scientifically enlightened, for want of a better phrase. Adam as federal head of image-bearing humanity - a humanity already partially in existence in Adam’s own day, in my view - is a very viable model. A federal Adam has good historical precedent in theology. This way, you retain the idea of a “fall” of humankind in space-time, which I think is fairly indispensable. But you don’t get snared up in having to make Adam the sole genetic father of the race. The best of all worlds, really: historical Adam, historical fall, original sin, & sound science.

(Aside: I was interested to discover recently in Augustine the quite explicit view that Adam & God stood in a federal [covenant] relationship with each other. See City of God 16:27. Augustine argues that it was through the violation of this original primeval covenant that all humanity fell under judgment. So, not just a 16th-17th century Reformed idea…)

Norman - #61953

June 2nd 2011



I think you are essentially on the correct course. As Dr. Falk has suggested there needs to be a middle road examination between the literalist and those suggesting Adam was purely a mythical figure. The story of his creation may indeed have been constructed with allegorical and poetic license but that does not preclude his being non historical.  I don’t think many give pause to the idea that in the NT the new Christian has been created and brought into a covenant relationship with God. Why is it so difficult that the first covenant relationship established by God is any different in the creation process?  None of us were poofed into physical existence by being brought into the new refurbished Garden of God through Christ and its highly unlikely that Adam’s creation was any different. The allegorical language indeed suggest that Adam was simply established covenentaly.


Eph 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.


Hos 6:7 But like Adam they transgressed the covenant;

If Creation of God’s covenant people is still ongoing then it needed to start with someone somewhere. Humanity at large appears to have always been there at the various creation events of God’s people through the ages.

tokyojim - #61950

June 2nd 2011

“As detailed extensively on these pages over the past two years, there is
now little doubt that God has created all life forms, including human
beings, through an evolutionary process.”

Well, that’s not what God said, but that is what we end up believing when we start by putting science above God’s Word.

It is just amazing to me how educated people can read the Bible and come up with such convoluted ideas!  I think these guys need to go back to school and learn how to read all over again.  If you start twisting and tweaking from page one of the Bible in a desperate effort to make the Bible fit with evolution, you might as well throw out the rest of the Bible.  Also, it forces us into convoluted interpretations all the way through the Bible in order to be consistent.  We have to deny a literal Adam in spite of the clear teaching of God’s Word.  This article is an excellent example of what happens.  It forces us to deny a global flood in spite of Jesus’ teaching and the clear teaching of the OT.

We scientists have become so arrogant as to think that our faulty ever-changing scientific ideas are more dependable than God’s Word.  I’m extremely disappointed by this kind of ridiculous rhetoric coming from this science over the Bible interpretative method.

AJH16 - #64188

August 23rd 2011

It is worth noting that scripture claims that God is revealed through his creation (psalm 19:1-6 and others).  Unless you believe that God is intentionally misleading to conceal himself in his creation, then there must be a valid way to resolve his divine revelation with the nature of his creation.  Those of us like myself and Darrel seek to investigate what controlled scientific observation tells us about the nature of creation and utilize this observation of creation to help refine our understanding and interpretation of divine revelation.

Yes, care must be taken to find the correct balance between confidence in our observations versus confidence in our interpretations, but simply ignoring what creation reveals about God is neither helpful nor scriptural.  Yes, the ideas may seem convoluted at first and they do tend to challenge traditionally held dogmas (particularly in American protestantism)  but that does not make them invalid in and of itself.  I welcome (and encourage) you to challenge the views held here on scriptural grounds, as I know for myself, and strongly believe for Darrel, that scripture is seen as a valid theological source, but simply the fact that it differs from established dogma and interpretation does not make it wrong.

Darrel F - #61956

June 2nd 2011

Dear Tokyojim,

I would encourage you to read Peter Enns’ series on how two great evangelical traditions, (Calvinism and Wesleyanism) have historically understood the Bible.    

I would also encourage you to read the article by evangelicalism’s leading historian, Mark Noll.

Darrel Falk


tokyojim - #61961

June 2nd 2011

Thanks.  I’ll do that.  I have read some of Enns already and find his ideas very difficult to imagine as even a remote possibility.  I just have a problem with your approach to God’s Word and the principles of interpretation that seem to be chosen simply to make evolution fit into the Bible.  I don’t think that is what God intended or He would have written it differently.  This is an important issue and I’m sorry, I just think this approach is going to do tremendous harm to the Church. But, I will read the articles you pointed out.

Cal - #61965

June 2nd 2011


Two things to consider and ponder:

1. Where in Scripture is itself referred to as “God’s Word”? The Law and the Prophets (one idiom) is mentioned as Scripture, which (in book form) is Bible (book). And othertimes when God has communicated to man it is a “word” from God (as in “Man can not live alone but on every word from the mouth of God). But capitalized, singular, Word (Logos) of God has only described one thing (rather Person), and that is the Christ Jesus. Look at John 1:1! He is perfect, He is a sword that splits bone and marrow, He is the sword we carry with our Shield of Faith. Word of God, in Revelations, is tattooed to His leg.

2. The Scriptures were not written by God and fell out of the sky. The Scriptures were written by men who were Inspired by the Power of God’s Spirit. We can not read Scriptures as “God’s timeless wisdom” or a guidebook on how to live. Each book has understanding from the time it was written. God does not change, but men do. It is a history of Salvation, of how in the first pages of Genesis of man without God hearing footsteps coming down the hall, of shadows appearing on the wall. The footsteps get louder, the shadow gets bigger, until the Truth is revealed in Jesus Christ. This does not mean that God did not accomplish (in total) what He wanted out of Scriptures, this does not make them fallible or subject to error (the originals that is, translations still run the risk). But understand this is still a compilation of books written by men.

tokyojim - #62049

June 3rd 2011

Oops.  I guess I can’t paste from a word processor.  Let’s try again:

Call, Agreed about Jesus being called the Word. He is the living Word, God’s final word.  But He himself says in Jn. 17:17 that “your word is truth.”  Whose word?  God’s word.  The capitalization of “Word” is more out of respect for what that word refers to - God’s word.  Granted, the capitalized usage of word in the Bible does not refer to the Scriptures, but in our time, “God’s Word” is commonly used to refer to the Bible.  I don’t see a real problem with that, but I grant you your point.

All Scripture is God breathed. Yes, it was men who actually penned the words of the Bible, but as you said, they were guided by the Holy Spirit so that the end result is that we don’t have man’s word, but God’s word.  Granted, the further you read in the Bible, the more truth is revealed.  I think we’re on the same page here.

AJH16 - #64189

August 23rd 2011

“All Scripture is God breathed. Yes, it was men who actually penned the
words of the Bible, but as you said, they were guided by the Holy Spirit
so that the end result is that we don’t have man’s word, but God’s
word.  Granted, the further you read in the Bible, the more truth is
revealed.  I think we’re on the same page here.”

While I don’t know that I disagree with you about the Bible as we know it being scripture, it is worth pointing out that the canonization of the Bible has not created the same Bible in all parts of the world and through all of history.  I firmly believe that all scripture is true and God breathed, but what we currently have as the Bible is a set of documents that people put together as what they believed to be scripture around the year 1400 if memory serves.  I do believe they did a pretty good job, but what they produced is not the only canon, just the most generally accepted one.

Alan - #61967

June 2nd 2011

Dear Dr. Falk,

Are you aware of C. John Collins latest book “Did Adam and Eve Really Exist?”  If so, have you considered approaching him about posting on Biologos?  Have you considered also having various people from both sides of the fence write friendly critiques of the book?  Dr. Collins certainly seems to be very irenic, careful, thoughtful and respectful, so I believe his work is worth a look.

Papalinton - #62000

June 2nd 2011

I think it is time for a little reality check:


freetoken1 - #62007

June 3rd 2011

Perhaps you’re being a little to hard on Dr. Falk here.  

The goal of trying to develop a new doctrine that includes the need for a sacrifice in the Pauline sense doesn’t have to be about rejecting modern science and genetics in particular.   That is my take on what Dr. Falk and Biologos desires - a way to have a Christology that allows for the absence of any particular physical parent (Adam) that started the whole sin situation with humans.  (This presumes of course that one accepts that humans in general are “sinful” in some sense.)

As I wrote in a blog entry http://littlegreenfootballs.com/page/248720_Adam_Eve_Human_Genetics_and_th
... I am skeptical that Biologos will be successful (for a variety of reasons), but I don’t begrudge them trying.
penman - #62019

June 3rd 2011

Here’s the Augustine quote from City of God 16:27, showing that Augustine had a federal/covenant understanding of the relationship between God, Adam, & humankind. Here he grounds the universal fall of image-bearing humanity in that original covenant, whereby one man - Adam, the federal head - brought universal consequences by breaking the covenant:

“But even the infants, not personally in their own life, but according to the
common origin of the human race, have all broken God’s covenant in that one in
whom all have sinned. Now there are many things called God’s covenants besides
those two great ones, the old and the new, which any one who pleases may read
and know. For the first covenant, which was made with the first man, is just
this: In the day ye eat thereof, ye shall surely die.”

Note: I know Augustine also held a “realist” view of Adam’s link to humankind (Adam as sole biological ancestor). That’s obviously moot in terms of genetics. All I’m doing is highlighting the federal/covenant strand in Augustine’s thinking: partly because it gives the federal idea an ancient lineage, partly because it might stimulate thinking about the role of a historical Adam that is faithful to both “books”, nature & scripture. Why not a historical Adam & Eve as federal king & queen of an existing race on which God had collectively bestowed His image? Why not a collective fall of that race through the sin of its federal monarchy? That seems (to me) a perfectly viable interpretation of scripture, & I can’t see where it outrages anything known to science.

Jon Garvey - #62020

June 3rd 2011

Hi penman

If one adds the dimension of “priesthood” to that of “kingship” another strand of how such a figure could be representative of humanity before God appears. We’re used to thinking of monarchy in terms solely of “rule” rather than representation, even though in the democratic process we assign just such a representative function to our leaders.

penman - #62023

June 3rd 2011

Jon Garvey #62020

Yes, I’m more than happy to see Adam as the Priest-King of humanity. The original Melchizedek. In fact, it’s probably essential. My “king & queen” language about Adam & Eve was just picking up on something C. John Collins said. But reading what scripture says about priesthood, it’s much easier (for me) to see very visible & massive ideas of “representation” there, notably in Israel’s high priest with the names of the tribes on his breastplate. So yes, Adam as the federal priest-king, in the Royal Garden-Temple in the name of humankind…

KevinR - #62037

June 3rd 2011

Why should there by any agreement between the word of God and that of atheists? It’s atheists that dreamed up how life arrived here by evolutionary processes from a common ancestor because they did not believe in a singular God. And yes, I include Darwin in that reference to atheists.
Evolution has nothing to do with the bible. Those who insist on believing in evolution and taking it as the ultimate word on origins will try and fit the bible into it[evolution]‘s scheme of things. Christians who should know better are [perhaps unwittingly] making the atheistic philosophy have rule and authority over the word of God when it comes to the question of origins. This whole website exists purely because of that very act: Subjugating the word of God to the ever-changing un-truths of man.
Instead it should be the other way around. The word of God should be trusted when it states quite clearly that everything was created in six days. This should be taken as authority and truth. THEN, the assertions of man should be tested against that revelation to see how it measures up. But, instead pride and arrogance that man knows best rules the day.

tokyojim - #62050

June 3rd 2011

I’m with you buddy!

If we can’t trust God’s Word on page one of the Bible, if the foundation of the Bible is not trustworthy, then we have nothing left.

Kathryn Applegate - #62065

June 3rd 2011

Hi Kevin,

The Bible is truly the inspired word of God, but it doesn’t contain all truth about everything.  It doesn’t talk about fossils, DNA, starlight, quantum physics, etc.  Wouldn’t you agree that when Jesus affirmed that we are to love God with our whole heart, soul, strength, and MIND, that he meant we should try to make sense of our experiences and observations of the world with the tools he has given us?  I think science is such a tool, and a very powerful one at that. 

Also, could it not be that our interpretations of God’s trustworthy Word are sometimes wrong?  You say it is clear that everything was created in six days.  Many people, myself included, just do not see that so clearly in the literal sense, as *true* as I do believe Genesis to be.  Just a little food for thought.


AJH16 - #64191

August 23rd 2011

Kevin, to reinforce what Kathryn put very well, the core of the Bible is to explain the nature of God as it relates to us, the nature of us as it relates to God, our fallen nature and our need for God.  It is not concerned with explaining how the world works but does reveal that God reveals himself through his creation.

You also seem to have a highly biased view of science versus atheism.  They are not the same as much as atheists would like to argue that it is the case.  Atheism is no more scientific than Christianity as both are philosophical views based on assumptions about what is more rational (existence as creation or existence as a mystery).  Science on the other hand is simply a structured study of the natural world (in the view of a Christian, God’s creation).  Since God reveals himself through his creation, the study of that creation should reveal things about truth and God that can help focus our interpretation of his divine revelation.

Genetics is not some creation of an anti-God atheist machination.  Genetics are well understood and tested, genetic diversity is a clearly understood and mathematically driven field of study.  Evolution at the micro and portions of the macro level are observable and verifiable (and have in fact been observed on multiple verified occasions).  Can you show me in scripture where God explains his mechanism of creation?  God states that he created, but does not elaborate beyond either speaking and having it exist, or in the case of Adam and Eve specifically, forming them.  It makes no mention of them being the only humans or even necessarily the first humans.  That belief is simply an assumption on our part and what we can currently observe about creation seems to indicate that this assumption may not be correct.

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