SERMON ONE PRESENTED ON  07-25-20      

       Today I will begin a series of sermons dealing with what I will simply call the creation/evolution debate. As will be seen in today's sermon, this is an issue that is of tremendous importance to the validity of the Christian theological system.

      Classical evolution attempts to explain origins devoid of supernatural involvement. I am using the term classical evolution or classical evolutionist to describe those who do not believe the origin of the universe and life is in any way the result of the involvement of a supernatural, transcendent Being. Those that take this position are also called atheistic evolutionists.

       In addition to classical evolutionists, there are evolutionists who believe a supernatural Being is involved in origins but only in a remote way. These folks include those referred to as progressive creationists and evolutionary creationist’s also known as theistic evolutionists. Progressive creationists believe the universe was created billions of years ago through what is commonly referred to as the Big Bang and that life forms have been progressively created over millions of years of supernatural creative activity.

       Evolutionary creationists/theistic evolutionists believe a supernatural Being created the universe and all life forms through evolutionary processes.  The creation of life is seen as occurring either through God directed mechanisms of genetic mutation and natural selection or through God ordained random operation of these mechanisms.      

       Theistic evolution has become quite popular in certain segments of the Christian community. For example, there is a current organization called BioLogos that is vigorously promoting theistic evolution and appears to be supported by leaders in the Christian community including such immanent figures as New Testament scholar NT Wright and evangelical theologian J.I. Packer.  In a 2009 survey of evangelical seminary professors published on the BioLogos website, it was revealed that 46% of the professors surveyed did not object to the tenets of theistic evolution.

       We will discuss progressive creationism, theistic evolution, Darwinism/Neo Darwinism and other perspectives as we move through this series.  We will begin with classical evolution and its impact on Christian theology.  

       Classical evolution postulates that billions of years ago the universe sprang forth from a fortuitous explosion of energy/matter (the Big Bang theory) that gradually developed into billions of heavenly bodies including our solar system.  Life is seen as protein molecules fortuitously coming together, reproducing themselves, and gradually developing over millions of years into increasingly more complex life forms leading to humans.  All this is seen as occurring devoid of any supernatural involvement. Both classical evolution and its spinoffs such as progressive creationism and theistic evolution present a direct challenge to the Genesis account of origins and the Christian theological system.   

 The Genesis creation account:     

       The Biblical book of Genesis teaches God created the heavens and earth.  On day six of creation week God is seen as making man.  This first man is seen as committing sin necessitating the Christ event with its provision for release from the eternal death penalty associated with sin.  If creation of Adam as the first human didn’t take place as Scripture teaches, redemption through the Christ event becomes a moot point and the Christian theological system has no merit. The Biblical Scriptures clearly teach Christ came to redeem man from the penalty of death which began when the man Adam and the woman Eve sinned by behaving contrary to God's instruction.

       Historical Christianity sees the Genesis account of creation as the starting point of cosmological and biological history. It is seen as a straightforward account of how it all started. If this account is myth, the existence of Adam and Eve are myth and the recorded history that follows from them becomes highly problematical.  If it can be shown that the Scriptural account of mans creation is bogus, the entire Christian theological system falls like a deck of cards. An understanding of the Genesis account as actual history is critical to the validity of what the Scriptures teach as to salvation and there being an afterlife.

       Genesis 1:1 records that, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”  This chapter goes on to record that in six days God created/made day and night (first day), a firmament separating water from water (second day), plants (third day), sun, moon and stars (fourth day), fish and birds (fifth day), land animals, creeping things and man on the sixth day.

       Exodus 20:11a reflects the Genesis account. “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them.”  Exodus 31:17b records the same thing.  “For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he abstained from work and rested." We see the Hebrew Scriptures seemingly teaching that the heavens, earth and sea, along with their inhabitants, were created in six days.

       In the second chapter of Genesis we find the account of Eve being formed from one of Adam's ribs and becoming his wife. In Genesis three, it’s recorded that Adam and Eve sinned by eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil which resulted in their banishment from the Garden of Eden and their becoming subject to death. In chapter four we find Adam and Eve beginning a family. In Genesis 5:1-32 is a genealogy beginning with Adam and running to Noah. Here it is reiterated that man was created in the likeness of God.

       Genesis 5:1-2: This is the written account of Adam's line. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female and blessed them. And when they were created, he called them "man."

       In 1st Chronicles, chapters one through eight, is an extensive genealogy starting with Adam and going through the descendants of Jacob (Israel). Luke traces the genealogy of Jesus back to Adam (Luke 3:38). It is apparent that those writing these genealogies believed Adam to be the starting point of human history.

       Some theologians have purposed that the Genesis account of creation, including the creation of Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden event need not be based on having actually occurred but only on the perception that they occurred. However, the genealogies found in Genesis 5, 1st Chronicles one through eight and Luke 3 that go back to Adam don't appear to be based on a perception of Adam existing but on the reality of such existence. These genealogies are rather extensive, involving multiple hundreds of descendants. If Adam didn't literally exist, these genealogies are based on a false foundation and salvation theology is based on a false foundation as well.   

       The question that must be asked is how can there be any significance to real history that is based on fictional history?  How can salvation theology, which is based on the literal existence of Adam, have any significance if the existence of Adam is fictional history?  Some theologians believe the Genesis account of Adam and Eve in the garden is actual history but do not see these two humans as the progenitors of the human race. 

Were Adam and Eve alone?

       It has been suggested by some theologians that Adam and Eve were not the first humans but were selected out from a population of humans who had evolved to the status of Homo sapiens in evolutionary development. These humans are seen as living outside the Garden of Eden at the time. The Garden of Eden event is seen as a standalone event and occurring within the context of an already existing human population that had progressed through possibly millions of years of evolutionary development. Is there any evidence for this approach?

       Those who suggest this approach point to Genesis 4 which speaks of Cain, after killing his brother Able, being concerned about himself being killed. The question that is asked is who was it that Cain was afraid was going to kill him?  Were there other humans already living in the area? 

       Genesis 4:13-15: Cain said to the LORD, "My punishment is more than I can bear.  Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me."  But the LORD said to him, "Not so ; if anyone kills Cain, he will suffer vengeance seven times over." Then the LORD put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him.

       Cain is seen as living in the land of Nod, east of Eden. Where there others living in the land of Nod?  Genesis 4 speaks of Cain having sex with his wife and she becoming pregnant with Enoch. Where did his wife come from?  Some conclude he must have married a sister who was born to his parents, Adam and Eve. However, while it appears Cain and Able were born shortly after Adam and Eve were removed from the Garden of Eden, it appears Adam and Eve didn't have another child until much later and only after that did they have other sons and daughters.

       Genesis 5:3-4:  When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth. After Seth was born, Adam lived 800 years and had other sons and daughters.

       Could it be that Cain married someone unrelated to him who was part of a population of humans living outside the Garden?  It is interesting that Cain is seen in Genesis 4 as building a city at the same time it is said he lay with his wife and she became pregnant.  The building of a city would imply there were people available to inhabit such city.

       Genesis 2:8-15 records that God planted a garden in the east of Eden suggesting that Eden was an established location.  A river watering the garden is seen as flowing from Eden into four other rivers, several of which are associated with named locations. Could it be possible that these established locations were inhabited by humans living outside the Garden?   

Special selection?

       It is apparent that prominent New Testament scholar NT Wright leans toward the view that Adam and Eve were chosen out from an existing population of humans for special purpose. Wright sees them as representatives (archetypes) of the whole human race. This perspective is articulated in the following quote from his book Surprised by Scripture.

       "just as God chose Israel from the rest of humankind for a special, strange, demanding vocation, so perhaps what Genesis is telling us is that God chose one pair from the rest of early hominids for a special, strange, demanding vocation. This pair (call them Adam and Eve if you like) were to be the representatives of the whole human race, the ones in whom God’s purpose to make the whole world a place of delight and joy and order, eventually colonizing the whole creation, was to be taken forward. God the creator put into their hands the fragile task of being his image bearers" (N.T. Wright, Surprised by Scripture, [2014], page 37-38).

       This approach appears to be an attempt to harmonize the Scriptural account of the creation of man with the belief of evolutionists who postulate millions of years of evolutionary development. It appears Dr. Wright sees a literal existence for Adam and Eve in that he analogizes their being specially chosen to that of the people of Israel being specially chosen.  We know the people of Israel literally existed.

       However, in postulating that Adam and Eve were chosen out from among an existing human (hominid) population, Wright is saying Adam was not the first man which appears in conflict with how Paul and other NT writers view Adam. Paul writes of sin and death beginning with the first man Adam.  If humans existed prior to Adam, Adam wasn't the first man and death didn't originate with Adam as Paul teaches as it can be assumed hominids would have been dying as a result of sickness and disease or simply old age.

       A number of questions arise relative to the proposition that Adam was chosen from an already existing population of humans.  Genesis 1:26-27 says man was made in the image and likeness of God. If pre-Adamic man came to be through millions of years of gradual evolutionary development, how does that correspond to man being made in the image and likeness of God? 

       Some resolve this issue by concluding that being made in the image and likeness of God has nothing to do with physical form but with spiritual dynamics that made Adam far superior to pre-Adamic hominids that came to be through evolutionary processes. 

       An obvious question to be asked is what if any is/was the eternal destiny of pre-Adamic humans?  Did they just die like animals and that was it?  A huge question is how the rest of the Genesis creation account coordinates with an existing population of humans living outside the Garden. The Genesis creation account pictures God developing or redeveloping an earth that was or had become lifeless and desolate. A human population living outside the Garden doesn't harmonize with the rest of the creation account.  

Was Adam and Eve a special creation?

       In another attempt to harmonize the Scriptural account of the creation of man with the belief that life is the result of millions of years of evolutionary development, it's been purposed that Adam and Eve were a special creation that took place at a specific point in time during the overall timeframe of millions of years of evolutionary development of life forms, including man.

        It is postulated that Adam was an advanced human creation and unlike hominids, was made in the image of God and was thus superior to the hominids living outside the garden that had come to be through millions of years of evolutionary development. Under this perspective, the death penalty for sin wasn't operative outside the Garden as sin didn't come to be until law was introduced and that didn't happen until Adam was created. Paul wrote that sin is not taken into account when there is no law but sin was in the world since Adam, thus implying law began with Adam (See Romans 5:12-14).  It is believed that hominids living outside the Garden didn't die because of sin but simply from natural causes.

       However, geneticists believe that comparison of the human genome with that of other primates has clearly established that all humans have common genetic ancestry with prehuman life forms. This would place into question the idea that Adam was a special advanced creation, having a different genome than other humans. This being the case, some see the genealogies in Scripture as tracing humanity back to a genealogical Adam, not a genetic Adam. 

A genealogical  Adam?

       Under this perspective, Adam and Eve are seen as the beginning of a new genealogical line of humans who, after being removed from the Garden, integrated with existing humans who had been living outside the Garden for possibly millions of years and had evolved to a biological state of being that allowed for interbreeding with Adam and Eve. This model of origins is articulated in the recently published book entitled “The genealogical Adam and Eve” by S. Joshua Swamidass (InterVarsity Press: 2019). This approach, however, has the same problems as the perspective that Adam and Eve were chosen from an existing human population as suggested by NT Wright and others.

Decent from a population of humans?

       What has largely driven the above perspectives is recent research done by genetic biologists into the genetic ancestry of the human race. This research has been made possible as a result of the sequencing of the complete genetic code for man. This research has concluded that the human race could not have begun with two individuals but had to develop from an existing population of individuals. These findings have created quite a stir in segments of the Christian community. This issue is discussed in depth in the recent book entitled "Adam And The Genome" by Dennis R Venema and Scot McKnight (Brazos Press: 2017).

How did Jesus and Paul view Adam and Eve?      

       Jesus acknowledges the Genesis account of the creation of Adam and Eve in alluding to (Genesis 2:23-34).

       Genesis 2:23-24:  The man said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called `woman, ' for she was taken out of man." For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.

      Mark 10:6-8: "But at (Greek: π (apo) which most translations render "from") the beginning of creation God `made them male and female.’ For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.'  So they are no longer two, but one.

       Jesus acknowledged the authenticity of Genesis 2:23-24 by virtually quoting from it in saying that at or from the beginning of creation God made humans male and female and "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh."

      It is instructive that Jesus, in alluding to Genesis 2:23-24, speaks of God making man male and female from the beginning of creation. Jesus sees the making of man at the beginning of creation and cites the narrative from Genesis 2:23-24 as His source for this information. In doing so, Jesus is giving verification to the Genesis account of creation which is recorded to have occurred within a six day timeframe. The implication is that man was part of this six day creation. Jesus gives no hint of man existing prior to the Genesis creation account. Then we have what Jesus said as recorded in Luke 11:50-51.

       Luke 11:50-51: Therefore this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be held responsible for it all.

       Here Jesus speaks of Abel existing from near the beginning of the world, thus associating Abel with the timeframe of the world’s creation. Jesus recognized the reality of Abel's existence and by extension the existence of his parents Adam and Eve.      

       Luke, in tracing the genealogy of Jesus back to Adam in Luke chapter 3, shows Adam as a real person and as having been directly created by God. In Luke's genealogy, Adam is seen as an ancestor of Jesus (Luke 3:38).  

       Apostle Paul speaks of Adam being formed first and then Eve (1st Timothy 2:13).  In Romans 5:12-14, Paul writes of sin and death beginning with one man and being in evidence from Adam to Moses. To the Corinthians Paul wrote, “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22).  In 15:45 the first Adam is compared to the last Adam who is seen as Christ (The first man Adam became a living being, the last Adam a life-giving spirit). Paul sees Adam here as the first man. In Acts 17:26, Paul is recorded as saying that from one man God has made every nation of men.

       Acts 17:26: From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth;

       In 2 Corinthians 11:3, Paul writes of the deception of Eve by the serpent which appears to be a clear reference to the Garden of Eden event.  In the Revelation we find reference to "that ancient serpent called the devil or Satan."  The devil/Satin are referred to dozens of times in the NT and is clearly seen as a literally existing entity.

       Revelation 12:9: The great dragon was hurled down--that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth and his angels with him),

       Revelation 20:2: He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.   

        Jude 14 sees Adam as the first human and references Cain who is shown in Genesis to be the first human born from a sexual union between Adam and Eve. Hebrews 11:4-7 refers to Cain, Able, Enoch and Noah.  John speaks of Cain (1 John 3:12).  Jesus references Noah and the Genesis flood in the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24:37-39). Luke records Jesus referring to Noah and the flood (Luke 17:27). Apostle Peter references Noah and the flood (1 Peter 3:20 and 2 Peter 2:6).

       It should be apparent that Jesus and the writers of NT documents believed what is written in the beginning chapters of Genesis is actual history of what occurred. There is no evidence to conclude these writers believed the creation account was allegory or metaphor as some Biblical scholars have suggested.  We see Jesus, Paul and other New Testament teachers viewing the Genesis account of the creation of man as fact. These teachers view Adam and Eve and their offspring as real people having literally existed.  They see devil/Satan literally existing which the Revelation identifies as "that ancient serpent."

   The Dilemma:

       As already discussed, classical evolutionists believe the physical universe and all life is the result of fortuitous events devoid of any supernatural involvement. Progressive creationists and theistic evolutionists believe in supernatural involvement but believe such involvement has been largely through evolutionary processes.  These folks have attempted to coordinate a belief in the evolution of the universe and man with belief in the Genesis account of the creation including that of Adam and Eve.

        For classical evolutionists, the Genesis account of creation is believed to be bogus. Classical evolutionary teaching sees all life including man coming into existence as a result of millions of years of gradual evolutionary development devoid of supernatural involvement.  Classical evolutionists do not see the first man being made from the dust of the earth as recorded in Genesis.  Classical evolution does not recognize the Genesis creation account as literal reality. Neither do progressive creationists or theistic evolutionists.

       If either classical evolution, progressive creationism or theistic evolution should turn out to be the correct understanding of origins, the Genesis account of origins becomes highly problematical.  If the Genesis account of origins is false, Jesus and Paul believed and taught falsehood.  As already discussed, Jesus and the NT writers all appear to believe in the Genesis creation account as literally occurring.  The entire Christian theological system is based on the need to atone for sin and death that began with a literal Adam and Eve. 

       Most Christians have no idea of the ramifications for Christian theology should anyone of the evolutionary approaches we have discussed be true. Evolutionists, on the other hand, clearly see the ramifications for Christian theology should evolution be true.  Way back in 1909, evolutionist Edward Adams Cantrell, in a lecture entitled "Breakdown of Protestantism," made the statement that "Without Adam's fall there is no need of Christ or the vicarious atonement. With the removal of the foundation the superstructure falls."

       In 1978, atheist Richard Bozarth wrote in the publication American Atheist that "Without original sin, who needs to be redeemed?  Without Adam's fall into a life of constant sin terminated by death, what purpose is there to Christianity? None."

       Despite the apparent disconnect between belief in evolution and belief in salvation theology, an increasing number of Christians, including Christian theologians and seminary professors, have embraced the basic tenets of evolution as the mechanism whereby the material universe and life came to be. These Christians believe God was involved in origins only to the extent of establishing the evolutionary process by which everything has come to be, including man.

       Yet these same Christians believe the Christian message of salvation through Jesus. What apparently is not realized is that salvation through Jesus is predicated on Adam and Eve being the first humans and their introducing sin and death into the world necessitating a savior. 

       If Adam and Eve never existed, the Christian theological system is fraudulent. If one can falsify the historicity of Adam and Eve, redemption theology can only be seen as being based on myth and therefore has no merit. Therefore, establishing the historicity of Adam and Eve is critical to the integrity of the Christian theological system.

       Can the historicity of Adam and Eve and the overall Genesis account of creation be confirmed?  Can evolution as the process by which the physical universe and life originated be falsified?  Can evolution be confirmed as a valid explanation of origins and thus falsify the Genesis account of creation?  Can evolution be harmonized with the Genesis creation account? These are the questions we will deal with going forward in this series.