The NPR article below explains that Christian scholars are being forced to reconsider the account of Adam and Eve in the Bible, largely because of genetic studies. If Adam is mythical, then the Bible is incorrect, not “inerrant.” Moreover, the New Testament traces Jesus’s family lineage to the (fictional) Adam. (Lk 3:38) Based on this factor and many others, as I demonstrate in many books and articles, may we not also conclude, therefore, that Jesus is likewise fictional?
There is a grace-saving “out” for Christians and other religionists who would like to continue enjoying the human cultural artifacts of religion and mythology: It is called the “mythicist position” or “mythicism.” In my book Christ in Egypt (11-12), I defined mythicism as follows – note I specifically mentioned Adam and Eve:
Mythicism represents the perspective that many gods, goddesses and other heroes and legendary figures said to possess extraordinary and/or supernatural attributes are not “real people” but may in fact be mythological characters. Along with this view comes the recognition that many of these figures personify or symbolize natural phenomena, such as the sun, moon, stars, planets, constellations, etc., constituting what is called “astrotheology.” As a major example of the mythicist position, various biblical characters such as Adam and Eve, Satan, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, King David, Solomon and Jesus Christ, among other figures, in reality represent mythological characters along the same lines as the Egyptian, Sumerian, Phoenician, Indian, Greek, Roman and other godmen, who are all presently accepted as myths, rather than historical figures.
It appears that the story of the original man and woman – which can be found in many places globally, revolving around a wide variety of ethnicities, not just those of the Middle East – may be one of the oldest myths, dating back tens of thousands of years and possibly originating in Africa, with the Pygmies, for one.
Let’s go back to the beginning — all the way to Adam and Eve, and to the question: Did they exist, and did all of humanity descend from that single pair?
According to the Bible (Genesis 2:7), this is how humanity began: “The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” God then called the man Adam, and later created Eve from Adam’s rib.
Polls by Gallup and the Pew Research Center find that four out of 10 Americans believe this account. It’s a central tenet for much of conservative Christianity, from evangelicals to confessional churches such as the Christian Reformed Church.
But now some conservative scholars are saying publicly that they can no longer believe the Genesis account. Asked how likely it is that we all descended from Adam and Eve, Dennis Venema, a biologist at Trinity Western University, replies: “That would be against all the genomic evidence that we’ve assembled over the last 20 years, so not likely at all.”
Researching The Human Genome
Venema says there is no way we can be traced back to a single couple. He says with the mapping of the human genome, it’s clear that modern humans emerged from other primates as a large population — long before the Genesis time frame of a few thousand years ago. And given the genetic variation of people today, he says scientists can’t get that population size below 10,000 people at any time in our evolutionary history.
To get down to just two ancestors, Venema says, “You would have to postulate that there’s been this absolutely astronomical mutation rate that has produced all these new variants in an incredibly short period of time. Those types of mutation rates are just not possible. It would mutate us out of existence.”
Venema is a senior fellow at BioLogos Foundation, a Christian group that tries to reconcile faith and science. The group was founded by Francis Collins, an evangelical and the current head of the National Institutes of Health, who, because of his position, declined an interview….
“I think this is going to be a pivotal point in Church history,” he says. “Because what rests at the very heart of this debate is whether or not key ideas within Christianity are ultimately true or not.”
But others say Christians can no longer afford to ignore the evidence from the human genome and fossils just to maintain a literal view of Genesis.
“This stuff is unavoidable,” says Dan Harlow at Calvin College. “Evangelicals have to either face up to it or they have to stick their head in the sand. And if they do that, they will lose whatever intellectual currency or respectability they have.”…