Join us for a wide-ranging discussion of evolution, Genesis, Adam & Eve, the "fall" and original sin.

Becoming Adam Podcast – Becoming Adam, Becoming Christ Becoming Adam Podcast – Becoming Adam, Becoming Christ

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Join us for a wide-ranging discussion of evolution, Genesis, Adam & Eve, the "fall" and original sin.

    Kierkegaard’s Complaint: Putting Adam ‘Fantastically Outside’ of History

    Kierkegaard’s Complaint: Putting Adam ‘Fantastically Outside’ of History

    Was Adam directly created from dust and placed in a sinless, deathless paradise? If so, how does he represent me before God? What does a perfect man in a perfect environment have in common with anyone?

    Listen or Read. Your Choice.

    Our focus in this

    episode is original sin and the Fall, which we’ll view through the eyes of an

    often-neglected source, Soren Kierkegaard.

    Kierkegaard is

    most famous for his concept of the “leap of faith.” The phrase is often taken

    to mean that Christians believe in God without evidence, but that’s a

    misunderstanding. In Kierkegaard’s thought, “the leap is the category of decision.”

    Faith, for Kierkegaard, is much more than intellectual agreement with Christian

    doctrine. He regards faith as a passionate commitment to follow Christ, despite

    the paradox of the incarnation and the affront of the crucifixion. Only from

    that lived experience do we discover true knowledge of God. In the language of

    common sense, the proof is in the pudding.

    What’s less well

    known about Kierkegaard is that he also viewed original sin as a “leap,” for it

    too belongs to the category of decision. In The Concept of Anxiety, he

    explored the question of whether original sin is identical to “the first sin,

    Adam’s sin, the Fall.” [1]

    His interest was not the bare fact that “sin came into existence, but how

    it can come into existence.” In other words, why would Adam and Eve sin?

    What could possibly motivate them to transgress?

    A friend recently related a story about reading a picture Bible to his 6-year-old daughter, and after Adam and Eve were thrown out of the garden for eating the fruit, she blurted out, “I just wish Adam and Eve hadn’t done that.” Kierkegaard refused to accept her verdict. It minimizes our own guilt, and it divorces Adam and Eve from the rest of humanity.

    In the first paragraph of his treatise, Kierkegaard complains that traditional conceptions of original sin introduce “a fantastic assumption, a state which by its loss involved the Fall.” What was that state? Most of us have heard it from childhood: Adam and Eve were created perfect and lived in a sinless, deathless paradise. Everyone agrees that such a situation doesn’t exist today, but as Kierkegaard pointed out, the theologians “forgot that the doubt was a different one, namely, whether it ever had existed — and that was pretty clearly necessary if one were to lose it. The history of humanity acquired a fantastic beginning. Adam was fantastically put outside. Pious sentiment and fantasy got what it desired — a godly prelude — but thought got nothing.”

    The history of humanity acquired a fantastic beginning. Adam was fantastically put outside. Pious sentiment and fantasy got what it desired — a godly prelude — but thought got nothing. Soren Kierkegaard

    Consider the fantastic

    ways literal Adam has been portrayed. The prominent Young-Earth Creationist Ken

    Ham says the garden was perfect, without thorns or thistles, and Adam’s work

    there was “pure joy.” Moreover, Adam didn’t have to learn to speak, and he had

    no trouble remembering all the names he gave the animals, since he was “much more

    intelligent than we are.” Ham claims Adam possessed every talent possible

    rolled into one person. Adam was a brilliant artist, a musical prodigy, and a mathematical

    genius with a photographic memory. [2]

    From the other end

    of the spectrum, Catholic theologians have heaped even greater superlatives on

    Adam’s head. Writing on the a href="http://www.thomisticevolution.

    • 16分
    God’s Presence and Guidance in Evolution

    God’s Presence and Guidance in Evolution

    Where is God in the evolutionary process? Did he just start the universe with the Big Bang and then step back?

    Listen or Read. Your Choice.

    Before my unexpected “vacation” due to flu, one of my podcast listeners had asked for clarity on my series, Adam’s Evolutionary Journey. “After listening to Episode 3,” she wrote, “I was left feeling a little empty. Where is God in the evolutionary process? Did he just start the universe with the Big Bang and then step back?”

    Good question! My short answer is that God guided evolution

    at every step along the way. Now for the long answer …

    A couple of years ago, the Discovery Institute mined its

    scholarly depths to put together a 1,000-page book called Theistic Evolution.

    For those of you who may be new to the origins discussion, Discovery is the

    self-described hub of the Intelligent Design movement, and Theistic Evolution is

    the belief that God used the process of evolution to create all living things, including

    us. These days, most who hold that belief prefer the term “Evolutionary Creation,”

    which Denis Lamoureux coined in his 2008 book of the same name. According to Lamoureux,

    the noun “creation” should receive more emphasis than the adjective

    “evolutionary,” and I agree. Unlike Theistic Evolution, the emphasis in

    Evolutionary Creation is upon the Creator, not upon the process.

    I also prefer Evolutionary Creation for another reason – one

    that comes out clearly in the Discovery Institute book. Like any general term, Theistic

    Evolution has been used to describe a range of positions, but in Discovery’s

    book Wayne Grudem gives it a definition that few Christians would accept.

    Namely, he says,

    “God created matter and after that

    did not guide or intervene or act directly to cause any empirically detectable

    change in the natural behavior of matter until all living things had evolved by

    purely natural processes” (Grudem, 67).

    Strictly speaking, this “hands-off” description of God has

    more in common with 17th-18th century deism than with Christianity.

    A deist would agree that a supreme being exists, but after setting everything

    in motion, the creator then allowed the universe to run its course without

    interference. God is a disinterested observer, in other words. Creation thus

    becomes an infinitely complex course of dominoes that God set up “in the

    beginning,” and once he tipped over the first, nothing else was necessary to

    achieve his ultimate end. To be fair, a few Christians do believe that God “front-loaded”

    everything into his initial act of creation, and afterward didn’t need to be

    involved. But in my experience, I’ve found them so few and far between as to be

    negligible. Grudem’s “hands-off” definition of Theistic Evolution certainly

    doesn’t describe the vast majority of Evolutionary Creationists. And since the

    rest of Theistic Evolution bases its critique on Grudem’s flawed

    foundation, the result is a 1000-page doorstop.

    God could have pressed an infinite number of levers to influence the direction of evolution, and almost all of them would be indiscernible or unprovable.

    The Discovery Institute’s main problem is that its pet

    theory – Intelligent Design – attempts to prove that evolution exhibits signs

    of design, which implies a designer. Of course, all thinking Christians agree

    that God had a plan and purpose for creating, but can that fact be proven? To

    do so, one would have to find evidence of God’s intervention, which explains

    • 15分
    Genealogical Adam & Eve Makes God a Monster

    Genealogical Adam & Eve Makes God a Monster

    Biologist Joshua Swamidass claims the ‘fall’ took place as recently as 4000 BC. Are murder, cannibalism, magic, and idolatry not sinful?

    Listen or Read. Your Choice.

    In my previous

    review of Genealogical Adam & Eve,

    I focused mainly on the scientific problems with the book. Specifically, the isolation

    of Tasmania adds at least 10,000 years to the scenario, so if author Joshua

    Swamidass wants to be honest with the science, he should quit proclaiming 6,000

    years ago as a “likely” date for his genealogical Adam & Eve. The earliest “likely”

    point they could be inserted into history is about 14,000 BC, and even that

    date is fraught with unknowns.

    I also

    complained that Swamidass qualifies almost every claim into oblivion. After

    spending an entire chapter arguing strenuously against the fact of Tasmanian

    isolation, he informs us that it really doesn’t matter, since “nearly universal

    ancestry by AD 1 may be sufficient” (78). What?! Does this mean Aboriginal

    Tasmanians weren’t affected by the “fall”? Were they without sin until the

    Europeans arrived, bringing Adam’s sin on board like a stowaway?


    return to those questions later, but they highlight the biggest problems with Genealogical Adam & Eve, which are

    the “fall” and original sin. In the final chapters of the book, Swamidass

    attempts to “synthesize the discussion in the first two parts of the book into

    a theological experiment” (172) that will dramatize the “fall” and original sin.

    But true to form, by the time the reader arrives at the end of the discussion,

    Swamidass qualifies everything. He says his “proposal is only tentative and can

    be replaced or adjusted” (199). That doesn’t undo the damage. The proposal as

    it stands suffers from special pleading on Tasmania, selective evidence on

    pre-fall humanity, and circular logic overall. The only option is to replace it,

    preferably with something more historically credible and parsimonious.


    introduces his theological experiment as “a recovery, not a revision, of the

    traditional account of human origins.” This sentence stopped me in my tracks.

    In the traditional understanding of the church, Adam and Eve are the first

    humans. In fact, I’m not sure how anyone can read Genesis 1-2 and not recognize

    those chapters as a description of God’s creation of humanity. Evangelical

    theologian Jack Collins goes so far as to say that “to stay within the bounds

    of sound thinking … (we) should see Adam and Eve at the headwaters of the human

    race.” [1]

    Genealogical Adam and Eve arrive about 200,000 years too late to fit that bill.


    Young-Earth Creationism experienced a resurgence in the 1970s, the “Gap Theory”

    was the primary way that literal interpreters tried to square the creation

    account with deep time and the vastness of space. The Gap Theory posited that

    Gen. 1:1 describes God’s creation of the universe over billions of years, but that creation was destroyed in some sort

    of catastrophe. Starting with verse 2, the rest of the Genesis 1 tells of God’s

    re-creation of the universe, which he

    accomplishes in six literal days. The Gap Theory fell into disfavor for obvious

    reasons, but Genealogical Adam and Eve represents the same idea. This time, the

    gap falls between Gen. 2:4 and 2:5, and the time span is hundreds of thousands

    of years instead of billions. Genesis 1 relates how God created all of humanitybr /...

    • 15分
    Adam's Evolutionary Journey, Pt. 3: Genesis & Evolution in Dialogue

    Adam's Evolutionary Journey, Pt. 3: Genesis & Evolution in Dialogue

    Can the ‘fall’ be an actual event in human history? Is ‘original sin’ something real, or just a Christian fairytale?

    Listen or Read. Your Choice.

    This is the third of three episodes giving a broad overview of the concepts behind Becoming Adam. In the first installment, we identified two controlling metaphors and three “points of contact” in Genesis for scientific exploration. The controlling metaphors were “the man,” ha’adam, as an archetype, and the human journey from childhood to maturity, while our themes were language, morality, and relationship. The second episode outlined the scientific narrative, which showed that the human brain evolved along a path similar to what we see in childhood development, and the same held true for language and morality. What’s more, both language and morality rest upon a foundation of empathy and cooperation, not individual competition. From an evolutionary perspective, this seems odd, to say the least.

    Now, we’ll place Genesis and evolution in dialogue and see what results from the conversation. Remember, the goal of this quest is not to allow science to dictate the interpretation of the Bible, nor is it to naively overlay the ancient text onto contemporary science. As William Brown cautioned, the connections are “virtual parallels” between the scientific and biblical narratives. Although these parallels include some historical as well as conceptual “points of contact” between science and Genesis, I assume the ancient author was ignorant of current science. Thus, in addition to these harmonies I’ll also note a few of the discords between science and Scripture.

    With those guardrails in place, let’s get started.


    structural metaphor that MORAL KNOWLEDGE = COMING OF AGE is immediately grasped

    by every human being in every culture, and in Genesis 2–3 it’s applied to the

    “the man” and “the woman” to create literary archetypes in a figurative text.

    The same conceptual journey from childhood to maturity resurfaces throughout

    Scripture, but it becomes especially prominent in the New Testament. There, the

    Greek τέλειος (teleios) does double

    duty. It can describe the final state of consummation as “perfect” or “complete,”

    but it also can describe the partial realization of that goal in “mature”

    Christian life here and now. [1] By his choice of metaphor in the garden narrative, has

    the author primed us for an evolutionary understanding of human origins?

    Considering the “fall,” our ancestors 300,000 years ago certainly weren’t sinless. When we realize that the “innocence” of the immature human race was ignorance instead of perfection, it’s easy to understand how early humans, like children, could commit sins of ignorance, yet God could overlook those offenses without violating his own justice. Even human societies—imperfect as they are—don’t hold toddlers accountable for breaking the law. Just like the rest of us, “the man” was never perfect. That explains why the serpent appears in the garden without warning in Gen. 3:1. It’s described as “more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made.” Notice that the serpent is “one of God’s animals,” not a supernatural being. This implies a “natural” origin of sin. It wasn’t introduced from the outside by Satan. Sin has been present with us from the beginning, even in Eden. Evil wove its way into the warp and woof of human culture long before we learned to give it a name.

    The “fall” transpired at a literal time and place: somewhere between humanity’s migration to Ethiopia 75,000 years ago and the departure from the Levant and across the globe 10,000 years later.

    • 24分
    The Death of Genealogical Adam: Shipwrecked in the Bass Strait

    The Death of Genealogical Adam: Shipwrecked in the Bass Strait

    Computational biologist Joshua Swamidass says a literal Adam & Eve could have lived as recently as 6,000 years ago. Tasmania says otherwise.

    Listen or Read. Your Choice

    Today, I’ll hit “pause” on Adam’s Evolutionary Journey to review a new book by computational biologist S. Joshua Swamidass, The Genealogical Adam and Eve.

    What does genealogy have to do with Adam and Eve? Simply, it

    allowed them to become everyone’s “parents” without requiring them to be the

    first humans. In the “genealogical Adam” scenario, God created Adam from dust

    and Eve from his rib and placed them in the Garden of Eden in Mesopotamia 6,000

    years ago. After being expelled from the garden, Adam and Eve then had children

    who interbred with the already existing population, and eventually they became

    related to everyone on Earth by lines on a family tree, rather than by Eve – “the

    mother of all the living” (Gen. 3:20) – giving birth to the human race.

    If that sounds needlessly complicated, it is. “It’s a neat

    parlour mathematical trick,” population geneticist Graham Coop said on Twitter,

    but “saying that this reconciles science with the idea of Adam and Eve sweeps a

    lot of stuff under a very patchy, ugly carpet.” Coop is correct. Genealogical Adam and Eve solves none of

    the actual problems posed by a literal Adam and Eve.

    Since this is a book review, I suppose I should start by mentioning

    something about the author’s style before we dive into the substance. His prose

    is serviceable, but reading the book felt more like a chore than a pleasure.

    Swamidass repeats himself frequently, and he seems determined not to make a

    claim without qualifying it six ways from Sunday. On page 10, for example, he

    states his “precise and testable hypothesis, consistent with Scripture,” but

    immediately we discover that “the details are flexible.” Maybe Adam was directly

    created by God, maybe not. Maybe he lived in the Middle East, maybe somewhere

    else. Maybe the garden was a supernatural, perfect environment, maybe it wasn’t.

    Maybe those “outside the garden” are made in God’s image, maybe they’re not. To

    this reviewer, the hypothesis seems designed to make a literal Adam and Eve

    unfalsifiable, not “precise and testable.” In science, I believe that’s called

    an ad hoc auxiliary hypothesis.

    On to the substance. The foundations of Genealogical Adam and Eve rest on a single paper from 2004, “Modelling the Recent Common Ancestry of All Living Humans.”[1] The authors used the genealogical phenomenon of pedigree collapse to estimate the most recent common ancestor for everyone alive today. Since formulas can’t simulate real-world human mating and migration patterns, the authors constructed a simulation program to model the historical world population from 20,000 B.C. to the present. (Think The Sims on steroids.) After running the program countless times and analyzing the “lives” of 1.2 billion sims, the authors concluded that the most recent common ancestor likely lived around 1400 B.C, and by 5400 B.C. everyone alive was either a common ancestor to us all or had no descendants alive today. For religious reasons, Swamidass adds roughly 2,000 years to these dates to arrive at his estimate for Genealogical Adam and Eve, whom he places 6,000 years ago, magically fitting the timetable required by Young-Earth Creationism.

    Baptist theologian Kenneth Keathley has said he considers

    “genealogical Adam” one of just two available options for Old-Earth Creationists.

    He also specified a scientific challenge to the hypothesis – th...

    • 18分
    Adam's Evolutionary Journey, Pt. 2

    Adam's Evolutionary Journey, Pt. 2

    Genesis hints that language, empathy, and morality hold the keys to human uniqueness. What does science say? Can the ‘fall’ be historical?

    Listen or Read. Your Choice.


    first steps toward human language required walking on two legs. In four-legged

    animals, breathing and running are synchronized to one breath per stride as the

    thorax braces for the impact of the front legs. Weightlifters do the same when they

    hold their breath before hoisting the bar. Bipedalism not only allowed the

    larynx to descend, it relieved the thorax of its support function while

    running, which allowed our early ancestors to coordinate their breathing,

    running, and vocalizing.  Human speech and laughter would have been impossible

    if Ardipithecus ramidus had not stood

    upright almost four-and-a-half million years ago. [1]


    language involves two kinds of sharing. First, everyone must agree what words

    mean and how to use them, and second, we must agree that the information we

    share is truthful. Without meeting both conditions, human languages could not

    function. Human languages are thus socially shared symbolic systems that

    rely upon cooperation for their use. This seems to create a problem for the evolutionary explanation of the

    development of language. Isn’t evolution based on survival of the fittest – the

    natural selection of individuals or their genes? The evolution of language

    doesn’t seem to fit that pattern, since language relies on cooperation rather

    than competition.

    Human cooperation seems even more difficult to explain when compared to the social lives of other primates. The basic building blocks of primate society are deception, manipulation, and social status/power. [2] If human language arose under those conditions, we would expect it to facilitate more complex forms of deception and manipulation. What we would not expect, according to linguist and psychologist Michael Tomasello, is a communication system that relies on sharing and has as its basic motivation “the desire to help others by providing them with the information they need.” [3] Perhaps it’s our understanding of evolution that needs amendment.

    Human language involves two kinds of sharing. First, everyone must agree what words mean and how to use them, and second, we must agree that the information we share is truthful.


    language, two other unique features of human social lives rely on cooperation.

    The first is “intersubjectivity,” which is an umbrella term for a suite of

    capacities that require joint action, a joint frame of reference, or empathy. [4] To work together in joint action, people must agree on a

    shared goal, which involves a bit of “mind reading” that other primates can’t

    duplicate. Furthermore, chimps don’t hold up objects for other chimps to

    consider, but people will say things like, “Look at that beautiful sunset.”

    When we use joint frames of reference such as this to share our experiences or

    emotions with another person, it goes by the name of “empathy.”


    is the second feature of human sociality that relies on cooperation. For morality

    to exist, people must agree what constitutes “right” or “wrong” behavior, establishing

    a joint frame of reference, and they must agree what to do when those standards

    are violated, which requires joint action. Where does language come into play?

    Even the earliest expressions of human morality relied on “shared values” and

    “joint action.

    • 19分