Into human cultures dominated by mythology, the Bible reveals the novel idea of history. History is the idea that the cosmos had a beginning (creation) and is going somewhere (eschatology). Mythology says that matter is eternal and everything goes in endless cycles.
Can Christian theology make do with the kind of “historical Adam” that is just an evolved hominid with a nickname? That is the question arising from a recent headline in Christianity Today: “Evangelicals Have Four Proposals for Harmonizing Genesis and Evolution.” Progressive evangelicalism continues to lobby the rest of us to jump on the Darwinism bandwagon, but are they advocating a “historical Adam” or merely a “mythological Adam”?
The article’s premise is that evangelicalism is in big trouble because the culture is becoming more and more offended at our “anti-science” stance. Young people, we’re told repeatedly, are leaving the evangelical church because of its supposed Darwin denialism. This is supposed to alarm us, even though the fact is that the most Darwin-affirming churches are losing members the fastest and dying out. So, maybe this isn’t the whole story.
One does get weary of hearing how orthodox Christianity will expire any day now unless it openly embraces evolutionary ideology. This has been breathlessly proclaimed for 150 years, and it has not happened. On the contrary, what has happened is that the forms of Christianity least receptive to the Darwin myth have grown in numbers and influence all over the world, while those most receptive to it are rapidly shrinking into insignificance. But why get all fussy over the facts when there is a bandwagon to jump on?
If you look at the four options discussed in the article (a rehashing of a book by Calvin University physics professor Loren Haarsma), they boil down to two possibilities: Adam and Eve did not exist, or Adam is just a nickname we give to one of the early hominids who evolved into modern human beings. There is no special creation of Adam, no special creation of Eve from Adam, no original sinlessness, and no historical fall into sin. Human beings just evolved naturally from lower life forms, precisely as naturalistic evolution says. Nothing changed ontologically either for human beings or for creation as a whole as a result of a fall into sin. The world today is exactly as it always was; death and the struggle for survival determine our nature. Death has always been part of the world.