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Adam and Eve: Divine Creation or Evolution?


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Good evening! Your response to this post would be GREATLY welcomed as this is an assignment for my seminary Cosmogony class.  Thank you in advance for sharing your viewpoints!

 

The Genesis 1:26-27 account of human creation informs that, “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”  So, God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Genesis 2:7 goes on to say, "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."

The science of evolution, however, would have us consider a different scenario regarding the formation of humankind. According to Fazale Rana in his video lecture, “The Quest for the Historical Adam and Eve”, Charles Darwin’s book, Origins of Species, touts that “natural selection could explain the origins of new species, including the totality of biological diversity. Basically, everything in biology can be explained through evolutionary mechanisms.” Years later, in another book, Descent of Man, Rana shares how Darwin further argues that “humans, just like all life, are products of an evolutionary history. Everything that makes us special, or the ‘image of God’ are simply products of the evolutionary process. There is nothing ultimately unique or distinct about human beings.”

If evolution is to account for the presence of everything biotic, why does David, in Psalm 8, lead us back to a divine creator? When considering the myriad of Scriptural events that science can so plainly explain, Psalm 8:3-4ESV still ponders, “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,  the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” David knew God to be a great God - the almighty God – the Creator of the universe, the earth, and every living thing. So, when pondering the vastness of this world and our place in it, David’s question seems valid. Who are we, and why does God even care about us? If humans simply evolved – morphed over time – into what we know humans to be, why would the almighty God take interest in such insignificant beings?

 

The answer, historically, for many Christians, is so clearly stated in Genesis 1 and 2. Simply put, God is our creator. Why does He care about us? He cares about everything he created. However, His love, care and concern for humankind runs deeper because we are created in His image. Rana exclaims that “We have status with God because we are made to resemble God. We have status with God because He gives us abilities. And because we bear His image, we are created to be in a relationship with Him, made possible through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

              What do you think?  Then let me know in which direction you lean: evolution or divine creation - and why?

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For me personally, I find it hard to imagine a God separate to humanity 'out there' somewhere, but still loving us as if we were his physical children.  For me personally, such a God would have way too many questions to answer, e.g if you do really love us, why do you let little children suffer paedophile rape and torture?  Are you powerless to intervene or do you think that sort of cruelty is beneficial?  Why do little children get cancer and die painfully?  Why don't you 'play your hand' so to speak and make it beyond all doubt that you are an existent creator? Etc etc.

These were questions I probably asked over and over when I found myself leaving traditional Christianity.  Today, for me, they are easily answered by understanding that such a God simply doesn't exist.  To me, the cosmos, the universe, is a completely neutral party in our creation and ongoing existence.  I do question what was before the big bang, so there is a gap there that maybe a God-thought can fill, but I am yet to find that point.

As far as David is concerned, I wonder if he would have said the same things if he was living in India around this time and was a practicing Hindu.  Or perhaps if he had lived in Buddhist Asia around then he may have viewed existence differently.  My point being, I think David was a product of the time and culture that he lived in.  His views would be expectedly shaped by the religious belief of his community.  So really, it is no surprise that he is purported to believe the things he does.

He also didn't know anything about evolution, so he couldn't be expected to critical analyze what we know today and judge it or consider it against his religious beliefs.

Finally, this belief that we are created in God's image, that somehow we resemble God, either physically or spiritually (or some combination of both) seems a very egotistic idea myself.  We humans perhaps tend to think of ourselves as the center of the universe, as the superior species on our planet, but ultimately I think that we are just another animal, albeit one with a more developed consciousness perhaps.  As Bishop Spong said - "If horses had Gods they would look like horses".  So for me it is not surprising that our culture has developed a God or Gods that remarkably have a lot in common with ourselves.

Hope that helps you in some way.  I know it's not how every Christian views God, but that's where I sit.  Happy to discuss further if you like.

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There are so many potential issues raised here it's hard to know where to begin. Today no reputable geologist would accept a biblical account of how the earth was formed (or, to be more precise, Gallup polls suggest that even in the USA the number of earth and life scientists who accept creationism is under 0.1% – far fewer, statistically speaking, than the number who are likely to be mentally ill, let alone incompetent). No biologist would dispute the broad processes or the approximate timeframe of evolution; the questions are on whether it’s gradual or punctuated, how it started and what drives it. No anthropologist would agree that people emerged “ready-made.”

There are two versions of the Creation story in Genesis because Chapter 1 is from the “Deuteronomist” source, written around the sixth century BC, when the Israelites called God Yahweh, but were developing a more sophisticated idea of Him as spirit, under Persian influence – the “Spirit of God” in verse 2, “ruach”, is actually female. The second version of the story in the later chapters 2 and 3 come from a couple of hundred years earlier, around the eighth century BC, from the “Priestly” source, involving a different God, Elohim. The construction of the earth is different, the sequence is different, and here the earlier God is physical; talking and walking in the garden like a man, avoiding the noonday sun, calling out for Adam and Eve because He doesn’t know where they are. A third writer combined the two sometime in the fifth century BC – both traditions were by then so well established that neither could be left out.

But of course this isn’t a specifically Christian, or even Jewish/Christian, story. The plot details of both are drawn from Mesopotamian myth, and go back thousands of years earlier to the Sumerian cylinder seals, and they’re found in the rituals and art of ancient people from around the world. Every culture has a creation myth, usually involving deities, humans or human-like figures, and speaking animals or reptiles like the snake in Eden. The serpent has been interpreted by the Church as the devil tempting Eve, but he’s actually one of the oldest religious characters, seen as a god in his own right in many religions, often associated with healing, wisdom and immortality. He was worshipped by the Hebrews for many centuries, is still the emblem of medicine, and many traditions are still fascinated by him, like the snake-handling churches of the Ozarks in the USA. And the basic theme of a deity creating order (good) out of chaos (bad), shaping the formless void, is common religious currency around the world (the Christian article of faith that God created “ex nihilo,” from nothing, didn’t emerge till the third century AD ).

So… we’re already into four versions of divinity in the first few verses of the Bible; the almighty creator of the universe, a female spirit, a physical God walking in a garden who doesn’t know what’s going on, and a divine snake.

It's not just a question of "which god are we talking about", but "which image"? There have been at least half a dozen other species of Homo walking the earth while we've been around, who we probably killed off.

 

 

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ps; some good books in this area-   Cosmosapiens J. Hands Climbing Mount Improbable R. Dawkins Wonderful Life S. J. Gould

The Diversity of Life E. O. Wilson The Demon-haunted World C. Sagan The Elegant Universe B. Greene The Road to Reality R. Penrose Seven Brief Lessons on Physics C. Rovelli Six Impossible Things J. Gribbin The Science Delusion R. Sheldrake

The Mind of God P. Davies A Brief History of Time S. Hawking Our Cosmic Habitat M. Rees

Awakening Earth P. Russell The Book of Nothing J. Barrow Life: an Unauthorised Biography R. Fortey Mapping the Mind R. Carter The Runaway Brain C. Wills The Wisdom of Bones A. Walker and P. Shipman

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I notice you posted this in two forums. I'm going to copy/paste my reply here to keep all the conversation in one place. @PaulS or  @JosephM, can we lock or delete the other thread to focus this conversation?

Here'w what I wrote...

Hi phylmor! Welcome to the forum. You mention this is for a seminary assignment. It might help if you share the nature of the assignment with us. Knowing that in advance might help focusing responses. 

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Irreverence, thanks so much for the suggestion! Basically, I had to create a blog on a topic covered in class. I chose origins of humanity... more specifically, the origins of Adam and Eve. I am now tasked with sharing my post on a public online message board and inviting readers to comment and respond with their thoughts, feelings and opinions. I will then write a summary of the responses as a final submission. Any and all comments and responses are greatly appreciated. 

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On 12/15/2020 at 12:59 AM, John Hunt said:

Sorry Paul, new here and trying to get the hang of it; not good with computers/forums. And I'm probably spouting off too much anyway.

You're all good, John.  No dramas.

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  • 1 month later...

The problem is when modern  people read the Bible they think with  linear, rational  mindset   like lawyers .Woe unto ye lawyers as Jesus said ye have taken away the key of knowledge .In ancient times thought in a mythical way  they saw the symbolism in stories   .Just 2 people could never create all of humanity its biologically impossible . Just as  Noah's Ark if there was only two animals of everything how did they feed the lions ? Its symbolism  its wasn't the entire world was covered in water , but their world was which was as far as they could see . Why would God put a snake in the garden ? the serpent represents    serpentine thinking .That tries to put doubt in peoples minds as the serpent said surely you will not die . 

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Well...technically, evolution does suggest that we basically came from dirt. So I really don't see any conflict here. 

The bible is a human document written by human beings with a human interpretation of divine concepts, which then went through thousands of years of translations and evolution of language according to human history and cultures at the time. 

Many important aspects as taught by many sects of Christianity have historically been determined by which group won which war, and which dialect of which language became dominant and therefore set the meaning of certain words. 

A bible, not "the bible" because there is no THE bible, is no more precise to the divine message than the oral histories of indigenous people passed down through tens of thousands of years. 

You could have an exact quote from someone 2000 years ago, and even if it is absolutely, factually accurate to what they said, the meaning will change over time because humans and language change over time. 

A scripture is a glimpse into an idea. 

It's a testament to the idea that the scripture remains so relevant over thousands of years. Just as the indigenous story of Sky Woman has for much, much longer.

Edited by Kellerman
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