This week I started reading Peter Enns’ The Evolution of Adam.
Enns, an evangelical biblical scholar, gets down to business on the very first page. (Bonus points to Enns for getting straight to the point.) He writes:
The Human Genome Project, completed in 2003, has shown beyond any reasonable scientific doubt that humans and primates share a common ancestry.
Anatomically modern humans emerged from primate ancestors perhaps 100,000 years ago — long before the apparent Genesis time frame — and originated with a population that numbered something like 10,000, not two individuals.
What if mapping the genetic code proves the human race didn’t emerge from a single pair of humans — i.e. no literal Adam and Eve?
This is more than just an academic exercise. Enns’ views on the Bible and science cost him his job at Westminster Theological Seminary. Bruce Waltke, one of the most respected Old Testament scholars today, was forced from his post at Reformed Theological Seminary for suggesting that Christianity and evolution are compatible.
For many evangelicals, the very underpinnings of Christian faith are at stake. If we abandon a literal reading of the creation story, it’s feared that we sacrifice an orthodox view of the Bible, our understanding of how sin and death came into being, and the very fabric of redemption in Christ (which Paul connects to Adam).
So does Christianity fall apart without a historical Adam and Eve?