The Curious Case of the First Man

historical adam You may be familiar with the Counterpoints series published by Zondervan. Some editions are more useful than others, but they’re worth having if just to get a better understanding of various and opposing viewpoints on an array of theological topics.

I wish to interact with Denis Lamoureux’s contribution in “Four Views on the Historical Adam”. He holds to an evolutionary creation view, which is the belief that “the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit created the universe and life, including humans, through an ordained, sustained, and intelligent design-reflecting natural process.” This view also denies the existence of a historical Adam. I’m not going to deal with his contribution to the book in its entirety in this post, but hope to in the days (well, in my case, probably weeks) ahead.

One must begin by asking why Dr. Lamoureux, with a Christian worldview, presupposes naturalism when it comes to human origins? Creation itself is not natural, it’s supernatural by definition. Yet the author asserts that, “similar to the way that the Lord used embryological mechanics to create each of us in our mother’s womb, He also employed evolutionary processes to create humanity.” (pg. 37) I would like to ask Dr. Lamoureux why the God who created the heavens and the earth is constrained to create mankind through an evolutionary process? Whatever one thinks about whether God revealed scientific facts in the Bible thousands of years before their discovery by modern science, He did reveal in the text of Scripture that He created man directly, personally, and supernaturally.

So how does Dr. Lamoureux deal with this thorny problem? By concluding that modern science reveals the Old Testament to be a divine accommodation to an ancient and ignorant people. God didn’t really create man directly, personally, or supernaturally. No, since ancient man could not understand modern science, God (as it were) told him a little story he could grasp. Now, I absolutely believe that God accommodates His revelation in such a way as to condescend to our understanding. However, this is not the kind of divine accommodation Lamoureux is talking about. This is, in my view, a wholesale undermining of the text. Was God only communicating with an ancient people when the opening chapters of Genesis were written down? Is it not divine revelation to a modern people as well? We’re just scientifically sophisticated enough to know that God really meant the opposite of what He said? Perhaps, in a later age, we will discover that God really meant what He said in the first place.

II.

In the introduction, Professor Lamoureux asserts that the central conclusion of a previous book he penned on this subject is that Adam never existed, and this fact has no impact whatsoever on the foundational beliefs of Christianity.” (pg. 38) I find this a curious statement in light of the historical nature of the Christian faith. Why is it necessary for the life, crucifixion, and resurrection of Christ to be historical, but not the life and death of Adam to be so? If God has revealed an intimate historical and theological (not to mention organic) connection between the first man and the Son of Man in Scripture, why is it that Dr. Lamoureux dismisses it so easily?

The foundational belief he has in view is the fallen nature of mankind. He posits that this spiritual truth can be separated from any historical context. All we need to know, in the end, is that we are fallen, sinful human beings in need of redemption. There is no “original sin”, accept perhaps incidentally. This, in fact, illustrates something Lamoureux likes to assert frequently—that the Bible is a book which communicates spiritual truths divorced from historical or scientific truths. How does he know this? The spiritual truth squares nicely with his Christian worldview, the rest doesn’t square with his naturalism.

We’ll explore this further in our next installment.

BONUS: Happened to come across this review of Professor Lamoureux’s full length book I Love Jesus and I Accept Evolution by Dr. James Anderson. Enjoy!

C.M. Granger

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6 thoughts on “The Curious Case of the First Man

  1. If you are looking for total consistancy, which is my understanding of your argument , then it would be fair to ask how you propose to square the message of the new testament with the old.
    For my own part I know from experience no individuals life is consistent nor is any creed or philosophy.

    • Welcome to the blog.

      We discern whether a proposition is true or false based upon logical consistency. No one person is totally consistent, I concur. However, I’m not addressing whether Dr. Lamoureux is a consistent individual, I’m addressing whether the position he espouses is consistent with itself. His two philosophical premises do not comport with one another (a sure sign of weakness in an argument).

      With regard to your question, God’s message in the old and new testaments, being divine in origin, is not in need of “squaring”. The Christian worldview is internally consistent with itself. If you would assert otherwise, you will have to make your argument.

      Thanks for your comments.

      • We all believe our own view is the best and there are many Christian explanations from fundamentalist to big bang Christianity. I can criticise them all but who am I to deny another mans belief? That the Bible has spawned such a huge variation should tell a diserning person a lot about its constistency. The labels that we give men and women are very superficial and hardly describe their characters.

      • Of course we all believe our own view is best, otherwise we wouldn’t prefer one position over another. The fact that there are differing positions held by Christians on many subjects doesn’t mean no position is right. We need to justify our beliefs in light of Scripture.

        Variation of belief is no defeater for the consistency of the Bible. God’s redeeming love in Christ is the thread woven throughout the Scriptures.

        I never addressed Dr. Lamoureux’s character, nor did I label him. I’m sure he’s a fine Christian gentleman. I criticized his position with a reasoned argument. If you disagree, you are welcome to mount a counterargument.

        But it will have to be better than “we shouldn’t criticize the beliefs of others”. If true, then you shouldn’t criticize my beliefs.

  2. Pingback: The Curious Case of the First Man | The Breadline

  3. Pingback: Adam and the Unbearable Lightness of Non-Being | Coffee Rings

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