Has the Top Christian Apologist, William Lane Craig Stepped on a Landmine by Searching Historical Adam

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In Quest of the Historical Adam: A Biblical and Scientific Exploration

By William Lane Craig  (Author)

Was Adam a real historical person? And if so, who was he and when did he live? 

William Lane Craig sets out to answer these questions through a biblical and scientific investigation. He begins with an inquiry into the genre of Genesis 1–11, determining that it can most plausibly be classified as mytho-history—a narrative with both literary and historical value. He then moves into the New Testament, where he examines references to Adam in the words of Jesus and the writings of Paul, ultimately concluding that the entire Bible considers Adam the historical progenitor of the human race—a position that must therefore be accepted as a premise for Christians who take seriously the inspired truth of Scripture. 

Working from that foundation of biblical truth, Craig embarks upon an interdisciplinary survey of scientific evidence to determine where Adam could be most plausibly located in the evolutionary history of humankind, ultimately determining that Adam lived between 750,000 and 1,000,000 years ago as a member of the archaic human species Homo heidelbergensis. He concludes by reflecting theologically on his findings and asking what all this might mean for us as human beings created in the image of God, literally descended from a common ancestor—albeit one who lived in the remote past.

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Suggested additional reading by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times that will likely bring the reader to discover the landmine that William Lane Craig has stepped on:

But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

The man said,

“This is now bone of my bones

and flesh of my flesh;

she shall be called ‘woman,’

for she was taken out of man.”

That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.

Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame. (Genesis 2:20-25)

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4 replies

  1. What historical claims does the Bible make about Adam and Eve? And is belief in a historical Adam and Eve compatible with the scientific evidence? In order to avoid the pitfalls of reading contemporary science into the biblical texts, it is best to treat these questions separately. Only after having determined what the Bible actually says about the historical Adam shall we be in a position to judge whether those claims are compatible with what we know of human origins from contemporary science.

    The stories of Adam and Eve are largely confined to the second and third chapters of Genesis. They are part of the pre-patriarchal narratives, often called the primaeval history, which make up Genesis 1–11. Old Testament scholars have long remarked on the resemblance of Genesis 1–11 to the religious literature of the ancient Near East. Grand themes such as the creation of the world, the origin of mankind, and the near destruction of humanity in the cataclysmic Flood are present in both the ancient myths and Genesis 1–11. By contrast, beginning in Genesis 12, the text’s focus narrows sharply to Israel. From here on, no such similarity exists between Genesis and the myths of the ancient Near East.

    Should the primaeval narratives of Genesis 1–11 be understood, then, as a compilation of Israelite myths? In raising this question, we are using the definition of “myth” employed by folklorists and classicists: A myth is a traditional, sacred narrative explaining how the world and man came to be in their present form. A myth seeks to explain present realities by anchoring them in the prehistoric past and so to validate a culture’s contemporary institutions and values. In contrast to other forms of folklore, such as folktales and legends, myths are authoritative for the culture that embraces them. They are sacred narratives, and as such their main characters are not usually human beings alone but deities or quasi-divine heroes, whose activities are set in an earlier age or another realm. Stories of the origin of the world and of mankind are just two of the most prominent examples of myth.

    The lines between myth, folktale, and legend are apt to be blurry, but we can identify certain “family resemblances” that unite most myths:

    Myths are narratives, whether oral or literary.
    Myths are traditional stories handed down from generation to generation.
    Myths are sacred for the society that ­e­­mbraces them.
    Myths are objects of belief for members of the society that embraces them.
    Myths are set in a primaeval age or another realm.
    Myths are stories in which deities are important characters.
    Myths seek to anchor present realities such as the world, mankind, natural phenomena, cultural practices, and the prevailing cult in a primordial time.
    Myths exhibit fantastic elements and are not troubled by logical contradiction or ­incoherence.

    Anchoring present realities in the primordial past is the heart of myth. The primaeval history of Genesis 1–11, including the stories of Adam and Eve, functions as Israel’s foundational myth, laying the basis of Israel’s worldview. The claim here is not that the narratives of Genesis 1–11 are derived from the myths of the ancient Near East. Hermann Gunkel (1862–1932) and the pan-Babylonian school that followed him made such an assertion, but few scholars defend the “dependence thesis” today. Rather, the claim is that the primaeval narratives belong to the genre of myth principally on the basis of their sharing common mythic themes and their effort to anchor present realities in the deep past.

    For example, in Genesis 2 we have a story of the origin of humanity that supplements the brief notice of mankind’s creation in chapter 1. Although some have suggested that the story of Adam and Eve’s creation describes a different, later event, there is little in the text that would support this interpretation. On the contrary, there are three reasons for thinking that Genesis 2 is a description of the original creation of man. First, the purpose of the primaeval narratives of Genesis 1–11 is to portray God’s universal plan for and dealings with mankind. God was not preoccupied with just the offspring of one specially created human couple to the neglect of everyone else, a sort of pre-Israelite election, but with all mankind. Second, a comparison of the story of the creation of man in Genesis 2 with other ancient Near Eastern creation stories, such as the Atrahasis Epic, shows that Genesis shares with those stories an interest in telling how mankind as such came to exist. Third, the account in Genesis 2, when read at face value, is about human origins. The author states explicitly that there was no man to do the work of agriculture, until God created man. Moreover, woman does not appear until her creation in ­Genesis 2:22. The name later given by the man to his wife, said to mean “the mother of all living” (Gen 3:20), affirms her (and the man’s) progenitorship of all mankind.


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