[N]ow some conservative scholars are saying publicly that they can no longer believe the Genesis account....Are these really the stakes? If evolution is true, Christianity makes no sense? If you don't believe that, at least you can appreciate what a painful position those who do are in. I strongly doubt that the 4 out of 10 Americans who told pollsters they believe in the Genesis account of creation also think that "the whole point of Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection was to undo Adam's original sin." Doesn't Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection make more sense if you think of yourself as the sinner in need of forgiveness?
To many evangelicals, this is heresy.
"From my viewpoint, a historical Adam and Eve is absolutely central to the truth claims of the Christian faith," says Fazale Rana, vice president of Reasons To Believe, an evangelical think tank that questions evolution. Rana, who has a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Ohio University, readily admits that small details of Scripture could be wrong.
"But if the parts of Scripture that you are claiming to be false, in effect, are responsible for creating the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith, then you've got a problem," Rana says.
Rana and others believe in a literal, historical Adam and Eve for many reasons. One is that the Genesis account makes man unique, created in the image of God — not a descendant of lower primates. Second, it tells a story of how evil came into the world, and it's not a story in which God introduced evil through the process of evolution, but one in which Adam and Eve decided to disobey God and eat the forbidden fruit.
Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, says that rebellious choice infected all of humankind.
"When Adam sinned, he sinned for us," Mohler says. "And it's that very sinfulness that sets up our understanding of our need for a savior.
Mohler says the Adam and Eve story is not just about a fall from paradise: It goes to the heart of Christianity. He notes that the Apostle Paul (in Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15) argued that the whole point of Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection was to undo Adam's original sin.
"Without Adam, the work of Christ makes no sense whatsoever in Paul's description of the Gospel, which is the classic description of the Gospel we have in the New Testament," Mohler says.
August 9, 2011
NPR reports (respectfully!), noting first that Gallup and Pew polls show that 4 out of 10 Americans believe in the literal truth of the account of the origin of human beings that appears in Genesis. There's no link to the specific polls so we can see the questions asked, but I find it hard to believe that so many people belief in the literal story of Adam made out of dust and Eve fashioned from a rib and so on. (Even staying strictly within the text, the first few pages of Genesis seem to have 2 different accounts of the creation of man and woman.)