I am asking a series of questions that come from 1 Cor. 15. Several times in the chapter Adam is referred to as “one man,” a single individual. If Adam and Eve existed as an “original couple” and had a real Fall, I believe this may present major problems in trying to harmonize evolution with Christianity (but please keep in mind I am no expert on evolution, philosophy, or Scripture). If evolution is true, how could there have been an original couple? I do not see how this notion even makes sense in light of evolution. If an actual couple did not exist, wouldn’t that invalidate the Scripture, since both Jesus and Paul seemed to have believed in a literal first couple? How can one reconcile an original couple (indeed, in what sense could such a couple be called “original”?), with a theory such as evolution, which says a single couple could have never produced the entire, contemporary human race we see today? Also, the Bible places mankind’s origin in Asia, but evolutionary theory places mankind’s origin in Africa. How are these differences reconciled? Thank you for your time, I am having some issues with these.
First of all Adam is mentioned only three times in 1 Cor 15. He is referred to as one man because he was one man–a single individual. This is because the book of Genesis traces humans made to be in the image of God back to an original two persons–Adam and Eve. I am not sure exactly why you see this as creating a problem in harmonizing Christianity with evolution. First of all, there are millions of species and evolution is a theory about the origin of those many millions of species. It is not principally about the origin of human beings but of all species. I do not see how a biblical claim about one species would impact the scientific theory about the origin of all species.
Why does evolution oppose the idea of an original couple? The fact is that the theory of evolution is not a theory of the origin of life. It is a theory of change (evolution) of life which already existed. It is not a theory of how original species came into existence. As far as the theory of evolution cares (not that a theory can care!), the original species could have been created by a supernatural creator or by a natural process. This is completely irrelevant to the theory. If God created the first humans, by definition, this would not violate the theory of evolution. If someone were to propose that God created all species as they are, with no significant change after creation, then THAT would violate the theory of evolution. Bottom line, if God created humans by a supernatural, miraculous event, this would not violate the theory of evolution.
However, we are still left with evidence. The fact is that there is some evidence for a common ancestor to humans and the great apes. This evidence includes the fact that both apes and humans have the oncogene (ie non-functioning gene) for making vitamin C and no other animals have this oncogene (except for guinea pigs!). There is a lot of evidence which leads to the conclusion that humans appear to have evolved. I propose two possible solutions. First, God created Adam and Eve from scratch (ex nihilo) and that these created, intelligent beings overcame the already existing primates. Either that or God took evolved intelligent primates and put a soul, spirit and a god-like nature into a first couple who were Adam and Eve. Whichever proposal we accept, it involves the miraculous action of God and does not contradict evolution or what we know from the evidence.
Genetic evidence leads to the conclusion that there was an extreme bottleneck in human population in the past. This may well be the time when Adam and Eve were either created ex nihilo or were given a spirit, and made in the image of God and came to dominate the human population. Obviously, my proposal is not a “scientific” one, but is based on believing that the Bible is inspired by God.
Remember, though, that no matter our interpretation of Genesis and the origin of the first humans, our explanation of Adam and Eve does not threaten the theory of evolution and the theory of evolution does not threaten accepting the Genesis story as inspired by God.
By the way, the theory of evolution does NOT say that a species cannot originate with a single couple. In fact, when environments are wiped out by an environmental catastrophe (such as the Santorini eruption) than colonies of species will be established and new species can originate from a population as small as two. This is NOT a violation of the theory of evolution. Also, science is not unanimous that modern humans had their origin in Africa. This is the majority view, but there is a minority view that modern humans originated in South Asia. As far as I know, NO anthropologists have the origin of humans in North or South America, but there is some division about East Africa or South Asia. We should hold off on assuming this is a settled answer. In any case, we do not know where Adam and Eve lived, so this does not seem to be a major issue for the validity of the Bible.
I hope this helps.