I have been doing research on the topic of evolution and found that I don’t understand it fully. I can see the mechanisms described for producing life. The idea of how evolution works does not bother me but there is something that does regarding the historicity of Adam and Eve. I have heard some talk that Adam and Eve might represent a population or a selected pair. This idea falls short because Adam and Eve are presented as the first human pair and there is no mention of anyone else. They are also connected by genealogy to other biblical characters. How do we explain that? Also in Acts 17:26 Adam is presented as a single man, not a population…… ” And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place,”. I would like to know how we make this fit together and it seems that many beliefs of the church will stand or fall on this issue.
First of all, you need to be prepared to accept that faithful, intelligent, biblically educated disciples of Jesus have different views on this. Fortunately, this is not a salvation issue, but one’s view of the inspiration of the Bible is at issue here, so it is an important question. There are a few different explanations given–each of which has its weaknesses. I go into this in great detail in my book Is There a God which is available at www.ipibooks.com Here are a couple of alternatives:
1. The scientific young earth view, which is that Adam and Eve were special creations on the sixth literal day of creation just a few thousand years ago. All humans are the progeny of Adam and Eve. This view fully literalizes all the information in Genesis 1 and 2.
2. The Old Earth view which nevertheless takes the events described in Genesis to be historical. This view accepts that Adam and Eve were two actual people who were created ex nihilo (don’t you love the fancy word? It means out of nothing) in the fairly distant past and all humans as well as all physical evidence of humans come from these two. However, this view takes the “days” of creation to not be literal 24-hour days, but periods over which God acted.
3. The Old Earth view which partially metaphoricalizes some of the historical information in Genesis 1. This view proposes that intelligent hominids evolved from a common ancestor of humans and other great apes. In additionally proposes that at some point God chose two of these evolved, intelligent hominids and deposited his image in these two, creating homo divinus–the first two people in the image of God, with spirit, a soul, accountability and the like. After this time, their descendants replaced the hominids who did not have a soul and the imago dei.
4. The Old Earth view which extensively metaphoricalize Genesis 1. This view proposes that even the image of God and our consciousness and possession of a soul is something which evolved over time as humans evolved from ape-like ancestors. According to this view, nothing specific happened to any specific individuals which corresponds to the story in Genesis 2 of Adam and Eve. Genesis 1 and 2 are merely theological treatises with no historical information at all.
Let me give an extremely brief summary of the strengths and weaknesses of these views and suggest you buy my book.
1. The young earth view cannot be justified with current scientific knowledge. There is no way that we can adapt our knowledge of the origin of the universe, of geology, of paleontology to accommodate this view. If those who hold to this view will accept it as a theological proposal–that God created the earth with an appearance of age, then it can work, but this creates its own problems. Personally, I reject this view, but I happily fellowship those who hold to it. It creates no theological problems but does cause issues with scientific evidence.
2. This is the view I hold to. It allows us to accept that there is historical information in the Genesis account. It does create difficult questions about how those humans with the image of God came to be the only humans. It requires us to explain why God allowed fairly intelligent human-like creatures such as Neandertal and Homo Erectus to evolve. It does raise questions around anthropology, but not with science in general and it raises no important theological questions in my opinion.
3. This is the view of many Christians I know whom I much respect. It appears to be the view you are describing above which creates problems for you. In fact, I believe it may very well be the correct view, but I have to choose one as my go-to view, and I choose #2, as it keeps the maximum historical content of the Bible, which I prefer because the Bible as a whole does appear to be historical and it supports the strongest view of biblical inspiration in my opinion. This view forces us to explain why parts of the seemingly straightforward historical account in Genesis 1 and 2 is in fact metaphorical. It also forces us to ask what happened to all those other non-God-image intelligent beings? Why did they disappear? It appears a bit ad hoc. Those who hold to this view are sometimes labeled as accepting the framework view of Genesis. You can find some info on this by doing a search of my web site. Also, we did a debate titled Four Christian Views of Evolution. You can get a copy of this debate at www.ipibooks.com or you can find my power point on this topic at the web site.
4. This view falls in the range of one of the presenters in the debate mentioned above, Dennis Lamoreaux. To me, it leaves too much as metaphor. I do not see room for a person who has a partially-evolved soul or spirit. I reject this view as unbiblical. I know some believers whom I consider Christian who believe this, but I believe it may be corrosive to faith in the inspiration of the Bible, so I will fellowship those who hold to this, but I do not encourage acceptance of this view.
5. Oh, and there is a fifth view, which is that the Bible is a plain and simple human creation–that it is not inspired by God in any way whatsoever. It proposes that Genesis is a Jewish myth on par with other ancient myths, with no useful information either of a scientific or theological nature. Obviously, I reject this view as it forces one to ignore the overwhelming proof that the Bible is inspired by God.
I assume there may be aspects of your question I have not yet answered. Let me know with a follow-up if you like.