A Case for Young Earth Creationism, Part 2

My overall argument in this series of posts is that young earth creationism coheres better with the totality of the Christian worldview better than does any other argument.  The first plank in this argument concerns humanity, sin, and redemption.  Here it is:

 The Christian story demands a historical Adam.

If Adam and Eve are seen as metaphors, symbols, or images for humanity in general, then the Christian faith collapses.  Here are several reasons for this contention:

1. The Seminal Passage: Romans 5:12-19.  If Adam is not a historical figure here, then the whole passage makes no sense.  If Adam is understood merely as a figure who represents all people, then the whole argument that Paul is making breaks down.  Allow me to demonstrate the absurdity of that interpretation by laying out the passage with a few glosses added in [my glosses are in brackets]:

“Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man [all men], and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned–for sin indeed was in the before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law.  Yet death reigned from Adam [all men] to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam [all men], who was a type of the one to come.  But the free gift is not like the trespass.  For if many died through one man’s [every man’s] trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.  And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s [every man’s] sin.  For the judgment following one trespass [every trespass] brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification.  If, because of one mans’ [every man’s] trespass, death reigned through that one man [all men], much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.  Therefore, as one trespass [every trespass] led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.  For as by the one man’s [every man’s] disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.”

The whole argument turns on the parallel between the one man who plunged us into death and sin and the one man who brings us life and justification.  If Adam is merely a metaphor for humanity, then what Paul is saying is that sin entered the world and spread to all men when humanity as a whole sinned.  That is nothing more than a tautology.  How could the one act of righteousness on the part of Christ in any way be parallel to that?  If Adam is not conceived of as historical in this passage, then neither should Christ be conceived of as historical.  Of course, one can always argue that Paul thought that Adam was a historical person, but Paul was just wrong about that.  I will not entertain that possibility, because it violates my view of the nature of Scripture.  That debate is for another time.  Another passage that belongs in this category is 1 Corinthians 15:21-22. 

2. A Seminal Doctrine: Original Sin.  The doctrine of original sin states that sin is part of our fallen nature from birth.  We are not born into the world morally neutral.  We sin because we are sinners.  Original sin is a necessary component of the Christian worldview, for without it, why would redemption through Christ be necessary?  And I would further argue that without a historical Adam, original sin cannot be upheld, at least not in any theologically sound way.  If Adam and Eve were not real people who plunged the human race into sin at a point in history, then we must be driven to one of the following conclusions:

(1) There is no such thing as original sin, or

(2) Original sin has been part of human nature from the very beginning.

If you take the first option, you are not a Christian.  You are at best a Pelagian.  If you take the second option, you are denying that God’s creation was “very good” in the beginning, as Genesis 1:31 claims, and you are laying a charge at the feet of God, namely, that he created us originally in a state of evil.  The Scripture teaches no such thing.  Humanity is fallen because of an event in history, not because God originally designed us this way. 

3. A Common Sense Observation: The Genealogies.  Adam is listed in a number of genealogies in Scripture.  How could a metaphor for everyman be a figure at the head of a genealogy?  That is nonsense.  Genesis 5:1 reads, “This is the book of the generations of Adam.”  That same formula appears in 6:9 with reference to Noah, in 10:1 with reference to Noah’s sons, in 11:27 in reference to Terah, in 25:12 with reference to Ishmael, in 25:19 with reference to Isaac, in 36:1 with reference to Esau, and in 37:2 with reference to Jacob.  The formula appears first in Genesis in reference to the heavens and the earth in 2:4, but that is obviously a figurative usage of the formula, and the heavens and the earth are never placed at the head of a genealogy.  So, what we find is that every time the formula is used in Genesis with a proper name, it refers to a real, historical person (unless you want to argue that Noah, Noah’s sons, Terah, Ishmael, Isaac, Esau, and Jacob are also metaphorical figures as well).  The fact that Adam appears at the head of the genealogy in chapter 5 makes it abundantly clear that he was a real person.  Furthermore, he appears in a genealogy tracing the ancestry of Jesus Christ in Luke 3:23-38. 

Young earth creationism upholds the historicity of Adam and Eve and their fall into sin as one of its necessary components.  This argument, if it is sound, eliminates some versions of the old earth view.  However, let me point out that there are some who uphold the old earth view who also believe in the historicity of Adam and Eve.  One could believe in both an old earth and in a historical Adam by taking any one of the following options:

(1) The “day-age” view of Genesis 1, where “days” represent long ages and not 24 hour periods.

(2) The “gap” theory that posits a gap of millions or billions of years between God’s original creation in Genesis 1:1 and his restoration of creation beginning in Genesis 1:2.  The reason the original creation needed to be restored (according to this view) is because the fall of Satan threw the world into chaos.

(3) The view that God guided the process of evolution until he brought forth Adam and Eve, the first people to be made in the image of God. 

Obviously, this one argument comes nowhere close to proving my case.  But I start with it because I believe it is the most important part of this whole discussion.  At the end of the day, I can live with someone coming to one of the above “old earth” views so long as the historicity of Adam is upheld.  If someone denies the historicity of Adam, then a line has been crossed that veers away from orthodoxy.  The Christian worldview cannot stand without original sin, which itself cannot stand without a historical fall. 

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2 Responses to “A Case for Young Earth Creationism, Part 2”

  1. Luke Smith Says:

    Aaron,
    So how do you reconcile the different order of creation in chapter 2:4ff with the order in chapter 1?

    Luke

  2. fenderpooh Says:

    Luke,

    I started typing out a response to your question, but then I realized that it was getting too long for a comment, so I will put it up as another post. Thanks for your interest.

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