Cliff's Edge

Cliff Goldstein

is editor of the Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide. His next book, Baptizing the Devil: Evolution and the Seduction of Christianity is set to be released this fall by Pacific Press.

Two Adams, Two Eves?

Ever since Darwin, Christians (some) have been trying to meld evolution with Scripture, as fruitless as doing Euclidean geometry on the surface of a sphere. Christ’s death was predicated on a sinless Adam in paradise, whose fall Christ came to redeem. Evolution is predicated on an environment of death, violence, and predation in which no Adam in paradise could have existed. And if no Adam existed, who needs Jesus, which means our life here is but a bitter stint before we disintegrate in a hole or sit as ashes in an urn until the sun blows up.

Realizing the problem, Desmond Ford has proposed an idea in order to fit Adam into billions of years of life on earth, and thus “preserve” the Gospel. The gist of his argument is that the Adam of Genesis 1-3 is a different Adam— separated by a vast gap of time—from the Adam starting in Genesis 4:1.

He writes: “Adam and Eve in Genesis 1 were not the parents of Cain and Abel . . .. The idea that there are two Adams, separated by vast ages, may confound those who think literally . . .. [T]he Adam of Genesis 1-3 is different from the Adam of chapter 4. . .. The Adam of chapters 1-3 is prehistory whereas the Adam of chapter 4 onwards lives in a world of about ten thousand years ago. The Adam of chapter 4 is a different man.”

To buttress this thesis, he says that the word ha-adam, translated either as “Adam” or “the man,” in Genesis 1-3, points to the first Adam. The word adam alone, without the initial ha (the definite article “the”), is the other Adam, who first appears in Genesis 4. That is, ha-adam is the sinless pristine Adam, the man of Genesis 1-3; but adam is the next Adam, the one of Genesis 4 onward, who is separated from the first Adam by tens of thousands of years of violence, death and suffering.

However, Genesis 3:24-4:1, the two verses where the transition between the two Adams supposedly took place, demolishes his argument. The word ha-adam, (“the man”)supposedly referring to the Adam of Genesis 1-3 only, also appears in Genesis 4:1, in reference to Ford’s other Adam, too. Hence, the linguistic distinction between his two Adams falls apart in the first instance it was supposed to have been revealed.

“So he drove out the man [ha-adam]; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life. And Adam [ha-adam] knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD,” (Genesis 3:24-4:1).

Not only is the same word, ha-adam, used in both verses—the Adam of Genesis 4:1, like the Adam of Genesis 1-3, had a wife named Eve, too! And yet we are supposed to believe that these texts are referring to two completely different Adams, and two completely different Eves, with one Adam and Eve separated by tens of thousands of years from the other Adam and Eve?

Do you laugh or cry?

Dr. Ford presents this view in his latest book, Genesis Versus Darwin (2014). Despite the title, however, Ford rejects a literal six-day creation and the universality of Noah’s flood, arguing that both are parables meant not to teach history but spiritual truth.

“Genesis does concern a week,” he writes, “but it’s a parabolic not a literal week.”

Dr. Ford posited, instead, something called “progressive creationism,” which he claims harmonizes the Bible and and current science. According to Ford’s scenario, God started simple life billions of years ago, during which the Lord progressively created “ascending life forms” until He made the first Adam, ha-adam of Genesis 1-3, who, unfortunately, sinned (hence, the Gospel is “preserved”).

Dr. Ford didn’t say what happened after this first Adam sinned, except that between “Genesis 3 and 4 lie many thousands of years of human existence, and includes people such as Neanderthals and Cro-Magnons who sprang from Adam the first.” According to Ford, the “Neanderthals mysteriously became extinct and their more gifted successors”—meaning us—“dominated earth.”

With no disrespect intended, one can kindly ask: How does a man who, (in his own words) having “studied the Bible for over seventy-five years and thousands of books concerning it,” come up with such tortured exegesis? The answer is that Dr. Ford’s “progressive creationism” is just another example of what happens when well-meaning people subordinate the Word of God to whatever the latest science happens to be. Though dissing (and rightly so) the Darwinian mechanism of random mutation and natural selection, Dr. Ford nevertheless interpreted the Bible through the Darwinian template of billions of years of life and death in which God, finally, created the Adam of Genesis 1-3. But for this view to “work,” the Adam of Genesis 1-3 must be completely different from the Adam of Genesis 4:1, even if both Adams happened to have wives named Eve!

Attempts to harmonize Scripture with billions of years of life and death inevitably fail, Dr. Ford’s attempt being another example, however painful, of that inevitability.

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