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1 Timothy 2:11-14

11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.

Jude 14

It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones

Luke 3:23-38

23 Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about thirty years of age, being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the son of Heli, 24 the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melchi, the son of Jannai, the son of Joseph, 25 the son of Mattathias, the son of Amos, the son of Nahum, the son of Esli, the son of Naggai, 26 the son of Maath, the son of Mattathias, the son of Semein, the son of Josech, the son of Joda, 27 the son of Joanan, the son of Rhesa, the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, the son of Neri, 28 the son of Melchi, the son of Addi, the son of Cosam, the son of Elmadam, the son of Er, 29 the son of Joshua, the son of Eliezer, the son of Jorim, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, 30 the son of Simeon, the son of Judah, the son of Joseph, the son of Jonam, the son of Eliakim, 31 the son of Melea, the son of Menna, the son of Mattatha, the son of Nathan, the son of David, 32 the son of Jesse, the son of Obed, the son of Boaz, the son of Sala, the son of Nahshon, 33 the son of Amminadab, the son of Admin, the son of Arni, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah, 34 the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor, 35 the son of Serug, the son of Reu, the son of Peleg, the son of Eber, the son of Shelah, 36 the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech, 37 the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalaleel, the son of Cainan, 38 the son of Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.

Acts 17:26-27

26 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, 27 that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us,

Romans 5:12-14

12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— 13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.

1 Corinthians 11:7-12

7 For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. 8 For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. 9 Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10 That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; 12 for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God.

1 Corinthians 15:21-22

21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.

1 Corinthians 15:45

Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.

2 Corinthians 11:3

But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.

Matthew 19:4-6

4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

These passages appear to depict Adam and Eve as historical figures. For Christians embracing the theory of Evolution, how might these verses be interpreted to align with a theistic evolutionary account of the origin of the human species?


A few subquestions to consider when seeking to reconcile theistic evolution with these passages:

  1. How can the genealogy outlined in Luke 3:23-28, corroborated by Jude 14, be harmonized with an evolutionary timeline? It's noteworthy that this genealogy is often cited in support of Young Earth Creationism.

  2. Within a theistic evolutionary framework, what interpretations exist for the sequence of creation, particularly with Eve's creation occurring from/after Adam, as indicated by 1 Timothy 2:11-14 and 1 Corinthians 11:7-12?

  3. Concerning Romans 5:12-14 and 1 Corinthians 15:21-22, how is the idea of death entering the world through one man understood in the context of theistic evolution? How is the absence of death before Adam and Eve's fall reconciled with the mechanism of natural selection that relies on the death of the unfit to work?

  4. How is the deception of Eve by the serpent, referenced in 2 Corinthians 11:3, reconciled with an evolutionary perspective on human origins?

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  • 1
    I might be tempted to suggest an addition to the above, but it is a fairly comprehensive list as it stands, I think. Up-voted +1 (just for the excellent presentation).
    – Nigel J
    Commented Dec 22, 2023 at 7:01
  • 2
    Short answer: it can't. 🙂 And there are so many problems with Common Descent that one hardly needs to rely on Scripture to refute it. Also, I recommend clarifying that you mean "Common Descent" when you say "theory of Evolution", as Natural Selection does not contradict Scripture.
    – Matthew
    Commented Dec 22, 2023 at 18:15
  • @Matthew I mean theistic evolution. I added a link.
    – Mark
    Commented Dec 22, 2023 at 21:27
  • @ Matthew - "Common Descent" must be defined for legitimate discussion. Common descent among humans seems valid, rightly defined. We all descended from Adam and Eve. But Common Descent with "man and animals" (which may be the modern Evolutionary theory) is the controversial issue!----BioLogos is a site that advocates Theistic Evolution, which, those interested, may consult. Also the American Scientific Affiliation is a group of T.E's On the other hand, Answers in Genesis is opposed, as well as the Creation Research Society.
    – ray grant
    Commented Dec 22, 2023 at 23:04
  • Please don't use tables for quotations; it makes it difficult to navigate for the visually impaired using a screen reader (see Standard format for biblical quotations).
    – agarza
    Commented Dec 23, 2023 at 14:58

3 Answers 3

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How can the theory of Evolution be reconciled with passages in the New Testament that seem to refer to Adam and Eve as historical figures?

If we as Christians are to believe in evolution and original sin, there has to be a logical and theological manner to join these two thoughts within a philosophical logical thought.

If the creationist holds to a literal interpretation of creation and with it, the belief that Adam was responsible for our original sin; then those who hold to the theory of evolution and Original Sin must hold that our first parents of the human race also committed the original sin.

In order that original sin and evolution be reconciled, it would be necessary that at a certain time in evolution, God infused into a certain natural creature an immortal soul and the gift of intelligence and knowledge of God. This being would be our first parent: Adam. This is what evolutionists accept in order to make original sin understood within a Christian belief system.

For example, Pope Pius XII's teaching in Catholicism can be summarized as follows:

  • The question of the origin of man's body from pre-existing and living matter is a legitimate matter of inquiry for natural science. Catholics are free to form their own opinions, but they should do so cautiously; they should not confuse fact with conjecture, and they should respect the Church's right to define matters touching on Revelation.

  • Catholics must believe, however, that humans have souls created immediately by God. Since the soul is a spiritual substance it is not brought into being through transformation of matter, but directly by God, whence the special uniqueness of each person.

  • All men have descended from an individual, Adam, who has transmitted original sin to all mankind. Catholics may not, therefore, believe in "polygenism", the scientific hypothesis that mankind descended from a group of original humans (that there were many Adams and Eves). - Evolution and the Catholic Church

St. Paul’s words can not be altered and will always remain a strong testimony of Divine truth:

11Not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. 12Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, so also death was passed on to all men, because all sinned. 13For sin was in the world before the law was given; but sin is not taken into account when there is no law. - Romans 5:11-13

Thus if we take all this to it’s logical conclusion in regards with evolution, it must be admitted that at a certain point in the history of Homo sapiens sapiens God infused an immortal soul into the first man and first woman, known to us as Adam and Eve.

The gift of an immortal soul would have made Adam and Eve our first parents.

Modern Catholicism points to a unique special creation applies to humans and not other species:

The position of the Roman Catholic Church on the theory of evolution has changed over the last two centuries from a large period of no official mention, to a statement of neutrality in the early-1950s, to limited guarded acceptance in recent years, rejecting the materialistic and reductionist philosophies behind it, and insisting that the human soul was immediately infused by God, and the reality of a single human ancestor (commonly called monogenism) for all of mankind. The Church does not argue with scientists on matters such as the age of the earth and the authenticity of the fossil record, seeing such matters as outside its area of expertise. Papal pronouncements, along with commentaries by cardinals, indicate that the Church is aware of the general findings of scientists on the gradual appearance of life. Indeed, Belgian priest Georges Lemaître, astronomer and physics professor at the Catholic University of Louvain, was the first to propose the theory of expansion of the universe, often incorrectly credited to Edwin Hubble. In the 1950 encyclical Humani generis, Pope Pius XII confirmed that there is no intrinsic conflict between Christianity and the theory of evolution, provided that Christians believe that the individual soul is a direct creation by God and not the product of purely material forces. Today, many members of the Church support theistic evolution, also known as evolutionary creation. Under Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the International Theological Commission published a paper accepting the big bang of 15 billion years ago and the evolution of all life including humans from the microorganisms that formed approximately 4 billion years ago. The Vatican has no official teaching on this matter except for the special creation of the human soul. The Pontifical Biblical Commission issued a decree ratified by Pope Pius X on June 30, 1909, stating that special creation applies to humans and not other species. - Acceptance of evolution by religious groups

Without the sin of Adam, our first parent there is no original sin.

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  • Thank you @KenGraham for your answer. I added a few specific subquestions at the end of the OP, and I'd be curious to know your thoughts on those points.
    – Mark
    Commented Dec 23, 2023 at 9:44
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My prior answer reviewed 4 models which do not see a contradiction between the historicity of Adam & Eve and a belief in the concept of evolution. This post will review the sub-questions appended to the original question1 and make reference to Models 1, 2, 3, and 4 from the original post.


Genealogies

All 4 models are compatible with the belief that Adam & Eve lived 6-10 thousand years ago, and that God intervened in their lives in a manner unique & distinct from the interaction with other creatures.

However, many Christians suggest caution is warranted when trying to extract precise chronology from Genesis:

  • The Hebrew Masoretic & Greek Septuagint texts disagree with each other mathematically in a number of places
  • Numbers convey symbolic meaning in numerous Biblical texts. Are the ages & dates in Genesis counting literal years the way modern calendars do, are the numbers symbolic statements about the people described, or a mix of both?
  • The genealogy in Matthew occasionally skips generations. Is it possible that the genealogies in Luke or Genesis do as well?

None of the models require a dogmatic position on the number of years that have passed since the time of Adam & Eve.

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Eve after Adam

Model 1: Adam was the first being granted a human spirit/soul; Eve was a the second

Model 2: Adam & Eve were created spiritually in heaven. When they were placed in Eden and given a physical body, Adam was placed there first, followed by Eve.

Model 3: The creation of Eve from/after Adam occurred before Adam & Eve's entry into this fallen world. Evolution happened after Eden.

Model 4: God made covenants with Adam first, then with Eve.

If Genesis describes God's use of the human genome in creating Adam's physical body and then reusing it in creating Eve's, using terms like "dust" and "bone" would make a lot more sense than "genes" and "DNA" in a text written 3500 years ago.

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Death before the Fall

Models 1 & 4: spiritual death (separation from God) started with the Fall of Adam & Eve. Some Christians would conclude that physical death had been happening for a long time already; other Christians pair Models 1 & 4 with with additional detail (such as Models 2 & 3) and maintain that there was no physical death before the Fall either.

Model 2: death is a feature of the fallen world but not the paradisiacal world

Model 3: death occurred in the fallen world before the events of Genesis 4, but did not occur in Eden in Genesis 3.

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Deception by the serpent

Perhaps I'm misunderstanding the question, but I do not see how the deception by the serpent creates any conflict with any of the models. Satan deceived Eve and she chose to partake of the forbidden fruit; Adam subsequently chose to partake of the forbidden fruit. This led to a separation from the presence of God which Adam & Eve had previously enjoyed.

This is possible if Adam & Eve received distinct spirits/souls than other creatures did, received distinct covenants than other creatures did, or if their actions in Eden occurred in a different place (model 2) or time (model 3) than their actions in Genesis 4.


1 - The sub-questions strike me as a better fit for separate questions on the main site. However, I realize they might get closed as duplicates, so I offered an answer here, separated from the original post for readability.

2 - Since I've shared a variety of models, not all of which adequately represent my own beliefs, I was asked what my personal beliefs are. My theological beliefs on the matter are described on my channel here; they draw from Genesis and texts found here: 1, 2, 3. I am quite comfortable with the possibility that God has explained in the scriptures they why of creation but not the how. If we needed to know, God would have revealed it, rather than letting thousands of years of humans live without this knowledge. I do expect that God will reveal much more on the subject when the time comes that we need to know this information.

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Many Christians find no contradiction between the belief in Adam & Eve as real, historical people, and belief in the concept of evolution. I'll briefly summarize 4 models which see reconciliation, not contradiction, between these two beliefs. Though not all models are compatible with each other, they are not all mutually exclusive either.

1. Special transformism

A specific instance of this view has already been shared by Ken Graham. The essential claim of special transformism is that humans are distinct from all other creatures, and that however their physical bodies came to be, humans were endowed with unique spirits/souls by God.

A subset of this view is the belief that all creatures have spirits, but humans (unlike other creatures) are created in the image of God and human spirits (unlike those of other creatures) are the offspring of God (see Acts 17:29, Romans 8:16).

On this view it is possible that hominids evolved like other creatures, but there came a point where God endowed hominids with human spirits. The first two such individuals, Adam & Eve, began the human family.

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2. Multi-stage creation

A comparison between Genesis 1:11-12 & 2:5 (were plants growing or not?), and between Genesis 1:27 & 2:22 (has woman been created yet or not?), has long led many readers to conclude that there are multiple stages of creation being discussed in the Genesis account. I will not attempt to summarize all such interpretations here; I'll briefly acknowledge one such view:

  • Genesis 1 describes the spiritual creation in heaven
  • Genesis 2 describes the physical creation on the paradisiacal earth (and chapter 3 describes the departure from that paradisiacal state)
  • Genesis 4+ describes the progression of life in the fallen world

On this view, evolution describes events in the fallen world; the spiritual & paradisiacal creations did not occur in this fallen world and are inaccessible to direct, empirical inquiry here.

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3. Staged introduction

The metaphor of a highway tunnel is helpful here. Many roadway tunnels run parallel to a smaller pedestrian tunnel for emergency exit in case of blockage, fire, or other hazards in the main tunnel. At various points along the length of both tunnels there are doors between them. Two people could go from one tunnel to the other by different doorways and thus, even though they are both starting in one tunnel and both ending in the other tunnel, they enter the latter tunnel at different places.

On this view, after the Fall living things were driven out of Eden and entered the fallen world, but they were introduced into the fallen world at different stages (e.g. prokaryotes before eukaryotes, Dimetrodons before dinosaurs, birds before humans, etc.) as biological life progressed. If the history of life on earth is represented as a tunnel, humans exiting Eden weren't brought in at the beginning of the tunnel--they were introduced several billion steps down the path.

Variants of this view are compatible both with an unbroken chain of evolution (Adam & Eve were born to slightly-less-developed hominid parents) or with a special creation (God intervened to create Adam & Eve without their descending from other physical creatures).

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4. Covenant people

On this view, life developed through guided evolution until there were creatures on earth prepared to make covenants with God--the first of those beings were Adam & Eve. Theologically, the human family begins with the first hominids who make covenants with God.

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Conclusion

I don't necessarily agree with all views noted above; rather my intent was to acknowledge that these views (and many variations upon them) exist. While these viewpoints may come to various interpretations of Genesis 1-11, and how long ago those events happened, all of them accept Adam & Eve as real, individual human beings who lived on this earth.

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  • Thank you @HoldToTheRod for your response. In considering each of the provided hypotheses, I came up with more specific subquestions, which I appended to the OP. I am curious to understand the degree to which each hypothesis is able to make sense of these specific inquiries. Additionally, do you have a preference for a hypothesis that you find particularly more plausible than the others?
    – Mark
    Commented Dec 23, 2023 at 14:20
  • @Mark thanks for the follow up questions -- I added another answer responding to them. I included a brief footnote on my personal beliefs, but theories on matters where God has revealed few details can get speculative pretty quickly. If you'd like more of my speculative thoughts I don't mind discussing by email sometime ([email protected]) Commented Dec 23, 2023 at 17:02

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