Review: ‘In Quest of the Historical Adam’ by William Lane Craig

"In what follows, I lay out my two main reservations: the first concerns how Craig interprets the early chapters of Genesis, and the second how he interprets the apostolic testimony." - TGC

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dgszweda's picture

This is a great review of this book.  I would further point out that Christ himself viewed Adam as a historical figure and as the first human.  Not just apostles.

I am constantly surprised that good scholars fall into the same holes that Hans laid out.  They are faced with archaeology or written information and they must then figure out how to resolve the two, and that typically means watering down the Scripture in order to make it subservient to something like archaeology.

Dave White's picture

https://www.biola.edu/about/theological-positions

God created the natural world and called it “good,” and after he created male and female he declared his creation “very good.” The man, Adam, was formed by the LORD God from the dust of the ground and not from living ancestors, and God breathed into him the breath of life so that Adam became a living being. The woman, Eve, was created from Adam’s side with both made in the image of God.

WallyMorris's picture

So it appears Craig's beliefs contradict BIOLA's "theological positions" statement, which raises the question of whether BIOLA really believes what it states. If it does, then why allow Craig the status of "Visiting Scholar of Philosophy"? Shouldn't Craig agree to the doctrinal statement? I suspect BIOLA has more problems with its doctrinal beliefs than many are aware of or want to be aware of.

Wally Morris

Charity Baptist Church

Huntington, IN

amomentofcharity.blogspot.com

Dave White's picture

WallyMorris wrote:

So it appears Craig's beliefs contradict BIOLA's "theological positions" statement, which raises the question of whether BIOLA really believes what it states. If it does, then why allow Craig the status of "Visiting Scholar of Philosophy"? Shouldn't Craig agree to the doctrinal statement? I suspect BIOLA has more problems with its doctrinal beliefs than many are aware of or want to be aware of.

B/c he is  the "Visiting Scholar of Philosophy"?

By the away ... he is excellent in philosophy!

WallyMorris's picture

So a "Visiting Scholar" doesn't have to agree with the school's doctrinal statement? I guess that solves the problem of doctrinal error - Just label them "Visiting".

Wally Morris

Charity Baptist Church

Huntington, IN

amomentofcharity.blogspot.com

dgszweda's picture

Dave White wrote:

 

WallyMorris wrote:

 

So it appears Craig's beliefs contradict BIOLA's "theological positions" statement, which raises the question of whether BIOLA really believes what it states. If it does, then why allow Craig the status of "Visiting Scholar of Philosophy"? Shouldn't Craig agree to the doctrinal statement? I suspect BIOLA has more problems with its doctrinal beliefs than many are aware of or want to be aware of.

 

 

B/c he is  the "Visiting Scholar of Philosophy"?

By the away ... he is excellent in philosophy!

While I find some of his stuff interesting, I now question his excellency in philosophy after this book.  Although it doesn't represent a new thought process for him, I never was exposed to what he thought in this space.  

What continues to perplex me is that he has laid out a compelling case for the belief in the Resurrection.  An action that defies all of science, is testable and provable that humans that have been dead for three days cannot self resurrect themselves.  Something that in and of itself is fantastical, but he denies a literal 6 day creation because it is fantastical (as he puts it) and it defies science.  Even thought it cannot be testable and proven.

I think Jesus gives us a clear glimpse into this in Matthew when he addresses the Sadducees after they challenged Him with the resurrection.  He says, "You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God."

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Why does he defend a literal resurrection but want to be less than literal with the historicity of Adam? This is a really good question.

Once upon a time, people took passages of Scripture to teach that the sun revolves around that the earth and that the earth is square ('four winds') and flat. An abundance of evidence led them to reinterpret. Why do we accept their reinterpretations and not accept those of Craig and others? I'm not making an argument here, just asking the question. Do we even know? Is it an issue of quality and quantity of evidence? Is it an issue of the source of the evidence? Do we see a different relationship between Scripture and external evidence for the question of geocentrism vs. the the relationship between Scripture and external evidence on these other matters  (creation of man, Adam)?  

The answer to that question might clarify why Craig and others like him would handle historical Adam differently from how they handle historical resurrection.

Edit: This is important: Craig does not reject historical Adam. At least, he doesn't think he does.

From the book summary on Amazon...

He then moves into the New Testament, where he examines references to Adam in the words of Jesus and the writings of Paul, ultimately concluding that the entire Bible considers Adam the historical progenitor of the human race—a position that must therefore be accepted as a premise for Christians who take seriously the inspired truth of Scripture. 

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

AndyE's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:

Once upon a time, people took passages of Scripture to teach that the sun revolves around that the earth and that the earth is square ('four winds') and flat. An abundance of evidence led them to reinterpret. Why do we accept their reinterpretations and not accept those of Craig and others? I'm not making an argument here, just asking the question. Do we even know? Is it an issue of quality and quantity of evidence? Is it an issue of the source of the evidence? Do we see a different relationship between Scripture and external evidence for the question of geocentrism vs. the the relationship between Scripture and external evidence on these other matters  (creation of man, Adam)?  

  For me, the difference is between a directly observable natural and repeatable phenomenon (i.e., we can see the earth is a globe and we have direct observation of the planets rotation around the Sun) vs scientific conclusions of a non-directly-observable and unrepeatable supernatural event. 

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I'm not sure the distinction can hold up. As soon as we observe, we start reasoning from what we observe. Even rejecting geocentrism involves inductive reasoning from a lot of data. None of us have hovered above above the solar system from a suitable distance and watched the planets go around the sun.

So, are we saying that if the data is complex, but not not too complex, we can re-evaluate our theology, but if it's more complex, we can't go there? If it's a matter of "degrees of removal from direct observation," how many degrees, and why?

My intent is more to explore than argue on this. I accept that there is a strong intuitive weight to the idea that that the basic movements of the solar system are too obvious to ignore, while evidence of the "evolution of man" is far less obvious. But is the "degree of obviousness" mostly retrospective, because we rejected geocentrism centuries ago and now assume it? It wasn't so obvious centuries ago (apparently some still think it's not obvious: https://answersingenesis.org/astronomy/geocentrism-history-background/

In the AiG article, this paragraph is interesting...

Keep in mind that the Galileo affair was a scientific squabble, not a battle between the Bible and science. Most of the refutation to Galileo came not from Scripture, but from Aristotle and Ptolemy. Biblical references, such as Joshua 10:12–14, played a much smaller role, and they were interpreted in terms of geocentrism.

"Much smaller" or not, they still played a role. But maybe there's a case to be made that the difference between  'centrism debates' vs. 'origin of man debates' should be derived from the theology side. That is, we approach the data differently based on qualities of the Christian doctrine involved not the quality of the observable or scientific evidence.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.