"...this mindset is a problem: It assumes that the Adam and Eve story is about 'human origins.'"

Evangelicals look to the Bible to settle important questions of faith. So, faced with a potentially faith-crushing idea like evolution, evangelicals naturally ask right off the bat, “What does the Bible say about that?” And then informed by “what the Bible says,” they are ready to make a “biblical” judgment.

This is fine in principle, but in the evolution debate this mindset is a problem: It assumes that the Adam and Eve story is about “human origins.” It isn’t. And as long as evangelicals continue to assume that it does, the conflict between the Bible and evolution is guaranteed.

Once More, With Feeling: Adam, Evolution and Evangelicals

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Aaron Blumer's picture


Not much amazes me, but this is amazes me. Enns attempts to frame the whole debate incorrectly with a fallacy: that the Adam and Eve story cannot be "a story about human origins" and also be a story about other things.

At that point, I'd expect him to argue that it's a story about the Fall of the human race or something along those lines. Instead, he pulls out the stops and argues against the uniqueness of Scripture as inspired revelation and the uniqueness of Israel as a people of God.

Enns wrote:
Likewise, [like every other ancient civilization's stories ] Israel's story was written to say something about their place in the world and the God they worshiped. To think that the Israelites, alone among all other ancient peoples, were interested in (or capable of) giving some definitive, quasi-scientific, account of human origins is an absurd logic. And to read the story of Adam and Eve as if it were set up to so such a thing is simply wrongheaded.

So we're supposed to dismiss centuries of Christian (and before that, Jewish) orthodoxy because we allegedly now know that Israel was just one more ancient near east bunch of folks and the Bible is just one more collection of stories?

Am I reading him uncharitably? Certainly seems to me that his reasoning includes those premises.
I'd expect an argument like that from an avowed theological liberal.... but last I knew, Enns was thought to be some flavor of evangelical.

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.

Mike Durning's picture

I found this article troubling and Dr. Enns' one-way logic disturbing.

Humans and primates share 90-some percent of their genomes in common -- so evolution is the best answer? Why not a common designer? Is that not where we usually see design-similarities in the world?

Ancient pagan cultures present their creation stories in a particular way, so the Israelites' creation story must work the same way? Why is it that the Bible is taken as derivative from other human cultures, rather than the equally valid theory that other cultures mimic and distort the true story? What's missing from that one-way logic is the concept of revelation. And once you surrender revelation, what's the point of reading the Bible at all, other than as you would read Greek mythology.

About the only thing that holds water in the article is the argument that Evangelicals are obsessed with disproving evolution when they come to Genesis 1 & 2. When was the last time you heard a good sermon from Genesis 1 & 2 that was not an anti-evolution sermon? Those chapters are good for something else, you know.

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Reminded me of the words to an old song - You gotta stand for something, or you'll fall for anything.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Paul J. Scharf's picture

A complete denial of the doctrines of revelation and inspiration -- say nothing of creationism...

Church Ministries Representative, serving in the Midwest, for The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry 

Jason L. Skipper's picture

Yes, Enns is a guy whose writings on this issue leave much to be desired. Actually, they leave everything to be desired.
He seems to be intelligent and articulate, but he simply refuses to budge on the issue of creation and a literal Adam and Eve.
His stance is one that saddens me, as it affects people's view of inerrancy, Christ's perfection, as well as creation. He has many disciples, too. Far too many.
What is worse, is the fact that ANE myths do not in any significant way compare to Genesis' creation account. One can also read the OT Apocrypha and Vermes' translation of the Dead Sea Scrolls and find that they understood Scripture to teach a literal six day creation as well as a literal Adam and Eve. So, too, will that be found in the early church fathers and the Reformers.
Enns' teaching is simply out of tune with Scripture and the testimony of history.


Jason L. Skipper's picture

...about those chimps.
Things aren't as they would have us believe.
ICR has an article about the http://www.icr.org/article/human-chimp-dna-comparison-research/ DNA issue.

Results from this comprehensive study unequivocally indicate that the human and chimpanzee genomes are at least 10 to 12 percent less identical than is commonly claimed.

Enns is not even quoting the most recent science.
If we base our hermeneutic on evolutionary science, which is more philosophical than scientific, we will have an ever changing hermeneutic.


G. N. Barkman's picture

I suppose we could say that the account of Jesus walking on the water is not really about the act of walking on water, but about faith, or lack thereof, namely Peter's initial commendable faith followed by his lapse.

Regardless of the primary intent, either Jesus did or did not walk on water. It matters not what someone may say (correctly or incorrectly) is the primary purpose of the account. Either the Bible is true when it records that Jesus walked on water, or it has presented a falsehood as if it were true, and thereby demonstrates itself to be unreliable.

Either the Bible is true when it records the creation of Adam and Eve, or it is unreliable. Like the doctrine of resurrection, if it's not true, then is our faith vain, and we are, of all men, most miserable.

G. N. Barkman

JD Miller's picture

Enns sounds a lot like the modernists of 100 yrs ago. Then a group of faithful Christians separated from the Bible deniers and called themselves fundamentalists. Enns has denied scripture. I must separate from him. I am a fundamentalist.

Aaron Blumer's picture


... but how do you separate from someone you were never joined to?

There is a way. Bauder has often used the term "christian recognition" or something pretty similar. In a way, any public figure who claims to be a Christian is joined to all other Christians on the assumption that his claim is true. The default is that these claims are accepted until there is some reason to reject them. So 'separate' in that case applies the Scriptures that speak to handling apostates and false prophets--we deny that they are Christians.
It's true that there are forms of separation in between... perhaps denying that someone is "a Christian in good standing"? But that gets really messy. All the Scriptures involved describe a very personal process of interacting w/the offending brother. So I'm not sure pronouncements constitute any kind of biblical separation in those cases.

But denouncing apostates is separation even if we were never partnered with them.

If a guy sees Israel as just one more ANE civilization and Adam and Eve as the same sort of myth as every other ANE tall tale, it's hard to see how he can really be a believer in the gospel.

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.