At his blog this week, Jerry Coyne calls out the BioLogos Foundation, a self-professed reconciler of good science with reasonable religion, for not unequivocally rejecting the historicity of Adam and Eve:
BioLogos does not take an official position on the historicity of Adam and Eve?? Do they not realize what they’re saying? This is like asserting that “BioLogos does not take an official position on the age of the earth.”
Adam and Eve did not exist, and we know that because the entire human race did not descend from two people who were created ex nihilo about 6,000 years ago. Science tells us that. If BioLogos doesn’t take an official position on Adam and Eve, then they’re flying in the face of scientific fact.
I would add that literal Adam and Eve belief also promotes racism.
Because most white fundamentalists not only believe that humanity’s first parents came on the scene about 6,000 years ago, they also believe that those parents were conventionally white and came from Mesopotamia (Genesis’s location for the Garden of Eden). Below, for example, is the model of Adam and Eve shown to people visiting the young earth Creation Museum in Kentucky:
If there was an equivalent Afrocentrism Museum built somewhere that so grossly misrepresented what historians and scientists have learned about our human history and ancestry, there would no doubt be a great deal of derision heaped upon the museum. And while it is true that the young earth Creation Museum in Kentucky has received its (thoroughly deserved) share of intellectual pillorying on the grounds that it contradicts evolution, one element that has been politely sidestepped is its blatant racism.
But to assert, in the 21st century, that humanity’s first parents did not come out of Africa is no less ridiculous (and ultimately racist) than to assert, as Afrocentists do, that the history of Greece and Egypt was dominated by the achievements of black Africans. In other words, when white Evangelicals and fundamentalists show picture books to their children depicting Adam and Eve and all the early humans (such as Noah) as white, it is no different from Afrocentrists teaching their kids that all great Egyptians were black, and that Egyptians gave Greece their intellectual and cultural innovations. In both cases, children are being taught racially motivated and ahistorical nonsense. Our earliest human ancestors looked like the San Bushmen of southwest Africa, and may have even used a click language like the San people do now. These are facts (as the New York Times so thoroughly surveyed). The evidence is simply overwhelming that the ancestors of all modern humans living today came from either the southeast or southwest part of Africa, and were most closely related to the San people of southwest Africa (who are still living there today).
Put differently: “Adam and Eve”—or the first modern human ancestors of all living people today—whatever name you give them—were black—and not white. Period. And to deny this in the 21st century, and to teach something otherwise to your children, is not just a gross distortion of history, but racist.
That’s my opinion. What’s yours?
Below is an image of a white Adam and Eve, in Mesopotamia’s Garden of Eden, from a children’s book:
And here’s a nineteenth century racist depiction of a white Noah (the father supposedly of all humans after the Great Flood) and his apparently all white family. (It makes you wonder where the artist supposed that black, brown, and Asian people came from):
I’d like to emphasize that not all conservative Christians take Adam and Eve literally. Here, for example, is Alister McGrath sensibly interpreting the story of Adam and Eve as metaphor: