I came across a video of Dr. Denis Lemoreaux, an advocate for theistic evolution and Biblical accommodation, and following is the first of my two-part critique. With a degree in biology, Dr. Lemoreaux wrote the book, Evolutionary Creation: A Christian Approach to Evolution, and he talks about the main points in his video lecture.
I find his conclusions problematic on numerous grounds. He contends that “Adam never existed, and this fact has no impact whatsoever on the foundational beliefs of Christianity.” This statement is filled with errors. To begin with, I take issue with him framing his claim as a statement of fact when it is not. He is expressing a personal opinion, not to be confused with science.
In his mind, science has proven that Adam never existed, but in his lecture, he provided no evidence (perhaps we have to read the book). We’re left to assume he’s relying on genome science because he briefly referenced it during his lecture, but stops short of providing details. But genetics has come a long way, and scientists can point to an original Eve living about 6,000 years ago, known as Mitochondrial Eve, and scientists can point to all people being descended from three ancient, major people groups, known as the L, M and N Haplogroups, consistent with the Biblical account of Noah and his three sons.
In addition, if Adam and Eve didn’t exist, then that, obviously, would have a profound impact on Christianity, despite his claims otherwise. It would call into question both the Bible’s truthfulness and authority. The Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, makes the case for an historical Adam and Eve. The apostle Paul believed in Adam and Eve. So did Jesus. Perhaps Lamoreaux can get away with calling Paul ignorant, but the implications for Jesus are much worse. According to Jesus’ genealogy (Luke 3:23-38), he is related to Adam, whom Lamoreaux claims is fictional. What does that make Jesus then? A fraud?
Lamoreaux makes the case that, even though the apostle Paul believed in an historical Adam, there’s no reason for us to. After all, he says, Paul was wrong about a lot of things- like a 3-tiered universe. Therefore, since Paul was wrong about ancient astronomy, geology and geography, we shouldn’t believe in Adam just because Paul did. Instead, Paul’s incorrect view of ancient science was a ‘vessel’ to deliver a spiritual truth, and that’s what he says we should believe.
I find his line of thinking convoluted, if not simply fallacious. He fails to make a convincing case that Paul was wrong, and I would suggest it’s Lamoreaux’s interpretation of Scripture that is wrong. He points to Philippians 2:10 as evidence: “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth”. Here, Lamoreaux says Paul was using ancient science, where people believed there was a firmament of water above the earth and a subterranean world beneath the earth, and since we know there’s no firmament or subterranean world, we don’t have to accept anything Paul has to say about the physical world!
I have no idea where he’s coming up with this line of logic. When I read this passage in Philippians, I think it simply means that all people (including the living and dead), whether in heaven, hell, or on earth, will one day bow down to Jesus. I never thought Paul was referring to a nonexistent, physical realm; he was referring to both a physical and spiritual world that do exist. Lamoreaux is convicting Paul of something he never wrote or believed, and then using it to support his own unbiblical theory.
Further, without Adam and Eve, there is no adequate origin for sin, or for the need of Jesus to die on the cross. According to Christianity, the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, and God’s revelation to man. But if Paul (and all the other Biblical writers) were wrong about Adam and Eve, then what’s the point of believing anything the Bible has to say? Paul’s spiritual message should be disqualified if the Holy Spirit led him to write a purely fictitious account of the physical world. In addition, God’s existence and character would be called into question if he knowingly lied about mankind’s origin. All this makes Lamoreaux’s ‘vessel’ idea a poor theory, to say the least.
The Bible, of course, does explain where sin came from, and why we need a savior, but it all hinges on Adam being a real, historical person. Dr. Lamoreaux does little to address these concerns or dilemmas. He agrees that sin is real, and it entered the world- just not through Adam. But he doesn’t offer an adequate explanation. He says it just “emerged” at some point in our evolutionary past when our ancestors began thinking like modern humans. He believes we need a savior, but doesn’t explain why. He needs to explain how and why a good, all-powerful God created a universe that includes death, disease and suffering. Does he believe God is responsible for the existence of sin? Lamoreaux is basically rewriting the Bible and transforming its theology to accommodate his idea of science. Science, then, becomes the ultimate authority, and the Bible must conform. That’s a problematic.
Evolutionary creation is the kind of theistic evolution Lamoreaux is advocating. This model supposes God had a plan and purpose. The Father, son and Holy Spirit created the universe and all life, including humans, through an ordained, sustained and design-reflecting evolutionary process. Apparently, that design includes death, disease, suffering and extinction. But doesn’t that reflect poorly on the designer, especially when many of those evolutionary experiments failed?
Lamoreaux stresses that his theory of evolution is not deism. But I think it is worse, as it means God was actively involved, making him responsible for all those evolutionary dead-ends and extinctions.
According to the creation account in Genesis, however, God created a perfect world, and his crowning achievement was man, after which he pronounced his creation “very good”. There were no mistakes in his design. Sin, then, resulted from Adam’s disobedience. Death, disease and suffering were the consequences. This is in stark contrast to evolutionary creation, in which death reigned before sin, long before humans arrived on the scene.
The purpose of my post is to point out the inconsistencies with any form of theistic evolution, where it’s necessary to bend-over-backwards to make sense of it, or ignore and reinterpret basic theology, neither of which is tenable. Further, I’d suggest that a straight-forward reading of Scripture, in which Adam and Eve are indeed historical persons, makes the most sense both theologically and scientifically, challenging modern evolutionary theory.
In my next post (Part II), I’ll discuss Dr. Lamoreaux’s concept of Biblical Accomodation.