Table of Contents
Two Men Called Adam
The Problem Stated
Can Evolutionary Theory and
Christian Theology Be Reconciled?
in 1859 published his Origin of Species, it does not seem
to have troubled the theologians too greatly since he was careful
not to make the evolution of man an explicit corollary. But when
in 1871 he published his Descent of Man, the true significance
of the threat to Christian Faith became much more apparent.
In the first place, it was obvious
that the concept of the origin of man by evolution from some
ape-like creature ran counter to the concept of man as a special
creation of God made in the Creator's own image and possessing
from the first a high intelligence and moral freedom.
In the second place, it was obvious
that the evolutionary view gave man an antiquity vastly in excess
of the mere 6000 years traditionally held on the basis of a strictly
But there were other consequences
which would have to be faced in due time.
Evolution makes it impossible to
establish the precise antithetical relationship between the Last
Adam and the First Adam, so essential to his role as Saviour-substitute
man. Was each truly a
reflection of the other if the First Adam was as much ape as
he was man, a barely human figure lurking in fear of life and
limb in some dark cold cave and surviving by the barest margin
for thousands of years until intelligent enough to secure a measure
of superior self-sufficiency? Could such a half-human figure
be a prototype of the Lord Jesus Christ?
Then there is the theological requirement
that Adam's constitution possess a contingently immortal nature,
a physical body not inherently subject to death yet quite capable
of experiencing death as the penalty of disobedience. Such a
physical being could not be derived from any one of the then
existing primates for whom it is almost certain that death was
"programmed" to occur after a certain species-specific
span of life had passed.
There are other problems, too.
Clearly Eve was formed out of Adam. There is no other species
of which the female was, as it were, born out of the male.
Implications of Evolution for Theology
Now it is clear
from subsequent events after the publication of The Origin
and The Descent of Man that the full theological implications
of some of these difficulties were not recognized at the time
by evangelical theologians. There were, however, two specific
problems that they did indeed recognize from the very first and
these were felt to be most disturbing.
These two problems were: (1) the
enormous antiquity of man which apparently vastly exceeded the
allotted biblical starting date of 4004 BC; and (2) the story
of man's introduction into the world by divine intervention in
the form of a direct creative act, not out of a lower order of
animal life but out of the dust of the earth and in the Creator's
Now both these problems were resolved
by re-interpreting the biblical chronology, and by re-interpreting
the concept of evolution to mean, in Adam's case, that this was
the divine mode of man's "creation."
It is my object to analyze the
factors in the new theory
of origins which from
a theological point of view were most serious, and to show how,
historically, the seriousness was not recognized by those who
should in fact have been the first to sound the alarm. It will
be useful to review very briefly as a kind of introduction, what
happened at Princeton Theological Seminary which at the time
was a centre of evangelical theology marked by the appearance
of a succession of perhaps the greatest Systematic Theologians
America was to produce for many years. What is surprising is
the speed with which capitulation to Darwinism took place.
Indeed, by 1900 capitulation to
Darwinism at Princeton on these two critical issues was virtually
complete. The other problems that Darwinism generated for those
who placed their faith in the Word of God crystallized much more
slowly. But what had already been surrendered by 1900 was enough
to ensure that many other theological seminaries and colleges
soon took a more liberal view of the matter of human origins
and increasingly departed from the biblical position held by
their founding fathers.
A historical review
While this sad
surrender to evolutionism was gathering momentum in the final
quarter of the last century, Princeton was blessed with a succession
of evangelical giants: Charles Hodge (17971878) the leading
American theologian of the nineteenth century; his son Alexander
A. Hodge (18231886) who followed him in the Chair of Systematics;
William H. Green (18251896) who became Professor of Oriental
and Old Testament literature and wrote a paper on Primeval
Chronology that had at that time (and still has) a profound
influence on the whole question of the antiquity of Adam (as
we shall see in Chapter 18); and Benjamin B. Warfield (18511921)
who was a product of Princeton and in due course became Professor
of didactic and polemical theology at his Alma Mater, succeeding
A. A. Hodge.
Charles Hodge at first took the
position that evolution was a highly speculative theory and far
from being proved. He never
for a moment conceded
that man's spirit was evolved and he had serious doubts
if man's body could have been either. But with the publication
of Sir Charles Lyell's Antiquity of Man in 1863, * he
began to have doubts whether the biblical chronology which placed
the creation of Adam barely 6000 years ago could any longer be
Like his father,
Alexander Hodge was much impressed by the manifest "devoutness"
of Lyell and as a result his conclusion met with considerable
sympathy in Hodge's mind. While he admitted the evidence for
a vast antiquity of the earth and that man may have been introduced
upon it much earlier than the Genesis record seemed to allow,
he wrote: "In any event, it can prove nothing as to the
relation of Adam to the race, but only that he was created longer
ago than we suppose." This was the thin edge of the wedge.
The idea of the vast antiquity
of man had also troubled William H. Green, and in a work designed
to defend the Genesis story against the violent attacks of Bishop
Colenso, Green published in 1863 his book The Pentateuch Vindicated
from the Aspersions of Bishop Colenso in which he argued
that the biblical chronology could not be attacked on the grounds
that it did not accord with the antiquity of man established
from geological evidence because the Bible did not actually provide
an unbroken chronology in any case. (1) The genealogies by which the Ussher chronology had
been constructed appeared to Green to possess many gaps, leaving
the date of Adam's creation quite uncertain. The traditional
date of 4004 BC could now therefore be abandoned on biblical
* It is worthy of note that Lyell had to publish
his Antiquity of Man in 1863 before Darwin felt it safe
to publish his Descent of Man in 1871. The first made
room for the second, and the second made explicit what was implied
in the first.
1. Green, William H., The Pentateuch Vindicated from the Aspersions
of Bishop Colenso, 1863, p.128, footnote.
younger Hodge towards the end of his life described the powerful
effect Green's book had on his father. In his own words: "I
can well remember my father walking up and down in his study
when he heard [about it] and saying, 'What a relief it is to
me that he should have said that'." (2) It appeared to resolve any conflict between the Bible
It does not seem that the younger
Hodge recognized the full import of this "escape hatch."
Green had written, "the time between the creation of Adam
and ourselves might have been, for all we know from the Bible
to the contrary, much longer than it seems." (3) To Alexander, this only
meant that Adam must be placed further back in time not
that Adam was any different in nature from the traditional view
of him or that his subsequent history needed any revision. Adam
was still a unique creation.
Warfield, who succeeded him, accepted
this judgment again, without apparently realizing what
the consequences of such a vast antiquity could be for the first
three chapters of Genesis. He, too, accepted Adam as somehow
a true "creation" but his origin could be placed much
further back in geological time for all it mattered. Thus he
wrote in 1911, "The question of the antiquity of man has
of itself no theological significance. It is to theology, as
such, a matter of entire indifference how long man has existed
on earth." (4)
Throughout this debate it must be borne in mind that the issue
revolved around the origin of Adam's body. The origin of his
soul as a direct creation of God was not for them in question.
Neither the two Hodges, nor Warfield,
nor of course Green, was aware that this concession was a very
serious one. Yet such a concession plays havoc with the setting
of the story of the Fall, and therefore with the crucial
connection that the New Testament assumes between the First and
the Last Adam.
In due course, while holding firmly
to the creation of
2. Hodge, A. A., Evangelical Theology,
Edinburgh, Banner of Truth Trust, 1976, paperback edition, p.150.
3. Green, W. H., quoted by A. A. Hodge, ibid, p.150.
4. Warfield, B. B., Biblical and Theological Studies,
Philadelphia, Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing Co., 1968,
man's soul, they
all came to accept the idea of evolution as God's method of producing
Adam's body, Warfield assuring his readers that evolution
was not a substitute for creation but could "supply a theory
of the method of divine providence." (5) Man's body fitted readily into the evolutionary chain
of life, being the direct result not of outright creation but
of millions of years of imperceptible changes from amoeba to
man. No supernatural intervention was needed here, nor any literal
"divine surgery" for the formation of Eve out of Adam.
It is interesting that while these
great defenders of evangelical doctrine were making such tentative
concessions to evolution, the liberal theologians were rejecting
it though admittedly for different reasons! (6) And while the evangelicals were increasingly giving
support to Darwinism as not incompatible with the Faith they
had so ably defended, Darwin himself was steadily surrendering
whatever of Christian faith he once had! As we shall see in the
final chapter the consequences of admitting the thin edge of
the evolutionary wedge were to prove disastrous not only
for Princeton Theological Seminary as a centre of Evangelical
Theology, but for many other seminaries on the American continent
and in other English speaking countries.
In one instance it took only a
single generation to pass from a truly evangelical stance to
outright and militant atheism. I have in mind the history of
the justly famous Augustus H. Strong (18361921) whose Systematic
Theology is a monumental work of reference which has, since the
first edition in 1907, been reprinted at least 29 times. (7) Like his contemporaries
he first allowed that Adam's body, but not his spirit, could
have been derived by evolution. As he put it, "We concede
that man has a brute ancestry." (8) Then in his less well-known Christ in Creation,
he frankly admitted that as man received his body thus, there
was really no reason why we might not logically admit that this
was how he also received his spirit, since this was God's
method of "creation in any case." (9)
5. Warfield, ibid., p.238.
6. See Richard P. Aulie, "The Post-Darwinian Controversies,"
Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation, vol.34,
no.1, March, 1982, p.25
7. Strong, A. H., Systematic Theology, Valley Forge, Pennsylvania,
Judson Press, 1974.
8. Strong, A. H., ibid., p.472.
9. Strong, A. H., Christ in Creation and Ethical Monism,
Philadelphia, Roger Williams Press, 1899, p.163.
he had completed the manuscript for Christ in Creation, he
requested his son Charles (18631940) to proof read it for
him. Although the whole family seems to have shared the father's
evangelical faith, it appears that Charles was perceptive enough
to see the inconsistency in his father's reasoning. In making
such a concession to evolution while at the same time pretending
to hold a truly evangelical position, Charles felt his father
was compromising himself and misleading his readers. (10)
The end result was that he turned
completely against what he was proof reading; abandoning his
position as a Christian, and becoming one of the most ardent
and militant proponents of atheism until the day of his death.
But this is not the end of the
story, sadly enough. For the Strongs were well-to-do and moved
in wealthy circles. Among their friends were such men as John
D. Rockefeller, Chauncey Depew, and Andrew Carnegie. (11) The first made his fortune
in oil, the second in the railway business, and the third in
steel. And each of them was totally ruthless in his business
tactics, assuring their critics that they were only acting according
to evolutionary principles which were God's methods in nature
and therefore good for the species as a whole, however hard on
the individual. They must have received no little comfort from
the fact their evangelical friend and scholar, A. H. Strong,
could be depended upon to support them in their philosophy.
Why did men
of such learning, such dedication to Scripture, such a profound
grasp of biblical theology, so easily allow evolutionary philosophy
to poison their own thinking? To a man, save only for Augustus
H. Strong, they held resolutely to the supernatural creation
of the soul of the first man. Why, then, did they yield
so quickly to an entirely materialistic process of evolution
for Adam's body, in view of their commitment to the Word
of God which is so clear on the matter?
Did they not recognize that
the implacable offensive of
10. On this point, see Lloyd F. Dean, "Charles
Augustus Strong: Steps in the Development of His Atheism,"
Gordon Review, Dec., 1956, p.140.
11. Hopkins, Vincent C., "Darwinism and America" in
Darwin's Vision and Christian Perspectives, edited by Walter
J. Ong, S. J., New York, Macmillans, 1960, p.118.
would never stop until all supernaturalism was abolished
entirely? It was only a matter of time till the evolutionists
would insist with equal dogmatism that man's "soul"
was originated in the same way as his body. Even A. H. Strong
could anticipate this. As Kirtley F. Mather quite recently put
it, "The spiritual aspects of the life of man are just as
surely a product of the processes called evolution as are his
brain and his nervous system. Granted this logical extension,
it is absurd to talk of the "saving of the soul for eternity."
(12) If the soul
is a mere epiphenomenon of the human body as consciousness
is an epiphenomenon of the animal body, then soul, like consciousness,
must perish with the body and what evolutionist would be
either willing or logically competent to defend such a supernatural
event as resurrection of the body? The Greeks thought the idea
utterly ridiculous because they held that man was distinctively
a spiritual being and the body a prison, from which the spirit
longed to be free.
The crucial biological question.
Why do evangelicals
fail to recognize the human body as a fundamental complement
of the human spirit? Man is not a spiritual being who happens
to have a body which he can do without quite easily on the other
side of the grave. His body was created to serve as a permanent
house for his spirit. It was not the divine intention that the
body and the spirit should be rent apart. (13) Even A. A. Hodge frankly recognized that Adam's body
was potentially immortal at first, and that if he had never sinned
he would never have experienced physical death. Unless this is
true, death could never have been threatened as a penalty for
To derive a mortal body out of
an immortal one is clearly within the competence of evolutionary
theory, since the immortality of the lowly amoeba has not been
retained in its supposed evolutionary descendants. It has been
lost. But to derive an immortal body out of a mortal one is quite
another thing. There is no precedent in nature (with the possible
exception of cancer cells). Such a heritage as the
12. Mather, Kirtley, "Creation and Evolution"
in Science Ponders Religion, edited by Harlow Shapley,
New York, Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1960, p.38.
13. Hodge, A. A., Evangelical Theology, Edinburgh, Banner
of Truth Trust, 1976. paperback edition, p.155.
derivation of an immortal
body out of some form of ape-like ancestry as man is presumed
to have had, would be so exceptional as to be virtually miraculous
and tantamount to an act of creation.
The crucial theological problem
theological point of view, an evolutionary derivation of the
human body is totally unacceptable. For the Plan of Redemption
hinges upon the relationship between two human beings, the First
Adam and the Last Adam, the Adam of Genesis and the Lord Jesus
Christ of the Gospels whom Paul declares to have been the First
Adam's counterpart: two persons who stand in direct apposition
both as to body and as to spirit.
Each precisely reflects the other
in terms of their human constitution. In both body and soul the
Last Adam must truly match the First Adam in every sense if substitution
is to be effective. The first human being (whatever we
conceive his outward form to have been and however little removed
from the apes) must be every whit as redeemable as the very last
human being yet to be born within the framework of this present
world's natural order before the Creator pulls down the curtain
The first man must come as
effectively under the Redeemer's umbrella as the last man yet
to be born will have to. Thus the first man Adam and all his
descendants from the first to the last i.e., all "in
Adam" must be essentially indistinguishable from each
other. Evolutionary progress within the human species
cannot be reconciled with a Plan of Redemption which depends
upon the death of One who appeared so late in the chain. And
He appeared late indeed if hundreds of thousands or even millions
of years intervened. If the evolution of man is true, this
Redeemer, in his far more advanced state of evolution, would
no longer represent those who had appeared in a much more primitive
state at the beginning of the line.
Definition of a human being
Now man, as a creation of God, is never viewed in
Scripture as essentially a spiritual being who just happens
to have a body. Man
is a hyphenate being, a unified body-spirit entity. Without the
body the spirit is not a person and without the spirit
the body is a mere corpse. As much is said in the New Testament
about the destiny of the body as is said of the destiny of the
spirit, and more is said about the form the body will take than
is said about the form the spirit will take. We shall certainly
not be mere ghosts!
When the Lord became Man,
He did so by assuming a prepared body. When He rose from the
dead, He rose in his own body. When He returns, He will
return in his own body; and meanwhile He is as a MAN in
heaven because He is a human spirit in a human body. This in
no way challenges the fact that in becoming Man He never ceased
to be what He has always been: God with God and equal with the
Father. In this there is no contradiction. It is rather that
in Him now dwells all the fullness of the Godhead BODILY, which
in his Person has added a new dimension. Thus it is proper to
watch for the glorious return of the Son of MAN, for in his resurrected
body so will He appear.
I do not wish to pursue this
further at the present moment since it is dealt with later. I
wish only to point out that the incarnate Lord assumed a body
that was truly and unequivocally human. This body formed a perfect
vehicle for the human spirit which He created for himself, as
He himself had created one for Adam in order to provide a perfect
vehicle for his spirit. It is inconceivable that the Lord
could be incarnate in a body subject to steady decay, increasing
senility, and final total collapse due to old age. If in an immortal
body He was truly Man, then true manhood in the First Adam as
created equally immortal by nature, demanded a body no less free
from the burdens and limitations of physical senility and death
due to old age.
By such a means, the pre-existent
Lord of Glory condescended to engage for himself a human form
that truly reflected Adam as he came from the hand of God. In
the humanity of Christ Jesus we therefore see restored to our
view the form of the very first human being both as to his
body and as to the spirit
which animated it in the very beginning. The break between ape
and man was absolute.
There were no half-way houses in
the line of Adam's seed between the animal and the human world.
By divine intervention the body of the first man was created
uniquely, thus forming a total discontinuity in the great chain
of being, a physical organism perfectly suited to be in due course
a housing for the Creator himself. This was a new thing: a thing
apart though with many shared functions which involved homologies
in design because the world into which man was thus introduced
was a world in which animals also were designed to function.
Both lived in the same environment: both were embodied.
Requirements demanded by redemption
creature, unlike all that preceded, was unique in many ways,
but in two ways above all that he was both capable of falling
and equally capable of being redeemed; and that he could die
but was under no necessity of ever doing so. Moreover,
his redemption was possible only because he was constituted with
a human spirit of God's creation and a human body also of God's
creation, both of which clearly involved supernatural intervention
and this was true in both Adams, the First and the
In the Person of Jesus Christ as
Man, redemption was secured by death, the death of a human
spirit and the death of a human body. But neither kind of
death was natural in the sense of being inevitable for inherent
reasons. Both deaths were experienced by an act of will.
But the possession by the
First Adam of a body derived from some non-human primate ancestor
would have made death inevitable for him. Death per se
would not then be the penalty for disobedience but merely premature
death. By the same token, if the Redeemer was provided with
a body human only in this evolutionary sense, death for Him could
not have been substitutionary but would have been likewise merely
Equally crucial to the Plan
of Salvation, this Adamic body, which could experience
death but was under no
necessity of doing so,
in the Second Adam had to be truly representative of the body
of the First Adam as created. Without this correspondence there
could be no substitution.
These very precise requirements
of the nature of Adam's body entirely preclude an animal origin.
If these requirements are not fulfilled, no redemption of man
is possible. The logic of this is compelling and leaves no room
for an evolutionary origin of man.
Man must be supplied from the first
with such a body in order that, when he fell, the Redeemer could
undo the Fall by becoming Man himself, because our Substitute
must be both truly a human being and yet truly under no necessity
of dying. Otherwise his death was not substitutionary for
The dilemma of an evolutionary origin
So it has to be asked, At what point in this evolutionary
"Chain of Being" did true man emerge as identifiably
human in each of these particular respects, in order that the
Redeemer by assuming such a body and such a spirit could act
as a true representative?
When we bear in mind that this
Redeemer was himself very God, the Creator of the Universe, is
it conceivable that such a One could assume a form even less
human in appearance than, let us say, Neanderthal man? In the
quaint words of the King James Version, his temple must
In actual fact we ourselves almost
certainly compare very unfavourably with the First Adam. Such
was the magnificence of his body that he lived for almost a thousand
years despite the fact that he was already suffering the catastrophic
effects of the Fall which must steadily have been robbing him
of most of his pristine glory.
No million-year-old, tiny-brained, half-ape creature, such as
the famous "Lucy," (14) could thus have been an Adam (or an Eve!), especially
in view of the fact that Adam's descendants within three or four
generations had already developed
14. "Lucy" discovered by Richard
E. Leakey in 1972 in Kenya, originally referred to as Skull 1470
but since named "Lucy." The literature is considerable:
Leakey himself published a book titled Origins in 1977
[Dutton]. A popular account appeared in Time, 7 Nov.,
1977, p 36ff.
developed city life,
agriculture, metallurgy, and the musical arts with wind and stringed
instruments (Genesis 4:21).
As a faithful representative
of the First Adam, the Second Adam lived among us a Man
indeed pre-eminently so, as his title "Son of Man"
indicates. And He left a transforming stamp upon the history
of mankind because of his stature. Even physically He awed those
We know that He created man in
his own image. He clearly did this in order that He himself might
one day come among us in the image of Man without doing
any violence whatever to his own divine nature nor even demeaning
his own pre-existent glory, a glory to which He returned. And
when, by ascension, He did return to that glory, He did not lay
aside his human body as though it were unworthy. He took it with
Him. He is, indeed, embodied as Man forever, and as He ascended
into heaven, so will He return in like manner. The human body
is a unique vehicle and holds within itself the promise of an
almost incredible glory. It is a special creation of God, not
a mere by-product of a blind process, as we are being asked to
The Christian dilemma
We easily fall
into the trap of relegating the body to a very second-rate position
in the scheme of things. As such it seems of little consequence
whether its origin was by evolution or creation. We are told
that the saving of the soul by the regeneration of the spirit
is what counts. The redemption of the body seems much
less important, as though the possession of a sub-human body
would serve just as well. Yet we are to continue as a body/spirit
entity throughout eternity which includes not only a new heaven
but a new earth. An earth which is never to grow old (lsaiah
66:22) would seem to demand a body that will never grow old either!
It is, in fact, the redemption
of our own body that, as an article of Faith, distinguishes
the Christian position from that of every other religious system.
It was this kind
of resurrection which
proved so incredible to Paul's Greek hearers at Athens. "Who
ever heard of such a thing?" they asked. * Even today it
would seem that many Christians have not heard of such a thing
either. . . .
The thesis and method of this book
It is this that
I wish to address in the 17 chapters which follow. It is my sincere
hope that men far better theologically informed than myself will
take up the issue and carry the matter much further than I am
able to do. When this has been done, I predict we shall suddenly
recognize that in the current creation/evolution controversy,
there has been an important "missing dimension." That
dimension represents, according to Scripture, the other half
of the Faith: the redemption of the body as essential to the
salvation of the soul. The body is very important, but evolution
denigrates it, making it merely an animal body whose destiny
is not resurrection but dust.
It may well be objected that my
approach is far too literalistic, that I am leaning much too
heavily on logical analysis of the actual words themselves and
thus destroying the spirit of them.
But I want to show that, unless we have evidence
from Scripture itself to the contrary, we should take the wording
at its face value as our starting point. Otherwise we ought to
abandon all pretense that we really are making the Bible the
touchstone of our thinking in all matters where revelation plays
an essential role.
* So totally foreign was the idea to the Greeks
that they mistook Paul's term for resurrection (anastasis)
for the name of a new deity and asked what new god he was
speaking about (Acts 17:32). Plato considered that the body imprisoned
the spirit, and therefore that death was the liberation of it.
Paul, on the other hand, viewed the body as essential for the
spirit to express itself, so that he saw disembodiment as effectively
a crippling of it. Thus, for Plato embodiment was a penalty:
whereas for Paul disembodiment is the penalty. The two positions,
the Greek and the Christian, are diametrically opposed.
We cannot form a biblical theology with any
claim to rational coherence which justifies the term biblical
if we adopt the practice of spiritualizing the text or allegorizing
it or reading it as poetry whenever it embarrasses us, unless
the offending words are actually so treated in the original.
In Scripture parables are always
identified as such, poetry is always set forth as poetry (as
the Psalms are), and allegories and terms of common parlance
like "the rising of the sun" are easily identifiable
as to their obvious intent. The first chapters of Genesis are
not written as poetry, the sole exception being Genesis 4:23
which is set forth in the original in exactly the same way the
text of the Psalms is set forth - a telling indication that the
rest of the text is NOT poetry.
So I make no apology for taking
the words of Scripture seriously: and after studying this wonderful
Book for over fifty years I am convinced that anyone who does
read it in this spirit will never fail to marvel at the precision
with which the truth is spelled out and hedged against error.
Despite the problems of translation here and there (problems
which sometimes arise where interpretation is in question), I
do not believe that any of the passages upon which my thesis
is built involves significant uncertainties of this kind.
As an example of what I mean,
some may object to taking the story of Eve's formation out of
Adam at its face value. But if for the sake of discussion
they will tentatively allow its possibility, they
will, I think, soon see what is far more important, namely, its
very necessity, if the rationale of the Plan of Redemption
is to be preserved. There are many things that current biblical
theology has neglected to address because of a failure to attach
to the wording of Scripture the seriousness it warrants.
We have long
enjoyed a most precise and highly developed "theology of
the spirit." It is now time to produce a balancing "theology
of the body." When this is done, I
think the fundamental
issues in the current dispute will be much more apparent. For
by conceding to evolution the origin of man's body, even
though insisting on the divine origin of his spirit by direct
creation, we have effectively destroyed the manhood of man.
Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights
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