So after hundreds of thousands of years of evolution two lucky knuckle-draggers won the lottery, were picked by God, and had “the image of God” bestowed on them?
William Lane Craig is the premier Christian apologist of our day. He is brilliant, and has won numerous awards. I would urge you to watch his debates against the top atheists of our day. Sam Harris, one of the “Four Horseman” New Atheists, himself a brilliant neuroscientist, said of Craig, “He is the one Christian who has put the fear of God into my fellow atheists.” And he is – the world famous atheist Richard Dawkins has refused to debate him. Craig is the go-to for proving the historical resurrection of Jesus, remember that around Easter next year.
I have had the highest respect for Craig and have learned so much from him. But as you will find in life, you won’t agree on everything with everyone. Last month he published an article titled “The Historical Adam”. In it he makes the argument that Genesis 1-11 is not historical, meaning that the first 11 chapters of Genesis did not happen the way it says in the text. Instead, like many other ancient Near East religious texts, Genesis 1-11 Is Israel’s contribution to a category of “mytho-history”.
“the claim is that the primaeval narratives belong to the genre of myth principally on the basis of their sharing common mythic themes and their effort to anchor present realities in the deep past”
Then he says,
“it cannot be denied that these chapters treat many of the same themes as do ancient Near Eastern myths”
Now the questions we have to ask are these:
- Since pagan myths address some of the same macro “themes” that Genesis 1-11 do, does that have to mean that Genesis 1-11 is myth also? In other words, simply because pagan myths such as The Enuma Elish and The Atrahasis Epic try to offer answers to origins of mankind and talk about a worldwide flood, now Genesis 1-11 is a myth too because those are the same themes in Genesis? That’s like saying …..
- Couldn’t it be that Genesis is actual history, the real record of how things happened, and all the pagan myths are cultural “memories” of such matters, distorted down through generations? I would liken it to animal sacrifice. God instituted animal sacrifice after the Fall in Genesis 3. All pagan animal sacrifice is derived from (and a perversion of) that original first animal sacrifice God performed and instituted among men. In the same way, the original, true, accurate record of history is in Genesis 1-11 and the pagans with their myths are distorted versions of that.
- Here’s another question: Why wouldn’t we expect pagans to try and establish an understanding of the ultimate origins of mankind and the world as we know it? Doesn’t man have in him an impulse to know himself, his world, where he came from, where he’s going, why he’s here? Trying to answer these led to these myths. But I fail to see how trying to answer these big theme questions of mankind somehow negate the historicity of Genesis 1-11. Pagans want answers and Genesis is the answer!
- Here’s another question: Yeah, so these pagan myths address creation and the flood and so on, but what do they say specifically? How similar are the details? Here’s where things get ridiculous. Once I tell you the details of these myths you’ll be astounded to think that these myths could somehow be compared to Genesis 1-11.
I’ll share one: the Enuma Elish. This ancient, well-preserved text says that before any creation there were two gods: Apsu and Tiamat. Apsu was the male and Tiamat the female, and together they had god-children
Now like any house with children things get noisy, and Apsu became irritated with all the noise happening in the house from all these children gods of his. He planned to kill them. But his great-great grandchild, Ea put a magic spell on him and then killed him. And by killing Apsu, the patriarch of all these gods, Ea saved all the “children” gods. (Does any of this sound like Genesis to you? No? Me neither. Wait, it gets better.)
With her husband killed by her great-great grandson, Tiamat seeks revenge. She remarries and starts planning to carry out her dead husband’s plans of killing all the children gods.
But a hero arises – from Ea comes the youngest god Marduk, the 6th generation god. Marduk goes and kills Tiamat and captures her new husband Kingu.
Now it gets interesting!
They take Tiamat’s dead body and split it in two. With half of her body they create heaven and with the other half they create the earth. You can see Genesis here, right? Then the hero, Marduk, wants a home built for himself in Babylon, so he forces the imprisoned gods who sided with Apsu & Tiamat to build it for him – slave labor style. But the gods complain that they don’t like their work and they protest – labor union style.
So what does Marduk do? He decides to make mankind. How does he do it? He kills Kingu, the 2nd husband of Tiamat, and from his blood he creates mankind. Mankind will be the new slave labor force to build Babylon for Marduk. Direct from the ancient text it says, “Ea created mankind/On whom he imposed the service of the gods, and set the gods free”
We could look at other ones but this is enough. Gods that act like petty humans, procreate other gods like humans procreate…in the words of one eminent leader, “C’mon man!” Yet, it is myths like this that make astoundingly intelligent people like William Lane Craig think Genesis 1-11 belongs in the same category! Craig actually explains that Genesis 1-11 is “mytho-history”, which means it is not quite actual history but not totally made up either. He says
“these chapters should not be read literally. The accounts of the origin and Fall of man are clearly metaphorical or figurative in nature”
He goes on to express how incredulous it is that there would be a garden so beautiful, a talking snake, God “walking” in the garden, a tree of knowledge of good and evil and a tree of life.
So when it comes to the history of Adam, what exactly does Craig propose? If it didn’t happen as Genesis 1 and 2 say, and it didn’t happen the way the Enuma Elish says, well then how?
You’re not going to believe this. I’ll summarize it. For hundreds of thousands of years pre-human-like creatures, hominins, were evolving. At some point God chose 2 and they became the Adam and Eve we read of in the Bible. He says,
“We may imagine an initial population of hominins—animals that were like human beings in many respects but lacked the capacity for rational thought. Out of this population, God selected two and furnished them with intellects by renovating their brains and endowing them with rational souls.”
So after hundreds of thousands of years of evolution two lucky knuckle-draggers won the lottery, were picked by God, and had “the image of God” bestowed on them? Instantly transforming them into upright, rationally thinking humans? They were there just grunting and rooting around on the ground when God’s image descended down on them like a dove? What happened to all their fellow “hominins” they were running around with, grunting and rooting? Did they just die off?
And with that, Craig literally decimates the Gospel. How? Because this places death before sin, not after. The Genesis account tells us that sin causes death – death is the result of sin. Death is the penalty for sin. What did Jesus do on the cross? He died! He “bore our sins” and suffered the penalty for our sins. But if death happens prior to sin, then what is the cause of death? It can’t be sin anymore. That means when Jesus died, it wasn’t to pay a penalty for our sins, because death is not the penalty for sins.
The Law of Recurrence: when a Biblical passage goes back to explain in more detail a previous passage. Genesis 2 goes back to explain in more detail something in chapter 1. What is it? Well, the crowning moment of chapter 1: the creation of man! Chapter 1 explained the heavenly origin of man, made in the image of God. Chapter 2 explains the creation of man and his earthly origin, made of the dust of the earth.
Our material aspect. Our physical bodies. These “jars of clay”, Paul called them (2 Cor. 4).
Came from the earth. One commentator says the Hebrew for “earth” and “man” are very similar, sharing the same root word. So the words in 2:7 are a play on words, and actually say something like “from the earth God made the earthling”. The point is to show the connection between man and the earth. Man came from the earth, which is repeated over and over in Scripture. In 3:19 God says, “you will return to the ground since from it you were taken.” Abraham when pleading with God humbly referred to himself as “nothing but dust and ashes.” (Gen 18:27). Job 4:19 says we “live in houses of clay” and our “foundations are in the dust”. “All come from dust” Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 3:20.
Perhaps the reason we are nature-lovers is because nature is the raw materials God used to form us. Like the woman has a built-in desire for man because she came from him, so man seems to have a built-in desire for the great outdoors since he came from it.
Return to the dust. In creation man came up from the dust. In death man returns to it. This “cycle” is repeated throughout the Bible. In Genesis 3:19 God says to Adam after the Fall, “You will return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” Job said, “You molded me like clay, will you now turn me to dust again?” (Job 10:9). Psalm 90:3 says, “You turn men back to dust, saying, ‘Return to dust, O sons of men.”
The Fall introduced death to humanity. Death is the separation of the spirit from the body. The body goes down into the ground where it came from and the spirit returns to where it came from – to God, Ecclesiastes says.
But we are not simply material bodies. There are those who do not believe that man is anything other than a material being. They are atheists, materialists. There is no invisible, spiritual, immaterial part of man.
Not according to the Bible. Paul proclaimed to the Greek philosophers in Acts 17:25, “God is not served by human hands, as if He needed anything, because He Himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. “Life and breath”. Sounds like Genesis 2:7, “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life”.
In Genesis 2:7 the body of Adam was formed first, and it did not “come alive” until God breathed the breath of life into it. Until God did that it was Adam’s fully formed physical body laying there on the ground, probably looking asleep, like a corpse at a funeral. But then God breathed it to life.
On the one hand this “breath of life”doesn’t seem any different than what God did with the animals. Look back at 1:30 with me. Same breath of life in both man and animals. Yet, on the other hand it seems God “did a little more” with man when He breathed life into Him. Job 32:8 says for instance, “But it is the spirit in a man, the breath of the Almighty, that gives him understanding.” Here is that higher order intellect, the ability for “understanding”, that man has and animals don’t. That, Job says, comes from the breath of the almighty, which I presume refers to Genesis 2:7.
The important point to understand is this: man’s life does not come from the material. It comes from God. The material is the “clay house” or the “clay jar” that houses the immaterial part of who we are. It’s why this language is used so much: jar, house, tent…because they are containers for something that is within. What is within? Your God-given spirit and soul – that immaterial part of you.
All of this is significant as it relates to the incarnation of our Lord. Man is man because man has a physical body of flesh and bone. This is why Christ came in the flesh, becoming a man – to save man. To save man he had to become a man. He didn’t come as an animal. He didn’t come as an angel. He came as a man. To save man. “Here I am, a body you prepared for me” Hebrews 10 says, recording the words of Jesus. To become the substitute for all mankind he had to be a man like mankind. Jesus came as a man to save you, man. He became what you are in two senses. First, He became a man, but without sin. But then second, he “became sin” on the cross. All of your sin was charged to Him. He became what you are to make you what He is. What is He? Righteous.
Turn to 1 Corinthians 15:42-50.
Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God…YOU WANT to get out of this body
Lifted up from the ground, just like Adam was originally.