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Debate over Adam and Eve's existence

A wise nun once told me there can’t possibly be a conflict between science and Scripture. They’re both from God so both must be true, advised this Aquinas College theologian. If there seems to be a conflict, it just means we don’t know enough yet.

I’ve found the good sister’s advice helpful in watching the ongoing dance of science and religion, alternately a graceful waltz and a violent mosh pit. It’s not always pretty, but surely they are twirling around the same dance floor.

So when issues arise such as the dustup over whether Adam and Eve were actual people, I have hope evolutionary biologists and thoughtful theologians eventually will have the same answer. But in the meantime, it won’t always be pretty.

Professor forced out?

Enter Calvin College, where religion professor John Schneider allegedly was forced to resign because of his unorthodox take on paradise. Schneider’s writings questioning the historical Adam earned him a ticket to Notre Dame and thrust Calvin once again into the national science and Scripture dance-a-thon.

It got uglier when Schneider’s fellow theologian and historical-Adam-doubter Dan Harlow alleged Calvin President Gaylen Byker acted as “prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner” to get rid of Schneider, contrary to the college’s tidy statement of a mutually-agreed-upon parting. Absent public comment from Byker or Schneider, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was more pressure involved than amiable agreement.

Debate elsewhere

But Calvin is hardly alone in this problem. The controversy was highlighted in a June cover story in “Christianity Today,” which portrays the issue as the new center of the evolution debate among evangelicals. It cites scholars who say a human race born of just two parents is unlikely given recent discoveries in human genome research, which indicate modern humans emerged from more like 10,000 ancestors than two.


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