BreakPoint Blog

There Was No Fall
Rating: 4.00

In "Evangelicals Question The Existence Of Adam And Eve," Barbara Bradley Hagerty reports that some conservative scholars are saying that there wasn't an "historical Adam and Eve, no serpent, no apple, no fall that toppled man from a state of innocence."

In the article, the tiresome topic of Galileo vs. the Catholic Church is raised. It's being used as a trump card to halt discussion regarding evolution and Intelligent Design.

Without sounding grumpy, at least too much so, let me just point out that it wasn't the big G's science that the Church had a problem with, it was his philosophy. Now, the distinction might not sound like such a big deal, but science and philosophy are different branches of study, and the people brandishing the trump card know better. Science deals with things that can be studied and tested. Philosophy deals with reasoning based on principles.

There is a helpful discussion of the case between Galileo and the Catholic Church in Nancy Pearcey and Charles Thaxton's book, The Soul of Science. They write that the Church's objection was "Galileo's attack on Aristotelian philosophy -- and all the metaphysical, spiritual, and social consequences they associated with it." The big deal is that "Aristotelian physics and cosmology ...[was] tied to an overall vision of moral and social life. If that tie were broken, they feared morality itself would be destroyed."

Because humans descended from apes, some Christians who are scientists are claiming, there wasn't an Adam and Eve, no Fall, etc. Now, I'm not clear on how they are going to square the problem of evil with their philosophy of science. I don't care about the age of the earth, but I do care about the issue of the Fall, because without clearly understanding that mankind transgressed the law of God -- and somewhere, someone (or two) did transgress them -- then it will be almost impossible to reconcile why we suffer, and why God sent His Son to redeem us.


There was on Fall
For all of their posturing, theistic evolutionists don't exactly wow me with their intellectual prowess. If Darwinian macroevolution can account for the present biological and cosmological complexity, then theism becomes peripheral at best and irrelevant at worst. Perhaps this outcome hasn't struck them yet. But, in the rush to appease a fading worldview, who thinks of such things? Besides, as Dawkins and his cohorts have so amply shown in their visceral responses to the challenges presented by the Design movement, who needs true science when idealogical bigotry is so much more effective? Engaging in detailed research is SO time-consuming; posing is so much easier.
The cannon fell but the canon stands? Excellent, Rolley, excellent!

FYI for anyone who didn't already know this, Mormons believe that Adam fell "upward" - that the consequences of Original Sin were actually positive: Whether one accepts that doctrine, or the doctrine that altogether denies the Fall, the net result is the same, as Kim points out - if you haven't fallen from a state of grace, you don't need a Savior.

Jason, it was in fact the remark you made; please note that I bear and bore no malice toward you for it. And I will gently disagree with your latest remark that theology comes before science (as most people would understand "before"), but my explanation of that disagreement will take some more writing than I have time for at the moment. (Your phrase involving "human proneness to error" is a big piece of it.) Mostly, though, I need to again express my appreciation to you for saying what you did, since it gave me a very fruitful line of thinking. I hope to have my thoughts available to you by the time Ben returns to his graduate program this (*cough*) fall, if he's not already finished it.
To be fair to me, Lee, theology should come before science as God made the world; although in practice it is enough to simply say that both conclusions about God and conclusions about science are limited by human proneness to error.

In the case you are describing I thought that you were exaggerating the scientific side of your argument and I was reminding you that Ben was right in that particular instance.
I Thought the Title a Challenge to 'Humpty Dumpty'
And I was right -- as Jason, no doubt, can avouch: This is but another historic attempt to bring down the *canon* by eroding the foundation upon which it sits:

Well, all I can say is good luck with that.

When the dust of this yet-another-failed-attempt-to-discredit-the-Bible debate settles, there will be egg on some faces, alright, but not from the fall of ol’ Humpty. Compromising evangelicals will note, to their amazement (and embarrassment) as they behold the sure foundation of the Lord emerging firmer than ever: “there was (as Kim noted) no fall; the canon yet stands.”

Mark my words. Or better, His.

“How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord
Is laid for your faith in His excellent word.”
Humanity is both something very great and very flawed. It is hard not to observe humanity without saying that the Fall describes him very elegantly.
I absolutely love your dry wit in selecting your titles, Kim; I figured this would be about an incredibly hot Summer going straight into a bitterly cold Winter. ;-)

And while Pearcey and Thaxton are correct about Galileo, there's another aspect to it not covered by them. Galileo was insistent that his discoveries be taught immediately. The reaction of the establishment was not unlike the reaction of modern-day school boards to requests to teach ID alongside evolution, in insisting on settled science.

This ties back to Jason's comment to me that I was placing theology above science in my debate with Ben. The article definitely sets one against the other. I am still crafting an approach to this that I hope will be helpful. (Don't tell "Northanger Abbey"'s biggest fan ;-) , but I'm on vacation again soon, and hope to do some writing while away.) (Ellen, I'm starting to read it now; you can put away your chasing shoes. Should be done before I leave. And, I'm taking some of my vacation now instead of most of it in December as I usually do, to try to level out my absence from work.)
Well, I can agree that there might not have been an apple involved in the historical event. Genesis 2:16-17 states, "And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, 'You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.' "

These scientists are willing to give more credence to human interpretations of human-discovered evidence than to divine revelation. This isn't an argument about *what* the Bible says, but whether or not to believe it.