Regardless of how one interprets the Genesis account of the creation of Adam, one thing is certain: unless there arose multiple human males at exactly the same time, there was a literal first man. If we use a hundred-yard dash as an analogy, there was either one man who won the race or there was a tie for first. Since we have men now, we know that the race was completed – but was there a clear single victor or a tie for first?
If for the sake of argument we accept evolution as being true, the idea that multiple human males evolved from non-human to human at exactly the same time, not even separated by a nanosecond, is highly improbable. So improbable, in fact, that the burden of proof unquestionably falls on the person who should want to oppose a literal first man. Therefore, in the absence of evidence that would cause us to accept the proposition that multiple human males evolved at exactly the same time, what the Bible says about the matter agrees with the soundest conclusion of science – there was a literal first man. And we can apply the same logic to women and conclude there was a literal first woman.
So in this simplest formulation of the argument – if all we mean by Adam and Eve is that there was a man and a woman who were the first of a sequence of men and women – the Bible and evolutionary science agree that there was a literal Adam and a literal Eve. But this is where the agreement ends. For sure, the crux of the debate is not about whether there was a literal first man and a literal first woman. The crux of the debate is about whether the Bible accurately describes the details of the first man and first woman.
If we think of the topic of the Biblical Adam as a boxing match, in one corner of the ring are Christians who believe the Genesis account of Adam is a biography, and in the other corner are secular evolutionists who believe humans evolved and Genesis is rubbish. But in the middle of the ring stands a third contestant – the Christian evolutionist. They don’t find belief in a literal Adam directly created by God necessary, but they don’t believe evolution is a secular endeavor – they propose that God uses evolution for His purposes and glory.
Is belief in an Adam created directly by God, not through evolution, a necessary component of Christian faith? The apostle Paul in his letter to the Corinthians addressed a different matter crucial to the faith, and it is analogous to our topic.
Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. (1 Corinthians 15: 12 – 14)
The Corinthians claimed belief in Jesus, but disbelief in resurrection. Paul called them out, saying their two beliefs were contradictory. Since the Jesus the apostles preached rose from the dead, it was logically impossible to believe in the real Jesus while denying resurrection from the dead. Likewise, we may rightly ask whether one can believe in the apostolic Jesus while disbelieving in an Adam created directly by God. But we must understand what the Bible says about Adam before we can render a judgment as to the importance of direct creation.
The goal then, over the course of this series, is to examine both sides of the argument, in the spirit of Proverbs 18: 17. We will proceed by asking a series of key questions, and then answering the questions from both perspectives (direct creation and evolution). The end result is hopefully a better understanding of the implications of both positions and then proceeding to believe in that which corresponds with the whole of Scripture.