The next argument John Walton addresses in his new book The Lost World of Adam and Eve: Genesis 2-3 and the Human Origins Debate is the argument that Adam and Eve are required by biblically sound theology to be the unique progenitors of the human race. To do so he poses two questions:
- Does the Bible claim that Adam was the first human being to ever exist?
- Does the Bible claim that all humans are descended from Adam and Eve?
Walton is convinced that if the Bible stakes out a firm answer of yes for these questions that we then must, as Christians, affirm it. In light of the scientific evidence, this would mean that God formed a mature creation with the appearance of history. He uses the example of his teeth, where the evidence of a number of dental procedures are evident. God could have created him full grown, with an apparent history of dental work. The human genome likewise shows evidence of a history, an evolving population never less than 10,000 or so, and of common descent. But … “If the Bible claims otherwise, then we would have to take a stand against this emerging scientific consensus.” (p. 183)
He is convinced that the Bible intentionally refers to a unique couple (Adam and Eve), but this does not necessarily require an answer of “yes” to either of the two important questions. Adam and Eve would be included among the first humans (however we identify the beginning of humanity) called out as priestly representatives to keep God’s sacred space. Turning to Romans 5 and 1 Cor 15: “When [Paul] speaks of Adam as the “first man,” he is most interested in the archetypal role of Adam and in the theological issues surrounding sin.” (p. 183) It is not clear that either the author of Genesis or Paul intend to make scientific statements about human origins.
It is possible to affirm that all humans today are descended from Adam and Eve (although not solely from Adam and Eve) because the intermarriage within a small population could result in all people tracing back to include one specific pair in their genealogy within a relatively small number of generations. One can also affirm that this pair is the beginning of spiritual human, created in the image of God, and that their descendants (within a finite number of generations long ago becoming all humans everywhere) inherited both the image of God and the consequence of the original sin.
Though it looks nothing like the traditional biblical interpretation, it makes similar affirmations while at the same time accommodating common descent and affirming that the history evident in the genome actually took place. (p. 185)
Other models and explanations are possible as well. Some grasp at population bottlenecks, mitochondrial Eve or Y-chromosomal Adam to support the possibility of a unique original pair. In many ways, mature creation, is the simplest way to accommodate both science and the traditional interpretation of Scripture, although this approach has problems of its own.
These all maintain aspects of traditional biblical interpretation while at the same time adopting some of the basic aspects of the current scientific consensus. They require selective acceptance of scientific findings and/or significantly adjusted biblical interpretation. We need to ask whether such complicated attempts at reconciliation are necessary, and so we return to the questions above: Does the Bible claim that Adam is the first human being to exist and that all are descended from him? (p. 185-186)