Barrett, Matthew and Ardel B. Caneday, eds. Four Views on the Historical Adam (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013), 288 pp.
Fifteen years ago Zondervan published Three Views on Creation and Evolution, a lively exchange between two young earth creationists (Paul Nelson and John Mark Reynolds), an old earth creationist (Robert C. Newman), and a theistic evolutionist (Howard Van Til). Since that time the debate over evolution has moved squarely into the evangelical mainstream. High profile court cases like Kitzmiller V. Dover (2005) have inflamed public opinion over evolution, intelligent design and public education; the popular 2008 documentary Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed fired up the evangelical base as it charged the academy with widespread bias against intelligent design; that evangelical patron saint Francis Collins surprised many with his endorsement of evolution in his best-selling book The Language of God and the subsequent founding of BioLogos; Christians lined up to celebrate, decry or ignore the bicentenary of Charles Darwin’s birth and 150th anniversary of the publication of Origin of Species in 2009; in that same year Old Testament scholar Bruce Waltke was fired by Reformed Theological Seminary for advising that evangelicals need to come to terms with evolution; meanwhile, in 2014 that l’enfant terrible Ken Ham reached his fundraising goal to build a Noah’s Ark theme park after a much publicized debate with … Bill Nye the Science Guy.
In other words, Three Views on Creation and Evolution didn’t quite settle the matter. Instead, the conversation among evangelicals has continued to — ahem — evolve, and this new Zondervan Counterpoint book, Four Views on the Historical Adam, is a reflection of the shifting nature of debate. This time out the conversation focuses in on the biblical, historical, and theological issues surrounding the question of a historical Adam. While the book includes a young earth creationist (William D. Barrick) and a traditional defender of a historical Adam cum old earth creationism (C. John Collins), the book also includes views once considered outliers including John Walton’s archetypal interpretation of Adam and Denis Lamoureux’s flat denial of a historical Adam.
The book starts off with a helpful orienting essay from the editors Matthew Barrett and Ardel B. Caneday. Next, comes Lamoureux’s essay followed by short responses from each of his three interlocutors, and then closing statements by Lamoureux. This procedure is repeated for Walton, Collins and Barrick. The book then concludes with two essays focused on pastoral reflections: Gregory A. Boyd claims that a historical Adam is not necessary for a healthy Christian faith while Philip G. Ryken claims that it is.
In my review, I’m going to offer some thoughts on the efforts of the four contributors. However, I’ll be doing so in reverse from their order of appearance in the book, beginning with Barrick and working back to Lamoureux.
William D. Barrick (Young Earth Creationist)
In their helpful introduction, the editors (Barrett and Caneday) point out how the current popularity of young earth creationism among conservative North American evangelicals is a relatively novel development. They put things in perspective by noting, “Interestingly, the conservative evangelical publisher Moody Press declined to publish [Whitcomb and Morris’s influential 1961 young earth creationist book] The Genesis Flood because it was concerned that ‘firm insistence on six literal days could offend their constituency.” (19) While young earth creationism was considered controversial among religious conservatives fifty years ago, today it is firmly ensconced as a mainstream position. And William D. Barrick waves the banner of young earth creationism in this book.
Our first introduction to Barrick comes in his response to Lamoureux’s essay. Alas, he does not forge a positive impression. Barrick forgoes pleasantries in his opening statement, opting instead to caricature and distort Lamoureux’s perspective with the hostile quip: “Lamoureux tosses aside the traditional view that I and other adherents to a historical Adam hold dear.” (80) No charitable and careful reader of Lamoureux’s essay could possibly conclude that Lamoureux’s rejection of a historical Adam is cavalier (as “tossing aside” suggests). Instead, he carefully reasons his position on biblical and theological grounds after three years spent in careful study of Genesis 1-11. Ironically, the only “tossing aside” is found in Barrick’s cursory treatment of his interlocutors.
Contrast Barrick’s snide and abrasive opening with the first sentence of Lamoureux’s response to Barrick’s essay: “I have not had the pleasure of meeting William Barrick, but I look forward to it someday. In reading his chapter I found his love for the Lord and Scripture to be palpable.” (228) Lamoureux is generous to a fault here.But he is to be commended for attempting to respond to Barrick with Christian charity. Walton and Collins are similarly professional and generous in their exchanges with their fellow interlocutors. By contrast, Barrick reinforces the unfortunate stereotype of the angry fundamentalist.
Barrick frequently caricatures and misrepresents the views of his interlocutors. For example, he claims that Lamoureux believes that the parables of Jesus “are made up or are like old wives’ tales passed on from ancient times.” (83) In addition, he claims that “to be consistent, Lamoureux would have to deny the miracle at Cana on the same grounds that he denies instant creation in Genesis 1 — after all, modern evolutionary science is antagonistic to both.” (84) However, Lamoureux explicitly affirms miracles in his essay. So far as I can see, Barrick has clumsily conflated “evolutionary science” with philosophical naturalism.
Barrick’s own view is that God gave the Genesis account to Moses through special revelation (199) and that the text provides a literal account of creation in six 24 hour days culminating in the special creation of the first man. In support of his own view Barrick marshalls the exegetical opinions of sixteenth century theologians Martin Luther and John Calvin (among others) while insisting that his view upholds the authority of scripture and biblical inerrancy. Meanwhile, he suggests that his opponents are undermining the authority of scripture and placing science over the Bible.
Unfortunately, Barrick often appears unable even to follow his opponents’ reasoning. For example, consider this excerpt where he offers a practical objection to combining evolution with a historical Adam: “If it takes countless years to produce one such individual [i.e. an “Adam” who originated through evolutionary processes] how will he survive long enough while another similarly developed individual [i.e. Eve] evolves who is his compatible opposite in gender for the human race to begin?” (210) If I understand this curious passage correctly, Barrick seems to think that evolutionary creationists like Lamoureux are obliged to think God first evolved Adam from a simian population and then initiated a new eons-long evolutionary sequence to originate Eve. This “dilemma” is flawed on two counts. First, Lamoureux explicitly rejects any historical Adam. And second, no evolutionary creationist is obliged to think that God first evolved Adam and then evolved Eve.
The most worrisome aspect of Barrick’s contribution is the theological bullying as he repeatedly calls into question the biblical commitment and evangelical faith of those who disagree with him. For example, he writes:
“Perhaps a born-again believer could deny Adam’s historical existence without losing his or her saving relationship to Christ and everlasting forgiveness of sins.” (80)
Perhaps?! Leave it to the young earth creationist to turn a collegial debate into a matter of salvation. Lamoureux’s response is certainly appropriate:”I will not dignify such remarks with a response.” (88)
Next, consider this passage:
“When the reader of the Bible accepts extrabiblical evidence (whether from ancient Near Eastern documentation or from modern scientists’ interpretation of circumstantial evidence) over the biblical record, that denigrates the biblical record and treats it with skepticism rather than as prima facie evidence.” (226)
Note that this claim of denigration is merely an undefended charge. That’s bad enough. But the fact that it constitutes a slight on the theological commitments of others makes it plain nasty.
While Barrick’s responses to Collins and Walton are not as hostile as his response to Lamoureux, they are equally problematic. For example, in his response to Walton’s sophisticated archetypal reading of the creation narrative, Barrick retorts that the creation of Eve out of the side of Adam must have “simply happened in the way the account declares” and that “It seems pointless and desperate to conclude that what the text describes did not take place.” (135) Comments like this (e.g. “it seems…”) only provide insight into Barrick’s personal plausibility framework. But they provide no argument for why the reader should likewise find Walton’s view “pointless and desperate”.
Barrick’s own essay maintains this procedure of making bald, unevidenced claims. For example, he asserts that belief in a historical Adam is “foundational” for a proper (i.e. “biblical”) understanding of God’s creative action in the world, the nature and history of humanity, the nature of death and the reality of sin, and Scripture’s authority, inspiration and inerrancy (199). Alas, the evidential support for such grandiose claims is missing.
Barrick quotes John Mahoney with approval: “If the first man is not historical and the fall into sin is not historical, then one begins to wonder why there is a need for our Lord to come and undo the work of the first man.” (222) This is just wrong: the fundamental datum that confirms the reality of original sin and the need for redemption is not found in the story of two people who disobeyed God in a garden a few millennia ago. The fundamental datum is found in the sinful human heart. We can debate how the human race became sinful while agreeing that we all are sinful and in need of redemption. The fact that Barrick cannot make so basic a distinction simply baffles me.
And that’s just the beginning. This essay is rife with theological scare tactics and bizarre reasoning. For example, Barrick suggests that interpretations of the text which differ from his flat-footed literalism are tantamount to lying and of course God cannot lie (203). This is an absurd theory of communication. When human speakers use idioms that they recognize will be misunderstood by some hearers, does it follow that those speakers are thereby lying? Of course not.
Barrick writes: “Why do some students of Scripture abandon a traditional view of Adam and refuse to accept the biblical text’s testimony as historically accurate? In one word, evolution….” (223) That’s false. As noted above, Lamoureux changed his views based on his study of the text, not evolution. But even if a person does change their reading of the text based on some scientific theory, so what? Does Barrick really think that heliocentrism shouldn’t inform one’s reading of the ascension? Barrick seems to think he knows something of the Reformers’ understanding of Sola scriptura, but his disavowal of all external biblical sources as guides to read and interpret the Bible isn’t Sola scriptura.
In sum, Barrick’s contribution to this book does young earth creationism no favors. Barrick comes across as ignorant, brusque, and intransigent. If this is the best young earth creationism can do, the future of this theological position is bleak indeed.
C. John Collins (Old Earth Creationist)
Collins is the author of several important books including Did Adam and Eve Really Exist? Who They Were and Why You Should Care. In his essay Collins defends a historical view of Adam and Eve. While he believes that Genesis 1-11 is historical, he also offers a careful and nuanced understanding of the concept of history. According to Collins, a narrative is historical “if the author wants his audience to believe the events really happened.” History is thus “a way of referring, of talking about events in the real world.” (147) This minimalistic definition means that a historical text can have a poetic, stylized form, lack detail, and depart from rigid chronological sequence (148). And this allows us to read Genesis 1-2 as history without doing so like a naïve literalist.
Next, Collins notes that Genesis 1-11 is a literary unity. This text departs from the various competing ANE proto-histories in its focus on “one true God, who alone made and rules the heavens and the earth and all that is in them.” (153) This text also establishes an original human pair as the source of all human life while setting the stage for the unfolding history that continues in Genesis 12-50 and on through the biblical storyline. If we fast-forward to the New Testament we see Jesus referring back to Adam to make a theological point on marriage (Matthew 19:3-9). Collins summarizes thusly:
“In sum, the story line of the Bible, to be coherent, leads us to expect that (1) humankind is actually one family, with one set of ancestors for us all; (2) God acted specially (“supernaturally”) to form our first parents; and (3) our first ancestors, at the headwaters of the human race, brought sin and dysfunction into the world of human life. ” (164)
But is this credible scientifically? Collins claims it is by arguing for the uniqueness (as he sees it) of humanity over-against all other species, noting in particular our unique linguistic capacities (165). Collins believes that these unique human capacities (e.g. language, art, etc.) provide empirical evidence that Homo sapiens must have been created de novo through a special divine act. This alleged empirical fact is thus marshalled to support his biblical/historical argument for a de novo Adam. I have three problems with this claim.
First, this kind of claim creates a zero-sum relationship between human beings and other animals according to which the more we recognize the emotional and cognitive lives of animals, the more the imago dei is perceived to be under threat. This seems to me to be wrongheaded. The fact is that scientists continue to discover more of the rich cognitive and emotional lives of animals. From the amazing abilities of crows to perform complex cognitive tasks to the tool use among higher primates, from the echoes of PTSD displayed by traumatized elephants and killer whales to the self-awareness and play of dolphins, from the ability of dogs to engage in inferential reasoning and shared human perception to the brutish human-like violence of chimpanzees that go on planned raids of neighboring groups; the resounding lesson is that non-human animals are more like us than we ever imagined. Of course human beings are unique, but that doesn’t change the fact that some animals have a degree of language, culture, and perhaps even morality. Any understanding of the imago dei that makes human uniqueness contingent upon enforcing a set of a priori assumptions about the diminished capacities of other animals is surely mistaken.
Collins talks about “the aspects of human existence that are universally human and that are uniquely human.” (165) This brings me to the second problem: tying the imago dei to some (allegedly) uniquely human ability always faces the problem of humans at the margins who lack those capacities. For example, is an anencephalic child made in the image of God? I surely think so. And yet that child utterly lacks the ability for higher cognitive and emotional function — or even bare sentient awareness — that is commonly associated with the imago dei. If one responds to such liminal cases by extending the image to an anencephalic infant through divine fiat, then why not make the exception the norm and explain the image generally as a fiat declaration? Doing so may not be satisfying for the theoretician who balks at fiat appeals, but it will save you a world of bioethical trouble.
Finally, Collins’ claim places a curious constraint on divine omnipotence. He writes, “Do these [abilities] point toward a unified origin of humankind, an origin that goes beyond the powers of a purely natural process…?” (165) He clearly thinks so. But note that by making this claim Collins is essentially taking the position that God could not establish a purely natural evolutionary process that resulted in the creation of human beings. That’s an extraordinarily robust claim, particularly given that divine omnipotence is understood to be the ability to actualize any logically possible state of affairs consistent with the divine moral nature. Under that traditional definition of omnipotence, God cannot create a square circle since such an act is logically contradictory and he cannot do evil because it contradicts his moral nature. But if he chooses, he surely can create Homo sapiens through divinely established and sustained natural processes. If Collins demurs then the burden of proof is on him to show where the logical or moral contradiction lies.
Collins recognizes that it is not wise for Bible scholars to tell the scientist how to do their work or to opine beyond their expertise on what range of scientific theorization is acceptable: “far be it from an exegete or theologian to tell a geneticist what he or she may or may not find in the genome, or a paleontologist in the fossils!” (168) Collins is certainly right about that. But then I would add, far be it from Collins to declare that God could not create human beings through natural processes.
While Collins provides an articulate and succinct statement of a traditional position on Adam, once one recognizes that there is no a priori reason to deny an evolutionary account of origins, one is obliged to consider whether the evidence supports it. And if it does, then one is simply obliged on the evidence to reconsider one’s reading of scripture.
John H. Walton (Archetypal Creation)
John Walton’s proposal, which is presented in book-length form in The Lost World of Genesis One, would count as a “paradigm shift” over-against traditional views of Adam. While Walton retains the place for a historical Adam, on his view Adam may not have been the first man and focus shifts from his historical status to his archetypal status as an elected representative of humanity. In short, while Walton retains belief in a historical Adam and Eve, he insists that the biblical account of their origin focuses not on their material (biological) origins, but rather on their functional (archetypal) status.
Walton makes the simple but profound point that the first human being was not, in fact, called “Adam” since this is a Hebrew word for humankind, a language the emergence of which long postdates the emergence of the first humans. Consequently, the naming of this first human being as “Adam” is instead a literary designation which flags the archetypal status of this human being for the species.
It is this archetypal status — the function of Adam as representative — which is key in the text. The text is not concerned with establishing a material origin. Consequently, when the text refers to Adam as created from dust, this description should not be taken as a description of a de novo event through which God created Adam. Instead, it is a description of his human status and is consistent with his being born of a woman (93).
Walton demonstrates that ANE literature commonly appealed to functional archetypes where the origin of human beings is concerned (100-2). We find Genesis illumined if we view it in these terms. The text establishes that human beings were created with moral bodies, supported by God, and with the priestly role to serve in sacred space (102-3). They work together as male and female in their various tasks.
When we turn to the New Testament, we find that the writers appeal to Adam (and Eve) as archetypes to make various claims about the universal human condition. For example, the appeal to Adam in Romans 5 “affirms the reality of sin and death entering human experience in an event and thereby implies a historical Adam. At the same time … no scientific claim is made about biological/genetic relationship or material discontinuity.” (106) As for 1 Corinthians 15:45 where Adam is described as the “first” man in contrast to Christ who is the last, “Since Christ was not the last biological specimen, we must instead conclude that this text is talking about the first archetype and the last archetype.” (107, emphasis added)
Given that there have been many human beings since the archetypally last human (Jesus), couldn’t there likewise be a number of human beings before the archetypally first Adam? Walton believes so: he proposes that the creation account in Genesis 2 may be a sequel to the original creation of human beings: “In such a case, Adam and Eve would not necessarily be envisioned as the first human beings, but would be elect individuals drawn out of the human population and given a particular representative role in sacred space.” (109) In short, Adam can still be our “federal head” (104) representative even if he isn’t the first human being. As a bonus, Walton’s reading of Adam and Eve as individuals elected as representatives out of a pre-existent human community handily deals with the knotty textual conundrum that Cain’s appears to be banished into a pre-existent human community (Genesis 4).
This decoupling of Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 provides Walton with the ability to affirm some degree of evolutionary history alongside the fiat election of a historical Adam to serve as the archetypal (and federal) head of the human species. In this way, Walton maintains maximum concord with the biological sciences. But his magisteria do not remain completely separate, for they overlap at one significant point. While Walton doesn’t insist on a material intervention (as Collins does), he does insist that there must be a moment where God made a functional declaration about the status of human beings:
“If someone who takes the Bible and theology seriously were to believe that evidence supports the idea that hominids evolved, it would be essential for them to understand evolution as a guided process by a Creator God (e.g., something like Evolutionary Creation). Sometime in that process–perhaps at that moment that geneticists refer to as the bottleneck when humanity nearly became extinct — God undertook a special act of creation that gives the entire human population the image of God. This would constitute a creative act (giving a role and a function) and represents a gain that could not be achieved through evolution.” (114)
Walton’s theory faces several objections, not least among which is the historical novelty of the position. Lamoureux notes that he first encountered Walton’s position at a conference in 2002 and that he’d never heard of any scholar holding such a position prior to this point (120). While hardly settling the matter, such an observation certainly should be cause for caution. In addition, Collins points out that Walton’s novel decoupling of Genesis 1 and 2 contradicts traditional rabbinic readings as well as multiple biblical passages which appear to assume the identity of the human pairs in these two texts (127-9).
By affirming a historical Adam while limiting the status of this individual to a functional archetype, Walton’s position walks a fascinating (and fine) line. It certainly is attractive for the Christian who wishes to maintain a historical Adam without having to reject biological evolution. However, the objections to it remain significant as well. Ultimately, I couldn’t shake the impression that the theory constituted a sort of unstable “transitional form” for those evangelicals as yet unwilling to go all the way by denying a historical Adam altogether.
Denis Lamoureux (Evolutionary Creation)
Lamoureux is the author of a couple important books on evolution and theology, Evolutionary Creation and I Love Jesus and I Accept Evolution. He also is the only contributor who has PhDs both in theology and science, and that provides him with a unique insight into the scientific case for evolution.
Lamoureux rejects a historical Adam. In his view, the creation narrative of Genesis 1-2 should be read as ancient science. For example, the text assumes an ancient cosmology which includes a flat earth embedded in a three-storied view of the universe (sheol below, heaven above). Genesis 1 references God separating the waters above from the waters below, and sealing the waters above in the raqia, a hard, dome surface that spans the flat globe. Christians now reject the raqia, the flat earth, and the three-storied universe as remnants of an obsolete view of the world. But this concession doesn’t undermine scripture. As Lamoureux explains, God accommodated to the science of ancient peoples to communicate theological truths in the worldview they could understand. It is the theological truths that are authoritative and inerrant, not the accoutrements of the now obsolete ANE science through which they were communicated.
Thus far, the argument will be relatively non-controversial. But Lamoureux then takes an additional step by arguing that the concept of a first human being (and thus a historical Adam) is as much a part of an obsolete view of the world as the three-storied universe. Consequently, to be consistent we should eschew “scientific concordism” (the attempt to draw points of contact and concord between particular biblical texts or doctrines and scientific data). Instead, we should recognize that God’s accommodation to an ANE worldview was even more radical than we previously imagined. And this means that we can recognize that Adam is non-historical as surely as the fact that the earth is not flat. In each case, theological truths remain secure.
As Lamoureux puts it, “Evolutionary creationists believe that the Creator established and maintains the laws of nature, including the mechanisms of a teleological evolution…. In other words, the evolution of life is a purpose-driven natural process.” (43) Lamoureux believes that just as God creates a new life in the womb through natural processes, so he evolved all creatures on earth through a natural process (44). This frees the theologian to accept the insights that come through scientific advance without engaging in a misbegotten effort to defend the Bible’s scientific credibility.
In my opinion, Lamoureux puts on the strongest showing. Admittedly, I may be biased, for I know Denis personally and count him a friend. But even with the recognition of my bias, it seems to me that his position is the most carefully wrought. I particularly appreciated his inclusion of several diagrams and charts to support his case as well as his close attention to pastoral and personal themes, a pre-emptive strike against those prepared to challenge his piety based on his theology.
That said, I have been known to criticize my friends, and this is no exception. My first (relatively minor) complaint is with the following statement:
“evolution is the easiest theory to disprove. Find just one human tooth near the bottom of the geological record and you could destroy evolutionary science.” (40)
I often hear folks make this kind of claim about evolution but I believe such claims to be grossly hyperbolic at best and outright false at worst. The claim seems to assume the truth of Karl Popper’s thesis that hypotheses and theories are identified as scientific because they are falsifiable. Thus, by pointing out that evolution hasn’t been falsified (despite the alleged ease with doing so), one establishes it both as a scientific theory and one that is especially good.
I agree that evolution is a scientific theory, and an especially good one at that. But I believe it is precisely because it is so good that Lamoureux’s claim is false. You see, good scientific theories are good precisely because they explain multiple independent lines of evidence. In other words, good scientific theories have consilience. And when a theory is successful in this way, it can tolerate a limited amount of anomalous, recalcitrant facts. For example, the supernova of 1054 was carefully recorded by Chinese astronomers but widely dismissed by European astronomers. The difference seems to have been that the latter were committed to a view that the heavens are static and do not change. The Ptolemaic theory of the universe which was held in Europe at the time was, like Darwinian evolution, a good theory that satisfied multiple independent lines of data. For that reason, western astronomers were willing to overlook a recalcitrant, disconfirming fact like the 1054 supernova. By the same token, given that multiple independent lines of evidence support Darwinian evolution, the theory can absorb some recalcitrant facts … like an anomalous tooth in the geological strata.
Now on to some more significant criticisms. I begin with Lamoureux’s rejection of scientific concordism combined with his interpretation of obsolete biblical science as accommodation. While this is a reasonable position to take, one can’t help but wonder how Lamoureux avoids sliding down a slippery slope toward more radical demythologization. Consider, for example, Jesus’ miraculous healings of a demon-possessed boy in Mark 9:14-29. In the passage we read that the boy is thrown to the ground, foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. This certainly matches the description of a tonic-clonic (epileptic) seizure. So why not interpret the “demonic” diagnosis as yet another accommodation to ancient science?
Lamoureux might try to halt the slide down the slope by reiterating that he accepts divine miracles. Fair enough, Lamoureux may still accept a miraculous healing occurred, but to be consistent it would seem he should interpret it as the healing of a tonic-clonic seizure rather than demon possession. In one very quotable line, Lamoureux observes, “It is worth noting that some Christians attempt to pin Adam on the tail end of evolution. However, this is categorically inappropriate.” (64) But then isn’t it likewise inappropriate to “pin the demon” on the tail of an epileptic seizure?
Next, let’s consider Lamoureux’s charge that Collins embraces “the God-of-the-gaps.” (177) In science/theology dialogue, this is the kiss of death, the facile invocation of God to explain some gap in human knowledge. Lamoureux claims that “Any divine being who acts ‘specially’ and ‘supernaturally’ in human origins is a God-of-the-gaps.” (178) Since Collins claims that God must act supernaturally to create the first human beings, by Lamoureux’s definition he is guilty as charged.
Unfortunately for Lamoureux, a good case can be made that he is also guilty of this odious charge. Lamoureux believes that God acted specially to create the universe, bringing it into existence out of non-being. If we recognize that God-of-the-gaps extends to any divine being acting ‘specially’ and ‘supernaturally’ in cosmic origins, then Lamoureux is guilty. So why wouldn’t we extend the principle? Perhaps Lamoureux might say that the origin of the universe is an exception because God is required as the absolute beginning. But that won’t do as a response given that physicists continue to work on closing that gap in our knowledge. The Hawking-Hartle is perhaps the best known attempt to close the gap, but many other proposals have been, and continue to be, defended. If we are to defer to the evolutionary biologist by conceding that the “human gap” can be closed, I don’t see why we wouldn’t likewise defer to the physicist that the “cosmic gap” can be closed. And thus, if Collins is guilty of the God-of-the-gaps in evolutionary biology, one might as well charge Lamoureux with God-of-the-gaps qua physical cosmology.
Is anybody still reading this review? For those who have persevered, you shall now be rewarded with a final verdict. (And if you skipped over the analysis to get here, shame on you!)
Zondervan’s Counterpoint series is intended to provide the motivated layperson with a solid introduction and survey to a field of debate. In some cases I believe a unified introduction by a single author is more helpful since it can become rather overwhelming to process multiple arguments, rebuttals and rejoinders. However, in this case I found the Counterpoint format to be a very helpful way to survey the landscape. Each of the authors was clear in stating his position and engaging with his interlocutors. The differences and points of debate were readily appreciable and it was relatively easy for a reader to discern the main areas of debate and size up the relative merits of each proposal.
I reserved some harsh (but I think deserved) criticism of Barrick’s position. But that isn’t a criticism of the book itself. Overall, this book is a great value and provides a stellar overview of four very different positions on Genesis, Darwinism, and the historical Adam. For those interested in grappling with the current debate on the historical Adam, Four Views on the Historical Adam is a must have. As a book, I give this Four Views a *five star* rating.
Thanks to Zondervan for sending me a review copy of this book.