ADAM, THE FIRST HUMAN? … What difference does it make?
If there is one thing we owe our Founding Fathers, it is the freedom endowed by God to think and entertain thoughts even those deem to border on heretical. Yes, even venturing on the one that questions sacrosanct teaching as Adam (1) created about 6,000 years ago. The fate of Copernicus (2) and Galileo (3) could have been different were they to live today. And, church leaders like Origen Adamantius (184/185 – 253/254 C.E.), along with the prominent “Origenists” Didymus the Blind and Evagrius Ponticus, would not have been declared anathema for their different beliefs in 553 CE by the Second Council of Constantinople(4).
That said, the article by Dr. C. Reyes in FEU/ FEUMAANI News vol. 6, no.7 July 2014, is illuminating as it is challenging. To quote,
“Native Americans have always looked like us: Asian origin… pioneers…17,000 years ago …that entered the Americas from land mass called Beringia…” This was reaffirmed with “the uncovering of an almost completely intact 12,000 yr old skeleton of a 15 or 16 yr old girl … in the underwater cave near Mexico”. It was also claimed that migration from Asia to the Americas through Beringia occurred “between 26,000 and 14,000 years ago”.
As a corollary, “It is believed, on the basis of genetic evidence, that all human beings in existence now descend from one single man (woman) who lived in Africa about 60,000 years ago.” (5). Spencer Wells’ book Journey of Man, is “a brief but thorough survey of human population genetics in the vein of Cavalli-Sforza’s The Great Human Diasporas and Bryan Sykes’ Seven Daughters of Eve. While Sykes focused on Europe and mitochondrial DNA lineages (the mother line) Wells puts the spotlight on Y chromosomal lineage (the father line). Wells gives a few reasons why the Y chromosomal lineage can yield more information-there are more points for mutations to build up and human patrilocality tends to skew toward male genetic localization and diversity”(6).
From the biblical account, it is indisputable that Adam in Genesis was created by YHVH God (7). The genealogy and reality of the historical Jesus depend on this. This is traceable back to Abraham (Matt. 1:1-17) who was the tenth generation removed from Noah, being a direct descendant of Shem, (Noah’s son), the father of all the “Semitic” peoples (8) and all the way to Adam (Luke 3:23-38). See also (9, 10).
But, as to whether the first human is this Genesis Adam or another person much earlier than him, remains to be the bone of contention. The subject of “who the first human is”, evolution and creation, evoke consternation and emotional distress that recently sparked a debate on February 4 between Bill Nye (the “Science Guy”) and Creation Museum CEO & Pres Ken Ham (Australian Evangelist) (11).
These scientific discoveries are undeniable and pose a problem for those who may have lived before (12;13) the Genesis Adam as they in fact maybe humans like him. The claim Adam was the “first” human was never made in the Bible and was only an interpretation concocted by theologians. Religious punditry marginalizes these “finds” as misinterpretation and an existential threat to the inerrancy of the Bible. For how can they be saved? Does the sacrifice of Jesus Christ apply to them as well? If so, then on what basis can this be? Debate then continues. These concerns must be unsettling and disturbing to Christians who hold traditional beliefs. But, they do not have to. Whether the first human started 6,000 or 60,000 years ago, rightly or wrongly, may not need to make a difference, as far as salvation is concerned and Jesus being the Savior. The “doctrine of imputation”, when understood to its fullest, explains:
Romans 5:12-21 (NIV)
“12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned– 13 for before the law (Mosaic) was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law. (NLT: But it was not counted as sin because there was not yet any law to break.) 14 Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, (NLT: even those who did not disobey an explicit commandment of God, as Adam did) who was a pattern of the one to come. 15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 16 Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ. 18 Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. 20 The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21 so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
I Cor.15:22 (KJV): For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
The preceding Bible verses explained that death to mankind is imputed upon the sin of Adam in the garden of Eden, as in, “through the disobedience of one man the many were made sinners”. And, no one else’s, as in, “by the trespass of one man, death reigned through that one man”. Also, “by the offence of one, judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation”. That is, the sin committed by anyone, whether 60,000 years before or after Adam’s, did not matter an iota. Anyone’s sin, as bad as it is, did not condemn the person, per se, nor mankind. It was only “by one man’s disobedience”,(Adam’s sin, NLT) that we were all condemned to die, as in, “even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression”(NLT).
Why specifically directed to Adam? The answer is, Adam “is the figure of him that was to come”(NLT), which is Jesus. Moreover, “…not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one, many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. For if by one man’s offence, death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.”(NLT)
This imputation is very specific, not only to the person Adam towards mankind, but also to its timing. Notice, “for before the law (Mosaic) was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law. “. Meaning, that even before the Law was given to mankind through Moses, “sin was (already) in the world” and “death reigned from Adam to Moses”(KJV), as sin and death also reigned before the Genesis’ Adam. But imputation was not assigned nor activated until the Law was given. Only after the Law was given, did God assign and impute that “disobedience” of Adam in the garden of Eden, as sin for all. But, why wait till then? For 2 reasons, viz.,
1. So that through the Law that defined sin, “law entered, that the offence might abound”(KJV); “law was added so that the trespass might increase”(NIV).The word “abound” comes from the Greek word “pleonazo”, i.e., worse or bad or superabound. The Law made sin to be viewed even worse and be counted from sins committed by many.
2. “But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.
In a nutshell, God defined what sin to impute, who to impute it to, the extent it encompasses and when to assign. Adam’s sin in the garden of Eden was imputed as sin of the whole mankind and consequently death for all. This, so that through one man also, Jesus Christ in the genealogy of Adam, his death would be counted for all mankind. The Mosaic Law has to be given first before imputation is assigned so that all of mankind’s sin be counted ( for sin to “abound”). Because of the “doctrine of imputation”, who the actual “first human” does not matter, as far as salvation is concerned. The sacrificial death of Jesus is effective and extends to all mankind, whether before or after the Law was given to Moses and, for that matter, even before Adam’s creation in Genesis.
Indeed, we are all blessed to participate in this arena of free-thinking colleagues. Assigning this imputation to include all humans, specifically even those “pre-historic humans” before Adam’s creation, has not been shared nor posited, until now? Truly, God be thanked for this “world premier”. Abandoning the cacophony of debate pitting one over another, we can now with one voice join the chorus “what difference does it make?”. With retort from George Will, we can now “…speak … to improve the silence.”(14). Let us continue to be tolerant with scientific discoveries, synchronize when appropriate and adjust, “with fear and trembling”, our long-held religious beliefs in the furtherance of truth.
1. Genesis 1:26. Holy Bible
2. Retrieved from : http://csep10.phys.utk.edu/astr161/lect/retrograde/copernican.html
3. Retrieved from: http://www.biography.com/people/galileo-9305220
4. The New Catholic Encyclopedia (Detroit: Gale, 2003). ISBN 978-0-7876-4004-0
5. Spencer Wells,The Journey of Man: A Genetic Odyssey, p. 55. Random House, ISBN 0-8129-7146-9
6. Retrieved from : http://www.gnxp.com/MT2/archives/000240.html
7. Gen1:27;2:7. Holy Bible
9. Arthur Charles Hervey (1853), The Genealogies of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
10. Jacques Masson (1982), Jesus, fils de David, dans les généalogies de saint Mathieu et de saint Luc, Paris: Téqui, ISBN 2-85244-511-5.
11. Debate, Creationism.Retrieved from : http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/02/140205-creationism-debate-bill-nye-ken-ham-opinion/
12. Ancient hominis. Retrieved 5/4/18 at https:/:news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/05/stone-tools-rhinoceros-luzon/philippines-ancient-hominis-science/
13. Anomalous History of Humanity. Retrieved from https://www.gaia.com/video/anomalous-history-humanity?utm_source=facebook%2Borganic&utm_medium=gaia&utm_term=video&utm_campaign=evergreen&ch=st
Original post: July 18, 2014
Revised: May 20, 2018