Reviewing Adam and the Genome

Reviewing Adam and the Genome

On April 12, 2017, I gave an invited lecture with Dr. Ken Cuffey at Urbana Seminary, reviewing the book by Scot McKnight and Dennis Venema, Adam and the Genome.

This book is important. There is much with which to agree. However, I depart from them on their main thesis, that both science and theology are ambivalent about Adam and Eve. Critically, key information was let of out of this book about genealogical science. This omission confuses the theological and scientific analysis substantially.

A complete review will appear in Sapientia, as part of an online symposium run by the Creation Project.

In the Divide

One thing is certain, reactions to Adam and the Genome will be sharply divided. Some will be comforted. Others will be infuriated. Some will hear a story of two Christians fearlessly embracing both evolution and the teaching of Scripture. Others will hear a dangerous denial of important doctrine, a dismissive denial of Intelligent Design and scientific creationism.

I am a scientist and a Christian that affirms both evolution and a historical Adam: a real person in a real past to whom we all trace our lineage. Now, I find myself in the divide, between the two sides, seeking peace.

Even in their support, I hope those who agree with Adam and the Genome will do so with humility. Science is a human effort. It is merely our best account of the world, without considering God’s action. Many informed and intelligent people will still reject evolution. If they do so in obedience to their honest understanding of Scripture, they choose the better thing. There is real danger in unwittingly pressing science if it encourages disobedience to God.

Even in their opposition, I hope those who disagree with Adam and the Genome will work hard to understand. I hope they will emphasize the voices in evolutionary creation with whom they most agree, like the many that affirm traditional Genesis interpretations. Even if it is false, evolution is the origin story of our modern world. We need those with whom we disagree to articulate their positions, just as Venema and McKnight have done here. Even if we disagree, they give truthful account of how most scientists understand our evolutionary origins.

Ahead of us all is the hard work of living as members of the same family. In a world scarred by angry disagreements, we are called into a different reality. To understand and be understood. To truthfully represent on another. To welcome each other as members of the same family of all believers, even as we continue to disagree on the most significant issues.

Let us work together now for peace.

S. Joshua Swamidass

I am an assistant professor at Washington University in Saint Louis where I run a computational biology group. I'm also part of the dialogue between science and religion, through my work at BioLogos, the AAAS Science for Seminaries Program, and Veritas Forums.