What kind of Christian are you? Believe it or not, how you answer the Adam and Eve question is now considered by some to be an issue of your evangelical-ness. This will come as no surprise to those of you who are familiar with fundamentalist declarations emerging from allegedly evangelical mouths, but for those of you who don't think Adam and Eve had children who promptly incested it up to create the next generation, well, you might be surprised to find yourself outside the camp.
The normally accurate NPR ran a story that in the words of one friend is further proof that the MSM doesn't understand religious categories. Clearly, Ms. Hagerty, the author, also fails to understand international boundaries. That's not all she gets wrong, though, beginning with which Genesis account Americans believe. According to the story, 4 in 10 Americans believe the Genesis 2 account of creation. As someone who teaches mythology and comparative religion, and who has taught Bible, I assure you 4 in 10 Americans don't know the difference between the two creation accounts in the Bible. (Four in ten Christians don't know the difference because 8 in 10 Christians haven't even bothered to read the entire Bible.) The Americans I talk to believe a conflated version of both, and this is made worse by "apologists" insisting against all good linguistic sense that Gen. 2 actually expands upon Gen. 1. Horseshit. They're competing narratives.
Here comes the evangelical mishmash, though, as Hagerty intends to explain the importance of the primordial couple: "It's a central tenet for much of conservative Christianity, from evangelicals to confessional churches such as the Christian Reformed Church."
First, if you're going to start with a "who it's important to" angle, maybe start with fundamentalists, because it's damned important to them, and not with evangelicals. Second, since when are all evangelicals "conservative," and what does conservative mean here? And if you're going to end with "confessional churches," why do you pick CRC? Pretty sure Lutheran and Presbyterian are better known, but that's a nitpick. Since when are evangelicals and confessing Christians on opposite ends of a continuum? Can't Reformed, Lutheran, and Southern Baptist be evangelical? Are the terms mutually exclusive? (Yes, friends, I'm counting the SBC as a confessional church. As long as they disfellowship churches for going against the Baptist Faith & Message, they're confessional. Get over it.)
Time to make it worse:
But now some conservative scholars are saying publicly that they can no longer believe the Genesis account. Asked how likely it is that we all descended from Adam and Eve, Dennis Venema, a biologist at Trinity Western University, replies: "That would be against all the genomic evidence that we've assembled over the last 20 years, so not likely at all."
What kind of scholars? Oh, biologists. Shit, I thought you meant Bible scholars. Ok, so a Canadian biologist is publicly questioning the existence of a real Adam and Eve, and this is news for American evangelicals? Everyone knows Canadians aren't really saved, not in the American fundangelical sense. And what does it mean that he's conservative? I think Canadian conservatives are different than American evangelical conservatives? Did Ms. Hagerty not know about the border between the U.S. and Canada? It makes a theological as well as a political difference, honest.
Hagerty does toss in one American "evangelical," but he taught at Calvin College, so does that make him confessional? John Schneider, professor of theology, said: " There was no historical Adam and Eve, no serpent, no apple, no fall that toppled man from a state of innocence." I think most people know that. Really, I do. Anyone who thinks about it, anyway. I know some Christian traditions are committed to it, but it's an untenable position, and not just because of the incest. But wait, scary science always brings out the Defenders of "Truth."
The world famous apologist Fazale Rana (who the fuck is he? she?) has an opinion:
"From my viewpoint, a historical Adam and Eve is absolutely central to the truth claims of the Christian faith," says Fazale Rana, vice president of Reasons To Believe, an evangelical think tank that questions evolution.
A cursory examination of the website for Reasons to Believe will quickly inform you that we're not dealing with evangelicals here. Nope. Fundamentalists for sure. I'll just say it: creationist equals fundamentalist. Sorry. It's true. But there is a name we know...
Al Mohler! Fuck yeah! What's he going to say this time? "Without Adam, the work of Christ makes no sense whatsoever in Paul's description of the Gospel, which is the classic description of the Gospel we have in the New Testament," Mohler says.
Sigh. Without Homer Simpson, our understanding of how delicious donuts can be makes no sense. A metaphor, allegory, or analogy is still theologically useful, even without an historical referent. Why is that so damn difficult to grasp? And since when is Paul's description of the Gospel the "classic" description? What the hell does that even mean? Is James's not classic enough? Peter is out too? And if Paul's description is classic, did you mean Paul's or the Pauline school's? This is ridiculous oversimplification from someone who ought to know better.
The last three paragraphs are worth quoting in their entirety:
"This stuff is unavoidable," says Dan Harlow at Calvin College. "Evangelicals have to either face up to it or they have to stick their head in the sand. And if they do that, they will lose whatever intellectual currency or respectability they have."
"If so, that's simply the price we'll have to pay," says Southern Baptist seminary's Albert Mohler. "The moment you say 'We have to abandon this theology in order to have the respect of the world,' you end up with neither biblical orthodoxy nor the respect of the world."
Mohler and others say if other Protestants want to accommodate science, fine. But they shouldn't be surprised if their faith unravels.
It's not the respect of the world, you twit. It's believing things that are congruous with what science and math and history tell us about the world. If you're ignoring science and truth simply to keep alive a very narrow version of a faith, you're a fool. Christians everywhere, including the sciences, have found ways to integrate their faith with what science tells us about the world. Sorry, I'm not kicking biologists out of colleges so we can keep the primordial incestuous family alive. It's just...well, I was going to say silly, but this seems more egregious than that.