Adam's Historicity

Were Adam and Eve historical people?

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When we answer the question, "were Adam and Eve historical people?" the first thing we have to know is where we're going to get our information from. And what we have is, we have science produces a version of history, and the Bible, by revelation, produces a version of history. And so we're living in a time when science is telling us by scientific method, which has its place, that there is no Adam and Eve historically; evolution really does not permit the Adam and Eve of the Bible in any way.

But for the Christian we have the written testimony of the perfect God, who not only was there but who created it. And so, for us we have to take the testimony of the Bible when it speaks definitively as a true answer by which we will compare other answers. Now, by that standard, the Bible teaches that Adam and Eve were historical people. The Lord Jesus, when he was answering a question about divorce, he spoke back with reference to the Genesis account of Adam and Eve, treating them as historical people. The apostle Paul in Romans 5 treats Adam as a historical person. His actions resulted in a certain outcome as a historical person.

Now one thing we have to watch, we're living in a time now where many scholars are trying to be biblical while avoiding the wrath of the society, and one thing you'll is Adam and Eve were historical people, but maybe that's possible under evolution. Well, you can have a historical Adam and Eve under evolution, but you can't have the biblical Adam and Eve under evolution. So people will say — and evangelical writers are saying — well maybe Adam was one of the many historical people. God just chose him and made him the one he was going to deal with representatively. Or maybe he was the head of a tribal confederation. Well, Genesis 2:7 says very plainly that God created him by an act of special creation. And the way that he did that is essential: the care and the love, the face-to-face covenant relationship built into the creation of the design of that particular creature, God breathing his own life into him.

If we give up the biblical historical Adam and Eve, we lose everything because you lose Genesis 3, you lose the Fall, apart from which the redeeming work of Christ means nothing. We lose the authority of the Bible. We lose the dignity of man as made in the image of God. We lose the basis for true unity in the human race. It's hard to be living in a time when believing in God's revealed Word, where it so clearly speaks, is receiving the kind of scorn it receives in culture. But Christians have been through this many times before. We humbly and meekly take our stand upon the Word of God.

Jesus, Paul, the New Testament, certainly the Old Testament account itself, if Genesis 2 and 3 is not an account of actual history, well then by those same standards, what about John 6? What about the resurrection of Jesus Christ? You know, that's just as ludicrous by the standards of science as is the creation of Adam and Eve. Let God be true and every man a liar, and the Bible teaches the biblical historical Adam and Eve, not just some other historical Adam and Eve. And it's absolutely essential to the Christian faith and witness. If we lose Adam and Eve, we're merely giving up the grand narrative of the Bible. But that's quite a lot.

Answer by Dr. Richard Phillips

Dr. Richard Phillips is Senior Minister of Second Presbyterian Church in Greenville, S.C. and Chairman of the Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology.