The hermeneutic auction

First there’s Daniel Harrell’s essay for BioLogos explaining that Adam and Eve were really truly. The introduction (perhaps written by someone else – it’s not clear) says “science does not rule out the possibility of a historical Adam and Eve.” Wull, yes it does. A historical woman and man who were the only humans on the planet and lived about 4 6 thousand years ago? Yes it does. So does history.

Anyway, Harrell explains that we can decide that Eve and Adam were really truly in a different way from being created all of a sudden by god and then filled up with fake DNA to trick everyone.

Can we use “formed” and “breathed” to mean created through the long and continuous history of biological evolution (as were the other living creatures in Genesis 1)? If so, then perhaps “the Lord God formed the man” could be read emphasizing the novelty and uniqueness which humans inhabit.

Yeah, we can; sure. It’s a silly way to say that, but hey, whatever floats your boat.

But pesky sciency Richard Dawkins and Jerry Coyne and PZ Myers said it’s silly to bother working out a way to say that Adam and Eve are really truly.

So the president of BioLogos, Darrel Falk, wrote to Dawkins to tell him he’d misunderstood. Dawkins answered to say oh no I didn’t. He didn’t, too. He was saying the second option, partially quoted above, was silly, not that the first one was. Of course the first one is – the first one is just “it was just like it says here on the page.” The point is that the contortionist one is silly too.

Now Darrel Falk is all weary and washed out, because here he is offering the middle ground and all these people stomp their foot and say No! we don’t want your damn middle ground.

He wants us to see there is middle ground between saying Adam and Eve were really truly in just the way the bible says, and saying there were no such people as Adam and Eve. He wants to make it a matter of negotiation and adjudication and splitting the difference, rather than a matter of getting it right. What should we do, bargain away a bit at a time? They lived five thousand years ago. Ten thousand. A million. No? Five hundred thousand? Sold! They were part of a group of forty humans. Sixty. A hundred. A hundred thousand. No? Ten thousand? Sold! They had parents and grandparents. They had ancestors going back ten generations. They had ancestors going back a thousand generations. No? Fifty? Sold!

And then that’s what goes in the textbooks, and that becomes the consensus? Or what? What’s Darrel Falk looking for? What kind of middle ground is he talking about? Epistemic? Political? Both at once?

It won’t do. Either way it won’t do. Even if it’s just political, it won’t work, because it will be so obvious when all the sciencey types go right on saying humans began to split from other apes some 6 million years ago whenever they’re not doing politics.

Another cunning plan breaks down.

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