Monday, October 03, 2005

Madam, I'm Adam
The Sunday New York Times has a little feature of clips from other publications called the Reading File. Yesterday they offered this little tidbit.
As the debate over whether intelligent design should be taught in schools continues, New Man, a Christian magazine for "men on a mission," makes the case for a literal Adam in its September/October issue.

The article, "The Search for Adam," says that while "many people regard the story of Adam and Eve as a myth," the scientific evidence is mounting that Adam existed, and the article quotes various creationists to support this case.

Fazale Rana, a biochemist and vice president of Reasons to Believe, a creation science group:

Adam would have been a consummate hunter, an artist, an artisan and craftsman. He would have been the first Tim Taylor from the Tool Time TV program. There's an obsession with tools and manufacturing. He was a man's man, but also a Renaissance man capable of art and musical expression. You can imagine Adam conveying his love for Eve by giving her jewelry.

Sadly, the article is hidden behind a subscriber-only firewall. I might pay for one article, but I'm not subscribing to a whole magazine just to get one article. Even you, dear readers, are not worth that. Because of my cheapness, Fazale Rana's opinion of Adam's talents and and a similar quote from John Morris of the Institute for Creation Research are the only examples of the "mounting scientific evidence" for Adam that we have to examine.

Although the Times puts this article in the context of the debate over intelligent design in our schools, this style of creationism is not that wimpy, watered-down product the Discovery Institute serves. This is full-proof, fire-breathing young earth creationism. Morris and the Institute for Creation Research have been fighting for the literal word of Genesis since the sixties. This is Bishop Ussher, 4004 BC, talking snakes with legs, man made from mud and woman made from a plate of ribs. They're not afraid of the word "creationism;" they embrace it. This is the real thing.

Reasons to Believe falls somewhere in between the Discovery Institute's ID and the Institute for Creation Research's YEC. They promote a variety of creationism called old earth or day/age creationism, which allows the six days of creation to be any age, even hundreds of millions of years, but still has Adam created from mud in early November 4004 BC. This is the creation science approach of the seventies and eighties. They insist on the inerrancy of Genesis, while trying to shoehorn as much science as possible into their narrative. This puts them in an oddly defensive position among Biblical literalists. Their site is filled with claims that they are not soft on Darwinism.

Rana's quote, describing Adam as the original Renaissance man, is interesting coming from a Biblical literalist. The Bible provides none of those details. Genesis describes Adam naming the animals, constructing clothes from leaves, and struggling to farm after being cast out of Eden. That's all. Cain and his son Enoch are credited with creating the first city. Cain's distant descendant Tubal Cain is credited with working metal. Tubal Cain's half brother Jubal is the first person mentioned playing musical instruments. Another Enoch, a descendant of Seth and the grandfather of Noah, is the subject of a vast literature that didn't make it into the Bible. This Enoch is credited with inventing writing and many other useful crafts. Though Tubal Cain and Jubal lived seven generations after Adam and Enoch was born when Adam was 722 years old, Genesis says Adam lived 930 years. From a Biblical literalist perspective, it is possible that Adam, in his old age, used the tools and arts invented by his descendants, but it seems rather rude of Rana to steal the credit for their work and give it to Adam.

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