Today, there is a significant paradigm shift taking place within the evangelical academy in its approach to understanding the identity of Adam. Due to a mixture of biblical and secular reasons, an increasing number of evangelical scholars are beginning to deny the supernatural creation of Adam. Genesis 2:4–25 clearly identifies Adam as the first man who was supernaturally created with no direct animal forbearers. The following paper offers an answer to the biblical and textual objections given by prominent theologians who reject this view of Adam.
It is probably safe to say that the combination of Darwin’s model of evolution in Origin of Species and the rise of uniformitarian science in the 1800s has influenced the understanding of Genesis 1–11 more than anything else. Jewish scholar Louis Jacobs acknowledges this with regards to the interpretation of Adam:
There is no doubt that until the nineteenth century Adam and Eve were held to be historical figures, but with the discovery of the great age of the earth…many modern Jews [and Gentiles] have tended…to read the story as a myth.
The post-enlightenment emphasis on rationalism (i.e., man’s reason as authority as opposed to God’s reason as authority), together with the rise of biblical criticism and evolutionary ideas, has laid the foundation for the debate on the subject of the historicity of Adam and whether he was the sole progenitor of the human race. Consequently, critical scholars have long denied the historicity of Adam, as have neo-orthodox theologians. Karl Barth, for example, believed Genesis 1–3 was neither myth nor history but a saga and denied that Adam was a historical figure. Instead, he preferred to see Adam as being a symbol for everyone.