Adam and Eve—Myth or Reality?
“IS IT not a flagrant contradiction of the Bible to say that Adam and Eve issued from the animal kingdom?” This question, raised by the Roman Catholic daily La Croix, puts in a nutshell the problem many Christians are up against. They are wondering what Christianity is all about if creation is called into question.
For a better understanding of the problems involved, we will need to investigate what the Bible has to say on the subject of sin and death. First of all, we must go back to the account of what happened in the garden of Eden.
Sin and the Ransom
Genesis chapter 2 relates that God gave the first man a command. He was not to eat of a certain tree called “the tree of the knowledge of good and bad.” (Genesis 2:17) As The Jerusalem Bible explains in a footnote, when he transgressed God’s commandment, man assumed a right that did not belong to him, “the power of deciding for himself what is good and what is evil and of acting accordingly, a claim to complete moral independence by which man refuses to recognise his status as a created being.”
By disobeying God’s law, Adam sinned and introduced imperfection into the human race, resulting in death as God had foretold. Having lost their perfection, the first human couple could pass on only imperfection to their offspring. All future descendants of Adam and Eve—in other words, the entire human race—would be destined to death.—Genesis 3:6; Psalm 51:5; Romans 5:14, 18, 19.
How could mankind ever again have the hope of everlasting life that was forfeited by Adam? The “life for life” principle expressed in God’s Law given through Moses made clear what was required: a perfect life had to be offered up for the perfect life that Adam lost. (Deuteronomy 19:21, The New English Bible) Jesus, the foundation stone of Christianity, was fully qualified for this. Free from sin and imperfection, he alone was able to offer up a perfect human life as “a corresponding ransom for all.” (1 Timothy 2:5, 6) Christ showed that this was one of the main purposes of his coming to earth, when he stated: “The Son of man came, not to be ministered to, but to minister and to give his soul a ransom in exchange for many.”—Matthew 20:28.
This same requirement—namely, that the ransom must be offered by someone superior to imperfect man—is also made clear in Psalm 49:7, where we read concerning man’s lot: “None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him.” (King James Version) Why is it that no one can “redeem his brother”? Simply because no imperfect life could ever compensate for the perfect life lost by Adam.
Two Pieces of Weighty Evidence
By an investigation of what the apostle Paul and Christ himself said on the subject, we can judge for ourselves whether the Adam and Eve account was symbolic and whether they really existed or not.
The apostle Paul draws a parallel between the part Adam played and that played by Jesus, explaining: “It was through one man [Adam] that sin entered the world, and through sin death . . . For if by the wrongdoing of that one man death established its reign, through a single sinner, much more shall those who receive in far greater measure God’s grace, and his gift of righteousness, live and reign through the one man, Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:12, 17, NE) He makes this same point in another of his letters, where he calls Jesus “the last Adam,” thereby showing that only Jesus could redeem what Adam had lost. Then, after his resurrection to spirit life in the heavens, Jesus could become “a life-giving spirit” in behalf of all those being saved. (1 Corinthians 15:45) Now, if Adam were just a symbol of humanity, or a “collective being,” as a footnote in the French Traduction Œcuménique de la Bible (Ecumenical Translation of the Bible) expresses it, what basis would the apostle Paul’s argument have?
However, the most important testimony concerning the authenticity of the Genesis account about Adam and Eve was provided by Christ himself, who referred to it when questioned by the religious leaders of his day. He declared: “‘Have you never read [in Genesis] that the Creator made them from the beginning male and female?’; and he added, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, and be made one with his wife; and the two shall become one flesh. . . . What God has joined together, man must not separate.’” (Matthew 19:4-6, NE) Can we imagine Jesus basing his teaching about the sacredness of marriage on something that was imaginary or mythological?
Wisdom of the World or Wisdom of God?
The French Jesuit priest Teilhard de Chardin brought about one of the biggest changes in Catholic thought. He considered evolution to be a gradual climb to a spirit existence. According to his theory, life forms evolve, passing through the animal and human stages, being finally destined to become united at a focal omega point—Christ. Although initially condemned by the church, the theory gained the approval of many Catholic ecclesiastics. However, it was clearly contrary to Scriptural evidence and heaped reproach on God himself, denying the necessity of the ransom for humans to recover perfect human life.
This pseudoscientific theory has had very serious consequences for the church. As was explained in the book L’épopée des adamites (The Epic of the Adamites) by Jean Rondot: “All seditious or revolutionary trends in the Church, among both clergy and laity, literally surged into the breach opened up by Teilhard. Now that a certain liberty in Scripture interpretation was permitted (even if it meant changing the spirit of the text), why not make the most of it and build a new religion according to individual taste?”
The fruitage of this trend is particularly visible today. In 1980 a poll organized by an important French institute showed that only 40 percent of French Catholics believed in Adam and Eve and original sin. Doubt had also contaminated other equally important areas, since only 59 percent of Catholics in France now believed in the fundamental Christian doctrine of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Far from sticking close to Scriptural teaching, the different churches that have adopted the evolution theory reveal that they are seeking above all to embrace popular, fashionable philosophies. Paul warned the early Christians against such thinking. He reminded the Corinthians that Christianity had nothing in common with the ideas or philosophies in vogue in his day. He wrote: “Where is the wise man? Where the scribe? Where the debater of this system of things? Did not God make the wisdom of the world foolish? . . . For both the Jews ask for signs and the Greeks look for wisdom; but we preach Christ impaled, . . . to the nations foolishness.”—1 Corinthians 1:20-23.
Similarly today, the pursuit of such “wisdom of the world” cannot lead man to a knowledge of God nor to obtaining His approval. (Compare John 17:3.) Salvation leading to everlasting life is available to all who fully accept Christ’s sacrifice, the ransom he paid to buy back the perfect life that Adam lost. Only on the basis of this sacrifice can men approach God and have their sins forgiven. The apostle Peter was totally convinced of this when he declared before religious leaders gathered at Jerusalem: “There is no salvation in anyone else [apart from Jesus], for there is not another name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must get saved.”—Acts 4:12.
Hundreds of thousands of people have already placed their confidence in this “life-giving spirit.” They are eagerly awaiting the near future when Paradise will be restored to earth and they will be able to realize the hope Adam lost, that of living forever on earth. If you have not already done so, you can acquire this vital Bible knowledge by studying with Jehovah’s Witnesses, free of charge, and by attending their Christian meetings. Thus you will learn what is required in order to become one of Jesus’ disciples. By means of him, “the last Adam,” you may inherit marvelous blessings from God.—1 Corinthians 15:45; Revelation 21:3, 4.
[Picture on page 6]
Jesus was the equal of the perfect man Adam