- Series: Christian Answers to Hard Questions
- Paperback: 32 pages
- Publisher: P & R Publishing (April 14, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1596389176
- ISBN-13: 978-1596389175
- Product Dimensions: 4.9 x 0.2 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,739,185 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Did Adam Exist? (Christian Answers to Hard Questions series) Paperback – April 14, 2014
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"Poythress boldly and knowledgeably tackles some of the scientific reasoning that some have used to argue that humans are nothing more than advanced apesreasoning that would conclude that our Bible-based notions of Adam and Eve are false. Poythresss own mathematical sophistication and philosophical acumen enable him to assess these lines of reasoning in order to show that they need not lead us to such disappointing conclusions. In all of this Poythress exemplifies the right use of critical thinking in science and in faith." --C. John ("Jack") Collins, PhD, Professor of Old Testament, Covenant Theological Seminary
"Most non-scientists dont know what to make of scientific arguments questioning the historicity of Genesis, and most theologians do not feel competent to evaluate the scientific arguments, or their reliability. There is therefore a great need for a book like Did Adam Exist? In it, Dr. Poythress, who is well-informed on the subject, breaks down the main scientific arguments about human origins in ways accessible to the general reader. He asks pertinent questions about how the prevailing Darwinian framework affects the conclusions some scientists have drawn, and shows that these conclusions may be premature or unjustified. He also presents ways that Scripture and science may be reconciled from a faithful Reformed perspective. These are difficult and broad-ranging topics; Dr. Poythress is to be commended for addressing them." --Ann Gauger, Ph.D., Senior Research Scientist, Biologic Institute
About the Author
Vern S. Poythress (BS, California Institute of Technology; MDiv and ThM, Westminster Theological Seminary; MLitt, University of Cambridge; DTh, Stellenbosch University; Ph.D., Harvard University) is Professor of New Testament Interpretation at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia.
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Top customer reviews
The latest addition to the series addresses the historical Adam, a topic that has been the focus of several recent books. This booklet doesn't introduce the topic in a general way, but rather focuses on the claims that genetic analyses demonstrate our ape ancestry (and, by extension, that an historical Adam could not have existed). Much of the booklet evaluates the commonly cited statistic of 99% identity between human DNA and chimp DNA. Dr. Poythress points out the challenges of this claim and how the figure of 99% comes about, showing that overall our genetic makeup is not as similar to chimp genetic makeup as naturalistic scientists would have us believe. However, Poythress points out that regardless of the degree of similarity, what really matters is the significance of the similarities. The genetic data needs to be interpreted, whether from the Darwinist framework or the Christian one.
Several times in this booklet, Poythress points out that even if the naturalistic assertions are completely true (e.g. 99% genetic similarity with chimps, gradualism, etc), those pictures are still entirely compatible with God's having done it all for his purposes. Even if human DNA matched chimp DNA in 99% of all cases all along the DNA strands, this would not destroy the case for a historical Adam. While the Darwinian framework would interpret the evidence as indicating that human beings are just another primate, for the Christian "the essential character of human nature is not to be found in quantitative comparisons in the chemistry of DNA...the question of genetic similarity remains of interest to scientists, but it is entirely secondary to the question of human significance" (18).
After this somewhat extended treatment of similarity between human DNA and chimp DNA, the rest of the booklet briefly addresses the minimum-population bottleneck and how long ago Adam and Eve lived. Regarding the latter topic, Poythress acknowledges the possibility of gaps in biblical genealogies and therefore the realty that the Bible simply does not tell us how long ago Adam and Eve lived. The booklet concludes with a look at why the question of Adam and Eve is challenging (because it has a scientific side, a hermeneutical side, and a theological side) and the ultimate anthropological (concerning man), theological (concerning God), and soteriological (concerning salvation) implications of this discussion.
The scope of this booklet is narrower than I had expected. Most of the content addresses the genetic similarity between humans and chimpanzees, and makes a case for the historical Adam by showing how the argument from genetic similarity fails. I was expecting a broader scope of treatment as well as presentation of positive arguments, but the information that is presented is very good. Poythress shows scientifically how the 99% statistic we often hear is actually not an accurate portrayal of genetic similarity; perhaps even more importantly, he helps us see that even if humans and chimps are that similar genetically, it does not do away with God's work and His purpose. This booklet is a good introduction to the issue of the historical Adam from the perspective of genetic analysis.
Like other works in the Christian Answers to Hard Questions series, this is a short book. The short length forces its contributors to be concise. Poythress did a masterful job of engaging for the reader in the book. I enjoyed and learned the most from his evaluation of the claim that man and Chimpanzees share 99% of the same DNA. He spends a considerable length addressing this issue. Poythress’ footnotes demonstrate that he is informed and up to date with the latest peer review articles on genetic studies and I appreciate the caliber of his sources behind his effort to debunk the claim that Chimpanzees and man are 99% alike genetically. It turns out that the data has been manipulated and some of the genetic materials that are not similar between man and Chimps have been eliminated from the percentage count. I also appreciated the discussion of what one’s interpretative grid of the percentage means. One sees here how Cornelius Van Til and Thomas Kuhn influenced Poythress on the importance of one’s philosophy of science that plays a role of how one understands the evidences.
I did not disagree with the conclusion or the arguments presented in the book. However, the book could be improved in two ways. First, it would have helped to let his readers know what his conclusion is in the beginning of the book rather than the end. Secondly, I think Poythress shouldn’t have begun the book with a lengthy discussion about the genetics similarities between man and chimps. Towards the end of the book Poythress noted that the discussion of the historicity of Adam takes place in various disciplines—theology, biology and Biblical studies. I think it would have been helpful to put this in the beginning of the book as preparation for the genetics discussion. Overall the book is more theological rather than exegetical but I wouldn’t dismiss it for being so since it paves the way for the Biblical data to speak on the question of the historicity of Adam. In fact, I would recommend those who want to start understanding the debate to begin with this book first, followed by Zondervan’s recent Four Views on the Historicity of Adam.
NOTE: This book was provided to me free by P&R Publishing and Net Galley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.