Peter Enns, Hans Madueme, and the Historical Adam (or, Theological Cop-Outs?)

by hamiltonmj1983

Peter Enns recently wrote a response to a response to his The Evolution of Adam.

I don’t want to revisit his entire response, as I feel that it is certainly worth reading on its own, but I do want to highlight a couple of paragraphs out of the middle.

To his credit, Madueme himself comes clean with his methodology, though he does so only at the very end of his review (section 6, “Concluding Thoughts”):

I recognize the force of the mainstream evolutionary consensus, and I know that it raises tough questions for the viability of a historical Adam and the doctrine of the fall. But I am constrained by Scripture, tradition, and weighty theological considerations. I am a son of Adam. That is why I am a sinner. And it is why I need Christ.

Madueme is to be commended for saying plainly what many others only think: “I know there is serious evidence to the contrary that calls into question what I believe, but, come what may, I’m going to stick with ‘the Bible’ as understood by my tradition and the theological conclusions required to maintain theological stability.”

One might wonder, however, whether Madueme’s apologetic motives should have been stated at the outset, and perhaps led to a much shorter review. I mean no disrespect, but, after all, if Madueme truly recognizes the pressure that the scientific consensus on evolution (and I would add the study of ancient Israel) puts on the historical Adam and the fall, but then slips out the back door, so to speak, and returns home to his dogmatic commitments, all else is just filler. Any true engagement with counterevidence is in principle off the table at the outset.

This resonates deeply with me – it is incredibly hard to engage in a discussion with a person who says “The Bible says it, I believe it, and that is that.” If theological presuppositions restrict someone from engaging in a conversation, then it would be easier for everyone if that person simply did not try to enter the conversation. That person is quickly talking at me instead of talking with me.

Have any of you ever had a conversation with someone who had their mind made up from the start, and no amount of evidence could ever get them to change their tune? How did the conversation go?