Peter Enns, The Evolution of Adam

Evangelical biblical scholar Peter Enns has written an important but controversial book entitled, The Evolution of Adam: What the Bible Does and Doesn’t Say About Human Origins (Brazos). To the question “Can evolution and the historical Adam coexist?” Enns answers: “If evolution is correct, one can no longer accept, in any true sense of the word ‘historical,’ the instantaneous and special creation of humanity described in Genesis.”

Here are some video presentations featuring the author.


Bringing false expectations to the text

How can we read the Bible well today?

Against Enns’ false dilemma, in which the Christian must either choose the historical Adam or evolutionary theory, I think we can reconcile both as C. S. Lewis suggests about the “Paradisal man” in The Problem of Pain:

For long centuries God perfected the animal form which was to become the vehicle of humanity and the image of Himself. He gave it hands whose thumb could be applied to each of the fingers, and jaws and teeth and throat capable of articulation, and a brain sufficiently complex to execute all the material motions whereby rational thought is incarnated. The creature may have existed in this state before it became man: it may even have been clever enough to make things which a modern archaeologist would accept as proof of its humanity. But it was only an animal because all its physical and psychical processes were directed to purely material and natural ends. Then, in the fullness of time, God caused to descend upon this organism, both on its psychology and physiology, a new kind of consciousness which could say ‘I’ and ‘me,’ which could look upon itself as an object, which knew God, which could make judgments of truth, beauty, and goodness, and which was so far above time that it could perceive time flowing past. . . . We do not know how many of these creatures God made, nor how long they continued in the Paradisal state. But sooner or later they fell. Someone or something whispered that they could become gods—that they could cease directing their lives to their Creator

The clips below are from a documentary film by Ryan Pettey, “From the Dust.”


  • James K. A. Smith, a philosophy professor at Calvin College, criticizes the methodology of Enns’ book. J. R. Daniel Kirk, a New Testament scholar at Fuller Theological Seminary, criticizes Smith’s review.
  • C. John Collins, author of Did Adam and Eve Really Exist?: Who They Were and Why You Should Care (Crossway), reviews The Evolution of Adam for The Gospel Coalition.
  • Pastor and blogger Kevin DeYoung wrote a post for The Gospel Coalition, “10 Reasons to Believe in a Historical Adam,” and Enns replied.
  • Enns wrote a paper for the BioLogos Forum called, “Understanding Adam.” Download PDF.
  • Denis Alexander, Director of the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion at St. Edmund’s College, Cambridge University, wrote a paper for the BioLogos Forum on the question, “How does a BioLogos model need to address the theological issues associated with an Adam who was not the sole genetic progenitor of humanity?” Download PDF.

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