Through most of the church’s history Christians, like the Jews from whom they sprang, have believed that the Biblical Adam and Eve were actual persons, from whom all other human beings are descended, and whose disobedience to God brought sin into human experience.
I intend to argue that the traditional position on Adam and Eve, or some variation of it, does the best job of accounting not only for the Biblical materials but also for our everyday experience as human beings—an experience that includes sin as something that must be forgiven (by God and our fellow human beings) and that must be struggled against as defiling and disrupting a good human life.
Third, we will consider the Biblical view of human uniqueness and dignity, and relate these to everyday moral and religious experience, asking whether these too are evidence for the traditional position.
But think of the deepest intuitions you have about your own existence: that your life is real and meaningful, that you want others to treat you right, that there is something wrong at the heart of things, that there is still real beauty in the world, that sometimes people do really admirable things, and sometimes really abominable things (often enough it’s the same people!), and that you hope there is some explanation for life’s complexities. I am persuaded that the Christian faith, and especially the Biblical tale of Adam and Eve, actually helps us to make sense of these intuitions, by affirming...