[Dennis] Venema is a senior fellow at BioLogos Foundation, a Christian group that tries to reconcile faith and science. The group was founded by Francis Collins, an evangelical and the current head of the National Institutes of Health, who, because of his position, declined an interview.The evangelical community certainly has its back against the wall on this one. Once upon a time, it was okay to take pot shots at young earth creationism because scientific support for that position is not well-founded. This is different. For many, an acceptance of Christianity does not hinge on how old the earth is or how the creation narratives are interpreted. Whether or not Adam and Eve exist, however, calls into question the very notion of salvation in Christ. That strikes a chord. Schneider resigned and even Daniel Harlow, who also writes in this area stated that he now has a cloud hanging over him:
And Venema is part of a growing cadre of Christian scholars who say they want their faith to come into the 21st century. Another one is John Schneider, who taught theology at Calvin College in Michigan until recently. He says it's time to face facts: There was no historical Adam and Eve, no serpent, no apple, no fall that toppled man from a state of innocence.
"Evolution makes it pretty clear that in nature, and in the moral experience of human beings, there never was any such paradise to be lost," Schneider says. "So Christians, I think, have a challenge, have a job on their hands to reformulate some of their tradition about human beginnings." To many evangelicals, this is heresy.
"Evangelicalism has a tendency to devour its young," says Daniel Harlow, a religion professor at Calvin College, a Christian Reformed school that subscribes to the fall of Adam and Eve as a central part of its faith.This is the scandal of the evangelical mind of which Mark Noll wrote. As I wrote the other day, this will probably get worse before it gets better and, as the national spotlight shines down on it, it may reveal a cavernous divide in modern Christianity. I pray that this is not the case.
"You get evangelicals who push the envelope, maybe; they get the courage to work in sensitive, difficult areas," Harlow says. "And they get slapped down. They get fired or dismissed or pressured out."