Muslims and Genesis: A Fascinating Conversation
Last week, we looked at the issue of Adam and Eve and whether they really existed. We noted that, in the West today, a small but growing number of evangelical biblical scholars are expressing doubt. This is especially true in Britain, where several prominent scholars (such as N.T. Wright and Alister McGrath) are a bit squishy about the literal existence of Adam and Eve. In fact, when the question comes up, it is a quite fashionable at the moment to pitch it as a uniquely American concern. I find this a bit odd, since it seems to be a uniquely universal concern according to the Bible. According to Scripture, no less than the Gospel is at stake over this issue. Paul anchors the doctrine of humanity’s depravity in the literal fall of a literal Adam. Jesus anchors the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman in the first couple.
A recent conversation in England helped give me further perspective on all of this. Not long ago, while visiting our son and daughter-in-law in England, I had the opportunity to talk with a Pakistani biologist, who happens to be a Christian. He holds a master’s degree and an almost-completed doctorate in marine biology from the University of Karachi.
When I asked him about Muslim biologists and their views on Adam and Eve, his answer was very interesting. He said that his Muslim biology professors in Karachi, several with European doctorates in biology, had no problem expressing open criticism of evolution and affirming their belief in a historical Adam and Eve. I almost did a double-take. I pressed him further to see how serious he was about this. He seemed quite serious.
I am aware that Muslim scholars, in general, are often openly critical of evolution. I’ve read apologetic materials for Creationism in Malaysia, well-written by Muslim apologists. So my recent conversation with my biologist friend simply reinforced a premonition that I already had. It was a sobering lesson from the Muslim world. Maybe we need to take some cues here.
While American and British biblical scholars increasingly tiptoe around the historicity of Adam and Eve and seem increasing captive to secular winds, the Muslim world boldly declares that they have no problem accepting our first parents as real, live people. The challenge here is to take our Bibles seriously, even on issues that are currently out of step with the prevailing cultural winds. It’s all too easy for any of us to be blinded by the cultural milieu we sit in, year after year. May God give us the courage to be clear where the Bible is clear, and not to be ashamed of the Gospel. Our Muslim neighbors have a lesson to teach us here.
by Jay Childs, Senior Pastor