The first 11 chapters on Genesis cover everything from the six-day creation account to Noah’s rescue from a worldwide flood. Those chapters and verses are considered foundational truth in Christianity, especially since the Book of Luke traces Joseph’s lineage to King David then, from there, to Adam himself.
According to the Gospels, Jesus mentioned Adam and Eve in his debates with the Pharisees. He also mentioned Noah in his stark warning to the disciples about the state of the world before His second coming.
Yet the view of Dr. William Lane Craig, a prominent thinker, author, and speaker, is that the Genesis account mirrors other stories from a time period when neighboring Near Eastern cultures swapped and borrowed stories, myths, and legends. Genesis, he says, is a result of that.
That view is not new for Craig, whose stance as an “Old Earth” proponent is a public one, but he most recently made that case in the article “The Historical Adam” that was published at FirstThings.com.
Reacting to that article and its anti-biblical claims, fellow apologist Dr. Alex McFarland says Craig is treading on dangerous theological ground.
“I'm always a little nervous whenever any scholar, especially Christian scholars, question or seem to impugn the literal truth of scripture,” McFarland says. “Few things in the Word of God could be more fundamental than the biblical account of creation – of the start of the human race.”
Craig’s views may come as a surprise to many who know about his “Reasonable Faith” apologetics ministry or, more likely, have watched him handily debate prominent atheists such as the late Christopher Hitchens. But the quick-thinking Christian and philosophy professor shared a stage with Hitchens and other atheists because he shared the view that Genesis and its creation claims are not true.
Back in 2009, in their debate at Biola University, Craig suggested to Hitchens that Earth exists because of a “Fine-Tuner” who created the universe and, when His timing was ready, sent a Redeemer to rescue sinful mankind.
“The Bible says in the fullness of time God sent forth His Son, and when Christ came, the nation of Israel had been prepared. The Roman peace dominated the Mediterranean world; it was an age of literacy and learning,” Craig argued. “The stage was set for the advent of God's Son into the world.”
Another aspect Craig's theology, however, is that evolution was directed by God to the point in history when Jesus came to Earth.
Craig's scholarly opposition to Genesis is not good for the Church, argues Dr. Richard Land, formerly of Southern Evangelical Seminary. After all, Paul writes in the Book of Romans that sin entered the world through Adam, Land points out, and brought death to mankind, but Jesus delivered life, justification, and grace to fallen man.
Without a literal Adam, Land concludes, there is no sin and no need for redemption.
On his "Reasonable Faith" website, Craig addressed that passage last year after receiving a letter asking for his views. That answer can be read here, where the well-known apologist states he has had a "major change of mind" on the issue after studying Adam.
“I'm afraid that William Lane Craig has made a terrible error,” Land says, “that will, unfortunately, lead some people astray.”