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Saving the Original Sinner: How Christians…
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Saving the Original Sinner: How Christians Have Used the Bible's First Man…

by Karl W. Giberson

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I'm not sure what I was expecting with this book. While clearly written with extensive research to back up his points, I don't really know what the point is of this text. It's probably not going to convince hardcore Christians that the Bible isn't based in fact. And I'm an atheist, so I can attest that his epiphanies about the creation of and reason for the Christian mythos were more like, "yeah, well, duh!" statements for nonbelievers. Maybe it's intended to be read by people on the fence? ( )
1 vote ligature | Aug 6, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This book provides an historical overview of the history of Adam in Christian Theology which leads to the point where we are today in which a substantial number of people feel that they have to accept a literal Adam and Eve and being a part of their worldview. Dr. Giberson provides a good amount of expertise within the evangelical tradition. However, once he leaves that tradition to discuss other branches of Christianity, he is on weaker grounds. This book provides a helpful background to the current controversy over evolution ( )
  morningrob | Aug 3, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The author, a former believer in the world’s creation by God, explains how the idea of the Biblical Adam has evolved throughout the ages. The age-old question arises, “Where did Adam’s son Cain get his wife?” Should the Bible be taken literally?

Giberson explores key issues between science and religion . One of the theories set forth in the book is Isaac La Peyrere’s alternative that Adam was the first Jewish man and there were other non-Jewish tribes before him. Another is Thomas Burnet’s assumption that “everything in the Bible happened as described, but that the events should, whenever possible, be understood as the result of secondary causes - - natural processes employed by God, rather than miraculous intrusions into the natural order.”

Was Adam a historical man, and what was his role in bringing evil into the world? Giberson believes that scientific evidence undermines the Biblical creation, fall of man, and redemption theology held onto by Christian fundamental churches.

This is not a book that Christian fundamentalists will approve. It’s hard to hear that facts you have had ingrained in you since childhood may not be true after all. But it’s probably a book that they should read anyway, all the while keeping an open mind. ( )
  pinklady60 | Jul 23, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
A well-written book which examines the Genesis story of Adam and Eve and how it relates to other cultures as well as the different approaches within Christianity itself. Giberson examines various approaches used when ignoring, combining, or accepting scientific knowledge alongside the idea of original sin and creation.

The author does a concise and clear job comparing what he calls the main approaches to the "problem of human creation."

While I do not always agree with the points he makes - or some of the quotations he uses to back them up, he has a straight forward style that is easy to read and understand. ( )
  ggprof | Jul 10, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Giberson begins by stating that he used to be an evangelical but that his experience studying science in college convinced him that the Genesis stories were not historical. He now seems bemused, even embarrassed by those earlier beliefs and is not above deriding people who take the Bible literally.

Chapter 1 is a review of the Genesis creation stories which raise lots of interesting questions such as: “Why does God put the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden and then tell Adam to keep away from it? Wasn’t God guaranteeing that the first humans would screw up? . . . Why doesn’t God warn Adam and Eve about the serpent, like he did about the tree of knowledge of good and evil? . . . What justice permits you and me to be punished for something with which we had nothing to do? . . . How can Adam die at the age of 930—itself a puzzle—when God said he would die on the “day” he ate the fruit?” I’ve wondered some of those same things but Giberson, after bringing up the subject, does not address them.

His discussions of church history with extensive quoting of Paul and Augustine begin to sound rather preachy. I found a number of statements puzzling: “these early Christian attitudes were especially attractive to women, who were often born into heavily scripted lived controlled by men.” (What happened to change those new attitudes so much that, two thousand years later, women today are often relegated to second class status, expected to be silent and to aspire only to motherhood, denied access to contraceptives or control of her own body?) “Although we would not speak in terms of sin and fallenness as Augustine did, scientists today would certainly affirm that the human will is deeply troubled and must be kept in check.” (Which scientists are saying this?) “Global exploration raises questions about the location of the Garden of Eden; most scholars are certain it still exists, and more than one explorer claims to find it.’ (Who are the scholars who hold this certainty?)

Giberson acknowledges that the Epic of Gilgamesh, the Epic of Atrahasis and the Babylonian Enuma Elish, which predate Genesis, demonstrate close parallels with Adam, Noah and the creation stories respectively. On the next page he criticizes “Darwin’s theory taken at face value was full of holes, some of them literal” because there should have been transitional fossil forms. (Transitional fossils do exist.) I don’t know what to make of this assertion: “after decades of nonstop culture wars and failed attempts at reconciliation between traditionalists and evolution, it’s all but impossible to appreciate that [George Frederick] Wright found Darwin’s theory not merely compatible with Christianity but also theologically helpful. Anyone trying to make sense of America’s enduring controversy over evolution needs to understand this." (Why? How does this explain anything?)

Giberson states the source of creationism is The New Geology by George McCready Price, a Seventh-day Adventist, which in turn inspired John Whitcomb and Henry Morris who co-wrote The Genesis Flood, in 1961. Later, in The Genesis Record, Morris stated “This approach, known as scientific creationism, maintains that everything in the entire creation was cursed by God, from the asteroids around a distant star to the process by which our stomach digest food.” Scientific creationism isn’t defined but cursing asteroids sounds like a serious anger issue and doesn’t have any scientific basis.

This is a rather dry, at times even soporific, history of various views of Adam and the Fall but mostly a discussion of topics which seem only tangentially related. It was never clear to me just what point Giberson was trying to make. The book contains notes and is indexed. The text size is somewhat small and thus not exactly reader friendly. ( )
  Taphophile13 | Jul 7, 2015 |
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To my wife, Myrna
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Prologue
In midwinter 1656, fourteen years after Galileo had died peacefully in his Tuscany home, still under house arrest for his views on the motion of the earth, armed men burst into the home of another subversive, the French Calvinsit Isaac La Peyrère, and hauled him off to prison. Heresy hunters had dispatched them to deal with a threat to Christianity even greater than that of Galileo. After "enhanced interrogations" La Peyrère was escorted to Rome where, after an audience with the pope, he recanted his heresy, rejected his Calvinism, and joined the Roman Catholic Church.
Introduction
~
Our Common Ancestor
Then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground,
and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life,
and the man became a living being.

—Genesis 2:7

In the fall of 2009 I visisted the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky. I was in the area to speak at Xavier University, where a class taught by a Jesuit theologian was using my book Saving Darwin; How to Be a Christian and Believe in Evolution, a deeply personal account of my—and America's—struggle to understand Darwin's controversial theory of our origins.
Chapter 1
~
First Man or First Jew?
The Mysterous Patriarch
of the Tribe of Israel

An Aristotle was but the rubbish of an Adam,
and Athens but the rudiments of Paradise.

—Robert South¹

"The first man," wrote the Jewish philospher Philo (ca. 20 BCE-ca. 50 CE), "appears to me to have been such both in his body and in his soul, being very far superior to all those who live in the present day, and to all those who have gone before us."² A 1663 French Academy paper specified this superiority with claims that Adam was 140 feet tall. Contemporary creatiionists have assigned Adam heights of 12 to 16 feet,³ superintelligence, a perfect genome, and even supernatural powers. What are we to make of such claims?
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0807012513, Hardcover)

A scientist and former evangelical argues that holding onto a belief in a literal, historical Adam has forced many Christians to reject science and become intellectually isolated from the modern world. 
 
The Bible’s first man stands at the center of a crisis that is shaking much of Christianity. In the evangelical world, scholars have been ostracized and banished from their academic communities for endorsing a modern scientific understanding of the world, even as they remained strong Christians. Self-appointed gatekeepers of traditional theology demand intellectual allegiance to an implausible interpretation of the Genesis creation story, insisting that all humanity must be descended from a single, perfect human pair, Adam and Eve. Such a view is utterly at odds with contemporary science. 

It wasn’t always this way. Karl Giberson spotlights the venerable tradition of Christian engagement with new knowledge and discoveries. When global exploration, anthropology, geology, paleontology, biblical studies, and even linguistics cast doubt on the historicity of Adam and his literal fall into sin, Christians responded by creatively reimagining the creation story, letting Adam “evolve” to accommodate his changing context. Even conservative evangelical institutions until recently encouraged serious engagement with evolutionary science, unhindered by the straitjacket of young-earth creationism, intelligent design, or other views demanding that Adam be a historical figure.

Giberson calls for a renewed conversation between science and Christianity, and for more open engagement with new scientific discoveries, even when they threaten central doctrines. Christians should not be made to choose between their faith and their understanding of the universe. Instead, as Giberson argues, they should follow in the once robust tradition of exploring science openly within the broad contours of Christian belief.

(retrieved from Amazon Wed, 01 Jul 2015 16:02:43 -0400)

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