I stumbled across a very interesting article at another forum, and was curious to see what the regulars (and irregulars) here at Sci would think of it. It seems that we have been so preoccupied with the War on Science largely waged by Evangelicals, we've failed to notice the dissent within their own ranks. Conservative theologians are beginning to change their tune regarding a central tenet of their faith--the historicity of Adam and Eve--thanks to advances in our understanding of evolution, and the failure of the ID movement to compensate. Dennis Venema, a biologist at Trinity Western University, is one such convert. Dubbing himself an "evolutionary creationist," Venema has taken up the mantle of Dawkins by making evolutionary biology accessible to a broader audience by putting it in language we can all understand. His message is pretty shocking, considering the source. When asked how likely it is that we are all descended from Adam and Eve, Venema said, "That would be against all the genomic evidence that we've assembled over the last 20 years, so not likely at all." He addresses the subject further here: Venema says there is no way we can be traced back to a single couple. He says with the mapping of the human genome, it's clear that modern humans emerged from other primates as a large population — long before the Genesis time frame of a few thousand years ago. And given the genetic variation of people today, he says scientists can't get that population size below 10,000 people at any time in our evolutionary history. To get down to just two ancestors, Venema says, "You would have to postulate that there's been this absolutely astronomical mutation rate that has produced all these new variants in an incredibly short period of time. Those types of mutation rates are just not possible. It would mutate us out of existence." It should be noted that Venema is a senior fellow at BioLogos Foundation, which is a Christian advocacy group trying to reconcile science and faith. Such an endeavor isn't likely to win supporters on either side of the fence, but I think we can agree that science-based Christianity has the potential to be a more benign brand of Christianity than the big-tent nonsense we see from the Evangelical movement today. And the very existence of such a foundation begins to reframe the issue of evolution as not a disagreement between science and religion, but between scientific thought and unscientific thought. John Schneider, former professor of theology at Calvin College until he was forced out after publishing an article questioning the historicity of Adam, agrees, and sees Christians having the next move: "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." But Adam and Eve as fable rather than history is a tough pill to swallow for many Christians. Without Adam's sin, there is no Fall. Without the Fall, says Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, then this whole Jesus business is a mess: "When Adam sinned, he sinned for us," Mohler says. "And it's that very sinfulness that sets up our understanding of our need for a savior. Mohler says the Adam and Eve story is not just about a fall from paradise: It goes to the heart of Christianity. He notes that the Apostle Paul (in Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15) argued that the whole point of Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection was to undo Adam's original sin. "Without Adam, the work of Christ makes no sense whatsoever in Paul's description of the Gospel, which is the classic description of the Gospel we have in the New Testament," Mohler says. We always hear from fundamentalists that science is this good-old-boys network that smothers dissent so that it can evangelize its own mythology--evolutionary theory--so it was surprising (though it probably shouldn't have been) to discover that it is in fact the fundamentalist movements that silence dissenters, firing them or forcing them out of tenured positions for questioning tenets of the faith, particularly this one: This debate over a historical Adam and Eve is not just another heady squabble. It's ripping apart the evangelical intelligentsia. "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. "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." Harlow should know: Calvin College investigated him after he wrote an article questioning the historical Adam. His colleague and fellow theologian, John Schneider, wrote a similar article and was pressured to resign after 25 years at the college. Schneider is now beginning a research fellowship at Notre Dame. When the issue of evolution is considered from the perspective of debunking Adam, and therefore, at least by proxy, Jesus, it's easy to understand why heads within the Evangelical world tend to roll when they are less than wholly dismissive of it. To them, no Adam means no faith. In this context, it's safe to say that evolution is easily the greatest challenge to religion the world has seen. Of course, people like Dennis Venema will tell you that there's nothing for Christians to worry about. "There's nothing to be scared of here," Venema says. "There is nothing to be alarmed about. It's actually an opportunity to have an increasingly accurate understanding of the world — and from a Christian perspective, that's an increasingly accurate understanding of how God brought us into existence." A healthier, albeit still delusional way to approach the matter, to be sure. But regardless of the consequences to one's faith, many Evangelicals are saying it's time to face facts. "This stuff is unavoidable," says Dan Harlow at Calvin College. "Evangelicals have to either face up to it or they have to stick their head in the sand. And if they do that, they will lose whatever intellectual currency or respectability they have." "If so, that's simply the price we'll have to pay," says Southern Baptist seminary's Albert Mohler. "The moment you say 'We have to abandon this theology in order to have the respect of the world,' you end up with neither biblical orthodoxy nor the respect of the world." Mohler and others say if other Protestants want to accommodate science, fine. But they shouldn't be surprised if their faith unravels. (read the entire article here) So what do you think?