I've often talked about the zero-sum game in relation to the homosexual agenda. "Moderates" think that, if they make concessions, they will then be left alone in the area they have carved out for themselves, but it never works that way. They are always pursued to that area and required to endorse more and more, until they must surrender completely or be punished.
I think that a parallel phenomenon goes on in the area of theistic evolution. For a long time, theistic evolutionists have attempted detente with secular Darwinists in something like the following terms: We will concede that you guys are right and are justified by "overwhelming evidence" in science when you say that man evolved by what appear to be fully natural processes from non-human ancestors. However, this was only man's body. To salvage our claim to some sort of Judeo-Christian belief in God's special relation to man and man's having the imago dei, we will postulate an entirely invisible, unverifiable and unfalsifiable event of "ensoulment" at a certain point in the natural, physical history of evolution. God specially created just the immaterial part of man, a soul, and placed it into a body that had come into existence entirely through the physical means that you Darwinists state. By this event, God made a male and a female into real human beings. These were Adam and Eve who were the ancestors of all human beings. They fell through sin, and the story of redemption history continues from there. Deal?
No deal. Contrary to hopes and expectations, this theistic evolutionist attempt to retreat into pure, non-empirical metaphysics in order to give the widest possible latitude to the allegedly "settled results of science" has not met with joyous praise from the secular Darwinist side.
In fact, they have doubled down: The claim now is that there could not have been a single male and female ancestor of all human beings, that human evolution goes through a bottleneck of a supposedly minimum number of ancestors of several thousand at the supposed time of our last common ancestor with chimpanzees. This based on conjectures from DNA sequencing.
Capitulation has been widespread, with the Biologos foundation leading the way in abandoning the existence of an historical Adam and Eve who were the literal, biological ancestors of all mankind. This, of course, forced by the (new) "settled results of science."
Those Christians who thought they could just comfortably follow the consensus of the scientific mainstream while maintaining their Christian theology in a separate, spiritual realm, have been put in a bind by all of this. The existence of a literal Adam, the ancestor of all mankind, whose literal fall into sin was the great catastrophe of human history, has been regarded for two thousand years as an important tenet of Christian theology, taken without question by Jesus and the early Christians from Judaism. The Apostle Paul proceeded to expound an explicit Christian theology of grace and redemption, based on the historical existence of Adam; Jesus is the new Adam who redeems us from the Fall of the first Adam.
But now "science" is telling us that Adam was, at the very most, some kind of tribal head of a very large group of hominids, all of whom interbred. In fact, the whole idea is that there are no two human parents whose blood runs in the veins of every human alive today. Theistic evolutionist Christians have been hounded out of their niche. Either they will have to abandon some fairly basic Christian theology or they will have to start asking whether, after all, the scientific consensus is so well-supported, so objective, so unbiased a result of plain empirical research, as they have been led to believe and have previously conceded.
As I noted briefly here, the whole purely spiritual ensoulment view was always dubious. Apart from the fact that it is vastly, not to say wildly, at odds with the Genesis text, such a view implies that the body of man is entirely animalistic and requires only the addition of a purely immaterial soul, like a cherry on top, to make man. The imago dei thus becomes an entirely immaterial matter having nothing whatsoever to do with the human body. There would have been large numbers of evolved hominids with the same kind of body as the "ensouled" Adam and Eve who, lacking the addition of that purely immaterial part, would not have had the imago dei.
This is both metaphysically and empirically questionable. Is it really plausible that so important a change as that between man and an ape-like creature would have no physical consequences, in brain structure and function, if nothing else?
Metaphysically, do we really want to postulate that man is, physically, nothing but a biological animal, magically united with an immaterial soul? Even I, self-styled Cartesian though I am, think this poor metaphysics. It is both scientifically and experientially evident that human emotions, desires, and abilities are deeply wedded to our natural embodiment. This does not mean that it is literally impossible that a disembodied human soul could have similar abilities and feelings, but it does make such a state not the normal human state. I, for example, am female, and this has to do with a very deep connection between my body and soul, a connection concretely manifested in all sorts of interactions among neural firings, emotions, hormones, and much more. A being who was never intended to be embodied at all would not, indeed could not, be female in the same sense.
The angelistic ensoulment view, without any bodily consequences, was a poor compromise from the beginning. I suggest that Christians would have been better served a long time ago if they had questioned the claims to neutrality, objectivity, and "overwhelming evidence" brought for the highly conjectural theories of naturalistic human physical evolution. If they are not going to abandon an historical Adam and Eve now, they are going to have to do that now in any event--dig into the empirical evidence and make some attempt to discover whether the latest declarations from the Scientific Consensus Magisterium really reflect undeniable empirical facts. This requires getting over the fear of being burned and looking silly--what we might call Galileo Avoidance Syndrome. (HT for the phrase to Esteemed Husband.)
As in other political realms, so in such a contentious area as the origins of mankind: There really are sides, and it does us no good to be naive and to assume that we can let the other side dictate our beliefs and, thereby, our terms of surrender. We need to be more stubborn, more willing to take a forward position, and more willing to say that the "consensus of experts" may well be wrong. The same is true, by the way, in the field of New Testament studies.
I hope later to write a bit about the book Science and Human Origins, by Ann Gauger, Douglas Axe, and Casey Luskin, but that is for another post.