Adam and . . . Lucy?


by Alan Ludwig

Last year I spent a month in Ethiopia on a teaching assignment. The skeleton of a prehistoric female ape is housed in the National Museum in Addis Ababa, the city where I taught and near where the skeleton was discovered. Pop science presents this “Lucy” as the mother of modern humans. I also traveled to the city of Lalibela, the site of ancient churches hewn out of stone. In the rock of one of the churches is a sign, inscribed in Amharic and English, that reads “The Tomb of Adam.”

The irony didn’t escape me that the same Ethiopia is the supposed resting place of two opposite contenders for the place of first parent. One is from the Bible. The other is the product of the Darwinian theory of evolution. One is a man, specially made by God with His own hands and breath, in His own image and likeness. The other is a female of an animal species still far below us on the evolutionary scale.

Could Lucy really have been some kind of “Eve”? According to Scripture, God took a rib from Adam and formed Eve as a helper for him. Sinless, immortal, probably more creative and intelligent than anyone has been since, the first couple was at the very top of the ladder and had dominion over all other creatures. Through their disobedience, they brought the original high state of humanity crashing down. Modern man is not upwardly mobile, as evolutionary theory would have it, but wallows in the ooze of sin, more beastly than the beasts.

Yet couldn’t the Genesis story be a metaphor to help “pre-scientific” people understand human origins? Besides the fact that our Lord and His apostles took Genesis quite literally (Matt. 19:3–6; 1 Cor. 15:22, 45; Jude 14), there are deeper difficulties with trying to harmonize the biblical account of man’s creation with the likes of Lucy, who is supposed to be some midpoint in our species’ slow upward climb from the slime. When God made Adam, He made a perfect man with a view toward the incarnation. The Son of God in human flesh was God’s plan from the foundation of the world and before (Eph. 1:4; 1 Peter 1:19–20).

Christ came into the world as the second Adam, with all the perfection of the first Adam and much more. He became man in order to restore human nature to the glory it knew before the fall and even more so (Rom. 5:12–21)! God took woman from the side of man and joined the pair as one flesh, and this He intended as a picture and preview of Christ and His bride, the Church (Eph. 5:31–32).

If Christ doesn’t return before, perhaps one day science will take the myth of Lucy as mother of us all and cast it on the pile of dead fables together with the world’s standing on four pillars on the back of a giant tortoise. The Gospel of Jesus Christ will continue forever unchanged, as it has from the beginning of the world. The Genesis account of the creation of man and woman is an inseparable part of this Gospel. Here there is no place for Lucy.

The Rev. Dr. Alan Ludwig is a theological educator serving with the LCMS Office of International Mission in Novosibirsk, Russia.

, , , ,

The Lutheran Witness — Providing Missouri Synod laypeople with stories and information that
complement congregational life, foster personal growth in faith, and help interpret the
contemporary world from a Lutheran Christian perspective.

6 Responses to Adam and . . . Lucy?

  1. November 9, 2016 at 2:00 am #

    This is the misguided nonsense that will likely cause me to renounce my LCMS membership in the near future.

    First of all, even if you hold to an inerrant Bible, man’s interpretation of that Bible is often flawed. The Bible stands alone, but always must be interpreted, and that interpretation can be wrong. Just because the Bible may be inerrant does not mean that you can claim that your interpretation is inerrant.

    Secondly, the science is crystal clear. There is a strong consilience of evidence for evolution across multiple lines. The evidence is compelling to anybody that actually looks at it.

    Third, if you force me to choose between your interpretation of the Bible and science, I will choose the science.

  2. Johannes November 9, 2016 at 2:52 pm #

    Even the Jewish writers of Genesis knew it’s an allegory. Genesis is about the creation of the human soul not the human body. You better read Saint Augustine.

  3. John J Flanagan November 9, 2016 at 3:53 pm #

    Ben H, Science is not “crystal clear.” Any educated and serious scientist will acknowledge the weaknesses of Evolutionary teachings. Evolution is a hypothesis which even Darwin, in later years, considered a theory he could not fully support by facts, but he advanced it by bold and unverifiable assumptions. Consider the “Big Bang” theory. I once spoke with a physics professor, who was both a Lutheran(LCMS) and a Creationist concerning the Big Bang theory, and he noted that one of his colleagues who promoted this idea admitted to its’ illogical and flawed premise. The evidence for evolution is not so compelling as you assume, and it takes “faith” to believe it. My faith is in the Bible, and the Genesis view.

  4. Todd N. Wolf November 12, 2016 at 9:43 am #

    I’m so glad others are seeing this for the malarkey it is. Comparing the peer reviewed, continually questioned and refined process of the study of evolutionary biology to a Chinese myth is absurd and reductive.

    Secondarily, there is much evidence to support the timeline of Genisis being written during the Babylonian exile as a response to the Enûma Eliš.

    If their god(s) creation story is violent, ours is one of love and care. Publishing things like this is doing nothing for our witness to the world.

  5. John J Flanagan November 15, 2016 at 4:10 pm #

    TODD: “Publishing things like this does nothing for our witness to the world.”
    For that matter, publishing the Bible, which some people repudiate as myth, and speaking about the Trinity, which many deny, can also be included with Genesis. Shall we avoid publishing the Gospel? There are many who want Christianity to be relegated to the dusty shelves of superstition and mythology, but we who believe cannot abandon our faith and our reverence for God’s word. The wisdom of the world will come to naught. Once you question the truth of the Genesis account, it becomes easy to take apart the rest of the Bible. This is why faith matters.

    • Todd November 25, 2016 at 2:19 pm #


      Even your response to me is reductive. My point is that when we use scripture as a science book, we shut out all other avenues of discussion. When the Pope claimed that Gallelio was in league with lucifer and jailed him for speaking truth in science, don’t you think he prayed? He knew the truth and could prove it.

      In the end, the church was wrong and failed to understand that while scripture is truth, it is not the only truth in the world.

      As an LCMS member, I sincerely hope that we stop acting as if the only truth that exists lies in these 66 books cobbled together over history. There is truth in them and I have faith in my risen savior, but it not the only truth.

      This type of publication only feeds a fear of science and discovery while turning our membership inward and away from discussion and intellectual advancement.

LCMS News & Information