All theistic evolutionists and many who invoke other strategies for harmonising Genesis 1–3 with the human fossil record hold to the concept of pre-Adamites, although they seldom use the term. However, throughout the human fossil record there is evidence of sin, violence, trauma, hardship, and premature physical death. Hence, the entire human fossil record must be placed after the Fall of the Biblical Adam, not before. Otherwise, the Genesis 3 Fall becomes theologically meaningless.
A Brief History of the Pre-Adamite Theory
Of all the methods used to harmonise science and Genesis 1–3, the pre-Adamite theory, the idea that there were humans living on Earth before Adam, has had the most colourful and checkered history.
One of the first serious statements of the pre-Adamite concept was by Isaac de la Peyrere, a Jewish convert to Catholicism from Bordeaux, who in 1655 published a book, Systema Theologicum ex Prae-Adamitarum Hypothesi. Peyrere argued that the Biblical Adam was of pre-Adamite stock, and was the father of only the Jews. Cain’s wife and the inhabitants of Cain’s city, as well as the Gentiles, were of other pre-Adamite stock and were not descended from the Biblical Adam. Peyrere questioned miracles and the doctrine of Original Sin. To explain the existence of pre-Adamite Gentiles living after the Flood, he held that the Flood was a local event. Because of his doctrinal defects, the Catholic Church declared Peyrere to be a heretic. He was forced to make a public recantation before Pope Alexander VII. However, Peyrere continued to hold the pre-Adamite view for the rest of his life.
David Livingstone (Historian of Science, Queen’s University, Belfast), in his 1990 lecture at Wheaton College on pre-Adamites, suggests that Peyrere may not have been a Christian at all, but that he pretended to convert to Christianity for social or other purposes. However, with Peyrere’s theory we have the origin of modern Biblical criticism. Livingstone says of pre-Adamism: “The theory is born in infidelity and is nurtured in skepticism”.1 Peyrere’s theory served as an encouragement to those involved in free-thought.
In the eighteenth century, pre-Adamism moved into mainstream science. Although evolution was well-known at that time, the major scientific paradigm of origins was creationism. However, it was not a creationism based upon Genesis as much as it was a creationism based upon that ancient and perennial philosophy known as “The Great Chain of Being”.2 Because the dark-skinned and “savage” races of the world were viewed as being very different from Caucasians, it was not considered likely that both groups had a common origin. Hence, pre-Adamism took the form of polygenesis, multiple creations of human races. Many people thought that non-Caucasians were created by the Almighty as inferior races intended to be treated as slaves or as domestic animals. Some even questioned whether or not these inferior humans had souls. Thus, pre-Adamism became the scientific basis and rationale for slavery and racism. Even some Bible-believing Christians accepted pre-Adamism in this era, believing that it was not possible for Caucasians and the “very different” non-Caucasians to have both developed from the Biblical Adam in the time allowed by Genesis. Thus, the sceptical unorthodoxy of the seventeenth century tended to became the respected orthodoxy of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.1….
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