Did Adam Have a Belly Button? (And Other Ridiculous Questions)

Adam and Mr. Lunt apparently had something in common.

I enjoyed Robert Gromacki’s The Virgin Birth, despite my many disagreements with his approach and assumptions about the inerrancy of scripture and Jesus’ sinlessness. But there was one line on Page 125 that, had I been drinking something when I read it, would have produced an epic spit take.

In a chapter entitled, “Jesus Was Truly Human,” Gromacki endeavors to describe, shockingly enough, Jesus’ humanity. Unfortunately, Gromacki doesn’t actually view Jesus as truly human in two rather large ways – first in the way Jesus was conceived and second, and more important, in the notion that Jesus could not have sinned even if he’d wanted to. Nevertheless, at the end of the chapter, Gromacki compares Adam to Jesus and comes up with quite the notion:

Contrasted with Adam, Christ’s humanity had a different expression. Adam was created and began an adult existence on the very first day he lived. The human nature of Jesus was conceived within a mother’s womb just like any other human being, but apart from human fertilization. Jesus experienced a fetal state, a real birth and normal development, but Adam did not. Christ had a navel; Adam had none.

Wait, what?

Now, when you think about it, this makes perfect sense. Where does the belly button come from? Of course it’s the place where the umbilical cord connects to us as fetuses in the womb and provides us the nutrients from the food our mothers drink. Since Adam and Eve were never fetuses, why should they have had navels?

But the Bible doesn’t say Adam had no navel; Gromacki is taking scientific knowledge and applying it to the biblical text to arrive at a conclusion about the origins of mankind. Which is the same process theistic evolutionists use – a process Gromacki would reject when applied to the scientific consensus about the genetic impossibility of the human race descending from only two people or the geological evidence opposing the notions of a 6,000-year-old earth and a single worldwide flood and supporting the idea of an evolutionary process in which humanity descended from apes. It’s interesting to note that Gromacki is implicitly endorsing the idea that humanity evolved a navel.

Granted, there’s a big difference between belly buttons and evolution. We have pictures of fetuses with umbilical cords, and those of us who can stomach it actually cut the cords and watch the stumps fall off and become navels. But that’s not much more evidence than we have for evolution these days. We can see pictures of transitionary species, the so-called “missing links,” such as Tiktaalik or the numerous human-ape hybrids discovered in Africa – even touch them if we have the right access. Yet conservative creationists continue to deny such evidence, either ignoring it entirely or shifting the goalposts such that we need one more missing link because these just aren’t conclusive enough.

Similar, the Jesus Storybook Bible, which is a wonderful book that weaves the story of Jesus throughout the entire Bible, nevertheless includes a throwaway sentence I simply cannot bring myself to read to my daughters. During the story about the Tower of Babel, Sally Lloyd-Jones writes (and I’m going from memory, but this is basically right): “And that’s how we got all the languages in the world.”

Well, no, actually, it’s not. In fact, the world’s language of trade, English, is only 1,000 years old. The version of it that we can actually recognize ourselves is even younger, no more than 600 years old. In either case, we can trace the language’s evolution (that word again) from Germanic and Norman origins. So Babel does not explain English, which is kind of a major exception to the notion that “all the languages in the world” come from Babel. Of course, we could say all the languages come from Babel in the same way all the species in the world came from the Big Bang. But I’m not sure literalists who argue for the historicity of Eden and Babel would appreciate the allusion.

Again, the comparison isn’t entirely fair to the author. But statements like these, so firm in their surety despite the mounds of evidence God’s creation has revealed against them, are ill-advised. They remind me of Augustine’s famous injunction to Christians against using the Bible to defend their opinions on scientific questions they are ill-equipped to discuss:

Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics [of science]; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods and on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion.

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