Where do you stand on the so-called “hominid theory”?

January 29, 2010, 8:31 am

Brian Leiter links this interesting article on Wheaton College written by Andrew Chignell (now an associate professor of philosophy at Cornell). It details some internal struggles over what constitutes doctrinal purity, and, in particular, how these divisions were handled under the administration of outgoing president Duane Litfin.

One of [Litfin's] first moves was to declare that Wheaton’s longstanding “Statement of Faith” allowed too much interpretive wiggle-room on the question of Adam and Eve. Scientists were thus required to specify whether they (1) “reject the idea that Adam and Eve were created from pre-existing human-like creatures, or hominids”; (2) are neutral or “unsure” on the hominid theory; (3) affirm that “God gave a human spirit to a pair of pre-existing human-like creatures, or hominids”; or (4) deny the historicity of Adam and Eve and think of Genesis as a wholly “theological document.” Options (3) and (4) were deemed inconsistent with ongoing employment. Those who affirmed (2) were given one year to change their view to (1), or else they too would be asked to seek employment elsewhere.

I know of Wheaton only because Robert Roberts used to be there and I’ve read some of his work on emotion, and so I had thought of it as a pretty serious place. On the other hand, an institution that can push out tenured faculty because of their endorsement of really plausible and well-supported views of human origins looks like a joke. (Worth noting that the president backed off on his demand that everyone endorse (1), but still.)

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