Q: One of my friends, who claims to believe in the inspiration of Scripture, doesn't believe that the story of Adam and Eve and the fall are to be taken literally. Does Scripture support his contention?
A: Absolutely not. To contend that Adam and Eve — and the story of their fall into a constant state of sin eventually terminated by death — are simply figurative allegory would contradict the whole of Scripture in a devastating manner.
First, if there was no true fall, then there is no sin and therefore no need of the Savior (Rom. 5). The Bible, both in the Old and New Testaments, is abundantly clear that humankind is inherently sinful (Job 15:14; Ps. 51:5; 58:3; 130:3; Prov. 20:9; Eccl. 7:20, 29; 9:3; Isa. 53:6; 64:6; Jer. 17:9; Mark 7:21-23; John 3:19; 8:34, 44; Rom. 3:9-12; 5:12; 6:20; 8:7-8; 1 Cor. 2:14; Eph. 2:1-3; etc.). This sin, we are taught, is passed on to us through our first parent, Adam (Rom. 5:12-21). Because of this inborn condition, it is impossible for us to live the perfect life that God demands of those who seek to be acceptable to Him by their works (James 2:10).
Due to our inability to save ourselves, God chose to become a man (Isa. 9:6; Rom. 9:5), born of a virgin (Isa. 7:14; Luke 1:31-35) in the city of Bethlehem (Mic. 5:2; Matt. 2:1), to live the perfect life that we can never live (Dan. 9:26; Heb. 4:15) and be crucified to atone for the sins of the world (Ps. 22:16; John 1:29). And He then rose from the dead on the third day (Ps. 16:10; Matt. 28:6) in verification of His radical claims and ministry (Acts 2:22-36). So you see, our hope of salvation is rooted in a historically verifiable Messiah (1 Cor. 15:1-8), who according to Scripture, is a descendant of Adam the literal first man (Luke 3:38).
Furthermore, while Scripture explicitly declares Jesus of Nazareth to be the one true God (1 John 5:20), this same Jesus affirms that both Adam and Eve were historical figures when He references the murder of their son, Abel (Matt. 23:35).
Finally, both Adam and Eve are constantly referred to in Scripture as being historical persons and not legends (Gen. 2-5; Deut. 32:8; Josh. 3:16; 1 Chron. 1:1; Job 31:33; Luke 3:38; Rom. 5:14; 1 Cor. 15:22, 45; 2 Cor. 11:3; 1 Tim. 2:13-14; Jude 14).
So you see, if you cast aspersions on the historical record surrounding Adam and Eve, you must also question the inspiration and authority of the Bible, the genealogical and archaeological accuracy of Scripture, the problem of sin, Christ's vicarious atonement, salvation by the grace of God alone, and much more. What you end up with could hardly qualify as Christianity!
“Too often in our contemporary culture, theologically informed beliefs are not considered a legitimate claim to knowledge.” — Frank Beckwith