Theistic evolution – sometimes called “evolutionary creationism” – is a viewpoint that seeks to reconcile the early chapters of Genesis with a modern scientific worldview about biological evolution. Supporters of theistic evolution accept without reservation that scientific discovery has proven evolution to be true, and beyond question1. They believe that “evolution is real, but it was set in motion by God”2, and that “evolution occurred as biologists describe it, but under the direction of God”3. Theistic evolutionists attempt to reconcile this with the Bible by seeking to demonstrate that Genesis 1 & 2 are not a historical account of how God created the heavens and the earth. They reject the clear teaching of scripture that God created heaven and earth in six days, and seek to explain away the early chapters of Genesis by various means.
Varying beliefs of theistic evolutionists
Theistic evolutionists do not all believe the same thing. For example, they have varying opinions regarding the historical reality of Adam. Some claim that Adam is just a metaphorical figure, even a myth; others that he was a real person. Some believe that Adam was the first of a race of beings that came into existence by process of evolution, to whom God chose to reveal Himself. Others believe that whilst humankind came into existence by evolution, Adam was a separate, special creation by God. Those theistic evolutionists who believe that Adam was a special creation nevertheless maintain that Adam’s offspring intermarried with a race of humans that did not descend from Adam, but had arisen by an evolutionary process over millions of years, prior to Adam’s creation.
As far as the book of Genesis is concerned, there are again differing points of view amongst theistic evolutionists. Some say that Genesis 1 & 2 have no bearing on actual historical events. They are simply teaching stories, based on the beliefs of other ancient near eastern civilizations. Others maintain that in fact nothing at all in the first eleven chapters of Genesis should be considered as actual historical fact.
Whilst there are divergent views amongst theistic evolutionists as to how the creation account should be interpreted, all theistic evolutionists agree on one thing – that as far as the creation record is concerned the Bible does not mean what it says. When God states that “in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day” (Exodus 20:11), this is not accepted at face value as a statement of simple fact. In their view, science – by which is meant the beliefs of modern mainstream scientists – is more authoritative than the simple teaching of scripture, and it is scripture that has to accommodate modern scientific thought, rather than the other way round.
The Bible the only authority
As Christadelphians, we believe that “all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (1 Timothy 3:16), and we therefore reject the theistic evolutionist’s approach to the Bible. We believe that theistic evolution, in its many different forms, undermines a number of key first principle doctrines that have been held within the Christadelphian community for over 150 years, including the nature of man, how sin and death entered into the world, the supreme authority and inspiration of the word of God, and the atonement.
The two books
Theistic evolutionists often maintain that God has “written” two “books” – the book of God’s word, and the book of His works – and since God is the Author of both “books”, we should expect harmony and consistency between them both. It is argued by some theistic evolutionists that in order to obtain a complete picture of God and His purpose it is imperative that we “read” both “books”. They emphasize that these two books of God must be in complete harmony, and cannot contradict each other. Any apparent contradiction is down to the inability of the “reader” of the two “books” to fully understand either one, or the other, or both of them. It is then assumed that modern science has correctly interpreted the “book” of God’s works. The advocates of theistic evolution maintain that science has proven beyond all doubt that evolution is true, and therefore it must be our understanding of the “book” of God’s word that has to be updated and brought into line with modern scientific “fact”, in order to avoid contradiction between the two “books”. It is thus concluded that this must mean that Genesis 1,2 cannot be a record of historical fact, but should be interpreted in a non-literal way.
The Bible the only authority
Our faith must be firmly rooted upon the teaching of scripture alone, and nothing else. There is no other authority that can form the basis of faith and understanding. The Word of God alone “giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple” (Psalm 119:130). As far as saving truth is concerned, the light of understanding can only be found in the Bible. Science teaches us nothing about faith and salvation.
Nowhere in Scripture is nature ever described as a “book” of God that must be “read”. The Bible teaches that the Scriptures themselves are authoritative, and contain the whole testimony of God. It is our understanding of God’s purpose revealed in the Scriptures, not science, that is able to bring us to salvation.
The witness of creation
That is not to say that God does not leave Himself without witness in other ways, in addition to His word – of course He does. Evidence of God’s creative work can be seen all around us in the wonders of nature; and the vastness of the universe – beyond comprehension by mortal man – gives ample testimony to His existence and His power. David himself says:
The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.Psalm 19:1
Observation of the wonders of creation, and the incredible complexity and order in the universe, compels a reasonable person to conclude that there must be an all-powerful and all-wise Creator. At the same time, one is driven to acknowledge the insignificance of man in the grand scheme of things, as was David, when by inspiration he said:
When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; what is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?Psalm 8:3,4
There is therefore an element of truth to the idea of the “two books”. God is unchanging, and it is reasonable that we should expect consistency between His words and His works. But the theistic evolutionists wrongly assume that modern science has correctly interpreted the “book” of God’s works. The advocates of theistic evolution maintain that science has proven beyond all doubt that evolution is true, and therefore it must be our understanding of the Bible that has to be updated, and brought into line with modern scientific “fact”.
There is no direct, observable experiment that can ever be performed that can prove evolutionary theory about the origins of life as fact, and that completely different kinds of animals can evolve from common ancestors. Scientists may be able to study mutations in living organisms, observe similarities in morphologies of plants and animals, measure bones and decode DNA, but it is just not possible for them to test supposed evolutionary events in the past.
Science is changing all the time. What may be considered today to be scientific fact may turn out to be rejected in years to come. It is therefore very difficult to see how any faith can be placed in the shifting sands of current scientific thought. For this reason alone, it would be foolhardy to assume that science has proven the evolutionary origins of life to be true, and therefore that it is necessary for our understanding of Genesis 1 and 2 to accommodate evolutionary theory.
Salvation through faith in God’s word
The Bible clearly teaches that salvation from sin and death is bound up in an individual’s faith in the Gospel message, as the apostle Paul declares:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth.Romans 1:16
Nowhere in the Bible do we read that we require an understanding of science to appreciate the wonder of the Gospel. Salvation is not in any way dependent upon knowledge of science. It is true that observation of the wonders of science may increase our faith in the existence of God, but it is not essential for faith, and we would do well to remember the words of the apostle Paul:
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.Romans 10:17
We are told that:
without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek himHebrews 11:6
and such faith can only be developed by hearing the word of God. These Divine words must become the ultimate authority in regards to what we perceive as truth.
The word of God is a lamp unto our feet, and a light unto our path, and the entrance of that word into our hearts and minds “giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple” (Psalm 119:105, 130). If that word is not in us, then the verdict of the prophet is very stark and uncompromising: “It is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20). It is a sad fact that this is true of the majority of eminent scientists today. They may be very accomplished in their field, but such accomplishment has not led them to accept the existence of a Creator. As far as God is concerned there is no light in them, and they are “alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart” (Ephesians 4:18). The scriptures describe such people as fools, for “the fool hath said in his heart, There is no God” (Psalm 14:1).
The word of God is the means whereby God is able to shine in our hearts, “to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). Science cannot do this. Even if the depths of scientific knowledge are plumbed, salvation cannot be gained thereby. But in contrast, “The holy scriptures… are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:15-17).
The historical Adam
The theistic evolutionists put forward a number of differing viewpoints regarding the biblical Adam, none of which are consistent with the simple teaching of the scriptures:
At the extreme end of the spectrum, some theistic evolutionists maintain that Adam was not a real historical person at all, but he should be viewed as an archetypal figure, and that what is important is that we look at the “Adam” within ourselves4. According to this perspective, it is an unnecessary detail to insist on a real historical Adam since it has no bearing on the fundamental Gospel of salvation – the foundation of our faith is not Adam, but Jesus Christ. This view completely dismisses the belief that Genesis is recording literal historical events, and paves the way for the acceptance of evolutionary theory regarding the origin of life.
Some theistic evolutionists do believe that Adam was a real historical individual, but it is consistently maintained that he was not the first man – there was a race of pre-Adamic human-like creatures that arose by the process of evolution5, and this is where it is supposed that Cain got his wife from. As far as the origin of Adam is concerned, the opinion of theistic evolutionists is further divided. Some believe that Adam was a special creation of God in the Near East about 6,000 years ago, whilst others claim that he was in fact one of the evolved human-like beings, perhaps a farmer who lived about 200,000 years ago in Africa, and he represented the first one with whom God could “do business”6.
At the outset, we need to have very clear in our minds that, of the alternative views regarding Adam summarised above, none of them are taught, or even hinted at, in the Bible.These views have been arrived at as a result of the desire to seek to harmonise Bible teaching with the so-called “evidence” of science in general, and the theory of evolution in particular.
Adam was a real person
Does the Bible give us any indication that Adam should be viewed as anything other than a real, historical human being who lived some 6,000 years ago? The answer to this question is an unequivocal “No”.
Adam outside of Genesis
Outside the book of Genesis, Adam is mentioned by name a total of twelve times7. In all of these occurrences, the historicity of Adam is taken absolutely for granted. Job, who lived in patriarchal times, clearly believed in his existence, and accepted the fact that Adam transgressed, and sought to cover his nakedness: “If I covered my transgressions as Adam, by hiding mine iniquity in my bosom” (Job 31:33). Adam is mentioned in the genealogy of 1 Chronicles 1:1, and also, most importantly, in the genealogy of the Lord Jesus Christ in Luke 3:38. If doubt is cast upon the existence of Adam, then logic would dictate that equal doubt should also be cast upon any or all of Adam’s descendants, and this ultimately includes Jesus himself. Yet there is absolute consistency between the genealogy outlined in Genesis 5, 1 Chronicles 1:1-4 and Luke 3:36-38. Similarly, Jude in his epistle states with authority that Enoch was “the seventh from Adam” (Jude v 14).
The apostolic perspective
The inspired apostle Paul8 gives the explicit statement that
Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.1 Timothy 2:13,14
Clearly the apostle believed not only in the existence of Adam, but also Eve, and there is no reason whatsoever to take these words of Paul at anything other than face value. Also he accepted without question that they were both “formed” – in keeping with the testimony of Genesis:
the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.Genesis 2:7
Paul did not question the Genesis account of the fall from grace, and that as a result of the sin of one man “death passed upon all men”, such that “death reigned from Adam to Moses” (Romans 5:12,14). The teaching of Paul regarding the atonement, the cornerstone of faith, is argued from this very basis that Adam, by disobedience to the Divine commandment, was condemned to return to the dust of the ground from whence he came, and needed salvation from sin and death.
Salvation from the consequences of Adam’s sin has been secured by the Lord Jesus Christ – a real descendant of Adam according to the genealogy of Luke 3:23-38. Luke 3 is also consistent with the Genesis account in stating that Adam was “the son of God”. Neither of these accounts even suggest that Adam might have descended from another being.
Jesus is described as “the last Adam”:
And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.1 Corinthians 15:45
The apostle, through inspiration, is drawing a contrast between Adam, whom he describes as “the first man”, and Jesus Christ himself. Adam was “made a living soul”, but Christ “a quickening (or life-giving) spirit”. We would not question for one moment that Christ was indeed made “a quickening spirit” after his resurrection from the dead, and if Adam was not literally made “a living soul” the force of the comparison is lost.
It may be objected that Christ was not literally “the last Adam”, so why do we necessarily have to understand “the first Adam” as being confirmation that Adam really was the first man? To argue in this way is to fail to perceive that Paul is using Adam and Christ as two federal heads. We are either “in Adam”, or “in Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:22) – there is no other choice. Adam and Christ were both sons of God, and both special creations of God, and in this sense they are unique. Adam was the first specially created son of God, and Christ was the last. In comparing Adam with Christ, Paul says: “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive”. What is the point of the comparison between Adam and Christ, if Adam was fictitious? Furthermore, if Adam is fictitious, it cannot be true that all in Adam “die” – the death “in Adam” must be fictitious too – yet we know from experience that all of Adam’s offspring really do die. The comparison with being “made alive” in Christ is completely lost if Adam never existed9.
On Mars’ Hill the apostle Paul declared that God:
…giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; and he made of one every nation of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed seasons, and the bounds of their habitation.Acts 17:25,26 RV
Paul believed and unambiguously stated that all nations of men were made “of one”. If the beliefs of theistic evolutionists are to be accepted, then we have to admit that what the apostle says here is not true. Paul was conversing on this occasion with the great philosophers and academics of his day, some of whom held beliefs similar to modern evolutionary thought. If there was ever a time when Paul would have been expected to cast doubt on the origin of all nations from one man, this was it. But he did not do so. He held to the view plainly set out in the rest of scripture, that humankind descended from Adam.
Were they all mistaken?
If we maintain that Adam was not a historical person, then we would have to conclude that Moses, Job, the Chronicles genealogy, Hosea, Luke, Paul and Jude were either mistaken, or were speaking of things as if they were historical fact when in reality they were simply allegorical stories with no basis in fact.
This is not to say that the Divine text never uses the language of allegory, or figure of speech as a literary device – of course it does. But in such cases there is always a textual reason for the use of such language. The suggestion that Adam is not the first man calls into question the clear and unambiguous scripture passages, outlined above, where there are no obvious textual reasons for doubting the literal historicity of the account. This is not consistent with the claim of scripture that “all scripture is given by inspiration of God”,and that God is “a God of truth” who “cannot lie”.10
Is believing in Adam necessary?
Let us, for the sake of argument, assume that it is not necessary for the believer in Christ to accept the existence of a literal, historical Adam. We would then be at liberty to deny the existence of Eve, since she was supposedly made out of Adam’s side. The record of Genesis 2 indicates that God planted a garden eastward in Eden:
and the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.Genesis 2:15
But if Adam did not exist we may dismiss the existence of the garden of Eden, and therefore also the tree of life, and the tree of knowledge that were supposedly planted in the midst of the garden. Similarly, if Eve was not a real historical person, then the conversation between Eve and the serpent did not really take place. Neither is it necessary to believe that Eve partook of the forbidden fruit. We can also discount God’s conversation with Adam, Eve or the serpent, in the garden, and this includes the words of God concerning the enmity between the serpent and the seed of the woman:
And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.Genesis 3:15
This is the first Biblical promise concerning the coming of a Saviour who would overcome the problem of sin, that found its fulfilment in the Lord Jesus Christ, and we would have to conclude this was not a real promise given at a real point in time since those to whom it was “spoken” did not exist.
This illustrates that the whole of the Genesis account stands or falls together, and if one part is dismissed as not historical fact, the rest can follow. Then Abraham, Isaac and Jacob need not necessarily be considered as literally being the fathers of the nation of Israel, and the covenants God made with them – described by Paul as “the gospel” (Galatians 3:8) – may be disregarded. Similarly the account of Joseph, Israel’s development into a nation in Egypt, and indeed all other key accounts in Genesis that form the basis for many of the themes that emerge later in scripture, may be dismissed. But more even than that – the integrity of all “holy men of God” who make reference to the Eden account throughout scripture is called into question. Thus little by little the whole of the Gospel of salvation loses its foundation and becomes baseless11, and the foundation principle of Divine inspiration loses all authority.
In conclusion, it is worth repeating the simple fact that, the suggestion that Adam was not a real historical person is not taught in the Bible.
The origin of death
If Adam came into existence through evolution, rather than special creation, then obviously he must have been a dying creature, even before he disobeyed the commandment of God. This is a big problem for the theistic evolutionist because of the testimony of Paul in Romans 5:12: “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned”. The teaching of the apostle is that for man death did not exist prior to Adam’s sin. The theistic evolutionist therefore has to maintain that Paul was not speaking about death in the universal sense here, because evolved humans were subject to death before Adam sinned. Instead, it is claimed that Paul is speaking of death in the sense of it being the wages of sin12. Since the evolved humans were not under Divine law prior to Adam, although they were dying creatures like the beasts, they were not subject to death-as-the-wages-of-sin. They were unaware of Divine law and therefore not accountable to it. Therefore they are excluded from what Paul says here.
This is a perversion of the teaching of Paul, and it is not supported by the context of Romans 5.
The first point to note from Romans 5:12 is the very first word: “Wherefore…”. What Paul is about to say springs out of what he has already said in 5:11: “And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement”. The context is that of the atonement, and what Paul is about to do is to examine the tragic sequence of events that led to man’s alienation from God in the first place, and the need for that atonement which has been secured through Christ. Through Jesus Christ, sin can be forgiven and God and men reconciled (2 Corinthians 5:19). What this means is that the doctrine of the atonement and a clear understanding of Romans 5:12 are inextricably linked. If we misunderstand Romans 5:12, then this will have implications for our understanding of the doctrine of the atonement. This will impact on our faith in the work of the Lord Jesus Christ, which is why Romans 5:12 must assume a focal point in our considerations of death in relation to Adam.
By one man
Paul traces the source of the problem of sin back to one man: “Wherefore as by one man sin entered into the world…”. That man was Adam, and the circumstances of his transgression are described in detail in Genesis 3. There were far-reaching consequences of that sin, and what we need to understand is that everything that Paul says by inspiration in Romans 5:12 is traced back to that “one man”, thus:
- By one man sin entered into the world
- By one man death entered into the world by sin
- By one man death passed upon all men
- By one man all sinned
This point is emphasized throughout the remaining verses of Romans 5, thus:
- “Through the offence of one many be dead”.
- “Judgment came by one to condemnation”.
- “By one man’s offence death reigned”.
- “By the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation”.
- “By one man’s disobedience many were made sinners”.
In sharp contrast to this, “by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men to justification of life” (Romans 5:15-19). Of course, Paul does not mean all men without exception who have ever lived will receive the free gift of life, but all men who have come into relationship with Christ by baptism into him. He is comparing Adam with Christ, and using them once again as two federal heads. All who are “in Adam” receive condemnation – and that is everybody – whereas all who are “in Christ” receive justification of life13. As the apostle says:
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.1 Corinthians 15:22
We need to be very clear in our understanding of Paul’s words – sin entered into the world, and death passed upon all men, through one man. This law of death entered the world because of Adam’s sin. As far as the human race is concerned death did not exist before. This is in complete harmony with Genesis 2:17, and the warning God gave to Adam that if he ate from the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil he would “surely die”. This makes no sense if he was already dying before he transgressed.
Death passed upon all men
Paul says that “by of one man… death passed upon all men”. Death “passed upon” or “spread”14 to all men by physical descent from Adam15. Each subsequent generation of the human race from the time of Adam to the present has inherited from him a nature that is corruptible, prone to sin, and which leads inexorably to death.
The viewpoint of the theistic evolutionists that Adam, and evolved humans, were dying creatures prior to Adam’s sin,is not consistent with the teaching of Romans 5:12.
Could “death” in Romans 5:12 really mean “death-as-the-wages-of-sin”, as some theistic evolutionists suggest? No, because of what Paul says next:
For until the law16 sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgressionRomans 5:13 & 14
Let us for the moment assume that a race of evolved humans did exist before Adam, who were without law, and to whom sin was therefore not imputed. What Paul is saying here is that even over people who were without law, to whom sin was not imputed, and who had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, “death reigned”. If this is the case, it is clear that “death” cannot be defined as death-as-the-wages-of-sin, for the precise reason that they were without law, and transgression was not imputed.
Furthermore, Paul continues to make the point that even for people without law, “by one man’s offence death reigned by one” (Romans 5:17). Death even reigned over those who had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, and it reigned “by one”, because all men without exception have inherited Adam’s death-stricken nature. The idea of a race of mortal humans, not descended from Adam and yet co-existing with him, is therefore excluded. To suggest otherwise would mean that Adam’s so-called human peers living contemporary with him began to experience death because of Adam’s sin. His punishment for some inexplicable reason spread to them. This hardly makes any logical sense.
The theistic evolutionists who claim that Adam was one of the evolved humans, have to maintain that Adam was always destined to die, even before he sinned, and that Paul in Romans 5:12 was not commenting on the entrance of death-stricken nature into the human race consequent upon the sin of Adam. As we have demonstrated though, this is not what the scriptures teach.
The introduction of death
And the LORD God formed man out of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.Genesis 2:7
Adam was a living creature, formed from the union of a body made from the ground and the breath of life. As with everything else that God made, he was declared “very good” (Genesis 1:31). Genesis 2 continues to describe how God made Himself known to Adam, and gave him a law. The consequence of disobedience to this law would be death, and a return to the ground from whence he was made:
And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.Genesis 2:16,17
Adam was given explicit warning that, should he disobey the Divine commandment, this sentence of death would be imposed “in the day that thou eatest thereof”. Because Adam chose to disobey, the death sentence was imposed upon him. It was now inevitable that Adam would die.
Although the sentence of death was imposed upon Adam on the day of his transgression, he continued to live to the age of nine hundred and thirty years (Genesis 5:5). The punishment for disobedience was thus not intended in his case to be instantaneous death, but the institution of a process of dying. In short, if Adam disobeyed and partook of the fruit of the tree it would become absolutely inevitable that in process of time he would die and return to the dust. This inevitability of death was not present within Adam before he sinned because “by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin” .
Adam was told that this sentence would be imposed “in the day that thou eatest thereof”. Prior to his transgression, he was not under that sentence of death. If Adam was already destined to die, then this threat of the imposition of a return to the dust for disobedience would be meaningless.
The apostle Paul says that “since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead”. Death came “by man”. But if Adam was a dying creature from the very beginning, then death did not come by man. Death came by God, since the evolving human race, including Adam, were born with the inevitability that they would one day die. If this is true then man had no input into this process at all – it was merely his misfortune.
Adam and Eve subjected to a change
The record indicates that when Adam and Eve sinned, they were subjected to a change. When they sinned “the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked” (Genesis 3:7). Before they ate of the tree, “they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed” (Genesis 2:25). Having disobeyed the Divine commandment, they developed within themselves an acute awareness of good and evil which they did not have before, and a propensity to sin, which all of Adam and Eve’s posterity have similarly inherited. They knew both “good” and “evil” by experience. Paul speaks of “the law of sin which is in my members” (Romans 7:23), and if this law of sin had been within Adam prior to the Fall, it is hardly consistent with the testimony of the Preacher that “God made man upright” (Ecclesiastes 7:29). This is not a fitting description of a man with a propensity to sin. God’s view of the matter is stated in Genesis 3:22: “Behold the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil…”.
Having hearkened to the words of the serpent, and partaken of the forbidden fruit, it was now absolutely inevitable that Adam and Eve would die and return to the dust of the ground:
In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.Genesis 3:19
Eve was also subjected to a real change after she transgressed, because God said to her
I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.Genesis 3:16
There was also physical change within the realm of nature itself. For Adam’s sake, the ground was cursed, such that he would have to toil in the sweat of his face to survive:
And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field.Genesis 3:17 & 18
Paul, by inspiration, reflects on this change within God’s creation on account of Adam’s sin, in Romans 8: “For the creation was subjected to vanity, not of its own will, but by reason of him who subjected it, in hope” (Romans 8:20). Clearly this was not the case right at the beginning – the creation was not subjected to vanity before Adam and Eve fell. There was a change to “the bondage of corruption”(Romans 8:21), albeit “in hope”, through the promise of a Saviour.
In summary we can say that the theistic evolutionary viewpoint that Adam was a dying creature before he sinned is not scripture teaching.
It is sometimes claimed that the teaching of Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 implies that when Adam was first created he was mortal: “And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly” (1 Corinthians 15:45-49). It is argued that when Adam was “made a living soul”, Paul confirms that he was “of the earth, earthy”, and therefore by implication mortal, before he had sinned.
Adam was created out of the dust of the ground, so he was rightly described as being “of the earth, earthy”. But this does not mean that prior to his transgression Adam was mortal, because death was not inevitable for Adam like it is for us. He may have been capable of death, but at that stage in his probation death was not a certainty, indeed there was every possibility that, should he not succumb to temptation, he would not die at all. Adam and Eve were in a unique situation, being created “very good”, and there certainly was no inevitability that they would return to the dust of the ground from whence they had been created17.
In contrast, Jesus Christ, “the last Adam”, has been made a “quickening spirit” – a life imparting spirit. Through his great victory, and in God’s mercy, those who have faith in him will be granted eternal life when he comes again. Adam was created from the dust of the ground, and during his probation he lived with the possibility of death, should he fail to obey the Divine commandment given to him in the garden. After he fell from grace, death became a certainty, and this sentence would be passed on to all of his posterity. But Jesus Christ came into the world to impart eternal life to others through his victory over the flesh.
We submit therefore that the teaching of Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 does not indicate that Adam was subject to death before he sinned. His mortality was a direct consequence of his disobedience to the law of God, in keeping with the simple teaching of Romans 5:12: “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned”.
The creating of Adam and Eve
Some theistic evolutionists put forward the view that the creation of man in Genesis 1:26-30 does not relate to the creation of Adam at all. They say that this is the development of the evolved human race by evolutionary process: “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them”. The creation of Adam, according to them, is dealt with separately in Genesis 2:7: “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul”. In support of this erroneous view, attention is drawn to a number of supposed irreconcilable differences between Genesis 1 and Genesis 2. The two accounts are considered to be so different that they cannot possibly relate to the same historical events – and in any case, Genesis 1 is not intended to be read historically, as a true record of what God did.
For a consideration of the supposed “contradictions” between Genesis 1 and Genesis 2, the reader is directed to “Genesis 1-2: A Harmonised and Historical Reading”18 by Peter Heavyside. Here we wish to focus our attention on the specific creation of man. Is Genesis 1:26,27 referring to the creation Adam and Eve, or not?
The assertion that Genesis 1:26,27 relates to the gradual evolution of a human-like species has no Biblical support whatsoever.There is no room for a gradual process of evolution, taking place over millions of years, within Genesis 1:26,27, and to suggest this is to argue from silence. Instead, “God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness… So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them”. The work of creation is masterfully summarised by the Psalmist, thus: “For he spake, and it was done”(Psalm 33:9). This is absolutely inconsistent with evolution as a mechanism of creation, and there is not the slightest hint that Genesis 1:26,27 came about by gradual change over millions of years.
Jesus’ use of the Genesis account
On the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ himself, we can say with absolute certainty that Genesis 1:26,27 relates to the creation of Adam and Eve. In his discussion with the Pharisees on the matter of marriage and divorce, Jesus makes a composite quotation from Genesis 1:1,1:27 and 2:24, in relation to the union of Adam and Eve as one flesh: “And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh” (Matthew 19:4,5). From these words of the Master we can deduce the following:
- “He which made them at the beginning” is a quotation from Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth”.
- “Male and female” quotes Genesis 1:27: “Male and female created he them”.
- “For this cause shall a man leave father and mother” is quoted from Genesis 2:24, which refers to the union of Adam and Eve as one flesh in marriage.
- Adam and Eve were created “in the beginning”. This is hardly the case if many millions of years elapsed between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:27.
- The Divine law of marriage existed from the beginning. In fact Jesus says as much in Matthew 19:8: “He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so”. To which “beginning” does this refer, if not to that of Genesis 1:1? In the book of Genesis the Hebrew ‘tyvar – ‘reshiyth’ – is only found elsewhere in Genesis 10:10, relating to the beginning of the kingdom of Nimrod, and Genesis 49:3, concerning Reuben as the firstborn of Jacob. There is no other “beginning” to which Jesus could be referring.
- The fact that God made Adam and Eve “one flesh” in the beginning becomes the very basis upon which men and women unite together in marriage. This law has existed “from the beginning”, and this makes little sense when applied to a species of creatures, evolving over millions of years, who were ignorant of God and His laws.
- The Divine law of marriage was instituted to foreshadow the union of Christ and the ecclesia, as indicated by the apostle Paul’s use of Genesis 2:24: “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:31,32). This pattern has been established “from the beginning”, but again it is difficult to see how a race, evolving over millions of years, and ignorant of the laws of God, could in any way be seen as foreshadowing the exalted relationship between Christ and his bride.
The beliefs of the theistic evolutionists that Genesis 1:26 does not relate to the creation of Adam and Eve contradicts the clear teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The use of Genesis 1:26-30 in Psalm 8
The supposition of theistic evolutionists is that the creation of man in Genesis 1:26,27 does not relate to Adam and Eve, but to the evolution of a human-like species. It is further alleged that these creatures were without law, and died like the beasts, outside of the law of sin and death. God had not revealed Himself to them, they had no knowledge of His laws, and were therefore not responsible to Him. But all of this is pure supposition, and is not taught anywhere in the Bible.It is based solely on the assumptioin that the development of the human species by evolution is true.
In Genesis 1:28 God gave man dominion over the rest of God’s creation: “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth”. This fact is developed in the rest of scripture, in particular by the Psalmist in Psalm 8:
What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet.Psalm 8:4-6
God was “mindful” of man – indeed, He “visited him” – hardly a description of a race of ignorant, lawless creatures. Furthermore the Psalmist explains that man was created in the beginning with purpose in mind – that of having dominion over the whole of God’s creation. Psalm 8 is prophetic of the final destiny of man in having dominion over “the world to come”, and of being brought “to glory” (Hebrews 2:5-10). Ultimately the Psalm, using Genesis 1:28 as its basis, speaks of the glorification of the Lord Jesus Christ himself: “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man” (Hebrews 2:9).
Psalm 8 is one of the foundation Old Testament scriptures. It is one of the most quoted Psalms in the New Testament 19. It speaks of God’s ultimate intention to put the world to come in subjection under the feet of men who have become sons of God, sanctified by the Lord Jesus Christ, and who “he is not ashamed to call… brethren” (Hebrews 2:11). It is entirely inconsistent with this ultimate purpose of God that Genesis 1:28, the foundation text for Psalm 8, should relate to an entire race of evolved creatures who were totally ignorant of God’s purpose, under no responsibility to Him, and “like the beasts that perish”. Even more so, when we appreciate that in the fullest sense Psalm 8 speaks of the Lord Jesus Christ himself, whom God raised from the dead
And set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: and hath put all things under his feet.Ephesians 1:20-22
What possible reason could there be for associating the Lord Jesus Christ with a race of lawless, ignorant evolved creatures? The genealogy of Jesus Christ very clearly traces his human origins back to Adam (Luke 3:38). The challenge for the theistic evolutionists who believe that humankind evolved over millions of years before Adam is to prove from scripture that the genealogy of Jesus has input from an evolved human-like race. There is no such Biblical proof.
After our likeness
Genesis 1:26 needs to be noted with care: “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness”. Man was created after the image and likeness of God. It is instructive to consider what “image” and “likeness” means in this passage.
“Likeness” is the Hebrew twmd – ‘demuwth’, and denotes a similitude. The word occurs 25 times in the Old Testament, and clearly means a physical resemblance, as can be seen from the following examples:
Also he made a molten sea of ten cubits from brim to brim, round in compass, and five cubits the height thereof; and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about. And under it was the similitude of oxen, which did compass it round about: ten in a cubit, compassing the sea round about. Two rows of oxen were cast, when it was cast.2 Chronicles 4:2,3
Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man.Ezekiel 1:5
And, behold, one like the similitude of the sons of men touched my lips: then I opened my mouth, and spake, and said unto him that stood before me, O my lord, by the vision my sorrows are turned upon me, and I have retained no strength.Daniel 10:16
We can conclude from this that when God made man in His own likeness, there was a physical resemblance between man and the angels. We have ample scriptural proof to the truth of this:
Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.Hebrews 13:2
And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel.Acts 1:10
And the LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; and he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground.Genesis 18:1,2
Angels were mistaken for men on numerous occasions in scripture. The question is, if Genesis 1:26,27 relates to the gradual evolution of the human race, at what point in the millions of years of evolution did this physical resemblance begin? It hardly seems appropriate to consider ape-like beings to be in the likeness of the Elohim. The onus lies with the theistic evolutionists to prove that angelic beings were mistaken on occasions for evolving creatures. This cannot be proven because the Biblical support for the existence of evolving humans is lacking.
In Genesis 5:1,2, the work of God in the creation of man in His likeness is summarised, thus: “This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him; male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created”. The verbal links with Genesis 1:26,27 are clear to see. We are also told that God “blessed them”, which picks up Genesis 1:28: “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it”. The theistic evolutionist may well point out that although it says that God “called their name Adam”, it is really simply the word for man. Whilst this is true, it is also true that in the very next verse the record tells us:
Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image, and called his name Seth.Genesis 5:3
The Spirit is clearly associating the creation of man in the image and likeness of God with Adam himself, not an evolved race. Just as God made Adam in His own likeness, and in His image, so now Adam also begat a son, in his own likeness, after his image. The connection in thought between Genesis 1:26 and Genesis 5:1-3 leaves us in no doubt that the creation of man in the image and likeness of God relates to Adam himself.
This likeness with the angels is shared by the rest of mankind, descended from Adam, as James illustrates in his epistle: “…the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God” (James 3:8, 9).
Let us make man in our image
In what sense was man made in the “image” of God? The explanation is to be found in 1 Corinthians 11
For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man1 Corinthians 11:7-9
Man was made in “the image and glory of God”, and we know from such scriptures as Exodus 33:18 and 34:6,7 that the glory of God corresponds to His moral attributes: “And (Moses) said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory… And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation”. God’s glory is His character, hence concerning the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, John said:
we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.John 1:14
From this we can conclude that Genesis 1:26 is telling us that man was created with the mental capacity and the opportunity to manifest in some measure the moral characteristics of God. This presents a significant challenge to the theistic evolutionist. How can this be true of a race of beings, supposed to have evolved over millions of years, who had no knowledge of the laws of God, and therefore no opportunity to develop the moral attributes of God revealed in His word? Even before man was created, God said, “Let us make man in our image”. The theistic evolutionist thus has to face the anomaly that, in spite of this Divine pronouncement, for millions of years a race was evolving that had no opportunity whatsoever to reflect the glory of God because they had not yet developed the mental capacity to do so.
1 Corinthians 11 alludes to Genesis 1:26 in the context of the creation of Adam and Eve:
For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.1 Corinthians 11:7-9
Paul is referring to the creation of Eve out of Adam’s side, and the Genesis account explains that she was called woman because she was “taken out of man” (Genesis 2:23). This is a significant problem for those theistic evolutionists who believe that Genesis 1:26 refers not to Adam and Eve, who were a special creation, but to the evolution of the human race. The theistic evolutionists must explain why Paul uses Genesis 1:26 in the specific context of Adam and Eve, if Genesis 1:26 is not referring to the creation of Adam, but to the evolution of the human race.
Renewed in knowledge
The creation of man in God’s image is a theme that is developed in a number of places in the New Testament. The epistle to the Colossians is rooted in language that is taken from Genesis 1, and in particular in chapter 3 the apostle exhorts his readers to “put off the old man with his deeds; and… put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him” (Colossians 3:9,10). This is clearly Genesis language, and Paul invites his readers to draw a parallel between Adam, created in the image of God, and the development of the new man within the mind of the believer. Significantly, the development of the new man has its basis in knowledge of God. It is “renewed in knowledge”. Paul continues to describe the various spiritual attributes of the new man that must be put on:
Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.Colossians 3:12-14
We will have no difficulty discerning that these characteristics of the new man were demonstrated to perfection in the life of the Lord Jesus Christ, who himself was “the brightness of (God’s) glory, and the express image of his person” (Hebrews 1:3). He is the new man that disciples of his must learn to put on. These characteristics have to be learned, and they have their basis in knowledge of the life and teaching of Jesus Christ.
What this means is that to be in the image of God begins in the mind, with an understanding of the character of God Himself. Once again, it is self-evident that this process cannot even begin in a population of lawless, ignorant creatures that know not God.
|Image||Capacity to reflect God’s moral attributes (His glory or character)||1 Cor 11:7-9; John 1:14; Col 3:9-14; Heb 1:3|
|Likeness||Physical resemblance||2 Chron 4:2,3; Ezek 1:5; Dan 10:16; Heb 13:2, James 3:8-9|
In conclusion, we submit that the beliefs of the theistic evolutionists are entirely without Biblical support:
- The suggestion that Adam was not a real historical person is not taught in the Bible.
- The proposal that there was a race of dying human-like creatures, or that Adam himself was subject to death before he sinned, is not consistent with the teaching of Paul in Romans 5:12 and 1 Corinthians 15:22.
- Genesis 1:26,27 and Genesis 2:7 are not two separate creation stories. They both relate to the creation of Adam.
- The assertion that Genesis 1:26,27 relates to the gradual evolution of a human species has no Biblical foundation.
- There is no Biblical proof that the genealogy of Jesus had input from an evolved race.
- There is no evidence that evolving woman was created out of evolving man, because there is no Biblical evidence for their existence.
The speculative ideas of the theistic evolutionists do not stand up to scrutiny when examined in detail from a Biblical viewpoint. In their attempt to harmonise evolutionary ideas with the scriptural record theistic evolution not only undermines the doctrine of inspiration but in so doing it also removes and erodes the foundations of other essential doctrines such as the atonement and the nature of man. It is important to recognise the inherent threat that evolutionary thinking poses to the integrity of the scriptures as a whole, and the saving truth that they contain.
The question of Cain’s wife
It is sometimes alleged by theistic evolutionists that the fact that Cain was able to find a wife to marry proves that there must have been a separate race of people alive at the same time as Adam and Eve. It is claimed that this race of people must have developed by evolution.
But the supposition that Cain married a female human who did not descend from Adam and Eve is entirely without foundation, and that there is sufficient information given in the scripture record to make such a conclusion unnecessary.
The historicity of Adam and his family
Contrary to what some theistic evolutionists believe, Adam and Eve were real historical people. In every single reference to Adam and Eve in the Bible, their historicity is taken absolutely for granted, and without question. The apostle Paul states unambiguously that “Adam was first formed, then Eve” (1 Timothy 2:13). The Genesis account establishes that Eve was “the mother of all living” (Genesis 3:20), and to this the apostle agreed when he declared to the Athenians on Mars’ Hill that God:
giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; and he made of one every nation of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth.Acts 17:26 RV
Similarly, with regards to Adam and Eve’s offspring, Cain and Abel, the scriptures unite with one voice to confirm that they were real historical people. Concerning Cain, the apostle John testifies that he “was of the wicked one, and slew his brother… because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous” (1 John 3:12); and concerning the ungodly who had crept into the ecclesia in his days, Jude says that “they have gone in the way of Cain” (Jude 11). The Lord Jesus Christ himself makes the observation that Abel was “righteous” (Matthew 23:35) – and if Abel was not a real historical figure, here was the perfect opportunity for the Jews, who were always seeking to ensnare the Lord in his words, to say so. Yet they were silent on the matter of Abel’s historicity. The writer to the Hebrews observes that Abel had faith, and “obtained witness that he was righteous” (Hebrews 11:4). He states categorically that “these all died in faith” (Hebrews 11:13), and if Abel did not really exist, he did not really die in faith, and the apostle’s argument is made null and void.
There can be no doubt, then, that the scriptures teach that Cain and Abel were real historical individuals, the children of Adam and Eve, and that Cain through jealousy slew his brother Abel, because “his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous”.
The birth of Cain
The birth of Cain, the elder, is recorded in Genesis 4:1: “And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD”. We are not told how old Adam and Eve were when Cain was born. Seth was born when Adam was 130 years old, according to Genesis 5:3, at which point Cain and Abel were clearly mature human beings, capable of keeping sheep and tilling the ground, and Cain was old enough to kill his brother. The genealogy in Genesis 5 illustrates that future generations of men in the line of Seth had their firstborn sons between the ages of 65 and 182 years. It is quite possible that Adam and Eve may have begun to have children considerably earlier than this, since they were created in the beginning as mature human beings.
The record does not say whether Cain was Adam and Eve’s firstborn child. Part of the punishment imposed upon Eve by God on account of her disobedience was that her sorrow and her conception would be increased:
Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.Genesis 3:16
Eve’s ability to conceive was thus to be increased, and it may well be therefore that Adam and Eve had other offspring before Cain was born. It is not possible to be certain either way.
Cain’s murder of his brother
In process of time, Cain and Abel brought their respective offerings to God. Abel’s offering was accepted, and Cain’s was not, and in his jealousy Cain slew his brother:
And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.Genesis 4:8
For this murderous act, Cain was condemned by God to be “a fugitive and a vagabond… in the earth” (Genesis 4:12).
Cain clearly found his punishment unjust, and complained to God:
And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that everyone that findeth me shall slay me.Genesis 4:13 & 14
Here is strong evidence that there existed in the earth at this time a significant number of people, who had descended from Adam and Eve, and who would seek to avenge the blood of Abel, their close relative. Those who believe in the existence of a pre-Adamic evolved race put forward the idea that Cain was expressing his fear of the pre-Adamites – but what possible reason could a race of unrelated beings have for seeking to execute vengeance on Cain? It makes much more sense to see this as a reference to Cain’s own kith and kin, who would seek to avenge the murder of Abel.
Cain departs from the presence of the LORD
Motivated by the fear of retribution, Cain went out from the presence of the LORD and dwelt in the land of Nod. After his departure, the record states:
Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch.Genesis 4:17
We are not told how long it was after his departure that Cain’s wife bare Enoch. Neither are we specifically informed where Cain met his wife. It is an unnecessary assumption to conclude that Cain’s wife came from the land of Nod, and therefore did not originate from his own family. Nothing in the plain reading of the text demands this understanding. It is perfectly possible that Cain may have been already married when he left Eden, and that he took his wife with him when he departed for the land of Nod.
Significantly, the record states that “Cain knew his wife”. The Hebrew for “wife” is hva – ‘ishah’ – which is the name Adam gave to Eve in Genesis 2:23: “She shall be called Woman – hva – because she was taken out of Man”. In a typical sense, what was literally true of Eve also becomes symbolically true of every other female member the human race – by marriage the woman is declared by the husband to be “bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh”. But if it is supposed that Cain’s wife was not, in fact, a member of the Adamic race, then it is not true in any sense that she was “taken out of man” – she was not hva – rather she was a member of a race of creatures that had no relation to the Adamic line whatsoever.
The theistic evolutionists assume that there would not be enough people for Cain to be able to build a city in the land of Nod. But we note that the record does not say how long it took for Cain to build the city, indeed it may have taken many hundreds of years, by which time the population may have risen considerably. Owing to the fact that in the ante-diluvian world death was somewhat of a rarity, the population of the world at the end of Cain’s life would have been considerable.
The birth of Seth
After the murder of Abel, the record says:
Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his name Seth: For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew.Genesis 4:25
It is often assumed that at this point Adam and Eve had only two children – Cain and Seth – and therefore Cain must have obtained his wife from elsewhere, but this is an unjustified conclusion. Concerning the birth of Seth, Genesis 5 says:
Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth: and the days of Adam after he had begotten Seth were eight hundred years: and he begat sons and daughters: and all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died.Genesis 5:3-5
Seth was born when Adam was 130 years old, and in addition to Cain and Seth, Adam begat other sons and daughters. Whilst the record says that Adam “begat sons and daughters” after commenting on the birth of Seth, this does not give us liberty to conclude that the “sons and daughters” were only born after the birth of Seth. Note that in the genealogy of Genesis 5, for each generation subsequent to Adam, the record says that “sons and daughters” were born after the birth of the particular son highlighted in the record. Thus, for example, concerning Seth it says:
Seth lived an hundred and five years, and begat Enos: and Seth lived after he begat Enos eight hundred and seven years, and begat sons and daughters.Genesis 5:6 & 7
It is an unjustified assumption to conclude that sons and daughters were born to Seth only after the birth of Enos. Genesis 5 gives nine generations, beginning with Adam, and in each case “sons and daughters” are mentioned only after the birth of the particular son mentioned in the genealogy.
What this means is that the phrase, “and he begat sons and daughters”, is a general statement, indicating that throughout the life of the individual concerned, many sons and daughters were born. It does not indicate that “sons and daughters” were born only after the particular son highlighted in the genealogy. It is therefore quite possible that Adam and Eve had daughters before Seth, perhaps even before Cain and Abel. They may even have had other sons that we are not told about. In fact, as already mentioned, nowhere in the record does it state specifically that Cain was Adam’s firstborn son – he may have been, but the record is silent on this matter.
Cain’s wife descended from Adam and Eve
In summary, we submit that there is no Biblical evidence for the suggestion put forward by theistic evolutionists that Cain married an evolved female human. The scriptures do not identify Cain’s wife, but the testimony of Acts 17 indicates that she must have descended from Adam and Eve: “God… made of one every nation of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth” (Acts 17:24-27). All men have been made “of one” – and this flatly contradicts the supposition that the human race that exists today may have had input from a race of pre-Adamic evolved humans. Similarly, Paul in Romans 5 testifies that “by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin” (Romans 5:12). Clearly Cain’s wife died, and Paul says that death entered into the world because of the sin of one man. The idea of a pre-Adamic race contradicts the simple teaching of the apostle.
We conclude, therefore, that Cain married a female member of Adam’s family – either his sister, or another female relative20.
The suggestion that Cain married a female member of Adam’s family usually provokes an objection from the advocates of theistic evolution, that close family relationships are forbidden under the Law of Moses, thus:
The nakedness of thy sister, the daughter of thy father, or daughter of thy mother, whether she be born at home, or born abroad, even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover.Leviticus 18:9
And if a man shall take his sister, his father’s daughter, or his mother’s daughter, and see her nakedness, and she see his nakedness; it is a wicked thing; and they shall be cut off in the sight of their people: he hath uncovered his sister’s nakedness; he shall bear his iniquity.Leviticus 20:17
Cursed be he that lieth with his sister, the daughter of his father, or the daughter of his mother. And all the people shall say, Amen.Deuteronomy 27:22
The Law of Moses was not in force at the time of Adam and Eve. Therefore the early generations were not bound by the Mosaic code. The Law forbade sexual relations with half-sisters (Leviticus 18:11), and yet Abraham married Sarah, of whom he said to Abimelech:
And yet indeed she is my sister; she is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife.Genesis 20:12
Abraham was never condemned for marrying Sarah. The Law forbade a man from marrying two sisters (Leviticus 18:18), and yet Jacob married Rachel and Leah, and did so blamelessly.
These laws were given to Israel for a specific purpose – to ensure that the Israelites did not adopt the sexually immoral ways of the Canaanites, whom God cast out from before them:
After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not do: and after the doings of the land of Canaan, whither I bring you, shall ye not do: neither shall ye walk in their ordinances.Leviticus 18:3
And ye shall not walk in the manners of the nations, which I cast out before you: for they committed all these things, and therefore I abhorred them.Leviticus 20:23
From the medical point of view, it is easy to understand why marriages between close relatives were prohibited. By the time the Law of Moses was instituted, genetic errors would have been introduced into the human race, and if brothers and sisters sharing the same genetic errors married, they would be more likely to pass on such mutations to their offspring. By prohibiting such close liaisons, these genetic errors would be cancelled out.
In conclusion, we submit that there is no evidence that Cain married an evolved human, and the case of the identity of Cain’s wife cannot be used to prove the existence of a pre-Adamic race. The suggestion that Cain’s wife was not descended from Adam and Eve is an argument based upon supposition and uncertainty.
1 The term “evolution” has changed over time and that modern definitions of it have become wide and varied. We have no problem accepting what is currently called “micro-evolution”, that is, changes in gene expression within populations of a particular species, leading to beneficial adaptation to a particular environment. This has been demonstrated beyond doubt (e.g. in dog or horse breeding, the development of antibiotic resistance in bacteria etc.). We do, however, firmly reject the notion of “macro-evolution” – the supposition that life could have originated in the first place without Divine intelligence, or that one species could evolve into a completely new species by incremental genetic changes over long periods of time. Macro-evolution has never been scientifically demonstrated, and it runs contrary to the revealed truth of scripture.
2 Francis Collins: “Building bridges”. Nature 442 (7099): 110. 2006
3 Stipe, Claude E., “Scientific Creationism and Evangelical Christianity”, American Anthropologist, New Series, Vol. 87, No. 1 (Mar., 1985), p. 149, Wiley on behalf of the American Anthropological Association
5 This is not a new view in Christadelphian circles. In 1964 Ralph Lovelock at Watford, UK, put forward this idea in his studies entitled “The Origin of Man”. After a prolonged period of discussion with him, the Arranging Committee at Watford took the decision to withdraw fellowship from him, and they published a report and a statement outlining their reasons why. In fact, as early as 1888, the idea that there was a race of hominids existing at the same time as Adam was refuted in the Christadelphian Magazine by Frank Shuttleworth in two short articles, both of which are well worth reading: “The First Man”, The Christadelphian Magazine, 1888, Vol 25, pp 618-619; 679-681.
7 Deuteronomy 32:8; 1 Chronicles 1:1; Job 31:33; Hosea 6:7; Luke 3:38; Romans 5:14; 1 Corinthians 15:22,45; 1 Timothy 2:13,14, Jude v 14
8 1 Corinthians 7:40
9 “There can be no doubt that in the mind of Paul Christ was a real person whom he had seen; it cannot reasonably be doubted that for him Adam was no less real as a historical character. On this depends all his reasoning on the significance of being “in Adam” and “in Christ”” The Christadelphian Vol. 104, Paul’s Use of the Scriptures, L. G. Sargent. May, 1967
10 2 Timothy 3:16, Deuteronomy 32:4, Titus 1:2
11 It is probable that this is one of the reasons that a literal view of a historical Adam is referenced in no less than 5 clauses in the Christadelphian Statement of Faith (the BASF).
12 “…death as a punishment for sin was introduced into the world when the first sin was committed. Prior to Adam’s sin, humans lived and died as the ‘beasts that perish’ but as God’s law was unknown, sin as a concept did not exist and therefore death as a punishment for sin simply did not apply”, Ken Gilmore, New Testament references to Adam and Eve by Paul and Jesus do not disprove evolution, 10th November 2013.
13 This understanding of 1 Corinthians 15:22 is consistent with the teaching of other scriptures that salvation is not universal, but is dependent upon belief of the Gospel and baptism into Jesus Christ: (Mark 16:15,16; Acts 2:38-41; John 17:3; Acts 4:10-12; Ephesians 4:4,5; Galatians 3:27-29). Whilst all men are “in Adam”, not all men are “in Christ”.
14The Greek word διέρχομαι – ‘dierchomai’ – contains the sense of passing through, or spreading:
- Rotherham: “And so unto all men death passed through”.
- RSV: “And so death spread to all men”.
- NKJV: “And thus death spread to all men”.
15 The Birmingham Amended Statement of Faith, Clause 5, puts it this way: “Adam… was adjudged unworthy of immortality, and sentenced to return to the ground from whence he was taken – a sentence which defiled and became a physical law of his being, and was transmitted to all his posterity, until the coming of Christ”
16 The context indicates that the “law” here is referring to the law of Moses (see reference to Moses in v14). Thus the point being made is that, in the period after Adam but before Moses, all mankind still died even though the Law was not in force.
17 John Thomas states in Elpis Israel that Adam before the fall was capable of death, but not subject to death: “In their novitiate, Adam and his betrothed had a nature capable of corruption, but were not subject to death, or mortal” Elpis Israel, Part 1: The Rudiments of the World, chapter 2, page 73.
Adam and Eve may have been capable of death prior to the transgression, but at that stage death for them was not inevitable. Unlike the human race that subsequently arose from them, they were not subject to suffering, and destined to die.There was every possibility that, had they not succumbed to temptation in the garden, they would not have died.In that sense, we believe that Brother Thomas is right in saying that prior to the fall they were not mortal.
18 Available from www.lulu.com/ascentpublications
19 See for example Matthew 21:16; Hebrews 2:5-8; 1 Corinthians 15:27; Ephesians 1:22. For an analysis of Psalm 8, in particular its use in the New Testament, see “The Crowning of the Son of Man”, J Luke, Psalms Vol 1, pp 137-146, CSSS. Also “The Praises of Israel”, D Fifield, Vol 1, pp 41-49, CMPA
20 Whilst not authoritative, it is interesting to note that according to The Book of Jubilees, an ancient Jewish religious text, Cain married his sister Awan. It also mentions that Seth married his sister Azura. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Jubilees#Content
114 Leviticus 18:9
115 Leviticus 20:17
116 Deuteronomy 27:22
117 Leviticus 18:11
118 Genesis 20:12
119 Leviticus 18:18
120 Leviticus 18:3
121 Leviticus 20:23
122 It is likely that this was the cause of gigantism in such people as the Nephilims (Genesis 6:4) and theAnakims (Deuteronomy 2:10,11). Similarly, an inhabitant of Gath, probably a relative of Goliath, had a genetic disorder known as polydactyly (2 Samuel 21:20), whichis inherited as an autosomal dominant trait.