Adam and Eve—Were They Real People?
TO MANY people, the Genesis account of Adam and Eve is merely a colorful story. “Mainstream Christians have long considered Genesis stories such as Adam and Eve to be allegories,” states a letter to the editor of Time. Many Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish scholars agree. They claim that much of Genesis simply does not agree with history or science.
What do you think? Do you believe that Adam and Eve were real people? Is there any evidence to indicate that they really lived? On the other hand, what are the implications of dismissing the Genesis account as mere myth?
The Genesis Account—Scientifically Credible?
First, let us review the key elements in the account of the creation of the first man. Regarding Adam, the Bible says: “Jehovah God proceeded to form the man out of dust from the ground and to blow into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man came to be a living soul.” (Genesis 2:7) Is this statement scientifically credible?
The book Nanomedicine states that the human body is made up of 41 chemical elements. These basic elements—carbon, iron, oxygen, and others—are all present in the “dust” of the earth. Thus, as Genesis states, humans truly are formed “out of dust from the ground.”
How did those lifeless building blocks come together to form a living human? To illustrate the enormity of the challenge, consider the NASA space shuttle, one of the most complex machines ever devised. This technological marvel contains a staggering 2.5 million parts. It took teams of engineers years to design and put it together. Now consider the human body. It is made up of some 7 octillion atoms, 100 trillion cells, dozens of organs, and at least 9 major organ systems.a How did this biological machine of mind-boggling complexity and superb structure come to be? By blind chance or by intelligent design?
Moreover, what makes humans live? Where does the spark of life come from? Scientists confess that they do not know. In fact, they cannot even agree on an acceptable definition of life. To those who accept the idea of a Creator, the conclusion is obvious. The Source, of course, is God.b
What of the description in Genesis that Eve was fashioned from Adam’s rib? (Genesis 2:21-23) Before dismissing the account as myth or fantasy, consider the following facts: In January 2008, scientists in California, U.S.A., produced the world’s first mature cloned human embryos from adult skin cells. In fact, using similar techniques, scientists have cloned at least 20 animals. The most famous of these, Dolly the sheep, was cloned in 1996 from the mammary gland of an adult sheep.c
What will come of such experiments remains to be seen. But the point is this: If humans can use biological material from one organism to produce another one of its kind, could not the almighty Creator fashion a human from existing biological material of another human? Interestingly, surgeons routinely use the rib bone in reconstructive surgery because of its ability to regrow and replace itself.
The Bible’s Internal Evidence
Some people are surprised to learn that Adam and Eve are mentioned repeatedly throughout the Bible. What light do these references shed on the historicity of the Genesis account?
Consider, for example, the Jewish ancestral lists recorded in the Bible book of First Chronicles chapters 1 to 9 and in the Gospel of Luke chapter 3. These remarkably detailed genealogical records span 48 and 75 generations respectively. Luke traces the genealogy of Jesus Christ, while Chronicles records the royal and priestly ancestral lines for the nation of Israel. Both lists include the names of such well-known figures as Solomon, David, Jacob, Isaac, Abraham, Noah, and finally Adam. All the names in the two lists represent real people, and Adam was the original real person on each list.
In addition, again and again the Bible presents Adam and Eve as real human beings, not as mythical characters. Here are some examples:
• “[God] made out of one man every nation of men.”—ACTS 17:26.
• “The first man Adam became a living soul.”—1 CORINTHIANS 15:45.
• “Adam was formed first, then Eve.”—1 TIMOTHY 2:13.
• “The seventh one in line from Adam, Enoch, prophesied also regarding [the wicked].”—JUDE 14.
More important, Jesus Christ, the most credible witness in the Bible, acknowledged the existence of Adam and Eve. When challenged on the subject of divorce, Jesus answered: “From the beginning of creation ‘[God] made them male and female. On this account a man will leave his father and mother, and the two will be one flesh’ . . . Therefore what God yoked together let no man put apart.” (Mark 10:6-9) Would Jesus use an allegory to establish a binding legal precedent? No! Jesus quoted Genesis as fact.
Summing up the Scriptural evidence, The New Bible Dictionary concludes: “The New Testament confirms the historicity of the account given in the early chapters of Genesis.”
The Domino Effect
Many sincere churchgoers think that belief in Adam and Eve is not essential to being a good Christian. On the surface, this might appear to be the case. But let us follow this line of reasoning and see where it would lead us.
Consider, for example, a Bible doctrine dear to the heart of most churchgoers—the ransom. According to this teaching, Jesus Christ gave his perfect human life as a ransom to save people from their sins. (Matthew 20:28; John 3:16) As we know, a ransom is a payment of a corresponding value to redeem or buy back something lost or forfeited. That is why the Bible describes Jesus as “a corresponding ransom.” (1 Timothy 2:6) Corresponding to what, we might ask? The Bible answers: “Just as in Adam all are dying, so also in the Christ all will be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15:22) The perfect life that Jesus sacrificed to redeem obedient mankind corresponds to the perfect life that Adam lost as a result of the original sin in Eden. (Romans 5:12) Clearly, if Adam did not exist, Christ’s ransom sacrifice would be rendered completely meaningless.
Rejecting or trivializing the Genesis account about Adam and Eve creates a domino effect that undermines nearly every major teaching in the Bible!d Such a way of thinking leads to a host of unanswered questions and a faith with nothing to stand on.—Hebrews 11:1.
Life—Meaningful or Futile?
Finally, we come to this fundamental question: Does the rejection of the Genesis account satisfy the human need for meaning and purpose in life? In the view of Richard Dawkins, a leading evolutionist and atheist, the universe has “no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.” What an utterly bleak outlook, totally contrary to human nature!
In complete contrast, the Bible provides satisfying answers to life’s most pressing questions: Where do we come from? What is the purpose of life? Why is there so much evil and suffering in the world? Will wickedness ever end? And so on. In addition, faith in Christ’s ransom holds out the hope of everlasting life in Paradise conditions, like those in Eden, where God placed the first humans, Adam and Eve. (Psalm 37:29; Revelation 21:3-5) What a truly wonderful prospect!e
While the Adam and Eve account may not agree with the theory of evolution, it matches what is known to science. Moreover, it harmonizes fully with the rest of God’s inspired Word, the Bible, which provides satisfying meaning and purpose to life.
So why not examine the Bible further for yourself? Jehovah’s Witnesses stand ready and willing to help you.
a In the U.S. system of numeration, these figures are 7 followed by 27 zeros and 100 followed by 12 zeros respectively.
b For further information, see the books Is There a Creator Who Cares About You? and Life—How Did It Get Here? By Evolution or by Creation? both published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
c These scientists, of course, are not creating life. Instead, they work with material from existing living cells.
d These include teachings about God’s sovereignty, human integrity, good and evil, free will, the condition of the dead, marriage, the promised Messiah, a paradise earth, God’s Kingdom, and many others.
e For further details, see the book What Does the Bible Really Teach? chapter 3, “What Is God’s Purpose for the Earth?,” and chapter 5, “The Ransom—God’s Greatest Gift,” published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
[Blurb on page 14]
Clearly, if Adam did not exist, Christ’s ransom sacrifice would be rendered completely meaningless
[Pictures on page 12, 13]
Just as the space shuttle is carefully designed, so too is the human body
[Picture on page 15]
Jesus acknowledged Adam and Eve’s existence