A number of people do not think that the events in the Bible regarding Adam and Eve are authentic. The underlying basis for this disbelief is probably that these people do not believe in God and/or they do not believe that Adam and Eve were real people who were created by God. So, what reasons are there to believe that what the Bible says about Adam and Eve is factual? The commentaries that follow address this question.
Perspective of Answers In Genesis Internet Web Site
Throughout the years, opponents to the historicity of Adam and Eve have challenged the biblical record on several fronts. . . . Often because of evolutionary thought, many claim they were mythological or allegorical figures with no basis in actual history. But are they right?
Biblical Record: Who Were Adam and Eve?
In the plain reading of Genesis 1–3, we learn that God created the first two people: Adam and Eve. They were placed in the Garden of Eden and given everything they needed: food, work, companionship, and fellowship with God as they walked with him in the cool of the day (Genesis 3:8). It was perfect—almost. Then something happened.
A serpent entered the Garden of Eden to tempt Adam and Eve. God had given food from every tree in the garden but commanded the man and woman not to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Eve believed the serpent, ate of the fruit, then gave it to Adam who also ate of the fruit (Genesis 3:6).
This event was catastrophic. Now known as the fall, God judged Adam and Eve for disobeying his command. And true to his word, Adam and Eve began the process of death. The Bible tells us that Adam lived for 930 years and then he died (Genesis 5:5).
Theological Importance of Historical Adam and Eve
Adam and Eve died because of the fall, but the fall didn’t just affect them. Since their sin, every other person born after them was plunged into rebellion against God’s order. That includes you and every other human being you know. And this rebellion is also the reason we die today. Through Adam’s sin, death came into the world (Romans 5:12).
But Jesus demonstrated he has power over death. Jesus came, lived, was crucified, and rose from the dead (Luke 24:46). Those who are in Christ will not have to suffer the eternal consequences of sin. Through Adam sin entered the world, but through Christ, we can be saved from the punishment of sin.
That’s why a historical Adam and Eve are so important. If you deny a real Adam and real Eve, many of the doctrines in the Bible (including the gospel) would be incoherent. On many occasions, New Testament authors connect a historic Adam and Eve to foundational doctrine and it does not make sense if Adam and Eve were mythological.
Consider the following passages that refer back to a historic Adam and Eve:
- Jesus affirms the special creation of Adam and Eve at the beginning (Mark 10:6).
- Luke connects the human lineage of Jesus to Adam (Luke 3:38).
- Jesus links the doctrine of marriage to Adam and Eve (Matthew 19:4–6).
- Paul connects the doctrine of the church to Adam and Eve (Ephesians 5:30–32).
- Paul argues for family order because of Adam and Eve (1 Corinthians 11:8–12).
- Paul attaches the origin of sin in the world to Eve (1 Timothy 2:13–14).
- Paul also connects death from sin to Adam (Romans 5:12–14).
By connecting to their real existence and activities, the New Testament overwhelmingly affirms the historicity of Adam and Eve. It’s not possible to deny a real Adam and Eve while at the same time believing the rest of the Bible. Hence it is vital to believe in an actual Adam and Eve to maintain a coherent biblical theology.
Paul underscores why a historical Adam was so important. “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15:22). The apostle said that we suffered the consequences of our sins because of a real Adam, but also that in a real Christ we can overcome a real death and be reconciled with the real God.
But not everyone believes the Bible about Adam and Eve. There are many attempted challenges to the history and theology connected to an actual Adam and Eve. Here are some of the more popular disagreements with the Bible’s account of our first parents.
Challenge: Weren’t Adam and Eve Mythological Figures?
Evolutionary thought permeates our culture. In its popular form, evolutionists argue for the common descent of human beings from other animals or human-like creatures. According to them, Adam and Eve could not have been created in the way a plain reading of Genesis 1–2 suggests, since modern humans evolved from pre-existing creatures. These critics seek to mythologize or allegorize the narrative of the first few chapters of Genesis.
The biblical authors knew what mythology was. On numerous occasions, they clearly distinguish historical fact from mythology (1 Timothy 4:7; 2 Peter 1:16). So when the Bible itself argues for the historicity of Adam and Eve as Jesus, Luke, and Paul did (see above), it affirms the historicity of Adam and Eve. Later, teachers may have also affirmed the reality of Adam and Eve, but so did the authors of Scripture before them. That’s why a mythological or merely allegorical Adam and Eve does not match the rest of biblical teaching.
Challenge: Wasn’t Genesis 1-11 Poetry?
Another similar challenge to the historicity of Adam and Eve relates to the genre of Genesis. In other words, we shouldn’t believe Adam and Eve were real people because we find the primary account of their lives in a poetic section of Scripture. According to this view, Adam and Eve were merely poetic devices.
Like the first challenge, this argument doesn’t work for the same reasons. Jesus and other New Testament authors refer to Adam and Eve as historical figures. That means the biblical authors read the first chapters of Genesis as history. To deny the historicity of Adam and Eve by turning them into literary characters, one also must deny what Jesus taught (Mark 10:6).
Challenge: Time Enough for Adam to Name All the Animals?
Still others have challenged the historical record in that Adam could not possibly have named all the animal species in one day. Adam named all the animals on day 6. And he must have named all the animals in one day, because that was the rationale for God creating the woman (Genesis 2:20) – since she was also created on day 6.
There are currently millions of species of animals on the earth. The question is how could Adam have named all the animals on a single day? The narrative strains at believability if we are to believe Adam named millions of animals in less than a day.
But consider the situation. In the first day, Adam named all the animals created at that time. It is likely that Adam had to name only a couple thousand proto-species of land animals – a task which could easily have been achieved in a few hours. Assuming Adam had to name 2,500 proto-species, or kinds (mostly at the family level of taxonomy), at 5 seconds per animal, it would have taken him approximately three and a half hours to complete the task. This was very doable, even for a person today.
Challenge: Isn’t Human DNA 99 Percent Similar to Chimps?
Others have challenged the possibility of a historic Adam and Eve on evolutionary grounds. They contend that human DNA is so similar to chimpanzee DNA, thus making our first parents unnecessary. Mainstream numbers change, but studies have suggested that human and chimp DNA is about 95–99% similar. Is that possible?
Although the DNA studies do confirm similarities between human and chimp DNA, the latest research by geneticist Jeffrey Tomkins puts the similarities closer to 80-88% compared to 95-99%. And that number may be modified even further as more research comes to light.
Taking the more reliable results provided by the earlier BLASTN version corroborated by the whole chromosome alignments of Nucmer obtained in this study, it is likely that the 88% similarity number is considerably more accurate than other methods to date. Additionally, studies show that chimpanzees have a genome size about 8% larger than humans, so “the actual genome similarity with human, even using the high end estimate of 88% for just the alignable regions, is realistically only about 80% or less when the cytogenetic data is taken into account,” according to the latest Tomkins study.
Conclusion: Why Are Adam and Eve So Important?
In conclusion, the Bible confirms the historicity of Adam and Eve. They were real people, specially created by God, and every person born is related to them. Moreover, there is nothing in scientific research that has been able to disprove the existence of Adam and Eve.
Most importantly, the gospel is dependent upon an actual Adam and Eve. Both in the New Testament (Romans 5:12–14) and in the Old Testament, we see a historical Adam and Eve connected to the promised Messiah.
Perspective of Got Questions Internet Web Site
Let us assume for a moment that the Adam and Eve story is not to be understood literally. What would be the result? Would Christianity remain essentially the same with a non-literal understanding of the story of Adam and Eve? No. In fact, it would have serious implications for virtually every tenet and doctrine of the Christian faith. If Adam was not a real man, then sin did not enter the world through one man as Romans 5:12 states. How, then, did sin enter the world? Further, if the New Testament is wrong about how sin entered the world, what else is it wrong about? If Romans 5:12 is wrong, how do we know that the entirety of Romans 5:8–15 is not wrong? If the story of Adam and Eve is not to be taken literally—if they did not really exist—then there was no one to rebel, there was no fall into sin. Satan, the great deceiver, would like nothing better than for people to believe that the Bible should not be taken literally and that the story of the fall of man is a myth. Why? Because once we start denying parts of the Bible, we lose our trust in the Bible. Why should we believe anything God’s Word says if we cannot trust everything that it says?
Jesus taught that God created one man and one woman (Mark 10:6) and mentions Abel, a son of Adam and Eve in Luke 11:51. Was Jesus wrong in His beliefs? Or did Jesus know there were no literal Adam and Eve and He was simply accommodating His teaching to the beliefs of the people (i.e., lying)? If Jesus is wrong in His beliefs, He is not God. If Jesus is intentionally deceiving people, He is sinning and therefore cannot be the Savior (1 Peter 1:19).
That is why this is such a serious issue. To deny the literalness of Adam and Eve is to place oneself in opposition to Jesus and the apostle Paul. If one has the audacity to claim he is right and Jesus and Paul are wrong, then Jesus is a sinner, not God and not the Savior; the apostle Paul is a false prophet; and the Bible is not inspired, inerrant, or trustworthy.
The Bible clearly presents Adam and Eve as literal people who existed in a literal Garden of Eden. They literally rebelled against God, they literally believed Satan’s lie, and they were literally cast out of the Garden (Genesis 3:24). They had literal children, all of whom inherited the sin nature, and that nature was passed down to succeeding generations to this very day. Fortunately, God promised a literal Savior to redeem us from that sin nature (Genesis 3:15). That Savior is Jesus Christ, called the “last Adam” (1 Corinthians 15:45), who died on a literal cross and literally rose again. Those who believe in Christ will have literal salvation and spend eternity in a literal heaven.
Christians who deny the story of Adam and Eve essentially deny their own faith. Rejecting the literal interpretation of the Bible’s historical narratives is a slippery slope. If Adam and Eve did not exist, then were Cain and Abel not real? Did Seth exist, and did he father a godly line that led all the way to Abraham and eventually to Jesus Himself? Where in Luke’s genealogy (Luke 3:23–38) do the names stop referring to literal people and start referring to mythical characters? To dismiss Adam and Eve as non-literal is to deny the accuracy of Luke’s gospel, cast aspersions on Moses’ record, and remove the foundation of the rest of the Bible.
Perspective of Blue Letter Bible Internet Web Site
[W]hen one studies the Bible it becomes clear that the historicity of Adam and Eve is essential to the message of Scripture.
1. Treated as Actual Humans
As we read the early chapters of Genesis, we find Adam and Eve treated as real people. There is absolutely nothing in the account to suggest that they were anything but actual people. Furthermore, the human race had to start somewhere! Why not with Adam and Eve.
2. Children Were Born to Them
The Bible records Adam and Eve giving birth to children (Genesis 4:1, 25). This is another indication they were real people.
3. Phrase Used of Real People
The repeated phrase in the Book of Genesis, This is the history of, is used not only of Adam and Eve, but of other people who actually existed. Since the same phrase is used of those whose existence is not in doubt, Adam and Eve should be treated the same as them-people who really existed.
4. Old Testament Genealogies
The chronology of the Old Testament also gives evidence to the existence of Adam and Eve. In 1 Chronicles 1:1, Adam is listed first in the genealogy. He is named with other people whose existence is not in doubt.
5. Genealogy of Jesus
The New Testament clearly teaches that Adam and Eve were actual people. In the genealogy of Jesus, Adam is considered to be a literal person. The Gospel of Luke records that Jesus’ lineage went back to the son of Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God (Luke 3:38).Adam’s existence is put on the same level as the existence of God in this passage. It is also plain that Jesus was a descendant of an individual named Adam seeing that all other names in the genealogy were of individuals.
6. Jesus’ Testimony
We refer to the testimony of Jesus: “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning made them male and female” (Matthew 19:4). This passage teaches that Adam and Eve were literally created by God.
7. Sin, Death, Salvation
The biblical teaching of sin entering the world, death as a result of sin, and the need for the death of Christ upon the cross, are all based upon the fact that Adam was an actual person. The Apostle Paul believed in a literal understanding of the Fall of Adam and Eve as recorded in Genesis 3. [He stated] “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned. . . . Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses” (Romans 5:12, 14).
In this passage Adam, as the first man, is credited with the responsibility of bringing sin into the world. He is also compared to Moses, a historical figure.
8. Adam, The First Man
Scripture specifically says that Adam was the first man. “So, also it is written, The first man, Adam, became a living soul. The last Adam became a life-giving spirit” (1 Corinthians 15:45).
9. Doctrine of Resurrection
The biblical doctrine of resurrection is based upon a literal understanding of Adam: “For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive” (1 Corinthians 5:21-22).The past resurrection of Christ is consistently portrayed in Scripture as literally occurring. The same holds true for the resurrection of believers in the future. Because of Adam, all of us die; because of Christ, believers shall be raised to be with Him.
The foregoing sources provide plausible reasons to believe that everything the Bible says about Adam and Eve is authentic. This is particularly important because the Bible indicates that the original sin of mankind was committed by Adam and Eve, which has caused all their descendants (i.e., every other human being) to inherit a sinful nature (i.e., an inclination to sin). As a result, it was necessary for Jesus Christ to come to the earth to live a sinless life so that He could be the unblemished (i.e., perfect) sacrifice to atone for the sins of mankind.
Furthermore, if Adam and Eve were not actual people, then the experiences that they had according to the Bible are only allegorical, and this would raise doubts as to the credibility of the Bible regarding the existence of other people and their experiences that the Bible mentions. In other words, the entire Bible would lose its credibility. [For reasons to believe that the Bible is credible, click on the title of our article entitled “Is the Bible Reliable?”]