WAS ADAM THE FIRST "MAN"?
by Allen Epling
Bible scholars and theologians call him Adam and scientists and evolutionists call him “Australopithecus”. The question remains, who was the first man?
The answer depends on who you ask, but it goes further than that. Its possible that there is an explanation that allows both to be right. The only “man” recognized as such in the bible is anyone who is a descendant of Adam. That would eliminate anyone who, according to science, descended from Australopithecus and “early man”, because to religious scholars, that creature isn’t man, by definition.
However, to an evolutionist scientist, the term “man” applies to anyone who is a bipedal hominid, who uses tools, language, and is intelligent. We see immediately that the two groups are very disparate in their definitions of “man”. To identify who the first man was we first have to answer the question, “according to whose definition”.
Is it possible that there was a form of man that existed for millennia on this earth before Adam and that the man, Adam, spoken of by the Bible in the Garden of Eden and afterward, was not the same creature as the man we read about in our science books of that time.
If we read the Bible “literally”, man was created from the dust of Eden, not as a preexisting creature. Throughout our history we have taken the name for our species,” man”, from the Bible, and only in the last 150 years has the science community taken that term and applied it to a creature that did not originate in the Garden of Eden. Our science textbooks speak of man as the creature that was born out of evolutionary processes over two million years ago.
Is it possible that the two creatures may not be the same? Is it also possible that, since we don’t have all the characteristics that Adam had, “modern man” as we know him didn’t exist until around 5000 years ago when the descendants of Adam (and Noah) mixed with primitive “man” who was already here, and created a new species? That new species is us, or modern man.
It is clear from the Bible that we are different from Adam, and I believe that we are also different from the species of man described in our classrooms as Homo sapiens, the man who dominated the Earth around 10,000 B. C. Could it be that the conflict between creationism and evolution is simply a matter of definitions, that the term “man” is used to apply to two different creatures and it depends on whose definition you accept?
We speak of “man” today as if everything that ever lived that walked upright and made tools was “man”. That is the modern view. We have to realize that when the Bible speaks of “man” it is only referring to someone who is a descendent of Adam. Biblical scholars have talked of a “divine spark” that God put in Adam that is present in everyone who is a descendent of him. Genesis calls it the “Breath of Life”. It is very possible that the “divine spark” is a genetic signature that becomes a part of everyone that is a descendant of Adam, and that it will only be discovered when we are able to fully understand the entire genetic code of the human race.
If we take the view that the term “man” can apply to two different creatures that were very different from each other, but lived in the same period of time, all kinds of possibilities open up and some of the greatest mysteries of the Bible are “solved”
When Genesis 4: verses 16 and 17 state that Cain left Eden and took a wife, we now have an explanation for where she came from. The “man”, Cain, the Bible refers to, took a wife from among the creatures that our science books call “man”. These creatures look very much like modern man but lacked the genetic “Breath of Life” that God implanted in Adam.
The scriptures that follow support this theory. Genesis 4:20-24 gives in detail the contributions that Cain’s descendants make to later history, such as music, iron and metalworking, etc. If all of his descendants had perished in the flood, this would have been unimportant and meaningless, as their work would have perished with them. Why bother to include this as part of the narrative if it is irrelevant or untrue ?
The “other” men are the creatures referred to in Genesis 1:26 when God said “Let us make man in our image”. This statement was more of an announcement of a plan, than an order. The plan, at least in part, began when God said, “Let us create man in our image”. At that time there was no creature that resembled modern man alive. Science tells us that a creature they call Australopithecus suddenly appeared, and through the process of evolution, and in the millennia of time, developed into a form that resembled modern man.
This is supported from ancient legal documents. The Akkadian (pre-Hebrew/Aramaic writing style) equivalent of bara, the word used in the Torah, is often translated "decreed" or "assigned." This was an announcement of a “plan” to produce a man in God’s image. Perhaps God intervened in the evolution process to change and create the “early man” creature that our science books call man. This creature would eventually become man by God’s plan but was only the first step in the process of man’s creation. The final phase of this plan would take place when Adam’s descendants mixed his genes with those of this creature. Only then would “Modern Man” emerge and finally be present on the earth.
Stated another way, when the Bible says Adam was the first man, it is using God’s definition of man as created in the garden, and is correct, by definition. By this standard, Adam didn’t even have to look like us to be “man”. When our children read about “early man” in their science books, and those books say that the first man began about two million years ago, they are accepting science’s definition of “man”, not God’s. Who then was the “true ” man if they were different? My argument is that both groups are right within their definitions of “man”. Modern Man is neither of these creatures but the result of the mixing of their genes.
Of course the argument against this is the flood of Noah. If all life on earth was destroyed by the flood this would not be possible. However as many people of faith now believe, supported by recent archeological evidence in the Black Sea area, the flood may have been a large regional flood that only destroyed all the life created in the area of Eden. This would mean that the creation described in genesis chapter two was a second creation event, as compared to the “big one” described in chapter one in which all of Heaven and Earth and it various life formed were created.
The phrase “all that God had created was destroyed”, would then only apply to the most recent creation. The “world” that was destroyed was the world of Eden. As stated in a previous post, the original wording, “eretz”, in Genesis could have applied equally to just a region, not the whole planet.
Why is this important for today’s generation? It means that after 4000 years of mixing of the genes that there is probably no one left on the planet who doesn’t have at least some of the genes of a man that the Bible calls Adam, and therefore, as a divine creature, is eligible to be called a “son of God” and to inherit a place in God’s kingdom. The saddest thing that could happen is for someone to not claim that inheritance.