Myth 4: “Adam and Eve were not real people, only allegories used to describe the first humans.”


Below is a summary of Myth 4. For the full chapter on this topic, download the Seven Myths book here.

Myth number 4 is: “Adam and Eve were not real people, only allegories used to describe the first humans.” Many professors in secular and even some Christian colleges place the Genesis Creation account on equal footing with mythological writings from the Ancient Near East. Indeed, one can look back in history and find many different accounts of human origins. What makes the Genesis account stand apart? Is there scientific evidence that supports the Bible’s account of human origins? Let’s look and find out.

The Bible is very clear about human origins: Genesis lays out who made us (God, or Elohim in the Hebrew), what we were made from (dust), how we were made (divinely spoken into existence), who we were made like (in God’s image), our role in Creation (dominion), and our marital covenant for family. Scripture even includes when we were created during Creation week (Day 6) and the time in history, about 6,000 years ago based on the genealogies in Genesis.

Next, Scripture is consistent about this account, with every Bible contributor in both the Old and New Testaments holding to the same description of how we came to be, spanning 66 books over 1,500 years written by 40 writers in 3 languages on 3 continents. Billions of people over the millennia have regarded the Bible’s account of origins as historical and quite literal. Could they all have been wrong?

Scripture is clear that that Adam was the first man and Eve the first woman, the mother of the human race. The Apostle Paul inseparably connects Jesus to Adam, with Jesus coming to redeem us from the curse of sin and death brought by Adam. Paul also describes how Adam and Eve specifically—as individuals—fell into temptation. The Gospel of Luke even connects Christ’s genealogy to Adam and Adam’s sons who lived after him. How could that be mythical?

Without a real Adam, a real garden, a real tree, and a real enemy that led Adam and Eve into sin, the consequences for sin laid out in Genesis 3 has no foundation. And without this, the Gospel and the entire New Testament has nothing to stand on. Because of the sin nature we inherited from Adam, we are all in need of a Savior. That’s the very foundation of the Gospel and the New Testament. Did Jesus die for the sins of a mythical Adam? Certainly not.

Unlike ancient mythological writings, the Bible makes the unique claim to be inspired so the pages of Scripture can be relied upon as Words from God Himself. The Jewish people and Christians have regarded Scripture with this level of reverence for millennia. In fact, Romans 1 even says that all of Creation—including humans—are an obvious testimony to God’s creative powers and invisible attributes, so people are without an excuse.

One of the most obvious examples that humans are created is found in our hearing system. Taking an honest look at our hearing system reveals an obvious designer. How could random, mindless evolution engineer five separate components that have no purpose unless they are all joined together in a certain order and in a certain way for the purpose of hearing? Even if some random process could put together just one of these five components, it takes engineering and intelligence to join these five parts together so that sounds waves from speech could be heard and then immediate interpreted as communication in our minds.

The eye might even be more convincing, containing hundreds of parts that had to be assembled to create the overall purpose and function for seeing. Random chance certainly doesn’t have the intelligence needed for assembling different parts into a cohesive, inter-dependent system for sight to work.

What about recent scientific discoveries over the last few decades that give strong evidence for the Bible’s account of human origins?

Let’s start by looking at DNA—a protein coding language that cannot be replicated by any scientist in the world. It’s the most sophisticated information storage system in the known universe—nothing comes even close. In fact, over 10,000 DNA molecules can fit on the head of a pin and unfolding just one of them reveals six feet of instructions capable of building who you are. Stretching out DNA in the trillions of cells in your body could reach to the sun and back hundreds of times, while the combined weight of all this DNA would not be heavier than an egg.

Perhaps you’ve heard that humans and chimps share 98% of their DNA. But did you know that when they made this comparison they ignored 18% of the chimp genome and 25% of the human genome? (See the Genesis Apologetics Human-Chimp DNA video and citations here: https://youtu.be/Rav8sfuJFYc). Plus, the chimp genome is over 6% larger than ours! When they give the 98% similarity figure, it’s based on cherry-picked DNA regions that were similar. Of course humans and chimps have similar DNA; they’re mammals living in the world with similar requirements for biological life. Our DNA is also similar to several other creatures.

What about DNA research that purportedly shows our genome dates back tens of thousands of years, far outreaching the Biblical timeline? Recent research into Mitochondrial DNA mutation rates gives the answer. mtDNA is unique because it comes only from the mother’s egg, making it useful for tracing maternal ancestry. Since DNA was sequenced in 1981, researchers have been studying the mutation rates in mtDNA to try and estimate when different groups of people possibly diverged. Evolutionary researchers have based these timelines on the assumption that humans and chimps shared a common ancestor about 5 million years ago. That date was based on counting the mtDNA and protein differences between all the great apes and timing their divergence using dates from fossils of one great ape’s ancestor. This evolutionary assumption counts on the mtDNA mutation rate of about one mutation every 300 to 600 generations, or one every 6,000 to 12,000 years.[1]

Do these evolutionary assumptions hold up? Actually, recent studies have shown that the actual, observed mutation rates are much faster than the rates assumed by evolution theory, causing researchers to re-think the mtDNA clock they depend on for forensic investigations. This discovery was published in Nature Genetics by Dr. Parsons and his colleagues who investigated the mtDNA of 357 individuals from 134 different families representing 327 generational “events,” which are counted by the number of times that mothers passed on mtDNA to their offspring. Parson’s team showed that mutation rates actually occur at a rate of 1 every 33 generations, which was twenty-fold higher than estimates based on the theoretical 5-million-year timeline between chimps and humans.

This faster mutation rate discovery has stood fast even as the number of families in the study has doubled. For example, Howell’s team analyzed mtDNA from 40 members of a family, finding an overall divergence rate of one mutation every 25 to 40 generations. Howell remarked that “Both of our studies (his and Parsons) came to a remarkably similar conclusion.” Based on these findings, Howell warned that phylogenetic studies—studies that try to estimate the evolutionary branching between animal kinds—have “substantially underestimated the rate of mtDNA divergence.”

As one science writer puts it, “evolutionists are most concerned about the effect of a faster mutation rate. For example, researchers have calculated that “mitochondrial Eve”—the woman whose mtDNA was ancestral to that in all living people—lived 100,000 to 200,000 years ago in Africa. Using the new clock, she would be a mere 6,000 years old.”[2] This of course fits well within the Bible’s timeline.

Based on their updated work, “identifying 220 soldiers’ remains from World War II to the present,” Parsons and Holland now have “new guidelines—adopted by the FBI as well—to account for a faster mutation rate.” Studies have also confirmed that there was a massive DNA variability explosion that happened on earth just thousands of years ago, within the time frame of Noah’s Flood and the Babel dispersion that occurred afterwards.

Next let’s consider the extent of the fossil evidence that exists for human evolution. Charles Darwin postured that if evolution was true, “innumerable transitional forms must have existed.” He also questioned, “Why do we not find them embedded in countless numbers in the crust of the earth?” We agree. If human evolution was true, wouldn’t we expect the ground to be filled with numerous transitions between ape-like creatures? We agree with Darwin that the lack of transitions is the “most obvious and serious objection which can be urged against the theory of evolution.” Even Ian Tattersall, emeritus curator with the American Museum of Natural History, noted that you could fit all the supposed ape-to-human fossil evidence “into the back of a pickup truck if you didn't mind how much you jumbled everything up.” With centuries of recorded history and over 7 billion inter-fertile humans on the planet today, we should certainly have more than a truck bed of fossil evidence if evolution was true.

What about the leading human evolutionary icon of today: Lucy? The year 1974 welcomed the famous “Lucy,” a fossil form that bears the name Australopithecus afarensis. Lucy is arguably the most famous human evolution icon ever displayed in public school textbooks. Pictures and dioramas of Lucy inhabit countless museums and thousands of articles and dissertations.

Donald Johanson discovered Lucy in Ethiopia, Africa, and she quickly grew to be known as the supposed “missing link” between man and ape. At only about 3-1/2 feet tall and only about 60 pounds, she’s very close to the size of small apes today.[3] The scientific name Australopithecus simply means “southern ape.” Southern ape is a very appropriate name because, as you’ll learn below, Lucy was just that—an ape!

Although public school textbooks often state that Lucy was our ancestor and they feature human-like drawings of her, the fossil evidence tells quite a different story. Over 40 years of Lucy research and about 20 more discoveries of her kind have raised new questions about its supposed evolutionary connection. Evolutionary research journals have substantiated ten fatal flaws regarding the claim that Lucy and her species are really our early ancestors.[4]  See our Lucy page here: www.genesisapologetics.com/lucy

If there’s no historical Adam, there’s no Gospel. If Adam and the Fall are not historical, then Jesus died for a mythological problem and He is a mythological savior offering us a mythological hope. Atheists also understand the problem of a mythical Adam and Eve: “No Adam and Eve means no need for a savior. It also means that the Bible cannot be trusted as a source of unambiguous, literal truth. It is completely unreliable, because it all begins with a myth, and builds on that as a basis. No fall of man means no need for atonement and no need for a redeemer.”

The truth is that we are too sophisticated to evolve out of some primordial mud pit over billions of years. God made us on the sixth day of creation to name and take dominion over the entire animal kingdom. This happened just thousands of years ago. God sent His son to redeems us from the Fall that happened when our real forefather sinned. We have been mercifully brought into a place of grace, forgiveness, and rest if we accept his sacrifice by confessing our sins and surrender our lives to Him.

[1] T.J. Parsons, et al., “A High Observed Substitution Rate in the Human Mitochondrial DNA Control Region,” Nature Genetics 15 (1997): 363–368.

[2] A. Gibbons, “Calibrating the Mitochondrial Clock,” Science 279 (1998): 28–29. (http://www.dnai.org/teacherguide/pdf/reference_romanovs.pdf). (Sept. 1, 2019).

[3] W.L. Jungers, “Lucy’s length: Stature reconstruction in Australopithecus afarensis (A.L. 288-1) with implications for other small-bodied hominids.”  American Journal of Physical Anthropology. 76 (2) (1988): 227–231.

[4] Some of these fatal flaws pertain to Lucy’s actual fossil, some are in regards to how her fossil is represented, and some involve both.