The issue here is that Bible genealogies (genealogy chart) show that Adam lived about BC 4000. If Adam and Eve were the first humans ... and if God created them in the same week He created everything else ... then nothing on earth is older than 6,000 years (or 10,000 years, allowing for possible gaps).
There is overwhelming scientific evidence that the earth is billions of years old and that there has been human activity and migrations for at least 40,000 years. This is taught as settled science in all Universities and schools of every kind throughout the world, except Christian education.
This sets up a conflict: Either the Bible is right, or science is right, and everyone must choose one or the other. Presented with that stark choice, most people choose science.
If the Bible is wrong about the first humans, they reason, it's probably wrong about other matters too. So increasingly, the Bible is being regarded as an irrelevant ancient book that cannot be trusted, and Christianity in the United States is declining rapidly.
Christians are doing just the opposite of what Jesus told us to do. Our mission is to make disciples (Matthew 28:19). Forcing the stark choice is a major reason why we are losing disciples instead of making disciples.
The purpose of this study is to re-read and re-think the Eden story in light of modern knowledge to see if the Bible really compels the stark choice.
Every third year for the past 45 years, Gallup Polls has tracked what people believe about human origin.
The most recent poll shows that more than half of church-attending American Christians believe that 'God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time WITHIN THE LAST 10,000 YEARS OR SO.'
Where do most devout Christians get this belief which seems incredible to most people in the modern world? Certainly not from school. Definitely from church.
The reason that polls, news reports, and general literature usually use 10,000 years (rather than Bible's 4,000 years) is to give allowance for possible gaps in the genealogies, as discussed here in Bible genealogies.
The huge human age discrepancy between science and the Bible is widely known by unbelievers and doubters and, to them, this portrays Christians as poorly educated people with blind faith in an ancient book that is flat-out wrong.
Most Christians don't give much thought, if any, to this issue, but it's a big issue for many people thinking about trusting the Bible and becoming a Christian.
The question here is: Were there people before Adam? The response of most Christians goes something like this:
'The Bible says Adam was the first person God created, so that's as much as we need to know. And it doesn't really matter. Instead of discussing academic questions about Adam, we should be talking about Jesus and salvation.'
This site has three responses for that kind of thinking:
(1) Actually, the Bible says that Adam was the first sinner but does not specifically say that he was the first human. The Bible gives many clues that people existed outside of the Garden of Eden before God placed Adam into the Garden.
(2) True, it doesn't really matter what Christians think about this question, but it does matter what doubters and unbelievers think. To say 'it doesn't matter to me' shows a callous disregard for the concerns of the people we should be reaching with the gospel. It's not about us. It's about them!
(3) Sadly, most people will never come to the point of hearing and believing about Jesus if they don't believe the Bible is the Word of God ... and most won't believe it if they're convinced that the Bible has been proven wrong by archeology and science.
The Bible must have credibility for people to believe it.
If everyone were a Christian, this topic would be unimportant, hardly worth mentioning. From a Christian viewpoint, with regard to salvation and daily living, it doesn't matter what methods and timing God used to create the universe.
But from a nonbeliever's viewpoint, it makes a huge difference.
To remove this barrier to faith, we don't have to prove either that God created the universe by the instantly-as-is method or by the Big Bang method.
All we need to do is show that the actual Bible narrative is broad enough to cover both views. There's no need to be dogmatic, offensive, or ignorant. We don't know the details of God's method and timing. The important thing is that GOD DID IT!