Bishop James Ussher was a church leader in Ireland in the 1600's, prolific scholar and author of The Annals of the World. Using Bible genealogies, he calculated that Adam was born in the year 4004 BC. This date has been widely quoted and generally accepted ever since.
Over the last 400 years, hundreds of other theologians, historians and scholars have drawn the family tree from their own study of scripture, and most come to the same conclusion, as diagrammed above: Adam lived about 4000 BC.
Many Christians who believe that Adam was the first human on earth know that dating the first human to 4000 BC is out of synch with everything we now know about the world. Usually, they just shrug off the conflict by saying, without sufficient evidence or logic, that 'there are gaps in the Bible genealogies.'
But there are big problems with the gap theory:
➤ The consecutive male line from Adam to Jesus is clearly stated in the Bible. If there are major gaps, then the Bible is at least misleading, and the genealogy should be restated. But if the genealogy is restated for convenience because it is incomplete and unbelievable, why not restate other troublesome Bible passages too? Obviously, that would be rewriting scripture and intolerable.
➤ If the Bible genealogy shows more time as gaps than as facts, then a reasonable person would have to conclude that it is not a credible genealogy at all and that the Bible is deceptive or fraudulent.
➤ Just for a margin of safety, let's say that the Bible record is only 50% complete and overall omits as many generations as it includes. That would put Adam's time at approximately 8000 BC., which still would not explain known human activity prior to that time.
➤ Gaps – even enormous gaps – cannot even come close to reconciling Bible geneologies with modern knowledge.
The time period from Adam to Noah is clearly stated in Genesis 5, when human life was much longer. Each father is not only named but given his age at birth of his son. For each generation, the son is again named and aged at birth of the son, thus preluding the possibility of any gaps without changing the meaning of the words father and son.
In this way, time is calculated from Adam to Noah at precisely 1,056 years.
If there are significan gaps in the genealogies, it is probably in the stated period of approximately 2,000 years from Noah to David, with 24 named generations. Calculated, that averages to 83 years per generation, which seems too high even in light of longer life spans at that time. It is reasonable to suspect that there are gaps in this segment of the genealogical record.
Assuming a generation to be 26 years rather than 83 years, this would add another 4,000 to the timeline and put Adam's existence at about 8,000 BC.
The stated period of approximately 1,000 years from David to Jesus is documented with two genealogies: Mary (mother of Jesus, Matthew 1) with 28 generations averaging 36 years, and Joseph (adoptive father of Jesus, Luke 2) with 39 generations averaging 26 years. There is not room for significant gaps here, and parts of the lineage are confirmed by recorded extra-biblical history.
To allow for a reasonable amount of gaps in the Bible genealogies, writers today usually use 10,000 years as the safe time period between Adam and now. For example, see how Gallup Polls use the phrase 'within the last 10,000 years or so' when speaking of Bible time.
Thinkers Bible Studies is adverse to changing the clear meaning of literal words in scripture, so on this site the Bible's 4000 BC (6,000 years ago) time is used, but with acknowledgment that gaps are possible and that an earlier date for Adam can be an honest interpretation.
However, no matter how much tinkering within the genealogies, there is no way to reconcile the biblical time of Adam with modern knowledge of science, archaeology and history.
Thinking Christians who are truly concerned about doubters and unbelievers cannot shrug off the time conflict – a serious barrier to faith – simply by saying 'there are gaps.' The gaps are way too small even to come close to the facts everyone knows and accepts today.
The only way to reconcile the time lines is to realize that scripture does not compel the belief that Adam (first sinner in Genesis 2) was the first human in Genesis 1, as examined in Bible study here on people before Adam.
As shown here, the gap theory in Bible method of dating (genealogies) can reconcile
Acknowledge Adam not first.
Complicated if say Adam create first week of anything.