EthanW's take on the GAE

I find the concept of the genealogical Adam and Eve really interesting. I have always felt it is very important theologically for there to have been a literal Adam and Eve, and a literal fall causing sin to spread to their descendants, and this view seems to accommodate that opinion with evolutionary theory.

I was wondering how plausible the idea is that the genealogical Adam and Eve were the first human beings to use language (in its complex form, as we understand it today). What we see God doing in Genesis 1 is a lot of speaking, so it makes sense to me that language, and the increase in rationality that goes along with language, might be considered an aspect of the image of God. When I looked online, it said that complex language is likely 50,000 to 200,000 years old, and that it is somewhat of a mystery how language developed. Some are saying language had to have been fairly complex right off the bat. I think this leaves room for my interpretation, as long as one is open to the OEC view of an Adam and Eve that existed significantly earlier than 10,000 years ago, which is what Reasons to Believe holds. I think that the main issues with a 50,000 to 200,000 year-old Adam are that agriculture appears to have developed much later than this interpretation of Genesis would suggest, and that gaps in the genealogies cannot plausibly be stretched back that far. As to agriculture, it’s possible that the fall and the curse resulted in Adam and Eve’s descendants’ culture degenerating into the hunter-gatherer ways of surrounding homo-sapiens, and I am not sure isolated incidents of agriculture of a few families 100,000 years ago would necessarily be found by archaeologists (I am not an archaeologist, so perhaps I am wrong). As to gaps in genealogies, I would assume that the further back one went into history, the more genealogical gaps would be expected, and the gaps would make more of an impact on the historical timeline if Adam’s descendants’ lived for hundreds of years as Genesis states.

It’s probably fairly clear that I take a more literal view of Genesis than some theistic evolutionists, but I am open to the idea of evolutionary creationism if paired with a genealogical Adam. However, the idea that Adam is only 6,000 to 10,000 years old is somewhat unsettling to me, as there is evidence of religious activity before then, which included idolatry. Romans 1 suggests that God ought to be evident to all people: “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20) So if there was religion before Adam, one would expect it to be true religion, not false religion as the Venus of Willendorf suggests. Perhaps actual relationship with God and the expectation of eternal life would have been reserved for Adam and Eve and their descendants, but the recognition of a supreme God’s existence, in my mind, ought to come with the territory of language and rational thinking, if “what has been made” truly has always been enough to understand who God is “since the creation of the world”. So in my mind, false religion should not have existed without sin, even if the image of God has more to do with God entering into a relationship with Adam and Eve instead of rationality.

Anyway, I was just wondering if my thoughts are plausible biblically or scientifically. I am neither a scientist nor a theologian, so any thoughts on this would be appreciated.

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There is every reason to believe a literal Adam was created no more than 10,000 years ago.

Could you name a few of those reasons?

Language goes back much longer, perhaps to Homo Erectus a million years ago or even prior. See this book:


Firstly, the whole question of literal Adam is a theological one. So, first we look at the context the Bible creates for Adam & Eve:

  1. Genesis makes no reference to Adam inventing language; he is assigned naming of life forms, not the syntax of the language he is already speaking.

  2. Genesis makes no reference to Adam inventing technologies; he is set to work mastering what ever “agri-tech” God expects him to master in “the garden”. This “gardening” appears to represent “subsistence agriculture”:

Genesis 2:5 (RSV) - - “… when no plant [plant, bush, shrub] of the field was yet in the earth and no herb [herb, herbage, grass, green plants] of the field had yet sprung up–for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no man to till the ground…”

Technically speaking, wheat and barley and the plants we know as grains are modified grasses. And the phrase “of the field” is a sensible reference to land set aside for domesticated plantings. The context of the interpretation depends on how Genesis 1 and 2 are harmonized (or not).

While one might argue that wild plants had been exploited by evolved human populations for dozens of thousands of years, formal or domesticated fields would be relatively much more recent. And even with that, there could have been some “Edenic-methods” implied in the definition of domestic farming.

Hi, I’m the one who wrote the post. Thanks for your response!

My thought wasn’t that Adam invented language, but that it was a gift from God that no homo sapiens prior possessed, which allowed for heightened rationality and culture beyond what was achieved by homo sapiens prior to Adam.

In regard to your second point about subsistence agriculture, I agree God gave Adam the means to accomplish it in the Garden, but for all we know, it was only Adam and one or two generations after him that practised subsistence agriculture. Would the actions of a few farming families of an unspecified location necessarily be discovered by archaeologists? I’m not sure it would. In fact, I think a certain degree of decline in technology would be expected as a result of sin and the curse, so to me an Adam older than the traditional date for the beginning of subsistence agriculture isn’t impossible. It may be implausible however.


You have missed the part that God had not yet caused it to rain. This tells me that at least part of the story can’t possibly be taken literally, probably at least the verse that bit is in. Nor does the garden seem to have anything to do with subsistence agriculture. The only food mentioned in the garden is fruit trees.

And again, this story perpetuates the myth that agriculture arises suddenly, from nowhere. Cereal grains are the result of a long process of artificial selection beginning with the purposeful sowing of wild seeds. Clearly, the ancient Hebrews had no concept of that process, and Genesis reflects that lack.


Homo sapiens as well as earlier species of the Genus Homo had ever advancing language. Our hearing and speaking organs evolved together and advanced together to more refined vocalizations and refined hearing to those vocalizations. The video give the evidence of the millions of year evolution of language.

Genesis reflects the agricultural technology during the time that it was written. Genesis is written exactly how you would expect it be written to describe the state of agricultural and animal domestication that would have be in the Levant region 2500 years ago. The archaeological record and the genomes of plants and animals confirm this.

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I wonder about that, and I’m not sure. I think we can wonder about God granting a recent Adam and Eve special knowledge in the recent past, but it seems that language existed long before. Perhaps this would make more sense of AE were more ancient, which of course is one way to vary the story.

I should point out that I am not an evolutionary creationist, of course. Perhaps consider being open to evolutionary science instead, which describes a process that God might providential govern.

Looks like, moreover, you are already thinking about a more ancient AE too!


Well, you are missing the issue of the Persian Gulf Oasis. With that in view, it really could be taken literally.


Beg pardon?

Perhaps read up on this: Exploring a Book Project with William Lane Craig.

Keep in mind that Genesis 2 is describing a define area, not the whole globe.

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I have found nothing in that about rain or anything else we’re discussing in this thread so far. Need more information.

Read the original paper by Rose. Turns out that during this time the oasis was arid, without rain, but with water coming up out of the ground.

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@EthanW , great to see you here! Can you tell us more about yourself?

First off, what is “this time”? How do you fit the garden into Rose’s scenario? And was there indeed a period in which there was no rain at all? What do we suppose “not yet” means in terms of time?

“Not yet” always means not yet within the narrative. The range of time with no rain is pretty large. The paper explains in far more detail. I encourage you to read it.

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@Patrick, you can find my thoughts on language early in my post immediately above.


The central theme of Genesis 2 is an agricultural district. All the other flowery poetry about no rain, and other aspects of the garden (a Tree of Life? a Tree of Knowledge?), is just window dressing.

Naturally, such interpretations would be part of a conversion from YEC-to-Christian-Evolutionist. It is completely up to the person coming to a new position to decide how much of the new position has to be secured by Biblical writings, and what is expendable.

The story of Noah is massive example of more of the same thing.