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Evolution and Creation. Where did we come from? How did we get here? What is life all about?

Were Adam and Eve alone in the world?

Postby Ezekiel » Thu Mar 08, 2018 9:25 am

I know that tradition says that Adam and Eve were the first humans, and that there were no humans aside from them. However, I don’t know where in the Bible actually says that Adam and Eve were created by God but not that they were the only ones. What is the source of that idea?

Re: Were Adam and Eve alone in the world?

Postby jimwalton » Wed Mar 21, 2018 6:03 pm

I don't believe they were the only ones. Recent writings by Dr. John Walton ( ... ohn+walton) proposes a theory about Genesis 1-2 that I love. It says that the text is about how the cosmos functions, not about how it came to be. Light and dark function to give us time, the firmament functions to give us weather and climate, the dry land functions to bring for plant life (the function of agriculture), the sun moon and stars function to give us times and seasons, humanity functions to fill the earth and subdue, to rule over the earth. It's about why the earth was created (to cosmos was to function as God's temple, his dwelling place, and the earth to function as the place of meeting and relationship between God and the people he created and loves), not about how it was created, what processes were used, or how long it took. According to the Bible, God is still definitely the creator of the world, but that's not what Genesis 1-2 are about. Genesis 1-2 are about how God ordered the world so that it functions the way it does.

Taking Genesis 2 in this light, it is not about the material creation of Adam and Eve, but rather about what their function is. In Genesis 2.15, for instance, the words "work it" and "take care of it" are not agricultural words, but priestly ones. Adam and Eve weren't gardeners, but priest and priestess. They were taken out from among other hominids (also Gn. 2.15), invested with God's breath (they became souls), and were given the role and function of mediating between God and men, and for God to reveal himself to them. This became the line of homo sapiens that exists today.

So it's altogether possible (if Walton is right) that Adam and Eve were not necessarily the first humans nor necessarily the only humans. Walton also wrote a book called "The Lost World of Adam & Eve" if you are truly interested in doing some fascinating reading.

To answer your question more specifically, the source of the idea came from the concept that Genesis 1 and 2 were speaking of material creation, a common idea at least since the Enlightenment era onward, possibly even as old as the Renaissance. Once the Bible was translated into English, it took on this mantle of "creation" = material manufacture. In the ancient world, however, something was created when it was given a function. The sea (thought to be in the world of "chaos") was uncreated. So also the wilderness. Things were created when they were ordered and given a function. These dynamics were lost through the eras of different cultural environments and different languages, and Genesis started being interpreted in a materialistic framework rather than a functional one. Archaeological discoveries have opened up to us documents to which the scholars of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment did not have access. I find Walton's theories convincing.

I'll stop there with my post, lest it become burdensome and too long. If you want to talk more, feel free.

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