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Creation 40(2):44–47, April 2018

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Eve, the rib, and modern genetics


This article is adapted from the author’s The Genesis Account: A theological, historical, and scientific com­ment­ary on Genesis 1–11, ch. 12.

Evolutionists claim that a population of human-like creatures evolved from a population of ape-like creatures. However, the true eyewitness account is very different. God directly created the first human being, Adam, from the dust of the ground (Genesis 2:7).

Since none of the animals were made in God’s image, God now sets about making a suitable helper for Adam, one also made in God’s image:

So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” (Genesis 2:21–23)

But whereas God made Adam from the dust of the ground, this new companion would have an intimate connection with Adam. In a way, this helper would be a physical descendant of his.

The world’s first anesthesia

So God put Adam into a very deep sleep, to perform the world’s first surgery. Leupold elaborates:

Tardemah, is indeed a “deep sleep”… . A sleep like that caused by an anaesthetic envelopes man’s feelings and consciousness.1
Sir James Young Simpson

Indeed, this account inspired the Scottish doctor Sir James Young Simpson, 1st Baronet (1811–1870), the pioneer of anesthesia. He had discovered that chloroform would put people to sleep and remove the pain sensation. And he applied this to women in childbirth—he clearly had a heart for mothers. Previously he had fought strongly for doctors to clean their hands thoroughly between helping women, to prevent the deadly disease of puerperal fever that killed many women after childbirth. The Hungarian Jewish doctor Ignaz Semmelweis (1818–1865) is best known for this innovation.2

According to atheistic mythology, there was some misguided pseudo-biblical opposition to Simpson’s work in anesthesia. They supposedly argued that God had ordained women to suffer horribly in childbirth. But Jesus’ healing miracles showed the principle that alleviating the effects of the Fall was considered a blessing and the right thing to do—albeit it could only ever be local and temporary. Also, by the opposition’s ‘reasoning’, we should never save lives, cure diseases, or relieve any pain, since all these are equally the results of the Fall. And Simpson, a devout adherent of the Free Church of Scotland, countered further by pointing out that God Himself had used anesthesia to create the first of all women.3 But in reality, he had no need to make such an argument, because there was virtually no biblically-based opposition. See Did Christians oppose James Simpson on childbirth pain relief?.

The rib

From the sleeping Adam, God now removes a rib. The Hebrew word here is tsela’ (צֵלָע), which can mean rib or side. But here, most translations render it ‘rib’, and rightly so, according to Keil and Delitzsch:

צֵלָע means the side, and, as a portion of the human body, the rib. The correctness of this meaning, which is given by all the ancient versions, is evident from the words, “God took one of his צְלָע֖וֹת [the plural form tsəlā‘ôt],” which show that the man had several of them.4

From this rib, God makes the woman. The uniqueness of her creation is reflected in the different verb used: banah (בָּנָה). This means to ‘build’, ‘construct’, and even ‘fashion’, as befitting God’s last creative act of Creation Week. Leupold explains:

“Build” applies to the fashioning of a structure of some importance; it involves constructive effort. Both of these factors are in evidence in the case of the creation of woman.5

God’s method of creating the woman reinforces the brief mention in Genesis 1:27, that both man and woman were created in God’s image. Genesis 2 shows the close connection men and women have with each other, and that they are equal in nature. Also, this is the beginning of the biblical teaching that Adam is the Federal Head of the whole human race: every other human who has ever lived is a descendant of Adam. This means of creating Eve places her as a descendant of Adam in a sense.

Eve’s descent from Adam


The account in Genesis still understates the awesomeness of God’s creative act. We can presume that God would have generated much new matter to create an adult woman from just a rib. But as above, Eve was also a descendant from Adam. Since descendants inherit their genetic information from their parents, it’s likely that God used Adam’s genetic information to build Eve. If Eve’s genes were totally different from Adam’s, then it would be much harder to consider her to be his descendant.

So I think a suggestion I heard from triple-doctorate Professor-Dr Arthur E. Wilder-Smith (1915–1995) is right: God cloned Adam’s DNA to make Eve. But there is one obvious difference in their genetics because of their different sex—different sex chromosomes. Women have two X chromosomes, whereas men have an X and a Y chromosome. The Y chromosome thus specifies maleness. So Wilder-Smith proposed that God destroyed Adam’s Y and doubled his X, to generate the female XX configuration.

Now not only the sex chromosomes but all the others are paired, making 23 pairs in all. So for any position (‘locus’) on any of the chromosomes, a person can possess only two different types (or ‘alleles’) of the gene. I.e. this would be ‘biallelic’, having only two possible alleles for this locus. If the alleles are different, this is called heterozygous, and if the same, then homozygous. If any descendant of Adam and Eve had alleles different from those two at a given locus, the different alleles would necessarily6 be the result of mutations.

Geneticist Dr Robert Carter has shown that the genetic data of people today are consistent with having been descended from Adam and Eve under this ‘cloning’ scenario:

… most variation is biallelic and can be found in most populations. Thus, well over one million heterozygous, biallelic loci must have been present at Babel. These also should have been present at the Flood and at Creation a mere ten generations prior to that.7

Do men have one fewer rib than women?

Some biblioskeptics have accused the Bible of error in this place, because men and women actually have the same number of ribs. But the Bible never claims otherwise. It’s actually a risible error, because such skeptics are implicitly accepting a thoroughly discredited evolutionary view called Lamarckism. This was the erroneous view of the pre-Darwinian French evolutionist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck (1744–1829) of ‘inheritance of acquired characteristics’.

This is obviously false: men who lose a finger don’t have sons (or daughters, for that matter) with only nine fingers, because the loss doesn’t affect the DNA instruction for the number of fingers. Amputees simply do not have amputee children, and baby girls are not born with holes in their earlobes.

Actually, the Bible teaches the correct science. Later in Genesis, God made a covenant with Abraham. An important part was a certain amputation operation for Abraham and his male offspring after him “throughout their generations” (17:9–14). Clearly this amputated part would re-appear every generation, refuting Lamarckism. Science sometimes manages to catch up with the Bible.

Ribs can regrow!

Another case of science catching up with Scripture involves the rib itself. Only in recent times have surgeons discovered that the rib is the one bone in the human body that will readily grow back!8 That is, provided the covering membrane called the periosteum (from Greek meaning ‘around the bone’) is left intact (the periosteum often sticks in one’s teeth when eating spare ribs). It is helped by the rich blood supply of the attached intercostal (‘between the ribs’) muscles. Dr David Pennington, the first plastic surgeon in the world to successfully reattach a human ear,9 pointed out, “rib periosteum has a remarkable ability to regenerate bone, perhaps more so than any other bone.”10

New Testament citation

When teaching Timothy about the order of men and women, Paul cites this account, “For Adam was formed first, then Eve” (1 Timothy 2:13). It’s hard to imagine how much clearer Paul could have been that he was accepting Genesis 2 as factual history. And in another place, Paul affirms the literal order of creation:

For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. … Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God (1 Corinthians 11:8–12).

This passage also seems to be alluding to Adam’s naming of Eve in Genesis 3:20, “because she was the mother of all living”. That is, although the first woman came from the first man, all men subsequently are born of women. And both are from God—in His image and likeness (Genesis 1:26–28).

References and notes

  1. Leupold, H.C., Exposition of Genesis, 1:81, 1942. Return to text.
  2. Grigg, R., Ignaz Semmelweis: Medical pioneer persecuted for telling the truth, Creation 38(2):52–55, 2016. Return to text.
  3. .Medical Discoveries, Chloroform, discoveriesinmedicine.com, accessed 24 April 2013. Return to text.
  4. Keil, C.F. and Delitzsch, F., Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament 1:89, 1857. Return to text.
  5. See Ref. 1, p. 135. Return to text.
  6. Barring some special creation of extra alleles, of which there is no mention nor any warrant to propose this, which would introduce an element of deceptiveness in suggesting an ancestry different to what had taken place. Return to text.
  7. Carter, R.W., The non-mythical Adam and Eve! Refuting errors by Francis Collins and BioLogos, creation.com/biologos-adam, 20 August 2011. Return to text.
  8. Founding editor Dr Carl Wieland had ample personal experience of this, as he explains in Regenerating ribs: Adam and that ‘missing’ rib, Creation 21(4):46–47; 1999; creation.com/rib. Return to text.
  9. Wieland, C., Reshaping people: Interview with plastic surgeon Dr David Pennington, Creation 22(3):17–19, 2000; creation.com/reshaping-people. Return to text.
  10. Personal communication from David Pennington to Carl Wieland, 7 May 1999. Return to text.