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Creation 40(2):44–47, April 2018

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Eve, the rib, and modern genetics

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Eve-rib-modern-genetics

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
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

But there was some misguided pseudo-biblical opposition to Simpson’s work in anesthesia. They 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

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

ribs

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.

Readers’ comments

Sir Loin of Beef
People have thoracotomy for several reasons for example lung resection. This involves removal of one or more ribs. The resected end corticates and heals and the patient goes on with life. Point is, one doesn’t need every rib to live a full life. Even if Adam had a missing one, his kids were born with all ribs. Perhaps God used a rib because the marrow was packed with cells to extract DNA from. God is great.
Philippus S.
Our God is Great! Too great for people to understand if they do not believe in Him. We can never understand God without God and the poor evolutionist can not understand that they love themselves too much, they are in a circle chasing their own tails.
What is nicer in Life to have Hope to Everlasting Life, rather than the Evolutionist everlasting death, not just death but in a very bad place called Hell.
Proverbs 1:7—The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction. 
Proverbs 9:10 —The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.
Charles T.
This is really only true if you take the whole Adam and Eve bit literally.
Also no there is more to genetic sex than the X and Y chromosone, genes that determine sex are in other chromosones as well, some of the genes in the X and Y chromosones have nothing to do with sex, so God would have had to have changed more of her genes. Plus if they were a sex changed clone wouldn't that make problems with inbreeding?
Also hreat dismissal of other chromosone combinations.
So if Eve was originally male and was then changed to being female, does that make her transgender?
What has the regrowing rib thing got to do with anything?
Jonathan Sarfati
Jesus took it literally, so why shouldn’t we?

Why would inbreeding be a problem with no deleterious mutations?

The way to differentiate biological males and females is XY vs XX. The genes on the other chromosomes (note spelling) are no different, just their expression.

Eve was always female from the beginning of her creation, while a transgender is someone who is deluded that the body they were born with is the wrong sex. (While gays and lesbians now insist “I was born this way and can’t change”, transgenders insist “I was born this way and must change.”).

The rib regrowing point was amply explained: Adam didn’t need to spend his life with a missing rib.
Norman P.
In these days of rampant gender confusion, this is a timely encouragement. How good it is to reflect on the beauty and wisdom of the ways of God—and the fact that science occasionally catches up with the Bible!
Andy T.
Excellent article—spot on. Keep up the good word of God’s Kingdom, in Christ, for the Gospel’s sake.
Joe S.
Did God make the woman on day 6?

Thanks for all you do!
Jonathan Sarfati
Certainly. See Genesis 1:27.
Robin P.
Hi, yes I have a question. I’ve wandered about the 6th day of creation. It says that on the 6th day God made men and women, He created them. Sounds to me like he made a few or even a lot of men and women. Then we read on about the creation of Adom and Eve, a very special family that God had big plans for. Why isn’t that a possibility? Adam and Eve’s children would then find mates other than siblings. I’m told that incest was not in issue back then but couldn’t God have created other men and women? Was this ever considered and taught? I know your going to say no, Eve is the mother of all living. But I find it interesting how the Bible say God made men and women on the 6th day.
Jonathan Sarfati
The answer lies in understanding that common literary style in the Ancient Near East was recapitulation. The author would first introduce the material with a summary of the whole, then follow it up with a more detailed account of the most important matters. Thus Genesis 1:1–2:3 is a summary outline of the whole creation, in chronological order. This culminates with man being created in God’s image and given dominion over creation. Genesis 2:5–25 focuses in on the creation of man and woman, expands on their order of creation and their marriage, how man’s authority over creation was emphasized with the naming of the animals, and preparation of their home and occupation. In particular, Genesis 1 summarizes that humans (not “men and women”) were created male and female, both in God’s image and likeness, and both were given dominion. Genesis 2 specifies that there was only one male and one female.

Jesus understood this literary style when teaching on marriage: he combined verses from both Genesis 1 and 2. This shows that He understood them both to be talking about the same one man and one woman.

Indeed, brother-sister intermarriage was not a problem back then. Why be so judgmental when God Himself had not yet declared this to be wrong (hence it was not a sin of ‘incest’), and He doesn’t make ex post facto law? We have amply explained why it was not a problem on both moral and biological grounds, for example in Who was Cain’s wife? We have also explained the serious problems with postulating other humans before or alongside Adam and Eve in Pre-Adamic man: were there human beings on Earth before Adam? We have even shown how Adam and Eve could have been the ancestors of all other humans, e.g. What were Adam’s and Eve’s blood types?
Mark Z.
We can apply the teaching of the woman caught in the act of adultery to what Philippus has said about the evolutionist. The evolutionist and the believer are both victim of what sin does. One can believe in drawing a line in the sand, that they have done something against us with what they do. But to believe in Jesus is to stand with him, and he is for them. Love for the other protects, and those with the Spirit know this truth.
David J.
Here are what some sources say on rib regeneration.

“Forty-two pieces of rib, with an average length of 13 cm were used for reconstruction … All patients had complete regeneration of the donor rib.” (1)

“the missing pieces of ribs regenerate from the intact periosteum, but the ribs rarely return to their original form” (2)

“the missing pieces of ribs regenerate from the intact periosteum, although imperfectly” (3)

In the study on scoliosis patients, for the check up after 2 years, 6/21 ribs had their regeneration classified as 7/7 (highest score). (4)


  1. Munro, I.R., Guyuron, B., Split-rib cranioplasty, Ann. Plast. Surg. 7(5):341–6., Nov 1981 | PMID: 7332200.

  2. Keith L. Moore and Arthur F. Dalley, Clinically Oriented Anatomy, p. 64., 4th Edn, Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 1999.

  3. Same as (3), but 6th edition, 2010, p. 83.

  4. Philip, S.J., Kumar, R., Menon, V., Morphological study of rib regeneration following costectomy in adolescent idiopathic scoliosis, European Spine Journal 14(8):772–6, Nov 2005, Table 1 | doi:10.1007/s00586-005-0949-8

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