Five things you may not know about Adam
Adam is one of the best-known people in the Bible. Despite this, most people only know a few basic facts about him. His connection to every person on the planet, and therefore our need for the Gospel, is outlined below, as are five things about Adam you may not have known before.
1. ‘Adam’ is grounded in Hebrew
The word Adam can mean a number of things in Hebrew: mankind, man, and a personal name. For example, “Let us make man in our image” (Genesis 1:26) uses the word ‘āḏām (אדם) to mean ‘mankind’ (see also Genesis 5:2). This includes men as well as women, who are both made in God’s image. Later, in Genesis 2:7 we read more specifically about the creation of the first man. In this verse, ‘āḏām is preceded by the definite article hā (ה), akin to the English word ‘the’. This man was formed of the dust of the ground. The Hebrew word for ground is ‘ăḏāmâ (אדמה). So, we learn of the man (hā’āḏām) Adam (‘āḏām), made from the ground (‘ăḏāmâ), who is the first of mankind (‘āḏām). Not only do we see God inspiring some play on words, we also think there can be no “better name for the progenitor of all humanity” than Adam.1
2. Dust of the ground
The Bible records that Adam was specifically made from the dust of the ground before God breathed life into him (Genesis 2:7). The Hebrew word for dust is ʿāp̄ār (עפר, pronounced ‘afar’), which conveys the concept of dry earth. Now, Moses didn’t know about the material composition of the human body, or what elements were. Yet, he specifically recorded this detail when compiling the book of Genesis around 3,500 years ago. Today we are able to identify the elements that make up the human body, which can all be found in the dust of the ground. When we die and decompose, we do exactly what the Bible teaches: our bodies return to dust (Genesis 3:19).
Of course, just like baking a designer cake, the right ingredients must not only be present at the right time and in the right quantities, but they also need to be put together with purposeful design and complex organization. It is because God has done this and given mankind reason, intelligence, and consciousness that we have the ability to communicate, to love, perform complex mathematics, to produce beautiful artwork, and to play musical instruments brilliantly. Dust can do none of this, no matter how long you leave it. What we observe of humanity fits the biblical account of creation far better than Darwin’s theory.
3. Men and women: same number of ribs
Adam didn’t have to spend long in the Garden of Eden on his own. God created for Adam a wife, called Eve. God chose not to create her from the dust of the earth, but rather, from one of Adam’s ribs (Genesis 2:22). Some Bible skeptics have falsely claimed that if this were true, it would mean that “women have one more rib than men”.2 As a result, sometimes they think ‘gotcha’ when they confidently exclaim that men don’t have one rib less than women. Men have exactly the same number of ribs as women—12 pairs.
This is a strawman argument, however, because the Bible never actually claims such a thing. Nor would a difference in male rib numbers even be expected as a consequence of God’s procedure on Adam. If somebody loses a finger, for instance, during an accident, that does not mean that any of their children will be born with one less finger.
This is because the number of fingers, or ribs, is genetically determined in the chromosomes (DNA) passed on from generation to generation. With his wife Eve, Adam fathered the world’s first generation of naturally born children, from whom we all descended. Even if Adam had been missing a rib all his life, all of his children would have inherited the DNA information (program) coding for the same number of ribs with which he started life—24.
In any case, though, Adam would have only been missing a rib for a few months. Did you know that the rib is the only bone in the human body that will regularly grow back once removed, providing it is removed carefully? There is a thin membrane around the bone, suitably named periosteum,3 that enables regeneration of the bone. If this membrane is not damaged, the rib usually grows back promptly.4
4. Y-chromosome Adam
The human genome comprises 23 pairs of chromosomes that contain genetic information; one set from each parent. One of these 23 pairs is made up of the sex chromosomes: XX for female and XY for male. Men inherit the Y chromosome from their biological father.
Mutations occur to the genome and such changes can be passed on to the next generation when they happen in gametes (sex cells). These are effectively copying mistakes during reproduction of the DNA information. Despite evolution’s claim that mutations have generated the massive amount of genetic information needed to turn amebas into avocadoes, aardvarks, and astrophysicists, mutations are mostly neutral (of no noticeable effect) and sometimes harmful—over 6,000 Mendelian (genetic, inherited) diseases are recognized. We, like all creatures, are not evolving to become better. Rather, we are devolving and getting worse. On average, around 60 new mutations are added with each generation, causing an increasing genetic load/burden.5
Scientists who have examined mutations in the Y chromosome of men from around the world have discovered that all men alive today can be traced back to a single male ancestor. They have even named him ‘Y-chromosome Adam’. Evolutionists will of course always seek to interpret this within a long-age setting, stating that while a number of males lived at the same time as Y-chromosome Adam, only his Y chromosome lineage survived. However, this finding of a single Y chromosome ancestor was not expected or predicted from the outset by evolutionary theoreticians. And it is wholly consistent with the Genesis account. (Actually, the closest common ancestor to all Y chromosomes existing today must be Noah. The only human Y chromosomes that survived the Flood were Noah’s and those of his three sons, who inherited Noah’s.)
5. A man of firsts
Paul explicitly calls Adam “the first man” (1 Corinthians 15:45). This rules out claims that a population of humans evolved from a population of ape-like ancestors. Adam was also the first husband, father, worker, and many other things. He was also the first man to disobey the Creator, and then the first to try and deny his guilt. He was thus also implicitly denying his need for a saviour, as have multitudes who have come after him.
This sin brought death into the world as judgment for his action. Indeed, the whole creation was cursed as a result. The Bible records that God came to speak with Adam in the cool of the day (Genesis 3:8). It was then that Adam failed to take responsibility for his action, and was quick to blame Eve for what he had done.
In doing so, he denied any culpability and the need for it to be corrected. It is through this original sin that all Adam’s descendants inherit a sinful nature. The Bible makes clear that, “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). How can we deal with this sin, and is there any hope beyond death?
Read the rest of the verse: “the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”. This summarizes the previous chapter (Romans 5), a detailed contrast between two heads of humanity: Adam who brought sin and death, versus Jesus who brought righteousness and life. God did provide Adam hope in Genesis 3:15, where He begins to outline that a Saviour was to come. Jesus is referred to as “the last Adam [who] became a life-giving spirit” (1 Corinthians 15:45). He came to crush the head of the serpent and take away sin. He died as the perfect—sinless—sacrifice for the trespasses we have committed. When we are in Jesus, we are safe. When we die and stand before God at the Judgment, He won’t see a sinful descendant of Adam, but rather a “new creation” in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).
First Adam or last Adam?
While there are many other topics about Adam that could be covered, the real issue is: which Adam has dominion over your life? The sinful nature passed on through the first, or the new life offered by the last?
Adam ancestor to all—no room for racism
Racism has been around for a long time, but with so much information at our fingertips (Internet, TV, etc.) it seems a hotter topic today than ever before.
If only people would read, understand, believe, and apply the Bible! We know from Genesis (1:28; 3:20) that we can all trace our origins back to one man and one woman. This is also clearly taught in the New Testament (e.g. Acts 17:26). The conclusion is straightforward: we are all one big human family. They say variety is the spice of life and it seems God likes variety; we don’t all look exactly the same.6 However, when you look at it genetically, we are all very similar to each other. Any two people in the world differ by only 0.2% in our genes, and only 6% of that difference (0.012%) concerns ‘racial’ characteristics.7 These (natural) twins remind us of our close relatedness (creation.com/two-tone-twins).
References and notes
- Sarfati, J., The Genesis Account, Creation Book Publishers, Powder Springs, GA, USA, p. 249, 2015. Return to text.
- Syed, M., Black box thinking, John Murray Press, London, p. 298, 2015. Return to text.
- Periosteum means ‘around the bone’. Return to text.
- Wieland, C., Regenerating ribs: Adam and that ‘missing’ rib, Creation 21(4):46–47, September 1999; creation.com/rib. Return to text.
- Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, We are all mutants: First direct whole-genome measure of human mutation predicts 60 new mutations in each of us, sciencedaily.com, Jun 13, 2011. Return to text.
- 1 Samuel 16:7 states, “For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart”. Return to text.
- Batten, D., (Ed.), The Creation Answers Book, Creation Book Publishers, Powder Springs, GA, USA, pp. 221–238, 2006; creation.com/cab18. Return to text.