Revised and adapted from Creation 13, no 4 (September 1991): 28-31.
From reading Genesis, and armed with a basic knowledge of genetics, we can learn a lot about what Adam was probably like.
Did Adam have black hair, brown skin, and brown eyes? Was he six feet eleven inches tall? These are questions we cannot answer for sure because we were not there to see Adam. However, from reading Genesis, and armed with a basic knowledge of genetics, we can learn a lot about what Adam was probably like.
But, how much detail can we go into concerning this man? Did he have a navel (belly button), for instance? It is a question I have often been asked. Your navel is really a scar formed from the attachment via the umbilical cord to your mother. After birth, the cord was cut, and where it was attached to your body, it shrivelled up and formed a scar known as your belly button.
Now think about Adam. Was he born in the same way you or I were? He certainly was not. He was made directly by God from the dust of the earth. In Genesis 2:7 we read,
Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.
Adam was not born of a woman. He was the first human. In 1 Corinthians 15:45, we read, “Thus it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being.’” Adam was the first man. This is an important point by the way—there were no other human beings made alongside Adam, as Adam discovered when he named animal kinds.
If Adam was not born of a woman, he would not have had an umbilical cord, thus no scar, and thus presumably not a navel. Now consider Genesis 2:21–23,
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 3:20 states: “The man called his wife's name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.” The first woman (the first wife) was made directly from part of Adam. She was not born of a woman either. Adam and Eve were unique. It would seem neither of them would have had a navel. When you think about it, that would have been a tremendous witness to everyone who saw them while they were alive.1
I have often had people ask me, after reading the passage about the creation of woman, why men don’t have one fewer rib than women if God made Eve from Adam’s side (or rib). The way I answer this is: If a man had an accident and his leg was amputated as a result, and then he married and had children, would all his children have only one leg?
When God took part of Adam to make Eve, he didn’t change Adam’s genes.
Of course not! This is because the instructions for how we are constructed are contained in the DNA in the nucleus of our cells—in our genes. When God took part of Adam to make Eve, he didn’t change Adam’s genes. All the information in Adam’s genes was still there. And of all the bones in the human body, the ribs are the only ones that can regenerate (grow back) if the sheath of tissue (periosteum) is left when the bone is removed. So Adam may not even have had one fewer rib than Eve for very long.
Eve was made specially for Adam. This was the first marriage. That is why Jesus in Matthew 19:4–6 reminded people that the meaning of marriage is dependent on the origin of marriage—and the first marriage is in Genesis:
He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
In Genesis 2:15, we read, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” Adam, the first man, was told to work and to look after the garden God had made. This would not have been a chore. This would have been a joy for Adam. This was a perfect garden. There were no thorns and thistles, as these did not come until after God had cursed the earth. And because everything God had made was “very good” (Genesis 1:31), Adam, the plants, the garden, and, in fact, everything would have been perfect.
How different this is to today’s world. Looking after gardens and farming is very different and difficult today!
In Genesis 2:19–20, we are told that Adam named many of the animals.
Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field.
Man has always given names to things. Scientists who give names to the different animals and plants are called taxonomists. Anyone who studies taxonomy knows how hard it is to remember any of those names. Adam would not have had this problem because he was made perfect—he would have been as intelligent as a man could ever be. Plus, he probably didn’t have to name that many animals, only flying creatures and land animals, only created kinds (about the current classification level of Family) that God brought to him and not species.
By the way, to name the animals, Adam must have been able to speak. He must have had a complex language right from the start. He did not even have to learn to speak as we have to (though God created us with the capacity for language). He was made as a mature human being.
How different it was for Adam. He awoke after his creation, a conscious being, fully formed, able to communicate and understand. Have you ever thought about the fact that Adam did not see God make him? The evidence that God created was all around Adam though. Adam did not even see God make Eve. This means Adam had to have faith in God’s Word concerning where he came from, just as we have to have faith today. But just like Adam, we have plenty of evidence that God created just the way his Word states.
Some people think that because Adam had to name those animal kinds God brought to him on day six of creation, this could not have been an ordinary day. They think it must have been a long period of time. I am often told that there is no way someone could name all of those kinds in one day. However, people who say this usually think that because they couldn’t name and remember all the names, Adam could not have either.
The Bible, though, tells us that the first man, Adam, rebelled against God and sin came into the world. Ever since, the creation has been running down. Not only are there no perfect humans in the world now, but all humans have lots of mistakes on their genes (mutational defects or copying mistakes that slowly accumulate in the human race).
The first man had no mistakes when he was made—he was perfect.
The first man had no mistakes when he was made—he was perfect. I think we can get a glimpse (looking through a glass dimly, so to speak) of what Adam was like by observing certain people today. I have met people who have photographic memories, others who are brilliant artists. I have read about people who can play musical instruments brilliantly from a very young age, such as Mozart. Others can do extremely complex mathematical computations in their head, which even advanced computers must be programmed to do. If we put all these talents, plus much more, into one person, I think we are getting close to what Adam was like. It almost makes you feel depressed, doesn’t it?
We have to realize that Adam was so much more intelligent than we are.
We can’t say for sure, but I suspect Adam had a middle-brown skin shade. All humans have the same basic skin color, just different shades, because of a brownish pigment called melanin. To put it simplistically, if we have a lot of this pigment, we are a very dark shade. If we don’t have much of this pigment, we are a very light shade.
In The New Answers Book 1, it is explained that from two people having the right mix of dominant and recessive genes for the amount of melanin, all shades of brown in humans could arise. Thus, if Adam and Eve were both a middle-brown shade, all shades from dark through to light could be accounted for in their children and future generations. For the same reason, Adam and Eve probably had brown eyes and dark hair.
In a similar sort of way, if Adam had blood group A, and Eve had blood group B, all the ABO blood groups (A, AB, B, O) could arise.
Genesis 5:4 tells us that Adam and Eve had many sons and daughters. Jewish tradition has it that they had 56 children altogether! Remember, Adam lived for 930 years (Genesis 5:5). If Adam and Eve were the first humans, and all people have descended from them (Acts 17:26, “And he made from one man every nation of mankind. . .”), then originally brothers had to marry sisters. (This is also explained in detail in The New Answers Book 1.)
In Genesis 2:17, Adam was told he could not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Therefore, if Adam, being the head of the human race, disobeyed, all of his descendants would have to suffer the consequences.
Adam is the one who brought sin into the world, because he was the head of the human race and the one to whom the commandment had first been given.
Even though Eve was the one tempted by the serpent, and the one who first ate the forbidden fruit, Adam is the one who brought sin into the world, because he was the head of the human race and the one to whom the commandment had first been given.
Romans 5:12 states: “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.” Because of this sin of rebelling against God’s law, God cursed the ground (Genesis 3:17), caused thorns and thistles to come forth (Genesis 3:18), and introduced death into the world—Adam and Eve died spiritually and started to die physically.
The first physical death recorded is that of at least one animal when “the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them” (Genesis 3:21). It appears from the text that God killed an animal, shedding its blood, and gave a covering to Adam and Eve. This is a beautiful picture of something special to come—that shed blood would be a covering for sin.
Hebrews 9:22 states that “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” God requires the shedding of blood for the remission of sins. However, the blood of bulls and goats was not good enough. Because a man brought sin into the world, a man needed to atone—but it had to be a perfect man. If all descendants of Adam now suffered from sin, how could this be accomplished?
God provided a second Adam—a perfect Adam who could be the perfect sacrifice. God himself came to earth as a man. Jesus Christ, the second member of the Trinity, was born of a woman to become a man so that the perfect sacrifice could be made. Jesus was God, but he was also man as God intended man to be—sinless. He was crucified on the cross of Calvary. He shed his blood and paid the penalty for our sins, and was raised from the dead, conquering death, the judgment which God had brought upon man because of sin.
That is why Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:20–22:
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.
We read further in 1 Corinthians 15:45–47:
Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. . .The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven.
First Corinthians 15:26 states: “The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” And “death is swallowed up in victory,” Paul says. And we can say with him, “Oh death, where is your victory? Oh death, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55). Christ has paid the penalty. The last Adam has conquered death and provided a means of deliverance from the first Adam’s fall into sin, resulting in separation from God.
This is the message of the gospel. But isn’t it sad that those Christians who accept evolutionary ideas are really undermining this message? Paul tells us in Romans 8:22 that the whole creation is groaning because of sin, awaiting the time that all things will be renewed. The death and the suffering we see in the world today resulted from the first Adam’s actions.
Evolution stops people from understanding the meaning of the first and last Adam.
However, if evolution were true, and if the world today were an evolving world in which death and suffering have been God’s way of doing things, then why did the last Adam need to come and die? What is this world going to be restored to? What were the consequences of the first Adam’s actions?
Evolution undermines the gospel message. Evolution undermines any understanding of what Jesus did on the cross. Evolution stops people from understanding the meaning of the first and last Adam. When we take Genesis literally and understand about the first man Adam, we then understand what the rest of the Bible is all about.