There are difficulties regarding the scientific or logical validity of certain events that are recorded in the biblical book of Genesis, subsequent to the story of creation. This article will address the following such difficulties:
- Where did Cain get his wife?
- Did early humans really live hundreds of years?
- Is the story of Noah’s ark credible?
Where Did Cain Get His Wife?
Genesis 4:17 informs us that Cain had a wife, but there is no prior mention in Genesis of any woman, other than Eve, living at that time. This leads to the question as to the origin of Cain’s wife.
On page 143 of his book entitled Is the Bible True?, Allen Bowman, Ph.D., says in response, “[T]he answer is from among the unnamed descendants of Adam. Not until the genealogy in Chapter 5 is set forth is mention made of any female progeny at all – but from this brief reference we know that such existed. . . .”
Norman Geisler, Ph.D., and Thomas Howe, M.A., have a similar response. On page 37 of their book entitled When Critics Ask, they state,
Cain married his sister (or possibly a niece). The Bible says Adam “begot sons and daughters” (Gen. 5:5). . . . Cain could have married one of his many sisters, or even a niece, if he married after his brothers or sisters had grown daughters. In that case, of course, one of his brothers would have married a sister, which was not forbidden until much later. . . .
Gleason L. Archer provides some additional perspective regarding this situation. On page 77 of his book entitled Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, he says,
Without question it was necessary for the generation following Adam to pair off brothers and sisters to serve as parents for the ensuing generation; otherwise the human race would have died off. It was not until the course of subsequent generations that it became possible for cousins and more distant relations to choose each other as marriage partners.
Did Early Humans Really Live Hundreds of Years?
According to Genesis 5, there were a number of men who lived at least 900 years. Today, however, even with modern medicine, people don’t live to even 120. This raises the question as to the validity of the ages indicated in the fifth chapter of Genesis.
On page 77 of his previously-cited book, Archer indicates that some people believe that time may have been calculated differently during the early history of humans. But, he notes that “this could only have been the case if the planet Earth revolved more rapidly around the sun then than it does now. (Note that, by definition, a year is reckoned as the time necessary for the earth to revolve around the sun.) So, is there evidence that the earth’s rotation around the sun has slowed considerably since the first humans inhabited the earth?
Consider the following. In order to try to reconcile the ages to which a number of the earliest modern human beings lived according to chapter five of Genesis (777 to 969) to the ages of relatively long-lived people in our country today (roughly, 78 to 97), the earth would have had to revolve around the sun an average of approximately ten times as fast as it does currently. In other words, the earth’s revolution around the sun would have needed to take only about one-tenth of the time that it takes now. It is inconceivable that such a tremendous slowdown could have occurred since the time when modern human beings first appeared on the earth.
Furthermore, it is estimated that, as far back as can be determined, the earth’s revolution around the sun has been slowing each year by only about three nanometers-per-second from the year before. (A nanometer is equal to one billionth of a meter.) Therefore, it would take almost 32 years for the earth to slow by just one meter (i.e., slightly less than 3.3 feet). During the last 100,000 years, which is far longer than the first homo sapiens (“modern” human beings) are believed to have appeared on the earth, our planet has slowed by the amount of time that it currently takes to cover less than two miles of the 584 million miles necessary to completely circle the sun. Expressed in terms of time instead of distance, the slowing would have been an infinitesimal one three-millionth of the time necessary to complete the revolution cycle. Thus, the time necessary for the earth to revolve completely around the sun has hardly changed since modern human beings first inhabited our planet.
Another explanation regarding the extraordinarily long lives of early humans is discussed by Geisler and Howe on pages 39-40 of their aforementioned book. They state that some people believe the names that are mentioned “represent family lines or clans that went on for generations before they died out.” However, for the following reasons, Geisler and Howe do not think this explanation makes sense:
First, some of these names (e.g., Adam, Seth, Enoch, Noah) are definitely individuals whose lives are narrated in the text. . . . Second, family lines do not “beget” family lines by different names. Third, neither do family lines “die,” as each of these individuals did. . . . Fourth, the reference to having “sons and daughters” . . . does not fit the clan theory.
Furthermore, on page 40 of the same book, Geisler and Howe mention a couple of other important relevant considerations. They note that, in Genesis 6:3, God shortened the lifespan of humans to 120 years as a punishment, which indicates that humans lived significantly longer before then. They also assert, “The Bible is not alone in speaking of hundreds of years life spans among ancients. There are also records from ancient Greek and Egyptian times that speak of humans living hundreds of years.”
So, what is the most likely explanation regarding the extremely long life spans of the early humans? On page 77 of his previously-mentioned book, Archer says,
At the time Adam and Eve were created, they were in an ideal environment for the preservation of human life. The Garden of Eden was ideally suited to maintaining their health and vigor unimpaired. Even after they were expelled from Eden, it would seem that conditions for longevity were still far more favorable than they later became after the Flood; and there may well have been a virtual absence of disease. When these conditions gradually changed for the worse, . . . the life expectancy of man became progressively shorter.
Is the Story of Noah’s Ark Credible?
There does not seem to be a clear consensus among geologists as to whether or not there has been a worldwide flood such as described in the biblical book of Genesis. Archer says on page 82 of his previously-cited book, “The question of geological evidence is very much debated by geologists, according to the position they take toward the validity of the biblical record.”
However, Jesus Christ certainly seems to have regarded the Flood as an actual event. Archer states on page 21 of his same book,
Jesus . . . clearly affirmed that “as in those days that were before the Flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they did not know it until the flood came and took them all away, so shall the coming . . . of the Son of Man be” [Matthew 24:38-39]. . . . He must therefore have regarded the Flood as literal history, just as it was recorded in Genesis.
But, even if the Flood did occur, how could Noah’s ark possibly hold so many animals? On pages 41-42 of their aforementioned book, Geisler and Howe note, “Noah was told to take two of every kind of unclean animal and seven of every kind of clean animal. . . . But scientists inform us that there are between one half a billion to over a billion species of animals.” [Note: Several translations of the Bible indicate that Noah was told to take seven pairs (i.e., males and females) of every clean animal – a total of 14 of every clean animal.]
Subsequently, on page 42 of their same book, Geisler and Howe offer the following three possible solutions to this apparent problem:
[T]he modern concept of “species” is not the same as a “kind” in the Bible. There are probably only several hundred different “kinds” of land animals that would have to be taken into the ark. The sea animals stayed in the sea, and many species could have survived in egg form. Second, the ark was not small; it was a huge structure – the size of a modern ocean liner. Furthermore, it had three stories . . . which tripled its space to a total of over 1.5 million cubic feet!
Noah could have taken younger or smaller varieties of some larger animals. Given all these factors, there was plenty of room for all the animals, food for the trip, and the eight humans aboard.
Archer expresses the belief that the capacity of the ark may have been more than twice as much as the estimate by Geisler and Howe. On page 84 of his previously-cited book, Archer indicates that, depending on the actual length of the cubits used to measure the size of the ark, the ark may have had a capacity of 3.6 million cubic feet, which Archer says is equivalent to about 2,000 cattle cars. And, our own calculations indicate that the capacity of the ark may have been even greater.
Furthermore, most of the smaller animals could have been kept in cages stacked on top of other such cages. Likewise, food, jugs of water, and other supplies could have been stacked in bins on top of other bins. In addition, water could have been replenished by collecting rain in barrels and/or possibly in one or more cisterns.
As for the time needed to feed all of the animals, most of the animals could have been fed using a device that stored enough food for several days in its upper part and gradually released that food as the animals ate the food that came out at the bottom of the device. Therefore, it would not have been necessary for Noah’s family members to put out more food for every animal each day (i.e., they could have followed a rotation schedule for replenishing the food in those devices).
Although one or more of the foregoing perspectives may not provide an incontrovertible explanation regarding the particular matter it is addressing, we believe that the explanations that are mentioned in this article are plausible and, therefore, they should be given serious consideration.