The Age of Adam

By Bob Lowry

How can we know Adam's age? How long was he in the Garden of Eden? Understanding Adam's age and how it is determined are essential for Christians to defend the truth of the Bible in these times dominated by evolutionistic thinking.

The short answer to the question is in Genesis 5:3-5. Verse 3 says, "And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, and after his image; and called his name Seth." So there is 130 years. Verse 4 says, "And the days of Adam after he had begotten Seth were eight hundred years..." There is another 800 years, for a total of 130 + 800 = 930 years that Adam lived. Verse 5 confirms this: "And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died." So Adam lived to be 930 years old.

Or did he? This age for Adam is based on the use of a chronogenealogical approach to the genealogies in Genesis chapters 5 and 11, allowing for no time gaps in the genealogies of the patriarchs. When these genealogies are read in a straightforward manner, and the ages of the successive generations of Adam's descendants are calculated arithmetically, they indicate that God created Adam very near 4000 BC.

But there is another "take" on Adam's age. Some young earth creationists believe that the Bible does have time gaps in those genealogies which, while not violating rigorous Biblical interpretive rules, indicate a creation date of Adam back to around 10,000 BC. This is called the non-chronogenealogical approach. Assuming Adam was created on the sixth day of creation, per Genesis 1:26-27, and assuming his 930 years of Genesis 5:5 refer only to the time from Adam (and Eve's) removal from the Garden, this approach would make Adam's age more uncertain, and much older, by about 4,000 additional years.
Opinions about creation aren't a salvation issue and shouldn't divide Christians. tweet
For a detailed discussion (beyond the scope of this answer) of these two approaches to Adam's age, look at an Answers in Genesis article "Creation Date of Adam from the Perspective of Young-Earth Creationism". It is a lengthy and scholarly article, but it discusses in detail the strengths and weaknesses of both the chronogenealogical and the non-chronogenealogical views. If you take the time to study the article, you will understand the differences in views of the earth being about 6000 years old versus being about 10,000 years old. You will also understand, from a sound Biblical perspective, why the earth cannot be millions or billions of years old, since neither the chronogenealogical nor the non-chronogenealogical view allows for an age of the earth of more than about 10,000 years old, and certainly not millions or billions of years old.

Which of the two views is correct? There is an admittedly non-Scriptural scientific principle called Occam's razor, which states: "Among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected." In other words, the simplest explanation of something is often the best explanation. If you study the referenced article, you find that the non-chronogenealogical view requires more assumptions and more interpretational "gymnastics," even though Biblically defensible, than the chronogenealogical view. So, this writer's opinion is that (1) Adam was created as an adult in the prime of life (not as a baby) of perhaps 30 years of age, (2) the fall of Adam and Eve and their removal from the garden occurred shortly after creation, (3) that Adam's lifespan was 930 years, as Genesis 5:5 states, and that (4) God created the earth a little over 6000 years ago.

Christians can debate and discuss these two views. But two things are important, (1) individuals' opinions of which view is correct need not divide Christians, as this is not a fundamental matter of salvation, and (2) regardless of which opinion is correct, an important understanding from Genesis chapters 5 and 11 is the counter-argument to evolutionary "millions of years" thinking. We definitely occupy a "young" earth.

Image Credit: A.Currell; "Bolton Hill Garden Tour June 12 2011 "; Creative Commons

TagsBiblical-Truth  |  Controversial-Issues  |  Science-Creation

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Published 7-10-17