One of the major issues in understanding the Genesis account is the issue of Bible ages and time. Any attempt to bring the biblical account in line with the scientific evidence has to deal with the time when creation occurred and when God created humans. A careful study of the Hebrew words used in Genesis 1 makes it clear that being dogmatic about Bible ages and time creates a conflict with the evidence and is not taking the original language literally.
One of our readers pointed out that we need to recognize that there are three different ages to consider. They are (1) The age of the universe, (2) The age of man, and (3) The age of civilization. We have often pointed out that the Bible does not tell us the universe’s age. That’s because Genesis 1:1, which deals with the creation of time, space, and matter-energy, is undated and untimed.
When considering Bible ages and time, are the ages of humans and civilization the same? The biblical answer is apparently “no.” Genesis 1 and 2 describe the creation of Adam and Eve and the animals people were familiar with. Genesis 2:8-9 tells us God planted a garden and made the trees grow. In verse 15, the man is assigned the task of dressing and keeping the garden. It would be logical to assume the planted garden grew, and Adam had to take care of it as it grew. Unfortunately, the Bible doesn’t tell us how long that was.
In Genesis 4, Cain and Abel are born in another time period as they raise crops and livestock. When Cain kills Abel, God places a curse on him. Cain says, “…I will be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth and everyone who finds me will slay me” (Genesis 2:14). There must have been other humans around, or that statement is meaningless. In verse 17, Cain builds a city, but you can’t have a city without a population. In Genesis 2:20-22, we read about the first formation of musical instruments and the smelting and working of copper, brass, and iron. These are items of civilization, and they are all undated and untimed.
Conflicts of Bible ages and times are resolved if we assume that Adam and Eve may not be the first humans God created. It appears that either humans were born in the Garden of Eden or God created them at an earlier time and place. Cain got his wife from those individuals, and they are the ones who would have been a threat to Cain. This also resolves the issues connected with the remains found of humans going back long before Adam and Eve. The age of civilization may be in the 6,000 to 10,000-year time frame, but the age of the cosmos certainly is not.
— John N. Clayton © 2022