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Human Origins And The Bible: Solving the Genesis Population Problem


Most traditional evangelical Christians believe that Adam and Eve were the first (and at one point, the ONLY) human beings in existence in the relatively recent past. I count myself among them. I don’t “believe in” theistic evolution, and I also don’t “believe in” evolution in general. While things obviously evolve, any use of “evolution” to explain how human beings came to populate the Earth seem both contrary to scripture and quite ridiculous when you really think about it.

However, there are Christians who take a very evolutionary view of things, including Christians. They accept the general framework of evolution, and they try to match the Bible to fit that framework. One of the reasons they do so is that the traditional evangelical explanation of Adam and Eve doesn’t seem to work with the world that we can observe with our own eyes.

In this post, I would like to explore the beliefs of those that I disagree with on the “theistic evolution” spectrum of Christian belief. Then, I want to present a serious problem from the text of scripture about the traditional evangelical Christian view about Adam and Eve, which is my camp of belief) that I call the “Genesis Population Problem. Then, I try to solve the problem, not by throwing doubt on anything you read in the Bible, but by pointing to the strange things that are in the Bible and discussed by the church fathers. And yes, that involves some very strange supernatural explanations of human origins. Finally, as an addendum for Christian readers, I try to answer some of the theological questions this my belief can raise.

As such, this post comes in four parts:

  1. The Spectrum of Theistic Evolutionists
  2. The Genesis Population Problem
  3. The Strange Supernatural Biblical Solution to the Genesis Population Problem
  4. What Are the Limits of This Idea?

However, before I start down that path, I need to talk about the evolutionary side of things, or those who accept a middle ground between a “creationist” view and an “evolutionist” view.

1. The Spectrum of Theistic Evolutionists

Most Christians know what an evolutionary view of the Bible is. But we might as well cover it to be thorough. For the best example of a theistic evolutionist position, I will go to the organization Biologos.

Biologos’s statements about Genesis and Evolution

Biologos is an organization that is dedicated to fostering dialogue between the scientific community and the Christian Community. In explaining their views, they In explaining evolutionary creation, they describe it in this way:

1. We believe the Bible is the inspired and authoritative word of God. By the Holy Spirit it is the “living and active” means through which God speaks to the church today, bearing witness to God’s Son, Jesus, as the divine Logos, or Word of God.

2. We believe that God also reveals himself in and through the natural world he created, which displays his glory, eternal power, and divine nature. Properly interpreted, Scripture and nature are complementary and faithful witnesses to their common Author.

Therefore, when it comes to the idea of creation and evolution mixing, they state the following:

9. We believe that the diversity and interrelation of all life on earth are best explained by the God-ordained process of evolution with common descent. Thus, evolution is not in opposition to God, but a means by which God providentially achieves his purposes. Therefore, we reject ideologies that claim that evolution is a purposeless process or that evolution replaces God.

That’s pretty much the textbook “theistic evolution” position. Here is the way they describe this “evolutionary creationism” and “evolutionary creationists”:

ECs accept evolution as the best scientific explanation we have for how life on Earth has changed over time. In biology, evolution refers to “descent with modification,” which includes the idea that all species are descended from a common ancestor over many generations. We therefore accept the scientific evidence that all life on Earth is related, including humans—which does not negate the image of God in us.

EC is neither science nor theology, but an explanatory system that seeks to incorporate the best scholarship from each. It also includes some ideas about how theology and science relate to one another.

In explaining how this interacts with Adam and Eve, Biologos says this:

In a common traditional view, Adam and Eve were created de novo—they were created by God as fully formed humans (Homo sapiens), roughly 6,000 to 10,000 years ago. God made them quickly and completely as fully formed humans with no biological ancestors. In this traditional de novo view, Adam and Eve are “sole progenitors”: they were the first two humans, and they alone gave rise to all other humans. The Genesis account is taken to be a record of real events similar to the way a journalist would record them today.

However, some features in the biblical text suggest that there are other layers of meaning that this traditional view does not account for. Genesis 4 refers to other people (in cities, Cain’s wife) who do not seem to be descended from Adam and Eve. And some elements of Genesis 2-3 indicate that at least on some level, the text is describing Adam and Eve as archetypal figures—statements about all of us.

In other words, Adam and Eve are “archetypal figures.” That is a highly-technical and philosophical way to say that they were not REAL people. For the record, it is possible for Adam and Eve to be “archetypal figures” AND real human beings (and that’s somewhat close to what I believe), but being an “archetypal figure” is not the same thing as being a real human being.

Instead, Biologos seems to believe that Adam and Eve” in the Bible are REPRESENTATIVE CHARACTERS, standing in for “all of us.” The problem I see with this position is that it seems to directly conflict with the basic facts presented in the Bible. Adam is always presented as a real human being, and not a representative or symbolic human being.

But the real problem with an evolutionary framework comes in Paul’s explanation of the creation of mankind in Acts 17:

The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him.

(Acts 17:24-27)

No matter how much you say “it’s poetry” about Genesis, it is hard to get around that sentence that Paul makes about the creation of mankind from “one man,” who would be Adam. So… …theistic evolution has some serious problems in my book.

The Joshua Swamidass Middle Ground

Someone who has what I call a middle ground is a man named Joshua Swamidass. If you want to know about his background of belief, you can see him discuss it here in this YouTube appearance, along with many other times he has discussed his ideas online.

He recently wrote a book that I would call a middle ground between theistic evolution and traditional evangelical thought on Adam and Eve. The book is called “The Genealogical Adam and Eve: The Surprising Science of Universal Ancestry.” In short, it claims that the Bible is not concerned with Adam and Eve being the sole GENETIC ancestor of everyone on earth. Instead, he says that the Bible is concerned that EVERYONE has Adam and Eve as a GENEALOGICAL ancestor of Adam and Eve. And he has a very good point about how many modern scholars are importing “genetic” ideas into the Bible, and putting it into our theology. He deserves credit for that. His solution is that there WAS common descent from apes (that is, normal evolution). But he also says that Adam and Eve were created from the dust and were personally made by God, and so Adam and Eve are OUTSIDE of this evolutionary framework.

His book explains that normal genetic science reveals that if you just plop two random people on Earth (that is, Adam and Eve) in a pre-existing population (that is, human beings who arose by the process of evolution from a common ancestor with apes), something funny will happen as a result of just ordinary science. You see, he explains that by the time you get to the time of Jesus and the New Testament, it will be almost undeniably true that Adam and Eve will LITERALLY be one of the ancestors of EVERYONE on the planet.

You see, it’s a math thing. Every person has 2 parents, 4 grandparents 8 great-grandparents, 16 great-great grandparents, 32 great-great-great grandparents, etc. etc. That’s the math. As such, if you go back 100 generations, you are dealing with a grand total of 1,267,650,600,2 28,229,401,496,703,205,376 ancestors of you personally. That is A DARN LOT OF ANCESTORS.

And what Swamidass is saying (but using far more sophisticated science) is that “Adam,” who was created by God out of the dust and placed on an already-populated Earth, WILL be one of those ancestors for everyone. He shows how this satisfies the requirement of the Bible’s text that Adam is the ancestor of EVERYONE ON EARTH. But he also explains that the Bible doesn’t care about him being the sole “genetic source” of information, as the “genetic” idea is a very modern idea.

However, in my view, he still runs into a bad problem. That’s because Paul is quite explicit:

The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him.

(Acts 17:24-27)

While Joshua Swamidass makes the good point that the genealogies are only concerned with being the “descendant of,” and not “only containing the DNA from,” he does not do good with the claim that God MADE from one man every nation of mankind. As such, Joshua Swamidass’s problem is not the Old Testament, but the New Testament. He offers good insights on the meaning of certain words, but he doesn’t completely solve the problem.

The William Lane Craig What-The-Heck

Trying to cut the same middle-ground path, William Lane Craig (who is not a scientist or a historian, but rather a philosopher) makes a claim in his book, “In Quest of the Historical Adam: A Biblical and Scientific Exploration.” It is not good. To show you how bad it is, I will show you a review by a young-earth creationist organization, which gave the most back-handed opening line of a review I have EVER seen:

William Lane Craig’s new book In Quest of the Historical Adam should be viewed by young earth creationists as a positive turning point in the debate over origins. Craig is a prominent, accomplished, and intelligent Christian apologist who has conquered every obstacle he has ever faced. Yet he ran into a brick wall when he tried to come up with an alternative to the traditional interpretation of Genesis.


But I gotta say, it’s quite deserved. To smooth over William Lane Craig’s problems with Genesis, he creates a “genre” of “Mytho-history.” I have never seen this “genre” ever referenced in any other work, as it appears Craig inventied it. But it is very useful for Craig, as it allows certain things that Craig believes are crazy in the Bible to be FALSE (because it’s “mytho”) but also lets the Bible as a whole be TRUE (because it’s also history). Are you lost? So am I.

In my opinion, it’s a bunch of sophistry. If you want to see how much sophistry it is, watch this video, when a bunch of Joe-Schmoe Christians in a Church listen to his lecture and politely exude the fact that they can’t understand what the heck he is saying at all. At one point in the lecture, he says this:

The Garden of Eden may have described an actual existing geographical location. Plausibly a Persian Gulf oasis. But like Mount Olympus in Greek Mythology, that site may have been employed to tell a mythological story about what happened at that site. Then there is the notorious walking and talking snake in the garden. Now, he makes for a great character in the story – conniving, sinister, opposed to God – perhaps a symbol of evil. But not plausibly a literal reptile that you might encounter in your own garden, for the Pentateuchal author knew that snakes neither talk nor are intelligent agents. Again, the snake’s personality and speech cannot like Balaam’s ass be attributed to miraculous activity on the part of God, lest God become the author of the Fall. The snake is not identified as an incarnation of Satan, rather he is described as the craftiest of the beasts of the field which the Lord God had made, a description that is incompatible with his being Satan. When God finally drives the man and his wife out of the Garden of Eden, he stations at its entrance, and I quote, “the cherubim” and “a flaming sword which turned every way to guard the way to the Tree of Life.” Genesis 2:24. What makes this detail fantastic is that the cherubim were not thought to be real beings, but fantasies composed of a lion’s body, a bird’s wings, and a man’s head.

First off, let’s make clear that cherubim ARE real beings, but they are real HEAVENLY beings that do not live on the Earth. Craig is implicitly denying the reality of the spiritual realm. That is RIDICULOUSLY theologically dangerous.

Also, it never says that “the snake” walks. Also, if a cherubim is not a real creature, why does the word “cherubim” appear more than FIFTY TIMES in the Bible, being associated with the location of the Lord God, like in Isaiah 37? Why does Ezekiel literally SEE THEM in a vision of the Lord in Ezekiel 10? Also, it’s true that the serpent isn’t identified explicitly in Genesis 3, he is identified explicitly later in the Bible, and that is where we learn that the “serpent” (not “snake”) IS the Devil and is LITERALLY A DRAGON:

Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.

(Revelation 12:7-9)

He also suffers a problem with basic understanding of the biblical text. Genesis 3 does NOT say that the snake was the craftiest OF the beasts of the field which the Lord God had made. Instead, it says that the snake was MORE CRAFTY THAN any of the beasts of the field that the Lord God had made. As I have written about here, this “snake” isn’t called a “snake.” Instead, he’s called a “serpent,” and the “serpent” isn’t a snake. Instead:


So, William Lane Craig is too respectable for his own theological good. And if he thinks I’m going to be embarrassed about a “talking snake,” then he should check out this post where I talk affirm the existence of Titan Gods, this post where I explain the flood of Noah, this post where I explain how the Sun stopped still in Joshua 10, and this post where I talk about literal “giants” created by hybrid sexual relations between angelic beings and humans, BECAUSE IT IS ALL IN THE BIBLE. I believe what I read in the Bible.

So, come on Billy-Craig. You gotta do better than that to make me feel ashamed of weird stuff I read in the Bible. Come out of your ivory tower of respectability and realize that if you want to be a Christian, you need to be a little ridiculous.

And so with that being said, recognize that I DO NOT get on board with these people. Instead, we need a solution that matches up with ALL of scripture, and DOES NOT violate Paul’s quite explicit explanation:

The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him.

(Acts 17:24-27)

In my view, the only way to do this is with a very literal and plain reading of Genesis. But the “plain reading” that most creationists have is too scientific, and therefore, not “plain.” There are too many “scientific” assumptions that go into something like Ken Hamm’s Ark Encounter and their interpretation of Genesis. There’s nothing wrong with science, but the Bible is not talking about “science” when God speaks and humans are formed out of the dust. You have to open your mind to something stranger than a “scientific” explanation to understand what is going on.

As I’ve stated before: when something in the Bible seems strange, the best interpretation is to believe it means EXACTLY what it is saying. And so the traditional evangelical view is that human beings were created by God when he made Adam and Eve. This is definitely true. The Bible also makes clear that all human beings come FROM Adam and Eve. This is also true.

But the idea goes on to assume that only Adam and Eve’s NATURAL CHILDREN are the source of the human population of Earth. There is a problem with this belief. And the problem comes from the text of scripture.

Next, I’m going to show how we have this problem with Adam and Eve’s children being the sole source of human population. Then, I’m going to show how this has been addressed before in Christian history, and it is NOT what you would expect.

2. The Genesis Population Problem

Let’s explore the traditional view of Adam and Eve’s NATURAL CHILDREN are the sole source of the human population on earth. It creates what I call “The Genesis Population Problem.” There are two versions of this problem, and the first one happens right in Genesis 1-5.

The Adam and Eve Population Problem

The Adam and Eve Population Problem shows itself in the following verse:

Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch. When he built a city, he called the name of the city after the name of his son, Enoch.

(Genesis 4:17)

Here’s the problem. Cain was driven away after he killed Abel, and he went and built a city. People have asked the rather simple question of “who was Cain’s wife,” and this can easily be answered by the fact that the daughters of Adam and Eve are not documented, and therefore, Cain’s wife could have been his sister. While we can go “eww…” this wouldn’t have been a big deal when these are literally the only people on Earth. Plus, God told people to “be fruitful and multiply,” so why would he give a command if it was impossible to do? As such, An easy answer is that Cain’s wife was his sister.

But there is another problem. Cain is also worried that “whoever finds” him will kill him. So who is he expecting to kill him? That’s a bit odd, but it can be explained by the fact that many family members who knew about Cain’s murder of Abel could be who he fears, even if those family members are yet to be born. So, even though these verses seem to SUGGEST other people on earth, there is no true problem yet.

But the problem I am discussing is larger. It is a POPULATION problem. As we discussed, most evangelical Christians explain the growth of population on the earth after Adam and Eve by explaining that Adam and Eve had many children. In fact, tradition holds that Adam and Eve had as many as 50 children. So, with plenty of time, we can imagine that they had a very rapid population growth as these children also had children. Who knows how fast the population could have expanded? We have no idea how fast it grew, but it must have grown very fast, right?

Well, wrong. The problem is that we actually DO get an idea of how fast the population grew, and it is NOT very fast. Look at what we read:

This is the book of the generations of Adam. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created. When Adam had lived 130 years, he fathered a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth. The days of Adam after he fathered Seth were 800 years; and he had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days that Adam lived were 930 years, and he died.

(Genesis 5:1-5)

Um… this is a problem. We need rapid population growth. And so we were HOPING that Adam and Eve would be popping out babies like rabbits to “be fruitful and multiply.” But unfortunately, we see that Adam’s third son (after one of them died and another one ran away) was born when Adam was ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY YEARS OLD. And Adam only lives for 930 years.

If we were going to fix the population problem in Genesis, we would need Adam to have like 100 children by this point, with Eve being the most fruitful womb on the entire planet. Then those children need to start having children like bunnies, too. Instead, we see that there are only TWO male children on earth at this point. If we assume that we have one female for every male, this would mean that when Seth was born (which is about the same time that Cain is about to build his city), the grand total of the world’s human population is:

SEVEN PEOPLE: Adam, Eve, Abel’s wife, Cain, Cain’s wife, Seth’s hypothetical older sister and soon-to-be wife, and Seth.

And this is when Cain is building A CITY – not an encampment, not a home, not a town — but rather, a CITY. How is this possible?

One way it is possible is that Adam and Eve had a ridiculously large number of women, and the men had multiple wives. The problem with this is that we get an indication in Genesis 5 that someone takes more than one wife, and it appears to be the first instance of this happening. It may have happened before, but it seems quite clear that it was not the norm. And this happens LONG after Cain’s city is built. It is Lamech, who took two wives in Genesis 4:19, and this has clear indications in the text of being NOT NORMAL. That happens at the sixth generation from Adam, near the time of the Flood of Noah.

But we need Cain to build a city – not a home, not an encampment, and not a town, but a CITY – in the SECOND generation from Adam.

This is a problem.

The Post-Flood Population Problem

The problem also repeats itself after the Flood of Noah. When the flood comes, the population of the Earth – at least in the traditional evangelical understanding – was reduced to a grand total of eight people: Noah and his wife, Shem and his wife, Ham and his wife, and Japheth and his wife.

We then have a series of time in which these individuals have children. This is documented in Genesis after the Flood:

These are the generations of Shem. When Shem was 100 years old, he fathered Arpachshad two years after the flood. And Shem lived after he fathered Arpachshad 500 years and had other sons and daughters.

When Arpachshad had lived 35 years, he fathered Shelah. And Arpachshad lived after he fathered Shelah 403 years and had other sons and daughters.

When Shelah had lived 30 years, he fathered Eber. And Shelah lived after he fathered Eber 403 years and had other sons and daughters.

When Eber had lived 34 years, he fathered Peleg. And Eber lived after he fathered Peleg 430 years and had other sons and daughters.

When Peleg had lived 30 years, he fathered Reu. And Peleg lived after he fathered Reu 209 years and had other sons and daughters.

When Reu had lived 32 years, he fathered Serug. And Reu lived after he fathered Serug 207 years and had other sons and daughters.

When Serug had lived 30 years, he fathered Nahor. And Serug lived after he fathered Nahor 200 years and had other sons and daughters.

When Nahor had lived 29 years, he fathered Terah. And Nahor lived after he fathered Terah 119 years and had other sons and daughters.

When Terah had lived 70 years, he fathered Abram, Nahor, and Haran.
(Genesis 11:10-26)

We learn from the previous chapter that we get some important events that happen during this time. The first thing that we learn is that Peleg was named “Peleg” because “the land was divided,” corresponding to the Tower of Babel. This means that the Tower of Babel happened before Peleg was born and named. Additionally, the birth of Abraham happens at the end of this Genesis 10 timeline. So, “the Flood” is the first event in our timeline, the birth of Peleg (after the Tower of Babel) is the second, and the birth of Abraham is the third.

But with some simple math, we have the following general timeframe from the Bible after the flood:

Peleg is born 101 years after the Flood, which is after the Tower of Babel

This means that the Tower of Babel needs to happen within 100 years after the Flood. That is a problem.

Note that Peleg is the fifth generation after Noah (Noah -> Shem -> Arpachshad -> Shelah -> Eber -> Peleg). And this is the timeline we have, because we don’t have a timeline for the previous explanation of the earth, which is in Genesis 10. But here’s where the population problem shows itself again:

The sons of Ham: Cush, Egypt, Put, and Canaan. The sons of Cush: Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah, and Sabteca. The sons of Raamah: Sheba and Dedan. Cush fathered Nimrod; he was the first on earth to be a mighty man. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord. Therefore it is said, “Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before the Lord.” The beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. From that land he went into Assyria and built Nineveh, Rehoboth-Ir, Calah, and Resen between Nineveh and Calah; that is the great city. Egypt fathered Ludim, Anamim, Lehabim, Naphtuhim, Pathrusim, Casluhim (from whom the Philistines came), and Caphtorim.

(Genesis 10:6-14)

Here’s the post-flood population problem: Nimrod built EIGHT CITIES. In other words, we need enough people in Mesopotamia around 101 years after the flood TO POPULATE EIGHT CITIES. But when did this happen? This happened around the Tower of Babel. This is how Josephus describes the tower of Babel:

Now the sons of Noah were three,—Shem, Japhet, and Ham, born one hundred years before the Deluge. These first of all descended from the mountains into the plains, and fixed their habitation there; and persuaded others who were greatly afraid of the lower grounds on account of the flood, and so were very loath to come down from the higher places, to venture to follow their examples. Now the plain in which they first dwelt was called Shinar. God also commanded them to send colonies abroad, for the thorough peopling of the earth, that they might not raise seditions among themselves, but might cultivate a great part of the earth, and enjoy its fruits after a plentiful manner. But they were so ill instructed that they did not obey God; for which reason they fell into calamities, and were made sensible, by experience, of what sin they had been guilty: for when they flourished with a numerous youth, God admonished them again to send out colonies; but they, imagining the prosperity they enjoyed was not derived from the favor of God, but supposing that their own power was the proper cause of the plentiful condition they were in, did not obey him. Nay, they added to this their disobedience to the Divine will, the suspicion that they were therefore ordered to send out separate colonies, that, being divided asunder, they might the more easily be Oppressed.

Now it was Nimrod who excited them to such an affront and contempt of God. He was the grandson of Ham, the son of Noah, a bold man, and of great strength of hand. He persuaded them not to ascribe it to God, as if it was through his means they were happy, but to believe that it was their own courage which procured that happiness. He also gradually changed the government into tyranny, seeing no other way of turning men from the fear of God, but to bring them into a constant dependence on his power. He also said he would be revenged on God, if he should have a mind to drown the world again; for that he would build a tower too high for the waters to be able to reach! and that he would avenge himself on God for destroying their forefathers!

Now the multitude were very ready to follow the determination of Nimrod, and to esteem it a piece of cowardice to submit to God; and they built a tower, neither sparing any pains, nor being in any degree negligent about the work: and, by reason of the multitude of hands employed in it, it grew very high, sooner than any one could expect; but the thickness of it was so great, and it was so strongly built, that thereby its great height seemed, upon the view, to be less than it really was. It was built of burnt brick, cemented together with mortar, made of bitumen, that it might not be liable to admit water. When God saw that they acted so madly, he did not resolve to destroy them utterly, since they were not grown wiser by the destruction of the former sinners; but he caused a tumult among them, by producing in them divers languages, and causing that, through the multitude of those languages, they should not be able to understand one another. The place wherein they built the tower is now called Babylon, because of the confusion of that language which they readily understood before; for the Hebrews mean by the word Babel, confusion. The Sibyl also makes mention of this tower, and of the confusion of the language, when she says thus: “When all men were of one language, some of them built a high tower, as if they would thereby ascend up to heaven, but the gods sent storms of wind and overthrew the tower, and gave every one his peculiar language; and for this reason it was that the city was called Babylon.” But as to the plan of Shinar, in the country of Babylonia, Hestiaeus mentions it, when he says thus: “Such of the priests as were saved, took the sacred vessels of Jupiter Enyalius, and came to Shinar of Babylonia.”

(Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book 1, Chapter 4)

So, Nimrod is responsible for the tower of Babel. Nimrod is the FOURTH generation from Noah (Noah -> Ham -> Cush -> Nimrod), and this corresponds to the fact that Peleg is the FIFTH generation from Noah, and he was born after the Tower of Babel. However, look at what we learn: Nimrod built EIGHT CITIES, and the start of this period is 101 years after the Flood. Luckily, after the flood, these descendants of Noah were living a long time, and when we track how long people were living at the Fourth Generation after the flood, we see that Eber lived 464 years total. Therefore, we can assume for the purpose of the argument that Nimrod lived about 464 years total.

THEREFORE, the population problem after the problem is this:

We need the population of EIGHT CITIES, including ONE GREAT CITY, to exist around 100 years after the Flood.

However, as I will show below, since we start with a grand total of 8 people at the end of the flood, this is going to be very difficult.

To prove exactly how difficult it is, I would like to create a hypothetical model of the MAXIMUM possible population growth on Earth after the Flood.

The Maximum Possible Population Growth Model

So, the setting is immediately after the Flood of Noah. We know what we start with. WE START WITH EIGHT PEOPLE:

Noah and his wife; Shem and his wife; Ham and his wife; and Japheth and his wife.

And in just a little time, we need populous nations to spread ALL OVER THE GLOBE, because this is what we read at the end of Genesis 10:

These are the clans of the sons of Noah, according to their genealogies, in their nations, and from these the nations spread abroad on the earth after the flood.

(Genesis 10:32)

Note that the regions that are described as spreading out in Genesis 11 constitute a large section of the Earth. While we can imagine what it was like now, there is a description of the geographical area covered in Josephus, who in Book 1, Chapter 6 of Antiquities, equates actual geographical regions to the grandchildren of Noah. They span from the Indians (Ophir) to the Medes in Assyria (Madai) to the Greeks (Javan) in Europe.

In other words, the entire world gets a share of the descendants of Noah, and we don’t have very long to grow the population to that point. In other words, we’ve got a lot of work to do.

To solve this problem, we’re going to look for a model of MAXIMUM population growth. Now, I am no mathematician, and not a student of population growth. But I do have a calculator, and I do know where babies come from.

Armed with this terrible expertise and knowledge, I plan to make ALL of my faults go to the advantage of population growth.

The thing to recognize here is that the limiting factor of human population growth does not rest with the man. Instead, the key limiting factor of population growth is that it takes more than nine months to grow a single baby in the womb of a woman.

This creates a problem for population growth, especially when you start with only 8 people.

This is further complicated by the fact that we actually get a list of the descendants of Noah and his sons, and, unfortunately, it is not what we would expect. You see, unlike Adam, Seth, Enoch, and the rest of those people who live for nearly a millennia, we do not get the phrase “and he had other sons and daughters” in the text. Instead, it looks like we have a complete list. This is what we read in the Bible about the children of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth:

 And Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. (Genesis 6:10)
The sons of Japheth: Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras. (Genesis 10:2)
The sons of Ham: Cush, Egypt, Put, and Canaan. (Genesis 10:6)
The sons of Shem: Elam, Asshur, Arpachshad, Lud, and Aram. (Genesis 10:22)

And this short list is repeated in 1 Chronicles, in abbreviated form.

And… hm… this is a problem. We were hoping for RAPID population growth, but for some reason, we see that the Bible lists a grand total of SIXTEEN grandchildren for Noah. So…. um… sixteen is good, but– that’s not good enough.

But we’re not going to be stopped that easy. We are going to go with the ABSOLUTE MAXIMUM POPULATION GROWTH. Anything that the text will allow us to do, we’re going to do.

Remember that even though we have sixteen grand-SONS of Noah, remember that it is not the SONS who are the limitation on population growth. Instead, it is the DAUGHTERS who are the limitation on population growth, and we do not get a list of the daughters in the genealogy.

This is an opportunity! Let’s pretend that the Bible only tells us the SONS that are born to Noah and his children, and let’s pretend that all of these 4 couples are RIDICULOUSLY fecund when it comes to children.

And we can turn this “opportunity” into a RIDICULOUS opportunity for population growth. And more than ridiculous, let’s turn it into the LARGEST LOGICALLY POSSIBLE ADVANTANGE that we can make it. Let’s pretend that Shem, Ham, and Japheth each have ONE CHILD PER YEAR for THEIR ENTIRE LIFE.

And how long are their lives? Well, we don’t get an age for Ham and Japheth, but we do know that Shem lived 500 years after the flood (Genesis 11:10-11), and so let’s assume a 500 year post-flood life-span for Ham and Japheth. Let’s pretend that in addition to the sons we know about, they each have one daughter per year.

And let’s not stop there. Let’s put Noah and his wife back to work (even though this is completely absent from both the text and tradition). Let’s also pretend that in addition to Noah’s three sons, Noah and his wife continue to have daughters for the 350 years that Noah was on the earth after they came down from the flood (See Genesis 9:28-29).

This gives us the LARGEST POSSIBLE pool of potential wombs for rapid population growth. As such, here is a diagram for our hypothetical population growth after the flood:

And then, let’s pretend that each of the 16 male grandsons of Noah have ONE SINGLE JOB, which is to take as many wives as possible and create as many children as possible to repopulate the earth. So let’s say that each of those 1,834 grand-daughters of Noah have an AVERAGE of 20 CHILDREN EACH.

This means we have the following break-down of population growth in the next generation:

And understanding that we still have the limitation of female gestation, we need to see where the next generation is coming from. So, let’s once again assume that the next generation has an average of 20 children per woman.

Oh, stop complaining. That’s a productive, but not necessarily “miraculous” womb. So let’s see how many children that generation has:

So here is our TRUE ABSOLUTE MAXIMUM population of the Earth throughout 5 generations after Noah:

And the grand total is….

405,338 people.

Which is not exactly the type of population we were hoping for, but I don’t think any of the hypothetical ancient women we just messed around with are able to give any more than they already have.

Except we have YET ANOTHER problem. That’s because this maximum-population growth model doesn’t have a time-frame. You see, Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth are having children for 500 years, but we know that the Tower of Babel must happen before 101 years after the flood, because Peleg was born after the Tower of Babel (because he was named “Peleg” because the Earth was divided in his time). This gives new math:

So, this means that at the time of the Tower of Babel, we have the following totals of our population:

Therefore, at the time of the Tower of Babel, we have a grand-total world population of 77,600 people ASSUMING NOBODY EVER DIES (which is another crazy assumption).

And it is during this time that Nimrod builds EIGHT CITIES IN MESOPOTAMIA, even though 77,600 is the population of the ENTIRE WORLD, not just Mesopotamia. Because we know that the children of Japheth settled “the coastlands,” and were not around in Mesopotamia, this means that the only population available in Mesopotamia is 56,817 people (77,600 minus the total population of the line of Japheth).

And so at this time, we have EIGHT CITIES with a total population of 56,817, making each city (some of which are “great cities” that have… …an average population of 7,102 people in them.

And not only that, the majority of those people in these cities will be infants and children.

Yeeeaah….. that’s not a very good number.

And we should also note that this total world population of 77,600 still uses that DOWNRIGHT MAGICAL fertility of Noah’s line (even though it is not very realistic). And we should also note that the eight cities of Nimrod are not the only cities on Earth.

We should also realize that the math there is bad, because it assumes that a 1 year old child is still producing children at 1 per year. To fix that, I would need a complicated mathematical model, and I don’t want to do that. The Bible’s text shares that people aren’t having children until they are about 30 years old. So, even though our absolute maximum is 77,600 people, the real total is probably 54,320 (which reduces the total by 30%). When we apply the other information that the sons of Japheth spread out to other places, the more realistic number (assuming the same MAXIMUM population growth) is about 35,852 people.

That brings the population of the eight cities to 4,481 people, with the majority of these occupants being children and infants.

This is the Post-Flood Population Problem. Taking the Bible’s words at face value, we seem to have a big problem.

Add the Adam and Eve Population Problem to this, and you have the Genesis Population Problem. To “solve” this issue, many evangelical scholars have noted that it is possible for certain “children” to actually be the “grandchildren” of those who are listed before. But to make this work (and allow for enough time to have a large population growth), this would involve being just as “flexible” with the chronology in Genesis 10 as William Lane Craig is with the facts of Genesis 3. And I’m not going to do that.

Now, most people faced with this problem would go with two solutions in the theological conversation these days. The first solution is the one to the Adam and Eve population problem: Theistic Evolution and people outside the garden. The second solution is the one to the post-flood population problem: The Flood was a local flood, and was not world-wide. But the Bible makes it clear that everyone died in the flood, and Acts 17 makes it clear that all human beings come FROM Adam.

As such, I can’t accept those explanations, because I’m taking the Bible’s language at face value. And yes, this is a problem that needs some explanation.

And yes, I have an explanation.

3. The Strange Supernatural Biblical Solution to the Genesis Population Problem

I believe that Adam and Eve WERE the first human beings ever to exist, AND that the Flood was a world-wide cataclysm that killed EVERYONE, except for Noah and his family (and Enoch, who was apparently “walked with God” before the flood and did not die). But how is there a solution to this Genesis population problem. Well, I won’t hide the ball, and instead, I’ll just state it outright:

Heavenly beings, by the command of God, used supernatural processes to populate the earth from Adam and Eve (at creation) and from Enoch and Noah’s family (at the time of the flood).

You see, a supernatural origin of Adam and Eve alone is barely within the acceptable “Overton Window” of respectable theological discussion. But…

…this blog does not care about Overton windows of respectability.

Believe it or not, you might be surprised to learn the church fathers mentioned the solution to this problem, indicating that it was ordinary common knowledge at the time they were writing. In fact, non-Christian Greek writers quite plainly state that human beings just popped up out of the ground, and at the same time believe that there was a single “first man” (who would be “Adam” in the Biblical story, of course). But most surprisingly, the Bible’s language on the subject of human origins is quite fixed when it comes to Adam and Eve, but SURPRISINGLY FLEXIBLE, when it comes to other people. This is what will be explored below.

Exploring this idea, we first go to the Church Fathers.

Origen of Alexandria on Human Origins

The Church Fathers never DIRECTLY give a clear explanation of the Genesis Population Problem, but they do mention Greek ideas which they incorporate into their arguments.

For example, Origin is arguing in a book called “Contra Celsius” that Jesus was born of a virgin. The Greeks thought this was ridiculous, because they knew where babies came from. However, to make the point that Jesus being born of a virgin is POSSIBLE, he gives a short summary of what was common knowledge at the time he was writing. He has a very funny view of the biology of vultures, and then moves on to the origin of mankind:

But as a further answer to the Greeks, who do not believe in the birth of Jesus from a virgin, we have to say that the Creator has shown, by the generation of several kinds of animals, that what He has done in the instance of one animal, He could do, if it pleased Him, in that of others, and also of man himself. For it is ascertained that there is a certain female animal which has no intercourse with the male (as writers on animals say is the case with vultures), and that this animal, without sexual intercourse, preserves the succession of race. What incredibility, therefore, is there in supposing that, if God wished to send a divine teacher to the human race, He caused Him to be born in some manner different from the common! Nay, according to the Greeks themselves, all men were not born of a man and woman. For if the world has been created, as many even of the Greeks are pleased to admit, then the first men must have been produced not from sexual intercourse, but from the earth, in which spermatic elements existed; which however, I consider more incredible than that Jesus was born like other men, so far as regards the half of his birth, which, however, I consider more incredible than that Jesus was born like other men, so far as regards the half of his birth. And there is no absurdity in employing Grecian histories to answer Greeks, with the view of showing that we are not the only persons who have recourse to miraculous narratives of this kind.

Origin, Contra Celsius, Book 1, Chapter 37

So, Origen makes the point that if vultures can have children without sexual intercourse, why is it impossible for that to work with Jesus Christ? This is when I take great comfort in the fact that the church fathers are not authoritative. This is what I like to call a “bad argument” for a “good conclusion.” (See this ancient Roman reference if you want to know how the biology and life cycle of vultures was debated around this time.) But despite it being a bad argument, it is good evidence for what was generally believed by many.

Then we move on to the important language. This bolded excerpt shows that Greeks believed that the first MEN (not “man”) came from the Earth. They came up from the Earth because the “spermatic elements” were in the soil and produced human beings. In other words, the earth was some sort of womb that produced the first GROUP of human beings.

That is what the Greeks believed, and Origin uses this belief to make the virgin birth more plausible to his Greek audience. One way to view this is that Origen was ridiculing the Greek account of human origins, to say “you can’t make fun of us when you’re thinking this.” But the text reveals something else. Instead, Origen notes that this is a “miraculous” origin of human beings, and Origen equates it with the miraculous explanation of the virgin birth.

But rather than denigrate this Greek supernatural view of the origin of mankind, Origen seems to give it credence. Origen believes (as I assume most Christians do) that men popping out of the ground is crazier than being born of a virgin. His point, though, assumes that there might be some legitimacy to the Greek idea of men coming out of the ground. The argument is as follows:

That is the argument of Origen.

Irenaeus of Lyons on Human Origins

A similar idea is discussed by Ireneaus of Lyons. Irenaeus argues against the idea of the gnostics that the world or anything in the world was created apart from the design and will of the one true God. In arguing against this idea, he states the following:

If, however, [the things referred to were done] not against His will, but with His concurrence and knowledge, as some [of these men] think, the angels, or the Former of the world [whoever that may have been], will no longer be the causes of that formation, but the will of God. For if He is the Former of the world, He too made the angels, or at least was the cause of their creation; and He will be regarded as having made the world who prepared the causes of its formation. Although they maintain that the angels were made by a long succession downwards, or that the Former of the world [sprang] from the Supreme Father, as Basilides asserts; nevertheless that which is the cause of those things which have been made will still be traced to Him who was the Author of such a succession. [The case stands] just as regards success in war, which is ascribed to the king who prepared those things which are the cause of victory; and, in like manner, the creation of any state, or of any work, is referred to him who prepared materials for the accomplishment of those results which were afterwards brought about. Wherefore, we do not say that it was the axe which cut the wood, or the saw which divided it; but one would very properly say that the man cut and divided it who formed the axe and the saw for this purpose, and [who also formed] at a much earlier date all the tools by which the axe and the saw themselves were formed. With justice, therefore, according to an analogous process of reasoning, the Father of all will be declared the Former of this world, and not the angels, nor any other [so-called] former of the world, other than He who was its Author, and had formerly been the cause of the preparation for a creation of this kind.

Irenaeus of Lyons, Against Heresies (Book II, Chapter 2)

As such, you can see that what is really important to these church fathers is the word “creator.” A “creator” is one who is the ACTUAL CAUSE of an event.

So, imagine a sculpture of a lion. As Irenaeus and Origen see it, the “creator” of a statute isn’t merely the sculptor of a statute. While we might call him “a” creator, that wouldn’t be right, because the TRUE “creator” of a statue is the one who both made the human sculptor AND the marble AND the idea of a lion.

In the days of the church fathers, this was actually a big argument – whether it was the one true God or angels who came up with the idea of humans.

As such, the argument of the church fathers is not that God himself is the only worker who accomplishes the work of God. Instead, the argument is that God is the SOURCE and ACTUAL CAUSE of absolutely everything. This is why Irenaeus makes the following analogy:

Wherefore, we do not say that it was the axe which cut the wood, or the saw which divided it; but one would very properly say that the man cut and divided it who formed the axe and the saw for this purpose, and [who also formed] at a much earlier date all the tools by which the axe and the saw themselves were formed.

Irenaeus’s argument is not that angelic beings were COMPLETELY UNIVOLVED with human origins. Instead, his argument is that no matter what angels do, they are NOT CREATORS. The angels play the role of the “axe” or “saw” and God plays the role of the carpenter in this analogy.

As such, according to the logic of this church father, the idea that angelic beings were involved in populating the earth after Adam and Eve is completely open. What is NOT open is calling that angelic being a “creator” of human beings.

St. Augustine of Hippo on Human Origins

And the most striking example of the idea that angelic beings play some role in the peopling of the earth is from St. Augustine of Hippo. Here is what he writes on the subject of creation:

23. Of the nature of the human soul created in the image of God.

God, then, made man in His own image. For He created for him a soul endowed with reason and intelligence, so that he might excel all the creatures of earth, air, and sea, which were not so gifted. And when He had formed the man out of the dust of the earth, and had willed that his soul should be such as I have said,—whether He had already made it, and now by breathing imparted it to man, or rather made it by breathing, so that that breath which God made by breathing (for what else is “to breathe” than to make breath?) is the soul,—He made also a wife for him, to aid him in the work of generating his kind, and her He formed of a bone taken out of the man’s side, working in a divine manner. For we are not to conceive of this work in a carnal fashion, as if God wrought as we commonly see artisans, who use their hands, and material furnished to them, that by their artistic skill they may fashion some material object. God’s hand is God’s power; and He, working invisibly, effects visible results. But this seems fabulous rather than true to men, who measure by customary and everyday works the power and wisdom of God, whereby He understands and produces without seeds even seeds themselves; and because they cannot understand the things which at the beginning were created, they are sceptical regarding them—as if the very things which they do know about human propagation, conceptions and births, would seem less incredible if told to those who had no experience of them; though these very things, too, are attributed by many rather to physical and natural causes than to the work of the divine mind.

24. Whether the angels can be said to be the creators of any, even the least creature.

But in this book we have nothing to do with those who do not believe that the divine mind made or cares for this world. As for those who believe their own Plato, that all mortal animals—among whom man holds the pre-eminent place, and is near to the gods themselves—were created not by that most high God who made the world, but by other lesser gods created by the Supreme, and exercising a delegated power under His control,—if only those persons be delivered from the superstition which prompts them to seek a plausible reason for paying divine honours and sacrificing to these gods as their creators, they will easily be disentangled also from this their error. For it is blasphemy to believe or to say (even before it can be understood) that any other than God is creator of any nature, be it never so small and mortal. And as for the angels, whom those Platonists prefer to call gods, although they do, so far as they are permitted and commissioned, aid in the production of the things around us, yet not on that account are we to call them creators, any more than we call gardeners the creators of fruits and trees.

25. That God alone is the Creator of every kind of creature, whatever its nature or form.

For whereas there is one form which is given from without to every bodily substance,—such as the form which is constructed by potters and smiths, and that class of artists who paint and fashion forms like the body of animals,—but another and internal form which is not itself constructed, but, as the efficient cause, produces not only the natural bodily forms, but even the life itself of the living creatures, and which proceeds from the secret and hidden choice of an intelligent and living nature,—let that first-mentioned form be attributed to every artificer, but this latter to one only, God, the Creator and Originator who made the world itself and the angels, without the help of world or angels. For the same divine and, so to speak, creative energy, which cannot be made, but makes, and which gave to the earth and sky their roundness,—this same divine, effective, and creative energy gave their roundness to the eye and to the apple; and the other natural objects which we anywhere see, received also their form, not from without, but from the secret and profound might of the Creator, who said, “Do not I fill heaven and earth?” and whose wisdom it is that “reacheth from one end to another mightily; and sweetly doth she order all things.” Wherefore I know not what kind of aid the angels, themselves created first, afforded to the Creator in making other things. I cannot ascribe to them what perhaps they cannot do, neither ought I to deny them such faculty as they have. But, by their leave, I attribute the creating and originating work which gave being to all natures to God, to whom they themselves thankfully ascribe their existence. We do not call gardeners the creators of their fruits, for we read, “Neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth, but God that giveth the increase.” Nay, not even the earth itself do we call a creator, though she seems to be the prolific mother of all things which she aids in germinating and bursting forth from the seed, and which she keeps rooted in her own breast; for we likewise read, “God giveth it a body, as it hath pleased Him, and to every seed his own body.” We ought not even to call a woman the creatress of her own offspring; for He rather is its creator who said to His servant, “Before I formed thee in the womb, I knew thee.” And although the various mental emotions of a pregnant woman do produce in the fruit of her womb similar qualities,—as Jacob with his peeled wands caused piebald sheep to be produced,—yet the mother as little creates her offspring, as she created herself. Whatever bodily or seminal causes, then, may be used for the production of things, either by the co-operation of angels, men, or the lower animals, or by sexual generation; and whatever power the desires and mental emotions of the mother have to produce in the tender and plastic fœtus, corresponding lineaments and colours; yet the natures themselves, which are thus variously affected, are the production of none but the most high God. It is His occult power which pervades all things, and is present in all without being contaminated, which gives being to all that is, and modifies and limits its existence; so that without Him it would not be thus or thus, nor would have any being at all. If, then, in regard to that outward form which the workman’s hand imposes on his work, we do not say that Rome and Alexandria were built by masons and architects, but by the kings by whose will, plan, and resources they were built, so that the one has Romulus, the other Alexander, for its founder; with how much greater reason ought we to say that God alone is the Author of all natures, since He neither uses for His work any material which was not made by Him, nor any workmen who were not also made by Him, and since, if He were, so to speak, to withdraw from created things His creative power, they would straightway relapse into the nothingness in which they were before they were created? “Before,” I mean, in respect of eternity, not of time. For what other creator could there be of time, than He who created those things whose movements make time?

Saint Augustine, City of God, Book 12

As such, there is a four-part argument that St. Augustine is making.

  1. First, both body and soul were created by God, and so that both are naturally good.
  2. Second, God does not “create” in the way that human beings conceive of “making” things.
  3. Third, because God created the body of Adam and Eve, the angels (whom the Greeks call “gods”) cannot be called “creators” of anything.
  4. Finally, though angelic beings can play a role “in the production of things” around us, God did not leave anything out of his plan in creation.

But note what this means. This explicitly leaves open the idea that angelic beings (whom the Platonists prefer to call “gods”) could have had a role in producing humans after Adam and Eve from the Earth.

What is not open is the “platonic” idea that Augustine references. As such, we need to look at this idea, because this is what many of the church fathers were arguing AGAINST when they make their points about the origin of mankind.

The Platonic Idea of the Delegated Creation of Humanity

You might wonder why these arguments were being made by the church fathers. The answer is that they were responding to some very real ideas in the Greek mind at the time. Irenaeus and Origen were writing in the 100s AD, while Augustine was writing in the late 300s and 400s AD.

Before this, in the 300s BC, Plato had created a school of philosophy that attributed the CREATION of humanity to beings who were not the one true God. This was in contrast to the Christian idea of the church fathers who allowed angels to do something, but not actually CREATE anything. As such, the church fathers were protecting the doctrine that God is the creator of EVERYTHING. They were protecting against the platonic idea that the one true creator God (whom Plato believed to be good) could not have actually “created” everything, because that God needed to be cleared of responsibility of the evil that exists on Earth.

You can see the origin of this belief in the following passage, where Plato discusses the creation of man and beast in the Timaeus:

Oceanus and Tethys were the children of Earth and Heaven, and from these sprang Phorcys and Cronos and Rhea, and all that generation; and from Cronos and Rhea sprang Zeus and Here, and all those who are said to be their brethren, and others who were the children of these.

Now, when all of them, both those who visibly appear in their revolutions as well as those other gods who are of a more retiring nature, had come into being, the creator of the universe addressed them in these words: “Gods, children of gods, who are my works, and of whom I am the artificer and father, my creations are indissoluble, if so I will. All that is bound may be undone, but only an evil being would wish to undo that which is harmonious and happy. Wherefore, since ye are but creatures, ye are not altogether immortal and indissoluble, but ye shall certainly not be dissolved, nor be liable to the fate of death, having in my will a greater and mightier bond than those with which ye were bound at the time of your birth. And now listen to my instructions:-Three tribes of mortal beings remain to be created-without them the universe will be incomplete, for it will not contain every kind of animal which it ought to contain, if it is to be perfect. On the other hand, if they were created by me and received life at my hands, they would be on an equality with the gods. In order then that they may be mortal, and that this universe may be truly universal, do ye, according to your natures, betake yourselves to the formation of animals, imitating the power which was shown by me in creating you. The part of them worthy of the name immortal, which is called divine and is the guiding principle of those who are willing to follow justice and you-of that divine part I will myself sow the seed, and having made a beginning, I will hand the work over to you. And do ye then interweave the mortal with the immortal, and make and beget living creatures, and give them food, and make them to grow, and receive them again in death.”

Plato, Timaeus, 40e-41d

Plato then goes on to describe how the gods (who were children of the creator God) went on to create “man.” Within man was placed the intellect, the passions, and the appetites, corresponding to the head, the heart, and the stomach. These are the three things in the mortal being that are discussed above. You can read all about it in Plato, and that is the source of the Platonic ideas. These Platonic ideas made their way into Roman thought about the creation of the universe and mankind. For example, in describing the creation of the world, Ovid, a Roman poet, attributes the creation of the universe to an “unknown god.” I believe this is the source of the “unknown god” whose altar Paul saw in Athens. Here was typical Roman thought at the time of Christ about the creation of humankind:

He had barely separated out everything within fixed limits when the constellations that had been hidden for a long time in dark fog began to blaze out throughout the whole sky. And so that no region might lack its own animate beings, the stars and the forms of gods occupied the floor of heaven, the sea gave a home to the shining fish, earth took the wild animals, and the light air flying things.

As yet there was no animal capable of higher thought that could be ruler of all the rest. Then Humankind was born. Either the creator god, source of a better world, seeded it from the divine, or the newborn earth just drawn from the highest heavens still contained fragments related to the skies, so that Prometheus, blending them with streams of rain, moulded them into an image of the all-controlling gods. While other animals look downwards at the ground, he gave human beings an upturned aspect, commanding them to look towards the skies, and, upright, raise their face to the stars. So the earth, that had been, a moment ago, uncarved and imageless, changed and assumed the unknown shapes of human beings.

Ovid, Metamorphosis, Book 1

We should also notice that in addition to human beings being made from “the soil,” other pagan cultures also rather matter-of-factly state that their cultures descended from particular gods. For instance, Julius Caesar, when explaining the history of the Celts in modern-day France and Germany, makes an off-handed comment about how the Gaulic tribes explain their origins:

The nation of all the Gauls is extremely devoted to superstitious rites; and on that account they who are troubled with unusually severe diseases, and they who are engaged in battles and dangers, either sacrifice men as victims, or vow that they will sacrifice them, and employ the Druids as the performers of those sacrifices; because they think that unless the life of a man be offered for the life of a man, the mind of the immortal gods can not be rendered propitious, and they have sacrifices of that kind ordained for national purposes. Others have figures of vast size, the limbs of which formed of osiers they fill with living men, which being set on fire, the men perish enveloped in the flames. They consider that the oblation of such as have been taken in theft, or in robbery, or any other offense, is more acceptable to the immortal gods; but when a supply of that class is wanting, they have recourse to the oblation of even the innocent.

They worship as their divinity, Mercury in particular, and have many images of him, and regard him as the inventor of all arts, they consider him the guide of their journeys and marches, and believe him to have great influence over the acquisition of gain and mercantile transactions. Next to him they worship Apollo, and Mars, and Jupiter, and Minerva; respecting these deities they have for the most part the same belief as other nations: that Apollo averts diseases, that Minerva imparts the invention of manufactures, that Jupiter possesses the sovereignty of the heavenly powers; that Mars presides over wars. To him, when they have determined to engage in battle, they commonly vow those things which they shall take in war. When they have conquered, they sacrifice whatever captured animals may have survived the conflict, and collect the other things into one place. In many states you may see piles of these things heaped up in their consecrated spots; nor does it often happen that any one, disregarding the sanctity of the case, dares either to secrete in his house things captured, or take away those deposited; and the most severe punishment, with torture, has been established for such a deed.

All the Gauls assert that they are descended from the god Dis, and say that this tradition has been handed down by the Druids. For that reason they compute the divisions of every season, not by the number of days, but of nights; they keep birthdays and the beginnings of months and years in such an order that the day follows the night. Among the other usages of their life, they differ in this from almost all other nations, that they do not permit their children to approach them openly until they are grown up so as to be able to bear the service of war; and they regard it as indecorous for a son of boyish age to stand in public in the presence of his father.

Julius Caesar, Gaulic Wars, Book 6, Chapters 16-18.

Along those same lines, we can notice that a separate culture, the ancient Babylonian culture, also saw angelic beings as the origin of human beings. In the epic of Gilgamesh, the right-hand-man and best friend of Gilgamesh is created from “clay” by a goddess:

The gods heard their lament, the gods of heaven cried to the Lord of Uruk, to Anu the god of Uruk: ‘A goddess made him, strong as a savage bull, none can withstand his arms. No son is left with his father, for Gilgamesh takes them all; and is this the king, the shepherd of his people? His lust leaves no virgin to her lover, neither the warrior’s daughter nor the wife of the noble. When Anu had heard their lamentation the gods cried to Aruru, the goddess of creation, ‘You made him, O Aruru; now create his equal; let it be as like him as his own reflection, his second self; stormy heart for stormy heart. Let them contend together and leave Uruk in quiet.’
So the goddess conceived an image in her mind, and it was of the stuff of Anu of the firmament. She dipped her hands in water and pinched off clay, she let it fall in the wilderness, and noble Enkidu was created. There was virtue in him of the god of war, of Ninurta himself. His body was rough, he had long hair like a woman’s; it waved like the hair of Nisaba, the goddess of corn. His body was covered with matted hair like Samugan’s, the god of cattle. He was innocent of mankind; he knew nothing of the cultivated land

The Epic of Gilgamesh, Tablet 1, Translated by N.K. Sanders

“Pinched off from a piece of clay.” Remember that. It will be important later on.

But back to the Epic of Gilgamesh, we can note that (just as I wrote before in the previous post), it is the waters above the firmament that are seen as the raw material of creation, and an angelic being uses that material to bring forth stuff in the tangible world. That’s not to say that this particular event with Enkidu actually happened, but it is to say that this was seen as realistic enough to put as a very matter-of-fact explanation of the origin of a human being.

So keep this in mind. These pagan “facts” about the origin of human beings was the background mindset that Christianity was coming into. It is this background level of thought to which St. Augustine and the other church fathers are responding.

Strangely to modern ears, rather than claim that God and only God is actively involved in creation, Augustine instead attributes the “originating” work to God, and says that for that reason, only he should be called “creator.”

As such, we should note that the ancients thought VERY DIFFERENTLY about the world itself. The modern scientific idea is that anything that is “real” is tangible. Everything else, is fake, subjective, or “not real,” if you are “scientific.” But even Christians lump everything that is not tangible into a vague category called “spiritual.”

In contrast, the ancients thought that this “spiritual” world was MORE REAL than the tangible world. Go read Plato’s description of “the cave” if you don’t believe me. Everything you see on earth is equated to an “image” or a “puppet” or a shadow of an image or puppet. The “real” world is the world that is “up there.”

Christians should be familiar with the dangerous logical consequence of this Greek thought. If the “real world” is the world that is “up there,” then the stuff that happens in this world doesn’t matter. This is the “Gnosticism” that the early church was fighting. But on the other hand, you can also see the the theological appeal. The Bible makes clear that this world is temporary:

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

The Gnostics made the false claim that because the “spiritual” world that is “up there” is the REAL world, then what we do in this “visible” world doesn’t matter. After all, we’re going to put away this world, so why does it matter if I sin here?

The Gnostics ignored the very clear words of Jesus, who never shied away from the fact that the “spiritual” world is far MORE REAL than this one, but who also made it clear that what we do in this world has a huge effect on what happens in that world:

And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire. (Matthew 18:8-9)

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew 25:41-46)

That is the outline of the argument that was going on in the time of the church fathers.

The Greek Idea of “Sons of the Soil”

But we also don’t need to just casually reference this idea of “spermatic elements” in the soil. We can see it explicitly described in Greek works. To prove it, I’ll give you some examples.

Here is Pausanius in “Description of Greece” explaining the land of Athens, also giving an ancient history lesson. Keep in mind that Pausanius does not share “myths.” Instead, he is giving a geographical description, and sharing the ordinary beliefs about the histories of these places. Look what he says:

Amphictyon won the kingdom thus. It is said that Actaeus was the first king of what is now Attica. When he died, Cecrops, the son in law of Actaeus, received the kingdom, and there were born to him daughters, Herse, Aglaurus, and Pandrosus, and a son Eryschthon. This son did not become king of the Athenians, but happened to die while his father lived, and the kingdom of Cecrops fell to Cranaus, the most powerful of the Athenians. They say that Cranaus had daughters, and among the Atthis; and from her they call the country Attica, which before was named Actaea. And Amphictyon, rising up against Cranaus, although he had his daughter to wife, deposed hi from power. Afterwards he himself was banished by Erichthonius and his fellow rebels. Men say that Erichthonius had no human father, but that his parents were Hephaestus and Earth.

Pausanius, Description of Greece, Book 1, Chapter 2

There is also a picture of this birth of Erichthonius, which you can see here:

Birth of Erichthonius: Athena receives the baby Erichthonius from the hands of the earth mother GaiaAttic red-figure stamnos, 470–460 BC, Staatliche Antikensammlungen (Inv. 2413)

Yeah…. …like, he literally came out of the ground. But that’s not some stand-in for “Adam,” because we have another example of ANOTHER person who had a similar origin.

Here is another example of a supernatural origin of humans in Greece:

They say that the first man in this land was Aras, who sprang from the soil. He founded a city around that hillock which even down to our day is called the Arantine Hill, not far distrant from a second hill on which the Phliasians have their citadel and their sanctuary of Hebe. Here, then he founded a city, and after him in ancient times both the land and the city were called Arantia.

Pausanias, Description of Greece, Book 2, Chapter 12

Also, here is how Pausanias describes the inhabitants of the Island of Aegina:

The Aeginetans dwell in the island over against Epidauria. It is said that in the beginning there were no men in it; but after Aeacus brought to it, when uninhabited, Aegina, daughter of Asopus, its name was changed from Oenone to Aegina; and when Aeacus, on growing up, asked Zeus for settlers, the god, they say, raised up the inhabitants out of the earth.

Pausanius, Description of Greece 2.29

And here is another one:

Boeotia borders on Attica at several places, on of which is where Plataea touches Eleutherae. The Boeotians as a race got their name from Boeotus, who, legend says, was the son of Itonus and the nymph Melanippe, and Itonus was the son of Amphictyon.

Pausanius, Description of Greece, Book 9, Chapter 1

Remember that name – Amphictyon. It will be important later. He was already mentioned as the “first king” of Athens, but we’re going to continue with this quote of Pausanius:

The cities are called in some cases after men, but in most after women. The Plataeans were originally, in my opinion, sprung from the soil; their name comes from Plataea, whom they consider to be a daughter of the river Asopus.

Pausanius, Description of Greece, Book 9, Chapter 1

I could go on, but I think you get the point. The solution to the population problem of Earth is that people just SPRANG UP OUT OF THE GROUND, like it was normal or something. There are many more examples of these people who “sprang from the Earth,” including Cecrops, who was also the first to sacrifice to Zeus as the chief god. But I want to return to that name “Amphictyon.” Look at what we read from Apollodorus:

And Prometheus had a son Deucalion. He reigning in the regions about Phthia, married Pyrrha, the daughter of Epimetheus and Pandora, the first woman fashioned by the gods. And when Zeus would destroy the men of the Bronze Age, Deucalion by the advice of Prometheus constructed a chest, and having stored it with provisions he embarked in it with Pyrrha. But Zeus by pouring heavy rain from heaven flooded the greater part of Greece, so that all men were destroyed, except a few who fled to the high mountains in the neighborhood. It was then that the mountains in Thessaly parted, and that all the world outside the Isthmus and Peloponnese was overwhelmed. But Deucalion, floating in the chest over the sea for nine days and as many nights, drifted to Parnassus, and there, when the rain ceased, he landed and sacrificed to Zeus, the god of Escape. And Zeus sent Hermes to him and allowed him to choose what he would, and he chose to get men. And at the bidding of Zeus he took up stones and threw them over his head, and the stones which Deucalion threw became men, and the stones which Pyrrha threw became women. Hence people were called metaphorically people (laos) from laas, “a stone.” And Deucalion had children by Pyrrha, first Hellen, whose father some say was Zeus, and second Amphictyon, who reigned over Attica after Cranaus; and third a daughter Protogenia, who became the mother of Aethlius by Zeus.

Apollodorus, the Library, 1.7.2

Guys….. that’s the story of the Flood. Deucalion IS NOAH. And realize that Amphictyon was called the “first king” of Athens. But realize who he is:


And look what is happening all over Greece when this son of Noah is ruling in Athens:


And this is NOT a misplaced story of Adam told a thousand times over. Instead, the Greeks had their own version of Adam, who is attested by Plato himself.

The Greek Version of “Adam”

And we should also note that this is not some misplaced story of Adam, who was made from the dust. That’s because the Greeks also knew about Adam, and we see him mentioned in Plato:

He replied:-In the Egyptian Delta, at the head of which the river Nile divides, there is a certain district which is called the district of Sais, and the great city of the district is also called Sais, and is the city from which King Amasis came. The citizens have a deity for their foundress; she is called in the Egyptian tongue Neith, and is asserted by them to be the same whom the Hellenes call Athene; they are great lovers of the Athenians, and say that they are in some way related to them. To this city came Solon, and was received there with great honour; he asked the priests who were most skilful in such matters, about antiquity, and made the discovery that neither he nor any other Hellene knew anything worth mentioning about the times of old. On one occasion, wishing to draw them on to speak of antiquity, he began to tell about the most ancient things in our part of the world-about Phoroneus, who is called “the first man,” and about Niobe; and after the Deluge, of the survival of Deucalion and Pyrrha; and he traced the genealogy of their descendants, and reckoning up the dates, tried to compute how many years ago the events of which he was speaking happened.

Plato, The Timaeus

Did you catch that? The Greek name for Adam (who is “the first man”) is Phoroneus. The Greek name for “the Flood” is “the Deluge.” The Greek name for Noah and his wife are “Deucalion and Pyrrha.” In other words, Solon (who was neither Jewish nor a Christian) has a very similar version of ancient history that is described in your Bible.

How can this be so? I think there is a simple reason:


And because this stuff actually happened, it is described quite similarly in both the Bible and elsewhere.

And so with that being said, we need to describe how the Bible leaves the door open for this possibility.

The Scriptural Basis for the Idea of Angelic Participation in Populating the Earth

Now, that’s all interesting and stuff, but how does this match up with what we read in scripture? Surprisingly, there is actually a great deal of support for this in scripture. But to see it, you have to read scripture in a way that has not traditionally been understood in the last few centuries – or millennia.

The fact of the matter is that in the creation of this thing we call the universe, there were other “people” (if that’s the right word to use) who were around at the time. The Bible is quite clear about this. These are “angels,” whom the Greeks call “gods.” They are also called “heavenly beings” or “sons of God” in the Old Testament. Here is a short survey of their appearance in scripture when it comes to creation.

The Sons of God at Creation

Angelic beings are referenced as a group in creation in the book of Job. And it is God himself who notes that they were present:

Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said:

“Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
Dress for action like a man;
    I will question you, and you make it known to me.

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
    Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
    Or who stretched the line upon it?
On what were its bases sunk,
    or who laid its cornerstone,
when the morning stars sang together
    and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

(Job 38:1-7)

Therefore, we know from scripture that angelic beings were present for creation, and they were delighting in the spectacle.

Lady Wisdom and Creation

But we don’t need to reference this generally. An important thing to note is that there is one spiritual being – Lady Wisdom – who is explicitly referenced in the Bible as being present at creation, and she is chronologically connected to human beings:

The Lord possessed [footnote: or “fathered”] me at the beginning of his work,
    the first of his acts of old.
Ages ago I was set up,
    at the first, before the beginning of the earth.

When there were no depths I was brought forth,
    when there were no springs abounding with water.
Before the mountains had been shaped,
    before the hills, I was brought forth,
before he had made the earth with its fields,
    or the first of the dust of the world.
When he established the heavens, I was there;
    when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
when he made firm the skies above,
    when he established the fountains of the deep,
when he assigned to the sea its limit,
    so that the waters might not transgress his command,
when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
    then I was beside him, like a master workman,
and I was daily his [footnote: or “daily filled with”] delight,
    rejoicing before him always,
rejoicing in his inhabited world
    and delighting in the children of man.

(Proverbs 8:22-31)

As such, Lady Wisdom was there at the very beginning when the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters, and a circle was drawn in the waters to bring out dry land. She stayed around until should could rejoice in the inhabited world and delight in the PLURAL “children” of man.

Angelic Beings and the Creation of Man

So, while the heavenly host of angelic beings was present during creation, we don’t know is what they were doing. Than answer would come from the account in Genesis.

In the creation account in Genesis, the account uses singular verbs for all of the creation actions, and as such it is clear that God alone takes these actions. But then, something strange happens. Look at what the text says about the creation of mankind:

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

So God created man in his own image,
    in the image of God he created him;
    male and female he created them.

And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
(Genesis 1:16-28)

This is where some Hebrew comes into play. What exists in that bolded passage is a declaration of God to a plural number of hearers. This is clear from the grammar of that verse (which you can see in the interlinear at this link).

The Hebrew verb tense of that verb is the Jussive/Cohortative. If one were to command a single person to do something in Hebrew, one would use the ordinary imperative tense. But when one is commanding multiple people in Hebrew, one must use the Jussive/Cohortative. One may use the Jussive/Cohortative to declare one’s intent (which could apply to God here), but this is implicitly related to a request for permission to do something (which would not seem to apply to God anywhere). The full range of uses of the Jussive/Cohortative is as follows:

1. Third Person Jussives. The third person jussive expresses a request or mild command to encourage a certain behavior in a person outside of direct conversation. Jussives are translated using the English equivalents of “may” and “let” (e.g., “may he,” “let him”).

2. Second Person Jussives. Second person jussives are not as common because second person commands use the imperative. However, since Hebrew imperatives cannot be negated, the second person jussives are crucial for expressing prohibitions or requests that someone not do something.

3. First Person Cohortatives. The first person cohortative expresses personal requests (“may I . . . ” or “let me . . . “) or personal intent (e.g., I intend to . . . ” or simply “I will . . .”).

The combined use of the imperatives (limited to second person and never negated) and the jussives/cohortatives (all persons and can be negated) allows for the expression of commands and requests in all contexts.

Karl V. Kutz, Rebekah L. Josberger; Learning Biblical Hebrew: Reading for Comprehension: An Introductory Grammar, Lexham Press, ISBN: 978-1-68359-084-2; (2018) pp. 195-196

Because there is no “permission” involved, and because there is no negative command, the only remaining option that is grammatically acceptable (at least based on the sources I have) is a command to multiple people. Those multiple people would be angelic beings.

However, immediately after this command for MULTIPLE people to make man, we get a parenthetical explanation of how it happened. And when this is done in Genesis 1:27 (which you can read in the interlinear using this link), it switches back to the singular imperfect, the simple past tense for a single actor.

If you wat an explanation of how Adam and Eve could be existing at this point in Genesis 1, look at this post, where I broke down Genesis 1 and 2 into a single coherent creation account.

As such, we have an explanation that matches with what the Church Fathers are saying. Genesis 1 clearly says that God is the Creator of the body, soul, and idea of mankind. Or, as St. Augustine would say, God is the “efficient cause” and “produces not only the natural bodily forms, but even the life itself of the living creatures.” That would be Adam and Eve.

But everyone after Adam and Eve? Well, this would be the command to the heavenly host to whom God is addressing. What did they do? Well, as St. Augustine would say, they produce “the form which is constructed by potters and smiths, and that class of artists who paint and fashion forms like the body of animals.”

Scriptural Clues That People Existed Outside the Garden of Eden

You can also get this idea of a difference between people DIRECTLY descended from Adam and Eve (by ordinary sexual generation) and other people who were brought forth by some supernatural means (with the participation of angelic beings) in scripture.

One such place is in the taunt that Sennacherib’s gives to king Hezekiah:

“Thus shall you speak to Hezekiah king of Judah: ‘Do not let your God in whom you trust deceive you by promising that Jerusalem will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria. Behold, you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands, devoting them to destruction. And shall you be delivered? Have the gods of the nations delivered them, the nations that my fathers destroyed, Gozan, Haran, Rezeph, and the people of Eden who were in Telassar? Where is the king of Hamath, the king of Arpad, the king of the city of Sepharvaim, the king of Hena, or the king of Ivvah?’”
(Isaiah 37:10-13)

Isn’t it strange that there is a way to distinguish “the people of Eden who were in Telassar”? Why doesn’t Sennacherib just say “the people in Telassar”? The only way that is possible is if you can differentiate Adam and Eve and their direct line (which was preserved through the descendants of Noah) and everyone else.

In fact, we get a strange taste of this in the book of Job, where Elihu tries to approach Job and he says a very strange thing:

“But now, hear my speech, O Job,
    and listen to all my words.
Behold, I open my mouth;
    the tongue in my mouth speaks.
My words declare the uprightness of my heart,
    and what my lips know they speak sincerely.
The Spirit of God has made me,
    and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.
Answer me, if you can;
    set your words in order before me; take your stand.
Behold, I am toward God as you are;
    I too was pinched off from a piece of clay.

Behold, no fear of me need terrify you;
    my pressure will not be heavy upon you.
(Job 33:1-7)

Why did he say he was pinched off from a piece of clay? Why didn’t he say that he was a son of Adam and Eve? Eve wasn’t pinched off from a piece of clay. What is going on? Well, what this really looks like is the Greek idea that individuals other than Adam and Eve were made to populate the Earth after Adam and Eve’s creation.

What did that look like? I have no idea. But I do know that if you had asked a Greek person to draw a picture of it and put it on a vase, it would look something like this:

We also get a sense of this in Amos, where the book of Amos refers to the “scepter of the house of Eden” which is in Damascus, and he contrasts that with the “scepter of the house of Ashkelon” in Amos 1. Click here to read that yourself.

As such, we have some scriptural hints that human beings after the flood are differentiated between those who came from Noah (and are thus “from Eden”) and people who came from somewhere else (and perhaps were “pinched off from a piece of clay”?).

Also, do you ever wonder why it is that God claims that human beings will only live for 120 years in Genesis 6:

Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” (Genesis 6:3)

But human beings in the line of Noah continue to live way past 120 years all the way up into the days of Moses? One explanation is to say that God was merely saying that the flood would come in 120 years. However, there is no textual support for that. Instead, that’s just an “out” to explain the fact that humans live more than 120 years after this declaration.

Another explanation is one that fits with this idea, which is that there was a second supernatural creation of human beings after the Flood. As such, this means that Noah and his family were coming down to a POPULATED earth, not an empty earth.

And believe it or not, we have some textual clues from Josephus that this was the case. Did you notice it when I quoted him earlier? Here’s what he says:

Now the sons of Noah were three,—Shem, Japhet, and Ham, born one hundred years before the Deluge. These first of all descended from the mountains into the plains, and fixed their habitation there; and persuaded others who were greatly afraid of the lower grounds on account of the flood, and so were very loath to come down from the higher places, to venture to follow their examples. Now the plain in which they first dwelt was called Shinar. God also commanded them to send colonies abroad, for the thorough peopling of the earth, that they might not raise seditions among themselves, but might cultivate a great part of the earth, and enjoy its fruits after a plentiful manner. 

(Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book 1, Chapter 4)

Who were these “others” who were “greatly afraid of the lower grounds on account of the flood”? Are we supposed to pretend that was Noah and his wife and the other women? That seems ridiculous. A better explanation is that it was the OTHER PEOPLE on the earth at the time Noah descended in the Ark. (If you want to know how that chronology is possible, see this piece I wrote explaining how time does not work normally between heaven and earth.)

In other words, Josephus (who was an ordinary Pharisee living shortly after Jesus) believed that when Noah and his children descended with the ark, there were OTHER PEOPLE there, who followed them and settled in Mesopotamia.

This way of thinking is “crazy,” according to modern standards, but on the other hand, many things in scripture are “crazy according to modern standards. it is also something that fits with scripture, which is also “crazy,” you have to admit.

It also just so happens to solve the Genesis Population Problem – both before and after the Flood.

It also happens to generally fit with non-biblical accounts of history. Though it is strange, this solution creates a single generally coherent timeline of the human population over time and allows for a single timeline of Genesis 1-11 that we can actually create. But that’s the next post.

What we need to do now is give a bit more scriptural support to this idea that angelic beings can do some crazy biological things. We also need to put some clear theological guardrails on what is and is not orthodox Christianity.

4. What Are the Limits of This Idea

Now, you’ve read this blog post. Good for you. But don’t go out teaching Sunday School or anything, because you might get kicked out of your church or something. However, even if you keep it to yourself, we need to make sure that we don’t go crazy with this idea. Just as the Gnostics went too far with the idea that the “spiritual” world was the “real” world, we do not want to go to far with this idea that angelic beings have a role to play in populating the world.

Only God is Rightly Called “Creator”

The first limit is something we already talked about in the section on the church fathers. That is the fact that only God is rightly called “creator.” One thing we should note from scripture in Genesis 1 is that any action that is taken by any angelic being is taken with the explicit permission and by the command of God himself.

As such, it would be beyond the limits of scripture to say that angelic beings “created” human beings. While it might be okay to say they “helped create” human beings, this gets a little too close to the line, because it implies that if God didn’t have their help, it wouldn’t have happened. But God doesn’t need their help. He just lets them participate. In the same way, you don’t “help” plants grow. God makes them grow through the sun he created, the water he created and provided, the life that he put into the seeds, and in the processes that we can “participate” in, but not ever “help” to happen.

As St. Augustine said, “We do not call gardeners the creators of fruit trees.” And the same applies to angelic beings and humans.

Angelic Beings Have No Power Over “Life”

If you look carefully, you can see that in the Bible, angelic (or demonic) beings can do some downright CRAZY biological things. It happens in the book of Exodus.

Most people remember the story of the exodus as Israel coming out of Egypt. God does some crazy stuff, but… …um…. …how do I put this? Crazy stuff is done by someone who is NOT God. Take a look:

Then the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “When Pharaoh says to you, ‘Prove yourselves by working a miracle,’ then you shall say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and cast it down before Pharaoh, that it may become a serpent.’” So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the Lord commanded. Aaron cast down his staff before Pharaoh and his servants, and it became a serpent. Then Pharaoh summoned the wise men and the sorcerers, and they, the magicians of Egypt, also did the same by their secret arts. For each man cast down his staff, and they became serpents. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs. Still Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the Lord had said.
(Exodus 7:8-13)

So, let’s get this straight. The magicians of Egypt, working through the gods of Egypt (see Exodus 12:12 and Numbers 33:4) took a STICK and turned it into AN ACTUAL SNAKE. They are able to take formerly living material (a staff) and turn it into a living thing (a snake). But that’s not all:

Moses and Aaron did as the Lord commanded. In the sight of Pharaoh and in the sight of his servants he lifted up the staff and struck the water in the Nile, and all the water in the Nile turned into blood. And the fish in the Nile died, and the Nile stank, so that the Egyptians could not drink water from the Nile. There was blood throughout all the land of Egypt. But the magicians of Egypt did the same by their secret arts. So Pharaoh’s heart remained hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the Lord had said. (Exodus 7:20-22)

In this miracle, the magicians of Egypt are able to take inanimate material – water – and turn it into ACTUAL BLOOD, which involves making ACTUAL RED BLOOD CELLS. Strange to think about, isn’t it? Looks like heavenly beings know how to manufacture blood. But that’s not all:

nd the Lord said to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Stretch out your hand with your staff over the rivers, over the canals and over the pools, and make frogs come up on the land of Egypt!’” So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt. But the magicians did the same by their secret arts and made frogs come up on the land of Egypt. (Exodus 8:5-7)

So… I don’t really know what is going on here, but what is clear is that angelic beings are able to command living things – frogs, in this case – to act according to their will.

This battle between spiritual beings was SO CRAZY that it is even mentioned in extra-biblical accounts more than 1500 years after the fact. Look at what Pliny the Elder says in his book “Natural History,” which is essentially an encyclopedia of the Roman world. This is the section on “magic.” After saying that “Zoroaster” invented magic. This is a rather curious name, because as we know from the Bible, the name of “Zerubbabel” or “Zorobbabel” means “born in Babel” or “planted in Babel” or “begotten in Babel.” The word “aster,” on the other hand, means “star.” As such, the name “Zoroaster,” who is the origin of magic according to the Romans, has a name that means “born in the stars.” Strange.

We should also know that the traditional name of the magicians of Egypt are Jannes and Jambres, which you can see in 2 Timothy 3:8. We get them mentioned again by Plinty the Elder:

There is another sect, also, of adepts in the magic art, who derive their origin from Moses, Jannes, and Lotapea, Jews by birth, but many thousand years posterior to Zoroaster: and as much more recent, again, is the branch of magic cultivated in Cyprus. In the time, too, of Alexander the Great, this profession received no small accession to its credit from the influence of a second Osthanes, who had the honour of accompanying that prince in his expeditions, and who, evidently, beyond all doubt, travelled over every part of the world.

Pliny the Elder, Natural History, Book 30, Chapter 2

That’s just a small citation to show that the Bible isn’t merely a story that Christians and Jews tell themselves. Instead, it is a story that non-Christians and non-Jews also believed to be ordinary history. But that being said, notice what the magicians of Egypt and the gods of Egypt CANNOT do:

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Stretch out your staff and strike the dust of the earth, so that it may become gnats in all the land of Egypt.’” And they did so. Aaron stretched out his hand with his staff and struck the dust of the earth, and there were gnats on man and beast. All the dust of the earth became gnats in all the land of Egypt. The magicians tried by their secret arts to produce gnats, but they could not. So there were gnats on man and beast. Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.” But Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the Lord had said. (Exodus 8:16-19)

The magicians and gods of Egypt tried to take dust and turn it into a living thing. They could not do it. As such:

Angelic (or demonic) beings have no power to create life.

This is even consistent in non-Biblical accounts. Go back and look at the Epic of Gilgamesh, and you’ll see that the goddess who made Enkidu had to BORROW material to make that man.

And this isn’t even the rule for “men.” In that passage above, the word for what the magicians were trying to make is translated as “gnat,” but it could just as easily be translated as “lice.” In other words, it is an extremely small and simple living thing. But the magicians of Egypt – and the gods of Egypt – are powerless to repeat the action of the Lord God.

What I take from this is simple: Life ONLY comes from God. The angelic beings can mess around with things that already exist and which were already made, but they are powerless to create.

All Human Beings Still Made in the Image of God

The last thing to note about this idea is that it is only “detail,” and it does not change the original Christian doctrine that Adam and Eve are our first parents, and that ALL human beings come from Adam. This is true in two ways.

All Human Beings Are FROM Adam

First, let’s imagine that some fertility doctor takes a sperm from a man and an egg from a woman and fertilizes the egg in a lab. We could say that this baby is then put inside a surrogate mother, or we could go further and pretend that just like this experiment where scientists were able to grow a chicken outside of an egg, the doctor is able to do the same thing with a very complicated artificial womb. When that baby is “born” (whatever that happens to mean in this context), does that baby have parents? Of course he does. The parents are the source of the material that brought the baby into being. His parents aren’t the doctor and the surrogate. The parents are the parents. This is obvious.

In the same way, no matter what these angelic beings “do,” it is Adam and Eve who are the true PARENTS of ALL humanity. This is quite clear from the Bible. This is why being a “son of Adam” and being a part of “mankind” is quite literally the same thing.

All Human Beings Have the Same Nature

Second, we need to understand that human beings share the same nature, regardless of whether they were descendants of Adam through ordinary biological means or whether their connection to Adam was by the supernatural act of an angelic being.

To understand this, we need to understand the language and thought process of the church fathers, which is VASTLY different from our own. For example, look at St. Augustine’s description of what God is the creator of in the same excerpt we quoted above:

Wherefore I know not what kind of aid the angels, themselves created first, afforded to the Creator in making other things. I cannot ascribe to them what perhaps they cannot do, neither ought I to deny them such faculty as they have. But, by their leave, I attribute the creating and originating work which gave being to all natures to God, to whom they themselves thankfully ascribe their existence.

What does that word “nature” mean? In English, we might think that “nature” means “what is outside,” but that’s a ridiculously narrow view of this word. The word “nature” comes from the Latin natura, which speaks to something’s “substance” or “essence” in a very philosophical way.

In other words, something’s “nature” is what that thing REALLY IS. Just as we said before, a sculptor can make a statue of a lion, it is God that made “lions” and “marble” and every other thing and idea that is encapsulated in that object that looks like a lion. We could call the sculpture a lion, but if we got down to what it “really is,” it is a chunk of marble (which the artist did not make) that only LOOKS like a lion (which the artist did not make). This is why the sculptor is what St. Augustine would call an “artificer,” and only God is called the “creator” of lions, marble, art, and the idea of statues.

And so what does God create? He creates ALL NATURES. That doesn’t mean he “makes” all statues, or all buildings, or all gardens, or all clothes, or all financial portfolios, or all computers (although in one sense, you could say that he does). But it does mean that an IDEA you may form about anything in the world or outside of the world is something that God thought of and came up with FIRST. As such, God is the creator of all NATURES. In practice, this means that even if I somehow make something that has never existed before, like a breed of blue bananas, it is God who made bananas and God who made the color blue, and it is God who created the genetic structure of plants that allowed me to breed that strange fruit, and it is also God who controls and governs the light spectrum to let me even see the things that I “made.” That is what it means that God is the creator of all things.

So, with that understanding, note what is so important about Adam, whom God made with no help:

Adam who is the NATURE of mankind.

He’s the nature of men, and also the nature of women, because even Eve came “from” Adam. This is clear as well, because the name “Adam” really just means “man.” Therefore, anyone who “is human” is BY DEFINITION someone who shares the nature of Adam.

As such, we have the same nature and all human beings are made in the image of God.

All Human Beings Are Made in the Image of God, Regardless of Angelic Participation

Additionally, an important question is the issue of the image of God, because the idea of the “image of God” is integral that human beings have worth and value. As it says in Genesis 9:

“Whoever sheds the blood of man,
    by man shall his blood be shed,
for God made man in his own image.
(Genesis 9:6)

That verb “made” is singular there. As such, this would have to be referring to the creation of Adam recorded in Genesis 2:

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.
(Genesis 2:7)

If you’re confused on this explanation, you’ll have to see this post, where I explain the relationship between Genesis 1 and 2 in detail. This seems like it could create a problem, because there is an indication that this “image of God” is passed by Adam to his natural descendants:

This is the book of the generations of Adam. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created. When Adam had lived 130 years, he fathered a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth. (Genesis 5:1-3)

As such, it seems that my idea could create the possibility that if other human beings were made outside of this direct biological descent from Adam, those human beings would not have this “image of God.” That’s the potential problem.

But the problem is not very hard to solve, as it is addressed directly in the text. As we discussed before, the scriptural support for the idea that the earth was populated with human beings that came FROM Adam but THROUGH supernatural means comes from Genesis 1:26:

Then God said, “Let us make (plural) man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26)

As such, the command to make human beings through supernatural means FROM Adam includes the command to make those people in the “image” and “likeness” of God. Therefore, everyone who is human has the image of God in a way that gives them worth and value. This idea changes nothing about that idea, because the text of scripture does not allow change to that idea.


So, that’s my explanation of the Genesis Population Problem. It is not “theistic evolution” and it is not any middle ground between “evolution” and “the bible.” Instead, it is downright supernatural.

I know this is a crazy way to look at things. It’s a way of looking at things that might get you kicked out of a normal church as a kooky heretic if you speak up. However, this is definitely a way of looking at things that is supported by scripture and within the umbrella of orthodox Christian thought. It attributes “creation” to ONLY GOD.

But there is one more piece to this puzzle. That is the question of when all of this is happening. To answer this, we need to talk about heaven and earth and the passage of time. That’s for the next post.

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