People before Adam

Prehistoric life before 4000 BC

Did people live and die before Adam?

Time perspective
IF ALL TIME since beginning of the universe could be shrunk proportionately into one day, here's what it would look like:
  • 12:00 AM | Big Bang
  • 4:20 PM  | Earth cooled and formed
  • 5:00 PM  | Organic life
  • 11:08 PM | Fish and birds
  • 11:23 PM  | Dinosaurs
  • 11:39 PM  | Mammals
  • 11:59:58 PM  | Hominins
  • 11:59:59 PM  | Humans  < Start prehistoric
'Prehistoric' means before written record
The term 'prehistoric' generally refers to the time between appearance of humans but before invention of writing systems.
This period varies between different regions of the world, but generally it is in the range of 40,000 > 4,000 BC. It is equivalent to the last minute of the day if all of earth's time since the Big Bang were compressed proportionately into a single day.
Prehistoric is not way back ... in God's time, it's like a second ago! [See Origin 1.3.1 for calculation of timeline history of the universe.]
About 4000 BC appears to be a time of major change on earth, a pivot point where the whole order of life takes a new direction:
  • CIVILIZATION. Primitive cultures were becoming civilized with farming, herding, mining, specialization of labor, small-scale manufacturing and trade about 4000 BC. This was a time of synergy as people began learning and working together in community. Populations were becoming centralized, with construction projects and governments extending human control over nature and people.
  • WRITTEN LANGUAGE. Written language systems began surfacing about 4000 BC. This was a huge advance over the drawings and symbols previously carved or painted on cave walls. This was the start of historical records to document events as they occur and to survive millenniums of time. Written language was a way to share and preserve technical knowledge. Communication became more precise and nuanced.
  • GARDEN OF EDEN. The events in the Garden of Eden, recorded in the Bible in Genesis 2:8 - 3:24, and discussed at length in Origin 1.4, occurred about 4000 BC according to Bible chronology. For the first time ever, God speaks directly to man.

There have been major pivot points in the past, including each of the days (ages) of creation ... God talking to Adam in the Garden of Eden ... biblical flood ... birth, teaching and resurrection of Jesus. And the Bible says there will be more pivot points in the future, including Jesus' return to earth ... judgment and punishment ... a new heaven and a new earth.

These changes are all part of a massive unfolding divine plan outlined in the Bible! Only part of it has actually happened so far. The best is yet to come.

This section challenges two old church teachings:
> that Adam and Eve were the first human beings
> that there was no death on earth before Adam sinned

Adam and Eve not first humans

Cities existed before Garden of Eden

Adam was placed by God in the Garden of Eden approximately 4000 BC. Adam did not originate there; he was put there from the outside.

Adam and Eve's first son (Cain) murdered his brother (Abel), and God rendered this punishment:

'Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground ... You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.' Cain said to the Lord, 'My punishment is more than I can bear. Today you are driving me from the land and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on earth and whoever finds me will kill me.'

But the Lord said to him, 'Not so; if anyone kills Cain, he will suffer vengeance seven times over. Then the Lord put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him. So Cain went out from the Lord's presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden.

'Cain made love to his wife, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Enoch. Cain was then building a city, and he named it after his son Enoch.' (Genesis 4:10-17)

What were cities like at time of Adam?

We are now learning about those cities through archaeological excavations. One example is Catalhoyuk, Turkey, built prior to 4000 BC in the same general area as the Garden of Eden:

City life in 4000 BC
Catalhoyuk, Turkey
Here we find remains of an amazing Neolithic settlement that thrived in the general area of the Garden of Eden, evidence of the transition from settled villages to urban cities before 4000 BC.
The city was built in stages between 7400 BC and 5200 BC. The stratigraphy of 18 settlement layers (over 2,000 years!) shows its development, re-shaping and expansion.
The city is so huge and tightly packed – covering 37 acres – that only 5% has been excavated so far (160 buildings) after 60 years of digging. The estimated population was 3,000 - 8,000 people.
The inhabitants lived in mud-brick and timber houses built around courtyards. Each house was built with bricks of distinct composition or shape. Furnishings in the main room typ8cally included reed matting, three platforms, a plastered tomb post, an oven and stairs to the roof.
When a house reached the end of its practical life, people demolished the roof and walls and carefully filled in the lower half of the house, which then became the foundation of a new house, and the mound itself has become a rich depositary of artifacts of history.
The people of Catalhoyuk venerated bulls and worshiped a mother goddess. They produced paintings of hunting scenes and shaped objects from obsidian rock quarried a hundred miles away, indicating long distance trade.
See Origin 1.3.2 for photos and more description of this city.
Population experts estimate that the world's population in 4000 BC was approximately 7,000,000. [See population chart in Origin 1.4]

Bible dating method

The Bible does not give any dates but does give the complete family tree from Adam through Jesus, every father and every son. Often the age at death is given, but if not, average ages are used as close approximations.

By this method, Adam comes on the scene about 4000 BC. A chart and more information is at Origin 1.3.4. For over four hundred years, since the calculations of Bishop Usher of Ireland in his scholarly Annals of the World, theologians and historians have generally agreed that this genealogy is true and that there are no significant gaps.

References to Eve

When God first brought Eve to Adam, Adam said 'she shall be called woman' (female, mother). How would Adam – who was put in the Garden from the outside – understand at first glance about sexuality and human reproduction if there had never been a human mother on earth before?

After Eve sinned, God said to her, 'I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing ...' If Eve were the first woman on earth, without children at time of first sin, it would not make sense for God to say that He will INCREASE the pain of childbearing because in that case there would never have been any childbearing.

Scientific dating methods

There are more than a dozen scientific methods used for determining dates of bones, artifacts and man-made structures being uncovered by archaeologists. The most common methods are stratigraphy, topology, radiocarbon, dendrochronology, and thermoluminescence, explained in Origin 1.3.4.

Amazing advancements have been made in knowledge, chemical analysis, imaging, instrumentation and computer databases and analysis in the scientific field of archaeology over the past 30 years. The quantity and quality of data collection, excavated sites and museum specimens is now enormous and growing rapidly.

Cross-validation can now be done on the same object with various testing methods, and accuracy is assured when all methods reveal approximately the same age.

Apparent age

Some people say that scientific dating is irrelevant because God created the universe with apparent age (everything just looks old). That is a flawed argument, discussed in Origin 1.2.3.

If people lived in cities like Catalhoyuk before 4000 BC,


If Adam was put in the Garden of Eden about 4000 BC according to Bible genealogy,


There had to be a time gap between Genesis 1:27 and Genesis 2:15,




Adam's sin not cause of death

Death preceded sin

There is ample evidence that the cycle of life-and-death was functioning in the world long before 4000 BC, the time the Bible says sin first entered the world 'through' Adam.' (Note: Not 'because' of Adam;' see Origin 1.4.2 for study of Romans 5). Apparently there has been death on earth ever since the Big Bang.

The strongest evidence of prehistoric death comes from deposits of oil, coal and limestone.

OIL. Crude oil is made over millions of years from tiny plants and animals in sea water, called plankton. Plankton are trapped and buried under many layers of sand and mud. Heat and pressure gradually turn the mud into rock and the plankton into oil and gas. Plankton become oil after about 150 millions years, held in pores in underground rock, like water in a sponge. Cap rock keeps the oil from escaping. Over millions of years the rocks fold and form a dome shape that catches oil and creates a good drilling site.

COAL. Coal is made from giant plants and ferns that lived hundreds of millions of years ago in swamp forests. When they died, they formed layers at the bottom of the swamps, and water and dirt began to pile up on the dead remains. With burial, the plant material was subjected to high temperatures and pressures that transformed it into peat and then into coal.

LIMESTONE. Ocean-dwelling organisms such oysters, clams, mussels, and coral have shells that are broken down by waves and settle on the ocean floor where they are compacted over millions of years, creating limestone. As tectonic plates shift, sea bottom is often thrust up as dry land. Limestone is abundant throughout the world. It is quarried as building blocks and ground up to make Portland cement and many other products.

Even stars die

Stars are born when large gas clouds collapse from gravity. They form hot cores that gather increasingly more gas and dust until nuclear fusion develops deep in their interiors.

The more massive the star, the faster it burns its fuel supply and the shorter its life. The most massive stars burn out and explode after only a few million years. Stars the size of our sun burn out in about 10 billion years. Smaller stars burn out slower.

We now observe the death of stars – supernovas to black holes – with telescopes catching light emanating from them millions of years ago, long before Adam's sin.

Adam's understanding

If would make no sense for God to warn Adam (before Adam sinned) that the penalty for disobedience is death if no death on earth had ever yet occurred. That concept would be totally incomprehensible to Adam unless he had already seen death.

If the life-and-death cycle was operative on earth before Adam,


If Adam committed the first sin,



God's purposeful design plan

Death not a mistake

Some people interpret the Bible to say that God intended the world to be perfect – all beauty, no pain, no sorrow, no death – but that Adam's sin messed up God's wonderful plan and brought death into the world and condemned all people to eternal hell.

That interpretation of death – thought to be a bad and unintended tragedy – seems completely out of context with other things we know about God and creation.

If God is all-knowing and all-powerful, then no man's action is unforeseen by God or able to disrupt God's plan.

All evidence points to an earth that has always been subject to death in every way. That is how God purposely designed it.

After creating animals, God said it was 'good,'


After creating humans, God said it was 'very good,'


If a Bible 'day' is a long period of time [Origin 1.2],


Animals and humans had been dying since creation,


Death is not a mistake, problem or punishment caused by sin,



Need for death

God's first recorded words spoken to humans were, 'Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it' (Genesis 1:28, before Adam and Eve).

Without death, multiplication would eventually suffocate life because of overcrowding. Death is necessary to support new life.

Not only do individual creatures die, but entire species die. Scientists say that 99% of all species that ever existed are now extinct.

Death clears the way for new and better life. God's plan of slow topographical, climatological and demographical changes – and the adaptation and improvement of all life forms to those changes – results in death clearing the way for continual upgrades that come only through re-birth.

Meaning of 'death'

Throughout this site, the interpretation of 'death' is its plain and ordinary meaning: End of existence, no more consciousness.

Death is an intregral part of life. Death is not a design flaw. Death is the result of normal aging as God intended, not the result of sin.

Punishment for sin is not death itself, but rather judgment and hell.

This site will show how the Bible teaches that, after death of the body (but not soul), there will be physical resurrection, judgment and hell, then eventual final death in hell (end of existence).

The Bible says there is only one exception to death. That exception, offered to some people, is 'eternal life' – discussed next in Origin 1.5. This is the core of the Christian gospel (the good news) ... eternal life through personal faith in Jesus Christ.

  • Adam and Eve were not the first humans. The Bible says Adam and Eve, and the Garden of Eden, were about 4000 BC. Archaeology shows that there were people and cities before that time.
  • Adam's sin is not the cause of death. Life and death had been occurring on earth long before Adam.
  • Death is not a mistake or punishment for sin. God designed the universe for birth, aging and death. No man's action is unforeseen by God or able to disrupt God's plan. Death clears the way for new and better life.
God said, 'Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it,' and that's what people were doing long before Adam.
People were organizing, managing and building. With human intellect and creativity, they developed cities, trade and written languages. The face of the earth was beginning to change ... but life-and-death remained the fixed pattern for every living thing.
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