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Are Humans Really Only One Family?

Different hues of children's hands and arms joining together: ID 96004707 © Rawpixelimages |

In reading Genesis, some people assume that Adam and Eve had only Cain and Abel. Then Cain kills Abel and there are only three people on the planet at this point, and yet Cain somehow worries someone will kill him and finds a wife! So this is taken as evidence of other human or humanoid groups on the planet not descended from Adam and Eve.

Some have taken their suppositions even farther to claim that various people groups such as Australian Aborigines and Native Americans are leftovers of these pre-Adamite humans. However, there are several reasons to believe this theory is in error.

The Bible does not tell us that only Adam, Eve, Cain, and Abel were living at the time of Abel’s murder. They’re just the only ones mentioned. We know Adam and Eve had many sons and daughters because the Bible tells us so (Genesis 5:4). Adam and Eve were specifically told to have many children to populate the planet, and they had perfect bodies, so no infertility.

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Even if you claim the murder happened when Cain was only 18 or so, there’s no way they would have had only two boys and no other children for all that time. Given that Seth was considered a replacement for Abel and was born when Adam was 130 (Genesis 5:3), the death of Abel was likely at least 100 years after creation and there could easily have been 500 or more people on the planet by then. Abel might have had sons and grandsons who could have come after Cain for killing him.

So the idea that there’s only four people on the planet and then Cain kills Abel is nowhere found in the text. The other descendants of Adam and Eve simply aren’t mentioned. Cain and Abel are only mentioned because they were important to the story.


As for claiming Aborigines, Native Americans, and so various other people groups do not descend from Adam and Eve, this violates both the Bible and science. There is no leg to stand on here. We know from genetics that all humans on the planet today descend from a single woman and share her mitochondrial DNA. All male humans descend from a single human father and bear his Y chromosome. So genetics specifically disproves this hypothesis of separate groups surviving today that share no ancestor with the rest of humanity.


China and Native Americans as an Example

We know from genetics that Native Americans are closely related to eastern Asians and we know where various Asian groups came from. The Miao people of China, for example, record their descent from Gomer, a son of Japeth.

The Sinites came late to China and conquered the peoples who had migrated there earlier (shortly after Babel). The Sinites descend from Sinius, a son of Canaan, a son of Ham. The Sinai peninsula and Desert of Sin are named for them. The name for China also comes from the Sinites. Sin became Tchin as the language changed, eventually becoming China. We still see the linguistic connection in such names as the Sino-Japanese War or the Sino-Tibetan language family. In fact, the Chinese language is still called Sinitic by scholars.

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So we can trace the Chinese back to the peoples dispersed from Babel and Native Americans back to the Chinese (among others). There is no evidence of separate ancestry. All peoples come from Adam and Eve, and then from Noah and his sons after the flood.

From a theological standpoint, not only does the Bible explicitly teach that all humans descend from Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:20 and others), but only descendants of Adam can be saved. Only Adam was created in the image of God and those of us who descend from him bear the image of God because of our descent from Adam. Christ came as the second Adam (I Cor. 15:21-23, I Cor. 15:45-49, Romans 5:12-14, Luke 3:23-38) to redeem His human kin from sin. Claiming some people groups are not descendants of Adam amounts to claiming they are soulless and cannot be saved. It’s incredibly racist as well (and I do not throw that word around lightly).

There is simply no evidence for these claims of separate ancestry, whether Biblical or scientific, and the evidence specifically contradicts these claims. Humans arose from just a single family as the Bible tells us.

For further reading:

  • The Tower of Babel by Bodie Hodge
  • Searching for Adam, edited by Terry Mortenson


[Editor’s note: For more information about the history of the “Pre-Adamic” alternate races idea see Creation Ministries International’s excellent article on its origin and consequences.]

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Written by Lindsay Harold

Lindsay has a Master's degree in biology and taught college-level biology courses, including General Biology and Human Anatomy and Physiology, until she became a homeschool mom. She loves science in general, as well as biology in particular. She and her husband Doug met at a creation research conference and they discuss and debate creation and evolution topics regularly. Lindsay blogs about a variety of worldview and apologetics topics at Lindsay's Logic.

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  1. Always wondered about the people outside the garden. Adam was both male and female before Eve was separated. “They” were told to multiply. Genesis 1:26-28. This was before the separation. How long this took before Adam wanted his own companion mate, we don’t know. How many people were painlessly produced we don’t know.

    • No, Adam was not created both male and female. The Bible clearly tells us that Adam was a man. He would have had male genitals only. He didn’t have a womb or breasts that were removed to make Eve. Only a rib was taken.

      God made both a male and a female on Day 6 of creation week, as recorded in Genesis 1. We are told more about the sequence of events in Genesis 2. There we find that the man was made from the dust of the earth and God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. Then, after naming the animals and finding that they all have mates, Adam knows he is alone. God knows that it is not good for the man to be alone, so he creates Eve from Adam’s rib. All of this takes place on Day 6 of creation week.

    • I don’t usually try to pick a fight here and try to keep everything positive, but “Adam was both male and female before Eve was separated”???? That can only be a product of the media-influenced transgender-sexual-identity-crisis way of thinking of this generation!!! I had never heard that statement before, but sure it will come up more and more as we spiral down toward the last days!

  2. Lindsay:
    A minor correction: Adam became a father after “he had been alive for 130 years.” However, since we don’t know how old Adam was when he was created (perhaps 20, 50, 100?), we don’t know how old he was when he became a father.

    • Adam was zero when he was created. He probably looked like he was 20 or 30 because he was not created as a child. But his life began when he was created and thus it must count his age from there.

    • It’s also worth noting that the text does not say that Adam became a father at 130 years. He was 130 years old when Seth was born, but by then Cain had already killed Abel which means that Adam and Eve no doubt had many other unnamed children by then.

  3. “We know from genetics that all humans on the planet today descend from a single woman and share her mitochondrial DNA. “

    We know from genetics that we do not descend from a single woman. I think you refer to what we call the ‘mitochondrial Eve’, being the most recent living woman to which all human beings that live now have a pure female line of descent. She is the mother of the mother of the mother (and so on and so on) of the mother of your mother.
    Same principle applies to the ‘Y chromosome Adam’. He is the most recent living man to which all human beings that live now have a pure male line of descent.
    The ‘mitochondrial Eve’ and the ‘Y chromosome Adam’ were not living at the same time.

    • I agree that Mitochondrial Eve and Y Chromosome Adam were not living at the same time. Mitochondrial Eve would be the Biblical Eve, but Y Chromosome Adam would be Noah since he is the most recent male from which all males descend. It’s interesting that we do find that humans have a single female lineage and a single male lineage as the Bible predicts. That did not have to be the case in an evolutionary scenario. We also see 3 major lineages in mitochondrial DNA that split off from Eve (L, M, and N haplogroups) and then spread all over the world. This fits very well with the 3 daughters-in-law of Noah who gave rise to all human groups after the flood. We would expect such lineages to be found all over the world due to mixing after the flood and then the dispersion at Babel by paternal clans. Of course these data do not necessarily prove the Biblical account, but they are very consistent with the Biblical account.

      The major point which does not fit with the Biblical account is the mainstream estimate of when these individuals lived. Yet those dates are based on evolutionary assumptions. If you simply apply measured mutation rates for mitochondrial DNA to the average number of differences among people today, you get an estimation of about 6,000 years for when Mitochondrial Eve lived. That’s a very interesting fact as well. This very straightforward calculation is immediately dismissed as impossible based on evolutionary assumptions, but the actual data fit very well with the Biblical account and do not contradict it.

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