By Angel Manuel Rodríguez Why do some believe that God originally created more than one couple in the Garden of Eden?
Why do some believe that God originally created more than one couple in the Garden of Eden?
Humans can provide some sort of evidence to support almost anything they want to believe. Hence the need for establishing a foundation for defining and determining what is truth. Ideas have a history, and knowing about it could help us understand why people embraced them, and where the idea took them.
1. Origin of Polygenesis: This big word simply implies that at the beginning God created several couples. The opposite is monogenesis—the idea that God at the beginning created only one couple. Monogenesis was the Christian teaching up to the seventeenth century, when some began to teach that there were different divine creations of humans. This was primarily an attempt to explain the existence of human races. In other words, the differences between the races were so remarkable that they were understood to be the result of polygenesis (God created different couples).
But ideas are not static. This idea was later used to justify racism, even slavery and segregation. In Christian thinking monogenesis was theologically used to support the dogma of original sin: Sin was universal, and it was transmitted through procreation from one original couple to all humans. Under the influence of natural evolution, Catholicism no longer uses monogenism to support the dogma of original sin.
2. Other Arguments: Some have tried to use biblical arguments to promote polygenesis. It is argued that when God created fish, animals, and birds, He created, not a single pair of each one, but a large or significant number of them. With respects to humans He could have done the same. It is even suggested that the Hebrew word adam means “humankind,” not necessarily one or two of them, and that it implies that at the beginning God created many humans.
It has been also suggested that the creation of more than one couple would nicely explain the origin of Cain’s wife. According to this theory, she was born from one of the other couples that God created and placed in a different place on the earth. Some of the creation myths from the ancient Near East suggest that the gods created humans as a mass. According to one of the Babylonian myths, humans were created to take the place of minor deities who were in change of servile work for the major deities. This obviously required the creation of many humans, or a collective creation.
3. Biblical Evidence: The biblical account is unique in introducing in the beginning the creation of humans as male and female—a single couple. As far as I can tell, the literature of the ancient Near East does not contain a narrative about the creation of woman. The fact that Genesis 1 and 2 stand together indicates that we are not dealing with two different accounts of human creation, but with the same divine act. Genesis 1 states in a concise way that God created humans as a couple (male and female), and Genesis 2 provides the details of their creation.
Eve was not an afterthought, but an expression of the original divine intent as God sought to create them in His own image. The biblical text is very clear: Eve became “the mother of all living” (Gen. 3:20). Paul stated: “And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth” (Acts 17:26). Cain obviously married one of his relatives from the many sons and daughters that Adam and Eve had (cf. Gen. 5:4).
The biblical teaching should be allowed, through the power of the Spirit, to pierce the human heart that is filled with pride and arrogance, to shout deep into our conscience: We all belong to a single race! There is no room for a gradation of the value of human beings. Perhaps no other generation has witnessed the horrors to which such a gradation has led the human race more than ours. In the light of the cross of Jesus, the church, as the global community of faith drawn together from every nation, tribe, and people, is where this miracle of grace should be self-evident. n
Angel Manuel Rodríguez is retired, after serving the church as a pastor, professor, and Bible scholar.