Were there human beings on earth before Adam?
What does the Bible say?
THE BIBLE TELLS US THAT GOD CREATED ADAM AND EVE, the first man and woman, on the sixth day of Creation Week.
Before Adam and Eve's creation there had been only 5 days since the beginning of the world. In these first 6 days of history God had created plant life (Day 3), water creatures and flying creatures (Day 5), land animals and insects (Day 6), then the first man and woman (also Day 6, Genesis 1:27).
Despite this quite clear order of events, some people think “Adam” was not the first individual human on earth. Some believe that Adam was a name for a group of humans God created, while others believe there was a race of “pre-Adamites” — people who existed before Adam and Eve.
Was “Adam” a group of people?
Those who think that Adam means a group of humans, not just one person, usually point to Genesis 5:2, which says in the King James Version:
Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.
The “Adam is a group” misconception comes about when people don't realize there are two slightly different Hebrew words translated into English as Adam. You could think of the difference as being roughly equivalent to spelling Adam with a capital “A” (Adam) and a lower-case “a” (adam).
The equivalent of adam (lower case) can mean either an individual human or a group of humans. This is the word used in Genesis 5:2.
The other word (Adam) is used only in reference to the first man, and to a city on the River Jordan that later was given the same name.
Knowing this difference solves all the problems that come about if people try to use the English word always to mean the same thing.
Verses such as Genesis 5:3 make sense only when you realize that it refers to an individual:
And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness …
This could not mean that the whole human race, or even a whole group of people, lived 130 years and gave birth to a son. Other verses also make sense only if they apply to an individual.
First Adam, last Adam
In fact, in 1 Corinthians 15:45 the Apostle Paul tells us that the first man was Adam, and he compares this first man Adam with Jesus Christ, whom he calls the “last Adam”.
As Christ was an individual, this comparison makes sense only if the first Adam was also an individual.
A pre-Adamite race?
The pre-Adamite theory is the idea that humans, sometimes sub-humans evolving into humans, lived on earth before Adam and Eve.
The pre-Adamite theory comes in several forms, the worst of which are outright racist.
In centuries past, some people thought there was such a difference in appearance between dark-skinned and Caucasian people that God must have created separate inferior races of humans before Adam.
As the proponents of this idea were light-skinned or Caucasian, they thought that these inferior humans must have been the dark-skinned groups. This racist idea, which has no support in the Bible, gave support to racism and slavery on a large scale.
The problem with all the varieties of the pre-Adamite theory is that there had to have been death before Adam. Yet the Bible tells us that through one man (Adam), “sin entered into the world, and death by sin” (Romans 5:12).
Romans 5:14 tells us “death reigned from Adam”, so it is theologically impossible to have pre-Adamites living and dying before sin and death entered into the world.
The Apostle Paul further clarifies this by comparing the death-bringing sin of the first man Adam to the redemptive work of Jesus Christ.
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:22)
So, were there human beings on earth before Adam and Eve?
Absolutely not! There is no reason for Christians to hold to the pre-Adamite theory, and many reasons why they shouldn't.
- Did Adam and Eve go to Heaven?
- How old is the earth according to the Bible?
- Did humans evolve from apes? If so, which human evolved from which ape?
- Where did Cain get his wife?
- Do men have fewer ribs than women?
- Did Adam and Eve have a belly button?
- How did ancient Bible characters live hundreds of years?
- Did human languages begin at the Tower of Babel?
- How did Adam name all the world's animals in one day?
- Where was the Garden of Eden?