Monday, January 28, 2008

The age of Adam?

The following was my response to a discussion that I was part of on the age of Adam. The Bible records Adam's age at 930 years. In this discussion we were trying to determine if Adam's age was counted from the moment he was created or the moment was expelled from the Garden of Eden. Here is where my thoughts went on this issue:

In our ongoing discussion about the age of Adam, I would like to provide you with something to ponder. Let me begin by telling you that the responses I am receiving seem to fall in one of three categories. People believe either that the 930 years of Adam’s life represent his time from his creation to his death, or they simply admit that they do not know, or they show a complete disinterest.

Now let me add something to the question. As you recall I wanted to know whether the 930 years represented Adam’s life from creation or from after the fall. I then asked a follow up question that asked how much time Adam (and Eve) spent in the Garden of Eden before the fall (curiously this question received no real response). Again for those who answered the first question the consensus was that the 930 was from Adam’s creation. I would now like to propose the possibility that the 930 years were in fact the number of years that Adam lived after the fall.

It seems that in the realm of time two events must occur. One, something must begin and two, something must end. The measuring of time is contingent upon that measurement having a fulfilled destiny. When measuring the time of one’s existence that measurement is based on one’s existence beginning and ending. Even the mid-measurements (such as birthday’s) are contingent upon the very fact that sometime in the future there will be and endpoint.

To further illustrate this point let us look at the nature of time in an everlasting state. In an everlasting environment where one neither physically ages nor dies, the very concept of measuring time becomes irrelevant. Surely, no one believes that when we get to Heaven we will track the number of years we have been there. What would be the point? If something never ends then its time frame is non-existent. You may have a starting point but if there is no end, then why count the days at all.

Remember the movie Groundhog Day. Bill Murray’s character woke up everyday to find that he was reliving Groundhog Day over and over. Even though he was living, he was not aging and he was not going to die. Once he figured out what was going on he realized that even though the same events were constantly occurring around him he could act differently every day. Now imagine if everyone else knew that they were living everyday without regards to aging or dying. Would anyone in this situation be counting his or her days? What would be the point? Would not they just be living life to its ultimate fulfillment? Perhaps they would take the time to master the piano as Bill Murray’s character did? After all, they would have ALL the time in the world to do whatever they wanted to do. The point of all this is to show that time is not a factor when time does not end.

Now imagine, Adam and Eve in paradise. A paradise where time is not a factor because there is no end to paradise and no death has yet come to Adam and Eve. It would seem that life as we know it, a life where death is a factor is fundamentally different from life without death. Imagine if everyone began life in paradise and then everyone fell from paradise. Where would we begin to count their days? We do not sit around and say that Paul is now nearly 2000 years old. We do not say it because it is not true. The Apostle Paul may have died nearly 2000 years ago but he has not continued to age in Heaven. For Paul time is no more. Now put that scenario in reverse. Before the fall, time simply was not a factor. The world may be twirling in space and the plants and trees may be growing. Nevertheless, Adam and Eve were waking everyday to another day where they were not getting older and they certainly were not marking the passage of time to their deaths.

Naturally, someone will ask about the days. After all, we know that at least 7 were counted. I do not want to get into a discussion about whether they were 7 literal days or figurative. Although that is an important issue, for our discussion here it is not important. However you may view the 7 days of creation the fact remains that by the time Adam and Eve came on the scene there was a sun and moon and the earth was rotating and that means that there were days and nights. The question we have to ask is would 2 people whose lives were never going to end bother to count those days? Furthermore, once they had fallen and had begun to age, it seems quite conceivable that they would begin to count their days. It seems very likely that Adam would remember that it has been 12 moons since he was thrown from the glories of paradise. It further seems plausible that Adam would count his days from this point forward. Perhaps not even Adam knew exactly how long he was in the Garden.

I cannot say for sure that this little theory of mine is correct. I can say that whether it is correct or not it in no way takes away from the integrity of Scripture. For if this theory is correct it does not mean the Bible was wrong in the 930 years it simply means that the Bible in its own calculation of the 930 took in to account the very nature of measuring time as well as the fundamental differences of a life with death and a life that is everlasting.

Now then, many of you maybe wondering why should we even be concerning ourselves with this issue. First, it is important because any knowledge that we can gain about Scripture is worthy of pursuit. Secondly, it is important because I believe it provides us with insight into exactly what paradise and therefore what Heaven is like. I often believe that as Christians we limit our view of life to the days that we count and not to those that we will live in the everlasting. This look into Adam’s age gives us a look into the difference of life with Christ and life without Christ. With Christ one is free to live life to its fullest without regard to aging and the ever present approach of death. Life without Christ is being bound to the rat race that forces one to struggle with trying to do everything before their inevitable death. Life without Christ is a constant battle to cheat death. Unfortunately, death cannot be cheated forever. You may get lucky and be able to count your days for many, many years but sooner or later death will find you. Without Christ this will always be a fact. With Christ though, death is merely a shift in life from one with aging, pain, and disappointment to one that allows for freedom, creativity, and fulfillment in Paradise. So imagine, if you were Adam or Eve, and you spent your days not worrying about how many had passed and how many were left, how would you change the way you lived?


Anonymous said...

Groundhog Day? I hope heaven is not anything like it...

But to your question:
I agree with you. The 930 years are years after the fall.

remember when the lord says something like "the day you eat of it
(the fruit) you will surely die"?
and in the psalms it says that for God 1000 years are one day.

now my interpretation is that God lets Adam live a little less than 1000 years just to fullfil what he said.

Anonymous said...

If it occured after the fall....then this also clears up the controversy around the age of the earth......for if we can assume Adam was in paradise for an expansive amount of time.....not aging before the introduction of sin, why could it not have been for millions or even billions of years which he walked in the cool of the day with God in a perfect paradise? Sounds good to me! So....Adam lived in eden until the fall (covering the span of time while the earths was aging and the adaptations of species, geological and environmental changes took place. (Not evolution)

Anonymous said...

Just a thought. You had mentioned if there were no end and we were going to live forever, what would be the point of keeping track of time. I know that with God, a day is as a thousand years, but, what about learning how long it takes until you arrive at a certain point? For example, wouldn't it be good to know that you can expect to deliver your child in approximately 9 months instead of not having a clue of how long you would have to walk around like that? You would keep track of it some way, even if only by seasons or sunsets etc. How about how long it would take you to travel somewhere so you could prepare? So there are uses for time. I don't think we need to assume that Adam and Eve were in the garden for a very long time before they were tempted and fell into sin. There is no reason to speculate.

Anonymous said...

One other thought. The bible doesn't suggest that Adam counted his days, but the Bible is the inspired word of God, and surely the God of all creation knows exactly how many days Adam lived. Also, they did not die a physical death when they ate the fruit, but began the process of physical decline and their eyes being opened to know good and evil was the end of a perfect life as they knew it.

Anonymous said...

I don't think you can say that no one aged before the fall, because what was the tree of life doing in the garden then?

When they were expelled from the garden, an angel was placed there to stop access to the tree of life. If there was no ageing in the garden, then why was the tree of life put there?

I suspect that Adam and Eve were created mortal, and aged like anyone else, but that by eating from the tree of life, the harmful effects of ageing were stopped in some undefined way.

After the fall, since they could no longer eat the fruit of the tree of life, the ageing process was was no longer reststrained, thus allowing death to take hold.

However, this still doesn't answer the question of Adam's age being counted from creation or from the fall.