A common question asked by people who are skeptical of Christianity is how Cain, the disgraced son of Adam found a wife?

The unsaved skeptic understands the basic premise of what happened, but makes a couple mistakes in their logic.  They understand the Adam and Eve were the first two human beings created, and that the Bible mentions their sons Cain and Abel.  Cain murdered his brother Abel and went into exile.

The first assumption they make is that Cain was not married at the time he murdered his brother.  The Biblical narrative does not say anything about his marital status before he killed Abel, he just is sent into exile.  He could have been married, so the problem of him finding a wife once in exile probably would not have been an issue.  We also don’t know how far his other brothers and sisters would have scattered from outside of Eden, so that even if he was single when he went into exile, he could have found a wife.

The second and most pressing assumption they make is that the rules on incest that we presently have would have been present soon after creation.  It is a common fallacy that if something is true today, then it must have been true in the past.  This ignores a few basic facts of science and scripture.

1.  In the first generations after creation the human genome would have had minimal corruption from mutations and other cellular damage.  There would have not been the dangers associated with marriage among siblings, cousins, aunts, and uncles that there presently is.  Due to modern problems it is not safe for humans to marry closer than a third cousin, the child of one’s parent’s cousin.  Closer to creation, the few mistakes there would have been in the human genome, the safer it would have been for siblings, cousins, etc. to marry.

2.  God prohibited homosexuality and sexual relations outside of marriage, but the rules about siblings intermarrying was only prohibited by the time of Moses.  Noah’s grandkids would have had to intermarry after the flood since the human race was only Noah, his wife, Ham and his wife, Shem and his wife, Japeth and his wife.  Abraham was married to Sarah, who was his half sister.  Moses’ father, Amram was married to Jochabed, who was his aunt.  It was not wrong for close relatives to marry.

The logical conclusion of all of this is that Cain’s wife was either his sister, a niece, or grand niece of some sort.  It is not that hard to figure out…just logic.

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  1. Thanks for your thoughtful post!  As a person who is skeptical of Christianity, I find it refreshing that you are thinking that biology is compatible with religion.  That said, I disagree with your assumption that God created man without deleterious alleles in his genome.  Given the strength of inbreeding depression in humans, it seems that inbreeding depression was a feature not only of humans, but of humans’ distant ancestors as well.  If we cannot say that humans had distant ancestors, and that God created all the animals separately and at the same time, then it is unreasonable to say that God created man without inbreeding depression as a prominent feature of his reproductive biology given current knowledge on the subject.  As long as we’re assuming God’s existence and omnipotence, your argument would be stronger if you attributed Cain’s fertility to God’s benevolence as opposed to biological phenomena.

    Jesus Christ, I sound so condescending.  I really didn’t mean to tone my comment this way, and I promise this isn’t how I usually am, but I can’t think of any other way to get myself across accurately.  Seriously, though, I think if you bone up a little more on biology you’ll be better able to work it into your biblical rationalizations.  Plus, biology is fun!

    1. Thank you for your insights.  I don’t believe there is a separation between religion science and try to harmonize them.  Good science is compatible with good faith. 

      I would add the theological dimension that was alluded to, but not directly stated.  There was a dramatic change in creation as a result of the fall of man.  Romans 5 discusses that death came about as a result of sin, and Romans 8:1-18 discusses the disasterous impact upon creation by the fall.  My harmonization of science and theology would indicate that the fall of man would have initiated the corruption of human chromosomes.  Inbreeding would have far less dangerous among individuals without chromosomal corruptions than it is now, thus the genetic reasonability of Cain marrying a sister or niece.

      There is more I could say, but not now.

  2. I’m going to throw a little wrench in this argument.  There are some who see the Bible as God’s word, but look a bit deeper than Adam and Eve literally being the first humans and instead see them as archtypes.  Thus, Cain didn’t marry his sister or direct relative necessarily.

    The lady I’m linking is a devout Christian.  She’s also an anthropologist.  She’d view herself as a conservative most probably except when it comes to science – she does not accept the theory of evolution, but also does not accept YEC.  She’s an Old Earth Creationist and she sees the archaelogical and geological record as supportive and more importantly the Bible as supportive of her assertions.  She’s got some interesting posits to be sure.

    Just Genesis.

    As to who exactly she thinks is Cain’s wife?  Here.   And she sees this as not taking away from the theological aspect of the story.

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