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Adam Lived to Be 900? Maybe, but Our Shorter Life Spans Tell Us More Than We Might Like to Admit
Archdiocese of Washington ^ | 06-09-16 | Msgr. Charles Pope

Posted on 06/10/2016 7:06:28 AM PDT by Salvation

Adam Lived to Be 900? Maybe, but Our Shorter Life Spans Tell Us More Than We Might Like to Admit

June 9, 2016

blog6-9-2016

I sometimes get questions about the remarkably long lives of the patriarchs who lived before the great flood. Consider some of their reported ages when they died:

How should we understand these references? There are many theories that have tried to explain the claimed longevity. Some propose a mathematical corrective, but this leads to other inconsistencies such as certain patriarchs apparently begetting children while still children themselves. Another theory is that the ages of the patriarchs are actually just indications of their influence or family line, but then things don’t add up chronologically when considering eras and family trees.

Personally, I think we need to take the stated ages of the patriarchs at face value and just accept it as a mystery: for some reason the ancient patriarchs lived far longer we do today. I cannot prove that the patriarchs actually lived that long, but neither is there strong evidence that they did not. Frankly, I have little stake in insisting that they did in fact live that long. I think it is best just to accept that they did.

Many scoff when I articulate this solution. They almost seem to be offended. The reply usually sounds something like this: “That’s crazy. There’s no way they lived that long. The texts must be wrong.” To which I generally reply, “Why do you think it’s crazy or impossible?” The answers usually range from the glib to the more serious, but here are some common ones:

  1. They didn’t know how to tell time the way we do today. Actually, they were pretty good at keeping time, in some ways better than we are today. The ancients were keen observers of the Sun, the Moon, and the stars. They had to be, otherwise they would have starved. It was crucial to know when to plant, when to harvest, and when to hunt (e.g., by the migratory and/or hibernation patterns of animals through the seasons). The ancients may not have had timepieces that were accurate to the minute, but they were much more in sync with the rhythms of the cosmos than most of us are. They certainly knew what a day, month, and year were by the cycles of the Sun, the Moon, and the stars.
  2. They couldn’t have lived that long because they didn’t have the medicines we do today. Perhaps, but it is also possible that they didn’t have the diseases we do. Perhaps they ate and lived in healthier ways than we do. Perhaps the gene pool later became corrupted in a way that it was not back then. There are just a lot of things we cannot possibly know. The claim about our advanced technology (medicine) also shows the modern tendency to think that no one in the world has ever been smarter or healthier than we are. We surely do have advanced technologies today, but we also have things that potentially make us more susceptible to disease: stress, anxiety, overly rich diets, pollutants, promiscuity, drug use, and hormonal contraceptives. There are many ways in which we live out of sync with the natural world.
  3. Those long years just symbolize wisdom or influence. OK, fine, but what is the scale? Does Adam living to the age of 930 mean that he attained great wisdom? But wait, David wasn’t any slouch and he only made it to 70. And if Seth was so influential (living to 912) where are the books recording his influence such as we have for Moses, who lived to be only 120. In other words, we can’t just propose a nebulous scale indicating influence or wisdom without some further definition of what the numbers actually mean.
  4. Sorry, people just don’t live that long. Well, today they don’t. But why is something automatically assumed to be false simply because it doesn’t comport with lived experience today? It is not physically impossible in an absolute sense for a human being to live for hundreds of years. Most humans today die before the age of 100, but some live longer. Certain closely related mammals like dogs and cats live only 15 to 20 years. Why is there such a large difference in life expectancy between humans and other similar animals? There is obviously some mysterious clock that winds down more quickly for some animals than for others. So there is a mystery to the varying longevities of living things, even those that are closely related. Perhaps the ancients had what amounts to preternatural gifts. (A preternatural gift is one that is not supernatural (i.e., completely above and beyond our nature or ability) but rather builds on our nature and extends its capabilities beyond what is normally or currently experienced.)

So I think we’re back to where we started: just accepting the long life spans of the early patriarchs at face value.

There is perhaps a theological truth hidden in the shrinking lifespans over the course of time in the Old Testament. Scripture links sin and death. The day they ate of the forbidden fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, Adam and Eve were warned that they would die (Gen 2:17). Yet they did not drop dead immediately. And although they died spiritually in an instant, the clock of death for their bodies wound down much later. As can be seen in the list of lifespans of the patriarchs (see above), as sin increased, lifespans dropped precipitously, especially after the flood.

Prior to the flood, lifespans remained in the vicinity of 900 years. Immediately afterward, they dropped by about a third (Noah and Shem only lived to be 600), and from there the numbers plummeted even further. Neither Abraham nor Moses even reached the age of 200, and by the time of King David, he would write, Our years are seventy, or eighty for those who are strong (Ps 90:10).

Scripture says, For the wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23). Indeed they are, especially in terms of lifespan. Perhaps that’s why I’m not too anxious to try to disprove the long lifespans of the patriarchs. What we know theologically is borne out in our human experience: sin is life-destroying. And this truth is surely writ large in the declining lifespan of the human family.

Does this prove that Adam actually lived to be more than 900 years old? No. It only shows that declining lifespans are something we fittingly discover in a world of sin. Since God teaches that sin brings death, why should we be shocked that our lifespan has decreased from 900 to 85 years? It is what it is. It’s a sad truth that God warned us about. Thanks be to God our Father, who in Jesus now offers us eternal life if we will have faith and obey His Son!

How or even whether the patriarchs lived to be more than 900 years old is not clear. But what is theologically clear is that we don’t live that long today because of the collective effect of sin upon us.


TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; History; Theology
KEYWORDS: adam; adamandeve; catholic; genesis; health; longevity; longlife; msgrcharlespope
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For the wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23).

Do we need any other explanation?

1 posted on 06/10/2016 7:06:28 AM PDT by Salvation
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To: nickcarraway; NYer; ELS; Pyro7480; livius; ArrogantBustard; Catholicguy; RobbyS; marshmallow; ...

Monsignor Pope Ping!


2 posted on 06/10/2016 7:07:42 AM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation

A usefuleness for the early patriarchs to live through several generations, was that it permitted their stories to be accurately recounted for generations; ie, to get the story down straight and make sure it was remembered properly.


3 posted on 06/10/2016 7:10:57 AM PDT by CondorFlight (I)
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To: Salvation

The sun went around the earth faster back then


4 posted on 06/10/2016 7:11:46 AM PDT by jcon40
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To: ebb tide; vladimir998; RitaOK; All
I cannot prove that the patriarchs actually lived that long

Apparently, for Catholics the assertion of the Bible that they lived that long doesn't constitute proof.

Personal anecdote: the point at which I left the Catholic Church was when a seminarian told me he couldn't prove a man named Noah ever existed, but neither could he prove he didn't. I walked away that minute after six years of cognitive dissonance.

G-d's assertion that something happened isn't good enough for Catholics.

5 posted on 06/10/2016 7:13:24 AM PDT by Zionist Conspirator (HaShem first! Anything else is idolatry, a violation of the very first commandment!)
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To: Salvation

We do not NEED another explanation, but there are quite a few good books which talk about the post flood and pre flood world and how the removal of the water vapor barrier at the highest altitudes allowed radiation to affect our genes and cause the degradation of what God created.

“The world that then was perished”


6 posted on 06/10/2016 7:14:52 AM PDT by wbarmy (I chose to be a sheepdog once I saw what happens to the sheep.)
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To: Salvation

Easy answer. God created man with perfect DNA. Perfect DNA means long lifetimes. As generations went by, flaws developed in the DNA pool resulting in the current 70 year lifespan.


7 posted on 06/10/2016 7:16:47 AM PDT by robert14 (cng)
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To: Salvation

For over 2,000 years, these stories were told verbally around the campfire....and never were written down until you reach a point where written language started to exist. So, there’s some pretty good odds that ages might have gotten shifted around and maybe told a bit different, until some guy fixated all this to exact dates with written words. So I might not be too worried or too trusting of this number business. Some of us are lucky if we barely remember our wife’s birthday.


8 posted on 06/10/2016 7:18:31 AM PDT by pepsionice
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To: wbarmy

I read somewhere, that there was a higher level of oxygen before the flood that would have contributed to longer lifespans.


9 posted on 06/10/2016 7:21:53 AM PDT by castlegreyskull
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To: Salvation

10 posted on 06/10/2016 7:23:33 AM PDT by John 3_19-21 (Trump is jiggling the handle on the DC toilet bowl.)
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To: John 3_19-21

Bookmark


11 posted on 06/10/2016 7:26:55 AM PDT by Fiddlstix (Warning! This Is A Subliminal Tagline! Read it at your own risk!(Presented by TagLines R US))
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To: Salvation
Prior to the flood, lifespans remained in the vicinity of 900 years.

Pre/Post-Flood -- THAT is the key.

The entire world was re-booted. The planet itself, magnetic field, air pressure, genetics, and perhaps shield from radiation were dramatically altered.

Pre-flood fossil record reveal much larger flora and fauna, indicating a longer genetic "expiration date." Some argue that today's current "dating" methods and mechanisms don't apply since the earth was "re-booted."

12 posted on 06/10/2016 7:27:25 AM PDT by HangUpNow
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To: Salvation
The simple answer is that prior to Noah, God placed no limit on how long humans would live. This changed in Genesis 6.

Genesis 6:3 And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.

13 posted on 06/10/2016 7:32:17 AM PDT by Ol' Dan Tucker (...and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many... Daniel 8:25)
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To: wbarmy; All
We do not NEED another explanation, but there are quite a few good books which talk about the post flood and pre flood world and how the removal of the water vapor barrier at the highest altitudes allowed radiation to affect our genes and cause the degradation of what God created.

Excellent book discusses just that:

http://www.chick.com/catalog/books/1254.asp

14 posted on 06/10/2016 7:33:02 AM PDT by HangUpNow
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To: Salvation
I cannot prove that the patriarchs actually lived that long

Yes you do! You have the inerrant, literal Word of God.

15 posted on 06/10/2016 7:33:48 AM PDT by pgkdan (The Silent Majority Stands With TRUMP!)
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To: Ol' Dan Tucker

Yep.

The best take away from all this is that no matter how long you live on earth, you will die here with all the rest of us.


16 posted on 06/10/2016 7:35:12 AM PDT by Delta 21 (Patiently waiting for the jack booted kick at my door.)
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To: Salvation

“Many scoff when I articulate this solution. They almost seem to be offended.”

Let them scoff. If they don’t believe God about something as simple as someone’s lifespan, then they surely won’t really believe God when he tells them the more preposterous story about sending His Son to die for our sins.


17 posted on 06/10/2016 7:39:22 AM PDT by Boogieman
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To: Boogieman; Salvation

Amen!


18 posted on 06/10/2016 7:43:46 AM PDT by HangUpNow
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To: Salvation

Leap years not consistent?

Seriously, if sin were to be found the reason for a shortened life span, then everyone in DC would be found to have head stones.


19 posted on 06/10/2016 7:54:34 AM PDT by V K Lee (u TRUMP TRUMP TRUMP to TRIUMPH Follow the lead MAKE AMERICA GREAT)
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To: Ol' Dan Tucker

Many consider that the 120 years refers to the amount of time which would elapse before the start of the flood.


20 posted on 06/10/2016 7:58:14 AM PDT by Diapason
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