I recently read an article which talked about Mitochondrial DNA, and it placed quite a bit of emphasis on how different female DNA was from male DNA. It even went so far as to say that Mitochondrial DNA could be traced back to one single female who was the source of all female DNA.

But Genesis 2 says:

And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. (Genesis 2:21-23, KJV)

But if God used the same DNA and Genetic signature in the rib, why would the woman not then have been an exact duplicate of Adam?

(As this is largely an issue for Creationists) How have Creationist apologists explained these verses?

  • You are ignoring Genesis 1: 26 - 31. The physical creation and therefore the source of DNA. Do you not believe'whole heartedly' that they are true as well? Jul 27 '14 at 18:48
  • 1
    Isn't this asking for opinions on how it could be as worded? Would you mind editing it to ask how Apologists or Young Earth Creationists have answered it so that it's answerable? As it is, it's just an opinion-based or general philosophical question. Jul 27 '14 at 19:21
  • @DavidStratton I hope this edit makes the question acceptable.
    – BYE
    Jul 27 '14 at 21:35
  • 1
    @gideonmarx not true God is Spirit and DNA is material. Being made in God's image does not mean physical since God has no physical characteristics. As far as I can determine, being made in God's image means being tripartite. that is having body, Spirit and Soul. the original word used was צלם tselem tseh'-lem From an unused root meaning to shade; a phantom, that is, (figuratively) illusion, resemblance; hence a representative figure, especially an idol: - image, vain shew.
    – BYE
    Jul 27 '14 at 21:44
  • 2
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because we're theologians, not scientists Jan 29 '15 at 19:43

Although I am not comfortable thinking of the account of God's creation of Eve as being in any way allegorical or mythical, I do, however, think of the account as a kind of artistic and symbolic version of what actually transpired when God created another human being--a female human being--in His image who would complement the male of the species whom He had already created.

Several observations:

ONE. While the people of Moses' day could not appreciate the complexities of the double helix and the human genome, they did realize that all living critters, including humans, give birth to other living critters "after their kind."

TWO. Prior to God's making for Adam a "helper suitable for him" (Genesis 2:18), God brought all the critters He had made to Adam and gave him the assignment of naming all the animals. Interestingly (but certainly not coincidentally), among the perhaps tens of thousands of animals Adam named, he found not one "helper suitable for him" (2:20).

THREE. God then "fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man and brought her to man" (2:22). Just as God had fashioned, for example, a male and female sheep, so also He fashioned a human female counterpart to the human male. God made something different, not identical, out of Adam's rib! Part of that difference was a major "tweaking" of the human genetic code. Subsequently, the man and woman would procreate "after their kind."

FOUR. At the exciting "reveal" after God's surgery on Adam,

The man-person said, "At last! This is bone from my bones

And flesh from my flesh.

She is to be called Woman [Hebrew: ishah],

Because she was taken out of Man" [Hebrew: ish] (2:23 CJB).

Contrast, then, Adam's inability to find a helpmeet among the animals, with his actually finding what he could never have found in the animal kingdom. Notice how the Complete Jewish Bible phrases his first words upon seeing his helpmeet: "At last!" It's as if Adam was saying,

"Whew, God, I was beginning to think you didn't know what you were doing with all those boring animals you had me name. Don't get me wrong. They were wondrous to behold, but this, this lovely creature you have made is now truly "bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh." Thank you, Lord!"

FIVE. Scripture then goes on to tells us,

"For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh" (2:24)

This part of my answer goes WAAAAAAAY beyond the scope of your question, but it is nevertheless germane in a prophetic and hermeneutically responsible way.

In a seminal passage on marriage, the apostle Paul lays out in Ephesians 5 the duties of wives to husbands and husbands to wives, and in doing so he quotes Genesis 2:24 in verse 31. Why? Because the marriage of one husband to one wife was God's design from the very beginning. And what pattern did God use in creating what we call today the "institution" of marriage? To answer that question I'll quote liberally from John Piper's book, Desiring God, pp.212-213 (excerpts):

It looks as though Paul uses the relationship of human marriage, learned from Genesis 2, to describe and explain the relationship between Christ and the church. But if that were the case, marriage would not be a mystery, as Paul calls it in Ephesians 5:32; it would be the clear and obvious thing that explains the mystery of Christ and the church. So there is more to marriage than meets the eye. What is it? The mystery is this: God did not create the union of Christ and the church after the pattern of human marriage—just the reverse! He created human marriage on the pattern of Christ’s relation to the church.

The mystery of Genesis 2:24 is that the marriage it describes is a parable or symbol of Christ’s relation to His people. There was more going on in the creation of woman than meets the eye. God . . . patterned marriage very purposefully after the relationship between His Son and the church, which He had planned from all eternity.

Therefore, marriage is a mystery—it contains and conceals a meaning far greater than what we see on the outside. God created man male and female and ordained marriage so that the eternal covenant relationship between Christ and His church would be imaged forth in the marriage union. As Geoffrey Bromiley has written, “As God made man in his own image, so he made marriage in the image of his own eternal marriage with his people.”

The inference Paul draws from this mystery is that the roles of husband and wife in marriage are not arbitrarily assigned, but are rooted in the distinctive roles of Christ and His church. . . ..

This is the foundation of the pattern of love that Paul describes for marriage. It is not enough to say that each spouse should pursue his or her own joy in the joy of the other. It is also important to say that husbands and wives should consciously copy the relationship God intended for Christ and the church.

In conclusion, even more significant than God's handiwork in creating a female egg and a male sperm, each of which when united at fertilization brings half the genetic information necessary for the beginning of a new human life, is the profound reason for God's creation of male and female: 1) to reveal to us through the analogy of marriage His grand plan of redemption and His eternal covenant with all true believers; and 2) to grant to "us in marriage the privilege to image forth . . . divine realities infinitely bigger and greater than ourselves" (ibid.).


There are at least two possible answers to the question. Some Christians consider the stories in Genesis to be allegorical, describing what God did in language and concepts that the original audience would understand. Since the original audience was neither aware of DNA, or mitochondria, this would have been a detail that obscured the message.

Those who believe the bible to be inerrant in all respects, would likely propose that since God was all powerful, it was trivial at the time of creation to make the changes to male DNA that would permit Eve to have female DNA. They would argue that, after all, God was sufficiently powerful to create all DNA in just a few hours.

  • 1
    I think this answer is on point, but I'll note the question was "How do theologians..." and not "How might those who believe the bible to be inerrant..."
    – Andrew
    Jul 28 '14 at 14:56

God is more amazing than we will ever comprehend. We still don't know what all is a part of this planet we live on, and yet He was able to create it all just by speaking. (Genesis 1) He knew how to make everything work together to sustain life. He knew how to form us so that we could function the way we do. All the intricacies that "make us tick" that we're still trying to understand He understood from the beginning.

Psalms 139:13-16 talks of how amazing we really are. "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." (NIV)

Just because He took a rib from Adam doesn't mean He's constrained to use the DNA from that rib to form Eve. An interesting side-note to this that I learned is that our ribs can regenerate in a rather short period of time. Not a game changer by any means, but still interesting to know when considering that God chose the rib to use.

God's abilities are incredibly beyond our understanding. As David said in Psalm 139:6, "Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain." How He went about creating Eve from Adam is nothing we're going to truly figure out. But we'd be foolish to say He couldn't alter the DNA even though He used Adams rib.


It is simple, it's the expression of the genes as we are finding more and more - the switchboard if you will. So it is easy to imagine JUST like it is today, that our DNA is almost identical, except the many has a Y chromosome. We know now that the gene is much more complex and interacts with the environment, and that neo-darwinism is silly. In a very short time animals can adapt to their environments by the controlled switching on and off of the regulatory genes that were relegated by the atheist evo-nuts as junk, that make the flexibility of life - yet all creatures are bound within certain limits to change. Anyway, it would be easy for God to take the DNA from the RIB, add an X chromosome, and there you go...man and woman only differ by that one chromosome after all. I think it is very telling that the bible even says that a part of Adam was used - why not just create her out of the dust like he did Adam? Maybe because the DNA was now available to him - and how did the writers of the bible know this. Why, if they were making things up, would they just not create her the same way out of the dust....it could be they were trying to say how woman is part of man, but I don't think so.


It doesn't really make sense to try to reconcile DNA and Genesis. The only way to combine them is to awkwardly shoehorn our understanding of DNA into the Genesis account, and simply say, God made the DNA to look different than Genesis says it should look.

For example, Genesis 1 has land plants being made first, then water creatures and birds, then land animals. That's simply not compatible with our understanding of DNA.

As a couple people have brought up questions on this in the comments, here is more information:

We know that birds came after land animals, not the reverse. See this graph of the Phylogenetic relationships of crocodiles, turtles, lizards, and tuataras based on mitochondrial DNA sequences. (Another source: Molecular evidence for the origin of birds). While we can't put animals at the branch points of the graph based on DNA (because those animals are long since extinct so we don't have their DNA), we can use the fossil record to fill in the gaps, and the evidence strongly shows that birds come from land dinosaurs (more 1, more 2).

Further, we know that some sea creatures such as whales are a result of land animals returning to the ocean, as shown in this easy-to-absorb youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lIEoO5KdPvg. (Note again the position of birds in the graph at 20s, near dinosaurs). At 7:15 of the video, DNA shows that whales are closely related to hippopotamuses (which you can verify using this science project procedure using online an DNA database (it's free, ignore the 'cost' listed)) and would have split off from a common ancestor about 54 million years ago. Fossils show us that those were land animals, and the fact that whales still have small leg bones inside their bodies backs this up (not to mention, the extremely awkward transition-species-like feet/flippers of modern seals and sea lions).

You can also see on Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_plant_evolution -- see the first simple graph) that land plants (and even multi-cellular life) are relatively new compared to life itself (which started in water), so the Genesis account of land plants being first doesn't work.

Here is another list of the evolutionary order of life, which puts land plants after fish, and birds after mammals, chronologically: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_evolutionary_history_of_life. This also says that flowers are relatively recent, which means that when Genesis says that fruit-bearing trees were also created before sea life and birds, it does not match the evidence.

But anyway, the answer to your question about Adam and Eve is, assuming the Genesis story is real, their DNA must have been different, and the reason it's different is because God made it that way (after all, dust doesn't have human DNA, so where did Adam's DNA come from? If Adam's DNA could be created spontaneously, then surely Eve's could, as well, despite the source being a part of Adam).

Or, maybe they had the same DNA, but were physically different, because of some reason we don't know about. Maybe they had DNA that covered both male and female, but over time the DNA of individuals changed so that now male and female are different. But that doesn't match our understanding of DNA.

But, in the end, the story of Adam and Eve and the creation in Genesis is simply not compatible with our scientific understanding of life and DNA.

  • Please take extended discussions to chat. Comments are for request for clarification and for clarifications to posts (Though clarification should be made in post if possible)
    – wax eagle
    Nov 3 '14 at 3:23
  • Thanks, I've improved the answer based on comment discussions.
    – pergendum
    Nov 3 '14 at 7:11

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.