Where Did Cain Get His Wife?
Dr. Jim Denison
Today we begin our summer preaching series, titled “Hard Questions in the Bible.” We’ll begin at Genesis and go through God’s word, asking such questions as What does God think of the Jews?, Did Jesus go to Hell?, and What is the unpardonable sin? We begin today with the issue of creation and evolution and the question, Where did Cain get his wife?
What do we know about God’s creation? And how does that knowledge apply to our lives, and to the country whose birthday we celebrate this week?
Thank God for you
The Bible starts at the start: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). So we learn that God existed before existence came to be. He made everything else that is. This is the bold and consistent claim of his word.
How did he do it?
Let’s get before us immediately the fact that Genesis does not intend to be a science book. In fact, science as a discipline is a recent invention; 90% of all the scientists who have ever lived are alive right now. Genesis is not speculative but practical. It does not tell us all we want to know about the world, but all we need to know about our place in it.
So Genesis says that God made the universe in six “days.” The word “day” translates “yom,” a Hebrew term for a defined period of time, not necessary a 24-hour day marked by sunrise and sunset. In fact, God didn’t create the sun and the moon until the fourth “day.” Some of the ancient rabbis thought Genesis meant that God did this in six days, others in six creative acts of undetermined time in between, still others in six “eons” or “ages.” We don’t know, because we don’t need to know.
When did he do it? Genesis doesn’t say, because the answer has no practical consequence in our lives. Some add up the biblical genealogies and say that God made the world in the year 4004 B.C., regardless of the evidence of geology and astrophysics. Others say the universe is billions of years old. Would it change your life to know? That’s why Genesis doesn’t say.
Did he use evolution to do it? Let’s define some terms.
Charles Darwin’s principles of evolution are really very simple: creatures procreate more offspring than can survive; the offspring possess enormous variety; there is a struggle for existence due to overpopulation; because of their variety, some of the offspring are more fit for survival than others; these capacities for survival become naturally selected and inherited.
As an example, a hundred years ago there were small-winged moths and large-winged moths in England. The small-winged moths couldn’t fly above the pollution generated by the factories of the day, and so died out. The large-winged moths could, and survived. Today there are only large-winged moths in England.
This is an example of what’s known as “microevolution”—adaptation within a biological set, genus, or species. People are taller and less hairy than they used to be. Horses are larger; most dogs are smaller. Nothing in the Bible teaches that God didn’t make the world so that it would adapt to its changing environment.
The difficulty arises when Darwin’s principles are applied across biblical categories—from apes to men, from fish to birds, and so on. This is called “macroevolution.” And it leads to problems, both with evidence and with Scripture.
The fossil record indicates no so-called “missing links” from one biblical category to another. The old Neanderthal Man, Piltdown Man, and so on are no longer representative of the best theories. Darwin said the fossil record would have to demonstrate increasingly simple organisms as we move backward in time, but it does not.
The paleontological record shows us adaptation within biblical categories, but not across them. Advocates for macroevolution now posit “spontaneous mutatory jumps” across the biblical categories, but without empirical evidence for their assumptions.
Such a theory is, of course, contrary to the clear record of Genesis. These chapters are not written as myths or legends or symbols, but as straight-forward narrative.
So it is clear that both macroevolution and biblical creationism are built on faith principles. I believe that both God’s revealed word and the best empirical research confirm the fact that God created us. And I rejoice in this fact.
Know this: you are here on purpose. You are not an accident, or the coincidence of random chaos. God made you, intentionally, for a reason.
Your body consists of 206 bones, wrapped with 650 muscles and seven miles of nerve fibers. Your eyes possess 100 million receptors, and your ears 24,000 fibers. Your heart beats 36,000,000 times every year and sends blood pumping through more than 60,000 miles of veins, arteries, and tubing.
Your brain contains 13,000,000,000 nerve cells. Picture the possible number of interconnections in your brain this way: the number of atoms in the universe is 1 followed by 100 zeroes. The number of different patterns possible in your brain is 1 followed by over 800 zeros. And your unconscious brain database, that which your unconscious brain knows and stores, outweighs your conscious brain on an order exceeding 10 million to one.
I liked what one brain and mind expert said: “If the human brain were simple enough to understand, we would be too simple to understand it.” But God does. And he made yours.
Thank God for your country
So rejoice today that God made you. And that he made everything else as well.
The first law of thermodynamics states that matter and energy can be neither created nor destroyed. Except by God, we add.
So glance at the matter and energy God has made. The Wall Street Journal recently carried an article describing the complexity of this universe. Picture a wall with hundreds of dials, it said. Each must be at exactly the right setting for carbon-based life to emerge in a suburb of the Milky Way. If the cosmic expansion of the universe had first been a fraction less, for instance, it would have imploded billions of years ago; a fraction more intense, and galaxies would not have formed. The odds of our universe’s existence and design occurring by random chance would not be accepted by any gambler, anywhere on earth.
And what an amazing world God has made. Picture a comet for a moment. Its vapor trail can be more than 10,000 miles long. But capture and bottle that “tail,” and you discover that the amount of vapor actually present in your bottle is less than one cubic inch of space.
Yet many see such phenomenal design without looking for its Designer.
Robert Ingersoll was a famous atheist. He once visited the great preacher, Henry Ward Beecher, who took him into his study. There Mr. Ingersoll noticed a magnificent contour globe of the world, with mountains and valleys painted with remarkable detail and beauty. He said, “Pastor Beecher, that is a beautiful work of art. Who made it for you?”
Knowing Ingersoll’s denial of God’s creation, Dr. Beecher replied, “Oh, nobody, it just happened.”
No, it didn’t. Your world didn’t just happen. You didn’t just happen. And your nation didn’t just happen.
Our nation’s birth is the result of the greatest sacrifices, the highest courage, the most passionate commitment to freedom and liberty. Thomas Paine captured the spirit best. This soldier in Washington’s army wrote a pamphlet to tell Americans what they needed to know about their army and their times.
Here are some of his words: “These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his Country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated.”
On December 25, 1776, as General Washington was preparing for one of the most decisive attacks of the entire war, he had Mr. Paine’s article read to all his troops. Most of his troops were half clothed and barefooted, charging in the worst possible weather, but they won. Over the next few months more than 100,000 copies of Mr. Paine’s words were printed and distributed across the infant nation. God used them to inspire our forefathers to greatness.
And miraculous events accompanied their courage. The unexpected and dense fog in August of 1776 which covered Washington’s retreat from annihilation on Long Island; the sudden freeze on January 3, 1777 which allowed Washington’s troops to travel to safety across otherwise muddy and impassable roads; the British riflemen who had Washington in their sights on September 10, 1777, but didn’t know who he was and didn’t fire; the storm of October 16, 1781 which prevented Cornwallis from retreating at Yorktown and effectively ended the War.
So we thank God this week for the courage he gave to men and women willing to fight vastly superior forces and sacrifice their lives for our nation. We thank him for the victory he gave to their armies. We thank him for the wisdom and insight he gave to their leaders.
And we pray for our country to worship its creator.
Only 36% of Americans say they have accepted Christ as their personal Savior. Some 173 million Americans are spiritually lost, 100,000 of whom live within three miles of this Sanctuary.
And so we pray for our country to come to Christ. The greatest way we can serve America is to pray for Americans.
Our title asks, Where did Cain get his wife? The author of Genesis would answer, what difference does it make? Let Genesis be what it is intended to be: not a scientific textbook but God’s revelation of his creative power and design in our world and our lives.
Perhaps God made other people, and Cain married one of them. Perhaps Cain married his sister, a necessity if no other women existed. How exactly did it happen? How long ago did God make the world? In how many “days?” By what method?
Here’s the answer: God made you. God made your world. God made your nation. And God wants us, and our country, to trust in him and to worship him today.
Will you trust God today with your greatest problem, whatever it might be? Will you give that issue in your life to your Creator?
Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse was right: God is as big as your faith. He is as big as your faith will allow him to be. How big will you let your Creator be in your life today? Will you give to him the specific problem for which you need his help the most?
And will you worship your Creator with every day you live?
President Theodore Roosevelt and his good friend, the naturalist William Beebe, would on occasion stay at Roosevelt’s family home. They would go out on its lawn at night. They would search the skies until they found the faint spot of light behind the lower left-hand corner of the Great Square of Pegasus. Then they would remember together the words:
That is the Spiral Galaxy in Andromeda.It is as large as our Milky Way.It is one of a hundred million galaxies.It consists of one hundred billion suns,Each larger than our sun.
Then President Roosevelt would grin at Mr. Beebe and say, “Now I think we are small enough. Let’s go to bed.”
Are we small enough to go to God?