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Last Updated: 2012/01/15
Summary of question
How is Prophet Adam’s (A.S.) creation (about 5,764 years ago) make sense when fossils found from human beings are almost 25 million years old?
From the beginning of Prophet Adam’s life till this day about 5,764 years have passed. The oldest human fossil that has been found up to today is from 25 million years ago! Please answer using evidence.
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Detailed Answer

There is no inconsistence between these two. If we have heard that Prophet Adam has been created six to seven thousand years ago, this might refer to a different and new generation of human beings which started with Prophet Adam (A.S.) and might have been preceded by numbers of generations of human beings who have gone extinct. There is a lot of evidence in hand that suggests a whole different generation of humans unlike Prophet Adam existed before him.

This is also in accord with the teachings of the Quran and Islamic Hadith. [1]

Allamah Tabatabai (R.A.) comments under the first ayah of surah Nisa’: “The surface meaning of the verse suggests that the term “ نفس واحدة ” is referring to Adam and “ زوجها ” to Eve, who are the mother and father of mankind. We also are from this generation [2] of humans and judging by the Quran, mankind’s species goes back to them. The noble verse implies that the existing generation of human beings goes back to Adam and Eve and that nobody else has played any part in producing this generation.

In the history of the Jews we read that the human species we know of doesn’t surpass a history of approximately seven thousand years which seems to be reasonable. Therefore, logic suggests the same as what history dictates. But geological experts believe the history of human beings to be millions of years.

This is their point of view, but the proof they present isn’t convincing. We don’t have a reason that proves that these fossils belong to the ancestors of this chain of human beings we witness today. We also have no reason to believe that these fossils don’t belong to a generation or kind of beings who lived before Prophet Adam (The Father of Mankind) and were instinct way before our ancestor and were never connected to the chain of human beings we are from.

The Holy Quran has not explicitly explained the emergence of mankind on the planet earth, in terms of whether we were the only generation of mankind or if there were other generations before us making us the last generation.

From paying attention to some verses of the Quran, we can slightly deduce that before the creation of Prophet Adam (The Father of Mankind) and his generation there were other human beings who lived here, where He says: “…And when your Lord said to the angels: I am going to place in the earth a khalif (representative), they asked: Will you place in it someone who will make mischief in it and shed blood”. [3]

Allamah Tabatabai says: “We can slightly deduce from ayah 30 of surah Al-Baqara that before the creation of Prophet Adam (A.S.) there was a different generation of human beings who caused the angels to ask: Will you place in it someone who will make mischief in it and shed blood .” [4]

This ayah implies that another generation of human beings was created before the generation of human beings we know and are part of what was created, which the angels were initially familiar with.

In some traditions coming from the imams (A.S.), we witness proof of the existence of eras of human beings prior to the current era.

Sheikh Saduq (A.S.) has narrated a hadith in which the imam tells the narrator: “You might believe that God Almighty has not created humans other than you. Well this is false because he has created millions of humans and you from the last generation of them.” [5]

In Khisal, Sheikh Saduq also narrates that Imam Baqir (A.S.) has stated: “From the time He created the earth, God Almighty has created within it, seven worlds (and made all of them instinct), none of which were of the generation of of Prophet Adam. God created all of them from the crust of this earth and created generation after generation with corresponding worlds for all generations till finally Prophet Adam was created and reproduced his descendants solely from him. [6] , [7]

On this account, if we conclude that the line of history for mankind extends to a million years based on fossils found perhaps in caves, they don’t belong to the current generation of human beings, because the story of Prophet Adam appears to be about 7000 years old. [8]

For more information on this topic, please refer to:

1. The Physical Creation of Prophet Adam, Question number: 399(415).

2. Quran and the Creation of Mankind, Question number: 5356(5578) .

[1] Adopted from Question 637 (website: 701).

[2] Translation of al-Mizan, vol. 4, pg. 214, Qum, Islamic Publications Office, 1417.

[3] Baqarah:30, “وَ إِذْ قالَ رَبُّکَ لِلْمَلائِکَةِ إِنِّی جاعِلٌ فِی الْأَرْضِ خَلیفَةً قالُوا أَ تَجْعَلُ فیها مَنْ یُفْسِدُ فیها وَ یَسْفِکُ الدِّماءَ وَ نَحْنُ نُسَبِّحُ بِحَمْدِکَ وَ نُقَدِّسُ لَکَ قالَ إِنِّی أَعْلَمُ ما لا تَعْلَمُون”.

[4] Translation of al-Mizan, vol. 4, pg. 223.

[5] Sheikh Saduq, Tawhid, pg. 277, vol. 2, Tehran.

[6] Sheikh Saduq, Khisal, vol. 2, pg. 652, hadith 54.

[7] Adopted from Quranic Inquiries website.

[8] For further information, see: The age of mankind according to the Quran, Question 637 (website: 701).

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