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For it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking.  It has been testified somewhere−

“What is man, that you are mindful of him,
or the son of man, that you care for him?
You made him for a little while lower than the angels;
you have crowned him with glory and honor,
putting everything in subjection under his feet.”

Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. 

− Hebrews 2:5-9 (ESV)

Death Before Adam?

Despite all attempts to do so, there is no way to reconcile evolution and the biblical account of Creation. Examining the theological basis of the biblical Creation, Austin Robbins demonstrates there is simply no room for evolutionary thinking.

Evolutionary doctrine is insistent on a very long history for the formation of the earth. Long ages, exceeding 4.5 billion years, are deemed essential for the development of the earth’s crust and the formation of living forms from some primeval origin.

The Bible, in contrast, indicates a relatively short history for both the earth and the entire universe. Even a superficial reading of the biblical account demonstrates apparent conflicts between it and the popular evolutionary views of academia and our society.

Is there any way to reconcile these two opposing viewpoints? For more than a century some have made serious attempts to do so. It is troubling that among some contemporary Christian and Evangelical scholars is an underlying uncritical acceptance of the basic tenets of evolutionary philosophy, as well as an unspoken rejection of the normal rules of biblical interpretation - though some openly deny that they are guilty of such attitudes, assumptions, and approaches.

Man’s Place in Creation

It is not the purpose of this article to address the so-called scientific basis of evolution. The issue here is hermeneutical and theological. If God created the universe, and I believe He did, He certainly could have given us details about it. This, too, I believe He did. The question is: What did He tell us and how does it relate to our understanding of the history of the cosmos and of our world?

Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the fowl of the air, and over the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth (Gn 1:26. KJV).
…and God said unto them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea and the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth” (Gn 1:28, KJV).

The NIV rendering of Genesis 1:26 is even clearer for the modern English reader:

Let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock and over all the earth and over all the creatures that move along the ground.

The grammar and meaning of the words in these passages leave no room for doubt about the extent of man’s dominion over the earth. The terms “every”  and  “all” and the explicit listing of various creatures (including fish, birds, living things, cattle, beasts, creeping things) indicate the totality of man’s rule over the earth.

Man’s total dominion over all God’s creation was restated by David:

What is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?
Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him dominion over the works of Your hands;
You have put all things under his feet,
all sheep and oxen,
and the beasts of the field
the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
(Ps. 8:4-8 ESV)

The writer of Hebrews, a millennium after David, reinforced the idea. Quoting Psalm 8, he added “…in putting everything under him, God left nothing that is not subject to him” (Heb 2:8). He stressed the point as if knowing someday someone would say man never really ruled all Creation, he only controlled part of it. Today, some Christians say that very thing! So, the writer of Hebrews emphasized, “God left nothing that is not subject to him,” or, as New Testament scholar Kenneth Wuest (1966: 57)* rendered the passage, “He left not even one thing that is not put under him.”

Implications of man’s universal dominion over all Creation are devastating to all attempts to accommodate Scripture to evolutionary dogma. Evolution says man arrived late upon the earth, with eons of time rolling by before the first creature appeared that evolutionists consider to be man. In this inventive, theoretical scenario, millions of creatures lived and died, and myriads became fossilized. Even the soul-less brutes, who supposedly gave rise to Adam’s race, met their deaths. Indeed, they imagine that for ages before Adam, death struck everywhere, from lower forms to remarkably human-like creatures.

A history of long ages before Adam where myriads of creatures lived and died, with the result that the ground upon which Adam trod became the final resting place of his ancestors, is all in direct contradiction to what God has declared. Scripture could not be clearer that mankind in Adam was given authority over all Creation, and that includes the very fossilized remains of creatures we continue to discover today!

Hebrews 2

In objection to this is the suggestion that the writer of Hebrews and King David prophetically in Psalm 8, were not speaking of Adam, but of Jesus. That is, Hebrews 2:8-9 is understood to present this view by the phrase, “But we see [Jesus]…” Those holding this perspective suggest that this verse is not stating that man is to have dominion, but it is Jesus who holds that authority. Unfortunately, this misses one of the central theological planks in the structure of this passage in Hebrews.

Verse 8 is clear that man was given charge of everything. Nothing was left out. No creature existed that was not subject to him. In this context, the question is, was that man Adam or Jesus? The last half of verse 8 and the beginning of verse 9 give us the answer. “Yet at present, we do not see everything subject to him (man). But we see [Jesus]…” Thus, at the beginning of verse 8 man is no longer functioning in his full dominion. The reality that the writer was pointing out and what we continue to observe today is not the original order of things; something in history altered the dominion of man.

What happened? Genesis 3 tells us man, who had dominion, sinned. The Fall of Adam altered everything. He disobeyed the loving God who made him and lost the high position in which God placed him (“a little lower than the angels”). So today we cannot and do not see everything subject to him. Furthermore, man’s sin permeated all Creation. “The whole creation groans…” (Rom 8:20-22) with disease, destruction, decay and death.

“But we see [Jesus]…” What a contrast! Not the sinful, lost, struggling with nature “him” (Adam) at the end of 2:8; but “…Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because He suffered death, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone” (2:9).

Death before Adam? NO!

Death because of Adam? YES!

Just as death entered the world because of Adam, we can have life because Jesus tasted death for us all. He took your sin and mine in His own body on the tree. He died to be our Savior. In Adam we are dead. In Jesus we are made alive forever!

The Second Adam, Jesus, who “tasted death for everyone.” will one day be the death of death itself! He will reign and He will put all His enemies under His feet. And the last enemy to be destroyed will be death! (1Cor 15:25-26).

This article was first published in the Spring 2000 issue of Bible and Spade.


Smith Jr., Henry B.
2007 Cosmic and Universal Death from Adam's Fall: Journal of Creation, 21.1, p. 75-85.

Wuest, K.S.
1966 Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, vol. 2. Eerdmans: Grand Rapids MI.

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