How Did Man Live So Long Before the Flood?

In Genesis Chapter 5, something bizarre is happening. This chapter is dedicated to preserving the record of the generations of Adam, so that there would be an accurate record of the promised Seed; the lineage of our savior, Jesus Christ. It also indicates that man lived long ages approaching a thousand years and, of course, this is something unheard of today. There is a pattern established where we see the major patriarchs carrying the promised Seed through Noah’s lineage. Genesis 5:3-5 states: “And Adam lived one hundred and thirty years, and begot a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth. After he begot Seth, the days of Adam were eight hundred years; and he had sons and daughters. So all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years; and he died.”

Living 900 Years?
Adam lived 930 years, but he had Seth when he was 130 years old. Did Adam’s children live as long as he did? As we go down the lineage of the promised Seed, we observe that Seth lived 912 years, Enos – 905 years, Cainan – 910 years and so on ending with Noah at 950 years. We should not forget Methuselah – 969 years, who lived the longest of all. From generation to generation until the flood, the average lifespan was in the 900-year range. The Bible also mentions that there were other sons and daughters of Adam that lived to long ages. How many people could have walked the earth before the flood if they lived that long? The number could easily be 7 billion. After all, that is the world’s population today. Some have hypothesized that in the most favorable conditions, the world’s population could reach 25 billion. Of course this is speculative, because the word of God does not give us a number, and there were no documented accounts available due to the damaging effects of the worldwide catastrophic flood.

Before the Flood
We can be certain of three facts during this pre-flood time according to the scriptures. First, with the chronologies in Genesis 5 being accurate, we can determine the age of the earth to be 1,652 years at the time of the flood. Second, it is evident that lifespans after the flood suddenly decreased as recorded in the Bible in Genesis 11, starting with Shem at 600 years and ending Tera at 205 years. Later in the Scriptures, we see that Moses lived 120 years. Lastly, it is evident that living conditions surrounding the earth pre-flood would be very different than they are today. This would make sense, because the flood was sent by God as judgment on mankind; a cataclysm that would totally wipe out man and all the animals that had the breath of life in them, with the exception of Noah, his family and the animals they took with them on the Ark.

After the Flood
The worldwide flood would dramatically change the earth’s surface, as 2 Peter 3:5 states: “For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water.” The world that existed before the flood was utterly destroyed. However, we were left with remnants of the past, as they were deposited in the fossil record. We know that the conditions had to have changed, because of what we have discovered buried in the fossil layers. There are fossils of plants and animals in the Polar Regions indicating that globally uniform temperatures existed before the flood. Great examples of tropical and subtropical fossils were found, such as palm trees and crocodile fossils, in the Green River formation in Wyoming. These uniform warm temperatures would make favorable conditions for a remarkable amount of plant growth. Man and animal would have enough food to exist and populate the earth. The fossil record demonstrates that the pre-flood conditions could support large animals, like the dinosaurs exemplified in giant Brachiosaurus that stood 40 feet and weighed about 80 tons. To support such animals there would have to have been a climate much different than we have today.

A Canopy of Vapor
Another interesting fact is that the fossil record indicates that ideal living conditions existed so that these animals, like man, could have had long lifespans during this pre-flood time. It is believed that there was some sort of vapor canopy enveloping the earth prior to the flood, as the Scriptures indicate in Genesis 1:6-7: “Then God said, ‘Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.’ Thus God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament; and it was so.” This vapor canopy evidently provided some sort of protection from dangerous UV rays, extending man’s lifespan. Skin cancers are associated with UV rays, so we know that these rays can affect the longevity of living organisms. We know that the rainbow was absent before the flood and present after the flood, as the Scripture indicates in Genesis 9:14 stating, “It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud.” The rainbow comes from the reflection of light in water droplets in the atmosphere. The Scriptures suggest that clouds were also missing prior to the flood. This would indicate that, prior to the flood, the earth had another way of watering its plants apart from the hydrologic cycle we see today. In Genesis 2:6, it states, “a mist went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground.”

Once again, we can see there was an antediluvian (pre-flood) environment that was very different from what we might have imagined. If we could only go back in time and see this amazing system functioning to support all forms of life as well as contributing to man’s longevity, we would witness the glory of God at work. This entire system ended with a worldwide cataclysmic flood. It was God’s judgment because of man’s rebellion and the evil activities recorded in Genesis 6. But just as Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord, God has provided the gospel of his glorious grace to all who will place their faith in his Son, Jesus Christ.

Tom DeRosa is the Executive Director and Founder of Creation Studies Institute, a national creation ministry whose mission is to reach the church community with the truths of Creation and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He is an author, teacher, and sought out speaker with a passion to equip other believers with the tools needed to refute the lies of evolution.

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