Genesis 9 and Noah's sons

In Genesis 9 there is a verse that says that after the flood, EVERYONE on earth descended from Noah’s 3 sons. If I am correct, there is no way that would be possible because there is no evidence in our DNA that says this. Is this literal? Did everyone except Noah’s family die and humanity descend from his sons?

Thanks for your post @AidanDaRussianBoi. It would help us to answer your question if you could provide the verse(s) you are referring to in Genesis 9 and the bible version you are taking it from. Thanks, in advance. Liam :+1:

Genesis 9:18-20 (NCV) describes that after Noah and his sons came out of the ark, everyone on earth descended from those 3 sons. I hope that helps.

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Yes, there are verses that naturally read that way:

The sons of Noah who went out of the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Ham was the father of Canaan. These three were the sons of Noah; and from these the whole earth was peopled. (Genesis 9:18–19)

But earlier, there are other verses that naturally read as saying that nomads and musicians descend from Lamech who is in Cain’s line:

Lamech took two wives; the name of one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah. Adah bore Jabal; he was the ancestor of those who live in tents and have livestock. His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the ancestor of all those who play the lyre and pipe. (Genesis 4:19–21)

A straightforward reading of one passage seems to require a less straightforward reading of the other – unless one believes Genesis preserves different ideas on how humanity branched out.


Something else to consider is these verses from the New Testament.

Romans 1:8
New American Standard Bible
8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ [a]for you all, because your faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world.

Colossians 1:23
New American Standard Bible
23 if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister.

  • in all of those verses it mentions that the gospel has been heard throughout the whole world, and under all of creation. So were there native Americans living in the Americas 2000 years ago and Christians somehow travel there and went to every tribe and taught the gospel? I don’t think so. So it would seem the whole world to them is not the same thing as the whole earth to us.

So if we say that the whole world as we know it did not literally heard the gospel meaning some DoD not then likewise we can assume the same for Noah and the flood. It did not literally cover the whole world as we know it and some did exist outside of that area.

Same as when Cain left the area and traveled far away he still found a wife.


Regarding his sons, since they were all from Noah, you could go back to him as the sole male ancestor of all. However, if you want to to look at all ancestors, there would be 5 sources, Noah and his wife, and the wives of his sons. And no, there is no evidence of a 5 person bottleneck 4000-5000 years ago in our genetic history and ample evidence that such a bottleneck did not occur.
@gbob has a line of reasoning that could push that back hundreds of thousands of years as I understand, and from what I understand, that is too far back to make any statements true or false about such a tight bottleneck, as the science is just not there due to the mist of time.

I remember hearing that somewhere in the Bible it says that Cain married one of his sisters.

So are you inferring that the events of Noah could have happened hundreds of thousands of years ago?

It doesn’t Aidan. But that’s the inference if one is literal about a creation myth set three and a half thousand years after[… before] it was written down from oral tradition and lost texts.

What does any of that have to do with being Christian?

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Interesting, thank you for the clarification!

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It does not.

For a fact in the story what I see is this.

When Cain killed Abel and fled he asked for a mark to protect him from others who lived further away.

When you see Eves reaction it shows she’s sadden by the loss of Abel and has no other kids until Seth is born. When Seth is born she is happy and says God replaced Abel with Seth. If she had other kids there is no reason to believe that she would have thought that.

The story paints a picture of a couple with two kids and they lose both of them. One is murdered and the other is drove away for the murder. Then later on, Seth is born replacing Abel in her eyes which to me indicates no other kids are mentioned because she had no other kids.

Genesis 5:4 says Adam had other sons and daughters.

I know the theory is popular and it is certainly a simply solution. And yet, I think the bigger issue with the Cain married his sister narrative is that it requires God to have mandated reproduction via incest only to then condemn incest as a sin under the law. Personally, I think that makes God look fickle (ie. it is a ok to have sex with your brother one day, yet it is a sin the next).

Worst still this wouldn’t stop at Cain, Adam’s offspring would be marrying brothers and sisters and cousins for generations until the population was large enough. For me that is rather problematic (read: British understatement).


He’s… Pragmatic


I’ll remember that one. :joy:

“Liam, I can’t believe you lied to me, especially after your sermon yesterday where you called out lying as a sin!”

“You are making much too much of this, my Love. I’m simply being pragmatic!” :sweat_smile:

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In my cultic days… years… decades we went to inordinate lengths to justify God. The thing is, any kind of even remote Bilblicism means you have to do moral gymnastics to reconcile Jesus’ God with Jesus.

Back to the pragmatic. Incest was OK for the second generation of humanity as their genetic health was so good they were good for a thousand years. But two and a half thousand years later the genetic decay was bad enough that incest was a serious genetic risk as it is now. It would take another two and a half thousand years for social services to evolve. So kill them. Brutally. Publically. For the greater good.

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Tone, she is a tricky mistress to read at the best of times, let alone on the internet. I hope you didn’t think I was mocking you with my previous reply, that was not my intent. My sincere apologies if that was how it came across.

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Liam, Liam, Liam.

You always have the tone of a bloody nice bloke.

Apology rejected : )


Eventually gbob will chime in with his explanation that the flood took place 5 million years ago with the flooding of the Mediterranean basin… which is long enough ago to dodge the genetic evidence of there being no genetic bottleneck. This is not to say that there are no difficulties with the scientific evidence and I am certainly not buying it.

Meanwhile my explanation remains the same as well. This was a local flood wiping out the first human civilization, long after the homo sapiens species had spread around the world 100,000-30,000 years ago but before human beings with their memetic heritage from God via Adam and Eve had spread over the earth, which happens after the flood in Genesis 11.

The only genetic bottleneck I see any evidence for is one around 100,000 - 200,000 with a surviving remnant of a few thousand in southern Africa of the most recent ice age which became the modern homo sapiens group which migrated to the rest of the world after that. On the way they apparently absorbed the Neanderthals of Northern Africa and Europe as well as the Denisovans in the east.

No… his theory pushes it back 5.3 million years. And that is the problem I have with it. It renders the all these Biblical events insignificant to the beginning of human civilization. Though if we find evidence of human civilization from millions of years ago, particularly at the bottom of the Mediteranean sea, that would be a different matter.

I also find it difficult to believe that these stories would remain significant enough to be remembered in any way rather than buried by the intervening millions of years which I find it hard to believe did not have significant events. In fact there are events we know happened which should have been remembered as more recent, like the ice age and surviving in southern Africa. It seems far far far more likely that these stories in Genesis if based in historical events are things which happened much more recently 12,000-6,000 years ago.

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Yes after Seth which was after Cain left.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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