Where the *BLEEP* Did Cain’s Wife Come From?

One of the greatest questions of all time has been answered by an article at the website of Answers in Genesis (AIG), the creationist ministry of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo) — the ayatollah of Appalachia, the world’s holiest man who knows more about religion and science than everyone else. The article is titled Cain’s Wife, and it seems to be Chapter 6 in a book. Anyway, Hambo wrote the thing. It originally appeared in September of 2007, before your Curmudgeon began this humble blog, so we missed it the first time around. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

Skeptics of the Bible [Hell-bound fools!] have used Cain’s wife time and again to discredit the book of Genesis as a true historical record. Sadly, most Christians have not given an adequate answer to this question. We don’t even know her name, yet she was discussed at the Scopes Trial, mentioned in the movies Inherit the Wind and Contact, and talked about in countries all over the world for hundreds of years.

Well, who was she? Hambo says:

For instance, at the historic Scopes Trial in Tennessee in 1925, William Jennings Bryan, the prosecutor who stood for the Christian faith, failed to answer the question about Cain’s wife posed by the ACLU lawyer Clarence Darrow. Consider the following excerpt from the trial record as Darrow interrogates Bryan:

Q—Did you ever discover where Cain got his wife?

A—No, sir; I leave the agnostics to hunt for her.

Q—You have never found out?

A—I have never tried to find.

Q—You have never tried to find?

A—No.

Q—The Bible says he got one doesn’t it? Were there other people on the earth at that time?

A—I cannot say.

Q—You cannot say. Did that ever enter your consideration?

A—Never bothered me.

After that nifty dialog, Hambo tells us:

The world’s press was focused on this trial, and what they heard has affected Christianity to this day — Christians can’t defend the biblical record! [Gasp!] In recent times, this same example was taken up by Carl Sagan in his book Contact (which was on the New York Times best-seller list) and used in the movie of the same name based upon this work.

Sounds like a huge problem. Hambo elaborates further:

Many skeptics have claimed that for Cain to find a wife, there must have been other “races” of people on the earth who were not descendants of Adam and Eve. To many people, this question is a stumbling block to accepting the creation account of Genesis and its record of only one man and woman at the beginning of history. Defenders of the gospel must be able to show that all human beings are descendants of one man and one woman (Adam and Eve) because only descendants of Adam and Eve can be saved. Thus, believers need to be able to account for Cain’s wife and show clearly she was a descendant of Adam and Eve.

So what’s the answer? Skipping an ark-load from Hambo’s long article, he explains:

Since the Bible describes all human beings as sinners, and we are all related (“And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth,” Acts 17:26), the gospel makes sense only on the basis that all humans alive and all that have ever lived (except for the first woman ) are descendants of the first man Adam. If this were not so, then the gospel could not be explained or defended.

Cain’s wife was a descendant of Adam? Really? Hambo says yes:

She couldn’t have come from another race of people and must be accounted for from Adam’s descendants.

[…]

Scripture doesn’t tell us how many children were born to Adam and Eve, but considering their long life spans (Adam lived for 930 years — Genesis 5:5), it would seem logical to suggest there were many. Remember, they were commanded to “be fruitful, and multiply” (Genesis 1:28).

[…]

If we now work totally from Scripture, without any personal prejudices or other extrabiblical ideas, then back at the beginning, when there was only the first generation, brothers would have had to marry sisters or there wouldn’t have been any more generations!

Hambo’s article (or chapter) goes on and on for a few more pages, but that’s the bottom line, so to speak. Cain’s wife was his sister, or possibly a niece. That’s how it was in the Garden of Eden, and we’re told it was paradise.

Copyright © 2021. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

30 responses to “Where the *BLEEP* Did Cain’s Wife Come From?

  1. Let me shock everyone by siding with Ham on this one. If we allow brother-sister intercourse – and if we assume universal descent from Adam and Eve, how could we not? – then it is obvious that Cain’s wife must have been, as you say, his sister or niece or something.

    But it’s interesting, If not indeed alarming, that he raises the topic. The fact that he writes in opposition to Flat Earthism shows that in his constituency he faces real competition from Flat Earthers. The fact that he is now talking about Cain suggests to me that he also needs to guard his flank against polygenists, who taught that Cain’s wife was the result is separate creation. Exceptionally nasty people, forming part of a long tradition within creationism, which thought that the separate creation were, of course, inferior, and, surprise surprise! had guess what skin colour and ended up living in guess what continent. See https://paulbraterman.wordpress.com/2019/04/01/creationism-noahs-flood-and-race/

    Credit where credit is due, Despite Ham’s multiple absurdities, including regarding Genesis 11 as a true history of the human race, he is insistent that this really is only one race, within which all variants have equal standing.

  2. According to ancient Jewish tradition Cain and Abel each married their twin sister. Why doesn’t the Bible mention the birth of these girls and their marriage to their brothers? — Your guess is as good as mine.

  3. If one reads chapter 4 of Genesis about Cain, there were other people around who were strangers to Cain. There was a lot going on that isnt mentioned in the Bible.

  4. One other possibility – Cain may have been a mother****er.

  5. Here’s a possibility:
    Eve gave birth by parthenogenesis to a daughter. That daughter would be a half-sister to Cain.
    That daughter had a daughter, who was a quarter-niece to Cain.
    That daughter had a daughter, who was a eighth grand niece to Cain, and I think that is distant enough relative for marriage.

  6. All that is necessary to assume is that Genesis is not a complete account. One may then add whatever material is necessary for whatever explanation one favours. Cain and Abel married their sisters, whose birth is not recorded. Or their nieces.Or, indeed, retiredsciguy’s suggestion. Or TomS’s parthenogenesis conjecture.

    Mind, a female offspring of Eve by parthenogenesis would be genetically identical to her mother, and therefore would stand in exactly the same genetic relationship with the latter’s sons by Adam as Eve herself would.

    But why bother dinking around with genetics? When Ham confabulates the Flood story, he has no trouble ringing in miracles unattested by Scripture – yards of them. Why not simply assume another one here? Thus, Cain’s wife and the other wives were born miraculously possessed of sufficiently different genes to prevent the usual consequences of extreme inbreeding. Done. Simple!

    It has only one drawback, and that is technical. Scripture does not mention that miracle, which argues that the author did not consider it important. Well, no, if the author were (as godless “scholars” usually think) a fifth or sixth century BCE temple scribe who was recording oral tradition. What would he know from genetics? But Ham thinks that this text was dictated to Moses by Almighty God Himself. So why would God not mention such a miracle, when it would be vital to accepting the story as literal, in this age?

    Back we go to “God moves in mysterious ways”. Back into the last fortress and haul up the drawbridge, secure in the knowledge that the irrational, by its very nature, cannot be disputed by rational means.

  7. Charles Deetz ;)

    As a little kid, the bible stories were simplified to the point that it was about the next sentence that Cain was getting married. 50 years later I still remember that holup moment, where’d this woman come from? My dad told me that in those times women weren’t that important and that’s why they weren’t mentioned.

  8. @Dave Luckett
    Why does not the Bible mention:
    microevolution
    the barrier to macroevolution
    the creation of the majority of life, the microbes
    the kind of humans
    extinction
    the creation of the majority of ordimary matter, hydrogen and helium
    etc. etc. etc.

  9. chris schilling

    Ken believes the human race is degenerating.

    Sounds like we never had much of a chance to start with. What sort of degenerate god commands His creation to “be fruitful, and multiply” — when it requires brother-on-sister action to play itself out?

  10. @chris schilling
    And the only way to stop the deterioration is by design.
    How does that differ from eugenics?

  11. chris schilling

    Ham: “Overall, though, the human race is slowly degenerating as mistakes accumulate generation after generation.”

    @TomS
    I’m in favour of abortion (I highly recommend it to all expectant mothers!), but I’ve yet to use the creationist argument against them: that it’s in the best interest of the species, since every subsequent generation is more genetically inferior to the previous one!
    😇

  12. “The world’s press was focused on this trial.”
    BWAHAHAHAHA!
    Yeah, I’m sure in Europe, the Soviet-Union, China and Africa people had nothing more important on their minds.

    @CharlesD: I experienced a similar revelation as a boy. Unlike Ol’Hambo as an adult I realized quickly how silly the conclusion was. So I decided to postpone judgment until I had been schooled a couple of more years. Evolution theory neatly solved it.
    How christians understand the story, I couldn’t care less. I don’t believe anyway, so I don’t hold it against christianity.
    But it’s nice of course to mock Ol’Hambo and co.

  13. Incest, the game for all the family.
    See this is where I got to in the bible and figured out it was a load of rubbish…

  14. I really don’t understand all this fuss about incest, which was not prohibited explicitly until Leviticus. Sarah was Abraham’s half sister, and the Egyptian pharaohs at one time practised incest to preserve the purity of their sacred bloodline. The rabbinical explanation already mentioned is attributed to a Rabbi of the second century CE. I have always felt disappointed with Darrow for this line of attack, and surprised at the weakness of Bryan’s defence

  15. Eddie Janssen

    Paul, doesn’t that mean that God changed his mind on a moral issue? That will not go over well with the ‘absolute moral’ people.

  16. No it does not. Different rules for different groups of people, and even for different times and circumstances. Thus in Jewish thinking a gentile commits no sin by eating pork, while since the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple, Jews are no longer required to sacrifice two yearling lambs without blemish on the Sabbath.

    There are massive objections to the various moral codes on display in the Bible, but this is not one of them

  17. “I really don’t understand all this fuss about incest”
    That’s because you don’t think like a fundagelical/creationist. It’s their button for us to push, exactly because they are, how will I put it, as theologically challenged as in every respect.
    Serious counterapologists don’t use it, but I expect that some of the more stupid New Atheists (as defined by Tim O’Neill) think it a great argument.

  18. Maybe I missed it, but has anyone suggested that Cain’s wife was created de novo, like Adam was? That would remove the debate about incest.

  19. Eddie Janssen

    I don’t understand. Condoning it in Genesis and condemning it in Leviticus is not a change?

  20. @Eddie Janssen, not a fundamental moral change but a change in practical advice because of a change in circumstances. The overriding commandment, and indeed the first commandment given in the Torah, was “be fruitful and multiply”. So even if the prohibition against incest had been there from the very beginning, which is highly doubtful, it would have been outweighed by that commandment. Likewise, we cannot condemn Lot’s daughters

  21. Breaking but unsurprising news for everyone interested in Dutch politics: the Rutte III – administration has retired and is now demissionary because of the Tax Service scandal.

  22. From the NYT article:

    “The former vice president of the Dutch Council of State, Herman Tjeenk Willink, added to the accusations of systematic failure by calling upon parliamentarians to also take responsibility for voting in the strict laws.”
    The leader of Dutch Labour Party Lodewijk Asscher (a socialist according to our dear SC, a social democrat according to DaveL, neither according to me) also has retired as “list puller” / “lead candidate” (lijsttrekker – I refer to Wikipedia). I doubt if Jesse Klaver, leader of my own party GL, who has also voted for the laws involved, will follow this example.
    Next elections over two months.

  23. @SC
    There is the possibility that Adam was one designated person in a population of humans, the only one whose Y chromosome survived to the time of Moses. There might have been humans living before Adam.
    Conservative Christians do not like that. The insist that Adam and Eve were the first humans, and all other humans have been their descendants. This is not open to discussion.

  24. @TomS: “There is the possibility …..”
    This is why counterapologist Herman Philipse rejects such arguments: believers always can construct stories that make sense of these issues. Compare the Problem of Evil. Hence more promising is to construct an argument using probability and specifically Bayes’ Theorem, concluding that atheism is more probable than Adam being a designated person.
    Personally I don’t find such probabilistic arguments that convincing. Eg they more often than not only address a subset of atheism. The incest argument obviously makes zero sense for hinduism for instance. But like I wrote, it’s fun to annoy conservative christians with it. As such it’s in the same category as “bats are birds” and “pi equals 3”. A Dutch saying goes: when confronted conservative christians start to wriggle like an eel in a bucket filled with nasal mucus.

  25. SC, since you are calling forth an undocumented biblical miracle to account for Cain’s wife, why go to all the trouble of creating a wife at all?
    Perhaps by some miracle Cain’s hand became pregnant (perhaps many, many times), and brought forth an entire nation of progeny.

    An explanation that any adolescent boy could understand. Might explain why so many humans are right-handed.

  26. Let’s not forget the Sons of God who were out there screwing human women, and the Nephilim.

  27. “Oh what a tangled web we weave/When first we practice to deceive” (WS)

    This is the problem with scripture. One writer starts a fairy tale and then another continues it and then another and another and, … well, some editing is needed so … and so we end up with quite nonsensical scripture.

    The Jews who wrote these verse all tell us that these were written as a sort of back-story for their people and that they are fictional. They were never meant to be taken as being literally true. Think about it: the Jews admit that Adam and Eve and Moses and his gang were fictional, but Ole Hambo cries “Were you there?”

  28. @Steve Ruis, I feel personally uncomfortable when anyone refers to “the Jews” as if we were a homogenous group. It is only in my own lifetime that mainstream observant Jews have come to accept the biblical account as a complex fiction, rewritten and redacted over time, while theologically conservative Jews continue to regard it, at least from Abraham onwards, as a historically correct and divinely inspired record.

    But in a way, Jews have it easy compared with Christians. I have relatives who cheerfully admit that the whole of Jewish religious practice is a human construct, and nonetheless regard that practice as a way of living their lives in service to God. So it doesn’t really matter for them if the Exodus never happened. But it matters a great deal for Christians if the Resurrection never happened.

  29. Paul Braterman, that’s an important point. I have heard it said that Judaism is a religion of practice – that is, religion for Jewish people is a matter of practice, including specifically ritual practice. Thus, whether the Lord did indeed bring Israel out of Egypt or not does not change the practice of observing the Passover in the traditional way. It would appear that Jewish people who would describe themselves as religious are also observant in this sense. (I welcome correction of this impression.)

    Christianity, on the other hand, is defined by its creeds. It is a religion of belief, most specifically in the Resurrection and the Redemption. This I take to be largely the legacy of Paul, for one may look carefully among the words of Jesus and find almost nothing in the nature of a prescribed belief – or a ritual, either, not even the Eucharist itself. Jesus Himself seems to have been hardly interested at all in either.

    Either the affirmation of a belief or the practice of a ritual are easier than the actual behaviours said to be required by both religions, of course.

  30. What I always wondered about the “oh, Cain’s wife must’ve been one of his sisters” thing is why wasn’t she with the rest of the family then? If that was the case, why did she end up in the land of Nod? I mean, considering how few humans there were and how many predatory animals there were, from a survival sense, wouldn’t make sense for a lone woman to be out there away from everyone else (unless she’s the first true introvert or something). But more than that, if the family got big enough that kids began to spread out and leave Adam and Eve’s side, I’m sure that would’ve earned a mention.

    Genesis is something I’ve re-read many times, and it just confuses me more and more because it’s shoddy storytelling, leaving too many gaps that can be “explained” by practically anything.