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The genealogy from Adam to Noah as recorded in Genesis 5 show us that people generally lived a long life back then, many of them lived more than 900 years. Why could they live that long?

In Genesis 6, when the wickedness of people was great, God said His Spirit would not abide in man forever and his days shall be 120 years (Gen. 6:3). Could it be because their wickedness was not as great so their lives were longer?

OR

Could it be because Adam and Eve had reached out to the tree of life and ate it before they ate the tree of knowledge of good and evil, so the effect of the tree of life was still in them and passed to the next few generations. For after they sinned, God said if they [continue to] reach out his hand and take also the tree of life and eat and live forever (Gen.3:22)?

If none of the above related, why could they live that long?

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    Earth, as created, was of temperate climate, protected (some suggest a water canopy of water vapour protecting from cosmic radiation, the loss of which - during Flood - shortened life) and without adverse materials like viruses. There is no evidence whatsoever that they partook of the Tree of Life. (Because they subsequently died.)
    – Nigel J
    Commented Feb 12, 2022 at 10:07
  • This is a great thing to ask about, but it needs to be hermeneutics-focused to remain open. Your question is essentially about "Science and the Bible", and there is much literature about that already. We could explore a new site to address this. But, I believe your question could be salvaged to address some answers. Please edit this so it addresses specific Bible passages, such as "Does Gen 6:3 suggest they ate from the tree of 3:22?" Make short quotes of those texts and focus on "why or how do we come to this understanding?" That's what this site is about. Once edited, flag it for mod action.
    – Jesse
    Commented Mar 15, 2022 at 15:24

1 Answer 1

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I like to look at it from a genetic science scope. So according to scientific consensus death is caused by degradation of the genetic material in the cells. It is the same reason for cancer but a variation called mutation . Once the genetic material is degraded it cannot replicate anymore and dies and when more cells die like this we become old and die as an organism . Now when Adam and Eve were created they had pure genes that took long to degrade because of environmental factors . And each consecutive generation had slowly but steadily decreasing lifespan because of hereditary passing of defects from one generation to next . When Noah came out of the ark this problem became more significant because of population bottleneck and many defects got amplified together because there was very low gene pool (6 people, 3 sons and 3 daughter in-laws) and the mechanism of recessive and dominant gene which is the safety valve of nature to protect from genetic disorder failed . This is also the reason it is not advisable to marry with closely related kin. Hence the life span started dropping sharply until stabilisation was achieved around 70 because of increasing gene pool and natural selection.

Visualization: Visualization of Chrono-Genealogy Notes:

  1. Noah lived mostly before Flood
  2. Enoch is removed for obvious reasons
  3. Bottleneck is one generation after the flood because the Children of Noah took wives from bigger population so their children are not affected
  4. Environmental scarcity for food and essential nutrition is considered only for one generation

Data Used:

|    | Name       |   Age |
|---:|:-----------|------:|
|  1 | Adam       |   930 |
|  2 | Seth       |   912 |
|  3 | Enosh      |   905 |
|  4 | Kenon      |   910 |
|  5 | Mehalalel  |   895 |
|  6 | Jared      |   962 |
|  7 | Methuselah |   969 |
|  8 | Lamech     |   777 |
|  9 | Noah       |   950 |
| 10 | Shem       |   600 |
| 11 | Arpachshad |   438 |
| 12 | Shelah     |   433 |
| 13 | Eber       |   464 |
| 14 | Peleg      |   239 |
| 15 | Reu        |   239 |
| 16 | Serug      |   230 |
| 17 | Nahor      |   148 |
| 18 | Terah      |   205 |
| 19 | Abraham    |   175 |
| 20 | Isaac      |   180 |
| 21 | Jacob      |   147 |
| 22 | Levi       |   137 |
| 23 | Kohath     |   133 |
| 24 | Amram      |   137 |
| 25 | Moses      |   120 |

Python Code:

import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
import numpy as np
import seaborn as sns

x= [
"Adam","Seth","Enosh","Kenon","Mehalalel","Jared","Methuselah","Lamech","Noah","Shem","Arpachshad","Shelah","Eber","Peleg","Reu","Serug","Nahor","Terah","Abraham","Isaac","Jacob","Levi","Kohath","Amram","Moses",]
y = [930,912,905,910,895,962,969,777,950,600,438,433,464,239,239,230,148,205,175,180,147,137,133,137,120,]


sns.set(rc={'figure.figsize':(11.7,8.27)})
ax = sns.barplot(x=x, y=y, color='lightblue' )
sns.pointplot(x=x,y=y,join=False)
# put bars in background:
for c in ax.patches:
    c.set_zorder(0)

ax.set_title("Ages of Patriarchs (Masoretic & Vulgate)")
ax.set_ylabel("Age")
ax.set_xlabel("Name of Patriarch")
ax.set_xticklabels(x, rotation = 90, size = 10)

plt.axvline(8.5, color ='red', linestyle = "--", label="Mostly Lived After Flood" )
plt.axvline(10.5, color ='green', linestyle = "--", label="Born After GenePool Bottleneck" )
ax.fill_between([-0.5, 0+8.5], 0, 1000, alpha=0.2, color='green', label="Gradual Life Expetancy Drop")
ax.fill_between([8.5, 8.5+2], 0, 625, alpha=0.2, color='yellow', label="Scarcity in Enviroment")
ax.fill_between([10.5, 10.5+6], 0, 475, alpha=0.2, color='red', label="Rapid Life Expetancy Drop")
ax.fill_between([16.5, 16.5+8], 0, 225, alpha=0.3, color='purple', label="Life Expetancy Saturation")

def moving_average(a, n=5) :
    ret = np.cumsum(a, dtype=float)
    ret[n:] = ret[n:] - ret[:-n]
    result = [a[0]]*(n-1)
    result.extend(ret[n - 1:]/n)
    return result
ma_span = 3
sns.lineplot(x=x, y=moving_average(y, ma_span), label=f"Age Moving Average ({ma_span})")

plt.show()

Reference Articles/Resources:

  1. Recessive and Dominant Gene Wiki
  2. Atosomal Risk of Marriage Between Kin
  3. Population bottleneck
  4. Inheritance of Defective Genes
  5. Environment Induced defects on Reproductive Cells (Epigenetics)
  6. DNA degradation due to cell processes
  7. DNA degradation during cell division
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  • Hi cpt.John, thanks for contributing! Could you add some citations to your answer? Appreciate your looking at this from a different perspective. Commented Feb 12, 2022 at 22:45
  • Thanks for taking the time to share your opinion, cpt.John. You said "And each consecutive generation had slowly but steadily decreasing lifespan because of hereditary passing of defects from one generation to next." If this correct, lifespan will keep decreasing as each generations passes by???
    – Karis Le
    Commented Feb 13, 2022 at 0:33
  • Yes it will when looked from a regression angle . Meaning which the subsequent generation mean age will be lower . Obviously we cannot verify this with the Bible because we are provided with only few ages for each generation as sample size . But it should hold good for large gap between generation .
    – cpt.John
    Commented Feb 13, 2022 at 14:56
  • @HoldToTheRod I have added the resources and a visualisation
    – cpt.John
    Commented Feb 13, 2022 at 18:13
  • @KarisLe I have added a visualisation because I thought it would be nice to put my Data science/Programming skills to some biblical learning to explain better what you had asked.
    – cpt.John
    Commented Feb 13, 2022 at 18:14

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