If we accept the ages in Genesis as literal, then we need to answer the question as to why these individuals lived so long. There are several possible reasons to consider as to why the ancients lived longer than modern humankind.
1.Created To Live Forever
Adam and Eve were created to live eternally. The introduction of sin brought on death (Romans 5:12
). However, the degenerating processes had only begun to take place with them and their immediate descendants. This could also account for their longer life spans.
2.Lack Of Disease
There would also be a lack of disease at this early time. Since Adam and Eve fell from a perfect state, it would have taken some time for disease to increase. This could have also contributed to the longevity of the patriarchs.
3.Help Populate The Earth
If the earth were to be populated by humankind, (Genesis 1:26
) then long life-spans at the beginning were somewhat of a necessity. Otherwise it would have taken an enormous amount of time to fulfill the commandment to fill the earth with people.
4.Accumulation Of Knowledge
Furthermore, if the early inhabitants of the earth did live for long periods of time, then they would have accumulated knowledge to help them survive longer. Scripture does tell us that early man made advances in such things as metallurgy and music (Genesis 4:21
). We should also assume they made advances in other areas-including those which would help them live a long time.
Climatic conditions could have been a factor in the longevity of the ancients. There was a possible water vapor canopy that surrounded the earth before the Flood of Noah. This canopy would have produced a worldwide greenhouse effect resulting in a mild climate throughout the earth. In addition, this canopy would shield man from harmful radiation which has an effect on the aging process. At the great Flood this canopy collapsed and no longer protected man and the animals.
After the Flood the ages in which people lived fell off dramatically. The Bible says Noah lived 930 years and his son Shem 600 years. However, Terah the father of Abraham, lived for only 205 years This may provide evidence that there was a water vapor canopy shielding man from harmful radiation. As the years passed, mankind began to live shorter life-spans.
Though this is possible, there is no clear biblical evidence that such a canopy existed.
There are those who argue that diet had a large part to do with the longevity of the people. This view assumes people were vegetarians before the Flood. Genesis 9:3
says that Noah and his descendants would be allowed to eat the flesh of animals. However there was a qualification-the blood was not be left in it. The theory is that the shift from a vegetarian diet to one containing red meat helps explain the decreased longevity of the people after the Flood.
The problem with this view is that there is no clear-cut evidence that people were vegetarians before the Flood. We are never told that they were to only
eat vegetables, only that they did eat vegetables. Unless God did some radical restructuring of the human anatomy after the Flood, it seems we were designed to be meat-eaters.
These are some of the possible reasons as to why the life spans were longer before the Flood than after the Flood.