Models suggesting a time when Adam and Eve existed should be informed by scriptural context. The stories found in the LDS canon strongly suggest that Adam and Eve existed at or after the invention of agriculture (broadly defined, agriculture is the science and art of cultivating plants and livestock) and at or after the invention of writing. And verses typically interpreted at face value strongly imply that Adam and Eve walked out of the Garden of Eden at about 4,000 BCE.
Both plant and animal agriculture are strongly implied to have existed or been invented concurrently with Adam and Eve.
- “till the ground” (Moses 4:29)
- “to have dominion over all the beasts of the field, and to eat his bread by the sweat of his brow” (Moses 5:1)
- “and should offer the firstlings of their flocks, for an offering unto the Lord” (Moses 5:5)
- “And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.” (Moses 5:17)
- “Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord” (Moses 5:19)
- “And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock, and of the fat thereof.” (Moses 5:20)
Agriculture seems to have been invented around 11,000 BC.
Writing is implied to have existed in a “pure” form. Moses 6:5-6 states:
And a book of remembrance was kept, in the which was recorded, in the language of Adam, for it was given unto as many as called upon God to write by the spirit of inspiration; And by them their children were taught to read and write, having a language which was pure and undefiled.
Writing was likely invented around 3500 BC (and possibly as early as 5,500 BCE).
Years of the earth’s temporal existence
Joseph Smith claimed to receive direct revelation from God on various topics, and this Q&A session is recorded as Doctrine and Covenants 77. Here are verses 6–7:
Q. What are we to understand by the book which John saw, which was sealed on the back with seven seals?
A. We are to understand that it contains the revealed will, mysteries, and the works of God; the hidden things of his economy concerning this earth during the seven thousand years of its continuance, or its temporal existence.
Q. What are we to understand by the seven seals with which it was sealed?
A. We are to understand that the first seal contains the things of the first thousand years, and the second also of the second thousand years, and so on until the seventh.
According to a face-value interpretation of this revelation,1 Adam and Eve existed sometime around 4,000 BCE and this was approximately when the earth began its temporal existence.
Latter-day Saint models positing the existence of a literal man and wife from whom Biblical characters descend seem constrained by these features:
- Agriculture — no earlier than about 11,000 BCE
- Writing — no earlier than about 5,500 BCE
- D&C 77 — at about 4,000 BCE