We don’t even know her name, yet she was discussed at the Scopes Trial,mentioned in the movies Inherit the Wind1 and Contact,2 and talked about incountries all over the world for hundreds of yearsSkeptics of the Bible have used Cain’s wife time and again to try to discredit the book of Genesis as a true historical record. Sadly, most Christians have not given an adequate answer to this question. As a result, the world sees them as not being able to defend the authority of Scripture and thus the Christian faith.
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?
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.
Q—There were no others recorded, but Cain got a wife.
A—That is what the Bible says.
Q—Where she came from you do not know.3
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!
In recent times, this same example was taken up by Carl Sagan in his book Contact2 (which was on the New York Times best-seller list) and used in the movie of the same name based upon this work.
In the book, we read the fictional character Ellie’s account of how she could not get answers from a minister’s wife, who was the leader of a church discussion group:
Ellie had never seriously read the Bible before ... . So over the weekend preceding her first class, she read through what seemed to be the important parts of the Old Testament, trying to keep an open mind. She at once recognized that there were two different and mutually contradictory stories of Creation ... and had trouble figuring out exactly who it was that Cain had married.4
Sagan cleverly listed a number of common questions (including Cain’s wife) that are often directed at Christians in an attempt to supposedly prove the Bible is full of contradictions and can’t be defended. The truth is—most Christians probably couldn’t answer these questions. And yet there are answers. But since churches lack in the teaching of apologetics,5 particularly in regard to the book of Genesis, most believers in the church are not able to “always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15).