Did Adam have a belly-button?

July 14, 2006 | By | 20 Replies More

Until yesterday I didn’t realize that there was a serious debate about whether Adam had a navel.  But, alas, the debate has been a serious one in the minds of some people.

According to both versions of creation in Genesis (there are two substantially conflicting versions in the Bible), neither Adam nor Eve was ever in a woman’s uterus.  So neither Adam nor Eve needed a navel.  This doesn’t answer the question of whether they had navels, though.

We don’t have the remains of Adam and Eve.  We don’t have their photos.  How would one resolve this debate, then?  Many believers are undeterred.   Here is one analysis that Adam and Eve had no navels.  Raptureready.com also weighs in with a “no.”  Ditto for Christiananswers.net.  It’s not always seen as a serious debate.  Here is a tongue in cheek account by posted by a Baptist Church.  The terminology can get a bit daunting.  For instance, there is mention of the “Post-Umbilisists,” those “learned theologians and scholars believe that Adam’s navel was formed after the Fall.”

This issue occurred to me only because a friend (thanks, Deb!) recently mentioned to me that her friend was a “Navelite.”  I’d never heard of this religion.  Well, turns out that there is a small offshoot of Christianity that distinguishes itself by its belief that Adam did not have a navel.  It was a big enough issue at one point to cause a schism.  I have this one word of mouth only; Deb’s friend was a Navelite. But I haven’t yet been able to track down a written account on Google.

But is it possible that people could really get worked up over this debate?  Apparently so, based upon the existence of Navelites.  Also check out the serious tone of this article, also concluding that “The absence of navels on this first human couple would be a powerful, long-lasting witness to the creation itself, and to the power of our Creator God.”

Even Congress got involved in this debate:

Lest one think this is all rather frivolous and trivial, and that nobody really ever gave this matter much serious thought, and that Al Maxey is getting desperate for topics for his Reflections articles, it should be noted that the question as to whether Adam and Eve ever possessed such a distinguishing mark has not only generated debate in the religious world for centuries, but has even reached into our own United States Congress! In 1944, a subcommittee of the United States House of Representatives Military Committee (chaired by Congressman Durham of the state of North Carolina) refused to authorize a little 30-page booklet titled “Races of Man,” that was to be handed out to our soldiers, sailors and airmen fighting in World War II, because this little booklet had a drawing that depicted Adam and Eve with belly buttons! The members of this subcommittee ruled that showing Adam and Eve with navels “would be misleading to gullible American soldiers.”

How could it be that this issue could become a significant one?  For some, it raises the question of whether God would would “deceive” us by placing a navel on Adam and Eve.

It is my firm conviction that to suggest God created Adam and Eve with navels is to suggest He is the creator of a grand deception, and I simply am unwilling to make such an assertion about my God.

This worry about deception intriques me.  After all, many new Earthers argue that God intentionally scattered lots of evidence around the universe, objects that really and truly appear to be much much older than the allegedly 6,000 year old Earth, to “test our faith.”

To me, this arcane though sometimes lively dispute about navels suggests that groups of humans are all to willing to break into separate groups.  This real-life tension is not simply a matter of belief, it would seem.  It would seem that any existing religion would be a big enough tent for both navelites and non-navelites.  It would seem that there is a deeper principle at work, then, and that this navel example is merely one excuse to split groups apart. 

That a separate religion (the Navelites) actually split off as a result of this trivial dispute (trivial to me, certainly) is what we could expect if humans are naturally prone to splitting into groups.  It might have something to do with our limited cognitive capacity and the huge cognitive load of maintaining the social fabric with especially large groups.  I’ve addressed this issue previously.  In a separate previous post, I’ve suggested that religious dogma can be important without being literally true.  This navel dispute could certainly be a case in point.

Whatever, a warning to freethinkers:  don’t non-chalently joke about Adam’s navel.  There might be Navelites lurking.



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Category: Language, Psychology Cognition, Religion

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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  1. Mending Fences, Part IV - The many things we have in common | Dangerous Intersection | July 15, 2010
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  1. grumpypilgrim says:

    According to this website — http://www.christiananswers.net/q-aig/bellybutton… — mentioned in Erich's post, "…God wouldn't want or need to create the appearance of a false history, any more than the mature trees created by God would have had growth rings initially."

    Hmmm…trees without growth rings. Why haven't they been found in the fossil record? Creationists like to point to gaps in the fossil record when they attack evolution, yet where are the fossils of ringless trees that should exist if creationists are correct?

    Investigating this question, I came across this website — http://www.geocities.com/pgspears/age.html — which contains a handy summary of the various (and independent) methods that scientists have used to date our planet. Moving up one level at that same website — to http://www.geocities.com/pgspears/ — I found an index of essays about creationism and geohistory.

    The point of these essays is nicely summarized in the following quote: "The American creationist movement has entirely bypassed the scientific forum and has concentrated instead on political lobbying and on taking its case to a fair-minded electorate. . . The reason for this strategy is overwhelmingly apparent: no scientific case can be made for the theories they advance." Kenneth R. Miller, Science and Creationism, p. 22.

    Of course, none of this has anything to do with whether or not Adam had a belly-button, but here's a related question: why don't they have gravesites? If the human race originated with Adam and Eve, then why didn't their offspring mark their grave? After all, if Adam and Eve were the first humans, and would have provided conclusive proof of God's existence, then wouldn't their children, and all subsequent generations, have enshrined their graves for all time? Even if the graves were later destroyed by vandals, why doesn't the Bible mention it? Wouldn't *someone* have noticed and thought it worth mentioning…or even re-marking the graves to show where they were? Regardless of whether or not Adam and Eve had navels, isn't it surprising that they don't have marked graves? Maybe Dan Brown should write a sequel to The Da Vinci Code, about a secret society that's been keeping Adam and Eve's gravesite locations secret since the beginning of human history. Maybe Fundamentalist Christians would like that book better than his first one.

    • rai says:

      hmm.. Adam and Eve don’t have grave sites because the flood covered the whole earth and the sediments settled down and were covered up by hundred feet of mud that is now our footstool; or their early culture like many other burn their dead. I know that the bible says something against this but it had to have mentioned it if someone had done it. But you should ask God that when you get to see him either in the white throne judgement seat or the judgement seat of Christ.

  2. grumpypilgrim says:

    Some other things I've wondered about concerning the 'God created Adam from dust' story of creation:

    1) Exactly what dust did God use for that act of creation? The chemical composition of the human body includes a wide range of organic and inorganic compounds — lipids, proteins, carbohydrates, calcium, iron, magnesium, etc. Where did God find dust that contained these compounds?

    2) Exactly how did God assemble Adam's body? Was it one molecule at a time, or did God go down to the sub-atomic level and assemble quarks? How did God overcome Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle, which should have prevented God from precisely knowing the location and velocity vector of the atoms He was manipulating.

    3) Exactly how did God assemble Adam's brain? One neuron and one synapse at a time? Also, Adam appears to have been created with a considerable breadth of knowledge — language, for example, and a knowledge of animal husbandry. Memories, too, apparently, because Adam apparently could recognize God. How did all that get into Adam's brain? More importantly, why didn't God give Adam and Eve a better appreciation of what death was, so they would refrain from eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge (see http://dangerousintersection.org/?p=166).

    4) If God created Adam from dust, then why do human fetuses that develop in the normal way (in wombs) first grow, and then lose, physical traits that appear on much more primitive animals — traits such as a tails and pharyngeal gill slits? What would be God's reason for giving Adam genes for such primitive traits?

    5) Speaking of Adam's genes, why would most of Adam's DNA be inactive junk, appearing to be either left over from earlier evolutionary stages or raw material for future evolutionary changes? (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Junk_DNA.)

  3. highandmighty says:

    Having recently undertaken to answer this very question, I can say without hesitation that Adam did not, repeat not have a navel. Two lines of reasoning lead me to this conclusion. One, Adam was born of Earth, not of woman, and thus had no need of umbilical cord. Had he been a fluid product that was molded until solidification, he might have had a navel that would have served as a sprue, but he was not. The second reason that Adam had a smoothie is that Adam is a myth. An ancient tribal attempt to explain the origins of man.

    Can our religious leaders show themselves to be much more foolish than by pondering navel yes or navel-less?

    At second glance, such splinter groups can herald the demise of that belief system, and so we should all hope that such splintering continues. We should encourage it. To be so exclusive is the opposite of that belief system, and so undermines its efforts to remain viable.

    I followed the links provided in your post erich, and read with interest the comments on launguage and communication. Expressions of religious dogma are a code of sorts, as is every other form of communication. Open minded, logical people set their contacts according to responses to these code phrases, but allow for flexibility, whereas the close minded do not. Maybe I am simply missing the whole point?

  4. Erich Vieth says:

    I couldn't remember whether the Navelites thought that Adam DID or DID NOT have a navel. I couldn't remember who took what side. Therefore, I wrote to Deb, who told me the story of the Navelites. Here's what she wrote back:

    "The Navelites believed he DID have one (I don't remember if Eve was an issue. Mabye coming out of someone's side is enough to get a navel :). I haven't had contact with this friend since about 1972, I don't know if the sect still exists."

  5. Erich Vieth says:


    Don't worry about "missing the whole point," because I'm not sure there is point, other than the high stakes some people put on seemingly pointless disputes. I tried to spin this issue into a cognitive science observation, but I'm not sure I really succeeded.

    I'm just glad that I didn't find any evidence (yet) that anyone was sentenced by some religious court and executed over this dispute.


  6. grumpypilgrim says:

    Further on the question about whether or not Adam had a belly-button…we know that Adam and Eve were eating the food in the Garden of Eden, but the Bible doesn't tell us anything about their sanitation methods. Given all the diseases and deaths that have occurred throughout history from poor sanitation practices, wouldn't it have made sense for God to have given us better lessons in the bacterial model of disease transmission? And what about the waste that Adam & Even would have generated: why don't the Bible creation storues ever mention any outhouses in Eden?

  7. James T. Sewell, Ph. says:

    The best answer is found in the pages of Scripture:

    But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. II Tmothy 2:23

    But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain. Titus 3:9

    The world is hell-bent, the Titanic is sinking and we are debating the brand of the deck chairs on the Titanic.

  8. Erich Vieth says:

    To James T. Sewell, Ph.D.: But did Adam have a belly button or not? Hurry with your answer, because the followers of Jesus are at each others' throats about this and lots of other equally important disputes!

    Those disputes might not seem important to you, but things like Adam's belly button, the Pope's infallibility, the nature of transubstantiation, and whether to call God "Allah" have ripped apart huge communities. These disputes have sometimes led to bloody wars.

  9. Me says:

    OMG. I can't tell if you're being sarcastic or not. Do you actually believe the whole Adam and Eve BS? There's nothing here that makes me think you're joking, and that you really believe it.

    The answer is that it's a fantasy. These people did not exist. You're just as well off debating why Bizzaro Superman doesn't breathe water instead of air.I mean it doesn't make sense. He's suppose to be opposite, right? So why does he breathe air?

    The answer to both is the same – they are fantasies.

  10. Erich Vieth says:

    Me: "equally important disputes" means equally absurd disputes for me. I was being sarcastic.

    Perhaps you're new to this site. If you check out almost any of my posts on religion or science, you'll see that I'm destined to burn in hell after I die, if there were a hell (but there isn't).

  11. Me says:

    My faith is redeemed, but I'm dissapointed I can't troll you.

  12. grumpypilgrim says:

    Me: you might enjoy this post, too. Click here.

  13. Listen Up says:

    You're all barking up the wrong tree (ringed or ringless, makes no difference). The tree you're barking up is a Christian one where all you'll find are missing answers, deliberately removed from history and the much-adapted Bible in order to confuse the masses into submission.

    Yes, Adam did have a belly button. Yes, Adam and Eve were educated in sanitation methods that would put most westerners today to shame.

    According to scholars of Islam, when Adam came to Earth, Satan touched him, leaving a dirty spot on Adam's pure body. God reached into Adam through his stomach and removed the spot, casting it upon the ground. Thus Adam's navel was created. When the spot hit the ground it became a dog. This is why dogs are so loyal to man but can at times display an evil temperament.

    Sanitation methods have been passed down by the prophets, starting with Adam. After urinating the hands must be washed thoroughly. After deficating the anus must be washed with clean water using the left hand. After deficating the hands must be washed thoroughly three times. Only the right hand may be used for eating and drinking. Are we in the west this careful, this clean?

    Hope this is of use in your search for answers and provokes deeper thought.

  14. Erich Vieth says:

    Listen Up: No wonder you have such a provocative name!

    But what if Adam and Eve are just STORIES invented by others? Have you ever stopped to ask this basic question?

    My post was never meant to imply that there was really an Adam or an Eve.

  15. Iracible says:

    Not that it fully helps at all with the discussion, but in Michaelangelo's art on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, art ordered forth by a Pope the dipictions of Adam and Eve show them with belly buttons, at that time the Catholics must have believed in a navel.

  16. Facepalm says:

    >How did God overcome Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle?

    Seriously? This whole conversation is completely ridiculous.

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