Modern Christian Mythology: Rib Count

Modern Christian Mythology: Rib Count

The myth that men have one more rib than women is pretty easily debunked. After all, all you need to do is step into a science class room, find the skeleton, and count. And, as silly as it may sound, it still occasionally comes up in college classrooms.

The myth originates from a literal reading of the Genesis 2 version of the creation story. In Genesis 1, first first man and the first woman are created simultaneously, but in this version of the story, man is created first out of dust, then a woman is created out of the man’s rib bone:

And Jehovah God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof: and the rib, which Jehovah God had taken from the man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.

-Genesis 2: 21-22

Of course, even taken at face value, the Genesis story would in no way imply that all of Adam’s descendants would have been born one rib short of a rack. Just ask anyone missing a limb if their kids were born with the same piece of missing hardware. After all, if that was the way things worked, the practice of circumcision would only have been done once.

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3 Comments on “Modern Christian Mythology: Rib Count”


  1. 7-8 years ago, in a christian message group I actually had this Canadian girl ask me “if the story of adam and eve isnt true, how come men have one less rib than women?”
    I couldn’t believe my luck in finding an undereducated fundie to whom it would be so easy to prove wrong.

    She still emails with me, and is a friend on facebook. I think she still feels stupid about it, and is gradually coming around to freethought, based on some of her communications.


    • Yeah, I never knew anybody believed it until I took anthropology classes in college. The prof let us know that he gets them every year and even has to lead students up to skeletons the let them count for themselves. Unbelievable.

  2. Michael Says:

    I had one yesterday, I couldn’t get him to understand… no matter how many different ways I dumbed it down for him. He used wikipedia to support his position. The article starts by saying that men and women have 24 ribs, 12 on each side… though, due to a rare genetic anomaly, seen in about 1 in every 200 to 500 people, there can be extra ribs – this condition is more commonly (but not exclusively) observed in women. That last part is the only part his mind held onto! Not the beginning, not the preface (a rare genetic anomaly), only pieces of the ending that suit his beliefs ‘extra ribs’ & ‘women’…

    I felt like I was bashing my head against a brick wall, I wanted to cry.


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