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Fall of man

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Fall of Man by Lukas Cranach the Elder

The Fall of Man (Date::8 Ethanim 1 AM) was an event that is described in the Biblical book of Genesis, during which the first man and woman (Adam and Eve) sinned against God, and fell from grace. The event is also known as the Original Sin. According to the Bible, this sin brought death into the world, but humans remain immortal beings to be resurrected to eternal life in heaven, or eternal death in hell. The Bible also seems to clearly imply that humans were designed to live immortally in their physical bodies before Adam and Eve committed the original sin.

God's Command

In Genesis 2-3 , God gave Adam and Eve specific instructions not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge or they would die. Despite this command and warning from God, Eve succumbed to temptation by a serpent and ate the fruit, then gave some to Adam, "who was with her".

"The LORD God commanded the man, saying, 'From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.'" - Genesis 2:16-17 (NASB)

"Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, 'Did God really say, ʿYou must not eat from any tree in the gardenʾ?' The woman said to the serpent, 'We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ʿYou must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.ʾ 'You will not surely die,' the serpent said to the woman. 'For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.' When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it." - Genesis 3:1-6 (NASB)

This act of disobedience was the first time that humans had sinned against God, and is therefore, called the original sin. Since Adam is said to have lived to be 930 years old, it is important to examine the nature of the death penalty exacted upon mankind. Eating of the forbidden fruit gave Adam and Eve the ability to judge their own actions as right or wrong, and they instantly recognized they had done something sinful and hid from God. After questioning them, God removed Adam and Eve from the garden, and placed a cherub with a flaming sword to guard the Tree of Life so they could not eat from it.

There remains some debate within the theological and creation science community regarding the nature of this immortality. It is important to note that the Hebrew in this passage is more literally translated as "dying thou shall die", which suggests a "progressive" death. A less literal translation is "for as soon as you eat of it, you shall be doomed to die". Nevertheless, because they did not die immediately after eating of the fruit, some Christians interpret this passage to mean that Adam and Eve died that day, but only spiritually. Alternatively, many people assume that Adam and Eve began physically immortal, and began to grow old for the first time on this day.

"Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned--13for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law." - Romans 5:12-13 (NASB)

"For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ." - Romans 5:17 (NASB)

"For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now." - Romans 8:19-22 (NASB)

God told Adam and Eve; "you may eat freely of every tree in the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die." However, after they ate the forbidden fruit, they did not immediately fall dead. Because of this seeming discrepancy, many Christian interpret this passage to mean that Adam died spiritually that day, or was originally immortal and became a mortal thereby beginning to die. The text would instead suggest that when they committed the original sin, God exacted an indirect penalty of death upon Adam and Eve. If the garden of Eden story is representative of history, humans were created to live forever in a physical body, but God removed their source of immortality on the day they sinned against Him. Overall, it is consistent that humans were doomed to mortality after the Fall.

Tree of Life

In addition to the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, God also placed a tree in the garden called the Tree of Life. The passage would seem to suggest that this tree was the source of physical immortality for humans, and although God had not forbidden Adam and Eve from eating its' fruit, they had not done so before they sinned. As soon as they ate of the tree of good and evil, God immediately removed Adam and Eve from the garden, and placed a flaming sword to guard the tree so they could not eat from it. In Genesis 3:22-23 , God is quoted as saying "and now, lest he put forth his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever" therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden", clearly indicating that Adam was removed from the garden before he would have the opportunity for to eat of the tree of life and become immortal.

From this story in Genesis 2-3 , we can conclude that on the day Adam and Eve ate of the "Tree of Knowledge" they experienced their immortal death because God removed their access to the "Tree of Life". This tree, which had been originally placed there for them, would apparently provide some essential factor without which any human would eventually die. It is assumed that the "Tree of Life" was able to transform the biological nature of human beings who were alone designed to eat from the tree and live in this way. However, because our ancestors disobeyed God, they brought death to all mankind through their punishment. Christianity teaches that it is now only by faith in the LORD Jesus Christ that our sins will be forgiven, and we can regain our place with God through eternity.

"And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground — trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil." - Genesis 2:9 (NASB)

"And the LORD God said, 'The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.' So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life." - Genesis 3:22-24 (NASB)

"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God." - Revelation 2:7 (NASB)

"Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations." - Revelation 22:1-2 (NASB)

"Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city." - Revelation 22:14 (NASB)

Physical Immortality

Main Article: Immortality

It is important to note that physical immortality is theoretically possible for any lifeform, and the factors which cause organisms to begin to grow old and die remain largely hypothetical. Multicellular organisms are designed so that new cells replace older cells on a never-ending cycle. If a cell is provided all the metabolites and nutrients it needs to survive, its lineage should never die-out. But due to some unknown cause they simply cease.

Plants are actually or potentially immortal organisms that will live indefinitely provided their environmental requirements are met. In striking contrast to plants, humans and animals have a maximum life expectancy regardless of whether their needs are fulfilled. Although it is true that some plants grow as annuals, all plants are actually perennials by nature, and have adapted to a programmed life cycle in some instances to match growing seasons. Otherwise, plants only die because of biochemical starvation or disease. If their physical requirements are met, plants will grow indefinitely.

The most widely accepted theory to explain cellular mortality proposes that the ends of chromosomes (telomeres) degrade through time, and active genes eventually become affected by similar erosion. However, programmed cell death (apoptosis) is now known to occur, and clearly indicates a control mechanism is governing cellular mortality. Cells are responding to signals we do not yet recognize, and will essentially die on a preprogrammed schedule.

It is also now well established that plant and animal cell lines can be easily immortalized. Immortalized plant tissue can be obtained by simply isolating the plant's wound-response tissue called callus. When separated from the plant's signaling mechanism that tell the cells to die, callus will grow indefinitely in tissue culture.

Cancer cells are considered immortalized. They have become genetically unresponsive to the signals that would normally restrict cells from replicating their DNA and dividing. Unlike their host organism, immortalized cell lines will continue to grow and divide as long as their necessary elements are maintained.

Animal Immortality

Many creationists argue that both humans and the animals were immortal in the beginning, and no animals on Earth died prior to the fall of mankind. This view is based largely on the use of the phrase breath of life that is shared in common with animals (Genesis 7:22 ), and the word life as in Genesis 1:20 (Hebrew neshesh), which some believe refers to the soul - asserting that animals also have a soul like humans.[1]

In The Genesis Record, Henry Morris states:

The word “life” occurs for the first time in this verse (Hebrew nephesh). Actually, this is the word also for “soul,” and is frequently used to refer to both the soul of man and the life of animals.[2]

"[T]he LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being." - Genesis 2:7 (NASB)

"I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish." - Genesis 6:17 (NASB)

"Pairs of all creatures that have the breath of life in them came to Noah and entered the ark." - Genesis 7:15 (NASB)

This perspective is most often voiced by young earth creationists to contest the evolutionary interpretation of the fossil record as being evidence of millions of years of death and decay prior to the presence of humans.[3]

In The Genesis Record, Henry Morris continues:

Since death only “entered into the world” when sin came in through man (Romans 5:12), and since the whole creation was very good before man sinned, it is as obvious as anything could be that the fossil record now found in the sedimentary rocks of the earth’s crust could only have been formed sometime after man sinned. The fossils could not have been deposited either before the six days of creation (as in the gap theory) or during the six days of creation (as according to the progressive creation, day-age type of theory).[3]

It is also noted by proponents of this view that both humans and animals were designed to eat plants at the time of their creation - Genesis 1:29-30 . Carnivorous behaviors probably began as a result of the curse upon the Earth.[4] Likewise, God's own description of the created world was in terms of "very good", which to many is contradictory to the suffering which frequents death.[3]

Although the possibility of immortal animals is immediately rejected by many on the grounds that accidental death occurs on a regular basis for many small organisms today (like stepping on bugs). Under examination, such distinctions between humans and other creatures do not hold up. Accidental deaths are as likely for humans as for almost any other organism. There may be no generalized scenario that would cause the death of another organism that could not also happen to humans. In fact, humans are one of the most environmentally fragile of all organisms on earth. But, in contrast, the exoskeleton possessed by the average insect can handle several hundred times its weight.

Nevertheless, this arguments overlooks the obvious purpose of the tree of life, to provide the immortality that God intended humans to have. The fall of man resulted in the removal of Adam and Eve from the garden of Eden to prevent their access to the tree of life and immortality.


Those that hold to animal immortality typically exclude animals on the grounds that they do not have the "breath of life", or blood, which is used to define plants as non "living" in the same sense as animals. (Genesis 9:4 - Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.)

In The Genesis Record, Henry Morris states:

In the Biblical sense, plants do not have real life, or soul (or consciousness); but both animals and men do.[2]

It is also noted that animals and humans alike were designed to eat plants and frequently kill them upon harvest.

"And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it — I give every green plant for food. And it was so." - Genesis 1:30 (NASB)

Other Curses

In Addition to being removed from the Garden of Eden and being separated from the Tree of Life, there were other curses exacted upon the creation as a result of the sin of Adam and Eve.

Farm for food

Farming in mass quantities to obtain food seems to have only been a requirement after Adam was cursed for his sin. As plants were created to be food for humans and animals alike (See: Genesis 1:29-30 ), it is logical that we were both originally created with the ability to digest plant fiber (cellulose), and there was no need for us to grow crops in the beginning. This is further supported by the fact that humans have an appendix organ in the digestive system; it is vestigial today, but scientists agree that it was originally intended to digest plant fiber/cellulose.

Today, we must farm in order to obtain sufficient amounts of energy, which otherwise exists in abundance within cellulose. The entire plant is basically made of pure sugar, which is what virtually all organisms metabolize for energy, but most of the metabolites made by plants are indigestible by humans and animals. This conundrum is inexplicable from an intelligent design perspective aside from a cursed world.[5]

"To Adam he said, 'Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ʿYou must not eat of it,ʾ Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return." - Genesis 3:17-19 (NASB)

Increased pain during childbirth

"To the woman he said, 'I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.'" - Genesis 1:16 (NASB)


"So the LORD God said to the serpent, 'Because you have done this, Cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.'" - Genesis 1:14-15 (NASB)

See Also


  1. Morris, Henry M., The Genesis Record. Grand Rapids MI: Baker Books, 1976. p.86.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Morris, Henry M., The Genesis Record. Grand Rapids MI: Baker Books, 1976. p.69.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Morris, Henry M., The Genesis Record. Grand Rapids MI: Baker Books, 1976. p.79.
  4. Morris, Henry M., The Genesis Record. Grand Rapids MI: Baker Books, 1976. p.78.
  5. "Designed to Eat Plants, Then Cursed to be Unable." Northwest Creation Network, n.d. Accessed October 24, 2008.

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