The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Death and the Fall

A common belief among Christians is that physical death entered the world as a result of the Fall. This view is expressed on the Got Questions site: “Because of the Fall, death became a reality, and all creation was subject to it. All men die, all animals die, all plant life dies.”

But the view that death, namely physical death, entered the world because of the Fall is incoherent. Using a description of life at that time and in that place (i.e., the Garden of Eden), as related in the Bible, one can logically conclude that it is ecologically impossible that such could have been the case.

At the time of the Garden of Eden, only plants were available for food to all organisms, by God’s design, as stated in Genesis 1:29-30.

“Then God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food,’ and it was so.” (Genesis 1:29-30)

Organisms found at the time in the Garden of Eden included every plant yielding seed on the face of the earth, every tree that has fruit yielding seeds, every beast of the field, every bird of the sky, and cattle.

“Out of the ground the LORD God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” (Genesis 2:9)

“Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name.” (Genesis 2:19)

“The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him.” (Genesis 2:20)

Ok, showing that physical death was present at that time is possible through placing these original descriptions into the context of elementary ecology. One of the keys is cattle. Cattle belong to the family Bovidae. All bovids are ruminants. Ruminants have a 4-parted stomach in which food is digested with the help of microorganisms that break down complex materials in plants, such as cellulose, and release fatty acids and amino acids essential to cattle. As the plant food moves through the complex stomach and the remainder of the digestive tract, these microorganisms move with it. Eventually, some of these microorganisms are eliminated in the feces of the cattle. Being mutualistic symbionts adapted to live in the gut of these cattle, they do not survive well outside of the host body. Thus, they die unless they are ingested by a ruminant.

Another cause of mortality is herbivory itself. Much grazing by cattle just trims tissue from food plants, and most plants recover from that. But some herbivory, even by cattle, uproots plants and thus kills them. When one adds to this source of death, sources from non-cattle herbivores like voles and gophers, which consume plant roots, then herbivory as a source of plant death can be appreciable.

In addition to these clear examples of death in the Garden of Eden, there are likely others based on competition. Plants are under intense competition both within a species and between species. This competition results from limited supplies of light, carbon dioxide, water, and required inorganic nutrients like nitrates, phosphates, and potassium. Much of this competition occurs through shading as taller plants shade out shorter one, or plants with deeper roots obtain more water and inorganic nutrients in the soil than do plants with shallower roots. Thus, there is almost certainly death of the plants that are less competitive at gaining these resources.

Finally, competition between and within herbivore species is another source of death. If population sizes of these beasts of the field were greater than what could be supported by plants, there would be death. The fact that all animals were herbivorous means there were no carnivores present to hold herbivore populations in check. This absence thus would allow herbivore populations to rise temporarily above the level that could be supported by plants, at which time some individuals would die from lack of sufficient nutrients.

Thus, just because all animals ate plants in the Garden of Eden, it does not follow that there was no physical death there.

However, this all says nothing against the idea–from a biblical perspective, anyway—that the kind of death entering the world at the Fall was spiritual death.

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I would argue that the termination of plants is qualitatively different than that of creatures:

“and to every beast [living thing, creature] of the earth, and to every fowl of the heavens, and to every creeping thing on the earth, in which is breath of life, every green herb is for food:’ and it is so.” Gen. 1:30 YLT.

My understanding of the life/death sequence is:

-DEATH through man’s sin
-[Christ’s atonement and the eventual eradication of death]

So I suggest that the unrestricted presence of God prior to the entrance of death was so life-giving that nothing could die: if, say, a creature accidentally fell off a cliff, it couldn’t die in that environment, but only enjoy painless instant recovery—or even rescue from the accident itself.

And after the restorative Millennial Age and then the destruction of death (1 Cor. 15:26), biological living beings will again be unable to die, and presumably continue to reproduce and migrate, even to additional worlds prepared for them (Isaiah 9:7; Rev. 2:28).

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Whether or not that point is relevant, I also discussed the inevitable death of animals, too (i.e., herbivores), through competition among individuals.

Yes indeed — and some of this has also been touted before…

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How does logic reach that conclusion, even with the mistranslation of olam as “forever”? If prefall Adam was not immortal it does not follow that he was dying either spiritually or physically.

OTOH after he fell he began to die towards a result of death, as are all humans since from the time they exist. To continue to live he would need to be partaking of the tree of life. But that doesn’t mean that if he ate from it once he would live forever. In Revelation the leaves of the tree of life are said to give healing, not immortality through a single application.

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Does Genesis say Adam died any death that day. Or does it say towards death he began dieing. That is, his body began on a slow road leading to its death. And without the healing from partaking from the tree of life, what God has promised would happen, Adam’s death, would be fulfilled. God acted to stop Adam from partaking of the tree so His promise would be fulfilled. God didn’t need Adam to avoid the tree due to your stated reason here:

That is the usual fundamentalist explanation. But fallen Adam could have continually partaken of the tree of life, lived till Christ died for his sins, accepted Him as his Lord & Saviour & gone to heaven like any other Christian.

As i posted in another thread:

Why should Genesis 2:17 be taken as an "intensification? Did Adam die on the same day he sinned? He began dying:

Young’s Literal Translation
and of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou dost not eat of it, for in the day of thine eating of it – dying thou dost die.’ (YLT)

“…for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die; or “in dying, die” (z);…”

Adam did not surely die on the day he ate the fruit. But he did begin dieing towards a sure outcome of death:

“…for in the day you eat from it, to die shall you be dying.” (CLV)

"There is an old maxim for Bible translation, “If the plain senses makes good sense, then it is nonsense to look for any other sense.” "

BTW, the LXX translation of the Hebrew uses two different words for death:

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By ALL modes of logic IF Adam was not immortal then YES he would in time physically die, as designed by God… and thus step further into His presence.

As per usual you won’t believe me, hence our wasted dialogue, but your real argument is with the text, which you again contradict…

Gen 3:22-24 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever— therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.

Apart from the basic denial of the text, as per above, your mind seems to meander within the realm of fuzzy logic… something fruitless to connect with. :thinking:

Why?? Because THAT’S what the Hebrew indicates! — just as koine_lingua told you. This is where dealing with your monotonous objections becomes tiresome, i.e., you’re NOT across the briefs; PLUS when you are told how it is you either don’t grasp it or you glibly ignore the answer and go on your merry way none the wiser.

Anywhere the Hebrew/Aramaic repeats a word it intensifies its force of meaning… Jesus uses this self-same effect when he says “Amen amen” — it’s like saying “truly absolutely”. It’s like in English when we use an exclamation mark to intensify the force of a statement, e,g., “stop” or “stop!”

IF you claim to be a believer in the text then the answer is YES… he died the day he ate. How did Adam die? He died relationally aka spiritually. IOW… his relationship with God as it was was broken! The restoration of THAT spiritual/relational union is what the rest of the biblical story is all about — and God did not fail!

Simply stating, “i’m right, your wrong, nah nah” with several added insults does not add anything to the topic.

That’s merely your theory which you’ve provided no proof for whatsoever. Evidently none of the more literal and honest versions i posted agree with you:

Young’s Literal Translation
and of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou dost not eat of it, for in the day of thine eating of it – dying thou dost die.’ (YLT)

“…for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die; or “in dying, die” (z);…”

Adam did not surely die on the day he ate the fruit. But he did begin dieing towards a sure outcome of death:

“…for in the day you eat from it, to die shall you be dying.” (CLV)

"There is an old maxim for Bible translation, “If the plain senses makes good sense, then it is nonsense to look for any other sense.” "

BTW, the LXX translation of the Hebrew uses two different words for death:

Adam’s relationship with God continued post-fall. It was NOT dead.

OTOH if a person is truly dead, a corpse, you won’t be having any relationship whatsoever with a corpse.

Moreover, where is there any evidence anywhere that Adam had a “spiritual” relationship with Love Omnipotent? Are you suggesting Adam was born again or Spirit filled?

Arguably Adam’s relationship with God improved postfall (when he had obtained knowledge of good and evil) compared to prefall when there is no indication he had any appreciation for God whatsover. See, for example:

Again, as you so often do, all you state is a theory & remarks that are not backed up with proof. And act as if you had proven something. Heavy on fluff, light on substance.

Where have you provided any evidence that pre-fall Adam would have died in time if he was not immortal? Nowhere. Where is this “logic” you speak of?

After God created Adam He said His creation was very good, not “very good, except that Adam is dieing”.

IMO it’s more like i refuse to accept your interpretation, & misleading translation, of the text.

Before the “fall” there was human sin from Eve as she lusted for wisdom and beauty and disobeyed God and obeyed Satan. Maybe Eve didn’t have the authority to pass it unto the world as Adam did but human sin existed which begs another question.

When God made creation and called it “very good” what did “very good” mean? Maybe it was very good for the purpose it was intended for?