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This site is for thoughtful Christians learning how to answer the hard questions people are asking today
MICRO TOPIC 1.3.2

Was Adam's sin the cause of all death on earth?

Was everything on earth once immortal?
PURPOSE: Helping Christians engage in intelligent conversations with doubters and unbelievers
Bible creation questions

QUESTIONS

discussed on this page

Tough questions people are asking about whether or not Adam's sin ruined a perfect world:

By definition, if something can never die (immortal), it is impossible for it to die (mortal). Isn't it a contradiction to say that the world and everything in it was originally immortal but Adam made everything mortal?

If the world were initially a perfect paradise without any death, wouldn't it be a design flaw if the action of any man could ruin God's creation?

If God is all-knowing and all-powerful, and God's will is that no one should perish, how could He be so blind-sided or weak as to allow someone to wreck His world?

Was there any death on earth before Adam sinned? If so, how can sin be the cause death?

Did God send Jesus to fix the world that Adam wrecked?

How can a Christian give an intelligent and compelling biblical answer to people who think it's absurd for anyone to believe that there was no death on earth until about 6,000 years ago and that everything dies now because a man named Adam took a bite of some forbidden fruit in a garden?

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INTRODUCTION

What happens here

Confident Christian

Not all Christians believe the common church tradition that the world was a perfect paradise (from human perspective) until Adam ate forbidden fruit ... causing death to enter the world ... and ruining God's marvelous creation.

That belief assumes that the world and everything in it was once immortal (can't die) but Adam made it mortal (dies), which is an oxymoron.

It also assumes that God didn't make the world good enough to withstand what Adam did; i.e., it was not perfect.

And Adam, being part of that world, obviously was not perfect himself or else he could not have been seduced by Satan, a sinful (imperfect) being already at work in the Garden.

Further, the belief that the world was originally a perfect paradise is contrary to all findings of geology and archaeology, which show that death was operational on earth long before BC 4000 (time of Adam per Bible genealogies).

Upon challenge and reflection, many Christians lack confidence in what they have been taught about a perfect world.

This page will help you decide what to believe about condition of the earth before Adam.

Informed Christian

Most Christians seem to think that the Bible says in many places that the earth was originally a perfect paradise, without any death. But the Bible doesn't explicitly say it anywhere, and there is no record of Jesus ever saying it or even implying it.

The idea of a perfect paradise comes from two vague statements by the Apostle Paul, which are studied briefly on this page and in depth on a supplemental page.

Many Christians believe that death is not an unforeseen mistake or design flaw but is part of God's original plan and that there was death before Adam. Therefore, Adam's sin could not be the cause of all death on earth.

This page gives you all relevant Bible verses on this topic.

Interesting Christian

When confident and informed, Christians can become interesting conversationalists on spiritual matters. This subject is an example of how Christians can explain that there are two views, neither of which negates the need for a Savior.

This page gives you the information needed to engage in interesting conversations with anyone about condition of the earth before Adam.

WHY IT MATTERS

Bible credibility and Christian witness

Why this matters

Bible genealogies say that Adam lived approximately 4,000 BC. Many Christians, perhaps most, believe that the earth was a perfect paradise until the moment he sinned and brought death into the world.

This creates two problems that have become barriers to faith for people outside of the church:

PROBLEM 1. This means that nothing on earth died until about 6,000 years ago.

So people are thinking: How can any intelligent person today believe in a book that is totally contrary to what we know to be true, i.e., overwhelming scientific, archeological, and historical evidence that there has been life on earth – living and dying – for millions or billions of years?

PROBLEM 2. This means that God must not be perfect if one man could thwart God's plan and wreck what He created.

So people are thinking: It sounds like a serious design flaw. How could an all-powerful and all-knowing God be blindsided and let such a horrendous thing happen? The Bible must be a fantasy story full of contradictions and cannot be trusted.

The purpose of this Topic 1.4 is to re-read and re-think the Eden story to see if the Bible really says that the earth was perfect and without any death before Adam sinned. Maybe it's Christian traditions – not the Bible – that create these credibility problems and turn people away from the Bible and from Jesus.

It's not about us, but about them

To say that there was no death on earth before 10,000 years ago is an indefensible position in light of modern knowledge, and most people think it's just ignorance or mindless religious indoctrination to hear Christians say it.

The younger generations especially will quickly dismiss the Bible as a book to be trusted when they hear statements like this that are completely contrary to what they have learned about the world.

To insist that death is something new – when the Bible doesn't say it – hinders our mission and is a barrier to Christian faith for millions of people.

Most Christians shrug off the issue by saying: It doesn't matter to me whether or not Adam's sin is the cause of death. What matters is that we have a sin problem and Jesus is the answer.

But that attitude misses the real issue: It's not about us! It's about them!

Bible credibility is the issue

If, based on what Christians say, doubters and unbelievers think the Bible is wrong about death on earth, they conclude that it is probably wrong about other matters, too, and that it cannot be trusted as a book of truth.

Maybe the subject of Adam's sin causing all death on earth will never come up in open conversation, but every Christian should be prepared with a satisfactory answer if it does.

Even if unbelievers and doubters don't raise the issue, they have thought about it, consciously or subconsciously, when seeing the subtle mockery in caricatures of Eve handing Adam an apple ... wondering how Christians can believe that this is the cause of all death on earth.

If I have to believe this to be a Christian, they reason, I could never become a Christian.

In some situations, Christians should raise the issue just to flush out hidden misunderstandings and establish better rapport.

Earth has never been immortal

Everything physical is mortal (will cease to exist), even non-living things, including the stars we now observe imploding into black holes. Eventually, the earth itself will die.

Satan tempting Adam and Eve in Garden of Eden

'The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way ...' (2 Peter 3:10-11).

If there were no death before Adam, that would mean God created everything immortal – even Adam – but there is nothing in the Bible to even hint that the earth or any part of it was once immortal. In fact, it's an oxymoron: Immortal means never die, so how can something immortal become mortal?

Human condition

The human condition – the default condition – like the condition of everything else in God's creation, is that eventually, we die. Death is not a design flaw or mistake. God knew exactly what He was doing and what would happen.

Death is a practical necessity to prevent overcrowding and suffocation ... to sustain the food chain ... to enable continuous growth and change ... and to give meaning to eternal life.

Death preceded sin

There is ample evidence that the cycle of life-and-death was functioning on earth long before 4000 BC, the time the Bible says sin first entered the world 'through' Adam (not 'because' of Adam), studied in depth in the Bible study here on original sin and Romans 5.

If there was death on earth before Adam, then Adam's sin cannot be the cause of  death.

Romans 5:12-13 and I Corinthians 15:22 and 15:45-47 are the principal passages of scripture cited for the belief that Adam's sin is the cause of death.

See the Bible study here on sin and cause of death which examines these verses carefully and shows that these passages don't say what most people seem to think they say.

Don't add to the Bible

Most Christians seem to think that others are altering the Bible if a particular interpretation of scripture does not align with their own tradition. It rarely occurs to them that it may be their tradition that's altering the Bible!

The purpose of this study to go directly to scripture and read for ourselves whether or not it actually says that the earth was a perfect paradise without death until Adam sinned. Is the Bible saying it? Or is tradition saying it?

If the Bible is saying it, we must accept it.

If tradition is saying it, we should be careful about what we repeat about Adam and not add to what the Bible actually says.

Adding to the biblical account creates unnecessary push-back and argument, reduces confidence in the Bible and hinders our mission of making disciples.

 WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS

about Adam's sin causing all death

Scripture says practically nothing about this issue

Christians who believe that Adam's sin is the cause of all death on earth usually assume that this is a clear theme occurring throughout scripture.

Most Christians have never studied it themselves directly from the Bible but simply believe it because that's what their religious tradition has taught them.

Actually, the Bible says practically nothing to support this doctrine.

OLD TESTAMENT. The Old Testament reports the Adam and Eve story in Genesis 2-5 but, after that, Adam's name is never mentioned again except in a genealogy.

The Adam and Eve story does NOT say that Adam's sin brought death into the world. The curse that God put on Adam for his sin did NOT include death for all life, or even death for all mankind, or even death for Adam (death was already his natural destiny because he was human).

Before Adam sinned, God told him that if he ate forbidden fruit he would 'surely die;' i.e., he would not get eternal life. Death has always been the default condition of life on earth. If we don't get eternal life, we're left with death.

The Old Testament writers, priests, prophets, and kings obviously did not believe that Adam's sin is the cause of universal death or certainly they would have said something about it.

NEW TESTAMENT. Adam's name is mentioned or implied in only five passages in the New Testament. However, two of those passages (Luke 3:38 and Jude 1:14) name Adam only in a genealogy list, and one (I Timothy 2:13-14) speaks only about the marriage relationship.

The Gospels say nothing at all about sin being the cause of death.

Jesus and his twelve apostles apparently did NOT believe that Adam's sin is the cause of death or certainly they would have said something about a time and event this momentous.

So the only potential scriptural support for this doctrine are these two passages about Adam written by the Apostle Paul:

'Therefore, just as sin entered the world THROUGH one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned – for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law' (Romans 5:12-13).
'For since death came THROUGH a man, the resurrection of the dead also comes through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive ... The last enemy to be destroyed is death ... So it is written: The first man Adam became a living being; the last Adam a living spirit. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven.' (I Corinthians 15:22, 26, 45-47)

Not only is this a very small biblical footing for such a horrendous doctrine as original sin – and out of synch with the rest of the Bible – but these two passages are subject to varying interpretations.

It's important to note that both passages (yellow above) say that sin entered THROUGH one man, not BECAUSE of one man. Adam was the first person ever to receive God's law and to violate God's law. The fact that he was the first sinner does not make him the cause of all sin and death. It was God's condition, and Adam was the first to experience it.

Interpretation of Romans 5

This passage (yellow above) is used to 'prove' that Adam's sin caused all death on earth. However, the passage says clearly that 'death came to all men, BECAUSE ALL SINNED,' (presumably even people before Adam, based on the ensuing statement about sin already being in the world before the law was given).

The first law God gave to a human (don't eat this fruit) was given to Adam.

The passage says there was sin but no accountability before the law. So when Adam violated the first law, given directly to him, he became the first sinner and progenitor of the spiritual human race as we now know it, having accountability to God.

Before the first law, humans were already doing bad things, but they just died like everything else dies – simple eternal death (end of existence), no resurrection, no judgment, no punishment. They didn't have accountability to God, and they had not been offered eternal life. See Bible study here on people before Adam.

But ever since Adam, people have been accountable for the spiritual law given to them – sin is violation of spiritual law – so now death is 'through sin,' meaning that people are now on an extended route to eternal death, in order to deal with their sin.
The route now through sin is in this new order: physical death ... then resurrection, then judgment, then punishment in hell ... and then eventual eternal death (end of existence) in hell or eternal life in heaven through Jesus. See Bible study here on death and hell.

See deep verse-by-verse Bible study here on Romans 5 to examine this important portion of scripture verse-by-verse and to reconcile it with the rest of scripture, which is all about free will and individual choices and consequences.

Interpretation of I Corinthians 15

This passage (yellow above) is used to 'prove' that Adam's sin caused all death on earth. However, it says nothing about causation.

It says only that 'in Adam all die' (the human default condition is death, end of existence) and that 'in Christ shall all be made alive' (salvation and eternal life in Christ).

The phrase 'in Adam all die' (verse 22) is NOT the same as saying that Adam's sin is the cause of all death on earth. That is too big a stretch.

This compares Adam, who is human ('dust of the earth'), with Christ, who is divine ('from heaven').

The default condition has always been eternal death (end of existence). Nothing on earth has ever been immortal, not even Adam. Death is the fate of being human, with only one exception: eternal life through Christ.

That's why 'The last enemy to be destroyed is death' (verse 26). Death is the enemy of eternal life. The only way to have eternal life – i.e., the only way to defeat death – is through Christ.

The first Adam (verse 45) became a 'living being' (spiritual being) when God gave him (in the Garden of Eden) the first law (don't eat this fruit) ever given to man. This initiated a new dimension of existence for humans, making man a spiritual being accountable to God and receiving an offer of eternal life, which must be either accepted or rejected personally.

The last Adam (Christ) is a 'life-giving spirit,' the only power who can overcome eternal death and give eternal life.

The reference to Adam in this passage is NOT about who was the first physical man on earth. The words 'The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual,' imply that their were 'natural' human beings before 'spiritual' human beings.

Obviously, Jesus was not the last man on earth because other men have lived after him. Likewise, Adam was not the first man on earth for reasons given here and in the Bible study on people before Adam.

The subject here is eternal life, not physical life. First and last refer to the two men in this comparison, not the first and last humans on earth.

Because Adam was the first sinner does not compel a conclusion that Adam was the first human or that he caused everything on earth to die.

DEATH BEFORE ADAM

God's design from beginning

The earth abounds with evidence of early death

There is ample evidence that the cycle of life-and-death was functioning on earth long before 4000 BC, the time the Bible says sin first entered the world through Adam. (NOTE: 'through Adam,' not 'because of Adam,' as examined in Bible study here on Romans 5.)

The strongest evidence of long ages of prehistoric death comes from enormous deposits of limestone, coal, and oil throughout the world.

LIMESTONE. Coral, clams, oysters, mussels and other ocean-dwelling organisms have shells that are broken down by waves and settle on the ocean floor where, together with fish bones, they are compacted over millions of years, creating limestone. As tectonic plates shift, sea bottom is often thrust up as dry land, and limestone is quarried in hugh quantities to make cement and many other products.

COAL. Coal is created from plants and ferns that died hundreds of millions of years ago in swamp forests. The layers of dead vegetation were subjected to high temperatures and pressures that transformed it into peat and then into coal, now mined in hugh quantities deep underground for fuel.

OIL. Crude oil is created over millions of years from tiny plants and animals, called plankton, in sea water, trapped and buried under layers of sand and mud. After about 150 million years of heat and pressure, plankton turn into oil and gas in pores of underground rock, like water in a sponge. The rocks fold and form vast domes that accumulate the slick ooze into advantageous drilling sites (domes) for crude oil, which we refine in staggering quantities into products like gasoline for power and plastics for physical shapes.

FOSSILS. Archaeologists have uncovered thousands of dinosaur skeletons, some with bones of other creatures in their stomach cavities, showing that they killed both vegetable matter and flesh. Dinosaurs went extinct long before God created humans, and we can see them now with our own eyes in museums. See Bible study here on 'days' of creation.

MORE EVIDENCE. DNA, migration tracking, archaeology and scientific dating methods are further evidence of death before Adam sinned.

Some say things are not really old but 'just look old' (apparent age theory)

Faced with this evidence, some Christians say that God just made the world look old right from the beginning ... that limestone, coal and oil were created that way ... that God just planted dinosaur bones even though such creatures never existed.

Of course, that's possible because with God anything is possible. But why should we create a fiction to avoid what is apparent reality? God certainly is able to create things either instantly or over time. Over time is even more majestic because it requires a more complex master design plan.

If God perpetuated an elaborate hoax to make us think the earth is old by planting fake bones and fake cities, then we cannot be certain that God is not deceiving us in other ways too. Then the Bible would not be credible, and we would not know what to believe.

'Apparent age' is contrary to God's character. God is not a deceiver. See Bible study here on 'apparent age' theory.

Everything dies, even stars

Stars are born when large gaseous clouds collapse from gravity. The more massive the star, the faster it burns its fuel supply and the shorter its life. The largest stars burn out and explode after only a few million years. Stars the size of our sun burn out in about 10 billion years. Smaller stars burn out slower.

We can now observe the death of stars – supernovas to black holes – with telescopes catching light emanating from them millions of years ago, long before Adam's sin. There is no indication in the Bible that death of stars throughout the vast solar system is caused by someone's sin.

Everything God created in our universe has always been subject to death, whether large or small, whether long life or short life. Nothing was created immortal.

Death is essential for life

God's plan uses slow topographical, climatological, and physiological changes and adaptation and improvement of life forms to those changes. Death is essential in this process.

Death prevents suffocation from over-crowding ... clears the way for new and better life  ... is necessary for the food chain ... and ultimately leads to God's offer of eternal life (an offer that would be meaningless without death).

Imagine the Garden of Eden, for example, if it were perfect (from our point of view) and nothing ever died. Over time, with uncontrolled growth and multiplication, the Garden would have become so overgrown and tangled with trees, vegetation, animals and insects that people's movements would have become so restricted, and their lives so imperiled, that they would hardly be able to move ... and not reach the Tree of Life ... unless they cut down branches, bushes and vines ... but that would cause death, and then the Garden would no longer be a no-death paradise.

'Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. 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 ... And the Lord God commanded the man, 'You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil ...' (Genesis 2:8-9, 16-17). See Bible study here on Garden of Eden.

Adam had a normal human body and needed food to survive. Before Adam sinned, God told Adam to eat. But eating food as God directed is death to the food, so Adam's sin could not be the cause of all death.

In Genesis 1, God commanded all living things to reproduce and multiply. If death were not part of God's plan for planet earth right from the beginning, imagine what the earth would be like today with a population of more than 100 billion people! It would not be a paradise! And if all the animals, birds, and fish that have ever lived suddenly came to life as if they had never died, would you want to live here? Certainly that kind of environment without death is not what God originally envisioned. God designed life spans (death) as a necessary part of life.

Humans assigned to subdue and rule the earth

In Genesis 1, when God created the first human beings, He said: 'Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.' (Genesis 1:28)

There would be no need for people to subdue and rule over the earth if the earth's condition was absolute perfection without any death or change.

Adam assigned to work the Garden

'Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.' (Genesis 4:10-17)

If the Garden of Eden were a perfect paradise without death before Adam sinned, God would not have wanted someone to 'work' it and 'take care' of it.

Obviously, the life-and-death cycle was operative even before Adam sinned, otherwise there would be no need for work and care.

Adam understood death

'... you must not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when eat of it you will surely die.' (Genesis 2:17)

It would make no sense for God to warn Adam (before he sinned) that the penalty for disobedience is death if no death on earth had ever yet occurred.

The concept of death would have been totally incomprehensible to Adam unless he had already observed death outside of the Garden before being placed in the Garden. God would not say things to Adam that God knew Adam could not understand.

Adam's punishment was not death

'Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from 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).

Adam's punishment was hard work and painful toil in ground with thorns and thistles, a sentence that Adam could not have understood if everything had been perfect up to that time.

Adam's punishment was not death but rather eviction from the Garden and denial of eternal life which had been offered. Adam as an individual – not as humanity – no longer had access to the tree of life and would now have to work and die like everyone else.

Certainly, if the punishment for Adam's sin were death to every living thing on earth for all time forward – a monumental horrific punishment – we would expect God to say so clearly to Adam, and to us through His written word (Bible) and His living word (Jesus).

It is inconceivable that God would declare punishment of that severity and global magnitude – to all people everywhere for all time – because of the first offense of a single person. That clearly would be contrary to God's own character attributes of love and justice.

Death is not a design flaw

Some people interpret the Bible to say that God intended the world to be perfect – all beauty, no pain, no sorrow, no death – and that Adam's sin fouled God's wonderful plan and brought death into the world and condemned everyone to hell.

That interpretation of death – thought to be a bad and unintended tragedy – seems completely out of context with other things we know about God and creation.

If God is all-knowing and all-powerful, then no man's action is unforeseen or able to disrupt the divine plan.

God created the world for life and multiplication ... the way He created it requires a food chain ... and a food chain requires death.

Genesis 1 tells us that at the end of each 'day' of creation, God said it was 'good.' Then, as the final statement, God looked at all that was happening – including death in every life form He created – and said it was 'very good.' It materialized just as He planned it.

Life on earth is temporary, all in accordance with God's intentional design right from the beginning, not by unforeseen events or miscalculation, and not by the sinful action of any man.

Some say death only for humans

The doctrine of Adam causing death on earth is understood by most Christians to mean all death ... to mean that the earth was a perfect paradise before Adam sinned.

Realizing that this an untenable position in light of modern knowledge, some Christians back off a bit and say that Adam's sin brought death only to humans, not death to every living thing on earth.

But there's a problem with that limited view too. Christians who believe that there was no human death on earth before Adam sinned are usually the ones who also believe that God created the entire universe in six 24-hour days ... that Adam was the first human on earth ... and that, as the Bible clearly states, Adam committed the fatal sin before birth of his first son.

This makes humans-only a moot distinction because there would have been no other humans to live immortal lives in this paradise.

Created destined to die

'Just as man is destined to die once, and after that face judgment ...' (Hebrews 9:27).

People are destined to die because that's the way God designed us, not because Adam sinned. After physical death, there is resurrection, judgment and punishment ... no reincarnations as taught in many religions.

The Bible teaches that God alone is immortal. '...God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal ...' (Timothy 6:16). Nothing on earth has ever been immortal, not even Adam.

What does 'die' mean?

God said to Adam: 'You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.' (Genesis 2:16-17). In other words, Adam will no longer have access to the Tree of Life – will lose opportunity for eternal life – and therefore will 'die' (cease to exist).

How we interpret 'die' in the story of Adam and Eve sets the pattern for how we interpret death and eternal life in other parts of the Bible.

THE INTERPRETATION FROM BIBLE STUDY ON THIS SITE is that the word 'die' is simply its normal meaning: final end of existence (now however, since Adam, final death comes after physical death, resurrection, judgment and punishment in hell). After punishment, no body. No consciousness. Nothing. Final eternal death. In Jesus' words: 'die ... burned up ... destroyed ... consumed ... perish', refered to as the 'second death' in Revelation.

People who receive and reject God's offer of eternal life will eventually die in hell. Not live forever in hell, but die in hell, duration and severity dependent upon individual sin and judgment.

See exactly what Jesus said about it in the Bible study here on burning in hell.

'The wages of sin is death'

'For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord' (Romans 6:23).

Many people use this verse to prove that sin is the cause of death. But that's more than the verse actually says. The verse says that death is the consequence of sin, just as wages are the consequence of work. It's what you get. The verse says simply that eternal death is all you get from sin – no eternal life (unless forgiveness through Jesus).

By reading causation into this verse, theologians have made God look like He is not all-powerful and all-knowing ... that He made the universe so poorly that a man could foul everything by causing death in paradise ... and now God has to come back with Plan B (Jesus) to try to fix it. This is dishonoring to God. God always knew what He was doing, and death was always a part of His plan for everything He created.

By divine design from the beginning, ultimate death is the default condition for everything on earth, and the only exception to death is eternal life offered to us now through Jesus Christ.

'Sin gives birth to death'

'... but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death' (James 1:14-15).

This passage does not say that Adam's sin is the universal cause of all death. In fact, it says just the opposite, and it doesn't even mention Adam.

This verse says specifically that sin is caused by the individual sinner who yields to temptation (not inherited sin from Adam). The verse goes even further by saying that death is not the result of sin until the sin becomes 'full-grown;' i.e., until the person fully understands that it IS sin and deliberately continues in the sin.

Death is the default condition on earth. This verse, like Romans 6:23 above, says that all anyone gets from sin is eternal death (after resurrection, judgment and hell); i.e., no eternal life, which comes only through forgiveness and salvation from Jesus.

Some say 'spiritual death'

Jesus and the New Testament writers often spoke about 'eternal life.' It is a central theme.

To connote the opposite of eternal life, Christians today often say 'spiritual death,' a term that is an oxymoron to everyone else. It is an invented term, not in the Bible.

'Spiritual death' is usually a polite way of saying burn in hell forever. People who use the term seem to be saying that, after bodily resurrection and judgment, death doesn't really mean death but really means life, forever, in torture, unable to die. See Bible study here on the concept of spiritual death.

DEATH NOT PUNISHMENT FOR SIN

God specified the punishment

God's clearly states the judgment for sin

In the Garden of Eden story recorded in Genesis 3, God confronts all three sinners and pronounces individual judgment and punishment for their respective sins.

Punishment for Satan

God's punishment for Satan: 'Cursed are you above all livestock and all 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.'

Death was no part of the punishment for Satan's sin. And Satan is still alive today.

Punishment for Eve

God's punishment for Eve: 'I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.'

That translation from the popular New International Version (NIV) is accurate but not complete. The translation from the New American Standard Version (NASB) is better: 'I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth. In pain you will bring forth children, yet your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.' The NASB version, and most versions, include greatly multiply or greatly increase the pain of childbirth, as clearly stated in the original Hebrew text.

This omission is an example of how Bible translators can flex to accommodate tradition and customer base. The verse is toned down in the NIV presumably because it strongly implies that women gave birth before this time, but now pain in delivery will be greater. This means that there were people before Adam.

Death was no part of the punishment for Eve's sin. The punishment acknowledged that there would be continued life.

Punishment for Adam

God's punishment for Adam: 'Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from 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.'

This punishment does not say that Adam will die because of his sin but only that life will be much more difficult than it was in the Garden of Eden, and that he will die eventually like every other living creature.

Earlier, in Genesis 2:16-17 God said to Adam: 'You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; for when [in the day] you eat of it, you will surely die.'

Again, this translation from the NIV is not complete because it omits the words in brackets [in the day], but those words are clearly stated in the original Hebrew text and are included in most other translations. The verse is toned down in the NIV, presumably because Adam did not die in the 'day' he ate the forbidden fruit, which means that 'day' can mean more than 24 hours. Therefore God's six days of creation were likely much longer than one week.

These NIV omissions show the importance of studying the Bible from multiple English translations and from a Hebrew and Greek Interlinear translation. A good online site for reading any of these translations is BibleHub, and it's free, without registration.

By reading these two verses together, we see that Adam's punishment was that he no longer had access to the tree of life – is denied eternal life which had been offered – and that he could not move beyond the normal human default condition, which is hard work and eventual death.

Death in the context of punishment for Adam's sin refers only to Adam ('you'), not to the entire human race.

Death is not punishment for sin

These verses do not say, or even hint, that everything was perfect (no death) and that henceforth everything would die as a consequence of Adam's sin.

If the whole world were ruined because of Adam's sin, God would certainly have told them (Satan, Eve, and Adam) at the time He pronounced their punishment.

SUMMARY

Learned from this study

1. Death is part of God's design

To say that the earth is less good now than when God created it is to imply that God didn't make it good enough, or that it had design flaws.

God knew exactly what would happen because He intentionally designed death ... and free will ... and salvation into His master plan.

2. Earth was never a perfect paradise

The Bible is silent about earth's condition before Adam, so we are free to follow historical and scientific evidence wherever it leads.

We know now that there were colliding tectonic plates, fiery volcanos, fierce storms, and flesh-eating dinosaurs long before Adam. The earth has always been a dangerous and violent place.

God created humans to 'subdue' and 'rule over' the earth ... and God put Adam in the Garden of Eden to 'work it and take care of it' ... so it was not 'perfect' (no death) as we would like to define it.

The Bible says that Satan was already at work on earth – sinning – before Adam sinned. With Satan lurking around and convincing Adam and Eve to disobey God, the Bible tells that the earth was not a paradise.

3. Adam was never immortal

There is ample evidence that the cycle of life-and-death was functioning on earth long before BC 4000, the approximate time Adam lived, according to Bible genealogies.

If there was death on earth before Adam ... and if Adam was the first sinner ... then Adam's sin cannot be the cause of death.

If the earth were perfect before Adam sinned, then Adam himself would have been perfect and unable to sin because perfect beings cannot be lured into sin.

Nothing on earth has ever been immortal. Only God is immortal.

By definition, it is impossible – an oxymoron – for something immortal to become mortal.

Adam was mortal when God placed him in the Garden of Eden, otherwise there would have been no reason for God to plant the Tree of Life as its centerpiece.

4. Not a Bible theme

The Old Testament reports the story of Adam and Eve in Genesis 2-5, but thereafter Adam's name is never mentioned again except in a genealogy list.

In the New Testament, neither Jesus nor any of the twelve apostles ever mentioned Adam's name or said anything to indicate that any person's action is the cause of death on earth.

Adam's name is mentioned only five times in the entire New Testament: Two of the mentions are in genealogy lists and one mention is about the marriage relationship. The remaining two mentions are vague comments by the Apostle Paul and are subject to varying interpretations.

Adam's sin being the cause of death on earth is a prominent theme in Christian tradition but is not a theme at all in the Gospels, the primary source documents for our faith.

The big theme throughout the Bible is that we are sinners because we have free will, and as individuals, we commit personal sins. We are individually accountable to God for our own sin, and we need a personal Savior for forgiveness and eternal life.

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Thanks for your comments. Your thoughts are helpful to us. We are always learning.

You are anonymous, so no tracking, and we have no way to contact you.
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Do you offer a textbook?
Very insightful
Excellent points here.
This is great. God has shown this to me some time ago, but you are the first that has ever confirmed it. God is good.
Death and suffering had not taken place until the original sin, so no one was before Adam.
Some scientists are open to intelligent design, the problem is some scientists think they are trying to bring church into the classroom.If some scientists find out that some believe in intelligent design they will lose funding.
Thanks you so much for your willingness to put your website together to help those of us asking questions about traditional lines of thinking. I look forward to reading more!
Trying to reinterpret the Bible according to man’s interpretations that are based on unprovable assumptions destroys the authority of the Bible. God was there. Man was not.
Wish I could remember all this.
Either believe the world or believe God. We cannot have both.
Great work! Keep up the war against the ignorant churchians, and supporting Christian enlightenment!
The information that I read was very informative.
Unbelievable. Was man there at the beginning to make this determination. No. The human race is so arrogant and ignorant.
Amazing! I have been studying this subject and drafting a book for about 5 years. I discovered your web site today. In those 5 years, I have come to many of the same concepts as you. Good job folks.
I am 75 years old. I was raised as a Roman Catholic. I have studied religions all of my life. I have so many problems with the Bible starting with Genesis. I agree with your assessment that Adam wasn't the first human on earth. The more that I learn, the less I believe in the bible and religion as a salvation. But I shall continue researching.
Have always believed in this way ,read and ask for understanding and it will be given to you.
The main reason people believe that Adam was the first man is that is what someone told them. It’s man following man and not man reading the Bible for the truths that are in it.
Interesting and thought provoking.
Will this material be made available in print form for purchase?
Great read very needed in this current time thank you
Dumbest thing I've ever read!
I was just told about your website and it's so fascinating.
Interesting to read. Will research further.
very well done.!!
I am a person that right now I don't practice any religion whatsoever. Very interesting, thank you
You have developed material that is vitally needed for reaching the newer generations.
I really enjoyed this article. I found it very insightful as well as challenging.
Fascinating and deightfully clear!
I agree there had to have been other people before Adam. The sons had children, with whom? Certainly not with their own mother or the gene pool would have died out.
Since your website is new and still in the making, it leaves me excited yet hungry for more understanding.
Great information, it is worth further studies. Kept up the good work, all of us need to read and study the bible more including me. We need to remember Christ is the Only Way to eternal life.
Very informative and interesting.
Proof of the absurdity of ALL religions, thanks.
I have struggled with references to people before Adam, and coordinating it with science. This makes sense to me. Thank you for helping me with my dilemma.
Please pray for me as I ponder the input you've provided online.
Interesting topics. The bible is good for salvation but not for earth history
Just came across your website, want to commend you on believing the Bible can and should be read as the Truth. I have always believed that if I cannot make sense out of the scriptures, it is my deficiently not the Bibles. God Bless.
Your site is full of heresy. Repent.
Thank you for the Bible verses about hell. This is a very difficult subject that many people that believe in Christ have adopted as truth. I have yet to understand why.
I love the premise of this site and its focus on engaging the modern doubter or unbeliever, and can't wait to see the new material that is planned.
Very interesting. Verification of my own thoughts.
The big bang is a theory. God is a fact.
I want more information and I want bible study
These explanations make real sense.
Wrong all wrong
An extremely good read.Would like very much to hear more.
Thank you. I have visited this site before.
Since your website is new and still in the making, it leaves me excited yet hungry for more understanding. Thank you so much for putting your website together to help those of us asking questions about traditional lines of thinking. I look forward to reading more!
Thank you for your studies. I find them fascinating. And I will read more of your articles.
How great it is to have a resource to help in ministering to the sceptical. Thank you. Keep up the great work. Looking forward to upcoming studies.
One of the best study sites I have found!
Not sure what to think of this bible study. If nothing else it compels you to really dig deep and think,read and pray for understanding which I think is a good thing.
This is great stuff!!
Yes to have a intelligence conversation is of most importance.
This is wonderful. Would like to read more.
You have answered so many questions for me! Thank you!
Had to be people here before Adam, all the ancient buildings prove the civilizations were here. Many teens of thousands of years.
Nice to read a legitimate attempt to harmonize the traditions of the Bible with scientific discoveries.
I really liked what is written and honestly agree with the reasoning. May the Almighty broaden my mind to perceive and digest these facts.
So interesting. Thanks for sharing. Keep them coming. Enjoy reading them so much.
Thank you for the article! There are several nonbelievers in my life that I love deeply. My heart breaks for them. Every time I share my faith, I'm bombarded with science. Perhaps this will help. Thank you. God bless you.
Amen Amen Amen!!!
Thank you for a good read on this subject: the indisputable existence of humanoids and civilizations before Adam.
Thank you for your good work.
Yea
I like it! I always wondered about the dinosaurs, and whether other people lived before Adam. You see, the Bible says that Cain was worried about being slain by other people. So, what does that tell you? It's more to the Bible than some clergymen are letting on.
Thank you for your wonderful website. I have linked to it from my own. I'm looking forward to your expanding list of subjects.
I admit that I have some struggles with your interweaving of science and the Bible, but that will not stop me from reading and considering the material.
You have an interesting take on how to reconcile the time difference challenge between Bible time history & archeology . I don’t think it will matter about which time viewpoint ya right. What matters is faith & trust in Jesus for forgiveness of sin & gaining eternal life
Adam was perfect because it doesn’t say anywhere in the Bible that he had body aches and gray .
What you have said makes so much sense to me. I would love to read more of what you think.
I am looking forward to reading through the rest of the Thinkers website. Thanks for investing in this work. It’s so important! Especially in these times. 
I stumbled on your website recently, and was impressed by the scope of it and the balance evident in it.
This has certainly opened my mind, I believe in the Bible but could never get a lot of answers to my questions. Thanks
I appreciate this study.
Your site is great for discussions and other questions about the bible. I hope that it continues.
This is fascinating! I stumbled across this site and have been questioning what I was taught. This is an answer to prayer!
I ran across your website this morning. At age 50, I lead a women's Bible Study in Florida. I am at a place where I am questioning so many things about what I have been taught - traditions handed down for generations. To continue teaching is becoming challenging. I have a daughter who is also a believer but wrestles aloud with questions concerning Adam and original sin, eternal hell with eternal suffering, etc. Honestly, I think her wrestling has led me to stop and think more. So now I am seeking…
This is such clarity I wish I could've given this argument earlier.
Scientists make mistakes, and when the scientists' beliefs don't match the Bible then God's word, the Bible, is right, and the scientists are wrong.
Thanks for the analysis
This is a very interesting read and I'm going to be reading it again. 
Thanks, This is what I needed. I can't get enough of this marvelous study.
I hope this excellent presentation penetrates the evangelical church where sadly a majority of Christians believe that the Big Bang is an atheistic concept rather the Fingerprint of God that it is!
I have always thought this to be true but have never heard it said! Praise God!
I'm preparing to teach my first Religious Instruction lesson for the year in a public Australian school tomorrow and we'll launch straight in to the creation story from the Bible. So thank you!! I feel confident now to answer any questions the kids might raise.
It's constructive that science keeps indefinitely improving with better observations and verifiable facts. Immutable good scriptures should simply keep itself relevant by subtle changes in its interpretation to complement and coexist with science. Good work!
Just another Satanic attempt to change God's WORD. More likely made up of Liberal Kids that don't know any better.
O my how i wish i could find a friend would be willing to discuss the bible openly with me.
I will read this in its entirety. What I've read so far is right on according to my extensive studies over 27 years.
I really enjoy your site.
Wonderful subject thank you I want more Bible studies
This is a fantastic article , thank you
FInally someone uses their brain instead of emotions to explain what I have thought and tried to say for sooo long. Thank you!
Humans were around a lot longer the 4000 bc. Thats not even as old as Sumer the first proven civilization. Evidence strongly supports that civilization may have existed long before Sumer.
I discovered this site while I was at work. I will take time out and read through it. I think it is very interesting and it's good to know so I hope and pray that I can and will be able to venture a little bit more. Thank you and continue to have a blessed and prosperous day.
Are these lessons available in printed form that can be purchased or that can be downloaded on line in a condensed version?
I find your explanation very compelling and appreciate that we do need to answer questions of unbelievers, there needs to be effort in this direction. So I thank you for your efforts
Yes, I agree there is a lot of evidence to substantiate what you say. I have often thought about this myself. Thank you for all the research you have done.
You really don’t understand the Bible at all.
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