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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
'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?
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
'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.
'... 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.
'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.
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.
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.
'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.
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.
'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.
'... 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.