Death: Only for Animals and Plants Before Adam and Eve?

It is difficult to determine according to a literal reading of Genesis 1-5 if animals had the ability to live forever. Science says a big NO and I must agree. Some theologians at Dallas Theological Seminary admit that animals were never meant to live forever in this world. This would go along with evolutionary creation even though Dallas Seminary is a Young Earth Creationist School. This was stated by Professor Merrill Unger of Dallas Seminary. The next question is as follows: Did Adam and Eve have eternal life before they sinned? When I read the Book of Genesis, it would seem that the answer is a big NO. They were expected to obey God to obtain eternal life. Since they did not, they never obtained it in Genesis. Since I agree with Dr. Billy Graham that one should take a literal approach to Genesis in some way, then this interpretation of the creation story would fit much of the evidence of science. What did human beings eat in the “Garden of Eden?” They ate plants and that meant that these died when they were eaten. I see no major contradiction between the Bible and science here. there was death and science confirms that. Does that mean that we must take this story as literal? Not necessarily; however, I do. It simply could be teaching that God will punish sin; however, as I already said, I feel it teaches more.

If eating from the Tree of Life kept a living being from dying … then any animal life that couldn’t reach the edible parts of the tree, or that didn’t like the taste, would not know its death-defeating properties.

Plants, presumably, had no way to “eat of the tree” … and so would also experience a normal life span.

Doesn’t this all sound like baloney?


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I would have to disagree. I see no problem with taking a literal view. In my opinion, it goes with Theistic Evolution quite well; however, I never said that literal trees were meant in the story. Remember that this was written to show that God punishes sin. Why do we have courts of law? We have them to defend people who are innocent and to punish those that aren’t. This typology in Genesis is there to explain to a less modern culture that sin and wrong do lead nowhere. Yes, I believe you are saying there is symbolism here; however, that does not mean that the Catholic Church is wrong in its statement on a literal Adam and Eve. This concept of Theistic Evolution is stated and taught in the Maryknoll Book of Peoples, a text my grandmother gave to me when I was a boy. I wish I still had it. I truly liked it. If you find a copy, do read it because it was very interesting.

I would like to take minor issue with that sentence. This is, of course, the Evangelical view of this part of Genesis.

But how can there really be sin PRIOR to learning about “Good and Evil”? How is Adam any more guilty of sin than a paramecium is?

As I’ve said before, there is not much of a theological foundation for SIN … if you don’t teach good and evil BEFORE the test!

I think the more sensible explanation for why this story is written is to explain why humanity suffers a mortal existence, instead of living it up “large” in Paradise.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the Jewish response to this story was never really: “Adam, you are so evil!”

I believe the Jewish response was: “Paradise was not meant to be - - otherwise, God would arranged for a different test.”

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I am afraid I cannot get the quote button to work. I do not feel that “living it up in a large paradise” is respectful to Holy Scripture; otherwise, I never said that I disagree with your statement that it also explains “why humanity suffers a mortal existence.” We have both said somewhat the same thing; however, Genesis 1: 15,16, and 17 implies sin. If Adam disobeys God, he will not get a chance at immortality, something he did not get due to his disobedience, i.e. sin. Sin and disobedience cannot be separated. That is the point of the whole text. Therefore, I must disagree with you, Dr. Brooks. I have never in my life seen a Jewish Rabbi take your position, and I am friends with quiet a few. I am even a friend to a Reform Jewish Rabbi. If I remember correctly, this is also the Roman Catholic view. We Evangelicals and orthodox Roman Catholics would agree. Every priest I have known has said that; however, Albert may disagree. Also, sin was a result of the test! One more thing. I must object to the fact that you did not try to merge science with theology. In my first entry, I did. Where is the mention of science in your reply? I see nothing but theology, unless you consider theology to be the Queen of Sciences. I wonder if you do. Do respond to this about science first! You should support your thesis with some science. I did not realize that this is the theology blog only! What do I state to you? There was death before Adam and Eve disobeyed and science, the S word again, supports that. Do you concur, Doctor?

So what IS their reaction, Henry? Are you saying the Rabbi’s agreed the story of Eden is the story of original sin?


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Not really. They do believe that it is sin in the Christian sense. I will give you a like too; however, you do not address the relationship of theology to science in this case. You have avoided that issue, George. Do you concur? Even if you do not agree with me on the sin issue, do you concur that Genesis is admitting that it speaks of death before the fall? They eat plants and that means death! Adam and Eve had not eaten of the Tree of Life yet; therefore, they were not yet immortal. Even if you believe this is myth that teaches a certain truth, you must concur with that. Since medical doctors can use the word concur, why can’t PhD’s? Do the rest of you concur? :laughing: You are picking out only one point. What about the rest of my thesis, Brother George? Rabbis do not speak about hereditary sin. Did Adam and Eve sin according to them? Si, si, Senor! I ask you to review everything I have said in each entry and comment on them, Brother George. Good night and God bless

Post Scriptum: I do enjoy you conversation, George. You have a sharp mind. Also, where is the science? Do you concur with me?

think I said this before. Considering the poetic language used to convey emotional wisdom to those who heard it it should be clear that the trees are a metaphor. you cannot gain everlasting life by “eating from a tree” but by getting nailed to it. Animals and plants can’t eat from the tree as it requires comprehension. The concept of death is a logical consequence of separation from the everlasting existence in God. The tree of life thus refers to the wisdom on how to stay in unison with God. For plants and animals this question does not arise as they do not separate from him.
If someone considers physical life and death all there is to be than Christianity is not really the right worldview for him/her as it is a materialistic or physicalistic worldview- whatever the politically correct phrase for that would be.
I still reject the idea of physical death being a punishment for sin as the physical death of the prey is the requirement for the one who depends on it to happen, not a punishment for the weakest link of the herd to become separated or whatever weird construct one might try to make. They live and die to serve others.

Hello Marvin,

I agree that the Tree of Life was probably a symbol for eternal life in Christ Jesus; however, I must believe that sin and death came from the original disobedience of our first parents to God. This would apply to a pair like Adam and Eve or the theory that there were many Adams and Eves. I am sure you believe that Christ, God the Son, had to die to free us from sin so that we would have a chance to live with Him. The Tree of Good and Evil was also a metaphor for sin. I can accept the possibility and science seems to indicate this that there were many Adams and Eves. Genesis 1, the Priestly Account of Creation, seems to imply this; therefore, Pope Francis and the Roman Church could be wrong on this issue. I am willing to accept that possibility. As I remember, Dr. Francis Collins accepts the view of numerous Adams and Eves. It would also help us literalists to answer the question: who was Cain’s wife? Perhaps the trees event point to the “Kreuzigung” of Jesus. I used the German word because I could not think how to spell the English equivalent, and I did not feel like looking it up due to my eye infection. I hope that everyone understands. It has been a pleasure exchanging views with you, Marvin. Gott segne Sie, Marvin. (May God bless you, Marvin). The translation is for the Anglo-Saxons. Good Evening from Chesapeake, Virginia.

sure with me the trouble is the computer screen stressing the eyesight. Need glasses, go there next week
all the best with yours.
I see the symbolism in that Jesus had to die for us in the fact that it was the only way to show us daft humans what sin is about and that we do not need to be afraid of God. Our sins were always forgiven in God’s mind as he always was a loving father. Just what it takes to reconcile with God, e.g. to submit to his will is what we did not get. Mohammed drives that submission bit home in the quran as well, but with the image of a violent God who we can please by killing ourselves to get access to the virgins we fail to attract in reality. This is where the truth of that religion breaks down on it’s incoherence, particularly as they accept Jesus as a prophet but goes completely against his teaching.

Kains wife might well have been a human that had not received the spirit as there is a difference between being able to think and starting to think in abstract ways. In that respect you have to consider if the thinking evolves from within man or is it imprinted upon man from the outside? To me the metaphysical predates mankind, e.g. always existed and was and was picked up by man whilst to the atheist the nonphysical part of reality must have been created by man in order to manipulate and overpower each other which does not make sense to me

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Well, consider this: would you want to live in a world where animals and people continue to give birth but never die? What would life be like?

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You do make an excellent point. I have the utmost respect for you. God bless. I do have a thought about this. I am an orthodox Protestant; therefore, I do not believe this thesis. However, I am sure the Creator could have taken one of the many planets to transport life there to prevent over population. He could change the atmosphere to match that of earth. It is His universe; he can do what he wishes to. Have a great day.

Well, God can do anything. But it’s not just the atmosphere he would have to change. But how terrible it would be to be forcibly relocated to a distant planet along with rats, mice, mosquitoes, etc. where one would lose all contact with everyone else from the home world. And biblical writers had no knowledge of any planets not visible to the naked eye. So I think this deportation thing is a bit of a stretch. btw, if you are immortal is it possible to starve to death?

That does not matter. God had that knowledge, Also, if he approached his creatures with love and kindness, I believe they would understand. Doesn’t your beagle love and trust you? How much more would he/she would trust the loving Creator. Thanks for your response. Also, Adam and Eve had not earned eternal life at this time. Also, I must make one theological correction. What is it? He cannot sin. That is what God cannot do. If he is a sinner, then we are all lost. Remember when Jesus was being tempted by the devil. No, if one is immortal, one cannot starve to death; however, one eats also for the pure enjoyment of it. Doesn’t a nice glass of French wine taste good to you? Perhaps some English Breakfast. Sometimes we eat something because it is good.

I don’t think so. Exile is a punishment.

How is it punishment? Exile can be a blessing at times. For example, a citizen of Communist East Germany was happy to go to free West Berlin. I know this because I studied in Germany during the Cold War. Also, making a colony in another world can be good. I shall give an example. Suppose you were an English lady in the 17th Century. You are poor and do not earn much. A representative of the London Company comes to you and offers you 100 acres in the Colony of Virginia near Middle Plantation also known as Williamsburg, Virginia. You are also offered a job there. You will not be a slave or servant. You will have land, a right to vote and to make a good living. Is that exile or is that a blessing? Your life will be better than it was in England. I must disagree with you. It was a blessing to many families who came to my native Virginia from the British Isles. Even those who were wealthy found a better life in Virginia better. I will happen to speak with you again tomorrow. I just came from the eye doctor for medicine. My eyes are hurting a wee bit. Have a grand day.

So life on earth became so intolerable that people were happy to be exiled to a strange planet? I thought earth was supposed to be a paradise.

Hope your eyes get better soon.

Earth was a paradise; however, more land would have been needed according to your thesis. Therefore, God could take a planet and make it like the earth. It would be pleasant too. Is it not true the scientists are looking for earth like planets not only to find other intelligent life forms, but also to settle if a planet lacks humanoid beings or intelligent beings of other forms? I always hear scientists talking about colonizing other planets just as the Native Americans, English, French, and Spanish settled in North and South America. We are always looking for a new frontier. We are always looking for a new life. Did God put this need in us to seek new and possibly better things? Is that why scientists seek new medicines and also how to make new ways of life to improve our world? Think how the world has changed since the First Advent of Christ. Would these things have come about if our forbearers did not seek some new world, something better than they had before? I say NO. The creatures of this world have always sought more. Study maps of science and history on how people and animals migrated from the first homeland of Africa to other lands. Think about all this before you make a judgment on my thesis. I wish to thank you for the statement about my eyes. It has been very painful. God bless. Oh, remember that my thesis and yours both involve God; therefore, the new planet would not be strange. Will the new heaven (cosmos) and new earth be strange? I don’t believe so. Would a human father who is good give his child a snake instead of an egg if he were hungry? How much more will God give to us? Keep that in your thoughts.

No, more land would have been needed according to your thesis. Where there is no death, but reproduction continues, we run out of resources.

We disagree again. Let’s just stop here. As I have learned many years ago, circular arguments go no where. Also, the topic is really was Death: Only for Animals and Plants Before Adam and Eve. The answer would be that Adam and Eve had not yet obtained immortality; therefore, until they did by obeying God, they were mortal. I never said that animals were ever have immortality. Also, using the New Testament, what did Jesus say in the Synoptic Gospels about the resurrection of the dead? I quote the following: They will be no marrying and giving in marriage in heaven. Heaven will then be on the new earth. In reference to the answers I gave you, I was simply responding to you. Whether I believe that thesis or not is another matter. Am I conceding to you? NO. I am simply saying that I have lead us intentionally into a Circular Argument; therefore, it is time to end the debate. It has been a pleasure. I hope you have a nice day. I do not feel well due to the infection I have in my eyes. I had to go back for something for pain and more antibiotics; therefore, I am really unable to participate on the forum today. God bless and have a nice day. Also, even though I accept the possibility of theistic evolution as the Rev. Billy Graham does, I am a literalist just as he is; therefore, I accept the historicity of Adam and Eve. The Roman Catholic Church, an organization that accepts theistic evolution, would agree with me on that. Again, take care. You did a fine job, Beaglelady. Say hello to your puppy.