The fall of man

For many years there had been a battle between my heart and my head. My heart told me that God exists and my mind told me that it’s ridiculous to believe in something that cannot be proved to exist.

I have been reading a lot, trying to clear my thoughts but though I now accept that there is a God and he is Jesus, some things still bother me.
The story of Adam and Eve is a fable. So what is the fall of man? What is the sin committed by man that led to his fall and corrupted the world? Is it the cumulative sins of all of humanity? I would like some insights about this.

Don’t sweat the small stuff Bernadette. Stay with the big stuff: if God is real, all will be well.

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I think your question is one that is shared by many people trying to understand how doctrines of Christianity fit with natural history.

Some Christians see Adam and Eve as historical figures even though they think the account of them in the Bible is stylized or mythologized to accentuate theological points.

Others think the account of Adam and Eve is a universal story of humanity’s rebellion against God time and time again. Some people with this view think there was a time when “sin entered the world” for the first time, a historical fall. Others think such a moment is impossible to pinpoint or maybe not that relevant to the idea that all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory and need a savior.

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Welcome to the forum! While you will find a variety of opinions to your questions, what has been most helpful to me is learning how to better understand how to read Genesis. I have found Walton’s Lost World Series to be of great assistance.

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And some find the whole idea of falling short falls short. And that we need saving from needing saving.

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Welcome to the Forum, Bernadette!

Here is a list of all the articles we have on the BioLogos website pertaining to The Fall, Original Sin, and the Problem of Evil.

This book also just came out that was edited by our VP, @jstump. It provides a spectrum of perspectives regarding this topic.

Hope those can help!

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I would agree that taken literally the story of Adam and Eve is a fable, for where else in life but a Walt Disney fairy tale movie are you going to find talking animals, magical fruit, and golems of dust and bone created by magic. But fables are told in order to communicate something and it is highly likely that many fables begin with historical events. It is doubtful that the Walt Disney production of “Sword in Stone” is an account of historical events but this doesn’t mean there never was such a person as King Arthur. After all there are fables where we know the facts about the historical person from which the fable is derived like Santa Claus from St. Nicholas.

So how to make sense of this fable of Adam and Eve? Do we find some reason to explain away the other people in Gen 4:14 and Gen 6 in order to make two people the genetic origin of the human species? This doesn’t even agree with the scientific evidence so this seems quite unreasonable. But the Bible frequently uses all kinds of symbolism and parables in order to communicate all kinds of things and with the overall historical intent of the book of Genesis, we have reason to believe that this is telling us of historical people and events in a time before there was any historical accounts of events.

Furthermore it also seems to be the intent of this story to tell us how the problems of evil and sin began, and if it cannot give something more explanatory than Pandora opening a box then I don’t why this should be treated as anything but a fable. And Eve eating a magical fruit is certainly of the same caliber. And where does this fit into evolutionary history? Why should there be any special point in this history of development which should be such a defining moment for the rest of human history?

Hello and welcome to the forum. From my understanding there was a historical Fall and a historical Adam and Eve but they weren’t alone. Adam and Eve had a federal headship like position in the Garden, in which they represented all of humanity at that moment and thus when they fell, so did all of humanity in a sense as we would follow in the spiritual example of Adam and Eve, be selfish, greedy, and trying to be like God. Though we don’t personally relate to Adam, we have fallen in the same manner as him but the good news is that through the finish work of Jesus we can be saved by what He has done though we are not related to Him. While I think the Fall had some effects on the universe, it isn’t as major as YEC tends to make it, I see it in terms of humanity in disunity with nature and with each other.

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Thanks to all those who have replied to my query, however I am still puzzling over it! I know at some point I shall arrive at my own conclusion and make peace with it.

HRankin, thanks for the list of relevant articles. I’ll look them up.

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I view them as real people wrapped up in a mythological tale. For me that fits with the patterns I see throughout the Bible. I do believe believe in God and I do believe in the supernatural. But for me, the supernatural is something that is a small outlier event that does not define actual laws. Such as Jesus turning a few fish and bread into enough to feed many or when he turned water into wine or when he resurrected Lazarus and when he conquered death. I do believe faith is needed because science can’t prove God was real.

So when I read Genesis 1-3 , and then think about history , and reflect on the rest of scripture this is basically the conclusion I draw.

Who was Adam and Eve?
I believe they were both people. Could have been younger or older. I think they were probably younger and were decent people for their time and God reached out to them. Just like God reaches out to Noah, Abraham, Moses, and many others. God reached out to Adam and guided him to a “promise land” and one of the benefits of this place was great food. Just like God sent down manna to Moses, sent ravens to fed Elijah and Jesus feed crowds.

More about the tree of life.
I personally believe in this paradise where Adam and Eve was led there was two trees in the center of the garden. One was ok to eat from and the other was not. I see this tree as evidence that Adam and Eve was not immortal. They had to eat from this tree of life to keep life and this tree sustained them and would have forever. We see this tree referred to symbolically throughout scripture and it eventually connects to Christ as the tree of life and we receive eternal life through Christ. We see trees used many more times throughout the Bible too as something linked to God. God appears to Moses as a burning bush, Noah is ordered to use certain trees to build the ark, and eventually the Messiah is taken from a garden ( as opposed to be cast out like Adam for sin ) and then crucified to a tree.

The other main points of contention is sin and death. I believe to understand this we need to look contexts of the word. For Adam and Eve, the death was a physical thing. It not immediate, ( dying until death ) is a good understanding of the praise in Hebrew because of how it uses death twice. After all the consequence was wrapped up in back into ashes and dust. Another aspect to it is that the first time someone was held accountable to sin.

Romans 5:13 says 13 for “ sin has always existed but until the law was given there was no accountability to sin”. So the rest of humanity that was not brought into the paradise on earth by God still sinned. But because God had not yet gave them any laws they were not held accountable to it. So when it says sin existed, it means that since Adam was told not to eat from the tree ( a law ) and he decided to go against that law and ( sinned ) he was held accountable for it and so was Eve. Same as all the other various laws that seem to have no moral implications other than disagreeing with God. There is a whole lot more woven in but this is the gist of my belief and how it answers this questions.

Adam and Eve were real people that was led to a promise land and their story is wrapped up in mythology. The literary style is why I believe it’s wrapped up in mythology mostly. God spent entire chapters on counting animals and spent books tying up the Hebrews in the desert but jumps through several characters, places and so on in just a few chapters with a lot of word play. I also don’t believe in original sin. As in everyone is born little sinners that deserve to be destroyed in hell. It even refers to kids not being old enough to choose good or evil. Original sin was a doctrine corrected to push infant baptism saying if you don’t baptize your baby and it’s dies it’s sentenced to hell or purgatory and ect… to me it’s a disgusting doctrine.

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Bernadette,
Welcome!
However sin came for be, we know it exists and we see its terrible consequences. I think the origin of sin is not important.

The early chapters of Genesis are stories that are not literal history, yet the do provide some valuable insights.

I suspect that in some cases, the early chapters of Genesis were written to supplant some pagan myths. This helped Israel stay unique and separate. The law (for example, the Sabbath and dietary rules) also helped maintain that separation. And the separation and uniqueness helped prepare the way for Jesus to come.

I am a geologist, retired. I don’t think the story of Adam and Eve is a fable and I think I have evidence of where Eden was. If Eden existed then probably the Fall did as well, but as a geologist, I will stick to my area of expertise and tell lyou I don’t know the nature of that sin other than disbelief.

I have found a time and a place where the rivers of eden join together just as the Bible says,and I can’t figure out how a Neolithic writer knew to put that in the Bible when such knowledge was not available to science until at the very least the 1970s and maybe not until last decade. Take a look at http://themigrantmind.blogspot.com/2019/06/the-rivers-of-eden-blind-chance-or.html

This was either blind chance or divine inspiration, and you get to choose. Most people here will agree with you that Eden and the Fall were fables. If so, in my opinion, go be some other religion. I find it odd that people think it believing (Eden and the Fall) is false, counts as a point in Christianity’s favor. That is what I think you get on this forum. come believe Christianity because it is false. Wouldn’t it be better to believe Christianity because it is TRUE?

NOTE, I am no YEC. I believe in a universe 13 billion years old and evolution got us here. And I retired as Director of Exploration for China for a large oil company. I know my geology and managed geologists for 20 years.

I’ve yet to meet many who believes we should believe in Christianity because it’s false. Instead what I see is believe in Christianity because it’s true, even if some of the stories is mythological and symbolic in nature. After all we don’t try to make revelation , which is even more detailed, literal. But we do believe it’s true.

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I have met people here and on other lists who basically say that there really is only one miracle, the resurrection. Assuming that this count is correct, that means Christianity has a 1 out of a 182 batting average. I don’t think that guy makes the big leagues. Even in finding oil a good oil finder finds 1 out of 3 commercial oil wells. That was about me and my teams record. A great explorationist will do better, but I have known people who have drilled 18 dry hole in a row and was fired or that.

My team once drilled 9 dry holes in a row, and I was worried that I was going to be removed as manager and lots of my people fired. You need to know that a year and a half earlier I had been demoted from geophysical manager to line geophysicist for China. That VP above me brought in his oh so mahvelously dressed and shaved, favorite buddy, geophysicist to replace me. I always looked a bit slobbish. This guy had the sytle, but made a serious mistake. He told the Exec VP to save lease money for August because he was going to have a killer play with lots of oil and he would need the money. The Exec VP complied at the VP’s encouragement. When August came, there were no prospects, the play had died.
The EXEC VP fired the VP (who had brought in his oh so stylish guy), and replaced the VP with a General Manager, who brought me back as geophysical manager. But, the previous team had left us the equivalent of a blind pitcher, a one armed first baseman, a one legged short stop etc, to drill. None of the prospects were any good but the EXEC VP had told Wall Street they would drill 12 wells that year, so we started drilling our 9 dry holes.

Once it became clear that we had trash to drill, the fun began. The Exec VP wanted to blame us, so…
One week we got chewed out by the General Manager, who told us that the Exec VP wanted to see us the next week. We all showed up to hear what the Exec VP had to say next week, and he proceeded to cuss us all out. Then he dismissed us and as we were going, he said, “Managers, sit back down” (I was so thrilled to be a manager that day. lol). He cussed at us more, and then said that the Chairman of the board wanted to see us next week.

That morning I told my wife I was going to collect the last rear chewing from the last guy above me in the chain of command. Amazingly, when we got there, he had decided to blame the previously fired VP and told us we had a year to find oil. Luckily one of the prospects our team had been working on was Congor prospect. It has turned out to be the most profitable oil field in the Gulf of Mexico. It saved our cookies.

It is a long story to tell you that 1/182 is a horrid record and it subtracts value from the Christian story, just as our dry holes cost probably $1.2 billion and made my company that much poorer.

No, no one will say “Believe it because it is untrue”, but they present every side of Christianity as non-miraculous, with God as merely a useless add on, in effect saying we know we have a 1/182 God, but give him a try anyway! I wouldn’t hire an explorationist, or batter with that record. Why do we think we should hire a God that with that kind of record?

Nonetheless , the issue at hand someone is not rejecting the bible as being true just because they don’t take it literal concerning many aspects of the
Bible. Just because someone takes revelation , genesis 1-11, job and so on literal does not mean they take it as more true.

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On the issue of miracles some of us simply do not define miracles in the same way. I certainly do not believe that miracles means that God breaks the laws of nature which he made for a reason in order to impress a bunch of ignorant savages who wouldn’t know the difference anyway. Instead I define miracles as an act of God in our lives which happens ALL THE TIME, rather than arbitrarily restricted to some mythical time in the past. Magicians can do all kinds of astounding things on stage to impress people and naturally God can do a great deal more, but there is no reason for God to break His own laws of nature in order to do this.

In this I don’t make ANY exceptions. The resurrection taught by Paul in 1 Cor 15 was a resurrection to a spiritual body which was made of the stuff of heaven not the stuff of the Earth and not confined to the laws nature by which all things are perishable - no breaking of the laws of nature there. So we can add walking dead reanimated zombies to the list of things I do not believe in along with talking animals, magical fruit, and golems of dust and bone.

This is not by any means to make the laws of nature absolute or the scientific worldview the limit of reality. There is also another part of reality we call spiritual which is not part of the space-time natural law structure of the physical universe. For God is after all spirit not physical as are the angels, and those who have gone to be with Father.

Miracles that don’t break the surface of the natural aren’t.

IMHO, the way one defines a miracle (and the resultant belief that they have some sort of “purpose”) greatly influences one’s worldview and, therefore, which religion she/he will find most compatible. My worldview, as a scientist, forces me to accept, with awesome wonder, the fact that the Creator of this Universe (and the Laws that keep it ‘on track’) are evidence of a level of Intelligence. that is far beyond human understanding. It is foolish to think that, to accomplish a purpose on this tiny planet Earth, our Creator would need to circumvent any of these Laws. It is pure chutzpah to think that we humans can ever have a thorough understanding of the laws governing the Univere–a Theory of Everything, as Stephen Hawkins sought. In my view, the true Miracle of Stephen’s story is that two women (and numerous colleagues) were willing to sacrifice so much personal freedom to help him act out ‘his destiny’.

My own Life Experience is certainly not the stuff to support an academy-award movie script. As a 19 yr. old PFC in WWII I was scout on a night patrol behind German lines when fragments from a rifle grenade busted my skull above by right eye and peppered my arm and back. January 1945 was the coldest in generations; I was bleeding profusely and rapidly losing consciousness. I was in dire need of someone’s help.

As it turned out, no One responded (bodily). The rest of my squad thought they had blundered into an outpost of the Siegfried Line and hightailed it back to our lines. The German sentry that had wounded me (and to whom I tried to surrender) was unwilling to expose himself (can’t blame him). At that point, the odds against me surviving my teens were many millions to one against–at least that was what the doctors who later treated me believed.

So was it a miracle? Did God ‘oversee’ the physical tragetory of the shrapnel pieces so that I was left with enough consciousness to pack the wound with snow and somehow make it back up an icy hill on my own to a first aid station. No one believed my version of the events. I must have been ‘confused’.

I will admit to some confusion–not as to HOW the events occurred–but as to WHY. Was it merely Lady Luck? Was it the rosary I wore around my neck, or the prayers of my folks at home? Was it that God saw some purpose in the 75+ yrs. of life I have enjoyed since? I hope that soon I will be able to ask him in person.
Keep well,
Al Leo

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What do you do with the resurrection of Jesus? Was it his spiritual body that still had the wounds?

Jesus spiritual body had whatever He needed in order for the disciples to believe. No other reason for those wounds makes any sense. He could come back to life but not close a few wounds? If His head was cut off would He not have been able to resurrect or would He have carried His head under His arm? What makes sense to you?

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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