Before the fall of Adam and eve


does the interpretation of genesis allow for death and disease of animals before the fall? and if so, did God create diseases directly? what about natural disasters? how do we understand God controling that?

just trying to reconcile something. thanks


does the interpretation of genesis allow for death and disease of animals before the fall?

St. Thomas Aquinas said, yes, it did, because carnivorous animals by nature eat other animals, and it is unreasonable to believe that human sin changed the nature of animals in such a drastic way.

“In the opinion of some, those animals which now are fierce and kill others, would, in that state, have been tame, not only in regard to man, but also in regard to other animals. But this is quite unreasonable. For the nature of animals was not changed by man’s sin, as if those whose nature now it is to devour the flesh of others, would then have lived on herbs, as the lion and falcon.” (scroll down to “Reply to Objection 2”)


This is my understanding: Because of Original sin, Adam & Eve forfeited their dominion over creation which fell in Satan’s control.


Who can really say with any certainty? I believe there was no death prior to the fall of man, but that is my opinion and opinions on the matter vary widely. Could there have been? Of course, but there is nothing wrong with believing there was none. My advice…believe what you think happened. It is not an issue to get all twisted up over, in my opinion.


I believe that once sin entered the planet, it affect the whole planet not just mankind. The whole planet received the sin nature so to speak. In the beginning God gave Adam dominion over the animals and no animal could harm or kill a human. The whole planet became corrupted when Adam & Eve fell. Otherwise we’d all be sinners living in paradise. Even the ground became contaminated which is why God didn’t just make another man from the dirt or form Jesus from the dirt like He did Adam, to die for our sins, that’s why suddenly tilling the garden became hard work and labor for Adam etc.



It seems as though in the beginning, even animals did not kill and eat each other.
So something did change. I think it was either the fall of Satan to earth–hatred and evil came with him-or it was Adam’s decision to disobey God, which allowed Satan’s hatred and evil to reign.

Genesis 1:30
And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.

When God told Adam that if he ate of the fruit he would die on that day, he did not die on that day. So it seems that God was speaking of spiritual death. So did death happen for animals before the fall? I don’t think we can know. The Dinosaurs (according to science) lived and died before man came into existence. But I’ve read in Jewish commentaries that Jewish tradition says there were other creations and destructions before man came along, and that the Bible is only the story of mankind. If this is so, the previous creations belonged to God also, and if He chose to destroy that creation, it was His to do with as He pleased.

I’d like to think there was no suffering or death before the fall, even though it may sound fanciful, I hope it is not. And that after Jesus comes again, all death, both physical and spiritual, will be done away with for both man and animal.


The Catholic Church teaches that the bodily immortality of Adam and Eve prior to the Fall was a Preternatural gift. In fact, Adam and Eve had three such gifts: infused knowledge, absence of concupiscence, and bodily immortality. However, these gifts were given to Adam and Eve alone, not to the other earthly creatures, and here’s why: Adam and Eve had spiritual souls.

Why does that matter? It matters because in the pre-fall state, Adam and Eve’s internal order had not been upset. Sin darkens the intellect, thus the loss of infused knowledge. Sin inclines the will toward disorder, thus concupiscence. Sin disorders (the sinner’s) nature, thus bodily death. When we sin, what we do is choose a lesser good over and above a greater good. This is what we call disorder. Because the nature of sin is an act of disorder, the effect both externally and internally is disorder. Thus, when Adam and Eve sinned, their internal order became disrupted. The perfect mastery of their spirit (intellect and will) over their body was lost, and they spirit became subject to the body. That is to say, concupiscence entered into them, whereby they became inclined to choose lesser goods over and above greater goods (for the appetites and desires of the body are lesser than the appetites and desires of the spirit).

In a pre-fall state, Adam and Eve had both the knowledge (infused) and the means (absence of concupiscence, as well as the presence of True Life, the Holy Spirit in their souls) to protect their bodies from deterioration, wounding, and death. When they sinned, their intellects were darkened, they became subject to concupiscence, and they lost the Wellspring of Life in their souls. This means they began to lose both the knowledge and the means to sustain themselves from sickness, injury and death. The loss of Life in their souls meant the loss of life in their bodies.

Yet, all of this was true of Adam and Eve only, not of animals. This is because animals do not have the capacity to sin, as they do not have spiritual souls. Thus, whether before the Fall or after, there would have been nothing wrong with them doing so. This doesn’t necessarily mean they didn’t do so pre-Fall, but that if they did do so, there wouldn’t have been anything wrong with it. Moreover, I would assert that if they did not do so, pre-Fall, this would have been due to some special activity or command on the parts of Adam and Eve to bring such a state about, as the Earth was their dominion.

But it’s unnecessary to suppose that they did so. Indeed, if we are to give any credence to the idea that animals are the way they are (not merely behaviourally, but physically also) because of the providence of God, then reason tells us that God intended animals to be both herbivorous and carnivorous. Consider the following video on trophic cascades:

As evidenced by the content of the above video, if all animals consumed vegetation only, then the earth would become barren due to over-grazing. You can see how the introduction of just one carnivorous population caused life in the region to flourish.

Indeed, throughout nature we can observe the effect of life out of death. There is a specie of evergreen tree, can’t remember which, whose cones (seeds) only open when exposed to intense heat (forest fire). That is to say, this particular kind of tree only plants new life in the wake of death, so to speak.

The idea that death, as such, is universally a result of human sin is not a Catholic notion. In fact, the Catholic teaching is that human death alone is the result of human sin. Indeed, if we are to take the rest of our religion even remotely seriously, then we have to understand and accept the notion of the redemptive quality of suffering and death. If we could not see life as arising out of death, then the meaning of Christ’s own suffering and death would be lost. It would not be efficacious if it were not an underlying principle of God’s created world. The image of the pheonix is a true metaphor for life and death in the natural world.

Even when we consume plants, we cause death, for the plants were first alive, and then dead (and by our consumption, give us life). So the idea that being herbivorous before the Fall meant that there was no death at all is contradictory, since there would be herbal death.

As for micro-organisms, yes they are creatures just as any other, created by God (either directly or indirectly, it doesn’t really make a difference). It would be reasonable to believe they lived prior to the Fall as well as after. The difference would simply be that humanity would not have been subject to their deliterious effects on the body. But that says nothing about animals. Indeed, both natural disasters (such as forest fires) and disease seem to have been part of God’s original plan, perhaps as means to keep populations and over-growth in check in order to maintain stable and flourishing environments. But humans was originally not subject to such controls, but were meant to be maintainers of the Earth themselves, as we were given the Earth to rule (or shepherd).


Consider the following supposition: if there are sentient creatures on another planet, like humans on Earth, and if human sin caused universal death (the death of animals as well as humans), then would it not also follow that human sin would also cause death in these other sentient creatures, who would ostensibly also be in a state of preternatural grace? That is to suggest that the Fall of one race could cause death in another pre-Fallen race. This doesn’t seem to make sense. And if you think that being on a different planet affects things, then change the supposition that humans were created in Asia or Africa, and the other race was created in the Americas. It just wouldn’t make sense that the sin of one race should cause death in another pre-Fallen race. What does make sense is that human sin causes human death, and extraterrestrial (or extra-human) sin causes extraterrestrial (extra-human) death. Does human sin affect the world around it? Yes. But I wouldn’t say to such an extent that it actually alters the fundamental nature of other creatures.


Jimmy Akin:



310 But why did God not create a world so perfect that no evil could exist in it? With infinite power God could always create something better. But with infinite wisdom and goodness God freely willed to create a world “in a state of journeying” towards its ultimate perfection. In God’s plan this process of becoming involves the appearance of certain beings and the disappearance of others, the existence of the more perfect alongside the less perfect, both constructive and destructive forces of nature. With physical good there exists also physical evil as long as creation has not reached perfection.

1060 At the end of time, the Kingdom of God will come in its fullness. Then the just will reign with Christ for ever, glorified in body and soul, and the material universe itself will be transformed. God will then be “all in all” (1 Cor 15:28), in eternal life.


The thing about the trophic cascades idea though, is that you don’t know how abundant the plant life was on the earth ***before ***the fall of Adam. The plant life before the fall was most likely more abundant to be able to feed the animal population. The plant life was also affected by the fall which is why plant life *now * would not be able to sustain an all vegetarian creation. The fall of Adam caused a whole domino effect or ripple effect that caused all other creation to be altered in order to adapt to the new condition of the earth. The ground became harder to till and plant life harder to grow which affected the animal population which caused them to adapt by becoming carnivorous to survive. Everything was affected. God gave the earth to Adam so the earth as affected by Adam’s choice. The whole earth was Adam’s household and the effects of the sin affected his whole household meaning the whole earth. Just like how the whole climate of the earth changed too, I don’t believe devastating storms, hurricanes, and earthquakes and droughts existed before the fall of mankind. All of that came as a domino or ripple effect of the fall. We are connected to the earth having come from the earth and our bodies going back to the earth/dust, and that’s why the whole earth was affected by Adam’s sin. The animals were also made from the earth. See how it’s all connected? So the fall of man affected the whole earth as well as animals and plants etc. ***Everything ***changed when Adam let sin in.

As far as aliens on another planet, they would not be affected by the fall of Adam, it would not extend to other planets and other alien species not from earth. They would be subject to their own fall. And on earth, all races of humans came from Adam & Eve and Noah, so there really is only 1 human race. When the earth and climate was affected by the fall creating extreme climates in different places of the earth, humans adapted to those climates by their bodies making more pigment to protect from a harsh sun, a permanent tan, while others made or produced less pigment in cold places and that’s how differences in appearance came about.


Because in order for mankind to really have a free will, the earth in which we live had to be flexible enough to go along with whatever choice man made. And since Adam was made from the dirt of the earth, if the earth was made so that it could not be corrupted then mankind would have been made of that same material and unable to make a free choice. We are connected to the earth having come from the earth and our bodies going back to the earth/dust, and that’s why the whole earth was affected by Adam’s sin. The animals were also made from the earth. See how it’s all connected? So the fall of man affected the whole earth as well as animals and plants etc. *Everything *changed when Adam let sin in.


Except, the trophic cascade in question actually held a relatively small population of animals. Ignoring that, though, let’s take the argument to its conclusion. God commands animals to be fruitful and multiply. No animals die, since “death” hadn’t entered the world yet. If Adam and Eve had not sinned, now long would it take for the animal population to become so large that the earth could not sustain it? Consider it. No animals killing and eating other animals. No natural disasters killing animals. No diseases killing animals. I should think that the earth would become very crowded very quickly at that.

And this still hasn’t even answered the question of the “death” of plants.

I don’t disagree that the sin of Adam and Eve change things, and not just for humanity. But I just think it changed things in a different manner than you seem to. The essential damage that was done by Adam and Eve was spiritual in nature. Yes, there is no division between the spirit and the body in man, so the spiritual harm done also had physical implications. Nevertheless, the harm was principally spiritual. And as plants and animals, the earth itself, are not spiritual, the effects of human sin on them was not immediate. Indeed, it is through the changed activities of man, through man’s physical interactions with the earth, that it, and animals, have become altered. Before the fall, we served the earth (loved it), after the fall, we dominate the earth (use it).

I’m not sure you have any real proof of this. If you’re deriving this from the Genesis passages following the Fall wherein God pronounces the curses wrought by their sin, then I would argue that there is a misreading of the text here. You’re reading it in a literal sense, but I read it in a symbolic sense. The “Paradise of Pleasure” is where man resided before sin. It also happens to be the case that before sin, man was perfect, one with God. After the fall, man was removed from Eden, and placed in a barren world. Coincidentally, after sin man found his own nature made desolate and barren. The symbology of the “tree” as being the person himself is found throughout the Old and New Testaments. Our actions are called “fruit,” members of the “Body” are likened to branches. Ancestry is called the “root.”

It’s sensical to understand the garden and tree symbology in Genesis as pertaining to the human state. Being “in Eden” translates as being “in perfection.” Being outside of Eden means losing one’s perfection. Holiness resided within humanity, they were in communion with God, and spiritual fruits came easily to them. After the fall, their spirits were dead, and they would have to work hard, or “till the earth” in order to grow in virtue and holiness. The garden, the tree, the earth, these are all symbols of different aspects of the human person.

Actually, the change in climate apparently came about as a result of the Flood, not of the Fall.

Yes, everything is connected, but I think you’re stretching that connection to include more than it is. As I pointed out above, the fall was essentially a spiritual fall, not a physical one, and we are as much connected to the earth and animals spiritually as we are connected to angels physically. There is an impact, but not in the way, nor the scale, that you’re suggesting.


How do you know that the rate of reproduction in animals and humans was not altered once death entered the scene? The ripple effect again. Reproduction was increased as a result of animals and people dying. That’s why I say everything was affected because everything is interconnected to keep a certain balance.

What do you mean?

It sounds like we pretty much believe the same thing, it’s just that since everything is interconnected to form a certain amount of balance, I believe more things were affected.

And the Flood was necessary as a result of the fall of mankind. Ripple effect. I think you are thinking of things in a direct immediate effect of the fall where as I’m thinking in a more broader sense where the things that changed as a result of the fall made other changes necessary and those changes made other changes necessary and on and on. But the bottom line is, it all stems from the fall even if not directly and immediately after the fall. Kind of like in adding numbers, if you add one group of numbers wrong, then all of the other numbers added based on that first sum after that will be wrong because everything is thrown off by that one number. One wrong number can shift all of the other answers that come after it. The whole thing changes.


I don’t know it, but I also don’t see any reason to suppose this. We certainly don’t have any evidence that this might be the case from a scientific standpoint.

I mean, you are arguing that death, period, entered the world due to Adam’s sin. But you seem to be applying that only to animal life. Yet, we know that in consuming plantlife, we’re causing plant death. So, why do you exclude plant life from your no-death-before-the-fall position?

I don’t actually disagree with any of this. My point is simply just that I don’t see all of this as actual evidence, or even a relevant idea to hold that there was no animal death prior to the Fall. Actually, the scriptures hint at the exact opposite. In the end, we know that “lion will lie with lamb” indicating a kind of peace among the animals in the new earth. However, we’re already capable of making this happen. That is, we have tamed animals such as dogs, which are carnivorous, so much so that they can happily live with sheep without killing and eating them. One might argue that it is actually the task of man to tame animals in this manner.

After all, in Genesis 1:28, God commands man to “Increase and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it.”

This verse implies that the earth was wild and that it was the task of man to tame it, or subdue it. One might suppose that this wildness is akin to the wildness of untamed animals today. A wild dog will eat a sheep, but a tame one will not. Why? Because a wild dog is beholden to itself (or its pack), but a tame dog is beholden to his master (his owner). And since Genesis is written during a time when wild animals did eat each other, it would make sense that this is the idea that is going on here.


naughty, naughty. you could give us a hint to let us into this “something.” You notice, people are rambling about what they think you are after, talking about trophes, and all. As interesting as that is, I didn’t see anybody answer the question explicitly, did they?

Your questions: Obviously the first several pages of Genesis say nothing about your questions, to give us a hint one way or the other. For example, we’d have to assume a lot about diseases, without any explicit mention of their “genesis.”

The Jewish commentaries say that everything was created in the first seven days. The most conservative say that even the ten commandments were written in stone up on Sinai already, to not violate God doing any work after the seventh day of creation. According to this narrow view, God not only rested on the seventh day, he never created anything ever again.

Since you didn’t tell us exactly what’s on your mind, I’ll answer another question, as best as I can. The “God” of the first creation account – Elohim – notice what his propensity is? To judge everything? Yes, he creates something then judges it - it is good. Creates something else, then judges it – it is good, too, etc. So, if you’re looking for God’s judgment of viruses, prions, and bacteria – they’re good, too, we must conclude.


Oh I see what you’re saying. When people eat fruit from a tree or veggies etc, the plant or tree doesn’t die, the apple tree lives on even though you eat the apples from it and the same with other plants. When leaves fall from a tree, the tree is still alive. It’s like when you cut your hair, you are still alive. You can prune a tree almost down to nothing and it’s still alive and will grow big again. Even today there are trees and plants that live longer than humans. Fruit trees can live for generations.

Yes I think we pretty much believe the same thing. :slight_smile:


I’m thinking of how it never rained until the flood and how animals became fearful of man after the flood. I know this is all past the time you are speaking. Somehow, I just felt like I needed to write this.


So it never rained before the flood? How do we know that? It certainly never rained for 40 days before, but would it not have rained normally? I think it did. Rain is part of the normal meteorological cycle, the absence of which would change our understanding of the evolution and development of the earth being suitable to human life. Without ran, the planet would have all been a desert.

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