Did Adam and Eve know what a spiritual death means?


We all know it is poetical, so the people reading Genesis already knew what spiritual death meant and understood: Absence of God.

But did the first man and woman know? I would say no, they just knew it was a punishment for not obeying, but at best they knew what physical death was, and God was present to them, so they could not know His absence as spiritual death.

My doubt came from the answer given by eve to the Serpent: they should not eat the fruit, or they would die. Did they know what dying means, or is it like a child who repeats something he does really gets?

Thank you for your thoughts and speculations :slight_smile: Yes i am just interested in opinions, it is not important for Salvation, but still.



Adam and Eve knew that obedience was required in order for them to live in a real relationship with God. (Genesis 2: 15-17; Genesis 3: 2-3) Because God is a transcendent supernatural Pure Spirit, and because Adam and Eve were spiritual beings in the image of God (Genesis 1: 26-27), we can call Adam’s freely committed disobedience (shattering his relationship with God) a spiritual death.


I think you misunderstand me. Surely they knew obedience was needed. And Adam’s sin was indeed a spiritual dath. But my question is did they know what dying spiritually was?Could they make the difference between physical death and spiritual death, since they were in God’s presence and no one before them, because they were the first spiritual beings, could have reported what is living with God hidden or in absence of Him?


Dying spiritually is describing what Adam chose to do. Being human, with an unique unification of both the spiritual and material worlds, Adam, as a rational human being, could tell the difference between spiritual death (separation from God) and physical death which was the natural course of material creatures.

What is often overlooked is that Adam was given the gift of immortality. This gift was connected to Adam being in a friendship relationship with his Creator. Breaking the relationship with God would obviously include the loss of this extra gift.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition has a good explanation of what life was like in the Garden in paragraphs 374-384.

Links to the Catechism.




Did he know wat that meant, to die spiritually, since he was the first to die spiritually? How could he tell the difference since he never experienced it? That is my question.
Also, did he know what dying spiritually would bring?


This is the popular problem which denies knowledge unless it is experienced.

Apparently, people choose different requirements for “knowing” something. In my childhood neighborhood, my mother would ask me – “If your friend jumped off a bridge, would you follow her?”

In my humble opinion, a rational human being can understand how an airplane flies without having the experience qualification of putting an airplane together from scratch. It is Catholic teaching that Adam is a rational human being.


We know the angels, (the first spiritual beings) did interface with Adam otherwise don’t you think he’d be just a little put off that the only other talking being in the garden, the serpent, was contradicting what God told him about the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Afterwards, an angel with a flaming sword blocked the entrance to the garden, presumably they could see this.

IMO Adam loved God but did not see him as Lord and Master. I conclude that because when faced with temptation he did not call on God to help him. That’s what I take away from this story.


In the first three chapters of Genesis – the reason Adam did not call on God to help him was because the temptation was to place Adam above God, to overthrow God, to scorn God, to go against God, etc.


God is the ultimate good-and the source of all good. So the absence of God is the ultimate evil. Adam & Eve hadn’t experienced that evil in any way whatsoever-they didn’t know evil until their act of disobedience, which itself was the act of separating themselves from God. Humankind would from then on know good and evil, the good inherent in creation along with the evil of separation from God and all that implies, the evil that results from man being his own God, making up his own morality. We’re here to learn the meaning of Jesus’s words: “Apart from Me you can do nothing”. John 15:5


God Himself explained evil to Adam in Genesis 2:15-17. That should be sufficient.

Did God do something wrong by not having Adam die before Adam sinned? Is Original Sin real if Adam didn’t die (experience evil) before he freely chose to commit it?


Well, he didn’t die until he committed it, so yes, apparently for Adam an explanation of evil-or it’s consequences in any case since I’m not sure evil can be explained, I’m not sure death/separation from God can be described or known without experiencing it-*was *insufficient. And I bet Adam knows now. :slight_smile: Otherwise why did he sin, BTW, having been one of God’s good creations?

We have to remember that, with the command not to eat of the fruit, and the warnings of the consequences if eaten, and the rightful indignation of God at Adam’s disobedience, God still knew Adam would eat the fruit, and had already planned for man’s resurrection from the dead -before man died! This is consistent with the catechism’s teaching that God made His universe in a “state of journeying to perfection”.


God only wants to be loved and trusted. But I don’t see there an explanation of evil, it just say believe me when I command you not to do a thing for your own good.

I thank you all again for your replies but your always turning around the idea of sinning or not.
And my question was: God knew that sin was disobedience to God. that is clear from the passage mentioned above. But, since the first spiritual being never experienced spiritual death and would have only experienced physical death, how could they know that the consequences of eating the fruit was the absence of God? Dying for them, was ceasing to live physically. No one could think of the absence of God. So to me, even if it is to show desobedience from man, it also show how stupid pride is, because it is a jump in the unknown, and a too strong self-confidence.

It is like to say: a child is said not to touch fire, for it will burn your hand. Since the child was never burnt before, how could he know what that means? how could he measure the consequences? I would say he could not, and “had his own life in the hands of his faith”, not in his reason.

Is my thought clearer? :slight_smile:


Yes, I agree. Adam didn’t yet know what we’re all here to learn, the simple but profound truth Pope Benedict wrote of in Spe Salvi:
"Let us put it very simply: man needs God, otherwise he remains without hope."


The real question is not what God did or did not do. The real question concerns Adam. Is Adam a fully complete human or is he part human?

Or – What part of human nature is being left out when Adam is described as too dumb to know the difference between good and evil?

What all makes a creature human?


Did Adam have an intellect and will? Did Adam have a rational spiritual soul?


They surely had all of these. But they had no knowledge of evil unless it was revealed to them. And evil wasn’t revealed to them, it was a matter of faith. Faith didn’t need to experience death back then. It was a choice of remaining with the Lord or not. We can’t remain, we have to return and then remain. :slight_smile:


I cannot speak for other religions.

In the Catholic Church, one of the basic truths is the sinning of Adam. In the Catholic Church, Adam is not described as a “child” like children today who are told not to touch a hot stove. In fact, touching a hot stove does not describe Original Sin as taught by the Catholic Church…


I am not saying could he sin or not, or that he did not. I am asking before he sinned, did he know what the consequences would be? And it seems not. That he had free will when he chose to sin, I don#t doubt that. But since no one had experienced Spiritual death, and since God didn’t tell them what it was and was present, how could they know what was this sin? I think they knew not what it would bring. If they ad known, maybe it would have prevented then to chose what they chose.


The real question is not what God did or did not do. The real question concerns Adam. Is Adam a fully complete human or is he part human?

Or – What part of human nature is being left out when Adam is described as too dumb to know the difference between good and evil and the consequences of each?

Why is the existence of the Conscience being ignored?

A simple definition of Conscience is “The interior voice of a human being, within whose heart the inner law of God is inscribed.” (CCC, Glossary, Conscience, page 872; CCC, Index, Conscience, page 776)

Links to Catholic teachings.






Again, i am not ignoring the conscience. I know that he could choose freely for or against God, knowing that it was good to choose Him and bad to desobey.

I am not saying that Adam wasn’t aware to desobey, but if it was aware of what sin would bring.

Not the real question? I don’t know why, since I am not opposing the facts of the soul, of the conscience, of free will.

My question is could he understand that this kind of death (spiritual death by sinning) was different than physical death, since God said he would die, but no one had died spiritually before, because they were the first spiritual beings?

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