Did the Fall of Man affect our bodies?

[INDENT]The Church teaches that we are inclined to sin, thanks to the Fall of Adam. Now, several tendencies to sin can be linked to biological hard-wiring, whether it be our genes, body chemistry, or brain structures.
[INDENT] Does this mean that the Fall of Man affected human biology for the worse?
If so, how?

And if so,
How is this result intrinsic to the consequence of Original Sin – and not just an arbitrary punishment inflicted by God?**

If the Fall of Man did** not** affect human biology so as to introduce tendencies to sin, then in what sense is the natural basis for these inclinations part of God’s design?
The issue to me is that if we say Original Sin corrupted or altered our biological makeup in some way – either in genetics or body chemistry or whatever – so as to make us inclined to certain sins (whether it be inclinations to act violently, become an alcoholic, have homosexual tendency, etc.), then that would seem to contradict (1) what we know from science**** and (2) what church doctrine says of Original Sin (namely, that our nature was not arbitrarily corrupted)***.

**Catholic teaching on Original Sin states that, prior to the Fall, God placed our first parents in a state of grace and friendship with Him. Catholic theology also says that it was fitting that our first parents should have certain *preternatural *gifts that were not owed to human nature, but that nonetheless complemented the supernatural life of grace. Man was uplifted by not only having grace in his soul but the gifts of integrity (harmony of passions and self under the control of reason), impassibility (freedom from suffering), and bodily immortality. Original Sin did not corrupt man’s nature; rather, it lost for Adam the grace and friendship with God as well as the other gifts of integrity, impassibility, and immortality. Through him, we lost these gifts as well, so our nature is not all that God had originally *uplifted *it o be. But it is not a corruption of our nature; it’s not as if God plucked out a piece of our nature or added something extra after the Fall.

***The nature of man experienced a change after the Fall, yes. It could be said that God had meant for all of mankind to live in friendship (grace) with him and to not experience inclination to sin, suffering, or death – but now we do. The nature of man was not corrupted, though; rather, these extra gifts of integrity, impassibility, and immortality fell away with the loss of grace. I’ve read several Catholic theologians and authors say that Original Sin left our natures in a place similar to what human nature would have been, anyway, had God not uplifted us supernaturally in grace and preternaturally with those gifts of integrity, impassibility, and immortality.

****Catholic teaching does not require us to believe that the Fall introduced physical evil (as opposed to moral evil) into the world. And it is good that it does not require us to, because from science, we know that animal pain and death, natural disasters, and disease-causing pathogens have existed prior to the arrival of humans.[/INDENT][/INDENT]

Every graveyard on the planet is testimony to the affirmative.


All of us eventually get sick and die. Before that we are plagued, to one extent or another, with illness and discomfort. Adam and Eve didn’t even catch a minor cold. We have colds, flu, deformities, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, which is on the rise, autism, which is really on the rise, cancer, meningitis, pneumonia, hepatitis, and much, much more. Childbirth is agonizing for some.

So, sure, the fall definitely affected our biology. We are no longer immune to physical infirmity.

If you mean are we made differently, no, probably not, though I doubt that before the fall Adam and Eve were prone to the addictions you mention.

Death is a consequence of the Fall, sure. That’s not what I’m asking. :thumbsup:

But see, much of what you mentioned would have affected animals before the Fall. Animals could have deformities, endure sickness, etc. Humans are also “animal,” in once sense, but have a rational soul. Had God not given Adam the gift of impassibility and immortality, Adam would have died. But these were preternatural gifts, not directly required by his nature. So it seems the Fall didn’t introduce anything – only in the sense of allowing mankind to be affected by the natural, limited world around them.

Animals have a biological framework that allows for mutations, imperfections, susceptibility to sickness, etc. Why should we think that the Fall changed our biology?

+The little portion of New Testament :bible1: Sacred Scripture below deals specifically with the subject of this thread . . . *sweet counsel from the Word of God . . . *[INDENT][INDENT][INDENT]. . . :coffeeread: . . .

18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.

20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of Him who hath subjected the same in hope,

21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.

23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.

24 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet **hope **for?

[RIGHT]. . . all for Jesus+
. . . thank You Blessed Lord+
. . . thank You Sweet Spirit of our Holy God+
. . . thank You Gracious Heavenly Father+

You mean to say that if Adam and Eve hadn’t sinned there would be no death? Can you imagine how ridiculously crowded the Earth would be by now? Would eleventy billion people be crowding into the Garden of Eden?

No, it wouldn’t have afflicted anything before the fall because Genesis states the God looked around and saw that it was ALL good. All, including plants, animals, humans, everything.

The Council of Trent in the Decree on Original Sin; quotes previous teaching stating Adam was changed for the worse both body and soul.

Recall Genesis records God saying to Eve, I will multiply your conceptions. Sounds like their bodies were changed, as well as their souls.

OP - this thread greatly resembles your earlier one, here:

From the CC (in connection with the Fall):
*400 The harmony in which they had found themselves, thanks to original justice, is now destroyed: the control of the soul’s spiritual faculties over the body is shattered;*The body would thus appear to be prone to adverse development (lose harmony) because control over it by the soul was lost.

It does not make much sense to ask “was human biology affected” unless you can also explain in scientific terms how the soul exercised control over the body. Nor is it particularly relevant to observe that maybe the body “alone” was always prone to certain circumstances - since we are “body + soul” and deconstructing us makes no sense.

What matters is the net result - after the fall, the combination of “soul + body” (= human) was affected and that is our situation.

I think the plan would have then been something different, don’t you? Come to think of it, if we’re supposed to live on earth after the general resurrection. How will we do it then?

It’s good to explore this idea a little more. I’ m not sure we are required to believe that Adam couldn’t catch a cold before the fall.
What the Church teaches for certain is that man’s harmony with creation is broken. Sin and death enter the world. What exactly is the death we are talking about? Is it merely physical death? Christ has conquered death yet our bodies still die. hmmm

Do we know if animals at the time of Adam and Eve died or not(before the fall)? I know its said animals were much different too, the lion lay with the lamb, suggesting there was no killing or violence.

Animals and nature in general are in the fallen state. Perhaps our universe became fallen when some angels fell from grace, since angels have as one of their tasks assisting God in overseeing creation.

Great questions, Clem.

If nothing would have been afflicted before the Fall including animals, why are animals being afflicted now? What sins did they commit to be punished along with humans?

Animals cannot sin. They are not moral agents. They are affected by others sins just like innocent humans are affected by the sins of others.

The whole world and everything in it was affected by the fall.

No, animals cannot sin. If a being, even a human, cannot reason, he or she cannot be held responsible for his or her or its actions. In short, there is malum, but no culpa.

However, once sin entered the world, everything was affected. I don’t think animals feel they are punished because they cannot comprehend death. They live in the moment. Still, the poor things can, and do, suffer. They don’t understand suffering, which is why it’s not immoral to euthanize them, whereas it would be with a human being. And, God gave man dominion over the plants and animals, etc.


Sorry, didn’t see your post before I posted.

Good question. Are we to believe that the dead will literally physically rise up and literally resume their physical lives on Earth?

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.