I understand the message in Genesis that man basically tried to be God - we see that everyday in our own times. But I was just listening to a priest on TV saying (or seeming to say) that humans truly could have been immortal had Adam not eaten the apple, etc. Are we supposed to believe that literally? What were the first human bodies then? Certainly different from our bodies. What evidence is there that such different beings existed?
I wonder if that priest would say that animals would have also been immortal if there had been no original sin. Also, is there an estimation of how many human beings have died since Adam and Eve were created? I wonder where they all would live now. Was the earth originally meant to get bigger and bigger over time before original sin ruined the plan?
The extra gift that God gave Adam and Eve is the Preternatural Gift of Immortality. You can Google Catholic “Preternatural Gifts”.
Paragraph 376, universal Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition explains the Preternatural Gift of Immortality.
The first true human bodies consisted of decomposing material. Because they received God’s extra special Preternatural Gift of Immortality they did not have to die. There is no Catholic doctrine regarding the “if Adam refused to disobey his Divine Creator” part of the mystery. (Paragraphs 404-405, Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition)
Yes, God always intended to glorify man. Man was immortal. Not because of anything fleshly, but because of God’s gift to them.
As for evidence in thr historical record, why would two pre-stone age people leave a historical mark? Everyone after them was mortal.
Don’t make the mistake of trying to read too much into Genesis. What you are asking is simply speculation (not that there is anything wrong with that).
What would have happened if only Eve ate the Forbidden fruit & Adam didn’t?
What if they had fed the fruit to the cat?
All cats would die but the other animals & Adam & Eve would live happily ever after.
No need for that.
In the absence of deserts and other non-human-friendly environments, the Earth could hold many times more human beings than it currently does. Presumably once it did get crowded, all those death-free minds would have invented off-world travel.
In any case we can never know.
Whoever Adam and Eve were, their bodies were comparable to our bodies, because their genes resulted in our bodies.
But one theory is that the human body dies because it bears a “killer gene” whose function is to make room for the next generation. Eliminating or inerting that gene would do away with “natural death” as we know it.
It seems there never would have been overpopulation because the urge to reproduce would have been moderated perfectly by the reason.
Anyway, yes, the preternatural gift of bodily immortality was given through the original sanctifying grace bestowed on Adam. When he dispensed himself of sanctifying grace, he did so for the preternatural gifts as well. (The understanding of Eve is not as restricted - see Humani Generis.)
Death is not absolutely opposed to the goodness of creation. Countless creatures perished before the coming of Adam, and he was given at least the plants to eat. The so-called “state of pure nature” could have also been his original condition if God had willed it.
We still are immortal. People are both. Odd and spiritual soul (as opposed to angels that are spirit only). We were made immortal and made the union of body and soul. Due to original sin our bodies do undergo death and separation from our soul. Our soul will reunite with our glorified body at the end of time.
How things would have been without original sin cannot be known.
Fr. Hardon has some helpful commentary on this topic:
So does RGL: