Who committed the first sin, not counting the fallen angels?

I came across this question from The Ultimate Catholic Quiz blog post on catholiceducation.org


The correct answer didn’t make sense to me and I was hoping if someone can elaborate.

Who committed the first sin, not counting the fallen angels?

a. Cain, when he murdered his brother Abel

b. Adam, from whom we inherit original sin

c. Eve, from whom we inherit original sin

d. Adam and Eve together, from whom we inherit original sin

e. none of the above

The Answer:

a. No, since Adam and Eve had sinned even before Cain and Abel were born.

b. No, because Eve sinned before Adam when she ate the forbidden fruit. His sin came immediately thereafter. See Genesis 3:6.

c. Although Eve sinned first and induced Adam to sin, we do not inherit original sin from her but from him, because he was the head of the human race.

d. No, since we don’t inherit original sin from Eve.

e. Each of the above answers is incorrect, making this one the right answer.

The assumptions refuting points c and d are baseless.

Eve committed the first human sin. She was the first to reject God’s command. She then induced Adam to sin, doubling her own sin. C is the correct answer. We inherit sin from both Adam and Eve, because both Adam and Eve were involved in the procreation of their children.

I don’t know how they would justify their assumption in C, there’s no Biblical evidence to support that position. We inherited the sins of our first parents.

E is in fact correct, because the explanation for C is also correct. Eve sinned first, but we do not inherit our original sin from her, but from Adam. While popular catechesis tells us that we inherited original sin from “our first parents”, the more precise theology is that we inherit the sin of Adam.

However, this is a shoddy way of phrasing a multiple choice question. If this were a for-credit exam, I would protest. The question is “Who sinned first?” Then the options should simply be:

a. Cain
b. Adam
c. Eve
d. Adam and Eve together
e. None of the above.

That should be it. If original sin was another question, it should have been phrased as another question.

From whom do we inherit original sin?
a. Cain
b. Adam
c. Eve
d. Adam and Eve together
e. None of the above.

Could you elaborate on this?

Why would we say that we only inherit original sin from Adam, even though they both lacked sanctifying grace? If Adam hadn’t sinned, but Eve had, there would still be a lack of sanctifying grace from both of our parents, so we couldn’t have received it in full. Why do we only attribute the lack to Adam?

I’m not opposed to being corrected, it just don’t see the rationality of it as stated.

It’s because Adam is the representative of the race, and in him the race was tested and failed. Original Sin is not a genetic disease that is passed down from a parent, but is the fallen nature of the human race itself. The race was Adam, not Eve.

Romans 5:12 is the Scriptural basis for this teaching: sin entered the world through one man, and the Liturgy confirmed this in the Church’s tradition: “O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam.”

We can only speculate what would have happened if Eve had sinned and Adam had not, and I don’t believe the Church has defined this. My thoughts are that if Eve had sinned but Adam had not, then Eve would have been culpable for only her sin, but mankind as a race would not not entered a fallen state. Or perhaps Adam’s righteousness would have allowed him some kind of priestly intercession by which the righteous spouse could sanctify the unrighteous one. That’s all a guess, and I think it’s not part of the deposit of faith.

Okay then. Thank you for the explanation. I stand corrected.

I’d dispute the notion that Eve sinned first. :slight_smile: The case can be made that Adam was standing right by her side and failed to speak up to the serpent (and failed in his duty to guard the garden). He already let his trust in his Creator die in his heart before he ever took a bite of the fruit.

But, yeah, it does seem like a rather clumsy multiple choice question. I guess it’s supposed to be a trick question.


That is what Fr. Pacwa on EWTN taught (Adam was supposed to protect Eve). I forget the exact program and date.
Adam and Eve sinned at the same time; her offering the fruit and him accepting it,
compounded the sin.

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