Why were the descendants of Adam and Eve punished for the sins of their parents? (Quick Question follow-up question)

Greetings everyone,

I would like to have a more convincing answer to this question. Here is the link:

The analogy given to answer the question does not make the reasons for innocent suffering clear to me. There are some major differences between the analogy and the real world situation. Consequently, the analogy seems to be properly resolved in the end, but the real world situation still remains puzzling.

In the analogy, God is represented and/or replaced by a human benefactor who has two heirs, a grandfather and his grandson. All we really know about the benefactor is that he died, leaving his finite wealth behind. There may not have been anything the he could have done better in his life to make things better for his heirs. Naturally, he can not be blamed for their condition.

God is a much different being, he is immortal, omniscient and omnipotent. He can always help everyone.
Yet the fact remains that he allows innocent people to suffer. Could anyone please give me some ideas about why this is the case?


We are not innocent. We are not distinct beings, like God or Angels, each specially created. We are contingent beings, a race. We are interconnected and stand as one before God.

I can recommend Feank Sheed’s book Theology for Beginners which discusses the Fall.

Instead of an analogy – go to the reality found in the first three chapters of Genesis.

God as Creator, Genesis 1:1 is very different from a human benefactor. Genesis 1: 26-27. The first person Adam was dealing with Divinity and not with another human. Genesis 2: 15-17. God did not abandon humankind. Genesis 3: 15

This thread uses Sacred Scripture and the Catholic doctrines which flow from reality. No analogy needed. :smiley:


“Is Genesis 2: 15-17 an explanation of Original Sin?”
found in the Sacred Scripture Forum

It is true that God is infinite and omnipotent, but if He were to interfere with our suffering, we would not suffer, and this, we would have no motivation to do anything.

So, say the man who inherited the fortune was the older of identical twins. The younger twin inherited nothing, and do he went off to work hard and make something of himself. The older twin had no motivation to do this and so lazed around and gambled away the fortune.

We need to feel consequences in order to learn and strive. If God smoothed our path, we would behave just as Adam and Eve did.

And God does give us the great gift of Himself and union with Him: it’s just that we have to accept the gift and cooperate with God in the way a student cooperates with his teacher to acquire it.

Asto innocent people suffering, I read a card that explained it: Outside: God, why don’t You do something?! Inside: (God says) I did do something: I sent you.

I believe that one of the real issues in this thread is Adam’s human nature which includes intellective freedom of choice.

For general information. Paragraphs 1730 & 356, Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition.
**1730 **God created man a rational being, conferring on him the dignity of a person who can initiate and control his own actions. “God willed that man should be ‘left in the hand of his own counsel,’ so that he might of his own accord seek his Creator and freely attain his full and blessed perfection by cleaving to him.”
[INDENT]Man is rational and therefore like God; he is created with free will and is master over his acts.

**356 **Of all visible creatures only man is “able to know and love his creator”. He is “the only creature on earth that God has willed for its own sake”, and he alone is called to share, by knowledge and love, in God’s own life. It was for this end that he was created, and this is the fundamental reason for his dignity:
What made you establish man in so great a dignity? Certainly the incalculable love by which you have looked on your creature in yourself! You are taken with love for her; for by love indeed you created her, by love you have given her a being capable of tasting your eternal Good.

Remember also that a lot of what happened at the Fall was something Adam and Eve did to themselves and us. Adam and Eve had supernatural powers and abilities that we don’t have, because those were special gifts from God that they turned their backs on. Adam and Eve wanted an intimate knowledge of evil as well as good, so we have that instead, along with the ability to “die the death,” to become spiritually dead. Knowing evil inside us and spiritual death were incompatible with God’s supernatural gifts to our first parents; so Adam and Eve used them to kill us and lost them in the doing.

But before that, Adam was the high priest for the entire world (the Hebrew word for “care” is a word used for priestly duties, so “caring” for the earth was serving in it as God’s temple), as well as its guard (the Hebrew word for “keep” is what a guard or soldier does), prophet (he chatted daily with God), and king of the whole world (God gave him and Eve dominion over the earth) with the power to name and tame all animals and eat all plants. Eve had the same powers, as his “fitting helper.” They were smarter and wiser and healthier than us.

The first part of the story that should warn us is that Adam did not guard the earth or Eve from the serpent’s wiles. Neither did Eve help to guard things, of course.

But as king of the world, Adam had the power to change and decree things for the whole world of created things, including humans. As assistant king and mother of all the living, Eve had much the same power and could also decide a lot for her kids. What he and his co-ruler Eve did would stick, including Eve’s bright idea to grant humans the “knowledge of good and evil,” and his decision to go along with it instead of fixing it.

God’s decree of ‘punishment’ actually softens the cursed situation, and His plan sets up a new king who will come and fix it, bringing us salvation by reversing Adam and Eve 's bad acts and ideas. But he respects the decrees of Adam and Eve, made with the power He granted them, and the free choice and free will that made them his beloved humans and not his puppets. He would rather die, and He would rather adopt us and give us His own life, rather than make those choices null and void.


Jesus, the new Adam, is also King, Prophet and Priest.

Unlike Adam, Jesus by His obedience, now leads us back to Heaven.

Adam, as the first human, was in the State of Original Holiness aka State of Sanctifying Grace. Adam had “received the State of Original Holiness and Justice not for himself alone, but for all human nature.” (CCC 404) With deliberate abuse of his freedom, Adam disobeyed God’s commandment. (CCC 397) Adam’s free choice disobedience was the serious Mortal Sin which “is a grave infraction of the law of God that destroys the divine life in the soul of the sinner (sanctifying grace), constituting a turn away from God.” (CCC Glossary, Mortal Sin, page 889) Thus, human nature descendants of Adam and his spouse Eve, are born in a state deprived of Original Holiness and Justice. Original Sin is then viewed as a “contracted” state.
(CCC 396-409)

Links to the universal Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition.



As the very first humans God has ever created, Adam and Eve were representative of humanity.

As representatives of humanity, the choices that Adam and Eve made are the same choices that all other humans would have also made.

Hence, everyone bred from Adam and Eve deserve punishment.


In reality, Adam and Eve are more than representative of humanity. Adam and Eve are the sole founders of the human species. :smiley:
That is why Christ’s redemption applies to every one. (1 Corinthians 15: 54-55; CCC1260; CCC 360)

I think you misunderstand the analogy. God is not the benefactor. Adam and Eve are.

God gave us free choice. He gave Adam and Eve everything including freedom.

Adam and Eve chose to sin and this broke the relationship with God who is perfect. Adam and Eve chose to have less.

Returning to the analogy.

Adam and Eve have unimaginable wealth. They are warned by God to not go gambling in the casino. They ignore this and go gambling in the casino and loose half their wealth. Now they only have so much to give their descendants. What’s done is done, they are stuck with the consequence of their action and this action carries on by its nature of being a deprivation of the good.

In today’s world we have a phobia of suffering. It’s a problem frankly. Our “suffering” is hardly anything compared to most of the world.

But I suppose that’s beside the point. Suffering exists because we broke the world. Period. God loved us so much though that he was willing to die for us while we were beating and spitting on him. He did that because he wants to rescue us from the broken world.

Death is only the beginning. This life is a blink in our existence. We need to be patient!

Not one human being is ever innocent? Is that the justification?

Is suffering necessary for motivation? Can anyone be motivated by something outside of suffering?

Does any mortal human have the capacity to predict what people would have done with their free will if Adam and Eve had not sinned?

Why did God put the fate of billions of lives into the hands of a single couple?

If Adam and Eve are represented by the original benefactor, who does the grandfather with the unhealthy interest in gambling represent?

The original question was:

God is all just, so God punished Adam and Eve for disobedience by removing them from the garden of Eden. But why did God punish all of their descendants by not allowing them to start their lives in the garden? It is not just to punish a child for the sins of a parent. A child has no control of the actions of a parent since we all have free will and since a parent can perform actions before its child even exists.

Adam and Eve received gifts beyond nature: preternatural and supernatural. So the question is really about why did God not give all of their descendants the preternatural and supernatural gifts. Well, they were gifts not something that was due.

Some Church fathers have given the opinion that the unbaptized infants will have a natual state of peace in the next world, even though not the Beatific Vision (which means heaven), having died with original sin, but never electing the faith.

What is this fate of billions of lives? Sounds to me it is avoiding reality.:frowning:

Actually, suffering is necessary for other reasons as well, i.e., to offer up in reparation for our sins and the sins of others, but yes, while suffering may not be the only motivator, it is a primary one.

I heard an odd story from someone. There was a man who ad been recently paralyzed from the waist down who got a terrible infection on his thighs because… he hadn’t felt the pain when he was removing a pan from the oven and put it on his lap. What keeps us from hurting ourselves in many cases is the minor suffering at the beginning, and he of course could not feel that.

We suffer, and we ask God for help, and He helps us. The suffering teaches us to rely on God, and then we come to know Him and to love Him.

What was “unfair” about the situation with Adam and Eve was that they received the gifts at all. The giving was totally gratuitous–they did not deserve those gifts.

How does that question relate to Adam, his descendants, and Original Sin? :o

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