Was Evil and Suffering a Result of Adam's Sin?
by Rich Deem


Young earth organizations blame all the bad things in the world on Adam and Eve's original sin.1 According to those groups, sin resulted in animal and human death, the growth of weeds, animals becoming carnivorous, and all manner of diseases and natural disasters. In essence, Adam is blamed for everything bad in the world, relieving God of the blame for all the suffering and "answering" atheist's charges that there is too much evil in the world for a good God to exist. Does the Bible really blame Adam's sin for all the bad things in the world?

What happened at the fall?

The Bible does say that certain things happened when Adam and Eve sinned. God had warned Adam that eating the forbidden fruit would result in his death (Genesis 2:16-17).2 Paul makes it clear that Adam's and our sin resulted in death being passed on to all human beings (Romans 5:12).3 Let's recap the passage about the fall. Satan had entered the garden of Eden in the guise of a serpent (Revelation 12:9)4 and convinced Eve that the forbidden fruit was good to eat and would make her like God (Genesis 3:5).5 Eve liked the way the fruit looked, disobeyed God, ate some, and gave some to her husband, who also ate the fruit (Genesis 3:6).6 When God found out, Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the serpent (Genesis 3:12-13).7 All three received a judgment from God:

Person Judgment
The Serpent
And the LORD God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, Cursed are you more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly shall you go, And dust shall you eat All the days of your life; And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel." (Genesis 3:14-15)
The Woman
To the woman He said, "I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth, In pain you shall bring forth children; Yet your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you." (Genesis 3:16)
The Man
Then to Adam He said, "Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, 'You shall not eat from it'; Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; And you shall eat the plants of the field; By the sweat of your face You shall eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return." (Genesis 3:17-19)

Do any of these judgments involve carnivorous activity, natural disasters or massive changes to the earth? The closest one sees as "changes" to the earth involve Adam's curse. However, it merely says that Adam would have to work harder to get food. While he was in the garden, Adam merely had to pick fruit from trees to eat. Since God had planted the garden (Genesis 2:8),8 my guess is that He didn't plant a lot of weeds in it. Once he had sinned, Adam had to deal with all the weeds outside the garden, since he had been kicked out of Eden by God (Genesis 3:23).9

Did sin cause creation changes?

Peril in Paradise: Theology, Science, and the Age of the EarthYoung earth ministries indicate that sin brought not only death to humans (Romans 5:12),3 but a host of other changes, including weeds, pain, cruelty, suffering, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, lightning strikes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, droughts, blizzards, and impacts by meteorites, asteroids, and comets, etc.1 Where does scripture say that? In reality, it doesn't. For the most part, young earth ministries avoid the question of how sin could cause all those things to suddenly appear. Does sin have creative power to convert herbivores to carnivores?

In fact, scripture does say how the creation became the way it is—God did it!

For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. (Romans 8:20-21)

So, young earth creationists' attempt to place all the blame for the condition of the creation on sin is completely misdirected. It was God's doing, which had nothing to do with the original sin judgments (Genesis 3:14-19).

Theological and philosophical implications

The young earth idea that sin caused the creation to go bad has profound philosophical and theological implications. First, it implies that God really got carried away by subjecting animals to "cruel red tooth and claw" punishment for the sin of Adam. However, scripture is clear that God does not punish the innocent along with the guilty.10 In contrast to the young earth assertion, the Bible indicates that only the guilty parties were punished (Genesis 3:14-19). The second problem with imputing sin with creation is it implies that God was a bungling Creator who was blind-sided by Adam's sin and had to come up with "plan B." However, scripture presents a completely different picture of God. The Bible says that God had set His plans before He had created anything and didn't change His mind:

It is my view that the deep plans of God are not subject to human influence or persuasion. God did not change His plans because Adam sinned. Adam did not ruin God's creation by sinning—he only ruined his own relationship with God. Scripture clearly says that God provides food for the carnivores.11 If carnivorous activity were evil, then God would be implicating Himself in the perpetuation of evil. May it never be! God created carnivores as part of plan A, whether we like it or not (Isaiah 55:8).

Conclusion Top of page

The young earth claim that the original sin caused God's creation to become corrupt is shown to be biblically unsound. The Bible does indicate that sin brought death to all human beings, because all have sinned (Romans 5:12).3 However, there is no biblical suggestion that Adam and Eve's sin caused massive changes to God's creation or that God suddenly felt the need to turn herbivores into carnivores. So, are all the natural disasters a result of God doing a bad job designing creation? It turns out that God's creation is "very good" (Genesis 1:31),12 and that changing it to exclude all the "natural evil" would be very bad for spiritual life. Find out why here.

Other Resources Top of page

A Matter of Days by Hugh RossA Matter of Days by Hugh Ross

Dr. Ross looks the creation date controversy from a biblical, historical, and scientific perspective. Most of the book deals with what the Bible has to say about the days of creation. Ross concludes that biblical models of creation should be tested through the whole of scripture and the revelations of nature.

Peril in Paradise: Theology, Science, and the Age of the Earth Peril in Paradise: Theology, Science, and the Age of the Earth by Mark S. Whorton, Ph.D.

This book, written for Christians, examines creation paradigms on the basis of what scripture says. Many Christians assume that the young earth "perfect paradise" paradigm is based upon what the Bible says. In reality, the "perfect paradise" paradigm fails in its lack of biblical support and also in its underlying assumptions that it forces upon a "Christian" worldview. Under the "perfect paradise" paradigm, God is relegated to the position of a poor designer, whose plans for the perfect creation are ruined by the disobedience of Adam and Eve. God is forced to come up with "plan B," in which He vindictively creates weeds, disease, carnivorous animals, and death to get back at humanity for their sin. Young earth creationists inadvertently buy into the atheistic worldview that suffering could not have been the original intent of God, stating that the earth was created "for our pleasure." However, the Bible says that God created carnivores, and that the death of animals and plants was part of God's original design for the earth.

References Top of page

  1. Young earth organizations agree that Adam's sin caused all bad things in the world:
  2. And the LORD God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die." (Genesis 2:16-17)
  3. Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned-- (Romans 5:12)
  4. The great dragon was hurled down--that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. (Revelation 12:9)
  5. "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." (Genesis 3:5)
  6. When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. (Genesis 3:6)
  7. The man said, "The woman you put here with me--she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it." Then the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate." (Genesis 3:12-13)
  8. Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. (Genesis 2:8)
  9. So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. (Genesis 3:23)
  10. When God was about to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham asked God if He would destroy the cities if there were 50 righteous people in them (Genesis 18:22-33). God said no. Then Abraham asked the same question if there were 45 righteous people. Every time he dropped the number and got the same answer. The fact is that God would not have destroyed those cities if there were any righteous people in them. The few righteous who were in those cities He warned ahead of time to get out (Genesis 19:15-16). So, God does not destroy the righteous along with the evil.
  11. God provides food for the carnivores:
    • "Who prepares for the raven its nourishment, When its young cry to God, And wander about without food?" (Job 38:41) 
    • "Can you hunt the prey for the lion, Or satisfy the appetite of the young lions, [God speaking] (Job 38:39) 
    • The young lions roar after their prey, And seek their food from God. (Psalm 104:21)
    • There is the sea, great and broad, In which are swarms without number, Animals both small and great... They all wait for Thee, To give them their food in due season. (Psalm 104:25, 27)
    • Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. (Luke 12:24)
  12. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning--the sixth day. (Genesis 1:31)

Last updated June 26, 2012


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