I hope this question is unique here, but I assure you I have searched and have not yet seen it. (This question is close, but not quite the same.)

Adam and Eve were given two commandments: 1) Multiply and replenish the earth, and 2) not eat of the forbidden fruit. From what I understand, some Christian denominations believe the commandments to be paradoxical; one cannot be kept without breaking the other.

Within the scope of those Christian denominations which view the two commandments as both impossible to keep while in the Garden of Eden: Why couldn't they keep both of these commandments, for surely they would have if they could?

closed as unclear what you're asking by Flimzy, fredsbend, Mr. Bultitude, Nathaniel, El'endia Starman Aug 12 '15 at 0:18

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    I can't understand point 1. Do you mean to ask why they did not start the multiplication process immediately in the garden of Eden? – Mawia Jun 15 '13 at 7:56
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    There are several possible answers to this, and each hinges on doctrines that are hotly contested... The question of whether man can be sin-free after salvation is similar to this, and there's no agreement there. Since there is no universally accepted answer, I'm going to vote to close as not constructive, but encourage you to edit this to be within site guidelines. – David Stratton Jun 15 '13 at 14:11
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    Which denominations believe this? – Bruce Alderman Jul 30 '15 at 17:59
  • "for surely they would have if they could" is an assumption that many do not share. – Nathaniel Aug 11 '15 at 17:44

...some Christian denominations believe the commandments to be paradoxical; one cannot be kept without breaking the other.

The short answer

There is no Biblical support for this.

The long answer

If some Christian denominations believe this, is it extra-biblical, e.g. Mormons, and so explanation will likely vary widely. (Actually, AFAIK, Mormonism is the only denomination that believes this.)

Perhaps you consider this the justification:

Why couldn't they keep both of these commandments, for surely they would have if they could?

But that is not necessarily true. Man was not infallable, and remember: the devil played a hand here too. It's not really temptation unless you can make the wrong choice.

FYI, Greg Bala said:

This question basically boils down to these types of questions:

  • Why did (how could) God create a creature that could choose poorly?

  • Did God know what we will fail?

  • Why didn't God create us without what is necessary to choose well?

While I do not believe these questions are what you are asking, these are the more commonly asked paradoxes/concerns about Adam and Eve.


That is a good question :)

My understanding of what you are asking: How come, Adam and Eve, did not "have it in them", to choose correctly, to choose to obey the commandment.

In short: there is no, purely logical answer to this.

Some observations: This question basically boils down to these types of questions:

  • why did (how could) God create a creature that could choose poorly?
  • did God know what we will fail?
  • why didn't God create us without what is necessary to choose well?
  • etc

These questions have preoccupied many theologians and I hate to disappoint you, but I have not yet heard a satisfactory explanation.

We can, logically & philosophically understand a LOT around those questions. We can understand that free-will necessarily must allow us to choose badly, that God cannot create contradictions (therefore cannot create a creature with free-will without the capacity to choose badly) etc.

But we cannot, in purely rational & logical way, understand the full mystery.

The big question remains:

"why is existence with free-will more valuable then non-existence"

Existence without free-will is not difficult to dispute as inferior, but the superior value of "existence with free-will", and therefore, a chance of eternal hell, IS A MYSTERY.

resources on this topic there is a ton of literature on this, but also some good video resources in form of debates for example. search "problem of evil" or other variations on your tube, and you will find a summary of views of many theologians on the topic.

My personal, alternative understanding of the story of the fall This is not an orthodox understanding of it, this is a different look at this story that helps me understand some of the mystery:

Maybe, God's commandment to not eat from the tree of knowledge is NOT a commandment, in the sense of "do not do this, or I will punish you"

Instead, the commandment is a warning of a natural consequence - IF you do eat from this tree, THEN you will die - ie, something pretty bad will happen.

Maybe, "knowing good and evil", necessarily results in a perpetual struggle to choose good.

So, we could understand this as, not that Adam and Eve did not obey, per sa, but that they choose to struggle, they choose to know good and evil. Like a child that wants to find out for it self what fire feels like.

In this understanding, God fully knew that we will have to know, but offered as an easy way out if we trusted Him.

anyway, just some personal thoughts :) Not sure if they help you understand this mystery in some way or not.

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    "per sé". The last part is the only necessary part. If you get rid of all the junk at the top, expand on why it is a warning and not a commandment, quote some scripture, then I will +1. – fredsbend Jun 15 '13 at 14:55
  • I cannot edit my answer as suggested because I do not believe, my personal view is an adequate answer to the question; either philosophically or theologically. I believe there is no rational answer, therefore this is the only honest answer that I can give. – Greg Balajewicz Jun 15 '13 at 16:40
  • Him, I'll clarify. I am asking why the two commandments couldn't be kept even if they would have kept both. Some denominations which I will not enumerate, for space, believe that Adam and Eve were good bit faced with basically contradictory commandments. Why couldn't they multiply and remain in the garden? – Matt Jun 16 '13 at 20:56
  • "Existence without free-will is not difficult to dispute as inferior" I'd enjoy hearing more about that in chat. I don't necessarily agree with you. – Chelonian Jun 18 '13 at 22:07
  • @Chelonian not sure I did it right, but here it the chat room : chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/info/9406/… lets discuss! :) – Greg Balajewicz Jun 26 '13 at 15:53

We receive God's grace (His unmerited love) by faith. Faith in love was what was transgressed in the Garden. Eve was deceived, Adam's loyalty was misguided, but in both cases it was not primarily a question of obedience, but of misplaced faith. Eve trusted the words of the serpent rather than the Word of God. Adam trusted in the words of Eve rather than trusting in the Word of God.

In contrast Jesus always places His faith in the will of the Father: John 5:19 The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. Jesus does not personally discern between good and evil, but rather does only what He sees His Father do.

Independence from God (death) is man discerning between (good and evil), as apposed to man faithfully trusting in the will of God.

Man gains access to God by placing faith in God's loving grace.

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    I don't think this really addresses the question at all. The question is not "why did man fall?", but rather "why do some people think the two commandments are contradictory?" – ThaddeusB Jul 30 '15 at 14:22

All I hear is what is satisfactory, listen to that, truth is truth no matter if you accept it or not. They could not keep both because to multiply they would need to know the knowledge of this good act in order to do it. Eve without full understanding partook of the tree under guile of the adversary, while Adam knew that he wanted to keep the commandments and in order to do that he would also have to partake, otherwise Eve would have been cast off and there goes the opportunity to multiply.

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    This does not appear to be a common perspective. Can you present any evidence that any Christian group reasons this way? – curiousdannii Jul 30 '15 at 6:33

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