God expelled Adam and Eve from the garden of Eden because Eve ate the fruit that God told her not to. And this let evil into the world. If God loves everyone, so much so that he let his son die for us, then why has every subsequent human and animal had to live and deal with the result of evil?

How does the Bible explain this, given that it says God is just?


11 Answers 11


There is an assumption in this question that is actually the very problem that the question addresses.

This question assumes that in the exact same situation you would act differently than Adam and Eve would. However, why would you? Would a loving God not have placed the people in the garden that gave humanity the best chance at continuing at sinless existence? Adam and Eve were representatives of all of humanity. Do you think that if a better representative existed God would not have chosen them?

Yes Adam and Eve sinned, but the basic reason is that any human being placed in that situation would have done exactly the same thing. The temptation was very strong and they fell.

This was God's plan. He intended for Adam and Eve to sin so that he could work out his plan and glorify himself all the more. The story of Adam and Eve points to Christ.

Romans 5:17

17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!

If sin entered through one man so salvation has also entered by way of one man. If we cannot acknowledge sin came through Adam then we cannot acknowledge the the sacrifice of Christ was sufficient.

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    So god made every suffer just increase his own glory, aren't we told to exactly not that. You can't say that any human would have done the same thing, unless youre saying that anyone then would be Adam and Eve the people and not themselves as we know today. some people obey the people in authority. Only 1/2 the population at the time chose to eat the apple (first). Maybe the serpent choose eve to persuade because it knew Adam wouldn't or would be less likely to. It also says that that action brought sin into the world, clearly sin already existed in the serpent, and Eve had the sinful...
    – Jonathan.
    Sep 5, 2011 at 15:28
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    ...temptation to what she did. You make God sound like one of those demonic Gods you see in scifi films which use humans for their own pleasure, etc. (eg Ori in Stargate)
    – Jonathan.
    Sep 5, 2011 at 15:29
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    Jonathan, are you familiar with how representation works in government? Adam and Eve were our representatives. 2nd Adam and Eve both ate the fruit, Adam was right with Eve when she ate it, he know what she was doing. Adam's sin was actually worse because he wasn't directly tempted. Sin existed (Lucifer fell before creation.) but had not entered the world, I believe Lucifer was allowed to act on earth because God allowed him to (the discussion between God and Satan in Job would be and example of how this worked). Thus God allowed (planned for) sin to enter the world.
    – wax eagle
    Sep 5, 2011 at 15:35
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    God cares only for his own glory, he is perfect and thus deserves the glory. Yes he created us for his own pleasure and he works out the world in order that he can glorify himself. @Caleb describes God as a full-on egoist and I'm inclined to agree.
    – wax eagle
    Sep 5, 2011 at 15:39
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    I wouldn't say that god "intended" for us to sin; He allowed it because we have free will and that was our choice, but He didn't do anything to help it along... @Jonathan: I can certainly understand having that viewpoint, I was once wondering whether something like that was true myself. This answer I wrote explains why god gave us free will in the first place.
    – RCIX
    Sep 5, 2011 at 16:35

Basically anyone that is born, is born of the world, so the act of being conceived brings brings the stain of original sin upon each and every person.

There is an interesting article (pdf) that goes through some of the thoughts of the early church fathers that relate to this subject. This is one of the more relevant portions of the article:

What had remained implied in his letter to Simplician, Augustine now states outright, that each of us born into the world is born in guilt. Furthermore, having come to see in his earlier writings that to suppose the preexistence of souls introduces an insuperable dualism into the person, Augustine at this point is convinced that the guilt present at birth could not have been contracted by one’s personal choice, and so it must be attributable to the first man. Finally, the agent said to involve us in the first sin is concupiscence

Going down the path of this question, and doubting original sin was a major controversy 1500 years ago, but St. Augustine fought against it, and for an introduction to what the Pelagian controversy is and why it is still controversial today you can look at major parts (2) and (3) in this page:

Here is what Pelagius taught, from the FAQ above:

By this time he had several disciples in different areas. His teachings were identified as:

  1. Denial of original sin (i.e. depravity or corruption) inherited from Adam. Each person is born as a new, free agent with the same powers of choice and responsibilities as Adam.
  2. Denial of original guilt received from Adam's sin. Among other things, this called into question the necessity of infant baptism, since there was nothing an infant needed to be baptized for. However, Pelagius himself held that infant baptism was good and should continue, though not for the remission of infant sins.
  3. Affirmation of the ability of men to be free from sin. Consequently, the denial of the necessity of God's working in order to accomplish freedom from sin. The power is in us, even if God helps.


I mentioned Pelagius and gave some references to an article that references what was written from people at the beginning of a heresy where this topic can lead you. This is not a simple topic, and the debate has been going on for 1500 years. Because we can die and because we are not automatically granted access to Heaven is how we are being punished for the introduction of sin. God sent Jesus to pay the price, and that allowed us to have the ability to get into Heaven, so, the all-loving God sent his only Son to pay a price for a sin that he didn't commit, nor suffer from. Anselm wrote about this in Cur Deus Homo (Why God became man), and the basic explanation of his approach is found at http://www.tonyfinlay.co.uk/Anselm.htm.

If you want to get more into this subject then the best starting point, if reason is important, is St. Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologica (Summary of Theology), found at http://www.newadvent.org/summa/2082.htm. I linked to where he starts to specifically talk about Original Sin, and Article 4 may be of particular interest.

  • how does this answer the question of why A&E's sin applies to us.
    – wax eagle
    Sep 5, 2011 at 15:04
  • But children are not born with sin because they automatically go to heaven. But your first sentence is irrelevant anyway because it doesn't say why, why God "stains" every new born with sin. God says in the bible he will not punish a child/descendant for his fathers sin.
    – Jonathan.
    Sep 5, 2011 at 15:21
  • @wax eagle - We are born of this world, by being born into this world. That is the answer to the question, the rest is explaining and giving some references to understand the answer better. Sep 5, 2011 at 16:03
  • @Jonathan. - Children do not know right from wrong until they are older, which is why their actions won't be held against them. Because of this is why the Roman Catholic Church believed in Limbo for many centuries, to explain where unbaptized children go. We are not born in grace, as our soul has been stained, which is why the early church practiced infant baptism, to remove that stain. Sep 5, 2011 at 16:07
  • @Jonathan There are different views on whether children are "innocent" until they are older and have more understanding. Catholic tradition goes one way, many (but not all) Protestant traditions go another. I don't think there is any teaching in the Bible that says all children get a free pass into heaven.
    – Caleb
    Sep 5, 2011 at 16:35

The story of Adam and Eve is not about God punishing us for the sin of one man. God punishes us for our own sins, which we have all committed:

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23 NIV)

If anything, the story of Adam and Eve is there not to explain why are punished, but to explain why each person individually chooses to sin.

  • Well if eve hadn't sinned none of us would be sinning now. And the bible was written after Adam and eve
    – Jonathan.
    Sep 6, 2011 at 7:23
  • @Jonathan: It may or may not be true that we would not be sinning now if Adam and Eve had never committed the first sin. But even if it would be true, they did commit that first sin, and we do all choose to sin.
    – Flimzy
    Sep 6, 2011 at 13:37
  • Eve's action brought sin into the world, it was only after it happened they realised they we're naked etc. If sin didn't exist (because she didn't commit that sin) on earth then we would be choosing to sin now. And remember eve didn't sin without help, it was not her instinct to sin, if the serpent hadnt been there she most likely wouldn't have.
    – Jonathan.
    Sep 6, 2011 at 15:41
  • @Jonathan I think its super easy to pick on just Eve. But they both ate willingly. Gen 3:6. Man and Woman are equally responsible.
    – Matt
    Oct 11, 2016 at 19:27

Adam and Eve were made perfect, but with free will. They chose to sin. Would we not make the same choice, if we were in their place? Since we've all chosen to sin at some point (Romans 3:10-12) in our lives, I think the answer must be Yes.

  • If they were made perfect surely they would not have the imperfect thought to sin? If Adam and Eve hadn't sinned, we would be naked in a garden enjoying a good life. So by them choosing to sin, God decided to change the lives of everyone of their descendants.
    – Jonathan.
    Feb 1, 2013 at 13:56

I don't think He has punished every human for one's mistake.

I also don't believe that the world began with Adam and Eve, I think that is the way God used to explain how things worked at that time. And I believe on that based on the scripture when Caem was expelled from paradise and head to a village, if he was going to a village, who lived in this village based on the idea the world began with 2 persons?

Eva would have sex with her children?

A similar thought happens when Jesus said "kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed" NIV

As I'm a person that like to explain the Bible with science(not always, of course), the world got closer to something called Higgs Boson, also know as "God particle", read wiki for more information. Those CERN scientists are trying to find it a long time and, if I'm not mistaken, they got closer to finding it at december 2011. Imagine Jesus explaining it to some people ~2000 year ago, that would sound really weird.

And that is also the reason why Jesus gave all his lessons in parables so that everyone could understand it despite the time, future, past, present... a parable is the same thing forever everywhere.

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    Note: the name "God particle" comes from a book title, and is not the preferred nomenclature used by scientists in the field - it should not be overly confused with any religious connotation Jan 11, 2012 at 20:24
  • @MarcGravell I know that but the idea is that this particle is the particle that generates everything that we know a particle that God created so things could exist...and it makes sense
    – Gerep
    Jan 11, 2012 at 20:30
  • the Higgs Boson does not magically answer all particle physics questions - it is just another piece of a very complex puzzle. I understand the point you are trying to make (I think), but ... the importance shouldn't be over-stated (not under-stated). My main purpose for commenting, though, was to be clear that the crossover between the name "God particle" and this topic (Christianity) is largely arbitrary. Jan 11, 2012 at 20:37
  • you are right Marc, it was just a point to think about and I also know that the boson will not magically answer questions..it will create more questions but will answer some and scientists finding it or not, I'll not doubt the fact that the is a God looking upon us...
    – Gerep
    Jan 11, 2012 at 21:26
  • I think this is the best explanation, not to take it literally, and your reasoning (that people wouldn't have understood) is also good. However I do think God, knowing everything, including the future, would've realised that people would begin to question the Bible because it is too simply put. But this answer has only one problem (unless you can explain that?) compared to the others which have a few more.
    – Jonathan.
    Jan 12, 2012 at 15:05

We are not necessarily "being punished".

We are not held accountable for their sin. Adam and Eve, our first ancestors, became sinful and we have inherited their sinful nature being born from them. Adam failed where Christ succeeded. That is why we must be "born again".

God chose perfectly a man and woman who would represent mankind. Would not all of us at some point be tempted and have walked in disobedience?

  • So I will not inherit my dad's sin, but I will inherit Adam and Eve's?
    – Jonathan.
    Jan 10, 2012 at 22:27
  • @Jonathan You are not inheriting their sin, you are inheriting the sinful nature that they became. Jan 10, 2012 at 22:31
  • surely that's worse, as you then have to make the conscious decision to not sin? Or at least just as bad, why should I have the nature to sin, just because 2 people a long time ago did something wrong?
    – Jonathan.
    Jan 10, 2012 at 22:34
  • It wasn't "wrong". They had no knowledge of right and wrong yet. They knew, however, with the general knowledge of an adult, that they were going in opposition to their maker and provider. God gave them life and abundance and they went in opposition to God out of selfishness. You are actually lucky, because they probably had thought that when God said "in the day that you eat of it, you will surely die" they probably interpreted that as a literal earth day, and thus made the decision to kill everyone in the world since no one would have been born. Jan 10, 2012 at 22:53
  • But a "day" to God is a thousand years (2 Peter 3:8), and Adam lived to be 930 years old. And men after, up until the flood, lived roughly that age, but not exceeded 1000 (to my knowledge). Jan 10, 2012 at 22:57

It is incorrect to assume that God is punishing us, simply because of Adam & Eve's sin. Rather, the story of Adam and Eve teaches us how sin entered the world. Adam and Eve were created and, like children, were innocent. As the first people, their sin is the first sin to blemish this world (hence the term "original sin"). They were punished, but it forever marked the Earth, as well. At the beginning, as they were innocent, God protected them and provided all things for them (similar to how you raise a child). But when they freely chose to sin, they removed themselves from God's protection. The sin was a decision that they did not require God. And so they were left to fend for themselves. Hence our need to till the earth and so forth.

As we have free will, as they did, sin is something we all may choose. Original sin acknowledges that in this world, sin exists, and by being born in this world, we are born with the stain of the original sin. We are not culpable, and so are not condemned for it, but it is a mark on our soul by virtue of the fact that we were born out of this history, or if you want to look at it differently, born in this world with this separation from God evident.

Baptism removes the stain of original sin by repairing this separation. As we are born into this world with this separation, Baptism is a physical act of grace which brings us back into the family of God, and under His auspices. We may still sin, but it has returned us to this original innocence that Adam and Eve were formed in.

Read: THE CELEBRATION OF THE CHRISTIAN MYSTERY from the Catechism of the Catholic Church (specifically VII. THE GRACE OF BAPTISM).

  • You say they removed themselves from God's protection, like how a child grows up. Most parents would rather protect their children than themselves, or rather their children hated them than do nothing to protect them. So by that logic many humans are better people/beings than God.
    – Jonathan.
    Feb 1, 2013 at 13:53
  • @Jonathan. Not quite. God has done everything short of forcing us against our own free will to bring us to Him. He even came to us in the flesh. He instituted the Church. God wants to protect us. But, like a child who refuses its mother's embrace and runs away, so can we. God has done everything He should. All that's left is for us to respond and accept it. That is a basic tenet of Christianity. Feb 1, 2013 at 18:37

Excellent question. It highlights apparent contradictions given God's attributes:

  • A Just God would not blame any human for the actions of another, especially given the action of one were not caused or influenced by the other. A Just God would also not burden humans by birth with a sinful nature either (as some have suggested) and instead would start us off with a clean slate allowing us to believe and live virtuously or choose to go the other way.

  • A Loving God would not indict or punish in a blanket manner.

  • An All Powerful God would not need to take human form for the express purpose of granting forgiveness of a sin committed generations ago by Adam and Eve. He could simply forgive without going through this exercise.

@James Black's discussion of Pelagianism is very interesting and provides some answers to the above conundrum. Those who are interested in a detailed discussion may follow James' links or this one: Pelagius.

An excerpt: "We are born characterless (non pleni), and with no bias towards good or evil (ut sine virtute, ita et sine vitio). It follows that we are uninjured by the sin of Adam, save in so far as the evil example of our predecessors misleads and influences us (non propagine sed exemplo). There is, in fact, no such thing as original sin, sin being a thing of will and not of nature; for if it could be of nature our sin would be chargeable on God the creator. This will, capable of good as of evil, being the natural endowment of man, is found in the heathen as well as in the Christian, and the heathen may therefore perfectly keep such law as they know."


Many answers were given, so if you get all the way here, I'll try to be brief.

First, Adam was punished because God is just. His justice is demonstrated by the fact that he punishes Adam and Eve. The guilty could not remain unpunished and God yet remain just.

Second, the holiness of God is on display here. Holiness cannot be in contact with unholiness.

Third, I could accuse God of being unjust to place on me the responsibility of one man's sin -- but I would then also have to correspondingly accuse God of giving(/offering) me the righteousness of Christ. The logic God applies in Eden is the same he applies at the cross. Either I accept both -- the guilty verdict He placed on me because of Adam, and the righteousness He gave because of Christ -- or I accept neither of them.

18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. (ESV)

  • -1: Wow. Have you ever heard of circular logic?
    – Jim G.
    Jun 28, 2012 at 3:21

God freely bestowed has grace upon Adam and Eve. Thus, when they sinned, God did not commit an injustice by ceasing to bestow His sanctifying grace upon them. Adam and Eve committed a great injustice, the just punishment of which is Original Sin that everyone (except Jesus and Mary) are born with, whose effect is to incline us to sin (concupiscence).


God is love. God is also justice.

His Word never fails (Joshua 21:45). His promise was that "on the day you eat of it, you shall die." (Gen. 2:17) They ate. Their doom was sealed. Satan rejoiced.

If God forgave Adam & Eve, Satan could use that as precedent to insist on the same forgiveness. What God did was postpone the judgment. That's what MERCY is. Justice postponed. In the meantime, they could have kids. The clock ran out for Adam & Eve just before 1,000 years (Psalm 90:4).

But the kids were part of Adam & Eve, so they were under the same judgment and mercy. The clock was still ticking on the whole race of Adam & Eve.

God surprised Satan with this Messiah concept. Since Jesus was full human and full God, only humans could become one with Jesus' death, resurrection and ascension to heaven - not demons. Satan is furious and wishes to kill, corrupt and debase the humans while he has time left. Then he will take his time to torment the humans that join him in hell.

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    As a non-catholic I agree that the Pope's word does fail, however it doesn't add anything to your answer.
    – Greg
    Feb 4, 2013 at 2:21

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