Eve's comment to Satan in Eden seems to indicate that she and Adam believed that eating of the forbidden tree would result in absolute death.

They likely had witnessed the death of animals and would have understood what that sort of death was like. Catholics subscribe to the belief that the physical body is all that dies and the soul continues alive. This sounds very much like what Satan told Eve: "Thou shall certainly not die" (Genesis 3:4).

Do Catholics believe that Satan lied to Eve or that he revealed to her that she had an immortal soul that until then she was unaware of?

  • I don't think Catholic dogma asserts that Adam and Eve were even literal human beings, so I don't think this question can be answered as it is written. – Flimzy Oct 31 '15 at 18:59
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    As far as I know, the Catholic church has no official answer to that question. Multiple Popes have acknowledged that the theory of evolution does not conflict with Catholic doctrine. See here for more. – Flimzy Oct 31 '15 at 19:23
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    @Flimzy What does Pam's question have to do with the theory of evolution? – Geremia Oct 31 '15 at 19:34
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    @Geremia: Evolution is incompatible with a literal Adam and Eve. So if the Catholic church accepts evolution as a possibility, that means they also do not demand that Adam and Eve are real, so any questions about "How does the Catholic church explain X about Adam and Eve?" can't have a definite answer. – Flimzy Oct 31 '15 at 19:36
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    @Flimzy actually evolution isn't incompatible with a literal Adam and Eve. But that's for chat, not comments, – Matt Gutting Oct 31 '15 at 23:13

Adam and Eve in the state of original innocence possessed preternatural gifts: "bodily immortality, infused knowledge, and immunity from concupiscence."¹

St. Thomas Aquinas addresses the question "Whether the first man knew all things?,"² saying:

…the first man was established by God in such a manner as to have knowledge of all those things for which man has a natural aptitude.


The first man had knowledge of all things by divinely infused species.

Thus, Adam knew his soul was immortal.

Also, Pope Leo X (1513-1521) wrote in his bull Regiminis, Session VIII, Dec. 19, 1513, of the 5th Lateran Council that:

…we condemn and reject all who assert that the intellectual soul is mortal…

I understand Flimzy's objection in the comments below that "'all those things for which man has a natural aptitude' is a far cry from 'everything naturally knowable'" to mean that although Adam may have been potentially able to know all things naturally knowable, whether he actually did is unknown. Regarding this, St. Thomas, before the passage I quoted above, wrote:²
In the natural order, perfection comes before imperfection, as actuality precedes potentiality; for whatever is in potentiality is made actual only by something actual. And since God created things not only for their own existence, but also that they might be the principles of other things; so creatures were produced in their perfect state to be the principles as regards others. Now man can be the principle of another man, not only by generation of the body, but also by instruction and government. Hence, as the first man was produced in his perfect state, as regards his body, for the work of generation, so also was his soul established in a perfect state to instruct and govern others.
Thus, Adam had actual knowledge of "all those things for which man has a natural aptitude."


  1. Parente, Pietro, Antonio Piolanti, and Salvatore Garofalo. Dictionary of Dogmatic Theology. Milwaukee: Bruce, 1951. p. 228.
  2. Summa Theologica I q. 94 a. 3 c. & ad 1
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As a Catholic, I believe that by virtue of their having been created in God's image, Adam and Eve had immortals souls, and that their physical bodies had also been meant to be immortal. In that sense, the devil was lying to them with the deceitful motive of making them disobey God's commandment. The punishment they got was death of the physical body, not of the soul. To me , the devil does not appear to have discussed the immortality of the soul, even as he was enticing Eve to eat the forbidden fruit. Remember that the issue of death was first mentioned by Eve to the devil, and not vice versa (Gen 3:3).

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    Is there such a thing as a dead soul? – Kris Nov 12 '15 at 11:42
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    The issue if of death was first mentioned by God who said ta eat the fruit you will die but what did Eve think those words meant? – Kris Jan 18 '16 at 4:07
  • I see where you are going with this, but I have to suggest one mistaken point, I do not believe that the punishment that our first parents received was the death of the Physical body, indeed, that does eventually happen, but the punishment is the separation from God, the life of the body and soul, which is eternal. We are not headed for an existential existence but a bodily one. Life, is life eternal in the presence of God, Death is Life eternal in the absence of God. I just read this, I have not pondered on it for a year =-) – Marc Dec 16 '16 at 17:32
  • @marc having pondered for a year now do you find the statement: "death is life eternal in the absence of God" a logical one? – Kris Nov 16 '17 at 14:01
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    @kris. It is interesting to read the Hebrew translation. It does not just say die, where in other instances it does say just die or death. It says, die the death or Die die. I believe that the the true death, that which was defeated by Christ, is mans eternal separation from God due to the transgression and our inability on our own to repair that which is missing . You might also call that seperation "hell". I do agree that death, which is spoken of here. I the eternal absence of God. – Marc Nov 16 '17 at 14:53

The question implicitly misunderstands the nature of the human soul's immortality. The soul is what continues into the kingdom of heaven when a child of God physically dies. Jesus gave many clues of what this kingdom is like, but nowhere in the Bible, or anywhere else, do we have a clear description. This may be because it is impossible for us to envisage a status outside of time and space. If science has proved anything at all, or if the entire scientific edifice is anything but drivel, then any rational discussion is forced to the conclusion that Adam and Eve were allegorical characters in the superb introduction to the Bible found in Genesis 1-11. In this case the question of what Adam and Eve thought simply doesn't arise - either in Catholicism, or in any other religious perception.

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  • Most characters in the Bible are taken as real people in real history. Job may be an exception - we don't know if this is allegorical or not. The schematic introduction to the Bible, in Genesis 1-11, is regarded as allegory, and is flagged as such by the peculiarly Hebrew literary device of extending the nominal lifetimes to impossible lengths (as we can now confirm by molecular biology). The transition from allegory to history is indicated by the gradual stepping down of lifetimes until plausible numbers are reached. In so doing there is no loss of spiritual intent in the narrative. – Gordon Stanger Nov 1 '15 at 22:24
  • Opinion-based? Of course it is. Whenever a faith-based view deviates from established scientific reality then that deviation must inevitably be opinion-based. – Gordon Stanger Nov 2 '15 at 4:52
  • There always seems to be a disconnect when a scientist uses Scripture on the same level as science. If there was no Adam & Eve, then it's all a bunch a hooey, made up to make people feel better about themselves. This is why the Catholic Church teaches without any doubt that the Human race began with 2 people, created by God with human souls. The details, time frames, geography, lineage, genetics, genealogies, or evolution are not the purpose of the early writings, using science to contradict scripture is like using an apple to define love. – Marc Dec 16 '16 at 17:44

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