HomeArticlesAdam’s Fall: Is It Historical?

Adam’s Fall: Is It Historical?

As we consider the historicity of the account of Adam’s Fall, we must understand that it is an all pervasive aspect of Christian theology, not just an event that occurred in the past. The apostle Paul spoke of the end times when God would allow people to be deceived by “a strong delusion, that they should believe a lie” (2 Thessalonians 2:11). This end time lie is from “the working of Satan” (2 Thessalonian 2:9). Paul further addressing the church of Corinth wrote, “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3). Paul accepted the Fall as a historical event and warned the first century Christians of history repeating itself. The serpent’s lie was to cause Eve to doubt God’s word which is a lie being repeated today by casting doubt upon the historicity of Genesis.

Jesus Christ also recognized the Fall as an actual event when rebuking the Pharisees of denying Him and the truth He spoke. “Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not” (John 8:43-45). Jesus Himself dealt with the reality of Satan and his lies attempting temptation (Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13). Yet many today deny that Satan is real.

Satan is no longer viewed as a person, according to modern Satanists; he simply represents the evil in each living thing. Anton LaVey, the founder of the Church of Satan, used every media opportunity offered to him to popularize this theory.

Prior to LaVey’s time, the redefined Satan can be traced to the sermons of the nineteenth-century Unitarians, Christadelphians, Universalists, and metaphysicians, such as Mary Baker Eddy and Theosophist writer Madame Blavatsky.1)Walter Martin, Jill Martin Rische and Kurt Van Gorden, The Kingdom of the Occult, Thomas Nelson (Nashville, Tennessee: 2008), p. 395

Others have depersonalized Satan by attempting to portray the Fall as a mythological story. “During the twentieth century, liberal theologians tried to build a case for the existence of myths within the Bible for the express purpose to demythologizing all the myths they had carefully crafted. Those who already denied such things as the virgin birth of Christ and His miracles, for example, were quick to include the myth of Satan as one of their targets.”2)Walter Martin, Jill Martin Rische and Kurt Van Gorden, The Kingdom of the Occult, Thomas Nelson (Nashville, Tennessee: 2008), p. 396 An example of this is Jewish scholar Umberto Cassuto, who in his commentary on Genesis presented this account as mythology with the serpent being Eve speaking to herself.3)Umberto Cassuto (Trans. Israel Abraham), A Commentary on the Book of Genesis, Part 1: From Adam to Noah Genesis 1-V8, The Magness Press (Jerusalem, 1944, first English edition 1961), Vol. 1 He denied that the serpent was Satan because that was a Christian invention not directly stated in Genesis. Walter Martin warned: “Stripping Satan of personhood and mythology makes him as harmless as a kitten.”4)Walter Martin, Jill Martin Rische and Kurt Van Gorden, The Kingdom of the Occult, Thomas Nelson (Nashville, Tennessee: 2008), p. 396

The Bible records the Fall as follows: “Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?  And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:  but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.  And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:1-5). The serpent’s purpose was to cast doubt in God’s statement recorded earlier in Genesis 2:16-17. “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17). Robert Chrisholm explained:

In Genesis 3:2-3 the woman badly garbles God’s earlier words to the man when she attempts to tell the serpent what God said. Among other alterations, she omits the emphatic infinitive absolute when describing God’s provision (v. 2, cf. 2:17), and warning (v. 3, cf. 2:17), but adds the statement “and you must not touch it” to his prohibition. In this way she deemphasizes what God stressed and emphasizes what he did not. When God spoke, one was impressed with the abundant provision he had made available and his concern that the man understood that grave consequences of rebellion. The woman’s report places God in a much harsher light and may explain in part why she seems so willing to rebel against him.”5)Robert B. Chrisholm, Jr., From Exegesis To Exposition, Baker Books (Grand Rapids, MI: 1998), p. 161

Henry M. Morris III similarly expressed this purpose in the lie of the serpent:

There is a twofold denigration in this statement. First, God has lied. He is not holy. He is trying to intimidate. His goodness is all a sham. God has lied.

Second, God is withholding “good” from you. God is selfish. God is not omnipotent. He knows that eating of this forbidden fruit will empower you with the same “knowledge” that God has. If you listen to God, you will remain weak and impotent. Eat and you will be “like God.”6)Henry M. Morris III, The book of Beginnings”: A Practical Guide to Understanding and Teach Genesis, Institute for Creation Research (Dallas, TX: 2012, 2014), Vol 1, p. 180

This same satanic lie—“God is not good”—is frequently advanced by atheists today. Dan Barker from the Freedom From Religion Foundation repeats this lie constantly as the atheist who has participated in the most debates on religious topics. He has published his book God: The Most Unpleasant Character in All Fiction7)Dan Barker, God: The Most Unpleasant Character in All Fiction, Sterling (New York, NY: 2016). claiming God is a “moral monster” and if God truly did exist it would be man’s “moral obligation” to “denounce” Him. 8)see Dan Barker’s opening statement at the Dan Barker—Thomas Ross Debate (November 17, 2015, University of Wisconsin, Whitewater), “The Old Testament is Mainly Fiction, Not Fact.” This strange argument from a man who espouses situation ethics is completely inconsistent with his own thinking. For example, he has said, “there is no universal ought”9)see Dan Barker in Dan Barker-Peter Payne Debate (March 14, 2005), “Does Ethics Require God?,” 34:45. and that “there are no actions in and of themselves that are always absolutely right or wrong… I can’t think of an exception in any case.”10)see Dan Barker in Dan Barker-Peter Payne Debate (March 14, 2005), “Does Ethics Require God?,” 34:45. He claims, “moral values are not real.”11)Dan Barker, “How to be Moral Without Religion,” Campus Atheists and Secular Humanists, Lecture, 10/2006; https://ffrf.org/legacy/about/bybarker/ Moral values cannot be real, if what he says, “there are no objective moral values in the universe”12)see Dan Barker in Dan Barker—Kyle Butt Debate (February 12, 2009) “Does the God of the Bible Exist?,” 35:50. The Bible is an objective source for morals that exists within this universe. If he rejects the Bible and morals then how is it that he can call the God of the Bible a moral monster? What objective source does his obligation to denounce God come from and with what moral system does he apply to judge God’s character as moral or not? This illogical double mindedness is what a secular society would label Schizophrenia. This is an expression of the satanic delusion prophesied of in end times (2Timothy 3:1-9).

Many today view the Genesis account as mythology causing them to not treat Satan as a person based on the presupposition of millions of years. However, the facts we can understand from Scriptures cause us to reject such thinking. The Bible clearly states that:

1) Death came by sin—“by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin” (Romans 5:12)

2) Sin and death are Intruders of God’s “Very Good” Creation—“The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death” (1 Corinthians 15:26)

3) God will restore His Creation to its original design—“The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock (Isaiah 65:25)

4) All living creatures were vegetarians before sin—“And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so” (Genesis 1:29-30).

From these facts, how can millions of years of death and/or evolution be compatible with the Bible? Jesus presented Adam and Eve as historical people that were created “at the beginning” when being questioned about divorce (Matthew 19:3-6). As Charles Ryrie put it: “To accept Christ’s death as factual and Adam’s sin as not is, to say the least, straining the passage to the breaking point.”13)Charles C. Ryrie, Basic Theology, Victor Books (Wheaton , Il: 1986), p. 202 Or to place millions of years of death before Adam’s sin is to mythologize not just the Fall, but also the purpose of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection.

Furthermore, modern science has validated Eve as “the mother of all living” (Genesis 3:20). Genetic research has revealed that the portion of DNA that is inherited from the mother known as mitochondrial DNA, can be traced to a single woman, and the rate of mutations of this DNA cannot permit millions of years. Jonathan Sarfati explains:

In the 1980s, geneticists analyzed mitochondrial DNA from all around the world. They came to a startling discovery (for evolutionists): the similarities indicate that all people on earth are descended from a single human female. Even evolutionists have called her; ‘Mitochondrial Eve’….

However, recent evidence shows that mitochondrial DNA mutates far faster than previously thought. If this new evidence is applied to ‘Mitochondrial Eve’, it indicates that she would have lived only 6,000-6,500 years ago. Of course, this is perfectly consistent with the biblically indicated age of the “mother of all living”, but an enigma for evolution/long age beliefs.14)Johnathan Sarfati, The Genesis Account: A Theological, Historical, and Scientific Commentary on Genesis 1-11, Creation Ministry International (Powder Springs, Georgia: 2015), p. 385

It is interesting how Christians today compromise the Fall of Adam and Eve on the basis of alleged science and long ages when it has been argued that it was specifically the Fall of man into sin that the origin of science is attributed.

Adam was thought to have possessed a perfect knowledge of all sciences, a knowledge lost to posterity when he fell from grace and was expelled from the Garden of Eden. The goal of 17th century scientists such as Francis Bacon and his successors in the Royal Society of London was to regain the scientific knowledge of the first man. Indeed, for these individuals, the whole scientific enterprise was an integral part of a redemptive enterprise that, along with the Christian religion, was to help restore the original race to its original perfection. The biblical account of the creation thus provided these scientists with an important source of motivation, and in an age still thoroughly committed to traditional Christianity, the new science was to gain social legitimacy on account of these religious associations.15)Peter Harrison, “The Bible and the Rise of Science,” Australasian Science, 2002, 23(3):14-15

Harrison elaborated that because the Fall affected the mind of man (Ephesians 2:30), it was the desire to restore man’s mind to its pre-fallen state:

For many champions of the new learning in the seventeenth century the encyclopaedic knowledge of Adam was the benchmark against which their own aspirations were gauged….

The experimental approach, I shall argue, was deeply indebted to Augustinian views about the limitations of human knowledge in the wake of the Fall, and thus inductive experimentalism can also lay claim to a filial relationship with the tradition of Augustinianism.16)Peter Harrison, The Fall of Man and the Foundation of Science, Cambridge University Press (Cambridge, UK: 2007), introduction

The “Augustinian view” that science is indebted to is to express the fallen nature of man. “Before Augustine the anthropology of the church was exceedingly crude and indefinite.”17)Phillip Schaff, History of the Christian Church: Nicene and Post-Nicene Christianity from Constantine the Great to Gregory the Great A.D. 311-590, Hendrickson Publishers (Peabody. MA: 1867, 2011), Vol 3, p. 785 During the Pelagian Controversy, Augustine’s arguments against Pelagius was the major contribution of developing a clear expression of inherited sin. Charles Ryrie stated:

Inherited sin is that sinful state into which all people are born.

Theologians have used several labels to describe this concept. (1) Some call it… inherited sin. This emphasizes the truth that all people inherit this sinful state from their parents, and their parents from their parents, all the way back to Adam and Eve. (2) Others call it the sin nature which focuses on the fact that sin has corrupted out entire nature. The term “sin nature” provides a clear contrast between that root nature and its fruits (which are particular acts of sin). (3) Still others prefer the term original sin because Adam’s original sin produced that moral corruption of nature which was transmitted by inheritance to each succeeding generation.18)Charles C. Ryrie, Basic Theology, Victor Books (Wheaton , Il:1986), p. 218

Stephen Jay Gould, an atheistic scientists, gave one of the greatest expressions of the sin nature without even realizing he was confirming the Bible by writing what he did.

For example, E. O Wilson (1978, p. 99) writes: “Are human beings innately aggressive? This is a favorite question of college seminars and cocktail party conversations, and one that raises emotion in political ideologues of all stripes. The answer to it is yes.”19)E. O. Wilson, On Human Nature, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA: 1978,), p. 99 As evidence, Wilson cites the prevalence of warfare in history and then discounts any current disinclination to fight: “The most peaceable tribes of today were often the ravagers of yesteryear and will probably again produce soldiers and murderers in the future.” But if some peoples are peaceable now, then aggression itself cannot be coded in out genes, only the potential for it. If innate only means possible, or even likely in certain environments, then everything we do is innate and the word has no meaning. Aggression is one expression of a generating rule that anticipates peacefulness in other common environments.20)Stephen Jay Gould, The Mismeasure of Man, W. W. Norton & Company New York, NY: 1981), p. 329-230

It is not that the specific sin of a violent temper that is innate in every person, but the sinful nature bulges with the potential of murder in anyone individual. This lasting effect of Adam’s Fall is also evidence that speaks loudly of it being a historical fact. Children are most obviously born with a sin nature (Genesis 4:1; Psalm 51:5). No child has ever had to be taught how to sin, they just do it naturally. Any parent can vouch for that fact. Why is it that one of the first words a child will learn is “no”? It is because young children hear it so frequently since they are constantly following the natural inclination of the sinful desires which translates to disobeying their parents.

Further evidence is thorns which exist because God cursed the creation after sin was introduce into it. Genesis records God’s words: “cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee” (Genesis 3:17-18). The fact that all men die is evidence enough that all men sin and have a fallen nature which points us back to the historical Fall of Adam. “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12). Scripture plainly compares the historical value of Jesus Christ with that of Adam—either they are both historical figures, or neither one is. “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:21-22). This verse also explains that Christ was manifested to reverse the curse which occurred because of Adam’s sin. Jesus Christ took upon Himself the curse to redeem man from the curse. “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13). The curse depicted in thorns and thistles were woven together as a crown and pressed into the scalp of our Redeemer (Matthew 27:29; Mark 15:17; John 19:2). The curse of Sin was upon the sinless Savior: “the chastisement of our peace was upon him… and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:5-6) The curse that brought death brings us to view the love of God Who sent His Son to die for us. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

It is necessary to recognize the full account of the Fall as described in Genesis as a historical event. If the serpent was not a real figure, than neither is the promised seed of the women—Jesus Christ (Genesis 3:15)



Heath Henning
Heath Henning
Heath heads the Set Free addictions ministry on Friday nights at Mukwonago Baptist Church and is involved in evangelism on the University of Wisconsin Whitewater campus, offering his expertise in apologetics at the weekly Set Free Bible Study every Tuesday evening. He currently lives in East Troy, Wisconsin with his wife and nine children. Read Heath Henning's Testimony

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