"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). "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive" (1 Corinthians 15:22).
Much has been made of Adam's transgression in the Garden of Eden. It is widely believed among Christians that if it wasn't for the disobedience of this one man to God's commandments, the earth and those who live upon it would still be living in a paradisiacal state today.
However, the question has often been asked: Since God is perfect, why did He create an imperfect being? And if God created a being who was capable of sinning, then is it not God's fault when that being violates His laws? The usual answer is that God gave man his free will to decide for himself, and, unfortunately for the rest of us, the first man choose to use that freedom to follow Satan rather than God. Had he chosen to obey, death would not have entered the world and the rest of mankind would have been saved from the horrible consequences of sin.
The counter argument is, that since God knows everything, then He surely knew that Adam would transgress. Then why did He create man knowing he would turn against his God? The standard explanation given is that God doesn't want us to be a bunch of mindless robots who follow His will without any thought. He wants us to love Him because of our own desire to do so. Therefore, the responsibility to obey or not to obey was purposefully given to man. However, rather than being appreciative for all that God had given him, Adam willfully and deliberately chose to obey Satan in order to satisfy his own selfish lusts.
There are several problems with these answers. For one, when God pronounced the sentence of death on Adam, He also cursed the ground. Thorns and thistles came forth and the earth would no longer easily yield up its fruit. Adam had to work hard to accomplish that which had once been easy for him to do. The animals were also affected by this curse and became violent with one another. Thus, death and hardship entered into every part of the earth's creation.
But what if Adam had obeyed the Lord's commandment? Then surely he would have lived forever, seeing that there was no need for the curse of death to come upon him. That also means the earth itself as well as the animals wouldn't have been cursed. But what would have happened if one of Adam's children - let's say Cain - chose to disobey God? Or what if all of Adam's children obeyed God, but just one of his grandchildren transgressed the laws? What would happen to the rest of mankind in that case?
Would the children of the righteous not become contaminated with a sinful disposition, while those who were born of the disobedient parent inherit such a condition? More than that, what would have happened to the earth? Would only a small part of the earth become cursed while the vast majority remained idyllic? Would only some animals become ferocious while others of the same species remain docile? And what about death? Would the righteous be incapable of dying, no matter what the sinner did to them while the sin-prone children of the unrighteous still die no matter how good they were?
And, since everyone has their free agency, is it reasonable to assume that from generation to generation no one would ever sin, even once?
According to Biblical calculations, Adam lived almost seven thousand years ago. Are we to believe that God fully expected that in all that time not one person would ever sin? After all, if Adam was capable of following a different course than God's, then each and every descendant of his would also have that same God-given freedom. Is it realistic to think that if Adam had not sinned, nobody else would have either? Therefore, if it wasn't Adam who transgressed, then it certainly would have been someone else. As such, it is a foregone conclusion that, before He created Adam, God must have anticipated and even expected sin to enter the world at some point.
Then there is another problem with free will. If God gave man his agency to freely decide for himself, couldn't God have made a being who would have been more inclined to follow His ways? For example, anyone who has ever had a puppy knows how loving and faithful they can be. If treated with tender care from the beginning, a dog will show its master unwavering faithfulness. There are countless stories of how dogs have risked their own lives to save that of their master. Who hasn't witnessed the excitement and joy a dog has when its master returns from even a short absence? And when a good master dies, it's not unusual for dogs to become melancholy and genuinely morn their loss. There is no more faithful being than a dog. But does such qualities mean that the animal has no freedom to behave any other way? Of course not, because we know that not all dogs are so loyal.
Then there are cats. Although they are lovable, they possess a completely different temperament. They are aloof and haughty, choosing to live the lifestyle they want and not that which their master desires. For the most part, they are not as affectionate as dogs. Usually, they don't seem excited and happy when their master returns. They will let you pet them only on their terms, not yours. It's quite obvious that cats have a very strong sense of free will.
Therefore, we should ask ourselves: Who created cats and dogs? The answer is: The same Being who created man. Then why didn't God create us with the same kind of tendency to be faithful and obedient like He did with dogs? Or, to ask the same question in reverse: Is it impossible for God to create a being who can be totally faithful and still have complete free agency?
To answer that question, all we have to do is look at the angels in heaven. Who created them? And are they not faithful to God, their Creator? From all indications, they are extremely faithful in doing His will. In fact it was Jesus who taught us to pray that the Father's will be done on earth, just like it's done in heaven. Does that mean angels don't have the freedom to do anything else but be obedient? There's no indication that they are lacking the agency of free will. In fact, the scriptures indicate that Lucifer was once a very powerful angel but rebelled against God. Why then did God create man with a strong inclination to be disobedient and unfaithful when He could have just as easily created him with a different psychological makeup?
But it's worse that. If we look at the story of the fall, it seems that it didn't take Adam and Eve long to become disobedient. From the Biblical account, it appears that God had no sooner left them alone than they transgressed His word. Why did God create a creature who couldn't be trusted for even a short period of time to do what was right? This isn't a case of someone having free will and making a small mistake after eons of faithful service. According to what most Christians believe, this is a case of someone almost immediately disregarding God's ways and was quick to embrace evil. The gift of free will doesn't explain why man was created with this fondness for rebelliousness, especially when we realize that God could have made man anyway that He wanted.
The scriptures tell us that "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13, emphasis added). Obviously, God has a good reason for everything He does, and that He works in man according to "his good pleasure." In other words, it pleases God to deal with man the way He does. If that is true, then it must have pleased God the way He made Adam in the Garden of Eden.
The scriptures also explains that, "the creature [man] was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope" (Romans 8:20, emphasis added). It wasn't an accident that man was designed the way he was. Man didn't take on his rebellious condition willingly by his own choice. He deliberately was made to be subjected to vanity by God according to His own good pleasure. And what was the reason God made man this way? The scriptures tell us He did so "in hope."
The next question we need to ask ourselves is: In hope of what? What was God hoping for when He created the first man? Certainly, He wanted a being who would worship Him. After all, do not the angels worship God? Does He not expect those who accept His offer of salvation to worship Him? In the Bible we read of several heavenly visions where people have witnessed all kinds of creatures worshipping God. Thus, one of the conclusions we can make is that God made man subject to vanity in hope that he would come to worship his Creator
But why would God create a man who could not receive "the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Corinthians 2:14) if God was so desirous of man's worship?
Before we can answer that question, we need to understand more about God's plan. It was Jesus who said, by way of a parable, "Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" (Matthew 25:34). It is clear that God fully expected man to be obedient, so much so that He prepared a kingdom in heaven first, before He had even laid the foundation of the earth.
Then did something in God's plan go wrong? Did man somehow foil God's plan? Was the offer of Jesus Christ to be our Savior something that was thought up after man had sinned, or did God, from the very first, make man with the expectation that he would sin? The Bible states: "Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world."(Acts 15:18). There is no doubt that God knew from the very beginning, when He prepared a kingdom in heaven for the faithful and obedient, that sin was going to come into the world. It wasn't of a matter of it might happen. It was a foregone conclusion that it would happen.
The apostle Peter said of Jesus that he "was foreordained before the foundation of the world" to be the savior of mankind (1 Peter 1:19). Think what that means! Before man was ever created on the earth, before the animals were ever placed on the earth, before vegetation was ever planted on the earth, before the seas covered the earth, before the earth itself was even formed, and it's very foundation was laid, it had already been decided that Jesus Christ would die for the sins which man would make!
God knew from the beginning we would sin. God expected man to sin. God created us with the disposition to sin. This was His plan from the very beginning.
But why? Why would God do such a thing? What good purpose was there to such a plan? What good pleasure does God get out of seeing us sin? What was God hoping for by creating in us the tendency to be unfaithful to His ways?
Traditional Christianity doesn't have the answer to these questions because the Bible doesn't provide an explanation. Although the Bible does give us some clues and hints, there is no clear understanding of why Adam was created the way he was. Thus, without additional information, Christianity is left to decide on its own the answers to these puzzling questions. However, the answers theologians provide are not based on scripture but on private interpretations and scholarly opinions.
On the other hand, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has additional scriptures which help clarify the words of the Bible and gives us better insight to what the Bible only alludes to. Instead of scholars who use the intellect of their mind to decipher the words of God's prophets as recorded in the Bible, we have the words of other prophets of God, not included in the Bible, which gives us further understanding of God's ways.
Furthermore, in the early Christian church, scripture was interpreted and explained by holy men who were guided by divine inspiration. As Paul taught, "And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets" (1 Corinthians 14:32). In other words, it takes a prophet to understand the mind and words of the prophets. And without a church that has living apostles and living prophets, to help the saints come to a unity of the faith, we are left to be "tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men" (Ephesians 4:11-14).
So what is the answer to our questions? In the Book of Mormon we read "And to bring about his eternal purposes in the end of man, after he had created our first parents, and the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and in fine, all things which are created, it must needs be that there was an opposition; even the forbidden fruit in opposition to the tree of life; the one being sweet and the other bitter. Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other...
"And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end. And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin.
"But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things. Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy. And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day, according to the commandments which God hath given. Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself" (2 Nephi 2:15,22-24).
This is why God created man the way He did. Without knowing good and evil man would forever remain innocence, thereby forfeiting the ability to learn and grow in wisdom. Without being given the opportunity to reject God, man couldn't fully accept his Creator. Without the chance to choose a course different from God's, man would have no free will. So God created man, knowing he would sin, but not until He had already provided a way to redeem man from his sins. Thus, having the means to be redeemed, man was thereby free to choose eternal live or captivity and death for himself. God did this in hope that men would choose eternal life, yet knowing that many wouldn't.
As such, God gave man two of the greatest gifts He could bestow. The first was life in a mortal state, with its opportunity to know good from evil and thereby grow in wisdom and knowledge. The second was free will that allowed man the privilege to decide for himself what he wanted to do with the life and knowledge God had given him. And both gifts were impossible to achieve fully without the fall.
Yet, to help man overcome the effects of his fall, God provided the means to redeem man even before He ever created the first person upon the earth. Thus we see that Adam didn't thwart the plan of God by his actions in the garden of Eden. He didn't even create a problem in the plan of God. Instead he fulfilled the plan which God had designed from the very beginning, which plan called for the fall of man.
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