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Fall of Man

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A bright light beams out on Adam and Eve from behind the tre Wellcome V0034189

The Fall of Man (also called "The Story of the Fall" or "The Fall") is the story in the book of Genesis in the Torah (Old Testament) of when Adam and Eve, in God's eyes, lost their innocence. Genesis says that Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge even after God told them it was not allowed. Adam and Eve lost their innocence and were thrown out of the Garden of Eden, where the Tree of Knowledge was. In Christian religion, all of man lost their innocence because Adam and Eve disobeyed God and had to be punished, so man can now tell good from bad and life from death.

The Fall, for many Christians, means that humans could not make themselves holy enough to get into Heaven when they died. The only way they became able to get into Heaven is when, as they believe, Jesus Christ sacrificed himself and made it possible for people to get back into Heaven.[1]


Many people in Judaism, Christianity and Islam believe the story of the Fall as fact, but their explanations of it are sometimes different. The Fall is not talked about in The Old Testament, but Adam being thrown out of Eden is (in Genesis 3), and what happened in Genesis and what happened in the Qur'an are very different.


Islam believes that The Fall was just a historic event and did not change human nature at all.[2] It believes that, because Adam ate from the Tree of Knowledge, he and his wife were thrown out of the Garden of Eden and forced to work and suffer. But God still gave others who were still loyal to him the chance to get into Heaven.


According to Jewish tradition the biblical story tells that Adam and Eve had the free will to rebel against God's first commandment. God's first commandment was not to eat from the fruits of the Tree of Knowledge in the middle of the Gardenof Eden. Adam and Eve ate from its fruits and had to pay a price. They were thrown out of the Garden of Eden, which is called Paradise. Further on they had to suffer and work for a living. Furthermore Adam and Eve became, as the bible tells, "like God". They got the gifts of knowledge, wisdom, selfawareness - things that distinguishes humans from animals.

Judaism teaches ever since Moses that Adam and Eve did not sin but simply did not obey God's commandment. They were the first humans and had no experience with Gods commandments. Adam and Eve were innocent of God and his commandments. Therefore they barely could sin at all. Judaism teaches that a sin is personal. It believes that a sin is a disobedience of God's commandments. Judaism teaches ever since Moses that any sin could not be inherited by others. Sins can not be inherited by other people, not to babies, children or adults, especially not to the entire human race. Judaism believes that no one ever has inherited an Original Sin. Likewise Judaism believes that no one needs a special counteragent against it. Judaism teaches that, if required, every person should take-the-inward-turn, should take stock of oneself. Any person feeling sinful or guilty may pray directly to God and ask for forgiveness. Any person feeling sinful or guilty may beg for somebody's personal pardon, if one has to make up for something. Judaism teaches that every person can get to heaven and - once more - near to God. It teaches that no one has to become Jewish or someone special to get to heaven.

The very basic Jewish teachings of the story of The Fall are:

  • God loves all humans on earth ( God loves all people )
  • all humans on earth basically are "very good" (no human on earth and no people basically is sinful or bad)
  • all people are asked to use God's gifts reasonably (the gifts are: life on earth, free will, knowledge, self-awareness, human virtues)
  • Judaism is asked to use God's gifts even more responsible
  • Judaism is asked to stay loving loyal with God (loyal with the enlightening Jewish burden and joy of obedience to God's commandments )


Adam and Eve about to eat from the Tree of Knowledge, good and evil

In general, Christians believe that everyone who was related to Adam was born with sin and would never make it into Heaven. Jesus, who was related to Adam only through his mother, and had no sin, died for everyone who had sin, cleaning them. They believe that whoever believed in Jesus Christ was given a "second chance" to get back into Heaven, shown in John the Apostle's Gospel: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16) Some types of Christianity have slightly different ways of viewing this, described below.


Catholicism believes that people are born sinful, but have free will, and so they can clean themselves of their sin and can get into Heaven after the grace of God has changed them so that they want to do that; without this "first grace" the sinful people do not want to "go to Heaven".[3]

Calvinism and Puritanism

Calvinists believe that God chooses the humans who were going to go to Heaven and those who were not. Humans do not get a choice in "spiritual matters".

Puritans took this one step farther. Puritans said that humans could do nothing to be able to get to Heaven. They said that no matter how good a person was, if he had not been chosen by God at birth, he would not go to Heaven. However, one could lose the right to go to Heaven by being bad.

Protestants believe that when Jesus sacrificed himself, he made man free from sin forever. Other people believe that when Jesus sacrificed himself, man was free from sin but he was not certain that he would still get into Heaven.

Liberal Christianity

Some Christians say that the story of The Fall in Genesis 3 never happened but is just a myth or story that the Israelite people used to show that the relationship that man had with God is gone.

This view is quite neutral towards history. It says Bible stories that man failed in the Garden of Eden and needed to be saved are explanations of deeper spiritual truths. Some also say that Jesus Christ was God trying to start a new relationship with man.[4]

Eastern Orthodox

Eastern Orthodoxy believes that a son is not guilty of the sins of his father (so sin is not passed down from Adam). They believe that men and women are forced to sin because of the world around them and thy have to try and resist if they want to go to Heaven. But they still believe that Adam caused all humanity to have to work for this.[5] The emphasis on free will is great: even the sinful people can be saved through synergy with God's grace.


Pelagianism says that humans are capable of freely choosing good or bad decisions without God's help and that humans are not born with Adam's sin.[6]


Mormonism believes that The Fall was part of a plan thought up by God so that His children could get into Heaven.

Mormons say that when Adam ate from the Tree of Knowledge it was not wrong, but was just a "demotion", like going from one good job to another, less good job. A step down but progressing in a forward direction. Mormons refer to The Fall as a Transgression. For Mormons a sin is the act of doing something contrary to the known will of God and to do so willing with full knowledge. Transgression, on the other hand, is the violation of a law or rule. So for Mormons, all sins (willfully disobedience) are transgressions but not all transgressions (violations) are sins. Since Adam didn’t have knowledge of good and evil before partaking of the forbidden fruit, so his act was a transgression of the law, not a sin against the law. Before eating the fruit, Adam could never die. Because he could never die, he could never go to heaven. Eating the fruit made it so that Adam could die, so that later he could go to heaven. It also made it so that Adam and Eve could have children, so that everyone would have a chance to live, die, and go to heaven. Mormons say that if one follows the Plan of Salvation, that person can go to heaven. Mormons believe that:

  • We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.
  • We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.
  • We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.[7]

Unification Church

Unification Church believe that Adam and Eve had s before they were married, and so they got thrown out of the Garden of Eden. They believe that a Blessing Ceremony can "wash" this sin away.[8]

Unity Church

The Unity church believes that "The Fall of Man" has an important meaning but that it is not a true historic event.[9]

Unitarian Universalism

Uniterian Universalists believe that people are inherently good, and that it is their most precious gift, free will, that allows people to sometimes act wrongly, rather than predestination or external temptation. The Fall is story, metaphor, allegory, not a history. [10]

The Fall in books

Philip Pullman wrote a series called His Dark Materials and he says in the book that The Fall was a good thing. It was when humans became free to learn. Pullman believes that it is not worth being innocent if the price is not knowing the truth.[11]

C.S. Lewis wrote a book called Perelandra where Adam and Eve were on the planet Venus rather than the classic Garden of Eden.

Albert Camus wrote a book called The Fall where a man tells another man in a bar in Amsterdam called "Mexico City" why he did not want to rescue a man who was trying to kill himself by jumping off a bridge into a canal.

In the manga (or comic-book) Neon Genesis Evangelion, The Fall is often talked about, and at the end, an attempt to clean Adam's sin is performed and a new genesis is started.

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