The Unauthorized Investigator's Guide to
The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints

Lesson 2

Agency and the Fall of Adam and Eve

The Missionaries will Teach...

The first of God's children to come to earth were Adam and Eve.  God created Adam and Eve in His image with bodies of flesh and bones and placed them in the Garden of Eden.  While they were in the Garden, they were in God's presence and could live forever.  They lived lives of innocence, and God took care of them.

God gave agency to Adam and Eve, and commanded them not to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  If they obeyed this commandment, they could forever remain in the presence of God in the garden, but they wouldn't be able to progress by experiencing opposition.  While in the garden, they couldn't experience joy because they could not experience sorrow and pain.

Satan tempted Adam and Eve to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  They disobeyed God and ate the forbidden fruit.  This action had several consequences, and this chain of events is collectively known as "the Fall."  Ironically, the Fall was an essential part of God's plan. Eating of the forbidden fruit caused the following events to occur:

  • God kicked Adam and Eve out of the garden and out of the presence of God (Being separated from the presence of God is known as spiritual death). 
  • Adam and Eve became subject to disease and suffering.
  • They became subject to physical death, which is the separation of the body and the spirit.
  • They could learn and progress.
  • They could have children.
  • Their children would be born into this same fallen state.

This made it possible for all of God's children to come to earth, be tested, and obtain physical bodies.  This process is necessary in order to progress and become like God.

Some Additional Thoughts...

Joseph Smith was fascinated with the story of Adam and Eve and received multiple revelations expounding upon it.  Brigham Young had even more ideas beyond the revelations of Joseph Smith. 

Just as the missionaries will hesitate to tell you everything they know about this doctrine, the church will hesitate to repeat everything that past prophets and apostles have authoritatively said about this doctrine.  There are several possible reason for this.  Some of the doctrines they've taught are uncomfortable, strange and contradict the conceptions that non-Mormon Christians have of Adam and Eve. Furthermore, they just don't seem relevant to helping us understand our purposes in life. It could be argued that these deeper doctrines constitute doctrinal meat, and since investigators are presumably mere babes in the gospel, they must embrace the basic doctrinal milk before they are ready for the meat.  Perhaps the biggest reason is that many of details of these doctrines just aren't plausible from what science has revealed about the history of life on earth, and repeating them just make the church and its prophets seem provincial. 

One troubling aspect of this doctrine is reconciling the commandments of God with the actions needed to forward God's plan.  Mormonism enthusiastically pronounces that the Fall was an essential part of the plan of salvation and that partaking the fruit was the right thing to do, "We and all mankind are forever blessed because of Eve’s great courage and wisdom. By partaking of the fruit first, she did what needed to be done. Adam was wise enough to do likewise" (Russell M. Nelson, “Constancy amid Change,” Ensign, Nov. 1993, 33).  The paradox is why did God command Adam and Eve not to act wisely? Many people have speculations about this, but in general they fail to resolve the paradox.

Another troubling aspect is the concept that modern, bona fide prophets and scriptures have unambiguously and authoritatively taught doctrine that clearly contradicts proven scientific principles.  Specifically, The Book of Mormon teaches the following:

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. (2 Nephi 2:22)

Modern prophets and apostles have consistently interpreted this to mean that before Adam fell, nothing died--people didn't die, nor did animals, plants, or any other biological entity on the planet.  Everything was in a state of perpetual and undying perfection; God created a world that precluded death, and this did not change until the Fall, which happened about 6,000 years ago.  Clearly if this is true, God did not employ anything resembling biological evolution in the creation of life on this planet, and science is tremendously mistaken about the most scrutinized, robust, and fundamental scientific principle known.

Offsite Links

Fall of Adam The Bible Dictionary of the Official Scriptures of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints explains that "Before the fall, Adam and Eve had physical bodies but no blood. There was no sin, no death, and no children among any of the earthly creations. With the eating of the “forbidden fruit,” Adam and Eve became mortal, sin entered, blood formed in their bodies, and death became a part of life. Adam became the “first flesh” upon the earth (Moses 3: 7), meaning that he and Eve were the first to become mortal. After Adam fell, the whole creation fell and became mortal. Adam’s fall brought both physical and spiritual death into the world upon all mankind."

The Fall of Adam and Organic Evolution from the LDS Home Schooling in California website.  This site does a good job of explaining Mormonism's orthodox position on evolution: "One of the questions that often comes up when deciding on science curriculum is, "How do evolution and dinosaurs fit into the gospel plan?" While we don't know all the answers, there are a few things we do know. Before the fall of Adam, all living things lived in the state they were created - meaning that Adam and Eve and all of creation may have lived in the Garden of Eden for millions or billions of years (we don't know) - but we do know that during that time there was no birth and no death. Consequently, creatures could not have been evolving in any way."

Is Evolution Compatible with Mormon Doctrine? (Answer: "Quite simply, no, it is not.") A site written by a faithful Mormon which teaches the orthodox position: "All created things were in a paradisiacal state--a state in which there was no corruption, no aging, decay, pain, sickness, or death." (Joseph Fielding McConkie).

Evolution and Mormonism: A site written by a faithful Mormon which tries to reconcile Mormonism and Evolution (this is representative of the kinds of things you'd hear at BYU's science department).

I Have a Question: In a September 1987 Ensign article, BYU geology professor Morris S. Petersen addresses the question, "Do we know how the earth’s history as indicated from fossils fits with the earth’s history as the scriptures present it?"

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If you have a question or would like to discuss these topics, I suggest that you go to a Mormon-related bulletin board (here are some recommendations). If you'd like to contact me with comments or feedback, you may send an email to