Death before Sin?
by John D. Morris, Ph.D.
"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)
Modern evangelicals have found it fashionable to accommodate Scripture to the concept of a very old earth. These views all do serious harm to Scripture, including the current compromise of choice, the "framework hypothesis," which holds that the passages which seem to deal with science and early history contain only "spiritual" truth, but not factual content. Each such attempt to accept vast ages before the appearance of man has many flaws, but perhaps the most damaging to the Christian faith is the problem of death before sin.
The Bible plainly teaches that "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). Before Adam and Eve rebelled, animals ate only plants (Genesis 1:30). Death came as a result of sin and the curse: "For in the day that thou eatest thereof |the forbidden tree| thou shalt surely die" (Genesis 2:17). The first death in all of creation occurred when God provided Adam and Eve animal skins for clothing. Sin always brings death. "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). Indeed "the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now" (Romans 8:22). That this is not referring to spiritual death only is clear from today's verse, which deals with physical resurrection from the dead. Just as Adam's sin brought death on all creation, so Christ's resurrection brings victory over death.
But here is the problem. If death existed before Adam, then death is not the penalty for sin. How, then, did Christ's death pay the penalty for our sin? If death is not tied to Adam's sin, then life is not tied to Christ's death and resurrection, and the Christian faith is all in vain. JDM