Is Creation in a Fallen State?

When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden of Eden (paradise), they fell from grace. In a sense, humanity was tested by God, and we failed. But why did Adam and Eve need to be in paradise, to be tested? It is because they were in an unfallen state, and so it was fitting for them to be in an unfallen place. They did not fall because they were surrounded by a fallen Creation, but because free will chose badly when tempted.

In the world today, humanity is in a fallen state. Whether you are a Saint or a sinner, you are fallen. Jesus and Mary were always in an unfallen state, a state of original innocence (also called original justice). But the rest of humanity is fallen.

The question then arises: Is Creation in a fallen state?

Jimmy Akin argues that Creation is not in a fallen state, and that death and other aspects of Creation are not an indication of a fallen state, but rather the natural state of created things.

I argue to the contrary, based on several considerations:

1. Scripture teaches that death indicates the fallen state.

[Romans]
{5:12} Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into this world, and through sin, death; so also death was transferred to all men, to all who have sinned.
{6:23} For the wages of sin is death. But the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Adam and Eve sinned, and so they were expelled from unfallen paradise, to live in a fallen world. Death entered into this world, into humanity in this life, by sin, which is what caused the fall of humanity.

Now Jesus and Mary died, despite being unfallen — but only because they each consented to the plan of God to use sacrifice and death to overcome the sinfulness of humanity.

Animals and plants die. Although these creatures cannot sin, they nevertheless are in a fallen state. Similarly, the dead body of a sinner is subject to corruption because it is fallen, even though a dead body cannot sin. The sin of Adam and Eve adversely affected body and soul, and the bodies and souls of their descendants. So the fact that animals and plants die is indicative of the fallen state. Death entered Creation by sin. (Whose sin? See the end of this article.)

2. Scripture teaches that Creation is corruptible and therefore fallen.

[Romans]
{1:23} And they exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for the likeness of an image of corruptible man, and of flying things, and of four-legged beasts, and of serpents.

Man is called corruptible, since we are fallen. But this verse also implies that animals are corruptible, since they are grouped with fallen mankind and contrasted with the incorruptible God.

[Romans]
{8:20} For the creature was made subject to emptiness, not willingly, but for the sake of the One who made it subject, unto hope.
{8:21} For the creature itself shall also be delivered from the servitude of corruption, into the liberty of the glory of the sons of God.
{8:22} For we know that every creature groans inwardly, as if giving birth, even until now;
{8:23} and not only these, but also ourselves, since we hold the first-fruits of the Spirit. For we also groan within ourselves, anticipating our adoption as the sons of God, and the redemption of our body.

Here Sacred Scripture is speaking about mankind as a creature, subject to the servitude of corruption (suffering, illness, injury, death). But he is also speaking about “every creature”, including plants, animals, and material objects. These are also in the servitude of corruption and therefore fallen.

3. The earth will pass away

[2 Peter]
{3:10} Then the day of the Lord shall arrive like a thief. On that day, the heavens shall pass away with great violence, and truly the elements shall be dissolved with heat; then the earth, and the works that are within it, shall be completely burned up.

On the last day, God takes away heaven and earth, including “the heavens” (indicating that this event affects the whole universe), and He makes a new heaven and a new earth.

[Revelation 21]
{21:1} I saw the new heaven and the new earth. For the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and the sea is no more.

A new earth is needed because the current earth is corruptible and fallen. A new universe is needed because the current universe is corruptible and fallen. In a sense, the universe “dies” like any fallen human person or animal or plant, and is raised up to an incorruptible state by God in the new earth. (I conceive of this event as a thorough change, a transfiguration of the earth and the universe, rather than a simple replacement.)

If the current world were not fallen, it would not need such a thorough transformation in order to be a fitting place for the incorruptible resurrected just.

4. Other indications of the fallen state

It is not merely entropy, the tendency of things to fall apart, and the death of plants and animals that indicates the fallen state. If Creation (other than man) were in the state intended by God, unaffected by sin, unfallen, then there would be a good order in Creation reflective of the goodness of God. Now to a great extent, such a reflection of the goodness of God remains in fallen humanity and in fallen Creation. But we can see that man is fallen by sin and death, and we can see that Creation is fallen by various indications:

* animals do not merely kill other animals for food, they even kill their own kind
* animals will attack and kill humans, including innocent children

Scripture describes what an unfallen Creation would be (will be) like:

[Isaiah 11]
{11:6} The wolf will dwell with the lamb; and the leopard will lie down with the kid; the calf and the lion and the sheep will abide together; and a little boy will drive them.
{11:7} The calf and the bear will feed together; their young ones will rest together. And the lion will eat straw like the ox.
{11:8} And a breastfeeding infant will play above the lair of the asp. And a child who has been weaned will thrust his hand into the den of the king snake.
{11:9} They will not harm, and they will not kill, on all my holy mountain. For the earth has been filled with the knowledge of the Lord, like the waters covering the sea.

Animals will not kill other animals, even for food, and animals will not kill even a helpless small child, in the new earth.

Other indications that Creation is fallen include: natural disasters, diseases of plants and animals, suffering of animals, and the mass extinctions of many species in a short time (as happened repeatedly in the distant past).

5. The teaching of Pope John Paul II

“The State of Man in Fallen Nature”, General Audience of October 8, 1986:

The biblical author does not hesitate to attribute it to God as a sentence of condemnation. It implies the “cursing of the ground” — visible creation has become rebellious and hostile. St. Paul says that as a result of man’s sin “creation was subjected to futility,” and for this reason also “the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now” until it will be “set free from its bondage to decay” (cf. Rom 8:19-22). This lack of balance of creation has its influence on the destiny of man in the visible world.

The holy Pontiff views the whole of creation as fallen, based on his interpretation of Sacred Scripture. Man’s sin resulted in Creation becoming subjected to futility, in other words corruptible and fallen.

In one homily, Pope John Paul II refers to “the corruptible matter of the universe” (1987). In another homily, he interprets the words of Jesus as indicating the corruptible fallen state of Creation:

At the same time, Jesus points out creation’s corruptible and transitory nature, saying: “Now if that is how God clothes the grass in the field which is there today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, how much more will he look after you.” (1986)

And he interprets Saint Paul as indicating the corruptibility of the universe:

Through the gifts of the Spirit, the Father instills in all man’s being and, in a certain way, in the universe itself, a yearning for this destiny. As St Paul says: “The creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God … because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Rom 8:19-21). (1998)

Creation is in a state of bondage to decay, from which it will be set free. Therefore, it is in a fallen corruptible state, not the natural state intended by God.

When did Creation Fall?

Akin argues that Creation did not fall at the time of Adam and Eve’s fall, by pointing out that death reigned over Creation long before Adam and Eve (even over the dinosaurs). Since I place Adam and Eve’s lives about 50 to 70 thousand years ago, I would have to agree that Creation did not fall at the time when Adam and Eve lived on this earth. However, this proposition does not imply that the Fall of Adam and Eve is unrelated to the fallen state of Creation. Pope John Paul II says that man’s sin brought all creation into a state of futility, i.e. the fallen state. For God did not create futility and corruption.

How can this be? Adam and Eve fell in the paradise of Eden, which is not in this world; it is a place, but not one that is contiguous with this universe. God acts to create certain “places” (in a sense places) that are discontinuous with this world: heaven, purgatory, hell, and even the paradise of Adam and Eve. Such places are not only separate from Place in this world, but also Time. As scientists say, time is a fourth dimension; it is distinct but inseparable from the three dimensions of place.

Thus, when Adam and Eve fell in Eden — beyond the Place and Time of this world — God could allow Creation to fall as a consequence, going back to a time well before the time when Adam and Eve lived on this planet. And that is one reason that the earth has long been in a fallen state, even millions or billions of years ago.

But there is another reason also. We human persons are not the only created persons who have sinned. Very early in Creation, perhaps billions of years ago, sometime after the universe was initially created by God, the holy angels were tested. They did not yet have the Beatific Vision of God. All angels were created as sinless and holy persons, analogous to Adam and Eve before the Fall. They were tested, perhaps by being shown God’s plan to become a man in Jesus Christ and by being told to worship Him. Some angels sinned by pride, refusing to worship God-made-man, and they fell from grace.

This fall of some angels may have occurred even before the earth began to be formed 4.55 billion years ago (as scientists now estimate). But in the original plan of God for Creation, the angels had (and the holy angels still have) an important role interacting with Creation, with things, plants, and animals, as well as people. When Adam and Eve fell, it was fitting that they fell in body as well as in soul, for their bodies were subject to their souls. In an analogous manner, material Creation was subject to the angels. So when some angels fell, God ordained that material Creation would also fall.

So here are two reasons that Creation fell (eons ago) — the sin of Adam and Eve, as well as the sin of some angels.

More about Adam and Eve, including my argument that they lived 50 to 70 thousand years ago, is found in my book: Noah’s Flood: Literal or Figurative?

by
Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and
translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

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5 Responses to Is Creation in a Fallen State?

  1. Nicholas says:

    Akin’s comes close to reifying (or perhaps deifying) entropy. Reification is the fallacy of treating a concept as if it were a real object. First he states entropy as a concept:

    “Entropy is a very important concept in the sciences.”

    In physics a concept is an interaction between two objects. In entropy a system, e.g. an ocean interacts with its outside environment in this case the air.

    Akin: The entire physical universe, so far as we can tell, is entropic, or subject to entropy.

    The entire physical universe? The universe is a concept (space + matter). So a concept is now subject to another concept known as entropy? Entropy and Thermodynamics can only be used in the context of at least one bounded system with an external environment. By definition, the Second Law of Thermodynamics is a system-specific law. If one cannot draw a boundary around the system (like the whole Universe) then the Second Law does not apply. The universe is neither an open, closed, or isolated system. It is not even a system. The universe is unbounded. Space is nothing. God did not create nothing. God created all matter in simple form, i.e. atoms (ex nihilo) and shaped it into objects: stars and galaxies otherwise known as the light. Space surrounds stars and galaxies. Stars do not exchange heat, work and matter to nothing. Is it hot in space? Stars exchange heat to other objects, e.g. a human body standing on planet Earth. An exploded star exchanges matter to a cloud of dust and gas moving in a galaxy, etc.

    Akin also proposes the myth that entropy causes stars to shine and gets you and me to get hungry as well as the dinosaurs. Then Akin transfers entropy over into the theology of Aquinas and Saint Paul as if to equate science and theology.

    Entropy is not some mystical god which rules all things. He comes close to committing the common irrationality that main-stream mathematicians commit to the great harm of society. They reify/deify concepts, e.g. a 0D singularity created space, time, matter and energy; space (otherwise known as nothing) expands, time stretches, 0D black holes suck up all in their path, mystical dark energy accelerates the universe (itself a concept). They rather sneakily have turned concepts into mystical gods which influence all things.

    Since we are on the topic of creation I’ve meditated on Genesis One and studied cosmology for years and there is no question that some of these modern theories are fraudulent. They are fables. They fall into Saint Paul’s prediction:
    {4:3} For there shall be a time when they will not endure sound doctrine, but instead, according to their own desires, they will gather to themselves teachers, with itching ears,
    {4:4} and certainly, they will turn their hearing away from the truth, and they will be turned toward fables.

    As for creation in a fallen state: I agree with you Ron. A state is a concept not an object. A concept is a relation, an interaction. Created objects are to some extent in a disharmonious relationship. Even the most basic objects, the atoms are fallen. An atom is to some limited degree in disharmony with all other atoms since all objects from the simple to the most complex are connected:

    I saw the interior, the organs of man as if in the flesh, in corporeal, corruptible images of creatures, as well as their relations with one another, from the stars down to the tiniest living thing. All exert an influence on man. He is connected with all of them; (Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich)

    So atoms are in a fallen interconnectedness. If a single thing is fallen all things are fallen. Jesus drew all things to Himself on the Cross. Thus at the consummation He will cast the miraculous fire dissolving everything down to simple objects i.e. atoms (like the beginning) and miraculously reshape all things new, a new solar system and new earth, etc. All the new objects, from atoms to galaxies will be in perfect harmony.

    I agree with your reasons for this fallen state, especially the idea of the angels influencing objects. But not the 4D idea. My opinion is there is no fourth dimension. Idea worshipping mathematicians reify time. Time is an abstract concept. It does not resolve to an object. God did not create time since it is not an object (intrinsic shape). Since it has no shape it has no location and therefore does not exist. God only created time in the sense that he created human persons who generate the concept of time. This concept facilitates cognition and is communicated through language and clocks. Knowing they would do this God facilitated their understanding by shaping the solar system as it is.

    In my view God always knew Adam and Eve would fall and made modifications in view of their Fall, long before they had fallen. He allowed some fallen angels to remain amongcreated things, especially Earth instead of separating them in Hell. God predicted the course of fallen creation in Genesis 1:5: And to the darknesses God calls Night. Night is the course of fallen things.

  2. Nicholas says:

    truly sorry Ron. I’ve been a little carried away lately. I now think that mainstream/academic science is a whitewashed sepulcher. They are not even doing science. Their assumptions tend to be irrational. They make things up. An analogy would be mainstream/academic theology as opposed to something like say your theology.

  3. John Platts says:

    What would have happened if only Eve did eaten from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, but Adam did not eat from that tree? Would humans still have been in a fallen state if only Eve had eaten from that tree but Adam did not do so?

    • Ron Conte says:

      My answer is that Adam and Eve have the same human nature, so they responded in much the same way; they both fell. Anything more than that is highly speculative.

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