No Defect in God’s Creations
We know that the Father, who exists beyond our physical universe, is absolute complete perfection in all ways. He is what we call existential, meaning that He knows everything by His mere existence. There is nothing He needs to learn or experience first in order to know it. All knowledge exists in Him, by Him and through Him. He knows all. Since God is perfect, He is also good, and all His works are righteous.
“The Lord is righteous in all his ways and faithful in all he does.”
– Psalms 145:17
“He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.”
– Deuteronomy 32:4
Man, on the other hand is experiential, meaning that he must experience things to know them. The need to acquire experience implies that perfection is not his starting point. At his creation, man was not absolute, not complete, and consequently not perfect. But imperfection is not sin. Imperfection is incompleteness – there is much for man to learn. He is like a babe learning to walk. When the baby falls, he is not sinning. He is learning to perfect the art of walking. Likewise, man was not created perfect, but he was created sinless.
There are creatures and creations in the heavens that are created perfect, but developing man must be fallible if he is to be free. Free and inexperienced intelligence cannot possibly at first be uniformly wise. The possibility of mistaken judgment (evil) becomes sin only when the human will consciously endorses and knowingly embraces a deliberate immoral judgment.
We have historically viewed mankind as beginning on earth with a perfect Adam and Eve, and rapidly degenerating, through sin, to man's present deplorable estate. But a careful review of the Genesis account does not say that Adam and Ever were created perfect. Rather it states:
“God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.”
– Genesis 1:31
There is a difference between being ‘perfect’ and being ‘good.’ Adam and Eve were ‘good’ in that their bodies and their mental facilities and capacities were up to God’s standards for earthling man. They were fully equipped for God’s purpose. But they were imperfect and incomplete because they had a great deal to learn. But, again, imperfection is not sin.
However, Adam and Eve failed in carrying out their purpose to ‘be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.” (Genesis 1:28) They made a significant error. This was sin.
Although the Genesis account is a summary account suitable for the mind of the early nomadic Hebrew tribesmen, it can teach us much about evil and perfection. And we must also keep in mind that the way God is described in these early books of Moses is a limited and veiled understanding and expression of God’s true nature.
“Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts.”
– 2 Corinthians 3:15
The account in Genesis tell us that after placing Adam and Eve in the Garden:
“And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
- Genesis 2:16-17
There are several interpretations of what the “tree of the knowledge of good and bad” represents. Some believe the ‘fruit’ of the tree had some special properties that would enlighten them as to what was good and what was bad; others believe the tree represented God’s right to decide for Adam and Eve what was good and bad, and God kept that right to himself. Neither of these interpretations seem correct to us.
Before eating from the tree, both Adam and Eve understood what was good and what was bad – they certainly understood that not eating of the tree was good, and eating of the tree was bad. And it does not seem logical that God would give man the ability to exercise free will and then tell them that only He had the right to exercise it.
Rather, it seems to us (and this is not dogma) that the tree represented the combining of good and evil. God was telling them that good is not to be achieved by a bad method. In other words, the ends does not justify the means. We will have to await a future revelation from God to know exactly what sin Adam and Eve committed, but we can learn from the account that God’s creation was not defective.
By laying the command, God was establishing his divine will. Adam and Eve could choose to abide by it or not. Yes, they could choose to ‘eat’ of the fruit or they could choose ‘not to eat’ of the fruit. Accordingly, God was creating the potential for evil– the potential to turn away from and reject the divine will.
When Eve was alone, the account tells us a “serpent” suggested that she should turn away from the divine will as a means to help her achieve her objective (whatever it was.) (Genesis 3:1-5) Thus the “serpent,” who has been identified by many as the Devil, first brought evil to the earth when he thought to entice Eve, and he then brought sin to the earth when he took the overt act of deceiving Eve into taking of the “fruit.”
In turn, Eve began to look longingly at the “tree” (Genesis 3:6), like a man lusting after a woman not his wife. By this act, Eve compounded evil in the world; and when she took and ate of the “fruit,” she became a sinner. Interestingly, we note that Adam did not commit evil; he had no desire for the tree. Rather he went directly into sin, apparently so that he could share in whatever punishment he knew was to come upon his wife. (Genesis 3:6) The account tells us:
“The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
– Genesis 3:12-13
However, neither Adam nor Eve committed iniquity. They confessed to their wrongdoing, and even though they were ousted from the garden, they continued to the best of their ability to fulfill their commission to “be fruitful and become many and fill the earth and subdue it,” though they and their offspring were deprived of the benefit of a clean conscience and direct communion with God.
They also lost access to the “tree of life” that was also in the garden. This tree appears to be an actual tree since Adam could ‘put his hand out and actually take [fruit] also from the tree of life and eat and live to time indefinite.” (Genesis 3:21) The account says:
“After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.”
– Genesis 3:24
By losing access to the tree of life, their mortal bodies began to deteriorate. We learn from this that the mortal bodies fashioned for Adam and Eve were not imperishable or incorruptible, and thus not perfect. What allowed them to continue living was the life giving properties of this particular tree. What caused them to die was the lack of access to this tree.
These facts show that mankind was not defective. He was imperfect and incomplete because he had a lot to learn. But imperfection is not sin. Sin requires a conscious and deliberate act. There is no other way to give man divine liberty unless there is the potential to reject that liberty. Unfortunately, Adam and Eve made a poor choice, but that does not mean they were defective. They were acting according to what was allowed by the Father, and they reaped what they sowed.
As for us, their offspring, we all have the inherited tendency toward evil, but sin is not transmitted from parent to child. Again, sin is the act of conscious and deliberate rebellion against the Father's will by an individual will creature. The Devil and Satan get far too much credit for evil and suffering in the world.
But the fact that Adam and Eve continued living on earth indicates that the Father’s will continued. The default of Adam and Eve did not thwart God’s purpose.