Why did Adam sin in the first place? This is a question that many skeptics view as creating a logical problem for believers. After all, if we sin because of our sinful or fallen nature, but Adam had an uncorrupted nature, then what propelled him to sin?
One skeptic put it this way:
We are not told much about what Adam knew but I think we can presume he know God created him, Eve and Eden. He trusts god and god has told him he will die if he eats the fruit. So, only a complete moron would chose to eat the fruit. And I presume most don’t believe God’s creation was idiotic. So was his choice simply arbitrary?
It makes no sense to me unless he had inside him either a tendency to disobey, or an instinct of curiosity to go beyond Gods rules which were clearly dictated to him by god , directly. If this was the case, he must have been created with the seed to establish all sin. Indeed it would seem that the other activities in Eden were pretty insufficient applications of free will. I suppose naming things requires a choice, but this can be arbitrary (in fact how could it be other than arbitrary?). So what are Adam and Eve to do with their free will, keep choosing to not eat from a tree and ignore the serpent… And the serpent is a whole other problem.
To begin to tackle this question, we need to keep in mind what is meant by “sin” and “sin nature.” Sin occurs when the thoughts or actions of a free will being depart from God’s perfect will. Sin can be serious or minor – at least from our perspective – but all sin has in common the aspect of rebellion against God. Rebellion begins with the recognition that there is an authority at work, a person who is in charge of things and who has the power to enforce his rules. Implied in this is the further recognition of distinctness, of being separate and apart from that authority. Finally, there is relationship, a set of interactions between the authority and the subject which delineate the nature of the relationship. Man is, at present, by his very nature locked in a struggle of rebellion against God. But Adam and Eve were not; they walked in harmony with God, at least initially.
Adam and Eve were, presumably, happy in the Garden. How could they not find “paradise” to be wonderful? But how much they knew of God, how close they actually were to him, is not entirely clear. As time passed, they began to use their intellect as all free-will beings do: they began to question that line of demarcation between God and them. They began to question the rules, to begin to seek advantage in the relationship. No longer content with the many good things God had provided, their minds began to consider what things he was not providing, or what things he created that he forbade them to possess. They wanted to become more like him.
The skeptic presumes that Adam’s uncorrupted nature should have protected him from this temptation. Why was he not immunized to the desire to rebel, contenting himself instead with fellowship with God? Christians believe that all of Adam’s descendants lack the capacity to fully resist temptation, but did Adam lack this also?
It is, of course, impossible to answer the question with certainty. The only information we have on the subject comes from the Bible, as we have no direct access to details of Adam’s thoughts and actions. And the Bible doesn’t answer the specific question that is raised.
I think the answer begins with recognition of what Adam and Eve’s nature actually entailed. Though they were uncorrupted, they were not perfect. They did not have perfect knowledge of God, nor were they in some way infallible. Did they know what life “outside” the Garden would be like? Did they have a conception of what toil, painful labor, disease, mortality would entail? Did they have a clear picture of what they were about to give up? Perhaps they did not, and what they did come to realize was that there were things that were being kept from them – knowledge or power that God possessed that they did not. I would not characterize this as a “tendency” to disobey. Tendency suggests that they were pre-built to have such a setting, but this is not required. It may simply be that they questioned, and they didn’t like the answers they were coming up with. Was this an “instinct” to go beyond God’s rules? No, I wouldn’t characterize free will that way, as it implies a lack of control. An animal’s instincts to eat or to mate are not contemplative; they cannot choose otherwise.
But what Adam and Eve did in the Garden was different. Perhaps they moved forward more purposefully than it initially appears. I think it is noteworthy that the tree in question relates to the knowledge of good and evil. Eating of it would forever change the equation between God and man. Perhaps they felt they could approach God as equals, rather than creator and subject. Why they would give up paradise is a puzzle. They should no doubt have seen God in all his glory as worthy of worship. Perhaps God somehow distanced himself from them, so that (as with us) they could not fully experience him.
In the end, Adam and Eve’s fall came from desire. They saw what they wanted – knowledge and with it power and perhaps even equality with God– and they knew that something – no, someone – stood in their way. It was neither an instinct nor a tendency to rebel. It was the desire to be like God.
But again, we can never know for sure. What we can know is that whatever Adam and Eve’s potential, for us here, now, the choice of whether to rebel is no longer ours. Whether to accept God’s forgiveness, and whether to move forward to restored relationship with him, however, is.
Posted by Al Serrato