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Were Adam and Eve created perfect?

by Dr. Eitan Bar
3 minutes read

“God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31).

In our quest to comprehend the intricate subtleties of religious texts, we often grapple with abstract concepts that defy easy understanding. One such notion is the distinction between “good” and “perfect,” especially when considered within the realm of divine creation. The debate, primarily, revolves around the premise that what is created as “good” is not necessarily “perfect.”

Is the creation perfect?

Scriptures consistently define the creation as “good,” but nowhere do they pronounce it as “perfect.” This distinction forms the basis of a critical conversation surrounding the nature of existence and the perceived role of God in it.

Consider natural phenomena like earthquakes, volcanoes, and hurricanes. These are intrinsic components of our planetary existence, and while they can cause profound damage, they also contribute to the vital processes that support life on Earth. For instance, volcanoes create fertile land, while hurricanes can distribute heat around the planet. So, in a “good” creation, these events find their place.

However, the notion of a “perfect” world may not accommodate such seemingly destructive elements. But then, where is it stated that God only introduced these elements post the fall? Nowhere in the scriptures do we find such claims, and suggesting otherwise (like pointing to Genesis 3:18) would be considered eisegesis.

What is “perfect”?

The standard for perfection is God. God’s traits include Omniscience (all-knowing), Omnipresence (ever-present), Omnipotence (all-powerful), and Omnibenevolence (all-loving). If humans were to attain all knowledge conceivable, transcending the realm of “good” and edging towards perfection, we would still fall short. Despite attaining vast knowledge, we wouldn’t necessarily be “perfect” because we still lack the other divine traits. Therefore, we cannot say that Adam and Eve were created perfect. In fact, they were created finite and limited in many ways that affected their thought process and decision-making.

Were Adam and Eve ever perfect?

God’s perfection lies in the fact that there is no necessity for any alteration in His Being, Essence, attributes, decrees, or Persons. God and His perfections are one (as suggested by scriptures such as Malachi 3:6, Numbers 23:19, Psalm 102:25-27, 1 Samuel 15:29, Revelation 22:13, and others.) If God’s nature were susceptible to change through addition, subtraction, infusion, or any other means, it would signify an imperfect nature. Any form of change, whether for better or worse, implies imperfections in the object subject to change.

In contrast, Adam and Eve were created as finite beings with a capacity for learning and growth. This indicates that they weren’t created perfect, but good. Here, “good” implies that they were bestowed with free will. However, free will, when coupled with limited knowledge, inevitably leads to sin. Hence, while they were created good, the potential for sin was an inherent part of their nature due to their capacity for choice and limited understanding.

What’s the meaning and purpose of life anyways?

So, it’s necessary to ask: why do we assume that the purpose of life and creation is to attain perfection? An alternative, arguably more profound perspective suggests that the purpose of life and creation is the journey of knowing and understanding LOVE.

This approach brings us to the somewhat paradoxical role of sin. Love, grace, compassion, and their ilk are only truly understood and appreciated in the face of sin. Thus, sin is not an anomaly but a crucial part of the learning process that allows us to grasp these profound concepts. How else would it be possible for Adam and Eve to understand and experience the full depth and extension of God’s love, grace, and forgiveness if it weren’t for their sinning in rebellion?

Christians following Augustinian doctrines (such as Calvinists) see Genesis chapter 3 as God’s “plan B” set in motion by human disobedience. However, I would claim it’s inaccurate to view Genesis chapter 3 as God’s “Plan B.” Instead, sin, within this understanding, serves a purpose. It illuminates the path towards grasping the deeper notions of love and grace, steering us away from the pursuit of unreachable perfection and redirecting us towards the more attainable goal of goodness. Perfection will eventually come, but not in this lifetime (Revelation 21-22).

Undeniably, sin, with its destructive potential, can cause pain, suffering, and upheaval. It distorts the harmony of relationships, erodes trust, and often propels us into a spiral of remorse and guilt. In this sense, sin is indisputably detrimental. Yet, it is also within this harsh reality of sin that we find an opportunity for growth and maturity.

Humans are not robots. Machines cannot sin; humans can. As counterintuitive as it may seem, sin serves as a catalyst for learning. Each misstep or lapse in judgment, while unfortunate, also brings forth an opportunity to reflect and reassess our choices. Sin provides a harsh but effective mirror, reflecting our fallibility and need for grace and forgiveness. It reinforces our human limitations and our constant need for divine guidance.

In essence, sin helps us mature by instigating introspection and repentance. It can lead us to seek forgiveness, not just from God, but also from those we have wronged. In this process, we can learn to exercise humility, demonstrate empathy, and extend compassion—integral aspects of personal and spiritual growth.

Through the acknowledgment and confrontation of our sins, we are prompted to learn about mercy, grace, and redemption. These are the very experiences that shape our understanding of divine love, allow us to grow in faith, and ultimately foster maturity. Thus, while sin does cause pain, it paradoxically also becomes a tool that helps us navigate our spiritual journey toward wisdom and understanding.

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Dr. Eitan Bar
Author, Theologian, Activist