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Creation and the Fall


Catholic Doctrine

The Catechism of the Catholic Church outlines the doctrine of creation as being carried out by the word of God being facilitated by the Holy Trinity. This coordination between the Holy Trinity and the word of God is described with reference to God as “...the One who alone made heaven and earth” (Catechism, 75, emphasis added) for the purpose of showing forth the glory of God (see also Isaiah 43:1 and Psalms 115:15, 124:8, and 134:3). The creation of the universe, although splendid and magnificent, is not complete but continually evolving towards a state of future perfection as designed and destined by God.

The creation of man was accomplished in the image of God (Gen. 1:27), with our first parents, Adam and Eve, being composed “...in an original state of holiness and justice...” (Catechism 375) amalgamating the spiritual and material worlds as male and female within the friendship of God. As individuals, humans are of great worth, having dignity, “self-knowledge,” and the ability to interact and commune one with another. The earth and all creation are given to and purposed for man; conversely, the purpose of man is to “...serve and love God and to offer all creation back to him” (Catechism 358).

As God’s creations, man is given freedom to choose for himself, with the ultimate hope that he will choose intelligently and with love that will perfect the work of the creation and lift up others towards their ultimate destinies in mortality and beyond.

Latter-day Saint Doctrine

Latter-day Saint doctrine purports that Jesus Christ created the earth and all that is upon it (plants, animals, seas, and all else), while having created many other worlds in the process (sun, moon, stars, and other material things that constitute the universe). Jesus performed the creation, which was done spiritually before being executed physically, through the power of priesthood and by delegation from God the Father.

After the creation of the physical environments and non-human creatures came the greatest of all creations—mankind. Mankind, both man and woman, were created in the image of God with spirits clothed in bodies of flesh and blood. Adam and Eve were the first man and woman to be put upon the earth, physically patterned after our heavenly parents whom we left in the premortal existence. The creation of the earth and of mankind demonstrates the power, wisdom, and love of Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father.

See chapter 4 in Catholic Roots, Mormon Harvest for a more comprehensive explanation and commentary on the Creation

The Fall of Adam and Eve—Original Sin

Catholic Doctrine

Catholic doctrine suggests that the fall of Adam and Eve, commenced through their own temptation in the Garden of Eden at the hand of the devil, led to decay in their trust in God, the abuse of free will, and outright disobedience. Because of their breaking the commandment against partaking of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, Adam and Eve were immediately stripped of the holiness they obtained through the creation, and developing a distorted image of God of whom they then became much afraid. The fall of Adam eventually led to spiritual disharmony across a broad life spectrum, including interpersonal tensions, loss of spiritual control, lust, and obsession with domination. This decay included the world and all that was in it.

The Catholic Church links man’s proclivity towards evil and destruction to the creation and fall of Adam, spawning the doctrine of original sin, in which all humans are born afflicted with a sin transmitted from Adam as a result of his and Eve’s fall. Original sin, as well as the justice of Christ through his infinite atonement, comes through the “unity of the human race” in which the transmission of the sin is thought to be a mystery and beyond the comprehension of man (Catechism 404). Original sin can only be removed through baptism, including infants who have not committed personal sin themselves. Even after baptism the fall of Adam creates a dynamic whereby the devil has assumed “certain dominion” over man, despite his free agency. See Catechism 397, 399, 400, and 403 to 408

Latter-day Saint Doctrine

Latter-day Saint doctrine on the fall begins with the understanding that Adam and Eve were valiant spirits in the premortal existence and given the assignment to be the first man and woman to live on the earth. It was their mission to bring mortality into the world according to our Heavenly Father’s plan. When they assumed their places in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve had physical bodies, but were not yet mortal and therefore unable to have children and exempt from death. Because they were in the presence of God, Adam and Eve had a spiritual life, but were unable to understand the difference between good and evil.

Adam and Even were given two key commandments by God: (1) to “multiply and replenish the earth,” and (2) to not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Just as he does today, Satan entered the Garden of Eden with the intent of tempting Adam and Eve to break the commandments of God, seeking to destroy the plan of our Heavenly Father. When Adam learned that Satan persuaded Eve to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, he chose to do likewise in order to remain with Eve, leading to what we refer to as the fall. As a result of the fall, Adam and Eve became subject to the consequences of their disobedience: They were cast out of the Garden of Eden, became mortal beings, and were consigned to live in a world much different from the garden. In this world, Adam and Eve and all their descendants would be subject to suffering and physical death. The trial and training of mortality had begun. Perhaps more importantly, the fall brought about a spiritual death that created a separation from God. Adam and Eve and their posterity lost the opportunity to have face-to-face communication with God. That separation from God was further aggravated by Satan’s introduction of evil into the world. The fall brought about both physical and spiritual death that would eventually be reconciled through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

Despite the introduction of physical and spiritual death and its consequences, the fall is seen as the commencement of Heavenly Father’s plan of salvation. This commencement is a great blessing to all of mankind. This blessing included the obtaining of physical bodies of flesh and bone, the prospect to choose between good and evil, and the opportunity to take full advantage of the Atonement and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Considering the state of Adam and Eve before the fall in the Garden of Eden, none of these blessings would have been available without the fall. The sin of Adam and Eve belongs solely to Adam and Eve and is not inherited by any of the descendants of Adam. The second Article of Faith states: “We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression” (AOF 1:2). The fall of Adam brought forth mortality, but man does not carry Adam’s sin.

See chapter 4 in Catholic Roots, Mormon Harvest for a more comprehensive explanation and commentary on the Fall of Adam and Eve.

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