Question: Did procreation exist on the earth before the Fall of Adam?

Table of Contents

Question: Did procreation exist on the earth before the Fall of Adam?

Whether other forms of life passed through procreation and death before the fall is not an issue on which the Church doctrine provides any official stance

The scriptural evidence indicates that Adam and Eve did not have any children or understanding of procreation until after the fall. This is indeed what is taught in church. However, whether other forms of life passed through procreation and death before the fall is not an issue on which the Church doctrine provides any official stance.

There are two primary reasons for questions about procreation before the Fall. One arises from a curiosity about whether or not Adam and Eve had any children in the garden before the Fall. The second reason arises from a hypothesis entertained by some church members about pre-Fall procreation of animals being necessary for organic evolution. (Since evolution requires reproductive success, lack of reproduction rules it out.)

Children before the Fall?

Concerning question source one: The Book of Mormon teaches us that Adam and Eve were innocent, and as long as they were in the Garden, "they would have no children" (2 Nephi 2:23). This is also strengthened in the Bible. Children are not even mentioned until after the fall (see also Genesis 3:16).

Irenaeus[1] said that both Adam and Eve "had no understanding of the procreation of children."[2] He also mentioned that Eve was a virgin in the garden three different times. He went on to say that after the fall, Adam "had lost his natural disposition and child-like mind."[3]

Thus, there is evidence from Biblical, Book of Mormon, and early Christian sources that Adam and Eve did not have children prior to the Fall. The records are silent about whether other living things had offspring.

Life and death of non-human animals before the Fall?

Concerning question aspect two: Although the church has no official position on the occurrence of evolution (other than the creation did not occur ex nihilo), strong opinions have been expressed on both sides of the question. Some have hypothesized that God, being bound by natural laws, used evolution to create what we see now in the fossil record. In order for this to have occurred there logically would have been procreation and death among plants and animals before the fall of Adam.

Some LDS members and leaders have argued that there was no death anywhere on earth prior to the Fall, and such a position also assumes—if only implicitly—that there was likewise no procreation. (See FairMormon Answers article on Death before the Fall.) Other members and leaders have held that, as Elder James E. Talmage said, "life and death have been in existence and operative in this earth for ages prior to [Adam]."[4]


This is a doctrinal or theological topic about which there is no official Church doctrine of which FairMormon is aware and/or for which may learn more about "line upon line; precept upon precept" (2 Nephi 28:30; Isaiah 28:10). Leaders and members may have expressed a variety of opinions or positions. Like all material in FairMormon Answers, it reflects the best efforts of FairMormon volunteers, not an official Church position.


Notes

  1. "Irenaeus," entry in Wikipedia.
  2. Irenaeus, "Adversus Haereses," in III.22.4 Ante-Nicene Fathers, edited by Philip Schaff (Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886)1:455. ANF ToC off-site This volume (circa A.D. 165)
  3. Irenaeus, "Adversus Haereses," in III.23.5 Ante-Nicene Fathers, edited by Philip Schaff (Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886)1:457. ANF ToC off-site This volume
  4. Talmage to Heber Timothy, 28 Jan. 1932, Talmage Papers; cited in Richard Sherlock, "A Turbulent Spectrum: Mormon Responses to the Darwinist Legacy," Journal of Mormon History 4:? (1975): 45–69.. See also James E. Talmage, "The Earth and Man," Address in the Tabernacle, (9 August 1931); originally published in the Deseret News, 21 Nov 1931; subsequently published as a pamphlet by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1931; later published in The Instructor, 100:12 (December 1965) :474–477; continued in The Instructor 101:1 (January 1966): 9–15. FAIRWiki link