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Atheist Question: How Come Adam Didn't Physically Die When He Ate The Fruit?
When I did some research I found this question came from an theistic evolution web site called "10 Theological Questions No Young-Earth Creationist Can Answer." It's a shame that atheists can use a Christian web site as a way to attack the Bible and the truth of scripture. But, one thing atheists get right is that, when they read Genesis, what they see is a claim that God created everything in six days. A claim that dirctly opposes evolution. So that can't let that go, and neither can some theistic evolutionists. If you are interested, there is an excellent book that totally destroys theistic evolution. It's availble on Amazon here. But, let's not waste any more time and get to the question:
The Specific Question: "If the punishment for eating from the tree was that Adam and Eve would physically die, why didn’t they physically die?"
To know the answer you need to understand sin and death. Today we are born dead. We are dead in our sins (Ephesians 2:1) and we are born sinners. However, Adam was not. He had not sinned, and so was not dead in his sin... until he disobeyed God and ate the fruit. Sin brings death.
What is death? There are two types of death. We are all very familiar with physical death. Our body stops functioning. Everyone will go through physical death. But physical death is not the end. For some people, after physical death comes the second death, which is also described as separation from God. Because of our sin (disobeying God), we all have earned the second death. And considering that all good things come from God, realize what separation from God means. You are totally separated from everything that is good. That's why the second death is called hell or the lake of fire. It's not good. It is an eternal existence in which there is NOTHING good... ever.
I said that SOME people experience the second death. That means there are some people who do not experience the second death. Who are they? They are sinners who deserve the just consequences their sin (disobeying God) has earned. And justice demands that this penalty be paid. It was earned, and it must be paid. But this second group of people have believed in Jesus Christ. But more than that, they believed... they are trusting that Jesus Christ paid the penalty they've earned for sin, and paid it in full. He went through the second death instead of them, freeing them from the penalty for sin so they can come into the presence of God (that's called heaven).
That's the answer. There's no contradiction in the Bible. Adam sinned and immediately died... he died the second death. In addition, physical death came into the world. Before he sinned Adam was perfect physically and would have lived forever. When he sinned he, and the rest of the universe, changed. They became corrupted and everything started dying. We see that in biology today. Life is not evolving upward and getting better. It is a known fact that random mutations are neutral (they do nothing), or they are detrimental. That means we are not getting better (evolving upward), but generation by generation we are going downhill. We are dying individually, and the human race is dying.
Why do I Face the Consequences of Adam’s Sin When I Did Not Eat The Fruit? (GQ)
What Does It Mean That All Have Sinned? (GQ)
Inheriting Adam's Sin (GTY)
YOU DON'T HAVE A CHANCE
What you believe does not determine reality nor truth. That would make you god. But you ARE NOT god. You don't control the universe. You cannot change reality. Let's try an experiment. At about midnight stand in the middle of the road just around a corner where it is hard to be seen... at night, wearing all black. When headlights start lighting up the curve, just believe that whatever is coming does not exist. Stand firm, if you don't believe a vehicle is coming, then nothing is coming. You are perfectly safe... until reality hits.
You are now standing before Jesus. You are dead. It's judgment day. You don't want to believe it's Jesus and you will be judged. But it is. That's reality.
Judgment only takes a moment, the verdict is obvious, and you know it is correct. You are guilty. You've lied, stolen and sexually lusted after others (Matthew 5:28)... you have disobeyed God. Trusting Jesus is the only answer, but it's too late. You had your last chance just before you died.
You know it's no use to protest, but still you scream out, 'I didn't know!'
But you did know. All of creation declared God's glory, His invisible attributes, and His power. You have no excuse. You willingly rejected Jesus Christ (God).
Is this you? Are you saying, 'Hell isn't so bad, I'll be with my friends.' You know that's not true. There are no friends in hell. No beer... not even water to cool your lips. There is NOTHING good in hell.
So I beg you, consider these words. Trust Jesus as having paid your penalty for every way you've have rejected God. Trust Jeus to save you from hell and bring you into the presense of God.
Trust Jesus. Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved. - Acts 16:31