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Lesson 4 - The Fall of Adam and the Gift of Agency


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I'm into lesson 4 of the manual (Religion 275) now. 

There's a section on page 16 that list all the effects which resulted in the Fall.

Invite students to study 2 Nephi 2:19–25 and make a list of the effects of the
Fall—the things that happened to Adam and Eve after they partook of the
forbidden fruit. Then ask students to write items from their lists on the board.
(Note: Looking for lists within a scripture passage is a scripture study skill you
might teach with this passage; see Gospel Teaching and Learning [2012], 23.) The list
should include the following: Adam and Eve were driven out of the Garden of
Eden; they brought forth children; they entered a probationary state; they became
lost and needed repentance; and they experienced opposition, which allowed them
to experience good and evil and use their agency wisely.

I had a question about the last one - "and they experienced opposition, which allowed 
them to experience good and evil and use their agency wisely".

Didn't Adam and Eve experience opposition before the Fall in that all the allowable
trees were permissible to eat but the forbidden tree was in opposition?

Did Adam and Eve have agency in the Garden but they were not able to use it either 
wisely or foolishly before the Fall?

Tony

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They had agency and opposition before the Fall.  Were it not so they would never have had commandments, temptation, or the ability to choose to partake of the fruit.

But the amount of agency we have is limited by the conditions we are placed in.  Wrong choices usually limit future agency, good choices provide more choices for our agency.

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3 hours ago, marineland said:

I'm into lesson 4 of the manual (Religion 275) now. 

There's a section on page 16 that list all the effects which resulted in the Fall.

Invite students to study 2 Nephi 2:19–25 and make a list of the effects of the
Fall—the things that happened to Adam and Eve after they partook of the
forbidden fruit. Then ask students to write items from their lists on the board.
(Note: Looking for lists within a scripture passage is a scripture study skill you
might teach with this passage; see Gospel Teaching and Learning [2012], 23.) The list
should include the following: Adam and Eve were driven out of the Garden of
Eden; they brought forth children; they entered a probationary state; they became
lost and needed repentance; and they experienced opposition, which allowed them
to experience good and evil and use their agency wisely.

I had a question about the last one - "and they experienced opposition, which allowed 
them to experience good and evil and use their agency wisely".

Didn't Adam and Eve experience opposition before the Fall in that all the allowable
trees were permissible to eat but the forbidden tree was in opposition?

Did Adam and Eve have agency in the Garden but they were not able to use it either 
wisely or foolishly before the Fall?

Tony

Adam and Eve were figurative Biblical characters.  They never existed as actual living human beings in other words they are fictional biblical characters.  The fall also if it ever actually took place is also figurative and was not a literal event for how can an actual event take place when it involved fictional characters?  This is all navel gazing or speculating on how many villages were on Tatooine

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Just now, Fair Dinkum said:

Adam and Eve were figurative Biblical characters.  They never existed as actual living human beings in other words they are fictional biblical characters.  The fall also if it ever actually took place is also figurative and was not a literal event for how can an actual event take place when it involved fictional characters?  This is all navel gazing or speculating on how many villages were on Tatooine

You are welcome to that opinion.
Others have differing views.

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15 hours ago, marineland said:

.............................I had a question about the last one - "and they experienced opposition, which allowed them to experience good and evil and use their agency wisely".

Didn't Adam and Eve experience opposition before the Fall in that all the allowable trees were permissible to eat but the forbidden tree was in opposition?

Did Adam and Eve have agency in the Garden but they were not able to use it either wisely or foolishly before the Fall?....................

The manual writer failed to read 2 Nephi 2:22-23,

Quote

...if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end.  And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin.

Adam & Eve knew no sin and had no agency before the Fall, thus leaving Eve and Adam innocent in eating the figurative forbidden fruit.  Without opposition there is no agency.  The Genesis Creation and Garden Story is a ritual story enacted in a temple, just as it is today.  Adam & Even (not their real names) can be any of us performing that ritual and taking on oaths and making covenants.  No scholar considers it a historical narrative or geological account, either of which is absurd.  The manual writer does not understand the text of Genesis.

Edited by Robert F. Smith
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2 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Adam & Eve knew no sin and had no agency before the Fall, thus leaving Eve and Adam innocent in eating the figurative forbidden fruit.  Without opposition there is no agency.  

They were tempted before partaking and falling therefore opposition.

They were commanded not to partake and chose to partake anyway before having fallen therefore agency.

Sorry, your statement isn't in evidence.

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3 hours ago, JLHPROF said:

They were tempted before partaking and falling therefore opposition.

They were commanded not to partake and chose to partake anyway before having fallen therefore agency.

Sorry, your statement isn't in evidence.

You need to reread the 2 Nephi 2 quotation I provided.  That is the evidence.  Ignoring it won't make it go away.  Moreover, next time you sit in an endowment session, reflect on who you are (not your real name), and ask a few simple questions about what is taking place.  There is no agency for archetypal adam & even before the Fall.  There is agency in the Divine Council, and after the Fall, but no possibility of it in the Garden -- just as a child cannot be held responsible for anything before the age of accountability.  Is that child tempted?  Yes.  Does that child make mistakes?  Yes.  Can he be held responsible for them?  No.

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11 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

You need to reread the 2 Nephi 2 quotation I provided.  That is the evidence.  Ignoring it won't make it go away.  Moreover, next time you sit in an endowment session, reflect on who you are (not your real name), and ask a few simple questions about what is taking place.  There is no agency for archetypal adam & even before the Fall.  There is agency in the Divine Council, and after the Fall, but no possibility of it in the Garden -- just as a child cannot be held responsible for anything before the age of accountability.  Is that child tempted?  Yes.  Does that child make mistakes?  Yes.  Can he be held responsible for them?  No.

I did read the quotation, I disagree with your interpretation.

You are speaking of accountability, not agency.
Agency is the ability to choose.  They may have been innocent but they still had the ability to make choices.  They were still given commandments to follow or not follow.  They were able to act, not just be acted upon.
It also defies logic to say they couldn't be held responsible for their choices made while innocent in the garden.  They literally chose to partake of the fruit and bore the consequences.

Oh, and I completely reject your archetype description of Father Adam and Mother Eve.  They are absolutely actual people, even if the words Adam and Eve are titles that many hold.

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6 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Adam & Eve knew no sin and had no agency before the Fall, thus leaving Eve and Adam innocent in eating the figurative forbidden fruit.  Without opposition there is no agency.  The Genesis Creation and Garden Story is a ritual story enacted in a temple, just as it is today.  Adam & Even (not their real names) can be any of us performing that ritual and taking on oaths and making covenants.  No scholar considers it a historical narrative or geological account, either of which is absurd.  The manual writer does not understand the text of Genesis.

From what I read in 2 Nephi, there was opposition before the Fall and they had agency (the ability to
make choices).

p.s. the manual is approved and printed by the church.

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2 hours ago, marineland said:

From what I read in 2 Nephi, there was opposition before the Fall and they had agency (the ability to
make choices).

p.s. the manual is approved and printed by the church.

The manual is written by a hired writer.  It is not Scripture.  As with the manuals written for Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, etc., these are the opinions of the writers, not of God.

Perhaps if you read the relevant Scriptural passage over to yourself several times, it will begin to sink in:

Quote

2 Nephi 2:22-23, "...all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end.

And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin."

There was clearly no agency for them in the Garden, which means that any mistake they made could not be blamed on them.  They were wholly innocent, like children before the age of accountability.  Indeed, until they ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they could not possibly have known enough to sin.  They were supposed to eat of the tree of knowledge.  That was an essential part of the plan of salvation, which is why it is part of the endowment ritual.  Everyone understood that in the Divine Council.  Our purpose in coming to Earth was to live in a telestial world, and experience the school of hard knocks, without which salvation is not possible.  Adam and eve were not intended to stay in the Garden, which would have been a disaster, just as 2 Ne 2:22 says.

Edited by Robert F. Smith
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3 hours ago, JLHPROF said:

I did read the quotation, I disagree with your interpretation.

You are speaking of accountability, not agency.
Agency is the ability to choose.  They may have been innocent but they still had the ability to make choices.  They were still given commandments to follow or not follow.  They were able to act, not just be acted upon.
It also defies logic to say they couldn't be held responsible for their choices made while innocent in the garden.  They literally chose to partake of the fruit and bore the consequences.

Partaking of the faux "fruit" is part of the ritual.  Indeed, until that "fruit" is eaten,  eve & adam do not know good from evil, which is absolutely essential to agency.  That is the primary lesson of Lehi's Law of Opposition.  Lehi is adamant about their complete innocence and sinless state in the Garden.  How then could they sin?  They have no agency at all.  Instead, like all of us, they are only participants in a standard, eternal rite.  The ordinance carries with it power, an endowment of power.

3 hours ago, JLHPROF said:

Oh, and I completely reject your archetype description of Father Adam and Mother Eve.  They are absolutely actual people, even if the words Adam and Eve are titles that many hold.

Of course they are actual people, just as are you and I in an endowment room.  And they are engaged in the very same ritual that we are, and for the same reason.  Adam and eve are not their real names, as you should already know.  What are they?  "man" and "woman," as are all of us in that same rite of passage.  The "fruit" and "rib" are both figurative, not real.  They are symbolic parts of the ritual.  When Anglican Bishop Tom Wright claims that the Garden is the temple of God, he understands that text -- even though the Anglican Church has no ritual like ours.  How odd that an Anglican scholar understands the context while Mormons do not.

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3 hours ago, marineland said:

From what I read in 2 Nephi, there was opposition before the Fall and they had agency (the ability to
make choices).

I think agency involves more than just the ability to make choices.  There is also the taking on of the responsibility for the outcome of those choices.  Before the fall Adam and Eve could clearly make choices.  They could choose what time to get up in the morning, what to eat for lunch, etc.  But until the partook of the fruit they had not responsibility before God for the outcomes of those choices.  They could not sin, but by the same token they could not be rewarded for doing good.  By partaking of the fruit Adam and Eve became agents for themselves and assumed the risks, and the rewards, of a mortal life.

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3 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

When Anglican Bishop Tom Wright claims that the Garden is the temple of God, he understands that text -- even though the Anglican Church has no ritual like ours.  How odd that an Anglican scholar understands the context while Mormons do not.

The fact that we have instantiated the Eden narrative in a temple rite even after so many centuries of that tradition being lost never ceases to amaze me. I used to be much more traditionalist about Adam and Eve and I used to be thankful to God that I knew how connected we were to the grand scheme of things. I knew the true history of the world, the grand arc, more than those around me. Or so I thought. I've changed my mind since, accepted that I was wrong about many things, but things like this remind me that I am still connected to something ponderous, ancient, and primordial...a mystery more profound and exciting than the casual confidence I lost. The journey from certain to sacred is quite the trip.

Please forgive the bad pun. 

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21 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

The manual is written by a hired writer.  It is not Scripture.

The title "Teachings and Doctrine of the Book of Mormon Teacher Manual" and its distribution
by the church is harmful and misleading if its content is incorrect.

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21 hours ago, ksfisher said:

I think agency involves more than just the ability to make choices.

True to the Faith mentions "Agency is essential in the plan of salvation. Without it, you
would not be able to learn or progress or follow the Savior. With it, you are “free to
choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose
captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil” (2 Nephi 2:27).
"

You are free to choose and act, but you are not free to choose the consequences of
your actions. The consequences may not be immediate, but they will always follow.
Choices of good and righteousness lead to happiness, peace, and eternal life, while
choices of sin and evil eventually lead to heartache and misery.

Adam and Eve chose death.

Edited by marineland
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7 minutes ago, marineland said:

Adam and Eve chose death.

They did choose to live a mortal life, which entails both a physical and spiritual death.  But they also chose the pathway that would lead to eternal life.  And not only for them, but for all who would come after them and choose to obey God's commands as well.

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On 9/16/2021 at 3:33 AM, Robert F. Smith said:

The manual writer failed to read 2 Nephi 2:22-23,

Adam & Eve knew no sin and had no agency before the Fall, thus leaving Eve and Adam innocent in eating the figurative forbidden fruit.  Without opposition there is no agency.  The Genesis Creation and Garden Story is a ritual story enacted in a temple, just as it is today.  Adam & Even (not their real names) can be any of us performing that ritual and taking on oaths and making covenants.  No scholar considers it a historical narrative or geological account, either of which is absurd.  The manual writer does not understand the text of Genesis.

 

On 9/16/2021 at 6:14 AM, JLHPROF said:

They were tempted before partaking and falling therefore opposition.

They were commanded not to partake and chose to partake anyway before having fallen therefore agency.

Sorry, your statement isn't in evidence.

Perhaps it would be helpful to distinguish general agency (the ability to act as an independent agent) from moral agency (the ability to discern and choose between good from evil). 

Adam and Eve clearly had general agency and were agents unto themselves and faced with opposition in the garden of Eden.  But they lacked moral agency - which leads to more wise use of general agency.  I think that is what the manual was getting at:

Quote

and they experienced opposition, which allowed them to experience good and evil and use their agency wisely.

I think it is worded poorly though.  They experienced opposition before the fall.  It was the fruit which caused them to experience good and evil and use their agency wisely due to their newly acquired moral agency. 

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27 minutes ago, pogi said:

 

Perhaps it would be helpful to distinguish general agency (the ability to act as an independent agent) from moral agency (the ability to discern and choose between good from evil). 

Adam and Eve clearly had general agency and were agents unto themselves and faced with opposition in the garden of Eden.  But they lacked moral agency - which leads to more wise use of general agency.  I think that is what the manual was getting at:

I think it is worded poorly though.  They experienced opposition before the fall.  It was the fruit which caused them to experience good and evil and use their agency wisely due to their newly acquired moral agency. 

Very well put.

So, if they lacked moral agency (ability to know good from evil) how then were they held accountable for transgressing the law?
If they weren't accountable when they partook of the fruit but became accountable after taking the fruit does it hold that we are accountable before God for sins committed in ignorance/innocence?
How then do we justify the age of accountability related to baptism?

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1 hour ago, JLHPROF said:

Very well put.

So, if they lacked moral agency (ability to know good from evil) how then were they held accountable for transgressing the law?
If they weren't accountable when they partook of the fruit but became accountable after taking the fruit does it hold that we are accountable before God for sins committed in ignorance/innocence?
How then do we justify the age of accountability related to baptism?

I don't think there was any moral accountability on their part for partaking of the fruit, but there was the natural consequence of a violated law that followed.  For that reason, modern prophets (and scripture) are careful to distinguish their actions as a "transgression" rather than "sin", the latter implying moral accountability, the former is simply a violation of law - based in ignorance, or not.  

I think the original moral fall (sin) was in the hiding from the Lord's voice after they had their eyes opened. 

As you know, any violation of law before the age of accountability is a transgression, not a sin.  There is no moral accountability and need no baptism or remission of sin for exaltation.  It's the same principle. 

Edited by pogi
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5 hours ago, pogi said:

They experienced opposition before the fall.  It was the fruit which caused them to experience good and evil and use their agency wisely due to their newly acquired moral agency. 

I would argue that the general "opposition" which they experienced before the Fall, ie the presence of Satan, is insufficient to fulfill the measure of Lehi's concept of opposition, which is totalizing: "opposition in all things." 

I'd also argue that if we don't have concepts of good or evil then it becomes hard to have a goal, and thus opposition to that goal. For this reason I tend to think that the fruit didn't cause knowledge of good and evil to immediately distill upon them; rather, it sent them out in the world to have experience which taught them good from evil. The knowledge came from the mortal experience which the act of eating the fruit initiated, not the fruit itself. 

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On 9/17/2021 at 2:38 PM, pogi said:

Perhaps it would be helpful to distinguish general agency (the ability to act as an independent agent) from moral agency (the ability to discern and choose between good from evil). 

President Dallin H. Oaks defined it as such.  "God has given His children moral agency—the
power to decide and to act
."

This is also defined in a BYU speech in 2006.

"When we use the term moral agency, then, we are appropriately emphasizing the
accountability that is an essential part of the divine gift of agency. We are moral
beings and agents unto ourselves, free to choose but also responsible for our
choices
."

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