No Blood Before the Fall?
by Trent Dee Stephens, PhD, January 17, 2022, to follow up on the Come Follow Me Lesson January 10-16, 2022.
When Robley Dunglison, considered the “Father of American Physiology,” wrote his book, Human Physiology, in 1850, there were still those who believed that blood had a life force of its own. Dunglison said that there was, “…considered evidence that the blood may be killed; and, consequently, that it is possessed of life.” (Dunglison, Robley, Human Physiology, vol 2, Lea and Blanchard, Philadelphia, PA,1850) Dunglison recognized that oxygen is taken into the lungs and CO2 is given off, and that respiration is in some way like combustion – that both require oxygen. Yet he admitted that, “It is manifest…that our knowledge regarding the precise changes effected on the air and the blood by respiration is by no means definite.” Furthermore, “The cause of the development or growth of organs and of the body generally…is dependent upon vital laws that are unfathomable.”
Today, we understand far more about the processes that were unfathomable to people like Dunglison only 172 years ago. We now know that carbon compounds, especially glucose (a sugar), are absorbed from the small intestine into the bloodstream where they are transported to nearly every one of the thirty-some trillion cells in the body. Inside the cells, glucose enters a series of enzyme-catalyzed metabolic steps called glycolysis, or the Embden–Meyerhof pathway (the pathway was worked out in the 1920s and 1930s, in Germany, by Gustav Embden and Otto Meyerhof). The Embden–Meyerhof pathway feeds into the citric acid cycle and the electron transport chain. Although many people have never heard these terms, they are foundational concepts to anyone in the fields of physiology or biochemistry. In the electron transport chain, the energy stored in hydrogen bonds (electrons) is used to produce ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the energy currency of the body – it’s the ATP that keeps us alive. The last step in the electron transport chain (called oxidative phosphorylation, and worked out in the early 1940s by Herman Kalcker and others) is the transfer of an electron to oxygen. That is why the “breath,” or “air,” more specifically, oxygen, has to be transported through the arteries, and then the capillaries, to the tissues – where it receives the electron at the end of the electron transport chain within the mitochondria of cells. Without oxygen there to receive that electron, the electron transport chain stops completely, insufficient ATP is produced, and death follows very quickly (Seeley, Rod R., Stephens, Trent D., and Tate, Philip, Anatomy and Physiology, McGraw-Hill, Dubuque, 8th edition, 2007). As is discussed in more detail in other essays on my website, death was in some way suspended for Adam and Eve as long as they had access to the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden. Once they were cast out of the Garden, and separated from the Tree of Life, they became subject to death.
During the October 1993 General Conference of the Church, in a talk entitled “Constancy Amid Change,” [and then reproduced in part as a video clip to accompany the January 10-16, 2022 Come Follow Me lesson] Elder Russell M. Nelson, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles stated, “While I do not fully understand all the biochemistry involved, I do know that their [Adam and Eve’s] physical bodies did change; blood began to circulate in their bodies. Adam and Eve thereby became mortal.” I have been well aware for many years that Elder Nelson was not the first member of our Church to state such an opinion. In the process of writing my books, The Infinite Creation, Unifying Science and Latter-day Saint Theology (Cedar Fort Inc., 2020) and The Infinite Fall, A Scientific Approach to the Second Pillar of Eternity (Cedar Fort Inc., 2021), I searched the history of the Church to determine the provenance of the concept that Adam and Eve had no blood before the fall.
The scriptures say absolutely nothing about any physical change coming over Adam and Eve after partaking of the forbidden fruit. For example, their eyes being opened and their knowing that they were naked was not a de novo physical change to their eyes or brains. Their eyes were opened to their being naked because Satan told them that they were naked (Genesis 3:11; Moses 4:17). There is no scripture what-so-ever even remotely suggesting that some change, such as blood entering their veins, transpired. Any such suggestion is pure speculation, has no scriptural foundation, and is contrary to all the known laws of science. This concept of blood entering their bodies after partaking of the fruit was apparently introduced to the Latter-day Saints, de novo, by Elder Orson Pratt in a sermon he gave in the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, 11 September 1859 (Pratt, Orson, Journal of Discourses, vol 7, p. 254, September 11, 1859). Elder Pratt had speculated about the concept as early as 1845, but had not fully articulated it at that time (The Orson Pratt Journals, compiled and arranged by Elden J. Watson, published by Elden J. Watson, 1975). I have tremendous respect for President Nelson and for Elder Pratt as one of the great early thinkers in the Church, both of whom were/are not afraid to think outside the box. However, being a great and brilliant thinker does not guarantee a person will always be correct. I think Elder Pratt may have been influenced, perhaps indirectly, by the writings of John Milton, as he was of the opinion that Adam and Eve were inherently immortal beings when placed on Earth, as discussed below.
In his 1859 address, Elder Pratt stated, “It is recorded in Scripture history that our first parents, while in the garden of Eden, transgressed a certain law and commandment of the Almighty, by partaking of a certain forbidden fruit; which transgression brought them under condemnation, and subjected them to a certain penalty, which was the death of their bodies of flesh and bones. ‘Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return,’ was the penalty pronounced upon Adam. Previous to this, Adam was a pure, innocent being: he was not contaminated with sin, and was entirely destitute of the knowledge of good and evil. He was a being intended in his construction to endure for evermore. Death had no dominion over his tabernacle: the principle of blood which flows in the mortal tabernacles of men did not exist in his immortal body; but his veins and arteries contained a fluid of a far purer nature than that of blood: in other words, they were filled with the spirit of life, which was calculated to preserve them in immortality. Though they partook of various kinds of fruit in the garden, yet there was no fruit in that garden, except one called the forbidden fruit, which would have the least tendency to destroy the principles of immortality that reigned within them. They were organized to endure, bodies and spirits united, millions of ages. By the transgression of that simple law given to them, they fell from immortality to mortality: their bodies partook of disease; the seeds of death were sown within them; and in the day that Adam ate thereof (reckoning according to the Lord's time), he passed away and returned to his mother dust.”
“The probability is, there were deleterious properties or poisonous qualities in the food he ate, which were calculated to introduce into the system the seeds of mortality, and so change it that various forces of nature should have power over it, that in time it should die and be dissolved to dust.”
Let’s take a careful look at Elder Pratt’s 1859 sermon in light of the scriptures. He said of Adam, “He was a being intended in his construction to endure for evermore. Death had no dominion over his tabernacle… his veins and arteries contained a fluid of a far purer nature than that of blood…there was no fruit in that garden, except one called the forbidden fruit, which would have the least tendency to destroy the principles of immortality that reigned within them. They were organized to endure, bodies and spirits united, millions of ages.” Elder Pratt cited no scriptures to support these statements. There are no scriptures to support such statements.
2 Nephi 2:22 is the only scripture ever cited to support the notion that Adam and Eve were constructed “to endure for evermore.” Lehi stated in 2 Nephi 2:22, “And now, behold, 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.” Lehi did not say that Adam’s immortality was inherent, as Elder Pratt would have us believe, but rather, it was conditional on his remaining in the Garden of Eden. A few verses earlier, Lehi stated that “…it must needs be that there was an opposition; even the forbidden fruit in opposition to the tree of life… Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other” (verses 15 and 16). Furthermore, “…after Adam and Eve had partaken of the forbidden fruit they were driven out of the garden of Eden, to till the earth” (verse 19). See also my longer discussion of 2 Nephi 2:22 in a separate essay posted on my website.
Alma explained why Adam and Eve were driven out of the Garden (Alma 42:2-5), “…after the Lord God sent our first parents forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground, from whence they were taken—yea, he drew out the man, and he placed at the east end of the garden of Eden, cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the tree of life—Now, we see that the man had become as God, knowing good and evil; and lest he should put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat and live forever, the Lord God placed cherubim and the flaming sword, that he should not partake of the fruit…For behold, if Adam had put forth his hand immediately, and partaken of the tree of life, he would have lived forever, according to the word of God, having no space for repentance; yea, and also the word of God would have been void, and the great plan of salvation would have been frustrated.”
It is clear from Alma’s discussion that the tree of life had the power to keep Adam and Eve immortal as long as they had access to it. Why was it necessary for there to be a tree of life in the Garden of Eden if Adam and Eve were already inherently immortal? The scriptures make it clear that their immortality was contingent upon their having access to the tree of life. Therefore, they were not inherently immortal but contingently immortal.
That brings us to the main crux of this discussion: Elder Pratt stated, “…the principle of blood which flows in the mortal tabernacles of men did not exist in his immortal body; but …By the transgression of that simple law given to them, they fell from immortality to mortality: their bodies partook of disease; the seeds of death were sown within them…” There is not a single scripture anywhere that supports this statement. In fact the scriptures explicitly refute the statement. We can go back to Alma’s statement, (Alma 42:3) “…lest he [Adam] should put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat and live forever...” This verse makes it crystal clear that even after partaking of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, if Adam and Eve had partaken of the fruit of the tree of life they would have remained immortal. Therefore the change that came over Adam and Eve after partaking of the forbidden fruit could not have been some major physiological change because any change that occurred for them was reversible.
Indeed, the forbidden fruit had no physiological effect on Adam and Eve at all. Partaking of that fruit got Adam and Eve kicked out of the Garden of Eden and separated from the tree of life, period. Their eyes were only opened to their nakedness because Satan told them that they were naked (Genesis 3:11; Moses 4:17; additional information is also given in the temple). They only became like the Gods, knowing good from evil because of their subsequent instruction and experiences after being cast out of the Garden (2 Nephi 2:5). Being separated from the tree of life was what started the aging process, not some “…deleterious properties or poisonous qualities in the food he ate, which were calculated to introduce into the system the seeds of mortality…”
The idea that blood entered Adam and Eve’s bodies only after they had partaken of the forbidden fruit runs counter to what we understand of history from scientific research. Humans (Home sapiens) had been on the earth for at least 300,000 years when Adam and Eve were isolated in the Garden of Eden. They were apparently two mortals who were selected before the foundations of the earth to represent all of humanity and were placed into an environment where they had access to a tree called the tree of life, which kept them in a suspended, immortal condition, as long as they had access to the tree, but once they were separated from that tree, the natural aging process resumed. As I have discussed in much more detail in my book, The Infinite Fall, A Scientific Approach to the Second Pillar of Eternity (Cedar Fort Inc., 2021), the Fall was infinite, we agreed to it in the Grand Council in Heaven before the foundations of the earth. Therefore, Adam and Eve, as infinite, eternal representatives of all humanity, could undertake the fall at any time in history, not just confined to the “beginning” of history, because all humanity had agreed to the fall before any of us ever came to earth.
The idea that blood entered Adam and Eve’s bodies only after they had partaken of the forbidden fruit runs counter to what we read in the scriptures stating that even after partaking of the forbidden fruit they could have partaken of the fruit of the tree of life and continued their state of immortality (Alma 42:3). The idea that blood entered Adam and Eve’s bodies only after they had partaken of the forbidden fruit runs counter to logic in that if some major physiological change had come over Adam and Eve by their partaking of the forbidden fruit, that change would not have been reversible, as Alma 42:3 makes it clear that it was reversible. Why should we throw out science, the scriptures, and pure logic just because Elder Pratt said that Adam and Eve had no blood before partaking of the forbidden fruit?
The reason I have focused on Elder Pratt’s 1859 talk is that I can find no precedent to his statement. It appears that Elder Pratt introduced the concept of no blood before the fall de novo, or at least was the first person in our Church history who gave voice to the concept. Others who have referred to such a notion, including Elder Russell M. Nelson in his October 1993 General Conference address, must have been harkening back to this address by Elder Pratt. Such references must be considered opinion because there is absolutely no scriptural foundation underlying any such statement. Indeed, the concept of no blood before the fall defies scripture, science, and pure reason.
Trent Dee Stephens, PhD