If Adam and Eve had children in the Paradise, what would they have been like?

[This post continues my discussion of why Aquinas holds there was no private property in Paradise. Other topics in the series include in order: 1. No property in Paradise, 2. Life in Paradise, 3. No Labor in Paradise,  4. Sexuality and Procreation in Paradise, 5. The Children of Adam and Eve, 6. Were Adam and Eve Vegetarians? 7. No Equality in Paradise, 8. Subjection and Government in Paradise 9. Private Property, the Result of Sin, 10. Aquinas’s Analogy: Clothing, Slavery and Private Property,  10. Aquinas’s Analogy: Clothing, Slavery and Private Property. Or download the full essay here: No Property in Paradise: How Aquinas Understands the Origin of Private Property]


As we have seen, Aquinas makes clear that Adam and Eve were expected to have sexual intercourse and procreate in Paradise. After all, since they had free will, the first couple did not have to sin. Had they not sinned, therefore, the human population would have expanded indefinitely in Paradise and their children and descendants would have continued living in a state of innocence.

This possible scenarios explains why Aquinas contemplates what a larger human community could have been like in the state of innocence. We begin with what Aquinas says about the nature of its inhabitants. It is surprising to learn, as we shall see, that inequality does characterize this community. Not everyone is equal and, as a result, government is needed. Even so, we shall find, this community in Paradise does not have private property. How all this fits together and makes sense is the subject of what follows.

To begin with, we can assume that the children of Adam and Eve and their future descendants would have been born with the character of natural babies. Aquinas disagrees with those who thought Adam and Eve’s children and descendants would have been born fully mature adults, both in character and body. On the contrary, he argues they would have been born in the same state as natural babies today, physically immature and not yet with fully mature minds or reasoning capacity.

However, in terms of their overall human nature, they would have been just like their parents and been included in “original righteousness,” just like their parents. By this, Aquinas means that, like their parents, Adam and Eve’s children would also have been exempt from the same defects of the body as their parents, namely, aging, death and unruly sensitive appetites.1)I’ve discussed this nature of Adam and Eve in an earlier post. As he puts it, “Therefore in that state there could have been certain infantile defects which result from birth; but not senile defects leading to corruption.”2)ST Ia 99, I ad. 4

Aquinas is careful to attribute the exemption from these bodily defects to the grace of God. These exemptions would not have been passed in the semen the way original sin would be later be inherited.3)ST Ia 100, i, ad. 2. On original sin being transferred in the semen, see ST I-II, 83, i Like their parents, these children and other descendants would have had free-will and would have been capable of sinning, thus not “confirmed in righteousness.”4)ST Ia 100, ii. “Confirmed in righteousness” is a technical term that Aquinas uses here and is equated with having seen God’s essence and being unable to turn away to love anything else. The children could not have been “confirmed in righteousness” because they could not be in a more perfect state then their parents. And Adam and Eve would not have been confirmed in righteousness, because if they had, they would have been exclusively focused on God and wouldn’t have had sexual relations after this experience (ST Ia 100, i). Thus he concludes it would have been an impossibility for Adam and Eve to have children who could not sin. Here Aquinas is disputing a view that assumed that if Adam and Eve had not sinned, then all of their children would have been automatically and permanently worthy of saving by Christ and not capable of sinning. Not necessarily, concludes Aquinas. Like their parents, they too could have sinned.5)As far as I know, Aquinas does not say what would have happened to the descendants of Adam and Eve if they had sinned and whether there could have been a sinless population in Paradise and a sinful one outside.

Aquinas acknowledges that although we have no specific evidence of these specific truths about the children and descendants of Adam and Eve, “we must be guided by the nature of things, except in those things which are above nature, and are made known to us by Divine authority. Now it is clear that it is as natural as it is befitting to the principles of human nature that children should not have sufficient strength for the use of their limbs immediately after birth.”6)ST Ia, 99, i

Food for Everyone in Paradise?

From the preceding assumptions, we can assume that the children of Adam and Eve would also have been able to eat from the trees in the garden, without having to labor. Aquinas does not make clear, as far as I have been able to find, whether the trees of Paradise would have been able to handle an exponentially larger population that would have arisen over time had Adam and Eve not sinned. We don’t know whether the same number of trees could have produced much greater amounts of fruit. We also don’t know whether Paradise was geographically large enough to handle a growing population, though we can assume Aquinas would have held that God could have expanded Paradise at will, if Paradise wasn’t already designed to accommodate the growing human population. It is unfortunate that Aquinas does not reflect more on such matters because they are relevant to the question of why private property would not have arisen in Paradise as the human population grew. And the more we know about what would have happened in Paradise with food and possessions, the more we can understand Aquinas’s views of private property in the postlapsarian world in which we live.

Next up: No Equality in Paradise

References   [ + ]

1.I’ve discussed this nature of Adam and Eve in an earlier post.
2.ST Ia 99, I ad. 4
3.ST Ia 100, i, ad. 2. On original sin being transferred in the semen, see ST I-II, 83, i
4.ST Ia 100, ii. “Confirmed in righteousness” is a technical term that Aquinas uses here and is equated with having seen God’s essence and being unable to turn away to love anything else. The children could not have been “confirmed in righteousness” because they could not be in a more perfect state then their parents. And Adam and Eve would not have been confirmed in righteousness, because if they had, they would have been exclusively focused on God and wouldn’t have had sexual relations after this experience (ST Ia 100, i). Thus he concludes it would have been an impossibility for Adam and Eve to have children who could not sin.
5.As far as I know, Aquinas does not say what would have happened to the descendants of Adam and Eve if they had sinned and whether there could have been a sinless population in Paradise and a sinful one outside.
6.ST Ia, 99, i

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