How Could the Earth Have Contained Everyone If Sin Hadn’t Entered the World?

Question from a reader:

I am reading Heaven right now. One question I have is if Adam and Eve had not sinned, how would God’s plan for the earth and mankind have been fulfilled on the finite space of the earth? I just am wondering what God’s design was for marriages to continue and children being born continuing for eternity on the finite space of Earth?

Answer from Doreen Button, EPM staff:

I love your question. Those are the kinds of questions I started asking from a young age.

Since the scenario you are envisioning did not happen, we have no biblical basis for an answer. Your question also implies that the world, as it is now, is a sort of Plan B. It’s easy to think that because we know God hates sin and yet, because we know He is both sovereign and omniscient, there is no other way for the world to be right now.

But let’s have some fun with the “what could be,” anyway. God’s first direction to Adam and Eve was to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it.” Obviously, there are lots of variables to how that might look if no one died (assuming that’s in your equation). First of all, there are indications that Earth looked quite different before the flood. Genesis 10:25 says, “To Eber were born two sons: the name of the one was Peleg, for in his days the earth was divided.” That could refer to the time when ‘Pangaea’ split and separated into continents. The viable surface area of Earth may have been larger. Even then, the exponential growth of human population, if we procreated in numbers similar to now, would fill the earth in a relatively short time.

Here are two more ideas. God created an entire universe. If we, in our sinful state, could create a temple that reached to the heavens (tower of Babel), why couldn’t we, a few centuries later and without sin, create ways to transport and colonize other areas in space? My last idea seems more likely: since sin and death wouldn’t be issues, we’d have no need to keep having dozens of children apiece as some cultures with high infant mortality tend to do. Even after the fall, Adam and Eve didn’t have unlimited numbers of children. Once we multiplied and filled the earth and subdued it (stewarded it and made the most of its considerable resources without the interference of sinful greed and power-mongering), is there any reason we’d need to continue having kids?

These will be some of the things we might ask Jesus when we walk with Him on the New Earth, if they still seem as interesting then as they do now. We might ask the Father to show us the beginnings of Creation and perhaps we’ll see a replay of Adam and Eve’s early lives. I thank God for giving us imaginations.

Keep seeking Him!

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Doreen is part of the Eternal Perspective Ministries staff, and helps Randy with editing and answering reader questions. She is a certified biblical counselor.