Young-earth creationists believe all living things — from people to pinworms — were completely incapable of physical death until two people named Adam and Eve disobeyed God in a place called the Garden of Eden. The Bible doesn’t clearly teach anything remotely like this, but they find support for their idea by, for example, wildly extrapolating from New Testament verses like Romans 5:12 and 1 Corinthians 15:21.
Of course, the literalist exegesis runs into all kinds of problems way before you get to Romans, not the least of which is the tree of life. If the story must be taken literally, then the text explicitly explains what the tree does: It grants immortality (“Then the Lord God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—'”).
Which raises the puzzling question: Why, exactly, would God make a tree that grants immortality in a world where everyone and everything are already immortal anyway?
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