Man, sickness and the Fall
I would like to pick up a point in C. Wieland’s letter in the May issue. I think the immunological defense mechanisms of man and the animals should be considered in a different category than the mechanisms of parasites, predators and poisons. These defense mechanisms (and the intimately related body repair mechanisms) need not have been superfluous before the Fall.
It is conceivable that, though Adam’s body was “deathless” before the Fall, it was susceptible to minor trauma such as pricking of fingers or small cuts. After all there must have been sharp objects in Eden and Adam was still made of flesh. In which case, the highly designed and wonderful reparative mechanisms would have been called into play where they are most effective (repair of minor trauma).
As with regard to the defense mechanisms, at present our bodies (and those of the animals) are hosts to teeming multitudes of commensal organisms. In fact, their presence is necessary for normal health. For example, a significant amount of our vitamin K (necessary for normal blood clotting) is formed by the gut bacteria. It is only when the host defense mechanisms are abnormally depressed that the normally harmless bugs cause infection and sickness.
It is reasonable to assume that Adam had his crop of commensals (with all the benefits that that accrues) but in proper balance with his functioning immunological and inflammatory defense systems. Furthermore, after the Fall the appearance of noncommensel pathogenic (disease causing) organisms and the depression (rather than the enhancement or creation) of the defense system resulted in sickness, disease and death.