World Scripture


Belief that humanity fell from a primordial state of unity with God is a doctrine of the Abrahamic faiths, and similar beliefs are also found in the mythology of many primal religions and in the doctrines of new religions influenced by Christianity. Among the Abrahamic faiths the doctrine of the Fall takes varying forms. In Christianity, the sin of the original man and woman is imputed to all humanity, and created an enduring separation between humans and God which can only be remedied by Christ.[1] In Islam, on the other hand, Adam's sin was his alone, and he, like all human beings, could return to a position of acceptance by submission (Islam) to God. But the Fall did bring into existence Satan, setting up for all humanity a trial which only some are able to endure. In Judaism we find a mixture of beliefs; rabbinic passages gathered in this section which accept the biblical doctrine that the fall of Adam and Eve brought a curse into the world are counterbalanced by other passages emphasizing individual responsibility[2] and denying that we are culpable for the sins of our ancestor Adam. The Evil Inclination which directs the soul to do evil may have been induced by a fall, but then again, it may have been created by God.[3]

The human Fall is a significant teaching only in certain religions. It is logically necessary only for religions in which (1) God is the only Creator, (2) the Creation was purposed to be good, and (3) evil is regarded as real and contrary to the purpose of creation. But these three premises are found together only in the Abrahamic faiths and in some other theistic religions. In Zoroastrianism, where there are two creators--God and the devil--the origin of evil does not involve a fall. Neither is there a doctrine of a fall in Buddhism, which lacks a doctrine of creation. Hinduism, which (in Sankhya philosophy) regards matter to partake of evil elements, or in which creation is an act of play (lila) and hence without moral purpose, also does not require a doctrine of the Fall. Nevertheless, even religions like Buddhism and Hinduism have traditions which speculate on a primordial fall from grace in order to explain the discrepancy between the cosmos's pure origin and its present state of suffering.

The first group of passages are derived from or related to the story of the Fall in Genesis. The accounts of this event are full of symbolism and open to varied interpretations. The Tempter--variously called Satan, Lucifer, or Iblis--instigates Adam and Eve to disobey God's command, often with the hint that the act of the fall involved sexual misconduct. While the Bible attributes the Fall mainly to the mistake of a woman, the Qur'an regards Adam and Eve as equally culpable. The next group of passages are independent traditions from the primal religions, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Shinto which give some account of the cause for the present deviation of humanity from its pure origin. These traditions resemble the account of the fall in the Abrahamic faiths in one or more respects: the theme of disobedience, of eating a forbidden food, of sexual misconduct, and the culpability of the woman. The last group of passages, from the Eastern religions, describe a belief that this world has declined from an original golden age of purity and godliness. God's creation was originally pure, but with the progression of the ages the Law has gradually fallen into disuse and human nature has degenerated.

11 Corinthians 15.21-22, p. 547. 2Ezekiel 18, pp. 681f. 3Kiddushin 30b, p. 526.

The Lord God took the man [Adam] and put him in the Garden of Eden to till it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, "You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die."

Then the Lord God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him." So out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for the man there was not found a helper fit for him. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh; and the rib which the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, "This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man." Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed.

Now the serpent was more subtle than any other wild creature that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God say, 'You shall not eat of any tree of the garden'?" And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; but God said, 'You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'" But the serpent said to the woman, "You will not die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons.

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, "Where are you?" And he said, "I heard the sound of Thee in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself." He said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?" The man said, "The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate." Then the Lord God said to the woman, "What is this that you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent beguiled me, and I ate." The Lord God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this,

Cursed are you above all cattle,
and above all wild animals;
Upon your belly you shall go,
and dust you shall eat all the days of your life.
I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your seed and her seed;
He shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel."
To the woman He said,
"I will greatly multiply your pain in childbearing,
in pain you shall bring forth children,
Yet your desire shall be for your husband,
and he shall rule over you."
And to Adam he said, "Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, 'You shall not eat of it,'
cursed is the ground because of you;
in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
Thorns and thistles it shall bring forth to you;
and you shall eat the plants of the field.
In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread
till you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken;
you are dust,
and to dust you shall return."

The man called his wife's name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins, and clothed them.

Then the Lord God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil; and now, lest he put forth his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever"--therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the Garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man; and at the east of the Garden of Eden he placed the cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.

1. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Genesis 2.15-3.24

It is We Who created you and gave you shape; then We bade the angels, "Bow down to Adam," and they bowed down; not so Iblis, he refused to be of those who bow down. [God] said, "What prevented you from bowing down when I commanded you?" He said, "I am better than he; You created me from fire, and him from clay." God said, "Get down from this place; it is not for you to be arrogant here; get out, for you are of the meanest of creatures." He said, "Give me respite till the day when they are raised up." God said, "Be among those who are to have respite."

He said, "Because you have thrown me out of the Way, lo! I will lie in wait for them on Your Straight Way: Then will I assault them from before them and behind, from their right and their left: nor will You find, in most of them, gratitude." God said, "Get out from this, disgraced and expelled. If any of them follow you, I will fill hell with all of you.

"And Adam, dwell, you and your wife, in the Garden, and enjoy its good things as you wish, but approach not this tree, or you will run into harm and transgression."

Then Satan began to whisper suggestions to them, bringing openly before their minds all their shame that was previously unnoticed by them. He said, "Your Lord only forbade you this tree, lest you should become angels or such beings as live forever." And he swore to them both, that he was their sincere advisor. So by deceit he brought about their fall: when they tasted of the tree, their shame [private parts] became apparent to them, and they began to sew together the leaves of the Garden over their bodies.

And their Lord called unto them: "Did I not forbid you that tree, and tell you that Satan was an avowed enemy unto you both?" They said: "Our Lord! we have wronged our own souls. If You do not forgive us and do not grant us Your mercy, we shall certainly be lost." God said, "Get you down, with enmity between yourselves. On earth will be your dwelling place and your means of livelihood--for a time. Therein shall you live, and therein you shall die; but from it shall you be brought forth at last."

O Children of Adam! We have bestowed raiment upon you to cover your shame, as well as to be an adornment to you. But the raiment of righteousness--that is the best. Such are among the signs of God, that they may receive admonition.

O Children of Adam! Let not Satan seduce you in the same manner as he got your parents out of the Garden, stripping them of their clothing in order to expose their private parts. He and his tribe watch you from where you cannot see them! We have made the devils friends only to those without faith.

2. Islam. Qur'an 7.11-27

Genesis 2.15-3.24: Cf. Luke 10.19-20, pp. 314f.; Qur'an 2.30-33, p. 313. On the primitive harmony of paradise, cf. Chuang Tzu 9, p. 320.

God created man incorruptible, and made him in the image of his own nature, but through the devil's envy, death came into the world.

3. Christianity. Bible, Wisdom of Solomon 2.23-24

Rabbi Aha said, "God deliberated how to create man. He said to Himself, 'If I create him like the angels, he will be immortal. If I create him like the beasts, he will be mortal.' God decided to leave man's conduct to his own free choice, and if he had not sinned, he would have been immortal."

4. Judaism. Midrash, Genesis Rabbah 8.11

Rabbi Abba said, "If Adam had not sinned, he would not have begotten children from the side of the evil inclination, but he would have borne offspring from the side of the holy spirit. But now, since all the children of men are born from the side of the evil inclination, they have no permanence and are but short-lived, because there is in them an element of the 'other side.' But if Adam had not sinned and had not been driven from the Garden of Eden, he would have begotten progeny from the side of the holy spirit--a progeny holy as the celestial angels, who would have endured for eternity, after the supernal pattern."

5. Judaism. Zohar 61a

What was the wicked serpent contemplating at that time? He thought, "I shall go and kill Adam and wed his wife, and I shall be king over the whole world."

6. Judaism. Talmud, Abot de Rabbi Nathan 1

Qur'an 7.11-27: Cf. Qur'an 17.61-64, p. 440. In the last verses, the Qur'an relates Satan's deed in the Garden to the pagan orgies of Muhammad's day. It also compares this primordial purpose of clothing with the better way to protect one's purity, by modesty born of submission to God. Wisdom of Solomon 2.23-24: The fall brought death into the world, meaning spiritual death and loss of our original relationship to God; cf. 1 Corinthians 15.21-22, p. 547; Romans 6.23, p. 580; cf. Berakot 18ab, p. 583; Genesis Rabbah 10.4, p. 1113. Genesis Rabbah 8.11: The prevailing Jewish conception of the Fall regards Adam as typical of all human beings. Like Adam, we all sin; we all fall. We are not condemned for an original sin; we all have the choice of death or eternal life placed before us--cf. Ezekiel 18, pp. 681f. If this passage is interpreted as referring specifically to Adam, it is affirming that God treated Adam as responsible and free to choose, contrary to certain views which regard the fall as an ascent from innocence to responsibility, to 'knowledge of good and evil'--compare Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 2.19-26, below. Zohar 61a: This passage speaks of an 'original sin,' as the fall is regarded as the source of the Evil Inclination which is inherited by all humankind; see also Shabbat 145b-146a, p. 547. On the other hand, in Kiddushin 30b, p. 526 there is the opinion that the Evil Inclination was created by God.

Rabbi Joshua ben Qarhah said, "Why does the scripture not place the verse 'And the Lord God made for Adam and his wife garments of skin' (Genesis 3.21) immediately after 'And they were both naked, and were not ashamed' (Genesis 2.25)? It teaches you through what sin that wicked creature inveighed them: Because [the serpent] saw them engaged in their natural relations, he conceived a lust for her."

7. Judaism. Midrash, Genesis Rabbah 18.6

After Adam and Eve had partaken of the forbidden fruit they were driven out of the Garden of Eden, to till the earth.

And they have brought forth children; yea, even the family of all the earth.

And the days of the children of men were prolonged, according to the will of God, that they might repent while in the flesh; wherefore, their state became a state of probation, and their time was lengthened, according to the commandments which the Lord God gave unto the children of men. For He gave commandment that all men must repent; for He showed unto all men that they were lost, because of the transgression of their parents.

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.

And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin.

But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of Him who knows all things.

Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.

And the Messiah comes in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon.

8. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 2.19-26

Genesis Rabbah 18.6: In the dominant Jewish tradition Adam and Eve enjoyed married life prior to the fall. In the Christian tradition, on the other hand, they are usually depicted as living chaste while in the Garden. Illustrating the latter point of view we give the following passages from the Book of Mormon and Divine Principle. On the devil's lust, cf. Shabbat 145b-146, p. 547. For another Jewish interpretation of the forbidden fruit, see Sanhedrin 70ab, p. 499. Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 2.19-26: The scriptures of the Latter-day Saints give positive value to the human fall, agreeing with a minority tradition in Christianity that views the fall as a 'happy fault' [felix culpa]. The fall was necessary both for procreation and for the exercise of moral agency--to know the joy of ethical living. In addition, without the fall humankind could not know the grace of redemption in Christ. For these reasons, the fall is considered to have been within the plan of God; compare Hadith of Muslim, p. 523. The contrary Jewish position--that unfallen humans were created endowed with moral agency, is given above in Genesis Rabbah 8.11.

All things were created to receive God's dominion through love. Therefore, love is the source of life and the essence of happiness; love is the ideal of all creation. Accordingly, the more one receives God's love, the more beautiful he or she becomes. So it was very natural that Eve looked most beautiful in Lucifer's eyes. Moreover, when [immature] Eve was susceptible to his temptation, Lucifer was strongly stimulated by an impulse of love toward Eve. At this point, Lucifer dared to seduce Eve at the risk of his life. Lucifer, who left his position due to excessive desire, and Eve, who desired to have her eyes opened like God's through a sexual relationship before she was ready for it, thus formed a reciprocal base, and had sexual intercourse with each other. The power of love derived from their give and take action was not based on the principle, and they fell into an illicit relationship of spiritual love.

Eve received certain elements from Lucifer when she joined in one body with him through love. First, she received from Lucifer the sense of fear, which came from his guilty conscience because of their violation of the purpose of creation. Second, she received wisdom enabling her to perceive that her intended spouse in the original nature of creation was not Lucifer but Adam.... Eve then seduced Adam in the hope that she might rid herself of the fear derived from the fall and stand before God by becoming, even then, one body with Adam, who was meant to be her spouse.

Adam and Eve were meant to have become husband and wife, eternally centered on God, after their perfection. However, at that time Eve was still in the period of immaturity. Eve joined with Adam after she had the illicit relationship with the archangel and while Adam, too, was in his period of immaturity. The premature conjugal relationship thus established between Adam and Eve was centered on Satan and caused the physical fall.

Eve, having become one body with the archangel through their illicit sexual relationship, was in the position of the archangel to Adam. Therefore Adam, whom God loved, looked very beautiful to her. Adam was Eve's only hope of returning to God. Feeling this, Eve tempted Adam, just as the archangel had tempted her. Adam and Eve formed a reciprocal base, and through their give and take action, the power of love drew them closer. This powerful love made Adam leave his original position and finally caused Eve and him to have an illicit sexual relationship.

Adam, by becoming one body with Eve, inherited all the elements Eve had received from Lucifer, in the same manner she did. These elements were then transmitted to their descendants... and mankind has multiplied sin to the present day, thus perpetuating the lineage of Satan.

9. Unification Church. Divine Principle I.2.2.2

Divine Principle I.2.2.2: The fall is here regarded as a corruption of human love. Love is meant to be the most glorious and fulfilling emotion, expressing at the same time intimacy with God, but love was misused and degraded. The fall was consummated when Adam and Eve had their first sexual relationship, at the instigation of Satan, and expressing an evil motivation. Since then, human love has been infected with self-centered elements. On the premise that the world would have been completed through the God-centered love of perfected Adam and Eve, married under God's blessing, see Divine Principle I., p. 253; cf. Sun Myung Moon, 10-20-73, p. 467; 3-30-90, p. 1091; 8-20-89, p. 577.

You must know, monks, that after the floods [that put out the conflagration that ended the last cosmic cycle] receded and the earth came back into being, there was upon the face of the earth a film more sweet-smelling than ambrosia. Do you want to know what was the taste of that film? It was like the taste of grape wine in the mouth. And at this time the gods of the Abhasvara Heaven said to one another, "Let us go and see what it looks like in Jambudvipa now that there is earth again." So the young gods of that heaven came down into the world and saw that over the earth was spread this film. They put their fingers into the earth and sucked them. Some put their fingers into the earth many times and ate a great deal of this film, and these at once lost all their majesty and brightness. Their bodies grew heavy and their substance became flesh and bone. They lost their magic and could no longer fly. But there were others who ate only a little, and these could still fly about in the air. And those that had lost their magic cried out to one another in dismay, "Now we are in a very sad case. We have lost our magic. There is nothing for it but to stay here on earth; for we cannot possibly get back to heaven." They stayed and fed upon the film that covered the earth, and gazed at one another's beauty. Those among them that were most passionate became women, and these gods and goddesses fulfilled their desires and pleasure in one another. And this was how it was, monks, that when the world began love-making first spread throughout the world; it is an old and constant thing. And that woman should appear in the world, this too is an old thing, and not only a matter of today.

And the gods who had returned to heaven looked down and saw the young gods that had fallen, and they came down and reproached them, saying, "Why are you behaving in this unclean way?" Then the gods on earth thought to themselves, "We must find some way to be together without being seen by others." So they made houses that would cover and hide them. Monks, that was how houses first began.

[Now the people] seeing this thing of husbands and wives had begun, hated and despised such couples and seized them with the left hand, pushed them with the right hand and drove them away. But always after two months or maybe three they would come back again. Then the people hit them or pelted them with sticks, clods of earth, tiles or stones. "Go and hide yourselves! Go and hide yourselves properly!" That is why today when a girl is married she is pelted with flowers or gold or silver or pieces of clothing or rice, and the people as they pelt her say, "May peace and happiness, new bride, be yours!" Monks, in former times ill was meant by these things that were done, but nowadays good is meant.

10. Buddhism. Ekottara Agama 34 and Ch'i-shih Ching

Ekottara Agama 34 and Ch'i-shih Ching: These are both texts from the Chinese Tripitaka. The Ekkotara Agama is the Chinese translation of portions of the Anguttara Nikaya of the Pali scriptures. In the case of this text, however, the parallel Pali version is found not in the Anguttara Nikaya, but in Digha Nikaya iii.27, the Aggana Suttanta. See Dialogues of the Buddha, III, 82-85.

The deities Izanagi and Izanami descended from Heaven to the island Ono-goro and erected a heavenly pillar and a spacious palace.

At this time Izanagi asked his wife Izanami, "How is your body formed?" She replied, "My body, though it be formed, has one place which is formed insufficiently." Then Izanagi said, "My body, though it be formed, has one place which is formed to excess. Therefore, I would like to take that place in my body which is formed to excess and insert it into that place in your body which is formed insufficiently, and thus give birth to the land. How would this be?" "That will be good," said Izanami. "Then let us, you and me, walk in a circle around this heavenly pillar and meet and have conjugal intercourse," said Izanagi. "You walk around from the right, and I will walk around from the left and meet you."

After having agreed to this, they circled around; then Izanami said first, "How delightful! I have met a lovely lad!" Afterwards, Izanagi said, "How delightful! I have met a lovely maiden!" After each had spoken, Izanagi said to his wife, "It was not proper that the woman should speak first." Nevertheless, they commenced procreation and gave birth to a leech-child. They placed this child into a boat made of reeds and floated it away.

Then the two deities consulted together, "The child which we have just borne is not good. It is best to report this before the heavenly gods." So they ascended together and sought the will of the heavenly gods. The gods thereupon performed a grand divination, and said, "Because the woman spoke first, the child was not good. Descend once more and say it again."

Then they descended again and walked once more in a circle around the heavenly pillar as before. "How delightful! I have met a lovely maiden!" "How delightful! I have met a lovely lad!" Thus they united and gave birth to children, [the eight islands of Japan].

11. Shinto. Kojiki 4.1-6.1

Kojiki 4-6: The deities Izanagi and Izanami represent the union of opposites, yang and yin, which is the source of all life divine and human--cf. I Ching, Great Commentary 1.1.i-iv, p. 178. However, these deities at first erred in the ritual of conjugal intercourse by which they were to create the land and all things. Their mistake was in allowing the woman to take initiative--a parallel to Eve's haste to eat the fruit in the Genesis story. The 'leech-child' (piru-go) was a monstrosity who was allowed to die of exposure. Izanami, too, would eventually die in childbirth (Kojiki 7.22); compare the curses in Genesis 3.3 and 3.16.

The Japanese philosopher Nishida regards this myth as the Shinto version of Original Sin. According to Nishida, as Izanagi and Izanami were brother and sister, everything in the universe originated from an incestuous marriage. The procession around the heavenly pillar was a ritual designed to overcome the incest taboo, but the error in carrying out this ritual nullified its effect. Hence all humanity is the result of incest. The death of Izanami, the symbolic death of their daughter Amaterasu-omi-kami (Kojiki 15) and the expulsion of their son Susanoo (Kojiki 17.25) were punishments endured by the Shinto gods to atone for this original mistake.

The Creator, Fidi Mukullu, made all things including man. He also planted banana trees. When the bananas were ripe He sent the sun to harvest them. The sun brought back a full basket to Fidi Mukullu, who asked him if he had eaten any. The sun answered "no," and the Creator decided to put him to a test. He made the sun go down into a hole dug in the earth, then asked him when he wanted to get out. "Tomorrow morning, early," answered the sun. "If you did not lie," the Creator told him, "you will get out early tomorrow morning." The next day the sun appeared at the desired moment, confirming his honesty. Next the moon was ordered to gather God's bananas and was put to the same test. She also got out successfully. Then came man's turn to perform the same task. However, on his way to the Creator he ate a portion of the bananas, but denied doing so. Put to the same test as the sun and the moon, man said that he wanted to leave the hole at the end of five days. But he never got out. Fidi Mukullu said, "Man lied. That is why man will die and will never reappear."

12. African Traditional Religions. BaSonge tradition (Zaire)

In the beginning God was very close to man, for the sky then lay just above the earth. There was no death, sickness, sorrow, or hunger, and men were content with one grain of millet a day granted them by God. One day, a greedy woman, who wanted to pound more than the one grain permitted, used a long-handled pestle and struck the sky. This angered God, who withdrew with the sky to its present position far above the earth. Since then the country has become spoiled, and men are now subject to death, sickness, hunger, and disease.

13. African Traditional Religions. Dinka tradition (Sudan)

In the olden days, when God still lived among men, Death did not live among men. Whenever he happened to stray onto the earth, God (Imana) would chase it away with his hunting dogs. One day during such a chase, Death was forced into a narrow space and would have been caught and destroyed. But in his straits he found a woman, and promised her that if she hid him he would spare her and her family. The woman opened her mouth and Death jumped inside. When God came to her and asked her if she had seen Death, she denied ever seeing him. But God, the All-Seeing One, knew what happened, and told the woman that since she had hidden Death, in the future Death would destroy her and all her children. From that moment death spread all over the world.

14. African Traditional Religions. Urundi tradition (Burundi)

Dinka tradition: Many African myths explain how in primordial times God withdrew far from the human realm. Variations on this particular version of the myth of God's withdrawal are found in the traditions of many African peoples. Cf. Dinka song, p. 459; Fang tradition, p. 410.

Formerly, all creatures were virtuous, and by themselves they obtained divinity. Therefore the gods became worried, so Brahma created women in order to delude men. Then women, who had been virtuous, became wicked witches, and Brahma filled them with wanton desires, which they in turn inspired in men. He created anger, and henceforth all creatures were born in the power of desire and anger.

15. Hinduism. Mahabharata 13.40.5-12

Formerly Prajapati brought forth pure creatures, who were truthful and virtuous. These creatures joined the gods in the sky whenever they wished, and they lived and died by their own wish. In another time, those who dwelt on earth were overcome by desire and anger, and they were abandoned by the gods. Then by their foul deeds these evil ones were trapped in the chain of rebirth, and they became atheists.

16. Hinduism. Mahabharata 3.181.11-20

In the Krita [golden age], Dharma is four-footed and entire, and so is Truth; nor does any gain accrue to men by unrighteousness.

In the other three ages, by reason of unjust gains, Dharma is deprived successively of one foot, and through the prevalence of theft, falsehood, and fraud the merit gained by men is diminished by one-fourth in each.

Men are free from disease, accomplish all their aims, and live four hundred years in the Krita age, but in the Treta [silver age] and in each of the succeeding ages their life is lessened by one quarter.

The life-[span] of mortals... the desired results of sacrificial rites and the supernatural power of embodied spirits are fruits apportioned among men according to the character of the age.

One set of duties is prescribed for men in the Krita age, different ones in the Treta and in the Dvapara, and again another set in the Kali [the present age], in proportion as those ages decrease in length.

In the Krita age the chief virtue is declared to be the performance of austerities, in the Treta divine knowledge, in the Dvapara the performance of sacrifices, and in the Kali liberality alone.

17. Hinduism. Laws of Manu 1.81-86

When the Tao was lost, there was virtue;
When virtue was lost, there was benevolence;
When benevolence was lost, there was rectitude;
When rectitude was lost, there were rules of propriety.
Propriety is a wearing thin of loyalty and good faith,
And the beginning of disorder.

18. Taoism. Tao Te Ching 38

Mahabharata 13.40.5-12: In this and similar Hindu traditions, the motive for the human fall lies with the gods, who grew jealous of people and desired to keep them out of heaven. This compares with the jealousy of the angels in the Qur'anic and biblical accounts of the fall. Mahabharata 3.181.11-20: Philosophical Hinduism explains evil by the doctrines of karma and reincarnation, but logically, karma itself must have an origin. This passage allows how, though the Creator be good, the chain of evil karma could begin. Laws of Manu 1.81-86: This is the Hindu doctrine of the Four Ages (Yugas), which together make up a complete world-cycle. We now live in the Kali Age, which is said to have begun with the death of Krishna shortly after the Mahabharata war (1500-1000 b.c.e.). Cf. Vishnu Purana 4.24, pp. 1092, 1106f; Linga Purana 1.40.72-83, p. 1115; Bhagavad Gita 8.17-21, p. 122. Tao Te Ching 38: On the harmony of the golden age of the 'Great Tao,' or 'Grand Unity,' cf. Book of Ritual 7.1.2, p. 293; Tao Te Ching 18-19, p. 294; Chuang Tzu 9, p. 320.