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Greg brings clarity to the issue of animal death before the fall of mankind.
Posted by Gregory Koukl on July 28, 2014 at 03:00 AM in :Greg Koukl, Miscellaneous, Theology, Video | Permalink
What is this "well justified information from the natural world"? I'm being genuine here. I'm torn between both sides. I'm wondering what he has in view when he says justified information.
Chris Geisler |
July 28, 2014 at 05:46 AM
For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.
There was no slavery to corruption before the Fall. Corruption, including the death of plants and animals, entered into the world, for all creation, by the Fall.
Now let's consider the idea that science tells us that animals were dying on earth before the existence of humankind (and therefore, before the Fall).
You should consider the fact that the fundamental tension between Scripture and science has nothing to do with biology. It has everything to do with Physics.
According to our current understanding of the world, the entire universe is under a sentence of death. Even if we find a way to put an end to all disease, predation and privation so that as animals we could continue to exist indefinitely, still our Sun we burn out and we would burn with it. Even if we find a way to escape our solar system and avoid our Sun's death, still the universe itself will wind down to heat death and take us with it. Even if the universe is cyclic, so that instead of ending in heat death, the gravity of the universe pulls its scattered matter back together for a big crunch, and a new universe rises phoenix-like from the ashes of the old one, still all living things will perish in the process.
Universal Death is inevitable given our understanding of the current laws of physics. But universal death is not compatible with any reading of Scripture. This forces me to the conclusion that the pre-fallen world had different laws of physics that did not have universal death as a consequence.
But this implies that gathering evidence about what the world was like prior to the Fall is quite impossible. In particular, we cannot have any scientific evidence at all about whether animals died before man existed. The only scientific evidence we can have is evidence about the world after the Fall (and therefore after the creation of humankind).
July 28, 2014 at 07:19 AM
God’s decree to create centered on Adam’s sin and Christ’s redemption, for the manifestation of his glory.
Ephesians 3:9-10 says God, created all things by Jesus Christ to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God.
So in the mind of God, he made Adam’s sin necessary, for the sake of creating a universe to his liking. This made sin certain, yet in such a way that Adam became the author of sin and experienced the guilt of his acts.
Because of this I believe that God created the universe with death being an integral part of it.
He made predatory animals, sharks, killer whales, things that collide with one another. He made fallen angels (demons) and Satan.
We can speculate what it might have been like had he chose otherwise, but this would lead nowhere.
July 28, 2014 at 09:54 AM
Not so clear thinking (IMHO) here Greg.
Jeff Downs |
July 28, 2014 at 12:15 PM
Possible worlds seem a trivial matter to the likes of ontology's Necessary Being. Eden of course confirms such - housed as it is atop the triune geography of motions amid Self/Other/Us. While some sincerely mistaken folks assure us that divorce and abortion are to God's liking, they also assure - you - that His Gospel is - for you - a lie as God has created - you - for the express purpose of damming you - as that is to His liking - and such He fashions as necessary - withholding Grace from you to guarantee such ends. Prior to this world - that sincerely mistaken theology seems to presume - as well as after it there can be no further worlds possible wherein the All In All of Him can be spied for such He can pen but once. And possible worlds prior to corruption - and in it - and after it - and beyond it - are of course the very sentences comprising the sort of OP found here. The Necessary Being it seems - in all those worlds - can say no less - can be no less - than He is in this one, than He pens in this one. God cannot not-be-God in some possible world. Scripture leaves us no choice: there are many worlds, creations, and One God. Language after all is - in His case alone - necessarily ceaseless, timeless, immutable. Inevitable. As for metaphysics and animals, well, as alluded to already: please.
July 28, 2014 at 05:43 PM
For the sake of completeness it can be stated that we need not assert any absence of physical systems coming into / out-of existence prior to the Fall of Man. Many others develop such descriptives of Pre-Fall landscapes quite fully. Is woman’s pain in labor “began” or is it “increased” by the Fall, or, is our Fall expressly within a spiritual stratum firstly with physicality following suit all the while never having seen Perfection (as opposed to Innocence) in the first place, and must all of those layers exist in the context of Adam / Eden never having – yet – (it’s inevitable in all contingent Self’s possible worlds, corrupted or otherwise) motioned through Adam / Gethsemane, never having eaten of that Other Tree called Life, and so on. Even if we just grant such ipso facto it seems that – in a physical tier – the lion and the lamb will – future tense – exist quite differently than now. Does that imply that physical, as opposed to spiritual, constructs cease to come into / out of Time? Is Suffering necessary for such motions? That’s not entirely obvious. There are better pains in Heaven than here, for Love does freely pour out, fill up – ceaselessly – within the Triune. Some motions are inevitable. All of these dissections depend on our application of Time in part, of Physics in part, of Theology in part, and of scriptures which allude to those means/ends in other ways, such as Christ passing through doors and also eating fish, and so on. Is Christ there motioning within a physical metaphysic, a spiritual metaphysic? It seems Christ’s motions there hint at the inevitable truth of all things for “The Actual”, whatever we think “It” is, cannot be at bottom more than a perfect “1” in singularity. The conclusions hinted at in WisdomLover’s post seem inevitable whether one is a pure Materialist or not, whether one is a pure Immaterialist or not, a Theist or not. Whatever Time/Space is, it wasn’t the first construct (whatever use of tense one wishes to navigate there) nor – it seems – will it be the last. But then, Genesis – page one – is proof enough of Hawking’s Timeless, of Hawking’s Immaterial, of Possible Worlds upon Worlds. It’s all right there. In Eden’s image/geography. In Man’s. In the Triune God’s. Science, Metaphysics, and Scripture leave us no choice: There are many Worlds, Creations, and – through all gradations thereof – One True God.
July 29, 2014 at 03:00 AM
While I understand Greg's attempt at "graciousness" in suggesting that we can't know for sure from scripture if animals died prior to the fall of man, it would seem he is only suggesting this because he has trouble reconciling scientific "theories" concerning the age of fossils, their layering, quantity, etc. with a young earth. If you start with a young earth view, no reconciliation is required. The AIG and CMI folks and others give completely plausible answers here, based on the evidence in the world we see around us.
Also, while I agree that if we read ONLY the scriptures Greg uses in his argument we might come to different conclusions, we must consider ALL scripture in our analysis. What he does not carefully consider is that God's word tells us the animals AND man were made on the SAME 6TH DAY of creation. Yes, there are arguments concerning what 6 days means, but all one needs do to clarify that is to read Exodus 20:8-11 which states, “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy." It is obvious from this passage that the days of creation were standard, regular, 24-hour days. If not, then since mankind has lived on earth about 6,000 years, it's time for us to take a 1,000 year rest! The entire emphasis of this passage is lost if the days of creation are anything other than days.
Ultimately Greg, there is a HUGE theological problem with animals dying prior to the fall of man--it goes against God's word. And when you start trying to force unproven scientific information into the Bible, where do you stop?
July 29, 2014 at 11:42 AM
The finite surface area of the planet we call Earth would soon be miles deep in plant/animal life should every mushroom go on within Time unendingly. Our definitions of all things from within Fragmentation need not be the end of every sentence. In fact they can't be. The business of passing into / out of the thing we call Time and the business of what we call Suffering as housed within the dichotomy of Perfection on the one hand and Innocence on the other hand outreach our current location. We seem to have assumptions which - as we follow them through - fail to bring anything to the table that is at all scripturally obvious or philosophically necessary. Coming in and out of Time ultimately fails to necessitate Suffering in the sense we presume from here within our deficiency of being - our fragmentation, just as, in all gradations of Worlds we find the Necessary Being incapable of being something less than Actuality's All In All, incapable of saying something less than the Immutable Logos pens through and through. We think we know what pain must be – and we in part do, though we must know that there are distances in that vector which outreach our current region, both in the horizontal and in the vertical. “A soul’s union with God is a continual self-abandonment. There may be pleasures in hell (God shield us from them), there may be something not at all unlike pains in Heaven (God grant us soon to taste them)….” (C.S. Lewis). As Man stands in relation to God – so the physical world was given to Man and therein stood in relation to him (Man) along similar lines. How such a world would have behaved is entirely unobvious. The chapters seem - as we peer into God - endless.
July 30, 2014 at 02:24 AM
I would like to add more detail to my above post:
Since Adam’s sin took place in the mind of God before creating the universe, it seems that He would have fashioned the universe accordingly.
This would mean that provision for the penalty for sin would be an integral part of the created order, no matter how old it is. (I personally favor the young earth view).
We know that God saved sinners by Jesus’ atonement long before he died on the cross. And it seems as though God fitted the universe for sin, before Adam fulfilled his role in eating the forbidden fruit in real time.
This would explain why predatory animals, carnivorous insects, sharks, killer whales, fallen angles, and Satan could exist in the created order leading up to the Fall, as though the Fall had already occurred.
We also know that Isaiah foretells of the new Heavens and Earth (Peter places this after the death of the universe), where the predator and the prey will live together in peace. It seems this is a poetic way to describe one facet of everlasting bliss. Some believe it could show that sharks ate seaweed before Adam sinned in real time, which suggests that they will once again live on seaweed in the new earth. Or it could show that sharks were a part of the curse and they will not exist in the new earth.
July 30, 2014 at 05:51 AM
A bit more: For those who claim the mile high deep plant/animal "problem" reveals something which necessitates sin "back then" - the same "problem" awaits us "up ahead". There will be no sin....and the lion...lamb....child....
July 30, 2014 at 06:01 AM
Dave we know that Man is a carnivor, Both of Self and of Other.... the extrapolation / inference you draw thus doesn't hold. That is to say, the "prior" was/is on all fronts possible/actual. If so in Man, than also in the world given to him.
July 30, 2014 at 06:43 AM
@ scblhrm; >"we know that Man is a carnivore, Both of Self and of Other.."
>>Not originally. We were vegans until after the flood (Ge 1:29). It is unnatural for us to eat animal protein. So doing carries consequences (Gen 9:5). Furthermore, our teeth obviously are not designed for carnivorous activity, as say, the shark or lion.
July 30, 2014 at 08:42 AM
Greg - this was a very disappointing "non-defense" defense of the old earth viewpoint. And truth be told, the convoluted apologetic you gave betrays a lack of clear thinking on your part, IMO.
Saying death could have existed before the Fall of Adam theologically presupposes sin "could have" existed before the Fall. Romans 5 & in fact the whole book explicitly and consistently links sin with death. Yes, it's human death, but it also speaks of introducing death to the world, not just limited to mankind.
Gen. 1:30 also clearly says God gave to every beast and bird (animals) "every green plant for food.” Any inference of meat for food is just that: an eisegetical inference.
So when an old earth-er says animals "could have" died before the Fall, the implicit claim is either a) death existed apart from sin before the Fall, or b) sin (and thus death) existed before the Fall.
Either one of these views is in direct contradiction to orthodox Biblical theology. There is no need to reference carbon dating or any other such argument.
We can, of course, as the body of Christ, have certain - though not all kinds of - theological disagreements and still remain in fellowship.
Greg, my biggest concern with your non-defense defense of an old earth is that if you're off on this controversial but fundamental point, what other positions have you yet to share that may reveal perhaps even more departure from orthodoxy?
July 30, 2014 at 08:46 AM
Sorry, that was worded poorly.
I mean to say that Man is, now/fallen, a carnivore, both of Self, of Other, and so on. We cannot conclude – based on that – "...therefore God made us sinful/carnivores…." as you conclude of sharks and so on. X does not grant us Y. That Man's Prior Condition (unfallen/non-carnivore, etc.) was/is on all fronts possible/actual is a fact and, thus, so too with/in the World given to him. Creation’s fragmentation is born out of Man’s privation. We need not read all sentences and make all conclusions from what we perceive from within this region of our privation, our deficiency of being. Possible Worlds, plural, amid all that just is the triune milieu of Self/Other/Us are found within the Language of the Immutable Logos towards Man there in Eden’s triune geography. In all possible worlds the All In All of the Necessary Being cannot not-be, and I wonder what a limited view of the Divine leaves for God to do once this World is complete. Another World? But how? Only one will bring Him Glory……. Well, fortunately that is not the case, as it turns out, for Immutable Love’s Eternally Sacrificed Self is unavoidably beheld by that Contingent and Insufficient species called Man regardless of Privation/Unity – as alluded to earlier. I think you disagree with such possibilities and so perhaps that is why you conclude as you do to find some way through the World falling in and by Man's fall, the World being given to Adam, found in Adam, as Adam was found in Him. There are other, wider, more robust landscapes easily at hand which comfortably house such arenas….pleural. I do agree with you in that you seem to find no real scriptural problem with such things as fossil fuel deposits and so on. My earlier posts here and perhaps WisdomLover’s (I can’t speak for him) agree with such an open door accommodated within scripture’s theological and metaphysical framework.
July 30, 2014 at 10:12 AM
It may be worth pointing out that whatever Eternal Life is, or was going to be, or will be, we find such offered to..... giraffes? No. Of course not. It is offered to Man. If it fails to manifest - it fails by the First Adam (perhaps) or, if it actualizes, it does so by the Last Adam. Clearly it is Man-In-God, God-In-Man wherein or by which all such contours are to be actualized. Man in Unity rather than in Privation.... either way gets us there.... for Man's choices cannot thwart His Choice. Should we know the Whole we shall ipso facto know the Part. But to go on we find even further in Greg's direction that such a thing, location, as Eternal Life did not - there - transpire, did not actualize. This provides a degree of plausibility to Greg's analysis, and leaves the door open for a location of, a condition of, an experience of (so long as we are speaking of life outside of Man/Adam) that which is of the flavor of Non-Eternal Life. We have in this thread then - from what I can tell - four sorts of dissolutions of a supposed "problem" presented: one in Greg's approach, one in Dave's approach, one in my approach, and another direction taken by WisdomLover. Metaphysically speaking, Theologically speaking, Scientifically speaking, we find just no "problem" at all. In fact, such leaves those on the outside of Theism (well, outside of Christianity) with little, or nothing, left to merit an accusation. All that is left is a robust discussion among those inside of Theism (inside of Christianity) atop more essential lines. Oddly, Pre-Fall metaphysics / theology is proving to be quite intriguing, helpful, atop those other lines.
July 30, 2014 at 04:38 PM
There is a lot more going on here in Gen 1-3 than a literal telling of events. One must keep in mind that the whole OT and NT is the story of Jesus.
I find it interesting that God told Adam:
be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it.
Strongs defines subdue as "put under subjection".
A few things to consider:
We know from elsewhere, that Adam was prophet priest and king...he failed, but not yet.
The Garden was where God met with Adam, in the Garden, Adam had all the benefits of obedience, and he was in close communion with God there.
There was an outside the Garden, a place where Adam was, on God's authority, to spread the the Garden. The Garden was prototypical Israel, the place on earth where God dwelt...before the fall, He dwelt there with man freely...there was an outside the Garden...pre-fall.
I think the earth was wild, restless, and unrestrained, hoping for a husbandman/father one who had knowledge, authority and skill. Adam/man was to be that husbandman, God's representative, image bearers.
Back to the Garden, in the Garden, there was a tree of life...this was not the forbidden tree. Had Adam passed the probation period, he would have had access to the tree of life. He failed as king be even letting the serpent into the Garden in the first place.
Why a tree of life? After the fall, God put sword bearing guards to prevent any from gaining access...not just to Eden, but:
Gen 3:24 So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life.
Eternal physical life was never inherent in man, souls possess and eternal quality though. Again, why a tree of life?
I see no reason to not take the accounts of Gen 1-3 as historical. Not allegorical or poetical, but a telling of real events and real persons but to gain understanding of what the meaning is means that the purpose needs to be kept in mind. What is the purpose, so we'd know Jesus.
Brad B |
July 30, 2014 at 10:26 PM
^^^^that was a hurried post, sorry for some of the ramblings and several other errors that may lead to confusion...question or comment freely.
Brad B |
July 30, 2014 at 10:33 PM
Brad B’s approach brings us now up to five sets of contours by which a supposed “problem” presented by the critic is dissolved. At ThinkingChristian (dot net) a commentator (“Melissa”) posted the following in a thread. In a sense it echoes Brad B’s point as it (the commentator) states that the driving substance beneath/within scripture is, “… to give a theological account of the meaning of the events….”, which of course, as Brad B notes, is Christ, which of course / Who of course is necessary in all possible worlds as scripture speaks from A to Z of that singular descriptive/prescriptive of the singular Exemplar, the One True God and The Beloved within the arena of the triune geography of Self/Other/Us housed within the immutable love of the Necessary Being, from Whom, in Whom, and by Whom Love’s Eternally Sacrificed Self ceaselessly, inevitably, timelessly streams. The Triune God just is the What and the Where of all scripture.
Here’s the quote:
“I think both of you are still stuck in the mindset that a biblical text is either literal history (and by this you mean history told from some objective viewpoint or possibly the modern historical genre) or it is metaphorical. The point of the historiography in the Old Testament or the gospels is not to give an account of what happened but rather to give a theological account of the meaning of the events. That is why considerations of how many angels were actually at the tomb massively misses the point. Variations between the accounts in the gospels will generally have a theological point. The metaphors are interwoven with the history. Now that clearly does not mean that none of it happened, or that we can’t have any idea of what actually happened. I think NT Wright’s approach to the resurrection is entirely reasonable as he looks at all the evidence including the beginning of the church. Borg takes a different tack but I think his position is weakened by firstly his motivations for developing an alternative position, which he admits are that modern people just won’t buy into a physical resurrection. The second issue I can see is that it’s very difficult to see how if the resurrection was not physical how it could have the kind of impact that would be required. Metaphor is great but eventually the metaphor has to point to something real. That being said, I think Borg’s take on the atonement fleshes out what the cross means in a new and fresh way that brings out some of the dimensions that may have been lost in the preoccupation with penal substitutionary atonement………. Studying theology has allowed me to have exposure to a lot of different perspectives which has been very fruitful for my faith. I’ve also learnt to sit with new perspectives for a while even though my first visceral response may be to reject it. Even if after careful thought I don’t agree, I find there is often something worthwhile to take away. Over the years I have become less certain and have less need to be certain over the more peripheral issues but those at the center (that God exists, the resurrection, our need for a Savior, the new creation) have become more certain through my reading and reflection....”
July 31, 2014 at 03:39 AM
This is very interesting. I would like to hear more or study further if you could provide info.
The only way I can presently reconcile the creation of predatory animals, is that the Fall took place in the will(decree)of God and He then created accordingly. All was good in the sense that it served his purposes.
Also, God breathed into Adam and he became a living soul. To my knowledge, there is no record of him doing so with animals. This leads me to think Adam's death was spiritual, and he would now return to dust just as the animals.
July 31, 2014 at 08:10 AM
Hi dave, I have been very busy so answering your post has been a challenge. I dont have a formal reference. Probably, the close reading of the texts with the intention of seeing Jesus along with the Reformed tool, the analogy of faith would help refine thinking on this. A for instance would be to see what we know about the first Adam and the Second Adam. What was their job/duties. This requires a fairly exaustive familarity with the scriptures.
I dont think you are far off regarding God's decrees in creation. I think the fall affected mans physical purity but I dont think he was created physically / bodily eternal....but separation from God is death physically and spiritually. Jesus said man does not live by bread alone...I wonder what depths of knowledge can be plumbed from that text when you compare this to Adam....pre-fall and post-fall. At any rate Adam needed the tree of life to be sustained physically....at the fall, death was immediate spiritually.
Uh-oh, I have got to go back to work.
Brad B |
August 01, 2014 at 03:27 PM
Ge 1:28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
Ge 9:1 And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.
God instructed Adam and Eve to replenish the earth as well as Noah and his sons. It is obvious that the latter were instructed because of the massive death wrought by the flood.
It seems equally possible that God gave the same instruction to Adam and Eve because of death. Through pro-creation we are to re-stock the earth as humans die.
Keep in mind that death is based on the Fall, even though it had not occurred in real time, it occurred in the decree of God before time and became certain and inevitable.
(BTW, Thanks Brad for your reply.)
August 02, 2014 at 04:07 AM
I would also like to add this overview.
There are two creations of the universe spoken of in the Bible. The first is God’s eternal decree in which he creates the universe down to its most minute detail. The second is his clothing the first with matter, space and time.
The universe can be as old as the old earth theorists’ claim, and yet be as young as the YEC advocates claim, depending when and what portion of the eternal decree God clothed with matter.
Had the universe existed several billion years before its materialization, the materialization would reveal billions of years even though the materialization could have occurred ten thousand years or less ago, in the time span derived from Genesis. This could include the six literal days.
Scriptural support for this rests in part on Calvin’s interpretation of Hebrews 11:3.
Hebrews 11:3, Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.
Commenting on Hebrews 11:3, Calvin says;
…Not made of things which do appear. As to this clause, all interpreters seem to me to have been mistaken; and the mistake has arisen from separating the preposition from the participle φαὶνομένων. They give this rendering, “So that visible things were made from things which do not appear.” But from such words hardly any sense can be elicited, at least a very jejune sense; and further, the text does not admit of such a meaning, for then the words must have been, ἐκ μὴ φαινομένων: but the order adopted by the Apostle is different.
If, then, the words were rendered literally, the meaning would be as follows, — “So that they became the visible of things not visible,” or, not apparent.
Thus the preposition would be joined to the participle to which it belongs. Besides, the words would then contain a very important truth, — that we have in this visible world, a conspicuous image of God; and thus the same truth is taught here, as in Romans 1:20, where it is said, that the invisible things of God are made known to us by the creation of the world, they being seen in his works. God has given us, throughout the whole framework of this world, clear evidences of his eternal wisdom, goodness, and power; and though he is in himself invisible, he in a manner becomes visible to us in his works.
August 03, 2014 at 05:56 AM
A very good approach. One thing I'd correct... it's not the 20th century anymore ;^)
John M. Harris |
September 04, 2014 at 02:12 PM
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