Fall, What Fall?

by Reed DePace

Theistic evolution maintains that the natural processes currently seen in the physical world are part of God’s original creation. That is, these are the processes he has used to bring into being all that we see.

Thus stars and planets evolved over billions of years through processes involving death, decay and destruction. The ecosystems of our planet (geology, meteorological, biological, etc.) similarly evolved over millions of years through processes involving death, decay, and destruction. And God was in charge of it all.

O.k., got it.

So what does that mean for God’s claim that He made everything good, very good, that is perfect? What does it mean that God created everything without the reign of death to be found anywhere in the created order?

Well, the deadly poison of theistic evolution can be seen in the kinds of arguments that are being offered by young folks raised to believe both that God created everything and that He created everything perfect. Watch the Q&A discussion Doug Wilson has with such young folk at the Indiana University, Bloomington. Their arguments demonstrate that they hold to the following convictions:

  • God created everything, including me.
  • God created everything perfect, including me.
  • God created the capacity to love as a part of this perfect creation, including in me.
  • I was born with the desire to love members of my own gender.
  • Therefore Christians who say homosexuality is wrong are acting wickedly – they are sinning!

It is not a surprise at all to find young folk raised in:

  • Schools teaching them that everything came about via evolution,
  • Communities that protect and promote their self-esteem,
  • Churches that tell them God loves them and has a wonderful plan for their lives, and
  • A Culture that says God (if He actually exists) doesn’t make mistakes,

Would reach the conclusion that their same gender sexual attractions are pure and holy.

Now, as Theistic Evolution has already affirmed that death, decay, and destruction are a normal, good, wholesome, beneficial part of God’s original creation,

How are we ever going to be able to justify the idea of sin and judgment?

It is no surprise when such folks, acting consistent with the necessary conclusions of Theistic Evolution, want to shut us up when we tell them the gospel.

“Fall, WHAT FALL! There is nothing wrong with me. You’re just a judgmental jerk!!”

by Reed DePace

POSTSCRIPT: For those who think I’m making ridiculous connections in this post, here is another example:

The Little Boy Who Wanted To Be a Girl

So how do you explain to these folks that the problem is the fall? How do you explain to them that God did not create this child this way? After all, mankind keeps evolving, right? If you follow theistic evolution you have no alternatives here.

POST-POSTSCRIPT: here is a good starting article to consider problems evolution: What Are the Top Ten Problems with Darwinian Evolution? This is a scientific perspective, not a biblical perspective. For those interested in an informed and reasonable critique of evolution from a science perspective, I recommend this site.

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147 Comments

  1. July 13, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    I’m currently reading Al McFadyen’s book “Bound to Sin” and early on he makes the great point that those who deny original sin because of doubting the historicity of Genesis do NOT then replace it with a more “scientific” notion of original sin. They just replace it with an individualistic notion of autonomous morality. This makes him think that the objection to original sin (or sin in general) are not in fact disinterested naturalists.

    I like Sarah Coakley’s remarks on sexuality and desire. (She’s Anglican so there’s a big storm there.) I think most of us assume that desires should not be rightly ordered in general. Why do we think we know what we mean when we say “sexuality”?

  2. Jim said,

    July 13, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    Was this post designed to advance the conversation? It demonstrates that you really have very little interest in having a dialog. Same old condescending tone so common among the enlightened Reformed folk. Sad. I was hoping you were going in a different direction with your posts. You have the opportunity to engage a very difficult area for evolutionists like me: the fall. instead, you content yourself with this self-serving nonsense. I think you’re better than this post.

  3. July 13, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    There were some really nice deer out on hole 14 this morning. You guys should have seen it.

    What’s this all about? Something about evolution?

    Is there an agenda to be advanced, with this post?

    Does GreenBaggins exist to promote some sort of agenda? Because if so, I want to know what it is.

    I’m new in these parts folks. The talk around here since I found you all has all been about creation, etc.

    Let me tell you – being out there, shooing the deer so we don’t hit them, we had a blast. Out in creation. What fun :-)

    As for the points in this post. I’m still thinking…pondering…

    I’ll probably be reading the posts here at GB dealing with puritan writings. Are there any puritan fans out there? Can I get an Amen for William Gurnall?

    Christianity is pretty cool. I wonder why so much has been about creation lately. Is that the hot topic in your circles?

    I think the owner of this blog had some interesting points about the book of John. I liked that post. I’m still thinking about that one too, but it resonated a little more…

    Yeah, I don’t understand the lay of the land here.

    I’ll be reading other posts. I’m confused by this one, right now.

    Peace,
    AB

  4. Reed Here said,

    July 13, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    Jim: I sincerely do not know why you respond this way to this post. I am humbly sincere in expressing my concerns here.

    This is the very kind of thing I routinely face in my pastorate. The logic followed is exactly as I’ve described. Maybe there are errors in the logic? Well good, then sincere discussion among men whom presume the best intentions in each will help clarify and resolve things.

    Yet if these kinds of words merely persuade you that someone like me is actually malicious in intent, then there is no place for conversation.

  5. Reed Here said,

    July 13, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    Andrew, maybe part of the problem is we have a propensity to think we need to read between the lines. Let me urge you to resist that temptation. I have been straightforward in all my posts on this subject. There is no agenda. Instead there is every desire to use this blog as per its purpose, to discuss substantial issues of doctrine relevant to the Church. Theistic evolution is a doctrine relevant to the Church. I am expressing my understanding and opinion. Please just read me as I’ve written, straightforward in my disagreement with theistic evolution.

  6. July 13, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    I’m just glad for the OPC creation report. There seems to be room in our denomination for someone like me, who remains agnostic on the length of days. That was always my concern, that I was linked to this “evolution” concept you all talk about, because I am agnostic. And that my salvation was in jeopardy. I think I’m ok on the salvation issue, I’ve worked that one out.

    Does anyone know here if I am in trouble for believing it’s OK to be agnostic as to the length of days question?

    Reed,

    You are leveling some harsh criticism at theistic evolutionists here.

    What do you think of people like me who are still working out the length of days question – am I linked in with these theistic evolutionists, who you view as holding poisionous views?

    Maybe I am on a slippery slope, like the one on hole 15, which meant my shot was an ugly duck hook? I always want to have solid footing…

    Rhetorical questions, still reading about puritans,

    Andrew

    PS thanks as always, all, for taking a risk and sharing your views for the world to read!

  7. July 13, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    Andrew, lots of questions in your response: I think you need to do two things: first read up on the history of the American church in relation to these issues, you’ll begin to see why it is such a storm. And second, learn more of what is going on in the church at large – then you’ll know why these issues are being raised. Furthermore( I know this is three things) ask yourself the question why only those who actually hold to the literal account of creation, and not the TE’s, are getting worked up about this. This should take you back full circle to my first suggestion.

    Peace indeed.

    Jim – perhaps you can raise the tone: give us some preliminary thoughts on the Fall from your perspective.

  8. July 13, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    Reed at 5,

    Ok. I will be reading it closer.

    It’s been quite a whirlwind, this blog.

    I’m still trying to find my ball, it’s high in the weeds.

    I may need to drop one on the fairway, or walk back to the tee box and hit another ball.

    Point is, I’ll be focusing on basics. Puritans are helping.

    Bye for now,
    Andrew

  9. July 13, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    Matt,

    All very good.

    I’ve got two books on YEC that I am still working through. I think I am a fairly committed agnostic on the issue. But my heart goes out to YEC brothers who are, in my view, in a type of pain over the issue.

    I want to get to know YEC brothers better, and I want to listen.

    Peace,
    Andrew

  10. July 13, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    And Matt, I read a great chapter in “Understanding fundamentalism and evangelicalism” by George M Marsen, entitled, “why creation science.” I actually made a copy of that chapter to retain for my records.

    The last chapter in that book in “understanding J Gresham Machen.” And as an OPC guy, maybe those of you readers at home know who my hero is.

    “Thanks be for the active obedience of Christ. No hope without it.”

    Wise words, by a wise man.

    I’m done,
    Andrew

  11. Reed Here said,

    July 13, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    Andrew: I’m not addressing harsh criticism as those holding to theistic evolution. I am addressing criticism at theistic evolution itself. I make no judgments about those who disagree with me. Maybe a fine distinction, but it is a critical one, and helps us avoid taking something personal that was not personal.

    As to length of days, both analogical days and Framework hypothesis allow for agnosticism on actual length of days.

    Such agnosticism is not what I am addressing. In fact I hold to quite a bit of agnosticism in such questions, as I do not believe Scripture spells out for us all the details.

    What is the issue for me is a system of details, theistic evolution, that I believe contradicts what the Bible actually does say. E.g., in this post, think through what exactly the Bible is talking about in a fall into sin and consequent creation spanning curse (transformative judgment). Whatever system we come up with, it has got to take seriously what the Bible says about these things.

    I do not believe theistic evolution can do so. In fact, I think it necessarily denies any real fall and curse. I am not saying that some sort of mechanism in which death-decay-destruction can lead to beneficial change is not now present. I am saying that if it was always present from the beginning then this makes nonsense of the Bible’s teaching that these things came about as a result of one man’s sin.

    So be agnostic on the details – seems very wise to me. But actually be agnostic on the details. Don’t assume you have to accept some that deny things the Bible does teach.

  12. July 13, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    Reed,

    Thanks. That helps me think through things and the lay of the land.

    Someone in the last post said something about evolutionary creationism (“EC”).

    Any reader know about that? Should the arguments used here against TE be used against EC?

    I’ll be reading,
    Andrew

  13. July 13, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    PS so I’ll read about EC. I definately, if nothing else, like the word order (theistic evolution, emphasis on the “evolution,” where as “evolutionary creationism” puts emphasis on the creation, creator, etc.).

    And my Bible is all about the Creator. Bible over Science.

    Wise words, Reed. Also a main point of the OPC creation report (one of their five, “fundamentals” so to speak).

    Reading,
    Andrew

  14. July 13, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    Or maybe it’s the five fundatmentals here:

    “http://opc.org/qa.html?question_id=460″

    Bible over Science, is articulated per the OPC, as I see, as follows (this is the fifth bullet point).

    “The priority of Scripture in the relationship between special and general revelation”

  15. July 13, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    And I want to be as honest and forthwright:

    I have been asking a lot of questions. I know. And questioning the “agenda” of the blog.

    Something I heard yesterday, in a lecture, about machen (see my webpage / google plus if interested) was a quote from machen, I think, about how Christiainity is meant to be out in the open. It’s best that way.

    I think we need to get these things out in the open.

    So I want to say a really big thanks to Reed and Lane, who I perceive as putting a lot of work into this! While armchair theologians like me ask all our questions, etc.

    My only point is, I view all of this as very healthy. I hope you all feel the same. The OPC Creation report says these types of things need to take place. Dialogue. and I want to foster that.

    I’m actually quite pleased with how civil it’s all been.

    All participants should now stick their right hands straight out front, bend it at a 120 angle, hand behind back, and give a few pats. pat yourself on the back.

    not meant to be condescending. i want to highlight how well i think this has gone.

    out of gas,
    andrew

  16. rfwhite said,

    July 13, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    Reed: If, according to the protology of Theol Evol, “death, decay, and destruction are a normal, good, wholesome, beneficial part of God’s original creation,” what is the eschatology of Theol Evol? In other words, what is the final state of God’s creation and how do death, decay, and destruction relate to that final state?

  17. Trent said,

    July 13, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    rfwhite: That is where they are inconsistent…though perhaps maybe some of them aren’t and actually believe we will keep evolving for billions of years, I don’t know exactly though.
    I like how GreenBaggings is addressing the issue; with TE as Reed has been showing is not compatible with the Bible and only the most consistent ones understand that like back in Darwins time. People want the cake and eat it too this day in age. They want Christianity, but none of the persecution that comes with it. They forgot to count the cost. I am not saying all are this way, heck no! But, the sad reality is that some of the TE advocates think they are the next Paul, proclaiming the gospel of evolution and that we have to fundamentally redo theology in light of what we supposedly know about ‘evolution’. It’s sickening!

  18. B. Ricks said,

    July 13, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    ~Reed~
    (I’m not advocating TE) How does one account for plants yielding seed, trees yielding fruit, and man being free to eat thereof without decay or death of sorts? Is not plant decay and eating a sort of death in the basic sense? Why would this not extend to animals? Would death of animals, or animals sustaining themselves through basic means be “not good?” Granted, death of man is different, but it seems to me that a form of “death” or decay with limits was proclaimed “good” in the natural order. Different story when it comes to Image Bearers though. Curious of your approach to this…
    A Brother,

  19. July 13, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    Yes the inconsistency of which Trent speaks is evident. Furthermore, as I mentioned on the last thread, their acceptance of the dominant secular view on origins, obliges them to hermenutically at least, take a similar view of other “biblical incompatibles” with current science. But none dare go there – for they know where it ends.

    I was told a few years ago by a Christian physicist who taught at a top university in the UK (and who also trained at one of the foremost seminaries in the US) that he believed what he believed about origins because it was the line of least resistance to the unbelieving scientific world. His position caused “the least offense”. The irony and inconsistency of what he said was astonishing. I didn’t reply to that one at the time, but thought “Good job God didn’t think like that about the gospel”.

  20. greenbaggins said,

    July 13, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    Dr. White, that may be the most important question of all. To my mind it is very similar to the problem of pantheism: if evil is part of God, then how is there any hope for getting rid of it? Similarly, if death and decay are part of the original “creation,” then how is there any hope for getting rid of death and decay? Wouldn’t the new heavens and the new earth also have the same problem?

  21. greenbaggins said,

    July 13, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    Andrew, there is no particular agenda on this blog except talking about theology. All the contributors to the posts of this blog are confessionally Reformed folk. If you wish to see an agenda, it is to promote a confessionally Reformed view of what the Bible teaches.

  22. Andrew Duggan said,

    July 13, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    To those seeking conversation on this subject:

    This “conversation” has been ongoing for much longer than a century. What the Scriptures teach has not changed in that time.

    The churches have been down this same path before.

    What rational basis does anyone have to think it will turn out differently?

    If the PCA and OPC had not already allowed agnosticism on the “days of Creation” would we be talking about this now?

  23. Reed Here said,

    July 13, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    Dr. White: initially I thought the eschatological direction would be a sound one. We could argue from what would be the changes from the present post-fall state to the final eschatological state of perfection. That is, the reversals experienced in the final state would correspond to what was lost from the pre-fall state.

    However, in a previous thread some comments from some of my brothers lead me to believe that this too will be a place of contention. I got the impression that some were maintaining so much of a metaphorical approach to interpreting Scripture that we can be sure of no details in the description of the eschatalogical state. For all we know, following this reasoning, we really will have wings, sit on clouds and play harps.

  24. Reed Here said,

    July 13, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    B. Ricks: yes, of course, such things have to be accounted for, as the Scripture states plants were given for food pre-fall.

    I’m not sure of the biological system that corresponds to this. What I do believe is that in some substantial manner the system did not involve the system of death-decay-destruction that God administered as a curse-response to sin. Whatever the changes in the system, they were radical.

  25. B. Ricks said,

    July 13, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    ~Reed~ #24, I don’t know either. Neither do I know the biological systems that will be operating in the eschatological state. It is a wonder to me (and to Paul.) It is mysterious how Jesus could eat a fish in the end of John. I am wary of (through a desire to protect an interpretation of the creation account) approving forms of gnosticism. Since much of the warp and woof of this is truly mysterious, in the same way much in Genesis is mysterious. Given this, I am willing to give truck-lengths of room for a difference of interpretation.

  26. July 13, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    greenbaggins @ 21

    Very thankful for the clarification. Since finding the reformed faith and more speicifically, confessionally concerned individuals, I am very much appreciative for the “agenda” (though that’s a bad word) that we share.

    I have so much to be thankful for, for people who have a high view of our historic creeds and confessions.

    It’s time for me to listen to you all, stop asking questions, and do the “homework” I need to, in order to figure out what I want to know. About many things.

    In all of your debt,
    Andrew

  27. July 13, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    Hey Andrew D, quick note:

    “If the PCA and OPC had not already allowed agnosticism on the “days of Creation” would we be talking about this now?”

    I’m going to disagree, and say that the creation reports are not prompting a discussion here. The discussion exists. Whether we want to admit it or not. I see the creation reports as helpful starting points.

    Maybe you know more about the history within presbyterianism or something else. But I wouldn’t place blame on the hard work of committee members, seeking to, in my judgment, “reveal the animus imponentis” of the OPC, and my guess would be, in the PCA as well.

    I found the reports helpful.

    Peace,
    Andrew

  28. rfwhite said,

    July 13, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    20 greenbaggins and 23 Reed:

    Striking: “we can be sure of no details in the description of the eschatalogical state” but we can be sure that of the details of theistic evolution.

    Follow-ups: Can we be sure about the origin of death (human or non-human)? Are the phenomena of death, decay, and destruction things from which humans need deliverance? Is death the enemy (much less the last enemy) of humans or not? From where does such deliverance come: from the grace of natural selection? In other words, what is the gospel of theistic evolution?

  29. greenbaggins said,

    July 13, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    And the hits keep coming! Brilliant, Dr. White. Is death the enemy? We might even go further here and ask, “What connection, if any, is there between sin and death in the TE paradigm?” James tells us that sin is death in the seed, and that death is sin in full flower. This cannot be if death existed before the Fall.

  30. B. Ricks said,

    July 13, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    #29, greenbaggins,
    I am not a fan of TE, nor do I advocate for it, but I am wondering if you can define your definition of death and what you hold the death in James to be representing?

  31. greenbaggins said,

    July 13, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    I would define death in this context partially as the separation of body and soul (the first death), and partially as the eternal condemnation by people who suffer in Hell (the second death). I would not include in this the “death” of plants, as clearly plants had to die for humans and animals to eat plants. The death of animals is a bit more tricky, and I’m not sure if the Bible comes down one way or the other, although I think the picture in Isaiah about the wolf and the lamb is indicative of where we should go (that animals did not die before the Fall, either).

  32. B. Ricks said,

    July 13, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    In short, is all “death” the same?

  33. July 13, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    B.Ricks et al – see the definition of life/ death in an earlier thread, which I note got no response from any TE’s. Life is described in Gen 1-2 and 9 as “the breath of life” or “living being” (both animals and man) and as the “blood” in Gen 9. So the presence of life, which after all is an attribute of God, is defined by “breath” and “blood”, neither of which for example, the plant kingdom possess. It seems easy to define death, once you know what life is.

  34. July 13, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    Amazing to me, that the conversation is now around what “death” is.

    So glad Jesus figured it out, meaning, what death is. And not only knows the answer, but conquered it.

    Wonderful, no, brothers?

    Just a side comment. Continue the creation discussion. What a great Savior we serve.

    Andrew

  35. July 13, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    Once we know what Life is, Matt?

    Life is believing on Christ alone, right?

    Maybe the discussion is over semantics now, what “life” and “death” are.

    I’m just glad blogging is, in the end, not a matter of “life and death.”

    Everyone smile,
    Andrew

  36. B. Ricks said,

    July 13, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    Thank you, greenbaggins. I agree that TE has many inherent problems, but I do not think the same problems exist (in the same way) for those holding to death of animals, plants, or other such things pre-fall. Things need to be carefully defined, and this is a diverging issue that should not be mixed in a TE discussion IMO.

  37. July 13, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    Ooh, I see another post by Lane. It’s about “Life.”

    This blogging stuff is fun!

    Will read later,
    Andrew

  38. B. Ricks said,

    July 13, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    33, Matthew, I will look into that. Thank you.

  39. B. Ricks said,

    July 13, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    It seems to me that this discussion, in order to be honest, would have to dive into definitions and “semantics,” as not all death is (in the same way) death, and not all life is (in the same way) life. But that is difficult to do via a blog, and beyond my pay-grade, so to speak. I wish you gentlemen the best.

  40. July 13, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    33, Matthew:

    “So the presence of life, which after all is an attribute of God, is defined by “breath” and “blood”, neither of which for example, the plant kingdom possess. It seems easy to define death, once you know what life is.”

    I see a lot of this question, for me, comes back to the question, “what is time?”

    What I mean is, we are saying the “presence of Life” is an “attribute of God.”

    And the “presence of life” is defined as “having breath and blood.”

    Well, we see God has the “presence of life” as defined here, in the person of Jesus.

    All that to say, yes, we believe in a pre-existent Christ.

    What I am not willing to say, though, is that it is “easy” to define, “death” based on your thought construct. What I mean is, yes, I can see what “death” is not.

    That doesn’t mean I know what, “death” is.

    But I’m OK with not knowing what “death” is.

    Christ knows, and not at an “intellectual” level, but on an “experiential level.”

    And why the question about, “what is time?”

    Christ entered our “time” at a particular point in “time.” We are part of the unfolding of “time.”

    What I am saying is, how does the eternal God enter His creation, become of part of His creation, His “time.”

    Well, in the incarnation.

    All of which is truly fascinating.

    And which has been revealed in a way, in the person of Jesus, that is known to us. We see what angels only long to see?

    It’s awesome, this Jesus we serve.

    Enough from me. But again, “what is “time””?

    I don’t know. God knows.

    Peace,
    AB

  41. July 13, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    All I know is, I am thankful that God is a patient God. He has all the time in the world for me to repent. Enough from me. I should write a blog.

  42. July 13, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    I’ve heard it said that time is what keeps everything from all happening at once.

    Maybe that doesn’t help, but boy, a blog sure is a discussion all happening at once. An almost “timeless” affair.

    What a whirlwind,
    Andrew

  43. July 13, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    I think I think about time, because, like my Pastor said, it’s not so much the question about how long the Genesis days are, that’s the real interesting question.

    Perhaps a more interesting question is, “why are there days at all?”

    Noodle on that?

    Andrew

  44. Andrew Duggan said,

    July 13, 2012 at 6:30 pm

    Andrew B @27,

    I’m not sure where you get the idea I was referring to the creation reports of either the PCA or the OPC. Despite what you might think those reports are not the license for agnosticism regarding the days of creation.

    As I said this conversation has been ongoing for much longer than either the PCA or the OPC.

    You wrote:

    Maybe you know more about the history within presbyterianism or something else. But I wouldn’t place blame on the hard work of committee members, seeking to, in my judgment, …

    I did not place blame on the committee(s) or its (their) members. Why would you introduce the idea of blaming anyone or their work?

    These conversations on the implications of Theistic Evolution including “Fall, What Fall?” are only going to happen within the churches if the boundaries regarding the days of creation are (as they were) left “open”.

    Andrew

  45. July 13, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    Andrew D:

    Yeah, I may be off in the weeds. Forget the reports.

    You state thus:

    “What rational basis does anyone have to think it will turn out differently?”

    What is the expected outcome thus far in churches, that you see will happen here? I think the conversation is ongoing, is intellectually stimulating, and I think by God’s grace, a study of His creation in general and special revelation leads to greater understandings of His character, and a whole host of other meaningful, real benefits. I could name more reasons why I think the potential value of this conversation is high.

    Let’s expand out the quotation of mine. Let’s not just say the work of committee members, but people like me, who asks questions on blogs about the topic at hand.

    What I see in your initial comment is that maybe this conversation would die down ( a desired outcome?) if the aforementioned denominations did not allow agnosticism.

    Hey, I’m going to state right up front that I apologize. I need to stop posting, for a host of reasons. I didn’t read you clearly enough.

    Maybe I am not reading Scripture closely enough, and that’s the source of my angst over these issues.

    So I bow out. But will answer any questions my way. Sorry Andrew. I hope that clears things up.

    I will say I don’t see things as you do, as regards your last paragraph. If you want more of my thoughts, I can elaborate. But it sounds to me you think agnostic denominations allow for all this fracas / chaos about how the fall occurred. Needless to say, if these denominations required YEC to be fully subscribed to as a requirement for membership, these conversations may go away. But the cost is way to high. For reasons I can go into. I have reasons why I don’t keep quiet :-)

  46. July 13, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    And just to be completely clear, Andrew D:

    The allowance for agnosticism over how long days 1,2 etc or Genesis is a direct result of a ‘majority position’ in the OPC, as evidenced by the existence of the creation report. That report could not have come about if the majority position in the OPC didn’t want it. I know I am connecting the dots, but to argue something else (ie those reports are the result of the work of fringe elements in the OPC, for instance) just wouldn’t make sense.

    I find refuge for my agnosticism in that OPC report. You can others chiming in that also will state that ministers can hold, for example, framework or analogical or day age, and I think that allowance is made abundantly clear by our 2004 report.

    What I think would make any unproductive conversation go away , is if the parties in the minority position (and this principle can be applied to just about any doctrinal controversy) would use the proper means that a church like the Presbyterian church so liberally and generously provides to each one of us. It is a hallmark of our tradition, our system of government. Lets go about things the right way. My sense is this blogging can get out of hand. So far, my sense is, this conversation is reflecting friends from around the country, sharing personal opinions and experiences. All fine and to be welcomed! What I fear is people using a forum like this to advance agendas. We are not to set down theological principles or make rules that are outside of what Scripture requires. I feel strongly that Scripture does not mandate as strict a hermeneutic on Genesis 1 and 2 as some YEC brothers have over the years tried to convince me that it does. I welcome brothers to argue positions they feel strongly about using the proper channels. What I don’t like is being bullied or seeing what I believe are improper means to promote a specific debatable agenda. This blog seems OK to me, so far, but I would advise against such things going forward, for precisely the reason that things get out of hand quickly . We need to ask ourselves, why are we doing this?

    This post is not directed at you, Andrew. But is my musings. I’ve really enjoyed the friendship I have found here. I’m still looking for my first golf outing as a result of joining your online club here. Then I will really know this has been time well spent ;-)

    Irenically, and with all pleas of grace,
    Andrew

  47. Brad B said,

    July 14, 2012 at 1:17 am

    Hi Andrew [Buckingham], I hope to be heard/understood in the Proverbs 27:6 way. So far in 46 posts on this thread, you have posted 20. I try to be judicial with my time since I work outside for up to 14 hours a day, everyday, but Sunday. [IMHO] About one third of what you write is contributing to the thread–and I appreciate these posts, but the rest is such a distraction I am moved to ask you to please consider that some of us “lurkers” or “mostly lurkers” have to sift through a lot of information, [like this new thread 46 posts] to catch up. I hope you’ll consider that this forum mighn’t be the best place for some of the more random thoughts that take away from or just dont add to meaningful dialogue.

    My option is to either skip over every AB post and miss some good stuff, or take the time and read random musings that make my limited available time even more limited. I hope you’ll consider that your writings are interspersed in topics of converstaion that some appreciate being privy to [due to the high level of compentency of participants]. I participate in 2 blogs, STR.org, and this one. Being reformed [PCA], having moved from a modern evangelical church, GB has been a valuable resource to me. [look up "Who'se Lens Are You Using" to see some informed conversation by people who know their stuff on all sides of the topic]

    Anyway, I golf too, once or twice a year, and I hope golf is a heavenly activity where if it pleases God I’ll play more–maybe even with you, if it doesn’t please Him I’ll do what does and enjoy that more.

  48. July 14, 2012 at 1:44 am

    Brad,

    You are right.

    Andrew

  49. July 14, 2012 at 1:50 am

    PS In conclusion, I will say, I am baffles by what you all are doing here, blogging theology. I don’t mean to be offensive.

    Just can anyone here honestly say that the work they are doing here, in either posting blogs, or comments, is advancing the Kingdom? If it is, I fail to see how. Again, take what in say with a grain of salt and please, not offensively. To me, what you are doing is name hobby. Like golf.

    I’ll try to read posts and comments. I’m just baffled.

    Brad, yeah, let’s golf, if you are in the area, and would like to.

    Call me a lonely golfer,
    Andrew

  50. July 14, 2012 at 1:51 am

    *baffled
    *I say
    *a hobby

  51. paigebritton said,

    July 14, 2012 at 8:36 am

    Hi, Andrew,
    The Green Baggins blog was created by Lane Keister to offer a setting where theological ideas could be discussed by those who are interested. Some of us come with questions, some with answering information, some with propositions, some with answering arguments, some with agendas. As Lane wrote you earlier, those of us who write posts do so from a Confessional Reformed point of view. We cover a wide range of topics, depending on our interests: book reviews, biblical interpretation, theological issues, pastoral concerns, apologetics, etc.

    Lane allows the free participation of commenters writing from non-Reformed points of view. The most important limits on comments from ANY point of view are the following:

    * Lane does not allow anonymous posts.
    * Comments should remain on-topic.
    * Commenters may forcibly address a person’s arguments, but should not turn their comments into personal attacks. (Always a tricky line to walk/police.)

    We do encourage those who comment to try to be concise, for the reasons Brad noted above.

    Hope that this is helpful information.

    Paige Britton, moderator

  52. July 14, 2012 at 8:49 am

    Thanks, Paige.

    Not meant as a dig, but with my personal opinions about blogs, and the matters here discussed, I get the real sense that, ‘I don’t belong here.’ Not a bad thing. I really shouldn’t even be reading things here. Call me sensitive, but i have been hurt by things that have gone on here. Its my fault, not anyone else’s.

    I want to thank you and the other moderators for so generously giving of your time. I’ve been allowed to opine on matters, and try to find golfers :-)

    Have back nice weekend, and Lord’s Day.

    Grace and peace,
    Andrew

  53. July 14, 2012 at 8:50 am

    *a nice

  54. paigebritton said,

    July 14, 2012 at 9:33 am

    Andrew,
    Of course you’ll need to decide this for yourself, but I wouldn’t count yourself out too soon if I were you. When I first started commenting here it was like stepping onto a moving train, and I too was pretty baffled by this world. I definitely didn’t feel like I “belonged,” and often felt like quitting. But after riding along awhile I started sorting out the weirdness of interacting in this medium, the variety of voices and tones and motivations among commenters, and the part that I could play in asking questions and offering ideas.

    As Brad said, you do have some interesting things to say, and there’s no harm in asking questions and learning something new, or offering opinions and seeing what it’s like to have them challenged. Consider it an opportunity to develop a thicker skin, grow in intellectual courage, and gain a wider perspective on Christian thought. My philosophy of participation now is that I’ll either emerge from the GB experience a sharpened pencil or a basket case…and I’ve decided it’s worth the risk. ;)

    pax,
    Paige B.

  55. July 14, 2012 at 9:37 am

    Nicely put :-)

    Being a bit of a basket case right now, you’ll understand why Andrew Buckingham doesn’t show up for a while around here.

    Thanks be to Him, who sees the basket cases that we are, and Loves us unconditionally. In spite of our sin and weakness.

    I pray that God would use your labors here to bring Him the glory He so rightly deserves.

  56. July 14, 2012 at 9:41 am

    Andrew Buckingham… (and I mean this in the spirit of brotherhood)

    the amount of entries on these last three threads and the speed with which they appear, appears to show that you are shooting too readily from the hip. I think you know that… because you keep telling us “this is my last post” – then quickly and seemingly without much thought up pop another three of four posts. If you are “baffled” (your word not mine), then you don’t have much to offer the conversation – what you are doing is clouding the issue. It seems you may do well to sit and ponder a little more, before writing posts like #40 which is simply incoherent and adds nothing to the discussion. Yes, it demonstrates you are baffled. I would just listen and learn for a while. To compare the discussion of biblical truth with golf (much as I like golf) is simply trite and I think you know better.

  57. rfwhite said,

    July 14, 2012 at 9:49 am

    Reed (and whoever else wishes to chime in):

    Some odds and ends …

    Regarding death and the fall, if it is true that “what you sow does not come to life unless it dies” (1 Cor 15.36), there is arguably, in the ancient conception, a category of death that occurs (or would have occurrred) apart from the fall of man: in the seed-bearing plant kingdom, there is no life without death. This observation would be complementary to and consistent with what Matthew Holst said above in #33 about the absence of breath and blood from plant life.

    Also, a series of questions occurs to me because of your post. As you, Reed, understand Th Evol’s view of death, decay, and destruction, is it the case that life and death, blessing and curse are, for humans, in fact, two distinct destinies as they are in the biblical understanding of history? What constitutes death and life, curse and blessing in Th Evol? For example, is blessing everything that fosters the life-fruitfulness and dominion-victory of man male and female? Is curse everything that furthers the death-fruitlessness and subjugation-defeat of man male and female? That is, in Th Evol, do death and life really stand in antithetical relationship to one another? Or is it the case that, as in the plant kingdom, there is no life without death? If death is ever antithetical to life, under what circumstances? In a related vein, is it the case in Th Evol as it appears to be, that human death and life are not – or at least are not necessarily – related, respectively, to human disobedience and obedience? In the biblical affirmations about blessing and curse, life and death, we find a denial of the ultimacy of evil and the basis for the believer’s hope in the vindication of good. In other words, the Bible provides the basis of a true moral optimism. In representing death and life as it does, does Th Evol present the death-life relationship as an essential, coequal, interminable dualism? Is there any basis in Th Evol for moral optimism?

  58. July 14, 2012 at 9:52 am

    Matthew,

    All you say is true.

    My golf analogies speaks to my current low view of these matters being discussed in these forums.

    Its not theology that I have a problem with. Its these blogs. This isn’t an explanation. But a revelation of my sin problem. If I so have a problem with theology being discussed like this, I should petition presbytery or something other.

    Please view me in light of being a repentant basket case, who needs maybe at least a month before anything of value comes from these fingers.

    I will not add new thought. But can respond and ask forgiveness in this forum, for what I have been doing.

    In Christ,
    Andrew

  59. July 14, 2012 at 9:54 am

    * this isn’t a defense

    Explanation was the wrong word

    * if I do

  60. July 14, 2012 at 9:54 am

    Reed et al…

    Talking this morning with a friend about theological / hermeneutical method and Gen 1-3. TE views Scripture through the lens of rationalistic science’s take on General revelation. As a result the clear biblical account of origins and Kingdom Prologue (to borrow another’s terminology) is now less clear, even contradictory to the plain meaning of the text. This is a natural result of general revelation (or one’s particular take on it) ruling special revelation. But surely was that not the great lie of Satan in the garden.

    Two trees, which I take to be largely sacramental in significance, are placed in the garden as a symbol of God’s goodness (life) and authority (Knowledge of good and evil). Neither tree could impart what they pointed to – they were sacramental symbols of such. The trees were part of general revelation, created like every other tree. Yet these two particular trees required special revelation to properly understand them and their significance. “You shall not eat…”. God explained their use / significance by speaking his Word to Adam.

    Satan’s grand lie? That the trees could be understood and utilized WITHOUT the spoken revelation of God. Satan questioned a. whether God actually said what he had said “has God said?” (3:1) and b. the effects of eating it according to God’s spoken sanction, “you will not surely die for God knows when you eat of it your eyes will be opened…” (3:4-5). This is the lie, that general revelation can be accessed / understood / examined without the special revelation of God.

    It seems that this lie is being enacted once again in the whole TE debate. The lie is that general revelation, which should compliment special revelation (even in spite of the radical sin effects upon it), now in fact rules it. Satan it seems is very happy with this, at least given his previous efforts to derail man’s faith in Genesis.

  61. July 14, 2012 at 9:55 am

    Brother Andrew – no worries.

  62. Steve Drake said,

    July 14, 2012 at 10:37 am

    Lane @ 31,

    The death of animals is a bit more tricky, and I’m not sure if the Bible comes down one way or the other, although I think the picture in Isaiah about the wolf and the lamb is indicative of where we should go (that animals did not die before the Fall, either).

    Hi Lane,
    I’m seeking clarification on the above.

    Theistic evolution (TE) accepts ipso facto the dead animals in the fossil record over millions and millions of years of geologic time. We see dead animals starting primarily from the Cambrian period 550 million years ago (some Precambrian fossils, but rare), according to the geological timescale. That we see all major phyla represented in the Cambrian is known as the ‘Cambrian Explosion’. These dead animals preserved as fossils continues unabated for millions of years, in many cases in what are known as ‘Fossil Graveyards’. Uniformitarian geologists have their own ‘mass extinction events’, and label them as such according to period. TE believes that Adam came near the end of this millions of years process, and furthermore that almost sentient and soul-filled man-like creatures (hominids), before Adam, lived and died. Their dead fossils are also found in the rocks.

    If Scripture is clear that there was no death, decay, destruction before the Fall and yet we see evidence in the fossil record that there indeed was death, destruction, decay with hundreds of millions of animals all before Adam and the Fall, then I’m curious, as to why you would say that the death of animals is tricky, and you’re not sure if the Bible comes down one way or another on it?

  63. July 14, 2012 at 10:53 am

    Matt at 60:

    Wow. Cogent analysis. Thanks. IMO, your ‘gen rev rules over spec rev’ construct is, I think, really how many operate, and don’t know it, because_that is what they hear in school and from the media.

    What a place of horror it would be, if general revelation were the ruler of creation. Our ruler is the one who speaks ‘peace.’

    What’s so hard is for the layman like me, is to understand what theistic evolution proper, really is. Fortunately for me, I am an accountant, and not a theologian or a scientist.

  64. July 14, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    Andrew – Lol. We need accountants as well. ;)

  65. July 14, 2012 at 2:41 pm

    [...] Fall, What Fall? by Green Baggins shows what happens to our view of ourselves if we leave out a real temptation and fall into sin by a real Adam and Eve.  For those over 12, please read this, you WILL face this kind of thinking! [...]

  66. July 14, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    I do want to say, to anyone reading this comment and has been put through 65 comments to get here, of which about 1/3 are mine in this thread: I apologize. I really love the creation issue and enjoy reading articles in science blogs and forums, about all sorts of matters. Geology, and how life came about on this planet (however that was) is a hobby that I follow, because I know not why. Again, I apologize that you have had to read my quirky thoughts about time (purge comment 40 from your memory if you can) and from now on, I will be reading what Reed and Lane and company put out here, as well as the commenters.

    So: sorry for having to read all this. Keep putting out theological thought, brothers and sisters! Our God is happy to see us all enjoying internet fellowship and learning about one another’s perspective. I don’t think our God is glorified in either people writing, or having to read, less than ‘par’ writing. And if there’s one thing I know, its that there are a lot of smart, hard working, thoughtful people around these parts. And the last thing I would want to do is to bring you game down (just like in golf!).

  67. Reed Here said,

    July 14, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    Dr. White, no. 57: I hesitate at your first observation. With regard to plants I admit that pre-fall plant life may have experienced this scenario:

    > At some point there is a cessation of a biological growth function,
    > That is then necessarily connected to a renewal of a biological growth function.

    (Likewise I suspect we can apply this scenario to all other non-sentient life forms, e.g., microbes, etc..)

    Describing this as a form of death-to-life that existed pre-fall however seems to confuse the issue. Paul’s use of this analogy is expressed in the context of post-fall considerations. Indeed, the fittedness of the analogy is expressly because the seed experiences a death without hope and yet experiences a resurrection of existence. This is a description explicitly of the circumstances that ensue after the fall.

    In other words, Paul’s analogy would not fit his purposes if he was describing a scenario that was not a result of the curse-judgment on the fall. It is the fall that necessitates man’s resurrection.

    However, it may just a likely be that the biological processes were so radially altered at the fall that pre-fall plant life did not experience any cessation-renewal process. Exactly what a scenario might biologically look like is most like as far beyond our abilities to describe as it is to describe how all things would have developed had Adam and Eve never sinned.

    But maybe, using your eschatological insight, there is some hint to be seen in the twelve trees of life on either side of the river of life. If we want to argue that this detail is merely prophetic metaphor then these trees have no actual presence in the literal reality of the final state.

    Yet if they do have some actual presence, then does not the fact that their fruit never going out of season suggest a radical altering of their biological cessation-renewal process? E.g., if there really will be fruit trees on either side of an actual river flowing from underneath an actual throne, will their unpicked fruit fall to the ground a rot?

    All this to observe that my last point here about a radically different biological scenario pre-fall, as conceptually hard as it may be to theorize into discussion, is not so far fetched.

  68. Reed Here said,

    July 14, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    Andrew, your fingertips must be bleeding with all the typing you’ve been doing!

  69. July 14, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    My fingers used to get a lot more tired playing the piano. Try Beethoven’s Pathetique (all three movements) and you’ll know what tired fingers are.

    Just don’t ask me to play a hymn. Unlike Lane, I didn’t stick with the music major. The lure of spreadsheets and adding machines made the call to accounting too much for me to bear…:-)

    And they pay accountants decently it seems, anyway. Thanks for the consideration of me and my fingers :-)

  70. Steve Drake said,

    July 14, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    rfwhite @57,
    I’ll chime in as one of the ‘whoever else’ wishes, and thanks for that offer. You ask a lot of good stimulating questions, but it is difficult to see from your questions what point of reference you are trying to argue.

    Perhaps you can ‘tip your hand’, so to speak.

    I think Reed in #67 hits the nail on the head, when he speaks to a radically different biological scenario pre-Fall that is conceptually hard to envision and describe, especially as it relates to what God is intending to mean by His ‘good’ and ‘very good’ in Gen. 1. A related question might be: What has the Church through history before the late 18th century and the Enlightenment period taken it to mean?

    Perhaps you can tell us if you are arguing for theistic evolution, or against it, so that we might better understand your questions and where you are coming from?

  71. rfwhite said,

    July 14, 2012 at 6:58 pm

    70 Steve Drake: thanks for the interaction. As a PCA teaching elder, I’m a creationist, but from others I’m wanting to understand the theistic evolutionist answers to the questions I’ve asked, answers I haven’t read but presumably are available somewhere. Also, along with you and Reed, I agree that the pre-Fall situation was a radically different — good/very good — biological scenario. The issue, as I understand it, is the extent of the difference. It is not yet clear to me that this requires no plant death or, to put it differently, no death of any kind; to get to that conclusion we have to grant that all kinds of death are the consequence of the fall. You, Reed, and others may be right that this is true; I’m just not yet persuaded.

  72. rfwhite said,

    July 14, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    57 Reed: I definitely agree that your argument against pre-fall plant death is at least plausible. And I also agree that the context in which Paul uses the analogy of seed-sowing is about post-fall considerations, but that context is also pre-fall considerations. In 1 Cor 15:44-49, Paul applies the analogy (“it is sown”) to the first Adam’s body in his “natural”-creation state, to make the point that the future body will both lack the traits it got from the fall and surpass its character at creation. The Christian’s resurrection body will be like Christ’s glorious body; it will not be Adam’s body at creation merely re-formed. So, yes, it is the case that Paul’s application of the analogy focuses primarily on the reality necessitated by the fall, but it is also the case that he brings explicitly into view the pre-fall situation, again to make the point that man’s resurrection glory is even better than the first Adam’s creation glory. It looks to me that we have say that Paul has applied the analogy to both pre-fall and post-fall situations.

  73. July 14, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    Hesitate to buy in here. I’m no fan of TE although in some aspects it seems no real threat to the Biblical revelation which insists that God rules and directs in his creation so that origination and any process are all under his hand. Even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. But the question of the age of the earth and non-human death before the fall seems to be another issue and not to be regarded as a concession to enlightenment thinking or a half-way house to full blooded TE which mythologises the Fall..

    Does Psalm 90, composed by Moses ca. 1400BC only imply a trifling 2 or 3 thousand years since the creation – trifling especially having regard to the age of the early patriarchs? On a strict father-son relationship Shem could have told Jacob what Lamech had been told by Adam – hardly suggestive of creation at a far distant and inaccessible period a la Moses.

    “Good” and “very good” in the creation narrative self-evidently do not mean perfect in beyond improvement sense; they mean free of moral evil and just as God intended. We must resist defining these words by our criteria. Have we too often fallen for the atheists’ assault when they say that an allegedly good God who created with suffering and death in the animal creeation is careless, indifferent or even diabolical?

    Psalm 104 suggests that carnivores are that way because God created them so.

    In any case Paul (1 Tim 4:3-4) assures us that God created everything good and as a consequence all kinds of food including meat can be eaten. Some YEers seem to suggest God created everything good and it couldn’t die or be eaten until after sin entered the human family – not what Paul says! Further, to imply animal death before human sin is immoral logically would seem to require we must regard animal death after human sin as immoral since it was not the animals who sinned. We need to remember we are of more value than many sparrows (Matt 6:26). If one says it was just to bring suffering and death on non-moral creatures because of OUR sin, then it cannot be unjust for God to create non-moral creatures who would inevitably died before man sinned. We must let God be sovereign over his creation. Shall not the judge of all the earth do right!

    The idyllic life in the days of the Messiah pictured by Isaiah 11:6-9 is just that and cannot be used to prove no animal death before human sin. Thus the similar description in Isaiah 65:17-25 tells us that there will be a new heavens and earth in which the one who DIES at 100 will be thought a mere youth. A literalistic reading missing the point of these passages: they aim to convey the unimaginable glory of God’s ultimate purpose where in fact there is No death, a point made elsewhere in Isaiah.

    Even the curse passage of Genesis 3 needs care. The curse on the ground does not appear to involve a static change in the earth’s very structure but rather is dynamic related to man’s relationship to God. Cain is a fugitive in an arid country (4:11). But in Noah’s day the curse on the ground is relieved: a vineyard yields its fruit although thorns and thistles remain (Gen 8:21).

    I suspect Rom 8:19ff is also generally misconstrued (I’m very much a minority here, I know). Keep in mind Adam’s sin is not the first sin, nor was the world even at the beginning in its highest form. Certainly sin has a cosmic dimension, but human sin is not the complete explanation. As G. Vos reminds us, there was an eschatology before sin. That destiny cannot be reached until the climax of God’s redemptive purpose. So creation is subject to bondage in the setting of hope.

    Greetings from Down Under (Melbourne, Australia)

    FWIW

  74. Steve Drake said,

    July 14, 2012 at 7:48 pm

    RF @ 71,
    Thanks. The extent of the difference pre-Fall, post-Fall as it relates to plant death? I guess I don’t see why you might have an issue with this, or why no death of any kind pre-Fall, but let me address the plant death question first.

    I guess my first question would be ‘if’ Scripture refers to plants dying. Are we convinced this is so? You mention you are a creationist, are you a 6-24 guy? If so, we know that vegetation: plants yielding seed, fruit trees bearing fruit, all after their kind, were created on Day 3. Living creatures that swarm the waters, and birds flying above the earth were created Day 5. Beasts of the earth, cattle after their kind, and creeping things were created Day 6. Adam and Eve created Day 6. God then declaring ‘plants’ and ‘fruit’ as food for Adam and Eve and ‘every green plant’ to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the sky, and to everything which moves on the earth which has life (Gen. 1:29-30). If the living creatures that swarmed the waters on Day 5 are considered nephesh chayah, Gen. 1:30 would include them as well as part of the phrase ‘which has life’ I would think.

    So if birds were eating vegetation on Day 5, and beasts and cattle and creeping things were eating vegetation on Day 6, Adam and Eve eating vegetation and fruit on Day 6, can we rightly say that plants were ‘dying’, since God expressly gave plants as food?

    We speak of plants ‘dying’ in a biological sense today, but can we rightly transfer today’s terminology regarding ‘plant death’ to Scripture, expressly if God in creation gave this to animals, birds, everything that moves on the earth which has life to munch, chew, swallow, digest, and eliminate?

    I guess this is where I don’t see why you might have an issue here, but perhaps I am misunderstanding you?

  75. Steve Drake said,

    July 14, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    Rowland @ 73

    But the question of the age of the earth and non-human death before the fall seems to be another issue and not to be regarded as a concession to enlightenment thinking or a half-way house to full blooded TE which mythologises the Fall.

    But this is exactly what we are saying I think. That the age of the earth with its millions and millions of years of non-human death, decay, and destruction, as evidenced in the fossil record (see my post #62 above) makes a myth of the Fall. You might disagree with this, but I think this is ‘exactly’ the point of Reed’s posts, right? Would you agree that this is his conclusion?

  76. rfwhite said,

    July 14, 2012 at 8:24 pm

    74 Steve D: yes, 6-24. On the rest that you say, I’m with you. My aim in passing along the observation I made with regard to 1 Cor 15.36 was directed at what I understand Reed to be urging, namely, that there was no death of any kind before the fall. If I’ve rightly understood Reed (and perhaps I haven’t), I wanted to point out that 1 Cor 15.36 might pose an alternative and Reed’s response gave me an opportunity to explain why. That’s all there is to it really: my “odds and ends” observation to Reed’s position, which doesn’t seem to be required unless we’ve determined that death of every kind is a consequence of sin. Beyond that, as you know, I’ve posed a number of questions to which I’d like to hear theistic evolutionist answers.

  77. rfwhite said,

    July 14, 2012 at 8:32 pm

    73 R. S. Ward: “We must resist defining these words by our criteria.” Point well taken … and applied even to terms like “life” and “death.”

  78. Steve Drake said,

    July 14, 2012 at 10:10 pm

    Rowland @ 73,
    Also, Rowland. I read many misrepresentations and mischaracterizations of the YEC view in your post, as well as, what I believe, are unclassical, non-traditional, and bad exegetical views of Biblical passages you cite. It’s going to take an hour or more to block and quote everything you say to do it justice. Check back tomorrow, or in your case, maybe later your Sunday night for my response. Perhaps others see the same things I do from your post #73 and we can together take it one piece at a time. Perhaps we (you and I) just differ on some things, but other things don’t seem to line up with a classical view of what the Church has believed for millenia. Stay tuned brother.

  79. July 14, 2012 at 10:22 pm

    Hey Steve,

    I hope you don’t mind a quick question.

    But I don’t think I have ever met someone as passionate about young earth creationism as you.

    I’m curious if you do other things than post comments on blogs, in order to promote your views.

    You don’t need to answer. Just my curiousity. Your passion is quite noticeable to us in the peanut gallery.

    I guess one other thought. I would be interested to know if you are Presbyterian and whether you are taking steps within the Presbyterian church to promote your views. Other than posting comments here on greenbaggins, which of course is action enough which can move hearts and minds to see things the way you see them. You have a lot confidence about it. Just letting you know. I see that.

    Peace,
    Andrew

  80. Reed Here said,

    July 14, 2012 at 11:02 pm

    Dr.’s White and Ward: here is the issue I’m struggling:

    Call it “death” before the fall and call it “death” after the fall. Now differentiate them from one another, lest we end up accusing God of basingf our condemnation on a meaningless semantic distinction.

    I find it distinctly unhelpful, given the push of theistic evolution, to not provide such distinction.

  81. July 14, 2012 at 11:04 pm

    PS Brother Steve:

    Nevermind. A google search of your name shows you are commenting on several blogs, and it would seem, for several years, at the very least. You are indeed passionate and have stamina.

    I’ll keep reading. I hope you don’t mind that I google your name and am reading your posts. It helps me catch up on the conversation.

    I am, after all, only about a month into this internet blogging stuff.

    Peace,
    Andrew

  82. July 14, 2012 at 11:15 pm

    Hi Reed at 80:

    What I hear you saying, is that maintaining a stance of no animal death before the fall helps hedges against those who are pushing for theistic evolution. Or it creates a barrier of kinds.

    I’m going to get to the bottom of what Theistic evolution proper, really is. I was watching “what does Tim Keller believe about evolution” on a blog called “wes white” I think. I found it interesting in two ways:

    1) He said that to believe in an old earth, one must also believe in some form of evolution. That was news to me. And;

    2) He said that theistic evolution was almost like “deistic evolution,” meaning, his view of TE was that TE says God said all of creation in motion, and then sat back.

    Well, I am going to listen to all of Keller’s interview on that blog. Because I thing I’m basically with him on most things. But isn’t the fact that our God the one who incarnated Himself in the person of Jesus, isn’t that the best hedge against some form of deism? Again, I don’t know what TE is, and I don’t know if Keller is right.

    But I’ll be trying to catch up. Here’s my problem. I always say I am going to stop. But I check back, and I see thought provoking and interesting comments. Makes it hard not to share.

    But my point here is: the best defense against any form of deism is that through the incarnation, God proved how intimately he cares for His creation. For you and me.

    Take with a grain of salt,
    Andrew

  83. Brad B said,

    July 14, 2012 at 11:42 pm

    Hi Matthew @ #60 you said:

    “Two trees, which I take to be largely sacramental in significance, are placed in the garden as a symbol of God’s goodness (life) and authority (Knowledge of good and evil). Neither tree could impart what they pointed to – they were sacramental symbols of such. The trees were part of general revelation, created like every other tree. Yet these two particular trees required special revelation to properly understand them and their significance. “You shall not eat…”. God explained their use / significance by speaking his Word to Adam.”

    Good observation, and backed up by scripture when it reports Eve’s actions Gen. 3:6

    “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 who was with her, and he ate.”

    Once again, knowledge by sense perception is unreliable.

  84. Brad B said,

    July 14, 2012 at 11:47 pm

    Too hasty, I should’ve said “knowledge by sense perception is unreliable” without proper constraints–philosophical and theological.

  85. Brad B said,

    July 15, 2012 at 12:46 am

    I have made the statement before like in #84, maybe a little more explanation is due for clarity and inspection. I think everyone familiar with epistemology knows that natural science is is logically incapable of yeilding true knowledge. The best someone can say of products of scientific investigation is “probably this answers a particular inquiry”. No further assurance ought to be implied, philosophical constraints ensures this unless the natural scientist eschews the priority in disciplines. [escew: I appreciate the Merriam Webster definition: "to avoid habitually especially on moral or practical grounds"]

    Expecting natural science to povide a normativity, it must have authority under or behind itself to stand on as foundation. Philosophy guides and limits what can be proven by sense perception [and the necessary conclusions inferred] as authentic knowledge. Philosophy is also reliant on foundations, theology provides that. It is argued in many places that only Christian theology provides foundation for knowledge. Others dont pass rational scrutiny. I think this is neither new nor should be novel.

  86. July 15, 2012 at 1:34 am

    ” Philosophy is also reliant on foundations, theology provides that. It is argued in many places that only Christian theology provides foundation for knowledge. Others dont pass rational scrutiny.”

    You are right, Brad.

    Reed says it so simply : Bible over Science.

    If only I could learn to condense my thoughts so well.

    Enjoy your Lord’s Day, brothers and sisters.

    Peace,
    Andrew

    PS to an earlier comment, yes, I have wayyyyy to many posts on this thread. I don’t provide any novel thought. Only color commentary. I digress.

  87. July 15, 2012 at 6:04 am

    #78 Steve
    One of the reasons I tend to be reluctant to go on these blogs is that it is difficult to have a decent conversation without insults etc. I referenced Scripture passages. I am a serious confessional theologian, a minister for more than 30 years, have written a book on covenant theology ["God and Adam"] affirming historicity etc.You can find out a bit about me on the web. I’m not unknown in your country (assuming you’re in the USA). I have no knowledge of your background, but I certainly have run into your kind of arguments before now.

    I don’t think the church began in 1517, and there is much pre the Reformation we inherit and value but nor do I think long held “traditional” or “classical” views on a subject like this are sacrosanct.
    Indeed, as an historian, I am fully aware that it is often only through controversy that advance in clarity and understanding comes eg as regards justification at the Reformation.

    I am also quite aware of YE positions. It may be that within the confines of a short post you may think I misunderstand; maybe I do, but please elaborate in due course.

    I am staying tuned for respectful interaction out of which hopefully some clarity might come.

  88. rfwhite said,

    July 15, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    80 Reed: You are right to point out the need for and help that could come from a clear distinction. I admit that I expected the distinction to be inferred from what I had written when I said that your position “doesn’t seem to be required unless we’ve determined that death of every kind is a consequence of sin.” I could have and should have expressed it more fully to make sure the distinction I had in mind was clearer, even if it was not accepted.

    The distinction I had in mind is that death in the plant kingdom need not be understood as the result of human sin and divine judgment, provided (as Steve Drake pointed out) a text like Gen 1.30 implies that plant death (for food) was to occur apart from human sin and divine condemnation, or provided a text like 1 Cor 15.36 implies that seed death (for vegetative life) is applicable to both pre-fall and post-fall situations. By way of distinction, human death certainly is the result of human sin (the fall) and divine judgment. Death in plants and death in man can and ought to be kept distinct. That distinction, unless I’m mistaken, is not at odds with the Apostle’s teaching that creation was subjected to futility and bondage to corruption, and that as a result of human sin and divine judgment.

    Winding this up, let me say that I don’t know, but I’m willing to learn all that forms the basis of the claim that death of every kind is invariably the result of human sin and divine judgment. Also, perhaps I need to say that I am under no illusion that the observations offered here are near enough to establish the distinction to your or anyone else’s satisfaction. That observation back in #57 was meant as just a sidebar about pieces of the evidence that we all have to study and it may prove inconsequential. I readily acknowledge that the far more important point is the one you made in your lead post: “Fall, What Fall?” Preach on, bro, preach on!

  89. Steve Drake said,

    July 15, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    Rowland, #73, #87,
    You mention in #73 you’re no fan of TE. In other threads you mention you do lean towards the Analogical Day View of Gen. 1, and are an OE (old earth) guy. As an old earth guy, do you accept the evolutionary timeline of millions and millions of years and the dead animals preserved as fossils in the stratigraphic record associated with those millions and millions of years? Would you also find yourself in agreement with the ‘mass extinction events’ of animals and biodiversity of subhuman life as the geologic community has defined them?

  90. Steve Drake said,

    July 15, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    RF @ 88,

    provided a text like Gen 1.30 implies that plant death (for food) was to occur apart from human sin and divine condemnation…

    Here’s something else that we might think about as well as it relates to vegetation and every green plant for food, and ‘plant death’. Is it possible in the divine providence of God pre-Fall, that the grazers, leaf-eaters, algae eaters, fruit-pickers, and so forth, in the process of grazing, leaf-eating, algae-eating, and fruit-eating, do not destroy (cause to cease biological function at the roots) the host plant at all? That the host remains alive (biologically), to regrow, rebloom, re-vegetatate?

  91. July 15, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    #89 Steve

    Steve, it would be more to the point if you interacted with the Biblical argument I have presented, so we can see what that tells us.

    I am not trained in the physical sciences. From a Biblical point of view I do not think OE or YE issues are addressed in the way we moderns sometimes think. If millions of years since creation is correct then I do not think it is a problem for Christian faith, nor non-human death before the fall.

    I certainly think the universe is older than a 6000 years or so, but what the true timeline is I do not know.

  92. Steve Drake said,

    July 15, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    Rowland @ 91,
    Your answers to my #89 is a biblical issue however. For the conclusion as an affirmative of those questions is: You then make the dead animals in the fossil record and the mass extinction events in the fossil record, the work of Christ in creation. You attribute dead animals and mass extinctions and destruction and decay for millions and millions of years to Christ.

    Show me how you avoid this conclusion.

    This then makes the Fall and the Curse that followed meaningless. What was God’s curse on the animals, the ground, and Adam and Eve all about, if death, destruction, and decay were already part of the work of Christ in creation as evidenced in the fossil record?

    This is a biblical issue Rowland. That I have heard you say you are not trained in the physical sciences in this thread and in one other, does not absolve you from answering the logical conclusions of your Analogical Day position.

  93. Reed Here said,

    July 15, 2012 at 5:13 pm

    Dr. White, no. 88, and Steve, no. 90:

    On of the things I am concerned about is the theological discussion of death. With regard to plants I agree we cannot escape biological considerations. But before we do that I am hoping we could develop a theological explanation about how the fall effected all of creation in general, and then its various constituent parts such as plants.

    E.g., in what ways was Scriptural death, the curse-judgment on man’s sin, NOT present in plants (bugs, microbes, etc.) prior to the fall? To be helpful, like good systematics, I think we ought to even identify theological terms to be used carefully. E.g., “death” might be used post-fall, “cessation” might be used pre-fall.

    But even that might not be sufficient or even necessary. Maybe focusing on the aspects of decay, destruction, futility, those characteristics that demonstrably run counter to God’s plans for his creation. This, of course, would require some eschatological reflection, as we can only tell where God wants things to go from looking at where he tells us he is taking them.

  94. July 15, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    Steve @92

    I believe we should not come a priori with our views of what God could or could not have done but we need to draw out the Scripture data. Therefore I’m awaiting interaction with my #73.

  95. Reed Here said,

    July 15, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    Dr. Ward: wanted to express my gratefulness for your willingness to interact here. I understand your hesitancy, given that blogs allow effectively virtual strangers to talk at a significant level without all the work that goes into building the relationship needed to support the conversation. I acknowledge and testify to others who might not know you that you offer a sincere and credible expression of faith in Christ, one worthy of admiration and emulation.

    Of, you know I’m not saying you are perfect. :) Indeed I am grateful that one of your qualities is your willingness to interact with humility.

    It is with these things in mind that I write to challenge the example/question you raise about carnivorous nature of lions being created pre-fall. The key verse you are referencing is:

    Psalm 104:21 The young lions roar for their prey, seeking their food from God.

    I recognize and agree that the whole psalm does give inference that it is a creational psalm, one that celebrates God’s blessings on things as created. However, I do not think this is the only possible inference. Indeed I believe that psalm 104 can just as credibly be read as a providence psalm, one that celebrates God’s blessing on things as they are now. It may be that the Psalm is reflecting on both God’s original creation and his providential ordering of the curse on the fall post-creation.

    A reference from Psalm 7 gives me reason to think this is so, and that the carnivorous nature of lions is not created, but providentially ordered post-fall:

    Psalm 7:1-2 O LORD my God, in you do I take refuge; save me from all my pursuers and deliver me, lest like a lion they tear my soul apart, rending it in pieces, with none to deliver.

    The reference in vs. 2 to the lion’s carnivorous nature is meaningless if this is not used as an analogy to the wickedness that flows from the fall. If the lion is created with a carnivorous nature and is thus amoral, then the psalmist’s pursuers are not doing anything wrong, and the psalmist’s complaint is meaningless. Worse, it is complaining against God.

    Offered with respect and no intention to argue. :-)

  96. July 15, 2012 at 5:40 pm

    Tanks Reed for #95. You make a reasonable point, yet I think there are factors in Psalm 104 which suggest you can’t shift it all to a post-fall providential scenario as if it tells you nothing of creation in the beginning. Interesting too is the use of bara in verse 30 and the assertion that God in wisdom has made all the creatures v24.

    This psalm is a poetic reflection on God as Creator and has many parallels to Genesis 1 in vocabulary and content. Day 1: light v2a; Day 2: the expanse vv2b-4; Day 3: separation of waters vv5-13; vegetation and trees vv14-16; Day 4: sun and moon vv19-23; Day 5: sea creatures; v18,25-26; birds v17; Day 6 animals and man vv20-24; provision of food vv27-30. The arrangement is somewhat different from the more stately and ordered prose of Genesis, in particular, the psalm mentions animals and man at an earlier stage than Genesis 1. Verses 5-13 are concerned with the earth in relation to water, verses 14-23 give primary attention to man as sharing the creation with other creatures and all sustained by God who constantly upholds it (vv24-30). The psalm recognises the effects of sin and the curse in God’s creation and anticipates the deliverance of creation in the ultimate exclusion of the wicked (vv 31-35).

    The reference to the draining of the waters vv8-9, is by some applied to the Flood. Judgement is a kind of reversal of creation, and thus the language could apply to the draining of the waters following the judgement of the Flood, although its primary context is that of creation out of and by water (cf 1 Peter 3:5).

  97. rfwhite said,

    July 15, 2012 at 6:19 pm

    93 Reed: I’m happy to try to sort this out further, but until you interact with the substance of what I said in #88, I don’t know which way to turn.

    You state this: “I am hoping we could develop a theological explanation about how the fall effected all of creation in general, and then its various constituent parts such as plants.” The thing is, I don’t disagree with you on this. So it doesn’t help me understand which way to go.

    The best clue I have on which way to turn is to look at the way you are reasoning about the term and phenomenon of “death.” What I’m understanding you to say is that that term and phenomenon are applicable only to the post-fall situation. I don’t know how you arrived at that conclusion, because I don’t know what counts as evidence for that conclusion. Maybe you’ve already discussed this issue elsewhere, say, in your previous posts about creation. Tell me where to read your thoughts, and I’ll be happy to do my homework and not have you repeat yourself.

    I also don’t think you would use the same reasoning about the term and phenomenon of “life.” There is a range of meaning of that term and multiple referents for it: there is that which pertains to pre-probation and post-probation, that which relates to pre-fall and to post-fall, that which pertains to present salvation, that which pertains to final salvation, etc.

    Tell me where I’m wrong. I’m sincerely sorry if I’m being dense.

  98. Steve Drake said,

    July 16, 2012 at 10:25 am

    Reed @ 93,

    One of the things I am concerned about is the theological discussion of death.

    E.g., in what ways was Scriptural death, the curse-judgment on man’s sin, NOT present in plants (bugs, microbes, etc.) prior to the fall?

    Not sure if this is what you’re looking for Reed, but we know from Gen. 2:17:

    but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.

    meant both physical death and separation from God in spiritual death. We know it was physical death from God’s curse to Adam in Gen. 3:19: “till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return”. We see it was separation from God in spiritual death from the account in Gen. 3:8 when they tried to hide themselves from God among the trees of the garden, sewing fig leaves together to cover their nakedness (innocence).

    Since Adam was given dominion over the earth and its inhabitants in Gen. 1:29 to rule and subdue, and began to immediately exercise that dominion in the naming of the cattle, and birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field in Gen. 2:19,20 (the act of naming something in at least one aspect confers ‘ownership’), we rightly infer that his act of rebellion/sin affected the whole created order. We are confirmed in this by the nature of God’s pronouncements in the Curse;
    1) the animals (Gen. 3:14)
    2) childbirth/pain, toil, suffering (Gen. 3:16)
    3) relationships (Gen. 3:16), ‘your desire shall be for your husband and he shall rule over you’
    4) the ground (Gen. 3:17) ‘thorns and thistles it shall grow for you’ ‘you shall eat the plants of the field’ ‘you shall eat bread’ ‘in toil’ ‘by the sweat of your face’ (Gen. 3:18, 19).

    We are further confirmed in this from Rom. 8: 18-25 that the Curse of God in Gen. 3 affected the ‘whole creation’ ‘groaning and suffering’ ‘in slavery to corruption’ ‘subjected to futility’ ‘not of its own will, but by/because of Him who subjected it’.

    From these we must theologically conclude with other passages of Scripture, e.g., ‘death the last enemy’ (1 Cor. 15:26), ‘since by man came death’ (1 Cor. 15:21, note that this refers to physical death, otherwise the comparison to physical resurrection of the dead makes no sense in the same verse), ‘by man came sin, and death through sin’ (Rom. 5:12), ‘death as the wages(payment) of sin’ (Rom. 6:23), ‘death thrown into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:14), and others, that the entity we call ‘death’ this side of the Fall, must have included the whole of the subhuman created order as well. How we parse that out in regards to plants, microbes, bacteria, or whether we can even define these things as having ‘life’, as you say, is the next step.

    An important distinction to be made in all this, because Scripture itself makes this distinction, is the Hebrew phrase nephesh chaya ‘living creature’.

    Not sure if this is what you are referring to when you ask that we focus on the ‘theological discussion of death’, but willing like RF to continue to sort this out.

  99. Reed Here said,

    July 16, 2012 at 10:50 am

    Dr. Ward: I agree the psalm has at least necessary inferences back to creation. It also has clear inferences to post-creation/fall as well (e.g., flood, etc.). This is why I categorize it as a providence psalm. It is reflecting back to God’s original perfect creation, through the fall, to the now state of affairs in the era of common grace. The psalm is not explicityly looking at things now only, as that would be impossible. It is looking at them as they are now, in light of where they came from: creation, fall, curse, grace.

    Wonder what you you think about the Psalm 7 example. Does it not necessitate that the carnivorous nature of lion be viewed as a bad thing? Otherwise, why use it as an analogy to sinful characteristics in men?

    Thanks!

  100. Reed Here said,

    July 16, 2012 at 11:15 am

    Dr. White: not sure where we are missing one another here.

    My take on “death” as presented in the Bible is that it is a direct consequence, the curse-judgment from God in response to Adam’s first sin. What exactly “death” means is the question to be explored.

    At the very least we have phrases that discuss death as a “reign,” “decay,” “destruction,” “futility,” etc.. In sum what I take from these is that biblical death is judgment and not part of God’s original creation in any manner. From Rom. 8:18-20ff. I take this curse-judgment of biblical death to be universal in its extent. In some manner “the reign of death” effected every single part of creation.

    The question is, how did it effect it? At the very least we can say the curse-judgment of death subjected the whole of creation to a dominion of a principle that in some fundamental manner infected-infused every single component with a decay-futility factor. Left to itself everything will run to ultimate ruin, the physicists’ hypothetical null state of complete loss of energy throughout the universe.

    Back applying this to pre-fall conditions, does this mean that “biblical death” did not exist before the Fall? Yes it does. Does it mean that some other form of “death” did not exist before the Fall? No it does not. However, the form of pre-fall “death” must have not included the distinguishing characteristics of the curse-judgment form of death, at the very least this decay-futility factor. (The contours here need to be explored.)

    E.g., applied to plants this means that there may have been some forn of “pre-fall” death but this did not include the decay-futility factor. In other words the pre-fall death of plants was NOT an experience of the kind of death now experienced in the post-fall world by plants. In some manners I expect biologists will never be able to examine (let alone hypothesize on) the Fall fundamentally altered the process of death experienced by plants. Pre-fall plants experienced “death” without decay-futility. Post-fall plants only experience “death” subject to decay-futility.

    Finally, since the Bible reserves the word “death” for post-fall conditions, I think it unwise for us to be developing a theological framework that uses the same term in a univocal manner. This is why I’ve tried using the phrase “cessation” for a pre-fall form of plant death.

    Thus, I agree that pre-fall plants experienced some form of “death”. They were given for food. I deny that this pre-fall form of “death” is materially the same as post-fall “death”. I do so because to do otherwise renders meaningless the overarching biblical teaching of death, its reign in decay, destruction and futility, as the curse-judgement of God in Adam’s first sin. This does not deny the possibility of uncursed pre-fall forms of death. It does offer some suggestions of distinctions in the midst of continuity.

  101. Reed Here said,

    July 16, 2012 at 11:23 am

    For those who think I’m making ridiculous connections in this post, here is another example:

    The Little Boy Who Wanted To Be a Girl

    So how do you explain to these folks that the problem is the fall? How do you explain to them that God did not create this child this way? After all, mankind keeps evolving, right? If you follow theistic evolution you have no alternatives here.

  102. sean said,

    July 16, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    Reed,

    As a slight aside, why can’t psalm 7 be just a descriptive of the type of destruction that he dreads for his soul? Why must the metaphor be informed by the same principle as the dread that overcomes him(fallen Imago Dei)? You could just as easily employ the metaphor as an example of the majesty and marvel of God’s creation and how well it ‘does’ what it was made to do(i.e. it’s use in psalm 104). Why can’t we have a non-Pauline use of death? Particularly, since the other end of the pole for Paul, in contrast to death, is not biological life, or even ‘restored’ life to Eden, but eternal life(graduated, eschatologically informed)? I mean we already have to covenantally contextualize Pauline use of life and death, he isn’t talking about the ‘circle of life’ or even providential care( all these foods are to considered ‘clean’ Peter). Food divorced from it’s old covenant sanctions and rites.

    So, why not carry that all the way through and have two different contexts for death? I see you kind of giving opportunity for that with cessation, so what’s the ‘big deal’ on death? You can fight against thoroughgoing TE, particularly at the point of eclipsing a historical Adam and Eve, and draw your line in the sand at divine creation, ex-nihilo and historical man and woman. That’s how it’s received confessionally now. Bio-logos and the like are just as wrong to insist that scripture embrace modern evolutionary theory, to the extent this is their aim, as YEC’s are to insist on a young earth as the confessional standard. It seems like the push to go beyond in either direction creates more problems and unnecessary obstacles then is warranted.

    Divine creator and Imago Dei creation can be marshalled just as well against the ‘logical conclusions’ of TE (such as you cited) without having to declare a young geological age, or ‘no animal death pre-fall’ as necessary for maintaining the integrity of our confession.

  103. Reed Here said,

    July 16, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    Sean: it appears you are not giving due consideration to the point of the comparison. The psalmist is complaining about wicked, sinful treatment from others. If a lion’s carnivorous behavior is actually behavior consistent with the innocence of a pre-fall state, then it is not representative of sinful behavior post-fall. Thus the comparison is meaningless.

    As to YEC, my emphasis in these posts has not been to prove a YEC position. I admit that I find lots to be plausible in some YEC arguments. However, that has not been my interest at all.

    Instead my interest is simply this, to protect the reality of God’s curse-judgment on Adam’s sin. If we lose that we lose the necessity for the atonement. If we lose that we lose the gospel. This is my interest.

    I see any kind of theistic evolution scheme fundamentally denying the reality of the fall-curse. By whittling away at it to where we only have a bare confessional stance that in some way the fall is real but essentially limited to man and to him only spiritual, we make nonsense of the whole scope and story of Scripture. It is like a new higher critical liberal version of things – its really truly true, but not true in any way that actually connections with history.

    And I agree with the pushing problem. We need to recognize though that the push back of YEC only came in response to the push forward from evolution. It is not really of value now to argue that both should cease and be quiet (not that this is what you are saying). Instead, as long as we recognize that both theistic evolution and YEC (and anything in between) are seeking fill in a silence that the Bible does not speak to, and science can only hypothesize about, then we are in the right place to maintain a functional practice in which special revelation is prioritized over general revelation.

  104. July 16, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    Reed # 99 Sorry for not addressing Psalm 7. I think your interpretation is a bit of a stretch, and Sean’s take on it is on the money.

  105. Reed Here said,

    July 16, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    Dr. Ward: no disrespect but that’s not much of a response. :-) It may be that I don’t have the background, but I’m not sure I see how Sean’s proposal actually addressed the textual comparison issue I raised. I understand the approach. I just don’t see it connecting to the realities of things.

    Are you saying that it is all metaphor, that the comparison is only made because of a declarative from God? I.e., lion’s were pre-fall carnivorous, but post-fall God declares that this characteristic is now also a relevant picture of sinfulness? In other words, it is only God’s declared usage that makes the point relevant, and that there need not be a correspondence between the text and the historicity in view?

  106. sean said,

    July 16, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    Reed,

    I think Psalm 7 works, if you allow that the Lion’s pre-fall, predatorial behavior never had as an intended prey imago dei creation. But now(post-fall) it does and therefore the imagery carries that terror. It seems like Gen 9:5, particularly takes into account this new ‘opportunity’ when God declares his proportionate justice.

    I’m not sure you even have to carry it that far though, you could just be Adam pre-fall and observing the lion, being the lion, and being thankful for your ‘post’ and that you aren’t on the menu, while still marveling at God’s creation and how well each of them fulfills it’s role and their unique magnificence.

    And this is the crux is it not? Death is curse for Imago dei creation, but it hasn’t been established that that’s the case for non-imago dei creation. In fact because of 2 peter 3, I rather think it’s not. I won’t rehash my take on creation as graveyard as curse for non- imago dei creation. Thanks for the feedback, i appreciate your concerns.

  107. Reed Here said,

    July 16, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    Sean: no disrespect, but do you think that preaches? ;-) Dude, I’m not completely naive of the issues in this discussion and I’m struggling to follow you. Maybe a little simpler?

    Are you saying that it is nothing more than metaphor?

  108. July 16, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    Reed # 105

    Sorry about my brevity but I think you are over exegeting the passage. Again I think Sean has a good take.

  109. July 16, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    In regard to pre-fall human existence there is the question of pain. Was Adam entirely free of such an experience. Did he have no sensory nerves? Considering we bear the image of the earthly man (1 Cor 15:45ff), I don’t see such a big difference between Adam and us on that score. God’s providence operated to protect man and death did not operate in him as it now does.

    Pain in childbirth is perhaps not so much the beginning of pain in child-birth per se and thus an anatomical change in women, but an increase of pain embracing all the sorrow a mother knows because of her children throughout life including the complications of birth in miscarriage, still-born, deformity and so on.

  110. sean said,

    July 16, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    Reed,

    Which part on the simpler? I think I gave a way to look at psalm 7 without forcing the metaphor to sustain necessarily what you were saying it must sustain. It can be just metaphor. No offense, but I think it’s a lot to ask of the genre to make it carry exact pre-fall contingencies, every time. But, like I said, you only have to exegete to that degree if you’re working with a pre-conception of ‘no animal death’ pre-fall. I’m not, but if you wanna push for the metaphor to sustain post-fall death considerations, why not tie it to Gen 9:5, where Imago dei is now ‘on the menu’ and it’s a terror from that perspective as well, though that’s still quite a bit of development. How bout just a picture of the viciousness and single-mindedness of his pursuers being likened to a lion devouring it’s prey. We’ve all seen animal planet by now, it’s a picture that would certainly preach, much less the real life threat an agrarian culture would reckon with on a daily basis tending it’s livestock.

  111. Brad B said,

    July 17, 2012 at 1:08 am

    Hi Reed, I have a few questions/observations. One, when you use the word effect as here:

    “In some manner “the reign of death” effected every single part of creation.”

    I think I’m wondering if you intend this word or are you actually intending the word affected? I’m thinking you mean affected, but I think effected could have some particular use that you intend so I need to dwell on to fully consider your point, [but maybe not if you mean affected].

    Next, with the discussion about prefall food for the lions, or any other carnivor, what does Gen 1:29 and 30 have to say about it? Here is the NASB

    “Gen 1:29 Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you;
    Gen 1:30 and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food”; and it was so.”

    Next, while considering what are the consequences of sin/death on the creation to come up with a good definition of death, I wonder if it might help to consider what the Second Adam is restoring which should show up elsewhere I’m sure.

    Thanks, Brad

  112. rfwhite said,

    July 17, 2012 at 7:19 am

    100 Reed:

    You said, Thus, I agree that pre-fall plants experienced some form of “death”. They were given for food. I deny that this pre-fall form of “death” is materially the same as post-fall “death”.

    From those words, I would gather that you and I are in essential agreement. The only difference between us seems to be that I see exegetical evidence affirming that death occurred apart from sin and before the fall.

    Yet I confess that I now am more confused after your responses to Dr. Ward and Sean. You also said, my interest is simply this, to protect the reality of God’s curse-judgment on Adam’s sin. If we lose that we lose the necessity for the atonement. If we lose that we lose the gospel. This is my interest. I agree, as Im sure, others do. From your interaction, however, it is not yet clear if or why affirming the existence of, for instance, herbivores before the fall is a threat to the reality you and we wish to protect, granted the concessions that you have made.

  113. Reed Here said,

    July 17, 2012 at 10:17 am

    Dr. White: it may be that you are assuming details on my part that I am actually not dealing with. I never raised the subject of plants, carnivores or herbivores. Instead I’ve been trying to deal with what is the nature of the curse-judgment from God. Admittedly this does need to vetted by application to such subjects, but given the amount of debate about death (decay-destruction-futility) being an ordinary part of creation pre-fall, I think we are a long ways away from the details in the grass.

  114. Reed Here said,

    July 17, 2012 at 10:22 am

    Dr. Ward and Sean: o.k., so Psalm is just a metaphor. The intention of the psalmist in vs. 1-2 in his complaint against men seeking his life is not intended to infer sinful considerations.

    So what is he complaining about? More importantly, is he not sinning himself to be so complaining against what must be the good and just providence of God?

    Or maybe he is just upset at the relative harshness of the circumstances he is facing. But if these circumstances are actually ordinary pre-fall, then what is there to complain about?

    Apply this interpretive approach more widely across Scripture and we might as well get rid of the rest of the Book of Psalms, Job, and large portions of the prophets, to say the least.

    Respectfully, if mine is an over-exegesis, yours appears to make the text pointless.

  115. Steve Drake said,

    July 17, 2012 at 10:22 am

    guys,
    I don’t think we are able and ever going to know this side of the consummation what the pre-Fall state actually entailed as to its ‘goodness’ and ‘very goodness’ (Gen. 1:31). How do we describe this? I think we are trying to impose our post-Fall and modern 21st century concept of biological death onto a pre-Fall state of affairs. Therein is part of the problem I think. Are we legitimatized, from Scripture, in doing this? What part does faith play? Does Scripture give us any clues, as to what this must have entailed? I, personally, think it does, and I think Reed has been trying to draw this out.

    RF, and as to your comment/question in #112:

    …it is not yet clear if or why affirming the existence of, for instance, herbivores before the fall is a threat to the reality you and we wish to protect, granted the concessions that you have made.

    Dr. White. I’m trying to follow your train of thought here. What concessions are you referring to in the above? Perhaps you can spell it out more?

  116. Reed Here said,

    July 17, 2012 at 10:32 am

    Brad: both affect and effect can mean to produce a change. The difference between the two is that “affect” means to produce a change by influence, whereas “effect” means to produce a change by transformation.

    Affect refers to changes that are initiated from within at the prompting of some outside agency. Effect refers changes that are initiated from without at the working of some outside agency.

    I meant effect. Under the hand of God, changes in creation were effected in the fall. Not sure where this might go that is bad.

    As to the passage you reference, feel free to make your point.

    Y’all keep wanting to talk about animal death. I appreciate your desire, but I’m persuaded we’re do not have a good working definition of death. I light of that I’m not really interested in trying to tackle the topic of animal death. It only ends up in polite (sometimes) nyah, nyah, na-nyah, nyah statements that to do not advance things.

  117. Andrew Duggan said,

    July 17, 2012 at 10:33 am

    Reed,

    I really think that Gen 1:30

    And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.

    requires no predation (for land and air animals) prior to the fall. God gave plants for food to those animals. The text then follows with “and it was so.” I don’t see how anyone can claim that does not then tell us that the animals did eat only that which God gave them for food. When we consider Gen 1:31 with God’s pronouncement of that condition as being very good, it does not seem possible for there to be such a radical change that at least some animals would start hunting and killing one another for food. Certainly Adam’s sin and God’s subsequent curse would be just that kind of radical change.

    Accordingly, I think your reading of Ps 7 is more than supported by Gen 1:30,31. Additionally Ps 104:35 is clearly anchors at least the end of the Psalm to the arena of Providence (actually Judgment). So at the very least Ps 104 has a split point of view (Creation as it originally was) and post-fall Providence. That alone invalidates the idea of lions (beasts of the earth cf Gen 1:30) roaring for their prey (Ps 104:21) as being necessarily a statement about Creation as it originally was. Because Psalm 104 ends (v:35) in a Providence/Judgment point of view, there is at the very least a debate as to where the “Creation as it originally was” vs Providence line in the Psalm really is. Considering the clear language of Gen 1:30,31, the roaring of the lions for their prey has to be understood from a post-fall point of view. FWIW, I don’t think that there is any such line in Ps 104, but rather the Psalmist presents a combination point of view, vis a vis Creation and Providence and Judgment.

    So rather than the exalted language of Psalm 104:21 informing our reading of Gen 1:30 to mean that God gave both plants and other animals for prey as food to at least some animals (an idea which is contradictory to the prima facia reading of the text), Gen 1:30 with its plain language should inform our reading of Psalms 104 and 7 with respect to their points of view.

    Andrew

  118. Reed Here said,

    July 17, 2012 at 10:35 am

    Sean: is the psalmist complaining about something he believes is sinful? If so, does it make his case to use as an example something that was actually created by God ad good in the first place?

  119. Reed Here said,

    July 17, 2012 at 10:37 am

    Andrew: I’m tracking with you. But this is over exegesis. (Isn’t that a polite form of accusing me of eisegeis? ;-) )

  120. Reed Here said,

    July 17, 2012 at 10:58 am

    All: I refer you back to my original point in this post. Fall, What Fall? It appears that we are not exactly all that clear on the fall. To be more specific, we are not clear on the nature and extent of God’s response to the fall, the curse-judgment consigning all to the futility of the reign of death.

    Unless, until this is made clear I suggest we cannot adequately address the problems people face in their lives. Is a girl in a boy’s body nothing more than the results of evolution? If so, who is to say that this is not a good development, a positive gene mutation.

    More, if it is merely a biological discussion, and the fall does not involve biology – then the Church has nothing to say to such a person and should shut up about sin, Savior and salvation. These things simply do not apply under such a scenario and it is at least cruel to talk about them.

    Maybe it would be helpful to stop debating animal death while it is not clear that our explanation of the problem of sin (the reign of death) actually applies to the problems of sin in our world. I do not mean to sound harsh. I do mean to ask us to think about this. We’re losing the battle for folks’ souls in an evolutionary worldview.

  121. July 17, 2012 at 11:34 am

    Reed @ 120,

    Yeah, I’m on board.

    Which is why I find plantinga so fascinating. As a Calvinist, Plantinga is touching on the noetic effects of sin. The strict evolutionist can not account for sin in the world. We can. There was a fall. What was the nature of the fall? Well, definitely universal in scope. And resulting in a totally depraved Reed DePace and Andrew Buckingham

    But God is not so. He is, as I think Bultmann stresses (though I hesitate to drop that name), “wholly other.”

    Thanks be that the wholly other, entered time and space, for you and me.

    Wonder with me at the God we serve and love,
    Andrew

  122. Reed Here said,

    July 17, 2012 at 11:49 am

    Don’t sweat it Andrew. Even the atheist can get God’s name right. :-)

  123. sean said,

    July 17, 2012 at 11:56 am

    Reed,

    Like I said I appreciate your concerns. I think Imago Dei considerations and historicity of Adam and Eve, are adequate safeguards if employed fully and accurately, I worry about overstepping on this issue and saying too much and stretching our exegesis to do so. I see creeping fundamentalism(in a bad sense), and I worry our next stand is more wrought with difficulty than the first. I think your response is a bit of an overreaction and a reach. I’ve talked to a number of evolutionists, particularly in college and in the medical community now, they seem to understand the limitations of science when it comes to origins, they don’t struggle with atheistic and nihilistic tendencies, necessarily. They don’t seem to be eager to NEED the bible to explain scientific theory of origins, or better said, every new development and tweak that comes down the line.
    I think we end up jeopardizing the integrity of the answers we DO have if we start unduly pushing the scriptures to answer very specific modern considerations, or even modern developments with which it doesn’t give equal consideration

    I’ve rescued more than enough conversations with intelligent people and otherwise, sincerely interested in the state of their soul, but a well-meaning christian, instead of engaging where they were at, became insistent on wanting them to dot their I’s and cross their T’s on creation or politics or familial roles. I believe we have enough to answer the transgendered individual, the homosexual, the fornicator, the immoral, etc.

    Bio-Logos and others, to the extent they want the PCA to embrace the latest and greatest twist on origins needs to be given the right foot of fellowship, but we need to be doubly careful to not hitch our wagon to untenable or suspect doctrinal conclusions. You already know all this Reed, I don’t presume to enlighten you.

    Not sure I know what else to say about Psalm 7, sorry.

  124. rfwhite said,

    July 17, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    113 Reed: Given your response to my comments in 112, it is clear to me that we are not communicating profitably, and I cannot figure out why communication is failing and what I can do differently. I will therefore drop out of this public comment string. I have already expressed my endorsement of your main concern, so, If I have more to say, I’ll take it up with you in a private format, .

  125. Reed Here said,

    July 17, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    Sean: perhaps if you explain me to me a bit more how your Imago Dei works out in these matters I can find the edges you are concerned about stepping over. Thanks.

  126. Reed Here said,

    July 17, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    Dr. White: I appreciate your observation. I too am perplexed but not bothered. Wish you well, as always!

  127. July 17, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    Reed at 122

    “Even the atheist can get God’s name right. :-)”

    True true. Although I did break a sweat this morning. But that was because of golf :-) Hole 11 sure is a bugger…

  128. sean said,

    July 17, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    Reed,

    Lol. That’s a long one. Little much for a combox. Let me briefly outline it, I’ve detailed it previously.

    1) death as curse is Imago Dei only, confirmed by eschatological destiny
    2) Creation’s groaning and moaning 8:20- is from having to serve as graveyard for that ‘ultimate’ creation of God(imago dei) it was supposed to serve and sustain. Forced role because of the curse, it would rather not have served, we can even include predation on imago dei creation Gen 9:5. Childbirth pangs are alluding to the anticipated birthing of the saints bodies(from the graveyard) unto their resurrection glory.

    I worry about forcing the bible to defend YEC or any specific geological age. It just doesn’t give itself to the minutia of data we want it to answer. So, I’m against making it do so. There’s enough common ground between gen and special revelation to answer all the relevant questions. Creeping fundamentalism, IMO, wants to say the bible has an answer for everything. It doesn’t, it’s not embarrassed that it doesn’t, and it is sufficient for what it is was intended. Nothing wrong with being silent where scripture is silent.

    That’s the very short of it.

  129. Reed Here said,

    July 17, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    Sean: clarification questions. By point no. one you are saying that the curse-judgment of death-decay-destruction only applies to mankind, as only mankind is made in God’s image? Am I reading correctly?

    As to the rest of the created order (point no.), the only manner in which it is subject to the death-decay-destruction that flows from God’s curse-judgment is that it suffers as the place where mankind experiences his judgment? That is, creation’s suffering under the curse is only secondary in that it serves as man’s graveyard? Does this mean no material transformation in the rest of creation occurred at the fall/curse-judgment?

    What about the federal headship perspective? Does this impact one way or the other this perspective?

    Thanks!

  130. sean said,

    July 17, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    Reed,

    1) Yes. I’d call it the judgement of Death. I’m not sure I wanna essentially throw in the law of entropy as curse sanction. If Eden was always probated, temporal country I see no reason it doesn’t have a built in termination.

    2) To the extent we want to talk about an animated soulless creation, I’d say yes on graveyard sanction, and just general misery at being forced to participate in an end for Imago Dei creation for which it wasn’t created. So, instead of readily providing provision, care and submission. It now is forced to give thorn, thistle, difficulty and even predates upon that creation for which it was intended to serve.

    3)Federal headship seems to only bring into bold relief the particularly Imago dei orientation of redemption. Particularly as we talk about 2nd adam fulfillment, covenant community and the means of grace.

  131. Reed Here said,

    July 17, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    Sean: can you recommend any resources for studying the Imago Dei perspective?

    Just some qualifying questions if I might. Did things like thorns and stings exist pre-fall? What parameters can we use to determine the changes (qualitatively, not specifically)?

    My questions have no ulterior motives to them. I really do seek to learn. Thanks.

  132. sean said,

    July 17, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    Reed,

    Just the dreaded Kingdom Prologue. Lee Irons has some good articles. The Genesis debate-Hagopian. I’m sure I’ve read some T.David Gordon weighing in on the issue. Dr. Ward on different aspects. I’m trying to remember where exactly Dr. Kline wrote specifically on a re-thinking of the way we’ve traditionally talked about the Imago dei, I don’t recall if it’s KP or Images of the Spirit. Probably both. A number of, I believe, WTJ articles Kline did on creation in the image of the glory spirit.

    Van Drunnen has included a number of these insights into his NL2k treatments. Calvin’s institutes, book II and book IV particularly. That’s what I’ve got off the cuff.

    I’ll have to think on the other question. Certainly, short of death. Some sense of work NOT being by the sweat of the brow. Maybe the idea, you plant a seed it gives you the intended fruit and while needing cultivating and means employed to give care, the pre-fall state is successful without frustration. Probably more to the point, and where Kline might go is you have a ‘marriage’ of cult and culture, a theocracy in harmony both vertically and horizontally building the city in anticipation of it’s graduated eternal sabbath rest. No city of God/city of man distinction. Edenic work is priestly work. The garden as temple/sanctuary. Prophet, priest and king work fulfilled successfully without failure. What the first adam failed to do, and the second adam came to do and did.

  133. Reed Here said,

    July 17, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    Sean: the direction of your applications here is not essentially any different than what I said in another comment here. I.e., all the natural processes that are currently seen post-fall may very well have existed pre-fall also. The question then is in what manner did the curse-judgment effect these processes?

    I’ve read some of this in the past. It may very well be I’ve not connected all the dots. I’ll tolle lege. Still don’t think we’ll agree on Ps 7, but no need for offense there.

    Question for you to think through and give me you opinion. I’ll be putting up another post sometime down the road which will document some of the basis for evolutionary arguments for things the Bible teaches are a result of slavery to sin. I am not so much worried about the specific arguments that are made. Rather these will give evidence of the outworkings of the necessary presuppositions in evolution.

    Merely as a pre-cursor exercise, give me your take on this example. Evolutionary psychology is developing an argument to explain the natural normativity for homosexuality. An essential part of their argument is homosexual activity in the animal kingdom (apparently wide spread). How do we deal with this? I recognize that you are not arguing from a theistic evolution perspective. Instead, is the homosexual activity among animals a part of their original creation or is it a change introduced by the fall/curse-judgment? Either way we answer it opens up some challenges. If we say not a part of original creation, how is this an experience of the reign of death? If we say it is a part of the original creation, how do we then judge homo sapien homosexuality as wrong?

    Thanks!

  134. sean said,

    July 17, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    Reed,

    Not to cut the conversation short, but I understand that the serious contributors to evolutionary theory have already debunked such pseudo-science as animals transcending instinct and biological ‘wiring’. These may be examples of domination or heirarchical ordering, where they are observed, but they are NOT examples of sexual preference.

    As it regards homo sapien, well if the corruption of sin leaves no area of the imago dei creation unscathed, why not homosexual preference from birth. We were born into sin. We have sociopaths, schizophrenics, etc. That’s not to say it’s inclusive of all homosexual behavior, far from it, but I don’t see any necessary resistance to the innate predisposition. It’s still sin, it still is to be repented of, and everyone has their own unique cross to bear. I personally don’t know enough of the science to tell you however, whether innate disposition as it regards homosexuality is ‘good’ science or speculative or misappropriated political leverage, or some combination of all of it.

  135. Reed Here said,

    July 17, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    Sean: I agree with your points more or less. My concern is how do we go about presenting an apologetic in an evolutionary context to folks who are not thinking about these things beyond popular culture arguments? I think we need a more robust view of the fall and God’s curse-judgment, or better yet, a nuanced articulation that addresses itself to the falsehood inherent in the popular culture’s unquestioning assumption of evolutionary development.

    Not arguing against any particular thing in your response. Just wonder how we take it further.

  136. sean said,

    July 17, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    Reed,

    I always tends to go; ‘well then who was Jesus?’ And I don’t mean to be a simpleton about it, but this is where this always ends up. I tend not to get too vexed about the other possibilities, and I understand your specific concerns and points of tension. Again, I would draw lines at historical Adam and Eve, and divine creation ex-nihilo.
    But, for me, as long as we can fend off the historical/textual critics and establish the veracity of redemptive history, evolution, and yahoo’s trying to live nihilistically on the back of evolution, still have to deal with a creator who sent his son. Incarnation and resurrection are always touchstones, and evolution doesn’t have a way around, other than a priori, God’s miraculous works. Sorry if that’s a short shrift, I don’t intend it that way. But, this is where this always ends up; “who do YOU say that I am?” Particularly, if we are talking popular level.

  137. Reed Here said,

    July 17, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    Thanks Sean.

  138. Joel Norris said,

    July 17, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    Reed,

    Strictly speaking, there’s no room for normativity in Darwinian evolution. Homosexuality can’t be good or bad because the concepts of good or bad have no place in a philosophically consistent materialistic worldview.

    On a popular level, evolution reflects the perspective of the viewer, and people draw from it whatever support they want. If they think heterosexuality is normative, they point out how homosexuality is non-reproductive. If they think homosexuality is normative, they point out how animals engage in same-sex relations. If they think a master race should rule over the lesser races, they point out survival of the fittest. If they think humans are becoming godlike, they point out that divinity is the next step in evolution (never mind that real Darwinian evolution has no goal).

    Joel

  139. Reed Here said,

    July 17, 2012 at 6:38 pm

    Joel: understand and agree completely. All the more reason to deny what appears to be yet another tool for the suppressing of the truth in our unrighteousness.

    Thanks.

  140. Joel Norris said,

    July 18, 2012 at 12:12 am

    Reed,

    I think C.S. Lewis wrote an essay on how popular evolution was already suffused in the culture before the arrival of Darwin.

    Joel

  141. Rowland Ward said,

    July 18, 2012 at 7:37 am

    I can’t help saying that I think Sean has got the right angle on this. I found his posts helpful. That still leaves things hard to be pinned down.

    Even before sin there was a variety of soil types. Some ground was suitable for cultivation, and some steppe country where desert vegetation (‘siah’ 2.5) would grow. Thorns and thistles are examples of the products of a land lacking frertility suitable for crops. Is this part of Genesis using the grainfield that results from aduous labour and the relativelt poor vegetation of the steppe as illustrations of the disturbance in man’s relationship with his environment that sin has brought? The primary point is that the earth as it responds to man does not produce as he ought. Humans are frequently the spoliers of the environment because of greed and lust for glory. He doesn’t just rule and subdue the earth (which implies overcoming obstacles) but abuses it too.

    As regards man in his original state – we need to insist there was a potenial of not dying and he would not have died if he had not sinned. But what is the implication? Was he created immortal and the penalty of death deprived of that? Or is rather than he was created with the potential of not dying if he obeyed? Made of the dust we might argue that it was appropriate that the seeds of decay perhaps necessarily in a creature of earth should advance so that he should return to it. “posse non peccare, posse non mori” (Augustine)

  142. July 18, 2012 at 7:50 am

    I hope you won’t all mind a Machen quote that comes to mind. Certainly ‘popular’ evolution wants to take things that the evolutionary researcher sees, and try to make metaphysical claims. It seems to me that all of us, as humans, want to try to deny the fact of sin. The fact of the fall. But there is death, decay, and destruction. That’s why I think this quote fits. Because not only evolution, but in so many ways, man wants to naturally deny his need of God.

    “In saying that Christianity is the religion of the broken heart, we do not mean that Christianity ends with the broken heart; we do not mean that the characteristic Christian attitude is a continual beating on the breast or a continual crying of “Woe is me.” Nothing could be further from the fact. On the contrary, Christianity means that sin is faced once for all, and then is cast, by the grace of God, forever into the depths of the sea. The trouble with the paganism of ancient Greece, as with the paganism of modern times, was not in the superstructure, which was glorious, but in the foundation, which was rotten. There was always something to be covered up; the enthusiasm of the architect was maintained only by ignoring the disturbing fact of sin. In Christianity, on the other hand, nothing needs to be covered up. The fact of sin is faced squarely once for all, and is dealt with by the grace of God. But then, after sin has been removed by the grace of God, the Christian can proceed to develop joyously every faculty that God has given him. Such is the higher Christian humanism–a humanism founded not upon human pride but upon divine grace.”

  143. Reed Here said,

    July 18, 2012 at 11:39 am

    Dr. Ward: thanks for the insights. Picking up on one point and seeking to develop along the lines you laid out, the idea of the steppe land. As it is presented in Genesis in its original state, would all these follow? It is land:

    • That was outside the garden.
    • That was not cultivated, but grew wild (undomesticated) plants, i.e., thorns and thistles, plants unfit for food or other bodily comfort.
    • That could be cultivated in time, as Adam fulfilled the dominion mandate.
    • That when Adam cultivated it, this land would yield to his efforts, the undomesticated plants giving way to domesticated plants (or themselves experiencing some sort of conversion).
    • That, if Adam had sustained his probation and fulfilled the dominion mandate, would have reached a state of final (eschatological) perfection in which no thorn or thistle was found.
    • That, due to the fall, this land would no longer yield to Adam, but actively resist his domesticating efforts.
    • That, rather retreating in the face of Adam’s advance, this uncultivated land would actually advance against Adam, taking over as it were land that was already cultivated, turning it into barren steppe land.

    Am I tracking consistently here?

    If so, is it fair to observe that while thorns/thistles were part of God’s original creation, they were not intended to be a part of the final state of creation?

    If so, is this what is meant by subjection to futility, that the steppe land not only will not submit to Adam but will actually fight him, rendering all his efforts futile?

    Does it also mean that the steppe land itself was now given over to futility? That is, pre-fall it had the potential to be transformed into garden – life-giving – land, whereas post-fall such potential was removed, and it was doomed to remain desert – lifeless – land?

  144. Reed Here said,

    July 18, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    Folks: as I’ve said previously for a number of reasons I’ve intentionally not focused on science questions in this series of posts on theistic-evolution.

    Recognizing that this focus is an important one, I thought I might direct you to one resource I’ve found that appears to do a good job of addressing this subject from a scientific perspective: evolutionnews.org. Here is a good starting article to consider the scientific problems evolution: What Are the Top Ten Problems with Darwinian Evolution? (h/t: Wes White.)

    This is a scientific perspective, not a biblical perspective. For those interested in an informed and reasonable critique of evolution from a science perspective, I recommend this site.

  145. July 18, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    Reed # 43

    I like your first 4 points. #5 is of course hypothetical. I don’t know what the eschatological state will mean for vegetation or non-human creatures for that matter.

    #6 as you state it seems to imply a structural change in the earth (‘actively resist’). I wonder if that is correct. The existence of a variety of habitat in creation at the beginning does not suggest that steppe country is the result of the curse, or that there was a uniform climate over the whole globe. After Noah came out the ark on to the new and cleansed earth he planted a vineyard which was very productive. I wonder if we shouldn’t think in dynamic rather than static terms. (a) We are the ones who so often damage the earth as if can lord it over it rather than rule and subdue as God’s representatives; and (b) we incur God’s judgments as a result of disobedience – in God’s providence about man the sinner, elements in the environment work against him whereas prefall God’s providence protected man. Is this anyway helpful for your #6 & #7.

    In regard to futility as per Rom 8:19ff I realise almost everyone takes it as referring to the curse of Gen 3:17 (cursed is the ground). But granted there was an eschatology before human sin, if we personify creation (as in Rom 8:19ff) we can say that it always looked forward to the end of history God had determined when its relative weakness would be transformed in the glory of the consummation. That day of the manifestation of the sons of God is still future and meantime the creation is subjected by God to frustration but in the setting of hope. It is destined and was always destined to undergo a perishing or wearing out which issues in it ultimately being transformed (Ps 102:25-27; Heb 1:10-12).

    As regards the garden, it was a kind of central sanctuary from which man was to go forth to subdue the earth. But that would not meant that the whole world would have become a garden. Afterall, there was gold to be mined, and precious things to uncover (Gen 2:12). The task of man in the garden was not ‘to till and to keep it’ as the common translation (the ‘it’ is not in the Hebrew text), but to worship and obey.

  146. Reed Here said,

    July 18, 2012 at 7:24 pm

    Dr. Ward: thanks.

    #6: I did not mean to suggest that steppe land was inherently sinful. On the contrary I agree that it too carried the label “good” and “very good” after God had finished his work of creation.

    Maybe this will help flesh out my thinking. The steppe land was in a state of incompleteness in terms of its eschatological destiny. As Adam exercised his dominion it too would have experienced the flowering of its intended eschatological purpose.

    The fall then broke that, rendering it an impossibility. Rather than personalize post-fall steppe land, maybe it is better said that now the steppe land cannot fulfill its eschatological purpose. As much as fallen Adam tills away at it this land just will not experience the full flowering God intended pre-fall. From Adam’s perspective it would even appear that the steppe land is now actively resisting his efforts.

    I’m not saying some sort of sin principle is actively functioning in the steppe land. Sin adheres to men, not things. Instead I’m seeking to describe what subject to the futility of death looks like.

    As to the steppe becoming garden, yes, I recognize that it could also have become a mine, a playground for horses, or even a seaside resort. I am using “garden” as a metaphor for domesticated or cultivated. All I mean is that Adam in his dominion work was to spread the garden throughout creation. He was expanding the sphere of God’s home, domesticating/cultivating where ever his foot touched. Such domesticating/cultivating would have included all of the dominion activities of man, including mining, etc.

  147. July 18, 2012 at 7:31 pm

    We’re pushing the frontiers a bit here, Reed. I’m not sure about the seeming implication of what you right that Adam would have brought the land to its eschatological purpose by faithfull “tilling”. The eschatological is a gift of grace in the future; maybe also if sin had not intruded.


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