Catastrophe and Renewal in Evolution

The geological and fossil record is not an even progression of life. There is evidence of several mass and catastrophic periods of extinction followed by the flourishing of new waves of species. The most famous such situation is the extinction event ending the long era of the dinosaurs and the survival and evolution of birds, mammals and marsupials in their place.

But what does that say about God as creator? Does God plan the deaths of some much life? or does just God just let it happen, and yet saves some species to develop to fit the new environments?

We may for instance imagine something like a divine “saving” of life like the biblcal “Noah” story (but without the ark and human involvment).
it may depend on how much we credit God’s involvement in the course of evolution (for those of us that accept it and think that way) and how interventionist we believe God to have been.

1 Like


“God letting things happen” is not the words I would have chosen. Unless you like your God to be something like Zeus.

1 Like

Why is God letting things happen so problematic? I definitely prefer to think that when my friend’s husband died of cancer at 32 when she was six months pregnant, when another friend’s baby was stillborn at 37 weeks, when hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, when AIDS was first transmitted from monkeys to humans (and about a million other lousy things I could list), that God let those things happen, not that he is in the business of directly killing husbands and babies, intentionally devastating urban population centers, and personally infecting people with horrible diseases.


oops… … I let some of my Calvin show.

Mind you, it’s not a full Calvin… but some might liken it to Calvin Briefs…

1 Like

Well, you know I’m not going to let that slide. :grin:

1 Like

Good day,
I want to observe that the discussion concerning death is very personal as it applies to people (and beloved pets). Even more so for the PETA groups concerning animals. I find it interesting that Animal Rights groups are often faithful evolutionists, but refuse to acknowledge “nature, red in tooth and claw” (Tennyson).

If souls aren’t involved, then the mechanics of death is simply that of recycling materials for the next generation of life to use. It is our transference of the “Sanctity of Life” from people to that of animals that gives us trouble, even considering the far past before humans. Obvious, maltreatment of animals is not to be tolerated, but on the other hand neither is the death of organisms living and dying in the food-chain to be excoriated.

Why does God “allow” animals to die? And does God “save” some species? Yes–and no. If we approach God as having a “plan” and “saving some” we are limiting God to being human. We can only function at the level of “allowing” and “saving”.
Look at it this way. God is is working at an infinitely higher plane than we are. His “Creation” whether from Special Creation, or Evolutionary Creation works according to the design he laid out. Death and recycling material included.
I have been thinking about this including back to how the earth is formed with Ice ages, CO2 air, so forth. Materially doing what he does later with living organisms. No harm, no waste, nothing lost. As for the Cretaceous and other “extinction events”, it is like God is “cooking” the stew to get it just right. Add chicken. Simmer again, remove the bones. Add some herbs in a cloth, simmer and remove. So forth.

But as for people, the stain of death comes from rejecting the everlasting (not eternal) life God offered to Adam and Eve (as real people). Death did not mean anything other than physical death to a person prior to that time. God did not count anybody born before Adam and Eve to be culpable of sin until that time. They didn’t understand their loss until their eyes were opened by God after eating the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil.

So feeling bad about all that went before is an inclusion of our culture and has very little to do with the operations of God’s creation, whichever version you choose.

That’s my thoughts. I know it doesn’t answer the sting of death and all we go through now. That is for other conversations and places.


1 Like

Welcome to the forum, Ray. :wave: Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


You’re welcome. I was here about four years ago for a while but circumstance change. I am back now and enjoying it.:joy:

An expansion on my above post. I have been working on this for some time (since I first read Walton in 2009) but have had little conversation with anybody about it. So I am looking for feedback which is another topic).

As to Catastrophe and Renewal in Evolution: Its only a catastrophe if we term it that which depends on our perceptions. Therefore we must look at the presuppositions that we apply to the statement.

Eternal life: I believe we misspeak when we use the word eternal to speak of our “everlasting” life.
Only Elohim God is ETERNAL with no beginning and no end.

Most Dictionaries (not Merriam-Webster) that define eternal “beginning with no end” as the primary definition followed by everlasting as a synonym. But the distinction of " with beginning and lasting forever", is a categorical difference in quality and quantity from eternal!

We receive everlasting life through Yeshua (Jesus) because of his gift of Salvation (Yeshua and Yahshua in Hebrew). We have a beginning, therefore are not eternal. The word everlasting is the word most often used in the original King James and many other earlier English translations.

The application to this topic is that it makes a difference to our perception of the establishment of humans according to an Evolutionary Creation. Mortality is established from the beginning as part of the evolutionary process of life–all life–and the gift of Everlasting Life provisionally provided _emphasized text_to mankind through two actual people Adam & Eve. To get this they had the choice to eat from the Tree of Life, instead they chose the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. They were still mortal, doomed to die, just as they were before they ate. But, they now knew the consequences of their act, where before they were ignorant. That knowledge is what is passed down to all of us since then. So we intrinsically know we are doomed to die. And react to it. That death is just that, the knowledge of death, formerly unknown to mankind, in which they will be treated just as an animal that died in the Garden. The perversion of death is the application of it to a provisionally everlasting soul, and our mistreatment of death by indiscriminate killing of animals or people (see the Levitical laws for limits on both).

Therefore the life of all living organisms, including humans is mortal and “of dust you are made and to dust you shall return”. So our friends and neighbors who do not receive Everlasting Life are doomed to their already existing mortality. That leads us to the rethinking the mechanism, and theology, of Hell and Eternal Damnation as an everlasting fire. The end result is the same as all organisms from the beginning. The difference is a person’s “soul” which is not everlasting is burned with their (provisional) body then–poof. Gone. :skull_crossbones: Again, no lasting harm, no waste. The only everlasting results would be our memory of those who we loved and knew, and yet, “…there will be no tears or sorrow”.

To the topic at hand: People instinctively react with revulsion (by varying levels) to an animal’s death. We don’t like it and transfer our revulsion of death to animals, no matter in what epoch they lived.
That death is part of the design of the creation from the beginning, however perverted it has become now, and should not be a reason for us to look askance at Elohim’s wisdom in the design of the cosmos. Catastrophes only occur to humans by our own hand or the effects of evil in the world (Satan’s doom and yet another topic).

On the other hand, I sincerely hope (without scriptural support) that my two late Golden Retriever mix, Misty and Mallie will be with me in the New Earth.:dog::joy::dog:

Obviously there is much more to be explored and would be off-topic here.
Any comments? Fire Away!

Respectfully, Ray


When it comes to metaphysics… I love a good story as much as the next person! But let’s remember that when posting from a tiny phone, or in the everyday rush on our laptop, distinctions such as the Giant Difference between “Eternal” and “Everlasting” sometimes fade.

@Jonathan_Burke has a whole riff on how human souls are not “immortal” … and that this is a Greek concept and so forth. He’s quite adamant about the whole thing.

And then one day I asked him a simple question, which I’ll roughly paraphrase here: “Based on your understanding of the Bible, do you agree that those who experience the General Resurrection will exist forever (with or without a physical body) in the Kingdom of God?”

He indicated the affirmative.

Case closed; the conversation was over.

I’m in favor of spending a little more time polishing our swords, and a little less time falling on them, for the sake of a jot or tittle. Most of us here are perfectly happy to invest in such distinctions when the conversation calls for it. But to expect theologically precise terminology at all times, even when the arc of a specific debate doesn’t require such precision can sometime strain the human Id.

Were you here for the fun and frolic about just “who was it?!?!?” who paraphrased a BioLogos officer’s words in such a way as to offend the scruples of one of our more ardent participants? Oh, that was a great day for hay! Mind you, the paraphrasing did not even use quote marks … so there was no attempt to deceive or abuse. It was just a general comment to lead into the actual article where the officers words were specifically there for all to scrutinize.

The criminal was never identified . . . but I’m pretty sure it was water and stale bread for a few days …

Special Offer: As a way of demonstrating my sincerity to you - - pick a topic, your favorite topic to debate, and I’ll start a thread on it if you like. Or you can start the thread. Whatever you think is fair. And I’ll be happy to be as excruciatingly precise as the discussion requires … and we might even have a break-through, right here at BioLogos !!!
Below is my favorite image showing that sometimes Evolution has perfect timing! These Terror Birds, awful & nasty creatures, were stuck in South America during the emergence of increasingly sophisticated primates in Africa. Now that was a lucky break!

Mr Brooks,
Please pardon me if I have offended you and the Forum. I have no intention of stepping on anybody’s toes or forcing people to use the word Everlasting instead of Eternal. As I noted at the beginning of the post that I was trying to figure these things out, and posting it so I can get some feedback. Obviously the feedback I am getting from you is that I have somehow violated the traditions or customs of the Biologos Forum. If I have stated something that somebody else said and not quoted it, I am ignorant of that fact and apologize for it. All of these thoughts have come from my reading of different books, and only now am I able to express what I am processing in a forum of people who can intelligently respond to me.

Your challenge to me is way over my head at this time. I believe the header on these forums is “gracious dialog”. As a former BioLogos member and having been gone for a while, I am somewhat familiar with the forum’s customs, but perhaps they have changed in three or four years.

My apologies to you if I have offended you.

Perhaps I need to be more specific when I write that I am trying to discuss things I think.
I will seriously think about what you have said. Saying that, I wonder about your motives in slamming me so hard.

Oh, and I agree that Evolution has perfect timing. But it is God’s timing too.I thought I made that clear. No luck involved.

Have a good day. I will too.
Respectfully, Ray.


My good friend-to-be, you have not offended me.

And I do not represent The Forum. It’s just little ol’ me. (Though my wife was quick to jab me in the ribs … saying she couldn’t actually feel any ribs…)

My response was purely self-defense … the thought of having even more excruciatingly detailed debates in the near future caused all the blood to drain out of my head … letting my fingers wander aimlessly over the key board …

Whoah there !!! I think you just don’t know me yet. I owe you the apology if I so misgauged my comments as to create such a bad feeling in your mind. I promise … I don’t bite… but I do tend to yammer.

I deeply and humbly apologize for not finding a better way to offer my thoughts … and I apologize to the rest of The Forum for yesterday’s yammering…

So… what’s your favorite topic? Let’s have a go! :smiley:


I loved that part… God’s timing is everything - - and I mean that in a couple of different ways!

I do hope you will forgive me for making such a bad impression on you. I was very sincere about willing to engage in your favorite topic or discussion!

Thank you George, (I may call you George, my new friend…)
Thank you for the apology. I was taken aback a bit by your post. I wasn’t expecting it on my second day back in the forum. Now I know to take you as you are. I was hoping I didn’t do so badly on my first outings on the forum,…he he…

A bit of Bio so you know me a bit better to respond.
I am 63 and semi-retired. I have a M-Div from Azusa Pacific University (95) and planned to be a pastor. That part fell through and I ended up retiring as a senior Network Admin for an electronics company that is being currently snapped up by a Global conglomerate (hence I can’t say the name - non-disclosure).
I have done much work in Technology and the church, and finding my way through rethinking my established Chirstian Theology. I have ended up (on my own) being a Sabbath Keeper and Yahwist, though I firmly reject Seventh-day Adventists and Yahwist groups because of their cultist ways beyond the basic belief I share. I am a solid Evangelical that has serious doubts about our established theology based on the English translations of the bible.I have been learning Hebrew (again) and brushing up on my Greek, though I have to use the English Transliterations _ I have trouble with non-roman alphabets.
I am an avid reader of Science of all kinds, and avid Science Fiction Fan from way back, and trying to be well read in theology too. Keeps me busy! I am looking to establish my own Wiki site to store my work and eventually share with others. BioLogos is part of my plan in that direction.

I am interested in how our theology has to be rethought concerning issues that are affected by the change from the YEC-centric view to the EC view (I did get that right?).

Death in the pre-Adamic evolutionary world. I changes the whole chain of theological building blocks leading to final judgement and — he he–Eternal life.

The next is the creation narrative al la John W. The function versus the material affects another chain including the words we use to describe ourselves as Human, Man, and Woman. So much of the Study Bible Materials and Interpretations of the English Bible would need to change.

I can go one, but that is where I am at now. Let me think on it more and respond tomorrow. I worked all day at the local county fair and got home to read your post. I’ll have nore time in the morning.

Blessings my new friend! Have a good night.


1 Like


Thank you for forgiving nature! I have a lot of respect for the origins of sabbatarianism!

Theology[quote=“RLBailey, post:1, topic:36214”]
Since this came from George, I’ll let him have the first shot. And it is 1:00 in the morning I can’t get to sleep until I posted this.

George, I put up a new forum topic. If we have alrteady hashed out the Ethernal thing, then suggest something that surprises me. You never know.

1 Like

We are all taken aback a bit by George, so you are in good company.:slight_smile:

While I have not followed this topic closely, one thing I try to keep in mind regarding death in creation is that evolution is really concerned with populations. To the individual animal, they live their lives pretty much independent of evolutionary forces, and the day to day life of a rabbit is the same regardless of whether its linage is an evolutionary dead end or whether it is the ancestor of Peter Cottontail. So, I see the argument of “Why would God use so much death as the mechanism for evolution?” as really not an issue.



That’s extremely well-worded, Phil! We need to remember to use that refutation as a matter of habit.

Side Note:
You, too, are “taken aback a bit” ? Shucks.
Ever thus … a “Stranger in a Strange Land” …

You them there showin’ one o’my favorite books! I grok you!

That’s the whole point I was making over in another topic.

1 Like

I agree wholeheartedly. My point that the use of the word catastrophe is unwarranted because there is no warrant to describe a die-off as being something that only applies to humans (as in Post-adamic humans). near-humans of Adam’s generation outside the garden are not included as they did not have “the Spirit” breathed into them, no fear of death to the same degree as Eve and Adam.

@jpm and @RLBailey

Another possibility is that rather than differing on the question of “fear” (which is not a mutually exclusive factor in either case), it was Adam & Eve who were first “judged to be” (or “provided the moral capacity”) to be “Moral Agents” - - capable of having guilt for wrong-doing assignable to them. Humans outside the garden may not, as of yet, felt or known guilt.