The problem with evolution in relation to the bible is that its inconsistent with Christs death and resurrection, if evolution is a good and natural way for God to make things, than why is death bad, Christ defeated death on the cross, why would he do that if it were good.
We don’t know exactly what the world was like before the fall(humans would probably be capable of way more though) but again, according to a worldview that accepts evolution as consistent with the bible, how can you think of death as bad, why would Christ free us from it?
I think that ultimately we are redeemed by the defeat of death and are joined with Christ. But seriously, would you want to live on a planet where nothing died? Imagine being filled with immortal parasites.
I don’t think that parasites would work like that in a pre-fall world, after all it was perfect. But why is it a good thing that Christ defeated death if what Biologos teaches is true. If evolution was part of the pre-fall world, then the death that came along with it was very good along with the rest of creation.
Because were’re still in this world that’s cursed by the fall, we see it affected by death, and now that Christ has died for us, death has lost its power in that there is nothing to fear in it, the reason death is inconsistent with Biologos’s view is that the Bible makes it quite clear that death is a bad thing, while Biologos says that it played an essential role in the construction of God’s very good creation, and thereby, death itself was very good.
I’m “hit and miss” too as far as when I can grab a break and get some time to respond here --today’s a good day for me in that regard. So don’t worry if a day or two goes by between questions and responses --that’s probably par for the course for any of us who maintain other day jobs.
I struggle to understand this issue of death and whether it is really as simple as you see it. You may view death as a very monolithic or “one-dimensional” thing. But I don’t get the impression that Jesus or the Apostles always share that view --at least not in every context. “…unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” (from John 12) And Jesus isn’t just talking about horticulture here. As usual, his meanings run much deeper and we struggle to flesh it all out. Paul too speaks of needing to die to the law so that he can live for God (Romans 7:4 or Galatians 2:19) So is Paul only speaking of his eventual physical execution here? Of course Paul also speaks of death as the last enemy to be conquered (where is your sting, O death?) which you will no doubt be familiar with. In Ecclesiastes we learn that there are seasons for everything including being born and dying. Now I’ll be the first to admit that this is offered in the context of a sinful world. (I’m an Anabaptist after all … so what to do about an author who casually throws in there a season for war?) So I realize that we need to consider this in the context of a sinful world (and war is certainly a result of human sin!) But to take all of Job, Psalms, and the wisdom literature some of which has God boasting about feeding the ravens or the lions their prey in season, and with no apparent apologetic tone that these carnivores are now in a ruined state because we messed it up; it just doesn’t seem to follow that death is all bad, or that there ever was a state where no death existed at all. If you find any verses that specify that, I’ll be curious for references. And I offer that knowing full well of Paul’s Romans passage: “…through one man death came into the world…”. To make that passage work for you, you have to insist that death is all only one thing (and you have very consistently suggested just that). But the only problem on that score then is … all the rest of the Bible, including Romans, where we find references to different kinds of death. Adam and Eve are told they will die that very day if they eat the forbidden fruit, but (if there is only one kind of death), they don’t. I don’t bring up all these problems because I have them sorted out, (I don’t). I only bring them up to suggest that for most of us who want to take in all of the teachings of scripture, striving for higher understandings is rarely a simple task. Why does Paul characterize death as an enemy if it is built in to the fabric of creation as a good thing? You have your answer (by rejecting the latter premise in that question). But some of us don’t see that in the rest of the teachings of the Bible or in the testimony of God’s created works. So, speaking for myself anyway, I prefer to remain a bit unsettled on what Paul is teaching there, rather than settling prematurely on a simple answer that would do violence to other passages and understandings of God’s two books.
But that doesn’t explain Biologos’s position that there was death before the fall, if death was part of the pre-fall world, then it was very good like the rest of God’s creation, but the bible makes it clear that death is bad. Also pre-fall humans were most likely more intelligent than us and more than capable of finding creative ways to spread out. And God could make it so that animals don’t reproduce at the normal rate. But again, please try to explain death before the fall.
You are equivocating different kinds of death. Specifically, even though the English language happens to use the word “death” for a great many “cessations of life”, the knowledgeable native speaker of English understands that they aren’t all the same.
Even before Darwin and the Theory of Evolution, both scientists and Bible-affirming Christians already understood that death is a very good thing—and that there is nothing in the Bible to declare that all death is bad nor that God doesn’t use death for his purposes. The Psalmist praises God for hearing the hunger pangs of the young lions and delivering their dinner to them. (That meal depends upon the deaths of other living things. It is “very good”, just like everything else in creation.)
God created a biosphere where life and death go together. Even in the garden reserve in the region called Eden, HA’ADAM depended upon the death of plant cells to sustain his life. Obviously, death was part of that plan.
So what aspect of death was not so good? The Apostle Paul explains that God had another plan in mind for HA’ADAM and his descendents. Yet the rebellion we call sin led to Adam and Eve being banned from the garden and the Tree of Life which was their ANTIDOTE FOR DEATH. (If death had never existed prior to their sin, why did they need an anti-death antidote in the form of fruit from the Tree of Life? So obviously, death existed before sin. Indeed, the Genesis text makes clear that that garden reserve had been specially prepared and planted so that Adam would be shielded from the harsh burden of death, weeds, thorns, and wilderness which had always existed outside of that garden.)
Yes, the Bible says that God did not want Imago of God humans to experience the spiritual death brought by sin. God even created a special place where the death which was a requirement of every ecosystem would not be so for those created in the Image of God. Imago Dei humans were given safe harbor and an anti-death fruit. To confuse the system of life and death God created and called very good with the spiritual death God wanted HA’ADAM to avoid is to miss the obvious in the scriptures and in the most basic study of biological science.
Of course, even in response to that sin, God used death for his good purpose yet again! The death of God’s Son on the cross is now the “antidote” for spiritual death. It is not only “good”, but that death on the cross is the very heart of our Christian faith! Yes, death has a long and amazing history as a tool in God’s plan.
Evolution is not a “problem” because it has absolutely nothing to do with Christ’s death and resurrection! The Theory of Evolution explains changes in allele frequencies over time and thereby explains how organisms adapt to changes in environment and how our world today has such a diversity of life. I challenge anyone to point out anything about the Theory of Evolution stated in any standard textbook which in any way defies the scriptures or undermines the Gospel message!
There is no “if”. We observe evolutionary processes making things all the time! It is certainly “natural” and the fact that the Bible tells us that God make a very good creation should settle any doubts by those who feel uncomfortable with God’s decisions as to how organisms are made! Yes, I have a “natural” squeamishness about seeing a gazelle torn to shreds by a lion, but TOV in Hebrew (“good” in English) doesn’t claim that I will find everything God chose to do “warm and fuzzy and fun”. The nutrient cycle in nature depends upon death. The scriptures even praise God for that system which makes provisions for the meals of animals. Without the deaths of plant and animal cells, there would be no food cycle and therefore, no life.
Yes, humans have a long history of second-guessing God’s decisions. Yet, both our human finiteness and our human fallibility makes us unqualified to decide what is and isn’t OK for God to decide to do. God’s creation functions as it does and always has whether we like it or not. (I say this not to rebuke others but to rebuke and humble myself—because I spent much of my life denying the natural processes God created, including the evolutionary processes which diversified life over many many millions and millions of years.)
Not all death is bad. But the spiritual death brought by sin is very bad! That’s why God made a provision for that death via the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. However, that death on the cross does not end the biological life-death nutrient cycle. That is why even the post-resurrection Jesus was cooking fish over a fire on the shore [Yes, those fish died with Jesus’ blessing.] when the disciples came in from fishing. Jesus never said that he was ending all processes which the English word death happens to entail. Jesus’ death on the cross was meant to address the death that came to humans through sin.
Exactly! That is why it is an Argument from Equivocation fallacy. Even when I was a die-hard, evolution-hating Young Earth Creationist, I concurred that when Adam ate a carrot in that garden in the Eden region, the death of that carrot was not a terrible thing—and Jesus’ didn’t have to die to save carrots from death!
Fortunately, in those days a half century ago, a colleague demanded that I reread the Epistle to the Romans and notice what kind of death the Apostle Paul was talking about. And every time I read one of my “creation science” colleagues’ books which tried to quote-mine from Romans, I began to take special notice of what the Apostle Paul said in the very next verses. (They always seemed to leave them out!) That opened my eyes to the cherry-picking of my church background when it came to death and sin.
Tradition is a very powerful force. It took me years to rethink what my church’s traditions had taught me as to what the scriptures meant. Frankly, I didn’t get completely free of those traditions until I finally did my graduate work in Hebrew, and then my work in comparative linguistics absolutely blew my mind in terms of the narrowness of my scripture hermeneutics. I had been a first-order Pharisee of the very most extreme variety with not a bit of awareness. But that is a story for another day. When I began to let God’s scriptures and God’s creation speak for itself, I found that my love for tradition did not survive all that well. (Yes, it died. Another good death.)
OK. When things die, they provide nutrients for other living things. That is part of the very good creation God gave us.
Fortunately, Image of God humans were meant for something much better. But sin brought spiritual death—and with it, eviction from that close fellowship with the Creator which had been enjoyed in the garden, and no more anti-death antidote in the form of the fruit from the Tree of Life. Yes, that kind of death is a very bad thing.
Jesus Christ died (a good thing, the ultimate expression of God’s love toward sinners) to save Image of God humans from spiritual death----not to make sure that the descendents of Adam never again forced carrots to die so that humans could absorb the carotene and have better eyesight. Yes, some types of death were bad and needed the solution brought by Christ’s death on the cross, while other kinds of death continue to be “very good”, just as the Creator declared them to be! It is not a difficult distinction. All human languages are subject to these kinds of equivocation fallacies when we aren’t careful about different usages and meanings for the same word.
If the English language used “nutrient sacrifice” or “end of life cycle” in reference to dead carrots eaten by Adam (and gazelle-burgers digested by hungry lions in zoos) and reserved the word “death” ONLY for the kind of death Adam and Eve experienced in the garden after sinning, we wouldn’t be discussing this issue because there would be no perceived problem.
I do hope that helps. Call me slow, but it took me a very long time to figure that out. Thankfully, Christians have far more resources available to them today than what I found in the 1950’s and 1960’s when I first started grappling with these issues.
I’ve never understood the “no death before the fall” insistence.
If death didn’t exist before the fall, what did Adam and Eve eat?
Some plant foods can be consumed without the plant dying. Yet, even then, that portion of the plant is killed and the cells die. When I’ve asked people about this, they say, “That wasn’t the ancients’ concept of death.” Fine. But that means that even they recognize that some types of death existed before the fall and so careful definitions are needed.
If death didn’t exist before the fall, why was the fruit from the Tree of Life needed? Why did the fall require them to be kept away from the Tree of Life?
When Adam and Eve were told that eating the wrong fruit would mean “Ye shall surely die”, why didn’t they ask, “Die? What’s that?” I’m not saying that everything said would have to be recorded in the Genesis story but isn’t this a conspicuous omission?
I’ve never heard an answer to #2 that came anywhere close to making sense.
However, if someone can correct my understanding of these three issues, I would be very appreciative.
Unfortunately, the software here modified my numbering which I meant as points #1, #2, and #3. It overrode that.
@Nareus, could you elaborate on that? I doubt that I’ve ever heard a sermon on the fall in Genesis which didn’t talk about physical death versus spiritual death. After all, “on the day you eat of it, you shall surely die”. Yet, Adam and Eve did NOT physically die on that day. They died at very old ages. So how could you claim that “death is death” when there is so much debate about the nature of that death, the death of animals versus plant death, etc.?
You’ve brought up some very interesting issues here so I look forward to your return. Thank you for making this discussion interesting.