How do you explain this?

This is Romans 8:18-30

18 Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. 19 For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. 20 Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, 21 the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. 22 For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. 24 We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope

26 And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. 27 And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. 28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. 29 For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the among many brothers and sisters. 30 And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.

Is the bolded not referring to God’s curse on the earth in Genesis as a result of Adam’s sin? Isn’t this passage saying that God cursed the entirety of the earth with death and decay as a result of Adam’s sin? But if things were dying and decaying before the dawn of man and God created the earth in this manner doesn’t that conflict with evolution?

In the eye of the beholder only. Or not.

Sorry @Clovis_Merovingian, @Marshall answers you well here:

Does anyone have a Good Answer to Genesis 1-11 seemingly being referred to literally?

I truly am accommodationist in that I don’t see any conflict at all. The narratives have no intersection, no overlap.

Hi, Clovis - that’s a great question. There have been some who have researched that fairly extensively from a Christian point of view. It’s been a while since I’ve read Jon Garvey’s work: God’s Good Earth, and I wish I could recall more details from his approach … will have to reread that for myself.

But suffice it to say, (and subject to correction and revision as always), that curse shouldn’t be read as somehow having revoked the goodness of the created order. At least not in the sense of some older good creation being replaced by a newer defective or cursed created order. It is sin (specifically human sin) that is the overlay or perversion that taints goodness, but cannot unmake it, or remake it into something else. Evil cannot create; it can only warp or partially ruin the good material it has to work with.

So the curse on the land (bringing forth briers and thistles) is probably more reflective of man’s fallen relationship with that land and its Creator than it is of the rest of creation at large. Nature does suffer under the curse of our falleness as any sober observation of our exploitative practices quickly reveals. But to say that such a curse is somehow now authored into the very workings of nature itself seems unbiblical. Besides if one wants to see it as woven into the fabric of creation itself, one would then have to explain the apparent retraction of that same curse later at the end of Genesis 8 and into Genesis 9.

I think it more accurate and biblical to see it in terms of human sin and broken relationships; broken between us and God and broken between us and the very creation we are supposed to care for.

[Also … here is a Biologos essay that I think speaks to your question as well.]

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Great question to think about. There are several things that are interesting about the passage in addition to the question of whether death and decay preceded Adam’s sin.
First, creation is said to have “will.” At least in my understanding, that relates to a consciousness and a desire. So far as I know, rocks don’t think
Second, creation looks forward, or has hope. So not only does it think, but it has self-awareness and can plan. It apparently also knows what God’s plan for the future is, better than pretty much all people do, other than Paul, maybe.
Third, it vocalizes its pain. Maybe fault lines are vocal,cords, and earthquakes are groans, but not really.
I could go,on, but I think Klax has a point with his “eye of the beholder” statement. I think Paul is using literary devices to make a point and is anthropomorphising creation rather than saying this is the true nature of creation. Paul,uses a lot of conceptual language in Romans, and plain and simple is not a good way to read it.
It is interesting to consider that Eden was a garden isolated from creation, so things outside of Eden in the intimate presence of God may have been quite different.
To expand Klax’ eye of the beholder statement, we can look at the meaning of some terms. Decay, death, destruction, and even weeds are all a matter of perspective. Decay is necessary to return nutrients to the soil, death gives room to new life (physically and spiritually), destruction through erosion is necessary for the making of soil, floods replenish the fertility of river deltas. Weeds are not weeds until man tried to farm the ground. Thorns are good things for the thorn plant and only become cursed when man’s skin is pricked. So, perhaps the curse is only effected when man enters the world at large, whether you hold that to be a literal Adam or whether it is an Adam that emerges to humanity through the gate of evolution.

I would say that this passage is a reasonable cause for some theological divergence. Some might take this as an eschatological pronouncement that the world will be transformed to one without death and decay. I don’t believe that myself and would see this as excessively magical. I would interpret all this as speaking in a purely spiritual manner that as man, the center of creation, is restored to a relationship with God then by extension all of creation is restored and turned back toward the purpose of life rather than the death, corruption, and hopelessness which is the fruit of the self-destructive habits of sin.

It seems to me that eschatological writings in general cannot be taken literally. They are like the dreams of Daniel too full of symbolism and metaphor for that. And using some of this same kind of language, it would be unwise to take Romans 8 in such a manner also, especially to the extent of ignoring the overwhelming evidence for evolution. It also seems to me that cults and pseudo-Christian groups love these parts of the Bible because it is so easy to read whatever theology they want into them and so it seems a bit unwise to me to pin too much of your theology on these parts of the Bible. In other words, the meaning of Romans 8:18-30 just isn’t clear enough to warrant such conclusion any more than the other eschatological portions of the Bible and so we need to be careful about drawing too many conclusions from them.

It has to do with why we were created in the first place.

God’s motivation is really quite understandable, and purpose for our lives is also intimately involved in it: joy for himself in our love for him and our pride in him as our Father, his joy in us and joy for us in reciprocated familial love.

The original unfallen creation was merely “very good”, not perfect:

God’s purpose was and still is to magnify the most valuable thing there is, namely himself (he would be lying if he said otherwise), and to increase and share his joy. He is happy in himself.*

Father’s intended purpose in creating the world was to was not to create a perfect one. His purpose was not thwarted. It was a two creations** model from the get-go, and the first one was subjected to futility on purpose, from its very start.

The original unfallen creation was merely “very good”, not perfect, since it did not and could not magnify God’s justice, mercy, grace and love through our Lord, Jesus, the Christ. Jesus’ motivation is also explicit and clear, and it was forward looking***: “for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame.” Hebrews 12:2. That joy is us(!), if you nave been adopted into his family.

The New Earth will be perfect.
 


*See The Pleasures of God
**“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Matthew 25:34
***Our motivation should be forward looking, too, toward future grace.

I see a couple of ways of explaining this, which are different than what I have seen offered so far. God has foreknowledge and when he created the world He knew what would happen, which is why Peter describes Jesus and our salvation like this:

"Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, "
The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., 1 Pe 1:18–20). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

Revelation 13:8 says the same thing:

the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world
The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Re 13:8). Belemphasized textlingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

There is no way Christ could be the lamb slain from the foundation of the world if God didn’t know what was going to happen. This is the first way and the one I like best, but there are some other issues that need to be discussed. I don’t like them as much, but what I like is not important, it is what the Bible says that is important.

Psalm 51:5 says Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; And in sin did my mother conceive me.

So we are all sinners from birth? This is the doctrine of original sin which is somewhat out of favor but I do believe. How can that be? Well, believe it or not, science shows that we humans have some ability to change the past, or affect the past. Most will go apoplectic at the last sentence but listen to the data. From my page on the Quantum Soul.

Theoretical physicist John Wheeler further elucidates the role of the observer with what are called “delayed-choice” thought experiments. (See Fig. 2.)


" Wheeler noted that it is possible to devise a double slit experiment at the cosmic level using light coming from quasars and a galaxy which operates as a gravitational lens on the way to Earth, bending the light inwardly as it passes by massive objects (as predicted by Einstein’s general theory of relativity). This light would generate an interference pattern showing that light has travelled as waves. But if a measurement would be performed before the screen on which the interference pattern takes form, the pattern would dissolve and the photons would change from waves into particles. In other words, our choice on how to measure the light coming from a quasar influences the nature of the light emitted 10 billion years ago. According to Wheeler, this experiment would show that ‘retrocausal effects operate at the quantum level. " 13

The light’s passage by the massive light-bending galaxy occurred long before there were any people or multicellular life on earth. Yet our decision today determines what happened to that light 2 billion years ago. To paraphrase Weinberg and Wigner, “Human beings are in the cookie jar at the beginning of the laws of QM.” Matter is obeying consciousness. Matter, at its most fundamental level, is NOT master of consciousness; consciousness is master of the matter!

[GRM note for this reply: One can also do a retrocausality experiment with the double slit experiment]

Another retrocausality experiment done by Kim et al, allows the observer to change the equipment after the particles have gone through the double-slit apparatus but before they have hit the screen. Amazingly, the observer’s choice still rules over what nature does"

Wheeler eventually changed his mind, opting for another interpretation of delayed-choice experiments, taking the view that particles don’t get their properties until they are observed, meaning, they are neither waves nor particles until the observer decides what equipment he wishes to use. Clearly, this is even a more radical position than that of most 19th century idealists. Such a view places the observer/soul as the creator of the universe and its past. (Move over, God!) Matter is not creating consciousness through biological evolution, but consciousness is creating matter and its history by observation. To paraphrase Descartes famous quote, the observer can say, “I observe; therefore I create; therefore I am [like God].” Hyperbole aside, Christian readers are likely to recall from Genesis 1 that “God created mankind in his own image.” Perhaps we see tangible evidence of this in delayed-choice experiments.

Now here is the other possibility. If we are guilty with Adam, then perhaps we via our first conscious sin participate in Adam’s decision to sin. That would explain Ps 51:5, it would explain why God cursed the earth, and why things died and decayed prior to Adam’s actual sin. We think in terms of causality and think Adam’s sin would only have impact from the time of the sin forward. That may not be the case. It very well may be that sin propagates both direction and all at once through creation and thinking in causal temporal terms is not correct. Just a thought that matches up with the scientific data.

@gbob, Ever since reading the early work of Arthur Compton, I have tried to follow the philosophical implications of Quantum Mechanics. Without much positive results, I must admit.

As a chemist, I cannot deny its practical applications to chemistry (and other areas of science), but to use QM to undergird my worldview, I must side with Einstein in his argument with Bohr: "To believe that God plays dice* was abhorrent to Einstein. And it certainly would not help me live a better life–a life with purpose.

Most important: Science makes it easier to make sense of how we can see God as Good and Loving and yet as the Creator of a world that is far from perfect–at least in a way the we humans choose to see as “originally good” but now “cursed”. Our intellect leads us to believe that God used evolutionary mechanisms to create the wondrous variety of life we see around us. Some of these mechanisms involve suffering, and we humans see this as evil, such as the “red in tooth and claw” (Tennyson) And yet it is responsible for the grace and athleticism of the gazelle as it eludes a lion. Even Natural Disasters, such as earthquakes and volcanoes, are not intrinsically Evil, but are instead necessary to produce the variety of ecological niches necessary for consciousness to evolve. (Plate tectonics)

Using Quantum Mechanics and the Multiverse as a basis for my worldview ia beyond my intellectual capacity. However, in my case at least, I have been able to use my training in science to help separate the Wisdom of Scripture from some of the misinterpretations that are commonly inferred from it. For example

There is no doubt that for the majority of humankind, sexual intercourse is one of the most pleasurable experiences in life. But Psalm 51 emphasizes the evil that would accompany the misuse of that gift solely for maximizing its physical pleasure (think Playboy Mansion). When a couple can use that gift to fully cooperate with God in creation (which inevitably involves sacrifice as well as love), they will experience an ecstasy found almost nowhere else in life.
Al Leo

I don’t take a hard and fast view of what I wrote, but I do think it does answer the original question. I was a physicist and then a philosopher by training (didn’t finish philosophy degree–had a son–had to go to work). Of random chance, I think of Sierpinski’s gasket. Here is how it is made. This object combines randomness with determinism.

Here is what you get after a million iterations of the moving dot moving and leaving a mark where it lands.

Again, no matter the random order, this output is deterministic.

I can provide the program in either Python or GWbasic (a dead language)

I laugh at that, because I think anyone who can understand shells and solid state is way beyond my abilities. lol. I and chemistry never got along well.

Psalm 51 reminds me of my family history. I am here because of a series of sexual sins. My dau. in law is here because of a sexual sin. All of us are here because of some sexual sin in our ancestry. My 3rd great grandmother I think was a prostitute. in 1830 she gave birth to a daughter. The father was the farmer next door who was married. Laura, the daughter, was raised by that farmer and his jilted wife–what a wonderful homelife she must have had. Laura married William H. Morton and had my great grandfather, George Washington Morton. George had at least 4 simultaneous families out on the Great Plains. His first family he abandoned about 1882. His first ‘wife’ who went by Morton, but was never married had 2 children. She became a prostitute to survive, and her son, Clyde Mack Morton, who I was told of at age 33 and was told he was Charles Morton, became the mob boss of Peoria Illinois from 1908 to 1915 when he went to Leavenworth for 3 years. He then changed his name, moved to Tulsa where my grandfather lived and came over a few times but grandpa would never let him in the house. Charlie was murdered by his neighgor and they had to protect the neighbor from retribution from the mob, even though Charlie had kept a low profile after Leavenworth

George Washington Morton, my great grandfather, abandond his second family, and his son Leo Noble Morton did ok but he did find out that his father had abandoned them. I am in touch with that branch of the family. I am from his third family and my oldest great aunt was born 2 months after she married George. She had been going by the name Morton for about 2 years prior to that.

DNA says there is a 4th family but due to adoption, I don’t know anything about this family. I wouldn’t be here except for the sin of my ancestors, and most of us wouldn’t be either.

I joke that I am now certified poor white trash. lol

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