Formless, dark and deep were the three elements of chaos to the readers of the original text. You can say it was a good chaos, but it was still chaos.
Where does the text say that order would have to precede chaos?
The Hebrew word transliterated as “to-hu,” that you translate as “without shape,” is a possible translation, but not the only one. Isaiah 24:10 translates that word as “chaos” in the NASB, as “desolation” in Isaiah 34:11 in the NASB, and as “waste place” in Isaiah 45:18 and 45:19 in the NASB.
I am not sure how you are differentiating “without shape” as NOT being “chaos.” I am trying to understand where you see this in the Sacred Text.
Your contention that animal suffering and death was only introduced at Adam’s Fall is a good theological argument against Evolutionary Creationism. If this can be established, then theologically Evolutionary Creationism falls down. The only problem with it is how this can be clearly derived from the text. What evidence is found in the text itself, regardless of what evolutionary science says?
Even if evolutionary science is false, we still have to grapple with what God says in His Word, here in Genesis 1:2.
Genesis 1:2 does not necessarily require an evolutionary reading. But it does suggest that even though God surely created everything as “good,” and even “very good” by day six, it does not necessarily imply that God created everything as “perfect.”
God surely had perfection in mind, but perhaps that is where the creation of man comes into play, to help bring order out of chaos? True, Adam and Eve got sidetracked by the serpent, but God’s purposes were still in play, were they not?
It is the modern use of chaos that makes it chaotic. While “chaos” is a noun the modern sense turns it into a verb full of action with no direction. A room full of cats and dogs is considered chaotic. An empty room is void without activity. Yet it contains matter that God could form a whole universe with.
It doesn’t have to do with the modern use of chaos because “chaos” was a concept in ANE literature. It was pictured as a watery deep where monsters lived. See the entry for “Chaos and Death” in the Dictionary of the Old Testament: Wisdom, Poetry & Writings:
Water is how they imagined it. Genesis does not include monsters. A room full of water is not empty. The water would be empty. Water full of monsters is still a room full of cats and dogs.
There was not water because water is still a form of matter. Matter had no form at all according to Genesis. The face of the deep was the image neccessary for ANE understanding. But it was still empty and void. After light the first form was water. At what stage do we have heat or gas for that matter? How can we have a hot star with accretion of planets when the first form in the universe after light is water?
I don’t really follow what you are saying. I don’t think Genesis is describing the scientific beginnings of the universe. I think it is presenting Creation in the context of an ANE origin story, and the watery chaos was a conventional element.
Have a look at Jordan Peterson’s Biblical lectures on the story of Adam and Eve.
(And his other Biblical lectures for that matter)
Helped me to fit together some of this stuff.
Remember the Jews who recorded these stories did not take them all as literal history but rather symbolic meta myths containing much truth.
David, I’ve listened to a good handful of JBP’s podcast episodes dealing with the Genesis narratives. While he’s not a bible scholar, I do appreciate the perspective he brings to the table, as he has obviously spent a lot of time thinking about the meaning and significance.
Thank you for your kind words…
I believe death being what was at first the separation of Man from God, whom was given dominion over the earth, brought what we would call 2nd law of thermodynamics… the eventful destruction of matter, and organic substance. I believe it was deep, chemically. The “Breath of Life”.
Thank you for your reply.
“death existed long before Adam and Eve”. Here’s were we take separate cars. Just a quick pondering of your words brings to mind that Adam and Eve quickly sought something to cover themselves. They used leaves. I would also think they’d wonder about all the skin, fur laying around, unless it was only outside the Garden, and they saw nothing like that inside… Since they were given dominion, I would also think the act of violence and such would have been wrong to them, and since he "named’ the animals, he’d yell at Bob and Sam for fighting.
Interesting isn’t it… God clothed them with “skin”.
Thank you for your reply.
Interesting. First I’ve heard of “millions of years of evolution” AFTER the fall. Explain further please
I explained this timeline in my post in separate thread.
I can see conceptually what you are getting at, I think. This idea of the “fall” can encompass not only mankind, but also in the entire cosmos and its physical and chemical laws.
One point where I see a difficulty in your line of reasoning, if you are suggesting there was no organic death in the garden, how does the nutrition situation work for Adam and Eve? They were eating from the garden, which would normally mean physical death of a plant, and then the breakdown of its components in digestion for use in the body.
Not that digestion is an important theme in Genesis, but I hope you can appreciate the thought experiment as it relates to this idea of “death.”
Convince me there would be no death on the earth before sin actually convince me you understand the concept of life. Did your God create it?
I too had a very negative reaction to that “convince me” spiel.
But what if he simply asked this as a question like this…
Could there be death and destruction, on the earth, before sin?
Yes. Death (and destruction) is a part of life. It is part of how our body works. Cells die (destroyed by all kinds of interactions with the environment) and they get replaced by cells which divide and reproduce. Clearly there was eating things before sin, so all things we ate died as well. It is simply a fact of everyday life that death and destruction is everywhere around us and inside of us. Evolution simply teaches us something which is a perfectly logical extension of this fact, that without death there would no life because it is part of how life developed in the first place.
So marvin’s challenge is right on the money… you cannot convince us there would be no death on the earth before sin unless there was no life at all before sin… but that doesn’t make any sense because how could we sin when we were not even alive?
As for the 13.8 billions of years which the universe existed, and the 4.5 billion years that the earth and sun existed are all a matter of increasingly precise measurements of the physical data. The existence of death and sin has absolutely nothing to do with it.
thank you for your reply. You assumptions of course are already set and based in multiple changes in species evolving, dying, changing, etc. Mine is recent creation of Man, “and God breathed life” into “him”, a person, a man. So, yes Marvin (my name too!), God created man, to me. No mater how much I read, i cannot add the need for decent when its just so simple to believe in a supreme being.
It seems to me it is a choice between reading the Bible as a magical fantasy fairy tale comic book or reading the Bible has having something to say about real life. In magical fantasy fairy tale comic books life is just characters and pictures on a piece of paper and death need not have anything to do with them. But in real life, as I have explained, death is a part of what we (and all living things) are, inside and out and thus the idea that there would have to be sin before death is ludicrous and absurd. I have plenty of fantasy books, fairy tales, novels about magic, and my children have comic books (manga), and they are great fun and entertainment. But I think the Bible is more than just another one of these.
Furthermore, the Bible is quite clear that there is more than one kind of life and death, such as in Luke 9:60 when Jesus says “let the dead bury their own dead.” So the claim that the Bible says all death comes after sin is on very shaky ground. God said that on the day Adam or Eve ate of the fruit they would die. So unless God was speaking of a different kind of death then He lied as Satan claimed. So… which do you believe God or the devil? Because it is the devil who said that they would not die from eating the fruit while God said that they would. Me? I believe God. They did die on that day but of the same kind of death that Jesus spoke of in Luke 9:60, a spiritual death which comes with a separation from God.
But what then of the promise of resurrection we have with Jesus? What kind of death is undone by the cross? Well… to what kind of body are we resurrected? Paul answers that question in 1 Cor 15, saying it is a bodily resurrection to a spiritual body not a natural/physical body. This shows that the death of the perishable physical/natural body isn’t a result of sin at all but a part of nature, and the death undone by the cross is the same spiritual death which came to Adam and Eve on the day they ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
I deliberately asked if you believe in a God that created life, not man. Those who believe in a God that created life by definition believe in a dead God. Those who realise that he gave us a life beyond the physical replication part of it come a bit closer to the understanding of life beyond the materialistic one. My metaphysical description is “the ability to move matter and energy by will”
@Randy_Mueller Greetings Randy. I would like to suggest a different approach to your very good question. Admittedly, it’s outside the box and may not be comfortable for you, but I hope that you’ll consider it. Think about this exchange in John:
John 3:4 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
4 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?”
Very often, we focus upon the literal and miss the intent. Jesus, of course, was speaking of a need for all mankind to go through a spiritual rebirth. Nicodemus focused upon the literal meaning, but missed the intent.
When we look at the story of Adam and Eve, beyond the literal words, to the true meaning of the story, what do we see? We see a story of two people, created by God, untouched by the world outside, raised in a paradise, in daily fellowship with God, and only being subject to one rule. Given these idyllic conditions, will they sin? Of course. The point is that man, given free will by God, will sin. Every time.
People will respond, “But the Bible says that sin entered through one man…” Of course it does. But, again, what is the point of this? That every man will sin. If Adam did not sin (impossible) would I have sinned? Of course. We all would and do.
To dig to deeply into the granularity of this story can cause one to miss the point, as with Nicodemus. The point of the story is not that there was no death, or even no sin, but that man, God’s greatest creation, would always have a struggle with sin because of the free will granted by God. Because of this, we have a need for salvation, and God provided the second Adam as the antidote for the sins of the first.
For me, understanding the story in this way (based upon the point of the story vs. the literal narrative) puts the focus squarely where it should be, on me and my sin, and keeps me centered upon what’s really important about this story and in my life. I hope that helps.