Christianity and Science, Creationism, Science, Young Earth Creationism

Animal Death?- A Response to AiG Critique of My Argument

I recently wrote a post called “A theological argument against young earth creationism.” In it, my stated claim was “YEC is morally impermissible…” Why? Because “on YEC, animals died because of Adam’s sin…” not because of anything they themselves did. This argument is intended to use the YEC assumption that animal death is an inherently bad thing against them. Let’s outline the argument:

1. If animals did not die before the fall, then their death must be the result of sin.

2. Animals are incapable of sinning (they are not morally responsible agents)

3. Therefore, animal death must be the result of a morally culpable agent’s sin.

The argument as it stands contains a few assumptions which I’ve found in YEC literature. 1) Animals did not die before the fall; 2) Death is inherently a bad thing; 3) all physical death is the result of sin. Now a denial of these assumptions can undermine my argument; I grant that. My point is that if one holds to these three assumptions, my argument shows that YEC is morally impermissible.

Now, Answers in Genesis has provided a critique of my argument, and I must say that I’m very appreciative of their interaction on this important topic. Elizabeth Mitchell wrote the entry, check out her critique, in its entirety, here (under the “And don’t miss…” section). Let me examine the criticism below. (I recommend reading my entire post prior to this one in order to have proper interaction with it.)

First, Mitchell wrote, that my post “…attempts to show young earth creationism is wrong by demonstrating death documented in the fossil record preceded human sin and was unrelated to it.”

I admit I was a bit befuddled when I read this, because nowhere in my post did I try to “demonstrate death document in the fossil record preceded human sin…” I’m not sure where this claim was made in my original post. I don’t mention the fossil record anywhere in the original post and so I’m a bit concerned by this apparent misreading of my article.

Then, she wrote, “He cites no Scripture…” Indeed, I did not cite a single Scripture passage. However, the argument is directly based upon the assertions that some YECs make. But what kind of rebuttal is it to say “He cites no Scripture…” anyway? An argument must be dealt with whether it has Bible passages in it or not.

The argument itself is based upon the logic of the YEC argument against old earth positions. The picture to the right here demonstrates pictorially the view most YECs present of old earth positions–that animal death before the fall makes God morally questionable (image credit to AiG, accessed here). For example, premise 1 is backed up by this quote from the AiG critique: “the connection between Adam’s sin and animal death…” Premise 2 is indeed mostly an assumption, but I think it is one that most Christians would grant. Animals are not on the same level as humans; they are not moral agents made in God’s image. Three is again backed up by the quote I put above; the AiG (and more generally, YEC) argument assumes that all death is the result of Adam’s sin.

Now, AiG does claim that the Bible backs up this position. They wrote, that I “[seem] oblivious toRomans 8:20–22, which explains the connection between Adam’s sin and animal death” (Mitchell, cited below). Well no, I’m not oblivious to Romans 8:20-22, which makes no mention of animal death. In fact, the word “death” is not even used in the passage. Thus, it looks like this an inference from Scripture, not an obvious connection. And an inference is subject to presuppositions. The YEC presupposition is that animals did not die before the fall, so of course their inference will lead to a reading of Romans 8 in light of that presupposition.

Mitchell argues in regard to my statement, “The post on Answers in Genesis hints that it is because animals are cursed due to the serpent’s deception of Adam and Eve,” that “…we [AiG] teach no such thing” (Mitchell, cited below). That’s fair, and I appreciate the clarification. The reason was that I read the following quote on the original post I was working from: “The first recorded death and passages referring to death as a reality came with sin in Genesis 3 when the serpent, Eve, and Adam all were disobedient to God” (Hodge, cited below).  The wording here does seem to at least “hint” at a connection between the serpent and the rest of animal death, but I could be mistaken here and I’m fine with that.

To sum up, my argument was based upon rather firmly established YEC assumptions. That animals did not die before the fall is argued throughout YEC literature, and both posts I cite have this idea in them. That animal death is due to the sin of Adam is demonstrated in the AiG response to my post. That animal death is somehow inherently bad is shown in the picture above as well as throughout YEC literature. For just one example, Bodie Hodge wrote, in the article I was originally linking (cited below), “God gave the command in Genesis 2:16–17 that sin would be punishable by death. This is significant when we look at the big picture of death. If death in any form was around prior to God’s declaration in Genesis 1:31 that everything was ‘very good,’ then death would be very good too—hence not a punishment at all.” But just from these three theses I can construct my argument (as above) which leads to the conclusion:

“Animal death must be the result of a morally culpable agent’s sin…” (on the YEC position).

And, as I argued in my original post, this seems to undermine the goodness of God on YEC, for “the animals didn’t do anything. One day, they were happily living potentially infinitely long lives, eating plants, and doing their animal things. The next day, Adam sinned, and so God decides to start killing them all… not because they themselves sinned” (here).

So, given the assumptions that YECs make, I have constructed an argument that shows their own position is morally impermissible. What does this entail? I suggest it entails that the reading of the texts that YECs present is incorrect and must be modified. I suggested a few ways to do this in the original post, so I won’t repeat them here. Ultimately, it seems my original post has not been refuted.

Sources

Bodie Hodge, “Biblically, Could Death Have Existed before Sin?” Answers in Genesis. 2010. Accessible here: http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2010/03/02/satan-the-fall-good-evil-could-death-exist-before-sin

Elizabeth Mitchell, “News to Note, March 17, 2012.” Answers in Genesis. Accessible here: http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2012/03/17/news-to-note-03172012.

J.W. Wartick, “Animal Death?- A Theological Argument Against Young Earth Creationism.” 2012. Accessible here: http://jwwartick.com/2012/03/12/against-yec-theology/.

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About J.W. Wartick

J.W. Wartick has an MA in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. His interests include theology, philosophy of religion--particularly the existence of God--astronomy, biology, archaeology, and sci-fi and fantasy novels.

Discussion

38 thoughts on “Animal Death?- A Response to AiG Critique of My Argument

  1. Interesting. Thanks :)

    Posted by writeroo | March 18, 2012, 9:48 AM
  2. I have not thought about this earlier but I think your argument it sound and that it holds water.

    Posted by Andreas | March 18, 2012, 6:13 PM
  3. Have you read William Dembski’s End of Christianity? He has an intriguing way of dealing with this problem.

    Posted by James Berry | March 19, 2012, 12:17 PM
  4. I think of it more as, when man sinned, the perfect world was rendered imperfect or broken. So, death and decay entered in, and all that was very good is no longer good, because it’s been cut apart from God’s perfection.

    That is the moral aspect to it. Is it immoral (or not morally permissible) for mountains to erode, or beaches to wash away, or flowers to die and decompose? What level of “alive” is required before it becomes morally impermissible for sin to cause its physical destruction?

    Posted by dfwmerlin | March 19, 2012, 12:34 PM
  5. I think AIG’s point about the lack of scriptural reference was to point out the unguided conclusion of your reason, for quite many things can be assumed by reason alone.

    I also think the conclusions based on scripture and observation are this:
    Creatures (including humans) on earth can and do suffer pain and death not merely by their own sin, but also by the sin of those to whom they are subjects, as in the children of Adam, and as in the plants and animals. And, yes, this law of death was immediately demonstrated by God himself in the first slaughter of animals, and in millennia of prescribed slaughter. Genesis also states quite plainly that that all these animals and people were originally plant eaters, with no need for any to kill or any to die.
    Again, the prescribed order of subjugation is this: animals to people, people to God.
    Keep also in mind that the idea that creatures suffer pain and death is not necessarily punishment of the sin of those that suffer, for Christ did not sin. Nevertheless, the suffering of pain and death are consistently presented as consequences of sin. In fact, I might argue that what what we observe as suffering on earth is not THE punishment, but the foreshadowing of the punishment we deserve.

    In any case, AIG is not making up the rules. But to say that animals might as well have been dying before the fall as they now die after the fall is scripturally baseless.

    I think AIG is making good scriptural points, and that they are frequently able to back these up with observation.

    Posted by Eric Matthews | March 19, 2012, 1:08 PM
  6. I am an OEC, but I try to keep an open mind. I believe that Scripture is inerrant & infallible, but that our interpretations of Scripture are not, and I believe that, while the fall affected every part of us, including our mind and reason, our reasoning powers are not totally ruined. We know that 2 + 2= 4 and we are able to think logically about other problems also. I also consider myself a Presuppositionalist, so I do believe that when Scripture makes a clear statement about something, that statement should be accepted as valid- God has spoken through His Word and His Word cannot be broken. However, I do not believe that the early chapters of Genesis meet this standard and that they are open to various ways of interpretation. I find the scientific evidence for an old earth to be very convincing, and the attempts by YEC’s to explain why this evidence is faulty to be very unconvincing- differing speeds of light during different eras or light from distant stars created in transit, for example. So I do believe that there was animal death before the fall, and that the death of Romans 5:12 to refer to spiritual death as only man is created in the image of God and is a “living creature.” The Bible tells us that “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork,” (Psalm 19:1) and that “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20) I find that God’s handiwork can be quite clearly perceived through OEC and ID and that I (and I believe many others) find these concepts inspiring and convincing evidences of our Creator.

    Posted by James Berry | March 19, 2012, 1:46 PM
  7. I think your argument contains at least one fatal flaw, regardless of the truth of the OEC or YEC position. First, if we grant the truth of your two premisses that 1) If animals did not die before the fall, then their death must be the result of sin and 2) Animals are incapable of sinning (they are not morally responsible agents), the conclusion (depending on how it was intended) that 3) Animal death must be the result of a morally culpable agent’s sin simply does not follow logically.

    Your conclusion can be interpreted in at least two ways, so please correct me if there’s a third.

    If you intended to say that 1) animal death SHOULD be the result of a morally culpable agent’s sin, BUT it’s not; therefore, it’s impermissible, you have a problem, since Adam and Eve were morally culpable agents. If, on the other hand, you meant to say that 2) animal death WAS the result of a morally culpable agent’s sin, but it should NOT have been, since animals are not culpable, you still have a problem. By your reasoning, all I have to do is show an instance of permissible animal death, based on someone else’s sin and your argument fails. The most obvious example is the one found in Genesis 3:21, where God Himself killed a non-morally culpable animal to make skins for Adam and Eve. If that death was permissible, then the animal death following the fall is also permissible. Either way, your argument does not stand.

    Posted by puzzlephile | January 29, 2013, 6:35 PM
    • Thank you for your very thoughtful critique. I really do appreciate these types of comments that allow iron to sharpen iron.

      One thing I have to note is that I did pull the argument out of the context in the original post, in which I was arguing specifically against one of the tenants of many YEC’s position. The original post can be viewed by clicking this link: Animal Death? A Theological Argument Against Young Earth Creationism. In that post, I note the general theological notion within YEC that:

      1. Death is the result of sin.
      2. If YEC is false, then things died before sin.
      3. Therefore, if YEC is false, God is unjust.

      I provide a few examples of this type of argument being used in YEC literature.

      The argument that you critiqued is linked to this argument specifically. That is, the conclusion for the argument you are critiquing follows when you grant the argument of the YEC as presented above: that death is the result of sin.

      So I think that your critique is actually quite strong against the partial argument given, but it doesn’t take into consideration the entire argument as outlined through the original post.

      Now, given the Genesis 3:21 passage, this actually works exactly into my general framework suggested in the original post in which animal death is not necessarily a morally impermissible thing at all times. My point is that only by making animal death a bad thing (one might imagine the YEC saying “animal death is a bad thing, period; therefore you can’t have animal death before the fall”) does the YEC critique of OEC theology work. And because this framework of animal death is part of the general position of YEC, it reduces their position ad absurdem. In fact, your critique here shows how exactly wrong they are. Animals are not morally culpable agents, so their deaths do not necessarily have moral status. Of course, the cruel killing of animals is wrong, but that is almost entirely due to the wrongness for the moral agent doing that killing. It is not wrong for a hawk to cruelly kill a rabbit.

      Again, thank you for your thoughtful comment. I hope by providing the general context I have given an answer. I think your critique actually shows how strong my argument is, once it is placed in the context of the original post.

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | January 29, 2013, 7:36 PM
      • Mr. Wartick,
        Do you have room in your framework for natural evil?

        Also, I would say that the strongest version of the YEC argument is that argument against animal suffering and not simply animal death. Animal suffering and death after the fall can be justified in ways that such before the fall cannot. After the fall, sin and death as a consequences of sin for man and those creatures under his headship can and does make sense (in a similar way to the suffering and death that we suffer because of Adam’s sin as opposed to our own sins.)

        However, before the fall, such suffering and death attacks the justice,goodness, and power of God.

        Posted by Hermonta Godwin | February 12, 2014, 8:03 PM
      • There is, of course, such a thing as “natural evil” but I would say that applies to moral agents. Animals, I would say, are not moral agents. For example. Michael Murray has argued (in?)famously that although animals may suffer, they are incapable of being aware of that suffering. One may, in fact, observe the beauty of predatory activity and the way this maintains animal populations. Moreover, the Bible itself speaks of God providing food for lions and other predatory animals; so predatory activity can hardly be called an evil state of affairs.

        Posted by J.W. Wartick | February 14, 2014, 1:52 PM
      • Mr. Wartick,
        Why must an animal be a moral agent to experience natural evil? Next, why would being a non moral agent imply that such is incapable of being aware of suffering?

        Lastly, the Bible speaks of providing food etc in such a way, AFTER the fall. To use such writing to tell us the state of the world before the fall, or the justice of God doing such before the fall would simply be begging the question in this discussion.

        If death and suffering are punishments for the sin of Adam, then the passage and others in question make sense.

        Posted by Hermonta Godwin | February 14, 2014, 2:01 PM
      • Your initial questions missed my point: I was not saying that “being a non moral agent impl[ies] that such is incapable of being aware of suffering.” Rather, I agree with Michael Murray’s analysis that animals like, say, a squirrel, may suffer but do not have the capacity to be aware of that suffering. That is, they do not have subjective consciousness. If you hold to the opposite view, then I would certainly like to hear your defense of the notion that an animal like a squirrel has such a mental capacity. Essentially, you would have to defend something like squirrels having souls. Murray’s argument may be found in his work “Nature Red in Tooth and Claw.”

        Given that animals are not aware of their own suffering, I am a bit skeptical of any argument that something like death before the fall is an inherently bad state of affairs. Animals are not aware of their own suffering; the wrong which is done to animals in cases like animal abuse is wrongness grounded in the human as the image of God. Humans desecrate God’s image when they harm God’s creation.

        Finally, I suspect you agree with me on this issue. You’re not going to go out and arrest a wolf for killing a moose. Why not? Because there is no moral wrong done in this situation. You also believe that an animal is not a moral agent.

        Posted by J.W. Wartick | February 14, 2014, 2:11 PM
      • Mr. Wartick,
        I’ll focus on the last point for the moment and then as we work through it, we can go back to the earlier ones.

        First, I never stated or implied that animal predation etc is a form of moral evil. My claim is that such is a form of natural evil. You would agree with me that if the same wolf attacks and kills a human, then natural evil has occurred. Now when we have that same wolf kill the moose, we should still have natural evil.

        Posted by Hermonta Godwin | February 14, 2014, 2:23 PM
      • Ah, but when the wolf attacks and kills the human, we do not think of the wolf as evil. The evil in the scenario is that a human was killed. Or are you saying that a wolf killing a human is on the same level as a wolf killing a moose?

        Posted by J.W. Wartick | February 14, 2014, 2:25 PM
      • Do you believe that I have to make the two killings equivalent in order for my claim of natural evil to be successful? I do not believe that the two killings are equivalent but such does not take away the propriety of the claim that such killings are unacceptable pre-fall.

        Posted by Hermonta Godwin | February 14, 2014, 2:38 PM
      • As a counter question – in your framework, how would you view the scenario of a human (or a group of humans) approximating the wolf attacking and killing the moose. Stabbing with knives, perhaps cutting a limb off. Have it bleed for a while, then perhaps more stabbing and cutting, until it died.

        Posted by Hermonta Godwin | February 14, 2014, 3:07 PM
      • My last comment seems to have mysteriously disappeared. I looked for it in the trash folder as well and didn’t see it. For the sake of clarity, I asked “Why would it be bad for a wolf to kill a moose prior to the fall?” [or some similar question]. I really have no idea how it disappeared.

        Regarding your “counter question,” I am not really sure what you’re asking me. Is hunting bad? No….?

        Now would you go back and answer mine?

        Also, something I thought of while I was at work: you apparently do think that animal death is a bad thing prior to the fall (or would be, if it happened). Now, if that’s the case and animal death is inherently an evil state of affairs, how does the fall somehow make God justified in committing evil? That is, providing meat for predators? For, if you do think predation is inherently wrongful (as in death before the fall), then surely it doesn’t magically turn into a good thing post-fall! But if that’s the case, then God provides meat for hungry lions… an evil state of affairs. That is a bit disturbing. Note that this is not merely a case of God permitting evil; rather, the lions seek their food directly from God, who provides “beasts” with food (Psalm 104; see Psalm 147… also note that Psalm 104 is acknowledged by many to be a psalm of creation). Thus, if predation is evil, and God is not only permitting it but actually providing it, then God is providing evil.

        I find that theologically abhorrent. Moreover, considering that we don’t have any texts which explicitly state that predation is indeed evil, why maintain this in the face of such a theologically impossible conclusion?

        Posted by J.W. Wartick | February 15, 2014, 1:11 AM
      • I have never seen the question you have just posted before. Somehow it never got through.

        The reason that such is bad is that it challenges the goodness/justice of God because it would be suffering for no reason. On the other hand, suffering/pain/death etc after the fall can be understood as a consequence of rebellion against God/sin. If God is infinite in power/good etc, then why does suffering and death exist. Prefall there is no answer, Post fall there is.

        Next, hunting etc is not bad post fall. And even post fall, we are still required to not inflict unnecessary pain and suffering on animals. Part of my question was addressing the question of pain for the fun of it etc. Is that evil in some way in your framework?

        Next, concerning your thoughts from work…. There is always Amos 3:6 – Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?

        At bottom, an analogy with war seems appropriate. War is an evil state of affairs, however under certain circumstances such can be justified and not morally blameworthy. Take away those circumstances (something like just war) and we are looking at genocide etc and moral blameworthiness is back on the table.

        Another example is killing a person who has broken into your house in the middle of the night and is attempting to rape your wife. Such is an evil state of affairs, however it is justified and you shouldn’t go to jail. If a person is just walking down the street in front of your home, you cannot just shoot them down. Such is morally blameworthy and should be punished.

        Given orthodox Christianity’s view of God, death and suffering before the fall would be equivalent to unjust war. Adam’s rebellion is God’s justification for the punishment of death and suffering visited on mankind and the various creatures.

        Posted by Hermonta Godwin | February 15, 2014, 1:45 AM
      • First, be careful about equating your view with the entirety of orthodoxy. If you’re right about that definition of orthodoxy, you’ve just excluded a huge amount of evangelical scholars, such as Norman Geisler, N.T. Wright, C. John Collins, Tremper Longman III, Hugh Ross, Davis Young, William Dembski, Stephen Meyer, etc., etc. Let’s not beg any questions here. You can’t just define orthodoxy as your view.

        Now, you said that a wolf killing a moose pre-fall is bad because it would be suffering “for no reason.” Is sustenance not a reason?

        I would agree that inflicting unnecessary suffering is wrong; but for wrongdoing to occur, there must be a moral agent doing the wrong. That is, non-moral agents cannot, in principle, do wrong. That is, a Tiger cannot be said to do wrong if the Tiger plays with its food. It is not a moral agent.

        To clarify: are you saying God does evil?

        Posted by J.W. Wartick | February 15, 2014, 1:58 AM
      • First,
        I was not begging the question concerning the YEC vs. OEC etc debate. The issue is that orthodoxy has always held that God is infinitely just/good/powerful etc. Given that, the question is can we justify the non YEC viewpoints. You would say yes while I would say no. That is what the debate is about, not the orthodox view of God.

        Next, If YEC is true, then the orthodoxy of various folks is lacking in this area. Such is simply the nature of mutually exclusive claims.

        Next, sustenance (the meat itself, the skins for clothing etc.) is a reason, but such would only work post fall. Pre-fall we have the problem of an infinitely good/just/powerful God building a system with suffering and death built in. Such would attack his goodness/power etc. On top of that, the death and suffering of animals is in someways worse than the death and suffering of humans. Because animals are not moral beings, there can be no greater good advanced. A human could experience suffering and then take some benefit from the experience. They were forced to slow down, think deeply about deep issues, change the direction of their lives etc. With an animals, all you would have is suffering for suffering’s sake.

        Next, we know that there is no death/suffering/tears etc in heaven, so there is no way to make the claim that death and suffering is a necessary part of existence.

        Next, why is inflicting unnecessary suffering wrong? Why is it morally wrong for a human to treat an animal in such a fashion?

        Next, I am still unclear concerning your argument that non moral creatures cannot experience natural evil. But putting that aside, we can simply remember that God is a moral being and He was always there, regardless of how you believe that Pre-fall world looked. So the question is why He would have the creatures eating each other for no reason? Such is inherently unnecessary.

        Next, yes, in the way that I described it above, God does evil. He is always justified in his evil and therefore never morally blameworthy in his actions. Or put a different way, His evil is always a response to a greater evil.

        Lastly, to add to the lists of evil that God brought about, we could add the greatest evil ever done: The crucifixion of Jesus. Nothing before or since has ever compared to it. It was also the greatest act of love but that doesnt change that such was evil.

        Posted by Hermonta Godwin | February 15, 2014, 2:40 AM
      • I would be highly interested in finding any church father who held to rapid speciation, as AiG does. Or perhaps a church father who talks about the flood laying down all the sediment we observe? As Dr. John Millam notes in an article exploring the church fathers interpretation of Genesis 1:

        …modern young-earth creationism is a package that contains a lot more than the simple claims made by the early church fathers. In other words, simply finding a popular belief in a young world among early Christian writers is insufficient to support modern young-earth creationist claims.

        Thus, based on your definition of orthodoxy, I am forced to conclude that you also hold modern young earth creationists are heterodox. Of course, the problem is: what is your definition of orthodoxy? You seem to make even secondary issues like the age of the Earth a shibboleth for orthodoxy. But for the sake of time and length, I would like to just set this aside for now.

        Your response to sustenance begs the question. That is, you’ve assumed that animals eating other animals for sustenance is inherently an evil state of affairs. Thus, your response is insufficient. Moreover, in your development of that position, you wrote: “With an animals, all you would have is suffering for suffering’s sake.”

        I’ve already demonstrated this is false, and you’ve granted that. After all, an animal’s suffering was for the sustenance of another! Or, in the case of disease, one should note that if animal populations were to grow unchecked, we would quickly have a planet covered with insects. Now of course I won’t be able to specifically find an overriding reason for every particular instance of suffering; but that is not a requirement for my overall point. The point is that I have yet to see a reason for thinking animal suffering is an inherently evil state of affairs. More interestingly, I’d certainly be interested to see your justification of the notion biblically.

        Now, another thing you’ve said is that God “does evil.” Although I find that theologically abhorrent for a reason I’ll explain shortly, I really wonder how your view remains coherent. After all, you said that God “is always justified in his evil.” But if animal suffering before the fall is evil, could not god be justified in that evil?

        I want to be clear that I have never claimed that death and suffering is a necessary part of existence.

        Inflicting unnecessary suffering is wrong because, as I’ve already noted, it desecrates the image of God in human agents.

        You again asked “why He would have the creatures eating each other for no reason?” I’ve already answered this and you’ve essentially granted it: sustenance actually is a reason.

        Now, back to God doing evil. Habakkuk 1:13 really vitiates against such a view: “Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrongdoing.” God is actually incapable of even looking upon evil (in this metaphorical sense); you paint God as actually working evil. Something’s got to give, and I would argue it is your interpretation of the texts you’ve cited in support of your contention. God does not cause evil; God foreknows evil and has a plan in place to defeat evil. I suspect this comes down to perhaps differing views of sovereignty, but that would be a huge and very off-topic issue. So for now:

        I’ve been waiting to really bring this to the forefront, but I would really, really like to see you cite just one verse to support your contention that animal suffering before the fall was inherently evil. Show me one verse where it makes this explicit. If you can’t, your view is literally based on your own assumptions about what a “very good” creation should look like.

        Posted by J.W. Wartick | February 15, 2014, 11:00 AM
      • Mr. Wartick,
        I explained about my reasoning for bringing in the issue of orthodoxy, it was not to beg the question in this debate but was to appeal to what unifies us. An infinitely powerful, just, and good God should be assumed by both sides!!!

        Next, given our mutually exclusive positions, why is it shocking that our positions would have different implications on what is and is not considered orthodox?

        Next, “Your response to sustenance begs the question. That is, you’ve assumed that animals eating other animals for sustenance is inherently an evil state of affairs. Thus, your response is insufficient. Moreover, in your development of that position, you wrote: “With an animals, all you would have is suffering for suffering’s sake.”

        I have not begged the question but am willing and able to defend my position. The issue here is that one cannot assume the current state of affairs is the way things have always been and that if things are justified in a post fall world, then they must have been justified pre fall as well. That simply does not work.

        ——

        “I’ve already demonstrated this is false, and you’ve granted that. After all, an animal’s suffering was for the sustenance of another! Or, in the case of disease, one should note that if animal populations were to grow unchecked, we would quickly have a planet covered with insects. Now of course I won’t be able to specifically find an overriding reason for every particular instance of suffering; but that is not a requirement for my overall point. The point is that I have yet to see a reason for thinking animal suffering is an inherently evil state of affairs. More interestingly, I’d certainly be interested to see your justification of the notion biblically.”

        You have not demonstrated such and I have not granted such. I have granted such as being true in a post fallen world. It is up to you to justify it in a pre fallen world. The thing that it seems that you are failing to grasp is that an infinite God is never limited by finite resources. It is true in our current world, that we eat animals and other animals eat each other for sustenance. But we cannot then assume that such is the way that it has always been. Now if you wish to argue that such is morally neutral if it has always been that way, then I will be happy with that.

        Even your counter using insects other animal population problems assumes the worlds as we see it today. Given an infinite God, resources are never a problem. Size of the earth and food are never a problem.

        I guess the issue is simply this. Given that resources are never a problem for God, why would animal suffering not be an inherently evil state of affairs?

        Lastly (for this section), I am not making a Special Revelation argument, but instead a natural revelation argument. Any of my references to Scripture could have been made from Natural Revelation, but Scripture was simply referenced to make the argument simpler.

        ——–

        “Now, another thing you’ve said is that God “does evil.” Although I find that theologically abhorrent for a reason I’ll explain shortly, I really wonder how your view remains coherent. After all, you said that God “is always justified in his evil.” But if animal suffering before the fall is evil, could not god be justified in that evil?”

        If you think that he could be justified, then show me. My argument is based on the belief that such could not be justified pre fall. Such a presentation, would set my position back a great deal.

        “I want to be clear that I have never claimed that death and suffering is a necessary part of existence. ”

        If it is not a necessary part of existence, you either have to make the argument that such is not immoral for God to inflict on creatures pre-fall or that God had justification for such. Either one would be welcomed by me.

        “Inflicting unnecessary suffering is wrong because, as I’ve already noted, it desecrates the image of God in human agents. ”

        I dont think we are any closer to a resolution here. Why is such a necessary implication of unnecessary suffering?

        “You again asked “why He would have the creatures eating each other for no reason?” I’ve already answered this and you’ve essentially granted it: sustenance actually is a reason. ”

        Sustenance is never a problem for an infinite God. So if we are struggling for resourcing it is simply the case that God has made it the case that we will struggle for resources. In such a scenario, the question is why has God made the situation to be that way. My position is that the reason is the fall of Adam. Your position is….

        “Now, back to God doing evil. Habakkuk 1:13 really vitiates against such a view: “Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrongdoing.” God is actually incapable of even looking upon evil (in this metaphorical sense); you paint God as actually working evil. Something’s got to give, and I would argue it is your interpretation of the texts you’ve cited in support of your contention. God does not cause evil; God foreknows evil and has a plan in place to defeat evil. I suspect this comes down to perhaps differing views of sovereignty, but that would be a huge and very off-topic issue. So for now:”

        Why would your text defeat mine, instead of mine defeating yours. Next, what do you think Amos 3:6 is attempting to tell us?

        Next, I agree that God cannot tolerate wrongdoing, his evil is justified. Sin is not justified. God does not sin. If you keep in mind the difference between an unjustified action and a justified action, then it seems pretty easy to say that God is justified in all of his actions, including his evil. Unless you can figure out how to call a fully justiifed action, wrongdoing, I am unsure how your objection can really get off the ground?

        ——–

        “I’ve been waiting to really bring this to the forefront, but I would really, really like to see you cite just one verse to support your contention that animal suffering before the fall was inherently evil. Show me one verse where it makes this explicit. If you can’t, your view is literally based on your own assumptions about what a “very good” creation should look like.”

        My argument is based on the view of God justified by Natural Revelation and Special Revelation (Do you really need Scripture testifying to the omnipotence etc of God?) and given such, is pre fall death and suffering of animals and humans compatible. I see no basis to need a Scripture saying that animal suffering before the fall did not happen, in order to be fully justified in the belief that such did not happen and that such would be an attack on the power and goodness of God.

        Posted by Hermonta Godwin | February 15, 2014, 10:08 PM
      • Okay, I’m going to try to trim my own responses down a bit because I’m getting less time every day, it seems! So I apologize if I don’t touch on everything.

        First, we need to clarify claims. You are claiming there is no death before the fall. Your argument, it seems, is admittedly not based upon the teaching of Scripture but instead based upon your presupposed beliefs about what God should do. I word that a bit strongly because I want to be clear: you need to defend your position. You are the one making a claim; you need to defend it. Simply saying that it violates your preconceptions of how God should act is not enough to justify a theological position. Given that you’ve failed to provide a single verse to defend it, I am highly skeptical that–apart from your own concepts of how God should be constrained–your position is justified.

        Second, given that your own position is based upon an admitted presupposition, I don’t really have any way to see how I could argue against you. You’ve simply presupposed that my view is false. Well, I could just as easily play turnabout: I don’t see any reason why God could not allow predation without sin. Now, we are at an apparent impasse because we’ve each presupposed our views. But I’ve already given reasons to think my view is correct. And, given that you’re the one making the claim: you are claiming that such death is unjustified, I do not need to continue to defend; you need to justify your own position.

        Third, you now appealed to this notion that ‘sustenance is not a problem for an infinite God.’ Agreed. Now, rather than postulating increasingly huge numbers of miracles that are not recorded in God’s revelation to humankind, why should it be so shocking that something found in that same revelation–that predators seek their prey from God–is actually more likely to be true? That is, apart from your simply assuming it is false.

        Posted by J.W. Wartick | February 17, 2014, 6:28 PM
      • Mr. Wartick,
        1)Remember, I based it on the our agreed view of God and saying that such activiites are incompatible with that agreed to view of God. Now you can easily object and say that we dont share the same view of God or that such actions are in fact compatible with such a God. I dont see any reason to believe that I am asking for something extraordinary.

        Next, above you admitted that “Inflicting unnecessary suffering is wrong”. My claim is that given our joint view of God, all suffering is inherently unnecessary. Therefore there must be a justification for the suffering that exists. My justification is the fall of Adam, and yours is….?

        2)From your post, Feb 15 11 am – “Now, another thing you’ve said is that God “does evil.” Although I find that theologically abhorrent for a reason I’ll explain shortly, I really wonder how your view remains coherent. After all, you said that God “is always justified in his evil.” But if animal suffering before the fall is evil, could not god be justified in that evil?”

        If you believe that God would have been somehow justified, then I would love to see you put forward how? (As I have requested to see several times now).

        Next, again I have not simply presupposed that you are wrong. My position is that, given we have X in common, how do you say that Y is compatible with that X. I am not writing in Greek.

        3)It seems that we may have differing views of miracles and the related question of providence. My view is that God is actively at work at all times. He does not simply have some laws that govern the universe and then go sit back until he wants to work a miracle. A miracle is simply a change from how he normally works something out.

        For example, there is a normal process by which wine is made. God is fully active in that process. Now when Jesus turned water into wine, we both admit that such was a miracle. The seeming difference is that God was/is at work in the normal process of wine making and not simply at work when there is an alternative process.

        Posted by Hermonta Godwin | February 17, 2014, 6:53 PM
      • Regarding 1), I think you’re ignoring my already provided justification. I guess we can just chalk that up to agreeing to disagree. I think God ordering the universe such that His creation works in a way that sustains and replenishes itself is a rather beautiful thing, you think it is horrific. I don’t see a way to budge either of us there.

        Regarding 2), I’ve already justified it. God provides sustenance to creatures, prevents them from destroying the Earth through overpopulation, and the like. I’m not sure if you’re just ignoring that or what, but I have already said this many times. Just saying you don’t like it doesn’t show it’s false.

        Regarding 3), God is actively involved in all things. For example, were God to decide to stop sustaining the tree outside my window in existence, it would instantly stop existing. Period. Thus, God is actively involved even in natural laws and the like because He is sustaining it. I agree that God is also miraculously involved throughout time, including in the diversification of animals and the creation of humankind. I adhere to what may be called directed evolution in the taxonomy I provide.

        I’m also not sure what point you’re getting at with this. Could you clarify?

        Posted by J.W. Wartick | February 17, 2014, 7:06 PM
      • 1)You admitted above that unnecessary suffering is wrong. Given such, the only paths that you have is to say that such suffering is necessary (which you have already rejected). Or you can make the claim that such is not suffering. If you want to go that route then you have nothing to say to anyone who treats animals in any way that they wish to treat them. If you want to go that route then say so clearly and just admit that such is an implication of allowing suffering without sin.

        2)Alas! Again overpopulation etc only have meaning in relation to limited resources. If resources (food, space, etc.) are not a problem then overpopulation would not exist. If these are/were not a limitation, then what is the justification for such suffering? If such a justification does not exist, then you would have to say that such predations are only justified in a world of limited resources (the world that we find ourselves in today). Now how do you argue that such is the way that the world existed before the fall?

        3)It seemed that you were appealing to a form of Occams razor type of argument when you referenced “Now, rather than postulating increasingly huge numbers of miracles that are not recorded in God’s revelation to humankind,” If God is fully involved in running the world at all times, then it would not be the case of multiplying miracles, but instead it would be the case that God was running the world differently before then he was after the fall. Such claims as you put forward would have no teeth in such a scenario.

        Posted by christiantrader | February 17, 2014, 7:29 PM
      • 1) I see what you’re saying, and I’ve already argued that animals actually are not aware of their suffering. I’m not going to draw out the details but check out Michael Murray’s comments. Your own position actually fails to distinguish between, say, rats, and humans. Are they on the same level in your view? You’ve already said not. You don’t arrest tigers for killing gazelles. You don’t actually think that animals and humans are on the same moral level. It seems disingenuous to therefore continue to act as though you do. I don’t know about you, but I don’t go around trying to take care of homeless animals, arrest the animals that kill other animals, and the like. That’s because I acknowledge distinctions between animals and humans. If you don’t, more power to you, but I’d wager you can’t justify that view biblically either.

        2) Once more you appeal to things not in the revelation of God to trump what actually is there: that God provides food for predators. You use your own judgments to trump God’s explicit revelation.

        3) Your distinction fails. You also agreed that miracles are different from merely maintaining the world.

        Now, I introduce 4) if you can’t justify your position from the Bible, I maintain it is either a) unbiblical or b) is not binding upon Christians.

        Considering you’ve failed to provide any biblical justification for your position, I maintain b). Without God’s revelation to guide you, you’re pretty much just making stuff up (like your example of God just making the world ever bigger). Show me your position in the Bible. If you cannot, don’t try to limit other Christians to your own presumptions.

        Posted by J.W. Wartick | February 17, 2014, 7:38 PM
      • Out of curiosity, Hermonta, what do you think was the purpose of the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden?

        Posted by Jordan | February 15, 2014, 7:53 AM
  8. 1) Can you spell out why you believe that my position entails that rats and humans are on the same level?

    Next, can you spell out why you believe that a human treating an animal any way that they wish to treat an animals is in anyway morally problematic? Or do you now b?elieve that such is not morally problematic?

    2)Next, it seems that you believe that some action that is justified post fall then it must also be justified pre-fall. Why do you believe that such is the case? At the moment, such a claim seems equivalent to saying that if an action is justified under certain circumstances, then it must be justified under all circumstances.

    3)I have not admitted to anything that would allow an Occam claim to succeed. Are you saying that if God maintained the world differently before the fall then He does after the fall, then He would have told us more plainly?

    Next, do you believe that there were any consequences of the fall of Adam

    4)As far as I can tell, we agree on the view of God, so the question is can I defend from the Bible directly or indirectly that such suffering visited on animals has to be justiified and cannot be simply assumed to be fair/righteous/ etc.? Does such seem to be a fair take on our differences?

    Posted by Hermonta Godwin | February 17, 2014, 10:14 PM
    • 1) You wrote: “If you want to go that route then you have nothing to say to anyone who treats animals in any way that they wish to treat them.” This was in response to my claim that, once again, animal suffering is not equivalent to human suffering. Animals are amoral creatures, not images of God. I don’t know why you keep asking why I think humans treating animals poorly is bad. I’ve answered this more than once: it is because such is a crime against God, the creator and sustainer of all things. We’re going in circles on this with you offering no counter-argument.

      2) I am not making this argument at all. I’m saying we have an explicit passage saying that God provides prey for predators. We do not have an explicit passage that says before the Fall, this was A Bad Thing. Hence, you’re using your own rationalism to deny the explicit teaching of the Bible.

      3) No, once again I’m asking you to actually justify your claims with Scripture rather than just making up positions and saying “God could do this, prove me wrong.” That’s not an argument, it’s an assertion.

      4) Again, we have explicit statements in the Bible that God provides prey for predators. Given that this is clearly seen as justified in those instances, whether pre- or post- fall is in view, and we have, let me emphasize this: no teaching to the contrary in the Bible, I am forced to conclude your position is that your own reasoning about what God should do trumps what the Bible says.

      Finally, I don’t think I can make this points better than Luke Nix did recently on his blog: he has a very similar position to mine and explains it extremely well when he notes that animals are amoral agents. I recommend reading this post because you keep ignoring my position statement.

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | February 17, 2014, 11:42 PM
      • 1)You have not put forward why such is a crime against God. If their suffering is not an issue, then what is it that makes such an action immoral.

        Next, are you saying that unless you can convince a person to accept the authority of Scripture then you have nothing you can say to them concerning their treatment of animals?

        2)Your position has to beg the question concerning what was proper before the fall because the passage does not address such. I agree with the passage because I believe that such is fully proper post fall. Remember I believe that God explicitly killed an animal to cloth Adam and Eve post fall. You have to assume that what is full justified post fall must be also the case pre fall but yet you have no Scripture to justify that stance. Why in the world would you say that it is my duty.

        Next, do you or do you not agree with the view of God that I put forward? If you do not, then we can discuss why I believe that my position is true. If you do agree, then to claim that I have only rationalism supporting me is false and a red herring.

        The problem is that I have explicitly put forward my reasoning but you refuse to engage it or even say where you think that we go different ways in reasoning.

        3)Do you believe that the orthodox beliefs that God is omnipotent, omnipresent, and all knowing are without Scriptural support? Do you believe that I simply assert them with no basis in reason or Special Revelation?

        4)The claim of no teaching to the contrary would only have teeth if the situation was addressed and my position was not put forth in Scripture. As far as I can tell, your position is that Scripture does not address such but if my position was true then Scripture would address it explicitly. An argument from silence only works if you can justify the view that the silence is somehow unexpected if X was the case. You have not even attempted to do such.

        Lastly, I am glad that Nix finally got around to attempting to answer my claims. I only came to your past because he took 2.5 weeks to answer my latest response to him.

        I’ll probably drop off the map for a while, while I go and address his positions.

        Until next time.

        Posted by Hermonta Godwin | February 18, 2014, 6:06 AM
      • 1) Quite simply because humans are charged with taking care of nature; to destroy it or bring it harm on any level is a violation of their creation in the image of God, as God’s representatives on Earth. It is harmful to the image of God to torture God’s creatures; however, predation, for example, is not torture but rather an act of bringing about sustenance between two non-moral agents.

        2) You keep saying that your argument is based upon your view of God. Yes, I agree that God is omnipotent/omniscient/omnibenevolent/etc. However, your argument is just that if that is true, we can assume whatever we want about such a God. My argument is: show me in God’s revelation how animal death before the fall is explicitly condemned. You can’t, therefore, your argument is purely based upon what you think God should do.

        3) I’m not at all sure how this is relevant; but, for example, we do have teaching on each omni- in the Bible. Omnipotent: virtually every reference to “power” in the Bible is the power of God; those which are not are almost entirely the attribution of power to humans FROM God. All power is to God, any power in creatures is given by God. Jesus will come to end all Earthly powers and subject them unto God (1 Cor 15:24); omniscience: Isaiah 46:8-11 explicitly teaches that God knows the end from the beginning, all that is to come, and that God’s purpose will stand (which means it includes omnipotence as well; all God’s purposes will stand); omnibenevolence: 1 John 4:8- God is love; or consider Genesis 18:25 wherein Abraham asks, “shall not the judge of all the Earth do right?” Of course the implication is that yes, God will always do right because that’s who God is.

        I can’t help but think that it seems to me that your view of divine revelation is truly quite low. Your argument continues to be based upon what you say is the teaching of natural revelation; however, all you’ve done is appeal purely to the notion that God possesses the omni-attributes. But of course although that is testified in natural revelation, it tells us nothing about how God will act. When it comes to that, I turn to God’s explicit divine revelation in God’s Word. It seems you turn to…..? I don’t know, but it seems like you turn to your own presuppositions about how you think God will act. Given that you’ve essentially conceded your position is not found in the Bible, I ask you again and again: show me the support. But you just say it’s because God is all good. Okay, well God is still all good yet animals die. Just saying ‘the Fall’ doesn’t change anything about that. Show me, in God’s teaching, where that change takes place; show me where it says there was no animal death before the fall. Otherwise, your argument is based upon rationalism in the sense that it is your made up concepts about how God should act.

        Posted by J.W. Wartick | February 20, 2014, 10:32 AM
      • I forgot: 4) You’ve misunderstood my argument. The Bible clearly states that God gives lions their food (now; though this is in a creation Psalm). Given that such is presumably a good thing, you need to show me somewhere where it transitioned to a good thing from a bad thing if you believe it ever was one. Thus, let me make it explicit: (a) the Bible says God provides food for predators; (b) God only does what is right; (c) therefore, providing food for predators is right. You claim that (d) there was a time when providing food for predators was wrong; therefore you must show how (d), a contradiction of (c), is taught in Scripture such that it isn’t contradictory; in other words, you need to show (e) at one time, providing food for predators was wrong; now it is right.

        Posted by J.W. Wartick | February 20, 2014, 10:35 AM

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: Why Animals, Humanity and the Rest of Creation Suffers for Adam’s Sin | DefendingGenesis.org - March 22, 2012

  2. Pingback: Adam, Animals, and the Fall: A response to ‘Defending Genesis’ « J.W. Wartick -"Always Have a Reason" - March 28, 2012

  3. Pingback: A Quick Survey of Interactions with “Defending Genesis” « J.W. Wartick -"Always Have a Reason" - March 29, 2012

  4. Pingback: Animal Death?- A Theological Argument Against Young Earth Creationism « J.W. Wartick -"Always Have a Reason" - July 26, 2012

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