the origins debate

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The Life Dialogue: Geocreationism and Original Sin

This is a guest post by Mike Trutt on Geocreationism. Check out other posts on the “Life Dialogue” within Christianity here. Check out his other posts on Geocreationism here and here.

Mike Trutt is an evangelical Christian with a Jewish background. He believes the Bible is inspired by God, recorded by man, and given its life by the Holy Spirit. You can read about and discuss his Old Earth views on scripture, science, history, and other topics at his blog,http://geocreationism.com.

Original Sin

Whether you believe Adam was physically born or formed directly from dust, most Old Earth Creationists have the following belief in common: animals, plants, and people were alive and dying long before Adam and Eve ate of the apple. Why is this important? Because Original Sin introduced “death” into the world, and Evolution requires you to believe physical death existed before Original Sin.

Consider the following two passages, commonly used by Young Earth Creationists (YECs) to demonstrate that if the Word of God is true, then there was no physical death before Original Sin (emphasis added)…

Romans 5:12 – Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.

1 Corinthians 15:21-22 – For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.

In other words, so the argument goes, physical death could not precede Original Sin because physical death entered the world through Original Sin. It is in part why Christ Himself died for us. Looking at these passages, could it be any clearer? Allow for physical death before Adam, and it means either Christ had no reason to die, or the Word of God is wrong. It makes Old Earth Creationists (OECs) appear not to take the scripture very seriously.

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Christians generally agree that Adam’s body began to deteriorate immediately after the Original Sin, and it eventually led to his physical death. But, is it the corrupting nature of sin that caused the deterioration, and hence death?  Not according to 2 Corinthians 5 (emphasis and (comments) added)…

4 For while we are in this tent (i.e., earthly body), we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

In other words, God designed us to physically die so that our earthly mortality can be swallowed up by our heavenly immortality. Knowing that God designed us to be mortal while on earth, that same design should be found in Adam, even before his sin. In fact, it is found in Genesis 2:9 (emphasis added)…

The LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Why provide sinless Adam with the Tree of Life, unless his body was otherwise mortal? Without that tree, Adam would die; with the tree, he would live forever. Even after Adam’s sin, God placed angels and a flaming sword to guard the Tree of Life from him, lest he “reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” (Genesis 3:22b)  In other words, before the Original Sin and after, Adam’s immortality depended on the Tree of Life. Like Paul said, Adam was designed to die.

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We could just leave it at that, but there are a few scriptures we should address. For example, if Original Sin was merely the occasion of Adam’s physical death, never the instrument, then what was God warning Adam of when he said not to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil?

Genesis 2:17b – …for when you eat from [the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil] you will certainly die.

The most straightforward reading of this verse implies that eating the apple would immediately physically kill Adam.  In fact, when Eve repeated God’s warning back to Satan in the Garden, she clearly thought God meant immediate physical death. But then Satan corrected her…

Genesis 3:4-5 – “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

In the Gospels, Satan always tempted Jesus with the truth. That is what made it tempting. Is it not then reasonable to consider that Satan was telling Eve the truth about physical death, even while he deceived her in regards to God’s meaning? After all, when Eve ate the fruit, she did not immediately physically die. In fact, just as Satan predicted, Adam’s and Eve’s eyes were opened to knowing good and evil… and they knew what they did was evil.

What then was Satan’s deception? For one thing, he left out what God really meant by “die”, by making “death” seem like a “coming alive”. Before the Fall, Adam and Eve were in a state of sinless perfection; afterwards they were not. Before the fall, they were naked and did not think twice about it; afterwards they were self-conscious and covered themselves up. The moment they both sinned, they went from being blameless to being in need of redemption. It was a dramatic change, as sudden and jarring as Genesis 2:17 makes it sound. In a very significant and spiritual way, they both died that day.

By the same token, there was another deception. Assuming Eve realized the fruit was keeping her alive, she really had no idea that God was going to punish her by depriving her of it. God may have been promising spiritual death for her sin, but Eve was in fear of physical death. Satan knew God would not immediately kill her physical body, but he failed to tell her that she would eventually die. One possibility is that he didn’t know.

So now we see that both spiritual death and physical death indeed resulted from the Fall. However, it is the immediacy of Adam’s and Eve’s spiritual death that demonstrates the meaning of God’s promise in Genesis 2:17. Yes, they physically died… eventually. Yes, it was a result of their sin. However, the mechanism of their death was through deprivation of the Tree of Life; their tendency to deteriorate was designed into them.

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When Adam and Eve sinned, they died a spiritual death.  Original Sin deprived them of the Tree of Life, but the design of their bodies did not actually change. It is in this context that we can review the first proof verse on Original Sin…

Romans 5:12 – Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned.

As a proof verse against evolution, YECs are essentially viewing the verse as if it says the following…

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and mortality through sin, and in this way mortality came to all men, because all sinned.

But, Paul also wrote 2 Corinthians 5:5, which says that mortality is designed into us, providing our path toward immortality with God. Therefore, mortality did not enter the world through sin. Now, Romans 5:12 is clearly a reference to the death in Genesis 2:17b, and we saw above that it was speaking of spiritual death. It is spiritual death that entered the world through sin.

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The other proof verse is similar…

1 Corinthians 15:21-22 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.

Similar to Romans 5:12, YECs use this verse as follows…

For since mortality came through a man, immortality comes also through a man. For as in Adam all are mortal, so in Christ all will be made immortal.

However, not only is this verse not discussing mortality and immortality, it isn’t even discussing Christ’s saving grace. According to 1 Corinthians 15:12 verses 21 and 22 are trying to explain the resurrection, which the Corinthians were on the verge of rejecting. Daniel explained the resurrection as follows…

Daniel 12:2 – Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.

In other words, both saved and unsaved will be resurrected through Christ. To be sure, judgment will follow, but Paul was only talking about the resurrection itself. To paraphrase our proof verse…

For since spiritual death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all earn judgment, so in Christ all will resurrect to face that judgment.

In closing, Original Sin introduced spiritual death, but we were always designed to die.

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The Life Dialogue: Young Earth Creationism 3

This is part of a series of posts on the “Life Dialogue” within Christianity. Check out other posts in the series here.

I wrote in my last post on Young Earth Creationism (hereafter YEC) that I had missed one of its primary tenets, which is that the theological, not the scientific, should be the focus of the “origins” debate. This key point means that the challenge to YEC that it doesn’t have a fully developed scientific model doesn’t seem to be as much of a challenge as one may think, for YEC is grounded in theology, not science.

The problem with this is that this makes YEC hard to evaluate in light of the other views (Old Earth Creationism, Intelligent Design, and Theistic Evolutionism) because its advocates rarely try to put forward a competing scientific model. Instead, YEC tends to be a view which focuses on pointing out flaws the arguments of its opponents rather than constructing its own models. While YEC does have some views which are offered for explanations of the world we observe (a catastrophic global flood is one possibility, though one visitor to this site commented on the scientific impracticalities of testing this), its case is largely built on attacking the other views as invalid.

It is to this that we shall now turn. For now, let us focus on YEC’s case against the other Christian views of the age of the earth. First, YEC, because of its theological nature, is absolutely tied to the belief that the Genesis creation account of six days explicitly means six literal 24 hour periods. Ken Ham gives several reasons for taking this belief seriously in The New Answers Book 1. These reasons include the context of Genesis 1, the genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11, Exodus 20:9-11 pointing to six literal days, and that “Jesus was a young-earth creationist”. I’ll outline and critique these arguments below.

The argument about the context of Genesis 1 focuses on the light/dark cycle for the meaning of days (26). This argument has some merit, though I think one of the key problems is that there was no sun for a few of the light/periods, meaning that at least something else must have been going on here. I do think that this argument has some merit, however.

The genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11 would seem to point to the dates that Ken Ham and YECss tend to affirm (though Ham says it is about 6000 years, contrary to other YECs I have read who tend towars 10-15,o00). The problem with this is that it is that semitic genealogies tended to list only key people. Also, the individuals listed could refer to entire families or separate genealogies. I don’t think that the genealogies make a strong case for the YEC view.

Exodus 20:9-11 states (ESV), “Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”

This is a fairly strong argument for the YEC, in my opinion. The parallel meaning of six literal days because of creation order tends to point to a more literal reading of Genesis 1. The only problem I see with this argument is that the 7th day clearly is longer than one 24-hour day according to all the Christian theology I know. What response could non-YECs give? I think one could argue that Exodus 20 is pointing metaphorically or figuratively back to Creation, and that the literal reading is at least slightly weakened by the 7th day.

Finally, was Jesus a YEC? I must say I find it incredibly anachronistic to apply a position in a modern debate over the creation accounts to Jesus. Ham presents the evidence as, among other verses, Jesus saying in Mark 10:6, “But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.'” This has some initial plausibility for pointing to a Young Earth, but one immediate problem I see with taking this as literally as Ham wants to is that Jesus says “beginning of creation”, which, if one were to take it very literally, means that Jesus is asserting that man and woman were created first, contrary to the creation account in the Bible. I still do find this verse an extremely strong argument for YEC, however.

So, where does this leave us? I still think the YEC position has the strongest theological stance due to the ability to more easily read the accounts as six literal days. It seems to me, however, that other views have plausibility due to a day being as a “thousand years” for the Lord (2 Peter 3:8). YEC counters to this have not persuaded me that this could not mean that the Genesis account is longer than a literal week. The question I put forth is whether or not the Genesis account was intended as incredibly literal as the YEC position insists.

Source:

Ham, Ken. The New Answers Book 1. Master Books. 2006.

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The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from citations, which are the property of their respective owners) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author.

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