>In your recent discussions about possible physical consequences of the
>Fall I don't recall that you commented on what we know about the Garden of
>Eden. Genesis gives the impression that the Garden was a very special
>place. Adam and Eve were especially blessed to be there rather than
>somewhere else on earth. Apparently the Lord planted the Garden in a
>region that was previously rather desolate (Gen. 2:5). After the Fall the
>Lord changed the delightful circumstances of Adam and Eve, not by changing
>the Garden, but by relocating them outside the Garden and preventing their
>return. One specific mention of a situation in the Garden that did not
>change was that Adam and Eve would have been able to live forever if they
>had been allowed to return to the Garden and eat of the fruit of the tree
>of life (Gen. 3:22-24).
Yes, but the curses of Gen 3 do not simply tell us that A & E were
relocated. There is much more in them than that. Now it is _possible_ to
interpret all that is said here as if it were entirely non-physical, but
would that make best sense of the text? (To be sure it is also possible to
over-physicalise - is that a word?! - too. For example, I would agree with
Derek Kidner in his commentary on Gen 3:14 that this is not to be take as a
'Just So Story' of how the serpent lost its legs. As he says, what is
spoken of here is significance.) But the _increase_ in pain which is
pronounced on the woman seems more likely to be a physical thing.
Likewise, the curse on the ground may be simply that its original purpose
is to be frustrated, but what follows in the verse (vv17&18) needs to be
taken fully into account. Again, I am not asserting that thistles were new
to the scene, but I am simply trying to explore what these verses mean with
their (as it seems to me) indications of physical elements to divine
>Another comment: In spite of the fall of Satan and the fall of man, the
>Creation is still good, as affirmed by Paul in I Tim. 4:4. Being subjected
>to futility (Rom. 8:20) does not mean that it is no longer good.
I am obviously having trouble conveying exactly what I am and am not saying
here. I am not saying that there is no good left in creation, God forbid.
But I am saying that one of the ways that the Bible handles the bad side of
human experience in a Fallen creation is to tell us that it wasn't always
like this, and that in Christ there is the promise not only of our
redemption, but of the renewal of everything.
It would be possible to argue that the bad things we see in creation are
only those caused _directly_ by human sinfulness and it is only on account
of this ecological despoiling that the new heavens and the new are needed,
but I'm not sure that this is what the Bible is saying.
In relation to all of this, may I commend the book 'In th Beginning' by
Henri Blocher (InterVarsity Press). He is a theistic evolutionist, which I
am not, and the book adopts and argues that view, but it is absolutely
magisterial. Like Donald MacKay and many other TE proponents he recognises
the severity of the disruption occasioned by the Fall. So for example
commenting on the curse on the woman he says:
'The great disorder of sin so affects the good that God had brought forth,
that everything remains and yet everything is changed.'
In relation to the curse on the man he says:
'Paul shows that nature did not remain in tact. But he gives no indication
either of the extent or, above all, the form of that change.... Gen 3:17ff
considers the earth as it responds to man within that relationship. It is
permissible to think that the disruption affects the relationship before
anything else, beginning with the weakening and disorder of man himself.
If man were perfectly sturdy, no microbe could do him any harm....'
Here is a (highly respected French) theologian, convinced of a concordist
approach to the relationship between theology and science working at the
text of Scripture. He is having to face the fact that there seem to be
implications of physical disruption in the text of Gen 3.
Does all of this mean that the effects of the Fall must have been
detectable in some scientific sense? Well maybe that question can't be
answered positively, but the problem is that some approaches to the
relation of science and theology rule out the possibility *a priori*. All
I would plead for at this stage is that that should not be done, that the
evidence be examined for the possibility of detectable traces of a
disruption, and also that it be understood that any scientific theory
which operates on the presumption that no such event happened may be
challengeable as theological work continues.