Re: The Curse - Upon All Creation or Just Mankind?

From: Charles Carrigan <>
Date: Sat Sep 25 2004 - 22:43:37 EDT

Charles W. Carrigan
Olivet Nazarene University
Natural Sciences Division
One University Ave.
Bourbonnais, IL 60914
PH: (815) 939-5346
FX: (815) 939-5071>>> "D. F. Siemens, Jr." <>
9/25/2004 3:01:35 PM >>>

On Sat, 25 Sep 2004 10:14:39 -0500 "Charles Carrigan"
<> writes:
I am not so convinced that when we read "death" in Gen. 2-4 that it
must be interpreted as spiritual death. Many people seem to want to
remove physical death as part of the curse for various reasons. One is
that clearly there is death in the fossil record and therefore pre-human
and presumably pre-fall, and there are other reasons as well given on
occasion. But I am not convinced that we should try to integrate every
detail of this story with other sources of historical information to
make a coherent picture - rather, it is sometimes better to let the
story simply say what it wants to say. It seems to me especially
dangerous to try and integrate a story that has a walking talking
serpent as a main character with all of what we currently know about
natural and anthropological history. Remember also that two of the
other main characters are named 'Dust' and 'Mother of All the Living'.
That being said, I'm not convined tha! t the ancients who wrote this
story were really separating spiritual and physical death the way many
people today seem to do. Death is the end of life as we know it, and
although today we might say "no it isn't because of eternal spiritual
life", there doesn't appear to have been a concept of life after death
in the ancient hebrew culture. Some of the wisdom writings illustrate
this. Even in Christ's day, there was debate between the leaders of
Judaism as to whether there was a resurrection of the dead. So in the
story, Adam ate the fruit, and he didn't immediately die physically.
There are other possibilities besides "this means that 'death' meant
spiritual". Perhaps God simply changed His mind, and let them contiue
to live! He has certainly been known to and is free to do that.
Whether the ancients recognized spiritual death as we do I cannot say.
I wasn't there. But Genesis 2:17 declares that the _day_ of eating he
dies. This is explicit in the Hebrew text however it is translated. But
Adam's physical life continued for centuries. Seems to me that equating
the death on eating to losing physical life makes the passage nonsense.

I clearly wasn't around at the time either, but I wasn't around when
dinosaurs walked the earth. That doesn't mean we can't know anything
about what was going on at the time. By looking at other writings of
ancient Hebrews over the centuries, it seems as though the idea of life
after death didn't exist early on in their thinking. David wrote in
Psalm 6 - "No one remembers You when he is dead. Who praises you from
the grave?"
Gen. 2:17 says that "for when you eat of it you will surely die."
(NIV). Most translations are a little more emphatic about it, saying
'on that day' and such. Yes, this is pretty explicit. This was a
warning to Adam (Eve wasn't around yet). However, Adam and Eve didn't
die (physically) on the day they ate the fruit. Is it so nonsensical
that God could have simply changed His mind about the punishment He
would inflict upon them?
At the begining of this semester, I started teaching my first large
college class. I told my students (~100 in the class) that if anyone
missed an exam with an unexcused absence, they would receive a zero for
that exam. It just so happened that a very good student happened to
oversleep his alarm on exam day. I hadn't thought about the policy very
much before I made it. Now I had a chance to really think this through.
 A zero on an exam is twice as bad as a 50% failure. I decided that was
too harsh of a penalty, as it amounted to a student failing two of 5
exams. I know he didn't intentionally oversleep, and I know I've done
exactly what he did in the past. So I changed my mind about the
student's punishment for his wrong actions, and decided to be more
merciful. Is it so obsurd that God could have also decided He really
didnt' want them to die that day, and instead gave a different, less
severe punishment?
Received on Sat Sep 25 22:57:45 2004

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