RE: Re no death prior to the fall....

From: Ted Davis <tdavis@messiah.edu>
Date: Mon Sep 19 2005 - 09:03:57 EDT

>>> "Hofmann, Jim" <jhofmann@exchange.fullerton.edu> 9/18/2005 8:14:19 PM
>>>writes:
I haven't been following all the details of this thread, but the initial
subject was the issue of "no death before sin". I've only recently realized
how important this is for generating resolute opposition to evolutionary
biology.

Ted comments:
Welcome aboard, Jim. It was true in the 1830s and 1840s that death before
the fall was a crucial point of theological engagement when the "old earth"
geologists took their stance, and it is no less true today. I've written
about this in my essay in Keith Miller's volume, Perspectives on an Evolving
Creation." I have on my webpage (which you know about) an essay by Edward
Hitchcock in which some of his arguments about this view are found. Some of
his arguments, it seems to me, have been overlooked until very recently by
YECs; the most recent YEC accounts do acknowledge (e.g.) that insects had to
die before the fall, and they integrate that into their view by saying that
only sentient animals (basically) and humans are "nepheshes" in the Hebrew
Bible, so only their deaths count against God if there is no sin yet. And,
very significantly, in a private correspondence I'm having with a leading
YEC, he made no effort to use Rom 5:12 to support his view. Hitchcock
pointed out why that was a bad idea, and I think it's finally sinking in.

<SNIP> Jim resumes:

Clearly, when this position is adopted, no scientific evidence for
evolutionary change will ever be enough to bring it into question.

Ted comments:
Absolutely right. Again, in this private correspondence (which I have
permission to cite in a forthcoming publication), I directly asked my friend
whether *ANY* amount of scientific evidence would ever convince him, in
principle, that the YEC view is incorrect. I emphasized "in principle,"
that an answer in which he debunked current evidence was not an answer to my
question. He admitted that no amount of scientific evidence could convince
him that the YEC interpretation is incorrect.

This isn't like (say) the resurrection, IMO. That is an historical event,
and the evidence available to us IMO makes it likely that the bodily
resurrection actually happened. No amount of current science will ever
support that claim, and all of it flies in the face of it--we don't see such
things happen now and aren't likely to see them in the future. The relevant
*historical* evidence does support the religious claim, as it also does for
some of the miracles at Lourdes and other places. It is the opposite for
the YEC view, insofar as the only historical evidence we have (a literal
view of the Genesis text) is dubious on biblical terms alone, with
intepretations such as the framework hypothesis making far more sense,
without reference to modern science.

Ted
Received on Mon Sep 19 09:07:36 2005

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