Re: [asa] Land Animals and the Flood

From: David Opderbeck <dopderbeck@gmail.com>
Date: Fri Aug 24 2007 - 14:35:14 EDT

Bob S. said: *How does one justify God's actions in this case, which differs
from animal death as the normal course of nature?
*
It doesn't seem morally troublesome to me that God's judgment of Noah's
generation included destruction of their means of production. I think we
need to think of the flood judgment as a *social* one -- God judged the
human society of that time (setting aside for now the technical question of
whether that society was a literally "global" society or a representative
"local" one). He destroyed all the people in that society, along with all
their economic means of production, including their farmland and the animals
associated with them. But the ark represents God's gracious provision to
Noah and his family of means sufficient to survive and to begin rebuilding a
society.

Perhaps we might think it "unfair" to consider animals a disposable means of
production rather than autonomous beings possessing inherent dignity.
First, I don't think the choice is that stark -- it does not necessarily
detract from the dignity due to an animal to suggest that the animal lives
at God's pleasure. Second, I think that framing the issue this way imposes
modern ideas about the autonomous moral status of animals -- ideas that are
in fact somewhat marginal even in the modern context -- onto a text arising
from a culture in which people could not be so insulated from the immediacy
of an animal's economic function. I'm very glad that I didn't have to slit
the cow's throat myself in order to enjoy my roast beef sandwich this
afternoon. If I had to herd, slaughter, and butcher my own animals for my
meat as a live-or-die proposition, I'm sure I'd realize all the more that
the dignity due an animal has real limits.

On 8/24/07, Robert Schneider <schneider98@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> Jon writes:
>
> "The animals just happened to be collateral damage of God's chosen
> method of judgment, which might still be seen as a theological
problem. But
> then it becomes part of the larger question of why there is so much
> (sinless) animal death throughout time."
>
> I would not think that the death of animals as "collaberal damage" should
be made part of the larger question of animal death, because the story makes
the death of these animals a deliberate part of God's action. Rather, it
raises the common formulation of the problem of evil up a notch. How does
one justify God's actions in this case, which differs from animal death as
the normal course of nature?
>
> Bob S.
>
>
> On 8/24/07, Jon Tandy <tandyland@earthlink.net> wrote:
> > Gordon,
> >
> > Which verse says that God is sorry he made the animals? Are you
referring
> > to Gen 6:7 ? I would say before trying to figure out why the Lord was
sorry
> > about the animals, we need to make sure that's what it actually means.
> >
> > [Gen 6:7] And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from
the
> > face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the
> > fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.
> >
> > You are assuming "them" at the end of the verse is referring to the
> > immediate antecedant, "man, beast, creaping thing, fowls." However, in
> > context this is written after Gen 6:1-7a has said:
> >
> > "...when men began to multiply...the Lord said, My spirit shall not
always
> > strive with man...And God saw that the wickedness of man was
great...every
> > imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And
it
> > repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth...I will destroy man
> > whom I have created..."
> >
> > There seems to be a theme here. Man is the one with whom God was
> > displeased, not the animals. The only confusion seems to be that after
God
> > says he will destroy man, he parenthetically says he will also destroy
the
> > animals, but the "them" at the end is really referring back to "mankind"

> > with whom God was displeased. So I would argue that the traditional way
of
> > reading this (or if you will, glossing over this potential problem) is
> > correct. The animals just happened to be collateral damage of God's
chosen
> > method of judgment, which might still be seen as a theological
problem. But
> > then it becomes part of the larger question of why there is so much
> > (sinless) animal death throughout time.
> >
> > Jon Tandy
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu [mailto:asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu] On
> > Behalf Of gordon brown
> > Sent: Thursday, August 23, 2007 9:59 PM
> > To: asa@calvin.edu
> > Subject: [asa] Land Animals and the Flood
> >
> >
> > In Genesis 6, after describing the extreme sinfulness of man, it is said

> > that God was sorry that He had made man. It also says that He was sorry
> > that he had made the land animals. I have somehow managed to mentally
skip
> > over the latter and assume that what happened was collateral damage.
This
> > is not good theology since it seems to assume that God couldn't think of
a
> > means of judgment that would be restricted to humans.
> >
> > It is natural to ask why God was sorry that He had made these animals. I
> > haven't found very much commentary about this. Ambrose suggested that
> > God would no longer have a purpose for these creatures if there were no
> > humans. I am not satisfied with this because it doesn't tell us why He
> > wasn't sorry that he had made the rest of creation, marine animals for
> > example.
> >
> > The thought occurred to me that it might have been because men were
> > worshipping images of these animals. Paul's list in Romans 1:23 of
animals
> > whose images men worshipped appears to be the same as the list in
Genesis
> > 6. On the other hand Exodus 20:4 also forbade images of anything in the
> > waters under the earth, whatever that means.
> >
> > I have two questions that someone on the list might have ideas about or
> > more information on.
> > 1. Is my suggestion about the idolatry a possible answer to why God
> > said He was sorry about having created land animals?
> > 2. Do the animals that Paul mentions in Romans 1:23 pretty well cover
the
> > list of creatures whose images were widely worshipped among the pagans?
> >
> > Gordon Brown
> >
> >
> > To unsubscribe, send a message to majordomo@calvin.edu with "unsubscribe

> > asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
> >
> >
> >
> > To unsubscribe, send a message to majordomo@calvin.edu with
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> >
>
>
>
> --
> Robert J. Schneider
> 187 Sierra Vista
> Boone, NC, 28607
> 828-264-4071
> "Science and Faith: perspectives on Christianity and science:
http://community.berea.edu/scienceandfaith/.
> "A Catechism of Creation: An Episcopal Understanding":
www.episcopalchurch.org/science/.

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Received on Fri Aug 24 14:35:33 2007

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