Re: [asa] (fall) biological evolution and a literal Adam- logically inconsistent?

From: David Opderbeck <dopderbeck@gmail.com>
Date: Thu Sep 04 2008 - 13:10:03 EDT

Someone told me I'm misunderstanding "natural evil" here. A car skidding
off the road is "natural evil" if it is not the result of intended human
action. The specific question, though, was about a tire exploding. I think
of that as the result of intended human action because the tire is
manufactured to certain specifications. It's probably possible to make a
tire that would never explode, but we choose to accept the risk of some
number of explosions because completely safe tires are too costly to make
(and product liability law and insurance exist to manage that risk). As to
the car skidding off the road, I guess that depends on whether the driver
was acting negligently or recklessly -- e.g., driving too fast on a snowy
day.

In any event, let's say the driver was acting perfectly reasonably, the car
hits some black ice, and skids off the road. This would be considered the
result of "natural evil." Ice was ice before the fall and the laws of
physics, we assume, haven't changed. Following my speculation about
technology, perhaps a mode of transportation could be invented / discovered
that avoids dangerous contact between tires and ice -- an automated air
system? perfectly automated trains? transporter beams :-)? Or if there is
perfect fellowship between God and humans, perhaps God or his angels give a
warning over the Onstar system. Or maybe we have a society in which rapid
travel by car isn't widely needed?

The point is, it seems to me, that concerning the impact of "natural evil"
on people, the focus needs to be on the environmental management responses
that would be available to people in a world of unbroken human-human /
human-Divine fellowship. Given the amazing things we take for granted today
that didn't exist even 20 years ago -- the world wide web, bioengineering --
it seems not unreasonable to me to include technology as an important
component here.

On Thu, Sep 4, 2008 at 9:50 AM, David Opderbeck <dopderbeck@gmail.com>wrote:

> I don't think this is a queston of "natural evil" per se, as a car isn't
> natural. But your concern obviously is valid. My approach to this is to
> wonder what technology would have been like absent the fall. We tend to
> think of technology as a sort of "discovery" or "invention" -- someone
> discovered the uses of fire, someone invented the wheel -- but there is a
> sense in which technology is also "revelation" -- everything we learn and
> discover is already known to God, and nothing we invent surprises God. Why
> is it that, during most of human history, people lacked technologies that
> today we consider basic and life-saving, such as antibiotics? In some
> sense, I think this is a result of sin. I believe technologies like
> penicillin would have been available to humanity much sooner and easier in
> the "garden," whether that is "literal" or a "figurative" theological
> construct. If humanity were in perfect fellowship with God and each other,
> what would, say, our transportation technology look like? I'd speculate
> that it would be green, efficient, and safe -- not because the laws of
> physics would be different, but because unbroken human fellowship with God
> and with each other would have produced such technology.
>
>
> On Wed, Sep 3, 2008 at 5:47 PM, Dehler, Bernie <bernie.dehler@intel.com>wrote:
>
>> Another natural evil example is if your tire blows out and the car crashes
>> killing everyone in the car. Was the fall responsible for that? If ones
>> says yes, then it seems like if there was no fall, there would be no death.
>> In that case, Adam could have climbed the tallest tree, dived into a rock
>> (headfirst), and wouldn't have died... probably not even a bruise?
>>
>> ...Bernie
>>
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu [mailto:asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu] On
>> Behalf Of Keith Miller
>> Sent: Wednesday, September 03, 2008 2:33 PM
>> To: AmericanScientificAffiliation Affiliation
>> Subject: Re: [asa] (fall) biological evolution and a literal Adam-
>> logically inconsistent?
>>
>>
>> Randy posted the following quote from Bube:
>>
>> >
>> > "It is precisely in Genesis 1-3 that the Christian finds the
>> > biblical basis for this approach to evil. One of the basic
>> > revelations given to us in these chapters is the emphasis upon the
>> > goodness of God's creation. The creation "as it comes from the hand
>> > of God" is good and free from evil. The evil that we see around us,
>> > real moral or natural evil, is due to man's sin or to natural
>> > causes, and is not intrinsic in the creation purpose of God. Unlike
>> > many other major religions, Christianity rejects the concept that
>> > evil finds its ultimate cause in matter, finiteness, or in
>> > individuality. It is not intrinsically necessary for matter,
>> > finiteness or individuality to result in moral and natural evil.
>> > The biblical record tells us that the evil around us is something
>> > outside of, contrary to, different from, and an aberration on that
>> > kind of world which would correspond to the creation purpose of God.
>>
>> While I fully accept that "the creation 'as it comes from the hand of
>> God' is good and free from evil", I have a problem with the inclusion
>> of "natural evil" in the statement above. The implication is that
>> "natural evil" is somehow independent of God's creative activity.
>> Events such as hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions,
>> etc are part of the dynamic processes through which God is
>> continually active in the creation. They are part of the creative
>> processes that have made the life-sustaining creation that God
>> declared good. Similarly the cycle of life and death that is part
>> and parcel of the web of life on Earth is essential for the
>> sustaining of that life. That cycle of life and death is also
>> explicitly a part of God's upholding of creation (see Psalm 104).
>>
>> Keith
>>
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>>
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>
>
>
> --
> David W. Opderbeck
> Associate Professor of Law
> Seton Hall University Law School
> Gibbons Institute of Law, Science & Technology
>

-- 
David W. Opderbeck
Associate Professor of Law
Seton Hall University Law School
Gibbons Institute of Law, Science & Technology
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Received on Thu Sep 4 13:10:43 2008

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