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

From: David Opderbeck <>
Date: Thu Sep 04 2008 - 18:58:26 EDT

Merv said: That is the forced choice, is it not?
I respond: I don't accept that. Binary thinking, in my view, usually
betrays a lack of imagination. I think it's critical to Biblical theology
that the Fall narrative refer to some sort of ontological reality, in
whatever literary form it might be cast. Christ came into the world because
something *really is* wrong; "evil" is foreign to God's good creation; and
the new heavens and new earth will constitue a new ontology that is equally
On Thu, Sep 4, 2008 at 6:22 PM, Merv <> wrote:

> David Opderbeck wrote:
>> 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.
>> No matter how "perfect" a technology or technological society is, there is
> no dodging at least some "natural evil" (as we choose to call it.) The
> only way human sin could influence catastrophic asteroid collisions or
> earthquakes is by divine fiat. And no matter how well situated or equitable
> any society is some suffering will happen no matter where or how the poor &
> rich live (at least according to the workings of nature as we see it now.)
> So either we have some sort of supernatural "golden age" where nothing
> works like it does now. Or we have a world in which physical suffering &
> death are integrated into it from the beginning of life. Any of us that now
> adhere to evolutionary creationism have chosen the latter as the most likely
> to square with everything we think we understand theologically and
> scientifically; (In which case the fall and death are spiritual and the
> particulars of the story are figurative)
> --Merv

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 18:59:05 2008

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