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

From: Bethany Sollereder <>
Date: Thu Sep 04 2008 - 22:37:18 EDT


I'd agree with you that we have a choice to make. And in light of the other
literature speaking of the 'paradise when the world began', I think the
Biblical author meant that it was a literal paradise, but I think we must
say that (in light of modern science) there was never a paradise and thus
the story is not literal. In doing so, we give up our addiction to
historical concordism. A difficult, but necessary, step.

David, I think you can have perfect paradise, and still having 'work'. In
fact I don't think it could be paradise without man to have something to do:
we would be redundant without a task. But the task was not a painful one,
not one that would strain man beyond the pleasantness of the paradise he
works in. C.S. Lewis gives a nice imagining of what this could look like in
*Perelandra*. Yes, man had a task. But it was paradise.


On Thu, Sep 4, 2008 at 5:10 PM, David Opderbeck <>wrote:

> Yes Merv, when I say "ontological reality," I don't necessarily mean "a
> verifiable 'historical' moment."
> BTW, I found an even better quote from Von Rad (p. 80):
> "[chapter 2, verse 15] indicates man's purpose in being in the garden: he
> is to work it and preserve it from all damage, a destiny tha tcontrasts
> decided with the commonly accepted fantastic ideas of 'Paradise.' . . .
> There is 'nothing here about abunded wonders of fertility and sensual
> enjoyment', but work was man's sober destiny even in his original state.
> That man was transferred to the garden to guard it indicates that he was
> called to a state of service and had to prove himself in a realm tha twas
> not his own possessio. in the ensuing divine address the misunderstanding
> of the garden as an Elysium for sensual enjoyment is completely destroyed."
> On Thu, Sep 4, 2008 at 7:48 PM, Merv <> wrote:
>> David Opderbeck wrote:
>> 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 real.
>>> Not all binary thinking is deficient (though I note your word *usually*
>> with approval). Logic and the way we frame situations imposes such
>> necessary logic in many cases. E.g. my student turns in homework late with
>> all manner of valid or invalid excuses or extenuating circumstances. But in
>> the end, I either award him full credit or I do not. Law of excluded
>> middle.
>> Yet granted, in this situation perhaps binary thinking is inappropriate
>> --I would certainly agree that the binary mode of argument often used to
>> frame a religion verses science arena is impoverished in many ways. Yet we
>> will continue to choose a new "frame" or arena where we too will make a
>> binary choice --and rightly so. Would I be correct to infer from what you
>> say above that you don't use the label "ontological reality" on anything
>> that isn't a tack on a time line? To me this is another form of binary
>> thought: that either something is ontologically "real" because it is an
>> event that we could (in principle, with a time machine) dial in the correct
>> era and then watch it unfold like a play; or failing that test, it is
>> not. I think the E.C. side of what I framed has a wide array of orthodox
>> possibilities to be explored that would acknowledge the reality of a fall no
>> less real than someone biting a piece of fruit.
>> --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 22:38:24 2008

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