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

From: gordon brown <Gordon.Brown@Colorado.EDU>
Date: Fri Sep 05 2008 - 00:46:13 EDT


I am not sure how to evaluate your statements about the Garden of Eden being a
literal paradise but that that was impossible, without knowing what your
definition of paradise is. The literal meaning of Eden is delight. Paradise, a
Greek word of Persian origin, occurs exactly three times in the New Testament:
Luke 23:43, II Corinthians 12:4, and Revelation 2:7.

Gordon Brown (ASA member)

On Thu, 4 Sep 2008, Bethany Sollereder wrote:

> Merv,
> 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.
> Bethany
> 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 Fri Sep 5 00:47:12 2008

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