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

From: Bethany Sollereder <>
Date: Fri Sep 05 2008 - 10:48:06 EDT


Actually, if you look in the LXX, Gen 2:8 uses the word paradise (*
paradeison*) to describe the garden of Eden. But the word just means an
idyllic place or state - in fact when I just looked it up, paradise was
defined as "the abode of Adam and Eve before the Fall in the biblical
account of the creation: the Garden of Eden". It was a place where the
forces of chaos had been dealt with by the acts of creation. Humans had a
task, but it was one they were well able to do. They were in need of nothing
- there was no sickness, no tears, no pain, no death. And to top it all
off, God walked in the garden with them.
In fact, take a look at the late chapters of Revelations and we see a
recycling of many of the same things, only it is a garden-city in Rev, not
just a garden.

Hope this helps.


On Thu, Sep 4, 2008 at 9:46 PM, gordon brown <>wrote:

> Bethany,
> 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 10:48:42 2008

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