Re: Death before the Fall

Mark Phillips (
Mon, 02 Aug 1999 10:13:54 +0930

Dear Glenn,

> God specifically did not inspire the writer to use 'tawmiym' which is
> Hebrew for 'perfect'. Instead, God used the word 'good', 'towb' to
> describe his creation in every case. The Bible does not say that Eden
> was perfect, yet many YECs act like it was a perfect place.

So what does the word for good, "towb" really mean? Is it not the
opposite of evil? Perhaps God is saying the world was "without evil"?

Perhaps the word "tawmiym" has connotations that God is not wishing to
express? "Perfect" has with it the idea that any other creation would
be lesser than it. Perhaps there were many possible creations which
could have been described "good" --- in the sense of "without any bad
parts" --- and to describe any one of them as "perfect" might be to
suggest that the others were less than perfect. This is pure
conjecture, but what I am trying to point out is that the use of the
word "good" does not necessarily imply that there are some flaws.

Also, the sense I get from reading Genesis 1 is not that God is
considering his creation and thinks to himself, "not bad, perhaps not
perfect in places, but all things considered, its a good effort". I
get the sense of a creation which was "wholly good". Perhaps my
"sense" is biased, but maybe it isn't?

Prove me wrong by all means, but your argument at this point seems a
little light.

> We have seen that God designed the developmental pathways as part of His
> grand design of life on our planet. Yet what is little know in YEC circles
> is that death plays a big role in the creation of a human. In order to
> understand this we need to look at how cells die.

[lots snipped]

Thanks for your description of celular death. It was very informative
and makes for an interesting argument.

> So the question for the YECs who believe that there was no death before the
> Fall is: Why did God Himself create special security codes, instructions
> and machinery for death if there was NO death before the Fall?

I am not a YEC, but I would like to pretend to be for a little while,
because I see flaws in your argument.

If I were a YEC, I would be arguing that the cells of our body are not
animals. And that by "no death before the fall" it is meant that
there is "no death of animals before the fall". I mean, presumably
there is plant death before the fall, because the animals eat the
plants. Cells "die" and a replaced, but this is all part of day to
day body mechanics. It would be possible to envisage a system whereby
a human's cells continually died and were replaced, but where the
human themselves remained alive and healthy forever. Christians
believe that the continued operation of all of creation requires God's
continual sustenance. This fact is not viewed as a notion of death.
Indeed, I would presume heaven will be a place requiring God's
constant sustenance. In fact, life in the bible is viewed as being
the result of God's sustenance, and death the opposite of this. So in
the light of this, what is wrong with the idea of pre-fall life
requiring the constant sustenace of God in that God ensures that
celular death never gives rise to real animal death?

> Many young-earth creationists will then respond that cellular death is not
> real death. But it is. If the cells in a small region of your heart die
> due to lack of oxygen, your heart will stop beating effectively and cut off
> the oxygen to your brain. If the cells of Adam's children's brain could
> die during development (as God intended and designed) then it proves that
> they are not immortal. If they are not immortal, then they could also die
> from lack of oxygen. If, when the heart stopped beating, the brain cells
> died from oxygen deprivation, then that human would die.

Yes, if I were a YEC, I would argue that cellular death is not real
death, as I have done above. The problem with your rebuttal is that
all it points out, is that without God's sustenance, cellular death
could lead to real death. Yes, cell death in the heart could lead to
human death, but if God ensured that this never happened, there could
be eternal life in spite of the fact that this life was supported via
mechanisms of cellular death.

Imagine a world in which this was the case. Sure plants were eaten
and died, and with scientific investigation it was discovered that
biological processes involved the death of cells, but animals and
people never died. People never died, never grew old and weak.
Animals never died. Pets remained alive and healthy for ever. Okay,
I can see lots of problems with this such as with population grow etc,
but lets put these objections asside for now. If this kind of world
did exist, surely the description "death has not entered this world"
would be a reasonable one? All the suffering and trauma associated
with human and animal death would be non-existant.

Putting my non-YEC hat back on... I would have thought a slightly
more potent argument in favour of pre-fall death, would be the
involvement of actual animals in biological systems. I am no expert,
but isn't it true that bacterial death is intimately involved in human
biological systems? And bacteria are considered animals aren't they?
And wouldn't there be examples of the death of even more developed
animals than bacteria, involved in biological systems?



"They told me I was gullible ... and I believed them!"