Re: Death before the Fall
Mon, 02 Aug 1999 19:43:15 +0000

At 03:10 PM 08/02/1999 +0930, Mark Phillips wrote:
>Dear Glenn,
>I'm not a young-earther so perhaps there's a bit of talking at
>cross-purposes here, but never mind.

Yeah, but my post was aimed directly at the young-earthers. Old-earthers
don't usually have any trouble with death before the Fall.

>>From what I understand, your argument about the word "towb" is
>basically that the Hebrew word for "good" is one step down the rung
>from the Hebrew for "perfect", so by God using "good" rather than
>"perfect", he is actually saying that creation is good but not
>perfect, ie it has some flaws or negative aspects. Perhaps I have
>misunderstood your argument slightly though?

Pretty much that is it for one third of the argument. The part about
whether the Bible teaches that the world is perfect, which it doesn't..
And the Rabbi's like Nahmanides also understood it that way. There is still
the problem that God created the death machinery when He created life. And
then the purpose for the tree of life if Adam and Eve already had
immortality--what was it for? When they fell, and really needed the Tree
of Life to solve their problem, God quickly took the tree away from them.
So the purpose of the Tree was not to give immortality to Adam and Eve
AFTER the Fall.

>What I am asking is whether there is necessarily such a linear
>ordering between the words. That is, is the Hebrew word for "good"
>always to be understood as representing part way towards "the ultimate
>in good", "perfection"?

While my software was stolen along with my computer, last spring, prior to
the theft, I did a study on the word 'towb'. I looked at all the instances
of it. What I found was that it appeared to be used exactly as our word
good was used. Now when your wife puts on a dress she really likes but you
find less than thrilling. You might say that it looks good. But you
certainly don't think it is perfection incarnate. And you say it is good
because you don't want to have an argument about taste in clothes. Now
when your wife puts on that dress that is absolutely stunning, you very
well might say 'you look perfect!' There is certainly a difference between
the connotations. If I say 'good,' My wife now will say "only 'good'?" We
have been married a long time and she knows me too well.

>So in creation, perhaps God is emphasising how good it is. Perhaps it
>is perfect, but this is not his emphasis --- he wants to emphasise how
>really darn good it is, not emphasise that it is without flaws though
>this may be true.

That may be. But if one takes that position, then I would say that you
can't be dogmatic about the world being perfect. You might be correct, it
might be perfect, but you can't prove it from the word choice. Thus when
YECs make dogmatic statements about the Bible teaching a perfect creation,
they are incerting certainty into a situation where there is none. Thus
they are making their theology rule rather than the Bible.
>I have a Kohlenberger interlinear that renders this part of the
>passage about Lot as "and you do to them (the daughters) as the good
>in eyes of you". So in the eyes of the men, perhaps what they would
>do to the daughters would be perfect, without negative side?

If you really believe this, then offer your daughters to a group of men who
are wanting to 'know' someone in your house. Understand that the word
'know' had the connotations of sexual relations. (The NIV makes this
clear). I don't know how you can say that what was being offered was good.

>I accept that Genesis 1 doesn't clearly say that the creation was
>perfect. Nor does it say (from what I understand to date) that it had
>imperfections. Its emphasis is on how good creation is. If this is
>all you are saying then fine, but I get the impression you are saying
>more than this.

Partly I am saying more than this. If I could get the YECs to understand
that creation was not perfect, but merely good (or even that the Bible
doesn't necessarily teach perfection) then a major support of their
theological position falls. And as to what I am saying more than this, you
must focus now on the machinery God put in place for death and the purpose
of the Tree of Life, which was useless for giving life to Adam and Eve if
they were already deathless and immortal.

>Certainly the sense I get of Genesis 1 meaning "wholly good" is only a
>sense, and could be wrong. This sense is obviously on conflict with
>Rabbi Ramban, though is he representative of Hebrews in general? I
>don't know. Perhaps Ramban is wrestling with the problem of creation
>containing evil and this is biasing his interpretation of me'od??

Pretty much he is representative of Judaism, which is why Judaism only has
a very, very small creationist contingent compared with the Christians (who
don't pay attention to the Hebrew like the Jews do.

>> And it leaves the
>> Tree of LIfe in the garden as a useless thing, unneeded for any purpose,
>> certainly not the imparting of immortality. Why did God place the useless
>> tree of life in the garden?
>Because the tree was the means God used to provide this sustenance.

But nowhere is it recorded that Adam and Eve ate of the Tree of Life, only
of the Tree of knowledge. And after the Tree of Knowledge, God hurredly
removed the Tree of life.

>You will notice that I deliberately put objections such as population
>growth asside. Population growth is a good argument against believing
>that God intended Eden to be a world without death for perpetuity.
>But that is not your argument. Your argument is that cellular death
>is real death and as such, existed before the fall.

Population growth is one of many arguments against the idea that there was
no death before the Fall. I don't see a reason to exclude this argument as
it is quite good (as you acknowlege). If we are to discuss death before the
fall, then I will trot out all my arguments in favor of it.


Foundation, Fall and Flood
Adam, Apes and Anthropology

Lots of information on creation/evolution