Re: Death before the Fall

Mark Phillips (
Tue, 3 Aug 1999 23:39:30 +0930 (CST)

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

If the fall was an event at a particular time and place in history, then I
believe there must have been death prior to the fall. The fossil records
mandate it for a start. It is possible that the description in Genesis
2,3 is some kind of allegory explaining the current state of humanity.
That is, it explains the truth about what happened to humankind, but
God chose to express it in allegory form. I still am unsure of quite how
to read early Genesis, but if the latter is correct, then it doesn't even
make sense to ask about physical death pre fall.

So if I am an old-earther and I am not disputing pre-fall death, why am I
disputing your arguments I guess you are wondering. Well, because it is
one thing to accept pre-fall death, but another thing to accept that
argument X is a good argument for pre-fall death. If your argument about
the word "towb" is a good one, then I want to use it, but I want to be
sure it's good first. Similarly with your argument about cellular death.
I want to examine each argument separately on its merits.

> >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.

My problem is that the English word "good" is used in different ways. It
can be used in the way you illustrated with your wife's dress example, ie
that good means not too bad, but not the best. The other use was in the
way I illustrated with the cakes example, where what is stressed is the
positiveness of the thing, and is not meant to indicate any inadequacy.
If it is true that the Hebrew word can express both meanings, then the
context of Genesis 1 sounds much more like my cake example than the
example of your wife's dress.

> >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.

Well I would agree that it would be difficult to demonstrate with absolute
certainty that the bible teaches a perfect creation. I still think a case
could be made for it though. It would be a corollary of the fact that
creation was so good. Basically the argument would go as follows: "God
wouldn't have described creation as being so good, if it did have flaws."
In other words, although the main point God is making about his creation
is about how great it is, as a corollary, this means that it must be
perfect because an imperfect creation wouldn't have been described so.

Now this isn't a knock down argument --- I don't think you could be too
dogmatic about it --- but it seems a reasonable position to hold.

> >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 realize the connotations of "know", and I agree that what they wanted
was very far from good! But the passage is not talking about what is
good, but rather "what is good in their eyes" --- a big difference! And
in _their_eyes_, what they would have done may have seemed good without
any negative aspect. This would be a product of sick minds for sure, but
what is at issue is the meaning of the Hebrew for "good" and it doesn't
seem clear to me that this passage demonstrates that "good" means "good
but with flaws".

> 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.

If Adam and Eve were deathless and immortal __because__of__ the Tree of
Life, then the tree wasn't useless.

And as for the "machinery God put in place for death", this is cellular
death which differs in type from animal death.

> 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.

But on the other hand, Judaism has a faulty world view --- that would be
the Christian claim anyway. So one must take a Judaism point of view with

> >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.

Earlier God gave them permission to eat from any tree in the garden, which
would include the tree of life, so one might assume that they ate from
this tree. Certainly it is a reasonable position to hold.

In any case, it doesn't bother me much. My understanding is that it is a
symbolic way of God saying "now that you have disobeyed me, you ain't
going to live forever no more".

> >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.

As I have explained at the beginning of my email, my main reason for
corresponding is to test the merits of your different arguments to
determine which are good ones and which are not. Population growth is a
good one, though even this one is somewhat difficult to make stick. For
example I could argue that first, God could have reduced reproduction
rates where appropriate, second, there was plenty of room in the



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