Re: Death before the Fall
Tue, 03 Aug 1999 20:14:40 +0000

At 11:39 PM 08/03/1999 +0930, Mark Phillips wrote:
>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.

The YECs try to avoid this by having the geological column be the result of
a global flood. But what they show is that they really don't understand
the details of the geologic column.

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.

Here is where I differ greatly from my fellow theistic evolutionists. If we
allegorize the Bible every time we have trouble understanding it two things
happen. We move the meaning of the Bible from the objective plane to the
subjective plane (you can see in the allegory something I don't see or
something I don't believe is there). The second thing we can end up with
an allegorical Bible that has little contact with reality. And if the Bible
is not concerned with the here and now, the physical realm, then I would
find it quickly becoming irrelevant.

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.

There could be a third alternative and that is what I am trying to offer in
the creation/evolution morass. While reading below, understand that the
view I advocate does acknowledge a real, physical historical Fall and a
first pair.
>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.

I agree with you. But if towb can have all these connotations, then it is
wrong for the YECs to make a hard and fast doctrinal statement that the
Bible teaches a PERFECT creation! It might teach a perfect creation, but
it isn't clear at all that that is what is being taught. And notice the use
of the word perfection. David Lane wrote:

"The world was shaped not to 'accommodate fallen humanity,' as Blackmore
and Page claim, but to accommodate mankind in its primordial perfection.
It was 'subjected to futility' (rom. 8:20-22) after the Fall (5:12-14).
Theistic evolution teaches that death, destruction, disease, pain, and
suffering reigned for millions of years in the forebears of Adam and Eve.
Darwin wrote of 'the war of nature, famine and death' as the instruments of
evolutionary progress. As Blackmore and Page wrote, "There may have been
an original couple, somehow different from the other evolved hominids
[man-like beings or ape-men], on whom God bestowed His Spirit and who
subsequently rebelled.' They also state, 'The doctrine of the Fall does not
require us to believe that a single pair existed as the only human beings
and we can regard Adam as the 'federal' head of humanity.' Theistic
evolutionists fail to affirm unequivocally the historicity of the Fall,
which involved the entry of moral evil resulting in physical death in
mankind. They recognize the contradiction between the central truths of
Genesis and evolutionary dogma, but choose to adopt the latter perspective
as a fact of science." ~ David H. Lane, "Theological Problems with Theistic
Evolution," Bibliotheca Sacra, 150, April- June, 1994, p. 163

>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.

I would argue that taking "good" to mean "perfect" is a logical fallacy.
It is equivocation. One can't redefine words in the middle of an argument
to suite a particular bias.

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.

Then why did God simply not say what He meant and use Tamiym (perfect)? For
your argument to work you must assume that God:

1. didn't know how to convey what He wanted to convey
2. God used a technical meaning of a commonly used word which is contrary
to the common meaning.
3. God's mind is easily read by mortals and we know what God would and
wouldn't do apart from the meaning of the words that he used to tell us
what he did.

>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.
If you can answer the above 1., 2., and 3. in the affirmative then your
argument is reasonable.

>> >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?

>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".

Let's take the position you do that this is talking about what is good in
their eyes. The people in front of Lot's house would have known that what
they wanted was for their good with the flaw that the other person would
not enjoy it as much as they would. They used 'towb' exactly as I am

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

I would agree, but if they were deathless and immortal because they had
eaten of the Tree of Life, then the removal of the Tree would not remove
their immortality! If the removal of the Tree removed their immortality,
then they simply were not immortal! They were on life-support, like a coma
victim who lives quite well as long as the respirator is with them. That
is some kind of immortality you are envisioning for them.

>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

I would contend that since they were the original recipients of the OT that
we should reject their viewpoint on the OT with caution. They didn't have
a faulty view when our ancestors were heathen.

>> >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.

Possible, but if their immortality was conditional, then they weren't
immortal. I am immortal as long as a disease doesn't kill me, a car
doesn't hit me, or my cells in my heart or brain don't die. Yes I am
immortal. But I don't think you will grant me my immortality.

>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.

No problem, I hope I am acquitting myself well. If not, then I will try
harder next time.

Foundation, Fall and Flood
Adam, Apes and Anthropology

Lots of information on creation/evolution