googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: Answering the 10 Theological Questions That No Young-earth Creationist Can Answer!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Answering the 10 Theological Questions That No Young-earth Creationist Can Answer!

I came across an article online titled, 10 Theological Questions No Young-Earth Creationist Can Answer. In the article, the author, Tyler Francke, tries to build a case that many points in young earth creationism are not supported by the Bible.

Headlines like this have always annoyed me. Besides sounding presumptuous, the “questions” asked have usually been answered many times before. What the authors are trying to do is make their argument seem irrefutable merely by claiming their questions can't be answered. It borders on dishonesty. I would rather they used headlines more like, “10 Questions for Creationists.”

As always, I recommend you click the link and read the article for yourself. The author expounds on each question he asks so if you just read the question by itself, you may not appreciate the full scope of what the author means by asking the question.

As he expounds on each point, Francke anticipates what he thinks are the most probable answers from creationists. This is a rather ordinary tactic of most debaters but I don't think Francke is very successful in overcoming the objections he raises. In some cases, his treatment of the criticism is barely more than ridiculing it. Perhaps he is merely attempting to poison the well by raising the possible answers before his critics can.

The questions in this article are somewhat interesting but they're hardly not answerable. I know I always say I'm going to stop writing series but here I am getting ready to start another. I intend to answer the 10 questions. I'm not going to write 10 posts; instead, I'm going to answer 2-3 answers at a time.

I wonder if, when I'm done, the author will retract his headline? Chuckle.

1. What was the point of the tree of life?

Francke's point in asking this question is that, if God had intended people to not die in the original creation, why would He create the Tree of Life whose purpose seems to be granting immortality to anyone who eats from it? In his own words, why, exactly, did God create a magical tree that grants immortality in a world where every living thing was already immortal?”

First off, I believe we always risk sounding foolish when we begin to ask why God does any certain thing. We simply do not know everything God knows. In asking this question, Francke says the purpose of the Tree of Life is “abundantly clear.” I disagree. If the Tree of Life were pointless in the initial creation where there wasn't any death, then Francke should maybe ask why God also puts the Tree of Life in the new creation (Revelation 22:1-2, 14)? After all, the Bible is perfectly clear there will be no more death (Revelation 21:4) so, according to Francke's logic, God has no reason to put a Tree of Life in the new creation. Yet there it is.

What does seem clear from the text is that the Tree of Life does have a role in a world where there is no death. I admit I'm not completely sure of the purpose of the Tree of Life but, unlike Francke, I will grant that God knows what He's doing.

2. If human sin is the reason animals die, why can’t they be saved?

Let’s recap: young-earth creationists believe all death, even animal death, is a consequence of human sin. Now, ignoring for a moment the fact that the Bible never once actually says animal death is a consequence of human sin

The author dismisses 1 Corinthians 15:21-22, saying it only describes human death. I suspect he would make the same argument about Romans 5:12, even though that verse is a little more compelling. Before I address the animals, I would ask Francke what these verses mean in relation to human death? According to his blog, he believes in a god of evolution which means men have always died. Death was in the world – including death in the supposed homo ancestors – long before there was sin. So while he may claim these verses only describe human death, he doesn't explain exactly how that works in the theistic evolution paradigm.

Of course, we know the Curse wasn't limited to Adam. Genesis 3:17 attests that God cursed even the ground because of Adam's sin. The world would no longer be the paradise He created but that the ground would now bring forth thorns and thistles. Furthermore, Romans 8:22 says, “...the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. So the notion of a very narrow Curse that is limited to death among men but having no change on anything else is contrary to the clear teaching of the Bible.

The crux of the matter, though, is that man is separate from the animals. We alone are created in the image of God and have a spiritual dimension that is not present in animals. The earth and the animals were created to be our dominion and for our service. Christ died to redeem the descendants of Adam; not the animals. So, no. Animals can't be saved.  Don't get me wrong, though. God has a plan for the creation.  He redeemed us by His own blood and He also will restore the creation. 

Animals are described in Genesis 1 as “living” (nephesh) in the same way people have life. Since there was no death in the initial creation, neither would animals have died. Indeed, prior to the Fall, animals were not carnivorous. Genesis 1:30 says,  

And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.

When the curse has ended, so will death among animals end. Isaiah 11:6 is habitually misquoted as, “The lion shall lay down with the lamb.” The verse actually says,

The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.”

When death began among men, it also began among the animals. When death has ended among men, so will it end among the animals.  The fate of the creation turns upon man's relationship with God. There is no separate salvation for animals.

Read the entire series:
Part 2


Steven J. said...

I assume that the tree of life, in Revelation 22, is doing what gates made by giant pearls, or giant gemstone foundations, or indeed the throne of a nonmaterial God with no literal bottom to seat in it, is doing: symbolizing some property of the Church (either the church generally or the Church Triumphant at the end of the age). I suspect that it isn't really a literal tree, with wooden branches and seed-bearing fruit. Therefore, I doubt that its mention casts much light on what the tree of life in the Garden of Eden was doing (unless of course that tree, and presumably the entire Garden of Eden narrative, was equally symbolic).

It may be that many modern creationists are looking at this story the wrong way round: that Adam and Eve were not inherently immortal, but that the tree conferred this property upon anyone who ate it (which raises the question of whether the author meant for the reader to infer that the nonhuman animals were immortal, rather than merely not dying by one another's teeth and claws). Note that nephesh means, more or less, "organism," not "immortal" (the adjective hayyah means "living," but I don't see that nephesh hayyah implies "immortal organism" anymore than calling a contemporary squirrel a "living organism" means that it is expected never to die).

Note that where the ground is cursed by God, it is cursed for Adam's sake. I think that means not merely because of Adam's sin (rather than any sin of the dirt itself or the plants growing in it), but from Adam's point of view. From the point of view of velvetweed or ragweed (assuming that plants have a point of view), their ability to proliferate where we'd rather something else grew is not a curse but a blessing (from an evolutionary point of view, of course, the ability is an expected result of the contrast between plants with features selected naturally for their ability to help the plant proliferate, and plants with features artificially selected by humans for their benefit to humans rather than to the plant). So it's not clear that the curse in Genesis 3 is supposed to make things worse for any organisms except humans and snakes (although this raises the question of where exactly carnivory entered the world, which presumably made the world worse for, e.g. rabbits). So while I might be wrong, I think you are too quick to reject the view that references to "the whole creation" being cursed refers to more than a curse on humanity's interactions with the creation (and with the Creator, presumably).

Steven J. said...

A follow-up to my reply: I assume that you'll get to question 4 in due time, but the author notes but doesn't follow up on all the implications of Genesis 3:20 referring to Eve as the mother of all the living. I assume that as a creationist, you insist that she is certainly not the mother of such nephesh organisms as chimpanzees, elk, rabbits, etc. This in turn supports the view that the creation account is concerned primarily with human life and its travails and does not purport to explain why nonhuman animals die (and this also suggests the possibility that Paul's "all creation" is similarly limited). Likewise, Isaiah 11:6 does not, so far as I can discern, promise that the lamb or calf shall never die any more than it promises that they shall never grow into adult animals (indeed, the very idea of animal babies has rather awkward ecological implications if we add the idea of animal physical immortality).

Young-earth creationists may be giving themselves more problems than are absolutely necessary by insisting on the immortality of non-human nephesh life before the Fall.