googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: Answering the 10 Theological Questions That No Young-earth Creationist Can Answer: Part 2

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Answering the 10 Theological Questions That No Young-earth Creationist Can Answer: Part 2

3. If physical death is part of the punishment for sin, why do Christians still die?

It's questions like this that really alarm me about the theology of theistic evolution. What is Francke saying? That physical death has no part in the punishment for sin? If that were true, then why does the Bible say that there is no remission of sin without the shedding of blood (Hebrews 9:22)? Why does Old Testament Law establish a system of sacrifices? Most importantly, why did Christ have to physically die?

We die physically because we are descended from Adam and we have inherited his body of flesh. God has redeemed us but it is not so that we can live an eternity in these clay vessels. The Bible is clear that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor 15:50) so if our spirits are to be delivered, it will not be until we are rid of these cursed bodies. Paul lamented to the Romans, O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? (Romans 7:24). I've written before that I believe God put Adam out of the Garden before he could eat of the Tree of Life precisely so that Adam would not live forever physically in his fallen state. It was an act of mercy and not one of judgment.

Conversely, if sin resulted only in a spiritual death, then why do we die physically? It's not sufficient to simply say, “well, that's just the way it is.” If God used evolution to create, then He would have intended things to die. But why would a loving God create a world where hunger, disease, famine, disaster, violence, and bloodshed are the norm? According to theistic evolution, there have been billions of years of bad, bad, bad, and more bad leading up to God's pronouncement that everything He created was “very good” (Genesis 1:31). The idea that God would use evolution to create us makes no sense theologically and, in my opinion, makes God seem very capricious. It makes far more sense to believe that physical death accompanied sin rather than believe there is no connection.

Certainly there is a spiritual consequence to sin, but there is a physical one as well.

4. Why was Eve named “mother of life”?

Francke's point here is that, if Eve brought death into the world through her sin, then why did Adam name her Eve because she was the “the mother of all life.” Wouldn't, “the mother of death” be more appropriate?

It's a weak point. First, Eve is ultimately the mother of all the human race so it seems fitting to describe her as the mother of all who have lived. Indeed, that is precisely why she was named Eve. God's command to Adam and Eve was that they should multiply and fill the earth. Obviously, Adam had that in mind when he named her, “Eve.”

But Francke seems to gloss over a critical doctrine; God ultimately holds Adam responsible for the Fall. You will note in Genesis 2 that God commanded Adam to not eat of the Tree before Eve was created and warned that when he did, he would die. There's no record that God repeated the command to Eve. As a matter of fact, Eve misquotes the command to the Serpent adding “neither shall ye touch it,” so she is most likely repeating a command given to her by Adam.

Eve's mistake was that she listened to the Serpent. She believed the lie that nothing bad would come from eating the Forbidden Fruit. She admits to God that she was “beguiled” by the Serpent (Genesis 3:13). There is no record of lying or coaxing before Adam ate. His was a deliberate act of disobedience.

When the three stand before God, they each receive a punishment. However, you will see that God prefaces His judgment on Adam by saying, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it....Genesis 3:17.

It was only to Adam that God gave the command to not eat of the Fruit. When Adam and Eve disobeyed, God held Adam accountable and cursed the entire creation for his sake.

Read the entire series:


Steven J. said...

I mostly agree with you on point four; it was a weak question and your answer seems right.

However it does seem hard to reconcile cursing the entire creation for Adam's sake with the ethics of Ezekiel 18 -- the son shall not be punished for the father's sin, or vice-versa, but the sinner himself will be punished. A curse on all creation seems to reflect a very primitive view of divine justice (i.e. indiscriminate retribution based on guilt by free association). I see no reason to suppose that inflicting bloodshed, pain, suffering, predation, and death on the beasts of the field in response to one organism's sin is more consistent with God's goodness and justice than creating a world where such things operated from the beginning (here I will recall my earlier suggesting that the literal text of Genesis nowhere suggests inherent animal immortality in the original, unfallen creation).

I suppose you made your best effort with question three, which I've seen raised several times in various fora. It's still not entirely clear why, if "the wages of sin is death" (which, again, need have nothing to do with mortality among nonhuman organisms), then remission of the wages of sin should not eliminate physical death. Is the curse on creation something beyond God's power to remedy without destroying and remaking the entire world?

RKBentley said...

Steven J,

I don't think it's that hard to reconcile God's perfect justice and a curse on the entire creation. Think about these points:

First, the creation was Adam's domain so why must the Curse only be on Adam and not on his things? How ridiculous it would seem to think that Adam would be cursed yet continue living in a paradise where there was no death, disease, destruction, or trouble of any kind.

Also, God created the world to be of service to Adam. As part of the curse on Adam, the world would now be hostile toward Adam. Adam could once live by merely picking the fruit from the trees; now he would have to earn his bread by the sweat of his brow. He would plow and the ground would yield thorns.

And think about this: by definition, something cannot be “perfect” if it contains even a single flaw. When Adam sinned, his single sin ruined the entire, perfect creation. God is good, however, and just as He redeemed us by His own blood, He also intends to restore to us a perfect world where there is no more curse.

As far as question 3, I'm sorry that you're not satisfied with my answer. However, I've never received any answer from theistic evolutionists as to why there is physical death at all if sin only results in a spiritual death. Why did Christ die physically for my sins? Why were there animal sacrifices? You assert that “death” in the Bible only means “spiritual death” but you offer NO scriptural argument why physical death wasn't part of the Curse.

Thanks for your comments. God bless!!


Steven J. said...

Well, I would not, myself, argue that there are insurmountable theological problems with young-earth creationism. To my eyes, theology is like playing tennis, not merely without a net, but with the existence of the ball taken purely on faith. I'd expect the players to disagree on the score.

Any answers to your questions about theistic evolution involve a lot of speculation on my part, coupled with objections to your thesis that don't necessarily support any rival thesis. First, death is terrible (literally, inspiring terror) because it lasts for more than a weekend (for some historical figures, it's currently been continuing for thousands of years). If "the wages of sin" as experienced by the generality of humans (and horses, dogs, pandas, etc.) lasted ca. 48 hours, people would be less worried about it, and you'd have parenting magazines discussing whether it was acceptable to kill your kids occasionally because you wanted a weekend to yourselves. So Jesus, while he suffered horrifically, didn't "die" in quite the typical, apparently permanent sense, yet apparently managed to pay the penalty for sin anyway (also, the penalty for sin is traditionally thought, in Christianity, to involve eternal suffering in Hell, which presumably Jesus also avoided).

So presumably there's something to be said for the "moral example" or other theories of the atonement besides the "substitutionary atonement" theory. Note that sacrifice existed, even in Jewish thought, for reasons other than atoning for sins (e.g. thanksgiving). Sacrifice is a gift to God or the gods (exactly why God would need gifts from us, especially these types of gifts, has troubled a lot of religious thinkers, pagan and Christian alike).