googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: Answering the 10 Theological Questions That No Young-earth Creationist Can Answer: Part 3

Friday, August 7, 2015

Answering the 10 Theological Questions That No Young-earth Creationist Can Answer: Part 3

5. How did Adam and Eve know what death was?

The critic's point in asking this question is that Adam and Eve could not have known what God meant by saying, “Ye will surely die” unless they had already seen something die. There are at least a couple of things we have to consider.

When God created Adam, Adam already understood a language. For example, Adam must have already understood the abstract concept of “not” doing something otherwise, how did he know what “not” meant (as in, “Do not eat...”)? So just like Adam could immediately understand what “not” means, he probably could understand – at least in concept – that “dying” means “not living.”

It is also likely that Adam and Eve didn't entirely appreciate everything about dying. It could be like me explaining to a 5 year old not to touch an electrical wire or he would get “shocked.” He might not entirely understand what it's like to be shocked, but just from my tone and the urgency of my warning, he could understand that being “shocked” is a bad thing that results from touching electrical wires.

From just these few facts, it seems Adam would have easily understood that to die meant “not live” and that it was a bad thing.

But what if we applied this same question to Francke's theology? If “dying” in Genesis only meant “dying spiritually,” then how could Adam know what it meant to die spiritually unless he'd already experienced it or observed it? So even from Francke's point of view, Adam must have only understood “dying” in concept and not necessarily from experience.

But here's a tangent thought: didn't Francke just talk about the Tree of Life and say that eating from it would give eternal physical life? So when God put Adam and Eve out of the Garden, it was precisely so that they would die physically. Adam, then, would have necessarily understood that God's warning involved his physical death (in addition to his spiritual separation from God). This undermines Francke's entire point that physical death had nothing to do with the Curse.

6. If the punishment for from the tree was that Adam and Eve would physically die … why didn’t they physically die?

We know that Adam and Eve did die – physically – once they ate of the Forbidden Fruit. Francke's point, however, is that they didn't die, “in the day” that they ate it as God had warned (Genesis 2:17). However, Francke doesn't really explain why this is a problem for creationism; I guess he's trying to say that since they didn't die on the very same day they ate, that proves “day” doesn't necessarily mean “a 24-hour period.” Francke even paints a strawman caricature of creationism by saying some creationists, “assert that, in this very special case, maybe the word “day” does refer to a long, indeterminate period of time.

The word “day” obviously can mean an undetermined period. We've never been coy about this. I might say, for example, “Back in my day, everyone had to walk to school.” The meaning of the word “day” (or any word, really) is always determined by its context. What if I instead said, “One day, I had to walk to school”? The use of the modifier, “one,” suddenly narrows the meaning from an indeterminate amount of time to a specific day. Therefor, in Genesis, we should look to context of each use of the word, “day,” to determine its meaning. When the Bible says, “the even and the morning were the first day,” it certainly means a single day. When God said, “in the day ye eat...,” it talks about an unspecified time in the future and means something like, “When you eat of it....” It's not hard really to understand. I would say it requires 5th grade reading comprehension.

So, yes, the word “day” can mean more than one thing. It can mean a long period of time. It can also mean a single, 24-hour day. I believe the problem lies in theistic evolution. Why is it that seemingly bright people suddenly can't read when it comes to Genesis? Exactly how can, “the evening and the morning were the first day,” mean “millions of years”? I ask this in earnest. What literary clues exist in the text that tell us something besides an ordinary day is in view? Just because the word “day” can mean a long period of time, why must it mean that in Genesis 1? Furthermore, how can “day” not mean a single day in Exodus 20:11, which says, For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is.”

Creationists always advocate an ordinary reading of the Bible. No mental gymnastics are necessary. It is Francke, and his cohorts, who jump through hoops and ignore the plain meaning of the words. They go to great lengths to explain why a “day” cannot possibly mean a day.

Read the entire series:

1 comment:

Steven J. said...

It's rather weird to contemplate the idea of a man with a complete vocabulary, typical of, say, a thirty-year-old, yet with less actual experience than a newborn infant. Everyone we've ever met who can speak learned to speak, puzzling out words from environmental contextual clues, and at least in some cases, we can remember where and when we learned the meaning of a particular word (or learned that it didn't mean what we'd assumed for years that it meant), or acquired a particular skill. Adam's mind must have been very different from that of any later human (Eve excepted, of course). But I'm told that there really are cases of amnesia where a person retains his vocabulary but forgets things like his name and past experiences, so it's not really inconceivable.

I suppose that you could posit that Adam's pre-installed language skills included an immense vocabulary for things he'd never observed. If you wish, you could suppose that he had a complete vocabulary for describing quantum and relativistic physics, and simply never had the occasion to teach these words or concepts to his kids. Personally, my own interpretation is that the conversations in Genesis are supposed to be abridgments of longer conversations, and that God just explained to Adam what "death" was, and the author left that out because his audience didn't need the concept explained (this implies, of course, that Eve may not actually have been adding to God's command when she said that she was not even to touch the fruit).

Of course, if we assume that none of the created organisms observed by Adam were inherently immortal -- that immortality required eating of the tree of life -- then Adam could have inferred the idea of "die" simply by watching some animal actually do so.

Obviously, creationists recognize that the word "day" can sometimes have figurative meanings. But "on that day you shall surely die" does not suggest such a figurative meaning, the way "back in my day" or "glorious it was in that day to be alive" does. It suggests a specific time when a penalty till take effect: "on that very day, as opposed to some other possible day." The "ordinary meaning" of the text is that the penalty takes place immediately, or at least within hours, not decades.

On the other hand, this must have been obvious to the original writer. Any remotely charitable interpretation of the text assumes that whoever recorded this would have noted the contrast between this threat and the later statement that Adam lived another nine centuries or so. So I'm inclined to the opinion that "will surely die" means "will surely lose the opportunity for physical immortality, and become vulnerable to fatal injury or illness." The only other possibility is that the writer intended to present God as prone to lying or casually going back on His word, and I don't quite think the text intends that (though the ordinary sense of the Flood account, in which God is described as regretting that He'd ever made man, suggests that the author also doesn't mean to depict God as completely omniscient or completely immutable, either: He can be surprised, He can change His mind, and arguably He can overreact to things -- why else promise to never destroy the Earth with a Flood, if He were convinced it was a completely justified and reasonable thing to do in this case?).