Monthly Archives: July 2011
Since radical re-appraisals of the nature of reality are still buzzing around my head, I’m going to indulge myself by pointing out a small one of my own. It’s been said, quite rightly, that one of the problems with Creationism is that it has unconsciously bought into the agenda of materialism that it seeks to oppose. Thus the Bible is used as an alternative scientific text to give an alternative materialistic theory of origins: the world was not formed gradually by the outworking of the natural laws of the Universe, but suddenly by the outworking of God’s divine fiat, as described in Genesis. The problem with this, again often commented … Continue reading
I’ve just finished Information and the Nature of Reality, a symposium edited by Paul Davies and Niels Henrik Gregersen. I like Davies’ writing, and it seemed worthwhile exploring some of the ideas being generated about the importance of information not only in relation to biology, but to cosmology. The collection also has contributions from philosophers and theologians, so a holistic view is on the table. In an anthology from leading lights in such diverse fields, I expect to be out of my depth is much of the discussion. Neither is it surprising that definitions of “information” are a bit loose and variable, since nobody can agree on definitions even within … Continue reading
This was posted to me by Penman, corroborating the position of Augustine and Irenaeus: Now, nothing in creation had gone astray with regard to their notions of God, save man only. Why, neither sun, nor moon, nor heaven, nor the stars, nor water, nor air had swerved from their order; but knowing their Artificer and Sovereign, the Word, they remain as they were made. But men alone, having rejected what was good, then devised things of nought instead of the truth, and have ascribed the honour due to God, and their knowledge of Him, to demons and men in the shape of stones. (On the Incarnation of the Word 43:3) … Continue reading
If, as I have tried to show over several posts, the Bible teaches that the creation as we see it today is not dysfunctional, either through sin or through evolution, and God is worthy of praise both for it and from it, it may seem odd to be thinking again about theodicy, the justification of God’s actions. But the undeniable truth is that we do not experience the natural world as unreservedly benevolent, and a number of “moral shortcomings” are also often pointed out in its workings over the last 4 billion years or so, before mankind ever came on the scene.
One more passage and I’m through. Romans 8.18ff is often used both by Creationists to show that death resulted from the fall, and by others to show that the death and decay in it is not God’s will. A careful study shows that this is a complete misinterpretation, and here is an essay by me, and a rather better one by Dan Leiphart demonstrating this. In summary, the Bible contains no doctrine of a fallen natural creation, but rather that now, as at the beginning, it is good and entirely the work of God. The small number of passages often used to deny this actually don’t do so. I don’t … Continue reading
Another set of passages urged in support of the doctrine of a fallen natural world is Isaiah chs 11 and 65. The first is in the context of a Messianic prophecy, in which the Branch of Jesse will defeat Israel’s enemies and unite them, judging the wicked in favour of the righteous. Verse 6 begins: The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant … Continue reading
Another passage sometimes cited to support the idea of a fallen creation is the preamble to the flood narrative in Genesis 6. As the KJV puts it: The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked upon the earth, and behold it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, the end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold I will destroy them with the earth.
Several Bible passages are often cited to show that “natural evil”, particularly in the form of meat eating, was never intended in God’s original creation. From the literalist perspective, that means it did not actually happen before the fall. If Genesis is taken metaphorically, maybe it refers to what God would have preferred if … well, if he’d created things different, which is problematic in itself. Certainly, in any old earth understanding, it’s not possible to argue that the world actually was free of animal death or predation when man existed on earth. But today I want to start examining these passages specifically by looking at the apparent vegetarianism in … Continue reading
Mainstream Christian belief is that we live in a fallen world, in the sense that the natural creation is dysfunctional and responsible for natural evil. Some theistic evolutionists reject the fall as a factor (or reject the fall altogether!), but still see the creation as tainted by death and sin, the latter understood as meat eating, parasitism, animal suffering and so on. They sometimes invert the Biblical picture and say that this imperfect creation resulted in mankind’s sin. I disagree. Either way, this dysfunction would be a pretty key factor in life, and so the corruption of nature ought to be a major theme in the Bible’s teaching, right? In fact, it … Continue reading
One of the virtually axiomatic doctrines of modern Christianity is the corruption and fall of the natural world along with mans moral nature. Natural evil is accounted to be a result of sin, not only in the sense that men suffer and die from disease or disaster, but also in the sense that these exist in the natural world at all. In the controversy over origins, this is a stumbling block to Biblical literalists, one of whose arguments is that if mankind was born into a world already long-established in the business of death and decay, it is a denial of the original goodness of the creation from Genesis 1. … Continue reading