My book at last – in samizdat

I’ve been mulling over what to do with a project that has been languishing for far too long – a study on the myth that the natural world fell when mankind first sinned. A brief summary of a long story may help orientate things.

One of the things I’d taken for granted for decades before I started to look more seriously at “origins” was that the existence of animal death and natural evil poses some kind of difficulty for theology, and is perhaps the strongest card in the Young Earth Creationist suit. If “death came into the world through one man” then the idea of the biosphere being built on the dead bodies of billions of life-forms seemed to be a major fly in the ointment of any old earth scenario.

A good five years ago, though, I began to look for the actual Scriptural evidence that animal, as opposed to human, death, was ever considered an evil by the Bible writers, and found it to be distinctly lacking. Likewise, the common contention that when Adam fell, he “took out” the whole creation with him, leading to a radical change in the ways of nature, began to seem not just uncommon, but altogether unknown, in the Bible. The key passages used in its support were all actually about other matters.

Around that time, in 2011, in conversation with a Church historian, we began to swap citations from, initially, the Church Fathers (in whom we had a shared interest) and then later theologians before the Reformation. We were both surprised, I think, not only that there seemed a distinct absence in most cases of any suggestion that the natural world is “fallen” or corrupted by sin, but that the very opposite was everywhere assumed – that the Creation that God called “very good” on the sixth day is still “very good”.

I mentioned this a few times in discussions at Biologos, and the historian of science Ted Davis suggested I should write a book on it. I laughed at the idea (rightly, as it turned out), but he not long afterwards forwarded my name to someone who was working on an anthology of papers about “natural evil”, and I was persuaded to try and turn the stuff on Church History into a proper book chapter.

Over the ensuing years the book project foundered, to be replaced with a promised special edition of the ASA journal, but the resulting “anonymous peer review”, to my mind, misunderstood what my contribution was trying to achieve (my true peers, I suppose, would have been other retired physicians with an eclectic interest in science and theology), and when I was offered only half the original space and the editing out of all the discussion I considered interesting, I withdrew the piece.

Meanwhile, another academic had already asked to cite my paper – difficult when it is  unpublished – but an offer of getting it published in another journal (theological rather than scientific this time) came to nothing. Accordingly I spent much of last year expanding it to book length to include a look at the biblical material, and some considerations from the world of nature itself, to cover the whole subject of the continuing goodness of creation. Eventually I sent it off to a (good) publisher, who rejected it on what are probably some very legitimate grounds (I’m quite used to being rejected by publishers!).

Frankly, I can’t be bothered, even I had the background and academic resources, to work any longer on its shortcomings (which were largely to do with some parts of it having been said before, and inadequate interaction with the existing academic literature), and I’d rather make it available to those who may be interested to investigate the issues for themselves.

This decision has been confirmed by the coincidental citation of the Church History section by Ted Davis in a new article on BioLogos, for which I thank him greatly. But citing evidence that nobody can evaluate for themselves seems rather futile, so I’ve decided finally to put the entire thing up in pdf format on my own site, and to link to each chapter in a series of pieces here. That way I have no doubt that those who are actually interested in such things will find their way there, regardless of the vagaries of “real” publishing.

Some parts may seem familiar to followers of thisblog, as parts of the book were based on blogs, and I’ve already used the book as source material for blogs. But it may be good to have it all together in one place, in the mould of those magazines which build up to form an encyclopaedia – only without the advantage of free giveaways.

Today then, I will link to the Introduction, which explains what I’ve been attempting in rather more detail. Watch this space for further episodes.

 

Jon Garvey

About Jon Garvey

Training in medicine (which was my career), social psychology and theology. Interests in most things, but especially the science-faith interface. The rest of my time, though, is spent writing, playing and recording music.
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41 Responses to My book at last – in samizdat

  1. Sy Garte Sy Garte says:

    Jon, this is wonderful news. I have read the Introduction, and am eager to see the rest. What is your position on extensive reblogging, quoting and citation? We need this approach and your high level of scholarship will make a convincing case – that much is already clear. Have you thought about have parts of it posted on Biologos or the Faraday blog? I know, I am jumping the gun, but I find this very exciting.

    • Jon Garvey Jon Garvey says:

      Sy

      What’s the fashionable term for “pre-publication” when there’s no publication pernding? 🙂

      FWIW I’m only at this stage concerned in getting the ideas (and the data) out there, so whether it’s through the front door or the servants’ entrance is of little matter to me. So quote what you like – no doubt any opponents will too.

      As my last editor pointed out, much of it is not original (which is hardly surprising on the biblical material, especially when one is digging deliberately into the thinking of the past), but maybe it’s not been all together in one place.

      As for BioLogos – it will no doubt do what seemeth right to it.

  2. Cath Olic says:

    “…. I began to look for the actual *Scriptural evidence* that animal, as opposed to human, death, was ever considered an evil by the Bible writers, and found it to be *distinctly lacking*…
    *unknown, in the Bible*…
    *distinct absence* in most cases of *any suggestion* that the natural world is “fallen” or corrupted by sin…”

    Maybe it’s not too late to suggest some editing ideas for your upcoming book.

    Now, Jon, we both know there IS Scriptural evidence for a natural world “fallen” or corrupted by (man’s) sin.
    But we also both know that no one believes what’s written in Scripture.
    Not even the Pope.
    What we believe is what *we think* the words written in Scripture *mean*.

    So, my edit would be to expunge ‘actual Scriptural evidence is distinctly lacking’
    and replace it with something like ‘certain individuals’ Scriptural exegesis, which seems reasonable to me, says that evidence is distinctly lacking…’

    Do you follow?

    • Jon Garvey Jon Garvey says:

      Maybe it’s not too late to suggest some editing ideas for your upcoming

      Nah – it is too late. If I decided not to rewrite it for qualified people who’d actually read it, I’m not about to bend to those who haven’t.

  3. Sy Garte Sy Garte says:

    Cath Olic

    With all due respect, Jon’s reaction to your comment is actually quite mild and restrained. I dont know if you have written or published books, but editing suggestions that come after a book is complete are generally not welcomed by the author from anyone except for the actual editor (and most often not much in that case either). The most common retort by any author to advice on how to “fix” one’s book is “I think you should write the book you want me to write”.

  4. Cath Olic says:

    No actual Scriptural evidence that the natural world is fallen or corrupted by man’s sin?
    Really, Jon?

    How about the following Scriptural evidence?

    1)
    Genesis 1:29-30:
    “And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food.
    And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so.”

    Evidence that man and animal were vegetarian before the Fall.

    2)
    Genesis 3:14:
    “The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this,
    cursed are you above all cattle, and above all wild animals;
    upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat
    all the days of your life.”

    Evidence that at least one animal was cursed to a lesser life as a result of the Fall.

    3)
    Genesis 7:4:
    “For in seven days I will send rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living thing that I have made I will blot out from the face of the ground.”

    Evidence that God can and *has* punished both man AND animals for man’s sin.

    4)
    Isaiah 11:6-9:
    “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
    and the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
    and the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
    and a little child shall lead them.
    The cow and the bear shall feed;
    their young shall lie down together;
    and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
    The sucking child shall play over the hole of the asp,
    and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den.
    They shall not hurt or destroy
    in all my holy mountain;
    for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD
    as the waters cover the sea.”

    Evidence that the Spirit of the Lord will ultimately *restore* order on earth, not just for man, but for the once-vegetarian animals, as well.

    5)
    Romans 8:22-23:
    “We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now;
    and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.”

    Evidence that… well, it goes without saying.

    • Edward Robinson Edward Robinson says:

      Cath Olic:

      I see that comments are no longer open on the last discussion, which is just as well.

      Regarding some of your points above:

      Interpreting the serpent as “at least one animal” (as if we might reasonably infer that others are to be included) is a stretch. It is not *qua* animal that the serpent is cursed, but *qua* seducer. There is no indication that other animals are in any way punished or reduced in capacity, or changed in nature, other than the serpent. Further, there is no mention that anything else in nature is changed — except for the ground, and even then, only in relation to man’s efforts to get food from it. There is no mention that the heavens, seas, sun, moon, stars, mountains, trees, etc. are “cursed” or in any way altered by the events that took place in the Garden. And this is a very strange omission, if the story is meant to teach a general “fall of nature.”

      The book of Job is very much concerned with God’s design of the natural world. It indicates clearly that carnivorous animals are part of that world, and makes no mention of any Fall. Indeed, if the “Fall” were the cause of much of the suffering man endures (from diseases, carnivorous and poisonous animals, and other aspects of “nature”), one would think that God would bring up the Fall to Job. One would think that God would say: “Job, you are griping and complaining about all the evils of disease, weather, etc. which have caused you grief. But I’ll have you know, that when I created this world, I created it perfectly, without any of those problems; it is your defiant ancestors, Adam and Eve, who created all the problems when they ate that apple, against my orders. Before they did that, the weather was always balmy, and there were no earthquakes or hurricanes, and no animal or plant was poisonous, no lion or wolf or bear ever attacked a human being, no one’s eyesight went bad with old age, and there were no infectious diseases. So don’t blame me for all your sufferings — blame Adam and Eve!”

      Odd that God did not avail himself of this answer to Job’s complaint — *if* all aspects of nature that cause human suffering emerged only after the Fall. And what is God’s argument instead? That Job does not understand the reasons for the world having been created the way it was — Job is not privy to God’s wisdom. He judges out of incomplete knowledge.

      This is something that YECs — and a good number of TE/ECs — just don’t “get”: that God might have willed a certain amount of pain and suffering as part of his Creation. Some pain and suffering might be part of his overall plan. But the YECs and many TE/ECs can’t comprehend or accept that. On the other hand, OECs, ID folks, and orthodox Christians like Jon, understand it perfectly well.

      The verses from Genesis 1 can be read in the way that you suggest; but it’s just as reasonable to interpret them as shorthand or elliptical, and hence imprecise in expression. Generally speaking, animal life is sustained by plant food; only a minority of animal species are carnivorous. And even they depend indirectly on the plants that sustain the majority. If the statement in Genesis 1 were returned to time and again in the Old Testament, it might make sense to read it as YECs do; but it’s never alluded to again, except perhaps in your Isaiah passage — and can you be sure the Isaiah passage isn’t a poetic overstatement?

      Regarding the Flood story, are we sure that the animals are being punished for what *Adam and Eve* did? The text says that “all flesh” was corrupted; and animals are beings of flesh. Were the animals perhaps involved in corruption along with human beings, and hence blameworthy, not because of Adam, but because of themselves?

      As for Romans, let’s have your discussion of the word used for “creation” there — its frequency in the Bible, its nuances, etc. We need to know what Paul has in mind.

  5. Cath Olic says:

    “Around that time, in 2011, in conversation with a Church historian, we began to swap citations from, initially, the Church Fathers (in whom we had a shared interest) and then later theologians before the Reformation. We were both surprised, I think, not only that there seemed a distinct absence in most cases of any suggestion that the natural world is “fallen” or corrupted by sin, but that the very opposite was everywhere assumed – that the Creation that God called “very good” on the sixth day is still “very good”.”

    Really, Jon?

    What about Church Father Irenaeus?
    “The earlier the Church Fathers, the more explicit are their teachings about the animal world being affected by the Fall of mankind. Irenaeus of Lyons (c AD 180) …did not leave much room for misunderstanding when he wrote on the subject. In direct contact with a generation of believers who had still known the Apostles, he unambiguously teaches that animals were not carnivorous in the original creation.”

    What about John Chrysostom?
    “Even the 4th century church did not fail to stress the effects of mankind’s fall into sin for creation. Basil’s important contemporary John Chrysostom (c. AD 347–407)…
    bishop of the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, explicitly taught that decay in
    the material world started after the Fall of mankind into sin…”

    What about Theophilus?
    “Theophilus, who became bishop of Antioch (Syria) in the eighth year of the
    reign of Marcus Aurelius, c. AD 168… For Theophilus, wild beasts, derived from
    “being hunted”, were a consequence of mankind’s fall into sin. He takes care to explicitly state that they were not created violent or even venomous… As with Irenaeus and Chrysostom, one finds the expectation with Theophilus that, eventually, in the fullness of time, the evil consequences of the Fall for the animal world will be undone. For him God’s eschaton means the final restoration, not only of mankind, but of animals as well.”

    http://bennozuiddam.com/P_BZ-EarlyChurchFathersOnCreationDeathAndEschatology-v1.pdf

  6. Edward Robinson Edward Robinson says:

    Cath Olic:

    You have given secondary sources for the views of the Church Fathers. Let’s see your primary sources.

  7. Cath Olic says:

    To Edward,

    “I see that comments are no longer open on the last discussion, which is just as well.”

    I just noticed that.
    Apparently, Jon rang the bell.
    I think he did so about three to five days after my March 19th posts.
    Such a shame you never found the time to respond to them.

  8. Cath Olic says:

    Jon,

    A short addendum…

    Today’s Mass readings had another verse which could have gone with 3) above:

    Exodus 12:12:
    “For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will smite all the first-born in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD.”

    Again, evidence that God can and has punished both man AND animals for man’s sin.

    • Edward Robinson Edward Robinson says:

      Cath Olic:

      The narrator of Exodus does not connect the smiting of the beasts with the Fall. That’s your own gratuitous inference. I’m continually amazed at how often American “literalists” come up with interpretations which stray so far from what can be justified by a “literal” reading.

      • Jon Garvey Jon Garvey says:

        Eddie

        Once you believe a doctrine, you can always find some proof texts for it. Whether you’d ever find the doctrine from the texts in the first place is another matter entirely.

  9. Cath Olic says:

    Jon,

    “Once you believe a doctrine, you can always find some proof texts for it. Whether you’d ever find the doctrine from the texts in the first place is another matter entirely.”

    Firstly, thanks for providing me my biggest laugh of the day.
    It’s an old joke, of course, but it still makes me laugh.
    You know, the Protestant sorta-sola-scriptura-type, Pat, who rails at Charlie that ‘the Bible doesn’t say/teach that!’ Then, when Charlie shows Pat some Scripture that DOES say/teach that (or at least serves as Scriptural EVIDENCE for that), Pat then “excommunicates” Charlie from the ecumenical conversation for “PROOF-TEXTING” (i.e. texting sola from Scripture, as it were.).

    Very funny.

    Secondly, and more importantly, why do you bring up doctrine now?
    You weren’t talking about doctrine and we weren’t talking about doctrine.

    No, what we WERE talking about was 1) SCRIPTURAL EVIDENCE and 2) CHURCH FATHERS, specifically, about whether either supported the view that the natural world is fallen/corrupted by Adam & Eve’s Fall from grace.
    And you were saying NEITHER supported the view.
    You went even further by saying that, for either one, such support was variously “distinctly lacking”, “unknown, in the Bible”, ‘distinctly absent.’

    Remember?

    Then I gave you examples of Scriptural *evidence*, not Scriptural proof, but Scriptural *evidence*, that show your claim to be false.

    I did the same with the Church Fathers, providing at least three that show your claim to be false.

    Lastly, I’m a bit puzzled why you would even attempt to say something profound about doctrine – “Whether you’d ever find the doctrine from the texts in the first place is another matter entirely” –
    when, if you’re anything like Edward Robinson, “doctrine” means next to nothing to you. If you’re like Edward, “doctrine” is merely an opinion or point of view – especially one promulgated by someone famous, or at least, with a PhD.

    But, come to think of it, with that conception of “doctrine”, then someone like, say, St. John Chrysostom, most definitely found the doctrine from the texts. That is, Chrysostom definitely found the “doctrine” of Fallen nature from Scripture texts. If you don’t believe me, go back and read that paper I linked.

    • Edward Robinson Edward Robinson says:

      Cath Olic:

      You *didn’t* provide any evidence from the Church Fathers. You provided *opinions* about what the Church Fathers taught, opinions picked up, apparently, via quick Google search of the internet. How about some primary sources, based on your own independent reading of the Church Fathers?

      All the best to you as Easter Sunday approaches.

  10. Cath Olic says:

    Edward,

    “You have given secondary sources for the views of the Church Fathers. Let’s see your primary sources… You *didn’t* provide any evidence from the Church Fathers. You provided *opinions* about what the Church Fathers taught, opinions picked up, apparently, via quick Google search of the internet. How about some primary sources, based on your own independent reading of the Church Fathers?”

    I doubt that *any* source would suffice for you.

    But just out of curiosity, regarding that paper I linked by Benno Alexander Zuiddam, D.Th. (Church History), Ph.D. (Greek)…

    what source classification would you give to the extended words about or by Chrysostom with footnote 22?

    and the extended words about or by Irenaeus with footnotes 24 and 25?

    and the extended words about or by Theophilus with footnotes 27 and 28?

    • Edward Robinson Edward Robinson says:

      Cath Olic:

      I trust you had a refreshing Easter Day.

      The fact that you report that another scholar has some footnotes in an essay alleging that certain Church Fathers held certain opinions does not help me. It puts two layers of interpretation in between me and the actual words of the Fathers. If you hope to convince me, reproduce *the actual passages from the Fathers* which teach that all of nature fell with man. If you could find such passages, and if they were clear, then I would admit *that those particular Fathers* (the ones you quoted with proper context) held to the doctrine that you are defending.

      As to how that would affect Jon’s thesis, that depends on how many Fathers held that view. If only a minority of them held the view, then his thesis could still be maintained as the mainstream view of the ancient tradition.

      As for the Bible itself, it seems that the idea of a general fall of nature is hardly to be found in the books of the Old Testament; it seems to be absent from the Books of Moses and from Judges, Samuel, Kings, Job, etc. You might be able to find a handful of prophetic passages about it. In the New Testament, again, you will find at most a scrap or two. You will find several passages that indicate that God will make a new and better heaven and earth in the end times; but only a very few of those, if any, will attribute the need for a new heaven and earth to the specific actions of Adam and Eve.

      Interestingly enough, emphasis on the systematic imperfection of nature was characteristic of the various Gnostic groups and thinkers of the first few Christian centuries.

      The most natural way of thinking of the “Fall” is not as the introduction of some massive cosmic corruption by man (as if puny man had the power to undermine the divinely-established structures of Creation), but as man’s falling out of step with a good creation, and thus incurring discomfort to himself. The only three creatures apparently affected by the Fall are the man, the woman, and the serpent. It is not “nature” that is harmed by the Fall; it is only those beings who defied God’s commandment (Adam and Eve), or who egged on others to defy it (the serpent), that seem to incur negative consequences. As far as we can tell, the stars, the mountains, the seas, and all the many creatures named in Job appear to be indifferent to the events in the Garden. Reading Genesis 3 as a “fall of nature” seems unwarranted.

  11. Cath Olic says:

    To Edward’s 28/03/2016 at 04:10 am, Part 1 of 4:

    “If you hope to convince me, reproduce *the actual passages from the Fathers* which teach that all of nature fell with man. If you could find such passages, and if they were clear, then I would admit *that those particular Fathers* (the ones you quoted with proper context) held to the doctrine that you are defending.”

    OK. I’ll try this again.
    ……..
    Chrysostom:
    “What is the meaning of, ‘the creation was made subject to vanity?’ (Rom 8:20). Why that it became corruptible. For what cause, and on what account? On account of thee, O man. For since thou hast taken a body mortal and liable to suffering, the earth too hath received a curse, and brought forth thorns and thistles…
    Now you see in what sense the creation is ‘in bondage to vanity’, and how it is to be freed from the ruined state.”
    – John Chrysostom, Homily 14 on Romans 8. Saint Chrysostom: Homilies on the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistle to the Romans.
    …..
    Irenaeus:
    “Predicting these times, Isaiah says: And the wolf shall feed with the lamb, and the leopard shall rest with the kid; the calf, the bull, and the lion shall feed together, and a little boy shall lead them. The ox and the bear shall feed together, and their young
    shall live together; the lion and the ox shall eat straw. An infant boy shall thrust his hand into the asp’s den and into the nest of young asps, and they shall do no harm nor hurt to anyone upon my holy mountain (Isa 11:6–9). Again, recapitulating, he says, ‘Then wolves and lambs shall feed together; the lion like the ox shall eat straw; the serpent shall eat earth as bread; and they shall do no harm or hurt upon my holy mountain, says the Lord’ (Isa 65:25). I am aware that some try to refer these texts metaphorically to savage men who out of various nations and various occupations come to believe, and when they have believed live in harmony with the just. But though this now takes place for men who come from various nations into the one doctrine of the faith, nevertheless it will take place for these animals at the resurrection of the just, as we have said; for God is rich in all things, and when the world is re-established in its primeval state all the animals must obey and be subject to man and return to the first food given by God, as before the disobedience they were subject to Adam (Gen 1:28–30) and ate the fruit of the earth. This is not the time to show that the lion will eat straw, but this indicates the size and opulence of the fruits. For if an animal like the lion eats straw, what will be the quality of the wheat whose straw is food for lions?”
    – Irenaeus, Translation by Grant, R.M., Psychology Press, London, p. 179, 1997.
    …..

    Theophilus:
    “And the animals are named wild beasts, from their being hunted, not as if they had been made evil or venomous from the first—for nothing was made evil by God, but all
    things good, yea, very good,—but the sin in which man was concerned brought evil upon them. For when man transgressed, they also transgressed with him. For as, if the master of the house himself acts rightly, the domestics also of necessity conduct themselves well; but if the master sins, the servants also sin with him; so in like manner it came to pass, that in the case of man’s sin, he being master, all that was subject to him sinned with him. When, therefore, man again shall have made his way back to his natural condition, and no longer does evil, those also shall be restored to their original gentleness.”
    – Theophilus, from “Theophilus ad Autolycus” 2.17.

    Note well:
    I have no reason to doubt that the above quotes from the Fathers are accurate.
    They make sense and are in no way shocking, given a plain understanding of Scripture then (and now).
    And I have no reasons currently to distrust the work of this ThD/PhD.
    However, if you, Edward Robinson, can show the quotes are *not* accurate in substance, you owe it to yourself to show such. In fact, I would think you owe it to your profession, to protect its integrity. (You might even be rewarded a “bounty” or such for nailing Dr. Zuiddam!)

    • Edward Robinson Edward Robinson says:

      Cath Olic:

      I’m glad to see that you are learning the art of co-operative, as opposed to confrontational, conversation. I asked you for primary sources and, though it took some tooth-pulling to get them out of you, you finally supplied them. Thank you for that.

      Now, Jon will doubtless have his own response to these quotations. I look forward to hearing what he has to say. Here are my tentative thoughts:

      Chrystostom:

      Note how he shifts from “creation” to “earth”. He is supposed to be showing why “creation” has become “corruptible” (corruptible? that word is not in the Genesis account!), and what does he show? He shows why the *earth* has become corruptible. But earth is only one part of creation, as Genesis 1 makes clear. There are also the heavens, the seas, the lights in the heavens, the herbs, the trees, the domestic beasts, the wild beasts, the creeping things, the birds, the fish, and the sea monsters. Of these, only the herbs and the trees might be directly affected by what happens to “the earth.” So much for an explanation of why “creation” has become corrupted! Chrysostom does not appear to be much of a textual scholar, if this passage is any evidence of the care with which he reads Biblical passages.

      Irenaeus:

      I give you the Irenaeus passage. He does seem to mean what you say he means. Note, however, that he is not much of a natural scientist. It doesn’t even occur to him to question how animals whose entire physiology and psychology is designed for meat-eating could suddenly start eating carrots and dandelions and fallen apples. Or does he suppose that originally lions and bears etc. were not at all like the lions and bears we know, either in dentition, claws, digestive system, olfactory system, habits, instincts, etc.? If he supposes that, then he supposes that originally lions and bears were not lions and bears at all. Or are we to imagine “Walt Disney” animals here, happy lions and jolly bears all frolicking in Technicolor with the mice and squirrels and fish and birds and bees? I give Irenaeus good marks for logical consistency (albeit a consistency based on only three passages from only two books of the entire Bible, not much a textual base for an important theological argument), but I give him zero for intellectual curiosity. But anyhow, I grant he would count as an exception to Jon’s general statement.

      Theophilus:

      He does seem to be saying something similar to what Irenaeus says, but less precisely. He speaks of gentleness, but not of vegetarianism, and he doesn’t cite Genesis 1:29, so it’s not clear whether he has in mind a restoration of gentleness toward man only, or also toward other animals. And the passage illustrates two problems that I constantly find in reading the Fathers on the Old Testament. First, almost none of them could read Hebrew, and their exegesis often suffers for it; second, even in the translations available to them, they often do not read very carefully, and tend to impute ideas derived from their own notions rather than from the text. Let’s look at this case.

      He says that the animals are named wild beasts, from their being hunted, but that does not follow, if we pay attention to Biblical classification. In Genesis the categories of land animal are domesticated animals (“cattle” in the traditional translation, which is misleading), creeping things (which seems to include reptiles, possibly amphibians, possibly small mammals, and possibly those insects and invertebrates which tend to walk rather than fly), and wild animals/wild beasts (“beasts of the earth”). Now it is not clear what the term translated “beast of the earth” includes — it may include wild herbivores like antelopes which are not raised by humans, as sheep and oxen are — but it certainly seems to include wild carnivores like lions and tigers and bears and wolves. And generally speaking, the latter animals are *not* hunted for meat, and are hunted only where they threaten human lives or poach on flocks of domesticated animals. Lions and tigers and bears that live out in the wilds are left alone. So their “orneriness” doesn’t come from being hunted by human beings. It’s in their nature. (I would say their created nature; you and perhaps Theophilus would say their fallen nature.)

      And if you come back and say, yes, but some people hunt for sport, for trophies of big game they can hang on their walls, I’d say that generally speaking that is true of the aristocratic classes, not of the average Palestinian peasant for whom the Bible was written. I doubt very much that the average Israelite said to his friend; “Hey, let’s take the weekend off from farming and sacrificing to God and praying and studying the Torah, and let’s go up to the mountains of Syria and see if we can bag ourselves a couple of black bears for souvenirs.” In fact, the notion that animals at the top of the food chain are savage only because they are hunted (and note that the only hunter of such beings would be man), is silly. If a disease wiped out the whole human race tomorrow, eagles would still be disemboweling groundhogs and lions would still be dismembering gazelles. They don’t kill because human beings have scared them into nastiness. Theophilus’s idea isn’t a very good one. It’s a product of his own fevered imagination.

      He also isn’t very Biblical. Where in Genesis does it say that the animals sinned? (Indeed, it isn’t even said that Adam and Eve sinned — their taking of the fruit is not described as sin; sin is not mentioned until Genesis 4.) Further, he appears to have an idea of “good” which excludes animal violence; but that is reading modern sympathies into a Hebraic text. Maybe in God’s mind a “good” world would have animal violence. Maybe poison, claws and fangs are part of a “good” biological order. Maybe the whole ecological system is designed with such violence as a necessary part of it. If God calls such a system “good,” who are we to impose a 20th-century, peacenik notion of “good” upon God or the text?

      But I digress. I give you Theophilus. So you now have two passages from two of about (depending on the boundaries you accept) seventy or more Church Fathers. (And we haven’t even started in on the Medievals, the Reformers, etc.) Now, suppose that Jon’s claim is false in the sense that it is not *universally* true; it still might be *generally* true. For example, it is *generally* true that mammals do not lay eggs, but bear their young alive, and the existence of two animals (the monotremes) which lay eggs does not render the generalization unsound. It is not seriously misleading to say that mammals don’t lay eggs. Similarly, it might not be seriously misleading for Jon to say that the idea of a Fall of nature is outside the mainstream of Christian thought. It therefore all comes down to how frequently the theme is found in writers of generally unquestioned orthodoxy. If about 50% of the writers say that nature has fallen, then Jon’s statement has to be surrendered. But what if only 5% of them do? What then? I think it’s quite reasonable to ignore the opinions of a small minority, or at least to discount those opinions as mere possibilities, having no binding force over doctrine.

  12. Cath Olic says:

    To Edward’s 28/03/2016 at 04:10 am, Part 2 of 4:

    “As to how that would affect Jon’s thesis, that depends on how many Fathers held that view. If only a minority of them held the view, then his thesis could still be maintained as the mainstream view of the ancient tradition.”

    Two points:

    1)
    I’ve already demonstrated that Jon’s claims are false by my showing that both *some* Scriptural evidence and *some* Church Fathers’ quotes point to the view that the natural world is fallen/corrupted by Adam & Eve’s Fall from grace.

    If Jon, or you, want to provide Scripture verses and Church Fathers’ quotes showing a view of eons and eons of animal death prior to the appearance of man, go for it.

    And in the completely unforeseen event Jon and you *do* so provide, then, perhaps it becomes a numbers game. You know, 51% say X and only 49% say not-X, therefore, X is true.
    Right?

    2)
    Regarding “his thesis could still be maintained as the mainstream view of the ancient tradition”…

    I don’t think you want to go there. As Protestants, you both demonstrate a take-it-or-leave-it approach to ancient tradition (e.g. The Eucharist).

    • Edward Robinson Edward Robinson says:

      Cath Olic:

      You appear to be operating under a gross generalization about Protestantism and tradition. Remember that it is classical Reformation Protestantism, not modern American sectarian Protestantism, that Jon is defending.

      You write:

      “I don’t think you want to go there. As Protestants, you both demonstrate a take-it-or-leave-it approach to ancient tradition (e.g. The Eucharist).”

      What you do not seem to realize is that Luther and Calvin, and several other early Reformers, unlike many of their later descendants, did not sneer at tradition as such. True, they said that tradition could not count against the plain sense of Scripture. But they did not despise tradition as such. Luther and Calvin were constantly reading, and constantly quoting and explaining, the views of earlier theologians. I have read passages where Calvin cites Aquinas with approval on some matters. Indeed, the Reformers, in arguing against certain Roman abuses, did not appeal to Scripture alone (though certainly if Scripture was against a tradition, that alone was sufficient to reject that tradition); they appealed to the consensus of earlier theologians, especially the Fathers. They did not (like some American sectarians) see Protestantism as a trashing of tradition in favor of Scripture; rather, they though that the best and most orthodox and most judicious of past theological writers were wholly in tune with Scripture. They did not *lightly* disagree with any Father; they treated the writings of the Fathers with respect, and only where they believed that a given Father contradicted Scripture would they declare that Father’s teaching on the point in question invalid. They had a deep scholarly respect for the resources of the tradition.

      Jon has been trying to show here how, whatever the differences might be between Calvin and Aquinas or Luther and Irenaeus, there are a number of things which they (and virtually all major Christian thinkers up to about 1600) hold in common, against the experimentations of modern Christian thinking. Jon is not trying to prove that Calvinism is better than Roman Catholicism. He is trying to show that on the main issues that BioLogos is concerned with, there is no important difference among the mainstream Christian traditions; *all* affirm God’s sovereignty against nature, *all* deny that there can be any *real* “chance” in a nature ruled by an omnipotent and providential God. The traditional Christian God doesn’t cover his eyes (so he won’t know the future, as beaglelady has recently suggested on BioLogos) and blindly throw some hydrogen atoms over his shoulder, and wait to be surprised by what cosmic and biological evolution produce. He knows what results he wants from the evolutionary process — and he has the power to ensure that he gets those results.

      You, however, are not satisfied with the general accord of classical Protestantism with classical Roman Catholicism regarding God’s creation, providence, sovereignty, etc. You insist on driving a wedge between Catholic and Protestant Christians — a wedge that serves no useful purpose regarding the subject under discussion. And you do this in almost every conversation you engage in here. You did it at almost every moment when you were on BioLogos (which is why you are no longer on BioLogos). You seem to want a Protestant/Catholic showdown; you seem to be constantly spoiling for a fight. You downplay everything the Catholic and Protestant traditions have in common, and you fan the flames of discord. I don’t find your attitude constructive. It’s as if you have a massive chip on your shoulder about the perfection of your own religious tradition, and are daring everyone on every website to try to knock the chip off. And then you get upset when some people dare to knock it off!

      Do you think you can adopt a more constructive mode of behavior here, and not constantly (directly or indirectly) dig at Protestantism from a Catholic viewpoint? Jon goes out of his way to cite Catholic writers he admires, and to be fair to the Catholic tradition, even though he is not entirely in accord with it; I see no corresponding balance and openness in your posts.

      The goal here is to arrive at a Biblically and traditionally faithful Christian account of origins, not to settle the question whether Catholicism or Protestantism is true. There is enough in common between classical Reformation Protestantism and classical Catholicism that the latter question doesn’t need to be settled in order to show how certain versions of evolutionary creation depart from both Scripture and tradition. If you cannot get onside with this non-partisan project, perhaps you should be posting elsewhere.

  13. Cath Olic says:

    To Edward’s 28/03/2016 at 04:10 am, Part 3 of 4:

    “As for the Bible itself, it seems that the idea of a general fall of nature is hardly to be found …”

    Ah, but *some* IS found, as even you admit.
    (But what you haven’t yet admitted is that Scripture has *no* verses pointing to eons and eons of animal death prior to the appearance of man.)

    Anyway, that the Bible should have so few verses on the topic should not be surprising.
    Because the Bible is not about and for animals, the Bible is about and for man.

    But why in heaven’s name would the Bible writers even consider the possibility of eons and eons of animal death prior to the appearance of man?
    What would lead them to such a thought? Nothing that I can think of.
    It seems to be a thought, even an obsession, only of modern day TEs/ECs.

  14. Cath Olic says:

    To Edward’s 28/03/2016 at 04:10 am, Part 4 of 4:

    “Interestingly enough, emphasis on the systematic imperfection of nature was characteristic of the various Gnostic groups and thinkers of the first few Christian centuries.”
    Why is that interesting, Edward?

    Are you comparing me to a Gnostic, Edward?

    I hope not, because I’m not with the Gnostics, I’m with the Church.
    And besides, my Church has declared Gnosticism a heresy. Just as it has Arianism, Protestantism, etc.
    ……………..

    “The most natural way of thinking of the “Fall” is not as the introduction of some massive cosmic corruption by man (as if puny man had the power to undermine the divinely-established structures of Creation), but as man’s falling out of step with a good creation, and thus incurring discomfort to himself.”

    Are you serious?

    • Edward Robinson Edward Robinson says:

      Cath Olic:

      I don’t say that you personally are Gnostic; I’m merely issuing a cautionary note. Those who tend to see nature as utterly fallen, bearing almost no relationship to its original created state, have much in common with the ancient Gnostics, and therefore are potential buyers of that heresy. Indeed, one of my main criticisms of certain forms of Protestantism (e.g., Barthianism, which regarding nature and natural theology is Calvinism without the subtle qualifications which Calvin exhibited), is that they have a Gnostic smell about them. And there is lots of that smell in the writings of some YECs and in the writings of some TE/ECs. On the other hand, those who think that nature, while somewhat impaired by man’s action, still overall retains its created goodness, will never be sucked into Gnosticism.

      Regarding your last question, yes, I am serious. My view is the result of decades of study of Genesis, including much study of the original Hebrew text and the traditional Jewish and Christian commentary on it, as well as modern scholarly commentary on it. I don’t believe the Genesis author was teaching a “fall of nature” as that notion has been interpreted by some Christians.

      What the tradition made of Genesis is, of course, a different question from the teaching of Genesis itself. But now leave it to Jon to further flesh out his case regarding what the tradition says.

  15. Cath Olic says:

    To Edward’s 29/03/2016 at 11:29 pm,

    “I asked you for primary sources and, though it took some tooth-pulling to get them out of you, you *finally* supplied them.”

    Not really tooth pulling. More like eye opening – yours.
    You could have found those quotes yourself, since they were taken directly from the paper I linked here *six days ago* on March 23.
    I’m amazed you didn’t read them back then. Perhaps you did look at the paper, but only saw what you wanted to see?
    ……………….
    “Chrystostom… what does he show? He shows why the *earth* has become corruptible. But earth is only one part of creation, as Genesis 1 makes clear. There are also the heavens, the seas, the lights in the heavens, the herbs, the trees, the domestic beasts, the wild beasts…So much for an explanation of why “creation” has become corrupted!”

    If this was supposed to be a joke, with your words and exclamation points, you’re a little early as April 1st is still a few days away.

    No, Chrysostom meant *all* of creation, including the animals. This is evident from a part of the quote which I hadn’t previously included here because I didn’t think it would be at all necessary:
    “Isaiah too declares the same, when he says, ‘Look to the heaven above, and upon the earth beneath, for the heavens are as a firmament of smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, AND THEY THAT DWELL THEREIN shall perish in like manner’
    (Isa 51:6). Now you see in what sense the creation is ‘in bondage to vanity’, and how it is to be freed from the ruined state.”
    …..
    “Irenaeus… I give you the Irenaeus passage. He does seem to mean what you say he means… I give Irenaeus good marks for logical consistency (albeit a consistency based on only three passages from only two books of the entire Bible, not much a textual base for an important theological argument)…”

    But what marks would you give *your* consistency, Edward?
    You have provided *not a single* Bible verse to support *your* theological argument.
    …..
    “Theophilus…He does seem to be saying something similar to what Irenaeus says, but less precisely… I give you Theophilus.
    So you now have two passages from two of about (depending on the boundaries you accept) seventy or more Church Fathers.”

    No. Three passages from three Fathers. (See again my correction of you on Chrysostom above).

    Three is plenty to refute Jon’s claim of ‘essentially none’.

    And, as I said before, it should not be in the least surprising if most of the *ancient* Fathers were silent on the *modern* idea of eons of animal discomfort, disease, and *death* prior to the appearance of man.
    …….

    “If about 50% of the writers say that nature has fallen, then Jon’s statement has to be surrendered. But what if only 5% of them do? What then? I think it’s quite reasonable to ignore the opinions of a small minority, or at least to discount those opinions as mere possibilities, having no *binding force over doctrine*.”

    Binding force over doctrine? Binding for who? For you? For Jon?
    You’ve got to be kidding me.

    Maybe it actually IS April Fools Day!

    • Edward Robinson Edward Robinson says:

      Cath Olic:

      1. Just for future reference, when I ask you for quotations from primary sources, I expect you to supply them. I do not have time to read articles which you cite which express the opinions of modern scholars; I have time only to deal with primary sources. This not my day job, and I won’t do homework assignments for you. The time I have allotted for this activity, I have allotted only for discussion of primary sources and general ideas, not for reading academic articles. So I *will not* read articles that you link to, especially when it is unclear (as it was initially, in this case), whether the article actually contained passages from the Fathers, or merely summarized their teaching according to the author’s interpretation. So if you ever argue by quoting the opinions of modern authors on what Augustine etc. thought, and do not supply me with the original sources on which the modern author bases his opinions, I will just ignore whatever the modern author says. You can copy and paste the primary sources in a few seconds. If that arrangement does not satisfy you, that is unfortunate, but these are the only conditions under which I will deal with claims about what the Fathers, Aquinas, Calvin, etc. taught.

      2. Now, even when you did finally give me the quotations, you gave me an incomplete quotation for Chrysostom. That incomplete quotation utterly failed to prove your point. Yet when I pointed this out, you offered the following excuse:

      “This is evident from a part of the quote which I hadn’t previously included here because I didn’t think it would be at all necessary”

      I would rather that you gave me the full quotation and let me decide whether or not you are guilty of overkill, than suppressed parts of the original source which in your view are not necessary, but which in my view might be very necessary.

      3. I’m not persuaded by even your fuller quotation that the logical links in your mind are exactly the same as the logical links that were in Chrysostom’s mind, but note that even if I give you all three passages from three Fathers, that does not establish that your view was the majority view of the Fathers, let alone the majority view of the whole ancient and medieval tradition.

      4. Understand that I am making no claim here. Jon has made the claim that the “fall of all of nature” idea is not a mainstream Christian idea. You have provided some counterexamples. It is now up to Jon to respond to your counterexamples. I am quite willing to believe that you and Jon are both partly right, i.e., I am quite willing to believe that the sources are divided on the question whether *all* of nature is corrupted by man’s fall. But I want to see more primary sources before I decide.

  16. Cath Olic says:

    To Edward’s 29/03/2016 at 11:52 pm,

    Me: “I don’t think you want to go there. As Protestants, you both demonstrate a take-it-or-leave-it approach to ancient tradition (e.g. The Eucharist).”

    You: “What you do not seem to realize is that…”

    I realize everything you went on to say.
    My statement stands.
    …………..
    “Jon has been trying to show here how…on the main issues that BioLogos is concerned with, there is no important difference among the mainstream Christian traditions…”

    No, Edward.
    What Jon has been trying to show here is that virtually no Scriptural evidence nor Church Fathers support the view that the natural world is fallen/corrupted by Adam & Eve’s Fall from grace.

    And I’ve shown that Jon’s try failed.
    …..
    “You, however, are not satisfied with the general accord of classical Protestantism with classical Roman Catholicism regarding God’s creation, providence, sovereignty, etc. You insist on driving a wedge between Catholic and Protestant Christians…”

    It’s pretty hard to ignore the wedge between the Church and what the Church calls heretical.

    Besides, with regard to what you here call an “accord” on God’s creation, I recall on a prior thread that *your* creation core beliefs didn’t comport with mine or the CC’s or other’s.

    Remember? And you never responded.
    [[a) “that God is not thwarted by any inherent defects in matter.”

    This seems to presuppose that God *created* matter, including man, *with inherent defects.*
    That’s not core to me, nor to the CC, nor to many other Christians.

    b) “that God does not leave Creation to randomness or chance.”

    Just a question here. Have you told those Christians at Biologos, and other TE/CE-ers, who hold to randomness/chance in evolution, that *they are violating* core Christian doctrine regards creation?

    c) “that God is not surprised by what Creation produces.”

    Now, I already said Christians believe God is not surprised by *anything*.
    And Christians and non-Christians alike know empirically, and are not surprised, that living thing X produces more living thing X (i.e. reproduction).
    So, why do you say that “God is not surprised by what Creation *produces*”?
    The “produces” in your core statement seems to presuppose something. Could it be evolution?
    I hope not, because evolution is not core creation belief to me, nor to the CC, nor to many other Christians.]]
    ……

    “You downplay everything the Catholic and Protestant traditions have in common, and you fan the flames of discord. I don’t find your attitude constructive.”

    Maybe you’ll find these words more constructive:
    “Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth;
    I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.
    For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
    and a man’s foes will be those of his own household.
    He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me…
    He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives him who sent me.”
    ………….

    “It’s as if you have a massive chip on your shoulder about the perfection of your own religious tradition, and are daring everyone on every website to try to knock the chip off. And then you get upset when some people dare to knock it off!”

    No chip.
    More like a Rock.
    And while some have dared, none, and certainly not you, have knocked it off.
    ……………

    “Do you think you can adopt a more constructive mode of behavior here, and not constantly (directly or indirectly) dig at Protestantism from a Catholic viewpoint?”

    Should I likewise not dig at modern forms of Gnosticism or Arianism?
    ………

    “The goal here is to arrive at a Biblically and traditionally faithful…”

    And your goal is confounded from the start.

    • Edward Robinson Edward Robinson says:

      Cath Olic:

      1. I wrote:

      “Jon has been trying to show here how…on the main issues that BioLogos is concerned with, there is no important difference among the mainstream Christian traditions…”

      To which you replied:

      “No, Edward.
      What Jon has been trying to show here is that virtually no Scriptural evidence nor Church Fathers support the view that the natural world is fallen/corrupted by Adam & Eve’s Fall from grace.”

      We are talking about two different things. My remark was meant to characterize not what Jon is saying in his particular thesis about the fall of nature, but what Jon has been trying to do on this site over the past several years. My point is that Jon is trying to build bridges between Orthodox, Catholic, Reformed, Lutheran etc. *traditionalists*, who have more in common with each other than they have with the kind of post-Enlightenment liberal Christianity which dominates American TE/EC. Your comments here over the past months seem to be aimed at blowing up the bridges as fast as Jon (and others here) can build them. Your perpetual thesis seems to be, when boiled down: “There is no point trying to oppose the liberalism of BioLogos with anything but the Roman Catholic position, and so you, Jon, are wasting your time in engaging BioLogos from a conservative Protestant perspective.” If that is your view, I suggest you stop posting here, because none of the five columnists here is or is likely to become a Roman Catholic in the near future. (If any one of us is in that category [of “might become Catholic”], it would have to be me, and since the effect of your strident rhetoric is to make Catholicism seem more rather than less repulsive to me, you are failing to win over the one potential convent you have here.)

      2. You wrote:

      ********
      “Besides, with regard to what you here call an “accord” on God’s creation, I recall on a prior thread that *your* creation core beliefs didn’t comport with mine or the CC’s or other’s.

      “Remember? And you never responded.
      “that God is not thwarted by any inherent defects in matter.”

      This seems to presuppose that God *created* matter, including man, *with inherent defects.*
      That’s not core to me, nor to the CC, nor to many other Christians.

      ***********

      I did not respond because I thought your objection was an example of petty caviling. In civilized conversation people adopt the most intelligent construction of the other person’s words. I did not mean to imply that God created any imperfection in matter. I was referring to, and responding in shorthand to, the view held by some ancient thinkers, that God had to deal with a recalcitrant matter. But such hypothetical defects in matter would not exist if God is omnipotent and created matter in the first place; he would have made matter exactly suitable to his purposes. My wording was apparently too compact and elliptical for that to be clear, and I don’t mind clarifying my words now; I do, however, object to clarifying as if I am a subject in your theological court.

      As for what I have told the BioLogos people, you should know what I have told them, as you were on BioLogos for some time (and, I believe, under more than one pseudonym, but that is immaterial to my point). You know that both Jon and I have repeatedly spoken of the omnipotence of sovereignty of God against statements of Falk, Venema, Miller, etc. (And those statements on BioLogos should have caused you to read my statement above [re the imperfection of matter] as sloppy in expression rather than as implying a false doctrine, but you do not seem to be in the habit of reading my words charitably.)

      3. I, too, can play the rhetorical game of taking words of Jesus which had nothing to do with evolution or origins and applying them to such subjects. Here is how. The same man who said:

      “Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth;
      I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.”

      Also said: “He who is not against us is for us.” (Mark 9)

      On the basic notions [not on every detail, but on the basic notions] of sovereignty, providence, omnipotence, foreknowledge, etc., Calvin and Luther are with Rome, not against it. There is no need to keep driving a wedge between Rome and the conservative Reformers on issues where they are not divided. If we were discussing the sacraments, or ecclesiology, etc., then yes, there are differences. But that the so-called “freedom of nature” to surprise God is a false doctrine — on that Geneva, Wittenberg and Rome all agree.

      You do not seem to me to be very politically wise. Politically, the conservative Christians of all stripes — Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant — should be allying to refute the liberal version of evolutionary creation (which is simply the biological face of liberal theology in general) that is so common today. Once that dragon is slain, then Catholics and Protestants can get back to their old pastime of bashing each other and calling each other heretics. That’s my approach. You, on the other hand, seem to me to be the sort of person who would have advised the Russians and the Allies not to co-operate on matters they agreed upon — smashing the Nazi regime and military machine — until they first settled all the outstanding theoretical issues of political economy between Karl Marx and Adam Smith. That would have been incredibly stupid advice. Similarly, trying to revive old Catholic/Protestant tensions precisely at the time when conservative Catholic/Protestant co-operation is needed to crush liberal post-Enlightenment theology, strikes me as very bad policy. When the theological liberals are all lying dead (metaphorically) in the field, then there will be all the time in the world for *Catholic conservatives* to wage war against *Protestant conservatives*.

  17. Cath Olic says:

    To Edward’s 30/03/2016 at 12:01 am,

    “I don’t say that you personally are Gnostic; I’m merely issuing a cautionary note. Those who tend to see nature as *utterly fallen, bearing almost no relationship to its original created state*, have much in common with the ancient Gnostics, and therefore are potential buyers of that heresy.”

    That’s good. Because I don’t think any of those things.
    ……………

    “What the tradition made of Genesis is, of course, a different question from the
    teaching of Genesis itself. But now leave it to Jon to further flesh out his case regarding what the tradition says.”

    Seriously. Are you serious?

  18. Cath Olic says:

    To Edward’s 30/03/2016 at 07:31 pm,

    “…even if I give you all three passages from three Fathers, that does not establish that your view was the majority view of the Fathers, let alone the majority view of the whole ancient and medieval tradition.”

    For about the fifth time now,
    that was NOT Jon’s contention here.

    Jon’s contention here was that, although the Fall of nature HAS apparently been assumed throughout most of Judeo-Christian history, virtually NO support for this view is found in Scripture or Church Fathers.

    And for about the fifth time, I say I’ve shown Jon’s contention is false.

    Secondly, if your precious time does not allow for reading other than primary sources, or at least primary sources combined with a modern scholar’s opinion of them, then, *why did you read Jon’s article here*?

    I don’t know why you would, because neither his article nor the Introduction he links to has primary sources – other than one from St. John of Damascus which doesn’t support Jon’s claim.

    • Edward Robinson Edward Robinson says:

      Cath Olic:

      I’d say that the handful of passages from the Bible that you’ve produced — most of them ambiguous or out of context, constitute “virtually no support” from the Bible.

      I’d say that 3 paragraphs from thousands of pages of the Church Fathers constitute “virtually no support” from the Church Fathers.

      A blog article is fine for the purposes of starting up a debate. But to settle a debate, we don’t look to the opinions of others; we look for evidence. I’m quite willing to let this debate be settled by the evidence.

      I’m suspending final judgment until Jon responds to your examples, or adds examples of his own. I want to hear what he has to say. So I’ll go silent about the Fathers and the Bible at this point.

  19. Cath Olic says:

    To Edward’s 30/03/2016 at 08:35 pm,

    “I, too, can play the rhetorical game of taking words of Jesus which had nothing to do with evolution or origins and applying them to such subjects. Here is how. The same man who said:
    “Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth;
    I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.”
    Also said: “He who is not against us is for us.” (Mark 9)”

    Jesus might well have added
    ‘Those are not with us who find my Church “repulsive.”’

    By the way, how’s “repulsive” for a very politically wise choice of words?

  20. Edward Robinson Edward Robinson says:

    Cath Olic:

    I do not find the conception of the Church set forth *by Jesus* to be repulsive.

    I do find conceptions of the Church set forth *by some people* — including some Protestants as well as some Catholics — to be repulsive.

    I also don’t think you are in a position to complain about a lack of diplomacy in the choice of expressions of others. Of the many adjectives I can think of to describe your manner of theological and religious debate, “tactful” is not the first to come to mind.

    Are there no Catholic websites that need your corrective attentions? After all, by your own account, the Catholic Church today is just crawling with liberal priests and bishops and theologians and lay people who do not understand true Catholic teaching, and desperately need to be taught by you what authentic Catholic faith is. So why is all your combative energy directed at the unfortunate non-Catholics here and on BioLogos, rather than at the targets which have produced your ire in the first place — the liberal Catholics who, in your view, have betrayed the Catholic tradition? It’s not Jon and I who brought in Vatican II. You don’t see Jon and I championing Hans Kung. Jon and I probably have more sympathy for the spirit of the Syllabus of Errors than do most modern Catholic intellectuals. Further, we have no influence over the attitudes and opinions of current Catholic leadership, and therefore couldn’t push back the liberal tide within the Roman Church even if we thought it was our mission to interfere in Churches other than our own. So why are *we* your punching bags? Why not take the fight to the people who are responsible for the changes in your Church, rather than use us as surrogate Catholic liberals to beat up on? Your behavior is both illogical and impractical.

  21. Cath Olic says:

    To Edward’s 31/03/2016 at 02:16 am,

    “I’d say that the handful of passages from the Bible that you’ve produced — most of them ambiguous or out of context, constitute “virtually no support” from the Bible.
    I’d say that 3 paragraphs from thousands of pages of the Church Fathers constitute “virtually no support” from the Church Fathers.”

    Nevertheless, that would make at least 3 Bible passages for me, and none for you and Jon.
    And 3 Church Fathers for me, and none for you and Jon.

    Let’s call it 6-0 me.

    • Edward Robinson Edward Robinson says:

      Cath Olic:

      Pretty much the entire text of God’s answer to Job counts against your interpretation, and that amounts to more text than everything you’ve supplied so far from the Bible and the Fathers combined. It’s clear from any unforced reading of Job that God is talking about the order of *creation*, not an order which arose only after some hypothetical “fall of nature.” I believe that Jon has mentioned Job on several occasions on this site.

      In Job, the ferocity of the lion is for the glory of God; the speed of the gazelle as it seeks to escape the lion is also for the glory of God. In modern conceptualizing, the long life of some species (e.g., the dinosaurs) is for the glory of God, but the extinction of those species (e.g., through an asteroid strike) is also for the glory of God. YECs and some TE/ECs have never been able to grasp this. They think that if there is any death or suffering in the universe, the universe cannot be carrying out God’s plan. It’s sad to think that some American Catholics are being taken in by this erroneous view.

  22. Cath Olic says:

    To Edward’s 31/03/2016 at 02:44 am,

    “I do find conceptions of the Church set forth *by some people* — including some Protestants as well as some Catholics — to be repulsive.”

    Quickly, what would be the top *one or two* things you find most repulsive about some Catholics’ conception of the Church?

  23. Cath Olic says:

    To Edward’s 31/03/2016 at 12:46 pm,

    “It’s clear from any unforced reading of Job that God is talking about the order of *creation*, not an order which arose only after some hypothetical “fall of nature.””

    No. I don’t see how that could be the case.

    Nature and its animals are still amazing even in the fallen state, the fallen state whose chief characteristic is *death*. (Same goes for man.)

    God’s reminding Job of the *source* of these natural wonders (i.e. *God*) implies nothing about their pre-fall vs. post-fall condition.
    Similarly, Job’s acknowledgement of the wonder of God bringing him into existence (“Thou didst clothe me with skin and flesh, and knit me together with bones and sinews.” Job 10:11) implies nothing about his or any newborns’ pre-fall vs. post-fall condition. But of course we know that Job, along with all men since Adam and Eve, are born with original sin, a fallen nature, and the prospect of death.

    It’s still 6-0 me.

    • Edward Robinson Edward Robinson says:

      Cath Olic:

      Job does not mention or even allude to any fall of nature; nor does it even suggest that any feature of nature is caused by the action of man, as opposed to the divine wisdom of God.

      More generally, your reading of Job is without sensitivity to contextual clues. You blunder into the text with a pre-set theology, and are determined to get out of Job the theology you already uphold for other reasons. But that is not surprising; it is the procedure you employ in discussing all religious texts and all religious matters. You can be cured of reliance on this procedure only by a program theological and Biblical education, such as you could acquire in various places, including Catholic places — but as you have already acknowledged, you have no intention of acquiring such theological education at any point in the future. You prefer a vastly overconfident autodidacticism — and it shows.

      • Cath Olic says:

        Edward,

        One might say that
        more generally, your reading of Job is without sensitivity to contextual clues. You blunder into the text with a pre-set theology, and are determined to get out of Job the theology you already uphold for other reasons. But that is not surprising; it is the procedure you employ in discussing all religious texts and all religious matters.

        • Edward Robinson Edward Robinson says:

          Refutation by mimicry! The classic schoolyard tactic! Haven’t seen it used in about 50 years, and even then, I never saw it used by anyone more than about 10 years old.

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