God’s Good Earth – pdf book


This project arose from an informal piece of research with Nick Needham in 2012, on the Patristic teaching about creation, which led to my being asked by palaeontologist Keith Miller (author of Perspectives on an Evolving Creation) to contribute a chapter (essentially chs. 5 & 6 of the present manuscript) to a book on natural evil. Other authors included Sam Berry, George Murphy, Bob White, Denis Lamoureux, Michael B. Roberts and others.

When the book failed to gain a BioLogos grant or a publishing deal, it was rescheduled for a special edition of the American Scientific Affiliation journal, but since I was asked to shorten my piece by 50% for this I withdrew it from the project.

I subsequently decided to expand it to include the key biblical material, and some considerations from a scientific viewpoint, in the hope that it may form a readable, but informed and multi-faceted treatment to move the origins discussion forward.

A few acknowledgements of ideas and encouragement are due (with the usual caveats about the errors being mine) to Merv Bitkofer, Ted Davis, Preston Garrison, Sy Garte, Tim Hicks, Tim McMahon, Richard Middleton, Keith Miller, Nick Needham and Edward Robinson.


Section 1 – The Bible

Chapter 1 – God’s relationship to Creation

Yahweh as Creation’s Governor
The elements are never independent of God
Health and disease
Wild animals
God’s care of creation “for its own sake”
God the householder

Chapter 2 – Scripture on the Fall

Adam and death
The serpent, Eve, Adam and curses
The vegetarian earth
Good, very good, stupendous

Chapter 3 – Other Red Herrings

All flesh corrupt
The satanic world
Bondage to decay
Wolves and lambs

Chapter 4 – Powers and Principalities

Section 2 – The Theologians

Chapter 5 – Creation Fell in 1500

A dubious theological history
Pre-Christian Jewish sources
Philo of Alexandria
Flavius Josephus
Patristic to mediaeval periods
Clement of Alexandria
Gregory of Nazianzus
John Chrysostom
John of Damascus
Thomas Aquinas
Early modern to modern periods
John Calvin
Martin Luther
Jacobus Arminius
John Wesley

Chapter 6 – Tracking the Fall of Creation

The Reformers’ biblical literalism?
Prometheus unbound
Theodicies and antitheodicies
Some implications

Section 3 – The Science

Chapter 7 – Bogeys in the evolutionary coal-cellar

Horror shows and window tests
Blind alleys
Merciless waste
Arms races
“Evil” design

Chapter 8 – The non-presentation of self in everyday life

Selfish evolution?
Selfish genes?
Selfish altruism?
Selfish what, exactly?

Chapter 9 – On pain and suffering

The baseline – human pain
The evolution of pain
The biology of pain
Pain of death
Metaphysical issues

Chapter 10 – Direct effects of the Fall on nature

Damning Creation with praise
The long history of trashing the planet
The health risks of Bacon

Section 4 – The Application

Chapter 11 – What difference does it make, anyway?

Beliefs have consequences
Joy in Creation
Thanksgiving for Creation
Prayer within Creation
Worship on behalf of Creation
Relating science to Creation
Care over Creation
Creation and resurrection


Appendix – Prometheus Abridged

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