I have a lapsed-Catholic brother who now attends a Reformed church and is a creationist. He and I debate kindly over evolution and the Big Bang. I tell him it’s okay to believe either; God will tell us how to think about it when we get there, but he did bring up an aspect I could not answer, and I was wondering if you all had thought about this and had a good explanation.
His problem with the Big Bang is that it means death was in the world before the first humans, not as Romans 5:12 states, paraphrasing death spread to all men, because all have sinned.
I think he has a good point. Rejecting the Genesis account, or allegorizing the creation narrative causes far more problems than it solves. First, when you read the gospels, it is pretty clear that Jesus believed in a literal reading of Genesis, and in particular the creation account (refer to Matthew 19 for example where Jesus refers to creation and the purpose for marriage). Even an old earth intelligent design theory, which attempts to bridge the gap between the “Big Bang”, Evolution, and the Biblical creation narrative doesn’t account for the fact that the Bible explicitly states that death entered through sin. Sometimes you have to ask yourself, which authority is more trustworthy? A dude with an alphabet soup title after his name, or Christ? If push comes to shove, I’ve gotta err on the side of Christ.
I would probably say that your brother is reading to much into Romans 5:12. In verses 12-21 St. Paul is comparing and contrasting Adam and Christ. The main point here St. Paul is stressing is that the grace of Christ more than compensates for the damage done by Adam’s rebellion.
So when he says sin came into the world through one man and death through sin… He is talking about spiritual death here. Th death of the soul. Sure we can argue that he is also speaking of the death of our bodies here also. But we need to remember St. Paul’s main point here is what Adam lost and what Christ redeemed. The main point of Romans 5:12 here is Original Sin, not physical death. All descendants of Adam are born into the world in a state of spiritual death not physical death. We are in need of Christ our savior who redeems us of this spiritual death.
Now were I am going with this is that my understanding of “evolution” would be that we are OK to believe this but we are to understand that Adam and Eve are the first to have an immortal soul. Animals do not have an immortal soul. Therefore any animal death that occurred, without an immortal soul, wouldn’t be considered the type of death referenced in Romans 5.
No, what he said was the following: “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said…” Later in the same passage he reiterates this, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.”
The phrase from the beginning is pretty specific, and is echoed in passages such as John 1:1 which affirms Christ’s role in creation (In the beginning was the Word…). So again, I would be careful trying to allegorize the creation narrative. You introduce quite a bit of error or room for heresy by doing so.
In addition, in Romans Paul affirms this literal understanding of creation and the entry of death into the world in a few places: Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned…"
And lest you make the claim that death to only man was in view here, refer to Romans 8: “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.”
As you can see, Paul assumes that not only man, but creation itself was subjected to death because of sin. To dismiss the Biblical creation narrative is out of step with what Jesus believed and what the apostles believed. It introduces the fact that death comes without sin, therefore sin is not the wages of death, but natural to the creation, which here is refuted. The two views don’t reconcile.
“The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Peace be with you. Hope you can come to a reconciliation with the Word.
Most of our fossils far predate the appearance of humans. And as the Big Bang and Evolution are often tied together in the overall explanation for the current physical world, I can see how one would make the statement.
You can’t possibly be saying that when Our Lord says “it was not so from the beginning” he is referencing Genesis. For one thing, in Genesis, and again when it is referenced by John, “the beginning” predates the creation of man. I.e. John writes “in the beginning was the Word”, not “In the beginning there was man and woman”. Actually, John’s point is very much about Jesus, the Word, coming before man. It makes sense then to see Jesus’ reference to “the beginning” as the beginning of man and woman, I.e. man and woman in paradise.
No, you have that backwards although some of your conclusions are correct. Both in Matthew and in John, the phrase “In the beginning” is referencing Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning, God created…”. However, if this in the beginning is speaking of the act of creation, the implication is that God (and by extension the second person of the trinity) pre-existed creation. While I agree, John’s point is about Jesus in John 1:1, you missed John 1:3 “Through him all things were made” again, fixing the point that the beginning which is being referenced is Genesis 1:1, the creation. Again, the introduction of death runs counter to the claim made by Paul in Romans, who accepted a literal reading of Genesis as shown by the fact that death is the result of sin.
Genesis teaches religion, not history or science. For example, if humans were not created until the sixth day, then who witnessed the previous days of creation so as to write about them?
The oral tradition of early Judaism was eventually compiled leaving many questions unanswered. The book of Jubilees was written to try to re-write the creation account to fill in some gaps and answer those difficult questions. But it was never accepted as inspired, as it was an obvious attempt to re-write an earlier tradition.
The accounts in Genesis tell the stories that they do for a specific purpose. Alice in Wonderland was written to entertain, not to prove that rabbits can talk. Genesis establishes, among other things, that there is only One God who is the Creator of all that can be seen – none of these created things are to be worshiped, etc. Genesis establishes the basis for the later command to observe the Sabbath, a day of worship of the Creator. A lot of problems in the world would be solved if instead of arguing about its meaning, people just worshiped the Creator.
Oh, I like the big bang and evolution as science and hypothesis. These assume eternity just as does Genesis does. Genesis answers more questions than does science, which is an elegant theory of rocks smashing into rocks.
You jump from “through him all things were made” to “fixing the point of creation”. You are going to have to flesh that out a bit, I am afraid, because in its current format that is not an argument, it’s a statement.
John saying the Word was in the beginning, and though Him all things were made, does not imply that the universe was created in an instant, it does not imply it was created in six days. It implies exactly two things: that in the beginning was the Word; and through Him all things were made.
Yes, it is a statement of fact that in John 1:1, John is referring to the phrase “In the beginning” (using the same Greek verbiage as provided in Genesis 1:1 of the Septuagint) as the reference point for his narrative of the incarnation, and that this is demonstrated in verse three where he shows us that all things were created through Him. John takes the creation account seriously. It also implies that In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…and there was evening and there was morning the first day (day being the normative use of the world Yom, especially when coupled with a fixed time such as morning and evening). If we take seriously Christ’s role in the creation narrative and take that literally in John 1:1, why would we then allegorize Genesis 1:1 from which the phrase “In the beginning” is taken? And again, since you are the one promoting the concept that conflicts with scripture, it is you who needs to take a moment to flesh these things out to make a convincing case that Christ and Paul looked at the Genesis account, to whom they both refer to establish such things as God’s created order in marriage, the bringing about of death through sin, the proper ecclesiastical order of who can teach and preach in the church, etc., as nothing more than an allegorical creation myth that is morally uplifting, but ahistorical.
Feel free to demonstrate otherwise through the grammatical-historical exegesis of the texts surrounding creation.
As I said earlier, you lose far more than you think by writing off the creation account as a “story.”
John is clearly referring to the creation narrative, of course, and he takes it seriously, as all Christians do - it means God created and ordered the universe and that’s pretty awesome. It’s also what distinguishes the Jewish God from the surrounding pagan idols. The Jews, such as in the story of Jonah, identified their God to the pagans as the creator of heaven and earth. That’s one of the key ways they thought of Him and John identifies Jesus strongly with the definition of God.
He does not, when he says “through Him all things were made” add any kind of timeframe. You are torturing the passage. The idea that because John refers to this passage, he must interpret it literally in every sense, including the idea of God creating the universe in units of days (revolutions of the earth) before he has invented the Earth is not logic.
Moreover, numerous catholic fathers, catechisms and theologians link John 1 with Genesis 1. No church father or orthodox catholic theologian has put forward what you are saying, it’s a “novelty”. It’s also blasphemous. John is taking about the origins of Jesus as being before man, as being ‘in the beginning’. In the beginning, man is not. God is. But God becomes man. You seem to be implying that because Jesus says it was not so in the beginning that married man was there in “very” beginning, in the same way John refers to Jesus as being there in the beginning. That’s wrong.
All things have their beginning. Our beginning is after the Word. Exactly when, we don’t know - to say that Jesus gives us a clue when he tells us we never used to have divorce is a good example of torturing a text to mean what you want.