Theistic Evolution - Death before the Fall?


#1

There was another big TE thread going on, but it was so long I couldnt keep up. It is a very interesting theory.

My question concerns the death of animals and humans before the fall. The obvious issue is if no animal death occurred then no evolution was possible.

Here are some things I am considering:

  1. Genesis 1:
    29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.
    This shows that plants were given for food, but not animals. This suggests animals and humans did not eat each other before the fall, thus animal death couldn’t have come through eating.

2)Gen 2:
19 Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.
This seems odd that death and extinction would exist if Adam’s job was to name animals.

3)Gen 3:
14 So the LORD God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this,
"Cursed are you above all the livestock
and all the wild animals!

16 To the woman he said,
"I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing;

17 To Adam he said, "Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’
"Cursed is the ground because of you;
through painful toil you will eat of it
all the days of your life. 18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
and you will eat the plants of the field.

The question now is how the fall affected creation as a whole. V18 shows thorns and thistles sprung up. Obviously thorns serve no good purpose, especially when God gave plants as food for animals and man. This is clearly a corruption of the earth/plant-life. The snake became cursed, but did other animal life? Gen 7:8 mentions Noah needing to take “clean and unclean” animals. Certainly an “unclean” animal is not part of God’s original design. A pig which lives in filth and carries multiple diseases was not part of God’s original plan. Gen 6:7 is where God is unhappy with the way creation has gone and wants to wipe out both man and animal.

4)Im working on this as I go and I just now came upon an amazing passage in Gen 9 when God blessed Noah after the flood:
1 Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth. 2 The fear and dread of you will fall upon all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air, upon every creature that moves along the ground, and upon all the fish of the sea; they are given into your hands. 3 Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.
This is clear evidence that animals changed and that man just now is given animals to eat.

So what do you all think?


#2

I think you are taking a fundamentalist aproach to this text.
Msgr. Lemaitre would disagree with you were he alive. I think you need to relook at this text in the context of the poetry that it is.
You say there was no animal death before the fall, what seperates the animal death from the plant death?


#3

I dont consider myself to be taking a “fundamentalist” approach, but none the less such an approach isnt automatically bad.

You say there was no animal death before the fall, what separates the animal death from the plant death?

I honestly dont know how to describe the differences. Obviously the plants were for man and animals to eat as the Bible clearly states, yet I saw no such reference to eating animals until Gen 9 (after the flood).

Maybe someone could answer this.


#4

The “death” God speaks of being a consequence of eating the fruit of the tree is not a physical death.

Genesis 2:17 But of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat. For in what day soever thou shalt eat of it, thou shalt die the death.

And Adam eats, but he lives on physically for many years after. Either God meant something other than a physical death, or He told Adam something that was not true.

So the physical death of animals and plants before Adam is of no consequence; it was not that kind of a death…


#5

What do you do with the text that says God subjected the world to death?
If man’s sin brings all death then man subjected the world to death not God.


#6

What do you do with the text that says God subjected the world to death?

I think you’re taking it out of context. In fact, as Paul says, death (in the spiritual sense) came into the world as a result of the Fall. It had nothing to do with physical death, as Genesis makes clear.

If man’s sin brings all death then man subjected the world to death not God.

As you see, from Genesis, it was a spiritual death. Death in a physical sense was present long before Adam.


#7

I disagree, physical death was certainly included with spiritual death. That day Adam’s body began corrupting away along with the death of his spirit. The body wasting away is undeniably a consequence of the fall.

Im not sure who you are responding to, but if I am reading this correctly I agree.

Anybody else have any input?


#8

I disagree, physical death was certainly included with spiritual death. That day Adam’s body began corrupting away along with the death of his spirit.

Sorry, that’s not what God said. He said the death would occur the day Adam ate from the tree. Yet Adam lived on for long after. Adam was never immortal; in fact, God expresses concern that Adam might become so, and acts to prevent it:

Genesis 3:22 And he said: Behold Adam is become as one of us, knowing good and evil: now, therefore, lest perhaps he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever.

The body wasting away is undeniably a consequence of the fall.

That would invalidate the Resurrection. Jesus died on the cross to save us from that death. If the death God spoke of was physical, then Jesus failed; we will all die physically.


#9

But it is clear Adam’s time from then would be spent in pain and suffering until he died, thus it was a slow and painful death, not sudden. I dont think the intent of Genesis is to focus on a purely spiritual death, otherwise the physical consequences wouldnt make sense.

Also I see Adam being kept alive so that offspring could result, rather than a sudden death which would have left no room for children.

Adam was never immortal; in fact, God expresses concern that Adam might become so, and acts to prevent it:

Genesis 3:22 And he said: Behold Adam is become as one of us, knowing good and evil: now, therefore, lest perhaps he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever.

This is interesting because it raises some questions.
What does “live forever” here correspond to…physical or spiritual, or both?

The way I see it Adam was created with sanctifying grace in his soul and before the fall his body was perfectly sound. If Adam was not immortal that means he could have still had a heart attack, blood clot, etc and that doesnt sound right because those correspond to pain and suffering which didnt exist before the fall.

That would invalidate the Resurrection. Jesus died on the cross to save us from that death. If the death God spoke of was physical, then Jesus failed; we will all die physically.

I dont see how physical death was not a consequence of the fall considering it goes right along with the consequences of pain and suffering.


#10

Barbarian observes:
Sorry, that’s not what God said. He said the death would occur the day Adam ate from the tree. Yet Adam lived on for long after.

But it is clear Adam’s time from then would be spent in pain and suffering until he died, thus it was a slow and painful death, not sudden.

You still have the same problem. God says Adam will die the day he eats from the tree, but Adam lives on physically for many years after. Either it wasn’t a physical death, or God told Adam something that was not true.

I dont think the intent of Genesis is to focus on a purely spiritual death,

You have to go with what God said, not personal wishes. And God said the death would be the same day.

Also I see Adam being kept alive so that offspring could result, rather than a sudden death which would have left no room for children.

Sorry, still doesn’t change what God said. Fact is, either the death was not physical, or God told Adam something that was untrue.

Barbarian observes:
Adam was never immortal; in fact, God expresses concern that Adam might become so, and acts to prevent it:

Genesis 3:22 And he said: Behold Adam is become as one of us, knowing good and evil: now, therefore, lest perhaps he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever.

This is interesting because it raises some questions.
What does “live forever” here correspond to…physical or spiritual, or both?

Possibly. Bottom line, Adam was not immortal.

The way I see it Adam was created with sanctifying grace in his soul and before the fall his body was perfectly sound.

Well, my body used to be perfectly sound, too. However, that is not a Biblical idea, nor is it in the Magisterium.

If Adam was not immortal that means he could have still had a heart attack, blood clot, etc and that doesnt sound right because those correspond to pain and suffering which didnt exist before the fall.

You’re assuming what you’re attempting to prove.

Barbarian on the idea that God spoke of a physical death:
That would invalidate the Resurrection. Jesus died on the cross to save us from that death. If the death God spoke of was physical, then Jesus failed; we will all die physically.

I dont see how physical death was not a consequence of the fall considering it goes right along with the consequences of pain and suffering.

Can’t be. Unless God told Adam something that was not true.

And that is logically absurd, so there really is no choice.


#11

God never said they would (physically) die immediately.

Also, death goes on continually in our physical flesh today (cells continually dying). Perhaps that was not originally part of man’s nature.

Adam and Eve experienced spiritual death immediately. I wonder if they comprehended physical death prior to Cain’s murder of Abel. What a sorrowful moment that must have been for them.

Nita


#12

The Barbarian’s interpretations notwithstanding, it appears to me that the Catholic doctrinal position is pretty clear, that Original Sin resulted in the death of the body (among other things):

"And therefore it is agreed among all Christians who truthfully hold the catholic faith, that we are subject to the death of the body, not by the law of nature, by which God ordained no death for man, but by His righteous infliction on account of sin; for God, taking vengeance on sin, said to the man, in whom we all then were, “Dust thou art, and unto dust shall thou return.”
[RIGHT]St. Augustine, The City of God, (Book 13, Chapter 15)[/RIGHT]

“Still, although it was by reason of his body that he was dust, and although he bare about the natural body in which he was created, he would if he had not sinned, have been changed into a spiritual body, and would have passed into the incorruptible state, which is promised to the faithful and the saints, without the peril of death.”
[RIGHT]St. Augustine, On the Merits of Forgiveness of Sins, etc. (book 1, chapt. 2)[/RIGHT]

“If any one does not confess that the first man, Adam, when he had transgressed the commandment of God in Paradise, immediately lost the holiness and justice wherein he had been constituted; and that he incurred, through the offence of that prevarication, the wrath and indignation of God, and consequently death, with which God had previously threatened him, and, together with death, captivity under his power who thenceforth had the empire of death, that is to say, the devil, and that the entire Adam, through that offence of prevarication, was changed, in body and soul, for the worse; let him be anathema.”
[RIGHT]Council of Trent, 1547, Chapter 5[/RIGHT]

“Finally, the consequence explicitly foretold for this disobedience will come true: man will ‘return to the ground,’ for out of it he was taken. Death makes its entrance into human history.”
[RIGHT]Catechism of the Catholic Church, π 101[/RIGHT]

“Therefore, just as through one person sin entered the world, and through sin, death, and thus death came to all, inasmuch as all sinned.”
[RIGHT]Romans 5:12[/RIGHT]


#13

God never said they would (physically) die immediately.

To be precise, He said Adam would die that very day. But it didn’t happen physically, did it?

Also, death goes on continually in our physical flesh today (cells continually dying).

That would require a re-definition, of the word “die.” No one uses it in that context/

Perhaps that was not originally part of man’s nature.

Adam and Eve experienced spiritual death immediately. I wonder if they comprehended physical death prior to Cain’s murder of Abel. What a sorrowful moment that must have been for them.

That is a lot closer, I think to the truth. One of the differences between humans and other animals, is that we are aware of our mortality.

I think it is significant also that the people who work with apes who have been taught to sign, have said that the one thing they would not tell them, is that they will die someday.

They intuitively understand. Humans became what we are, by gaining a sense of good and evil, which comes with empathy (understanding mental states in others) and a sense of our mortality.


#14

Two things:

  1. “Day” in Scripture does not always mean a 24 hour period of time, but can refer to a new era/period of time characterized by some new state or condition. (cf see CCC #349; also various Bible prophecies that speak of “in that day”.
    Using the language of Genesis 1:5 where “Day” is defined as a period of light (no designation regarding hourly length of time; sun not even formed yet), one might interpret God’s words in Gen 2:17, (“in the day that you eat it you shall die.”) as indicating the period of light would continue as long as they refrained from eating. And, if so, then perhaps one might infer that “eating” would inaugurate a period of darkness (night) - a night which would last until the beginning of another day, the “eighth day” spoken of in the CCC reference.

  2. If there was no such thing as physical death taking place in human cells at the time of original creation, then it is possible it may have begun the moment they disobeyed.

Nita


#15

A couple of helpful articles on the subject:

asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/2006/PSCF6-06Phillips.pdf
godandscience.org/youngearth/death.html

Blessings,

Don
+T+


#16
  1. “Day” in Scripture does not always mean a 24 hour period of time, but can refer to a new era/period of time characterized by some new state or condition. (cf see CCC #349;

So, seeing as that “death” from which Jesus saved us was a spiritual and not a physical one, and since you seem to accept that Genesis is allegorical, why not just accept it the way it reads?

one might interpret God’s words in Gen 2:17, (“in the day that you eat it you shall die.”) as indicating the period of light would continue as long as they refrained from eating. And, if so, then perhaps one might infer that “eating” would inaugurate a period of darkness (night) - a night which would last until the beginning of another day, the “eighth day” spoken of in the CCC reference.

Sounds like adding a lot of extra conditions to get it to say something other than it says.

  1. If there was no such thing as physical death taking place in human cells at the time of original creation, then it is possible it may have begun the moment they disobeyed.

But that wouldn’t be “death” either. God didn’t say “some of your cells will die.” He said Adam would die the day he ate from the tree. Why not just accept it as it is?


#17

Are you saying the “day” in Gen 2:17 (“on the day you eat…”) has a different meaning in that one verse than in the other verses where it is used in the creation story?

If you contend it means something other than the definition given by Genesis itself (1:5), on what do you base that contention?

Or do you believe that the six days of creation were six 24 solar days - and that is why you are implying Adam was to die within 24 hours if God’s warning included physical death?

Nita


#18

Good post. The first animals to be killed were sacrficed as cloths for Adam and Eve. Maybe God could have stuck with the leaves but there was more that He wanted to show them. They must have been horrified wearing dead animal skins when no animal which they had named had died.


#19

Are you saying the “day” in Gen 2:17 (“on the day you eat…”) has a different meaning in that one verse than in the other verses where it is used in the creation story?

No.

If you contend it means something other than the definition given by Genesis itself (1:5), on what do you base that contention?

I don’t. And BTW, Genesis does not make it clear what a “day” means in the book.

Or do you believe that the six days of creation were six 24 solar days - and that is why you are implying Adam was to die within 24 hours if God’s warning included physical death?

No. I’m pointing out that the allegory says that when Adam eats from the tree (an allegory about gaining an understanding of good and evil, and therefore becoming a moral being) he will die. But he doesn’t die physically.

And this, as you see, is consistent with the death that Jesus saves us from, the one His Father sent Him to do for us to save us from the death brought into the world by Adam. It’s a spiritual death, not a physical one. If it was a physical death He came to save us from, He failed.


#20

Gen 1:5 “God called the light day.” Sounds pretty clear to me. Now, the meaning of “light” would make for an interesting discussion.

No. I’m pointing out that the allegory says that when Adam eats from the tree (an allegory about gaining an understanding of good and evil, and therefore becoming a moral being) he will die. But he doesn’t die physically.

Adam most certainly did die physically - just not within 24 hours.

And this, as you see, is consistent with the death that Jesus saves us from, the one His Father sent Him to do for us to save us from the death brought into the world by Adam. It’s a spiritual death, not a physical one.

It is both - death applies to both. You kept telling me earlier to “accept it the way it reads”; “as it is”. I will pass your own advice back to you.

If it was a physical death He came to save us from, He failed.

He most certainly did not fail. What do you think the resurrection was? What do you think the promise of resurrection to us is? Resurrection is being SAVED from physical death. Saved does not mean never undergoing it; it means overcoming it. (Same as being saved from spiritual death doesn’t mean never undergoing it, but overcoming it.)

Nita


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