The Fall: Eden & Beyond

 

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The book of Genesis (2:17) refers not only to the tree of life but also to the ‘tree of the knowledge of good and evil’[1]. It was the fruit from this tree that was prohibited.  It seems to me, therefore, that ‘Good and Evil’ were not new phenomena—arriving in the garden of Eden as a means of exposing the heart of mankind. Rather the linguistic use of the term ‘good and Evil’ defined an actual state or potentiality. In other words ‘good and evil’ had prior linguistic and experiential reality with regards to the actions of other created agents.

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R. J. Russell (2008) points out that ‘the Second Law of Thermodynamics provides an example at the level of physics of what is needed if the consequences of sinful acts are to be expressed physically, including dissipation and disruption, as well as the consequences of virtuous acts of beauty and goodness.’ (R. Russell, 258) This potentially had been allowed for prior to the genesis of creation. If the Second Law is the necessary component—the one constant that produces the bountiful array of life that emanates through the biological processes as well as producing the entropic consequences that bring about predation, parasitism, plague and even the possibility of ‘natural disasters’—then its inclusion would have been either an intentional act of the Creator of the universe or otherwise. I advocate the former—something the Apostle Paul seems to imply in Romans 8:20-21 when he states that—‘the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him 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 the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in the hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God (Romans 8:20,21 NIV)

I take it that it was, as the apostle suggests, God who subjected the creation—not: angels, demons or mankind. Leon Morris states that Scripture never assigns—either to ‘Adam’ or ‘Satan’—the power to bring about such far-reaching change, and that there is no reason to think of Adam or of Satan acting in hope for the future. “…hope is characteristic of God, who may indeed be called ‘the God of hope’ (Romans 15:13) The cosmic fall is not the last word; the last word is with [hope].” (L. Morris 1988, 321-322) When, however, would this subjugation of nature have taking place? Well, I suggest, as far as Paul was concerned it would have been after the event in the garden (Genesis chapter 3). Paul, most likely, would not have presumed that God had pre-ordained the present created system in order to deal with sin/evil. However, as one who knew the Hebrew Scriptures, the apostle ought to have realised that neither of the characters in the Garden of Eden had eaten of the tree of life–so that they may live. Continue reading The Fall: Eden & Beyond