Monday, June 11, 2012

A Very Good Creation That Undermines Christianity

Introduction

If you've been following Faithful Thinkers for a while, you will know that I take a very strong stance regarding the age of the universe. For those who don't know, I take the old-earth creation view (OEC) (as opposed to the young-earth creation view [YEC} or theistic evolutionary view [TE]). I enjoy discussing and debating it as long as I'm not talking to zombies (please read that post as this post draws from the practices encouraged in it). This past week I've been actively discussing one particular interpretation of a certain passage of scripture. I decided to blog about it because I believe that I have identified a powerful argument that an atheist or other unbeliever can add to their arsenal of arguments against Christianity.


What Does "Very Good" Mean?


Our discussion began by my asking Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis (AiG) on his Facebook page what he believed God meant in Genesis 1:31a ("God saw all that he had made, and it was very good"). Specifically, I asked about the phrase "very good". I asked if he believed that it meant a moral good (all the matter/energy that God created has moral value), a teleological/utilitarian good (as in the creation being very good to accomplish His goals), or both (the two options are not necessarily mutually exclusive). Ham did not respond to me; however, another person did. According to Ham's view, this is a proclamation by God that creation was perfect at the end of creation day six as He is perfect. He believes there is no other legitimate way to interpret this passage. I was given an audio recording by Mr. Ham where he explains this view and his argument here: http://blogs.answersingenesis.org/blogs/ken-ham/2006/06/06/refuting-compromise-what-does-2/

Please listen to it as the rest of the post depends on the reader's familiarity with the content of the recording. It will also allow the reader to determine if I am arguing against a strawman.


Creation as Part of God

The first problem that sticks out to me is that Ham is saying that God is attributing certain of his attributes to the creation. This could be omnipotence, omniscience, eternality, moral perfection, etc, or any combination of those. It is easy to see how the first and second options are not likely to be what God is talking about in his proclamation. The third may not be so obvious, until we realize that if the creation is eternal, then it was never created and is part of God. This is a view of panentheism (not pantheism) that is not compatible with Christianity because the Creator and creation are not part of one another- they are distinct (see Norman Geisler's book "Creating God In The Image of Man").

Ham's argument, though, does not necessarily fall victim to that critique. He nuances what he means by "perfect". He refers to the word "good" in the moral sense (the fourth option above). He states that the creation was "very good" as God is "good". This would be a moral proclamation of perfect morality on the creation. This is where Ham's argument becomes problematic.

Theological and Scriptural Problems

Ham uses Mark 10:18 (" 'Why do you call me good?' Jesus answered, 'no one is good- except God alone'.") as his supporting text outside Genesis 1 to determine what "good" means. The problem is that if Jesus states that no one is good except God, why did God state that the creation is good? This is a contradiction, not only in scripture, but from the words from God, himself. If one of the statements is false, then God has lied, but scripture tells us that God can't lie (Titus 1:2). Not only do we have a theological problem (God is lying in one of the passages), but we also have a scriptural problem (one of the passages is wrong- scripture is not inerrant).

One person offered that this problem can be solved by realizing that God's declaration was prior to the Fall, while Jesus' was after the Fall. That's okay, until we ask the question "was the statement Jesus made true before the Fall also?". If we answer "no", then we have something else that shares an attribute of God (flirting, again, with panentheism). If we answer "yes", then the contradiction still exists. So, that answer does not do anything to overcome my critique, in fact, it makes my critique all the more powerful.

Affirming Contradictions

The beginning of the audio recording states that AiG is the "Bible-affirming ministry". Which of those contradictory scriptures will they affirm and which will they deny? I am not asking this question to be smug; I know that AiG would affirm both. My point is that if they affirm their interpretation of "very good" as a moral proclamation, then they cannot affirm the accuracy of both passages without affirming a contradiction or affirming panentheism. The first option brings their claim of "Bible-Affirming" into question, while the second brings the claim of "Christian" into question. If the only legitimate way to interpret Genesis 1:31 is the way Ken Ham states, then scripture either affirms a direct contradiction or a theology that is not compatible with traditional, orthodox Christianity. Either of those options would be welcome by the atheist who wishes to find a powerful argument against Christianity. If they use the YEC's presupposition of biblical authority (really, a presuppositiion of a particular interpretation of the Bible), then they can easily undermined Christianity.

Amoral Creations


Inanimate Objects Do Not Have Natures

YEC's affirm that creation was declared morally perfect at the end of creation day six. However, if something is "good" or "bad" (moral terms), then they must possess an ethical or moral nature. I don't have to go very far to explain that inanimate parts of creation such as air, rocks, and water cannot possess natures (much less, moral natures). That is the first big issue with declaring all creation morally perfect. Not only do inanimate objects not possess natures, they do not possess any ability to make decisions or act apart from cause and effect. They cannot commit sin. Since they cannot commit sin, they cannot be punished for sin.

Animals Are Not Moral Beings

A while back I wrote a post about the evil of animal death (Cartoons, Animal Death and Theology). In that post I concluded that animals do not have moral natures, because they were not created in the Image of God. Since they do not have moral natures, they could not be declared as morally perfect. As a result, they cannot commit sin, and do not need to be punished for sin.

God's Perfect Justice

This is an attribute of God that I believe many people forget. Justice only punishes that which commits sin, and only that sin which is committed. If God punishes or rewards that which does not deserve it, then God's perfect justice (an extension of his perfect moral nature) is compromised. He, therefore, cannot punish or reward amoral creations. He also cannot declare amoral creations as morally good or morally evil.

Moral Creations

God declared that he created man in the Image of God. This is where a moral nature is derived. Only humans (not animals or other objects of creation) are held morally responsible. Only they can possess a moral nature, and only they can choose to act outside of cause and effect. At the beginning, they did possess a perfect moral nature, but when Adam and Eve chose to go against God's moral command, they lost that perfect moral nature and sin became part of who they were- it became their nature.

Moral Proclamations

Prior to man's fall, God certainly would have been justified in proclaiming man to be morally perfect, because that is how He created them. But He created the rest of creation without even a moral attribute. So, either Genesis 1:31a refers only to man or it is not talking about a moral perfection. I believe that Ken Ham would agree with me that the context of the verse dictates that it speaks of all creation. So, that leaves us with one option: "very good" is not a moral proclamation.

The Atheist Accurately Identifies Blind Faith

Now, at this point, if someone insists that "very good" is a moral proclamation in scripture, then they must grant that scripture is wrong on this. Using Ken Ham's own argument: if you can't believe what is written in Genesis 1, how can you believe the rest of scripture? For if you believe this (and the rest of scripture) then you are acting AGAINST the evidence. Atheists define "faith" as believing something when all the evidence points the opposite direction. That is precisely what the YEC must do if they wish to maintain this interpretation of "very good".

A Way of Escape

However, there is quite a simple way to overcome this objection (sorry, atheists). All that needs to be done to escape every implication I've presented here (from panentheism to compromising God's justice to blind faith to undermining Christianity altogether) is to give up the interpretation that "very good" exclusively means "morally perfect". But what interpretation should be put in its place? The other option I presented at the beginning is that "very good" refers to the purposes for which God created the universe.

A Major Misrepresentation

I blogged a few weeks ago about Ken Ham misrepresenting the views of those he disagrees with here and here. He does the same in this audio recording. He states that Christians who accept "millions of years" deny a perfect creation. Let me say that clearly. We do not deny a perfect creation. We affirm that creation was perfect for accomplishing the purposes that God created it to accomplish.

Ken Ham states, also, that scripture tells us that God's works are perfect (or "good"). We also affirm this. God does not act arbitrarily; He has purpose behind what He does. Because God is morally perfect, His purposes will also be morally perfect. However, a purpose for something is distinct from that something. The something can be amoral and still be used to accomplish a moral purpose.

What's At Stake?

A while back I wrote a post that explained different reasons that people accepted and rejected a worldview (Reasons In and Out of a Worldview). I mainly focused on complete worldviews in that post; however, the same concept does apply to doctrines and beliefs within a worldview. Even though what I have presented here is logical, someone might not want to accept it because of what is at stake. What will be lost if someone rejects the idea that "very good" is a moral proclamation is a piece of scriptural evidence that YECs use to show that there was no animal death, pain, sickness, or natural disasters prior to the Fall of Adam and Eve.

If "very good" is not a moral proclamation, we cannot exclude anything that we call "evil" from the perfect creation- that includes all the death, sickness, and natural disasters that the fossil record shows existed prior to the creation of man. Notice, too, that I placed "evil" in quotes. I do that because even if we were to grant that "very good" was a moral proclamation, it would have to be shown that death, sickness, and natural disasters were necessarily evil, in and of themselves. If they are not necessarily evil, in and of themselves, then even with a morally "very good" creation, they could still exist. Two recent posts that address the "evil" of pain and suffering are "Is Pain Inherently Evil?" and "Our Compulsion to Repair a Deformed Body".

A Clarification On My Conclusion

Since I am big on preventing the overstating of conclusions, I want to be as clear here as I can. The YEC needs to understand that what I presented here is ONLY a defeater for the YEC view (and Christianity) IF they insist that "very good" is a moral proclamation and that is the only legitimate interpretation of the passage. Understanding "very good" to be a teleological proclamation does not undermine the YEC view (it is perfectly compatible with it); the conclusion merely removes a piece of evidence against other views from the YEC arsenal.

What is to be Gained?

By changing one's view on the interpretation of "very good", they avoid philosophical, theological, scriptural, and moral issues. All of which stand against the rest of scripture. Hugh Ross (Reasons to Believe) likes to point out an important aspect of biblical inerrancy that many people forget: we can't just interpret scripture literally, it must also be interpreted consistently. Interpreting "very good" as a moral proclamation contradicts so much of the rest of scripture (monotheism and God's perfect justice [perfect morality]), that to continue with that interpretation we lose biblical inerrancy. By changing our interpretation, we maintain biblical inerrancy. We avoid contradictory statements by God- we gain logical coherence and consistency and can maintain that God does not lie and that God is consistent (both based in scripture).

Euthyphro Rears His Ugly Head

Finally and most powerfully, if God's perfect morality is called into question, then we realize that either God is making up the rules as he goes or that there is another moral standard that even God is subject to (the Euthyphro dilemma). If that dilemma exists, then there is no objective foundation for calling sin immoral. If there is no objective foundation for calling sin immoral, there is no objective foundation for saying that man is evil because he is "sinful". Without evil, though, there is no sin. Without sin, there is no need for forgiveness. Without the need for forgiveness, there is no need for Jesus Christ to die. If there is no need for Jesus Christ to die, there is no need for him to resurrect. Without the need for the resurrection, Christianity is false.

Conclusion

The age of the universe is definitely one of those zombie topics that are important to discuss but rarely go anywhere towards reconciliation. As I mentioned in my post about discussing zombie topics I have pointed out several essential beliefs to Christianity that are at stake if we take the interpretation of "very good" to be a moral proclamation. If my reasoning is flawed on all points regarding all essentials (if even one conclusion regarding an essential is sound, then Christianity is undermined), please point it out in the comments. However, please read and reread my post. Please be sure that you understand what I have written and do not (un)intentionally attack a strawman to maintain a cherished tradition.

To Research Further

63 comments:

  1. Luke,

    You've written a well written essay here, but I think you fall into several major mistakes. Let it be known that I'm no huge fan of Ken Ham. Even though I am a YEC... I think he's kind of a fundamentalist hack. That being said... I'm not normally one to go point by point, but you asked for peer review, so here it is.

    Creation as Part of God: The problem you have here is that Christian theology has always made a distinction between "Communicable" and "Incommunicable" attributes. That is to say that God can change us and make us like him in some ways, but not in another. You are right to that God cannot make us omnipotent, omniscient, or eternal... those are incommunicable attributes. However, attributes like loving, righteous, graceful, merciful, immortal, and yes... good, can be communicated to us. In fact, the Early Church's entire soteriology was based largely on the communication of attributes to us in the incarnation... so to say that God made creation and declared it good as he is good is not panentheism.

    Theological and Scriptural Proglems: Since creation being good prior to the Fall does NOT affirm panentheism for the reasons I have given above... your critique here is not legitimate. Creation was declared very good prior to the Fall and after the Fall that goodness was corrupted such that the only thing good that remained was God (Not a view I hold... but that is what Ham is getting at).

    Affirming Contradictions: As I have shown above... it's not a contradiction, so this point which rests on the previous two is invalid as well. You claim that to say that Creation is good as God is good is "a theology that is not compatible with traditional, orthodox Christianity." However, as I stated above... once you understand the difference between communicable and incommunicable attributes, and see that some attributes not only CAN, but are, communicated to us... you will understand how this statement is false.

    Beyond that, you're not looking at the way that the word "Good" is used in Genesis 1 (I understand that Ham isn't either... so his argument fails as much as your refutation of his does). The Hebrew adjective טוֹב has a variety of meanings. None of them involve an incommunicable attribute of God. There are a variety of ways to interpret what the Bible is saying here. You could read it as saying "God saw everything that he had made, and behold, [everything he had made] was very good." or "God saw everything that he had made and behold [God's act of making it] was very good" or "God saw everything that he had made and behold [The act of God seeing it] was very good." The problem with this text is that the word "it" is implied in translations, but not present in the original Hebrew. The Hebrew literally says, "God saw everything that he had made and behold, good." This makes perfect sense in Hebrew, but not in English. This makes the antecedent of טוֹב ambiguous.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Inanimate Objects Do Not Have Natures: Where are you getting this from? Discussion of "Natures" is typically based on Platonic or Aristotelian metaphysics... both of which affirm that all objects have a nature, even inanimate objects. If you're not drawing from that... where?

    Animals are not Moral Beings: I think you're confusing being morally responsible beings with being moral beings. Animals have moral value... if I torture a cat, it is wrong. If I use a dog as a weapon, it is wrong. I understand that the moral responsibility of those actions rests on me, but that does not make those animals morally neutral... simply not morally responsible entities. Furthermore, we do not know for sure that they are not moral beings... do you know for a fact that they are not held accountable in some fashion? They were given commands to follow in Genesis 1, were they not?

    God's Perfect Justice: You run into problems here too... when Adam fell, God cursed the ground. Either God is unjust in doing that, or he is not. This is a common problem I see, particularly among OECs, is Justice something that is external to God, such that he is bound to act in a certain way? Or is Justice something that flows from the very nature of God? That is to say, does God do (or not do) something because it is just, or is something he does just because justice is defined by what he does. God curses the ground (Jesus curses a fig tree)... if what you are saying in this point is true then we have a bigger problem to resolve than the age of the earth. Furthermore, Paul says that all of creation groans in anticipation of its coming redemption. Why does creation need to be redeemed?

    Moral Creations: Again, your view is too restricted. Satan is a morally responsible being... but in so far as the Bible reveals he is not created in the Image of God. Moral Responsible cannot be limited to image bearers.

    Moral Proclamations: I have pretty much dismantled what you have said up until this point, and this argument rests on that.

    Conclusion: I don't think that moral perfection is what is in view in Genesis 1:31... however, I don't think (for the reasons I have outlined above) that your response fully refutes Ham's conclusions. Your entire argument rests on the fact that the only moral being in all of creation is Humanity... however this is untrue. Animals are given commands and the ground is cursed... those are both things that imply a morality inherent within them. Furthermore, you have ignored Angels all together (which are not only moral beings... but morally responsible beings). Your whole article rests on faulty premises and on those faulty premises your whole article falls.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ReformedArsenal,
      Thank you for taking the time to critique my response. I think that you have failed to make distinctions, yourself; and have failed to understand the implications of Ham's argument.

      Here is the first part of the argument:

      1. "Good", when used by God or about God, means "perfect"
      2. God proclaims creation as "good" in Genesis 1:31
      3. Therefore, God proclaims creation as "perfect"

      He does not further define "perfect". So, I must make an assumption here. "Perfect" tends to mean the absense of a lack of some attribute. So, I go through a few select attributes and rule them out as being communicated to man with an absense of lack. Which you agree with. You state that God has attributes that are communicable to man and those that cannot be. I accept that distinction (as I always have); however, one more distinction needs to be recognized that I have made: there is a difference between God's ability to communicate an attribute in its perfection and communicating it lacking perfection. For instance, let's use one of the attributes that we both rule out: omniscience. God communicates knowledge to us, but not all knowledge. Knowledge is a communicable attribute while omniscience is not. Now let's take one of your examples: love. God communicates love to us (makes us loving), but he does not communicate to us a omnibenevolence (makes us all-loving). Most attributes of God can be communicated to man, but only in the sense that they are lacking. The incommunicable attributes are those that are perfect.

      It does not matter that Ham does not specifically identify the attribute he is referring to, he is talking about a perfect version of one of God's attributes. These are the ones that are incommunicable. If God declares that something contains an incommunicable attribute, then he is declaring it to be either himself (pantheism) or part of himself (panentheism).

      The reason that I chose to assume that Ham was referring to God's moral nature is because he references Mark 10:18. There he assumes Jesus is speaking of God's morality. So, by implication, that is the attribute that I believe Ham is referring to. Notice that he does not state it specifically; I believe that is because he's assuming that the listener will assume the that Jesus is referring to God's morality (an assumption that I agree with).

      Here's the second part (and where I think you misunderstand him):
      1. In Mark 10:18 "good" refers to God's morality
      2. God's morality is perfect
      3. God proclaimed that creation was "good"
      4. Therefore, God proclaimed that creation is morally perfect.

      My argument takes Ham's conclusion and the distinction between communicable and incommunicable attributes like this:

      1. God proclaimed that creation is morally perfect.
      2. Perfect morality cannot be communicated to a creation
      3. Therefore, either God is saying the "creation" is part of Himself (panentheism) or God did not proclaim what was created to be morally perfect ("very good" means something else).

      If the YEC wishes to insist that "very good" is moral perfection in the way God is (the way that Ham articulated his view), then we are stuck with panentheism (minimum, pantheism maximum). As I mentioned, Christian scripture leaves no interpretive room to allow for either of those options, so they must be rejected. Which leaves us with concluding that "very good" is not a moral proclamation. This is not palatable to most YECs. So the rest of the post was spent trying to make it more acceptable- in an effort to avoid the defeater to Christianity (panentheism). If these YEC insists that "very good" is moral, then they have theological problems, scriptural problems, and contradictions. (see next reply for more).

      Delete
    2. Now, I completely agree with what you state about the use of the pronoun "it" in Genesis 1:31. That recognition leaves open the interpretation of what, exactly, "good" refers to. As you can tell, my post assumes that "good" refers to the creation itself. Both Ham and I agree on this interpretation, so I didn't feel the need to add that bit of detail to the post. However, I will state that the fact that what you state is true reminds us that Ham and I are making an assumption (even though it is the same one). YECs typically like to use "assumption" to justify skepticism of an interpretation they don't agree with or justify hard agnosticism regarding the interpretation. Frankly, I believe that is a cheap shot and Ham and I actually agree on the assumption, that is why I chose not to take that path and rather build a case for morality not being inherent in created objects.

      Continuing on to your second comment: to prevent you from committing the genetic fallacy, I'm going to refrain from stating "where" I got my idea of "natures" from. Let's look at my particular view and address it based on its own merrits.

      I don't believe that there is a difference between "moral being" and "morally responsible being". The dog that was used as a weapon is not moral a creature. It may be wrong, but because of two reasons that are not the dog: you are a moral(ly responsible) being and your purpose may or may not be good or evil. Notice all the qualifiers ("may") that I placed in that. If the dog is used as a weapon to prevent a person from killing a child (another moral being), then the purpose is good. But if the same dog is later used to kill the child, the purpose IS evil. If the dog is an evil being, how does it have the ability to perform good? What other nature does the dog possess that is good that enables it to perform the good of saving the child?

      I agree that my moral responsibility does not, in itself, remove another morally responsible being from responsibility. That is not my claim. The dog is much like my laptop. I can throw it at my wife or use it to spread the Gospel. The morality that is described is of the purpose, not the object itself. If we wish to say that creation is now inherently evil, then even my laptop is inherently evil. Further inanimate objects do not have the ability to do anything; they must be used. All uses have a purpose. A purpose in the mind of a moral(ly responsible) being is what is good or evil. If all things possess either a good or evil nature (including inanimate objects), and you wish to say that we don't know if animals will be held responsible, then it is justifiable for me to posit that we don't know if my laptop will be held responsbile too. Notice that I have taken us to absurdity- that is precisely where the idea that animals are moral beings leads.

      To take it a step further, to say that we don't know if other moral beings will be held responsible ignores the reason for and the target audience of Christ's sacrifice. It was for those seperated from God by sin and for humanity. We DO know if other moral beings will be held responsible- the answer is "yes"- all dogs do not go to heaven, all dogs go to hell because they are separated from God by their evil nature and there is no plan of salvation for them.

      (still more on next reply)

      Delete
    3. My view of moral creations is not "too restrictive" for this discussion. I specifically left out the spiritual realm because we are discussing the physical realm. I grant that angels were not created in the Image of God and that they are morally responsible beings. The Image of God is not the only source for granting a being a moral nature, but it is the only source scripture gives for the physical creation (otherwise you are stuck with the implications I described above).

      Of course, I have made another assumption in my exclusion of the spiritual realm in the discussion: that the creation spoken of in Genesis 1:31 excludes the spiritual realm. However, if it does include the spiritual realm, then I can open up another family of critiques against the view that "very good" is speaking of morality.

      Conclusion: Even though Ham is not specific about the attribute he is referring to, it can be deduced by what he references. When we make the distinction between "communicable" and "incommunicable" attributes correctly, it actually argues for my conclusion that "morally perfect" cannot be used to describe any created thing. My argument has not been "dismantled" as you claim. You have brought to the attention of readers nuances that needed to be flushed out. I'm sure that you believe that I have not "dismatled" your critique either, so please provide the nuances that I am not aware of that will allow your critique to stand.

      Thanks for the peer-review. I have enjoyed the challenge and hope you will return for more.

      Delete
  3. I've actually not heard the "morally perfect" argument from YEC in regards to "very good" at Day 7. So that is a new one to me. I personally do not agree with it and I take a YEC approach. I have not heard Ken Ham describe 'very good' as 'morally perfect' either. Perfect means without blemish and complete. But I agree that 'morally perfect' does not make sense in terms of creation. Adam and Eve were innocent. That's different than 'morally perfect'. What that means, I can't really describe. If the 'morally perfect' is applied to Adam and Eve, then possibly, but I don't really have an answer for that. What I can say, is that what you posted did not indicated that Ken Ham actually said 'morally perfect' which is the base of this argument. Be careful about putting words into other people's mouths. I have not heard Ken Ham talk about 'morally perfect' in the sense you brought up nor have I heard others. I agree that this is a weak argument and that's likely why I have not heard YEC use it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Charlie,
      Thanks for that comment. I think that you bring up a very delicate point. Since Ham does not use the term "morally perfect", I absolutely run the risk of arguing against a strawman here. However, I believe that my deduction of "morally perfect" is sound given what he presented in the audio recording (see my reply to ReformedArsenal above).

      I agree that it is a very weak argument, but I also believe that it accurately represents that Ham offers. If I am incorrect, then please point me to a resource where Ham goes into more detail about his view that allows him to escape my deduction.

      Thanks again and please continue to comment, as I want to make sure I am not misrepresenting or using faulty reasoning here.

      Delete
  4. Have you seen the video from TBN Network's "Praise the Lord" where Ken Ham along with Hugh Ross, Ray Comfort, Sean McDowell, Eric Hovind, and John Bloom debate about the YEC/OEC issue? It's two hours, so my memory doesn't recall the whole thing. I do believe this was brought up but I'm not sure how much detail in comparison. I actually have not seen much of Ken Ham's actual debates, and I have not listened to the audio (time issue), so I was pretty much going by what you were saying. I still stand by I haven't seen Ham or other YEC take the 'morally perfect' approach which is what you addressed.

    Now also to be clear. I believe no single model we ever come up with can fully and accurately describe what actually happened. With YEC as well. I don't believe any YEC model will get the whole picture. That being said, every YEC model will have a weakness or question mark. I personally don't agree with everything each YEC says. If Ken Ham really does support this view, I don't agree with it. But that is just one aspect that actually doesn't have a large impact on the rest of his YEC view. His stance of animals not eating each other and no death before Adam's sin (including animals) is not impacted by this argument. It just means the argument needs to be polished. You need to understand you are not knocking down a YEC foundational pillar. It is a weak argument and it should not be used, but if it's false, it doesn't change much of the YEC view.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Charlie,
      "But that is just one aspect that actually doesn't have a large impact on the rest of his YEC view."

      I agree that this attacks only one aspect...and only one argument of that aspect at that. YECs use, at least, two other scriptures to support a (morally) perfect creation. All I have done here is just remove one scripture that is claimed to be a defeater for the OEC view. That was my goal in this post, nothing more.

      There are plenty more passages that YECs claim as scriptural defeaters for the OEC view. With this passage, I made sure to offer an alternative interpretation that not only escapes the implications I've pointed out, but is also compatible with the YEC view. YEC is perfectly compatible with the creation being proclaimed a teleologically perfect for God's purposes. I'm specifically saying that this passage is not a defeater for OEC, but I'm not taking the other extreme and saying that it is a defeater for YEC (because I don't believe that it is).

      I have seen a bit of the TBN discussion. It is setting in one of my browser tabs to finish. I'm just looking for time that I have when I can have audio on. :)

      Delete
    2. You actually didn't remove one Scripture for YEC defeat of OEC. You just removed one possible interpretation from the list. There are other interpretations for YEC for that Scripture that you mention, but not addressed that are definitely valid. The view that animals didn't die and the Fossil record was not included in 'very good', that man without sin would have lived forever, is still intact.

      You are right in that this passage ALONE is not an OEC defeater. It will never be a YEC defeater. Where this passage comes into play is the issue of death before sin, blood being required for the remission of sin, and what conditions the creation would have pre-sin that becomes the issue. When this comes into the picture, what 'very good' means has to consider these issues. If animal death was pre-sin, then what did animal sacrifice mean? Shed blood is always used as a picture of the result of sin or the remission of sin. The life of the flesh is in the blood according to Leviticus. And shed blood always is associated with sin. That includes animals. So when you get around to addressing the other YEC interpretations, you need to consider this.

      Charlie

      Delete
    3. Charlie,
      If OEC does in fact necessarily undermine the atonement of Christ, then it necessarily undermines Christianity. If it necessarily undermines Christianity, then it is rightly categorized as heresy (no one should shy away from calling it heresy, if they truly believe that it undermines the atonement of Christ). However, OEC does not undermine the atonement of Christ, as many YECs claim (but are not willing to call OEC heresy- not sure why, though). I will definitely spend a post on this subject at a later date. For now, let's get back to the topic at hand- "very good".

      --------------------

      I agree that there are interpretations of "very good" that are compatible with no animal death before the Fall. I'm not claiming there are not (if I were, then I would necessarily be saying that the scripture is a defeater to the YEC view). What I am saying is that there are interpretations (many of the same ones that YECs use) that are also compatible with animal death existing prior to the Fall. Notice that I grant there are interpretations that allow both and ones that don't. Any of the ones that don't, if the correct interpretation, offer a defeater for the view that it is not compatible with. The reason for this is a necessary implication of the doctrine of biblical inerrency/infallibility. If ALL scripture is true in all aspects (morally, historically, scientifically), then a single passage, when interpreted correctly, will necessarily defeat views that contract the correct interpretation.

      In effect, if any interpretation that is not compatible with animal death before the Fall is the correct interpretation, then it necessarily (and on its own) defeats the OEC view as being compatible with scripture. Likewise, if any interpretation that is not compatible with no animal death before the Fall is the correct interpretation, then it necessarily (and on its own) defeats the YEC view. Let's not give a correct interpretation of a single scripture too little credit.

      YECs claim to offer the first all the time. While, I am not claiming to have offered the second. They claim that the OEC model is not compatible with scripture. I'm saying that both are compatible with scripture.

      In this post, I am addressing one of the interpretations that YECs offer that they claim defeats the OEC view. It seems that you agree with the details of my conclusion:

      1. That the interpretation is not valid
      2. Because of that, the interpretation cannot be offered as a defeater to the idea that OEC is not compatible with scripture

      Am I correct that you agree with those two conclusions?

      My post also offers a third conclusion: The implications of this particular interpretation of this passage defeats Christianity; thus, the interpretation is heretical. This conclusion is much more controversial and serious than the other two. That is why I leave open the possibility that Ken Ham has nuances in his view (or that there are flaws in my reasoning) that allows him to escape the implications (and the charge of heresy). I also leave open the possibility that I have misunderstood what Ham claims (thus my conclusion does not specifically apply to him). Ham takes the claim of heresy very seriously and expects those he accuses of it to address his challenges and not just dismiss them. The same should be expected of him.

      My conclusions apply to Ham if and only if:

      1. I have accurately understood his claims in the audio recording
      2. My reasoning is valid

      If I have failed on either one of those accounts, he's off the hook. Its that simple.

      Delete
  5. “...I asked if he believed that it meant a moral good (all the matter/energy that God created has moral value), a teleological/utilitarian good (as in the creation being very good to accomplish His goals), or both (the two options are not necessarily mutually exclusive).”

    That’s a good way of asking the question, though I think there’s a third way of looking at it. You are right in saying that air and rocks do not have a moral nature – neither does typhoid or cancer. But we all intuitively know that typhoid and cancer are “bad” attributes of nature. I think it was Augustine who said that “evil” doesn’t actually exist. Evil is only the privation of good. I would agree with that definition and say that before the fall, nothing in creation suffered any privation.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. DISCLAIMER TO READERS:

      This comment is the first part of a larger discussion that Steve and I are having. Steve took the time to respond "inline" to my entire post. We decided to split each response into a separate thread in the comments (13 total) to make it easier for you (and us) to follow and continue the conversation. If you wish to jump in, go right ahead (that is one of the reasons we decided to bring it here). This is my first time converting a conversation like this, so please forgive me if it is rough.

      My Response:

      Typhoid and cancer are not moral. We only identify them as evil when they effect moral beings. But that does not mean that they are moral. If they do not effect moral creatures, then they can't be considered moral. I agree that rocks are not evil, but what if one falls on you? Would you agree that the concept of “evil” does not apply to the rock until it hurt a moral being (you)? If you grant this, then you can grant that other parts of creation are not moral until the arrival of moral beings to effect.

      Delete
    2. I agree with you here but maintain that we have a legitimate hatred/dislike of pain and suffering. So I suppose I am considering some things like pain to be ontologically evil as opposed to teleologically evil. This is a new distinction you have made for me which I agree with, but need some time to think through.

      If you got into a time machine and went back 65 million years and watched the dinosaurs become extinct, would it matter that they weren’t moral creatures? If they died painful deaths, would you still say all was okay? For myself, I don’t think it matters whether pain is effecting a moral creature or not. I think God cares abaout the wellbeing of all His creatures equally (As evidence I’ll cite Matthew 10:29, Not a sparrow falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will). That’s why He placed man, a being who could care about things outside of himself, to take care of the world.

      Delete
    3. I know that we've hit on this subject in other discussions, but I'm going to repeat for the readers. Ontology deals with existence and non-existence, being and non-being. "Good" is not a term of either existence or being, so I think that right off the bat, using the term "good" in the context of ontology is a category error.

      Now, you refer to the well-being of animals. This is an end. Something may be considered "good" or "bad" if it works towards or against the targeted end. This is purposeful- teleological. What you have stated here is that you believe that pain, suffering, and death of animals is evil (or bad) because it does not move towards the end goal of an animal's well-being. I agree.

      However, I do not agree that animals' well-being is necessarily a supreme purpose of God. Matthew 10:29 establishes one major thing: the apparent premature death of a sparrow happened by God's will. If this animal's well-being was God's ultimate purpose, He would not have allowed it to happen. Which necessarily implies that there are purposes higher than animals' well-being. If higher purposes exist, then that means that the higher purposes supersede lower purposes.

      All I have to do is establish that man's well-being (physical, intellectual, spiritual, or any other type) is an end that God has established is higher than that of animals. The next step is to show how suffering and death of those animals have accomplished that.

      I believe that when we both look at the sacrificial system established by God, we would both agree that God placed man's spiritual well-being above that of the physical well-being of the animals to be sacrificed. Do not let it slip your attention that the sacrificed animals were blemish-free and "innocent"- not the animals that were known to be or cause problems. God chose the spiritual well-being of humans over animals; he also chose the physical well-being of "guilty" and blemished animals over that of the animals that were "innocent" and blemish-free. In the sacrificial system we see that the "well-being" of animals was established by God, Himself, as being less teleological value than man's spiritual well-being.

      What about physical well being? Remember that right after man sinned and God had pronounced the curse on man, He slayed a lamb to cover their naked bodies. Here we have two significant issues. The first is the existence of the dead lamb. How and when did it die? Did it die before Adam sinned? Did it drop dead the moment Adam sinned? Did God kill it? If animal death before the Fall is not possible, then neither is the first option. The second option (without appealing to the third option) requires intense changes in the laws of physics or uber-rapid natural changes in the environment (we're talking a matter of hours). Neither of those are possible. And that leaves us with the third option. God killed the lamb. Notice that God did not just use the dead lamb as a sacrifice of spiritual significance (as he did in the sacrificial system), but that he used the lamb for the physical well-being of Adam and Eve- it clothed them, likely to help protect their bodies from the harsh conditions outside the Garden. This establishes that God has, in the past, placed man's physical well-being ahead of animals' physical well-being.

      Delete
    4. Now, that I have established both spiritual and physical well-being has superseded animals' physical well-being in the past- both established by God, I need to go back to your time machine and look at the suffering of all the animals back then.

      As I'm sure you are familiar, the bio-deposits and many resources we use today are the products of decomposed animals. I'm sure that as you look all around you, you will not find much in modern society that does not require these deposits as raw materials and/or sources of energy to manipulate the raw materials. The technology that we have today would not be possible if it were not for the suffering and death of animals over the course of millions of years. This covers all three purpose-types mentioned above- physical (clothing production, food production, medicine production, etc), intellectual (instruments are created to investigate God's creation and further establish the power behind Romans 1:20-23), spiritual (through technology regarding communication and travel, the Great Commission CAN and WILL be accomplished).

      The emotions that I imagine feeling at seeing animals suffering over millions of years pale when I imagine the emotions that will fill my heart knowing that the Great Commission has been fulfilled. When I see the history of medicine, technology, and agriculture, and how far each of them have come, and realize that none of those advances would have happened outside of God's providence- knowing that He took as long as he did preparing earth for us, not only physically, but spiritually, I feel emotions of love and comfort that can't possibly compare to any emotion that I feel when I see animals suffering.

      Steve, the ONLY reason that people are moved by the pain of animals to think that it is so bad, evil, or whatever, is because they do not yet belong to God AND understand His purposes and how He is accomplishing them. We were created in His Image, we are the crown of His creation. We were created for Him and for His purposes. The animals were merely created for His purposes, but not for Him. Genesis makes it crystal clear that God created us apart from apart from all His other creation. The creation was for us to use to accomplish God's purposes.

      I agree that animal death is a powerful emotional problem for many people. But until people take the time and energy to truly know God, it will remain a powerful and persuasive emotion.

      What you have given me, just in this comment alone, is that you understand that "very good" refers to God's purpose. Your only problem is with the emotion that is generated by the idea of animals being used in God's plan (I purposely loaded that sentence to help you overcome it). I'm going to end this response here. I'm sure I'll get into more as I work my way down your responses.

      Delete
  6. "Ham did not respond to me; however, another person did. According to Ham's view, this is a proclamation by God that creation was perfect at the end of creation day six as He is perfect.”

    I think Ham takes this too far in the way he words it. He needs to clarify what he means. When a painter, musician, or any kind of artist finishes a piece of work, if that artist declares his work to be “very good,” what do we understand? I believe it is a universally true statement that the talent of the artist will be reflected in his work. Therefore, the artist will not declare something good unless he is satisfied with it. And by looking at a work he has declared good, you can get a good idea of his ability. Am I stretching things to say the same principle applies to God? Under this definition of “good,” I am simply saying that no attribute of creation conflicted with God’s nature, e.g. pain, death, natural disasters, diseases etc.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "...Am I stretching things to say the same principle applies to God?"

      I think so. But only because an artist's declaration is an opinion that may be false; while God's proclamation is fact and cannot be false. That's probably just a breaking-point of the analogy. But it makes sense other than that.

      "...Under this definition of “good,” I am simply saying that no attribute of creation conflicted with God’s nature, e.g. pain, death, natural disasters, diseases etc."

      In order to say this, you need to establish that all pain, all death, all natural disasters, and all diseases are necessarily in conflict with, at least, one of God's attributes. If we grant that God uses those things (which can only be for morally good purposes), then we grant that they, themselves, are not in direct conflict with any of His attributes.

      Delete
    2. “But only because an artist's declaration is an opinion that may be false; while God's proclamation is fact and cannot be false.”

      There’s always going to be relativity and subjectivism in a claim like this. If I put 10 solid hours into a painting, and get done and announce that it’s “very good,” Leonardo Da Vinci would laugh himself to death. But that’s exactly my point. My declaration of “good” is a reflection of my personal talent. God’s declaration of His finished creation was a reflection of His.

      Delete
    3. I don't have enough of a problem with saying that "very good" was a declaration of reflection of God's talent, in itself, to go deep into the theological implications here. However, I don't think that that was the only meaning behind the proclamation, if it even was part of it.

      Delete
  7. "Ham uses Mark 10:18 (" 'Why do you call me good?' Jesus answered, 'no one is good- except God alone'.") as his supporting text outside Genesis 1 to determine what "good" means. The problem is that if Jesus states that no one is good except God, why did God state that the creation is good?”

    I think we have some equivocation of terms going on here. For one thing, Jesus says no one i.e. no person. What about dogs? They don’t sin. You’ve taken a statement Jesus said about people and applied it to all of creation. I don’t think that’s legitimate. If this is a real problem for Ham, it’s a problem with his use of Mark 10:18, not his interpretation of Gen. 1:31.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was critiquing Ham's use of Mark on this, so I agree with you. I too believe there is equivocation taking place, but it is with the word “good”. To take your critique further, there is no context in Genesis 1:31 that indicates that God was speaking of only a portion of this creation; while the context of the Mark passage demands that Jesus was only speaking of moral creatures. This can be added to why Ham should not have used this passage to justify his conclusion.

      Delete
  8. “That is the first big issue with declaring all creation morally perfect. Not only do inanimate objects not possess natures, they do not possess any ability to make decisions or act apart from cause and effect. They cannot commit sin. Since they cannot commit sin, they cannot be punished for sin.”

    If this is the case, would you say the creation is “very good” as it is today? I think the Bible is pretty clear that the earth is cursed. This includes animals, plants, and everything else. See Romans 8:20-23. I’m not saying a dog is morally guilty, I am saying the dog isn’t as God meant it to be and is therefore not “very good.”

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "If this is the case, would you say the creation is “very good” as it is today?"

      Since I believe that the proclamation of “very good” is teleological, and I believe that God does not have “Plan B” (he knew man would fall), then yes. I believe that God's plan for creation has not changed. Therefore, it is still “very good”, even today.

      "...I am saying the dog isn’t as God meant it to be and is therefore not “very good."

      Because I believe that “very good” is teleological and not moral, I can affirm the curse on creation today (though I do so indirectly- we can hash those details out later).

      Delete
    2. This interaction highlights an important difference of our views. I certainly believe in God’s sovereignty in the world and that everything that happens is for a purpose. But to say that pain and suffering are good and thus have always been good I think takes pain out of the context of sin.

      I was speaking to another guy about the “goodness” of pain. He pointed out that pain is good because it helps us grow. He pointed to James 1:2 as evidence. I said that pain is good today because we are imperfect in our fallen state. That God originally made us perfect and that we would have had no reason to suffer pain and various difficulties. He disagreed.

      I don’t know how you feel about that or what Dr. Ross teaches about original man, but this man’s idea of how mankind was straight from the hand of God seems a little off in my opinion. So I do think pain is good and serves a purpose. But that purpose finds it’s origin at the fall and we can look forward to when pain is no longer needed.

      Delete
    3. I'm not going to speak for Dr. Ross on this one, but I will speak for myself.

      You acknowledge that pain is good because it serves a good purpose. Back to what I've said before, we have to make the distinction between moral good and teleological good. An end (purpose) can have a moral value, but that does not mean that the means to get there has a moral value also. The means has a teleological value (does it or does it not help accomplish the purpose?). Remember, I'm positing that pain is amoral- it has no moral value. Pain's "goodness" only comes from whether or not it will help reach the goal that God has set for us.

      I believe that man was created a new creature from the dust of the ground. He was created in the Image of God. I believe that God had the same purpose from the moment of creation as He does today. I believe that His means do change over time, but that does not mean that God has ever changed- He knew which means He would use and when. I also believe that the means can NEVER be evil, in themselves. That is my problem with saying that pain is morally evil, in itself (which I think that we both agree on that). Because pain is amoral, its presence on earth prior to the Fall is perfectly compatible with Adam's not yet sinning. And since God was the only being working towards a purpose on earth before the creation of man, I believe that nothing that happened was teleologically bad either (see my explanation in response to your first comment). All the pain that was present took place as a means to the moral end that God established of having an eternal, personal, loving relationship with us.

      Delete
  9. "Since they do not have moral natures, they could not be declared as morally perfect. As a result, they cannot commit sin, and do not need to be punished for sin.”

    I find an inconsistency with Hugh Ross’ teaching on this point. He says that the flood cannot have been worldwide because he has a problem with God’s judgment affecting animals who didn’t sin. But he has no problem with numerous mass extinctions happening long before sin even came into the world. When God judged Sodom and Gomorrah, I imagine there were quite a few animals who died along with the people of those cities. All the horses of the Egyptians died when the red sea came crashing in on them. They didn’t do anything wrong either. And let’s not even talk about all the hundreds of thousands of animals sacrificed by the Israelites for 1,400 years. Animals have been dying because of man’s sin since the dawn of creation... but not before. ☺

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "I find an inconsistency with Hugh Ross’ teaching on this point. He says that the flood cannot have been worldwide because he has a problem with God’s judgment affecting animals who didn’t sin."

      The “devil is in the details” on this one. This is actually a misrepresentation of Ross' view. Ross does not state that the fact that animals are not morally responsible necessitates a local flood. He states that because they are not morally responsible and morally responsible beings had not populated the earth, then a global flood was not necessary to carry out God's judgment against morally responsible beings. Big difference: he claims that a global flood is not necessary, but he also states that the lack of necessity of a global flood does not, in itself, necessitate a local flood.

      "But he has no problem with numerous mass extinctions happening long before sin even came into the world."

      Again, you have to establish that physical death of animals necessarily contradicts God's nature, independent of your view or Dr. Ross' view (it must encompas all orthodox Christian views). Further, Dr. Ross' view is that it is through the death of these animals that we have our natural resources. If the development natural resources was part of God's teleologically “very good” creation, then animal death cannot be considered “evil”. There would not be an internal inconsistency in Dr. Ross' view, which is what it seems you are trying to establish.

      "When God judged Sodom and Gomorrah..."

      If animals are not morally responsible beings, as you state and I (and Dr. Ross) agree, then this part of your critique makes no sense. If the animals died, but are not morally responsible, then their death has nothing to do with their moral responsibility. There is not a jugdment of their sin, because they can't sin before or after the Fall.

      Delete
    2. “Big difference: he claims that a global flood is not necessary, but he also states that the lack of necessity of a global flood does not, in itself, necessitate a local flood."

      Thank you clarifying. Sorry about the misrepresentation.

      “There would not be an internal inconsistency in Dr. Ross' view, which is what it seems you are trying to establish.”

      It seems you are saying that nothing that happens to an animal can be said to be evil since it is not a moral being. Please correct me if I am misunderstanding you here. Can I torture a dog for fun just because it’s not a moral being? If I can’t torture a dog, why did God make other animals to torture each other? There is very little harmony in nature today. Not the kind of creation I would expect from the God of relationships.

      “There is not a jugdment of their sin, because they can't sin before or after the Fall."

      I don’t think anybody is saying God judged animals because of their sin. No animal is a moral being. Everyone agrees on this point. My problem with Ross’ view (which you have corrected to my benefit) was that he seemed to have a problem with a worldwide flood because animals were innocent but believed in numerous other mass extinctions. I was pointing out that God’s judgment on man often times kills many innocent animals as collateral damage.

      Delete
    3. "Can I torture a dog for fun just because it’s not a moral being?"

      Notice that you stated your purpose- "for fun". We both agree that not everything that people do "for fun" is morally good. In fact, many things are morally evil, in themselves, because they go directly against a law of God and/or violate a moral being's God-given rights or autonomy (from other human beings).

      We can do things that are amoral to accomplish moral and immoral purposes. I believe that we do need to be good stewards of God's creation. Obviously, without some real reason for "torturing" a dog (I put that in quotes because scientific testing is considered "torture" by some people), we would be in violation of God's command.

      But I would like to point out that there is a distinguishing factor that makes this particular objection irrelevant. We are not the Creator. We are not omniscient. We do not have eternal purposes outside of God. Just because we think that a dinosaur having cancer is "torture" does not mean that God does. If God allowed dinosaurs to have cancer and die, we cannot say that either the means or the end was immoral or teleologically bad, because God is morally perfect, and He knows the best way to accomplish his morally perfect goals- we do not necessarily know that. If the evidence points to God using something that we have an emotional aversion to for His purposes, we need to realize that that emotional aversion is misplaced- its there for a reason, but perhaps we're directing it toward the wrong thing. We can also search for the source of the misplaced aversion- in this case, for the Christian I believe that it is the wrong view that man and animal are of the same type of value and level of that value to God. Our aversion to pain and suffering is rightly placed towards our fellow humans, but not always towards animals.

      One more thing before I leave this comment: if we believe that God is sovereign over every little happenstance, and we believe that God does not use intrinsically evil means, then we must grant that nothing that happens, is intrinsically evil- even the torture of a dog for the existential fun of the individual ultimately has a morally good purpose from God- thus the torture of the dog is not morally wrong- it could still be amoral, but not morally wrong. (Even though you have agreed that "very good" could not be moral in other areas of our conversation, you are still trying to establish that it is a moral proclamation. This is another critique of that view based on your own objections).

      Delete
  10. "At the beginning, they did possess a perfect moral nature, but when Adam and Eve chose to go against God's moral command, they lost that perfect moral nature and sin became part of who they were- it became their nature.”

    This is a central part of the basic Gospel message. It’s a point I believe YECs and OECs can shake hands on. I see no compromise in either view though many YECs would disagree with me on that.

    Luke replied,

    ReplyDelete
  11. "I believe that Ken Ham would agree with me that the context of the verse dictates that it speaks of all creation. So, that leaves us with one option: "very good" is not a moral proclamation.”

    Still need to clarify here. No, rocks can’t be sinful. Neither can typhoid. Does that mean Typhoid is “very good”? I cringe at the thought. The cringe comes from what you know it does to moral beings.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I doubt you'd cringe much if it effected a snake or insect. Let's remember that this is an emotional reaction. But that doesn't necessarily mean incorrect. The establishment of typhoid as necessarily evil must come from another source before the appeal to the emotion would have validity.

      Delete
    2. "The establishment of typhoid as necessarily evil must come from another source before the appeal to the emotion would have validity."

      I agree and I have to be ready to lay emotions and beliefs on the alter of reason. But I will repeat my question above because I believe it is legitimate. When you see on the news a story of an accident off the coast where we’ve dumped millions gallons of crude oil into the sea, and you see seals, dolphins, and various birds greased up and dying, do you say that it’s okay since they aren’t moral creatures? I think our emotions are a very good guide in this area. Pain and suffering at least have meaning for a moral agent who can learn from it. What benefit does pain have for an animal?

      Delete
    3. I started responding to this above in my comment about torturing dogs. I am not going to say that seeing that does not have impact on me. It does. But that is grounded in my understanding that we are to be good stewards of God's creation, and sin prevents that quite often. It is wrong because it goes against the commands of God, not because the birds, seals, etc. are moral beings.

      The fact that there are oil spills is because someone screwed up something somewhere. This is a result of the Fall. I have no problem granting that there is much animal suffering that is evil today (I implied this in my response about torturing the dog), but I do not grant that it is not evil. I grant that it is evil in virtue of being violations of God's commands, not because animals are moral. Again, animals are amoral.

      But your problem is with animal death and suffering before the Fall, not after it. In the physical creation, before the creation of man, being morally responsible being existed. So, since no morally responsible being existed to violate God's command to take care of the creation, nothing immoral took place prior to the creation of man, including the suffering and death of animals.

      Delete
  12. "Atheists define "faith" as believing something when all the evidence points the opposite direction. That is precisely what the YEC must do if they wish to maintain this interpretation of "very good”.”

    The OEC also has “blind faith” on this issue. He believes in a good, all powerful, all loving God who created this world. Yet the creation around us is anything but good. The skeptics are quick to point out that if we want to give God the glory for His handiwork, we need to be honest enough to give Him credit for the bad along with the good. I think this is a fair charge and I don’t see an easy out for the OEC. Some deny the presence of natural evil all together, while others, e.g. Alvin Plantinga and William Dembski, say that the effects of sin came into the creation millions or billions of years before man fell. I don’t buy either of these answers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "...Yet the creation around us is anything but good."

      This is predicated on you establishing that what we see is in fact inherently moral, and that what we see necessarily contradicts God's nature. You keep saying that creations are not moral beings, but you must rely on them being moral beings to make this appeal.

      "...we need to be honest enough to give Him credit for the bad along with the good."

      We can give God glory when we understand that “very good” was a teleological proclamation, not moral- the atheist's appeal rests on the idea that “very good” is moral.

      "...I don’t buy either of these answers."

      I don't either. I don't agree that the effects of sin came into the world before sin came into the world. (Plantiga should know better than that- he's a philosopher for God's sakes! Dembski...well...yeah.). This is where we can get into more details on Dr. Ross' (and my) view. Since we do not believe that “very good” is a moral proclamation (while the curse was), we do not believe that the curse and “very good” are related. We also believe that since they are not related, any effects of sin were not present before the curse took place. Only amoral creations existed and only morally good activities took place. We make a distinction that the activities were morally good, not because only a morally perfect Agent was working. If it can be established that pain, suffering, death, disease, etc. are used by God, then we must conclude that they, themselves, are amoral (at minimum, morally good at the maximum). If they are amoral, then they have no moral value and cannot be called “evil” (thus their existence prior to the Fall is perfectly acceptable). If they are morally good, then their existence prior to the Fall is perfectly acceptable. Either way, we are left with the conclusion that their existence prior to the Fall is perfectly compatible. Of course, neither of us accept the latter option, so the former (which you have already been affirming) is the one to go with.

      Delete
    2. “You keep saying that creations are not moral beings, but you must rely on them being moral beings to make this appeal.”

      I guess I would have to fall back on your distinction between teleological and moral goodness at this point. Or how about I add a third definition? How about I say that the original creation was ontologically good? Moral goodness when applied to rocks is meaningless, and teleological goodness justifies anything as long as God does it since He is perfectly good in everything He does. Ontological goodness, on the other hand, would be things like peace, comfort, beauty, fulfillment, internal harmony, etc. The things we intuitively want and know are... well, good.

      “We can give God glory when we understand that “very good” was a teleological proclamation, not moral- the atheist's appeal rests on the idea that “very good” is moral.”

      I’m warming up to my ontological distinction. ☺

      "Of course, neither of us accept the latter option, so the former (which you have already been affirming) is the one to go with.”

      Very interesting! I think we could keep the discussion going a while just trying to find an agreement on what attributes of nature constitute as part of the curse. I think that is important in this discussion. Have you by any chance read “If God Why Evil” by Norman Geisler? On page 43 he says, “Nor have tornados, earthquakes, and hurricanes vanished. This says nothing of suffering, poverty, and starvation. It seems intuitively obvious that there could be a much better world than this one. If not, the word omnipotent (all-powerful) as applied to God has been deprived of significant meaning. Frankly, if this present world is the best it can get, then a finite god would seem to be a sufficient explanation for it.” Now, I certainly don’t mean this as a low blow. I am not trying to say you don’t have a high enough view of God or anything like that. I’m only quoting this because I think Geisler makes a valid point. Would you say he includes some examples here that we shouldn’t include as “evil”? Not moral evil mind you.

      Delete
    3. "I’m warming up to my ontological distinction."

      See above (waaaay up there). :)

      "I certainly don’t mean this as a low blow..."

      No problem. :) I agree with Geisler 100% on that point. This is another area where eschatology comes into the picture. If we hold this creation will never be destroyed but just restored, then yes, we are talking about a low view of God (in combination with the OEC view). One interpretation of Isaiah 34:4 is that God will destroy this physical creation (the universe and everything in it) and create a whole new world (with all new "physical" laws) where we will dwell eternally.

      On that view, this world is the best path to the best possible world. This world, with its imperfections, is part of God's purpose to be in communion with Believers forever. On this view, either Lucifer had fallen prior to the creation, or God foreknew that Lucifer would fall when He created the universe. Either way, one of the purposes for the creation of this world is to conquer evil once and for all. The reason that this world must contain evil is because a battle against the source of it cannot take place where evil cannot take place.

      In his book "Creating God In the Image of Man", Geisler looks at some other theological problems with believing that this world was the best that God can do- open theism is written all over that view of creation.

      To respond directly about the things that Geisler mentions in that quote: as I mentioned above, natural disasters are not evil, in themselves. What is evil is the effects that they have on humanity because of humanity's sin. You second list will make this more visible. Many of the areas that are effected with poverty and starvation is due to corrupt people in power. Because they are corrupt, they do not grant their subjects the bare necessities of life. When famines come, the people cannot provide for themselves, and suffer and starve. This is suffering and starvation is not evil because the lack of rain is evil, it is evil because it effects human beings, created in God's Image for Him. The evil is sourced in the fallen nature of humanity. New let's look at a less obvious example: modern nations controlled by "better" governments. They still experience natural disasters (tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, etc.) and experience losses (which causes further suffering of the families). If we can't say that nature is intrinsically evil, then we can't say that the suffering and deaths are evil because nature is evil. We say that the suffering and deaths are evil because they affected human beings, who were created in the Image of God, for God. But where does the evil come from if not nature? From humanity, once again. But in the freer countries the responsibility falls on many more shoulders- not just those in charge, but those who used "satisfactory" building supplies to save a few dollars, those who must live in a certain place because that is what they want, those who believe they are impervious to nature, those who freakout and trample over others to save themselves, and those who believe that this life is all about them- if something happens that gets in the way of their purposes, their desires, their way of life; it is seen as evil.

      Delete
    4. That last one, I believe, causes man to claim things and events to be evil when they truly are not. When I look at the massive opportunities to spread the love and Gospel of Jesus Christ that are brought on my major natural disasters, I have to ask myself how this could possibly be considered evil in the long run.

      The natural disasters, suffering, and starvation that we see (thanks to the media) provides extremely powerful evidence for one of the key doctrines of Christianity- the sinfulness of man. When we see natural disasters, the media is all too happy to report on the failures of those in power, the scandals of builders, the stupidity of residents of certain areas, and the selfishness of people in "panic mode". Natural disasters (and technology) place the true nature of man on display for the world to see- there is no denying it. But how many of us wish to ignore that side of ourselves and our friends?

      I believe that our aversion to natural disasters, themselves, is a psychological defense mechanism that is protecting our Pelagian view of man. We project the moral evil that we know is in every person onto something else...anything else...the creation! Its not merely that man doesn't have a high enough view of God, its that man doesn't have a low enough view of himself. All man sees is the good things that he does (as a result of being created in the Image of God). He is in denial of the rest.

      When we grant that natural disasters are part of God's "very good" (teleological) creation, we grant that God is a master orchestrator. He had multiple purposes for natural disasters. Dr. Ross points out in many of his writings that natural disasters helped create and maintain the habitability of earth for humans and animals. They were vital in the preparation of the sediments and natural resources we have today. And they provide unmistakable evidence of who man is.

      If we are concerned about the physical well-being of animals, let's look to the Creator. Let's see what He did and is doing for their physical well-being. Without nature acting the way that it does, God would be in violation of his own command and character, but not because animals are intrinsically morally good, but because HE is morally perfect, His purposes are morally perfect, and His means of accomplishing those purposes are morally perfect.

      Delete
    5. Luke,
      There’s a lot to respond to here. I won’t be able to answer everything, but I can hit some of the highlights. If I don’t answer a challenge you feel is particularly important, please bring it to my attention.

      First, I said then you responded, “"I’m warming up to my ontological distinction.” See above (waaaay up there). :)”

      I just want to mention in passing that I was listening to a lecture by Peter Kreeft the other day in which he made the distinction between “moral” goodness and “ontological” goodness. He then defined “ontological” goodness as the absence of pain, fear, suffering, and death. I thought that was interesting since I had previously used that term in a very similar way. I just wanted to point out that other scholars do use that term.

      “One interpretation of Isaiah 34:4 is that God will destroy this physical creation (the universe and everything in it) and create a whole new world (with all new "physical" laws) where we will dwell eternally.”

      I certainly believe this universe is going to be completely destroyed and a new creation will be our eternal home. For one thing, I think this planet is too small for all past saints to live on forever. We need more room. But this brings up a question I feel is very relevant to our discussion, did God intend this planet to be our eternal home when He first made it? I believe he did. You say later in your post, “Either way, one of the purposes for the creation of this world is to conquer evil once and for all.” I don’t hold this belief. Yes, God knew what was going to happen right from the time He made the world. But He didn’t design things right from the beginning with the defeat of evil in mind. He made it very good. :)

      “When I look at the massive opportunities to spread the love and Gospel of Jesus Christ that are brought on my major natural disasters, I have to ask myself how this could possibly be considered evil in the long run.”

      I agree that evil has a purpose today. But the gospel was not going to be needed if man had not fallen, so how what good would the natural disasters have served then? When these sources of pain are taken out of the context of sin, I think they become very hard to defend as being good. To answer Dr. Ross’ position that they are needed for life on earth, I have a completely different view of how the pre-flood world operated. It would take a long, detailed conversation to sort out those differences too. Maybe we’ll tackle them together sometime.

      “I believe that our aversion to natural disasters, themselves, is a psychological defense mechanism that is protecting our Pelagian view of man. We project the moral evil that we know is in every person onto something else...anything else...the creation! Its not merely that man doesn't have a high enough view of God, its that man doesn't have a low enough view of himself. All man sees is the good things that he does (as a result of being created in the Image of God). He is in denial of the rest.”

      I’m not sure I understand very much of this paragraph. All I know is that when an earthquake rocks a town to the ground, it causes a lot of suffering that I just can’t reconcile with God’s original intention. If man had never sinned, I don’t think that kind of thing would happen.

      Delete
    6. Steve,
      I'll have to look more into Kreeft's usage. I'm interested to see how he avoids the category error (assuming that he actually does). He might be employing a continuum from nonbeing to being to make distinctions among "good" and "bad". But then, he'd have to justify which of those belongs on which end of the continuum. Do you happen to have it bookmarked, where you heard him make this claim?

      "I certainly believe this universe is going to be completely destroyed and a new creation will be our eternal home. For one thing, I think this planet is too small for all past saints to live on forever."

      This is the theological problem: if you grant that God's purpose for creating this universe was for man to live eternally, and you grant that this earth cannot hold the believers, then by implication you are granting that God's purpose cannot be accomplished.

      Formally this is the construction of the argument:

      1. God's purpose for creating the universe was to be the final resting place for humanity.
      2. This universe cannot be the final resting place for humanity.
      3. Therefore, God's purpose will go unaccomplished.

      This is a deductive argument- the conclusion cannot be escaped if you affirm both of the premises. You must deny one of the premises to escape the conclusion that God's purpose will go unaccomplished.

      I deny the first premise. I do not believe that God created this universe as a final resting place for humanity.

      A lot of YECs deny the second premise (via the restored Eden). However, it sounds like your concern about the ability of earth to fulfill God's stated purpose in premise one has nothing to do with Eden- its more of a physical limitation of the planet. Take a look into this. If you are stuck affirming the second premise, then you are stuck affirming the conclusion, which leads to my comment below about God's being either over-powered or out-witted to explain how his purpose will not be accomplished.

      Delete
    7. "I agree that evil has a purpose today. But the gospel was not going to be needed if man had not fallen"

      All the more reason to investigate the second premise given above. As it stands right now, logically, you are flirting with open theism. Denial of premise two (and accepting restoration eschatology) is the only way to avoid it, if you wish to affirm premise one.

      "so how what good would the natural disasters have served then?"

      All the forces of nature that result in the natural disasters are required for life's existence and survival with the current laws of physics- be that life moral creatures or amoral creatures. If the time before the Fall did not have these processes, then the laws of physics would have to be different. Unless the laws of physics changed at the Fall, these natural processes (and their necessary implications of the natural disasters) did exist before sin entered the world.

      "All I know is that when an earthquake rocks a town to the ground, it causes a lot of suffering that I just can’t reconcile with God’s original intention..."

      Check out the rest of what I wrote on this. I agree with you that the suffering would not have been as bad. But that is the key to the rest of the model I'm proposing here: "as bad". Even if man was sinless and was not cheap nor ran over each other to save themselves, there would still be human suffering caused by the natural disasters. So, I seem to have a problem here- reconciling suffering and man's sinless state. I get around that by two ways: the first is to posit that Eden was in a geographical locale that did not experience these often. Second is that God's purpose was not that this world be our final resting place, and he knew how quickly man would fall. The speed at which man would fall would remove the problem with Eden being effected by natural disasters, because sin had now entered the world. The fact that man would fall also takes care of any issue with man suffering from natural disasters after leaving the Garden of Eden.

      Delete
  13. "The other option I presented at the beginning is that "very good" refers to the purposes for which God created the universe.”

    I don’t think God is utilitarian bro. The ends don’t justify the means.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Utilitarianism fails due to lack of omniscience and due to moral imperfection on the part of those who wish to practice it. God knows all things, including every end He wishes to accomplish. God is morally perfect. Every end He wishes to accomplish is morally good. Because of His omniscience and moral perfection, every mean that He uses to accomplish every end will also be morally perfect. When you say that “the ends just don't justify the means” you are also saying that the means are questionable morally. However, if we grant that God uses pain, suffering, death, etc. for His morally perfect ends today, and His means cannot be evil, and He is the same (morally) today as He was prior to the Fall; then pain, suffering, death, etc. are not evil and their use for morally good ends existing prior to the Fall is perfectly compatible with His nature.

      Delete
    2. "However, if we grant that God uses pain, suffering, death, etc. for His morally perfect ends today, and His means cannot be evil, and He is the same (morally) today as He was prior to the Fall; then pain, suffering, death, etc. are not evil and their use for morally good ends existing prior to the Fall is perfectly compatible with His nature."

      I’ve already touched on this before, but I’ll say it again. Certain things that do have a purpose today are found in the context of sin. Apart from sin, they are not part of God’s nature. I certainly include pain and death in this category. No, God does not change, but it is perfectly evident just looking at the two Testaments of the Bible that His methods do.

      Delete
    3. "Apart from sin, they are not part of God’s nature. I certainly include pain and death in this category."

      Steve,
      I know you're not meaning to say this, but this is what you are saying there: "With sin not in the picture, God's nature is X. With sin in the picture, Y has now been added to X." Your very next phrase contradicts that. We cannot say that sin forces God to add anything to His nature. I agree that His methods change from our chronological perspective, but they never change from the eternal perspective. Also, if we say that His means change from being morally good to morally evil, then we have just violated His moral nature (which puts us right back on the horns of the Euthyphro dilemma). If God used something to accomplish His goals at any time, it cannot be evil, in itself. God's methods may change (from our perspective), but they never change from morally good to morally evil. If they do, whatever forced the change, has power over God.

      Delete
    4. Luke,
      What do you hope the new heaven and earth will be like? If God’s nature includes pain, are you going to be disappointed when you get there and continue to get sick, or break things when you get hit hard enough? We’re going to have physical bodies you know. What kind of eternity are we going to have?

      That question comes from my view that I believe God intended this world to be our eternal home. If I am right, then heaven is going to be a restoration of how God originally planned this earth to be.

      Delete
    5. Steve,
      Physical pain is dependent upon the current laws of physics. I agree that we will have glorified physical bodies. Scripture is clear that there will be different laws of physics. I expect that what God creates for the new creation will be ideal for enjoying and growing in our relationship with Him. Regardless of what the new creation will be like, I don't believe that we will have a concept of something that is not perfect, because we will not have a sin nature that makes us think that we could do "better" than God. If it includes some level of being uncomfortable, we will understand and see it through God's perspective, not the perspective of sin people who don't understand that pain is usually a means for growth. Again, in the new creation, sin will be no more and we will not think ill of what God has created because we will not believe that we could do better.

      Delete
  14. "What will be lost if someone rejects the idea that "very good" is a moral proclamation is a piece of scriptural evidence that YECs use to show that there was no animal death, pain, sickness, or natural disasters prior to the Fall of Adam and Eve.”

    If those things you mention here existed before the fall, then they must have a cause apart from the fall. If you are content that God made those things intentionally because He had a purpose for them, then we are gridlocked on this issue. I can never accept the idea that God made a world of pain and death on purpose.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "If those things you mention here existed before the fall, then they must have a cause apart from the fall."

      A morally perfect being can create amoral things (rocks, for instance). If we accept that different things are amoral, then God's creating them is perfectly compatible with Him. Thus a natural explanation is not necessary.

      "...I can never accept the idea that God made a world of pain and death on purpose."

      I'm not convinced we're as gridlocked as this statement indicates. If you cannot accept that God has good purposes for pain and suffering, then you must accept that all growth (spiritual, emotional, knowledge, etc.) you have experienced was either not from God or is not the result of pain or suffering in your life.

      Delete
    2. "If you cannot accept that God has good purposes for pain and suffering, then you must accept that all growth (spiritual, emotional, knowledge, etc.) you have experienced was either not from God or is not the result of pain or suffering in your life.”

      This again brings to light what I was saying before. I do accept and praise God for many tough and downright painful experiences I have had. They have helped me grow in maturity and my relationship and faith toward God. After Stephen was killed in Acts 7, a great persecution broke out against the Church. It forced the new Christians to spread out all over the world which helped spread the Gospel hither and yon. Praise God! But don’t you agree that all this pain would be pointless if this world was inhabited by people who had the nature of Jesus? Think of a world population of 7 billion Jesus’. It would be heaven on earth right? Except for that random flu, or that tornado that just wiped out a small town.

      I was listening to Hugh Ross speak one time and he said, “It’s a good thing Adam and Eve sinned because otherwise we would not have been able to inherit the new world.” Frankly, I cringed. But I realize this is simply a difference of belief concerning the world Adam and Eve lived in. If I believed Adam and Eve lived on a planet like this one is today, I’d say the same thing. But I believe this planet was destroyed in two phases – the curse being the first and the flood being the second. In my view, this world is a junkyard in comparison to what God originally made.

      Delete
    3. "Think of a world population of 7 billion Jesus’. It would be heaven on earth right?"

      I agree. But the problem is this: if that was God's purpose for this creation, He was obviously over-powered or out-witted. If the former, it becomes highly questionable if God has the power to overcome evil, if it overcame Him once before; if the latter, then God cannot guarantee the overcoming of evil, because He didn't see His being out-witted coming.

      If we grant that this world was not created to be the final resting place for our souls, there is no problem. God was not out-witted (He knew evil needed to be overcome); God was not over-powered (He created a world where evil could and will be overcome).

      "Except for that random flu, or that tornado that just wiped out a small town."

      The OEC model holds that the Garden of Eden was a protected area. However, it was not designed to be protected forever (otherwise, God was out-witted). God had it protected long enough (remember that the Garden no longer exists- meaning that it did fall victim to eventual destruction- which cannot be a "Plan B"). These things did not happen while Adam and Eve were still innocent.

      "I was listening to Hugh Ross speak one time and he said..."

      Dr. Ross believes that Eden was a protected area on earth. It was paradise. Dr. Ross is referring to the New Creation when he says that. He is fond of saying that man is will delivered from paradise into something even better. Remember the words of Paul "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has conceived what the Lord has prepared for those who love him." (1 Cor 2:9). If that is true, then not even Adam's eyes, ears, or mind has seen, heard, or conceived of God's plans for us. Adam's eyes, ears, and mind saw, heard, and experienced paradise. Thus Paul cannot be speaking of paradise. He is rather speaking of something greater than paradise, greater than the Garden of Eden- the New Creation.

      We understand that this world sucks compared to paradise. But Paul challenges us to understand that paradise sucks compared to the New Creation that God is preparing for us.

      Delete
    4. “But the problem is this: if that was God's purpose for this creation, He was obviously over-powered or out-witted.”

      Say what??? I will try to dodge between the horns on this one. I believe Lucifer’s and then Adam’s freewill to choose is the simple answer to this dilemma. When Lucifer fell, he did so, not because he was smarter or more powerful than God, but because he was free. The same applies to Adam.

      “Dr. Ross believes that Eden was a protected area on earth.”

      We definitely have a difference on this point of view as well. Not a problem, just something to talk through. I believe the Garden of Eden was a place God prepared for Adam and Eve as a special place to live. The thing that made it special was that it was a collection of every kind of edible fruit in the world. But the rest of the world was still much different than how it is today.

      Delete
    5. "Say what??? I will try to dodge between the horns on this one."

      You have dodged the two, but impaled yourself on the one I forgot to mention- God is not omniscient. Referring you back to my points above: if God's purpose for this universe was to be the final resting place of humanity, sin could not have entered, because of what you stated about the world not being able to house all the past believers. Frankly, even if sin had not entered the world, your same objection would still come to fruition if man and animal were to continue to follow God's command to "be fruitful and multiply".

      I'm pretty sure that we both agree that there will be no sex or procreation in the new creation. If this creation was supposed to be what you are claiming the new creation will be restored to, then we have to deal with God's command above vs. your reason for believing that this universe will be destroyed, and the fact that there was procreation prior to the Fall vs. there not being procreation in the new creation.

      You have nuanced your version of restoration eschatology: that the new creation will be a restoration of what God's purpose was for this world. However, that does not escape the fact that what you posit as God's purpose for this world will not happen. The reason

      I put "this world" in bold because this is where your inconsistency is: "God's purpose for this world is to be a final resting place for humanity". If you change "this world" to "the new creation" then consistency is restored.

      Delete
  15. "Without the need for forgiveness there is no need for Jesus Christ to die. If there is no need for Jesus Christ to die, there is no need for him to resurrection. Without the need for the resurrection, Christianity is false.”

    I totally agree with this paragraph but fail to see the connection to the argument.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This has to do with God's moral constancy between the time prior to the Fall and today. If your critique were to hold up, then it doesn't apply. However, if what I have presented here is sound, then the Euthyphro dilemma is very active for the YEC who uses “very good” as a moral proclamation.

      Delete
  16. "However, please read and reread my post. Please be sure that you understand what I have written and do not (un)intentionally attack a strawman to maintain a cherished tradition.”

    You are a gifted writer and I enjoy reading your work tremendously. Apart from this disagreement, I know we have a lot in common as well. I will close my comments with a question I have already raised in my comments above but would like to highlight here for you. I have yet to hear a logical answer from an OEC on this question. It’s actually a two-part question.

    1. Does natural evil exist? Like I said earlier, I have found some Christians who deliberately deny the existence of natural evil at all. They say the world is as God intended it to be. For them, the world is normal.

    2. What is the origin of natural evil? Alvin Plantinga and William Dembski put the effect before the cause and say that God allowed the effects of sin to enter the world before sin itself came along. I’m sorry, I just don’t buy it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "1..."

      Not to confuse the issue, but “yes” and “no”. Like you, I don't ascribe moral value or responsibility to inanimate objects of creation (rocks, water, wind, electricity, etc.) or any combination of those objects. So I don't consider tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, lightning, wildfires caused by lightning, etc to be evil. They are natural phenomena, but not evil, so I don't affirm that these are natural evil, in general (nuance coming up later). As an example here, I would point to the Big Red Spot on Jupiter. Do you consider that natural phenomenon to be evil or amoral? I would say that it is amoral. We cannot appeal to the emotional anguish caused by natural phenomena (that you used for typhoid) because we know that the Big Red Spot is not effecting moral beings. Our emotional reaction to the Big Red Spot is not as bad. Also, I'm not sure if you are familiar with living in Tornado Alley, but when we hear of tornadoes on the news, the emotional impact the news has is tremendously weakened when we find out that the EF-4 tornado only went through a field (didn't hit any places where humans would be)- even if it were to hit several hundred cows, the emotional shock only returns when we realize that the loss of the cows has terrible effects on the owner- not the cows. This takes me to my nuance. I only consider natural disasters “evil” when they effect moral beings, and even then I place “evil” in quotes because I am not saying that the phenomenon is itself evil, but what happens to the moral beings is evil. I believe that natural evil exists, so far as its effects on moral creatures.

      "2..."

      Due to my position above, I make the distinction between the origin of the natural phenomenon and the origin of the natural evil. The natural phenomenon has existed since God created it. However, the evil caused by the natural phenomenon (natural evil) did not originate until man came on the scene. Natural evil does not exist where or when moral creatures do or did not exist. But the natural phenomena commonly tied to natural evil does and did exist without the presence of moral creatures.

      Delete
    2. “I believe that natural evil exists, so far as it effects moral creatures.”

      I understand your position. As I said above, I can’t see God making a world where tornadoes are killing cows and call it good just because the cows aren’t moral. It’s just a point of difference in perspective.

      “But the natural phenomena commonly tied to natural evil does and did exist without the presence of moral creatures.”


      This is a good conversation we’re having in my opinion. You have obviously thought through your position carefully and aren’t just throwing random arguments at me for the sake of defending your position. I know YECs do that to you too. But I’ve also had it from OECs and it’s annoying to be sure. I’ll try to be as up front and honest with you as possible if you decide to keep this going.

      Since we’re going to run out of colors if we continue doing it this way, how about structuring it more like a fluid dialogue where you say something and then I respond beneath your text. That way, you can have a full-fledged debate to post if you want to. ☺

      I would suggest picking one thing that is crucial for us to find agreement on and stick to that for a little while. I would suggest something like what happened at the fall or something like that. Otherwise, we’re going to have 5 or more topics going at the same time, and that’s tough.

      Delete
    3. "I can’t see God making a world where tornadoes are killing cows and call it good just because the cows aren’t moral."

      Teleologically, it can be called good if it serves God's moral purpose. It seems though that you are now using yet another meaning for "good". We've covered teleological and aesthetic in this conversation. Unless you have a problem with "very good" being aesthetic (I do), you must have another type of "good" that you are referring to (as stated above, it can't be ontological because of the category error).

      I'm really enjoying this too. We are both being challenged to think more clearly through our positions and alter them where needed. Let's keep going.

      Delete

****Please read my UPDATED post Comments Now Open before posting a comment.****