Fire Back: Where the Readers Respond

In which a reader asks about death before sin.

PH writes:

You say in your FAQ that both Genesis and the NT are clear that homo sapiens existed before the creation of Adam. Yet Genesis and Romans are both very clear that death came about as the result of sin. How do you reconcile these two statements?

I believe Gerald Schroeder is correct that it was spiritual death, not physical death, that resulted from sin. After being told, “on the day that you eat [the forbidden fruit] you shall surely die,” (emphasis added) and then eating the fruit, Adam lives for another 930 years. Instead of being physically killed as a punishment, he and Eve are thrown out of Eden, and God never addresses them again. In God According to God, Schroeder explains why this is a far worse punishment:

The Bible does not imply that eating of the forbidden fruit brought physical death for the first time into the world. The death that this first of human couples experienced was the death of their unbounded spirituality. Loss of spirituality for one who had conversed with the Creator, a separation from that infinite light, would be far more devastating than actual physical death. For this unfortunate couple of the Bible, only the physical remained.

Cain suffered similarly. At Cain’s exile, following his murdering Abel, he pleaded: “My punishment is greater than I can bear… From Your Presence I shall be hidden” (Gen. 4:13-14).

Hugh Ross points out that we have a tendency to forget the first fall was Satan’s, not man’s. I suppose God knew Satan would corrupt the world, so he mercifully built physical decay and death into this fallen world so that neither would it last forever nor would we even have enough time to grow more corrupt than we already are.

Scripturally, there is no problem whatsoever with physical death preceding Adam. In fact, as strange as it sounds, we should be grateful to God for it.

7 thoughts on “Fire Back: Where the Readers Respond

  1. The Bible DOES imply eating the forbidden fruit brought physical death. The word used for “die” in Genesis 2:17 is the Hebrew word “muwth” (Strong’s H4191) and it is used 424 times to mean dying a physical death, 130 times to be physically dead, 100 times be be slain, etc. nowhere does it imply a “spiritual death.” So I am wondering where (and more importantly, why) they came up with that “implication.” You guys defend the unfounded opinions of Ross, Shroeder (and by implication Dembski, because he’s says exactly the same things…) as FACTS. There no scriptural support for these manufactured “facts.” There is also no scriptural basis to believe in hominids before Adam, but you seem surprised when people today — and Christian theologians for 2000 years — disagree with this new fable meant only to pacify old earth evolutionary types who claim the Bible couldn’t possibly be correct. Now when people ask me. “IF there IS a God, why is there so much suffering in the world?” I can say, “God did it on purpose to demonstrate His love for us.” …because Schroeder, Ross, Dembski, et al “suppose” it is so?

  2. There no scriptural support for these manufactured “facts.” There is also no scriptural basis to believe in hominids before Adam…

    Yes, there is. What about the fact that Adam did not physically die in the day that he ate the fruit, but lived almost another thousand years?

    …but you seem surprised when people today — and Christian theologians for 2000 years — disagree with this new fable…

    Why would I be surprised by it? I’m not. It’s been the prevailing belief for a long time. Perhaps Christian theologians have believed this all along, but not all Jewish theologians have. Maimonides had no problem with the idea of pre-Adam hominids.

    What does surprise me, however, is Christians failing to understand that the principal aspect of our humanity — that part of us that connects us most closely to God — is spiritual rather than material. There is no problem with pre-Adam hominids, because what God created on the sixth day was the human soul, the neshama or “communicating spirit.” We are spiritual creatures. So, why does it matter that, prior to Adam, something had its molecules arranged in a way that’s virtually identical to Adam?

    … meant only to pacify old earth evolutionary types who claim the Bible couldn’t possibly be correct.

    That’s false.

    It appears that the mask has slipped a bit, Ken. You were very solicitous in your first comment to me, but now you seem a bit agitated. Why, I’m not sure, but as Hugh Ross points out, this is not a salvation issue. I strongly believe Schroeder is right about his interpretation of scripture, but whether anyone is saved does not hinge on whether they believe there were hominids before Adam or not.

    In my opinion, the two key issues are this:

    1. God as the sovereign Creator of all things.
    2. Jesus Christ as God’s only begotten Son, who died to reconcile us to our Creator.

    Everything else is secondary or tertiary.

    I don’t write a single thing that I don’t believe 100%. Some of it may turn out to be wrong, and I adapt my views as I get better evidence, but I am sincere in everything I state, which means it is not meant to pacify anyone. The reason I spend a great deal of time and effort writing and lecturing about these scientific topics, is that they either represent a roadblock to belief for a lot of people or they have the power to introduce doubt in believers. This is meant to help people reconcile what they understand from science with what scripture tells us.

  3. “In my opinion, the two key issues are this:

    1. God as the sovereign Creator of all things.
    2. Jesus Christ as God’s only begotten Son, who died to reconcile us to our Creator.

    Everything else is secondary or tertiary.”

    Ditto.

    I’ve always thought 2 Peter 3:8 throws some interesting light on this: “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” (KJV)

    So if that is really used as a unit of time, and not just artistic license for flowery language, then Adam died in two senses, a spiritual death by being cast out of the Garden, and a physical death within a day as the Lord reckons time.

    But I agree, salvation doesn’t hinge on who’s right or wrong about it.

  4. That’s a good point about that passage from Peter, Russell. IIRC, Schroeder uses Psalm 90 to make the same point.

    I continue to be amazed by how much wisdom is packed into such a brief account.

  5. No mask. I was asking questions to make sure I understood your positions. I apologize if I sounded strident. I appreciate your willingness to converse. I agree with your points 1 and 2 above, but Genesis, as written, gives those points their authority and purpose. Reinterpreting Genesis opens the door to reinterpreting those points, as well. I (and, apparently, not only I) am just frustrated and confused as to why there seems to be a need to come up with new interpretations of what scripture already clearly says. (And why you put such Faith in the Biblical interpretations of Schroeder—who, I think, is a non-Believer?) These reinterpretations happen to invalidate other crucial teachings in the New Testament. Scripture does not leave room for death before the fall. That would make meaningless 1 Cor.15:21 and Romans 5:12-15 where in the original Greek is “thanatos” (Strong’s G2288) meaning physical death was a curse that came thru the rebellion of “one man,” and also the substitutionary death of the one man to come (first mentioned in Gen. 14:15)…it does not say only spiritual death from their rebellion…and it does not say it would happen immediately. Before they sinned they had permission to eat of the tree of life, but afterward they were prevented from eating of the tree of life (Gen 3:24), therefore physical death was part of the curse. The earth was also cursed (Gen 3:14-19.) There is no support in the Bible for what Ross, or Schroeder (or Dembski) are saying. Are they coming up with these (unscriptural) interpretations trying to be a bridge between the two opposing views: the clear meaning of scripture and the opinions of “science?” I don’t understand the need to compromise. There are plenty of scientists who do not feel the need to do so. God says he created light first, and then the heavenly bodies. Why is that a problem? Why does Ross need to reinterpret Gen 1:3-14 saying that the “sun was actually created on Day 1 and only became visible on Day 4?” That’s not what it says. God is infinite and He can do as He wants, and He told us what he did. Since man was God’s reason for Creation in the first place, why would He take billions of years of suffering and death to finally get around to creating man—invalidating the 6-day workweek pattern in Gen. 2:2-3? What is the purpose of that? There is no purpose, scripture doesn’t support that, it makes no sense to do that…but Genesis makes perfect sense just as it’s written. Thanks, for your patience. I enjoy the give and take. Have a great day.

  6. Reinterpreting Genesis opens the door to reinterpreting those points, as well. I (and, apparently, not only I) am just frustrated and confused as to why there seems to be a need to come up with new interpretations of what scripture already clearly says. (And why you put such Faith in the Biblical interpretations of Schroeder—who, I think, is a non-Believer?)

    It’s not a new interpretation — Maimonides interpreted it this way several hundred years ago, long, long before Darwin — and it’s not what scripture clearly says. Schroeder is an Orthodox Jew and applied theologian who has devoted a lifetime to studying scripture.

    Since man was God’s reason for Creation in the first place…

    Do we know that for certain?

    … why would He take billions of years of suffering and death to finally get around to creating man—invalidating the 6-day workweek pattern in Gen. 2:2-3? What is the purpose of that?

    It does not invalidate the 6-day workweek pattern. From God’s perspective, it was literally six 24-hour days to make the universe.

  7. Sarah and Ken,
    Sarah, It seems that by your saying that Adam and Eve were the first to have spirits, making them the first Humans, exalted out of the Hominid race. But then by saying that they “immediately” lost their “human soul” or “communicating spirit” when they sinned, you pushed Adam and Eve and all mankind immediately back into the soulless Pre-Hominid race. As there is no sound (irrefutable) archaeological proof nor biblical proof of a missing human link, or that their were pre-Adam hominids, and that Noah’s Flood is the linchpin that solves the archaeological problems, I see reason that adding speculative pre-Adam hominids undermines the larger biblical narratives of the creation and Noah’s Flood. I lean toward Ken on this. The field of Noah’s Flood studies has a great deal of easily available material, which range from archaeology on a global vapor canapy, high speed continental drift, quick accumulation of layered rock and life, and the consequential ice-age.Suggest you start with this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sD9ZGt9UA-U As with all historical science, theories change, and in this science, the theory of scientific cause vary, but with little significance.
    Ken, I like your “arguments”, however, I think that you should reconsider your position leaning toward belief that a word only means what people have used it to mean or believed it to mean for thousands of years, as this locks certain aspects of the Bible in ancient science and knowledge, which is an undeserved restriction, as some historical, allegorical, and future prophetic aspects of the Bible are more scientifically and modernly answered by understanding that the modern world has much more words to choose from that didn’t exist in ancient days, such that “end time” prophesies in the Bible that may refer to modern technology might refer to attack helicopters, tanks, fighter jets, nuclear explosions, satellites and other inconceivable things to the ancient world, such as the word “angel” that means “messenger”, but is commonly pigeon-holed to mean a different creature, such as the angels Gabriel or Michael. And the Greek word “uranos”, from where we’ve derived the word “uranium”, which makes an interesting study into Jesus’ prophetic words. Or horses which inflict injury from their mouths and tails (Revelation 9:10,19) And we see the “angel”/”messenger” in Revelation who sounds remarkably like a nuclear bomb exploding picture: Revelation 10:1 “Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven. He was robed in a cloud, with a rainbow above his head; his face was like the sun, and his legs were like fiery pillars.”
    God Bless You Both, You do much to improve the knowledge and wisdom of mankind.

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