Death: Back to Creation We Go

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, May 19, 2015 1 comments

by Bill Seng
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” ~Romans 6:23

We were designed to live forever. I have experienced much frustration in the past few years, especially the past few months, with well-known theologians that do not understand the inherent evil of death. Death is a consequence that is suffered by the unrighteous. When mankind was created, it was not intended to die. This takes us into one of my favorite topics for discussion, creationism.

Whether you are a young earth creationist, like myself, or a creationist who does not take a strict stance concerning the age of the earth (I am aware that there are other types of creationists), we agree that the creation of the world happened as the Bible describes. It happened in six literal days, with a seventh day Sabbath and that death was not a part of God’s design. I have heard people that I highly respect go on to say things like Adam was not a literal person, death occurred in the animal world but not the human world, and the first sin was not that mankind ate from a tree but that it simply chose to live life on its own terms. The first two points are simply not true and the last point is a half truth, which also makes it a half lie. I could honestly care less about the age of the earth. What I care about is Scriptural authority and that these statements undermine Scriptural authority.

What is especially troublesome, though, is that Christians actually believe that death entered the world before sin. If God created a world full of death, is God really good? If God is good, even though he created a world inherent with death and suffering, how do we define his goodness? According to our understanding of goodness, would it be more good if God had created a world without suffering and death? I believe that God did not create such a world. I do not think Genesis could get any more explicit in explaining how the world was void of death. It even tells us that humans and animals only ate plants. God did not want living creatures to suffer or die. I think that a God who does not want suffering and death is more good than a God who creates a world inherent with suffering and death.

Romans 6:23 tells us that the wages of sin is death. In Genesis 2:17, we are told that the consequences for eating from a particular tree would be death. Clearly man’s disobedience in this matter was a sin against God and it was the only offense that mankind could commit against him at that time. If eating from a tree was not the first sin, what was (for those who may doubt this account)? Indeed, Adam and Eve’s decision to disobey God was a declaration that he was no longer Lord of their lives. As stated earlier, death is a consequence suffered by the unrighteous.

I believe that it was C. S. Lewis who said (paraphrasing) that wicked people need to repent. The problem is that wicked people cannot repent, because they are wicked. It is only the righteous person that can repent, but a righteous person does not need to repent. What a conundrum! So here we are, all of us wicked people who desperately need to repent but with no power to do so. And what good would a righteous man’s repentance do for the rest of our sins?

Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world! Jesus, not only a man, but God incarnate. It is, after all, only God who could forgive people of their sins. Because death is the consequence of the unrighteous, not an inherent part of God’s creation, Jesus took upon himself the punishment for unrighteousness. Through his death all sins were forgiven and he made it possible for humans to repent by placing their trust in him. This trust would accomplish more than repentance ever could. It would accomplish reconciliation.

Only a good God would sacrifice himself by suffering for the sins of the unrighteous and take upon their punishment. This is only possible if death was a byproduct of sin. It would not be possible if God created death as a part of his good creation. I would contest that a God who created death into his world is not really a good God after all, and that people would be right in opposing such a being. But God is not evil. God is good. And not only did he not create death, he has made it possible for you to enjoy eternal life.

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T K Johnson said...

I hope you will continue to "foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration."

For many people, the whole notion of death is a scary thing that they struggle to accept. Various religions tell comforting stories of afterlife that serve to alleviate peoples' fear of death.

But to those of us who accept Darwin's evolutionary framework, death is seen as an integral part of the process. In this framework, evolution would simply not occur if no organism ever died. "Survival of the fittest" has no meaning if death never happens. Without death, the most advanced life forms on earth (in the Darwinian view) might be simple, single-cell organisms.

Regardless of what one thinks about evolution, they should at least understand the role that death plays in the "evolution by natural selection" model.

BTW, I recently had the honor of attending a ceremony for about 290 recipients of graduate degrees at the Yale School of Management in New Haven, CT. One of the speakers compared the complex social behavior of humans to that of certain types of insects, including leaf-cutter ants. Along the way, he mentioned the millions of years of evolution that had produced social behavior in insects, and the relatively brief time (a few million years), in which hominid behavior has evolved. At the mentions of "evolution" and "millions of years" there was not a shout, not a murmur, not a whisper of protest from the assembled throng of families and friends of these bright young graduates. Evidently, the modern scientific world-view of evolution is alive and well at this centuries-old Ivy League institution, and in the friends and families of Yale graduates.