quote:So, if you had to make these assumptions, what reasons do you see for the Creator to choose gradual naturalistic processes, as opposed to an undeniably divine creation event?
For a theist (neither an atheist or a deist) a "naturalistic process" is simply the normal way that God works in His universe. A "supernatural process" is an unusual, abnormal way for Him to work. So why shouldn't God use His normal processes to create the universe? I don't see an a priori reason that either one would be strongly preferred over the other.
Here aret two reasons/advantages for God to use natural processes in creation: 1) Using "naturalistic processes" helps to establish them as "normal," and to underscore God's consistency and reliability as He runs His universe. 2) The vast time periods used for "gradual naturalistic processes" convey a similar message to vast size of the universe. As David said in Psalm 8, this reveals to us our insignificance. We are insignificant in the vast size of the cosmos, and likewise we are insignificant in the vast history of the cosmos. Our significance comes from God, not from our spatial or temporal place in the universe.
quote:But if you start from the point that God used natural laws to create us, and then makes assumptions about God such as 'well maybe God didn't know what was going to happen, and just started the machine to see', etc. then obviously this version of God is a weaker one, and in fact it is no longer the God described in the Bible, but rather your own personnal opinion God who is either not omnipotent, not omniscient, etc. etc.
Yes, this version of God is not biblical. You are describing the god of Deism. Biblical Christianity has no room for the concept of the universe as a "machine." The universe, and its functioning, are sustained instant-by-instant by the God who created them.
quote:But I also do think, for theological reasons, that the christian God cannot have used death and suffering to create humans. This is because it has immense theological implications.
Suppose the genesis account is literal. Then death is the consequence of sin, which in turn was caused by Adam and Eve breaking the relationship with God by disobeying. ...
What you say is true regarding the death of man only. There is no biblical or theological basis to extend this to animals or plants. In fact, God is praised for feeding animals to the carnivores that He created (Ps 109, Job 38-42).
quote:I find however, that you cannot say that death and suffering applied only to humans without doing some serious eisegesis. Paul clearly says that:
quote: Therefore just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned
Exegetically, Paul was speaking only of man here, not of plants or animals. This is quite clear from the context and argument of Rom 5 (see, e.g., v. 14). "World" here refers only to the human race (as in Jn 3:16). Paul is setting up an analogy: sin and death came through the original Adam; grace and life come through the New Adam (Christ). If you try to interpret Rom 5:12 to include death of animals, then you would have to conclude that Jesus also offers eternal life to animals!
quote:So death entered the world through sin, and this is why 'the world has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time'' (romans 8:22)
Rom 8 is difficult to interpret, and I'm not sure what the best interpretation is. I am sure that most readers bring lots of unexamined presuppositions to the text. For example, 8:20 says that God subjected the creation to futility, but what does this mean? How much of the cosmos is in view by Paul here? (Could he again be only referring to man?) When did God do this--at the original time of creation? at the Fall? How did God do this--by changing the structure of the creation? by allowing man to wreck it by being a poor steward of creation? All of these seem plausible.
quote:Exegetically, Paul was speaking only of man here, not of plants or animals. This is quite clear from the context and argument of Rom 5 (see, e.g., v. 14). "World" here refers only to the human race (as in Jn 3:16). Paul is setting up an analogy: sin and death came through the original Adam; grace and life come through the New Adam (Christ). If you try to interpret Rom 5:12 to include death of animals, then you would have to conclude that Jesus also offers eternal life to animals!
I thought about this as soon as I had posted my post. The thing would be to check in the original language the word 'world'. I don't have a greek bible however (internet site?)
"World" in both Jn 3:16 and Rom 5:12 is kosmos. This has a wide range of meanings; the actual meaning must be determined from context.
quote:...this creation will one day be restored to its pre-fall state, which is exactly what the Bible teaches about the new earth etc. in apocalypse.
Can you show us where the Bible teaches this? I see it teaching something very different. Rather than restoring the earth to its "pre-fall state," God will completely destroy the present creation and make an entirely new, different, and better heaven and earth. This is analogous to personal salvation; God does not restore us to the "pre-fall state" of Adam and Eve, but to an entirely new, different, and better state.
quote:The fact also that God said everything was 'very good' in Genesis does not correlate well with the idea that animal death was existent, and by inference this means cancers, etc. which would mean God would consider these things to be 'very good'.
I'm not sure how you infer (human) cancer from animal death. And it seems that you are reading your own preconceptions into "very good." God's created order is presented as something good in Ps 109 and Job 38-42 yet includes animal death.
quote:If this is not so, then this means it was God's desire that his creation would be in such a condition. Clearly this is in opposition to the nature of God, which made everything initially very good.
Again, you are eisegetically reading your own ideas into "very good." The Hebrew says "very good," not "perfect," even though they had words for "perfect".
quote: And as I've said, this was the universal position of the church throughout it's history, up until ToE became 'fact' and the Bible had ti be 'reinterpreted'.
False. Nearly all conservative Bible scholars from the early to mid-1800s thru the mid-1900s believed that the earth was old and that animals had died before man was here. These scholars included Scofield, Spurgeon, Barnhouse, Ironside, Unger, J Vernon McGee, and many, many others who did not accept the ToE as "fact."
quote:So I guess I determine that this would include the whole of creation, while you determine it to be only humans ?
Only if you are doing eisegesis. The context unambiguously refers only to humans. Animals are not addressed in Rom 5.
quote:God will also restore the whole creation
No, it is not a restoration. It is instead a replacement.
quote:And coud you give specific verses in ps 109 and job 38-42 ?
Oops, typo! I meant Ps 104.
Ps 104:20-22 writes:
You make it dark and night comes, during which all the beasts of the forest prowl around. The lions roar for prey, seeking their food from God. When the sun rises, they withdraw and sleep in their dens.
Job 38:39-41 writes:
Do you hunt prey for the lioness, and satisfy the appetite of the lions, when they crouch in their dens, when they wait in ambush in the thicket? Who prepares prey for the raven, when its young cry out to God and wander about for lack of food?
quote: Since Darwin published in 1859, and that the idea of evolution was present before that (see Lamarckianism), and the idea of an old earth even before that (see Cuvier, etc.) I have no doubt that the early-to-mid 1800's is precisely the time where the compromise was made. Try finding earlier.
You seem to have the tail wagging the dog here. Evidence for an old earth (and animal death) was seen long before Darwin. This was popularized by James Hutton, and was seen as consistent with conservative Christianity before Darwin wrote (see e.g. Thomas Chalmers and William Buckland). Darwin's views were based largely on Lyell's geology, which was in turn based on Hutton's.
quote:I don't think that makes sense. Our knowledge of how the naturalistic processes work is very recent - no more than 200 years or so, much of it in the last 100. That knowledge has not generally led people to the conclusions you reach. In fact it has led to the widespread secularization of Western society. So the message it conveys has effectively been 'there is no need for God to explain the Universe'.
Our knowledge of naturalistic processes keeps improving, of course. But even the ancients had some knowledge of natural processes. Job (probably the earliest-written book of the Bible) describes the natural process of the water cycle in chapter 36.
We are insignificant in the vast size of the cosmos, and likewise we are insignificant in the vast history of the cosmos.
quote:This is entirely opposite of God's message to us, so the source of that thinking is from......another place.
Perhaps I wasn't clear. Take another look at Psalm 8:
Psalm 8:3-4, NET writes:
When I look up at the heavens, which your fingers made, and see the moon and the stars, which you set in place, of what importance is the human race, that you should notice them? Of what importance is mankind, that you should pay attention to them?
David's point is that on our own, in light of the cosmos, we are insignificant. Our significance derives from nothing inherent in ourselves or from our place in the cosmos, but from God Himself. God has placed us in a position of authority over all the rest of creation, not because we somehow "deserve" it, but because He is gracious:
Psalm 8:5-6, NET writes:
You grant mankind honor and majesty; you appoint them to rule over your creation; you have placed everything under their authority ...