Monday, 16 January 2017

Naturalis Historia: Adam, Eden, and the Corruption of Nature: A Thorny Young-Earth Assumption

Naturalis Historia: Adam, Eden, and the Corruption of Nature: A Thorny Young-Earth Assumption

"But even if we grant the young-earth creationists conception of that Garden was a “good” creation with no pain or sorrow is it necessary to believe that the entire earth was identical to the Garden in Eden? In Genesis, Eden is depicted as a geographical location set apart from the rest of creation. Indeed, the Garden of Eden itself was to be found in a specific part of Eden in the East of Eden. The Garden of Eden is frequently depicted by young earth literalists as being a place of perfection. How then was the Garden distinguished from the rest of creation? The Garden is often portrayed as a tropical paradise, presumably because lush growth represents perfection vs less growth (and food) but what about the outside of the Garden? Was this land somehow less good in the minds of these creationists?

These questions are never addressed in the YEC literature. They always act as if the entire earth was a perfect paradise despite some very clear indications from the rest of Scripture that this was not the relationship of the Garden of Eden with the outside world. The key, as I recently pointed out in recommending the writings of Dr. G.K. Beale and others, is understanding that the Garden represented the holy place in Eden which itself is a sacred space in creation. The creation account and the creation itself is a portrait of the beginning of God’s unfolding plan for man and his relationship with what he had created.

It is important to note that Adam had been created outside the Garden of Eden (Gen. 2.8), possibly even outside of Eden. The image is that of his being created outside of God’s direct presence and then he is brought into his presence when placed in the Garden of Eden just as the priest came into the tabernacle and temple. Adam was originally made innocent and could enter into God’s presence but the priest had to make sacrifices and wash himself before he could enter that sacred space in the Temple or Tabernacle. That place was the only place where the Shekinah glory – God’s dwelling – was exhibited on earth at his footstool (the Ark of the Covenant).

Thus, the place where Adam had his origins was outside of this dwelling place. The image of this place of origin if that of the wilderness – or the disordered creation – the formless and void of Genesis 1.1. He was taken from the wilderness and placed into Eden, a sanctuary in God’s creation where he could commune directly with God (Genesis earth. In Eden, Adam was able to walk and talk with God in the Garden of Eden. In Genesis 1 we see that God, the creator, took the disorder of the initial condition of the cosmos (Genesis 1:1) and put order to it. In Eden we see that He has took the chaos (the wilderness) and made it fit/habitable for man. In other words He made it a “good” place for man. In each case, His creation of things were proclaimed “good,” not as an ethical statement about the objects themselves but rather they were good in their purpose as they related to man. It was their function for which the inspired author is primarily concerned."

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