Review by Greg Neyman
© Old Earth Ministries
First Published 14 August 2005
This is Morris chapter against death before sin. He starts out by saying that death and struggle are "dramatically contrary" to the meaning of the word "day." Day is a measurement of time, and does not imply anything at all about death and struggle! He dips to an emotional argument in the very first sentence. The emotional barbs keep coming in the first paragraph, one after the other.
He then goes on to discuss "good" and "very good," which God used to describe His creation. Morris does not understand how creation can be good and very good with millions of years of death and suffering. It's really quite simple, as you will see.
What is "Good"? (Page 104)
Morris starts out with a definition of "good." He shows that it means "good," and says "Why would one ever want to make the word mean anything else?" Old earth creationists do not make it mean anything else...we also think good means "good." However, "good" is a relative term, depending on who is using it. As a military man, I see a rifle, an instrument of death, and I say, "That's good." Good means different things to different people. To young earth creationists, "good" is a tool to be used to argue their position. It is one of the few tools they have, but in the end, it fails to make a convincing argument.
On distinction here..."good" is not the same thing as "perfect." Young earth creation science advocates will claim that creation is perfect...I agree, but my perspective is different...a fully functioning ecosystem full of death is perfect.
Ages of Death and Struggle Defy the Revealed Character of God (Page 105)
No they don't...they defy the young earth creationist definition of God's character...there's a huge difference. He dips to emotions to prove his point, with the story of Darwin, and his struggle to believe in a good God. We are all free to make our own decisions, as Darwin did. Darwin chose poorly.
One interesting note about this section. The entire thing is about Darwin's choice. Morris doesn't even attempt to discuss the "revealed character of God." How can the reader decide if the paragraph heading is correct if the paragraph doesn't discuss it?
Evolutionary Ages Defy the Revelation of God's Plan and Purpose (Page 106)
This section is a tirade against evolutionists, who have "convinced many, including Christian leaders, that death has always existed and that death has positive value." No, evolutionists have not convinced me of this...the fossil record has.
Once again, the author fails to discuss what is in the paragraph title. God's plan and purpose are not mentioned. Again, Morris uses only emotional arguments.
Eons of Evolutionary Struggle Nullify Christ's Death (Page 107)
Jesus came to conquer death...I agree. He says that if there were long ages of death, and God called it very good, then "Jesus winds up opposing God's plan." How can Jesus be against death, when death is part of God's plan all along?
This entire chapter boils down to what type of death was brought on by Adam's sin. Before we look at it, let me be clear that we will receive new bodies, and we will overcome physical death. However, that is not the purpose of Jesus death. Paul said that nothing, not even death, can separate us from the love of Christ. He is right...physical death will not separate us from God.
What happens when you die? The body stops living. Does your spirit die? No, it does not. It continues on, either in heaven or hell. It is eternal...that's the way God designed us. Therefore, if the words of Paul are right, physical death is not important...God is there with us after death. What is important, however, is spiritual death. Failure to accept salvation will separate you from God...physical death will not. In the grand scheme of things, even though Adam's sin brought death upon humanity, physical death means nothing from a theological perspective.
Genesis 2:17 is key to this issue. It says,,
but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
Using a common, literal interpretation, when Adam ate the fruit, he should have died physically that day. Did Adam die the same day he ate the fruit? No, he did not. There are only three possibilities. First, God lied to Adam. We know that God cannot lie, so this is not the case. Second, God did not mean physical death, but spiritual. When Adam ate the fruit, he sinned, which caused separation between him and God, or spiritual death. The third, and probably best option, is that Adam DID die that day...however, since a day is many years in God's eyes, it was God's day, and not a day as Adam marked them from his earthly perspective. One may also take the young earth explanation, that Adam became vulnerable to the process of dying on that day.
Is it a tragedy if you die...sure it is. Does it make any difference spiritually? No...you are just changing locations. Just make sure you have Jesus first! Christ's death gives us spiritual rebirth, and the promise of a new body later.
God's Gospel Message is Founded and Framed in His Good Creation (Page 108)
Morris uses a poem by a cartoonist to prove this point. Part of it is that our world was once a perfect place. That's not what the Bible says! The Garden of Eden was once a perfect place. The world is not addressed as perfect...only the Garden.
If the world were perfect (free of death and decay), then why did God create a special place called Eden, and place man there? If the whole world were perfect, there was no need for Eden! God had foreknowledge of man's fall, and created Eden to show man a glimpse of heaven. He would one day restore this perfection in heaven. Outside the gates of Eden, the world was different. It was also perfect, but in a different sense. It had a perfectly functioning ecosystem, able to self-renew. This was just as God planned it.
Morris questions how death and struggle could be part of God's plan. They have always been part of God's plan. God knew man would rebel. God's plan all along was for Jesus to die on the cross, and save us from our sins. Yes, we will have new bodies in heaven, but this is not the issue...our bodies do not indicate our position with Christ...only our spiritual life does. Remember that physical death does not separate us from God. Therefore, physical death is not the issue...spiritual death is.
The last half page of this section is a God of the Gaps type argument. Our world is so intricately designed by God. I agree, but this intricate design has nothing to do with spiritual or physical death.
Our Present World (Page 110)
He contrasts the differences with pre-curse (Garden of Eden) and post curse (the world after Adam's sin). First, we cannot converse with God, one on one, the way Adam and Eve did. No problems here.
Next is the level of work performed. Adam did work in the Garden, but afterwards his work is increased, as he toils with the ground. No problems here.
He then mentions man's dominion over the animals. He says, "Both the dominion mandate and man's dominion were corrupted by man's sin." He goes on to say "Everything in the creation is no longer very good." Funny, when I read my Bible, it doesn't say that. The curse on the serpent was only on the serpent. The curse on Eve said her pain in childbirth would be greatly increased, and she would desire for her husband, and he will rule over you. The curse on Adam said he would toil with the ground, and thorns and thistles it would bring forth...he would eat the plants of the field, obtaining them through sweating, until you die. There is nothing here that addresses man's dominion over the animals, nor is there any indication God changed his mind about the creation being "very good."
Next, he continues to show his ignorance of "progressive creationism." He says PCs have two problems. First, "if God periodically punctuates His world with the creation of new life, the ecological relationship declared "good" on one "day" would be disrupted the next. However, if God creates polar bears, and then creates grizzly bears two million years later...it's still the same day of creation...Day Six. Nor do I see how the creation of the next new life could somehow be construed to be "disrupting." Morris appears to be confused, and he makes me confused too, since this claim makes absolutely no sense.
Second, he says if death and struggle were part of life outside Eden, then why would Jesus heal lepers, because the leprosy bacterium would be something that God created, and it was doing its job. Most of Christ's miracles were healing people. What Morris is saying is that Christ should have come down, not helped out anyone with miracles, and still somehow convince people that He was the Messiah.
Bacteria was a normal part of God's creation. As we all know, bacteria are some of the fastest mutating organisms. They constantly change. They can spread rapidly. One bacteria at the time of Adam and Eve could easily account for all that we have today. They are also required for human life, both inside and outside the Garden of Eden.
You may be wondering how I know there was bacteria in the Garden. Adam and Eve were normal human beings. In His wisdom, God created our digestive system to function with the aid of bacteria. Right now, as you read this, millions of bacteria are at work in your colon, breaking down foods. Since Adam and Eve obviously ate food in the Garden, they would have required this bacteria to digest it. The same goes for the animals. Bacteria is a requirement for life.
Next, he goes into a discussion of death, where he claims physical death was introduced at the curse. God did tell Adam He would die. As Morris points out, Adam had access to the Tree of Life in the Garden, and he was free to eat from it. Thus, if he had not disobeyed God, he could have lived forever, barring any accidents. Adam's sin meant he could no longer access the Tree of Life. God banned Adam from the Garden, so that he could not eat from the Tree (Genesis 3:22). In that respect, Adam's death did bring physical death...not because God changed man's physical makeup, but because he no longer had access to the Tree of Life.
Morris then says the creatures of creation suffered from man's sin. I agree. They were not all addressed in the curse to Adam, but they suffer from mankind, because mankind's attitude toward them changed...in other words, mankind is now relating to the creatures with a sinful nature. Man still has dominion over them...this causes them to suffer even more. Morris claims progressive creationists cannot rejoice when God restores the animal kingdom, as seen in Isaiah 11:6-9. Why not? I'm looking forward to the time when the animals will be peaceful with one another. My attitude alone disproves Morris' misleading statements about progressive creationists.
God's Good Design for Eating Food (Page 114)
Next Morris discusses God's design for food. Adam and Eve probably were vegetarians, but this has nothing to do with conditions outside of the Garden of Eden. We all know the Garden was a special location, where God interacted with man. The normal rules for the rest of the world were different in the Garden. If they were the same as the rest of the world, then why have a separate Garden...anywhere in the world would have sufficed.
Naturally, Morris goes to the argument that all animals were created to only eat plants. Morris gives a sharp admonishment to fellow young earth creation science believers, obviously meant to make them tow the line (the paragraph in italics). He then launches an assault upon carnivorous teeth, claiming that scientists would say that there no such things as carnivorous teeth. Which scientists? Certainly this would be the young earth position. However, the teeth of animals such as T-Rex appear specifically designed for tearing flesh. Indeed, feeding sites have been found of T-rex and their youth, with gnaw marks on the bones of their prey. Since the rock layers where these come from could not have been accounted for by the Flood, that settles it. There was carnivorous activity before Adam. For more on dinosaurs, see Dinosaur Evidence for an Old Earth.
He mentions less than a dozen animals which have sharp teeth, and presently eat plants also. He ignores the thousands of others. (This is the “grasping straws” argument. Sure, you can find a few evidences (straws) that support young earth creationism, but to do so, you must ignore the fifty foot tall haystack of old earth evidences.) An animal with sharp teeth that eats plants today has nothing to do with animals prior to Adam. I'll even allow that these same animals ate some plants back then. The question isn't whether they eat plants...it's whether they eat meat. They do. There is no indication in the Bible that animals prior to Adam did not eat meat. The animals in the Garden were the exception, but not the rule. None of the verses exclusively claim this.
Morris falsely paints a picture of the prey-predator relationship. He claims that predator populations are controlled by prey populations. He is only 50% correct. They are co-dependent. He is saying that a predator, which kills a deer, has not affected the deer population! The predator-prey relationship is 50-50.
He mentions that since many animals with sharp teeth eat plants, post-Eden life brought a change in behavior, not anatomy. This young earth idea has changed over the years. Te author's father, Henry Morris, claimed that these carnivorous teeth developed within a few hundred year after animals started eating each other. As I state in my article on Teeth, however, I've never seen a T-Rex with molar teeth. According to Morris' father, it must have existed!
To control pre-Fall animal populations, Morris mentions "territoriality." No problems here. However, this is useless in the young earth system. The time between Adam's creation, and the Fall, would ensure that the animals never had enough time to overfill the earth prior to their eating each other. As such, this is an empty, needless argument from a young earth perspective.
Donning Biblical Glasses (Page 118)
Morris appeals to the emotions here, with the claim that God's creation is beautiful. I agree...but this will not convince non-Christians. This is a "God of the Gaps" argument that is based on the esoteric beauty of creation, and not based on fact. Of course, since this book is written for the young earth creationist, and not the non-Christian, they will be edified by this section.
What Does the Character of God Demand? (Page 119)
Most of this section I agree with Morris, as my view of an old earth does not conflict with the character of God. Morris cannot equate the character of God to include death and suffering. He uses verses about God's character, like he knows the number of hairs on our heads (Matt 10:29-30), God can do nothing but perfect works (Ps. 18:30), but he fails to get around to any verses that show how an old earth position is contrary to God's character.
What Does the "Good" in Creation Teach Us? (Page 121)
Here he mentions that Jesus is the Creator. He lists six verses to back up this claim. This obviously poses no old earth problems. The overload is merely Morris trying to build to an emotional appeal. He then says "The One who hung on the cross for our sins is the One who spoke the heavens and the earth into existence." I agree. After several more statements like this, he hits home with the claim "Can He be love and also consciously perform that which randomly kills, maims, and tortures?"
Next, he goes on to claim that the creation record reveals the nature of God. He lists six more passages. Of course, I have no problems with these passages either. He makes no claims at the end of these about the age of the earth. All we have in this section is a building of emotional arguments, which fails to call anything about old earth creationism into question. It is meant to convict the young earth reader. It probably does a good job.
Everything God Did Was Good (Page 123)
I agree...that's exactly what us old earth believers think.
Morris failed to present any information in this chapter that would argue against an old earth belief system. He heaped many emotional arguments in, no doubt encouraging the young earth believer. Morris stays true to his purpose...to prevent young earth creationists from abandoning a belief in a young earth.
If you are not a Christian, and you have been holding out on making a decision for Christ because the Church always preached a message that was contrary to what you saw in the scientific world, then rest assured that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, and you can believe in Christ and receive salvation, while still believing in an old earth. Click here for more.
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