Thursday, January 14, 2010

Death's Cause and Effect

Human experience is currently locked into a time frame in which we are bound by the laws of science now in effect. We credit God for creating not only the time, space, matter, and energy of our universe, but also for establishing the physical constants by which our universe operates--rules of the game--to use a familiar sports analogue. When we observe physical effects, we are usually able to pinpoint their causes according to the Creator’s established rules of cosmic operation. One important exception is human behavior, for which we cannot always pinpoint a previously existing cause; mankind is gifted with free will.

The issue of man’s original sin in Eden as the cause for death, disorder, and disaster in this present world is the subject of much lively debate among creationist believers. The debate results from confusion in understanding cause and effect relationships in two different created realms: physical and spiritual. Only man possesses both physical and spiritual life. Our spiritual life enables us to have a relationship with God.

Scripture tells of the disruption of man’s relationship with God and outlines the cause of his spiritual death. Genesis 2:8-25 describes the garden sojourn of Adam and the creation of Eve. That passage describes specific assigned tasks to Adam, including animal naming and caring for the garden. These assignments and their fulfillment occurred before Adam and Eve’s fall into sin, according to the event chronology of chapter 2. We are not told the duration of events in the garden prior to the temptation, fall, and expulsion from the garden (Genesis 3:23).

The Bible does not present Eden as a perfect paradise. God did, however, pronounce the created cosmos, the many land and sea creatures, and the rich vegetation “very good.” There is little doubt the garden was supernaturally insulated from the normal events taking place in the expansive world outside its confines. God had placed Adam into the special garden after creating him. Perhaps there was not the usual degree of natural violence such as weather disasters or aggressive animal behavior. But scripture does not specifically address these issues.

The creation of man was the summit of God’s work. The fossil record reveals that millions of species existed on this earth long before the arrival of man. Our earth was transformed gradually from a cloud-shrouded water world to the mature and beautiful earth we experience today. There were several sudden appearances of new animal phyla over a huge expanse of time as conditions on earth changed.

Uncounted trillions of creatures lived and died, beginning with the sudden appearance of bio-chemically complex sulfate-reducing and cyanobacteria on the water world at least 3.8 billion years ago. These bacteria salted the earth with the beginnings of mineral resources which now sustain our technologically advanced society. The certainty of physical death in our universe is an unavoidable outcome of the Law of Entropy, also known as the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Entropy was an ever-present overlay of our universe ever since the initial creation event.

Life and death also exist in the spiritual realm. Man, created in God’s image, is distinguished from all other living things by his possession of spiritual life and death. In the spiritual realm, death is the outcome of man’s free will choice to rebel against God and His authority. Man is the victim of spiritual death because of sin, but God restores spiritual life through Jesus Christ.