The Law of Diminishing Consequences

We often stray from The Controversy between evolution and creationism on weekends, when news is scarce. But this digression is somewhat on topic. It’s our Curmudgeonly attempt at a bit of creation science.

Using scripture as our only source of information, we have observed what seems to be a curious phenomenon — the powers of Providence that are deployed in response to sin appear to be diminishing. The graph above crudely illustrates what we mean.

The first bar represents the actions taken in response to the sin of Adam & Eve. We are told that God changed the then-existing laws of nature to bring death, decay, mutation, disease, and extinction into the world. This applied to all living things, regardless of their participation in the original sin or even their knowledge of it. Many say that this divine judgment affected the entire universe (see The Search for a Cursed Cosmos).

The second bar — which should have been drawn to be far shorter than the first — represents the Flood. In Genesis 6:5 we are told: “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” In response, God killed not only humans, but (except for fish) everything not preserved on the Ark. This happened only on Earth, however. The rest of the universe was unaffected, and the laws of nature remained intact, except as temporarily required to bring on the Flood. Among the consequences, the creationists tell us, are the existence of the fossil record and all the geological strata and structures that we now observe.

The third bar is God’s response to the Tower of Babel. In retribution for mankind’s attempt to build a tower that would reach unto heaven — presumably that was the sin of arrogance — God scattered humanity over the earth and confounded their language. But no one was killed, and no laws of nature were tweaked. Nothing even remotely as catastrophic as the Flood occurred.

The fourth bar is God’s response to the wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah. The inhabitants were all killed, but this action was limited to those two cities. We assume, however, that sin wasn’t confined to those two unfortunate populations. Yet elsewhere, no one was affected.

The fifth bar represents the main event in the New Testament — the Crucifixion. This involved the death — temporarily — of only one person, who was killed not by flood or fire, but by Roman soldiers. Unlike the havoc caused after the sin of Adam & Eve, or the Flood, or the other catastrophes, nothing else was affected. No languages were changed; no cities were destroyed. The event meant nothing to anyone, and it still doesn’t — except for those who know about it and who understand its significance.

We are not trained in theology and therefore we have some questions. First, what has been the point of all of these divine actions? Notwithstanding the punishments inflicted, there still seems to be sin in the world — perhaps more than ever. So what’s been accomplished?

Our second question is the one that emerges from the data, as illustrated by our primitive chart. Is the apparent decline in divine activity telling us something? If so, what are we being told?

Third, if divine punishments are being inflicted on a steeply declining curve, does the same apply to the biological activities of the intelligent designer? Is all of that creativity a thing of the past? We haven’t seen much from him since the Cambrian explosion. Is he done? Might he be — as Behe suggests — actually dead? Are we on our own?

Perhaps you, dear reader, can explain it all to your Curmudgeon.

Copyright © 2011. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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12 responses to “The Law of Diminishing Consequences

  1. Gabriel Hanna

    You left out a lot of miracles, SC: God stopped the earth’s rotation so it Joshua would have light to exterminate Canaanites by, and then there’s teh Red Sea parting, and pillars of fire by night, and the Ark of the Covenant smiting Philistines and what not.

    But the general conclusion we can draw is, the farther away we get from real history, the more powerful God becomes. It’s almost as though the Bible is a mythology, like the Iliad…

  2. It’s a good trend. If it were going the other way, it would be rather worrisome.

  3. Gabriel Hanna says: “You left out a lot of miracles, SC”

    Right. I was just looking for the major punishments for sin. I’m sure I missed a lot of those too.

  4. Lewis Thomason

    As my grandmothers preacher use to say when I ask questions “god works in mysterious ways”

  5. You left out the anomaly of Job. Also, David boned 400 women (100 wives and 300 concubines), but (and?) he was a man after God’s own heart. Then there’s Abel… whose brother murdered him for offering a burnt sacrifice of cabbage… and even tho God could have protected Abel, he chose no to…



  6. I like the stopping of the sun. Clearly, the writer didn’t think the earth moved, so stopping the sun would have no consequence other than a longer and warmer day. Basically, Apollo was reigning in those horses.

    SC, I like your study. You (or your readers) should expand it and apply some sort of quantification – maybe a correlation to Gabe’s suggestion that time increases the magnitude of the miracles, using some definition of miracle power. It would be interesting to look at other mythologies as well.

    Like the bible, those other stories included miracles which happened in the past, and the grandeur might have increased with time even with the Grecian and Roman pantheon. Foe example, there are no contemporary records documenting Hercules toiling away at those darn twelve tasks, or Perseus cutting off Medusa’s head – although one would think it would have been an accomplishment to commemorate. It was always in the ancient past, although oddly, the characters acted like and dressed like the people who told the story. I think there is a pattern here.

  7. retiredsciguy

    Curmy, how the hell do you think of these things? Great essay!

  8. If we’re going to quantify this, and frankly his curve begs to be quantified and mathematically modelled, then we have to decide what level of suffering deserves what type of number on his curve. I’m not certain I’d agree that the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah deserves less than the Tower of Babel; one was complete destruction of two towns (complete with Lot’s wife being turned into a pillar of salt) while the other simply meant every one would speak a different language. But aside from such quibbles, the initial curve appears to be an exponentially decaying curve, 1 over x^n. We just have to determine the value of the various parameters.
    Oh, and what retiredsciguy said, Curmy. Awesome essay! Went great with my morning breakfast!

  9. retiredsciguy asks: “Curmy, how the hell do you think of these things?”

    It’s the climax of a lifetime of solitary scholarship.

  10. I hope you washed your hands after typing this out.

  11. Tundra Boy says: “I hope you washed your hands …”

    More. It was Saturday night, so I took a bath. Hey, spring is coming. Isn’t it time for your annual bath?

  12. Gabriel Hanna

    Hey, spring is coming. Isn’t it time for your annual bath?

    I bathe once a month, whether I need it or not. “Annual bath” forsooth, pigs are cleaner.