Creationist Wisdom #708: Sin, Death, & Science

Today’s second letter-to-the-editor appears in the Gilmer Mirror of Gilmer, Texas. It’s titled Death Before Sin, and the newspaper has a comments section.

Unless the letter-writer is a politician, preacher, or other public figure, we won’t embarrass or promote him by using his full name — but today we’ve got a preacher. It’s Steve Ellison, pastor of Ouachita Baptist Assembly in Western Arkansas. We’ll give you a few excerpts from rev’s letter, enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary, and some bold font for emphasis. Okay, here we go:

The first great principle of Bible study is a reliance on the Holy Spirit to guide you. There are other important principles. One is to let Scripture interpret Scripture rather than letting tradition interpret. Another important principle is to accept the plain reading of Scripture. Sometimes that is literal; sometimes it is not. Genesis 1 and 2 is a case where the plain reading is literal. Some (perhaps well-meaning) Christians have attempted to find millions or even billions of years between the first and second verses of Genesis. It is my contention that there is no Biblical evidence for that nor is there any other kind of evidence either.

The rev is a young-Earth creationist who takes Genesis literally. Okay, we know what we’re dealing with. He says:

The problem arises when Christians try to help God out by trying to contrive a way to make the Bible match current “scientific” understanding. I placed quotes around science because it appears to me that this so-called science is not very scientific. It seems apparent to me that this science has been tainted by the need to retain tenure in teaching positions and also in keeping government grant money flowing.

The rev has a low opinion of scientists. Most creationists do. Let’s read on:

As Christians, we are always on solid footing when we hold fast to the idea that it is science which must conform to Scripture not vice versa.

Yes, it’s important to keep your priorities straight. The rev continues:

The plain reading of Genesis 1 gives absolutely no indication that there was a long period of time between the first two verses. … This idea of inserting long ages is a pure invention to attempt to make the Bible more palatable to the world. The Bible does very well on its own.

Right. Who needs science when we have the bible? Here’s more:

Many Christians who have not thought this through are simply of the opinion that this is not a significant issue. It is very, very significant. … In Genesis 1:31 God declared the newly completed creation to be “very good”. Inserting long ages would mean that God declared death, disease, etc. to be very good.

Egad — that couldn’t have happened! Moving along:

Most importantly, the insertion of long ages between the first two verses of Genesis renders the sacrificial death of Christ unnecessary. … Death before sin renders much of the rest of the Bible unintelligible. If death preceded Adam and Eve’s rebellion then what happens to the clear doctrine of Christianity concerning the Fall of Man?

If death has always been part of the biosphere, then the rev’s life has no meaning. Another excerpt:

If death came before sin, then mercy is really not mercy at all. If death came before sin, why would we need countless animal sacrifices on Old Testament altars?

That question never occurred to us before. And now we come to the end:

If death came before sin, why would we need a once-for-all sacrifice on Calvary’s Cross? Enemies of the Cross have drawn this out to its logical conclusion. It is long past time that Christians do the same. Death before sin is dangerous beyond comprehension.

So there you are. We’re not sure we understand what the rev is saying, but whatever it is, he thinks it’s very important.

Copyright © 2016. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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17 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #708: Sin, Death, & Science

  1. If death came before sin, why would we need a once-for-all sacrifice on Calvary’s Cross?

    And, ever since that once-for-all sacrifice, there’s been no such thing as death! Or sin. Or, er, what was the rev talking about again?

  2. The first great principle of Bible study is a reliance on the Holy Spirit to guide you. There are other important principles. One is to let Scripture interpret Scripture rather than letting tradition interpret. Another important principle is to accept the plain reading of Scripture. Sometimes that is literal; sometimes it is not. Genesis 1 and 2 is a case where the plain reading is literal. Some (perhaps well-meaning) Christians have attempted to find millions or even billions of years between the first and second verses of Genesis. It is my contention that there is no Biblical evidence for that nor is there any other kind of evidence either.

    There may be “no Biblical evidence for millions or even billions of years between the first and second verses of Genesis,” but so what, since the Genesis creation account is pure nonsense?

    As for there being no other evidence, there are even creationists who’d disagree with that statement. The only way the good rev can make that statement is if he automatically dismisses as “non-evidence” anything that challenges Genesis–because after all every world of the bible was dictated by God Himself.

  3. I think there was something left out of the following statement, which I have included parenthetically in order to make the meaning clearer. It also reflects what is commonly posted as part of young-earthers’ statements of faith:

    “As Christians, we are always on solid footing when we hold fast to the idea that it is science which must conform to (our interpretation of) Scripture not vice versa.”

  4. Doctor Stochastic

    I’ve heard this arguments for decades. Darwinism is wrong because it requires death and death didn’t happen before The Fall. Plants seem excepted. Death took a really Long Holiday. Next time, I’ll ask if death by accident (falling into a centote, run over by a chariot, etc.) is different from death by old age or from carnivore.

    Death is a consequence of the Second Law as is the ability to walk (friction.)

  5. I guess in the Rev’s notions of history, Yahweh created T-Rexes with all those teeth for cracking pineapples. Sharks needed all their teeth for shredding kelp. And all the carnivores got their protein by eating the magic tofu that fell like mana from Heaven.

  6. michaelfugate

    First off, reinterpreting Genesis came from realizing a “day” could not be a literal 24 hour day if the sun were not created until “day” 4. Not to mention all the evidence that it didn’t match observations.

    Second, Steve screwed up that last sentence. It should read: Death before sin is dangerous beyond comprehension to Steve Ellison’s personal religious beliefs.

  7. We are told that death in the world of life did not occur until after the completion of the design of life.
    Yet we can detect that complex structures are designed, such as the irreducibly complex system of carnivory – the eyes, claws and teeth of the hunter, the digestive system, the nutritional needs. If there is any logic at all to understanding design, we know that the family of cats was designed to be hunters.

  8. The very concept of “original sin” and “the fall” is about the most evil idea ever to come from the fevered minds of the shamans.

    Ayn Rand had it right when she wrote:

    A sin without volition is a slap at morality and an insolent contradiction in terms: that which is outside the possibility of choice is outside the province of morality. If man is evil by birth, he has no will, no power to change it; if he has no will, he can be neither good nor evil; a robot is amoral. To hold, as man’s sin, a fact not open to his choice is a mockery of morality. To hold man’s nature as his sin is a mockery of nature. To punish him for a crime he committed before he was born is a mockery of justice. To hold him guilty in a matter where no innocence exists is a mockery of reason. To destroy morality, nature, justice and reason by means of a single concept is a feat of evil hardly to be matched. Yet that is the root of your code.

    Do not hide behind the cowardly evasion that man is born with free will, but with a “tendency” to evil. A free will saddled with a tendency is like a game with loaded dice. It forces man to struggle through the effort of playing, to bear responsibility and pay for the game, but the decision is weighted in favor of a tendency that he had no power to escape. If the tendency is of his choice, he cannot possess it at birth; if it is not of his choice, his will is not free.

    What is the nature of the guilt that your teachers call his Original Sin? What are the evils man acquired when he fell from a state they consider perfection? Their myth declares that he ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge—he acquired a mind and became a rational being. It was the knowledge of good and evil—he became a moral being. He was sentenced to earn his bread by his labor—he became a productive being. He was sentenced to experience desire—he acquired the capacity of sexual enjoyment. The evils for which they damn him are reason, morality, creativeness, joy—all the cardinal values of his existence. It is not his vices that their myth of man’s fall is designed to explain and condemn, it is not his errors that they hold as his guilt, but the essence of his nature as man. Whatever he was—that robot in the Garden of Eden, who existed without mind, without values, without labor, without love—he was not man.

    Man’s fall, according to your teachers, was that he gained the virtues required to live. These virtues, by their standard, are his Sin. His evil, they charge, is that he’s man. His guilt, they charge, is that he lives.

    http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/original_sin.html

  9. Good heavens! You managed to find a passage where Ayn Rand wasn’t making an adolescent idiot of herself!

  10. Dave Luckett

    Exactly right, Coyote. And to that I add this:

    The Rev, may he be guided to wisdom, says this:

    “why would we need a once-for-all sacrifice on Calvary’s Cross?”

    He precedes that important question with “If death came before sin,” but expand, Rev, expand your thinking. Why do we need such a sacrifice at all? Why is it that your god cannot forgive all sin without a bloody, agonized and terrible death? Why is death his coinage, the currency of his fee?

    Is it because your god must follow some rule? Who made that rule, and why is it your contention that an almighty God must follow rules?

    Or is it his rule, his own will? No forgiveness without blood and pain and death.

    On either count, why are you worshiping this thing? Slave or monster, it is not worthy of worship.

  11. “Genesis 1 and 2 is a case where the plain reading is literal.”
    Plain reading tells me that in Gen. 1 light was created before the Sun. Apparently we Earthlings don’t receive it from the Sun. Plain reading also tells me that since Gen. 2 men miss a rib.
    Plain reading of Gen.1 tells me that first the animals were created and then Adam. Plain reading of Gen.2 tells me that first Adam was created and then the animals.

  12. More telling what Genesis 1 tells us about the Sun on day 4 is that the Sun was placed in the Firmament on day 4 to mark the passage of day and night.
    How were there days to be numbered 1, 2 and 3 without the Sun doing its job?

  13. Steve Ellison demands to know:

    If death came before sin, why would we need countless animal sacrifices on Old Testament altars?

    Ding ding, we have a winner with that doozey!

    One must also ask the corollary (and also self-answering) questions, viz.;

    If the Sun rises every day by itself, why did the Aztecs need to make countless human sacrifices to Huitzilopochtli?

    or

    If diseases aren’t caused by an imbalance in the bodily humours, what need was there for blood-letting as a treatment?

    &c &c

  14. When bad theology (propitiatory atonement) meets bad science (“literal” creationism), the results are horrid.

    I’m quite proud that my eldest son intends to be a paleontologist, believing that the Earth is a few billion years old, and sees no contradiction between this and his faith in God. Quite a fine and sensible lad.

    (We sat down with a few of the other Semitic creationist myths and went over the differences and similarities between those and the Jewish myth, and what that says about the character of God – a far more useful study than ignoring the natural world so you can insist that the Earth’s six thousand years old.)

  15. TomS asks a question: “How were there days to be numbered 1, 2 and 3 without the Sun doing its job?”
    Simple. God eeehhh the Intelligent Designer looked on the watch he later would give to William Paley.

  16. What is all this SIN stuff?? Everyone knows there is no such thing as sin! Sin is going against gawd’s law! Show me a gawd! Then I’ll show you sin!

  17. You know, he is absolutely right. When you exist outside of time and space as does his god, creating a universe of 100+ billion galaxies averaging over 100+ billion stars each, shouldn’t even take a day. Clearly God was being poetic when he said it took a day to create this or that. Magic is instantaneous, so eons, smeons, a day is a day and Yahweh was just spoofing when he took a rest at the end. He could have done it all over in the blink of an eye if He wanted to, so all you Christians out there, stop listening to those money grubbing scientists, you know the ones who passed on good jobs in finance and law and whatnot so they could get a lousy paying job as a professor and then grub for measly grants for their professional careers.