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Creation/Evolution

Theistic Evolution problem: THORNS!

This argument is simple.  It comes from Genesis 3: 17-18 –

“To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life.  It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.”

God curses the ground.  Creationists believe this is the instance that changed the previous perfect creation into a gradually declining environment stricken with suffering, disease, and death.  The problem for those who believe in a God-initiated evolutionary process is the fact that thorns are found in the fossil record supposedly millions of years before man “evolved”.  Well, it seems you can’t have it both ways.  You can’t have thorn come after man’s sin, but already be around in the fossil record.

Creationists believe thorns in the fossil record are proof that the fossil record, and therefore earth is young, and that the fossils were laid down primarily in the flood, not before man came on the scene.  I searched the internet for theistic evolutionary responses to this and the best I found was that creationists have assumed that the whole world was like the Garden of Eden, a lush and perfect paradise.  Perhaps the rest of the world was like our world today and the Garden of Eden was a special perfect place?

My response to that accusation would be – where do you get that information?  The Bible does say that God planted a Garden east in Eden, but it doesn’t mention that the landscape and topography of the Garden was anything separate from the rest of the world.  This is also an assumption on the old-earthers part.  It’s an assumption to allow for thorns, to allow for a fossil record, and to eventually allow for billions of years of history and evolution. 

They have their interpretation and we have ours.  The only problem is their interpretation of the Bible stems from man’s authority on how the world was created, and our interpretation stems on the Bible’s authority on how the world was created.  Their interpretation still has God sitting back on day seven and calling a world full of death, disease, and suffering “very good”. 

There is no reason Biblically for God to create the world in this way, and then separate out Adam and Eve.  The position is not Biblical.  It is bowing to man’s interpretations and working them into scripture.  It takes outside influence to read into scripture that the Garden was a separate topography from the rest of the world.  A straight-forward, simple reading of Genesis is that thorns did not exist prior to man’s sin.  Period.  Their interpretation is the hard one to defend scripturally. 

 

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About Tim

http://www.gracewithsalt.com

Discussion

6 thoughts on “Theistic Evolution problem: THORNS!

  1. Was interested in your take when I saw that picture of the fossil thorn. I’ve written quite a bit about this interpretation of thorns on my blog (eg. http://thenaturalhistorian.com/2012/06/15/thorns-adam-fall-creation-young-earth-assumptions/) but what I don’t say there is that a good word study of thorns and thistles will reveal that these are types of plants rather than simply categories of things. Thornbushes and thistles (as whole plants) are very common and well known problems in middle east agriculture. The Israelites as the audience of the writing of Moses would have had a very clear understanding of what was being referred to here in Genesis 3. The rest of the old testament is clear about the relationship of these plants and covenant keeping versus covenant breaking. These plants would clearly awaited Adam and Eve when they were expelled from the Garden just as when the Israelite s disobeyed God they were sent into the wilderness and/or their cities were allowed to be overgrown with thornbushes and briar plants. The act of having a thorn is not in view but the presence of plants that get in they way of man cultivation of the plants (a garden) is the central focus of the text.

    Posted by Natural Historian | July 17, 2012, 4:46 pm
    • Wow, what a coincidence that you found this post, and so soon. Your blog was one of the few I could find on thorns. Obviously I disagree that thorns were present outside the Garden as I don’t see any Biblical evidence for that. My position is to start with the Bible (the ultimate and only absolute authority), and then interpret all other evidence. Therefore the fossil with the thorn in it is post-fall.

      Posted by Tim | July 17, 2012, 5:19 pm
  2. “My position is to start with the Bible.” I don’t know anything about “Natural Historian” but I can also say that my position is to start with the Bible. And that is why I find your position about thorns, the traditional position, so strange. The Bible says *nothing* about God creating thorns after Adam and Eve sinned. Instead, it says that they would be dealing with thorns and weeds for the first time. Isn’t the reason for this obvious? The Bible makes clear that the garden in the region of Eden is special. It not only has at least two unique and quite remarkable trees in it. It is special because it is a garden, not a wilderness. Do you expect to find lots of weeds and thorns in a garden? No. Especially when the “gardener” who made that garden such a special place is God himself! Therefore, I doubt God is a gardener who failed to notice some of the weeds and other thorns when he *planted* the garden. And no gardener who plants a garden in Eden or anywhere else is going to deliberately plant weeds and thornbushes there, at least not the kinds of thornbushes which interfere and get in the way of cultivating food crops.

    Yet if our position starts with the Bible and not what many of us grew up hearing in Sunday School, then we have to take Genesis 1 as it is written. It tells us that after six days of creating, God *ceased* creating. I can’t find an passage which claims that God resumed creating, especially a second creation involving a huge portion of the plant kingdom which would fit the classifications of weeds and thorns. Yes, it is precisely because of the fact that we care what the Bible says and doesn’t say that we are left to realize that there was no “second creation” in Adam’s day where God made major additions to the first creation. I just can’t find it in the Bible.

    Posted by Allen Miller | October 6, 2014, 12:54 am
    • I started the post by quoting scripture, and I think it is pretty plain to read: “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you”. It didn’t say cursed is the ground outside the garden, or inside. It just said cursed is the ground. If thorns were already present outside of the garden, why did God say that because of this new curse, thorns and thistles will now arise? This seems pretty straight forwards to me. Thorns and thistles were a punishment for sin, and a new creation as part of the curse.

      Posted by Tim | October 6, 2014, 1:15 am
  3. I really appreciate this opportunity to dig into this topic in a place where you and your visitors have put a lot of effort into the study of Genesis. It’s great that you’ve provided a place where such controversial topics can be discussed. A lot of the creation science ministry webpages either don’t allow comments or they delete any comments which might possibly lead to disagreement or uncertainty. I know that we set a much better example of Spirit-led Christian living when we show non-Christians that we can think carefully, discuss, disagree and weigh evidence while reflecting what it means to be in Christ.

    Posted by Allen Miller | October 6, 2014, 12:58 am
  4. One of my favorite professors in seminary always said that our greatest difficulty in practicing sound hermeneutics was not so much failing to see some significant details in a passage. It was letting familiarity convince us of things which weren’t there at all. I wish I had saved the class handout of “101 Familiar Facts From the Bible Which Aren’t.” The first one was “Noah’s Ark landed on top of Mt. Ararat in Turkey.” In that one, it pointed out the fact that tradition convinces even some of the most experienced Bible readers of three ideas which aren’t scriptural: (1) The Bible doesn’t say the ark landed “on top of” anything. It says it landed in the “mountains of” or “hill country of” a region called Ararat and (2) there is no Mt. Ararat in the Bible. (3) The Bible doesn’t given any other information of where the ark landed and there are at least a half dozen traditions and speculations about where that was. I find it interesting that a lot of ministry websites will get #1 and sometimes #2 correct but, even then, will simply assume the ark landed on the modern “Mt. Ararat” in Turkey.
    That same professor would remind us of the “Bible says/doesn’t say” stumbling block constantly. If we were answering a question or commenting on a passage in class, he would interrupt like a drill sergeant, but with a smile that made it less threatening, and also put his hand to his ear like he was straining to hear correctly: “Said what?” and “Did it? Are you sure?” He’d repeat it while other students tried to correct whatever had triggered the tripwire. If we still didn’t get it, he would say “Somehow I don’t see ____ in my Bible. Where’d you find that?” We could be relieved that the “drilling & grilling” exercise was over when Dr. Feinberg said some version of the admonition, “Don’t just find out what you think is the best interpretation of the passage. Determine what other interpretations may be just as possible and also determine what is not possible.” He was right. It is so easy to stop with the first goal, especially if it agrees with my church or denomination’s consensus. The hard thing can be to admit that the other guy’s interpretation may be equally valid exegesis.
    So many of those interruptions have never left my memory. And his interruption of the “God created thorns and weeds after Adam sinned” was one of them. He was a staunch young earth creationist but always reminded us that we should be careful to make sure we were defending what the Bible said but not what our traditions said the Bible said. I could still kick myself that I didn’t take the “Hebrew Exegesis: Genesis” elective my senior year

    Posted by Allen Miller | October 6, 2014, 8:17 pm

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