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Biblical authority, Creation/Evolution

How do debilitating mental disorders fit into a world governed by a good God?

mental-illness

I do not believe I have divulged this information here before, but I am a mental health counselor.  I see around fifteen clients per week struggling with everything from bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression, panic attacks, PTSD, marital … you name it.  I do work in a Christian environment, so from time to time the question of how God allows such debilitating conditions to exist comes up.  I believe this question has a perfectly understandable Biblical answer.

In the beginning God created our world perfectly – no disease, no death.  He gave us everything we needed to survive and thrive in a paradise world.  Through our pride we chose the only option He told us not to and it changed everything.  God said that choosing that path would bring death.  When Adam and Eve ate the fruit they did not die immediately – but the process of decay began.  I believe at this point (as the Tree of Life is taken away) the overall concept of the 2nd law of thermodynamics (all things move from order to disorder when left to themselves) starts affecting humans.

Just because Adam & Eve did not die on the very day they ate the fruit is irrelevant.  They would have certainly begun feeling the effects of the minor decays in their system.  Things as simple as allergies would not have existed before.  We now know that these decays in our system (or you could call them errors) is called mutations.  As we pass on our genetic information, we go through mutations.  Most mutations are either neutral or harmful.  As the years have added up, so have mutations.  This also helps us understand how close relatives could intermarry in the early days of humanity as described in the Bible.  These mutational errors had not accumulated as much in this time.  Mutations can affect everything from physical characteristics to emotional states.   Therefore mental illness is one of the results of thousands of years of mutational accumulation in our genetics.

If mental illness is the result of mutational decay, then it can all be traced back to the prideful sin of man… not God.  He never wanted us to suffer through these debilitating diseases and disorders.  That was not His plan, but He did allow us the opportunity to choose with a clear warning of the results of that choice.  If, as a client of mine, you are mad at God for cursing you with a mental illness – it’s not the God of the Bible – he grieves with you for the world you’ve inherited.  BUT the story doesn’t end there.  He grieved so much for that paradise lost that He sent His son to pay the price to defeat the enemy of death.  In this life we will still have to endure the temporary decay and suffering that comes from it, but through Jesus’s sacrifice we are promised restoration to His original design.

A word of warning for those who may be reading but still confused.  Many Christians and Christian leaders have compromised the word of God with the doctrines of men, specifically evolution.  In an evolutionary worldview – God used decay, suffering, and death for millions of years to accomplish the creation of man (before sin).  This defies the entire explanation above.  I can’t help you understand mental illness through that worldview.  There are no Biblical answers for you other than God wanted you to go through this for a reason.  That is a pretty horrible God and I would agree with you in being angry at Him.  But thankfully, that is not the God the Bible describes.  That is a version of God that has been reinterpreted unfortunately.  Therefore a literal understanding of Genesis is AGAIN required to understand the world we live in.  All other philosophies fail.

Even the presence of increasing diseases and mental illnesses defy an atheistic evolutionary worldview where we are supposedly increasing in function and debilitating conditions are selected out in the next generation.  Some opponents will say “we are the best off we’ve ever been with medicine today” – but doesn’t that just beg the question of why we need more and more doctors and medicine??  It’s a smokescreen to avoid the issue that things are actually getting worse.  Decay continues today and cannot be answered by atheists or Christian evolutionists.  The only answer compatible with the loving God described in the Bible comes through a literal interpretation of Genesis.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

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About Tim

http://www.gracewithsalt.com

Discussion

14 thoughts on “How do debilitating mental disorders fit into a world governed by a good God?

  1. I’ve said this before, if something is created perfect, it’s not possible for that thing to “mess up”. Having the ability to sin makes us imperfect to begin with. We were never intended to be perfect. Furthermore, heaven was always the goal, so physical death always had to have been present. Sin brought SPIRITUAL death, meaning a separation from god, and the loss of the right to get to heaven without earning it. That’s why Jesus came. Jesus makes absolutely no sense if you’re arguing for physical death, because he didn’t fix that whatsoever.

    However I think it’s absolutely ridiculous to assume illnesses and other things completely out of our control are the result of sin.

    Our studies of evolution have shown that we are not in a state of decay at ALL. Mutations, overall, improve our wellness over time. That’s why adaptation happens. We adapt to our surroundings because doing so makes us more likely to survive. This is the positive effect of mutation and evolution. Of course to get that positive effect, there has to be an element of randomness involved, including the occasional rare problems, but overall, it’s a net POSITIVE effect. Also, many mental illnesses have nothing at all to do with mutations/genetics.

    Posted by Andy Gilleand | November 8, 2013, 7:23 pm
  2. Andy raises an interesting point about how something which can mess up is imperfect; but I’m not talking about sin. Mutations can only occur because the way DNA is replicated is imperfect, introducing errors into our genetic code. If we were originally perfect mutation would’ve been impossible and so we would’ve remained perfect, regardless of what the second law of thermodynamics started doing.

    As an interesting note, Answers in Genesis’ “Answers Research Journal” will soon be publishing an article on when the second law of thermodynamics occurred. The abstract reads.
    Many recent creationists believe that the second law of thermodynamics came into being as a result of the Fall or the curse. I argue that this is not supported by Scripture, nor is it a defensible position from a scientific viewpoint. Instituting the second law of thermodynamics at the Fall needlessly causes problems for theology and science. Rather, I propose that the second law of thermodynamics came into the picture during the Creation Week as part of the created order (Nehemiah 9:6; Colossians 1:16).
    Keep an eye on the current issue to see when it is published.

    Posted by Adam Benton | November 8, 2013, 8:45 pm
    • Thanks Adam! This may be a valid point. 2nd law may have come about in creation week. If I can guess what he is going to allude to is the Tree of Life. That tree kept their condition “perfect” as they ate from it. Therefore I guess the 2nd Law would already be in place. Good catch. After sin, the Tree of Life was taken away, thus initiating their involvement in the decay process. I may need to clarify that.

      EDIT – I have updated it:

      I believe at this point (as the Tree of Life is taken away) the overall concept of the 2nd law of thermodynamics (all things move from order to disorder when left to themselves) starts affecting humans.

      Posted by Tim | November 8, 2013, 8:50 pm
      • I hope you keep an eye on the ARJ, it’ll be interesting to see whether your prediction is right and hear any thoughts you have on what he ultimately says.

        However, as I mentioned, this wouldn’t really solve the issue of why they are mutations. They exist because DNA replication is imperfect and so has a low enough copying fidelity that multiple mistakes can creep in and accumulate. If the original system was perfect, then this surely shouldn’t be possible. Adding the second law of thermodynamics into the mix doesn’t solve anything because that deals with useful energy in a system. As such, all it means is that DNA replication would “consume” energy, not that it would suddenly start producing errors. Thus either the fall can’t explain the existence of mutations, or DNA replication was originally imperfect.

        Posted by Adam Benton | November 8, 2013, 10:14 pm
        • The concept is that the Tree of Life would keep people’s DNA perfect for all eternity – thus making them eternal. Once the tree was removed, DNA became susceptible to decay. Hypothetically, if the Tree of Life had stayed and they reproduced, there would have been no mutations.

          Posted by Tim | November 8, 2013, 10:22 pm
          • How would they be susceptible to decay unless the method DNA reproduces is flawed enough to allow for the accumulation of mutations? Or was it originally flawed, so how can it be called perfect?

            Posted by Adam Benton | November 8, 2013, 10:26 pm
            • Perfection was reproducing while feeding on the tree of life. Heck, you could say “having to eat” is a flawed system. But it’s not if that’s how God designed it. His perfect plan was for us to reproduce while feeding from the Tree of Life – therefore escaping the possibility of mutational accumulation.

              Posted by Tim | November 8, 2013, 10:34 pm
              • That’s a good point, but raises an interesting question. What would’ve happened if, prior to the fall, Adam and Eve stopped eating? Would they have died?

                Posted by Adam Benton | November 8, 2013, 11:10 pm
                • Good question! It seems that if they stopped eating, they would be thwarting the plans of God – and thus that would be considered sin, right? I will think on this some more.

                  Posted by Tim | November 8, 2013, 11:22 pm
                  • That’s certainly a possibility; after all there is the command to be fruitful and multiply. But of course, that line of reasoning carries with it the assumption that not eating would’ve somehow harmed their ability to multiply and I’m not sure that’s an assumption we can make. Most creationists seem to hold that death and decay would not have occurred before the fall, and so surely that eliminates the harmful side-effects of starvation. And that’s not forgetting that you seem to want to fiddle around with the second law of thermodynamics. Since that dictates a system needs energy to remain the same, if it was different then would eating have even been needed to keep their energy levels up?

                    Which raises all sorts of other interesting questions. If Adam fell out a tree, could he have broken a bone? What if he got his foot caught in some rocks whilst swimming, could he have drowned?

                    Posted by Adam Benton | November 9, 2013, 11:54 am

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