I am currently a missionary in Lima, Peru on staff with Young Life, which is a youth evangelism outreach. My work here deals primarily with expatriate kids, and as such have very inquiring minds.
I have recently been "stumped" with 2 questions posed to me from the kids that I work with.
First deals specifically with the problem of evil. We have moved from beyond the aspect that God allows evil to exist becuase he must do so in order to accomplish his other objectives of having human beings choose to love him and so on. This question focuses more on the first sin, Satan's sin. We are to assume that since God created the world that it was created good, however, Satan chose to do evil over good. In order to choose something, that something must already be in existence, like in order for me to choose to put my shoes on in the morning, my shoes must exist first as a prequisite to me choosing to put them on. This student thus concluded that either God created evil, or that all things are not created by God.
My immediate response to this was that while Satan didn't create evil, he just simply chose to defy an already existing rule, thereby not creating anything of his own. However, that landed us right back in the same place, well, isn't choosing to disobey one of God's commands choosing evil too?
I hope I have explained this question well, as it has cetainly thrown me for a loop over the last few days.
The second I am a little more confident to find an answer. The question deals simply with the natural life expectancy of man. In Genesis, it is seen that man lived until 950 years old at times, however, even people living until their full potential now are only reaching 100 years old. How are we then to assume that the "natural" life expectancy of human beings has decreased close to 90% in only 5000 years, and are we then to believe that in only 5000 more years human beings will be living out their lives in 9-10 years?
My immediate response to this was that this tied back to the earth altering changes that were endured during the flood. I also remember listening to a speaker talk about the effects and consequences of sin to human beings, but was reluctant to bring this up in fear of the "so anyone suffering must have be paying for a sin" argument. I was not sure, and told him that I would look into it further, but found evidential material lacking on the subject.
If you are able to provide either insight or further references that may help me I would be most thankful.
My response is in Green:
Let me start with the second question, because I think it is the easiest to answer. You are on the right track with the changes made during the flood. Let me start by what the earth was like before the flood. Let me quote a passage and try to explain it:
(Genesis 1:6-8 NIV)  And God said, "Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water."  So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so.  God called the expanse "sky." And there was evening, and there was morning-the second day.
Many people miss the significance of that passage. It does not seem to make sense to them, so they either forget it or they interpret it in a way that is wrong but makes sense to them. What God did was make two bodies of water. One body of water below the sky and one above the sky. A couple of verses later God gathers the water under the sky and brings forth dry land. We don't hear much more about the water above. That is until the flood, when we are told that the floodgates of heaven were opened.
(Genesis 7:11-12 NIV)  In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, on the seventeenth day of the second month-on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened.  And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights.
Now this brings up some very interesting ideas. We know that God created the stars and moon so that man could count off the seasons. This is important because if this water above the earth was in the form of clouds, then up until the flood, no one would have been able to see the stars and moon, so that can't be what it was. I believe that this water above the sky was an ice ring around the whole earth. It would have been clear and may have even magnified what the people saw from earth.
This brings up other interesting ideas. With an ice layer above the atmosphere you would in effect have a green house on earth. Plus you would have the equivalent of a hyperbaric chamber. Just in the past few years doctors have found that if a person is injured and you place them in hyperbaric chamber, they heal much faster. Many professional sports teams now own their own hyperbaric chambers for their players.
In a hyperbaric chamber the infusion of oxygen is increased. Some scientist have studied this affect on plants. They were able to grow a cherry tomato plant which produced tomatoes the size of baseballs and grew very fast.
Another thing that the ice layer would do is filter out almost all of the harmful radiation that comes from the sun and space. So if this is what the water above the sky was, you would have people living in a hyperbaric chamber and not having the harmful affects of radiation. Under those conditions it would not be unusual for a person to live for hundreds of years.
This brings up yet another interesting idea. Reptiles continue to grow throughout their lives. They only stop growing when they die. So if you had reptiles alive in this same atmospheric conditions, you would have giant reptiles. What do we call giant reptiles today? Dinosaurs!
We know from the Bible that before the flood it never rained. Everything was watered by underground springs. So if God opened the flood gates of heaven, by melting this ice layer, it would have produced a large amount of water to rain down on the earth. Again very consistent with what happened.
I have heard one person say that they believe that God used an asteroid to break the ice layer and cause it to fall and melt. This is interesting too, because it could help explain a couple things we know happened. They have found animals at the poles under ice and snow who have been very well preserved. They found that in their stomachs were green undigested plants. How could this animal have lived in that ice and cold and where did the green plants come from it was eating?
As I said if there were an ice layer outside of the atmosphere it would have made the earth a giant green house. The poles would have been much like the tropical areas we know today near the equator. However, if an asteroid hit the ice layer and broke it and at the same time caused the axis of the earth to tilt just slightly, two things would have happened. The poles would have become cold, very fast and the animals which were alive would have been killed and frozen, just like we find them. Second the ice layer would have come down as ice and rain and after wards there would not have been the protection from the radiation.
I want to look at one more passage at this point:
(Genesis 9:20-21 NIV)  Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard.  When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent.
After the flood God gave Noah and his family all the animals as food. Up until that time they had been given only all the green plants to eat. So that makes sense when it says that Noah was a man of the soil. But that is not what I want to look at. While the ice layer was over the sky you would not have the deterioration that we have today. What I mean is that I don't believe the wine before the flood was anything other than grape juice, but after the flood it fermented. Noah was a righteous man, but he had never had fermented wine before and that is how he ended up getting drunk.
I think that lends more credence to the idea of an ice layer above the earth. Now the bottom line to this whole discussion is this, man's lifespan dropped dramatically after the flood, because of the solar radiation. This is a well known problem today. We are told that many if not most of our diseases are caused in one way or another from the damage caused by solar radiation. Take away that radiation and we would be healthy enough to cope with the diseases that were left. Plus add living in a hyperbaric chamber and we would be living for hundreds of years again.
I hope I did not ramble on too much and lose you.
Now to the harder question, the question of evil. I am not sure there really is an answer to this question, but I will try. The reason I say there might not be an answer is because I am not sure the question is the right question. Let me try another question and show you what I mean.
Let's say that someone asks the question, "Did God create darkness?" How would we answer that? The Bible tells us that God created light. It tells us that He separated the light from the dark. It does not, however, tell us where the darkness came from. Now people will say that if God created the light, then before light there had to be darkness, but that is an assumption. My point is that the question can't really be answered. Did God created darkness by the mere act of creating light? Or did He actually create darkness to be the opposite of light?
Now I know this seems like a meaningless debate, but that is my whole point. That is how I see this, who created evil debate. If God is perfection and anything else which is less than perfection is sin, then did God create sin or is sin just the natural opposite of God? It is a meaningless question. Yet I understand why people ask it, so I will try to explain my thoughts.
God gave His created beings free will, both man and angels. Free will demands that there has to be a possible choice. But does that idea of choice mean that God had to create evil to allow choice? No, it means that God did not force His created beings to follow Him, He gave them the choice to decide for themselves. The Bible tells us that everything God created was good. So there was no sin in all of creation until Satan (Lucifer at that time) decided that he wanted to be worshipped instead of God.
Let me try to show what I mean another way. When God created Adam He created vocal cords so that Adam would be able to speak. So the very first time that Adam spoke; did God create what Adam spoke, or did Adam? God created the ability, but not the action. Adam spoke using what God created, but the sound was created by Adam himself. I see the same idea in the creation of a free will. God gave us and the angels the ability to choose to either serve Him of our own free will or to rebel. In doing so He did not create the rebellion, He merely created the ability for us to create evil/rebellion.
Rebellion had never existed before this in the Triune God, from eternity past. Everything other than God was created by God, so He created the ability to rebel while not creating rebellion itself. I truly believe that answers the question, but I still contend that the question is meaningless.
I can create a gun and bullets to be fired out of that gun, but I have not created the crime that the gun might be used to commit. I have only created the ability for someone to use this gun in the commission of a crime. I am not the author or creator of the crime and I have no responsibility for the crime or it's consequences. I made something that enabled another to commit a crime, but the decision was theirs, they also could have used my creation for good. As in target practice.
I wanted to address the idea that either God did not create all things or He created evil. God is the only Creator, meaning that only God can create something from nothing. However, I have no problem with the idea that we create things too. For example, the idea that Adam created the first sounds that came out of his vocal cords, or that I am creating sounds and words every time I speak. I am creating this message to you. So why can't I create evil? Look at the way James states this idea:
(James 1:13-15 NIV)  When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;  but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.  Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
The temptation comes from the person's own evil desire. It is conceived (created) in the person and then gives birth to sin. This person is creating sin. So to say that Satan created the first sin does not bother me. God created the ability for Satan and us to make the choice to create sin/evil yet He did not create the sin/evil.
I hope I did not go around in too many circles with that answer. I hope what I was trying to say comes through.
I hope those answers are at least a little help for you.
God bless you,
E-Mail Ralph (whose comments are in green)
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