The good news without the bad news is no news at all!
First published: 19 December 2013 (GMT+10)
Re-featured on homepage: 27 January 2022 (GMT+10)
“Why should I bother with the creation/evolution debate? It’s just a side issue.”
Statements like that are common, and you may have thought that yourself. It seems like it’s all about scientific technicalities. Why should you be concerned about that? It seems so far from the fact that Jesus died for our sins. But, is it so far away from that central truth?
Romans 5:19 (ESV): “For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.” Adam is the “one man” who disobeyed in this passage (v. 14), and it’s through him that we all became sinners. Christ’s act of obedience will reverse that condition. But that only proves we became sinners through Adam’s disobedience; it doesn’t tell us what results from that disobedience.
Romans 6:23 (ESV): “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” So now we see the direct consequence of sin: death. Therefore, death is not natural; it has not always existed. It had to begin in history at some point as a result of sin. But you might ask: “What sort of death? It could just be spiritual death.”
1 Corinthians 15:21–22 (ESV): “For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” The reversal of the condition of “death” is Jesus’ bodily resurrection. Therefore, this “death” we have in Adam is not just “spiritual”, it is also physical. Christ didn’t just come to save us from “spiritual” death; he came to save us from physical death too. Though we physically die now, Christ’s bodily resurrection secures our future bodily resurrection. But still, this only deals with humans. Isn’t there room for animal suffering before the Fall of Adam?
Romans 8:20–21 (ESV): “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” It wasn’t just man that was subjected to corruption; it was the whole creation we are responsible for. A futile creation for futile man. The creation waits eagerly for the resurrection of believers (Romans 8:23) because that means creation itself will be set free from the power of sin and death.
Therefore, we see that any suffering to animals and humans (this applies specifically to nephesh chayyāh life) before the Fall completely destroys the logical foundation for the gospel. And it’s not just evolution that does that. Millions of years of ‘geologic time’ put human and animal fossils, which are full of suffering, before the biblical date of the Fall (about 6,000 years ago).
This is not just about how we interpret a certain portion of the Bible. The very truth of the gospel is at stake in this debate. If there was no literal Adam and Eve in a literal garden with a literal tree and a literal deceiver, and there wasn’t a literal Fall—then Jesus’ death is literally irrelevant.