Feedback archive Feedback 2014

Did something precede creation week, and why did God introduce suffering?

Published: 20 September 2014 (GMT+10)

CMI-US CEO Gary Bates answers some questions about his article, Geologists are not biased? Peter M. from the UK writes:

iStockphoto suffering

Hi,

Did the fall of Adam mean that God in some way had no other choice but to curse the world? Also did God choose what the consequences of the fall would be and if so why did he choose Physical suffering? I find it difficult sometimes to reconcile a God who cares so much for our well being on the one hand with what to us can seem like unnecessarily cruel disease and affliction that we have in the world.

I hope my questions seem reasonable; I really would like to know your thoughts on these matters.

Gary Bates responds:

A couple of things to remember:

  1. God foreknew the Fall, so He knew what the eternal consequences for mankind would be as a result of their rebellion. Remember that God is outside of universe/Earth time so He already had a plan in place to redeem the situation before mankind fell. And He did this by instituting a penalty of death. In addition, God has to judge consistently with his nature as He cannot allow sin to go unpunished.
  2. So, why physical punishment? Remember that everything was perfect, so if that perfect state had been allowed to continue while sinful man was spiritually separated from God then the eternal consequences would have been even worse than the situation now. This is because mankind would not have noticed anything wrong with Creation, and thus, would not have realized their separation from God for eternity. The fact that we ponder our mortality (and indeed the very reason why you are noticing that bad things happen and are questioning why they are allowed by God) should cause us ask to realize that something is wrong with Creation. None of us are reconciled with death (Read Understanding death).

To repeat, the big problem we would have faced if God had not introduced death as a punishment is that we would have been eternally separated from God (worse than death). Now, only through death can we be reconciled back to God if we believe in Jesus Christ and His ability to save us. Think about this: If someone committed a murder but was just allowed to continue living a normal life with no consequences of his/her actions, how would we be able to demonstrate the action was wrong if there was no judgement or penalty to fit the crime? The greatest disaster in the history of the universe was the Fall of man because it affected the creation so greatly.


Michael G. from Norway writes:

I am a big supporter of the work you are doing and you have all helped me enormously with many questions I have had. I believe that God created us without the use of evolution, but that said, I would like to point out what I believe to be a mistaken assumption you are making with regards to Genesis 1.

It starts with "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth", and goes on to describe the earth as "formless and void, and the Spirit of God hovered over the waters". God then says "Let there be light" and after seeing that it is good he proceeds to START the first earth day by separating light from darkness (planetary rotation?). This means that BEFORE the first day starts God has created: space (the heavens), hydrogen and oxygen (and combined them as water), one can assume the other elements as land has been created (although still under the "deep"), there must be a source of heat (the water is not ice), etc. Light (the stars?) are also created before the first day, and the important thing to note is that until the light is separated from the dark (the earth starts spinning?) no time period is given! God then uses six earth days to make the planet habitable and create all life, but the text does NOT say how long the earth or the universe has been in existence.

This would explain why stars billions of lightyears away can be seen today: a planet of unknown age made recently habitable in a universe of unknown age. This is not in conflict with the text as I see it (including day four which can be read either as God creating the sun, moon and stars or as God making them visible on earth). Genesis 1 ends by saying that God was finished with creating "by" or "on" the 7th day, not that he used 6 days to create! What are your thoughts on this? God bless you all.

Gary Bates responds:

Mike, respectfully all these questions have been answered on our site. So I think you need to take the time to research the site, otherwise I would have to repeat it all here (actually the feedback rules you checked asked you to do this before submitting questions). I will link you with some articles on this, but one thing to keep in mind is that God does not exist in time (as we know it). Before the universe existed there was God (Genesis 1:1). Time is a created entity which began when the universe began (even the secularists believe this). See If God created the universe, who created God? Moreover, what you are describing is a kind of gap theory or even a ‘soft gap’ to allow for billions of years. Also see How can distant starlight reach us in just 6,000 years?

But the big question is: why are you trying to find places in Scripture to add billions of years anyway? You cannot deduce these long periods of time just from reading the text alone. They come from outside, secular sources that believe in evolution. So, as a Christian one has to decide what authority are you going to use to interpret our world. A secular interpretation of science or God’s Word? Another comprehensive article that covers all sorts of views to add long ages is An old-earth answer provides only problems. Thanks and I hope you will take the time to read the links and that you find them helpful.

Readers’ comments

Dean M.
Another angle that I have not seen anyone mention is that God would have had no conduit to go through to redeem mankind. In other words, without suffering, Jesus would have nothing to suffer in our place if there were no sentence of pain and suffering to take upon Himself. Without pain and suffering, we would be doomed to live an eternity separate from God because there would be no judgement for Jesus to endure to redeem us to Him. Also, there would be no perfect means of showing the depths of God's love. With no pain and suffering, how would He demonstrate His great love without the ultimate sacrifice? Anything God did would be insufficient and trivial otherwise.
Danny J.
I just wanted to make a quick comment to Michael G.'s email. On the comment that there could have been a gap of time before the creation weeks leaves out the fact that God said in Exodus 20 when speaking of the Sabbath: "For in six days God created the heavens and the earth..." This passage is written by the same man who compiled the book of Genesis, Moses.Also, the word used in the Hebrew speaking of God creating the sun, moon, and stars can only linguistically be translated as "made (ex materia)." There is no room in the language to allow for the meaning of "appeared" or "was revealed." The linguistic context can only give the meaning "made."
Indeed. See chapter 3 of the Creation Answers Book (creation.com/images/pdfs/cabook/chapter3.pdf) , called 'What about gap theories.' Also Gap theory revisited.
Kent O.
I have a question that I've always wondered about. On the first day of creation before light was created, there was darkness and water. Darkness is not a thing. It is the absence of light. But water is a "thing." Do you believe that God created water on the first day before He created light, but the Scripture just doesn't mention the creation of water?
Gary Bates
I'm not sure I follow the question or what the relevance of the question is. However, Scripture is pretty clear. The first three verses of Genesis say:
Gen 1:1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
Gen 1:2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
Gen 1:3 And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light.
So, it clearly indicates water was there before light so it must have been created by God. he created the earth (vs. 1) and then vs. 2 describes it complete with water. Light is then added in vs. 3.
D. D.
God Bless you P.S. Your story has touched my heart. My brother suffered the same thing at the hands of church members claiming to be Christians when they really weren't. We have no answers for the reason why. God allowed the most unspeakable things to happen to His Son when He did not deserve it. He went to the cross on our behalf. God's love for us shines through despite the evil and suffering all around us.
Gary Bates
Hi, we have lots of articles on why a good god allows bad things. See
Death and suffering Q & A. Also feedback says this DVD has helped a lot of people Why does a good God allows bad things.
Howard K.
Dr. Bates, you said, “... one thing to keep in mind is that God does not exist in time (as we know it)... Time is a created entity which began when the universe began (even the secularists believe this).” I hear this sort of thing all the time, and it has never made sense to me.
First, time cannot have a beginning or an end. To say that time had a beginning is contradictory. It would mean that God existed before time, would it not? But “before” is a temporal word; it implies the existence of time. It is certain that there never was a time that time was not. The same contradiction arises if we say that time will have an end; for then God, who is eternal, must exist after time; which implies time after the end of time. Sir Isaac Newton did not believe that God created time and space. He stated “He is eternal and infinite, omnipotent and omniscient ; that is, his duration reaches from eternity to eternity; his presence from infinity to infinity ...He is not eternity or infinity, but eternal and infinite; he is not duration and space, but he endures and is present. He endures forever and is everywhere present ; and by existing always and everywhere, he constitutes duration and space. Since every particle of space is always, and every indivisible moment of duration is everywhere, certainly the Maker and Lord of things cannot be never and nowhere.” (Principia, p.36, Motte translation, 1846). It was Augustine – not Paul or Jesus – who popularized the notion of God existing “outside time”. But this is not what “eternity” means in Scripture. Eternity is simply time infinitely extended in both directions. God always was, and always will be. He is of infinite duration. That which has duration exists in time.
Gary Bates
I beg to differ on your idea that time has always existed. We have to measure time and we do so using earth clocks. I.e. a rotation of the earth with a light source equals a day, and Genesis 1 provides that level of detail evening and morning, day one, day two and so on. So it is pretty easy to deduce that time had a beginning. Frameworks of reference change too. A day on Jupiter would be different. But this is not just a creation ad hoc idea. Whether one believes in a secular big bang to kickstart the universe or Genesis 1:1 both believe that this was the beginning of time. The difference is that Christians believe that God preexisted before the universe He created, but this does not mean He is bound by the laws that govern it. Simply, God does not exist in time. Time is a created entity, but eternity may indeed be timelessness. This is difficult for people to understand because we are finite and bound in time, and one has to be careful about using our own physical realm to define and explain a supernatural all powerful God. The Bible says there is none like Him. As space is limited here I recommend you read the following articles please, which will help explain the reasoning behind this:
If God created the universe then who created God? .
Who created God?
And also a DVD/video download called Who made God?
P. S.
As a victim of sexual abuse as a child, I spent a great deal of my life in bitterness and anger towards God for allowing such unspeakable things to happen to an innocent and defenseless child. I wavered between disbelief in any God and hatred of the God I had grown up being taught about, unable to reconcile this God with one who allows children to be victimized. But eventually, incredibly, God began to show me how He had given me just what I needed to overcome and deal with the abuse. He showed me all the times and places where He truly had protected me from what could have been even worse. He did not give me an understanding of why bad things had to happen at all, but He let me know that He had been more graceful and merciful to me than I could have known. I came to Christ upon realizing that God saw past all the anger, hatred and rebellion to see the scarred and hurting child underneath. We may not understand why some pain and suffering has to happen, but God did not abandon us to deal with it alone. And besides, Christianity and the Bible still offer the best explanation of why pain and suffering exist in the first place. I suppose this will remain one of the biggest obstacles to faith while we remain in this world.
Bob B.
I agree with what Michael has written. Please note that he does affirm a literal six day creation week, with no death before the fall of Adam and Eve. And from an exegetical standpoint, Genesis 1 introduces each of the creation days with the formula "And God said." This formula first appears in Genesis 1:3, which clearly indicates that Genesis 1:1-2 preceded creation week. So Michael's view does not stem from evolution theory; it is actually the most straightforward reading of the text. And it is consistent with death resulting from sin and with flood geology.
Gary Bates
Not sure I agree with this. Even your suggestion invokes some sort of time before the first day. As the earth rotated with the first light source (God) that is when time began (as the article stated, the frame of reference for time is 'earth time'. By suggesting that there was some type of time as we understand it before the first day (with or without evolution) implies a gap of time of some sorts. Ifd you read the links in the article, gap theory can allow for 6 literal days. However, a correct interpretation of the text is to understand that the heavens and earth (everything that God created) was made in 6 normal earth time days.
Gennaro C.
Hi Peter M. Surely Death - seemingly- appears as a contradiction to a God of Love. BUT, but, by Rev. 13:8 we know that Jesus' (the lamb) excruciating suffering on the cross was already planned as an answer to Adam's sin and we have to consider that - being the Godhead entity out of time and space - Jesus suffering was already experienced in FULL by the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In 2Pt. 4 we are instructed - in a way - that we will be part of God's nature. In other words there is such a brilliant future awaiting for us that we may take courage and faith in what God allowed to fall upon this world (caused by His withdrawn presence not by His will - we sent Him away) which He already paid in first person. Jesus' suffering is the warranty for our faith in a God of LOVE, not a God of punishment as it would appear at first sight. Keep your courage Peter, and keep going in nourishing yourself on God's word - the Bible - that you may have a wider understanding of God's revealed plan for us. John 14:1-3.
Neil C.
Why did God introduce suffering?
1) The purpose of God is to make sons of God. i.e that man be conformed to the image of Christ and receive the fullness of God. This is not a small thing it must have necessitated the fall to enable God to create something greater than a good man. Remember Jesus likewise had to suffer for this purpose.
2) Fallen man is at enmity, warfare with God. He is to God as a cockroach is to us. We do not hesitate to kill a cockroach. He has been judged worthy of death and should die. However God loves and has set his heart upon man that despite the desperately wicked and deceitful heart that all men have, God nevertheless although being pure, perfect and loving turns a filthy thing into someone like Himself.
3. If someone does not judge sin they hate righteousness and the just. In other words, the person who who will not judge and punish wrongdoing is a hater not a lover.

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