[This is a reprint of an article from the old blog]
Young Earth Creationists insist upon pointing out that by one man, Adam, sin entered into the world, and through one man, Jesus, sin was conquered. So far, so good. However, because sin entered the world, so did death. Thus, they reason, there was no death until Adam and Eve sinned. Therefore, they conclude, the earth must only be 6,000 years old (give or take) because man has only been here for 6,000 years (give or take), and there was no death until Adam and Eve sinned. Therefore, the fossil record either 1) only contains bones of dead animals not over 6,000 years (give or take) and catastrophes such as the Flood caused the fossilization of the bones, or 2) God created the earth in a usable fashion, and that includes what appears to be the remnants of dead animals, including fossilized bones, fossil fuels, etc.
While this sounds good in theory, and it even has a certain appeal (God is good, therefore, He does not cause death), does it stand up to Scripture? What is important is what the Bible tells us, after all, and not what we try to reason about God in our futile imaginations (Ps 94:11). We should not try to fit God into our image of Him (idolatry) but rather try to understand Him as He is.
First, let’s look at the verse that is quoted to make this claim that no death occurred before Adam and Eve sinned:
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned (Ro 5:12, NKJV).
From this verse, we see that one man, Adam, sinned. Because of Adam’s sin, death spread to “all men”. It is important to note that it spread to “all men”, and it does not say it spread to all of the plants and animals as well. Verse 14 reiterates that it was a curse placed upon mankind: “Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses….” Likewise, verse 18 points out that like all men were condemned to die, so it was through one Righteous Man that “the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.” If verse 12 were truly speaking of the “world” as in the “earth”, then why not say it spread to the world, it reigned over the world and that the world was condemned to die?
Think about what the word “world” means. Even in English, it can have a variety of meanings based upon context. It can and often means the earth. However, it also can and often means man’s society. In the latter definition, it can have a negative connotation to it. For example, the Prodigal Son went out “into the world” we would say in the modern vernacular.
Well, the Bible wasn’t written in English, so we need to look at what the word was in Greek to see if the same principle could apply or not. If not, then the Young Earth Creationists have a very valid argument. However, if the same principle could apply to the Greek word, then we need to start comparing it to other Scriptures. and see if we can figure out the right meaning. And, indeed, we find that it is the Greek word “kosmos” (κόσμος, Strong’s G2889), and that it can have a greater variety of meanings than our English “world”:
Outline of Biblical Usage
1) an apt and harmonious arrangement or constitution, order, government
2) ornament, decoration, adornment, i.e. the arrangement of the stars, ‘the heavenly hosts’, as the ornament of the heavens. 1 Pet. 3:3
3) the world, the universe
4) the circle of the earth, the earth
5) the inhabitants of the earth, men, the human family
6) the ungodly multitude; the whole mass of men alienated from God, and therefore hostile to the cause of Christ
7) world affairs, the aggregate of things earthly
a) the whole circle of earthly goods, endowments riches, advantages, pleasures, etc, which although hollow and frail and fleeting, stir desire, seduce from God and are obstacles to the cause of Christ
8) any aggregate or general collection of particulars of any sort
a) the Gentiles as contrasted to the Jews (Rom. 11:12 etc)
b) of believers only, John 1:29; 3:16; 3:17; 6:33; 12:47 1 Cor. 4:9; 2 Cor. 5:19
— (From Blue Letter Bible – Lexicon, http://cf.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?strongs=2889&t=KJV)
So, in this context, it could mean most of these. I believe we can rule out 8) above because all men die, not a subset. While 7) might seem linked to sin, we have to remember that sin did not exist in humanity until Adam and Eve sinned, so the “worldly affairs” or detrimental aspects of society did not exist at that point. 6) is another subset of humanity, as even the righteous die. In fact, the One perfect human still died, so that rules out 6). The second definition (“ornament, decoration, adornment …”) is an important concept in relation to Adam and Eve’s sin, but it is rather superficial when it comes to matters of life and death. Therefore, from the context alone, I believe these can safely be ruled out.
That leaves us with 1), 6), 3) and 4). If you look at 1) and 6), they are related in that they deal with government and society and how they are structured. Therefore, I believe we can call these aspects “society”, just as our term “world” often means the worlds system of government, economics, family structure and social intercourse between humans. Likewise, 3) and 4) really can be boiled down to the physical earth. When we talk of leaving the “world’s atmosphere” we are talking about the air surrounding the physical ball we call “earth”. For this reason, it seems appropriate that the NKJV uses “world” for “kosmos” because it really does distill into these points (ignoring fine nuances). So, it either means “society” or it means “earth”.
Well, let’s think this through again. Where else is “kosmos” used where it can tell us about life and death. How about John 3:16?
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
The word for “world” used is “kosmos”. This brings up an interesting point: Did Jesus die to save humanity or the plants and animals as well? I see no evidence that God is in the business of saving cats and dogs, in spite of cute stories about dogs going to heaven. No, man was made in God’s image, which sets us apart. Because we are different, He set in motion a plan to save us, not the trees and flowers, not even the cute bunny rabbits!
So, when Romans tells us “sin entered the world, and death through sin”, it must mean that sin and death entered into man’s domain, his society and his workings. Ro 5:15b says, “For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many.” If Adam’s sin cause death to enter the physical world, then this must mean Jesus’ grace caused salvation to be available to the rest of the physical world as well. However, instead, it states, “the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.” So, if men are redeemed, it must be that sin caused men to die.
I think you can see that using Romans 5 to refer to the death of plants and animals is quite a stretch. There are other Scriptures which show “kosmos” being used in the sense of “society”, “government”, “groups of people”. Mt 4:8 tells us Satan showed Jesus the kingdoms of the “world”. Obviously, we are not talking about the plant kingdom here. Mk 14:9 says that wherever the Gospel is “preached throughout the whole world”. Now, I suppose you could preach to a pile of rocks out in the middle of nowhere, but where do people normally preach? Where groups of people are!
To be fair, just as “world” can mean “earth”, so can kosmos mean “earth”, the physical planet. However, from the context of death and sin entering in and who gets redeemed, it seems highly unlikely that it means that death entered the physical universe through Adam’s sin, but that Jesus redeems only people. Either He will redeem all living things or death entered the society of men when Adam sinned. You cannot have it both ways without breaking that rubber band.
So, when did death enter into the process? Well, none of us were there to witness the beginning, but it is obvious that we were made flesh and blood, fragile and mortal. If we had stayed in a well-tended garden at a constant perfect temperature without natural predators and without all of the sins that humans carry with them, then even these flesh and blood bodies could last a very long time. Since human cells regenerate themselves, it is possible that our bodies could live forever. However, God knew we would sin. He knew we would be kicked out of paradise. Yet, He made us in temporary bodies anyhow. Why? When you think of everything around you, it is temporary. Things decay, rust and die. One day, even the heaven and earth will be replaced (Rev 21:1). It is all temporary. Death was here before people even existed!
How? Isn’t the earth only 6,000 years old? Isn’t that what the Bible says? Well, no. There isn’t a verse that attempts to tell you that the earth is only x years old. In fact, it seems that the Bible goes out of its way to not shed light on the age of the earth or the universe. Instead, it concentrates on God and His relationship with puny human beings. That is the priority of the Bible. However, it does indicate that people may have only been here for 6,000 years. The earth itself is probably much, much older.
Question: What is the “beginning”? This is a difficult question, because God is Eternal. He has no beginning or ending. When you think of that, how can there be a beginning?
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
The real beginning was long before the physical creation. God then created angels and populated heaven. How do I know this? Well, someone was there to cheer the creation of earth:
Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?
Tell Me, if you have understanding….
To what were its foundations fastened?
Or who laid its cornerstone,
When the morning stars sang together,
And all the sons of God shouted for joy?
— (Job 38:4, 6-7)
So, God and Jesus (The Word) were together in the very beginning. They created angels. Then, notice what the NIV says about the creation:
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Now the earth was [a] formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
- Genesis 1:2 Or possibly became
— (Ge 1:1-2, NIV)
Why would it say “possibly became”? Well, looking it up in Strong’s, we find it is “hayah” (H1961). It is used 75 times in the KJV, and it is translated “was”, “come to pass”, “came”, “has been”, “were happened”, “become”, “pertained” and “better for thee”. In verse 3, it is used in the phrase “Let there be”, showing a transitional state from one condition to another (in this case, darkness to light). The KJV somewhat supports this possible translation as well:
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
The “and” at the beginning denotes a possible passage of time.
Some would argue that hayah almost never means “became” or “will be”. However, the KJV also breaks this supposed rule in the very next chapter:
And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became [hayah] a living soul. –(Ge 2:7, KJV)
Why would God create the earth “without form and void”? The answer is He did not.
For thus says the LORD,
Who created the heavens,
Who is God,
Who formed the earth and made it,
Who has established it,
Who did not create it in vain,
Who formed it to be inhabited:
“ I am the LORD, and there is no other….”
— (Isa 45:18)
Something must have happened. Something that took time.
Having a gap in time between v1 and v2 solves more than just where did fossils come from. It also helps to explain where evil came from. Most Christian theologians would agree that a good God cannot create evil. However, then where does evil come from? Obviously, there is an evil character in Scripture that is the true source of evil called Satan. Did God create him? If God cannot create evil, then He could not create a devil, either. Most theologians would agree that Satan created Satan:
12 “ How you are fallen from heaven,
O Lucifer,[b] son of the morning!
How you are cut down to the ground,
You who weakened the nations!
13 For you have said in your heart:
‘ I will ascend into heaven,
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;
I will also sit on the mount of the congregation
On the farthest sides of the north;
14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds,
I will be like the Most High.’
15 Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol,
To the lowest depths of the Pit.
16 “ Those who see you will gaze at you,
And consider you, saying:
‘ Is this the man who made the earth tremble,
Who shook kingdoms,
17 Who made the world as a wilderness
And destroyed its cities,
Who did not open the house of his prisoners?’
18 “ All the kings of the nations,
All of them, sleep in glory,
Everyone in his own house;
19 But you are cast out of your grave
Like an abominable branch,
Like the garment of those who are slain,
Thrust through with a sword,
Who go down to the stones of the pit,
Like a corpse trodden underfoot.
20 You will not be joined with them in burial,
Because you have destroyed your land
And slain your people.
The brood of evildoers shall never be named.
21 Prepare slaughter for his children
Because of the iniquity of their fathers,
Lest they rise up and possess the land,
And fill the face of the world with cities.”
— (Isa 14:12 – 21; cf Eze 28:12 – 19)
Eze 28:14 mentions to the King of Tyre, “You were the anointed cherub who covers”. Obviously, this was not a man. Eze 28 starts by talking about a prince, then to a king. Gabriel, when speaking to Daniel, mentioned that he was held up by the “Prince of Persia” (Da 10:13), so it is evident that there are spiritual powers that work behind humanly devised governments.
Question: If “world” means “earth”, then how did sin enter into the “earth” when there was a snake in the Garden of Eden tempting Adam and Eve to sin? Where is the first recorded lie in the Bible?
Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.”
— (Ge 3:4)
Jesus said “he [Satan] is a liar and the father of lies.” Once, I heard someone try to defend lying as not necessarily being sin, but I would disagree because Proverbs 6 says God hates “a lying tongue” (v. 17). Lying is a sin, so there was sin before Adam and Eve rebelled! Furthermore, it is evident, despite what a minority might claim, that the serpent in the Garden of Eden was Satan.
So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
— (Rev 12:9)
Satan will be cast out end the end times. However, it is evident that this occurred once before as well.
And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.
— (Lk 10:18)
So, why was the earth in such devastation? Because of war. There was war before the first humans were created! Where was the loser thrown? Earth!
It is evident that angels were created before the earth was created. It is evident that angels are given certain responsibilities. Lucifer was let in on God’s plans. His wings covered the very throne of God. He was high up the hierarchy, with a rank of cherub. He was trusted with the responsibility of preparing the earth for human beings. The Bible call him the “god of this world” (2Co 4:4, KJV). He offered Christ the kingdoms of this world, but Christ never told him that these kingdoms weren’t his to give (Mt 4:8 – 10). Instead, he became full of pride, tried to take over God’s throne and was thrown to the earth. He then proceeded to destroy the earth he was supposed to be caring for. The world became tohu and bohu, without form and void.
Genesis then picks up with the re-creation of the earth. It was dark, so He commanded that light enter in. Ever wonder why He created light before the sun, moon and stars? Well, if it already existed, but everything was knocked out of its proper orbit, then restoration took place and was recorded from the viewpoint of someone on earth. The soupy atmosphere was restored, and day and night then ensued. Verses 14 – 19 then, is not God creating the sun, moon and stars, but placing them in their proper places to keep time and provide light. This answers one of the biggest nonbeliever’s criticisms of the Bible.
Well, I don’t know if this would convince the dedicated Young Earth Creationist, but at least it should provide something to feed upon. If you want to believe in a young earth, then I won’t jump up and down and call you a heretic. It is unfortunate that so many Young Earth Creationists will use Romans 5:12 to call someone that believes in an older earth a heretic or non-Christian.