Monday, July 6, 2009

Was Eden perfect?

I was listening to a sermon the other day, an the pastor said that Eden was where we were meant to live. I am not going to expressly disagree with him, because in some sense, I agree, but it was food for thought. In particular, such a statement raises questions about whether God had to scrap plan A (Eden) in favor of plan B (redemption through Christ) because of Adam's sin, and whether or not God foresaw/foreknew/predestined this outcome.

Without fully exploring the implications of this statement, I'll just go ahead and say that God at least knew, and at the strongest planned, for things to turn out this way. I'll give you three reasons why.

First, we know from our study of the universe that it is only temporary. We live in a continuously expanding universe, and it's accelerating. Pretty soon, the sun will burn up. Before that happens, some natural disaster will surely befall us. (I am not being doomsday-ish here; the more we study this world, the more we realize that we live at a very special time in earth's and the universe's history which allows for advanced life and a civilized human society. This is not true of the earth and the universe at any other era of time.) The second law of thermodynamics says that entropy (disorder) is a constantly increasing quantity in the universe, which will one day make it impossible to do work (i.e., have useful energy). In other words, from our studies of the world around us, it is clear that this earth, and Eden in particular, was never meant to be our permanent home.

Second, the book of revelation speaks of a new creation, one in which the laws of physics will be completely different. There will be no more darkness or shadows, as God's glory will illuminate everything. (It's debatable how metaphorical this is...one could argue this simply means there will be nothing more to hide.) There will be no more suffering or pain, and God will wipe every tear away. One reason why the laws of physics must be totally different is because of the decay we see around us. I find it unlikely that the second law of thermodynamics will hold true, or even have any meaning, in the new creation. But the second law, in terms of statistical mechanics, is just an outflow of the fact that we live in a universe in which matter is made of small particles (atoms/molecules, etc.). If there is no law of decay in the new creation (as Paul implies in Romans 8), then the entire makeup of the new creation must be different!

Third, the laws of physics in this current universe are explicitly set up to provide a "battleground", if you will, against evil. Without our spatial and temporal limitations we experience here, evil cannot spread too rapidly. The second law of thermodynamics (yes, that one again) discourages and punishes evil. For example, I'm a very lazy person, but if I don't clean my house regularly, it becomes a mess. Big deal, right? Well, this sort of thing was a big deal for cities in medieval Europe. A simpler example is abuse of tools. If you're too lazy to take care of your tools, for example if you leave a hammer or screwdriver (or a bicycle...I'm guilty of that one) outside without putting it away, it becomes rusty and less useful. This is a general principle. Paul put it very succinctly when he said, "A man reaps what he sows." One could argue that God's wrath is waiting for the unjust, but it is also true that your own punishment befalls you naturally according to the way this world works. To sum up this paragraph, I'm saying that, from the way this universe works, it appears that it was meant to be a place where evil would be confronted and vanquished, for the benefit of all humanity.

OK, I'm pretty sure I stepped on a few people's toes with that one. If you're angry or excited, or just have something to add, please post your comment below.