Saturday, September 12, 2015

WHEN DID SUFFERING START?: Part IV of Why Not? - a Perspective on Suffering

As God created the heavens and the earth each completed phase was good. Each day prepared the way for the next. First an atmosphere and water, both conducive to life, were formed. Then came the dry land for the plants and vegetation to grow, which would be the food for the creatures that would follow. There was no killing, no bloodshed in these early times. Animals, including man, were vegetarians.

Adam and Eve had it made. There were no storms, not even a mild rain. There was a mist that arose in the night to provide moisture. The climate was mild enough these early people didn't even need clothing for protection, and there was no thought of lust, so they didn't need covering for modesty either.

They had a job to occupy their time so they would not be bored. They tended the garden and the animals. Food was plentiful and for the taking. They had each other to take pleasure in and enjoy. And they had a direct relationship with God. I don't know if they sometimes stumped a toe or cut themselves on a branch or fell and bruised a knee. I would imagine they might have, but God had probably provided protection from serious injury or cured them on the spot. I am certain they understood physical pain at some level. But pain in itself is not suffering, but a blessing, for it tells us when something is wrong and guides us in finding the problem. They were probably spared from the prolonged and sever pains we can experience today that turn into suffering.

One indication that pain existed was after they fell when God told Eve in Genesis 3:16, "I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children." You can't greatly increase what doesn't exist. It sounds as if women would experience some pain or discomfort as their bodies changed to accommodate the growing baby, but did not experience the pain associated now with delivery, but after the fall that pain came as well. Although these added pains were a result of sinning, they were not the suffering of sin.

God had given Adam and Eve a paradise of pleasure and reasonable responsibility, food and companionship, comfort and joy. He also gave them one other thing, free will. Was this a flaw, a mistake? No, for without it man would have been nothing but a robotic toy and you cannot show love to anyone, even God, if you cannot also choose to withhold it. You cannot know love from another for the same reason. Adam and Eve seemingly had no limits and no need for sacrifice. Without limits and no alternatives to choose, free will is meaningless. Without some self-sacrifice, love is meaningless.

Without the free will to make a choice, there would be no sin. After all, what is sin? Sin is disobeying the will of God. Not being able to sin may sound great, but consider how you would feel about your child if they could only do what you allow as opposed to choosing to do what you wish?

Adam and Eve had only one item on the don't list. They choose to do it. At that moment, not just sin entered the world, but immediate suffering as well.

I don't mean being banished from the garden and what came along with that, I mean suffering caused directly as a result of sin. What happened? They ate the fruit and immediately realized they were naked.

Was this a sexual thing? No, this was shame and a feeling of vulnerability.

Next came fear, something new to their experience. They heard God and tried to hide. They didn't want to be accountable for what they choose to do. They were suffering mental anguish. They were suffering for the first time.

When I was a child, probably 9 or 10, I wanted something from the
Five 'n' Dime. I had no money of my own and it wasn't time for my quarter allowance, which wouldn't have been enough anyway. So I sneaked into my parent's room and stole a fistful of change from my mother's purse.

I set off downtown, anticipating getting the toy I desired, having chosen to steal from my mom to get it. By the time I reached the edge of the shopping area the money was slippery in my hand. My mind was in agony, warring between my greed and my guilt. As I passed a small side street, I turned and I flung the coins down that alley, turned and ran home in tears.

I had committed a sin and I was suffering. I felt bad for betraying my mother's trust and I feared her finding out. I guess She never did. I was never confronted, never punished, never brought to account by my parents. But I worried about it for a long time. Not just punishment, but that I was a bad person. I had trouble sleeping. I have never forgotten it, as you can see.

But why did I react that way?

It was this funny little thing called a conscience.

The conscience is really quite amazing, but what is it? I ask that with all seriousness, because scientists, psychologists and evolutionists can’t really tell us. It’s a problem for them, especially the evolutionists, since based on the Theory of Evolution it shouldn’t exist. You see, a very basic plank of evolution is survival of the individual and “only the fittest survive”. When you read or see films on evolution there is usually an example of a creature changing [evolving] because food has become scarse or to fool an enemy or due to a sudden change in the environment.

Take the cuttlefish, which evolutionists say developed the ability to change colors and patterns because it had little protection from its enemies. They also explain how many, many, many years, like a million or so, it takes for such changes to occur, not explaining why the creature doesn’t starve or be eaten by it’s enemy in the meantime. Nonetheless, the point is, there is no room in evolutionary theory for altruism or empathy or guilt; a conscience should not have developed.

Here is how it should be. If food was scarce and you were starving and I was starving and we came around a bend in the road and there was a
Happy meal sitting on the macadam ahead, what would happen? Well, if you were weaker from hunger than I was and needed food more, here is what would happen according to evolution. I’d grab that Happy meal and gobble it down because I had more strength and could beat you to it. I wouldn’t offer you so much as a French Fry either and I wouldn’t feel an ounce of regret. If there were two Happy meals in the road, same result.

There is no room in evolution for conscience. Evolutionists have worked hard to explain this, starting with the idea of “group selection”, which gave way to George C. Williams idea of “gene selection”, which Richard Dawkins expanded to the idea of the “selfish gene”.

This did not quite solve the problem and so W. D. Hamilton came up with “kin selection” and then David Sloan Wilson and Stephen Jay Gould tossed all that aside and proposed “levels selection”, proposing that evolution must have occurred on different levels with different species and it all gets a bit convoluted and confusing. But it wouldn’t include any one laying their life down for a friend.

I kind of follow Occam’s Razor, which states that the simplest explanation is most likely the correct one. What is the simplest explanation for conscience?

The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Genesis 2:15-17

Conscience began when Adam and Eve ate that fruit. It was not the Fruit of Doing Bad, the Fruit of Sin or the Fruit of Evil Deeds. It was the Fruit of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. What is conscience, but the knowledge of what is good and what is bad.

So we suffer when we commit a sin because we know we committed a bad.

We do have an ability to rationalize our behavior when confronted by our conscience and this falls under the term “moral reasoning”.

But a sin committed isn’t in a vacuum. Sin is like a stone dropped in a still pond of water. It ripples and expands. Even if we think we got away with it, we really don’t. Truth will out, as an old saying goes and if that truth doesn’t come out in this world, it will at the judgment.

Sin also is responsible for the suffering of others. There were two brothers. One made the sacrifice God called for, the other didn’t and instead of reforming and doing the right thing, he built resentment against his brother to the point Cain killed Abel.

Who all suffered?

Abel obviously, he might have experienced physical pain, but he was also now dead.

Cain, who tried to lie himself out of it, suffered banishment and was cut off from God (Verse 14: “and from your face I shall be hidden” – like the psalmist of Psalm 88). Note the mercy of God, though, that He didn’t kill Cain and not only allowed him to live, but put a mark of protection on him so others wouldn’t harm him.

Adam and Eve suffered lose of both their children, one murdered and the other sent away.

This one sin devastated a family, but the suffering doesn’t stop there. Just as the sin of Adam and Eve affected all mankind afterward, so does Cain’s sin. Notice after Cain is punished we are given his genealogy in Genesis 4:17-24:

Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch. When he built a city, he called the name of the city after the name of his son, Enoch.  To Enoch was born Irad, and Irad fathered Mehujael, and Mehujael fathered Methushael, and Methushael fathered Lamech. And Lamech took two wives. The name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah.  Adah bore Jabal; he was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock.  His brother's name was Jubal; he was the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe.  Zillah also bore Tubal-cain; he was the forger of all instruments of bronze and iron. The sister of Tubal-cain was Naamah.
 Lamech said to his wives:
“Adah and Zillah, hear my voice;
    you wives of Lamech, listen to what I say:
I have killed a man for wounding me,
    a young man for striking me.

If Cain's revenge is sevenfold,

    then Lamech's is seventy-sevenfold.”

His descendents are listed as accomplishing worldly success, “inhabiting tents and purchased possessions”, “father of every one handling harp and organ”, “instructor of every artificer in brass and iron”, the beginning of business, industry, music. And then another sin, Lamech becomes a bigamist, and then a murderer.

I’m not saying starting a business or playing music, etc. are sins in themselves, but I think it is important that we are shown Cain’s descendents were worldly, not Godly. I think this is emphasized when Seth (the son Eve had after Abel) fathered a son named Enos and it says, “then a beginning was made of preaching in the name of Jehovah.” Genesis 4:26 (YLT)

Now what I am about to say is my interpretation. Others have different viewpoints, but I think these passages in Genesis 4, 5 and 6 have a logical progression. In Genesis 5, we are given the descendents of Adam and Eve through Seth up to the birth of Noah.

Then abruptly, in Verse 6:1 we are told “When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose…”and skipping down to verse 4 we read, “The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them...” and in verse 5, “the Lord saw the wickedness of man was great in the earth…”

Some think this is talking about the fallen angels, whom went into the daughters. The Nephilim is sometimes translated as giants, but in the literal translation this reads, “The fallen ones were in the earth in those days.” Yes, this could refer to the demons being on earth, but the sentence goes on to say, “And afterwards” [after these Nephilim], “when the sons of God came into the daughters of men.” This sounds as if the fallen angels could have been enticing the Sons of God to sin, not that they were the ones engaging with the daughters of men. I believe the sons of men, the Mighty Ones of old, the men of renown, were the descendents of Cain and the daughters of the sons of God were the descendents of Seth and now the whole world became corrupted because of sin of Cain.

[A bit more on the idea that fallen angels had offspring by these daughters of men. First, the Angels are not presented as creatures that reproduce through sex nor have sex. Jesus tells his questioners the risen in Heaven will be like the Angels, neither male or female (Matthew 22:30). Some then point to Job where it says in Chapter 1:6 (as well as similarly in Job 2:1 and also Job 38:7) “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them,” claiming the Angels were referred to here as sons of God. However, if we look at the literal translation of the verse, it reads: “And the day is, that sons of God come in to station themselves by Jehovah, and there doth come also the Adversary in their midst.” This does not indicate that Satan was considered as one of the sons of God, but as an opponent.

Still, are the sons of God Angels?

Yes and no.

Who are the sons of God? They are those who put their faith in God. John 1:12-13, “but as many as did receive him to them he gave authority to become sons of God -- to those believing in his name, who -- not of blood nor of a will of flesh, nor of a will of man but -- of God were begotten.” Or Romans 8:14: “For as many as are led by the spirit of God, these are the sons of God.” Or Galatians 2:26, “For ye are all sons of God through the faith in Christ Jesus.” There are other verses as well, so how could Satan or the Fallen Angels be called the sons of God? The Angels who stayed faithful and the humans who put their faith in God are sons of God. The humans who put their faith in themselves are the sons of Man, which here I believe are the sons of Cain. Notice after describing the descendents of Cain inventing worldly pursuits, Scripture in describing the offspring of Seth states, “then a beginning was made of preaching in the name of Jehovah. Or in the ESV, ”At that time people began to call upon the name of the Lord.”

Anyway, one of the greatest reasons for suffering in this world is sin.

So think about your own life and about how some of your suffering might have resulted from your sins…or even from the sins of others. If a person should hit me over the head and steal my wallet (hardly worth the effort) I, though innocent, would still suffer because of sin.

Also, think about what happened to Adam and Eve and to Cain, which might hint of another reason we suffer that we will deal with next.

And if you guess, think about some Bible characters that may have suffered for that reason.

References: Genesis Chapters 1 through 6, Matthew 22:30, Job 1:6, Job 2:1, Job 38:7, John1:12-13, Romans 8:14, Galatians 2:26.

Also Martha Stout, PH.D, The Sociopath Next Door , Chapter 9 – “The Origins of Conscience”, MJF Books, New York 2005 for the scientists and evolutions views on Conscience.

Next time, “Yes, That Is the Price.”  What could that mean?

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