Monday, September 5, 2016

What's the deal with death?

Our “Ask Father” sermons each summer are quite popular, but there are always more questions than Sundays on which to preach an answer. Therefore, I have decided I would continue to entertain questions throughout the year and provide answers here on the blog. You never know....maybe YOUR question will become a sermon some day! Please use the “tell us what you think” button to the left to submit your questions.

This question was submitted via our YouTube Channel...
My question is, why do we say that death entered the world when Adam and Eve sinned. Notwithstanding the teachings on this subject from the Holy scriptures, ie, Gods commandments made know to Adam and Eve, and in there disobeying Him, the consequences, God said to them for if & when you eat of the tree of good and evil, you shall surely die. Is God just referring to a spiritual death, as well as a physical death of humans, (that's the only conclusion i can come to) for these sayings. But why does the Church say then that death entered the world after the fall of Adam and Eve. Because we learn from science, physics relics, from antiquity, that the evidence is quiet, overwhelming, that death has been around for billions of years, long before the human species ever came into existence. Surely, death of all things that was ever brought into existence, has followed the same predictable pattern for billions of years, plants, animals, stars, galaxies, suns moons, all are born, all mature, and eventually, all die. How do we substantiate, this claim that the Church, in fact most Christian, religion makes the same claim, that death entered the world from the sin of Adam and Eve. Would very much appreciate hearing back from you, maybe, shed some light on how we are to reconcile this issue in our own minds today, with all the advancements and knowledge that science has shown us, even proved through math, and relics.
– Question submitted by James (Demetri)

Thank you for your question Demetri. Let me begin with a clarification between the death of Adam and Eve as distinct from the death of plants and animals. God commanded our ancestors, “You may eat food from every tree in the garden; but from the tree of knowledge of good and evil you may not eat; for in whatever day you eat from it, you shall die by death.” (Gen 2.16-17 SAAS) This commandment was directed at Adam. I am not aware of any Church Father equating Adam’s death due to sin, with the death of every living creature on Earth. Saint Athanasios comments about Adam’s flesh rotting in the grave, but does not refer to other plants and animals. The fact that science reveals that plants and animals have been dying for so many years before modern man appeared on Earth is not in conflict with Genesis. This would be a good time to remind you that the Church does not ignore science as a God-given talent which ASSISTS us in understanding His creation. God’s creation was given to us to help us reach God.

That brings me to my next point about the consequences of Original Sin. Humans, having been placed within creation, are expected to live as part of creation as lord of creation. There is an important symbiotic relationship between lord and subject. As a consequence of The Fall this symbiotic relationship has been disrupted. God said, “Because you heeded the voice of your wife, and ate from the one tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it,’ cursed is the ground in your labors. In toil you shall eat form it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, and you shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground from which you were taken.” (Gen 3.17-19 SAAS) This teaches us that the struggle between man and creation, rather than the death of plants and animals, is a consequence of The Fall.

As lord of creation (small “l” since God is the LORD of creation) our sin affects the creation. Our greed causes us to abuse creation for profit, causing excessive pollution of our air and water. Our lust causes us to rape the soil of nutrients so we can eat till our heart is content leaving soil barren and in need of chemical fertilizers. Our thirst to live wherever we please, irrespective of natural resources, causes or rivers to run dry. I think you get the point...

I pray this helps.

1 comment:

James D said...

Thank you Fr.

That really did help clear up the confusion.