Yesterday I mentioned interacting with a local pastor/blogger on his blog fairly recently. During the same interaction I got into a different discussion with Eric (another local blogger) about the state of nature before Adam’s fall.
I think it is safer to extrapolate from Scripture that things were vastly different in the “normal scientific operation” of Creation pre-fall vs. post fall. To assume that anything worked identically to what we can measure today in the post fall world in the pre-fall garden. Here’s the part of the comment where we decided to stop and move the conversation to later and elsewhere:
It didn’t rain before the flood (which is hundreds of years post-fall). If it didn’t rain in the garden, it seems that other now “natural” occurrences didn’t occur then either. So gravity? Probably there and similar to today, maybe even identical. Or maybe not. Thermodynamics? I don’t think it’s likely it worked like it does today.
The Garden is a picture of what heaven will be like, and people in the new heavens and the new earth will fall down and not be hurt. Jesus, in his new body, walked through a wall. Things will not be as they are, though we will see the similarity because Creation retains the character of the original though marred by sin.
In redemptive history (which is all of history), there are essentially three periods of time. There is original creation. There is time from the fall until Christ. And there is time from the resurrection until the end of time when Christ returns.** From each period to the next there are continuities (things that stay the same) and there are discontinuities (things that are different). Some of the similarities and differences in the ages are clear in Scripture, and some are much less so. Some of the less clear can be deduced, and some are just unknown in this life.
Our conversation (friendly debate?) centered around the discontinuities from before the fall to after the fall. I believe there was no death at all in the garden. No decomposition, no insects or plants dying, and certainly no human or animal deaths. None. Consider this from Romans 5:
12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— 13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.
Now I admit that it is only absolutely clear from this passage that death is only new for mankind after the fall…not that it is new to all of creation. I don’t think so, though. I think when God pronounced all things good that he’s declaring them good, and that they’re perfect at that point before sin enters and death with it. Without the fall there would be no meat-eating (no animal death) and this is how it will be in the new heavens and the new earth when death itself is destroyed (1Corinthians 15).
So here it is, Eric. It’s later now, and we can have this conversation here rather than tie up someone else’s blog with the give and take. If you’re still interested, weigh in below, and if not, I got a blog post out of it. 🙂
** I’m not going to get into eschatology in this post (and maybe never on this blog), but there’s some argument to be made that there’s a very short period of transition that is different than the two on either side from the birth of Christ until His resurrection. Maybe a topic for the future, but not the thrust of this post.