Death Before the Fall: Biblical Literalism and the Problem of Animal Suffering

Ronald E. Osborn

Death Before the Fall: Biblical Literalism and the Problem of Animal Suffering
Death Before the Fall: Biblical Literalism and the Problem of Animal Suffering

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Categories: Origins

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Did animals have predatory natures before the fall? Did God punish innocent animals with a curse because of human sin? Is it possible for theistic evolutio3983 n to be compatible with the Bible, even though animal death before the fall would contradict the teaching that death began after the first sin?

In this eloquent and provocative "open letter" to evangelicals, Ronald Osborn wrestles with these pointed questions and with the problem of biblical literalism and animal suffering within an evolutionary understanding of the world.

Considering the topic of animal suffering and predation as a theodicy dilemma, Osborn offers an open-minded exploration of the subject, specifically coming against the fundamentalist and literalist view of the book of Genesis and the creation account. He challenges one-dimensional reading of Scripture and shines a sobering light on the evangelical dogma responsible for advancing viewpoints long ago dismantled by science.

Always acknowledging the traditionalist viewpoint, Osborn demonstrates with a wealth of exegetical and theological insight how orthodox Christianity can embrace evolutionary concepts without contradiction. Osborn forces us to ask hard questions, not only of the Bible and church tradition, but also and especially of ourselves.

  • Introduction
  • Part One: On Literalism
    • Chapter One: The Creation: A Plain Reading
    • Chapter Two: What’s Eating Biblical Literalists?: Creationism & the Enlightenment Project
    • Chapter Three: Unwholesome Complexity: Literalism as Scientism’s Pale Mimetic Rival
    • Chapter Four: Progressive vs. Degenerating Science: Weighing Incommensurable Paradigms
    • Chapter Five: Does Your God Need Stage Props?: On the Theological Necessity of Methodological Atheism
    • Chapter Six: The Enclave Mentality: Identity Foreclosure & the Fundamentalist Mind
    • Chapter Seven: The Gnostic Syndrome: When Literalism Becomes a Heresy
    • Chapter Eight: Four Witnesses Barth, Calvin, Augustine, & Maimonides on the Literal Meaning of Genesis
    • Chapter Nine: If Not Foundationalism, What Then?: From Tower-Building to Net-Mending
  • Part Two: On Animal Suffering
    • Epigraph Two: In Praise of Self-Deprecation
    • Chapter Ten: Stasis, Deception, Curse: Three Literalist Dilemmas
    • Chapter Eleven: A Midrash: C. S. Lewis’s Cosmic Conflict Theodicy Revisited
    • Chapter Twelve: God of the Whirlwind: Animal Ferocity in the Book of Job
    • Chapter Thirteen: Creation & Kenosis: Evolution and Christ’s Self Emptying Way of the Cross
    • Chapter Fourteen: Animal Ethics, Sabbath Rest
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • Subject and Author Index


Pages: 197
Publisher: IVP Academic
Published: 2014
ISBN-10: 083084046X
ISBN-13: 9780830840465

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