Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Problem of Adam [Pt. 1]

by Hiram R. Diaz III

[N.B. The author's argument here assumes, for the sake of argument, that "the man" was the whole man and not Adam's body only. This is because the annihilationist's conception of life as being breathed into man in Genesis 2:7 requires such an interpretation. The thrust of the argument presented here is this: If Adam is wholly and entirely present after God has molded him from the earth, then the problem of Adam ensues.]
The Wages of Sin is Lifelessness?
Annihilationists capitalize on the fact that Scripture teaches the wages of sin is death.[1] This punishment for transgressing of God’s law is first found in Genesis 2:16-17, where God declares:
“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.”
As elaborated upon elsewhere,[2] the promise of death is more than a promise that the sinner will be rendered a lifeless, non-conscious body. In Genesis 3:14-19, God elaborates on the nature of the death promised, and the reduction of man to the dust from which he was formed is only an aspect of that death. In these verses, in fact, the only person to explicitly receive the promise of returning to the dust is Adam, as the following table demonstrates.
The Serpent
1. Cursed above all livestock
2. Cursed above all beasts of the field
3. Made to travel on his belly
4. Made to eat dust all the days of his life
5. Set in opposition to the woman
6. Set in opposition to the seed of the woman
7. Will be bruised by the foot of the woman’s seed
The Woman
1. Labor pains in bringing forth children
2. Unfulfilled desire for her husband
3. Ruled by husband
The Man
1. Futility in work
2. Pain
3. Return to the dust
There is no doubt that the serpent and the woman will also “return to the dust,” but this is not explicitly mentioned in God’s elaboration of the death he promised in Gen 2:16-17. What is common among the judgments explicitly mentioned concerning the three persons is separation, conflict, antagonism, turmoil, pain, suffering, futility. Death entered into the creation through Adam’s sin, and that death entails, but is not limited to, the body’s “return to the dust.”
Thus, though death entails lifelessness, death is not itself lifelessness. This is borne out elsewhere in the Scriptures. For instance, idols are identified as without breath in Psalm 135:15-18. Seeing as they were never alive to begin with, the idols cannot be said to be dead. They are lifeless, but they are not dead. Similarly, Paul identifies musical instruments as lifeless or without breath in 1st Cor 14:7. As rocks, dust, and air are lifeless but not dead, so too the idols of the nations, as well as the musical instruments Paul alludes to are lifeless but not dead.
The Problem of Adam
Annihilationists’ identification of dead men as lifeless, non-conscious bodies is a theme that frequently appears in their stated belief that the wicked will not be tortured eternally but die the second death. This second death, they argue, is to be understood as we “normally” understand the first death, i.e. as the reduction of a man to a lifeless, non-conscious body. Its primary differences are (a.)the soul will be killed in the second death, whereas it is not in the first death, and (b.)the second death will never be followed by a return to life, unlike the first death which is followed by a resurrection and time of punishment.
Problematically, however, the Scriptures teach that Adam, prior to receiving the breath of life from God was a lifeless, non-conscious body. As it is written:
…the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the earth…[3]
“The man” (Heb. אָדָם, 'adam) was present in the garden, but lacked life and consciousness. Thus, if being-dead means being-a-lifeless-non-conscious-body, then Adam, before he even lived, was dead. Employing the law of transitivity[4] we have the following:
If Adam (A) is a lifeless, non-conscious body (B),
and a lifeless, non-conscious body (B) is a dead man (C),
then Adam (A) is a dead man (C).
As noted above, death did not come into the world until Adam sinned. Prior to this moment, there were no dead men. Consequently, there were no men who were in a state of deathBeing-dead, in other words, cannot be equivalent to being-a-lifeless-non-conscious-body, or Adam was dead in the garden of Eden before he was alive.[5]
Conclusion

It is not the case that being a lifeless, non-conscious body is equivalent to being a dead man. Therefore, any attempt to identify the punishment of death as the reduction of a living man to a lifeless, non-conscious body cannot be logically or Scripturally maintained. Those who are dead cannot exist in the same state that Adam existed in prior to him being alive, moreover, without the Scriptures then contradicting themselves by implicitly asserting that the state of being-dead existed prior to death existing in the world, and explicitly stating in another place that death entered into the world through Adam’s sin.
Whatever death is, in other words, it cannot be the reduction of a living man to a lifeless, non-conscious body. The state of being-dead has to be distinct from any state that existed prior to the fall, and that state is one of separation from God.
-h.

[1] Rom 6:23.
[2] See Diaz, Hiram R. “Does the Doctrine of Hell Conflict with Penal Substitutionary Atonement?” Biblical Trinitarian, http://www.biblicaltrinitarian.com/2016/10/does-doctrine-of-hell-conflict-with.html.
[3] Gen 2:7a.
[4] viz. If A is B, and B is C, then A is C.

[5] This would also imply, of course, that rocks, air, and dirt were and are still also dead, which is clearly absurd.

11 comments:

  1. Hiram, evangelical annihilationists/conditionalists treat death as a judicial injunction about not continuing to live, and not as an anthropological state of affairs. You are aiming at mortalism, not annihilationism. When there is no such category being employed, there can be no "reduction of a living man" to anything. Regardless of what happens to the man in terms of parts and states after an event of death, he still has stopped living in the sense that he was alive (cf. what Genesis has to say about Adam and Eve as living creatures), and cannot be said to simply go on living in the same sense (cf. what Genesis says about Adam and Eve not being able to live forever—you came so close to the actual verse we point to). There is nothing at all in this that should be controversial, and indeed it is a view not limited to annihilationists. There continues to be a lot of elementary misrepresentation of our view online these days, which is disappointing to say the least.

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    1. Peter, you say:

      "Regardless of what happens to the man in terms of parts and states after an event of death, he still has stopped living in the sense that he was alive (cf. what Genesis has to say about Adam and Eve as living creatures), and cannot be said to simply go on living in the same sense (cf. what Genesis says about Adam and Eve not being able to live forever—you came so close to the actual verse we point to)."

      But this is not the case. When a man dies, he continues to exist in a dead state or a state of deadness. If the essential properties of deadness are shared by any creature prior to the fall, then the Scriptures are in error when they say that death came into the world through one man's sin.

      This is the point: If being-dead has essential attributes shared by any prelapsarian creature, then being-dead was a state that existed prior to death itself being brought into existence.

      I am the language of lifeless, non-conscious bodies from annihliationists, btw. This is how many, including Chris Date, have described the state of being-dead that obtains after men have been judicially executed by God.

      I'm not misrepresenting anyone's belief regarding the essential properties of deadness, i.e. what it means to be dead.

      I am taking the claims I've heard seriously and showing their logical defects.

      -h.

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    2. Your conclusion:

      // any attempt to identify the punishment of death as the reduction of a living man to a lifeless, non-conscious body cannot be logically or Scripturally maintained. //

      "Jesus told them plainly, Lazarus is dead." (John 11:14) Do you say that Lazarus was not dead? If not, then you will recognize how perfectly legitimate and commonplace it is to speak of a lifeless body as being the dead person. In any case, however much a dead body might signify death, conditionalists simply do not equate "the punishment of death" with this. The punishment of death is the privation of life. To shift from privation to a so-called ongoing "state of being-dead" is a category mistake.

      With the correct understanding of our view in place, what remains of your argument?

      Nothing that I can see. In a reply to John Johnson, you said // After one has died, however, they "are"-dead. So what does that mean? Whatever it means, it cannot mean that the essential properties of being-dead are shared by anyone prior to the fall. That's the point. //

      The "essential properties of being-dead"—"after one has died"? This is a meaningless construct on our view. Despite that, and regardless of their actual postmortem state or condition (what you called "after men have been judicially executed"), what conditionalists do say is that they are dead in the sense that they were formerly alive. Was Adam alive before he was alive? Of course not. He was only formerly alive when he died, which occurred after he had been barred judicially from living forever. This barring is instantiated in the event of death as a means, but as a penalty of privation of ongoing life, it can never be reducible to this.

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    3. Peter, I honestly don't know if you are not following the argument or if you being stubborn for the sake of being stubborn.

      You say:

      "The punishment of death is the privation of life.To shift from privation to a so-called ongoing "state of being-dead" is a category mistake."

      Firstly, stating that death is the privation of life does nothing to answer the question of what it means to be-dead. I can agree that death is the privation of life.

      Secondly, I have not committed a category mistake. I am talking about the resultant state of being-dead. Those who die are dead. There is a state of being-dead that entails having been made dead. Just as there is a resultant state of being-alive for the one who has been made alive.

      You are either misunderstanding me or shifting the focus from the resultant state of being-dead to the punishment sinners receive (i.e. death). My focus is not on the punishment being death, but on the essential properties of being-dead.

      If a thing (i.e. being, state of being, process, whatever) is, then a thing has essential properties. A is A, after all.

      You take issue with me saying that death is the reduction of a living man to a lifeless, non-conscious body, and you complain that your view is that death is the privation of life.

      But what, besides the terminology I'm using, is the difference?

      Chris Date says:

      "Again, I would not myself cite 1 Thessalonians 5:3 as support for annihilationism, but 2 Thessalonians 1:9 is powerful support for it. Consider that in the preceding verse—or verses, depending on the translation—Paul says Jesus will be revealed “in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance.” As traditionalist G. K. Beale points out, “Isaiah 66:15 [is] the only place in the Old Testament where this combination of terms is found,”14 and both passages talk about God rendering recompense to the saints’ oppressors. Isaiah 66 is a picture of God violently slaying his enemies, reducing them to rotting, smoldering corpses. This is the everlasting destruction that Paul says awaits the wicked: being destroyed and rendered lifeless, never to live again."

      Source: [http://www.rethinkinghell.com/2012/10/clearly-wrong-about-hell-a-response-to-t-kurt-jaros]

      "Reducing them to rotting, smoldering corpses" is equivalent to lifeless, non-conscious bodies.

      Date had used the same kind of language previously in his denate with Joshua Whipps:

      "As traditionalist G. K. Beale points out, “Isaiah 66:15 [is] the only place in the Old Testament where this combination of terms is found,”28 and both passages talk about God rendering recompense to the saints’ oppressors. And how does Isaiah 66 end? Indeed, how does Isaiah end? As we’ve seen, it ends with the wicked having been reduced to lifeless, smoldering corpses.

      This is the everlasting destruction Paul says awaits the wicked: being destroyed and rendered lifeless, never to live again."

      Source: [http://www.rethinkinghell.com/2012/06/chris-date-vs-joshua-whipps]

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    4. Joey Dear says:

      "Man cannot render a soul as dead and lifeless as a corpse (which they can do to the body). But what man cannot do, God can and will do, which is to kill the soul, thereby destroying it as a living, conscious entity."

      Source: [http://www.rethinkinghell.com/2013/10/introduction-to-evangelical-conditionalism-5-surprising-things-that-the-bible-says-about-hell]

      Lifeless, non-conscious bodies. Again.

      Joey Dear, again, says:

      "A corpse exists; when a person’s body dies, it isn’t “annihilated,” but it is dead and cannot feel or think or consciously experience anything at all. A corpse cannot experience sadness; it cannot feel pain. It exists, insofar as it is composed of physical matter and looks like a human being, but it has no conscious existence."

      Source: [http://www.rethinkinghell.com/2013/08/introduction-to-evangelical-conditionalism-what-do-we-mean-by-annihilation]

      Again, lifeless, non-conscious bodies.

      He also states in that same article that:

      "Maybe people aren’t truly “annihilated.” Perhaps they don’t truly “cease to exist” in a very strict sense of the phrase. But being reduced to nothing more substantial than a corpse, ends a person’s existence in the way that matters."

      Again, lifeless, non-conscious bodies. He even uses the word "reduces" to describe the process.

      Joey Dear once again says:

      "For some, death is taken simply and at face value. They look at what happens when a person dies, how the person becomes a corpse, and say that such is death and such is what happens when a person dies “the second death.” It isn’t literal annihilation, but that doesn’t matter. From the existence of a corpse we are not led to conclude that it can be tormented for eternity. We take for granted that corpses have no consciousness. When a person dies they become an unfeeling and unconscious blob of inert matter which decays away, and that is what’s going to happen to the unsaved. (Whether they decay and decompose or are killed and destroyed as in a raging inferno doesn’t matter here; the ultimate lifeless outcome is the same.)"

      Source: [http://www.rethinkinghell.com/2012/11/whatever-death-means-it-supports-conditionalism]

      Lifeless, non-conscious bodies.

      Again, in the same article he says:

      "In other words, that which dies becomes a corpse. A body dies and it becomes a corpse. A corpse has no consciousness, no ability to suffer or think of feel or be tormented or sad in any way at all. Therefore, with the first death, with physical death, we see what death means. That which dies becomes a corpse!"

      This is the language of your fellow annihilationists, Peter. I'm not making this stuff up. Like I said, I'm using language annihilationists use when they describe death and the state of being-dead that death results in.

      I didn't have time to cite all of these references when I wrote the article, and I didn't think that I had to do so, seeing as anyone familiar with Chris and the Rethinking Hell articles will be very familiar with the description that I have given - seeing as I am almost quoting it verbatim from your fellow contributors.

      My argument still stands, despite your protestations, obfuscations, and refusals to deal with the logical implications of what annihilationists think the essential properties of being-dead are.

      -h.

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  2. Good news, you're in luck!

    Death is having your life taken from you, but before becoming a living creature Adam had never had his life taken from him. Thus the Conditionalist position is not refuted by the logic outlined here. I feel silly saying the obvious, but you can only suffer death if you're first alive to suffer it.

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    1. As I've stated in response to the other commenters, if the state of being-dead has essential attributes that are shared by any prelapsarian creature, then the Scriptures are in error when they say that death came into the world through one man's sin.

      Any identification of lifelessness and non-consciousness as being essentially constitutive of what it means to be-dead, therefore, cannot be correct, or else the Scriptures are in error.

      Prior to death occurring, as you note, there were no things that existed in a state of being-dead or deadness. Therefore, being-dead cannot consist in being a lifeless, non-conscious body.

      It has consist in something else.

      -h.

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  3. Your argument is easily overturned, it seems to me. What you're missing is obvious. Death is the experience of the loss of life, it isn't simply a state of lifelessness and non-consciousness. It is that, but only after one is alive can one experience death. And since this is indisputable, Adam cannot rightly be said to have been 'dead' prior to death's existence, since he wasn't *alive* until God breathed into his nostrils. And as soon as that occurred, Adam became a *living* soul and death, for the first time, became a real possibility. Up to that point, prior to life, the concept of death is meaningless.

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    1. If the one who has experienced death is dead, then his state of being is the state of being-dead.

      If pre-life Adam shares those properties said to be definitive of the state of being-dead (i.e. as essential properties of deadness/being-dead), then it follows necessarily that Adam was dead before death existed.

      But if death entered into the world through one man's sin, then deadness/the state of being-dead has to have unique essential properties.

      So what does it mean to be-dead? To be lifeless cannot be it. To be non-conscious cannot be it either.

      So what does it mean to be dead?

      To die is to have life taken away, let's say. Okay. After one has died, however, they "are"-dead. So what does that mean? Whatever it means, it cannot mean that the essential properties of being-dead are shared by anyone prior to the fall. That's the point.

      -h.

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  4. Sorry for the late responses, btw. I had no idea there were comments awaiting moderation :)

    -h.

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