Thursday, September 1, 2016

Was the Fall Good? – Part One

Was the Fall Good? – Part One
By Sean Killackey
March 22nd, 2016
[Updated: April 23rd, 2016]

“Be fruitful and become many, fill the earth and subdue it, and have in subjection [all creation].” – Genesis 1:28 NWT

The scriptures say that “[t]he true God made mankind upright.” (Ecclesiastes 7:29) When Adam was made in the image of God, Eve too was made perfect. They were given one command, to procreate and to subdue the earth. (Genesis 1:28) Further, they were given one prohibition, they were not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and bad. (Genesis 2:17) They transgressed this single prohibition, which brought sin and death into the world – the Fall. Mormons affirm this, however, instead of regarding this as a negative event, they say that the Fall was a fall upwards toward the goal of eternal progression. The Encyclopedia of Mormonism says, “The Fall was not an accident, not an obstruction to God’s plan, and not a wrong turn in the course of humanity.” Is this teaching biblical?
This positive view depends largely on the plan of salvation, which was authored by God and agreed to by us in our pre-physical existence, and the supposed goal of exaltation, which necessitates the existence of a mortal and sinful world (to test us). The aforementioned work argues that “the Fall was a benefit to mankind. It was part of the Father’s plan, being both foreknown to him and essential to the human family,” and, “[t]he Fall was a necessary step in the eternal progress of mankind.” The purpose the Fall served was two-fold, to bring about a mortal state marred by sin, during which all mankind could come into physical existence and be tested, by enabling Adam and Eve to conceive to procreate, which they supposedly could not do in their pre-Fall state. We will refute these ideas.
Since the doctrines of premortal (or pre-physical) existence and eternal progression are wrong, the positive view lacks a strong foundation and telos. (See here, here and here for information on those teachings.) Because these needs no further elaboration here, we will begin by examining the absurdity of the command to procreate as it exists in the Mormon framework.[1] If I can prove that this command is absurd when viewed in the Mormon frame work, I can show the framework to be false, since Jehovah does not issue absurd commands. This is what we’ll do in this essay. In the second essay, we’ll examine why, despite the good that came about as result of the Fall, the Fall itself was still a wrong turn for humanity, so those who committed that evil act are not worth of the honor Mormons give them. In the third essay, examine what God’s purpose for the earth is, why the Fall was allowed to happen, and why the Fall was not necessary to achieve this purpose. Thus we’ll remove any remaining potential purpose for the Fall. Let’s begin.
Has God ever commanded an intrinsically unkeepable command? No. The idea, then, that he would command Adam and Eve to procreate in a state in which they could not procreate is absurd. When God commanded Israel to enter into Canaan, they were able to do so, which is why, when they did not, God punished them for their revolt. (Numbers 14:20-38) Further proof of God’s reasonableness can be seen in that he allowed the poor to give offerings of less worth that those of the rich; to demand otherwise would be to order something they couldn’t do. And, we recognize, the prohibition of eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and bad was likewise keepable. We also know that the command to subdue the earth, which was not meant solely for Adam and Eve, was startable by them, because they began to do their share of the work.[2] So why shouldn’t the command to procreate be anything but startable? Yes, all of these commands were intrinsically keepable; so it makes sense that the command to procreate also have been keepable. If it was, the Mormon theory fails. Let us consider some possible objections to this argument.
God gave Israel the Mosaic Law, which is unkeepable. So, what is so incoherent about him commanding the intrinsically unkeepable command to procreate? Nothing was intrinsically unkeepable about the Mosaic Law. Rather, every single command was keepable, but Israel as a people and as individuals chose to disobey it. For example, the command not to commit idolatry was keepable, which is why, when Israel repeatedly disobeyed it, God punished them.[3] (Would God have ever done so if Adam and Eve never procreated?) Thus a disqualifying difference exists between the Law and the procreation command which invalidates it as a counterexample to the notion that God does not command intrinsically unkeepable commands.
What of the commands for offering up sin offerings or to avoid ritual impurity? In the former case, one who didn’t sin would not be able to keep those laws, and in the latter one would undoubtedly transgress even if unintentionally, it simply would not be able to avoid getting ritually impure. Since God them commands things which were not keepable, there is no problem in him commanding an unkeepable command to procreate.[4] This fails, since the commands to offer up sin offerings were not incumbent on a person unless they first committed a sin that required that offering. They can be viewed as contingent commands, commands that are perfectly keepable. Ritual impurity is not sin. And we note that there is no unkeepable command to avoid impurity. If there was, we’d expect to see God command ‘you must not menstruate,’ but all he says is, ‘if you do, you must ritually cleanse yourself, if you don’t you will have sinned.’ Therefore, my argument holds.
What of the command to love Jehovah our God wholly? Or the command to be perfect since Jehovah is. They’re given to imperfect people and are therefore intrinsically unkeepable, so what is unthinkable that God would issue an unkeepable command to procreate? It is worth considering what Jehovah expected when he issued this command. Did he expect it to be fulfilled literally or absolutely? Take the example of David (before he sinned). Jehovah called him “a man agreeable to [my] heart,” but are we to conclude that David never sinned at all, never disobeyed his father or mother at all? (1 Samuel 13:14) Of course not. Yet Jehovah viewed him kindly nonetheless. Similarly, Jesus did not expect the Ephesians to be literally perfect in love or deed. He told them, “[Y]ou have left the love you had at first. Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first.” (Revelation 2:4,5) They simply were expected to have the zeal and love that they as imperfect people once obtained to. This was acceptable to God and Christ. We can still accurately call ourselves ‘those who love Jehovah,’ even if we fail him. (Psalm 97:10) Therefore this counterargument fails, but my point stands.
Perhaps the command was not meant to be obeyed until after the Fall; the prerequisite of a mortal state was not in place, so it was not yet applicable to, or incumbent upon Adam and Eve, so not absurd. This counterargument affirms that if it was obligatory when it was issued, it would be absurd and not keepable, and affirms the necessity and goodness of the Fall. The problem with this argument is that, as shown above, the command to subdue the earth was keepable was already incumbent on Adam and Eve, as was the prohibition of eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and bad, so it seems most reasonable to say that this command was already in effect when issued. Consider the commission that Jesus gave his followers in Acts 1:8, where he said, “But you will receive power when the holy spirit comes upon you, and you will be witnesses of me in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the most distant part of the earth.” The conditional aspect that is found in this command is exactly what is missing from the command to procreate. We ought to conclude that the command to procreate was incumbent upon them when it was given, to do otherwise would be ad hoc.
I think the point that the command to procreate is intrinsically unkeepable in the Mormon framework stands. Therefore, given that God doesn’t command the intrinsically unkeepable, yet commanded Adam and Eve to procreate, we must concluded that, any framework which makes this command intrinsically unkeepable is false; this means the unscriptural Mormon position.

[1] By “framework” I mean the teaching that Adam and Eve were unable to procreate in a premortal or Edenic state.

[2] Which, given the fact that Adam is shown naming the animals, we can presume he began. (Genesis 2:19,20) He and his wife probably did many other things in this regard that the Bible passes over.
[3] It was their choice that made the command unkeepable.

[4] I am unsure as to whether any Mormon would bring up this argument, since it seems very weak, but it is worth mentioning in case they do.

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