Could A Good God Allow Death Before the Fall? A Thomistic Perspective

Heythrop Journal 63 (4):703-716 (2022)
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Abstract

Recently the intramural debate among Christians over the correct interpretation of Genesis 1 and the age of the earth has become heated between leaders of certain science-based ministries. A major point of contention revolves around the question of whether there was animal death before Adam and Eve’s first sin. Many young-earth proponents charge that if God allowed death before Adam and Eve sinned, then God would not be morally perfect. In this paper I propose and critique a logical argument from these charges. First, I formulate a logical problem based on the claims of young-earth proponents. Next, I discuss several theistic interpretations of God’s moral perfection and explain how deontological and consequentialist interpretations are problematic. After this I discuss Aquinas’ interpretation of God’s moral perfection. Finally, I provide a solution to the problem of death before the fall using Aquinas’ interpretation. I conclude that it is not logically contradictory to believe that God is all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-good and that He created a world that initially contained animal death.

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B. Kyle Keltz
South Plains College

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