Thursday, April 12, 2018

The lion and the lamb

i) Isa 11:6-9 & Isa 65:25 are YEC prooftexts: in particular, belief that there was no antelapsarian carnivory. No antelapsarian predation, parasitism, disease, &c. 

ii) One alternative interpretation is that Isaiah's golden age passages are political allegories for the cessation of warfare. Harmony between predator and prey symbolizes the outbreak of universal peace (e.g. Childs).

There may be grain of truth to that interpretation. Certainly the larger context includes the end of warfare. 

iii) At the same time, the imagery suggests a restoration of Edenic conditions, and that's consistent with the political interpretation. The end of political violence doesn't rule out a literally Edenic interpretation, since there was no warfare in Eden.

iv) One complication is that metaphor and literality aren't necessarily opposites, but can range along a continuum. Indeed, prosaic discourse contains many dead metaphors. 

So it's possible for Isaiah to predict something like Eden redux even if the picturesque imagery is somewhat figurative. Was there no carnivory in Eden? Presumably, the animals weren't dangerous to Adam and Eve. That doesn't necessarily mean they weren't dangerous to each other. They might be tame animals, that are safe around humans, but still predatory or violent. For instance, domestic dogs and cats are still predatory, even though they are docile around their owners.

v) We might also consider how realistic a particular interpretation is. I mean "realistic", taking biblical supernaturalism into account. 

Some wild animals don't seem to be tamable. I don't think you can tame sharks, crocodiles, venomous snakes, Komodo dragons, &c. So it's hard to see how all wild animals could be safe around humans, even if some might be. 

Perhaps, then, there'd be a degree of providential protection. For that matter, even if Adam, Eve and their posterity were never banished from the Garden, they'd still need to take reasonable precautions. The world is not a theme park. There are natural hazards. 


  1. I've always thought that it would have been a bit traumatic for Eve to have her pet deer torn to pieces by a lion before her very eyes, even if the lion wasn't dangerous to Eve herself. So this does present a bit of a conundrum for the idea of animal predation in the garden. C.S. Lewis's idea is intriguing that carnivory was somehow the result of the fall of Satan, which predated that of mankind (and can be fitted into an old earth progressive creationist view). The difficulty with that is that many carnivores seems to fall into natural kinds which are very beautiful and unified in their beauty. A non-carnivorous lion hardly seems to make sense. His entire digestive system, his teeth, etc.,are all designed for a carnivorous life. Attributing that combination of functionality and beauty to the designing ability of Satan, even "under God," seems metaphysically and aesthetically implausible. So I doubt we will really know the answer to all of it this side of heaven.

  2. Seems to me it is quite possible that the Garden lacked predation etc, but outside the garden it was pretty much business as we see it. I can't make sense of geology or anything else otherwise. I take it that Eden may have been in some form of Hypertime, and the fall caused some form of retroactive causation. I guess I mix Dembski and Hudson in my views of the Garden.

    1. A less esoteric explanation is that Eden had some sort of barrier that kept unwanted animals outside the garden.