The universe versus the Garden of Eden

Monday Musings for July 15, 2019

Good morning, Musers,

What if your parents made better food choices? I’m talking about your first parents, though… Adam and Eve. You remember the story: instead of eating from the tree of life, they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil — and look at the knowledge they gained: they (and all their progeny) would be cursed by sin rather than be blessed with victory.

Now, I wish I had better news… but that’s our deal in this age. Given the conditions of our current universe, we will be living under that curse for quite a while. Sometime after Christ returns, God will usher in the new heaven and the new earth (Revelation 21:1). But until then, not only are we stuck with sin, we’re stuck with sin’s outfall — entropy.

“To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life.” (Genesis 3:17, NIV)

You see, the universe is not optimized for our pleasure. It’s optimized to keep sin from running rampant and taking over the earth. When God cursed the ground, it looked and felt like punishment to Adam… because indeed it was… but it was primarily a practical move on God’s part.

In spite of the curse, human beings would find ways to prosper. In fact, we needed to. How else could we fill the earth and subdue it? (Genesis 1:28). But, just as the rain falls on the just and the unjust alike (Matthew 5:45), so did the curse. But what does this mean in practical terms?

Just as it is a certain degree more difficult to grow potatoes because of the fall, so it is more difficult to rob banks and murder. Now, the latter are rampant because of the fall — I get that! But performing them is that same degree more difficult than it is to grow potatoes… and this has both a smaller and a larger effect at the same time.

It is a smaller effect for God’s people because we can still advance his objectives… albeit while constantly looking over our shoulders. It has a larger effect on evil, however, because sin would beat us without this increase in difficulty… and it is a testimony to God’s skills at fine-tuning that we are advancing his kingdom’s objectives in spite of the extra sweat required to do so!

As a system, our universe is unwinding — and that’s the type of habitat God designed for us. The technical term we use to describe this phenomenon is entropy… and systems like ours that are decreasing in useful energy are said to be growing in entropy. But note this well: there is a natural end to all entropic systems. If left to run forever, our universe will end in a whimper and a hush… as far from its unfathomably energetic beginning as it could be.

This alone tells us that this world is not a forever place — and I’m glad… just don’t get me wrong: I love my life! … and I love the provisions God has made for me here. It’s just that I’m looking forward to better things in the far future… and better things in a better home.

Until Satan, sinners, death and Hades are finally destroyed, God must maintain our current entropic universe. Why? Because entropy has a braking effect that keeps sin under control. Only when sin has fully been addressed will conditions be right to bring in the new heaven and new earth — and we simply must have these new environs! Why?

We’ll never be able to grow into the people God designed us to be until he unshackles us from this old creation… and he can’t redeem either us or it until the current creation absorbs (— and groaning all the way; Romans 8:22 —) all that sin can throw at it.

So, here’s today’s question: what if our first parents resisted all the overtures the serpent made in the Garden of Eden — and what if we were all still around… but as the offspring of sinless parents? What would we be like under that scenario? … but also… what would the earth be like?

That’s fun to think about. Just remember, the universe that God built to house Eden — the one described in Genesis before he established the garden — was still entopic… so, work was still work before the fall (Genesis 2:15). What God did was increase work’s difficulty; he did not invent work (or difficulty) in response to the fall.

Since entropy has always been with us, even if our parents never fell and Eden was continually occupied, humankind would still be limited by this universe. Fortunately, the Bible tells us that God will destroy this universe and build us a new one (2 Peter 3:10-13). So, what is my conclusion of the matter? I’m okay with it.

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