Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Adam and subduing creation

One common objection to the YEC interpretation of the creation accounts of Genesis 1-2 is the idea that Adam in his dominion mandate is to have dominion or subdue the creation, noticing the somewhat forceful nature of the verb רדה (radah). From that verb, it is maintained that Adam had to violently subdue the creation, a picture far from the paradisaical YEC interpretation of Gensis 1-2.

The key to understanding the usage of this verb is to understand what Scripture actually says about the creation. In Genesis 1, we have a summary account of the creation of the universe, while in Genesis 2 starting with verse 4 we are treated to the creation of the Garden of Eden. As I have contrasted the different vegetation of Genesis 1 and 2, between the vegetation in Genesis 1 and the vegetation "of the field" in Genesis 2, so we can see that the Garden Eden is a cultivated garden. If the garden is cultivated, then anything outside the garden is uncultivated. The difference between something cultivated and something uncultivated is merely in that the former is ordered while the latter is unordered. A herbivore in the wild is no less or no more a herbivore than a domesticated herbivore! In other words, besides the difference of orderliness, there is nothing inherently different between cultivation and the wild. There is nothing inherently sinful about the wilderness, and nothing inherently holy about cultivation and domestication.

Adam's charge of subduing therefore should be interpreted as the charge of bringing order to disorder, not one of bringing sinlessness to something sinful. There is after all nothing sinful in a messy room. Bringing order to disorder is tough, as it is a fight against entropy, which does exist before the Fall.

There is therefore nothing wrong with the reading of רדה. It is however wrong to think that the usage of the verb necessarily implies only a certain type of forcefulness. Disorder is not necessarily sin, but disorder is certainly not perfect.

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