Evolution and the Fall: Death as Curse

This is a follow up to yesterday's post about death, evolution, and Eden. You'll need to read that post to get what I'm saying here.

I kept thinking about yesterday's post and felt there was a string I left hanging. Specifically, yesterday I described how in an evolutionary account death predates the Edenic moment. Death, in such an account, becomes an "intruder" in history via consciousness. Through consciousness death becomes a moral force in the universe. 

But the hanging string is that an emergent awarenesses of death isn't a curse per se, not a "consequence" of our sin and rejection of God. Though you could, I guess, consider consciousness itself to be a sort of curse, the heavy existential burden of being a creature that knows it's going to die. We could go in that direction, but I want to keep closer to the Genesis story to view the curse as a punishment for sin.

So, how do we go from existential-awareness to death as curse, catastrophe, and punishment of sin?

In a state of nature, below a certain threshold of consciousness, death isn't a curse. Death only becomes a curse with the acute awareness that death renders life futile, vain, and meaningless--the lament of Ecclesiastes. And yet, this curse is only actualized by stepping away from God into self-sufficiency. When dependent upon God, when tethered to Life, the "sting of death" is taken away. 

Basically, death-awareness presents us a moment of choice. Fear or trust? Pride or faith? Self-sufficiency or dependence? Humanity fell and falls by acting out of fear, pride, and self-sufficiency. And in that moment death becomes curse as, now separated from God, we are doomed to die. Death becomes curse when, at the advent of death-consciousness, we reject God and chose the hubris of self-sufficiency. 

This choice is both history and biography. History in how humanity, at this primordial moment of choice, "fell" and separated itself from God. We inherit this curse, entering life anxious, prideful, and alienated from God. Alienated from God death becomes our destiny.

But this choice is also biography. Each of us recapitulate the choice of Adam and Eve. We pridefully choose self-sufficiency and fall under the dominion of death. 

To summarize, death-awareness isn't the curse, it is, rather, a moment of choice. That is the Edenic crossroads. Life is available to us if we choose trust and dependency upon God. But if out of pride we choose self-sufficiency we fall under the curse and death becomes our destiny. And once that choice is made, and we've all made it, we're caught in moral and existential quicksand, with no way to extract ourselves via willpower. We're too anxious, prideful, self-deluded, and weak to effect our own escape. Thus our need for grace and divine action. 

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