This article is truly worthy of a thorough reading.
I’ve added Dr. Provan’s book, Seriously Dangerous Religion, to my wish list. I hope to read it before long. RJS has said quite enough to make me eager to read it.
I admit I was surprised to find only a couple of years ago that many people hold it as a difficulty that death existed in God’s good creation before the fall in the Garden.
I’ve withstood young-earth-creationism my whole life, and I had not before come across people who held death-before-the-fall as some sort of litmus test regarding creation assumptions.
I don’t know if I simply missed such people by chance, or if this emphasis on such a contrived element of the creation story is relatively new, in which case I might have missed it because it was unknown to the people I’ve argued with over the years. I suspect the latter. I suppose some fundamentalist was looking for an emotionally driving narrative and revulsion at the notion that God made the good earth with death built in was hit upon and circulated through the followers of Morris et al. Regardless, as indicated in RJS’ article, the biblical narrative clearly indicates death was understood. Further, God clearly states His own responsibility for death and destruction elsewhere in the scripture. (For instance, http://biblehub.com/isaiah/54-16.htm ) I really don’t understand how the problem arose.
Fundamentally for myself, I just don’t see the whole “Problem of evil” issue. Life is hard. God made it that way. Pain and suffering aren’t inherently evil. Like fire, it is powerful and consuming, but unless someone caused the pain and suffering, it isn’t actually evil in the sense we generally ascribe to that word.
At a funeral, Pastor Gary Bohanon stated matter-of-factly that we all die young. That brought into focus something I’d always understood. Time is a gift, and we just don’t get much of it. There is no intrinsic evil nor slight on God for a short, hard, painful, brutish life.
For me, there is no problem of evil. There is no argument against theism in pain and suffering. Dying is simply a part of living. Pain is simply a fact of life. Suffering is as natural as childbirth itself. Of course, there is still the problem of evil committed by one man against another, but some against others. Yes, that is evil. That really is what we usually mean when we decry evil. We are calling for the love-walk in all. We all agree with the prophet Micah (http://biblehub.com/micah/6-8.htm), we know what is right. We innately understand that our whole duty is to live justly, love mercy, and walk humbly before God. Every honest man does, at least we try. Some are more successful than others.