“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” George Orwell

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Pre-Fall normal vs. post-Fall normal

In the Spring 2004 issue of the Christian Scholar's Review, Matthew Phelps takes on the notion of memory as it relates to a high or low view of human beings. He states,
"Nevertheless, even if one grants that cognitive limitations are not best characterized as sins, or as moral evil, they still need to be distinguished from general effects of the Fall; that is, from natural evil. Let me first note that my claim that memory limitations are good applies only to those limitations within the normal range of variability in human capacities. More extreme deficits due to diseases or disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease, a hippocampal injury, attention-deficit disorder, or learning disabilities are a result of the Fall according to my view. They are not part of the way things are supposed to be."

In this discussion Phelps is once again largely speaking of variations in memory functions as the limitations or ranges of human functioning. He goes on to say,
"On the other hand, I view normal limitations as part of the way things are supposed to be, rather than as Fall-induced perversions of the mind. If cognitive limitations are not sins, and if they are an original aspect of the created order, then they are more than merely not evil; they are in fact good. They are good because they were created by a good God. They are good because human beings are supposed to be limited."

This immediately begs two questions in my mind. First, what is the range of normal variation. You might counter, "What difference does it make?" I just wonder what level of cognitive functioning, in terms of deficit might be considered within the normal range, and what level is a result of the fall? What range is a part of the created "good." What range is the result of the Fall. Unfortunately we have only two examples of pre-Fall humans. We note variations in sex, and perhaps others one might glean from the Genesis account, however, other aspects of human variation not due to the Fall are hidden if only because of the number of pre-Fall people.

A second question relates to ranges of normal functioning that Jesus as fully man would have experienced. Isaiah 53:2 makes the following prediction about Jesus' coming. "He has no form nor magnificance that we should see him; nor form that we should desire him." This implies that not only was Jesus within the normal range of human appearance, he was in the middle to lower range. He experienced the range of normal in appearance. When you read about the level of beating he sustained, and the way he was able to survive to the cross, it gives the impression he had physical strength perhaps in the higher range of normal in being able to survive physical abuse. His teaching, words, and cleverness in interacting with his detractors give the impression that he was in the high range in terms of intelligence (let alone wisdom). Physiologically and mentally he had a strength in the high range to be able to fast as he did.

Mental retardation is defined as "subaverage general intellectual functioning with accompanying deficits in adaptive behavior." Low IQ typically means 2 standard deviations below the mean. Deficits in adaptive behavior are relatively standard, although for example, some children walk at 1 year and some at 2 years.

So, I wonder what the Fall did to change the criteria of what is normal/good functioning.


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