In Engaging God’s World, chapter three concerning the fall, Plantinga quotes Wendell Berry who asserts that “formlessness is a peculiarly human evil… caused by inattention, irresponsibility, carelessness and ignorance of consequence.” I cannot say that I entirely agree with this statement, or at least would like to raise a few questions in order to clarify what is being meant. Genesis 1:1-2 speaks of the earth as being “formless and void” while God’s spirit hovered over the waters. Is this Genesis formlessness the same as the formlessness spoken of by Wendell Berry? For if it is the same, then Wendell Berry’s formlessness seems to imply negligence by some greater power, a human or perhaps could we say God. Thus, I wonder might this concept be applied to God’s presence over the formless world. Was God negligent? Of course, we are overlooking the fact that Wendell Berry says formlessness is a human evil. But don’t our actions contain at least a hint of truth or a slight enough representation to that of God’s. I find formlessness as existing only because of its dependence an individual. Could Wendell Berry’s statement be taken too far and assume God as irresponsible, careless, inattentive, and ignorant before creation?
Plantinga explains the consequences of the fall as “extending far and wide.” The fall goes so far as to affect our thinking processes. This I find is very interesting. We resist the truth. Even when what is right is placed before us, we sometimes willingly choose what is wrong. It is as if we are deceiving ourselves on purpose. There is a double danger in this. First, blatantly, we are deceiving ourselves. And then, secondly, we must deceive ourselves again so that we do not realize we initially deceived ourselves. It seems to be an infinite circle of treachery and deception. We too suffer because of the fall, not just creation. And, perhaps the fall is much more detrimental to us than we make it out to be. Our ignorance and autonomy blinds us from the speck in our own eyes.
A final comment on chapter three is that I found it intriguing how Plantinga suspects that nobody actually pursues objective learning. We all have presuppositions and a worldview which will affect the way we view something. It is impossible to remove the device by which we view and interpret our surroundings. It is like C. S. Lewis’s idea of a human removing his eyes so that he can study them. The thought is absurd and practically impossible. Plantinga writes that we all pursue committed or socially located learning. “Everybody’s learning is faith-based,” influenced by our personal and inherent system of beliefs. Thus, the question is not whether a person has faith in someone, but in what or whom. Each individual must recognize some standard to direct their life. Our learning is subjective to our system of beliefs. And, with this in mind, we must be careful to acknowledge our faults and miserable attempts at autonomy. We must commit ourselves to truth and an Absolute Law and God