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Do you have to believe in Adam and Eve?

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It is not often that I find myself in agreement with Professor Jerry Coyne, but this is one of those occasions. Over at his Website, Why Evolution is True, Professor Coyne has written a lengthy post entitled, Catholics proclaim complete harmony between science and their faith, trot out Aquinas again, in which he cites (without naming me) a post of mine from 2010 on Why Aquinas’ views on Scripture would have prevented him from becoming a Darwinist.

I stand by the conclusions I reached in that post, regarding Aquinas’ views on God, creation and Scripture, and I share Coyne’s sense of indignation with the following statement, made by a prominent Catholic theologian from the University of Oxford and a scientist from the American Museum of Natural History:

Evolutionary biology and faith in God are not incompatible, two professors asserted at the international Rimini Meeting, an event that brings hundreds of thousands of people to Italy.

“A proper understanding of creation, especially an understanding set forth by a thinker such as Thomas Aquinas, helps us to see that there is no conflict between evolutionary biology or any of the natural sciences and a fundamental understanding that all that ‘is’, is caused by God,” Professor William E. Carroll of Oxford University’s theology faculty told CNA Aug. 22…

Professor Carroll was a keynote speaker at the Rimini Meeting, an international gathering organized by the Catholic lay movement Communion and Liberation…

Sharing a platform with him was Professor Ian Tattersall of the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

Unlike Aquinas, I happen to be a Catholic who believes in common descent. However, I know enough about the history of the Church’s teachings on human origins over the last 2,000 years, to realize that some things are not up for grabs for Catholics, as Professor Carroll seems to think they are. The contemporary scientific consensus on evolutionary biology clearly contradicts Catholic teaching on several points – the most notable of which is Adam and Eve. (The doctrine that God directly and supernaturally created Adam and Eve’s human souls is another point of conflict.) I thought I’d assemble the evidence here, and let readers judge for themselves.

I intend to show below that the Catholic Church is still committed to the view that the human race is descended from a single original pair, Adam and Eve, and from nobody else.

But there’s more. Fr. Brian Harrison, a conservative Catholic priest who is Associate Professor of Theology, at the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico, has written a two part article entitled, Did Woman Evolve From the Beasts? – A Defence of Traditional Catholic Doctrine – Part I and Part II, has gone further, and argued that Catholics are, to this day, bound to believe as infallible Catholic teaching the proposition that Eve was formed from Adam’s side, and that if Adam was descended from the animals, the final step in his physical evolution must have been accomplished not naturally, but by supernatural intervention. Or as Fr. Harrison puts it in another article entitled, Did the Human Body evolve naturally? A Forgotten Papal Declaration, “Hence, … a last-minute supernatural intervention at the moment of Adam’s conception would have been necessary in order to give his embryonic body the genetic constitution and physical features of a true human being.” As I am not a theologian, I will content myself with presenting the evidence, so that people can assess it and form their own judgement. I will say, though, that in my opinion, Fr. Harrison makes a very good case (on theological grounds) for his view that while Adam may have evolved, Eve must have been created.

Our review of Catholic tradition will begin in the third century. Even the early Church Father Origen (185-254 A.D.), De Principiis, Book IV, chapter 21, who was a great allegorizer of Scripture, taught the existence of a single individual named Adam, who is the “father of all men”:

For every beginning of those families which have relation to God as to the Father of all, took its commencement lower down with Christ, who is next to the God and Father of all, being thus the Father of every soul, as Adam is the father of all men.

In the fourth century, St. Epiphanius (c. 310- 403 A.D.), Bishop of Constantia in Cyprus, forcefully asserted the truth of monogenism (the doctrine that all human beings are descended from a single pair, Adam and Eve) in his Panarion Book I, Section III, section 39 (Against the Sethians):

4 (2) Two men were not formed (at the beginning). One man was formed, Adam; and Cain, Abel and Seth came from Adam. And the breeds of men before the flood cannot derive from two men but must derive from one, since the breeds all have their own origins from Adam.
(Panarion. Translated by Frank Williams. Copyright 1987 and 1997, by Koninklijke Brill, Leiden, The Netherlands)

The fourth century bishop, St. Ambrose of Milan (c. 339-397 A.D.), who is honored as a Doctor of the Church and who also baptized St. Augustine, clearly taught that Adam was the unique source for the propagation of the human race and that Eve was made from Adam’s side, in chapter 10 of his work, “On Paradise” (c. 375):

(48) … Not without significance, too, is the fact that woman was made out of the rib of Adam. She was not made of the same earth with which he was formed, in order that we might realize that the physical nature of both man and woman is identical and that there was one source for the propagation of the human race. For that reason, neither was man created together with a woman, nor were two men and two women created at the beginning, but first a man and after that a woman. God willed it that human nature be established as one. Thus from the very inception of the human stock He eliminated the possibility that many different natures should arise.
(Cited in Eve and Adam: Jewish, Christian and Muslim readings on Genesis and gender by Kristen E. Kvam, Linda S. Schearing and Valarie H. Ziegler, Indiana University Press, 1999, page 138.)

St. Augustine (354-430 A.D.), writing in his City of God, Book XVI, Chapter 8, on “Whether Certain Monstrous Races of Men are Derived from the Stock of Adam or Noah’s Sons”, taught that Christians are obliged to believe that all human beings on Earth, no matter how different they may appear to other human beings, are descended from a single progenitor or “protoplast”, named Adam:

But whoever is anywhere born a man, that is, a rational, mortal animal, no matter what unusual appearance he presents in color, movement, sound, nor how peculiar he is in some power, part, or quality of his nature, no Christian can doubt that he springs from that one protoplast [original progenitor – i.e. Adam – VJT]. We can distinguish the common human nature from that which is peculiar, and therefore wonderful.

St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), who is known as the Angelic Doctor, Summa Theologica I, q. 102, art. 1, quoted St. Augustine when explaining why Christians are bound to believe in a literal Garden of Eden (Paradise):

I answer that, As Augustine says (De Civ. Dei xiii, 21): “Nothing prevents us from holding, within proper limits, a spiritual paradise; so long as we believe in the truth of the events narrated as having there occurred.” For whatever Scripture tells us about paradise is set down as a matter of history; and wherever Scripture makes use of this method, we must hold to the historical truth of the narrative as a foundation of whatever spiritual explanation we may offer.

St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica I, q. 32, article 4, also taught that Christians are bound to believe factual assertions made in Scripture, even when they have no direct bearing on faith and morals:

A thing is of faith, indirectly, if the denial of it involves as a consequence something against faith; as for instance if anyone said that Samuel was not the son of Elcana, for it follows that the divine Scripture would be false.

And here’s St. Thomas Aquinas again, in his Commentary on Job (Prologue), on why Christians are not permitted to believe that the story of Job was originally intended as nothing more than a parable, as some people in his day (including the Jewish philosopher Maimonides) had suggested:

In Ezechiel, the Lord is represented as saying, “If there were three just men in our midst, Noah, Daniel, and Job, these would free your souls by their justice.” (Ez. 14:14) Clearly Noah and Daniel really were men in the nature of things and so there should be no doubt about Job who is the third man numbered with them. Also, James says, “Behold, we bless those who persevered. You have heard of the suffering of Job and you have seen the intention of the Lord.” (James 5:11) Therefore one must believe that the man Job was a man in the nature of things.

Not the wording: “one must believe” that Job was a real man. If this is what Aquinas held about the historicity of Job, what would he have thought about modern-day Catholics who deny the historical reality of Adam?

Regarding the formation of Eve from Adam’s side, Fr. Brian Harrison handily summarizes the views of Aquinas in his article, Did Woman Evolve From the Beasts? – A Defence of Traditional Catholic Doctrine (Part II):

The most universally approved of all theologians, St. Thomas Aquinas, lived before the modern vocabulary of theological notes had been developed, but it is clear that he judged the doctrine, understood literally and historically, to be totally certain. This is evident from ST, Ia, Q. 92, articles 2 and 3, inquiring, respectively, whether in general it was fitting for woman to be formed from man, and whether, more specifically, it was fitting for her to be formed from the man’s rib. In both articles, the ‘sed contra’ is a peremptory appeal to Scriptural texts: Sir. 17: 5 in art. 2 and Gen. 2: 22 in art. 3. When, in his ‘sed contras’, Aquinas cites a Scriptural text rather than magisterial, patristic or philosophical authorities, he means to show that the answer he discerns to the question being posed is backed up by the supreme authority of God’s own written word, in a passage, moreover, whose meaning is so clear that merely to cite it is to understand it. So in modern theological parlance, we would have to say that St. Thomas is proposing the formation of Eve from Adam’s rib or side as at least ‘proximate to faith’.

A few decades after St. Thomas Aquinas’ death, the ecumenical Council of Vienne in 1312 published the Constitution Fidei catholicae, which referred to the formation of Eve from Adam’s side as pre-figuring the formation of the Church, which the New Testament describes in Ephesians 5:25-32 as the Spouse of Christ:

[We confess] … that after [Jesus’] spirit was already rendered up, his side suffered perforation by a lance, so that through the ensuing flow of water and blood, the one and only, immaculate, virgin holy Mother Church, the Spouse of Christ, might be formed, just as from the side of the first man, cast into sleep, Eve was formed for him unto marriage. This happened so that the reality manifested in our last Adam, that is, Christ, might correspond to a certain prefiguring of that reality constituted by the first and ancient Adam, who, according to the Apostle, “is a type of the one who was to come” [cf. Rom. 5: 14]. (DS 901 = D 480)

The great theologian Francisco Suarez (1548-1617), a Spanish Jesuit who is generally regarded as one of the greatest Scholastic philosophers after St. Thomas Aquinas, held that the immediate formation of Adam’s and Eve’s bodies by God is to be held definitively as Catholic doctrine, as Fr. Brian Harrison notes in his article, Did Woman Evolve From the Beasts? – A Defence of Traditional Catholic Doctrine (Part II):

Suarez, another truly great theologian, teaches that the immediate formation of both Adam’s and Eve’s bodies by God is doctrina catholica“, that is, definitive tenenda.
(De Opere Sex Dierum, 1, 3. ch. 1, nos. 4 and 6.)

Echoing the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas, Cardinal St. Robert Bellarmine, S.J. (1542-1621), another Doctor of the Church, affirmed the absolute inerrancy of all factual assertions made in Scripture, in his celebrated Letter to Paolo Foscarini on Galileo’s Theories, April 12, 1615:

It would be just as heretical to deny that Abraham had two sons and Jacob twelve, as it would be to deny the virgin birth of Christ, for both are declared by the Holy Ghost through the mouths of the prophets and apostles.

Nor has the teaching of the Church changed in modern times. More than two decades after the publication of Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species, Pope Leo XIII wrote about the origin of marriage in his 1880 encyclical, Arcanum (On Christian Marriage), paragraph 5, and affirmed that the creation of Eve from Adam’s side was an historical fact that is known to all, and “cannot be doubted by any”:

…The true origin of marriage, venerable brothers, is well known to all. Though revilers of the Christian faith refuse to acknowledge the never-interrupted doctrine of the Church on this subject, and have long striven to destroy the testimony of all nations and of all times, they have nevertheless failed not only to quench the powerful light of truth, but even to lessen it. We record what is to all known, and cannot be doubted by any, that God, on the sixth day of creation, having made man from the slime of the earth, and having breathed into his face the breath of life, gave him a companion, whom He miraculously took from the side of Adam when he was locked in sleep. God thus, in His most far-reaching foresight, decreed that this husband and wife should be the natural beginning of the human race, from whom it might be propagated and preserved by an unfailing fruitfulness throughout all futurity of time.

Fr. Brian Harrison, commenting on the above passage in his article, Early Vatican Responses to the Evolution Controversy, makes the following observation on the state of the controversy regarding evolution within the Catholic Church in the late nineteenth century:

It is noteworthy that no censure was even necessary, during this period, either of a polygenistic account of human origins or of the thesis that the body of the first woman was also a product of evolution. This is because no Catholic author, it seems, had yet dared advocate these theses, in opposition to truths which were so firmly established in Scripture and Tradition.

Some Catholics believe that Pope Pius XII reversed the Church’s stance on evolution. The truth, however, is quite different. In November 1941, Pope Pius XII expressly affirmed that Eve was formed from Adam’s side in an allocution given to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences:

God formed man and crowned his brow with the diadem of his image and likeness… . Only from man could there come another man who could call him father and parent; and the helpmate given to the first man also comes from him and is flesh of his flesh …. Her name comes from the man, because she was taken from him.
(“… Dio plasmò l’uomo e gli coronò la fronte del diadema della sua immagine e somiglianza… . Dall’uomo soltanto poteva venire un altro uomo che lo chiamasse padre e genitore; e l’aiuto dato da Dio al primo uomo viene pure da lui ed è carne della sua carne …, che ha nome dell’uomo, perché da lui è stata tratta“)
(Acta Apostolicae Sedis 33 [1941], p. 506.)

Several years later, Pope Pius XII cautiously permitted theological enquiry into the possible origin of the human body from pre-existing living organisms, in his 1950 encyclical Humani Generis, paragraph 36:

…[T]he Teaching Authority of the Church does not forbid that, in conformity with the present state of human sciences and sacred theology, research and discussions, on the part of men experienced in both fields, take place with regard to the doctrine of evolution, in as far as it inquires into the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter – for the Catholic faith obliges us to hold that souls are immediately created by God.

However, Pope Pius XII, in the same encyclical, Humani Generis, paragraph 37, reminded Catholics that polygenism (the view that the human race was descended from more than two first parents) is off-limits to Catholics:

When, however, there is question of another conjectural opinion, namely polygenism, the children of the Church by no means enjoy such liberty. For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains that either after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parent of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents.

Pope Pius XII also affirmed that the first eleven chapters of Genesis must be considered free from all historical errors, even if they borrow from popular narratives that were current at the time when Genesis was written, in his encyclical, Humani Generis, paragraphs 38-39:

[T]he first eleven chapters of Genesis, although properly speaking not conforming to the historical method used by the best Greek and Latin writers or by competent authors of our time, do nevertheless pertain to history in a true sense… If, however, the ancient sacred writers have taken anything from popular narrations (and this may be conceded), it must never be forgotten that they did so with the help of divine inspiration, through which they were rendered immune from any error in selecting and evaluating those documents.

Therefore, whatever of the popular narrations have been inserted into the Sacred Scriptures must in no way be considered on a par with myths or other such things…

Finally, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, approved by Pope John Paul II, affirms the reality of Adam and Eve as historical individuals in paragraphs 366 and 375:

The Church teaches that every spiritual soul is created immediately by God – it is not “produced” by the parents – and also that it is immortal: it does not perish when it separates from the body at death, and it will be reunited with the body at the final Resurrection…

The Church, interpreting the symbolism of biblical language in an authentic way, in the light of the New Testament and Tradition, teaches that our first parents, Adam and Eve, were constituted in an original “state of holiness and justice”.

Well, there’s the evidence. What do readers think?

Comments
JLAfan2001, In response to your query regarding Mitochondrial Eve, the following information is taken from Wikipedia: Mitochondrial Eve was the woman from whom all living humans today descend, on their mother's side, and through the mothers of those mothers and so on, back until all lines converge on one person. Mitochondrial Eve is estimated to have lived around 200,000 years ago, most likely in East Africa. However, just because all women alive today descended in a direct unbroken female line only from Mitochondrial Eve, it does not necessarily follow that she was the only woman alive at the time. Evolutionary scientists theorize that there were lots of other women alive at Eve's time who have descendants alive today, but sometime in the past, each of their lines of descent included at least one male. As I said, Mitochondrial Eve in no way implies monogenism (belief in Adam and Eve). Monogenism is a datum of faith, not science. Current scientific estimates of the size of the ancestral population from which Homo sapiens evolved lie in the ballpark of 10,000, but of course, those estimates are based on purely naturalistic assumptions, including the assumption that most mutations are neutral, having no effect on an organism's fitness. If God intervened in human evolution, that would not be true. The Multi-germic hypothesis, humorously put forward over at Why Evolution Is True by Drew, illustrates one way God might have done it. Drew's proposal was tongue-in-cheek, but Jerry Coyne judged it the most plausible of the proposals made for reconciling the data of science with belief in monogenism. Here's an excerpt:
...God slightly tinkered with the genes of two existing hominin pairs to ensure that the next baby they each had would have brains which were capable of interacting with a soul. These two individuals, one male and one female were Adam and Eve. God then imparted them both with many germ line cells each carrying a different genome, ... so that there would be no loss of fitness due to sibling interbreeding. [The germline of an individual is the sequence of germ cells that have genetic material that may be passed to a child. Gametes such as the sperm or the egg, are part of the germline; body cells, a.k.a. somatic cells, are not. A germ cell is any biological cell that gives rise to the gametes of an organism. - VJT] Each distinct gene set was based roughly on the genomes of various human-like beings that had preceded Adam and Eve, which had evolved through natural processes... [The genome is the entirety of an organism's hereditary information, including both the genes and the non-coding sequences of the DNA. - VJT] One consequence of this modification was that it gave the F1 generation [i.e. the generation after Adam and Eve - VJT] enough genetic diversity to appear as though they sprang up from a large pool of existing ancestors.
To my mind, the scenario described above doesn't seem too extraordinary to take seriously. It requires only one miracle, which would have coincided with the appearance of Adam and Eve. I think this will be my last post for this thread. Many thanks to Timaeus and to everyone else who contributed.vjtorley
September 5, 2012
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JLAfan, When someone figures out a way to test all the claims of population genetics what they say will mean something.Joe
September 5, 2012
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How does population genetics work in conjunction with mitochondrial eve and y chromosome adam? They say that homo sapiens evolved from a population of around 10,000 around 150,000 years ago. How does one woman and one man come out of that? Please explain in high school terms. :)JLAfan2001
September 4, 2012
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Good comments from Jon Garvey, Vincent and nullasalus. JLAfan2001 now has a lot of suggestions for constructive reading. And reading good material, rather than arguing on the internet, is what I think he should be doing. The diligent seeker after truth will spend a higher percentage of time reading than arguing. Arguing can be useful for clarifying one's ideas, but unless one has first done some studying, the quality of the argument will not be good. For JLAfan, I'd recommend at least two hours of book- or article-reading for every one hour spent in debate or conversation. I'm now confident that JLAfan has received good advice and moral support from a number of people, so I'm exiting.Timaeus
September 3, 2012
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JLAfan2001, Actually, I'd like to give a different reading recommendation than everyone else here. I suggest The Last Superstition by philosopher Ed Feser. And I'm going to explain why I'm recommending it. The book is not a defense of Christianity specifically. The title suggests that it's an attack on the New Atheism, and while it is to a degree, there's more to it than that. What the book does is explain the history of philosophical and metaphysical thought from ancient greece to now, noting what ideas came about, why they came about, what the reactions were to them, etc. Largely with a focus on classical theism, materialism, etc. I know you're saying you want a defense of Christianity in particular, but I think what you'd be better off with before that is an understanding of modern science and philosophy, its origins and problems, the distinction between metaphysics and physics, etc. More importantly, you'd probably want these things explained to you in a book that's written for a non-expert to understand. Well, TLS does a great job of that. If you read it, you should have a greater appreciation for the history of theistic thought, an understanding of the problems posed by modern materialism, an understanding of the classical arguments for God, etc. After that book, even if you're persuaded by it, you're still going to want defenses of Christianity - again, Feser says explicitly that the book defends theism period, and thus leaves it open as to whether Christianity, Judaism, Islam, neo-Platonism, etc, or any other religion is the true religion. But after this book, you will be (in my opinion) better equipped to approach that question intellectually - and more importantly, you'll be able to distinguish (rightly) between theism generally and particular religions. You'll also be able to ask better questions of atheists and theists alike.nullasalus
September 3, 2012
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JLAfan2001, I know what it's like to have lots of doubts, so I will keep you in my prayers. I think Timaeus' spiritual advice is pretty sound - especially what he writes about the need to take some time to enjoy good music, good art and beautiful cathedrals. It's time to soak your soul in some beauty. But I sense a more immediate need. You are fast running out of solid intellectual arguments for belief in a personal God, and are in real danger of giving up belief in everything sacred. Here are some good links that should serve you well. Fine-tuning argument and origin of the universe The Teleological Argument: An Exploration of the Fine-Tuning of the Universe by Dr. Robin Collins. Vilenkin's verdict: "All the evidence we have says that the universe had a beginning." The article has lots of links to articles of mine, refuting common objections to the fine-tuning argument and arguing for the cosmos having been designed. Origin of life and evidence for Intelligent Design The Case Against a Darwinian Origin of Protein Folds (in BioComplexity 2010(1):1-12. doi:10.5048/BIO-C.2010.1) by Dr. Douglas Axe. The Origin of Life, a talk given by Professor John C. Walton, a Research Professor of Chemistry at St. Andrews University, on September 21, 2010, and available online here. Programming of Life by Dr. Don Johnson. An excellent video. ATP synthase: majestic molecular machine made by a mastermind by Brian Thomas, M.S. The video at the end will blow you away. Miracles Turin Shroud 'was created by flash of supernatural light': It couldn't be a medieval forgery, say scientists The Enigma of the Shroud of Turin (Why it couldn't be a fake) Discrepancies in the Radiocarbon Dating Area of the Turin Shroud by M. Sue Benford and Joseph G. Marino. Destroys the myth that the Shroud is medieval. Blood on the Shroud of Turin: An Immunological Review by Kelly P. Kearse. The Shroud and the "Historical Jesus": Challenging the Disciplinary Divide by Dr. Simon Joseph. Argues that the Shroud does indeed belong to Jesus, and not some other Jew, as some people have suggested. The Shroud of Turin . Stephen Jones' blog on the Shroud (very balanced). Modern Miracles The Making of a Saint by Eric Reguly. The flying saint by Fr. Renzo Allegri. The last paragraph is revealing:
It has been calculated that Joseph's 'ecstatic flights' took place at least 1,000 to 1,500 times in his lifetime, perhaps even more, and that they were witnessed by thousands of people. They were the phenomenon of the century. They were so sensational and so public that they attracted attention from curious people from all walks of life, Italians and foreigners, believers and unbelievers, simple folk, but also scholars, scientists, priests, bishops and cardinals. They continued to occur in every situation, in whatever church in which the saint prayed or celebrated Mass. It is impossible to doubt such a sensational and public phenomenon which repeated itself over time.
The Miracle of Calanda . Article based on in the book Il Miracolo by Vittorio Messori. Evidently God does heal amputees. The Eucharistic Miracles of the World . Ongoing Eucharistic miracles taking place right under the nose of science. That should keep you busy for now. Good luck in your quest!vjtorley
September 3, 2012
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Mung "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness..." How about, "You should struggle to understand and act on Scripture in the same way the disciples struggled to understand and act on the words of Jesus"? In other words, he was always right, but they often got him wrong.Jon Garvey
September 2, 2012
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JLAfan2001 My 2c. I've been a Christian 47 years, and you don't go that long without serious doubts and dry periods unless you're a bigot. In retrospect the times when the truths of Christianity seemed in doubt were usually, in truth, the result of fearing that God no longer loved me. That was often the case in many years of pastoral work with others too. The head, in other words, often gets the blame for problems in the heart.Jon Garvey
September 2, 2012
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What's the literal interpretation of the following?
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,
Mung
September 2, 2012
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JLAfan2001, A few comments to add on to Timaeus'. First, the evidence is not "piling up" in the way you suggest - if anything the NT and much of the OT is more corroborated now than it was in the past. Even on the scientific front, things have gotten drastically harder for atheists in general than for theists. (An eternal universe used to be the assumed model - that was skunked. Materialism was assumed true, but quantum physics skunked that. Life was considered easy to arise, and now we have fine tuning and OoL considerations to say the least. The idea that Christ didn't exist was considered plausible in some quarters over a century ago - now it's a crank idea. The list goes on.) You ask a fair question in "Why is Lewis and Chesterton right, while Ham and Morris are wrong?" But really, the fact that they disagree doesn't mean that there's no way to tell one is wrong or one is right (or that both are wrong for that matter). While I disagree with Timaeus about Adam and Eve, I disagree more strongly with Morris and Ham, personally - the fact that they (or at least people like them) take their view as the only reasonable interpretation, despite some considerable historical differences, well argued, is a strike against them to begin with. I'd also note that you're arguing to atheism by way of what you see as bible inaccuracies - but theism is prior to the bible. Far and away most arguments for theism stand regardless of the truth of the bible, and you'll see that argued even from prominent and fairly conservative apologists (William Lane Craig for example, who I also recall views the truth of evolution as a non-issue biblically.) I'm not interested in psychoanalyzing you too deeply. But I think one thing you said so far in this conversation is pretty telling: you think if Christianity is true, then it should be totally obvious to the point that any arguments against it should be able to be shut down immediately. But keep in mind, that's not even a biblical standard - see Christ being rejected, even by His apostles. Doubt and confusion and surprise is pretty much part of Christianity. Which is why I think the problems you've raised so far are problems that are pretty small, and easily answered - unless you're of the view that there should never be any problem with faith or moment of doubt, if the faith is true. In which case all I can say is, that seems unreasonable from every angle.nullasalus
September 2, 2012
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JLAfan2001: Although you didn't ask me, I will offer my thoughts in the most abbreviated way I know how: When in doubt, I think the safest course for non-Catholic interpreters of the Bible (Catholics accept the teaching authority of the Church [Adam and Eve were indeed historical figures]) is to follow the pattern expressed by the early Church fathers, who were closest to the apostles and most likely to get it right. Among many others who insisted on a real Adam and Eve, we could include such major figures as Clement of Rome (who knew St. Peter) Tertullian, Justin Martyr, Ireneaus, and Clement of Alexandria. I would not follow the consensus of modern Biblical “experts” on the existence of Adam and Eve for the same reason I would not follow the majority of evolutionary biologists on origins. Unlike the earliest Church fathers, they didn’t know the apostles or their immediate successors. Also, don’t forget the consistent teaching of the Catholic Church to the same effect, which should help to confirm the point.StephenB
September 2, 2012
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JLAfan2001: Thanks for getting back to me. Do you drive a car? Have you ever been stuck in the snow, and started spinning your wheels? And when you find you are spinning your wheels, how much good does it do to press the gas pedal harder? This is your problem. You are spinning your wheels. The actions you are taking to try to solve your problem are only sinking you deeper into the rut. The analogy with the car should tell you that a different kind of action is necessary. So you think you have found some way in which science contradicts Genesis, and your response is to demand that I or someone else proves that Genesis is "true" in exactly the sense of "true" that is causing your problem in the first place. You were alarmed when someone suggested that Adam and Eve could be taken non-literally; but when I suggested that a non-literal Adam and Eve might not be a problem, because the text might have a different meaning than you were brought up to believe, instead of investigating that possibility, you are distracted by hearing that some ID people don't accept a literal global Flood, and now you alarmed that maybe the Bible isn't "true" about the Flood either. You still have not grasped that your fundamentalist-inerrantist upbringing taught you a crippled sense of what it means to say that the teaching of a text is "true." I've been trying to widen your sense of "truth." An engineer like Henry Morris tends to take "truth" as empirical truth -- scientific or historical facts that one can measure and "prove" or "disprove." That's the mentality that governs literalism-inerrantism, an engineer's mentality. As long as you continue to approach every religious teaching like an engineer -- it's got to be measured, weighed, tested, verified by evidence -- you are going to miss the *point* of the teachings. I can't "prove" that my parents loved me -- but I'm darned sure that they did. And if someone comes up with some "evidence" that seems to contradict the fact that my parents loved me -- say, for the sake of example, my father whacked me once when he was in a bad temper -- I'm going to say that they are just silly, that they don't understand the meaning of the word "love" if they think they can just count up good things and bad things, and if my parents did X or more bad things, then they didn't love me. I would say that anyone who tries to determine if his parents love him in that manner is a complete idiot, even if he has a Ph.D. in Engineering or Accounting. If you want to know if the story of the Good Samaritan is "true," are you going to take up the study of archaeology and ancient history, and try to find records of this Samaritan, and if you can't, declare that the story must be made up and is therefore a lie? I trust that you are not so foolish as that. I trust that you understand that the truth of that story does not depend on verifying the name the Samaritan or the location of the ancient road on which he found the stranger. In the USA, millions of words have been written in "defense" of Genesis 1-11, trying to prove that every single past-tense sentence in the stories corresponds, in a 1-for-1 way, with a past event, as if Genesis is a transcription made from on-site videotape. And it's precisely out of these communities of literalist believers that atheists are generated, as they discover that it's impossible to make the story correspond in a 1-for-1 way with what happened in the past as determined by history, archaeology, etc. It never occurs to them that the logical conclusion is not that the stories are "false" but that the stories are being read in the wrong way, are being asked for the kind of truth that "science" and "history" provide, when they are not scientific treatises or historical documents, but another kind of literature entirely, with different aims. You would think that literalists-inerrantists would get a clue from the fact that not a word of Genesis 1-11 (beyond the mere fact that God created the world in some unspecified way) is found in any of the Creeds of the Church. No Adam and Eve. No Fall. No Flood. No Cain and Abel. No Babel. The Church, when it formulated its Creeds -- its summary of core affirmations -- did not think these things needed to be even *mentioned*, let alone stressed to the exaggerated degree that literalism-inerrantism stresses them. Yet the defense of Genesis 1-11 continues to be the core concern of American literalist-inerrantist Protestantism. Far more is written by literalist-inerrantists about the Flood and about radioactive dating and about the meaning of the word "day" than is written by them about Jesus! That's how distorted the emphasis is. You want me to prove that Genesis 1-11 is "true" in a sense of "truth" that I reject. I can't prove to you that it's true in that sense. Nor would I want to, because the "truth" you want me to establish has nothing to do with Christianity. It's an engineer's or accountant's caricature of Christianity, all "facts" and no soul. As if digging up some ancient city mentioned in the Bible could "prove the Bible is true." Only a spiritual idiot could think in that way. None of the religious geniuses of Christianity thought in that way, or occupied themselves with such questions. Read any of the great saints and mystics. You can start by reading something simple. Look at some of C. S. Lewis's writings. *Mere Christianity*, perhaps, or *Miracles*. You will see a defense of the main Christian doctrines there. But actually his fictional works are even better. *Out of the Silent Planet* is an engaging story which beautifully captures a number of foundational Christian teachings. You will learn more about the meaning of "Creation" from reading that novel than you will from a hundred literalist defenses of 24-hour days in Genesis. I pick Lewis because he is Protestant and therefore is more likely to be trusted by you. Other literalist-inerrantists have found Francis Schaeffer's works liberating. I prefer Lewis, but maybe Schaeffer would work better for you, because he is American and his cultural style may resonate more with you than a British writer would. But if you are open-minded enough to read non-Protestant literature, there are also many Catholic writers who would serve. You could read Chesterton, for example. I'm shooting in the dark here. I'm crippled because I don't know your age and educational level, and I don't know whether you work as a plumber in a small town with no library, or are a business student at a major university with a huge library. It's hard for me to tell you what to read when I don't know your educational background or what you have access to. What you should stop reading -- at least for the moment -- is fundamentalist versus atheist arguments over the Bible. These are exactly what are causing your problem. You need to look at Christian faith with new eyes. You need to read different things, and you need a new environment. Do you have any friends who are Episcopalians, Catholics, or Greek Orthodox? Or for that matter even Lutheran or Christian Reformed? Have such people take you to their church services; go to hear religious speakers that they admire, or join them in a Bible study. And listen to some of the sacred music of Bach, and some medieval plainsong. Have you ever been to Europe? If you have the money, go! Look through the art galleries at the Christian art. Walk through the cathedrals. Basically, you've been raised in a spiritually suffocating environment, and you see the only way out as atheism. But it isn't the only way out. There are forms of Christianity that are beautiful, liberating, emotionally rich, filled with art and music, stimulating to the intellect rather than restrictive of it, and compatible with science and philosophy. But you have to make the effort to find such forms of Christianity. And you won't find them by wrangling on the internet about fossils, Adam and Eve, etc. If you mire yourself in such debates, you will have Richard Dawkins and Will Provine trying to make you an atheist, and Ken Ham and his friends trying to pull you back into the suffocating religion you are trying to escape. Spiritually speaking, that's like a choice between being burnt at the stake or being guillotined. Turn off your computer for a few weeks. Stop listening to all these people. Walk through a French cathedral, have a Catholic friend in your home town explain the Stations of the Cross to you, do a weekend retreat in an old monastery, read Lewis, read Chesterton, read Dickens's Christmas Carol, listen to great sacred music from Bach or Handel, read the poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins. Get away from the Philistine world of American fundamentalism and Anglo-American atheism. If you can find a true, rich, Christian faith, you will find that the questions about Genesis will sort themselves out with little effort. It's putting the cart before the horse to try to deal with the historical veracity of Genesis before you have first understood what Christian teaching and Christian life are actually about. Find people who can show you that. They're around. I've exhausted my time for this discussion. I've made a large effort here. Only you can make it bear fruit. I don't live where you live, so I can't help you in person, but there are people who can -- if you look for them. If you don't seek out such older, wiser Christian heads, if you keep trying to ascertain by your own intellectual powers the truth about God, by arguing about historical proofs and disproofs Genesis with strangers on the internet who have no more understanding of Christianity than you do, you will just keep spinning your wheels in the snow, eventually wearing away all the snow and hitting the asphalt bottom of atheism. If that's what you want, just keep pressing that gas pedal.Timaeus
September 2, 2012
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To me Adam and Eve are the same as universal common ancestry. On one I do not categorically deny either and on the other I do not see any (exclusive) confirming evidence. And then there is Lilith- allegedly Adam's first companion...Joe
September 2, 2012
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Timaeus Sorry for the late reply. I think tjguy echoes my thoughts as you already know. Yes, I am beginning to reject the faith primarily based on what science is uncovering but also what you are bringing up too. You seem to reject a literal reading of Genesis while others don't. What makes your reading more valid than a literalist? If we all have our different views of scripture then where does truth lie in all of it? It becomes as subjective as atheism. Why does CS Lewis or GK Chesterton have it right and Ham or Morris doesn't? I had no idea that ID proponents reject the flood. That makes me question the bible even more. Why do we accept the creation and flood accounts as stories and not the gospels? Jesus was real, sure, but maybe the accounts are exaggerated especially if they were written some 40 years later. This is why athiests laugh at theists. The evidence is piling up that the bible isn't true and theists continue to make excuses. If Adam and Eve was mythical then why did Jesus die? If not for penal substitution then why? I can give you my email address but I'm almost looking for you to convince me now that Christianity is right rather than looking to change what I believe. What makes you so convinced that God is real?JLAfan2001
September 2, 2012
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Hello, tjguy. We interacted a while back, in the Craig Crushes Ayala discussion. I hope you found my final olive branch there acceptable. On your current comments, I'd say this: If the reason for rejecting a literal Adam and Eve is only to harmonize with science, then you are right. One surrender will lead to another, whenever "science" speaks, and piece after piece of Christian religion will be jettisoned. However, if the reason for rejecting a literal Adam and Eve is exegetical, i.e., if a Biblical scholar, after long study and thought, becomes convinced -- by features of both style and contents -- that the Adam and Eve story was not meant to be read as history, but as myth or legend or parable or some other genre, that is legitimate, because the conclusion is coming from within the Bible, not being imposed on the Bible from outside. And Bible-believing Christians should *want* to know if they have been misreading Genesis all along, so that they can adjust their theology to what Genesis actually teaches. In the case of JLAfan2001 -- who seems to have abandoned this thread -- we have someone who was brought up to believe that Genesis 2-3 was meant to be read as history, and as a result is now on the verge of dumping Christian faith altogether, because he thinks that if Genesis 2-3 is "disproved," then all of Christianity will fall. If he becomes an atheist, it will be because of his reading of Genesis 2-3 as historical chronicle. But what if it is not *necessary* to understand Genesis 2-3 in that way? Then JLAfan will have dumped Jesus Christ for no good reason. The Church has to make room for people with different understandings of the genre of Genesis 1-11. If it does not, if it insists that all of Genesis 1-11 must be taken as historical chronicle, and must be either accepted as a photographic and audiotape record of past events, or be denied as a pack of lies -- there will be an exodus of people out of Christian churches who would otherwise have remained Christian. You may say, "But the Church will also lose people if it teaches that Genesis 1-11 is not history, because then some believers may think the whole Bible has no historical value." That may be the case. So there is a trade-off. We could get calculating about this. We could say, which is better, to lose 20 fairly uneducated and not very intellectually thoughtful Christians from your congregation, because you teach that Genesis 1-11 is not literal history, or to lose only 3 Christians from your congregation -- but those among the best educated and most thoughtful in your Church -- because you insist that Genesis 1-11 is literal history, and try as they might, they cannot believe that? It isn't clear to me that the 3 thoughtful Christians are less important for the future life of the worldwide Christian Church than the 20 unthoughtful ones who just want safety and security out of their religion and don't want to wrestle with hard questions. But it shouldn't come down to sacrificing one group or the other. All members of a Church, the spiritually unadventurous and intellectually insecure, and the thoughtful and bold, are valuable and necessary. The answer is for all evangelical churches, whether their members incline to theistic evolution, or ID, or OEC, or YEC, to allow for honest intellectual disagreement over the genre of Genesis 1-11 and therefore not impose any interpretation upon the congregation, and not to impose any intra-Church penalties (e.g., you can no longer teach Sunday School) for those who hold a minority position on Genesis. But can evangelical churches rise above their usual revolting local politics, and live with such tolerance? Can one imagine a church led by Ken Ham allowing someone who believes in evolution to be a Sunday School teacher? Or even an organist? Can one imagine a church led by TEs not utterly marginalizing anyone in their congregation who took Genesis 1-11 literally? Christians have a long history of social ostracism and theological condemnation of other Christians who disagree with them. Can American evangelical congregations rise to this challenge, tolerating literalists in Massachusetts and evolutionists in Georgia? Or are they too petty and tyrannical for that? One thing is certain, based on history and my own personal experience: if the polarization continues, conservative, Genesis-literalist churches will continue to be breeding-grounds for atheism. There are just too many good, honest, intellectual, text-based reasons -- reasons that have nothing to do with giving in to evolution -- for thinking that Genesis 1-11 was not meant to be understood primarily as historical writing. And that means that the university-educated intelligentsia of the conservative evangelical churches -- people whose gifts could help them to lead those churches -- will tend to leave those churches, either joining liberal churches or dropping Christianity altogether. Bart Ehrmans and Will Provines don't emerge from churches where the leadership and the congregation think like C. S. Lewis or G. K. Chesterton. They emerge from churches where the leadership and congregation think like Ken Ham and Henry Morris. It's precisely because JLAfan2001 was taught the Christianity of people like Ham and Morris, rather than the Christianity of Lewis or Chesterton, that he is on the verge of abandoning his childhood faith. That's been my only concern for hanging around on this thread. But since JLAfan2001 wants to keep pressing his foot to the floor on his spiritual accelerator pedal as he roars downhill, and won't stop the car and let me or anyone else point out to him a gentler country road to a better destination, there is nothing I can do but leave him to his own devices. I expect that he will conclude, as so many conclude who read Genesis on the low intellectual and spiritual plain of Ken Ham and Richard Dawkins, that Genesis is "false," and therefore that the story of Jesus, being "based" on the story of Genesis, is likewise "false," and will leave the faith. I give him three months, six months tops, before that happens, unless someone with greater spiritual gifts than mine is able to intervene. And it makes me sad. And what's even sadder is that neither of the two agents who should bear the blame -- himself, and the literalist-inerrantist teachers against whom he is revolting -- will acknowledge any fault for his apostasy. His teachers will blame him for rebellion, and he will blame Christianity itself for being anti-scientific, when in fact his teachers, in their backwoods theological ignorance and narrow-mindedness, are largely to blame for his rebellion, and he is to blame for not listening to moderate voices who have offered him another way of thinking about science and another way of thinking about Christianity. Thus, if he ends up as an atheist, I will no more excuse him for that than I would Bart Ehrman or Will Provine. If a Christian finds a certain formulation of faith incompatible with science, it's the Christian's responsibility to leave no stone unturned, to leave no version of orthodox Christianity untried, before abandoning the faith. If the Christian insists: "No, it's either literalism-inerrantism or atheism for me" -- that rigidity and stubbornness is entirely of his own making, and so is the bed on which he will have to lie.Timaeus
September 2, 2012
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Adam and Eve? News of their demise has been greatly exaggerated. As well as fossil evidence for human evolution.butifnot
September 2, 2012
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Do you have to believe in Adam and Eve? Here is a non-scientist's response: Believing in Adam and Eve is not a requirement to be saved. However, I think you need to believe in Adam and Eve to make sense out of the Bible. Jesus believed in Adam and Eve as did Paul. In fact, there are no inspired writers of the Bible who dismiss the story as myth. As VJ has so clearly pointed out, the vast majority of early Church Fathers believed in Adam and Eve as well. (They also believed in a literal interpretation to chapter one which unfortunately, VJ doesn't seem to hold to, but that's a separate issue.) In my opinion, the only way you can reject Adam & Eve and still believe the Bible to be God's Word is if you already believe and are simply trying to find a way to read evolutionary science into God's Word. If we give up on this battle and throw out Adam & Eve as myth, how many of our children do you think are going to have confidence in God's Word? They are clearly going to see what we are doing - desperately trying to find a way to keep the Bible believable in the face of increasing contrary evidence. You might be able to handle the contradiction, but the writing is on the wall for your family if you take this position. If you don't care if your kids reject the faith, then sure, go ahead and throw out Adam & Eve. My question is what will be the next thing to go? The flood has already been trashed by even many IDers. How about the Tower of Babel? For many, this type of compromise opens the door for further compromise and lowers our view of God's Word. Questioning miracles throughout Scripture and even questioning the virgin birth and the resurrection could very easily follow in future generations. After all, if science has authority over God's Word, then we "know" these miracles must have a natural explanation, right? Do you have to believe in Adam & Eve to be saved? Of course not, but to remain intellectually consistent in biblical interpretation, to maintain a high view of God's Word, and to prevent a further slide away from God's Word, it is pretty important! Before you throw out Adam & Eve, think of the implications this will have for you and your kids. It will not be a positive thing! Question: Does anyone know of anyone who was saved while maintaining that Adam & Eve are plain myth? I'm sure they exist somewhere, but I would bet they are very very few. How impressive would this be to unbelievers? Would this encourage them to become Christians or more likely discourage them to become Christians? Any thoughts?tjguy
September 1, 2012
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Thanks StephenB What's interesting is how sacrificial atonement is, with variations as we've discussed, still a key element in Catholic, Protestant and historic Orthodox branches of the faith. Which is not surprising in view of the New Testament emphasis (not least the whole of Hebrews). I read somewhere today that what Anselm did, in essence, was not to formulate a new, mediaeval European, doctrine but to rediscover the Hebrew root of Christian atonement that had been lost, on which others could then rebuild. That makes sense from my recollection of reading the Cur Deus Homo.Jon Garvey
September 1, 2012
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Jon, you are right about the correct Evangelical view. In my attempt to be brief and to dramatize the difference between Catholic theology and reformed theology, I used the wrong metaphor with the word "wrath." Most Evangelicals do not characterize God the Father that way. Thank you for the fraternal correction. As I am sure you know, the basic difference between Catholic and non-Catholic views of atonement are related to the notion of condign merit. Catholics typically accept it and non-Catholics typically do not. Naturally, I accept the Catholic view as expressed in the Council of Trent.StephenB
September 1, 2012
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Timaeus A quick one. That Eastern orthodoxy has moved isn't in doubt - but if so it means it has moved away from a doctrine dating back into the first millennium in the East, not a johnny-come-lately Roman/Reformed perversion. I'm no Orthodox, but the writer I linked to puts the sea-change in Orthodoxy to a couple of influential leaders in the 20th century (primarily Patriarch Romanides and Metropolitan Anthony), apparently constituting an Orthodox equivalent to the 19th century upsurge in Protestant liberalism. They taught that Orthodoxy had for 1500 years been in bondage to Western Catholic thinking - in other words, they were revisionists with an agenda. When I read what those in the science-faith discussion say approvingly about Irenaeus v Augustine, etc it's clear this new strand is what they mean by "Orthodoxy", which has repositioned those authors to suit the new theology (eg to claim falsely that Irenaeus did not teach that sin is inherited from Adam). That's why I try to check original Patristic sources whenever people claim their support nowadays - they are seldom treated fairly. StephenB - penal substitution, as taught in historic Protestantism, never had any idea of an angry Father venting his spite on his unwilling Son. That was an ignorant perversion that crept into popular Evangelicalism in the 20th century (I remember hearing it, and objecting to it, back in the 60s), and which has become the straw man used to dismiss all propitiatory views of the atonement as "cosmic child abuse". For the real Evangelical view, read John Stott's "Cross of Christ".Jon Garvey
September 1, 2012
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StephenB: I'll defer to you on what current Catholic teaching is. I was just reporting on what I read, i.e., that in the Middle Ages, with people like Anselm, "satisfaction" and "penal substitution" explanations became common. I've since done some more reading: One of the earlier theories, still held by some in the Middle Ages, was that the death of Christ was the ransom paid to the Devil, to buy back (in Latin, "redeem") the "rights" he had acquired over mankind. That view is found in Origen, and with modification in several Greek and Latin Fathers, though some (e.g., Gregory Nazienzen) rejected it. Anselm argued that only an infinite "satisfaction" could repair an infinite offense against God, and so Christ, who was God, and hence infinite, was the only possible thing that could be offered. Peter Abelard rejected this explanation, and offered one in terms of the divine love. St. Bernard apparently violently criticized Abelard's solution. The later Scholastics followed the line of Anselm. Aquinas accepted Anselm's explanation for what actually happened; however, he cautiously added the disagreement that the method of satisfaction was not "imperative" as Anselm had represented it; God could have found another way. Aquinas's version became the current position among Catholic theologians of his era, but it was later criticized by the Scotists. Luther and Calvin apparently moved in the direction of "penal substitution." This caused a violent reaction from the Socinians and others later on, a reaction which became so strong in the 19th century as to produce some very limp-wristed liberal explanations of the Atonement which are so wimpy one wonders why the authors didn't just scrap the doctrine altogether. In contrast with all these views is the view of Athanasius: the purpose of the Incarnation was not primarily to deal with sin; God would have become incarnate even if we had not sinned, because he wanted man to become divine. It is through the incarnation of Christ that man has the path to become divine. The article I'm summarizing offers this generalization: "The general patristic teaching is that Christ is our representative, not our substitute; and that the effect of His sufferings, His perfect obedience, and His resurrection extends to the whole of humanity and beyond." Whether this is a correct statement or not, I cannot say. But it's offered in a major reference work, *The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church*, ed. Cross and Livingstone. An extensive bibliography of specialist works is appended to the article. Whether Paul should be blamed for what Anselm, Luther, Calvin and others made of his statements of course depends on how Paul's statements are to be interpreted. I believe that his remarks about "in Adam ..." and "in Christ ..." are sufficiently broad to allow for a variety of readings. I would favor one in which a kind of mystical participation is being referred to. (I suppose one would expect that from a Platonist.) Certainly I don't favor one in which Adam's eating of the fruit is somehow conceived of as "downloading" a sort of metaphysical "bacterial colony" upon the whole human race, which compels everyone to sin (either by deed or in desire), and, since sin means eternal damnation, needs to be cured by a sort of "Christ-injection" (taken through the "syringe" of faith) which leaves the "bacteria" still floating around in the body, and leaves us with the sniffles (since we still sin) but makes the body immune to the greater effects (i.e., removes the penalty of eternal damnation), so that we don't actually die of the disease. In any case, I didn't want to start a major argument about the Atonement! My point was that Paul might not have meant what many have thought he meant about Adam and Christ. He might *not* have been saying "There was this real guy, Adam, who ate an apple, and tainted the whole human race so that it cannot but sin, and that's why we all stand condemned, but fortunately another real guy, Christ, came along and took care of the bad effects of what Adam did." He might not have been saying that Adam is the *cause* of either individual or racial sin, in the modern sense of the word "cause." It might be that he meant that we all sin "in Adam" -- out of our human nature. Of course, this argument has nothing to do with the biological question, which is separate. On the biological front, I have no objection to a real first human couple from which all human beings have descended; I don't trust population geneticists as far as I can throw them, and nothing would make my smile broader than to see a good mathematical proof that they have been wrong. But on the more important theological point, I find the attempt to use Adam as a *causal* explanation for the sins of each subsequent person very dubious. As a causal explanation for *death* -- that's a different matter. In fact, that is all that Genesis said that Adam *was* responsible for -- the fact that we all die, not that we all sin or have some special proclivity for sin. Genesis never sticks poor Adam with the blame for that.Timaeus
August 31, 2012
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Hello JLAfan2001, I do not post often because I'm not at my computer often enough to respond in a timely manner after I have posted. However, I feel a need to respond to what you've posted. I would encourage you to stick with your original "literalist/inerrantist" view. After spending over forty years studying/following macro-evolution, it is simply not worthy of your faith. Everything I was taught about macro-evolution forty years ago has been proven wrong. Everything I was taught thirty years ago has been proven wrong. Twenty years ago? Ten years ago? Five years ago? Anything that hasn't already been proven wrong, I feel confident will be eventually. I know that what I'm saying will probably be anathema to many, but seriously, if the Bible changed its views even a tenth as often as evolutionists, the Bible wouldn't be the standard by which evolution is measured. What you said earlier about Christianity I would say about evolution. Science is not disproving Christianity, rather the Bible "disproves the Darwinist religion and instead of giving it up, they are constantly having to modify it." By contrast, the Bible is a rock. You can stand on it. Yes, there are a whole lot of people out there, even theologians and priests, …actually, mostly theologians and priests, who pose a myriad of views about how the Bible should be interpreted, who wrote what parts, etc., but notice that these myriad views also come and go. I can’t tell you how many trendy new views I studied in seminary that have now been discarded as so much hot air, which is exactly what they were. You can see the same trend in archeology. Go back forty years, or even more, and follow the trends. Over those years, too many archeologists to count have been cock-sure that they have made a discovery that has proven the Bible wrong, only to be proven wrong themselves by another find. And all the while, the Bible stands there – solid as a rock. A rock that you can stand on. With confidence. There is a theological reason for this that you may not have considered: Jesus is the Word of God. He is God’s Word - the Bible - wrapped in flesh. John could not be any clearer about this. The Bible cannot fail anymore than Jesus can. They are one and the same. Your Savior is worthy of your faith and your confidence. Be patient. And remember, we’re not called to have all the answers. We’re called to be faithful. As I’ve worried less about having all the answers and more about following Christ in every area of my life, especially fulfilling the Great Commission, my faith and sense of peace have grown exponentially. There’s simply nothing like seeing the change Christ brings into a person’s life to remind you of Who owns truth. When you witness that power, all the man-made knowledge, wisdom, endless words, and debates just look like the foolishness they are. God bless you.ChristBearer
August 31, 2012
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Timaeus, I don't think that Catholic theology is consistent with the "penal substitution" theory of atonement. Christ, as God, offered to pay the debt to Divine justice incurred by human sin. The Father did not punish Son for what we did, rather the Son offered Himself up willingly by identifying with us. Indeed, we, not God the Father, are responsible for Christ's passion. It was not the wrath of the Father coming from the top down; it was love of the Son coming from the bottom up. The first idea pits God against God, but the second idea has God working with God. I think this is best way to interpret St. Paul.StephenB
August 31, 2012
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Jon: I won't quarrel over your sources -- I accept that they say what you say -- but other things I've read, by reputable scholars, indicate that while the doctrines of Atonement in question can be found in Eastern Orthodox writers, they are definitely more commonly found, and more emphasized, in Western than Eastern Christianity, especially in the later Middle Ages and Reformation. I don't have time to look up the "reputable sources" at the moment, but here is a popular source which makes the sort of statement I've seen in more scholarly ones: http://www.journals.uts.edu/volume-xii-2011/536-the-unification-doctrine-of-the-atonement.html I wouldn't trust this source on its own, but I've seen similar things elsewhere. Note the distinction it makes between the "classic" and "penal substitution" and "satisfaction" theories. That's the distinction I was using. If it turns out that the distinction is faulty, then of course I'd have to adjust my historical conceptions accordingly. I add that it's important to distinguish between "the Greek Fathers" and "Eastern Orthodox Christianity." Just as Western Christian theology was not frozen in time with St. Augustine, so Eastern Christian theology was not frozen in time with the Greek Fathers. There was development in Eastern theology. Certainly I have heard an educated Greek Orthodox priest -- I believe he was either a seminary professor or a Metropolitan -- in an interview, denouncing what he called the "Western" understanding of penal substitution; he must have *some* traditional basis in Eastern theology for such a bold assertion. Even if he is misinterpreting his sources, the claim warrants investigation. An interesting research project would be to find out how the penal substitution and satisfaction notions fared in the various Eastern theologians and churches *after* the period of the Greek Fathers. I haven't done that, but I'd be glad to hear of any book with a title like "Forms of the Doctrine of the Atonement in the Greek and Latin Middle Ages." As for Zurich and Wittenberg, I'd have no argument about your point there. I was writing in shorthand, and picked Geneva as a symbol for "Protestant" because Calvinist theology is usually the most pointed and clear of all the Protestant theologies. So I'll revise my statement as follows: "In Roman Catholic theology at least from the late Middle Ages to the present, and in the main stream of classical Protestant theology, and possibly also in the Christian East [research pending], doctrines of Atonement focusing on "satisfaction" and "penal substition" have been dominant."Timaeus
August 31, 2012
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JLAfan2001 Thank you for your post. You wrote:
I’m not a biology student by any means so some of this stuff goes over my head. What exactly are neutral mutations? Also, when I look around the internet it seems a lot of Gauger’s stuff is in question. If you believe in common descent then man was not a special creation. Why should God give a fig about a bunch of smart evolved monkeys?
Quoting Wikipedia, "In genetics, a neutral mutation is a mutation that has no effect on fitness. In other words, it is neutral with respect to natural selection." Ann Gauger's writings on human origins have been challenged by Paul McBride, recently. Ann Gauger has responded to McBride (see here), but I have no problem with invoking some supernatural manipulation of the human genome at point when humankind emerged. See my reference to the Multi-Germic theory in post #64 above. Finally, I consider the creation of the human soul (which is spiritual) and the supernatural intervention required to transform a somewhat human-like hominid (Australopithecus) into a creature (Homo) with a truly human brain and body, together constitute what I would call an act of creation, while at the same time preserving common descent. Since we are created, then of course I would expect God to care about us.vjtorley
August 31, 2012
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gregory Thank you for your post. You wrote:
I support your views, vjtorley, which affirm the historicity of Adam and Eve according to the teachings of the Church. These views, however, have nothing to do with ‘Intelligent Design’ theory in so far as it deals with origins of life and origins of biological information. If you are suggesting that Intelligent Design theory properly relates to human origins, please express yourself accordingly.
Intelligent Design is the search for patterns in Nature which can be scientifically identified as the work of an Intelligent Agent. The success of Intelligent Design as a project does not stand or fall on how many progenitors the human race had. On the other hand, the emergence of human beings is an event for which one would expect to find signs of intelligent guidance. We are, after all, the most complex organisms known to exist in the cosmos. Consequently the time during which humans emerged is a legitimate focus for ID to conduct its search. If monogenism is true, then the genes of the first human beings may well have been intelligently manipulated, to avoid the harmful effects of in-breeding. If Intelligent Design theory can identify signs of such manipulation, then that would be a legitimate object of study in and of itself. But it is still early days yet. The scientific answers to those questions lie decades in the future.vjtorley
August 31, 2012
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timothya Thank you for your post. You wrote:
I still don’t understand from the original post, does vjtorley think that Adam and Eve literally existed and are the ancestors of all modern humans?
Yes. I'm inclined to think they lived around 2,000,000 years ago (coinciding with the emergence of Homo ergaster/erectus) although I'm open to persuasion that they may have lived approximately 600,000 to 700,000 years ago, coinciding with the emergence of Homo heidelbergensis. I personally believe the fossil and genetic evidence points strongly towards common descent, but the rapidity and magnitude of the changes occurring indicates even more emphatically that the process whereby man emerged was an intelligently guided one. As for Eve being made supernaturally from the side of Adam, I have no problem with that, should it turn out to be true. I believe in monogenism (descent from an original couple) because it has always been the faith of the Christian Church that there was an original Adam and Eve, and that Jesus Christ is the New Adam. As to how the effects of in-breeding were avoided, and how the genetic evidence can be squared with the teaching of monogenism, I think Drew's Multi-Germic theory explains it best (see http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2011/06/11/winners-adam-and-eve-contest/ ), although I'd change the date. It goes like this:
...God slightly tinkered with the genes of two existing hominin pairs to ensure that the next baby they each had would have brains which were capable of interacting with a soul. These two individuals, one male and one female were Adam and Eve. God then imparted them both with many germ line cells each carrying a different genome, this allowed that each of Adam and Eve’s children would not be genetic siblings so that there would be no loss of fitness due to sibling interbreeding. Each distinct gene set was based roughly on the genomes of various human-like beings that had preceded Adam and Eve, which had evolved through natural processes, but was distinct enough that it allowed for the brains of the offspring also to interact with a soul. One consequence of this modification was that it gave the F1 generation enough genetic diversity to appear as though they sprang up from a large pool of existing ancestors. It may also have been necessary that for a few generations following F1 that the individuals continued to have the variable germ cells to further protect the offspring from inbreeding defects.
That seems a good enough explanation to me, and I can't see why it wouldn't work.vjtorley
August 31, 2012
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Timaeus @34
"I don’t doubt that he personally envisioned a historical Adam and Eve, but to me his Adam/Christ parallel is pure midrashic interpretation, and the literal-minded “satisfaction” and “penal substitution” doctrines of Atonement which Rome and Geneva later built upon that interpretation were huge errors in Christian thought."
I think you're mistaken about Rome and Geneva - it was Rome, Constantinople, Wittenberg and Zurich as well as Geneva. The doctrine's found clearly in Gregory of Nyssa, John Chrysostom, Cyril of Alexandria etc - in other words, all branches of the catholic Church back to early times. A nice summary from the traditional Eastern Orthodox perspective here. We seem to be going through a phase of rewriting Church history rivalling 1984 nowadays, seemingly based on few people having any real idea of Church history to challenge stuff being made up. But regarding your words to JLAfan2001 I thoroughly endorse the fact that there is nothing being thrown at Christianity by either science or atheism now that is a serious challenge to it - and I say that, as you know, from a more conservative theological position than yourself. I haven't heard any significant new arguments that weren't being thrown at me 40 years ago at Cambridge - and most of them stand up less well now than they even did then.Jon Garvey
August 31, 2012
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JLAfan2001: If you aren't going to reply to my carefully-drafted post of last night -- perhaps you've absorbed everything from my posts that you can, and have nothing more to say in reply -- that's fine, but let me know. You're now the only reason I'm monitoring this thread, so if I'm of no further use to you, I won't be checking in on it again.Timaeus
August 31, 2012
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And taht same evidence can be used to support a common design and/ or convergence. What the tree of life scenario lacks is evidence that supports the differences observed can be accounted for via accumulations of genetic change.Joe
August 31, 2012
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