A.Suarez's Treatment on a Pope's Formulation for Original Sin's Transmission!

The bible states that God created mankind in His image. We do not have additional information with the exception of the days of creation.

The distinction that you seem to miss is hearing and understanding God’s name, and this occurred with Adam and Eve and subsequently from them after they were evicted.

I cannot see anything biblical that would help you, with what seems to me, an attempt to put an evolutionary spin to the biblical account. Noah spoke to his populace regarding their wickedness and the catastrophe to come; again humans heard but did not believe.

And my question is:
What does the term ‘mankind’ in this biblical statement mean?

Thanks in advance for your answer.

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And I believe that human beings are radically different. I just don’t believe that the difference is anything magical, but something very much explainable. You want radically different? How about a completely different form of life altogether. Animals are biological organisms. We are not. Our bodies are biological organisms. But the human mind is something quite different – physical, but life in a different medium. It is the same basic self-organizing process called life. But for biological organisms, the medium in which this process occurs is biochemistry, just as the medium for the information coding of its means of inheritance is in the chemical composition of DNA molecules. The medium in which this self-organizing process occurs in the case of the human mind is language and that is also where the information coding for its means of inheritance is to be found. Adopting the terminology coined by Dawkins the human mind is an example of memetic life.

I do think a genetic definition of humanity has some philosophical issues connected with racism and eugenics, but this doesn’t automatically or necessarily lead to discrimination. I don’t see why you have to exclude the possibility of animals crossing the barrier to exclude this. And I see no connection with actual discrimination or with social Darwinism. Social Darwinism largely derives from failing to understand the whole process of evolution. Frankly, the connection you are making here, suggests a profound lack of respect for the rest of life on the planet which many people do not share.

With the way I draw the line, I get the best of both worlds – where human beings are BOTH the brethren of all living creatures on the earth because of our bodies, AND the children of God because of our minds – two different inheritances at the same time.

This characterization of the Bible is a gross exaggeration. The Bible only refers to man as "image of God 3 times and all of them in the book of Genesis.

It was Aristotle who called man by these terms and evolution has shown that Aristotle was correct – it just goes to show how much of a genius he really was. Biologically and in our bodies we have a common ancestry with the animals. And it is because of evolution that this way of speaking has become popular in modern times. It is the disrespect for the rest of life on this planet by the Abrahamic religions which has thankfully fallen into disfavor.

Yes. You have a problem with the other side of what I said: “if aliens came and stole some sperm and eggs and then raised up the test tube babies then would they be aliens or human? They would be aliens.” Are you only looking at the surface? What if a couple living alone in the wilderness found a alien infant who looks nothing like us but raised this child as their own – would the child be human? I say yes, because our humanity is not to be found in either our biology or our physical shape. It is in how we think and that comes from how we are raised and the memetic inheritance this imparts to us. And I would say that that those in end of movie called “A.I.” descended from our robots left behind long after have we have become extinct are also human, because they have inherited from our culture and thinking even if they don’t have our biological inheritance.

Oh I certainly think it is possible for there to be homo sapiens who are not the least bit human, like I just said above. I don’t think there are any on the planet at this time. I do think there were groups such as cannibals who did indeed lack a good portion of our humanity. So no I don’t think all it takes is a genetic similarity to make us human. But I also explained that for “most things it is the potential for humanity which has our regard and duty for care, generosity, and protection.”

Genesis 2:7 God formed the body of man from the stuff of the Earth and then provided the divine breath or inspiration to bring his mind into life. Body and mind – that is what this term ‘mankind’ in this Biblical statement means, NOT the biological species homo sapiens.

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Good day Antoine,

If I may jump in here, it is pleasant to see you and @GJDS honing in on the topic you have now reached. I was following earlier when Nikolai Propo posted about Teilhard de Chardin, and was curious to see you had not come into contact previously with Marshall McLuhan. Perhaps we could return to that at some point in case MM might have something valuable to offer here. My “position” on this topic appears generally closer to yours and @GJDS’ than it does to BioLogos’, at least as much as I understand it so far. Probably then it makes sense to connect with you here in this thread to see if it’s possible we might find common ground or shared meanings on this difficult theme.

That would be a unique, unrepeated event in human history then, as I understand you. Is it right? And it’s not a “strictly scientific”, or even purely physical question, but rather one relating to Scripture and theology first and foremost. And Protestant evangelical theology is not the only option, when both Roman Catholic and Orthodox theology are available. Are we on the same page about that also?

In either case, my “nice to meet you!” question to you has to do with both how far you are wanting to push the term “evolution” when it comes to theological anthropology, and at what point you are satisfied and ready to drop it as irrelevant. Would you say, for example, that the “imago Dei” itself “evolved” over time, or do you prefer to call that “certain moment” you speak about in the Tradition, when "these creatures did become ‘relevant human beings in the image of God’,” a “direct creative act”? Or is it a both/and, rather than an either/or?

“The distinction that you seem to miss is hearing and understanding God’s name, and this occurred with Adam and Eve and subsequently from them after they were evicted.” - GJDS

Would this refer to God calling people by name, including life as a “vocation” or “calling”?

What you wrote reminded me of the sheep analogy in Scripture. For example, Psalm 95:7, then in John: “My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me.” That does indeed offer a different look at the Garden of Eden story, than taking a strictly biological or naturalistic approach would, such as using an “evolutionary” view of human beings and arguing about speculative “big history”.

Here instead we have a more specific and testable “little history” dialogue (more personal like Jordan Peterson’s psychology of Genesis video series, than reading it as “secular literature”, with some community-orientation and Tradition that he hasn’t yet displayed - next step Exodus). Who is speaking in it (God and humans, or just gods and humans, and angels and…?) is of crucial significance for us, and seems to reach to the core of some of the issues raised in this thread. Glad to join in with you folks here.

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Hello mitchellmckain,

Just realized that I wrote above about MM referring to Marshall McLuhan, while you are also MM. Respectfully, I will call you by the handle you use to make sure there is no ambiguity.

Do you mean memetics or mimetic life? The first is different from “memes” as now commonly used. Are you familiar with the differences between them and the pre-Dawkins usage of “mimesis”?

“I see no connection with actual discrimination or with social Darwinism. Social Darwinism largely derives from failing to understand the whole process of evolution.”

Social Darwinism was an outgrowth of some ideas expressed by Darwin, as well as those by Spencer, Huxley, Galton, and others. Darwin wrote about morality and society also, though in a non-philosophical and non-sociological way. Social Darwinism derives from wanting to control, not “the whole process of evolution” because that would be impossible, but rather the reigns of power in human society. King or Queen of the hill, survival of the fittest, struggle for life, etc. The current form of social Darwinism being proposed today is a type of neo-eugenics that does indeed still use such conflict-oriented metaphors as Darwin, with a kind of Kropotkin gloss of “mutual aid” over them…

I must admit I agree with Antoine here:

“If you give up this barrier you are opening the door to any kind of discrimination, racism, and social Darwinism.” - AntoineSuarez

“because of evolution that this way of speaking has become popular in modern times. It is the disrespect for the rest of life on this planet by the Abrahamic religions which has thankfully fallen into disfavor.” - mitchellmckain

So, in short, you view Abrahamic religions as being “wrong” about “other animals” because of “evolution”, is that a correct way to interpret what you wrote? If so, that would appear to be a wish to eradicate historical Christian teachings, which doesn’t seem consistent with BioLogos’ mission. The many Jews, Christians, Muslims & Baha’is that I’ve met who deeply respect “the rest of life on this planet” would surely not agree with your claim of “disfavor”. Could you please clarify, as surely I must have misunderstood, and you’re not actually misanthropic or saying Gen 1:26 needs to be tossed out due to “dominion”?

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I definitely mean memetic not mimetic. This has nothing to do with mimesis which is about mimicry. I even made a reference directly to Dawkins who coined the term “meme” in analogy to the gene, for the transmission of ideas via human communication. Atheists have had a long tradition of coopting the ideas and terminology of Christian philosophers like Kierkegaard and Pierce to practically hijack these for their rhetoric. It is about time that a Christian did the same with the ideas of atheists.

Yes. Early days in both evolutionary theory and our understanding of the philosophical implications. For more explanation see here where I explained…

Not only will you find symbiotic relationships in the earliest of ecosystems but the cooperation implicit in multicellular organisms was a key step in evolution. Any close examination of the human body reveals that we are literally built of cooperative symbiotic relationships. There are also hints that eukaryotic cells evolved from prokaryotic in a similar way by symbiosis and cooperation. And when you go to prebiotic evolution I think the cooperation of different chemical cycles was a key part of the formation of life itself.

NOW consider the implications of this. The old social Darwinist idea about society’s protection of its weaker members being an obstacle to evolution is revealed to be pure nonsense. Evolution is not even driven by natural selection as they supposed, but by variation. And society’s protection of its weaker members increases variation. We don’t all have to be Daniel Boones surviving on our own in the wilderness. We now take thousands of different roles in cooperative efforts which enrich everyone’s life. Thus instead of halting evolution this has greatly accelerated it, which is pretty obvious to anyone looking at how fast things are changing in the world.

Which only means that you share some of his presumptions propping up that sort of logic. I have made it clear that I do see a radical difference between man and animals without any need to resort to divine magic. But at the same time I also accept the profoundly close relationship between man and animals as discovered by evolution.

It is one of the sad facts about the Abrahamic religions that it has a very poor record when it comes to taking care of the environment of the earth and having respect for nature. It truth, there is, of course, a foundation for dealing with the passages of scripture differently, seeing us a stewards over life on the Earth rather than merely exploiters of so much raw material. It is reason to see some divine providence in other religions for balancing that out. And yes, as you have pointed out, this is a way of thinking which has gained wide support in the members of Abrahamic religions also (after all I am included in that number).

No, of course not. Nor am I a humanist. I am a Christian. Thus I can see problems with both misanthropy and humanism. My highest values are love and life… which I see as essentially the purpose of God in creating the universe. I certainly do not support the humanist idea of mankind, for its own sake, as the highest value. And the problem with God as the highest value is that this effectively gets translated as religion uber alles and I think Isaiah chapter 1 is a good refutation of the idea that God would support any such thing.

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The short answer is that mankind is made in the image of God, and thus those made in the image of God are termed humanity.

The long answer would deal with the spirit of mankind, comprehending spiritual matters and responding (for good or bad) to knowledge of God, His name, meaning and salvation.

I should add that we come to a full comprehension of humanity, being according to God’s will in Jesus Christ. As Paul has stated, the spirit of man understands the things pertaining to mankind, and the Spirit of God the things of God, but those in Christ have the mind of Christ (much theology has been written on these matters). :smile:

I had in mind Adam and Eve communicating their time in the garden with God to others, and this communication eliciting a spiritual response from those outside of the garden. Cane and Able are a good example, where they both could approach God, but one responded with murder. I think these type of events occurred over a large area and culminated in Noah and the flood.

Welcome to the thread Gregory, and thanks for your thoughtful questions!

Yes, in my view, making human beings in the image of God is “a direct creative act” on the part of God always :

  • In the beginning, the first time God made Homo sapiens creatures to adult human beings in the image of God (“Adam and Eve”);

  • Thereafter, at the moment referred to in Genesis 9:3-6 when (according to me) God made all the millions of Homo sapiens creatures scattered through the planet to adult human beings in the image of God;

  • And in our days, anytime a new human being in the image of God comes into existence as an embryo.

This “direct creative act” has no physical observable consequences but is rather a spiritual endowment: God endows the human being with the capability of freely loving God, which also includes sense of law (knowledge of good and evil) and consciousness of being accountable for one’s own deeds.

This spiritual endowment is at the origin of the civilizations. This is why I say that Cuneiform writings containing contracts and registers are clear signs that “God’s creation of humans in the image of God” did already happen. And once this creation was completed (Genesis 9:3-6), then all people on earth, be they civilized or not, are in the image of God, children of God.

Consequently, the “imago Dei” itself did not “evolve” over time. Nonetheless nothing speaks against the following Assumption :

Between the creation of “Adam and Eve” and the moment at the end of Noah’s flood when God makes all the millions of Homo sapiens creatures in the image of God (Genesis 9:3-6), God made a number of Homo sapiens creatures dwelling “outside the Garden” to human beings in the image of God, who then got married and had children with those living “inside the Garden”.

This assumption is supported by the episode of the “sons of God” in Genesis 6:2-4.

Please let me know whether this address your queries or you wish further clarification.

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For the sake of completeness, one should also refer to these two quotes in the Old Testament:

  • Wisdom of Salomon 2:23

  • Sirach 17:3

Since these two books are considered canonical in a number of versions within Christianity.

As regarding the New Testament, one can say that all the writings are about the image of God at the end of the day, because:

  • Hebrews 1:3: His Son [Jesus Christ] is the radiance of his glory, the very image of his substance.

  • Colossians 1:15: who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.

But for me these have no more authority than popular movies or works of fiction like Dante’s inferno or the Da Vinci Code.

Those are about Jesus not mankind. Which underlines the Genesis claim that mankind was created in the image of God, not that he remains so. That would only be Adam and this recalls that Jesus is named the 2nd Adam.

Thus it remains an exaggeration to say that according to the Bible mankind is primarily “the image of God.” According to the Bible, man is primarily just a creation of God like all the other plants and animals. But part of why you make a big deal of this is that you attach such a different meaning to the words than I do. For you it seems to be all about human rights and a reason for treating people different from animals, while for me the “image of God” stuff is about purpose for which God created mankind, i.e. for an eternal relationship of parent and child.

Nevertheless, I do believe we ARE radically different from the animals AND we are closely related to them – it is both. As far as our bodies go, we ARE animals. And most of our abilities are shared by various animals. Only in the human mind are we radically different. But the life of the human mind is not so firmly established, and our status is likewise dubious. I certainly don’t believe in your divine magical transformations or endowments. It is our own choices which is our essence and not something inserted into us by God. Otherwise the problem of evil brings theism down and atheism would make more sense.

Another reason I am not buying into this rational that a God given difference from the animals is so essential for human morality is that atheists have no problem with morality without such a philosophical prop. In fact, many of them see all this as devaluing human beings and they reject god(s) and religion in order to uphold a greater morality.

This amounts to say that the writer of Genesis used the term ‘mankind’ to mean human beings looking like the human beings at the time of writing, that is, about 2500 years ago (500 BC).

Additionally, we are taught by evolutionary science that Homo sapiens reaches the full set of features we see in living people today at the end of the Pleistocene about 12,000 ago.

Finally, the Genesis narrative (Gen 6-9) supports the idea that man’s first civilization was completely wiped out in Noah’s flood.

From all this we are led to conclude that the beginning of “humanity” in the sense of “mankind in the image of God” has to be set between 12,000 BC and 3,300 BC (emergence of writing in Sumer).

The historical estimation of the Homo sapiens population for this time is 5-10 million.

So we can’t help asking whether or not all these creatures became in the image of God at the same time as “Adam and Eve”.

In summary, evolutionary science prompts us to ask new questions to Scripture, and so improve our understanding of Revelation. And the other way around, Genesis 9:3-6 help us to understand that the quality of “image of God” makes humans radically more valuable than animals (homicide is forbidden while humans are allowed to use animals for food), and explains why evolution worked to bring about a sharp anatomical difference between humans and animals, so that we can clearly distinguish which creature is human and which is not. After Genesis 9:3-6 humanity is called to “evolve” guided by morality and law, and “despise Darwinian natural selection as a motto for how we should live”.

For me it is wonderful to see how Genesis and evolution dovetail into one another!

Thanks for the kind welcome to your thread, Antoine. I will try to keep a pace like yours, and not engage in flybys.

Yes, you’ve addressed my queries with the three points. We are in general agreement about the need for a “direct creative act”, so that’s a great start.

In the beginning, the first time God made Homo sapiens creatures to adult human beings in the image of God (“Adam and Eve”)

To your first point, I guess this is a mixture of natural scientific and theological language, since you speak of both “homo sapiens” and “image of God” in the same sentence. Do I understand correctly that you are indeed presenting a mixture of science and theology, rather than a “strictly scientific” perspective about human origins?

Thereafter, at the moment referred to in Genesis 9:3-6 when (according to me) God made all the millions of Homo sapiens creatures scattered through the planet to adult human beings in the image of God

This is curious, but a bit difficult to process for me. It sounds like you require something like a quantum leap of “spiritual information” (“endowment”), e.g. the spreading of the Logos at a singular and unrepeatable moment in history, speaking about it in supra-empirical way. It sounds like “information scatter” of some kind you are suggestion.

And in our days, anytime a new human being in the image of God comes into existence as an embryo.

No argument or “strictly scientific” issue there.

“This spiritual endowment is at the origin of the civilizations.”

Yes, though not for the vast majority of tenured professors in evolutionary anthropology nowadays (Laland, Mesoudi, Dunbar, Barkow, Cosmides, Tooby, Diamond, Boyd, Richerson, Gabora, Henrich, et al.), particularly on the “physical anthropology” rather than “cultural anthropology” ends of the spectrum. They reject “spiritual” as “unreal” & so don’t include it in their “anthropological science”. Are you much familiar with this network of evolutionary anthropologists, Antoine?

Literally this morning I listened to the Faraday lecture by Dunbar – atheism/agnosticism via an “evolutionary explanation of religion”. All he could do was admit that “religious communities” throughout history have been and able to “bond” in more enduring, resilient, and larger groups than “secular communities”. https://www.faraday.cam.ac.uk/event/prof-robin-dunbar-religion-evolution-and-the-social-brain/

He ended the presentation by saying (as if a reluctant admission):

“There’s something odd about religions that work in a way that secular ideologies don’t. They have a very short life span. E.g. the Nazis had all the trappings of religion, but it didn’t last. … There’s something missing from them. … Whether God is a good thing or a bad thing, it works.” - Robin Dunbar (27-10-2020)

This is the question I asked, which didn’t make it to the host in the queue:

You said you view the first “religion” in human history as Shamanism (trance-based to doctrinal stages). A hypothetical history: What if the “first religion” was what we now call “Judaism” or indeed, “Adamism” (Adam & Eve’s religion), and not Shamanism? In other words, what if “religion” actually arose in history due to living in a concurrent relationship of humanity with the Divinity? In short, what if religion didn’t “evolve” into existence “from the outside” (e.g. pressures of bonding) at all like physical anthropology might suggest, but rather “arose” or “emerged” (as you said about “doctrinal religions”) from the internal cultural anthropological expression of belief & faith by families, churches, religious communities, etc. in a Creator God?

You suggest, Antoine, that “once this creation was completed (Genesis 9:3-6), then all people on earth, be they civilized or not, are in the image of God, children of God.”

While there is no direct physical evidence of this God-consciousness to gain from strictly natural sciences, it does appear to be a result of “revelation” that this “image of God” came to “exist”, after it previously was not, in the form of “Garden-era and post-Garden-era human beings”. Does that sound acceptable to you?

“Consequently, the ‘imago Dei’ itself did not ‘evolve’ over time.”

Pleased that we agree about this. Notably others who write about “the evolution of the soul” (e.g. Swinburne) would disagree, or at least with the version I am suggesting, which limits the concept of “evolution” more than they are ready to accept. Spiritual shrinkage is a real problem for evolutionary anthropology, as seen in Dunbar’s “strictly scientific” (read: naturalistic) approach to human origins.

It may need to be added to your statement for some, that this extends to the same case for origins as for processes. Iow, not just over time “after Creation”, but also “at/during Creation”, the “imago Dei” did not ‘evolve’ into existence in the first place – it was instead a “direct creative act”, an “extension” if you will. A major, still lingering problem in N. America, unfortunately, is that this language of speaking about a “direct creative act” has been highjacked by evangelical Protestants and is now called “creationism”. That needs to change. Is this what you are working on to help change?

“Between the creation of “Adam and Eve” and the moment at the end of Noah’s flood when God makes all the millions of Homo sapiens creatures in the image of God (Genesis 9:3-6), God made a number of Homo sapiens creatures dwelling “outside the Garden” to human beings in the image of God, who then got married and had children with those living “inside the Garden”.”

Yes, this assumption is still “live” on the table, afaik. In the Catholic tradition, the philosopher in Minnesota Ken Kemp has addressed this, as has Dennis Bonnette, as surely you are already aware.

“This assumption is supported by the episode of the “sons of God” in Genesis 6:2-4.”

Perhaps in part (re: assumption), though that passage imho does not assume polygenism. Can we confirm that between us? To some people, this passage makes it appear that there could have been multiple “origin stories” for humanity in different geographical locations. Pope Pius XII in 1950 specifically addressed “polygenesis” in the Encyclical Humani Generis as unacceptable teaching. The “episode of the 'sons of God” you speak of thus is a monogenesis Abrahamic account of human beings, is it not? Thanks for any attempt at clarification.

“I had in mind Adam and Eve communicating their time in the garden with God to others, and this communication eliciting a spiritual response from those outside of the garden.”

Thanks, this is welcome. It sounds to me just like McLuhan’s “extensions of mankind”. McLuhan was one of the main founders of modern communications studies, after all. :face_with_monocle: Also symbolic of “homo respondens” to Creator God.

“I definitely mean memetic not mimetic.”

Then I believe you are sincerely mistaken. It can be overcome. It’s particularly easy for natural scientists, but not social scientists, to be seduced by “memetics” as a simplistic sounding trap. Can I ask: have you put your thoughts on paper after conducting focused research about “memetics” and submitted them to peer review, or just to blogs & forums without any assessment than your own?

I ask because I’ve published 2 papers directly about this, one peer reviewed, one not. When speaking with serious scholars and scientists who are not “new atheists” or simply confused philosophers, every single woman and man I have spoken with “gets” the naive futility of “memetics” once they “drill down a little deeper” than the average person who has never set foot in a “cultural studies” classroom.

An alternative viewpoint, if you’ll allow it, is that “memetics” presents itself as a culturally appropriating ideology that came with Dawkins & went with the collapse of the flagship journal in 2005. It died as a philosophically reductionistic view of culture to rhyme with “gene” as a ideological support for Dawkins’ materialistic worldview. “Memetics” generated next to no valuable new insights while it was “given a try”, even with sincere & rousing efforts, and thus imho is not worth trying to revive now.

I do not see why there is any need to treat “culture” as if it were only “material” as Dawkins did, with such a low-level “cultural” understanding in philosophy & “worldview studies”. His “memetics” has stopped many people from rather expanding their approach to also include the “symbolic” world, and thus meaning, purpose and value on an informational basis, which are absent in Dawkins’ “memetics-materialist” worldview. Please excuse the boldness, it is just my topic-focused academic view gathered over several years, that both crude Darwinism and also truncated mimetics (i.e. materialistic, reductionistic) are not fit for the current “demands of the day”.

Abrahamic theists who are not trained in the social sciences and humanities, and yet who are sincerely interested in the study of “cultural change” and “human development” need not go to atheists like Dawkins to construct their “worldview” for them, using the concepts they choose to set the communicative atmosphere. Why not seek instead to find the Divine Logoi?

Then again, it might be, mitchellmckain, that you are quite a lot more educated than me in the human-social sciences, which are already long involved, deeply and widely on this topic. We’ve just met, after all, so I don’t know your expertise. Are you trained formally in the study of cultural change, or an amateur trained informally, e.g. by a search engine? It can make a considerable difference in communication between these realities, right?

It sounds like you have a rather “low” view of Scripture. Would that be accurate to say? Again I side with Antoine, and also GJDS on this. Scripture as I see / experience it holds a much higher authority than your secular (film & novel) preferences, which do not impress me.

Do you compare yourself to Kierkegaard & C.S. Peirce [sic] to “coopt memetics”? If so, could I ask what is your in background that suggests it was in the works all along for many years that you might (even try to actually) do this? Thanks & good day.

I am not interested in lame arguments from authority. Just goes to show how soft is the so called science which gives such a swagger to your self-important waddle. I haven’t had much to do with that sector of academia and your spiel only makes me thankful that I did not. I will stick with sciences that have actual evidence to back them up. I wonder if you have any objection of substance to this “meme” terminology, or all this authoritarian twaddle is fueled by nothing more than overblown hatred for the person of Dawkins, who has written a few good books despite his more amateurish and ideology burdened publications.

I have spoken against the absurd reductionism of Dawkins in “The Selfish Gene.” But his error does not detract from value of the usefulness of word “gene” and the evidence rich science of genetics any more than it detracts from the usefulness of the word “meme.” Serious and honest scholars do not treat atheism like some kind of contaminating disease. That is more the speed of medieval superstition such as may be found in creationist institutions.

I am a physicist, but we are now well enough acquainted for me to conclude I have no interest in anything you have to say on the topic of cultural exchange. Your pompous rhetoric has convinced me that you have nothing of value to contribute to an honest inquiry into anything related to the topic of this thread, which after all, is theology NOT sociology OR cultural exchange.

I don’t believe in forbidden comparisons. All things are comparable. It is a question of what are the similarities and what are the differences. Though in this case I was making a comparison with the atheists who adopted the terminology of Pierce and Kierkegaard. The least you could do in your snot nosed mocking is at least get it right! That is a comparison with Nietzsche, Sartre, William James and Dewey. AND yes I think it is good for people to learn from the examples of all other people – in this case, that instead of treating philosophical opponents as some sort of source of mystical contamination to pick of the threads of their thinking and show how that can be redirected more productively.

I have rather high view of literature and other media. Rather than pretending to some sort of monopoly on God’s inspiration in some exclusive set of documents, I see God’s inspiration raining down upon us in a torrential rain. Scripture is just what the consensus of a particular religion has decided has authority for the beliefs of that religion and those particular documents in question have been rejected for this purpose.

I have always thought that Dawkins’ use of the word, 'meme’, was an unfortunate choice, since it was easy to associate it with ‘mimicry’. Many birds are capable of excellent mimicry but still lack the thought processes and communication skills that qualify them for existence in what Teilhard called the Noosphere–the sphere that followed the Biosphere–the sphere that only we humans occupy. Thus I prefer to use the term, Noogene to indicate that Ideas as well as the DNA evolve. but of course it has not supplanted Dawkins’ meme.

I agree 100% with Teilhard, as well as @mitchellmckain, in a worldview in which the history of the Universe is condensed as: BigBang->Cosmosphere->Biosphere->Noosphere–a sequence which strongly suggests overall Purpose–not just random chance. It remained for Jesus to teach us that God was the foundation of all life and love and that we should call Him: Father.
Al Leo

I am reminded of Thomas Kuhn’s redirection and popularization of the term “paradigm” in his book “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.” This is a book and set of ideas which I have criticized greatly for fueling an unjustified distrust of the work of science. His argument is wrong when it comes to the hard sciences, for in all the so called “revolutions” taken from the hard sciences, the first test of any new theory is agreement with the old theory in the regimes where it is known to be accurate. Furthermore, no revolution can erase any of the accumulated evidence, it can only extend the range of evidence to a wider range of the parameters (or to greater precision).

The point I am making here is that however much I may have contempt for this particular work of Kuhn, it doesn’t mean that I am going to jump on and ridicule anyone using the term “paradigm” in the same way. It remains a useful term and idea even if I disagree with Kuhn’s liberal application of the idea to all of science. After all, it remains a rather accurate description of the softer sciences, which does indeed seem to blow every which way with newest popular paradigm.

I don’t see any need for that either and find it bizarre to think that even Dawkins was suggesting such a thing. I am well aware that his purpose was one of ridicule, comparing religion to that of a virus in support of a rather common accusation made by many atheists (including Mao Tse-Tung) that religion is a disease. But Dawkins’ comparison is clearly pointing to commonality between gene and meme in regards to the transmission of information.

Ah…! Yes there is definitely a faction in the philosophical community which argues there is no such thing as meaning. This is an idea which I immediately dismissed as meaningless long before I became a Christian. But I can see how this faction would use Dawkin’s terminology. It is not how I use it, obviously. But I can see how that might put you off this terminology.

Communication and competition of ideas in the world forum is a reason why. If all you are interested in is your own community’s fortification of justifications for their own dogma, then that is another matter.

Hi Gregory,

It has been many years since I read McLuhan and if memory serves, his concern was on technology extending our senses with a bit on how we may be manipulated with technologically advances media (correct me if I do not remember all of it).

I think language and symbol are important to understanding ourselves, and thus we consider our material/biological makeup, and also our cognitive attributes. So while I do not mind what some atheists have to say on these matters, I reject those who are anti-theists and instead I take interest in atheists who profess an absence of belief in a god.

My point is directed at linking a basic understanding of spiritual matters with the image divine. This means that when someone first hears about God from a believer, his response has a spiritual component - but with sin, that response is in error (as Paul points out). I think if we follow this line of reasoning we soon see that Darwinian/Dawkin outlooks become irrelevant to the subject of these discussions.

Hello GJDS,

Glad to connect with you again here!

“if memory serves, his concern was on technology extending our senses with a bit on how we may be manipulated with technologically advances media (correct me if I do not remember all of it)”

Yes, “media” understood in a broad sense. Here’s a taste from McLuhan, also meant to introduce Antoine. Note these are focused predominantly on his “extension” thinking:

“Media are means of extending and enlarging our organic sense lives into our environment.” (1961)

My main theme is the extension of the nervous system in the electric age, and thus, the complete break with five thousand years of mechanical technology. This I state over and over again. I do not say whether it is a good or bad thing. To do so would be meaningless and arrogant.” (Letter to Robert Fulford, 1964)

“There is little possibility of answering such questions about the extensions of man without considering them all together. Any extension, whether of skin, hand, or foot, affects the whole psychic and social complex.”(1964)

“Myth is the instant vision of a complex process that ordinarily extends over a long period. Myth is contraction or implosion of any process, and the instant speed of electricity confers the mythic dimension of ordinary industrial and social action today.” (1964)

“The use of any kind of medium or extension of man alters the patterns of interdependence among people, as it alters the ratio among our senses.” (1964)

“That which had been the first great extension of our central nervous system—the mass media of the spoken word—was soon wedded to the second great extension of the central nervous system—electric technology.” (1964)

The book Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (1964) lays it all out across a range of “media”.

“All of man’s artefacts – whether language, or laws, or ideas and hypotheses, or tool, or clothing, or computers – are extensions of the physical human body or the mind. Man the tool-making animal has long been engaged in extending one or another of his [sic] sense organs in such a manner as to disturb all of his [sic] other senses and faculties.” (1988, posthum)

“All of our technologies extend our innate abilities to act, perceive, think, and remember. Since this is all we can do, this is what we ask technology to help us with. In brief, we make all our technologies in our image. They imitate us.” … “Any particular technology imitates the structure of the mode of action, perception, thought, or memory that it extends.” - Marshall’s son Eric McLuhan ( The Human Equation, 2010)

Frankly, I’ve moved away from McLuhan’s work on & off the last couple of years. His work lacked an overall “system” or “covering theory”, aside from his Catholic faith. His “explorations” and “probes” about media are nevertheless still as resonant today as they were 35-75 years ago, at least as I read them.

“I reject those who are anti-theists and instead I take interest in atheists who profess an absence of belief in a god.”

That makes sense. I have also found those “atheists” who are actually curious, rather than just wanting an argument about “religion” to be more engaging and interesting in discussion. Sincerity in why one is engaging in discussion itself goes a long way, and helps a lot when sifting through the rubbish in creationism, evolutionism, & IDism along the way. A lot of grace and mercy needed in the conversation where people almost take pride in getting their feelings hurt by intellectual ideas about natural and human history.

“linking a basic understanding of spiritual matters with the image divine.”

Seems like a valid point for you to make.

"when someone first hears about God from a believer, his response has a spiritual component … we soon see that Darwinian/Dawkin outlooks become irrelevant to the subject of these discussions.”

Yes, this is where, for me at least, McLuhan’s language of the 21st century, of the electronic-information era, of media, culture and technology, is far more effective and on-point than the language of biology and geology that centres on “evolution.” It “resonates” with people because they live it, instead of just trying to “theorize” about it, like much of “evolutionary psychology” tries to do.

As you may know, when I discovered “extension” thinking, it was through McLuhan, not through Dawkins’ “long reach of the gene”, which he called “the extended phenotype” and his most important scientific work. The “extended phenotype” is more important than “memetics” because it is based on Dawkins’ knowledge and experienxes of/in natural science, not just a fantasy throwaway conceptualization in a foreign field. McLuhan (1911-1980) enabled a return to the deeper historical understanding of “extension” (his dissertation reading at Cambridge was amazing!), not just as Descartes philosophized it (res extensa vs. res cogitans) in the “modern era”, but in a way that could (and still can) be practically understandable to anyone and everyone … in the (“postmodern”) electronic-information era. I do hope more people can return to McLuhan’s fascinating corpus, perhaps through the field of “media ecology” for those toeing the greener line of social philosophy and praxis around the world these days.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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