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

I totally agree. From Richard Dawkins we can learn two important things:

  • It is impossible to establish at which moment humanity begins exclusively by biological means.

  • “We should not live by Darwinian principles […] one of the reasons for learning about Darwinian evolution is as an object lesson in how not to set up our values and social lives.”

The conclusion of this two insights is that humanity begins at the moment humans become aware they should live respecting each other because they are in God’s Image. This is precisely what Genesis 9:6 tells us.

Albert, what you tell here is also confirmed by Augustine and Thomas Aquinas.

Aquinas writes in Summa Theologiae I, Question 48, Article 3, Reply to objection 3:

as Augustine says (Enchir. 11), "God is so powerful that He can even make good out of evil." Hence many good things would be taken away if God permitted no evil to exist; for fire would not be generated if air was not corrupted, nor would the life of a lion be preserved unless the ass were killed. Neither would avenging justice nor the patience of a sufferer be praised if there were no injustice .

Aquinas actually states here the same Richard Dawkins states: “one of the reasons for learning about Darwinian evolution is as an object lesson in how not to set up our values and social lives. […] We should not live according to Darwinian principles”.

As you rightly point out this means that humans should not behave according to the Biosphere principles of Darwinian evolution, but according to Noosphere principles deriving from the fact that we are in the Image of God.

Thus, at the end of the day Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Teilhard de Chardin, and Richard Dawkins are all stating the same, cast in different words!

“Augustine in Romans 5” and “Adam and Eve as the absolutely historical first sinners” are perfectly compatible with Evolution.

The most persistent obstacle to understand what the “state of original sin” is all about, is to think that all accountable Image Bearers must absolutely be genetically or genealogically descended from a single primeval couple.

Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Teilhard de Chardin, Richard Dawkins, you, me, and most people in BioLogos, we all share the same view regarding the state of “original sin”, that is, the state where humanity is today.

The difference is about whether or not the primeval accountable humans were created by God in a state of original righteousness.

@AntoineSuarez

You know, I used to share your thoughts (as quoted above) … especially about “most people in BioLogos”.

But there’s a quick acid test to see exactly what is going on their minds. It goes like this:

  1. Eastern Orthodox priests and bishops encourage infant baptism for lots of reasons.

  2. But for most members of the Eastern Orthodox communion, the reasons do not include cleansing or re-mediating the infant of Original Sin.

I find most BioLogos folks assume Original Sin is the baseline for everything and everyone, even when they personally confess that it is an allegorical issue (which is a fairly confusing stance).

In this context it may be interesting to discuss the importance Baptism seems to have in Jesus’ Great Commission:

Matthew 28: 19-20
19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.

Mark 16: 15-16
15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

That’s a very interesting topic. To illustrate the variety of beliefs out there, my father grew up in an Ultra-dispensationalist tradition (The Berean or Grace Movement) which believed that baptisms was abolished in the church age. He was never baptized, as a result–nor did their church baptize. It’s sort of based, I guess, on the idea that Paul developed a different dispensation (gospel) after Jesus and the other disciples (this has some relationship to the earlier thread on another thread) Simply Jesus or simply Paul?

I think they thought that Matt 28: 19-20 above was a later addition to the gospels, not by an inspired writer. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperdispensationalism

That’s quite a contrast to what I understand was Augustine’s position that we were conceived in sin from Rom 5:12 and allusions to Psalms (surely in sin my mother conceived me, etc), when he advocated for infant baptism to save them prior to dying from the very high infant mortality rate (about 50% before the age of 5 up through 1830).

And in case you’re wondering–yes, I was baptized, but not till age 33, when I joined a Baptist church (I couldn’t very well skip that part!)

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@AntoineSuarez

Nice quote. And I hope it did not escape your notice that the last part of verse Mark 16:16 is not a mirror image of the text just before!

The first part speaks to preaching, baptizing and believing. The second part confirms that those who do NOT believe will be condemned. It specifically avoids saying: ‘but whoever does not become baptized will be condemned’ !!

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Neat; I missed that. Thanks.

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Excellent George!
So the question arises:
Why does Jesus consider it important to add the term ‘is baptized’ in the first part?

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Being baptized is an aid to spiritual development… and it was legitimate for an assembly of God to require it. But it was not required for salvation.

From Jesus’ words in Mark 16: 15-16 I conclude:

  • Baptism is a necessary condition, but not a sufficient one for salvation.

  • Baptism and Belief together are sufficient condition to be saved.

  • Absence of Baptism is not sufficient to be condemned.

  • Absence of Belief is sufficient to be condemned.

From this it follows that Jesus establishes Baptism as the ordinary way to reach salvation. And this means as you say, that through Baptism Jesus give us his Grace, his aid to spiritual development. Through this growth in the life of Grace we become able to see Christ as he is, and thereby be like him (1 John 3:2), the authentic Image of God.

My point is now that when God created the first accountable Image Bearers (“Adam and Eve”), He endowed them with the same Grace or spiritual aid we receive through Baptism.

Just reflecting on my personal life, baptism is not something I did for God, but rather something God provided for my benefit. That is, I look back at baptism as a touchstone, a defining event symbolizing my decision to follow Christ, and that event is of comfort in times of doubt and trouble.

I might add that while my tradition does not include infant baptism, I can see that it would have a similar role in connecting ones self to their spiritual heritage.

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I think what you say is also the very meaning Jesus’ teaching conveys:

On the one hand, each human being is created by God in his Image, and this means capable of becoming like his Son Jesus Christ, “true image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15)

On the other hand, we carry in us selfish tendencies rooted in evolution, which can seduce, overwhelm, and lead us into pride, lust, and greed, bearing “times of doubt and trouble”. I think most people in this Blog agree to this.

With baptism we receive God’s help to master such propensities. Baptismal grace is like a seed that develops and transforms me into Christ himself provided I do not thwart this growth.

In my view, it is fitting to assume that “Adam and Eve” (the first accountable Image Bearers) were created by God in a state of grace comparable to that God provides with Baptism.

Happy New Year to all of you.

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@AntoineSuarez,

Ironically, Genesis 2 says nothing about Adam and his gal friend Eve being Image Bearers.

Genesis 1, however, refers to humanity in general as Image Bearers. Then we have to go to Genesis 9 before we get a clear reference to Image Bearing: all of Noah’s descendants are or will be Image Bearers (hence the taboo on murder).

So:

  1. If we see Genesis 1 as referring to an Evolved human population (as per Geneal.Adam scenarios);

  2. And that Adam & Eve were made to be like these humans, then we can accept that Adam & Eve are also image bearers.

  3. Interestingly, the murder taboo is not established by God until after the Flood. One might be tempted to imagine that Noah’s sons acquire Image Bearing by marrying into the lineage of the Genesis 1 “Pre-Adamite” humans!

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Therefore “Adam and Eve” were Image Bearers.

And according to Genesis 2 and 3 they were aware of what is good and what is bad, and therefore accountable.

To this discussion Genesis 5:1-3 is crucial.

Putting together Genesis 1:26-27; 2:15-17, 3, 5:1-3, 6:1-4, 9:5-6 we are led to the following account:

In a first moment God makes two things:

  • Defines humanity by declaring that he makes human-kind in his own image and his own likeness.

  • Gives to some human Image Bearers “knowledge of good and bad”, who thereby become accountable.

Thereafter, till the Flood, God creates new accountable Image Bearers in two ways:

  • As offspring of the primeval Image Bearers.

  • Directly, like he created the first accountable Image Bearer “Adam”: These are the “sons of God” in Genesis 6:2-4, who became accountable when marrying into the lineage of Adamite humans.

Nonetheless at the time of the Flood there are millions of Image Bearers who are NOT accountable all over the earth.

Genesis 9:5-6 is the moment when God completes the creation of humanity by making all Image Bearers accountable. Hence, the universal “taboo on murder”.

Two final points:

  • “Genetic or Genealogical Adam” is a strong symbol aiming to highlight the fraternity of all humans. Nonetheless in the light of Evolution we understand today that we are human because we are Image Bearers and share a body like the body of the Son of God, and NOT because we are genealogically descended from Adam&Eve. This is also the meaning of the “rainbow” in Genesis 9:13-16 (see a similar parable in the last Urbi et Orbi Address by Pope Francis).

  • It is fitting to assume that the first accountable Image Bearers (“Adam and Eve”) were created in a state of grace comparable to that we receive through baptism.

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Albert, I feel very much like you.

Me too I admire Dawkins’ mental abilities. He has helped me to understand what evolution is all about:

  • We cannot establish at which time humanity begins by biological means alone.

  • We should not live by Darwinian principles.

How can someone who acknowledges these principles deny the existence of God?

I think the reason for this denial is a misleading view of God that overlooks He is “one’s loving Creator”, as you very well say.

Dawkins rejects to be loved by God, and therefore is not ready to love God either.

He overlooks that this amounts to remain alone and without name forever, that is, to condemn oneself to be none.

Augustine’s position is often misunderstood. What he advocates is actually that we are conceived with tendencies to pride, lust and greed (“triple concupiscence”) and to overcome them we need the Grace of Jesus Christ. The ordinary way to get this Grace is through Baptism.

Augustine’s “concupiscence” is nothing other than what we call today selfish evolutionary mechanisms or Darwinian principles.

So it seems to me that Augustine’s position amounts to what most people in this blog endorse.

Notice that Augustine’s position does not mean that “we are conceived in sin” in the sense that “if infants die without baptism they go to hell”. It should rather be understood in the context of his confutation of Pelagianism: Augustine highlights that Christ’s Grace is necessary for salvation, humans cannot earn salvation by their efforts alone. And if Christ’s Grace means help to overcome selfish tendencies in us and develop a virtuous life, it seems fitting to give this help to infants as well, the same way as a mother gives her baby her breast milk.

I am glad to see that the Baptist church you joined takes Baptism seriously, following Jesus Commission:

Mark 16: 15-16
15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

And deciding to join this church and be baptized at the age of 33 you seem to take Baptism seriously as well :slightly_smiling_face:!

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I think the orthodox church would say that infant baptism has no affect on an infant’s selfish tendencies.

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I quote from this Orthodox Christian resource:

Why not wait for the baby to grow and believe in Christ and ask for baptism? If we were to follow this line of reasoning, we wouldn’t inoculate the baby against diphtheria until he grows up and asks for it! But we know better. Baptising infants before they know what is going on is an expression of God’s great love for us. It shows that God loves us and accepts us before we can ever know and love Him. It shows that we are wanted and loved by God from the very moment of our birth. Nothing shows the nature of God’s grace more than infant baptism. The Orthodox Church does not belittle personal faith in an adult who seeks baptism, but instead insists that the whole emphasis of baptism is not on what the baby does or the parents or the godparents, but on what God does. The fact that we are Christians is not due to any act on our part; it is due to the act of God in Christ through the Holy Spirit.

In accord with this, I think that Christian life means struggle to overcome selfish tendencies in us, according to Jesus’ Beatitudes in his teaching on the mount (Matthew 5-7).

God created the world by means of Darwinian selfish mechanisms under higher-level ecological regulation.

By contrast, God calls humanity to regulate Darwinian tendencies by living according to the Golden Rule. The Grace of God we receive in Baptism help us to achieve this provided we do not freely reject it.

So Richard Dawkins’ statement: “We should not live by Darwinian principles”, is mere Christianity after all!

And his other statement: “One of the reasons for learning about Darwinian evolution is as an object lesson in how not to set up our values and social lives”, in fact means that evolution is a new and strong proof of God’s existence.

@AntoineSuarez

If you can perceive the meta-message of this text… it is essentially saying:

Nothing encapsulates the love and optimism for the future better than baptizing an infant - - BECAUSE it does nothing for the child, other than puts the infant in the embrace of Christianity’s heart and soul.

At the very least, this serves as the anti-Augustinian sermon!

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“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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