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

Sorry but I doubt it so the “undoubtedly” is far from assured. And you said earlier that the Nephilim weren’t important. You were going on the sons of God aspect. This little section of Genesis suffers from a wide range of interpretation. For something as important as a special act of creation I would expect to find a little better support.

And yet Cain clearly knew that homicide was wrong as he was afraid of the consequences.

You want to use some of the evidence of history to support your theory but you have never addressed the full extent of what history tells us. Modern humans have been around for at least 50,000 years. The behaviors exhibited by these modern humans are no different from what we see today. They believed in an after life. They believed in a greater power. They had a sense of law. They built temples. They had all the earmarks of having been created in God’s image. Why do you feel the need to build a story for a second special creation?

Genesis 6:2-8 should be considered the end of the section beginning with Genesis 5:1 [Wenham, G.J. p. 164]. In the light of Genesis 5 it is plain that your interpretation regarding “sons of God” is not appropriate, but regarding “daughters of men” is very fitting:

Regarding “sons of God”:

If the author of Genesis 6:2 had wanted to refer to Adam’s line, he would have used the term “sons of Lamech” (Genesis 5:30). The term “sons of God” (Genesis 6:2) means fathered by God (generated by God’s will), in the same way as the term “sons and daughters” of Seth, Enosh,…Methuselah, Lamech (Genesis 5:7,10,26,30) means fathered by Seth, Enosh…Methuselah, Lamech (generated by Seth’s, Enosh’s…Methuselah’s, Lamech’s will).

On the other hand the same term “sons of God” is used in other pericopes of the Old Testament for the angelic court surrounding Yahweh (Ps 29:1; 89:7; Job 38:7), and 2 times in the book of Job it is even used for the fallen angel Satan (Job 1:6 and 2:1).

From this it follows that the term “sons of God” in the Old Testament has to be interpreted in the sense of personal beings created by God independently of any creature’s decision, and in this sense it is apt to describe angels (holy and fallen ones), Adam, and the human “sons of God” referred to in Genesis 6:2,4.

Notice that my claim about “clear confirmation” refers to Luke 3:23-38, which was written in Greek. Luke is using Genesis 5 to trace Jesus’ genealogy back to Adam, and he calls Adam “son of God” clearly in the sense of “fathered by God”. By contrast, names different from Adam in Luke 3:23-38 are called “son of someone”: “son of David”, “son of Abraham”, son of Noah” etc. This confirms that the term “son of God” applied to humans means human persons who are fathered by God independently of any creature’s decision and therefore cannot be called son of another human person.

Regarding “daughters of men”:

By using this term the author of Genesis seems to highlight that the population living around Noah did not consist only of people descended from Adam, as you very well suggest. This may mean that at the time when God created Adam, He also created other human persons the same way, that is, by endowing Homo sapiens creatures with free will. All these primeval persons are referred to in Genesis 5:1 and, like Adam, they could also be called “sons of God” and subsumed in Luke 3:38. Accordingly, “daughters of men” refers to women descended from these primeval persons (Adam and others), and their marriages with the “sons of God” (Genesis 6:2) ratify that these characters were human beings.

In conclusion also your interpretation confirms that the “sons of God” in Genesis 6:2-4 were humans created by God the same way as Adam was created, that is, through endowing Homo sapiens creatures with free-will. Accordingly this endowment was still happening at the age of the Flood.

That was not my interpretation.

I fully agree to what you say.

If we share the two principles you highlight, then the disagreement is mainly a question of the “timing”: I propose about 3,500 BC (when we find evidence for writing and sense of law) and you propose the GLF “about 40K yrs ago”.

So in any case it seems we agree also in the following:

It is certain that humans received from God the gift of "conscience & free will” and “the original state of grace or righteousness” not later than 3,500 BC.

Now you claim that this occurred before for a number of reasons. So it would be very valuable for our search to discuss your arguments more in detail.

Another important question you indirectly raise is what may be the meaning in God’s plan of:

I think it may be also useful to discuss this issue in coming postings.

You are right. I formulate my claim more accurately:

Your interpretation regarding the “sons of God” in Genesis 6:2-4 cannot be considered appropriate in the light of Genesis 5 and other pericopes of the Old Testament (Ps 29:1; 89:7; Job 1:6, 2:1,38:7).

By contrast your interpretation regarding the “daughters of men” is fitting and supports my interpretation that the “sons of God" referred to in Genesis 6:2-4 were humans created by God the same way as Adam was created, that is, through endowing Homo sapiens creatures with free-will.

What I said earlier is this:

By this I mean that to unravel this pericope we have primarily to understand what the term “sons of God” means. But when this is done then the “Nephilim” become also highly relevant because of the parenthetical remark “and also afterward” in Genesis 6:4: This remark implies that also after the Flood there were “sons of Gods”, that is, humans created in the image of God as Adam was created.


Nonetheless I am showing that in the light of evolution, the Old Testament (Genesis 5, Ps 29:1; 89:7; Job 1:6, 2:1,38:7) and the New Testament (Luke 3:38) the correct interpretation is that referred to above (human beings created in the image of God the same way Adam was created).

Genesis 1-11 is a good demonstration of 1 Kings 19:11-13: God often conveys his messages in “gentle whispers”, and we risk missing them if we believe they have to be accompanied by storms, earthquakes and fires (see Silence and Evolution by @jstump). And the amazing thing is that some of His messages in Scripture we can decipher only today thank interpretation keys we get through science: Genesis 6:2-4 is paramount. But in my view another example is Melchizedek as a non-adamic human person (this may also be of interest for @Swamidass, @Socratic.Fanatic @Jon_Garvey @Christy).

Cain was taught by God tat killing Abel would be wrong and a big sin (Genesis 4:7). However after Cain sinned God curses him with the words: “Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground” (Genesis 4:11), and not with the words: “from each human being, I will demand an accounting for the life of another human being” (Genesis 9:5).

In this sense Genesis 9:3-17 proclaims that the creation of humanity (creation of humans in the way Adam was created) was achieved.

Different claims by Christy in another thread (already closed) are highly relevant also for this thread and it may be useful to compare them to the principles that have been highlighted here in preceding postings:

Quote by Christy:
I understand spiritual monogenesis to mean that one human pair was initially given immortal souls that were corrupted by sin and this spiritual corruption was inherited by all their offspring.

I find this statement quite fitting. Nonetheless I think one should also explain which was the fate of the other (presumably hundreds of thousands or millions of) “humans pairs” (Homo sapiens creatures) that were not given immortal souls and lived at the same time as those who “initially” were endowed with “immortal souls”. When were they given immortal souls?

Quote by Christy:
Many people link spiritual inheritance with biological ancestry. Some traditional teachings on original sin and the fall do require this belief.

As we have seen the core of the teaching of St. Paul, Church Fathers like St. Augustine and theologians like St. Anselm and St. Thomas Aquinas are the following three principles:

  1. To reach Salvation humans require Redemption by Jesus Christ.
  2. Moral evil can never be caused by God.
  3. Everyone is free NOT to sin.

These are also the key principles of the Catholic papal Magisterium and the Council of Trent. It seems to me that they are the basic principles endorsed by BioLogos, What we believe as well.

It is true that certain formulations of St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas seem to link “inheritance of the primeval spiritual corruption of souls” with biological ancestry, but this is not essential to their teaching. As Pius XII declares in the encyclical Humani generis such a link should be maintained only if otherwise one could not explain the universal need of Redemption. In other words what is crucial and unquestionable is that all humans are in need of Redemption.

Quote by Christy:
Other traditions, including my own, teach that although “the fall” (human sin and rebellion entering the world and corrupting relationship with God) was a real historical event in redemption history, humans do not inherit Adam’s guilt. Rather they are born into sinful human community and identity (they have a “sinful nature,” a human propensity to sin and disobedience), but all humans by their own free choice sin against God and are held accountable for their personal rebellion.

I fully agree to the first part of this quotation:
“the fall” (human sin and rebellion entering the world and corrupting relationship with God) was a real historical event in redemption history.

However the second part requires careful analysis:

If by “humans do not inherit Adam’s guilt” one means that humans cannot be personally held accountable for Adam’s rebellion against God the same way as Adam was, then I fully agree, and as far as I know all Christians traditions agree in that: Suppose that after sinning Adam had died without atonement; according to Christian faith he would have been condemned to hell. By contrast Christian traditions professing that infants are conceived in state of original sin have NEVER professed that infants deserve eternal damnation if they die without Baptism.

Similarly I fully agree to the claim:
“Rather they are born into sinful human community and identity (they have a “sinful nature,” a human propensity to sin and disobedience)”.

By contrast I am less enthusiastic about the last claim:
all humans by their own free choice sin against God and are held accountable for their personal rebellion.

The reason is that here is assumed that:
Humans are NOT free NOT to sin: Either everyone is predetermined to personally sin, or sin propagates from sinners to innocents necessarily like sort of spiritual contagion.

And this is contradiction to Principle 3 above.

So, if we want to keep to this Principle 3, then we can’t help accepting that the first sin in human history is the reason why humans have a “sinful nature,” and “a human propensity to sin and disobedience”. And this is the core of the traditional teaching about “the state of original sin”. By the way, the first sin of humanity was not necessarily identical to the sin of the first human pair endowed with immortal soul.

Now how can “the spiritual inheritance” of the corruption caused by the first sin become transmitted to the “immortal souls” of humans of all times?

Well, after “the fall” God was faced with a choice between these two alternative worlds:

  • Send those who sin immediately “into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41), so that only righteous people remain on earth.

  • Let the sinners in this world to move them to atone, and then organize things so that all people on earth (the sinners and the righteous) share “a human propensity to sin and disobedience”, that is, have immortal souls that are not endowed with the original grace the primeval human souls initially had.

Apparently God chose the second possibility and according to Romans 11:32: “bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.” These words define very accurately what transmission of original sin means: It is a consequence of the first sin wanted by God in His mercy in order to make Salvation possible for all. In this sense it is important to stress that the real cause of the “propensity to sin and disobedience” humans are born with, is the first sin of humanity and not God.

I think humans are free to not sin. But I also think all humans, in their freedom, will choose sin because of their sinful nature. And I agree sin is a human responsibility not something we can pin on the way God created us. But I don’t think we can pin it on Adam and Eve’s failure either. We each bear full responsibility and guilt for our personal abuse of our freedom and failure to be faithful images of God.

I feel that your explanation leaves out the fact that in some real way, we are all Adam and Eve. Had Adam and Eve never sinned and we had been born free from any inherited or communally contracted sinful nature, each human individual would still make the same choice they did. (It took God incarnate to show humanity how to live justly under God’s rule.) I think that this is the all-important fact is what we are to take away from Genesis 2, and it is why I’m not overly concerned about whether or not Adam and Eve are historical people or mythological people or how everyone got immortal souls. I think their role in Scripture, whatever their historical status, is to provide an archetype and teach a truth about how all people respond to God’s rule and authority.


Thanks Christy: You address a very interesting question, which could be expanded as follows:

Suppose that Adam and Eve, and also their children had never sinned.
Then Adam and Eve’s grandchildren would have been born free from any inherited or communally contracted sinful nature.
Suppose one of these grandchildren sinned so that he was the first sinner of human history.
What would have happened?

According to my explanation this “grandchildren’s” sin would have provoked that the state of “sinful nature” enters into the world and becomes transmitted to all the subsequent generations in the way described in Romans 11:32. And this means precisely that when we sin “in some real way, we are all Adam and Eve”, because if our sin had been the first sin in the history of humanity it would have had the same worse consequences the sin of Adam and Eve had.

Had generations of humans with immortal souls passed before the arrival of the first sin, God would also have incarnated “to show humanity how to live justly under God’s rule”.

I fully agree to your claim: God cannot be the cause of the “propensity to sin and disobedience”. This propensity entered the world through the first sin in human history, which may have arrived generations after “one human pair was initially given immortal souls” (in Christy’s wording).

Since these primeval humans were created by God through endowing evolved Homo sapiens creatures with immortal souls, they shared the selfish evolutionary mechanisms. Accordingly God endowed these primeval humans with “original grace” to make them capable (as you very well state):

However one could still ask why God created the world through this kind of selfish evolution “at the cost of great pain and suffering”.

Certainly creatures without immortal soul are not capable of sinning and therefore the “pain and suffering” pervasive in evolution cannot be considered a moral evil. Nonetheless it originates from God after all. So what is it good for?

Jim Stump advances very good reasons in this thread.

Additionally, I find illuminating the following quotation by Richard Dawkins:
“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.”

This means: One reason because God created the world through “selfish evolution” is that we “learn” by contrast “not to set up our values…by Darwinian principles” but according to moral rules and law.

Accordingly, God is not accountable for Auschwitz but the humans who freely caused such a great pain and suffering.

OK. But a friend of mine recently objected:

In case of a child with cancer the evil cannot be explained by saying it is caused because humans freely decide to do something wrong.

That is true. Cancer is a consequence of the mechanism of evolution. Consequently my friend’s objection amounts to say that:

If God exists He should not allow innocent people to suffer.

We are faced here with the theodicy question or “the problem of pain” after all:

Either God doesn’t exist or suffering has a meaning we don’t fully understand.

The conversation with my friend continued as follows:

Then try you yourself to heal this pain as you want God should do.

My friend:
I am not capable of that.

So you acknowledge that you cannot be like God. By permitting pain God is helping us to acknowledge we are not almighty, that is, He help us to avoid falling into temptation to want to be like Him without loving him. Such a help is actually a good thing for us on the part of God.

If we acknowledge that God is almighty and we not, we will be moved to ask God for help. Undoubtedly we should make our best to increase scientific knowledge and find means to overcome pain. But at the same time we should realize that we are and remain always limited beings, and thus never underestimate the “power of prayer”.

In summary, God used “natural evil” as an ingredient to create the world to move us to atone and long for Him in case we sinned. However He endowed the primeval humans with “enough (original) grace” so that He could not be blamed for having induced them to sin.

I agree to your view that “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” refers to the universality of God’s Law. The “clear commandment by God” in Genesis 2:17 (“you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil”) pronounced by God at the beginning of the history of humanity, “resembles in his form the ten commandments” promulgated by God in Mount Sinai [Wenham, G.J. Word Biblical Commentary I, Genesis 1-15, Word books: Texas, 1987, p. 67].

On the other hand, it is interesting to note that Jesus Christ himself refers to the Creation of humankind only once. The episode is reported in Matthew 19:3-9 and Mark 10:1-12. Jesus here interprets Genesis 2:24, which is the last verse of Genesis 2, immediately before the report of the Fall in Genesis 3:1-6. Jesus states unambiguously that Genesis 2:24 means the explicit proscription of divorce by God at the very beginning of Creation.

This suggests a possible relationship between the prohibition of divorce in Genesis 2:24 and the other prohibition formulated before in Genesis 2:17 regarding the eating from “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil”: The “tree of knowledge” (Genesis 2:17) is a symbol for God’s universal moral law. The ‘one flesh’ word (Genesis 2:24) formulates explicitly a particular content of this law: God’s prohibition of divorce to the first human persons.

The proscription of divorce would be baffling if it had been spoken to a single couple, but it is quite meaningful and clear if it was addressed to several couples, which formed the group of the first modern humans endowed with immortal soul and capable of moral responsibility.

I would have to disagree with you on this - the fruits (outcomes) of this tree result in death to those who partake of it. The fruits from the tree of life is life with God. The Law commands us to obey God, and thus the Law and the intent, are for the tree of life - in choosing the fruit that results in death, Adam and Eve broke the Law which means choosing contrary to God’s will.

The implications of this have provided lengthy theological discussions and I do not have the time to discuss these (they can be found by anyone eg Irenaeus, Gregory, and so on). My point is as follows:

  1. Adam and Eve were particularly created and chosen by God.
  2. They were free from sin, and were placed in a particular and separate place, the garden, where they communed with God (a sacred place, separate from the world). This separation from the world, as it was then, is clear. The world was not a sacred place, and is simply the created.
  3. They chose to sin, and were prevented from obtaining the fruit of life, and instead, were placed outside of the garden, and lived in the world as we know it.
  4. Because the Law is universal (its impact is on all of the creation)l, their sin defined sinful human nature, which is the human nature all humanity has inherited since then.

I will not add time lines and other trivia to this, nor seek some evolutionary overlay to make evolutionists think they have scriptural relevance. All of the points above are consistent with recorded history, and once people understand the genealogical outlook, we will not find any tension with science.

I understand your point regarding divorce, and also the inference from Genesis of other human beings - the latter is not central to the message of Genesis.

All right. But what about “the former” (the point regarding divorce)? It seems you implicitly accept that it is central to the message of Genesis.
Thanks for clarifying.

If I understand your point, it means that for a couple to divorce, there would be some other male or female that would take the place of a divorcee. Am I correct on this?


On the one hand Jesus Christ himself (Matthew 19:3-9; Mark 10:1-12) interprets Genesis 2:24 in the sense that marriage unity and proscription of divorce is central to the message of Genesis.

On the other hand such a proscription makes sense only if there had been “some other male or female that would take the place of a divorcee.”

Nonetheless one should also address the following question:

Had Adam and Eve never sinned, what would have happened to their offspring?

In my view the answer is key to better understanding as well the state when they were “free from sin” and “communed with God”, as the state after sin when they “were placed outside of the garden”.

You comment, if I understand correctly, would require a discussion of freedom, predestination and theodicy (why has God allowed sin and evil). I am interested in these theological matters and would welcome a serious discussion - however if your interest is confined to matters solely on Adam and Eve, I am uncertain on how to answer such a hypothetical.

Yes, you understand correctly. I think a serious discussion as you propose can be useful and would like to know your thoughts on this point.

I suggest that we discuss these matters in sequence. I will commence with a few remarks on how I understand revelation and science, to show these are differentiated. I would prefer that you respond on these points, and/or then you choose the next topic (eg freedom, law, or any relevant topic) and in this way we can work through this methodically. This post is lengthy, and hopefully your response would enable me to come back with a more focussed and shorter response.

To begin, we have knowledge of God because He has chosen to reveal Himself. The importance of Adam and Eve would commence with this point – God was fully revealed and they freely communed with Him. Yet we are now discussing this as sinners, and sin has separated us from God. Thus we cannot reason that revelation may be within a range of phenomena that are human potentialities or of the human senses. We can also ruled out objective-based activities such as found in the natural sciences. Revelation cannot be defined in a way that philosophy or science may argue and consider within the ideas of reason. In making negative statements about the capabilities of human beings I need to show that my arguments are reasonable. My argument must assume reason would sustain the goodness of life and the continuation of life. It is possible for a person to consider the possibility of good in life, and this is usually through experience (à posteriori).

Revelation requires a respond, to reason, and to consider the revelation within the (context of) life. The meaning of God, which includes that of love and concern for all humanity, is provided by revelation and needs to be completely comprehensible. Since I understand all human life and reason to be within the freedom of birth, freedom of life, and freedom of thought (intent), revelation is also understood within freedom. The unreasonable part of the human condition is lack of freedom that finds its ultimate unreasonable condition in death. This argument may be developed into a major premise that equates revelation of the meaning of God with a meaning of, and within, self-awareness-life. Briefly, such meaning is the goodness that God provides to life. This goodness is completely so and is synonymous with the Holy Spirit. In general I believe reason responds via the ideal. This should not to be confused with idealism. Any reasonable person may respond to revelation in this manner. Some may communicate this ideal in almost illiterate ways, while others may communicate this ideal with great elegance. Such a response includes the response to the Word of God, which provides an increased awareness of God and includes the goodness that results in life from God. Such a response is due to the Holy Spirit guiding reason rather than a scholastic analysis of words, even if these words are found in the Bible. Freedom is the framework for the possibilities of goodness to reason on an individual level (thus singular and multiple possibilities) and on the social level (thus general possibilities).
Science understands nature through the application of reason and systematic accumulation of knowledge of the physical world, and this leads to statements that are often discussed as laws of science. This is generally understood as laws of nature and includes outcomes to the human senses (and to reason) from nature’s activities, or phenomena. Observations of nature and hypothesis by scientists are activities of a reasoning human being and cannot be law-of-nature; in that a human being measures, weighs, calculates etc., the human being is ‘active’ in thinking and measuring, and thus his activities are within nature. In this way, it is difficult to differentiate between activities of a human being and those of an object; all consist of activity of matter in time and space, (in motion or in a dynamic state) and thus considered explicable via the scientific method. However, the subject-object or ‘both are in the world’, arises from a human being, not from the world. This actualises into language activity, which leads to a differentiation between the world of phenomenon/dynamics and that of human reality - although it may be reasoned that both are activities and thus explicable in time and space by the scientific method.
It may appear, however, that ‘mega-knowledge’ is sought to enable a human being to attain to a complete understanding of the phenomena and its objects, and this may provide an intellectual perception, or inference, that objects behave according to some principle; or, objects are required to be as they are by a ‘something in their being-ness’. This search for an explanation of everything, or a universal, arises from a human being’s intellectual questioning and doubting. We may reason that the universe is ‘lawful’ because it continues to be what it is, and also we may conclude that there is a finality, or that we may ‘finally’ or ‘completely’ understand it; we may also seek comfort from an ideal, suggesting that the universe and our understanding of it may become one and the same, or everything will finally be totally reasonable. The essential question in natural studies is therefore the intelligibility of nature – how is it that human reason and intellect can access natural phenomena and natures ultimate realities? One response to this question is the attribute often termed ‘image of God’ to humanity. The impact of the vast universe on the human senses, however, may be overwhelming, as we seek to understand its beginning and end. The universe does ‘talk’ to us of God (in its silence). This is shown in Psalms 19:1-14. The writer of this psalm shows us that it is the law of God that he understands, and through the law of God, he hopes to be free from error and those that indulge in error. The universe cannot reveal God. Our senses may be influenced by the silence, and our reason may comprehend the glory of God that the heaven declares. In this way we may understand beauty without feeling we have ‘invented’ it. In this silence, we do not listen to our own feverish mind constantly trying to explain to ourselves all that our senses may respond. Rather, the glory of God proclaimed by the silent beauty may lead us to wish we could share, and be a part of, such splendour. The Universe in all its splendour points to its Creator’s Glory, and similarly to the beauty that is found in the Law of God.

Currently astronomy and particle physics have been popularised and discussions have dealt with the origins of the Universe. The many difficulties faced by evolutionism are at times put to one side by the notion that the Universe is anthropomorphic – i.e. a Universe evolved that was conducive to the evolution of life and human beings on earth. The origins of the Universe appear to have crystallized into the big-bang theory, although others speculate alternate notions. Generally the view has been that God is the cause of causes, or the primal cause; since no-one witnessed the event, we cannot discuss this notion as a verifiable/testable theory– but people may feel this is sufficient, since the Faith teaches us that God can do anything. It is necessary, however, to consider the scientific view point as serious and believe that scientists are interested in obtaining a good understanding of the Universe. The Universe is accessible to human sense, and it appears reasonable to assume that a language such as mathematics would be sufficient when examining the Universe. Difficulties however, stem from a human assumption, in that the origin of the Universe may also be considered as a singular event; in this case physicists cannot dealt with such an event using the laws of physics; i.e. they contemplate notions in which the laws of physics may not apply. Indeed, notions such as “nothing existed” (nothingness!?) are difficult ones for science, and thus it may be inappropriate for science to think it can define a beginning per se.

Many thanks for this stimulating thoughts.

I fully agree to this.

In this respect I would like to stress two points:

  1. In the light of Quantum Contextuality (a main theorem of quantum physics) we are better understanding the relationship between God’s omniscience and human free will: God knows all possible choices humans of all times can do, that is, all possible worlds are content in God’s mind. Nonetheless everyone is free to choose her/his own history and thereby realize one of these possible worlds.

  2. Accordingly God’s Revelation is dynamic and fits to all possible human histories. This means that in the light of history and science we are led to understanding revealed Scripture more in depth and even discover new contents hidden in it.

“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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