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


No. Let me rephrase.

The fact that we could sin is a result of whatever got injected into the human line that lead to behaviorally modern humans. Genetic or epigenetic who knows. It might even be just the development of complex language. But this is the point (or more like a wide gray line) at which we became separate from the rest of the animal family and had to potential to be image bearers and the capacity to sin. If you wish you could say that a particular couple, Adam and Eve, were responsible for the change to behaviorally modern humans, but I don’t think that is the case. A&E are just a fictional couple that represent a change that took place over tens of thousands of years.

(Antoine Suarez) #382

Thanks for this Bill.

So it seems we agree in that at some point there is a primeval population of humans (not necessarily a single couple) who became image bearers with capacity to sin.

Then we can distinguish the situation before the first sin and thereafter.

It seems to me we also agree that before the first sin people in the primeval population were not in need of Redemption.

After the first sin God decided to maintain sinners on earth for the sake of redeeming them. So it is rather obvious that these sinners are in need of Redemption.

So two Questions remain open:

  1. It is in principle possible that some people in the primeval population didn’t sin. What would have happened to such people?

  2. What happens to the descendants of sinners?

My answers to these two questions are as follows:

To Question 1:
God took them to heaven. On the basis of Hebrews 7, I think this is the case of Melchizedek.

To Question 2:
These descendants are also in need of Redemption, not because they will necessarily sin (what would imply the absurdity that God is the author of sin) but because they have to live among sinners (as stated in Romans 11:32) .

Notice that the stage of need of Redemption is a happy one after all: Although a consequence of the first sin it is expression of God’s tremendous love for us.

(Antoine Suarez) #383

In my view becoming image bearers with capacity to sin and accountability toward God is the result of an act of God who endowed a primeval population of humans with this gift at a precise moment of evolution (the beginning of writing about 3’500 BC, is my proposal, as you know).

For me it is important to avoid interbreeding between people with free will and capable to sin and creatures without free will, what seems contrary to the sanctity of marriage. For this reason I prefer a model with descent from a primeval population than one with a genealogical Adam and Eve (which admittedly is perfectly compatible with the available data, as argued by @Swamidass).

In any case the two Questions formulated in my previous post seem relevant and I would be thankful for answers.


The Bible doesn’t say and we don’t need to know and I am ok with that.

The sins of the father are not passed on to the son so being the descendant of a sinner means nothing.

In other words you believe God used evolution to basically create humans and then poofed them into image bearers. I believe God used evolution for both with the consequence that there is no sharp boundary between non-image and image.

You are worried about the sanctity of marriage in a population that had no concept of marriage as you understand it? The basic concept of marriage, monogamy, is a result of evolution.

(George Brooks) #385


But … if we sin because of the neuro-psychological weakness of the human body, then the vulnerability to sin (even with Free Will) can be passed on, by definition, genetically!

Yes, @AntoineSuarez?


I vote Yes.

(Peaceful Science) #387

It is still possible that those outside the garden have free will, do wrong, but are not transgressors because they know not of God’s law. So it need not violate the sanctity of marriage on these terms.

(Antoine Suarez) #388

Thanks Joshua for this stimulating comment. I am pleased you too agree to “the sanctity of marriage” as a relevant point for deciding about the beginnings of humanity, in accord with Matthew 19: 4-6 and Mark 10:6-9.

This teaching of Jesus Christ seems to imply that marriage was thought for those knowing God’s law.

Accordingly, if one keeps to “the genealogical Adam and Eve”, it seems fitting to assume they were entrusted and empowered by God to announce His law to “those outside the garden” and transform them into bearers of the image, sharing free will and capacity to sin. In this sense “Adam and Eve” were called to act as primeval priests ad become so to speak “the spiritual father and mother” of all humanity.

In any case there may have been a primeval community of people knowing God’s law and capable to sin before the first sin arrived.

(Antoine Suarez) #389

According to the teaching of Jesus Christ (Matthew 19: 4-6 and Mark 10:6-9) “the sanctity of marriage” is an explicit commandment of God to the first free and accountable humans (in my view the commandment referred to in Genesis 2:17).

To discuss the beginning of humanity the authorities are primarily Jesus Christ (divine revelation) and observable data (evolution), and not necessarily “Adam and Eve”.


A command Adam and Eve could not follow as they had no mother or father supposedly.

(Antoine Suarez) #391

George, once more you surprise me with a very smart remark!

The capacity to sin in each human person emerges at the very moment of her generation by God, that is, the instant when God creates a spiritual principle (“soul”) to animate a piece of “flesh” (biological stuff originating through evolution) and a human personal body appears.

At the instant the “soul” starts animating the biological stuff, the evolutionary “frailty of the flesh” and “selfish tendencies” become spiritual vulnerability to sin (“concupiscence”, in the sense of 1 John 2:16). The “neuro-psychological weakness of the human body” results from the weakness of the “soul” (intellect and will) to master the “evolutionary background” and handle according to the principle of love. But we do NOT sin because of this weakness (otherwise God would be the author of sin, what is absurd), but because we freely decide to sin, tempted by “selfish evolutionary tendencies” (1 John 2:16).

Accordingly, what is passed on genetically is the “selfish evolutionary background”, by contrast the “spiritual vulnerability to sin” emerges at the very moment of the generation of the person.

In this sense what you call “vulnerability to sin” is nothing other than “the stage of need of Redemption” (the so called “stage of original sin”). Hence, the “original sin’s transmission” does NOT happen genetically, it happens at generation.

Actually I am getting the impression that we all basically agree to the preceding points in this post, and the real point of disagreement may be that additionally I support the following position:

Before the first sin was committed, God empowered the human “souls” (i.e.: personal bodies) with so called “original Grace” (“original Blessing” in Albert’s wording) so that temptation could only be of spiritual origin, and sin could only be sin of pride.

Thanks in advance for commenting.

(Antoine Suarez) #392


Unless the command was addressed to a primeval community as prohibition to break the marriage, and stressing for all coming generations that a man should love his wife more than his parents. :wink:

(Antoine Suarez) #393

Joshua, thanks for your ‘like’ to my reply to your post. It is a sign for me that we both may agree in the following Points:

  1. It is crucial to distinguish between humanity (as the community of all free and accountable human beings with capacity to sin) and the biological species Homo sapiens or “anatomically modern humans”.

  2. Today the difference between Homo sapiens (“modern humans”) and genetically near species (Chimps, Bonobos) is sharp because of the disappearance of intermediate varieties. Thus today being human can be definitely established through the belonging to Homo sapiens.

  3. Nonetheless biologically it does not make sense to speak about the first Homo sapiens or “anatomically modern human”. Hence the biological category Homo sapiens or “modern humans” is only well-defined with relation to a population.

  4. By contrast it makes sense to speak about the first human endowed by God with free will and therefore sharing accountability and capacity to sin.

  5. To describe the origins of humanity principles like the sanctity of marriage are relevant.

These points may shed some light on the vivid and interesting debate you and others have carried in this other thread (Adam, Eve and Population Genetics: A Reply to Dr. Richard Buggs (Part 1)). Dennis Venema in his claims:

seems inattentive to the distinction in Point 1 above, likely because he is reluctant to introduce “theology” into a supposedly “pure scientific” analysis. The problem is that ignoring this distinction, Dennis’s arguments against a common ancestor of “anatomically modern humans” become arguments against the origin of humanity through God’s intervention. This obviously provokes understandable reactions, not only on the part of OECs and YECs.

You, Richard Buggs (@RichardBuggs), and Steve Schaffner (@glipsnort ) deserve the merit of having showed that Dennis’s arguments are flawed to a certain extent. Nevertheless it may be appropriate that you (and possibly your companions) clarify that you are supportive of Point 3 above (If I remember well, you have declare this in other places). Note that it is precisely this Point 3 that makes it necessary to assume God’s intervention (Point 4) in order to define humanity as community of image bearers, called to be ruled by moral and law and not solely by Darwinian principles.

In summary, to discuss seriously and coherently the question of the origins of humanity one cannot ignore theology: In this respect Darwin’s Evolution is important but at least as important is Jesus Christ’s Revelation.

(George Brooks) #394

@AntoineSuarez (and @Swamidass):

I think you are making things a little cumbersome here. All humanity, in and out of Eden, has free will. What Adam did was signify the arrival of “the knowledge of good and evil” and the Moral Agency which establishes moral accountability.

(Peaceful Science) #395

Not quitel.



That I’m not so sure about. THough I would said that “human” in theology is entirely disconnected from any scientific definition of “human” (which does not exist any ways).

No, I do not agree with this. Genesis 1 - 4 and Romans does not speak of free will. Nor does it say that that free will is what gives Adam the capacity to sin. We are starting from different theological places in our reading of these passages. Scripturally, it seems there is a strong distinction between “wrongdoing” and “transgression,” which comes also from knowledge of God’s law in addition to wrongdoing. Both are “missing the mark” hamartia, but clearly Romans is using hamartia in different ways.

There are many ways to see Adam, but I would tentatively propose saying he was the first of our kind that knowledgeably transgressed God’s edicts. Another way to think of this is that he was first person who is both God Imaged and Fallen (with others being God Imaged, but not Fallen).

In a more neutral way, we can talk about the “first human” who is understood in the theology as we currently understand the human condition.

Such a position seems to be consistent with catholic dogma.

Maybe but this seem orthogonal. People might have paired off and acknowledged marriage before Adam (we do not know). Certainly we see similar behavior in some animals. However, it is only after Adam that we find out that it is God’s original plan of creation to have marriage. So does marriage exist before Adam? Maybe, but not as a (in the catholic sense) a God instituted sacrament.

Totally agree. That is a common error made, not just by @DennisVenema, but also by a very large number of people in this faith science conversation. It is genuinely surprising.

I’d largely agree with that but insist you stop referring to evolutionary science as “Darwinian principles”.

Deleting Darwin, I agree with you.

(Antoine Suarez) #396

Thanks for your answers, which help me to formulate things more accurately.

I totally agree that it does not exist a pure scientific definition of “human”.

My view is as follows:

The “main piece of evidence” entitling me to claim for my rights, and especially not to be harmed, is my specific body, that is a body that can be distinguished cut-off as a human body.

So if I wish to be respected, I have coherently to respect all creatures exhibiting a human body.

Accordingly Humanity means primarily the “life form” whose individuals share in the sense of law and are called to live according the “Golden rule”.

The amazing thing is that this is possible, because Evolution worked in such a way that today there is a clear distinction between the human body and the body of all other “life forms”, even the genetically nearest ones (chimps, bonobos). The “life form” Humanity can be today distinguished from other living forms by observable biological means.

Accordingly, although Humanity is mainly defined as a community of creatures called to live according to the “Golden Rule”, at the moment of implementing this rule and assign rights the “Golden Principle” is the specific human body. Thus the foundation of law can be formulated as follows:

“The human person and her rights are defined by her belonging to the human species. A human individual shares the status of a person, and personhood is inseparably united to humankind. This principle means that the fundamental rights of a person cannot be established by belonging to a subgroup of humankind, be it by race, religion, nation, or political class. Neither can one reduce the rights of humankind to the rights of the present-day generation.” [M&M, 16-1 (2013) 85]

In this sense not only Humanity but also the concept of Species itself cannot be defined by “pure scientific means”: It is motivated by the will of assigning rights coherently and refers firstly to Humanity; only thereafter it is extended to other “life forms”. In the maelstrom of Evolution the concept of Humanity has become totally “biologized” and now is often confused with the evolving species Homo sapiens.

So one has to be careful and not be caught unaware by two pitfalls:

  • Trying to define the beginning of Humanity through a biologically sharp beginning of Homo sapiens from a genetic common ancestor (@agauger position, as I understand it).

  • Assert that there is no common ancestor of Homo sapiens without clearly distinguishing between the evolving species Homo sapiens and Humanity, and thereby suggest that Humanity cannot have a sharp beginning in time by God’s intervention either (@DennisVenema position, as I understand it).

If one distinguishes between the beginning of Humanity and the (non-existing) beginning of evolving Homo sapiens, then (whichever way one looks at it) one acknowledges that Humanity begins at a time when Homo sapiens already has a large population size. It seems to me this is what you assume in your genealogical model, and it is what I assume in my model with a primeval little community of free accountable human beings (in my view both models fit to the BioLogos principles, and may be equivalent in the end, as I will discuss in a coming post).

Before continuing I would be thankful to know whether you agree to my claims in this post or could eventually suggest how to formulate things better.

Local Mesopotamian flood
(Antoine Suarez) #397

Just like Melchizedek (Hebrews 7:3) !
Interesting, isn’t it?

(Antoine Suarez) #398

I would be thankful for precise References to Scripture in order to understand well what you mean and answer fittingly.

Thanks for this Joshua.

As I know you, you have surely strong arguments for these claims.

I would be thankful if you could summarize them: This may help me to correct my picture.

(Antoine Suarez) #399

This would imply that “there is no sharp boundary between non-image and image” even now.

This looks like an odd claim!


No. Once you get past that boundary there are no non-image humans left. The boundary is not a sharp line of division.