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

If I understand well you claim:

  1. There is a moment where God made the last image human. After this moment there are no non-image humans left.

  2. There is a moment where God made the first image human.

  3. Between these two moments (1 and 2) God made progressively other image humans.

Am I right with this interpretation?

Thanks in advance for clarifying.

No. Image/Non-Image applies to a population not individuals in the population. The percentage of the population that could be called Image Bearers went from 0% to 100% over some period of time. By the time the Bible was written the percentage was at 100% and so it can say we were all born in the image of God. The Bible really doesn’t say anything about HOW we became image bearers so this is really all just speculation.

@Bill_II & @AntoineSuarez

We are in general agreement that there are two different creation narratives, If Genesis 1 represents the narrative (with “image of God”) for the pre-Adamites, we can make that “image” a psychological image - - where humanity separates itself from the non-human animals based on humanity having Free Will.

The 2nd narrative, dealing with Adam & Eve, can be even more specific, where the Adamites share Free Will, and the even greater simulacrum from God: Free Will with Moral Agency.

This is certainly something God complains about - - leading up to the Expulsion - - Adam & Eve are now like God in that they know Good from Evil. The one thing he didn’t want them to also attain was immortality!

This seems like a type of “embodied” claim to universal rights, somewhat analogous to embodied cognition. Though, are we not supposed to respect all creatures? I’d put it differently. We have universal rights and dignity because God values each each individually. Our worth derives from the worth He places on us, not something intrinsic to us, even our bodies.

I would agree with that.

That is not what @agauger is doing. She suggests Humanity begins biologically sharply with the Homo genus.

That is the error Dennis made.

That is just one option. It could also happen before there are any Homo sapiens. But if we take the Genesis timeline, then yes, it would be after Homo sapiens arise.

They are equivalent on a scientific level. Though I am not convinced by your theological overlay. The notion of God deciding to manufacture souls with original sin, by fiat, seems to make Him the author of sin. I cannot understand why He would do such a thing, but perhaps you have a way of making sense of that. I think there are better options, that do not make God an author of sin.

And yes, this is “consistent” with the BioLogos belief statement. There are a large range of views on Adam that are technically within the BioLogos tent. However it is not the preferred view, it seems.

Hope that helps.

This is a remarkable view!

I think we are basically stating the same with different words. So I put my claims in relationship with yours:

You distinguish between the “population of Image Bearers” and the whole population of (I presume) Homo sapiens (or “anatomically modern humans”). The “population of Image Bearers” went from 0% to 100% over some period of time.

I call Humanity the “population of Image Bearers” and claim Humanity went from 0% to 100% of Homo sapiens over some period of time.

You claim: “By the time the Bible was written the percentage was at 100% and so it can say we were all born in the image of God”.

I fully agree and would like to refer to Genesis 9:6 as biblical support for your claim: It is at this moment that the percentage becomes 100%.

It seems rather obvious that Genesis 1:26-28 and Genesis 2:21-24 can be considered Biblical references to the moment when the percentage ceased to be 0%.

It is also obvious for me that according to these Scripture pericopes the descendants of Image Bearers are Image Bearers as well.

Interestingly, between Genesis 1:26-28 and Genesis 9:6 there is another Biblical reference to population as Image Bearers: Genesis 5:1-2.

This pericope can be interpreted in the sense that the percentage of Image Bearers was increasing because God was creating new Image Bearers, who were not biologically descended from the first Image Bearers (“Adam and Eve”). This fits rather well to the episode in Genesis 6:1-4, which on the one hand can be considered bridging Chapter 5 and the account of Noah and the Flood, and on the other hand refers to “Sons of God”, that is, humans in the Image of God who had no mother or father like Adam. This interpretation is supported by Luke 3:23-38, which includes Genesis 5:3-32 within the genealogy of Jesus-Christ, and uses the term “Son of God” to qualify Adam.

In conclusion: Genesis 6:1-4 appears like a clear reference to the period of time when the “population of Image Bearers” went from 0% to 100%.

I finish by commenting your challenging claim: “Image/Non-Image applies to a population not individuals in the population.”

I think it contains a brilliant insight but should be formulated more accurately as follows:

“Image applies to both a population AND the individuals in the population.”

This relates to my claim that a population of Image Bearers is a population called to live according to moral judgment and the “Golden Rule”. Thus, it would not make sense calling “Image Bearer” a single individual alone without reference to Humanity.

The Incarnation of God reveals us the dignity of the human body, that is, individual and humanity all in one.

You can say this but the problem is there is no way to identify any specific individual as an image bearer. So it is kind of pointless to add this to my definition.

You say that the percentage of Image Bearers is 100% at the latest “by the time the Bible was written”.

So now you can identify “any specific individual”, that is, any individual exhibiting a human body, as an image bearer.

Thanks for explaining your objection more in detail.

E.g. Romans 5. Sin (transgression in this case) abounds when the law is given. Transgression appears to not just include doing wrong, but having knowledge of the law that is being broken. Also look at Romans 2.

Though there can be disagreement on this, I’m just referencing standard hamartiology. See for example: http://biblehub.com/sermons/auth/binnie/presumptuous_sins_and_sins_of_ignorance.htm There is a difference between doing wrong in ignorance, and knowledgeably breaking God’s law in rebellion.

That means that God’s work to reveal His law actually multiplies and increases transgresion, by placing us in view of the law we will then chose to break. Without the law, we would be less accountable, because our hamartia (sometimes used to mean “missing the mark”) would be due to will ignorance alone, not rebellion.

So why would God reveal the law then, if it multiplies transgression?

Romans tells us. So that we would know our sinfulness. The law does not make us righteous, but it makes clear that we fall short. It’s role is to make us aware of our hamartia, that we might be ready to receive righteousness by faith in Jesus.

I’ve written about this several times. Here is my response to @Relates from quite a while ago. That’s just the first example I found when I searched. This not to pick on him, as many people in the origins conversations make this same mistake.


thank you for your analysis of ecology. I would agree with much of what you write, but with come important notes.

You give us three versions of evolution.

  1. Darwin’s original version which is out of date, although his understanding of natural selection, survival of the fittest has not been revised so would seem to be still in effect.

  2. The atheist version of Darwin, which I take is The Selfish Gene or Dawkins’ version of evolution. You say that this is not a scientific version of evolution, and I would agree, but no one has told Dawkins, Dennett, and millions of others. My concern is that people in general accept The Selfish Gene as the dominant scientific understanding of evolution and I do not see BioLogos or anyone else setting them straight.

Not every one can be a scientific insider like you to know what the best version of evolution is. If The Selfish Gene is not right, you and others like you need to speak out loud and clear to let people what are not on the inside know that. That is what I have been trying to do without much cooperation with those on the inside.

  1. The modern evolutionary theory or the modern synthesis. This is different from the usage most heard, the ES and the EES. The ES I take to be the Dawkins view, while the EES to be closer to what you are saying because it includes ecology, so I would agree with you on this point.

The place where I would disagree with most if not all is that for me ecology is basic to evolution and Natural Selection. It is not an add on which defines the form of conflict is cooperative or competitive. For me natural selection is based on symbiosis, not competition, which conforms that life is basically cooperative, rather than selfish.

We agree that Darwinian view is not the best understanding of evolution. I would expect that many scientists do not agree, but follow Dawkins’ view as Darwinian as he claims. It would be good to agree upon what view replaces Darwin and Dawkins. This is my primary concern


I warmly thank you for your detailed answers, which I discuss in turn in the following:


I formulate things more accurately using your words:

At a certain moment in evolution God made a single Homo sapiens couple (your “genealogical Adam and Eve”) or a little population of them (my assumption) to Image Bearers called to love God keeping His law.

This is the moment referred to in Genesis 1:26-28. It marks the beginning of Humanity, which as community of Image Bearers is NOT identical to the evolving biological life-form Homo sapiens.

At a later time the whole life-form Homo sapiens was made in the Image of God and became totally and forever identical with Humanity. According to me this is the moment referred to in Genesis 9:6.

Accordingly the worth of Humanity and each single member of it derive from the worth God places in them (as you rightly state), that is, the fact that God makes Humanity in His Image (Genesis 1:26-28; 2:21-24; 5:1-2; 9:6).

At any stage Humanity means a population called to live according to moral judgment and the “Golden Rule”. Thus, on the one hand it would not make sense calling “Image Bearer” a single individual alone without reference to Humanity; on the other hand the observable sign of Humanity to the scope of assigning rights is obviously the human body: We are “embodied freedom”.

The Incarnation of God magnificently reveals the dignity of the human body, that is, individual and humanity all in one.

The main problem remains though: In my view the Homo genus is not less a construct of evolutionary biology than any Homo species.

One can define both categories Homo genus and Homo sapiens only afterwards, thank the disappearance of intermediate varieties (natural deletion, as I call it). Nonetheless you can sharply establish neither when Homo sapiens begins nor when Homo genus begins by biological means. By contrast you can sharply establish the beginning of Humanity, but NOT biologically of course.

So I fear @agauger falls in the same pitfall as @DennisVenema does in the end: Lack of distinction between the sharp beginning of Humanity and the fuzzy beginning of a whatever evolutionary biological construct. This leads either to blurry the sharp beginning of Humanity (Dennis) or to postulate a non-existing sharp beginning of a biological category (Ann).

By the way: Could you tell me which may be Ann Gauger’s motivation for claiming that “Humanity begins biologically sharply with the Homo genus”? Why is this so important for Ann?

So we both agree: To the scope of establishing the beginning of Humanity as population of Image Bearers what matter is “the Genesis timeline”.

Thanks in advance for any suggestion to improve the preceding formulations.

I will resume soon commenting your other thoughts.

Natural selection is still accepted as one of the driving forces that shape genomes. It just so happens that scientists have discovered additional mechanisms in the ensuing 150 years, such as genetic drift.

That is not an atheistic version of evolution. It is simply the idea that kin selection can result in certain genes being selected for. While someone may not have children, they can cooperate with close relatives so that the genes they share with those relatives will be passed on. Extreme examples of this mechanism can be seen in social species like bees and ants where the workers don’t reproduce, but by supporting the queen their genes are still passed on.

Do you think wolves are in a symbiotic relationship with deer and elk? How do you explain species that have poisons that deter or even kill their predators?

1 Like


I reject this conclusion. @DennisVenema’s analysis starts with modern humanity and works backward. Thus it is giving the maximum benefit of the doubt that humanity 10,000 years ago is comparable to humanity 100,00 years ago… and again, back 200,000 years ago. His analysis is maximally optimistic about the smoothness of the changes.

If there was, in fact, a major genetic disruption, that’s what would be the clue that something dramatic happened. But he finds no evidence of anything dramatically changing in the genome for 400,000 years worth of idealized generations.

Natural selection does act on genetic drift. If you look carefully at the description of genetic drift you will see that natural selection does not select it out because it does not make an ecological difference. Thus natural selection does not select it out, because it selects it in and it selects the allele in because of ecological reasons.

The selfish gene view has been disproven by The Social Conquest of Earth by E. O. Wilson.

Yes, predators and prey are in a symbiotic relationship. Each need the other, just as humans are dependent on their prey, animal and vegetable, and they are dependent on us.

Regarding your genealogical model of Humanity (with God creating a primeval couple Adam&Eve of Image Bearers) and my model (with God creating a primeval population of Image Bearers) you state:

To discuss this question I think the teaching of Jesus Christ in (Matthew 19:4-6 and Mark 10:6-9) is crucial:

Jesus unites Genesis 1:27 and Genesis 2:24 to declare that in the beginning humans “created in the Image of God” received a clear commandment regarding Marriage: “What God has joined together, man must never separate” (Matthew 19:6).

This has a twofold meaning:

  • To be “Image Bearer” means to be endowed with free will, aware of God’s law, and capable of moral agency and sin.

  • Since the beginning of Humanity Marriage is intended by God as Original Sacrament between Image Bearers to the sake of being fruitful and multiply the community of Image Bearers, that is, God’s Kingdom on earth.

This has the important following implication for your genealogical model:

The basic assumption of your model is that a genealogical descendant (GD) of the primeval genealogical couple (Adam&Eve) could get married with a non-genealogical descendant (NGD) of Adam&Eve.

From the teaching of Jesus Christ regarding Marriage we are led to acknowledge that NGD should be an Image Bearer.

Hence either NGD was Image Bearer from the beginning of her/his own existence or became Image Bearer through the encounter with GD.

In either case we are led to conclude that there were Image Bearers other than Adam&Eve and their genealogical descendants, which is my basic assumption.

So to this extent our both models seem to be theologically equivalent too.

Regarding original sin:

I definitely reject “The notion of God deciding to manufacture souls with original sin, by fiat”.

In this respect my basic assumptions are the following:

  1. God never violates the freedom of His creatures.
  2. God is NOT the author of sin.
  3. God wants to redeem human sinners.

I will expand on these assumptions with pleasure. However, since me too “I do not make God an author of sin” it may be convenient you briefly refer to the “better options” you have in mind, because I have the feeling we are not far from each other.

Again thanks in advance for any suggestion that may help to improve the preceding formulations.

1 Like

I guess it depends on how you look at it and define selection. Most biologists define selection in terms of population genetics, so selection would be a deviation away from a Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium. If this equilibrium is observed then it is considered to be genetic drift.

Whether it has been disproven or not is one thing. What I was responding to is your claim that the Selfish Gene hypothesis was atheistic, which it isn’t.

In what way do deer and elk need wolves? They were without wolves for quite some time in the recent past, and they seemed to do just fine.

1 Like


Some obvious problems…

  1. @Swamidass’ scenarios involve interpreting Genesis 1 as the truncated story of the pre-Adamites, who we could presume have free will … but to satisfy the Augustinian-Prejudices of Western Protestants, would have to be ignorant of Good & Evil as the pair, Adam & Eve, were ignorant - - up until they ate from the Tree.

  2. Scenarios that say the Pre-Adamites did know good and evil are conceivable, but it’s hard to imagine that English-speaking Young Earthers would have much interest in them.

Now about these thoughts…

  1. Your sentence I have labeled [X] can be evidenced by the words of Genesis 1 which says humanity has the image of God.

  2. The first half of your sentence (which I have labeled [Y] ) is not necessary if Genesis 1 is about NGD. However, the solution mentioned in the last half could be applied to the question of moral awareness. If moral awareness is not exactly what is intended by “image-bearer”, then NGD could gain its knowledge of morality through social contact with GD… or via a “moral awareness ingredient” dispensed to all souls after Adam’s expulsion by God himself.

  3. Finally, you will need to fully comprehend @Swamidass’ distinction between “genetic descendants” and “genealogical descendants”.

Many popular writers have contributed to the misinterpretation that the phrase: “humans are the genetic descendants of Adam and Eve”. While we all know what this supposed to mean, it is technically flawed without references to an original population:

For example, one could might say that all of the finches that Darwin observed are genetically descended from the founding Population of finches that arrived on the islands. That seems inescapable. Modern populations, by definition, have to be genetic descendants of earlier populations.

But what about a Finch population and an originating pair? Can we say that the whole population of Finches seen by Darwin descend from a single pair? I suppose you could, with the assumption that no other Finches arrived later, diluting the genetic imprint of the founding pair.

In the case of the @Swamidass scenarios, the genetic luggage of the Pre-Adamites may very well have “swamped out” the purely genetic contribution of Adam and Eve’s meager 46 chromosomes! But as computer scenarios show, there is no way for the genealogical contribution of Adam and Eve to be swamped out - - if God’s intent was for the couple to be a Universal Ancestral pair. See the difference here? Genetic descent, which is frequently used in a technically incorrect way, is quite different from Genealogical descent, which is irreversible and un-defeatable, as long as ancestral records, or the isolation of an island or a whole planet, is securely understood!

Modern evolutionists, however, when they talk about a hypothetical “Original Y Donor” or “Original Mitochondrial Donor” literally run out, by definition, of any certain genetic contributions from other branches of ancient hominid that are not on the genetic “pipeline” from the pair of donors.

If we remember that 46 chromosomes can only go so far, before they are swamped out by over-riding contributions by newer or different lineages, then it will be easier to remember that the key aspect of the Adamite kinship is the “genealogical” connection.

1 Like

I dare to say that you are confirming what I claim.

Dennis states:

Here he does not clearly distinguish Humanity as community of Image Bearers and the evolving species of “anatomically modern human.”

Thus, when “he finds no evidence of anything dramatically changing in the genome [of modern humans] for 400,000 years”, Dennis suggests that there is no sharp beginning of Humanity either, which clearly contradicts Genesis 1:26-28.

Notice also that this contradicts Point 10 of BioLogos, What We Believe:

“10. We believe that God created humans in biological continuity with all life on earth, but also as spiritual beings. God established a unique relationship with humanity by endowing us with his image and calling us to an elevated position within the created order.” [emphasis mine]

The problem with @DennisVenema position is that he overlooks what Denis Alexander has often stressed: One cannot discuss “Adam and Eve” coherently without “integrating the scientific and biblical narratives.”

Similarly for Ann Gauger @agauger:

She identifies Humanity with Homo genus. And because she rightly keeps to a sharp beginning of Humanity she is led to conclude that Homo genus has a sharp biological beginning too, what is wrong.

Homo sapiens and Homo genus are evolutionary biological constructs: It is biologically impossible to establish when the species Homo sapiens or the genus Homo begins with anything other than arbitrary criteria.[see this Essay]

So I can’t help concluding:

@agauger and @DennisVenema fall in the same pitfall: Lack of distinction between the sharp beginning of Humanity and the fuzzy beginning of a whatever evolutionary biological construct.

1 Like

The suggestion that the creation of the earth took more than 6 days 6,000 years ago also “clearly contradicts” Genesis 1. Removing the sharp beginning of Humanity is no different than removing the sharp beginning of planet earth. It is just part of the narrative not a fact. While it remains a truth.

You are right. It depends how you look at it and define selection. It appears that biology has become based on math, which can describe what is happening, but not really explain why it is happening. This means that in effect ecology is not seen as the basis of natural selection. All genetic drift says is, if there is not change or an equilibrium there is no selection. If there is a change or los of equilibrium, there is selection.


This type of circular thinking was the basis of criticism of evolutionary theory by the late distinguished scientist Karl Popper. Ecological natural selection gives evolution the scientific foundation Darwin never did…

Actually @Swamidass branded an evolutionary view as atheistic, but I agreed and identified it as The Selfish Gene. Dawkins has made no secret that he is drawn to Darwinism because of its atheistic basis. He has used this theory which is not well based in fact to buttress his atheistic views, so he claims it as atheistic.

Wolves have been added to the ecology in Yellowstone National Park, so maybe they have not done fine. The reason why the deer and the elk need wolves is population control. As Malthus said, if there are no limiting factors to population, it would grow geometrically, Instead of allowing the deer to strip the foliage and still starve to death, the wolves control and strengthen the population. This how God uses the ecology to provide for the diversity and economy of nature.

That’s not it at all. The math is what keeps us honest and allows us to test our hypotheses.

So, for instance, that there are black and tan mice. Their environment contains lots of tan colored desert scrub land, but here and there are piles of black basalt rock from past volcanic eruptions. When we look at the distribution of two alleles for a gene responsible for skin and coat color in other species we see that those alleles our out of equilibrium when we compare niches within that ecological environment:

Nachman et al. (2002)

Using those equations from population genetics you can show that there is an objective (i.e. statistically significant) difference between the populations which allows you to test the hypothesis that the background color of the environment (through predation) is selecting for the dark coat allele. They can also use those equations to determine if there is free interbreeding between the brown and black populations by comparing the distribution of mitochondrial DNA, and they were able to confirm that there is free interbreeding.

Where did Dawkins ever say that his Selfish Gene hypothesis was an atheistic view?

How is it preferable to have deer ruthlessly killed by wolves than to starve to death? Who is keeping the population of apex predators in check?

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

This is a place for gracious dialogue about science and faith. Please read our FAQ/Guidelines before posting.