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

Thanks Dennis for this valuable contribution to this debate.

I agree that the same term ‘living nephesh’ (‘living creature’) in the immediate context of Genesis refers clearly and repeatedly to non-human animals: these and ‘Adam’ are made from the dust of the ground, and are each a ‘living nephesh’. “It is not man’s possession of ‘the breath of life’ or his status as a ‘living creature’ that differentiates him from the animals”. [Wenham, G.J. 198, p. 102]. Thus Genesis 2:7 can be read in correspondence to the gradual appearance of the species Homo sapiens in Africa, that is, “with a time depth that stretches back into the middle Pleistocene” (about 500,000 years ago) [Stringer C. 2016], very much like you suggest.

Nonetheless the term for humans being created in the Image of God, as male and female (Genesis 1:27) called to respect the commandment: “What God has joined together, man must never separate” (Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:4-6, and Mark 10:6-9) is not applied to non-human animals, and refers to a sharp beginning of “humans as spiritual beings”.

So one can’t help acknowledging “as theologically mandated by Genesis” that at certain moment God made the “nephesh” (Genesis 2:7) to an Image Bearer (Genesis 1:27 and Genesis 2:24) called to freely love God, with sense of law, and capability to sin. Since this divine intervention happened at the spiritual level there is obviously no observable biological (genetic or anatomical) discontinuity.

In my view it is the option Jesus Christ takes by resolutely calling himself “the Son of Man”.

Actually it is God’s Incarnation which defines the specific body God wants for “His visible Image” Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:15) and thereby establishes the precise moment in human evolution when He considers this body prepared to be made “in God’s Image” (Genesis 1:27).

That “humans have a punctuate theological beginning” seems to me also supported by Luke’s Genealogy of Jesus (Luke 3:23-38), going back generation by generation to Adam, with a precise list of 76 generations, and calling Adam “Son of God” in the end (Luke 3:38).

In summary:

The sharp beginning of Humanity as the community of Image Bearers through an act of God seems to be “theologically mandated by Genesis” according to the teaching of Jesus Christ.

So, if you don’t want to jeopardize the meaning of Incarnation and Redemption it is wise to keep in mind:

  • Denis Alexander’s claim:
    “there is no need to keep theology in a watertight box, in isolation from the materiality of the created order.”

  • Point 10 of BioLogos, What We Believe:
    We believe that God created humans in biological continuity with all life on earth, but also as spiritual beings.

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Or…the “Son of Adam”?

But Jesus is also said to be “the Son of David,” including by his inspired biographers (Matt. 1:1; 21:9; Mark 10:47-48). Surely this doesn’t mean David needs to be another sharp beginning?

Only the way that Paul’s statement would seem to indicate a punctuated theological beginning at David: “…the gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness by resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 1:3-4; see also 2 Tim. 2:8). This is especially interesting since Paul does have things to say about Adam, but he resists connecting Jesus to Adam as if he descended from him (e.g. the discontinuity in 1 Cor. 15:47 and the “type” rather than descent language of Rom. 5:14). For Paul, Jesus is Adam’s superior alternative, not descendant.

I don’t think we should read genetic or biological beginnings into what Luke says about Adam or Paul says about David. Genetics isn’t what they were given insight into, or what they aimed to speak about.

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Both, the “Son of Man” and the “Son of Adam”.

If I understand well, your model rest on two key assumptions:

  1. Those “outside the garden” were bodily (genetically and anatomically) indistinguishable from “those in the garden”.

  2. “Very quickly, in just thousands of years, those ‘outside the garden’ mix with Adam’s lineage”.

Am I right?


God’s law regarding marriage (Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:4-6, and Mark 10:6-9) entails that those “outside the garden” became Image Bearers before interbreeding with Image Bearers.

Hence God made those “outside the garden” to “sons of God” before they encountered Image Bearers, just like He made Adam to “son of God” (Luke 3:38). I think this is what Genesis 6:1-4 tells us.

So the following conclusion seems rather inescapable:

As far as one keeps to both the Revelation of Jesus Christ and the available scientific data on Evolution the motivation of any model should not be to warrant that all Image Bearers of all times other than the first couple of Image Bearers are genealogical descendants of this single couple.

My question:

Do you have such a motivation for your genealogical model?
If YES, is it related to que question of original sin?

Thanks in advance for answering.

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Very good point!

Matthew 1:1 reads:
This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

Abraham marks the sharp beginning of God’s chosen People and David the sharp beginning of Messiahship in view of the re-establishment of God’s Kingdom on Earth by Jesus Christ.

God’s Kingdom on earth was established by God in the beginning when He made Humanity in His Image. This is as sharp a beginning as the beginning of God’s chosen people with Abraham. Nonetheless the title “Son of Man” is more important and describes Jesus’ mission better than “Son of David” or “Son of Abraham”.


Actually it is Jesus, the embodied God, who literally makes the human body in God’s Image (Colossians 1:15). And this means that Genesis 1:27 is in fact the announcement of the Incarnation: God points out the body He has prepared for His Son.

Without relationship to God’s Incarnation Genesis 1:27 loses his meaning: there is no criterion for discerning what makes man in the Image of God, and human life precious and unique. And the other way around: by denying that Humanity has a sharp theological beginning one jeopardizes the meaning of Incarnation and Redemption.

I fully agree:

Neither the sharp beginning of Humanity, nor the sharp beginning of the Chosen People with Abraham, nor the sharp beginning of Messiahship with David are defined by genetic or biological discontinuity: They are spiritual beginnings marked by divine intervention.

Observable signs of such beginnings are vestiges revealing sense of law and covenant, consciousness of accountability, worship and consecration rituals.

Thanks for these stimulating questions.

In fact I am aware only of my inner life and personal identity. I access your inner life and personal identity through the movements of your body: You make movements like the movements I do to utter my desires and claim for my rights. Thus, the foundation of any coherent Law is the human body.

Biological species are useful conceptual constructs without reference to personal identity.

By contrast Humanity refers to the community of Image Bearers called to live according to the “Golden Rule”.

Non-human animals have no personal identity: Their inner life is only a projection of our mind, a feature we assign to them.

Non-human animals have neither Law nor Science: There are no Courts or Peer Reviewed Journals run by non-human animals.


Human free will and personal identity are AXIOMS of science (both quantum physics and relativity).

Quantum experiments on nonlocality demonstrate the following important result (so called “Free Will theorem”):

If we assume human free will, then we have to conclude that there is free will everywhere in nature.

This does not mean that particles or non-human animals have free will and are accountable for how they behave. It means rather that the phenomena in the world are shaped by invisible agents acting freely from outside space time, similarly as you freely rule your Quantum-Boltzmann-Brain. If nature and your brain (as part of nature) obeyed deterministic equations, you could not be free.

I will be pleased answering further such smart questions.

Sou you are basically saying they are philosophical zombies in your view? Or do you define personal identity/inner life as something distinct from qualia?

@BoltzmannBrain, I don’t think exploring the qualia experience of non-human animals is going to do anything good for this thread. It’s a non-starter. I’m even surprised when Atheists are willing to think animals are conscious … after all, it’s not like we can even be sure all humans are conscious.

What do you have to say about where the soul comes from? Does it emerge from a neural network of sufficient complexity? Or does God decide when to issue them … like G.I. boots?

In my view the two questions are related.

By personal identity I refer to the fact founding my rights, that is, the fact that I am the same person today as the author of the essay about “The Elimination of Intermediate Varieties” one year ago, and the client who opened an account years ago in the bank UBS-Switzerland.

Now, quantum physics is telling us that the space-time is quantified or discrete (made of space-time “pixels”). This means:

There is no material link between your neurons today with your neurons yesterday. Consequently there is no material substrate granting the conservation of your personal identity.

Nor is your personal identity granted by your consciousness since you are not aware of your existence while you are sleeping.

Consequently, if you keep to your personal identity as an author or bank-account-keeper you can’t help acknowledging both:

  • A spiritual principle (“soul”) granting the conservation of your personal identity.

  • A personal being beyond space and time who grants the existence of your soul and inner life, that is, a God in whom “we live, move and have our being” (Acts 17: 28).

The soul does not emerge from “a neural network of sufficient complexity” because as said no neural network can exist by itself. It is rather the other way around: YOU can say that a brain is YOUR brain because YOU are an embodied spirit; your soul rules the central pattern generators in your brain stem from outside space-time and grants your identity.

The world is “pixelated” like a laptop-screen.

All non-spiritual beings reduce to programs governing what goes on in the screen. Like the characters in a movie their inner life is a “projection” and they cannot be considered accountable for what they “perform” in the screen.

By contrast spiritual beings (God, angels, and humans) have enduring, non-pixelated existence “beyond the screen”. And humans are accountable for what they perform “within the screen”.



Dear sir, when you hear me coughing … it’s not me offering any condemnation of this view … no matter how much it might sound like it … and no matter how much people are laughing at my coughing.

My real problem with the “sufficient complexity” hypothesis is the fact that the things that are possible or not in the universe are dependent on laws which were always present, so personal identity is something that had to always be present in the universe, at least as a possibility. Saying that it emerges from a neural network of sufficient complexity seems to me like saying that the laws of the universe changed to accomodate consciousness once suficiently complex systems came into existence, which is nonsense. It is perfectly consistent that evolution would create complex organisms with complex neural networks in a world without the possibility of consciousness, they would be philosophical zombies, however. The fact that we are not claims for an explanation, the most coherent one in my view is that consciousness is fundamental in some way, which could be through models like panpsychism or by the pre existence of immortal souls which become embodied into bodies with brains. I particularly believe in the second one, but going from what I said first to that conclusion is indeed a leap of faith. I think your arguments only reinforce the validity of these problems. I find the view of the soul as being a physical part of the universe very problematic, so I must confess I find the “outside of space and time” hypothesis very interesting.

I personally believe in both these things, but I think only the first one is really mandatory. One could imagine a non-personal principle which grants these things to personal beings like us (even though that is not what I believe), don’t you think?

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Actually, it is exactly your line of thinking (or part of it) that compels me to believe that if there is any Consciousness in the Universe … Then: there is a Supreme Consciousness.

Consciousness is irrelevant and meaningless with out a Supreme Consciousness. Without such a Supreme Consciousness, neither the individual, nor the population of individuals, nor the Cosmos would need consciousness to perform the exact same tasks without it.

I think that the existence of consciousness certainly opens the possibility for the existence of a supreme consciousness, but it opening a possibility doesn’t necessarily mean that it actually exists, that is my main problem with ontological arguments for a maximally great being like Plantinga’s, just because a MGB could in principle exist, it doesn’t follow that it does (though I personally believe it, but i recognize it as a matter of faith).


oh, I understand… this is the objection Atheists typically have with my view.

You aren’t an atheist, are you?

For me, it is the very proof of God… because I just can’t accept the idea that the Universe has no supreme being and yet STILL supports consciousness.

Technically, I allow that this is not the most rigorous of conclusions… but I don’t need rigor to know that if I were to constantly review the words to the song “Dust in the wind” , I would become most vulnerable to depression… and I think most humans would be equally vulnerable to this inclination of the biological brain!

… All we do crumbles to the ground though we refuse to see
Dust in the wind
All we are is dust in the wind

Thanks Christy for raising this objection. It is quite relevant for this thread and I answer it here with pleasure (also because the original thread where you posted it is locked):

According to my explanation all cultures today that share a human body are Image Bearers. Therefore, even if they do not have writing systems, they are NOT less image bearers or less moral.

The reason for this is that at a certain time T in history God made the first humans in His Image (Genesis 1:27). By this act God definitely chose the kind of body His Son would take at Incarnation: Jesus Christ “is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation” (Colossians 1:15). In that way the human body became the sign of being Image Bearer.

It is obvious that before time T no population can be said to be in God’s Image.

So the crucial question is:

How do we ascertain this time T when God makes the human body in His Image?

It seems to me we all agree that at the latest time T can be set when Writing appears.

If someone can provide convincing reasons to predate the moment when God makes the first Image Bearers I will wholeheartedly change my view. Nonetheless the discussion in the original thread of your post shows pretty well that Language cannot be considered a clear sign for the creation of the first Image Bearers, no matter whether they were a single couple (as @agauger assumes) or a population (as I assume).

So for the time being the safest solution seems to be Writing.

Once again:

Today all cultures, also they without Writing, are Image Bearers.

Before God created the first population of Image Bearers (at the latest at the time when Writing appears) no creature was bestowed with capability for freely loving God and therefore no creature was accountable toward Him and capable of sinning.

Notice that the personal identity of spiritual beings like us cannot be granted by our consciousness because we lose this “thing” while we are sleeping. Therefore to be coherent you have to invoke a being that is someone conscious uninterruptedly, someone who can always say I AM: Someone whose name is YAHWEH.

By the way, this is NOT an ontological argument: We are going from existence of limited beings (who do not yet have eternal life and name) to the existence of the Unlimited Being who LIVES and IS.

Imagining “a non-personal principle which grants identity to personal beings like us” means nothing other than refer to space-time continuum as the substrate of our existence. This amounts to making the space-time to an idol. In fact the “Golden-Calf of space-time” is the most ancient Idol of humanity. Quantum physics has ground to powder this Idol!

So quantum physics comes in support of George:

Definitely we are not “dust in the wind”, we “live, move, and have our being” in a loving and merciful God.

Happy Sunday of Resurrection to you all!


Well, I agree with all you said, but an atheist could still say “yeah, I’m saying space-time continuum (or whatever lay outside of it) is the substrate for our existence, what is wrong with that? The bible may say it is idolatry, but if there is no God, then the bible has no authority. And even if there is a God, how can you be so sure that it is the christian God/YAHWEH?”. While as a christian I don’t hold these views myself, I do recognize them as valid objections and I don’t see how we can prove them wrong. At the end of the day, faith is still required to make such statements as true, even if they are perfectly consistent with our current understanding of physics.

In my view there are two sorts of atheism: the classical or pre-quantum atheism, and the post-quantum one.

The classical atheism (for instance Karl Marx’ “historical materialism”) is based on “scientific materialism” and argues that the space-time continuum (“matter”) is the substrate for our existence. This “materialism” was tricky because we all intuitively tend to consider space-time as a continuum substrate. Christianity was able to overcome this materialism because “by faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible” (Hebrews 11:3). By contrast “classical deterministic science” reinforced it. Now classical atheism is old-fashioned because it clearly conflicts with today’s quantum science.

The post-quantum atheism cannot deny the outside of space-time and therefore the spiritual realm. And since by acknowledging this realm one is led to acknowledge God, this atheism tries to escape this conclusion in two main ways:

  • Referring to the outside space-time as “Nothing”. It is the atheism of people like Lawrence Krauss, who invoke quantum physics to claim that the universe comes from “Nothing”. His argument amounts to give God the deceptive Fake Name: “Nothing”, similarly to Odysseus who called himself “Nobody” to deceive Polyphemus.

  • Introducing the Multiverse: However this is self-defeating in the end because one acknowledges that there are realms of existence that are not accessible to our senses. And this is the same as acknowledging that there are beings existing outside space-time, or in other words that the parallel worlds are worlds existing in God’s mind.

So these arguments are not arguments in favor of atheism but rather in favor of the existence of God.

If atheists do not accept their own free will and personal identity, then you cannot prove them wrong. These two principles are the basis of any knowledge, and in particular science. If someone doesn’t accept free will and the spiritual component of human beings you cannot prove him/her wrong because the very notion of proof disappears. But then one cannot take anything seriously, in particular rights, and this attitude may become dangerous if it becomes generalized.

By the way, my argument amounts to say that my personal identity is warranted neither by the continuum space-time nor my consciousness. Thus to warrant it an always conscious and enduring being is required, that is, a being who can uninterruptedly claim “I AM” (in Hebrew “YAHWEH”). It happens that this is the Name the God of the Bible claims to be His name. So the God of the Bible is not a Premise but the Conclusion of my argument.

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In response to @AntoineSuarez over in the never-ending Venema/Buggs thread:

Thanks for the information on how Catholic doctrine and the “functional” interpretation of the image of God are compatible. I am aware of Barth, of course, but I have never studied the finer points of Catholic teachings on the issue.

While we agree on many things, I am not persuaded by theories that place Adam at a recent time. It’s a disjunctive proposition that makes a mess of human history and concepts such as free will, spirituality, morality, personhood, and, yes, even sin.

For example, the sentence right before section 7.2 reads: “Thus Genesis 2:7 can be read in correspondence to the gradual evolution of Homo sapiens in Africa about 150,000 years ago consisting of non-personal human animals.” Immediately, I have to wonder what makes these “human animals” non-personal?

You attempt to answer right afterward, saying, “Personhood as a result of divine intervention is suggested in Genesis 2:22 by the fact that God creates the man and the wife as called to fulfil their existence in relation to each other, that is, in the context of an interpersonal ontology (Ratzinger 1995, 72–73; Alexander 2008, 197). Thus the “deep sleep” referred to in Genesis 2:21 can be considered to correspond to the creation of primeval human persons from the modern humans.”

I can agree that “male and female he created them” (1:27) refers to God’s relational intent for humanity, an idea reinforced by the naming incident of 2:18-20, where “no suitable helper” for the man was found. However, your “thus” is a non sequitur, because none of the preceding ideas lead to the conclusion that the creation of “the woman” = the creation of “primeval human persons” from modern humans. (This also seems to reverse the order of creation, since Eve would be the first “human person,” created from the merely “modern human” Adam, but that’s a side issue.) You haven’t really shown that such a conclusion is warranted, let alone flows from the text of Gen. 2. It is an unwarranted leap, not a logical conclusion.

Be that as it may, every “recent Adam” ignores facts about human history and violates simple logic. For example, earlier you said:

In what sense can we say that “Homo sapiens creatures” 10,000 years ago did not possess free will? Were they not able to love God? Were they not able to love one another? Did Homo sapiens creature not marry one another or possess any moral codes prior to Adam in 3500 B.C.? Were human cultures prior to 3500 B.C. sinless?

The questions roll on and on. In a nutshell, postulating a “recent Adam” and a recent “Fall” turn human history into an incomprehensible mess. I appreciate your efforts to resolve the problem, but your scenario creates more questions than answers, to my mind.

I’ll be glad to give you the last word on the issue, though.

“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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