Randy, I dare to say that God thought like you and after the first sin said:
“If I want to move sinners to atone it is not good keeping them together with people who could claim they are unimpeachable.”
So He decided to let us all on earth in the state you magnificently describe: “We all have flaws, but are neither all bad, nor all good”. This is nothing other than the state of Universal Need of Redemption and Grace.
On the one hand, since this state is caused by the first sin in human history it can be called state of “original” sin. On the other hand, since it is consequence of God’s mercy it can be called “blessed fault”, as it is the case in the Easter Vigil Mass.
So you are saying very much the same St. Paul says in Romans 11:32:
“God bound everyone [of us] over to disobedience so that He may have mercy on [us] all.”
Or even St. Augustine:
“For God judged it better to bring good out of evil than not to permit any evil to exist.” (Enchiridion, viii).
Randy, IMHO, most all of the disagreements, over how Original Sin was transmitted, will disappear if we accept the premise that Original Sin was not from what Adam DID but what he refused to do. If God created the early Homo sapiens through evolution, they were like the other animals, amoral. When at least one of them (Adam) was given the gift of Conscience, and could choose self-denial to overcome evolutionary induced animal nature, A&E had the freedom to refuse this gift. _And that refusal became Sin which could be passed on to their descendants through the culture that followed the Great Leap Forward.
Looking for instances of the Golden Rule in creatures produced by evolution, one can see hints in the behavior of elephants and dolphins, for instance. But perhaps God was looking for a creature that would freely accept the Unselfishness required for the true love & empathy He required to become His Image Bearers. Jesus, as the Universal Christ, has shown us the way to do just that–to take up our cross and follow Him. That involves both denial of unproductive pleasures (opulent lifestyles) AND acceptance of onerous duties (support of the poor on the other side of the globe, as Mother Theresa did; or at the very least, financial support of charities like Doctors without Borders.)
Basically I agree with you. However I think that what you call “the gift of Conscience” included also the capability “to overcome evolutionary induced animal nature”. So Adam’s sin consisted in a sin of pride: freely choosing to deny God and refusing His love.
After the first sin God had the alternative:
Remove sinners from earth and let here only unimpeachable people.
Let sinners on earth in order they have opportunity (time) to atone.
Apparently God chose the latter.
However after sinning the capability to overcome evolutionary selfish mechanisms went lost and sinners remained submitted to lust, greed, and also suffering and illness.
On the other hand, keeping on earth sinners together with unimpeachable people looks like nonsensical for the sake of Redemption. In any case God has discarded this possibility and in fact after the first sin everyone (every accountable human) is created bound to lust, greed, suffering and illness, so that God may have mercy on them all.
I agree. But in my view the “state of need of Redemption” or “state of original sin” is more than what you say: It primarily results from the fact that for the sake of Redemption God has to keep on earth only people who need Redemption so that none feels entitled to claim: “I am unimpeachable”. I would also say that the great leap forward in culture happens with the arrival of writing.
I fully agree with this: Here we have common ground!
Antoine, it seems that our two ‘worldviews’ have a lot in common, except you have been able to keep yours more in line with Church dogma. However, I need further enlightenment on what you mean by the label, 'unimpeachable’. Was Jesus the only ‘unimpeachable’ human?
I view this somewhat differently. Sin came into the world when the animal, Homo sapiens, realized he/she could rise above their animal natures, through their God-given Minds and free will; but most refused to do so, and thus sinned. But even if they had succeeded in doing so, they still would have been subject to animalistic lust and desires and also to illness and death. This is evident in Paul Romans 7:14-15. IMHO, the only human who completely overcame their intrinsic animal natures was Jesus, and even he was subject to temptation, and, were he not crucified, he would have been subject to death. (Of course, if he were not crucified, God could have arranged for his bodily Ascencion, just as we believe he did for his resurrected body.)
IF God chose evolution as the mechanism to ‘complexify’ the simple life forms he initially created, he must have anticipated that, however beautiful these forms might become, they would have remained amoral. He surely must have anticipated the struggle any truly conscious (conscience directed) creature would have in achieving morality–i.e. needing Redemption. I reject the view that God is enraged at the prospect of having one of his perfectly created humans spoil His handiwork by rebellion. (We seem to be mostly in agreement on this point.). I have no doubt that the Vatican, as well as most evangelicals, would consider my worldview much closer to heresy than yours, but I feel it does less harm to my ‘science credo’ than yours would. Perhaps this is due to my lengthy discussions with several of my Italian colleagues who were raised in staunchly Catholic homes but abandoned their Faith when exposed to the agnostic atmosphere in Italian universities. They ended up discounting the Truth of ALL miracles and also of dogmas relying on direct word from God (as reported in Scripture). Instead, I assign less credence to some, but retain those essential (as I see it) to Jesus’ basic message of ‘love thy neighbor as thyself’.
I agree with you: “Original Sin” is not passed by touch and physical contact.
There is no “mechanism”. The transmission happens at the very moment a new human person comes into existence.
Here my explanation:
God is keen on moving sinners to atone in order they can reach eternal life (see Parable of the Two Sons).
For sinners to atone requires they acknowledge to be in need Redemption.
But sinners stubbornly tend to think they do not need Redemption.
If after the first sin God had continued creating people who did not need Redemption (in state of original righteousness), this would have reinforced the sinner’s tendency to think they do not need Redemption.
Therefore after the first sin everyone comes into existence sharing the need of Redemption. This is the state (unfortunately) called “original sin”.
In summary: God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all (Romans 11:32).
To me, this is just my world view, only phrased differently: God created the varied forms of earthly life through the basically selfish method of evolution, which resulted in great variety and beauty but an animal life that was intrinsically amoral. He then chose humankind to be free to act according to the spirit, as well as acting according to the flesh; i.e., to strive for morality–to be redeemed.
God foresaw Redemption for the case humans sinned.
God foresaw Incarnation also if humans had not sinned.
Accordingly I would state:
He then chose a couple of anatomically modern humans (Adam and Eve) and made them in His Image with capability of freely loving God.
This statement has the following noteworthy implications:
God defined the kind of body His Son would take. In this sense it is the Incarnation of God the crucial event to define humankind. The first Adam is actually defined with relation to Jesus Christ. To be human does not mean to be genetically or genealogically descended from Adam but share a body like Jesus Christ’s body. (For theological support see St. Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book III, Chapter 22 and Book V, Chapter 16).
God bestowed Adam and Eve (the first Image Bearers) with unimpaired capability of freely loving God. In this sense Adam and Eve acted according to both the spirit and the flesh, but were capable of overcoming the selfish tendencies of evolution.
The first sin (not necessarily by the first Image Bearers) was a sin of rejection of God’s love, that is, a sin of pride without temptation by lust or greed.
God mercifully decided to let the sinners on earth to give them opportunity to atone, and to facilitate this God let them submitted to the mechanisms of evolution, in particular illness, death, and selfish tendencies like greed and lust.
Atonement requires the acknowledgment that one has done wrong. Suppose that after the first sin God had continued creating people as He did before the first sin, that is, people who didn’t need Redemption. This would have reinforced the sinners’ tendency to think that they don’t need Redemption either.
Accordingly, to facilitate atonement after the first sin everyone comes into existence in the state of need of Redemption, that is, submitted to the mechanisms of evolution, in particular illness, death, and selfish tendencies like greed and lust, exactly as you postulate.
In summary, after the first sin everyone comes into existence sharing the consequences of the first sin, even if he/she did not personally commit this sin. This state of need of Redemption for all (unfortunately called “original sin”) is to the advantage of all of us: It hinders that we despair and stimulate us to accept Jesus’ Grace by helping each other to atone. So in permitting this state God is not unjust but merciful.
Antoine, I think we agree that at the core of the perceived conflict between science and religion are the concepts of Original Sin and Redemption/Atonement. (This topic, which you introduced, has garnered more responses than any for the last several years.). A worthwhile objective is to construct a worldview that does the least damage to the methods used by both the serious theologian and the serious scientist. You might say that “Occam’s razor” should be applied in both areas of knowledge. IMHO your approach might win out for the theologian, but my (slightly different) approach would be favored by scientists (even tho you would be an obvious exception!)
In my recent post:
Then you responded:
The parts of the above quotation that I feel is incompatible with scientist’s Occam’s razor are these:
"God foresaw Incarnation also if humans had NOT sinned." In spirit, God is present in ALL of his creation (panentheism), but, other than redemption, what other reason would there be for him to take the physical form of a Homo sapiens?
“God defined the kind of body His Son would take”. If God made this definition prior to the appearance of Homo sapiens some 250,000 yrs ago, then he must have taken a direct hand in how evolution operates. Since this patently UNscientific, I presume I have misinterpreted your meaning.
In contrast, one of your implication (2) fits smoothly with Teilhard’s view (& mine) that Adam was the first creature to have a foot in both the Biosphere and the Noosphere, and thus the first to become morally responsible.
I apologize for repeating the story about the famous US quantum physicist John Archibald Wheeler. He was once asked: "But if the universe only starts with our observations, is then the big bang here?” Wheeler answered: “A lovely way to put it -‘Is the big bang here?’ I can imagine that we will someday have to answer your question with a ‘yes’.”
If we take the perspective of quantum physics then we have to conclude that any reality in space-time necessarily relates to the human observers accessing it by means of observations.
Therefore, since the Big Bang the universe had necessarily to bring about human observers. No wonder that God foresaw since the Big Bang the kind of body His Son would take! Nonetheless from the perspective of evolution the time of definition is the moment when God chose one or several anatomically modern humans and made them in His Image and Likeness. As you know I set this moment at about 3,500 BC.
The expression “the appearance of Homo sapiens some 250,000 yrs ago” is not accurate. I dare to insist once again (with Richard Durbin’s wording): It is biologically impossible to establish when the species Homo sapiens begins with anything other than arbitrary criteria.
In fact humanity is defined and exist only since God stated to make humankind in His Image. In particular this implies: We are human not because we are descended from a Adam and Eve; we (as well as Adam and Eve) are human, and have special dignity, because we share a body like the body of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, the Image of the invisible God.
This is really an inspiring question!
God brought about human beings, that is, corporal creatures capable of freely loving him, to the aim of filling Heaven. But being in Heaven means to be like God. And since we are bodies, in order to be like God, it is necessary that our bodies become like God. This would be impossible unless God becomes a body, what He became by incarnating. So in heaven we will be like God, because we will be like Christ (1 John 3:2), that is, become transformed into Christ’s body, and “be one body in Christ and individually members one of another” (Romans 12:4-5).
In summary:Incarnation is the primary aim of Creation; there would have been Incarnation even if humans had not sinned. However, to the extent that all possible histories are contained all together in God’s mind, Redemption is tied to Incarnation “from the beginning, before there was ever an earth.”
In this point I fully agree with you and Teilhard.
I totally agree. In fact that is why I am most comfortable defining humankind by their behavior–their ability to invent and use symbolic language to communicate abstract thoughts; their ability to conceive of existence after death; in short, to become moral beings, not merely animals. The outmoded idea that defining species on whether or not they can interbreed would force us to consider Neanderthals and Denisovans as fellow humans, which I am reluctant to do. Making decisions based on the fossil record is risky–absence of prominent brow ridges, spherical skull shape rather than elongated with protruding jaws–tells us little about the behavior of its occupant. Did these creatures realize they were creatures? If so, did they conceive of having a relationship with their Creator? Its risky to attempt to deduce behavior of this sort from the fossil record, but Ian Tatersall in presenting evidence for the Great Leap Forward makes a case that is more than merely plausible, even though it falls short of certainty.
Most likely the ancient Homo sapiens of ~200,000 yrs. BPE had all the physiological characteristics of humans today, including the same brain size. But, based on current archeological evidence, their behavior was the same as their compatriot Neanderthals. Somehow (biological mechanism still speculative) the neural networks in the “over-designed” brain of one (or a few) of these ancient H.s. was “programmed” (in computer terms) to accept a sophisticated “language and operating system” that separates humans from animals. IMHO, this is what makes us image bearers, not our skeletal shape or any visible characteristic.
Perhaps it is my advanced age that makes the belief in my dual nature more acceptable. Thus I am still comfortable in seeing my “essential being” as it was at 20, courting a lovely girl and planning a future family. But now I see my body as an old faithful vehicle that has served me well on life’s journey, but is soon to be delegated to the scrap heap. If there is anything about Al Leo that deserves the title of Image, I hope it is my soul, not my body, even if it were to be reincarnated at age 20.