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

(Albert Leo) #61

@GJDS My comments do not include one mention of the theory of evolution – this is because I do not see that as relevant.

In a previous post I asked you to elaborate on your earlier statement that you did not see the theory of evolution as relevant to the topic of transmission of original sin. You did not address this in your response. I hope you will do so now, and, if you have not already done so, to read the excellent blog “Evolutionary Creationism and Imago Dei” by John Hammett (Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) 6/20/12. He enumerates the same difficulties I encountered in the process of reconciling orthodox Catholicism with evolution. In this blog he quotes Alan Plantinga:

“Alvin Plantinga, in an argument against materialism, asks, “How could an immaterial soul have come to be by way of evolutionary processes?” He (Plantinga) quotes Richard Dawkins,

Catholic morality demands the presence of a great gulf between Homo Sapiens and the rest of the animal kingdom. Such a gulf is fundamentally anti-evolutionary [and hence wholly heretical?]. The sudden injection of an immortal soul in the timeline is an anti-evolutionary intrusion into the domain of science.

I am not sure that either Plantinga or Hammett are aware of Dawkins embarrassing attempt to explain the appearance of modern humans in a Great Leap Forward as “somehow the Homo sapiens brain was programmed.” [“Ancestor’s Tales” p. 35] Perhaps it was a Celestial Programmer that initiated this anti-evolutionary intrusion.

I accept your criticism that the GLF is not yet established science. But you can bet that in the dozen years since he published Ancestors, Dawkins has looked for evidence to discredit it.
Al Leo

(GJDS) #62

As I stated before, the desire to commit sin has been a part of human nature since Adam and Eve. The image of God was also imprinted by God, and as Catholic theology (and Orthodoxy) states, this is the creation of true humans.

You seem to be obsessed with a notion of guilt and punishment, as inferred by preposterous statements, such as unbaptised babies will be condemned to hell, and such nonsense. God is intent on saving all humanity in Christ, a community of many sons and daughters of God, with Christs as the original Son of God. There is all hope in this, and no condemnation.

I cannot fathom why you seek meaning of God’s divine purpose in any theory of science, let alone the primitive ToE.

(Antoine Suarez) #63

In my opinion, we cannot separate the God of Creation from the God of Redemption [see Biologos, What We Believe, Nr. 2-4]. Thus if evolution describes the dynamics of nature, then there must be some relationship between evolution and Redemption.

A possible view is that Redemption is required to “redeem” the “propensity to sin” which results from the selfishness intrinsic to evolution and pops out at the moment humans become morally responsible. It seems to me that Albert Leo and George follow somewhat this line of thinking. For me this is not quite satisfactory because it looks like God is obliged to repair the flaws He himself has caused with a defective Creation.

An alternative view is that “Adam and Eve are specifically created by God to participate and commune with the Divine” (as you very well state); this means that they were endowed with free will and capability to love God, and, since they were free, they were in principle capable of mistrusting Him. However God did not create them with any “propensity or desire to sin”, neither deriving from evolution nor from their spiritual capabilities, because as said this would mean that God must “redeem” some flaw He Himself has caused in creating humans.

Nonetheless Adam and Eve were tempted by Lucifer, the same way as Jesus was tempted. In all these temptations the shrewd pattern the devil uses is the same: “You can have eternal happiness by yourself without God’s help; you can become the rule of good and evil for yourself.” So this temptation (and “the fruits of the knowledge of good and evil”) “refers to a spiritual state of being that originates from the rebellion of Lucifer” (as you also state). To this extent I share this view as well.

So the question arises: Where in this view can we find a relationship between evolution and Redemption?

First of all I would like to repeat that God could very well have let Adam and Eve and subsequent sinners join Lucifer forever, so that on earth only remain godly people without sin and need of Redemption. I think that if God had decided this way, He would have created the world by other means than evolution. The “perfect pre-fall world” of YECs could very well have been the “perfect post-fall world” as well. This way the earth would always have been populated by “godly” people living in the “perfect” Paradise. Paradoxically the “perfect world” YECs invoke would rather have been the consequence of “God’s Judgement” because the Fall.

Nonetheless God decided from the very beginning to redeem the sinners. To this aim, among other things, he judged convenient to create a world where humans, in case they sin, can perceive the Glory of God but at the same time realize that they are not like God through the experience of illness, death, propensity to sin, and the consequences of the moral evil they themselves cause. So God created the world of evolution and, after the first sin, creates the human persons lacking mastery of the selfish Darwinian tendencies and with desire to sin, that is, in “state of original sin”: “God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all” (Romans 11:32).

In summary:

  • On the one hand you are right: After Adam and Eve sinned [quote=“GJDS, post:62, topic:35442”]
    the desire to commit sin has been a part of human nature

  • On the other hand Albert Leo is right: The “imperfect” evolutionary world in which we live is the result of God’s mercy in preview of the Fall, and the “state of Original Sin” can be considered a “state of Original Blessing” in accord with Romans 11:32 and the felix culpa of the Easter Proclamation.

(GJDS) #64

This question consists of two parts: (a) since Adam and Eve were placed in a separate place from what we regard as Nature, there is a great difference between the Garden and the rest of this planet. Evolution, if it means time related events, would apply outside of the garden, but not within it. (b) Once Adam and Eve made the wrong choice, they were driven out into this earth, and they were in need of redemption. Milton sees this as loosing paradise.

If we close our minds to this distinction, than we are left to make up all sorts of narratives.

Now if we also assume that the entire creation was the garden made for Adam and Eve, we indulge in error - it is clear that they were driven out of a place of comfort and well being, and into a place of hardship and pain. It is also clear that they possessed knowledge of God, and yet the story shows us that human nature distinguished itself through sin, debauchery, murder, and so on. So redemption is directly related to the Mercy of God and is an act of Grace by Him.

Your remarks also touch on what God may know from eternity to eternity, and also theodicy. If God knew before hand, why did He do this instead of that - so to speak. I see this as human beings acting as gods, in that we know more than God, or can show God, what is good at one time, and bad at another.However these questions have troubled us all, and some turn away from God as a result, while others understand why Mercy and Grace are central to the Faith. Obviously it is impossible to discuss these matters in detail within this context.

On the rest of humanity since Adam, I think we may infer from Genesis that other human beings were made aware of God through Adam and his descendants. As Paul says in Romans, until the Law came, we may be unaware of our sin, but once it does, we know that we are condemned and we need to turn to Christ for forgiveness and salvation.

Now on questions regarding our physical make-up and our capacities, I cannot see why biology, and the rest of the Sciences, would not inform us - these are outcomes of human intellect and the human spirit - and also distinguishes us from the rest of the created order, in so far that human agency can and does change that order.

(Albert Leo) #65

Why don’t you read a person’s post before you respond to it? I consider the highlighted section of your quote above is nonsense, just as you do. Be honest in your debates, if you have a position worth holding.
Al Leo

(GJDS) #66

I think you should take a deep breath Albert - this comment is similar to one made by another poster, and I do not impute the exact words to you. However the tone of your comments often leaves me with the feeling that those who do not share your views may be implying that God condemns us to sin and what have you. This is error.

(Albert Leo) #67

Ah, but you DO “impute the exact words” (belief in Limbo) to me. It appears that you are reduced to using an old debating trick: when one has a weak, indefensible position, you misquote your opponent, creating a straw man which then can easily be defeated. If you had labeled me as a polyana, because I believe in a loving God who wants us to share fully with His wonderful creation, even to the extent of becoming co-creators, you would be on more solid ground.
best wishes,
Al Leo

(GJDS) #68

Wow - you found all of this in my post - amazing.

(Antoine Suarez) #69

In order to better understand what you say, I would like to ask:

If Adam and Eve were placed in a “separate place” and once they “made the wrong choice, they were driven out into this earth”, where did the “other human beings” come from, who according to you “were made aware of God through Adam and his descendants”?

Thanks in advance for your answer.

(GJDS) #70

This is an excellent question and one that I have considered for some time. My response will need to be within (a) the context of the Biblical narrative, and (b) a realisation that the history of the human race is recorded for a relatively brief period when we compare it to geological ages.

On (a), an inference may be drawn from Genesis - Cain and Abel worked on this earth, and practiced religion. and sin spread throughout the earth. It assumes that there is already a considerable population in the world, for no explanation is given where of how Cain got his wife, or who were the people whose vengeance he feared. The institution of sacrifice, is simply stated, and of blood revenge is again stated without qualification, while it is also assumed that people would recognise the “mark” on Cain. I think there is little doubt that there was a population of humans who were aware of God, of Adam’s descendants, and so on. Various views of these difficulties have been suggested, Commentaries are available on this matter.

On (b) we have “mountains” of information and data that records human activity beginning somewhere between 50-10,000 years ago. This is recorded in paintings, constructions, writings, and so on. within this period, modelling can easily account for the current human population commencing with a recent common ancestor. Thus we are on solid ground on both (a) and (b).

I suspect that you may also be curious on where evolutionary biology may fit into this view. I restate my objection to some fanciful leap forward - ToE insists on changes over vast periods of time, and I cannot fathom how anyone who values science can than claim that such a great change occurred in such a short time frame (we would need to think of time shrinking to about 0.01% relative to the usual ToE ideas).

So I can speak with confidence on (a) and (b), and I can, as a scientist, be extremely skeptical of the dubious, or should I say, fanciful claims of a great leap (reminds me of Chairman Mao and his great cultural revolution - I display my sense of humour again, moderator please laugh or at least smile :innocent:)

(George Brooks) #71

I shall tarry long enough to remind @GJDS and other readers, that this is an objection that should be aimed at Atheists or others who do not intentionally include God’s “intentioned” participation in human evolution.

A great many pro-Evolution Christians would be surprised to think of any other view than that God helped move human development along, whenever He so desired.

(GJDS) #72

As is so often the case, you miss the point (but I am glad you have not wickipediated me (?!) - the point is to consider the evidence and stick to that. As I stated to another blogger who is a proponent of the great leap on scientific grounds, we must see the science behind such a proposal. I am not discussing what God is able to do, nor should you constantly make these vacuous statements that pertain to providence. If you have received a revelation on what and when you think God did and how He did it, than you may be in a position to say what you do. Me thinks you are not in such a position.

(George Brooks) #73


So basically, you are saying that Young Creationists can assert a literal 6 day creation that flies in the face of what you already admit is an Earth far older than 6000 years - - But…

you insist that it is bad form to remind readers that with God’s participation, it would be no surprise if 50,000 years would be enough for a “hominid to human” evolution."

I would think you would find the former much less acceptable, because YEC’s are stating error when they constantly plead that the Earth is not less than 6000 years old, while the latter is at least a possibility, and a possibility that actually seems probable - - given the combination of our eye-witness evidence of nature and the reading of the theme of Creation in scripture.

Compare the above to your criticizing Christian evolutionists for supposing that God-assisted Evolution would answer your additional criticism (that Godless evolution could not produce such a dramatic “hominid to human” transition). Why should anyone bear that kind of counter-assertion, and silently accept such criticism, when the whole point of BioLogos is to show why God’s involvement in evolution is not the “odd man out” scenario - - but the most likely one?

Why would you defend the intentional mis-statement of natural history (even by your standards of natural history), and rebuke the man who says God’s existence and intentions are the best answer to the solution?

(Antoine Suarez) #74

The first “writings” are usually supposed to appear in Sumer and are dated at 3,500 BCE (5,500 years ago). Do you have any evidence for dating “writings” 10,000 years ago or before?

Regarding your claims I would be thankful to know which of the two following positions you endorse:

  1. Adam and Eve were placed in a “separate place” and once they “made the wrong choice, they were driven out into this earth” between 50-10,000 years ago. Here they met a population of “other human beings” who were endowed with free will but were not biologically descended from them (Adam and Eve). These “other human beings” „were made aware of God through Adam and his descendants". The “current human population” is biologically descended not only from Adam and Eve but also from these “other human beings”, and therefore cannot be considered genetically descended from a single couple.

  2. Adam and Eve were placed in a “separate place” and once they “made the wrong choice, they were driven out into this earth” between 50-10,000 years ago. At this time Adam and Eve were the only human beings on earth but they reproduced biologically and their descendants „were made aware of God through Adam”. All human populations reported in Genesis and the “current human population” are genetically descended from the single couple Adam and Eve.

Your clarification will help me to better understand what you mean.

(GJDS) #75

I need to point out that it has been some time since I have reviewed information on periods of time that can be equated with records of human activity, so I hope you can accept the approximations inherent in my response. The earliest “records” as I recall are of Australian aborigines who constructed a cave that the press reported as the earliest ‘Stonehenge’ in its construction and size and features, and this was dated at about 30,000 years. I recall mounds and caves that in various parts of Europe that may also be dated in the thousand to ten-thousand years ago. The mountains of evidence refers to more recent times, and this data has been used in a paper that models the current population commencing from a couple at about 10,000 yrs ago. If you do not have a copy, I can try and find it for you. Thus my time frame is approximate, but it is in the thousands and not the 10-100million time frame.

I would endorse a view that accepts Adam and Eve as a distinct couple endowed by God with free will and who communed directly with God. I would also accept as an aside that other biological humans could have existed at that time - however I elaborate on this by discussing God’s law, and the importance of Adam and Eve as a creative act that impacted on all of the Creation, including other biological humans. Obviously that needs considerable discussion and I cannot get into that now.

Within this brief comment, I accept the view that all of humanity are descendent from Adam and Eve (as the stochastic model shows) but biologically/genetically the human race contains biological material from other humans - this would be qualified by the term “true humans” which would be derived through Adam and Eve.

I trust that makes my point a little clear, although I think my points may raise more questions than answers on this site.

(Antoine Suarez) #76

Thanks Al Leo for this clarification regarding your understanding of the term “propensity to sin”.

In my view, the discussion we are holding in this thread brings to light three main different positions about the state in which “Adam and Eve” were created, which are summarized in the following (where the first part in curly brackets { } seems to be common to all three positions):

Position I
{God created “Adam and Eve” (the first human persons) by endowing Homo sapiens creatures with free will to sin or not to sin, and thus with the real possibility to sin.
They made their choice based on what they judged to be the consequences.
God gave them an innate moral sense to help govern the exercise of that free will.
In particular He gave them the intelligence to discern that the immediate attractiveness of a particular sin is outweighed by its long term consequences.
Nonetheless they sinned.}

If “Adam and Eve” had no propensity to sin, then there was no real choice to be made: they would not have sinned.
So they had propensity to sin, and this came from the selfishness intrinsic to the process of evolution which shaped the Homo sapiens creatures God used to create “Adam and Eve”.
This evolutionary selfishness and corresponding “propensity to sin” was within “Adam and Eve” and is within all other human persons from the very moment of creation, and causes them to be in “need of Redemption”.

Position II
{God created “Adam and Eve” (the first human persons) by endowing Homo sapiens creatures with free will to sin or not to sin, and thus with the real possibility to sin.
They made their choice based on what they judged to be the consequences.
God gave them an innate moral sense to help govern the exercise of that free will.
In particular He gave them the intelligence to discern that the immediate attractiveness of a particular sin is outweighed by its long term consequences.
Nonetheless they sinned.}

By sinning they acted selfishly because they did not accept their limits: they wanted to overcome their limits by distrusting God.
So “Adam and Eve” had a potential that they did not reach.
The very fact that they were limited creatures insured that they could not reach that potential and sinned.
Accordingly “Adam and Eve” and all other human persons are in “need of Redemption” from the very moment of creation.

Position III
{God created “Adam and Eve” (the first human persons) by endowing Homo sapiens creatures with free will to sin or not to sin, and thus with the real possibility to sin.
They made their choice based on what they judged to be the consequences.
God gave them an innate moral sense to help govern the exercise of that free will.
In particular He gave them the intelligence to discern that the immediate attractiveness of a particular sin is outweighed by its long term consequences.
Nonetheless they sinned.}

Their sin was not motivated by any propensity to sin coming from the selfishness intrinsic to the process of evolution: God bestowed “Adam and Eve” with strength of will and intellect to overcome such a selfishness.
Their sin was not a necessary consequence of their limits as creatures either.
However they were tempted by the devil, the same way as Jesus was tempted (Matthew 4:1-11).
In this test they had to make a real choice: either to acknowledge the own limits and accept God’s Grace to become like Him, or distrust God and try to be like Him without His Grace.
Adam and Eve freely decided to fail into this temptation and sinned.
Instead of condemning “Adam and Eve” to join the devil, God mercifully decided to redeem them by means of His Grace. To this aim He let them in the earth in the “state of original sin”: they lost mastery over evolutionary selfishness and acquired “propensity to sin” in particular through “concupiscence”.
After this first sin of human history all human persons coming into existence are in principle created by God in the “state of original sin” and “in need of Redemption”: “God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all” (Romans 11:32). After the sin of “Adam and Eve” propensity to sin is within all other human persons from the very moment they are created.

For the sake of clarity and in order to better understand each other’s position I would like to invite the participants in this thread to state whether her/his position fits to one of these three above, and if not to formulate her/his own position in short statements in a similar way.

On my part I share Position III.

(Albert Leo) #77

Antoine, you are to be praised for clarifying the three main positions that have been discussed in this thread. I am not surprised that you would feel most comfortable with Position III, which I’ll bet is the case for most supporters of BioLogos. You have probably guessed that I am most comfortable with Position I, but I should point out what seems to me to be an inconsistency.

I am in total agreement with the first quote, but I am puzzled by the second (in all 3 positions) which seems to contradict it. If upon becoming truly human, A&E were given an 'innate moral sense’, why did they 'distrust God and desire to overcome their limits’? It seems to me that you are bending over backwards in trying to explain Gen. 3:4. Why not use Occam’s Razor and interpret Gen. 3:4 as an offer by God to use the sudden gift of intelligence to overcome instinct and acquire as many blessed attributes as our Creator intended us to have.

Antoine, I am not surprised that you have examined but rejected my use of SG & GLF (selfish genes & great leap forward) as the basis for human origins and Original Sin. It’s too unorthodox for today’s Christian Faith. But if we look centuries into the future, what then? During the past century, as peoples became more educated, they tended to drift from the Christian Faith. Must that continue to be so?
Al Leo


If only you would adopt your own “short statements” requirement. :wink:

BTW, your Position III minus A&E pretty much sums up what I have been saying. Or you can leave A&E in if you take them to be a type that represents all of mankind.

(GJDS) #79

God created Adam and Eve as free human beings that communed with God directly. This freedom is total and does not include any propensity to sin, nor were they burdened with some sort of evolutionary selfish nonsense. Freedom from God means a complete capacity to be as God created them, and the intellect to comprehend themselves, God, and their surroundings.

The setting of Eden must imo be also understood within a spiritual context and the universality of God’s Law. This is where the tree of the knowledge of good and evil comes in, and a clear commandment by God not to partake of its fruit. Thus, it was the spiritual temptation by Satan, and the response to this temptation by Eve, and then Adam, that led to the nature of humanity to desire the consequences of good and evil acts. It was the act by Eve and then Adam that added the desire to sin to human nature universally.

(Antoine Suarez) #80

Thanks to all of you for having formulated the Position you endorse. The debate going on in others threads shows interest for discussing pros and cons of the different Positions I-III more in depth.

On my part I would like to point out some advantages of Position III:

  1. It fits to the available scientific data, in particular evolution.

  2. Agrees perfectly to the teaching of Jesus Christ and the Apostle Paul.

  3. Respects the core commitments of BioLogos.

  4. Is in accord with the Catholic Magisterium, in particular the Declarations of the Council of Trent.

  5. Integrates the core teaching of the Fathers of the Church, in particular Augustine of Hippo: “Original sin” has to be explained outgoing from the universal need of Redemption through the Grace of Jesus Christ, and not the other way around. Nonetheless Position III avoids formulations suggesting that “original sin is genetically transmitted.”

  6. Incorporates relevant theological thesis as for instance: Anselm’s thesis that “the state of original sin” consists mainly in the “lack of original grace”, and Thomas Aquinas idea that this state also essentially involves “concupiscence”. However Position III also endorses that “selfishness intrinsic to evolution” is an important ingredient of “concupiscence”.

  7. Fully respects human freedom: “Original sin” is a state (not a personal trespass) resulting from the first sin in human history and consequently everyone is actually free NOT to sin. This seems to contrast with Richard Middleton’s position.

  8. Assumes the main tenet of “Homo divinus” (Denis Alexander, Sam Berry, Graeme Finlay) that “Adam and Eve” were not the progenitors of all humankind, but were the first two human persons (living during the Neolithic) who disobeyed a categorical commandment of God. However Position III avoids transmission of sin by “spiritual contamination”.

  9. Assumes the idea of “Relational damage” (Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI) that in the beginning of human history “transmission of the state of original sin” did not exclusively happen at the moment of biological reproduction. However it links “transmission of the state of original sin” to the first sin of human history and not to sins thereafter.

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

In summary, Position III seems to be a good basis to promote the view that science is helping us to discover new Revelation truth contained in Scripture, and Revelation is helping us to better understand evolution as a process which lays the groundwork for assigning rights.

Now, assumed that God created the primeval human persons (“Adam and Eve”) by endowing Homo sapiens creatures with free will, the following Question deserves to be discussed:

Was “Adam and Eve” a single couple or a primeval (little or large) human population?

I think it may be interesting to continue the debate in this thread by discussing also this Question.

What Homo Naledi Means for the Study of Human Evolution