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

@AntoineSuarez, @GJDS; I wish to express a heartfelt thanks to both of you scholars for introducing me to the works of some of the ‘Church Fathers’ who set the course for the early Christian church. On my own, I learned a little about Origen and Irenaeus, but missed the boat on Athanasious. Having been raised Catholic, this seems inexcusable, especially in view of the following quote from the Catholic Encyclopedia: Bishop of Alexandria; Confessor and [Doctor of the Church]; born c. 296; died 2 May, 373. Athanasius was the greatest champion of [Catholic][belief] on the subject of the Incarnation that the Church has ever known and in his lifetime earned the characteristic title of “Father of Orthodoxy”, by which he has been distinguished ever since.

After I had studied the works of Chardin at some length and decided that to incorporate evolution into my Christian Faith, I felt that I had to embrace the ‘dogma’ of Original Blessing, as a replacement for Original Sin; i.e., humankind was the first creature gifted with a mind that could direct the evolution of the species to incorporate some of the (hoped for) characteristics of its Creator, namely love, empathy & selflessness. Athanasius appears to express the thoughts that led me in that direction, and perhaps I should consider him as my Patron Saint:

[quote=“GJDS, post:837, topic:35442”] quoting Athanasius:
For of what use is existence to the creature if it cannot know its Maker? [Or as the 20th century movie asked: "What’s it all about, Alphie?"] How could men be reasonable beings if they had no knowledge of the Word and Reason of the Father, through Whom they had received their being? They would be no better than the beasts, had they no knowledge save of earthly things; and why should God have made them at all, if He had not intended them to know Him? But, in fact, the good God has given them a share in His own Image, that is, in our Lord Jesus Christ, and has made even themselves after the same Image and Likeness…

I cannot picture any deadlier Sin than to have been given the means of striving toward becoming God’s Image, and then choosing selfishness and narcissism instead. But the answer is not to find the effective way to engineer human biogenes (e.g. thru CRISPR-Cas9), but to engineer the “Noogenes” that guide human culture [Constitutions, laws, Church dogmas, cultural norms, etc.]. Almost certainly this is a case where evolutionary “progress” depends on group survival, not individual survival.
Al Leo

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It includes also the universal prohibition of homicide because humankind is made in the Image of God. So it is a covenant with humanity and all its ethnic groups (as the Rainbow in Genesis 9:13-17 signifies).

For this covenant it is crucial that humans can visibly distinguish between humans and animals.

Since the covenant is supposed to hold today, the distinction at the time the covenant was established has to be considered the same as it is today.

Evolution provides clear evidence for the earliest possible time at which the gap between humanity and apes became as sharp as it is today: This time is 15,000 years ago since before this moment there were intermediate varieties between humans and apes which are extinct today.

True enough!

It is biologically impossible to establish when the species Homo sapiens begins with anything other than arbitrary criteria. This means that the moment when humanity “suddenly” arose cannot be defined biologically. This is rather a strong aspect of evolution!

So from Scripture we can conclude that humanity “suddenly” appears at the time when God transforms anatomic modern human creatures into accountable humans in God’s Image. And from Evolution we can conclude that his time is later than 15,000 years ago.

You need to explain this, as it seems to me to be a contradiction; it is in fact a very, very, weak aspect of the ToE, and I prefer to see this as a catastrophic failure of evolutionary thinking by biologists.

OK Antoine you have said “apes” several times now and it has now provoked me to comment. :grinning:

Hominids split from the nearest “ape” 10 million years ago. You should be say the gap between humanity and the other hominin branches. Picky I know, but hearing apes grates on my ears like fingernails on a chalk board, if anybody can actually remember what a chalk board is.

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Evolution brings to light the limits of biological reasoning: The begin of humanity (as a life form with a value and dignity animals do not have) cannot be explained biologically.

This is not a failure but a big result of evolutionary thinking!

Indeed, if God did not become human flesh and we are not in Image of God, then there is no criterion for discerning what makes human life precious and unique. And then we should live by Darwinian principles, live our lives in a Darwinian way, and make a society a Darwinian society: “what Hitler tried to do could be regarded as arising out of Darwinian natural selection” (Richard Dawkins).

So, at the end of the day we are taught by Evolution that we cannot define humanity without God.

Evolution is a strong proof of the existence of God!

Thank you for your response Antoine, and as a scientist I must disagree. Evolution imo has no place in defining humanity and God.

Thanks for this comment Bill!

In my view one should rather state:

If we go back in Evolution 10 million years ago we will find a population of common ancestors to genus Homo and genus Pan, which were neither hominids nor apes but something in between.

Additionally, we will find plenty of other intermediate varieties that went extinct.

Let us assume that all these varieties would be still alive. Then there will be today a continuum of varieties a,b,c,d,e,f,g,h between modern humans ( ‘h’ ) and chimps ( ‘a’ ), and hybridization between any two contiguous varieties would have been possible producing even more varieties.

The disappearance of the b,c,d,e,f,g is a necessary condition in order that the varieties h and a become the species Modern human and Chimpanzee, which are genetically as distant from each other as they cannot interbreed.

So for the distinction between humans and apes today what matters is not so much “the split 10 million years ago” but rather the fact that thereafter all the intermediate varieties disappeared.

We agree that God’s law in Genesis 9:3-6 holds today, that is:

Each human is accountable toward God for the life of another human, but not for killing animals to get food.

To apply this law today, the gap what matters is obviously the gap between humanity and the nearest apes.

So on the basis of the evidence we have it is fitting and safe to assume that God proclaimed this law and made humanity in God’s Image at a time when the gap between humanity and apes was as sharp as it is today.

Evolutionary data tell us that this time lays later than 15,000 years ago.

Not in-between. The common ancestor was just that, common. As homo and pan started to evolve independently the small changes started to lead to a difference between homo and pan, but this would still be millions of years ago, just less then 10.

Pure speculation and probably not possible due to differences in behavior and geographic isolation. At some point in the divide interbreeding would not be possible for sure.

When you say “later” do you mean before or after 15 kya? I have seen it used in both senses and it does get confusing.

This is the date when the other homo species went extinct. It has been a much longer period of time to when the last homo / pan couple got together to make whoopie. And you have been arguing the problem was not being able to recognize a non-homo sapien. That wouldn’t be a member of pan given the changes they had gone through.

Not to nit pick though guess I will anyway, the ancestor was not something in between, as both apes and hominids changed in unique ways in succeeding generations. The ancestor did have traits that both lines have in common, which is probably what you meant. It is sort of like saying an ancestral wolf is something in between an English bulldog and a dachshund.

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Me too I am a scientist, a quantum physicist.

I think scientific knowledge is part of larger story about the unique value of humanity, personal freedom and responsibility.

A science that would not support the universal human good, would be nonsensical and obviously dangerous.

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You bring up an interesting point in this discussion. I note we began by agreeing that Athanasius has shown the Church that goodness is from God, and humanity, without reason and a desire for the good, is but as beasts.

I think we can also agree that science and the knowledge derived by scientists adds value when scientists (and humans in general) seek the good, but so often we as a community have found many ways to use scientific knowledge to bring death, suffering and great tragedy.

I see this as an aspect of humanity, while scientific activity is directed at the study of objects (the material world). The theory of evolution is no different - value to humanity is obtained by people of good will, whatever occupation they choose.

Thanks Phil for this fitting comment, which gives me opportunity to formulate more accurately what I mean.

The perspective you take is that of explaining humanity outgoing from evolving animals. My perspective is that of explaining evolution outgoing from humanity as it is today.

At the present time species are distinct: The sharp gap between humans and apes makes it possible to distinguish unambiguously which creature is human and which is a chimp (the nearest not human animal), as depicted in Figure 1 below.

But this distinction becomes fuzzy when we go backwards in evolution. The reason is that we find more and more intermediate varieties filling the gap between humans and chimps till we reach a variety that was their last common ancestor (see Figure 1).

It is the disappearance of these intermediated varieties at different times of evolution in the follow of very complex ecological regulation what makes it possible to define humanity as a species distinct from other animal forms.

Figure 1:
Only the evolution leading to modern humans is represented in detail; the evolution leading to chimps is poorly investigated but might have followed a similar pattern. The emergence of different varieties of Australopithecus (robustus, boisei, afarensis, sediba, and possibly others) or of Homo (sapiens, neanderthalensis, denisovan, floresiensis) was not sharp (as sketched) but rather fuzzy.


If all these intermediate ancestors were still alive there will be a continuum between humans and chimps. Interbreeding between any two contiguous species would have been possible, as it happened between archaic Homo sapiens and Neanderthals about 80,000 years ago, and between anatomic modern Humans and Denisovans about 15,000 years ago, as sketched in the following Figure 2:

Figure 2:

God’s Law in Genesis 9:3-6 is the foundation of any sound moral and legal order:

In the present situation depicted in Figure 1 it is clear that the girl at the bottom right corner is human and in the Image of God while the chimp in the top right corner is not human and therefore is not in the Image of God: Ascription of rights can be done correspondingly.

In the hypothetical situation depicted in Figure 2 the ascription of “human rights” would have been a question of arbitrary decision, and racism would have become rampant.

By creating the gap between humans and chimps Evolution laid the groundwork for assigning rights coherently. So it is fitting to assume that the gap existing today between humans and apes (Figure 1) is the same as the gap existing at the moment referred to in Genesis 9:3-6. And this means that this moment lays between 15,000 and 5,200 years before present.

I mean between 15,000 and 5,200 years ago:

Human knowledge, and in particular science, arises from the very need and will for assigning rights and duties coherently on a public recognizable basis.

In particular, the concept of species emerges to defining humanity as distinctly separated from any other life form, and founding the ``Golden Rule”, the law enounced in Genesis 9: 3-6:

Value to humanity comes from the fact that humans are made in the Image of God, while non-human animals are not: “We should not live according to Darwinian principles” (Richard Dawkins)

So science is part of a larger story about what is just and unjust, right and wrong, good and bad. Scientific activity does not reduce to “the study of the material world” because not all what matters for the “material world” is contained in space-time.

Sadly, we use often scientific knowledge in a wrong way, as you say.
Nonetheless science like any knowledge emerges from the desire to contribute to the universal human good and shape interpersonal relationship rationally.

Interestingly, the first cuneiform writings are pieces of accountancy establishing property rights: This is the beginning of mathematics the basis of science! Experimental science itself, especially quantum physics, is accountancy to a large extent.

As we are taught by Genesis: Knowledge is primarily knowledge about good and bad.

And the most revered scientist of the 20th century, Einstein, could not accept that God’s creativity could in any way depend on "the throw of the dice." As a quantum mechanician, you must also be driven. by a desire “to know the Mind of God”, even tho you know it is an unattainable goal–in this life, anyway.
Al Leo


The problem with Einstein’s position is that he denies the freedom of the experimenter.

The main interpretations of Quantum (Collapse, Pilot-Wave, and Many-Worlds) can be unified into All-Possible-Worlds, which consists of:

  • All conceivable choices (experiments) humans of all times can make.
  • The outcome God assigns to each of these choices.

See the recent paper: https://arxiv.org/abs/1905.06131

The act of knowing good and bad was the act of free will. Having freedom to do one’s own thing results in knowing what is bad/evil. Left to our own desires will always lead to our own destructive end. That does not mean knowledge itself is bad or evil. The result and nature of free will is knowing good and evil.

We are not forced to do good. We have the free choice of being good. We do not have to teach evil. Evil comes out of an imagination tired of being good.

Thanks Tim: I agree with you in this point.

Evolution laid the groundwork for assigning rights by creating a sharp gab between humans and the chimps (the nearest non-human variety). Evolution did this work by means of highly complex ecological regulation.

Then God created humans in the Image of God and called them to behave according the “ecology of love”, that is, respecting each other (Genesis 9:3-6).

Accordingly defining humanity as species is inseparably related to God’s definition of humanity in His Image and the Commandment that humans ought to respect each other.

This means that the basic knowledge allowing humans to distinguish humans and non-humans is inseparably united to God’s law in Genesis 9:3-6.

It is in this sense the biblical Perspective is that knowledge is primarily “knowledge of good and evil”.

And one can also claim that Evolution is a superb proof of God’s existence, as far as one acknowledges that: “We should not live according to Darwinian principles” (Richard Dawkins).

I would like to complete my comment by stating that in God’s Mind are contained two sort of phenomena:

  • Ordinary phenomena exhibiting regularities we can describe by Science (Quantum and Relativity).

  • Extraordinary phenomena or “miracles” beyond any scientific description and our control.

The characteristic feature of “miracles” is that a group of observers perceive things as real, which according to other observers cannot happen.

Interestingly, this feature appears also when one inappropriately applies quantum superposition to visible (macroscopic objects): Schrödinger’s Cat and Wigner’s Friend are not scientific descriptions but rather “miracle” narratives.

I would rather say: Value to humanity is obtained by the fact that humanity Is in the Image of God.

For this reason, humanity has a value animals don’t have.

Behaving respecting this distinction is what Genesis 9:3-6 commands.

“People of good will” are those who try to keep this commandment.

Evolution laid the groundwork in order humans can distinguish between humans and animals.

So Evolution clearly makes it possible that Genesis 9:3-6 can be enacted and humanity obtains value.