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

Antoine, your posts cover a large portion of Christian theology, which you seem to overlay with biological evolutionary outlooks; I do not think Gen 9:3-6 serves your purpose, and I feel that a detailed response may require a very lengthy response from me. In this case, I prefer to make my point with poetry, and to this end I provide the following (with poetic license):

Romans 7:18-20 For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want, is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me.

Once man disobeys the Divine Will
He is impure, therein dwells sin,
No longer to commune with God
Mankind stands alone.

He who felt that the choice was his
Now looks with longing at the gifts
Wonders how it was lost;

Perhaps offence comes before repentance.
Adam felt sorrow, Eve no less.
But it was being deprived of luxury and ease
That sorrowed the parents of mankind.

God covered their shame
Did not bring them hurt nor blame
But warned them of life’s mishaps.

Lest they should now seek eternal life
Angels with swords of fire
Guarded the entrance from where they came.

Adam and Eve entered a land grown wild
Working for their food
Waiting and hoping each day anew.

History dawned when Adam and Eve sinned
Mankind continued adding sin to sin;
Cain killed Able
From envy and spite.
Man’s punishment
He could not bear.
He prayed for God’s mercy;
The earth would not sustain him
For he polluted the earth with his deed
All men would wish to kill him;
Becoming a wonderer amongst mankind.

They took any women they desired
Becoming sexually depraved
God’s Spirit saw vice and brutality,
Brother treated brother with cruelty
Corruption increased with every new born
Until Satan considered earth his new home.

God was sorry he had made mankind
The Eternal One sent a flood
To destroy mankind
He saved the good man Noah.

Yet each generation continued in evil
The ways of mankind were the ways of the devil.

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I am amazed about your capability of making your point with poetry!

I would like to add an optimistic note by paraphrasing Augustine:

It is a greater work to make righteous the ungodly than to create righteous beings [even angels and archangels]. For if there is equal power employed in both, there is greater mercy in the former.

And let us rejoice together tomorrow in Jesus Christ’s Ascension Day!

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Albert I am happy for having contributed to familiarize you with Athanasius to the extent that you are now considering to declare him your Patron Saint.

You will certainly be in good company!

In my view Irenaeus and Athanasius have the great merit of teaching us this:

We share “in the Image and Likeness of God” because we share in the Image of Jesus Christ.

Evolution brings about humanity, and humanity is called to become the cosmic body of Christ.

An excellent discussion on the Catholic and Easter Orthodox teachings on original sin can be found on a recent post at Eclectic Orthodoxy (the moderator may remove this post if it does not conform to biologos policy). The link is:


Thanks for linking. It looks interesting and informative, and will have to spend time to absorb it.


Many thanks for this highly interesting link.

In my view the blogger fittingly quotes the Catechism of the Catholic Church and Pope John Paul II, and summarizes well the Catholic teaching as follows:

“Jesus is the savior of all humanity, infants and adults. All need to be regenerated by the Holy Spirit and incorporated into the glorified human nature of the eternal Son of God; all are summoned to the waters of baptism. Apart from this new act of grace, whether ministered sacramentally or extra-sacramentally, none can be saved.”

Then the blogger concludes by asking:

“Is there anything in this presentation to which an Eastern Orthodox theologian would strongly object?”

In any case the answer of the Eastern Fathers of the Church is a clear NO.

We could additionally ask:
“Is there anything in this presentation to which BioLogos would strongly object?”

I am obviously not entitled to answering this question.
However the officially declared position ob BioLogos is as follows:

Biologos What We Believe

3. We believe that all people have sinned against God and are in need of salvation.

4. We believe in the historical incarnation of Jesus Christ as fully God and fully man. We believe in the historical death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, by which we are saved and reconciled to God.

In my view this position fits well with the Catholic and Eastern Ortodox teaching as presented in the blog you quote.

And so I dare to ask:

Are we reaching here common ground that may allow us to present a unified Christian view, which becomes even strengthened through Evolution?

We agree that we are saved through Christ, who is fully man and fully God, who died and was resurrected.

This is highly controversial as the faith teaches us that sin entered our world/nature through the first Adam, and salvation is offered through the second Adam, Christ. So on attempts to impose evolution as a “way God has performed ….” there is disagreement and controversy.

@GJDS, IMO this thread has been one of especial interest, because it invites us to examine our personal biases when we attempt to give the "proper weight" to the Two Books of knowledge: 1) the Book of Nature, as God created it; & 2) the Book of Scripture as God revealed it to our ancestors. Your statement of the basis of the Christian Faith as to how sin entered this world (Paul’s 1st Adam) is what I was taught, and is still the dogma clearly enunciated in the current Catechism. If this is as non-negotiable as it seems to be, then attempts to impose evolution as the way God used to allow sin to enter the world–these attempts would be expected to lead to controversy and disagreement.

But in constructing his world view, @AntoineSuarez pays close attention, not only to the way the physical sciences help us interpret Book #1, but also the influence of the concepts of Law that are so essential in establishing the societies that make us truly human. Is this not how the ancient Israelites excused the (otherwise) sinful animal behavior: because it came “before the (Mosaic) Law.” Perhaps these ancient Israelites had some foreknowledge of what evolutionary science now informs us: modern humans were preceded by a Homo sapiens that was not quite conscious enough to covenant with its Creator.

Thus Antoine finds that the knowledge of evolution ‘strengthens’ his Christian Faith. I find it does the same for me, because now I can retain more of what I consider God’s most precious gift: Intellectual Honesty. That may seem strange or ironic, seeing that Richard Dawkins is grateful (he says) for evolution allowing him to become an 'intellectually honest atheist. On the other hand, Einstein could not bring himself to accept the Truth of Quantum Mechanics. The Mind of God must work through Cause/Effect; i.e., For him, “God does NOT play dice!” His faith in science would not allow him to take such a leap. Antoine seems to have managed nicely.

So, what’s the bottom line?.

What I hear most often is that Christ is our way to Salvation; our way to be Saved. But saved from what? Saved so that you can do what? So you can enjoy the bliss of Heaven which is enriched by realizing so many of your fellows are not so lucky? As soon as any Religious Faith leads me in that direction, I want nothing more to do with it. I will take my chances with the God I have experienced so far in this life–a God who invites us to become co-creators of a New Jerusalem with Him.
Al Leo

This is the crux of the Christian faith. Salvation is the transformation/regeneration of the human, from that of a sinful nature into that based on Christ. This is a “full time” activity, as we abandon, by choice, the ways of sin and harm, and adopt the attributes shown in the Gospel - this requires God’s grace and guidance by the Holy Spirit.

I do not have the time to respond to your comments in detail - we will say that at no point do we need evolution for salvation as I have summarised, nor is salvation a means to a life of self-indulgence in a fantasy called heaven.

My impression is that some are so wedded to a confrontational approach to evolution as the answer to almost everything, vs evolution is the devil, that this has become central to such thinking. I am simply pointing out ToE is something biologists have accepted, and it has little relevance to other theories, such as chemical bonds, quantum mechanics, and so on, and no relevance to salvation.

[GDS previously: I am convinced that BioLogos has made a fundamental mistake in seeking to use evolution as a basis for theological understanding of the Christian faith.]

Prior to this current post, I thought that our two worldviews were in reasonably close agreement. Now I think otherwise. Perhaps I previously misinterpreted how you used acronyms, such as ToE. [On coming to BioLogos, I quickly surmised that the theoretical physicist’s meaning, “Theory of Everything”, was not intended, but there seems some overlap in the usage within the BioLogos Forum among ToE as "Theory of Evolution, and TE as “Theistic Evolution”, and several others.]. Be that as it may, I AM in total agreement with what I have highlighted from your last quote above:

Irregardless of what we are saved from by following Christ, the Salvation that ensues is the transformation/regeneration of the human from that of as sinful (amoral) nature into that based on Christ’s command to “Love your neighbor as yourself”. This was made possible when the early Homo sapiens brains were transformed into mind/consciousness so that they could follow a moral law that could lift them above their intrinsic animal natures. Early on, this was codified into Mosaic Law, which eventually became to rigid, too doctrinaire. We Christians believe that Christ’s Law of Love is the needed replacement.

Teilhard ran into entrenched opposition when he attempted to use human evolution as an intellectually AND theologically satisfying reason for replacing Original Sin with Original Blessing. However, there surely has been no rush by either the Orthodox or Roman Catholic Church make the switch. It seems to me that you make a better argument for such a switch than I do.
Al Leo

I cannot follow your reasoning - my comment on original sin is that of Eastern Orthodoxy. I am not advocating a switch of any sort, and I also believe God communed with Adam and Eve as stated biblically. My point is consistent with Gal5:19-26, and evolution has nothing to say on this;
Galatians 5:19-26 (KJV)
Gal 19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these ; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

You continue with a notion of a biological basis for this, I am saying there is nothing in the theory of evolution (ToE) that deals with these matters.


I thought these sentences would help readers parse the meanings rapidly traversed in this article:

“In the words of Pope Pius IX: “God in His supreme goodness and clemency, by no means allows anyone to be punished with eternal punishments who does not have the guilt of voluntary fault” ( Quanto conficiamur moerore [1863]). All human beings enjoy solidarity with Adam and share in the consequences of his disobedience. All are born “in Adam,” inheriting not personal guilt but corrupted human nature and separation from the divine life. In a 1986 catechetical teaching, Pope John Paul II elaborates upon the “sin” of original sin”:

> "Therefore original sin is transmitted by way of natural generation. This conviction of the Church is indicated also by the practice of infant baptism, to which the [Tridentine] conciliar decree refers. Newborn infants are incapable of committing personal sin, yet in accordance with the Church’s centuries-old tradition, they are baptized shortly after birth for the remission of sin. The decree states: “They are truly baptized for the remission of sin, so that what they contracted in generation may be cleansed by regeneration” (DS 1514).

To summarize then, it would seem the article is saying two things, but perhaps unwillingly so?

The Eastern Orthodox view is not incorrect, because the Roman Catholic view is not what people think [because we have changed it!]:

A] Humans are not born with the personal guilt of Adam, but with the corrupt human nature at Adam first demonstrated; and

B] Babies are baptized for the remission of sin.

It feels like a time travel back to the Medieval machinations of theology… where something means whatever you say it means.

The virtually unanimous Eastern Orthodox position is that there are lots of reasons for baptizing a baby, but “remission of sin” is not one of them. But they would also say that statement [A] is correct.


In my lectures to Adult Confirmation classes (Roman Catholic) I used the following quotation: " In 1996 Pope John Paul II rephrased Einstein when he addressed the Pontifical Academy of Sciences: _“Science can purify religion from error and superstition. Religion can purify science from idolatry and false absolutes. Each can draw the other into a wider world, a world in which both can flourish.”

I attempted to follow this advice while examining the problems arising when one searches for a consistent worldview of our human nature (assuming God as its source, but acknowledging its 'brokenness & sin)–a worldview that is truly consistent with both Christian Faith and with modern (evolutionary) science. First of all, I had to decide which, if any, positions are accepted as axiomatic; i.e. accepted without further proof.

  1. Scientists who insist that only material objects and forces are real (i.e., spiritual = imaginary) are ‘outside’ this discussion, for to them religion cannot be real. Thus Christians maintain that accepting Science as the sole source of human knowledge is actually a form of idolatry.
  1. Religions accept as axiomatic that the Spirit who created the material universe (and the humans who currently inhabit it) is totally Good, and therefore whatever He created must have been initially good (by our human definition of good.) Depending upon ‘inspired’ Scripture, Christians believe that the first humans (possibly a pair, Adam & Eve) were created in a sinless state and in an Idyllic Garden. This ‘retains’ God’s “Goodness”, but then requires that His gift of Freedom results in the disobedience that explains the obvious sinfulness that we observe.
  2. Archeological science, on the other hand, has found not a shred of evidence that humankind ever led an idyllic existence. Early Homo sapiens evidently appreciated both the material world in which they eked out an existence, and they paid homage to the spirits of the animals they killed for sustenance. This gradually morphed into a belief in The Great Spirit to which they owed homage and with whom they hoped to covenant.

IMHO #3 is a clear invitation (by Pope J.P.2) to use science to “purify religion from the error and superstition” that has arisen from a faulty interpretation of Genesis that promotes the concept of Original Sin. Nevertheless, in the quote posted by @gbrooks9, the Pope obfuscates the Original Sin conundrum in the attempt to maintain "the Church’s centuries-old Tradition based on faulty axioms.

We should rejoice in the fact that science, through an understanding of God-ordained evolution, gives us a clearer understanding of “natural generation”, and so there is no need to postulate: “the remission of sin, so that what they contracted in generation may be cleansed by regeneration”.

Which is more inspiring: 1) to be cleansed by regeneration; or 2) be invited to co-create a new humanity, one closer to God’s Image.?
Al Leo


Al, Al, here in the back row!!! I know, I know!

(2) is the more inspiring!!!

Hi Aleo,

The general topic of sin, human origins, evolution, and the Christian faith has been discussed by many on this site (and on many other sites), so I am hesitant at going over old ground.

Obviously you have formulated your personal views drawn from enquiry and experience, and I hesitate to analyse these opinions, as you and I are both inclined to think for ourselves.

On your axioms, my comment is that you have overlooked, or perhaps denied, aspects of the Christina faith, without which I cannot engage in a productive discussion with you. Central to this, is the fact that God has revealed Himself in portion to the prophets, and in fullness in His only begotten Son. This also includes that the ultimate end result is the growth (dead to sin and alive to God) of all into the image and being of Christ. The way this is accomplished by God is discussed in detail in the Gospel, and in Christian theology - and this is emphatically not by evolution.

I will leave it at this.

Good idea! We are in agreement with the end result. How each of us gets there may differ in the details.
God bless!
Al Leo

I agree to Albert’s comment:

Nonetheless I dare to add:

In the Gospel (Mark 12:30-31) we read that “the most important Commandment” is:
30 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’
31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

But how do I distinguish which creature is a neighbor and which is not?

Through the specific human body:
My neighbor is each creature I can distinguish as human on the basis of its body.

So it is important that there is a sharp observable gap between humans and non-human animals.

This gap is the master work of evolution.

Accordingly, evolution lays the ground work for “the growth of all into the image and being of Christ.”

God is the cause of distinction, not the physical attributes. God created the distinction according to the first chapter of Genesis. I am not sure why this fact is denied, because some humans believe that God used evolution. There are two different concepts here. A created distinction and the way creation evolves. Two totally different concepts. There is still no proof that God created one thing to evolve into the rest of creation. There is proof that we have distinction and that God created the distinction as a single act, at least if one accepts Genesis 1 is the Word of God.

I am puzzled; the command to love God and neighbour was given initially by Moses, and I cannot see your point in distinctions, as evolution/biology groups life forms into species and connects these to support some type of ancestry. There is no master plan in the theory - indeed it relies on random events and unpredictable outcomes as a theory.

A serious flaw in your position is a theological one, in that by believing evolution brings us to salvation, you and Aleo appear to negate the work of Christ and the plan of God. The birth, life, death and resurrection of Christ is the way to salvation and transformation of humanity into the nature of Christ. At no point is evolution invoked in this work of Christ.

I have made this point a number of times, and at no point have you or Aleo discussed the theological implications of your somewhat vague points of view. I think it is up to you to justify your positions theologically.

Evolution is simply not the way God saves humanity.

Just a bit of humor here:

PS–enjoy the '80s haircuts.