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

In my worldview, which recommends putting the emphasis on Original Blessing, that blessing is NOT the promise of eternal life. The blessing involved an actual change in the neural circuitry of the Homo sapiens brains that enabled them to invent symbolic language and to exchange abstract thoughts with their compatriots. As a result of the freedom that God granted in the use of this Gift, (that is , a Conscience that could be followed or ignored.) morality appeared for the first time on earth. It may well be impossible to locate a genetic mutation(s) that could account for this gift, but its rapid spread thru our species might be due to the known epigenetic changes that occur in the teaching/learning process.

At any rate it makes good sense (to me at least) to date the origin of humankind on this earth to the first time a Homo sapiens could use (or mis-use) Conscience to strive to become an Image of God–a condition that other animals can never achieve. This may well confer eternal life to our spiritual nature, but it makes no sense to desire eternal life for our biological bodies.
Al Leo

I have made a comment previously and again point out that evolution is faced with an insurmountable problem in regards a fantastic change to humans over an incredibly short period - some irony Aleo, as your worldview falls down within evolutionary thinking, and it makes no sense biblically.

Be that as it may, my comments are on orthodox understanding of original sin and how this fits within salvation in Christ. Any other discussion is simply irrelevant.

“Science has disproved the reality of a Worldwide Flood” in the ordinary world .

Science has not disproved, and cannot disprove it, the reality of a “Worldwide Flood” as an extraordinary event (a “miracle”), which affected all accountable humans living at that time without a trace in the ordinary physical world.

Extraordinary events (“miracles”) are characterized by “observer-dependent” realities: Different groups of observers may perceive different instantiations of the world.

This possibility does already appear as consequence of extending “quantum superposition” to “macroscopic objects” in thought experiments like “Wigner’s friend” and “Schrödinger’s Cat”.

The Quantum is larger than the Physical:

Touche, Antoine. I should have said “Evidence for a worldwide Flood, if one ever occurred, should be apparent using the tools of modern geology, but no such evidence exists.” In my presentations to our local Adult Confirmation class, I discussed the old maxim: “Absence of evidence is NOT evidence of absence” But I was not qualified to bring quantum superposition into the picture. I guess the ‘concrete in my mind’ had already set before I was exposed to Schrodinger’s cat and Wigner’s friend. I profess to be a scientist, but I still believe in miracles; so perhaps I am overlooking quantum physics as a ‘comfortable’ fusion of the two.

Antoine, you may have given me good reason to accept as fact that there WAS a worldwide Flood, but then you characterize the results as: “affect(ing) all accountable humans” living at that time. Even if I accepted your proposal that only the 8 humans in Noah’s family were ‘accountable’, I could not bring myself to worship a God who would kill off perhaps millions of Homo sapiens that were misusing the gift of conscience plus the millions of other species who never reached that stage of morality. Is retaining Biblical inerrancy worth that price?

Have you read much of what Robert Millikan has written on the reconciliation (?) of evolution with religious Faith? If discussed on this Forum, I must have missed it. He had ties to the Congregational church and Universalism, and I wondered if he had expressed any ideas that you found compatible with your worldview. (The physics building here at Pomona College was named after him.)
Al Leo

Saying God deliberately killed millions of entities is one interpretation. Saying God allowed it is another, and the third God did not stop it, for any infinite reasons would result in infinite interpretations.

We are even free to hold God ethically accountable or not. I think God answered, “either my way or death”. To what extent do our senses get to override the will of the one who created all things? Remember Job? The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. Job could not even bless God directly, but blessed what that name stood for.

I also still contend that even the evidence we have is not locked in by any one interpretation. The scientific method was not an original human thought process to question God’s ability. It was given by God to give humans the certainty of a rather stable universe that holds to the physical laws inherent in the universe that God created. While science is the body of accumulated human experience, and knowledge beyond the reach of human experience, it still cannot change the past nor prove the Bible can be cut up and interpreted to fit what we think we know.

I think here you are expressing an interesting and deep thought, but I am not sure I understand well the last statement. To which “knowledge beyond the reach of human experience” are you referring to?

Thanks in advance for clarifying.

There is a fine line between belief and knowledge. Making predictions and having them come true has been part of belief for thousands of years. Predictions have been incorporated into science. Science does venture into areas that not everyone can experience, and it is expected that what is to be believed about science gives us knowledge that cannot be experienced. Science is based on an ever changing physical phenomenon. Faith is based on an unchangeable God.

The so called “Wigner’s friend” paradox shows that the generalization of “Quantum superposition” leads to situations where a same experiment generates observer-dependent results.

So the assumption that the physical reality follows observer-INDEPENDENT “laws” is a belief that ORDINARILY holds. The ordinary physical world we live in is shaped by God mathematically so that we can calculate and predict it. Thereby (as you very well state) God gives us humans “the certainty of a rather stable universe that holds to the physical laws inherent in the universe that God created.”

Nonetheless, the “Quantum reality” is larger than the physical one, and contains also extraordinary observer-dependent phenomena. To this type of phenomena belong “miracles” like Christ’s Resurrection, Pentecost, Fatima, which are beyond our operational capabilities, and do not necessarily let physical evidence in the ordinary world accessible to the senses of everyone. I think Noah’s Flood was such an extraordinary phenomenon without any subsequent geological or archaeological evidence.

Aleo, I feel like you. I dare to quote two points of my previous post:

The “millions of Homo sapiens” (you refer to) that lived spread all over the earth at the time of the Flood (about 3,000 BC) were not yet accountable and therefore could not “misuse the gift of conscience”: They did not perish in the Flood. Similarly, “the millions of other species who never reached that stage of morality” did not perish in the Flood.

In the Flood perished only about 200,000 people who populated the region where Noah and his family lived, and had corrupted their ways and filled the earth with violence. These people were the only accountable modern humans living at that time on earth, and in this sense the Flood can be considered universal.

These people forgot that God allows sinners to remain on earth in order they have time to atone and ask God for forgiveness. As we are taught by Apostle Peter (2 Peter 3), by the Flood God corrected this state of affairs in order we remain aware that there will be a universal judgment of humanity: The Flood pre-figures the Final Judgement at the Day of the Lord.

So regarding both, the Flood and the Final Judgement, it holds that:

God is always patient with us, “not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9).

You are referring to 1 Corinthians 15. But there we find also this:

45 So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46 The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven.

This clearly means that the first Adam became naturally a living being and was of the dust of the earth. And this amounts to say that the first Adam was also the result of evolution.

On the other hand, I think one should also consider that also non-human animals are “the result of direct and unique involvement of God”, although different as God’s involvement in creating man in his Image.

I dare to insist: Evolution is actually nothing other than the preparation of the body of God’s Son. This body is crucial to define humanity as a biological species as well, since the concept of “species” cannot be defined by biological means alone .

A number of difficulties present with such an outlook - the Son of God was born from a virgin and His father is God. This cannot be considered as “the preparation … of the body of God’s Son”.

There is also a clear illogical aspect to such an outlook. If as you say, you agree with the biologos position, that God somehow works via evolution, then this must include the human species, and you reference to the spiritual cannot apply (just as gravity cannot include anything spiritual, and so on).

I do not want to labour the point - these views are incoherent and theologically irrelevant.


A basic statement of Christian faith is that “the Word (the Son of God) became human flesh” that is, assumed a true human body . But this “type of body” was prepared through evolution. The preparation was complete between 12,000 BC and 3,200 BC, at the moment referred to in Genesis when God makes humankind in the Image of God.

This is a good point. As we are taught by Richard Dawkins, it is impossible to establish by biological means alone the moment when the human species begins. This means that to define the begin of the “human species” we can’t help invoking God’s intervention. At the moment when God declares that mankind is made in God’s image and likeness, humanity becomes a community called to behave according to the ecology of love and mutual respect, and concomitantly a distinct biological species.

According to quantum gravity space-time is quantized or pixelated. This means that “not all what matters for gravitational phenomena is contained in space-time”. In this sense gravity includes something spiritual (non-material).

One should keep in mind the story regarding the quantum physicist John A. Wheeler I referred to in previous posts. 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’.”

Since the Big Bang the universe evolves necessarily to bring about human observers. And this means that God foresaw since the Big Bang the “kind of body” His Son would take. From the perspective of evolution, the time of definition of this “kind of body” is the moment when God chose one or several anatomically modern humans and declared to make them in His image and likeness. As said, this moment can be set between 12,000 BC and 3,200 BC.

I am trying to see your point of view, but with difficulty. What scientific data do you have for such a statement? To include Christ’s body in this is odd, to put it mildly.

We may infer the existence of human beings at the time of Adam, but that is all. We may speculate on different time frames (God made mankind and imprinted he divine image, and God created Adam and so on) from Genesis. It is not possible to do this from any scientific theory or hypothesis.

From my understanding of quantum physics, the suggestions revolve about an open or closed system. The Palamist doctrine of the energies of God may add theological understanding to how we with limited understanding, attribute things to God, such as acts of creation, without error on the simplicity of God.

I cannot see how you add spirituality to our scientific insights, and I suggest there is none, whatever quantum physics provides.

I think your speculations add to the confusion I note in these discussions on original sin.

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I thank you sincerely for trying.

On my part I will try to explicate better my point:

On the basis of the available scientific data and the theory of evolution we are led to conclude that we cannot establish the moment when the first individual of any species appears by biological means alone. Thus to define the moment when humanity begins we can’t help invoking some ingredient coming from outside biology.

It is God Himself who includes “Christ’s body in this”. He does this when He declares in Genesis that God makes humanity in God’s Image. Indeed, this declaration amounts to state that the human body is the type of body God has prepared for His Son.

It is misleading to think that “humanity” can be defined as pure biological category, i.e.: invoking biological features alone. To define humanity, you have to invoke the category of God’s Image, that is, an ingredient coming from outside biology. And the statement that “humanity is made in God’s Image” presupposes that God becomes human flesh.

Notice that if you dismiss the Incarnation of God, you get rid of the criterion for discerning what makes human life precious and unique.
Paraphrasing Dostoevsky, I dare to say:
If God did not become man, then everything is permitted.

My impression from your remarks is that evolution in whatever form it is discussed is inadequate, and we as scientists should admit this.

On the matter of Christ, this quote from a paper on the theology of St Palamas is instructive:

*The person of Christ represents the way by which deification is possible. In a lengthy passage of Homily 16 Gregory describes how Christ is able to accomplish this deification. I quote the whole of the passage to give the full weight of Palamas’ theological assertion.

The Son of God became man to show to what heights He would lead us, that we might not be conceited as if we had reversed the defeat (of sin) by our own efforts. Being twofold in nature, he could truly be a mediator, joining each of the two to the other. He loosed the bond of sin and cleansed the stain that comes of being joined with flesh. He showed God’s love for us, and demonstrated that we had sunk so deeply into evil to make it necessary for God to become flesh. In His flesh and His sufferings He became an example to us of humility and a healing remedy for pride. He made it clear that God created our nature good. He became the author and guarantor of the resurrection and eternal life, delivering us from despair. By becoming the Son of man and sharing our mortality, He made men sons of God and partakers of divine immortality. Human nature was shown to have been created in the image of God…and this kinship with God was such that human nature could be joined to Him in one person….He united men and God, who were by nature separate, becoming a mediator through His twofold nature.

First, from this passage it is evident that Christ accomplishes this deification through his twofold nature. It is only possible for Christ to deify humanity because He is both God and human.

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If fully agree if by “open system” you mean that:

Not all what matters for physical phenomena is contained in space-time.

The Quantum is more than physics.

The physical world is defined by “observer independent outcomes”, which are repeatable,

The physical world is only a part of the Quantum, it does not encompass the whole Quantum, which may content one-off “observer dependent events”.

To have physics you have to limit Quantum Superposition and avoid applying it to the macroscopic-visible world.

If you generalized Quantum Superposition to the macroscopic world you get observer dependent realities , i.e.: miracles.

In my view, at the end of the day St. Gregory Palamas’ doctrine of the “energies of God” is an attempt to solve the following problem:

Does the assumption that corporal persons (humans) can become like God by seeing God in heaven conflicts with the simplicity of God?

In this context it is worth invoking also St. Irenaeus:
God solves the problem by means of Incarnation!

The physical universe consist of time and space including quantum and what would be assumed a spiritual dimension. I think evolution still cannot explain the disconnect between the so called separation of physical and spiritual, although a quantum explanation may just prove the spiritual is as much of space time as the physical. If you go with a Biblical answer, it is a limit placed on the human ability by God, and that may be as close as we can get. While God is separate from creation, created spiritual beings and attributes are just as much of created reality, as the physical.

Created reality consist of both, physical reality and created spiritual beings.

I would rather state:

The physical reality consists in events which:

  • appear in space-time (phenomena) or (what is the same) are accessible to human senses (observation).

  • are observer-independent and reproducible.

Some physical phenomena (relativistic-local phenomena) can be explained by causal links, i.e.: signals propagating non-faster than light. The velocity of light c bounds propagation in space-time and limits what humans can cause at a distance.

Other physical phenomena (quantum nonlocal phenomena) cannot be explained by signals propagating in space-time. In this sense they require action coming from outside space-time. These phenomena have useful applications in cryptography and quantum computing. However, they do not allow us “phoning faster than light”.

Important: To the extent that space-time is quantized (“pixelated”) even relativistic-local phenomena cannot be reduced to information stored in space-time.

Usually one refers to physical reality also as material reality. Thus, we are led to conclude that material reality cannot be exclusively explained by material causes: To explain what is material one has to invoke a non-material reality or, as you say, “a spiritual dimension”.

Human ability is undoubtedly limited by the velocity of light.

But there is another important limit:

In the ordinary world we live in, macroscopic visible objects are not in Quantum Superposition. This makes it possible to have reproducible, observer-independent events, and (in your wording) “to give humans the certainty of a rather stable universe”.

However, Quantum Superposition can extraordinarily involve macroscopic visible objects. Then observer-dependent, one-off events, may happen that is, miracles beyond our operational capabilities.

This means that Quantum is more than Physics.

I would say: The spiritual is as much real as the physical, and can act upon space-time reality to produce, for instance, meaningful pieces of speech or text, as those we produce in writing our comments.

However, Evolution lays the groundwork for assigning rights: The deletion of intermediate varieties allows us to clearly distinguish human beings from non-human animals. In this sense Evolution plays an important role to connect the physical and the spiritual.

Additionally, what makes humanity unique and precious is the Incarnation of God. So Evolution can be considered to aim the body God prepares for His Son, i.e.: Jesus Christ’s body.

If according to St. Gregory Palamas the deification of humanity is only possible for Christ, we are led to conclude that Incarnation was intended together with Creation to make it possible that humans become deified in heaven.

Relevant is also St. Palamas’ Homily about the Annunciation (quoted by John Paul II in Ephesus on 30 November 1979), where Palamas states: “You are blessed and full of grace, oh Virgin, says the angel to Mary. But the Holy Spirit will come again upon you to prepare you for the divine mystery by an increasing of grace.”

Incarnation deifies motherhood: To be mother means to conceive and give birth to the image of God.

If we dispose of the teaching of Incarnation, we get rid of what makes human motherhood unique and precious.

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We are in agreement on this matter, and also on Athanasius’ discussion on the incarnation.

“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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