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

@mitchellmckain You know very well that is NOT how I view the entire Bible, and it disappoints me that you would make that charge. I am, perhaps, in the majority of Christians who find inspiration in almost all of the New Testament but find much of the Old Testament troublesome–yes, even to the degree that the OT preserves a few outright lies and racist propaganda. As far as I can see, the only “proof” of the story of Lot is to be found in the “history” recorded by the people with the most to gain from it’s acceptance. Without corroboration from an independent source, it could well be ‘fake news’. I emphatically disagree with your claim “The participation of God in human affairs is subtle in the Bible” when the OT describes the fiery destruction of Sodom.

So where does the ancient Egyptian civilization fit in? Are all those people descendants of Noah? Or do you consider the pyramid builders as un-civilized? Or did they have the time (post-flood) to build the pyramids?

More to the point, when does ‘exegesis’ of the Old Testament’ become ‘spin’? I’ll settle for Einstein’s quote at Princeton: " Subtle is the Lord, but malicious He is not."
Al Leo

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I stand corrected

Meaning the Bible includes outright lies and racist propaganda. Guess we will have to disagree on that one.

Unknown. A Nile civilization is a possible candidate… but not very high on the list since the oldest we can verify cities in this area is 4000 BC. There are cities with evidence of habitation going back to 9000 BC.

We already know that Noah’s family is not the sole genetic progenitors of the human species any more than A&E would be. It is already known that Homo Sapiens migrated to most of the world by 35,000 years ago and all the way to the Americas by 15,000 years ago, which is already before the earliest civilizations. And we have genetic evidence that the Homos Sapiens population was never lower than 10,000 people in the last 500,000 years.

Perhaps the problem, considering your excessive denial of any kind of judgments on human societies, is that you want to call any population of homo sapiens a civilization. I do not have that problem.

I consider them an example of more recent history.

“The oldest known pyramid in Egypt was built around 2630 B.C. at Saqqara.”

Surgeons are not malicious.

P.S. As painful as our difficulties here may be for you. For me it is a source of considerable delight. Most of the time I am forced to play the role of the raging liberal when I am not that at all. I really walk the middle road in most things seeking a healthy balance between science and evangelical Christianity. You give me an excellent opportunity to demonstrate that. Yes I insist that Christianity accept some correction from science but I see no reason to let science rewrite Christianity.

Indeed, this point is quite relevant!

There were millions of Homo sapiens scattered throughout the planet. So it is obvious that at a certain moment all these creatures did become “relevant human beings in the image of God”.

When and how did this happen? This is the question!

All right. This implies that the millions of Homo sapiens that did not perish were neither wicked, nor in the state of A&E before their Fall (when they “directly communed with God in a sacred place”).

In my view the only coherent explanation is that these creatures were not yet image bearers accountable for their deeds. Accordingly, I propose that God made them to “mankind in the image of God” by the end of the Flood, at the moment referred to in Genesis 9:3-6.

Frankly the biggest problem of looking for evidence of Noah’s flood is not a lack of evidence, but too much evidence. Rather than being something extra-ordinary, catastrophic floods are common. Just in the last century there is the 2004 tsunami with a death toll of 230,000 people, 1931 and 1938 China over 500,000 people each, 1975 typhoon Nina in China 229,000 people, just to name a few with the highest death tolls.

This is why, trying to use flood stories around the world as evidence of a world wide flood, does not work. It is just not that surprising that you find flood stories in every culture around the world.


I am a bit puzzled that you bring surgeons into our discussion, or that you infer that our difficulties (humankid’s difficulties?) are painful to me. In my worldview, creativity is always painful and demanding to some degree. When humankind evolved to the extent that brain->
Mind/Consciousness, it became possible for us to be creative ‘on our own’, to some degree. That is, we can choose to forego some current pleasures of youth and make the effort to gain the knowledge and skills as a surgeon to set a broken leg, which would creatively extend the life of an individual who otherwise would be doomed. Or like Michelangelo, spend untold hours painfully painting a ceiling for the enjoyment and inspiration of future generations.

In this respect, I think I agree with you in seeing these difficulties as a Gift from God and a 'source of delight.’
Al Leo

I see the end of the dinosaurs, the flood, and destruction of Sodom as works of surgery and not at all malicious.

I am puzzled by your reasoning. Gen 1 states mankind was created in the image of God. It is clear that seeking a point in time for some act is irrelevant.

More puzzling is :

Rom 1:16-32 deals extensively with how God views mankind’s wickedness. I think you may be stuck on some unique meaning of accountability and somehow linking this to the flood.

Both OT and NT scripture are clear on the wickedness of carnal humanity and how we may be saved from such attributes through faith in Christ. Subsequently Noah’s story dovetails into the gospel narrative.

A flood in Sumer comparable to any of these catastrophic Floods you refer to, would have been capable of wiping out the entire population living in the area of man’s first civilization. Thus, I agree that such a flood could be considered evidence fitting the teaching of the New Testament (Jesus Christ, St. Peter, and the Letter to the Hebrews) about Noah’s Flood.

Even if, as far as I know there is no evidence for such a flood, I think it is highly interesting to continue our discussion by making the following assumption:

In Sumer around 3000 BC there was a flood capable of wiping out 200,000-500,000 people living in the area, although the archaeological evidence has not yet brought this fact to light.

For me the important point is that at this time there were 10-14 million Homo sapiens individuals living on the planet outside the flooded region.

Using your words, I would like to state:

The population of 200,000-500,000 people who perished in the flood

By contrast, the 10-14 million Homo sapiens creatures outside the flooded region

At a certain moment at the end of the flood, God made all these Homo sapiens to children of God, “with the crucial understanding that makes us human”, but lacking the original righteousness A&E had when God created them; in other words, these new “children of God” were in state of need of redemption (the same state of Noah and his family shared). Since this very moment each Homo sapiens creature is a human being in the image of God, but needing redemption, as if he were fallen into sin.

Do you agree to this interpretation?

My assumption would change the date of the flood to anywhere in a range between 3,500 BC and 9,000 BC (or even earlier), since we have evidence of human habitation in some cities going back to 9,000 BC.

But I do not believe in equating our humanity to a biological species. I believe we have two inheritances, the biological one from our brethren in the animal kingdom and a memetic one from God responsible for bringing the human mind to life and bringing about human civilization. A memetic inheritance is not however limited to genetic descent but would spread throughout the species as ideas do much much faster than the growth of a population.

Wrong story. The beginning of humanity was Adam and Eve. The flood was merely the demise of the first human civilization before it spread to the rest of the world in Genesis 11. It just wasn’t this creationist idea of a population growth from a single couple but rather the influence of ideas spreading around the world – ideas which had the tendency of making those who brought these ideas into giants among men, men of renown, leaders of human civilization.

Not exactly.

The memetic inheritance came through Adam and Eve and the self destructive habits of sin came with it.

The image of God is in the nature of life itself, with its capacity to become more through growth and learning. Therein lies our infinite potential which is the mirror image of God’s infinite actuality. But life is highly quantitative and so their is a vast difference in potential going from the microbe, to the plant, to the animal, and to man. With God’s communication with Adam and Eve, bringing the human mind to life, this was a thousand fold jump in our life and potential as demonstrated by the change in human life in mere thousands of years compared to the millions of years required for evolution. Thus it is with the birth of the human mind that we became the children of God made for an eternal relationship where there is not end to what we can receive from God and no end to what God can give to us. In the words of Genesis, it is the difference between merely “good” and “very good.”

The relationship of parent and child had already begun. The tragedy of these self destructive habits were a part of that relationship and something which God had to find some means to correct.

The historical estimates of the world population for the range you propose is 5-7 million. So for the question we are discussing the difference between your assumption and my assumption is not relevant.

Like you, I do not equate humanity to the biological species Homo sapiens.
It seems to me we both agree in the following claim:

If one goes back in evolution the borders of the species Homo sapiens become more and more blurred and one cannot define a distinct beginning of this species by biological means. By contrast humanity as “mankind in the image of God” begins clearly at the moment of “God’s communication with Adam and Eve” to “bring the human mind to life” and to make humans “to children of God”.

I also agree with you that:

You explain this “spreading” as follows:

I understand your explanation in this way:

At the end of the flood, Noah and his family started to interact physically with the population of Homo sapiens living outside the region of “the first human civilization”, that is, creatures which had not been affected by the flood. Through this relationship with Noah and his descendants, these Homo sapiens became children of God. The so increased population of children of God came in contact with further surrounding Homo sapiens population, which thereby became children of God too, and so on and so forth.

By this way, at a certain moment the whole Homo sapiens species scattered throughout the planet became “mankind in the image of God”. In other words, by means of relationship (“memetic inheritance”, not necessarily genealogical one) each Homo sapiens creature on earth became a child of God, but as part of that relationship self-destructive habits became transmitted as well.

Please let me know whether I am interpreting you correctly.

You seem to understand the gist of my explanation.

Many thanks for this.

I am happy to see that we agree in the following two points:

  1. By creating Adam and Eve as children of God, God aims to create a kind of life (human life) that is essentially (“thousand times”) more valuable than “the anything else on the planet”, in particular the life of non-human animals.

  2. Thereafter God aims to create the same kind of life anytime He acts:

  • to transform other Homo sapiens creatures into children of God, and

  • to ensure that the genealogical descendants of the children of God come into existence as children of God as well.

A main difference between your and my explanation seems to be the following one:

According to Genesis 9:3-6 I claim that at the end of Noah’s flood all the millions of Homo sapiens creatures scattered throughout the planet became children of God, that is, God made them to humans in the image of God like Noah and his family. Thus, since the end of Genesis’ flood humanity (“mankind in the image of God”) equates the biological species Homo sapiens.

By contrast you seem to claim that even in our days there could be in principle uncontacted tribal people who are not yet children of God, but will acquire this status only when they come in contact with some children of God coming from outside the tribe.

Am I interpreting you correctly regarding this last claim?

Oh just like magic!

No, I don’t believe in magic.

Oh you mean like if aliens came and stole some sperm and eggs and then raised up the test tube babies then would they be aliens or human? They would be aliens. They would not be human. And likewise if aliens who looked just like us came down and implanted one of their kind in a woman’s womb so that he was born and grew up among us (like the superman story), would he be an alien or a human being? He would be a human being not an alien. And no magic from God would be required in any of that to convert them in either case.

But perhaps you mean something more like I addressed in the other thread…

Oh and many animals have some portion of the same potential as shown by how they acquire many human characteristics in long association with us. There are some definite limits to this showing that the long evolution of the homo sapiens species is not without some significance. But as many works of science fiction have explored, there is a distinct possibility that we may find some means to change them or compensate for those difference so that some are capable of becoming even more human. I simply don’t need some magical theological barrier between animal and human the way you seem to.

On the basis of the Genesis’ passages it is fitting to assume that at the moment when “God created mankind in the image of God” there were millions of Homo sapiens creatures scattered throughout the planet.

Are you claiming that God transformed all these creatures into human beings in the image of God at one and the same time?

“The theological barrier between animal and human” I assume is nothing other than that of Genesis 9:3-6. The Biblical view is that humans are radically different from animals.

I think this view is the basis of any coherent morality and the Rule of Law.

If you give up this barrier you are opening the door to any kind of discrimination, racism, and social Darwinism.

Notice that definitions of man like “rational animal” and “political animal” is “ancient Greek philosophy”, not Biblical one. According to the Bible man is primarily “the image of God”.

According to my explanation “aliens who looked just like us” are just as human and as children of God as we are. Accordingly, their children are human and children of God in any case. And any embryos resulting from fertilizing human eggs with human sperm are human beings and children of God, independently of they are raised up by “earthly” humans or “alien” ones.

You have to be careful: If you start claiming that earthly humans and human-looking aliens do not share the same humanity, you will end claiming that civilized and indigenous people, or white and black people, do not share the same humanity.

The bible states that God created mankind in His image. We do not have additional information with the exception of the days of creation.

The distinction that you seem to miss is hearing and understanding God’s name, and this occurred with Adam and Eve and subsequently from them after they were evicted.

I cannot see anything biblical that would help you, with what seems to me, an attempt to put an evolutionary spin to the biblical account. Noah spoke to his populace regarding their wickedness and the catastrophe to come; again humans heard but did not believe.

And my question is:
What does the term ‘mankind’ in this biblical statement mean?

Thanks in advance for your answer.

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And I believe that human beings are radically different. I just don’t believe that the difference is anything magical, but something very much explainable. You want radically different? How about a completely different form of life altogether. Animals are biological organisms. We are not. Our bodies are biological organisms. But the human mind is something quite different – physical, but life in a different medium. It is the same basic self-organizing process called life. But for biological organisms, the medium in which this process occurs is biochemistry, just as the medium for the information coding of its means of inheritance is in the chemical composition of DNA molecules. The medium in which this self-organizing process occurs in the case of the human mind is language and that is also where the information coding for its means of inheritance is to be found. Adopting the terminology coined by Dawkins the human mind is an example of memetic life.

I do think a genetic definition of humanity has some philosophical issues connected with racism and eugenics, but this doesn’t automatically or necessarily lead to discrimination. I don’t see why you have to exclude the possibility of animals crossing the barrier to exclude this. And I see no connection with actual discrimination or with social Darwinism. Social Darwinism largely derives from failing to understand the whole process of evolution. Frankly, the connection you are making here, suggests a profound lack of respect for the rest of life on the planet which many people do not share.

With the way I draw the line, I get the best of both worlds – where human beings are BOTH the brethren of all living creatures on the earth because of our bodies, AND the children of God because of our minds – two different inheritances at the same time.

This characterization of the Bible is a gross exaggeration. The Bible only refers to man as "image of God 3 times and all of them in the book of Genesis.

It was Aristotle who called man by these terms and evolution has shown that Aristotle was correct – it just goes to show how much of a genius he really was. Biologically and in our bodies we have a common ancestry with the animals. And it is because of evolution that this way of speaking has become popular in modern times. It is the disrespect for the rest of life on this planet by the Abrahamic religions which has thankfully fallen into disfavor.

Yes. You have a problem with the other side of what I said: “if aliens came and stole some sperm and eggs and then raised up the test tube babies then would they be aliens or human? They would be aliens.” Are you only looking at the surface? What if a couple living alone in the wilderness found a alien infant who looks nothing like us but raised this child as their own – would the child be human? I say yes, because our humanity is not to be found in either our biology or our physical shape. It is in how we think and that comes from how we are raised and the memetic inheritance this imparts to us. And I would say that that those in end of movie called “A.I.” descended from our robots left behind long after have we have become extinct are also human, because they have inherited from our culture and thinking even if they don’t have our biological inheritance.

Oh I certainly think it is possible for there to be homo sapiens who are not the least bit human, like I just said above. I don’t think there are any on the planet at this time. I do think there were groups such as cannibals who did indeed lack a good portion of our humanity. So no I don’t think all it takes is a genetic similarity to make us human. But I also explained that for “most things it is the potential for humanity which has our regard and duty for care, generosity, and protection.”

Genesis 2:7 God formed the body of man from the stuff of the Earth and then provided the divine breath or inspiration to bring his mind into life. Body and mind – that is what this term ‘mankind’ in this Biblical statement means, NOT the biological species homo sapiens.

Good day Antoine,

If I may jump in here, it is pleasant to see you and @GJDS honing in on the topic you have now reached. I was following earlier when Nikolai Propo posted about Teilhard de Chardin, and was curious to see you had not come into contact previously with Marshall McLuhan. Perhaps we could return to that at some point in case MM might have something valuable to offer here. My “position” on this topic appears generally closer to yours and @GJDS’ than it does to BioLogos’, at least as much as I understand it so far. Probably then it makes sense to connect with you here in this thread to see if it’s possible we might find common ground or shared meanings on this difficult theme.

That would be a unique, unrepeated event in human history then, as I understand you. Is it right? And it’s not a “strictly scientific”, or even purely physical question, but rather one relating to Scripture and theology first and foremost. And Protestant evangelical theology is not the only option, when both Roman Catholic and Orthodox theology are available. Are we on the same page about that also?

In either case, my “nice to meet you!” question to you has to do with both how far you are wanting to push the term “evolution” when it comes to theological anthropology, and at what point you are satisfied and ready to drop it as irrelevant. Would you say, for example, that the “imago Dei” itself “evolved” over time, or do you prefer to call that “certain moment” you speak about in the Tradition, when "these creatures did become ‘relevant human beings in the image of God’,” a “direct creative act”? Or is it a both/and, rather than an either/or?

“The distinction that you seem to miss is hearing and understanding God’s name, and this occurred with Adam and Eve and subsequently from them after they were evicted.” - GJDS

Would this refer to God calling people by name, including life as a “vocation” or “calling”?

What you wrote reminded me of the sheep analogy in Scripture. For example, Psalm 95:7, then in John: “My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me.” That does indeed offer a different look at the Garden of Eden story, than taking a strictly biological or naturalistic approach would, such as using an “evolutionary” view of human beings and arguing about speculative “big history”.

Here instead we have a more specific and testable “little history” dialogue (more personal like Jordan Peterson’s psychology of Genesis video series, than reading it as “secular literature”, with some community-orientation and Tradition that he hasn’t yet displayed - next step Exodus). Who is speaking in it (God and humans, or just gods and humans, and angels and…?) is of crucial significance for us, and seems to reach to the core of some of the issues raised in this thread. Glad to join in with you folks here.

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Hello mitchellmckain,

Just realized that I wrote above about MM referring to Marshall McLuhan, while you are also MM. Respectfully, I will call you by the handle you use to make sure there is no ambiguity.

Do you mean memetics or mimetic life? The first is different from “memes” as now commonly used. Are you familiar with the differences between them and the pre-Dawkins usage of “mimesis”?

“I see no connection with actual discrimination or with social Darwinism. Social Darwinism largely derives from failing to understand the whole process of evolution.”

Social Darwinism was an outgrowth of some ideas expressed by Darwin, as well as those by Spencer, Huxley, Galton, and others. Darwin wrote about morality and society also, though in a non-philosophical and non-sociological way. Social Darwinism derives from wanting to control, not “the whole process of evolution” because that would be impossible, but rather the reigns of power in human society. King or Queen of the hill, survival of the fittest, struggle for life, etc. The current form of social Darwinism being proposed today is a type of neo-eugenics that does indeed still use such conflict-oriented metaphors as Darwin, with a kind of Kropotkin gloss of “mutual aid” over them…

I must admit I agree with Antoine here:

“If you give up this barrier you are opening the door to any kind of discrimination, racism, and social Darwinism.” - AntoineSuarez

“because of evolution that this way of speaking has become popular in modern times. It is the disrespect for the rest of life on this planet by the Abrahamic religions which has thankfully fallen into disfavor.” - mitchellmckain

So, in short, you view Abrahamic religions as being “wrong” about “other animals” because of “evolution”, is that a correct way to interpret what you wrote? If so, that would appear to be a wish to eradicate historical Christian teachings, which doesn’t seem consistent with BioLogos’ mission. The many Jews, Christians, Muslims & Baha’is that I’ve met who deeply respect “the rest of life on this planet” would surely not agree with your claim of “disfavor”. Could you please clarify, as surely I must have misunderstood, and you’re not actually misanthropic or saying Gen 1:26 needs to be tossed out due to “dominion”?

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