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

I am trying to understand the reference(s) to natives, especially Tasmanian aborigines, with comments that they were isolated and could not have come in contact with those who had heard of God or gods. The “image of God” as part of the human race deals with spirituality and the capacity to contemplate matters pertaining to God or as human understanding degenerated, of gods and related concepts. Attempts to incorporate such matters with biological theories will fail.

The aborigines conveyed spirituality as the dreamtime which included creation myths and references to law. This from the internet:

The native Tasmanians shard a belief system with those of the mainland, but it was not well recorded before they were gone. What is known of their practices, their links and duties of care with named animals and places, in their taking the names of plants and animals, a belief in the transmigration of souls, in their dances of the various animals such as the emu, kangaroo, fire, wind etc. They show similarities indicating that they thought in similar ways to the mainlanders. They also had tracks that were followed by their Dreamtime ancestors as did the mainlanders.

The track followed by a Dreamtime creation being is a songline or a storyline, the track along which the ancestral being followed bringing everything into existence.

Aboriginal Dreaming (austhrutime.com)

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I do not understand this - who has suggested that sin would cause the image of God?

Sorry, I think I misdirected the question…and misunderstood the earlier post. I will withdraw it it :slight_smile: thanks.

A “matter pertaining to God” that is vital for “human race to contemplate”, is surely that God has called and ordered humankind to the kingdom of heaven: “Being in the image of God” means being called to freely love God and become like God in heaven.

On the other hand, according to Genesis 9: 3, 5-6 the fact that “God made humankind in the image of God” is the reason of the universal prohibition of homicide: Each human being who kills another human being is accountable toward God and toward humankind.

From this it follows that vestiges proving the presence of accountability relationship allow us to conclude about the presence of “human race in the image of God”. Such vestiges emerge about 5,300 BP, with the cuneiform tablets. Accordingly, it is fitting to conclude that God creates the humankind with “the capacity to contemplate matters pertaining to God” at latest by 5,300 BP.


From 5,300 BP on , each being sharing a human body is in the image of God, and so:

  • The Native Americans, Africans and Tasmanians in the 16th century are “human race in the image of God”.
  • The Palestinians, Romans, and Greeks at the time of Jesus-Christ are “human race in the image of God”.
  • The Sumerians and Egyptians at the dawn of civilization are “human race in the image of God”.

Notwithstanding, as you very well say, “human understanding degenerated”, and so for instance certain peoples, although in the image of God, developed forms of religiosity with human sacrifices.

Before 5,300 BP there were creatures that developed tools, made cave paintings and graves, but did not leave signs of moral and legal accountability. Such creatures (Sapiens, Neanderthals, Denisovans, or others) can be considered intelligent to some extent, but were not “humankind in the image of God”, and thereby it is confusing to call them “human” in the same sense we use this term today.

I think this is the same idea you try to convey by stating:

I would be thankful for your confirmation.

I totally agree!

It is a matter of well defining “human”.

For me “human” means “being called and ordered to become like God in Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God, and thus enjoy eternal life in God”, or more briefly “being called and ordered to the kingdom of heaven”.

Accordingly, “humankind ” and “any human being” is in the image of God by definition, and it is in principle silly “to draw lines in human history between image of God humans and pre-image of God humans”.

This is a very good point!

Consider the universal prohibition of homicide in Genesis 9: 3, 5-6.

If we agree to take the criterion you propose, then we have to conclude that in this passage Scripture is making the following main point:

God made humankind in the image of God at a time when the anatomical difference between humans and animals was the same we perceive today, which is the same it was perceived at the time when Genesis was written at about 2,600 BP.

Now, we are taught in this important study by 23 leading evolutionary scientists that Homo sapiens reaches the full set of features we see in living people today at the end of the Pleistocene about 12,000 ago.

So, if we take account of the available data, your criterion highlights that Scripture is making the following main point “to the people who originally heard it and to us today”:

The declaration of Genesis 9:3, 5-6, did happen later than 12,000 BP, and therefore the term “human” should not be used to designate creatures before this time in the same sense we use it today.

In summary:

Only after God’s declaration in Genesis 9:3, 5-6 can and shall we equate homo sapiens and “humankind in the image of God”. Therefore, it is misleading to call human any kind of creature existing before God’s intervention to make humankind in the image of God. If we want to avoid that “digital natives” take Scripture for a collection of “fairy tales”, we should avoid conflating the biblical sharp category “humankind in the image of God” with any of the evolving fuzzy living forms called homo ( sapiens , neanderthalensis , florensiensis , heilderbergensis , erectus , etc.).

I am keen to know what you think about this conclusion.

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I agree except for this part. I don’t think there is this definite line based on God’s action that distinguishes human from other hominins and that is not how human is used in normal parlance, so to do so is just confusing and imposing prescriptions on how language should be used. I don’t think image of God means “true humanity.”


All right!
But could you please explain what do you mean by “true humanity”?

I get the feeling that in these discussions people want to designate people made in the image of God as “true humans” or “real humans,” or “spiritual humans,” whereas those who came before are something else, something less. I think this is just another way to draw lines in human history between groups and I don’t think it is warranted and is based on speculation not revelation. We simply don’t know when in human history God interacted with humanity and in what ways they were morally accountable to God. In anthropology, there are “early humans” and “modern humans” and they have may have different capacities and different levels of complexity in their social organization, and it’s not wrong to use the word human to refer to them, even if they were not morally accountable to God. For the biblical audience, all they knew was modern humans and the call to bear God’s image applied to them and they would have understood it applied to their ancestors, but they had no concept of “early humans” or evolutionary history, so how exactly image bearing related to those populations is irrelevant to the message they were given.


I agree with you that using these terms (“true humans” or “real humans,” or “spiritual humans,”) does not help to better understanding the “biblical revelation” in Genesis.

As a matter of fact, in Genesis 9:3, 5-6, God establishes the universal prohibition of homicide by declaring that:

  • Each human being is accountable toward God and toward humankind for killing another human being.

  • Humans are allowed to use animals for food, and so are animals not accountable for killing each other.

  • The reason for this principle (foundation of morality and law) is that God made humankind in the image of God.

I take for granted that you agree with me that this is “revelation”, not “speculation”.

Here revelation clearly draws a line between humans (beings who are accountable for killing each other because they are made in the image of God) and animals (creatures that are not accountable for killing each other, and can be used by humans for food).

You can use the word ‘human’ to refer to such “early humans” and “modern humans”, but (as you rightly acknowledge) you are NOT using the word ‘human’ in the sense that such “humans” are morally accountable to God for killing each other, i.e., you are NOT using ‘human’ the sense this word has in the revelation of Genesis.

If those “early humans” and “modern humans” you refer to, “were not morally accountable to God” for killing each other (as you assume), then they are like the creatures referred to as “everything that lives and moves about” and “animals” in Genesis 9:3, 5-6.

So you yourself are apparently “drawing lines”!

So Jesus can’t save. Can’t fix our broken ‘choice’ mechanism. How very oxymoronically Evangelical.

I make a sharper division than that – the difference between humans and homo sapiens. It is part of the meaning of the word “humanity” which is considerable more than just a genetic criterion and biology, which is what the term homo sapiens is all about. Part of this distinction is the very different rates of development of body and mind. Ideas can spread so much faster than genetics that it like an instant in time by comparison to biological evolutionary developments (thousands of years compared to millions of years).

That points to a degree of dismissiveness with regards to Genesis which I don’t agree with. I would call that part of scripture by the name revelation.

Words often have specialized meanings in different fields according to what they study. This “morally accountable” is not part of my theology, but for those in which this is important it seems reasonable to me that this would be a part of their use of the word “human” in their theology. At least I don’t see any moral accountability apart from capability – they always go hand in hand.

Why does he wait until whenever it is you think he is waiting? Why did he let it get broken in the first place?

I think of it as more Arminian than Evangelical. Jesus isn’t going to force anyone to be saved against their will.

I’ve no idea what will is, free or otherwise. We so vastly, grandiosely overstate our significance as individuals and the random play of nurture on our evolved, genetic, pre-wired natures that make us ephemerally, transiently yet stubbornly us. In my mother’s severe, terminal dementia, to her dying breath, she was still my mother, she still had the same personality. As the Roman church says, we have disordered passions. Through no fault of our own and therefore anybody else’s. Jesus HAS to fix that. That’s His job. Faithfulness. We’re all saved by it. Not by some tupenny-ha’penny belief in Him. It doesn’t matter what attitude we have in the resurrection. He’ll fix it. In dialogue. With inexorable love. I want my feeble, malconditioned will, my disordered passions fixed please. I don’t care what that takes, what I lose (sex drive, identity for a start) to gain that.

Then God isn’t accountable to fix anyone.

I don’t understand you.

Does anyone else fail to understand that conclusion or its rationality, given Klax’s apparent assertion that accountability is meaningless?

Little children don’t do any such thing, and if we are childlike before God, we don’t.

What is man, that you are mindful of him?[!]
Psalm 8:4

…not only because of the vastness of the size of the universe, but also because of the vastness of its antiquity.

But a loved little child believes their father when told they are important to him (and how much more should beloved children of God).

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience – among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved – and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:1-10

You are brilliantly summarizing the teaching concerning Original Sin of the Council of Trent!

Today we know that the “disordered passions” we have, are ingrained in the evolved selfish urges we inherit trough evolution. The reason why these urges become “disordered passions” or “sinful propensities” in us, is that we lack the spiritual strength to fix them.

Here you get it wrong!

In fact, the lack of the divine grace and the resulting “feeble and malconditioned will” to fix our “disordered passions” was caused by the first sin in human history. This first sin, although not a fault of our own, was clearly the fault of the first sinners. Notice however that each of my sins would have the same consequences, if it had been the first sin in human history.

Jesus HAS ALREADY fixed that. By dying in the Cross for us, he set up the possibility that each human being receives the divine grace necessary to fix the “disordered passions” luring within our heart. In particular, in Baptism we receive a seed of this grace, that we are called to nurture during our life.

So, Jesus did and does His job. But you and me have to do OUR job as well! i.e. to struggle for living like Jesus Christ did (actually to become Jesus Christ himself). To achieve this, you and me have to pray God and carry our cross, by uniting our own sufferings with those of Christ, and by helping suffering people to carry their cross, as for instance you did by caring for your mother with severe, terminal dementia.

This is a very good way to pray to Jesus! I will incorporate this prayer into my daily life.

If you pray this way during your life, you can be sure, that Jesus will reward your efforts, and fix your “feeble, malconditionned will”, your “disordered passions”, already before you die. So, at the resurrection you will be fit to enter the kingdom of heaven. When Jesus will ask you: “Klax, do you love me”, you will answer “Yes Lord, you know that I love you”. And “when the saints go marching in”, you will be “in that number”.

By contrast, if during our earthly life we dismiss again and again Jesus’ love, then at the resurrection we will not want at all to confess: “Yes Lord, you know that I love you”. And against this our definite will there is nothing Jesus can do: We would choose our own damnation.

So, I fully agree to Christy when she states:

I think here you are stating a most important rule of biblical interpretation:

“For the biblical audience ” (today or in past times) the universal prohibition of homicide in Genesis 9:3,5-6, refers to human populations showing the full suite of features of the humans living at the “audience’s” time, and obviously aware of being accountable toward God and the human community.

Now, we are taught by evolutionary science (not by revelation) that this “full suite of features” is the result of a complex process “between >300 ka and 12 ka”, and so it can be considered well established only after 12,000 BP.

Additionally, we have historical evidence (cuneiform tablets) for the presence of clear accountability relationships within populations by about 5,300 BP.

In summary, from the available evidence we can conclude that:

By 5,300 BP there are humans (possibly a little population in ANE) who are accountable toward God for killing each other because “humankind is made by God in the image of God”. And at some point after this time it is fitting to conclude that ALL humans on earth share on such an accountability: The explosion of civilizations evidences spreading of accountability relationship over the whole planet.

This argument is tricky!

It can certainly be used to go back in time to dating God’s creation of humankind around 700,000 BP, and so making it possible that today’s humanity descend from “a single couple of image bearers”.

I wonder whether this is your motivation! But whatever it is, the price you pay is high:

if there is NO definite line based on God’s action that distinguishes human from other hominins, then you are blurring the boundaries between humans and animals, calling the very term “human” into question”, and getting rid of the prohibition of homicide according to Genesis 9:3, 5-6, after all.

I conclusion, the sure way to interpret Genesis is to assume (as you suggest) that by “humankind” God intended what the “biblical audience” of all times has understood.

And it is really astonishing that thanks science we can know that the term “humankind” designates exactly the same kind of living beings for the readers and listeners of the Bible today, as it did for those of ancient times: The distinct biological human species that homo sapiens came to be by around 12,000 BP.

“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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