RE: Human origins and doctrine (was Definition of "Species")

From: Adrian Teo (
Date: Fri Feb 22 2002 - 14:50:17 EST

  • Next message: Glenn Morton: "Jewelry among modern humans"

    Hello Keith,

    > -----Original Message-----
    > From: []
    > Sent: Friday, February 22, 2002 7:02 AM
    > To:
    > Subject: Human origins and doctrine (was Definition of "Species")
    > Firstly, self-awareness and self-determination are very
    > abstract concepts.
    > How do you know that no other animal is self-aware? This has
    > been debated
    > for years, and I don't see any clear objective way of
    > determining it. My
    > personal view is that at least some higher animals are indeed
    > self-aware.

    The bottom line is that we will never know for certain if nonhuman animals
    have these capacities or not, but we can be fairly certain that they don't
    possess them in the same way we do. Instinctual factors alone is able to
    account for observable behaviors even in higher primates. While many experts
    would grant that these higher primates may have some capacities that are
    precursors of morality, language, metacognition etc., nevertheless they are
    quite obviously rudimentary forms. The gap is huge no matter which cognitive
    capacity one chooses to look at.
    > Secondly, what does moral accountability have to do with the
    > origin of the
    > physical human form? I can see no reason why our moral and spiritual
    > nature, or our relationship to God, has any direct connection
    > to the origin
    > of our physical form. It seems clear to me that the "image
    > of God" is tied
    > specifically to our covenant relationship to God. We are God's
    > representatives, God's ambassadors to the rest of Creation.

    My point is that the evolutionary account of the origin of physical human
    form cannot explain the emergence of moral awareness in humans. I think that
    God had to act in a special way, an unusual mode of activity, to imbue these
    "soulish" capacities. So, I would say that there is no *causal* connection
    between the physical human form and our moral capacity.

    However, to bring up a side issue, I would also argue that our physicalness
    is an essential expression of imaging God. This is not to say that God is
    physical, but to say that our bodies communicate the essence of who we are.
    The only way that I know you truly exist as a person is through your
    physical form. If (as I assume) the person is a unified body and soul, then
    both body and soul TOGETHER image God. In fact, I would go further to say
    (as Barth argued also, I think) that in some sense, being created male and
    female TOGETHER images God. And only our physical bodies expresses our
    maleness or femaleness. Furthermore, both the Incarnation and the
    Resurrection (of Christ and of our bodies) attest to the significance of the
    physical body. Therefore, I do think that the image is necessarily tied to
    our physical nature.

    > Past and
    > contemporary evangelical theologians have seen no necessary connection
    > between the manner in which our physical bodies were created
    > and our being
    > made in the image of God.

    Not Barth, not JP Moreland, not Ray Anderson, Joel Green, Nancy Murphy (just
    to name a few). And also, let's not forget the theologians since the
    earliest days of Christianity who considered the person to be a unity of
    body and soul - e.g. Justin Martyr, Athenagoras, Augustine, Aquinas etc.
    Additionally, Catholic theology also affirms this unity. Thus to say that
    the person is made in the image and likeness of God necessarily implicates
    the physical body.
    > Lastly, evolution also affirms the unity of humankind. People like
    > Warfield used evolution as a strong argument against
    > polygenism (multiple
    > human origins) and racism (see the discussion of Warfield in "Darwin's
    > Forgotten Defenders"). Furthermore, many of those accepting human
    > evolution, both past and present, also fully accepted the
    > historicity of
    > Adam. Whether the historicity of Adam is necessary for the
    > doctrine of
    > original sin is another question, but it can be consistenly
    > held by those
    > accepting an evolutionary origin for the human physical form.

    All of which I don't deny. I am NOT saying that Christian evolutionists are
    necessarily any less orthodox in their theology than others. But at this
    point, I fail to see how the doctrine of original sin can be reconciled with
    a purely evolutionary framework that denies the special creation of humans.
    The reason is because there is no satisfactory account of how physical
    processes can lead to the emergence of our moral capacity and
    self-determination, which are necessary for Adam to have sinned.

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Fri Feb 22 2002 - 14:51:26 EST