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

From: bivalve (
Date: Fri Feb 22 2002 - 17:41:12 EST

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    I think two separate questions are involved that need
    separated. On the one hand, there is the question of
    whether creation of our physical bodies using only the
    ordinary means of evolutionary processes poses any
    problem for our understanding of Adam, original sin, etc. I
    would affirm that the answer to this is no. I see no reason
    why whether God took a body made via the process of
    evolution or a body made directly from dirt or one made by
    reassembling dry bones would make any difference in His
    ability to give it a soul and tell it to mind the garden. This is
    perhaps not a "purely evolutionary framework", but
    biologically (not sociologically) it is probably
    indistinguishable. Likewise, the integral relationship
    between body and spirit would have to be created at some
    point, whatever the means of creating the body.

    A separate question is whether purely physical processes
    can account for spirituality. As spirituality is not physical,
    the answer seems to be no. However, this does not rule
    out some sort of spiritual evolution according to
    metaphysical laws, in parallel with physical evolution, nor
    the possibility that a certain level of physical development
    automatically entails spirituality according to some
    metaphysical law. Neither of these have greater appeal for
    me than the idea that God simply endowed spiritual
    natures without the means of metaphysical law, but I do not
    know of data that would test between these options.

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    ---------- Original Message ----------------------------------
    From: Adrian Teo <>
    Date: Fri, 22 Feb 2002 11:50:17 -0800

    >Hello Keith,
    >> -----Original Message-----
    >> From: []
    >> Sent: Friday, February 22, 2002 7:02 AM
    >> To:
    >> Subject: Human origins and doctrine (was Definition of
    >> 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
    >> 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
    >> to the origin
    >> of our physical form. It seems clear to me that the
    >> of God" is tied
    >> specifically to our covenant relationship to God. We are
    >> representatives, God's ambassadors to the rest of
    >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
    >> 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
    >> doctrine of
    >> original sin is another question, but it can be
    >> held by those
    >> accepting an evolutionary origin for the human physical
    >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

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