From: bivalve (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Tue Jan 07 2003 - 17:17:41 EST
>there was no Adam and Eve, no original sin, and thus no need for a savior.<
I am not quite certain how this reply is supposed to answer the
question (which was how modern scientific knowledge conflicts with
anything important in scripture). None of these three assertions are
scientific, so they are not examples of modern scientific knowledge
that conflict with Scripture. The latter two are philosophical
assertions, whereas the first is an historical claim.
Unless you advocate the independent creation of different human
populations, then humans share a common ancestor at some point.
Likewise, particular subgroups of humanity share common ancestry when
traced back far enough. Thus, there is no scientific improbability
in the existence of a particular pair of individuals, ancestral to
either all later humans or to some theologically significant subset
thereof. The theological plausibility of God selecting two
individuals as representatives of humanity will depend on one's
theological views; at the very least, he would have to pick some time
to commence greater interaction with creatures. Certainly
Judaeo-Christian theology sees representatives as valid and important.
Both antievolutionists and atheists often assert that evolution is
incompatible with original sin. I do not know of any reasonable
attempts to justify this claim, however. One possibility is that
they are holding a teleological view, equating evolution with
progress. This is scientifically unjustified and in fact leads to
silly results like the conclusion that gulper eels are more advanced
than humans because they have more extensive modifications of the
basic vertebrate body plan than we do. Another possibility is that
they are assuming that evolution equals atheism, which implies that
neither evil nor good exists.
As George and others have pointed out, many potentially successful
evolutionary strategies are in fact considered morally bad. Thus,
original goodness (pre-fall) requires some reconciliation with
evolution. However, if original sin is understood as an innate
tendency to choose to do wrong, then it is possible to assume that
humanity started with an ability to choose good or evil; having chose
the latter, we are now stuck with it.
There is also the abundant evidence of everyday experience that
demonstrates humanity's proclivity to sin. This does not prove that
absolutely everyone sins, nor that the tendency is innate rather than
learned, etc., but it does mean that the doctrine of original sin is
quite plausible in light of human experience.
Even if not everyone sinned, that would not eliminate the need for a
savior for the rest of us. At the practical level, the important
question is not whether original sin exists, but whether each of us,
individually, is in need of saving.
Thus, the three assertions are neither scientifically supported nor
contingent upon each other.
Dr. David Campbell
University of Alabama
Biodiversity & Systematics
Dept. Biological Sciences
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0345 USA
That is Uncle Joe, taken in the masonic regalia of a Grand Exalted
Periwinkle of the Mystic Order of Whelks-P.G. Wodehouse, Romance at
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