Re: The Fall

From: George Murphy <>
Date: Thu Sep 15 2005 - 12:51:43 EDT

----- Original Message -----
From: "Ted Davis" <>
To: <>; <>
Cc: <>; <>
Sent: Thursday, September 15, 2005 9:10 AM
Subject: Re: The Fall

> Since Robin Collins' excellent work has come up, let me comment briefly on
> him.
> Robin is a friend for many years. He was briefly a YEC in his youth, but
> gave it up when he saw just how shoddy the arguments were about stuff like
> moon dust and thermodynamics. Robin studied physics, working on a
> doctorate
> in the foundations of quantum mechanics at Texas (John Wheeler and others
> were there) before getting a PhD in phil of science and phil of religion
> at
> Notre Dame. He's one of the brightest people I know. We teach together
> (with env scientist David Foster) a course "Issues in Science and
> Religion,"
> in which Robin discusses evolution, reductionism, and the soul/mind/body
> problem. Fascinating stuff. IMO this last (soul/mind/body) is the most
> important issue in the whole origins package. Until philosophers (like
> Robin) convince others that we know how to "solve" it, a tall order, then
> IMO the origins issues themselves will remain without satisfactory
> solutions
> for many, incl me.
> The Fall itself is, as Polkinghorne realizes, the toughest theological nut
> to crack related to an evolutionary view of origins. IMO, the Fall itself
> is a fact--a fact of everyday observation, not necessarily an historical
> fact (though it might be). I'm with Chesterton and Neibuhr on this one:
> it's the most empirically confirmed doctrine we have. But it's also a
> plain
> fact that animal death preceded human existence by zillions of years, so
> the
> old YEC answer (as much as some might want to believe it) doesn't work.
> And
> I think that once that is understood, the questions about theodicy come up
> immediately, regardless of whether or not the fall was historical.

I've submitted a paper on this issue to perspectives but since it's still in
the referee stage I won't go into details except to say that it has some
similarities with Collins' approach. It is an expansion of what I sketched
on pp.381-383 of my chapter on christology in the same volume in which his
essay appeared.

I have to take issue with the oft-repeated claim (Martin Marty, e.g., has
also made it) that the Fall (or original sin) is "the most empirically
confirmed doctrine we have." Of course it's obvious that human beings do
bad things - at least if we're allowed to judge by traditional moral codes.
But the essence of sin is violation of the 1st Commandment, failure to
"fear, love and trust in God above all things." & "God" there means YHWH,
the One who got Israel out of Egypt. It is only because of the
self-revelation of this God that we know that no other gods are to rank with
or ahead of him & then recognize the universal failure of people to put
their trust where it should be.

Received on Thu Sep 15 12:53:44 2005

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