Re: [asa] Believing Scripture but Playing by Sciences Rules

From: David Campbell <>
Date: Wed Feb 14 2007 - 15:19:26 EST

> I suppose I am still stuck on the notion of how a scientific development of
> life on Earth "allows" sin to enter into animals that henceforth became
> humans. Note that the notion of sin has no place in a scientific theory.

Sin cannot be identified as such by science. However, this means that
a scientific model of life's development doesn't have much to say one
way or the other about how sin appeared. The physical evidence
strongly supports the premise that our physical bodies have their
origins through evolution. How God worked through and/or above that
process to make us morally responsible is not answered by that
physical evidence. Stepping in from outside or designing a process of
spiritual development that would take place without a "stepping in"
(though not without full divine involvement in the ordinary manner)
are possibilities.

> how do we study the history of the universe and know when and how
> that someone from "outside" stepped in and made some changes in the
> time-development of the universe? Do we minimize that "interference" or
> maximize it? Who is to tell what occurred in the past and how to tell? ~

We have to look at the evidence. In everyday experience,
"interference" is rare. Thus, it seems reasonable not to invoke
"interference" unless there is specific evidence for it. Theological
considerations can support this as well. Honest witness will be
careful to not go beyond what the evidence will bear, rather than
trying to stretch the evidence as far as possible. Ordinary actions
of natural laws explains quite a bit of the evidence relating to earth
history, cosmology, etc.

>Animals act by instinct, aren't "self-conscious" and therefore can't
be guilty of "sin". <

Not all animal actions are instinctive. None clearly show the level
of awareness that humans have, but some rudiments may be present.
Perhaps more important than self-consciousness is other
consciousness-recognizing that other individuals have similar needs
and feelings to ourselves, which is a key element in recognizing the
consequences of our actions.

Here's an example. At the zoo, I watched a cage of DeBrazza's
monkeys. The adult male has a white goatee, making him look a bit
like a dapper old man. All the group was ready for a nap except one
rambunctuous youngster, who would wait until Dad was asleep and then
would run and yank his tail. When he got fed up and started to chase
the culprit, Junior would flee into Mom's arms. She was trying to
sleep, not watching the escapades, and so would provide a safe haven.
Dad would return to his branch and settle down, only to have Junior
creeping his way again. Obviously the young monkey knew that his
activity was not pleasing to the adult male. Was he capable of making
the connection between what he did and what he would feel if someone
yanked his tail? Or was he incapable of recognizing that this
activity was anything other than a way to make nap time more
entertaining? I don't know. Similar issues arise in attempting to
ascertain the moral capabilities of someone with limited mental
abilities (not necessarily ones affecting intelligence).

I don't doubt that the snails in my aquarium lack the mental abilities
to be moral agents, but it's harder to assess more intelligent

Dr. David Campbell
425 Scientific Collections
University of Alabama
"I think of my happy condition, surrounded by acres of clams"
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Received on Wed Feb 14 15:20:10 2007

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