Re: [asa] Theological Perspectives Without a Literal Adam

From: David Campbell <>
Date: Mon Aug 27 2007 - 15:29:07 EDT

There may be additional ideas of interest in some of the early church
fathers, though I do not know what surviving material is available.
In particular, Origen's (and others in that tradition) highly
figurative approach is likely to have some unusual aspects.

I'm not clear how making humans via evolution who are certain to go
their own way when given a choice by God and who will produce a legacy
that gives their spiritual heirs yet more impetus to sin avoids the
problem of potentially accusing God of authoring sin. It seems that a
more or less federal view in which Adam and Eve, functioning as
perfect representatives of human nature, made the choice that any of
us would have, thereby placing all humans in the "sinful" category, is
largely compatible with the idea that the transmission of sinfulness
owes much (though probably not all-we are not born good but
immediately corrupted) to the heritage of past generations' actions,
which in turn are strongly shaped by the evolutionary heritage of our

> Why not theology IN social and behavioral sciences rather than vice versa?

Theology provides the more fundamental framework, though there is
enough interaction to allow specific cases to be described as
theology in social science, etc.

> is it just 'natural' science you folks are interested in?

You folks and interest are both a bit ambiguous here. The current
population of active list members is strongly weighted to natural
sciences, presumably because the people in question have greater
interest in natural science than in other fields. However, the ASA
has a fairly inclusive definition of science ("Science is interpreted
broadly to include anthropology, archeology, economics, engineering,
history, mathematics, medicine, political science, psychology, and
sociology as well as the generally recognized science disciplines.
Philosophers and theologians who are interested in science are very
welcome"), and probably most active members would assert that there
are interesting topics relevant to faith and science for which social
sciences provide important if not indispensible information. It's
just a matter of finding some social scientists who want to

> Do natural scientists even care about the immense influence of Herbert
> Spencer, the universal evolutionist, on American thought or do they rather
> direct their attention to Darwin, Darwin and more Darwin (not to mention
> Theodosius Dobzhansky)?

Spencer did not do much that contributed to the modern developmnet of
evolutionary science and so he gets little attention within natural
science. He had a big influence on popular thought and is thus of
great importance in understanding the broader social issues, a very
important topic far removed from the expertise of most natural

> a great problem with an 'evolving creation' is that it is linguistically contradictory given that 'to evolve' assumes a process and 'to create' assumes an origin. <

Processes can be created. The phrase 'evolving creation' places
emphasis both on the ultimate origin of the process and on the role of
process in shaping the current appearance of that creation. Of
course, it's important to recognize that evolution itself is created;
conversely, creating itself is an ongoing process that includes
evolution as a description of one aspect.

> However, it puts so much emphasis on biology and physical/physiological explanations that other approaches are blocked out of priority and disqualified by silence. As a sociologist I find this unfortunate and unacceptable. <

Sociology is quite valuable in studying humanity, but I'm not entirely
certain how it helps on the topic of the origin of humans. If you
provide some examples, I think that would help me see what you are
asking for.

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 Mon Aug 27 15:29:31 2007

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