Re: [asa] Humanity and the Fall: Questions and a Survey

From: George Murphy <gmurphy@raex.com>
Date: Thu Apr 24 2008 - 14:59:57 EDT

----- Original Message -----
From: Gregory Arago
To: George Murphy ; David Opderbeck ; asa
Sent: Thursday, April 24, 2008 1:54 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] Humanity and the Fall: Questions and a Survey

> Re: 3) Who was it that 'started' the 'process' (of, as you say, 'getting off the right track') and did that person have a name? Or is the name of that person unimportant?

1st, I did not say that it was "a" person. In the biblical story sin begins with a woman & a man, not a single person. & genetics indicates that the "bottleneck" at the beginning of humanity must have been significantly larger than a single couple.

2d, I don't know if the members of that first group of humans had names & neither does anyone else - although I'm open to anyone who claims to know enough about paleoanthropology to answer the question. But I daresay that such an expert wouldn't have the audacity to say what their names actually were. For that matter, in Genesis it's not clear at what point 'adham becomes a proper name - NRSV doesn't use it as such till 5:1. & the woman isn't named until 3:20.

> That 'choice' (to start) seems really to be/symbolize an 'abrupt transition,' whether or not one wants to apply the theological phrase 'state of integrity' is an aside.

The slope of the Gaussian curve y = exp(-x^2/a^2) can be made as small as you wish if you make a large enough.

The question of the state of integrity can't be set aside. Calovius said that it was called that "because man in it was upright and uncorrupt (Eccl. 7:29) in intellect, will, the corporeal affections and endowments, and in all things was perfect." If humanity was "in all things perfect" then any change can be seen as "abrupt," a qualitative & not just a quantitative change. But if humanity wasn't originally perfect (& scripture nowhere says it was) then that's not the case.

> If one accepts the 'event/point in history' that Pinnock accepts, then indeed, they can dismiss George's felt need to postulate Adam and Eve as a 'story of everyman/woman,' just as Pinnock does.

Pinnock says that it is "more than the quaint story of Everyman" but not that it isn't the story of Everyman.

> To resonate with David's view that 'something is not satisfying' in Pinnock's account, it seems to me that when he considers that 'an event' can happen 'over generations' he is confusing the meaning of 'an event.' The meaning of 'over generations' is 'many events' not 'an (a single) event.'

Depends on how you define event. For a relativity theorist an event is a single point of space-time (or often something happening at such a point). But theologians often use the word differently. E.g., John Cobb used the word as "a general term for a happening of any degree of complexity or extension through space and time." (A Christian Natural Theology (Westminster, 1965).

Shalom
George
http://web.raex.com/~gmurphy/
   

  G.A.

  George Murphy <gmurphy@raex.com> wrote:
    There's a good deal of truth in what Pinnock says. However -

    1) Scripture itself does not use the language of "fall" in connection with the 1st human sin & we need not be tied either to that language or (more importantly) to the image it conveys of an abrupt transition from a "state of integrity" to depravity.

    2) What I think a realistic picture of evolution will not let us do is hold on to the idea of a "state of integrity" in the classical sense.

    3) A more realistic picture is not that of "fall" but of the start of a process of getting off the right track - i.e., the kind of historical development God wanted. That process did start at the beginning of human history & in that sense is "historical."

    4) Gen.3 & other texts (Rom.5 &c) are theological statements about that start but are not historical accounts of it.

    5) The really essential; thing to maintain is the seriousness of our "sin of origin," which is why reading Gen.3 as the story of "everyman/woman" is necessary, though it doesn't exhaust the meaning of that text.

    6) At which I will again refer to my PSCF article at http://www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/2006/PSCF6-06Murphy.pdf .

    Shalom
    George
    http://web.raex.com/~gmurphy/
      ----- Original Message -----
      From: David Opderbeck
      To: asa
      Sent: Thursday, April 24, 2008 12:34 PM
      Subject: [asa] Humanity and the Fall: Questions and a Survey

      Here is an article by a prof at Westminster Seminary California that I think lays out the theological dilemma of accepting human evolution: http://www.wscal.edu/faculty/wscwritings/wasadamhistorical.php

      The author is right, isn't he, that one must either reject human evolution and accept a traditional understanding of the fall, or accept human evolution and accept a neoorthodox understanding of the fall? Much as I've tried to find middle ground, I don't see it.

      Clark Pinnock makes an effort towards such a middle ground in a fascinating book that presages what has become known as the "postconservative" movement in evangelicalism. Pinnock tries to take the best of neoorthdoxy without compromising classical orthodoxy. Here is what he says about the fall:

        ... it is important to interpret the Fall into sin as an event not a myth. I do not mean that is an event witnessed and described for us by those who were there. I recognize in the literary depiction of it a mythical dimension. Nevertheless, it is important to see tha the Fall maks the point in history when humankind turned aside from God and God's purposes. It is more than a quant story of Everyman. "It is teh name for that point in world history when, with human freedom already becoming a reality, man began to act in a way disruptive of the historical process, working against God's purposes for him and for the world and thus acting in a manner destructive of his own being and welfare." The actual event may not have been something that happened to a couple in a garden just as described -- it may have happened in another way over a period of generations perhaps. But it is important that the Fall into sin predates history as we know it and determines its sinful character. History has been spoiled and turned around. Salvation is not being delivered from history; it is being delivered in and with it. In a strong statement, . . . 'to regard the fall as myth rather than in some sense genuine history shatters both the consistency and the meaning of the Christian faith." (Pinnock, Tracking the Maze, at p. 195).

       Something about Pinnock's effort here is just not satisfying. So if you accept human evolution, is your view of the fall historical or neoorthodox? If it's historical, how does it square with your acceptance of evolutionary science? If it's neoorthodox, how does it square with scripture's emphasis on the effects of Adam's sin?

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Received on Thu Apr 24 15:03:06 2008

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