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

From: Alexanian, Moorad <alexanian@uncw.edu>
Date: Fri Apr 25 2008 - 08:33:17 EDT

There is a supernatural aspect of humans and therein the spirit of humans exists. This existence is outside space-time and undetectable by purely physical devices, just like consciousness is not detected either by purely physical devices. One’s spirit can be “detected” only by the human himself, just like consciousness is detected by humans. Contrary to what Schrödinger, who believes in a single spirit a la Vedanta of Indian philosophy, humans have individual spirits.

 

Moorad

 

From: asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu [mailto:asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu] On Behalf Of philtill@aol.com
Sent: Friday, April 25, 2008 1:15 AM
To: gmurphy@raex.com; dopderbeck@gmail.com; asa@calvin.edu
Subject: Re: [asa] Humanity and the Fall: Questions and a Survey

 

David,

1. Theologians say that a spirit is something that has no extension in space, right? When they say this, "space" refers to the ordinary space of our physical universe.

2. If that's true, then (a la physics, because space and time are not distinct), a spirit must also have no extension in time. That's not too hard to accept: God transcends space and He transcends time, too, right?

3. Well, here's the rub. If humans have a spirit, which most evangelical and reformed theologians believe (Catholics, too?), then that means there is a part of us that has no extension in space **or time**. If that's not true, then you and I don't really have spirits, or else theologians must be wrong and indeed spirits have extension in space, or else physics is wrong! But we don't believe any of that. So let's get used to the idea that some part of humanity has no extension in time.

4. But these arguments about Adam commonly make the mistake in assuming humanity is entirely extended in time. Consider how Pinnock assumes this:

"For if Adam is simply which stands for the truth about every person who ever lived, **from the very beginning of that person's life,** what does that mean? That means that sin is simply a part of what it means to be human!" (emphasis mine)

He thinks that we have comprehensively examined a man when we look all the way back through time to his beginning in time. Thus, he assumes the entirety of humanity is extended in time. But on the contrary, if Adam stands for the truth about every person who ever lived, including men's spiritual aspect, which transcends time, then even when we look all the way back to the beginning of their lives we have not seen every part of them. There is the part of us beyond time that we have not looked at. It is therefore possible that the fallenness we see in this universe is not inherent to what it means to be human. The sin in the garden needn't represent a temporal event to have theological meaning.

I suspect the problem with our theology around Adam is resolved by considering this bigger picture of humanity including our spirits that are not extended in spacetime. Adam as a "saga" or "myth" presents mankind in a garden as if he were simply inside spacetime. But if the true nature of mankind's Fall as a spiritual event is not extended in spacetime, then it well may be impossible for us to comprehend it from our view within spacetime. Only a story like that of Adam could possibly communicate its theological truths to us. So I don't think the story of Adam has any shortcomings, regardless what we may learn from science.

You may recall I've tried to communicate this general idea on this list before by appealing to the "Augustinian" idea that mankind is "in Adam" in a some kind of way that implies a spatially non-extended connection. Hopefully I did a better job explaining the idea this go-round.

By the way, this was C.S. Lewis's view of mankind. He believes our choice to sin or be saved is ultimately a spiritual decision from outside time that we see played out as a projection onto the chessboard of spacetime. He wrote that Time is the backwards telescope that narrows the view so that we can see ourselves as the free moral agents that we truly are. If we saw ourselves outside Time, we would not have such a clear view of our own free moral agency.

Phil

-----Original Message-----
From: George Murphy <gmurphy@raex.com>
To: David Opderbeck <dopderbeck@gmail.com>; asa <asa@calvin.edu>
Sent: Thu, 24 Apr 2008 1:10 pm
Subject: Re: [asa] Humanity and the Fall: Questions and a Survey

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 <mailto:dopderbeck@gmail.com>

        To: asa <mailto:asa@calvin.edu>

        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 kno w 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 Fri Apr 25 08:34:01 2008

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