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

From: David Opderbeck <dopderbeck@gmail.com>
Date: Tue Apr 29 2008 - 15:09:46 EDT

George said: What we know of the process of evolution in general, & what we
can infer from the behavior of our nearest surviving primate relatives,
indicates that the first humans would have been prone to sinful behavior -
even thought they would not have been compelled to sin. Thus the claim that
the first human(s) was/were "morally perfect" is problematic.

I respond: But isn't there a difference between being prone to sin and sin
being inevitable? For example, if Christ truly was tempted in every way as
we are, in some sense he must in his humanity have been prone to sin --
otherwise the temptation is meaningless. Yet for the "new Adam" sin was not
inevitable, since he did not sin. Maybe moral "perfection" means making
right choices even in the face of very real temptations and limitations?

George, you mention traditional RC theology. I remain confused about
exactly what the Catholic church's official teaching is here. I know JPII
acknowledge that evolution is more than a theory, and I know the RC Church
generally permits a range of views on the interpretation of Genesis. But,
my understanding is that human evolution remains officially or at least
semi-officially verboten, because of a strongly Augustinian view of how
original sin is transmited (monogenism).

On Tue, Apr 29, 2008 at 2:58 PM, George Murphy <gmurphy@raex.com> wrote:

> If it were just a matter of God selecting a particular couple &
> communicating with them then evolution wouldn't pose any great threat to the
> traditional "fall" scenario. But the problem goes deeper than that - in
> particular, to Strimple's claim that there was "a first man specially
> created by God, morally perfect in knowledge, righteousness and holiness."
> What we know of the process of evolution in general, & what we can infer
> from the behavior of our nearest surviving primate relatives, indicates
> that the first humans would have been prone to sinful behavior - even
> thought they would not have been compelled to sin. Thus the claim that the
> first human(s) was/were "morally perfect" is problematic. This can be
> avoided if one postulates that God did something outside the ordinary course
> of natural processes to add some spiritual & moral capabilities to some
> hominid in order to create humkanity in the theological sense. This in fact
> is what traditional RC theology postulates - that what humanity lost in "the
> fall" was not any natural capacity but this added supernatural aspect, the
> *donum superadditum*. That is why Rome can accept human evolution up to a
> point. But adopting this approach means circumventing the evolutionary
> [process at a critical point.
>
> Shalom
> George
> http://web.raex.com/~gmurphy/
>
> ----- Original Message ----- From: "David Campbell" <pleuronaia@gmail.com
> >
> To: "asa" <asa@calvin.edu>
> Sent: Tuesday, April 29, 2008 2:00 PM
> Subject: Re: [asa] Humanity and the Fall: Questions and a Survey
>
> >> 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.
> >
> > No. There is nothing about evolution that precludes the possibility
> > that God specifically selected a couple (made physically by evolution)
> > and told them to keep a garden and not eat from a particular tree.
> > Innumerable variants exist on several details, such as whether they
> > should be physical ancestors of all other humans or spiritual
> > representatives whose choice affected co-existing individuals, whether
> > this happens once or in each population unit, the degree to which
> > aspects of the scenery are considered figurative or literal, etc.
> >
> > The genetic evidence regarding the size of the population bottleneck
> > is problematic. Error bars on the estimates are probably rather wider
> > than generally reported, plus the problem of not knowing at what time
> > the population of interest should be sought.
> >
> > I'm inclined to a fairly historical take on the fall.
> >
> > --
> > Dr. David Campbell
> > 425 Scientific Collections
> > University of Alabama
> > "I think of my happy condition, surrounded by acres of clams"
> >
> > To unsubscribe, send a message to majordomo@calvin.edu with
> > "unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
> >
>

-- 
David W. Opderbeck
Associate Professor of Law
Seton Hall University Law School
Gibbons Institute of Law, Science & Technology
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Received on Tue Apr 29 15:11:06 2008

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