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

From: George Murphy <gmurphy@raex.com>
Date: Tue Apr 29 2008 - 21:55:14 EDT

Quickly -

Good question in your 2d paragraph, & sharpened if one holds that Christ didn't assume some primordial unfallen nature the human condition as we are now. I need to think a bit more about this. Of course we shouldn't ignore the fact that Christ is also divine, but we shouldn't grab that too quickly as an easy solution.

The index of Catechism of the Catholic Church has no entry for "evolution." Paragraphs 283 & 284 talk about creation & science without mentioning it. Paragraph 390 is a traditional statement about the falll. "The account of the fall in Genesis 3 uses figurative language but affirms a primeval event, a deed that took place at the beginning of the history of man. Revelation gives us the certainty of faith that the whole of human history is marked by the original fault freely committed by our first parents."

Shalom
George
http://web.raex.com/~gmurphy/
  ----- Original Message -----
  From: David Opderbeck
  To: George Murphy
  Cc: David Campbell ; asa
  Sent: Tuesday, April 29, 2008 3:09 PM
  Subject: Re: [asa] Humanity and the Fall: Questions and a Survey

  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
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  --
  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 21:58:19 2008

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