Re: [asa] (fall) biological evolution and a literal Adam- logically inconsistent?

From: David Opderbeck <dopderbeck@gmail.com>
Date: Wed Sep 03 2008 - 10:43:49 EDT

Beth said: So maybe fall isn't
> what I mean, because as you said, that implies that we were elevated to some
> flawless height from which we fell.

I respond: maybe, and as you've noted, Milton influenced things here
perhaps. But there is, it seems to me, clearly a notion of original
innocence in scripture and in the tradition. If we lose the notion
that humanity was created in a state of innocence, and "fell" from
that state, it seems to me that Biblical theology fractures --
certainly for Paul the "first man" gave away innocence and the "second
man" (Christ) restored it. And in this sense, this state of innocence
is a "height" from which humanity fell -- not a "height" that
precluded further development, as the creational ordinances given to
Adam and Eve demonstrate (and ala Irenaeus), but a "height" on the
relational level.

For me, the critical realist notion that reality is stratified is
important here. This layer of relationality can be quite real and yet
not something really amenable to investigation by the natural
sciences, though amenable to an interdisciplinary science-theology
approach. For an interesting take along these lines, see Christopher
Kaiser, "Toward a Theology of Scientific Endeavour" (a fascinating
guy, BTW: http://www.westernsem.edu/explore/faculty/kaiser)

In any event, I acknowledge that it is impossible to define in a
concordist way at least given our current state of knowledge, but I
would still hold that a notion of a real human "fall" from innocence
is important to maintain.

On Tue, Sep 2, 2008 at 11:00 PM, Bethany Sollereder
<bsollereder@gmail.com> wrote:
> Hey Bernie,
>
> I essentially think that what Don said captures my position: we both rose
> and "fell" at the same time, though by "fall" all I really mean is that sin
> entered the world. At some point our ancestors did not have the capacity to
> love God nor to sin. Today we have the ability to do both. As we came to
> understand God (keeping in mind that all this happened within societies and
> cultures), we also came to understand and commit sin. So maybe fall isn't
> what I mean, because as you said, that implies that we were elevated to some
> flawless height from which we fell. I think we struggled into both our
> exaltedness as C.S. Lewis writes, and into our sin which we all recognize.
>
> Bethany
>
> On Tue, Sep 2, 2008 at 4:56 PM, David Opderbeck <dopderbeck@gmail.com>
> wrote:
>>
>> Bernie said: Hi David- read the last chapter of CS Lewis' "Mere
>> Christianity" and then tell me your thoughts. I'm assuming you have the
>> book- it is a classic book for most people in their personal libraries.
>>
>> I respond: I think you're misunderstanding Lewis if you take him to mean
>> that Christ simply completes a trajectory humans were on from an
>> evolutionary perspective. I take Lewis to be echoing something like
>> Ireneaus' understanding of humanity -- that we were created to move towards
>> something, that we instead moved in the wrong direction, and that Christ
>> moves us back in the right direction. There is still a very pronounced
>> "fall" or move in the wrong direction here. This, I would agree, is very
>> promising for an interdisciplinary approach (theology and science) because
>> it locates the fall in an act of human will / mind / spirit that isn't
>> measurable by the natural sciences.
>>
>> On Tue, Sep 2, 2008 at 5:16 PM, Dehler, Bernie <bernie.dehler@intel.com>
>> wrote:
>>>
>>>
>>> -----Original Message-----
>>> From: asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu [mailto:asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu] On
>>> Behalf Of David Opderbeck
>>> Sent: Tuesday, September 02, 2008 2:01 PM
>>> To: Dehler, Bernie
>>> Cc: asa@calvin.edu
>>> Subject: Re: [asa] (fall) biological evolution and a literal Adam-
>>> logically inconsistent?
>>>
>>> Bernie said: A "fall" implies
>>> > going from something better to something worse. I think it is the
>>> > opposite-
>>> > we arose from the animal nature and after being born-again we can rise
>>> > to a
>>> > higher place.
>>>
>>> I respond: Bernie, I think you need to be a bit careful here
>>> theologically. This sounds a bit Pelagian -- that there is some
>>> innate human capacity to improve. The overall arc of scripture, it
>>> seems to me, is that human beings cannot ultimately improve
>>> themselves, and that something has "gone wrong" in human history.
>>> Christ didn't die on the cross to offer the culmination of an
>>> evolutionary process -- he died to redeem us from slavery to sin,
>>> which is both a personal and a primordial slavery.
>>> . . . . . . .
>>> Hi David- read the last chapter of CS Lewis' "Mere Christianity" and then
>>> tell me your thoughts. I'm assuming you have the book- it is a classic book
>>> for most people in their personal libraries.
>>>
>>> The ability to improve is not innate- it comes from the power of God by
>>> receiving Christ- the latest evolutionary jump. In that regard, you could
>>> say "Christ died on the cross to offer the culmination of an
>>> evolutionary process" (changing your statement slightly).
>>>
>>> ...Bernie
>>>
>>>
>>> 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
>
>

-- 
David W. Opderbeck
Associate Professor of Law
Seton Hall University Law School
Gibbons Institute of Law, Science & Technology
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Received on Wed Sep 3 10:44:29 2008

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