RE: [asa] promise trumps biology (accepting biological evolution for Adam)

From: Dehler, Bernie <>
Date: Fri Dec 12 2008 - 14:36:10 EST

Gregory A. said:
"Is it not the scientist in you speaking George about the 'almost certain group origin of humans' (my phrase) and not the theologian?"

I think it is very unhealthy to think of someone speaking scientifically as if it is different than theologically. The two have to be integrated. There's no place for compartments where the thinking can be discontinuous. A theologian must be in tune with science... he can't be seen as thinking one thing as a scientist and another as a theologian. That's sick (unhealthy).


From: [] On Behalf Of Gregory Arago
Sent: Friday, December 12, 2008 9:13 AM
To: ASA list; George Murphy
Subject: Re: [asa] promise trumps biology (accepting biological evolution for Adam)

Hello again George,

"the model of original sin developed in an earlier article and summarized here does not require that there was no historical Adam." - G. Murphy

It seems to me that you are leaving enough room for variation in your position, George, so as not to commit a 'gap' argument. This most recent post of yours brings our perspectives closer together (they were less close after reading the two articles you again linked to that are in PSCF), though perhaps you are more liberal-scientistic leaning and I am more traditional-philosophistic leaning. It is enough to acknowledge that you leave room for a historical Adam and do not dismiss the possibility entirely. Perhaps is this one reason why you don't wish to carry the label 'theistic evolutionist', that is, evolutionary biological theories only rarely speak of Adam and Eve as any kind of 'reality'? I know that you are not a biologist, so this may not even be a relevant question...

George writes: "Of course evolution is a phenomenon of populations, not individuals, but mutations that spread through populations can begin with an individual. You hear geneticists talk about when the gene for red hair, e.g., arose. We don't know when the first group of hominids that should be considered human in a theological sense arose."

As you are probably well aware, George, there is much debate amongst biologists, naturalists and other natural scientists about whether evolution is focussed thoretically on individuals or on groups. The notion that a mutation, variation or adaptation *can* 'begin with an individual' sounds loose to me as a sociologist, since most human-social changes begin with individuals (the *most* makes my claim also soft! ;-). The gene-centric in biology model for example differs from the populations-first approach. You seem to be suggesting there is no debate or that it was already settled in biology-genetics fields. Is this a fair assessment of your position? (cf. D.S. and E.O. Wilson, "Rethinking the Theoretical Foundation of Sociobiology," 2006)

Later you write:
"More generally, it's a mistake to tie theology to any particular scientific theory - the mistake many scholastics made with Aristotle."

Yes indeed, and this should lend credence to leaving open the *possibility* that a 'single couple' was indeed the source from which all present-day humans asended - a 'unified humanity' perspective, if you like, rather than a disunified 'multi-regional model' (see link below). Does this mean that you do not necessarily tie your theology to a group of first humans rather than to a pair of first humans?

Personally, I'm fine with the latter such position (i.e. a single human original pair) as it seems to me theologically responsible to tradition and consistent with Scripture. Also, it is not only the Judeo-Christian tradition (including all three major branches, Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant), but also the Islamic tradition and Baha'i. A bid to 'de-emphasize' Adam and Eve from the historical record is a bold move that 'science' moreso than 'religion' seems intent to make. Is it not the scientist in you speaking George about the 'almost certain group origin of humans' (my phrase) and not the theologian?

and also a less academic contribution on 'unified humanity':

Warm regards,

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Received on Fri Dec 12 14:37:24 2008

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