Re: [asa] (introducing... sin) "Evolutionary Creation" book comments

From: Gregory Arago <>
Date: Fri Oct 02 2009 - 13:01:55 EDT

Don Nield wrote: "Adam and Eve play two representative roles. They represent us and they represent the first hominids who had the capacity for free choice and self-consciousness. With this capacity, they became aware of God’s requirements, but more often than not rejected them. The “Fall” refers to the sinful acts of these ancestors creating a form of spiritual and moral darkness along with an accompanying bondage to sin. Original sin refers to: (1) the sinful choices of these hominids, (2) the continuing sinful choices of the succeeding generations including ourselves, and (3) the resulting bondage to sin and spiritual darkness that is inherited from our ancestors and generated by our own choices. This inheritance acts at its own (“spiritual”) level and cannot be reduced to some sort of cultural or genetic inheritance, though it is deeply intertwined with these other levels."   If you'll forgive me for jumping in after silence, I still don't see how 'Adam' and 'Eve' in 'representative roles' solves the problem of the 'origin' of sin any more when it is pushed back to calling them 'first hominids.' Something extra-natural must have convi(n)c(t)ed these particular 'first' hominids of their decision to 'Fall' and they must have somehow known what they did was sinful (i.e. the law written on their hearts). Whether or not there was a natural-physical garden from which they were expelled by the word of God for their act(s), is another story (and the volumes of artwork done on this are wonderful testaments to the Christian Tradition, which should not be treated as fairytales or as mere 'ancient science' or 'ancient history' - i.e. the primitive or backward and wrong argument). But the power of choice to sin (or not) is supreme, and it is God-given, selah.   As the character Neo said in The Matrix: "The Problem is Choice!" And the act of choice itself breaks the continuity of the past and the future: the decision itself and the act, the confirmation, the condemnation, the confession, the repentance, the act of forgiveness, the...none of these things makes sense in a philosophy of flow and flux; 'evolution.' It is not that 'modern science has shown us' but rather than pre-modern, modern *and* post-modern or current philosophy convinces us of the power of the moment (G.K. Chesterton speaks about this, of the cross-roads so masterfully in his "Orthodoxy"). The problem again with the continuity, uniformitarian, anti-intervention, pro-hiddenness model is that it doesn't leave room for the very things that define/symbolise us most intimately as human beings, the supra-natural things that we are born with, though none of us can say exactly when they became part of our human constitution (womb to tomb), as part
 of a higher covenant, which happened ceremoniously before we were born.   Perhaps this is why Denis said: "I can't "explain the details." That's the nature of a MYSTERY."   It is like in Romans 7, where I do what I do not want to do. Isn't it a mystery still today? This could fit closely with Mike Gene's theory of nudging, if we are given many signs (i.e. nudged) that we are not supposed to do something, yet for some reason we ignore them or don't hear them or see them or feel them and still do it. The signs are only (reducible to being) 'naturalistic' if one 'despiritualises' the universe in which we live. And none of us here believes in a despiritualised universe, though our language sometimes betrays us without our knowing it. There doesn't seem any good reason to do that, except if one has made a commitment to natural-physical scientific methodology above theological or philosophical knowledge.   Queue the Gregory repeat: e.g. Denis could instead speak about 'the character of MYSTERY' which contrasts with a naturalistic reading of reality. Though I know what he meant - 'the nature of' just means, 'how it is', all it would take is a mere massage of his language to influence the message. We do live in a universe with Personal knowledge (i.e. not Eistein's religion), and the Creator is not just something 'super' (but also awesome and majesticand full of Grace) and certainly is not just 'supernatural!' The Character of the MYSTERY is divine and providential (and the theologians can sing about this more wonderfully than most others, even if they are well taught in reading natural-physical scientific hymn sheets).   I wonder then when Don's language starts to sound 'too naturalistic,' that is, if you'll allow for this possibility to happen (and not to be taken in accusative form to you, Don in Kiwi land! :). Denis, too, I must say I sometimes cringe at the sharpness of your language: "Adam was a scientific fact." Why does it have to be put this way? There was no 'science' in Augustine's day, at least in the way we understand this word now. Adam was considered 'historical' in Augustine's day and it is certainly still possible to accept  as a responsible position and even as an historically supported position (e.g. Dick Fischer) within Orthodox Christendom today and to say that "Adam is an historical fact".    As a Christian one won't find all that many Jews or Muslims offering to debate against this position (but the camp-odds shift when it comes to 'liberal theologians,' meant un-politikly) . Whereas the 'symbolic language of Adam' sympathisers (whose voices are certainly being represented here in this discussion) have to deal with the issue of 'there must have been a FIRST,' present in Plato and Aristotle and consistent up to the moment in philosophy. Bill speaks indeed of conceptual and empirical classes: there is nothing heterodox in saying that 'the first hominid Homo' can and should be called 'Adam,' which means 'man.' In other words, the first human, the first man, simply *is* best called ADAM; historical, real, flesh and blood (+), decision-making, who in his (and her) power to choose, chose wrongly, against the law, who sinned, in real time, back then, not now. We are humans after Adam, we are of the Adamic 'class.'  Some people here seem to
 be using the conceptual class against the empirical class. In Adam they/we are one. And then we all know what comes next.   Re-interpreting Augustine's view of sin is one thing, claiming the first hominid(s)/Adam and Eve were 'symbolic' or 'representative' *rather than real* (i.e. actually saying they were un-real!) is something quite different. Modern science has little power against this 'greater reality' (which partly explains why there are still so many YECs especially in the USA) and in such an instance must admit it has gone beyond its respective domain to pronounce upon such a thing!   Let me then repeat what I wrote here a year or so ago, with respect to the way we communicate the Creation story, our Story, of human beings, nature and God. It carries such a different tone, meaning, style, mode of expression, though certainly the Message was intended to be the same, when one reads T.S. Eliot in contrast to Arthur Peacocke, both of whom re-wrote Genesis, one in the language of poetry, the other in the language of science. I wonder if there needs to be more celebration of the MYSTERY that Denis speaks of by celebrating the wonder of Creation, and of the Fall, and of the Redemption? Peacocke's language sounds over-scientific (though I wouldn't call it 'scientistic,' especially now in recent days enjoying his "Evolution: A Disguised Friend of Faith?" and finding many nuggets therein), when it could have been more mythical and personal. I felt such a cold-neutral-dry reaction to reading his Genesis, in comparison to T.S. Eliot's,
 which provoked wonder and awe. Has anyone here felt (or reasoned) the same way?    But then again, what we are all after here is the truth of natural history too, the events that actually happened, whether or not they can haae empirical explanations. Because something happened, after all! Yet we use different language from the Buddhist or the Hindu or the pre-Christian Native Indian to discuss it.   "the doctrine of original sin needs to be freed from the ancient science and reformulated." - Denis Lamoureux   "we can no more believe that this is the entail of a single disastrous natural act" - Niehbur (via Polkinghorne and Ted)    It may be that 'ancient science' was wrong about 'original sin,' even to address it at all, being that it was not just a natural or historical topic, but also a spiritual one. Of course, science was much more spiritual or inspired in those days too. But the notion that a 'single disastrous natural event' can't be believed in anymore is misleading. First, the act under consideration was 'more than natural' (and you all know that I like such language very much), though it also involved the physical aspect of 'human nature.' Second, that is like saying that all single acts of choice today can't be believed because they demonstrate the same vertical truth that was demonstrated on 'the first sin.' All of the fuzzy (actually, let me just be more direct and call it flawed) logic coming from evolutionary philosophy (and which is sometimes intertwined with evolutionary theology) diminishes the power of choice that was demonstrated in that 'one moment'
 on that 'one day,' it dehumanises us from the completeness of the unique human package, it reduces the vertical to the horizontal.    Logically, one may go back in hominid history to a 'pre-sin' day, but then the question begs to know whether the first sinner was the first human (Adam)/hominid, or whether there was a time gap when a human was a human but not under the law of sin. Now it is the TEs/ECs who are on the spot to resist their 'flow and flux' approach to posit a definitive, inescapable *moment* because that is what the 'introduction of sin' calls for, everyday. Can it be another way?   Now if someone wants to hypothesize an evolutionary pathway for the 'origin of sin' they'll be doing something quite amazing. Maybe that is what someone out there has done or is about to offer, to take their shot? Somewhere, at some time folks, we do need an X to mark the spot!   Gregory __________________________________________________________________ Make your browsing faster, safer, and easier with the new Internet Explorer® 8. Optimized for Yahoo! Get it Now for Free! at

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Received on Fri Oct 2 13:03:11 2009

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