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Do you have to believe in Adam and Eve?

It is not often that I find myself in agreement with Professor Jerry Coyne, but this is one of those occasions. Over at his Website, Why Evolution is True, Professor Coyne has written a lengthy post entitled, Catholics proclaim complete harmony between science and their faith, trot out Aquinas again, in which he cites (without naming me) a post of mine from 2010 on Why Aquinas’ views on Scripture would have prevented him from becoming a Darwinist.

I stand by the conclusions I reached in that post, regarding Aquinas’ views on God, creation and Scripture, and I share Coyne’s sense of indignation with the following statement, made by a prominent Catholic theologian from the University of Oxford and a scientist from the American Museum of Natural History:

Evolutionary biology and faith in God are not incompatible, two professors asserted at the international Rimini Meeting, an event that brings hundreds of thousands of people to Italy.

“A proper understanding of creation, especially an understanding set forth by a thinker such as Thomas Aquinas, helps us to see that there is no conflict between evolutionary biology or any of the natural sciences and a fundamental understanding that all that ‘is’, is caused by God,” Professor William E. Carroll of Oxford University’s theology faculty told CNA Aug. 22…

Professor Carroll was a keynote speaker at the Rimini Meeting, an international gathering organized by the Catholic lay movement Communion and Liberation…

Sharing a platform with him was Professor Ian Tattersall of the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

Unlike Aquinas, I happen to be a Catholic who believes in common descent. However, I know enough about the history of the Church’s teachings on human origins over the last 2,000 years, to realize that some things are not up for grabs for Catholics, as Professor Carroll seems to think they are. The contemporary scientific consensus on evolutionary biology clearly contradicts Catholic teaching on several points – the most notable of which is Adam and Eve. (The doctrine that God directly and supernaturally created Adam and Eve’s human souls is another point of conflict.) I thought I’d assemble the evidence here, and let readers judge for themselves.

I intend to show below that the Catholic Church is still committed to the view that the human race is descended from a single original pair, Adam and Eve, and from nobody else.

But there’s more. Fr. Brian Harrison, a conservative Catholic priest who is Associate Professor of Theology, at the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico, has written a two part article entitled, Did Woman Evolve From the Beasts? – A Defence of Traditional Catholic Doctrine – Part I and Part II, has gone further, and argued that Catholics are, to this day, bound to believe as infallible Catholic teaching the proposition that Eve was formed from Adam’s side, and that if Adam was descended from the animals, the final step in his physical evolution must have been accomplished not naturally, but by supernatural intervention. Or as Fr. Harrison puts it in another article entitled, Did the Human Body evolve naturally? A Forgotten Papal Declaration, “Hence, … a last-minute supernatural intervention at the moment of Adam’s conception would have been necessary in order to give his embryonic body the genetic constitution and physical features of a true human being.” As I am not a theologian, I will content myself with presenting the evidence, so that people can assess it and form their own judgement. I will say, though, that in my opinion, Fr. Harrison makes a very good case (on theological grounds) for his view that while Adam may have evolved, Eve must have been created.

Our review of Catholic tradition will begin in the third century. Even the early Church Father Origen (185-254 A.D.), De Principiis, Book IV, chapter 21, who was a great allegorizer of Scripture, taught the existence of a single individual named Adam, who is the “father of all men”:

For every beginning of those families which have relation to God as to the Father of all, took its commencement lower down with Christ, who is next to the God and Father of all, being thus the Father of every soul, as Adam is the father of all men.

In the fourth century, St. Epiphanius (c. 310- 403 A.D.), Bishop of Constantia in Cyprus, forcefully asserted the truth of monogenism (the doctrine that all human beings are descended from a single pair, Adam and Eve) in his Panarion Book I, Section III, section 39 (Against the Sethians):

4 (2) Two men were not formed (at the beginning). One man was formed, Adam; and Cain, Abel and Seth came from Adam. And the breeds of men before the flood cannot derive from two men but must derive from one, since the breeds all have their own origins from Adam.
(Panarion. Translated by Frank Williams. Copyright 1987 and 1997, by Koninklijke Brill, Leiden, The Netherlands)

The fourth century bishop, St. Ambrose of Milan (c. 339-397 A.D.), who is honored as a Doctor of the Church and who also baptized St. Augustine, clearly taught that Adam was the unique source for the propagation of the human race and that Eve was made from Adam’s side, in chapter 10 of his work, “On Paradise” (c. 375):

(48) … Not without significance, too, is the fact that woman was made out of the rib of Adam. She was not made of the same earth with which he was formed, in order that we might realize that the physical nature of both man and woman is identical and that there was one source for the propagation of the human race. For that reason, neither was man created together with a woman, nor were two men and two women created at the beginning, but first a man and after that a woman. God willed it that human nature be established as one. Thus from the very inception of the human stock He eliminated the possibility that many different natures should arise.
(Cited in Eve and Adam: Jewish, Christian and Muslim readings on Genesis and gender by Kristen E. Kvam, Linda S. Schearing and Valarie H. Ziegler, Indiana University Press, 1999, page 138.)

St. Augustine (354-430 A.D.), writing in his City of God, Book XVI, Chapter 8, on “Whether Certain Monstrous Races of Men are Derived from the Stock of Adam or Noah’s Sons”, taught that Christians are obliged to believe that all human beings on Earth, no matter how different they may appear to other human beings, are descended from a single progenitor or “protoplast”, named Adam:

But whoever is anywhere born a man, that is, a rational, mortal animal, no matter what unusual appearance he presents in color, movement, sound, nor how peculiar he is in some power, part, or quality of his nature, no Christian can doubt that he springs from that one protoplast [original progenitor – i.e. Adam – VJT]. We can distinguish the common human nature from that which is peculiar, and therefore wonderful.

St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), who is known as the Angelic Doctor, Summa Theologica I, q. 102, art. 1, quoted St. Augustine when explaining why Christians are bound to believe in a literal Garden of Eden (Paradise):

I answer that, As Augustine says (De Civ. Dei xiii, 21): “Nothing prevents us from holding, within proper limits, a spiritual paradise; so long as we believe in the truth of the events narrated as having there occurred.” For whatever Scripture tells us about paradise is set down as a matter of history; and wherever Scripture makes use of this method, we must hold to the historical truth of the narrative as a foundation of whatever spiritual explanation we may offer.

St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica I, q. 32, article 4, also taught that Christians are bound to believe factual assertions made in Scripture, even when they have no direct bearing on faith and morals:

A thing is of faith, indirectly, if the denial of it involves as a consequence something against faith; as for instance if anyone said that Samuel was not the son of Elcana, for it follows that the divine Scripture would be false.

And here’s St. Thomas Aquinas again, in his Commentary on Job (Prologue), on why Christians are not permitted to believe that the story of Job was originally intended as nothing more than a parable, as some people in his day (including the Jewish philosopher Maimonides) had suggested:

In Ezechiel, the Lord is represented as saying, “If there were three just men in our midst, Noah, Daniel, and Job, these would free your souls by their justice.” (Ez. 14:14) Clearly Noah and Daniel really were men in the nature of things and so there should be no doubt about Job who is the third man numbered with them. Also, James says, “Behold, we bless those who persevered. You have heard of the suffering of Job and you have seen the intention of the Lord.” (James 5:11) Therefore one must believe that the man Job was a man in the nature of things.

Not the wording: “one must believe” that Job was a real man. If this is what Aquinas held about the historicity of Job, what would he have thought about modern-day Catholics who deny the historical reality of Adam?

Regarding the formation of Eve from Adam’s side, Fr. Brian Harrison handily summarizes the views of Aquinas in his article, Did Woman Evolve From the Beasts? – A Defence of Traditional Catholic Doctrine (Part II):

The most universally approved of all theologians, St. Thomas Aquinas, lived before the modern vocabulary of theological notes had been developed, but it is clear that he judged the doctrine, understood literally and historically, to be totally certain. This is evident from ST, Ia, Q. 92, articles 2 and 3, inquiring, respectively, whether in general it was fitting for woman to be formed from man, and whether, more specifically, it was fitting for her to be formed from the man’s rib. In both articles, the ‘sed contra’ is a peremptory appeal to Scriptural texts: Sir. 17: 5 in art. 2 and Gen. 2: 22 in art. 3. When, in his ‘sed contras’, Aquinas cites a Scriptural text rather than magisterial, patristic or philosophical authorities, he means to show that the answer he discerns to the question being posed is backed up by the supreme authority of God’s own written word, in a passage, moreover, whose meaning is so clear that merely to cite it is to understand it. So in modern theological parlance, we would have to say that St. Thomas is proposing the formation of Eve from Adam’s rib or side as at least ‘proximate to faith’.

A few decades after St. Thomas Aquinas’ death, the ecumenical Council of Vienne in 1312 published the Constitution Fidei catholicae, which referred to the formation of Eve from Adam’s side as pre-figuring the formation of the Church, which the New Testament describes in Ephesians 5:25-32 as the Spouse of Christ:

[We confess] … that after [Jesus’] spirit was already rendered up, his side suffered perforation by a lance, so that through the ensuing flow of water and blood, the one and only, immaculate, virgin holy Mother Church, the Spouse of Christ, might be formed, just as from the side of the first man, cast into sleep, Eve was formed for him unto marriage. This happened so that the reality manifested in our last Adam, that is, Christ, might correspond to a certain prefiguring of that reality constituted by the first and ancient Adam, who, according to the Apostle, “is a type of the one who was to come” [cf. Rom. 5: 14]. (DS 901 = D 480)

The great theologian Francisco Suarez (1548-1617), a Spanish Jesuit who is generally regarded as one of the greatest Scholastic philosophers after St. Thomas Aquinas, held that the immediate formation of Adam’s and Eve’s bodies by God is to be held definitively as Catholic doctrine, as Fr. Brian Harrison notes in his article, Did Woman Evolve From the Beasts? – A Defence of Traditional Catholic Doctrine (Part II):

Suarez, another truly great theologian, teaches that the immediate formation of both Adam’s and Eve’s bodies by God is doctrina catholica“, that is, definitive tenenda.
(De Opere Sex Dierum, 1, 3. ch. 1, nos. 4 and 6.)

Echoing the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas, Cardinal St. Robert Bellarmine, S.J. (1542-1621), another Doctor of the Church, affirmed the absolute inerrancy of all factual assertions made in Scripture, in his celebrated Letter to Paolo Foscarini on Galileo’s Theories, April 12, 1615:

It would be just as heretical to deny that Abraham had two sons and Jacob twelve, as it would be to deny the virgin birth of Christ, for both are declared by the Holy Ghost through the mouths of the prophets and apostles.

Nor has the teaching of the Church changed in modern times. More than two decades after the publication of Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species, Pope Leo XIII wrote about the origin of marriage in his 1880 encyclical, Arcanum (On Christian Marriage), paragraph 5, and affirmed that the creation of Eve from Adam’s side was an historical fact that is known to all, and “cannot be doubted by any”:

…The true origin of marriage, venerable brothers, is well known to all. Though revilers of the Christian faith refuse to acknowledge the never-interrupted doctrine of the Church on this subject, and have long striven to destroy the testimony of all nations and of all times, they have nevertheless failed not only to quench the powerful light of truth, but even to lessen it. We record what is to all known, and cannot be doubted by any, that God, on the sixth day of creation, having made man from the slime of the earth, and having breathed into his face the breath of life, gave him a companion, whom He miraculously took from the side of Adam when he was locked in sleep. God thus, in His most far-reaching foresight, decreed that this husband and wife should be the natural beginning of the human race, from whom it might be propagated and preserved by an unfailing fruitfulness throughout all futurity of time.

Fr. Brian Harrison, commenting on the above passage in his article, Early Vatican Responses to the Evolution Controversy, makes the following observation on the state of the controversy regarding evolution within the Catholic Church in the late nineteenth century:

It is noteworthy that no censure was even necessary, during this period, either of a polygenistic account of human origins or of the thesis that the body of the first woman was also a product of evolution. This is because no Catholic author, it seems, had yet dared advocate these theses, in opposition to truths which were so firmly established in Scripture and Tradition.

Some Catholics believe that Pope Pius XII reversed the Church’s stance on evolution. The truth, however, is quite different. In November 1941, Pope Pius XII expressly affirmed that Eve was formed from Adam’s side in an allocution given to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences:

God formed man and crowned his brow with the diadem of his image and likeness… . Only from man could there come another man who could call him father and parent; and the helpmate given to the first man also comes from him and is flesh of his flesh …. Her name comes from the man, because she was taken from him.
(“… Dio plasmò l’uomo e gli coronò la fronte del diadema della sua immagine e somiglianza… . Dall’uomo soltanto poteva venire un altro uomo che lo chiamasse padre e genitore; e l’aiuto dato da Dio al primo uomo viene pure da lui ed è carne della sua carne …, che ha nome dell’uomo, perché da lui è stata tratta“)
(Acta Apostolicae Sedis 33 [1941], p. 506.)

Several years later, Pope Pius XII cautiously permitted theological enquiry into the possible origin of the human body from pre-existing living organisms, in his 1950 encyclical Humani Generis, paragraph 36:

…[T]he Teaching Authority of the Church does not forbid that, in conformity with the present state of human sciences and sacred theology, research and discussions, on the part of men experienced in both fields, take place with regard to the doctrine of evolution, in as far as it inquires into the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter – for the Catholic faith obliges us to hold that souls are immediately created by God.

However, Pope Pius XII, in the same encyclical, Humani Generis, paragraph 37, reminded Catholics that polygenism (the view that the human race was descended from more than two first parents) is off-limits to Catholics:

When, however, there is question of another conjectural opinion, namely polygenism, the children of the Church by no means enjoy such liberty. For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains that either after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parent of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents.

Pope Pius XII also affirmed that the first eleven chapters of Genesis must be considered free from all historical errors, even if they borrow from popular narratives that were current at the time when Genesis was written, in his encyclical, Humani Generis, paragraphs 38-39:

[T]he first eleven chapters of Genesis, although properly speaking not conforming to the historical method used by the best Greek and Latin writers or by competent authors of our time, do nevertheless pertain to history in a true sense… If, however, the ancient sacred writers have taken anything from popular narrations (and this may be conceded), it must never be forgotten that they did so with the help of divine inspiration, through which they were rendered immune from any error in selecting and evaluating those documents.

Therefore, whatever of the popular narrations have been inserted into the Sacred Scriptures must in no way be considered on a par with myths or other such things…

Finally, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, approved by Pope John Paul II, affirms the reality of Adam and Eve as historical individuals in paragraphs 366 and 375:

The Church teaches that every spiritual soul is created immediately by God – it is not “produced” by the parents – and also that it is immortal: it does not perish when it separates from the body at death, and it will be reunited with the body at the final Resurrection…

The Church, interpreting the symbolism of biblical language in an authentic way, in the light of the New Testament and Tradition, teaches that our first parents, Adam and Eve, were constituted in an original “state of holiness and justice”.

Well, there’s the evidence. What do readers think?

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90 Responses to Do you have to believe in Adam and Eve?

  1. Evangelical Protestant YEC here.
    lots of material here but the great point is the bible says all folks come from Adam/Eve.
    The bible is the word of God or it isn’t.
    God would get it right.
    its up to critics of genesis to prove men come from apes and so on and not from Adam.
    Where is the evidence?
    Either God or excellent evidence from nature must frame conclusions here.

  2. Hi Robert,

    Thank you for your post. I won’t argue with you about the evidence for human evolution – although Professor Mike Behe’s point about humans lacking the ability to synthesize vitamin C strikes me as impressive, and the fossil evidence is quite good too. But I’m quite sure that God had a direct hand in making us human, both at the physical and spiritual levels. You might call that creation, if you like.

    Of one thing we can be quite certain, though. Scripture speaks clearly of an original couple.

    Associate Professor Kenneth Kemp, a Catholic scholar who is the author of a recent article on Adam and Eve, entitled, Science, Theology and Monogenesis (American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly, 2011, Vol. 85, No. 2, pp. 217-236), believes that there were just two rational human beings at the dawn of human history, but he also believes, bizarrely, that their descendants inter-bred with thousands of biologically human creatures that lacked the capacity to reason: in other words, people mated with animals. One weighty reason for rejecting Kemp’s polygenistic scenario regarding human origins is that it is at odds with the Genesis account on at least eight points, and that it is manifestly incompatible with what the writer(s) of Genesis intended to convey.

    1. In Genesis 1:25, we are told that God made “all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds”, before making mankind in His own image (Genesis 1:26), and telling them to “rule over …every living creature that moves on the ground” (Genesis 1:28). The image of God cannot exist without a rational soul. From a Genesis perspective, then, any sub-rational hominids existing at the dawn of humanity would have been of a different kind from Adam. What’s more, Adam ruled over them. The idea, then, of Adam’s descendants mating with these creatures, as Professor Kemp has suggested they did, would have seemed ridiculously incongruous to the human author of Genesis 1.

    2. In Genesis 2:18, God says, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him” (NIV). This does not fit with Professor Kemp’s suggestion that there were biologically human women lacking rational souls who were contemporary with Adam – for these could have assuaged his loneliness. Professor Kemp might object that these females would have been poor conversationalists, since they lacked the use of reason, and that Adam would still have been unsatisfied. But here again, the Genesis account contradicts him. For in Genesis 2:23, upon seeing Eve for the first time, Adam exults, “At last! This is bone from my bones and flesh from my flesh” (Complete Jewish Bible). In other words, according to the human author of Genesis, the mere fact that Eve shared a common physical nature with Adam was enough to make her a suitable companion. On Professor Kemp’s account, that makes no sense: a biologically human female is not necessarily rational.

    3. In Genesis 2:19, God brings all the animals to Adam to name them, “and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.” Since Adam’s biologically human contemporaries were of a different kind than himself, what did he call them? Humans? Obviously not – that was the name of his kind. If Adam didn’t call them human, then why does Professor Kemp?

    4. In Genesis 3:14-19, God puts curses on the serpent and on the human race. Obviously the curses would not apply to Adam’s biologically human contemporaries because they did nothing wrong. God says that he will put enmity between the serpent’s seed (or offspring) and the woman’s seed (i.e. the human race). Were Adam’s biologically human contemporaries unafraid of snakes, then? Then God tells the woman that she will suffer pain in childbirth and that her husband will rule over her. Are we supposed to believe, then, that Eve’s biologically human sub-rational contemporaries, whose pelvises were the same size as hers, did not suffer pain in childbirth? Finally, in Genesis 3:19, God tells Adam, “By the sweat of your brow, you will eat your food until you return to the ground.” Are we supposed to believe, then, that Adam’s biologically human sub-rational contemporaries managed to obtain their daily food without breaking a sweat, while Adam, despite his superior intelligence, is forced to work for a living?

    5. In Genesis 3:20, Adam calls his wife Eve, “because she would become the mother of all the living.” But if Kemp’s biological polygenism is correct, then Eve would have merely been a mother of all the living, rather than the mother.

    6. In Genesis 4:13, after being found out for his crime of murdering Abel, Cain laments that whoever finds him will kill him. But this only makes sense if the person who finds Cain hates him for murdering his brother. To hate someone for committing a murder presupposes rationality. In Genesis 4:14-15, God declares that anyone who kills Cain will suffer vengeance – again indicating that they are rational beings, or otherwise they could not be punished. Incidentally, these verses serve to utterly refute Professor Kemp’s “Scriptural” argument for polygenism. Kemp argues that “the account of the exile of Cain (Gen 4:14–17) assumes the existence of other men in the world without giving an account of their creation.” But the men spoken of in Genesis 4:14-17 are clearly rational; hence according to Kemp’s own account, they must be descendants of Adam and Eve, as he admits that they were the only two rational human beings in the beginning.

    7. In Genesis 4:16, Cain is banished from his community, and chooses to dwell in the land of Nod, to the east of Eden. Now, we are told in Genesis 5:4 that Adam and Eve had many other sons and daughters. If Cain did not take one of his sisters with him, then how, on Professor Kemp’s account, did God intend him to find a wife? Or was he meant to start a family with a sub-rational animal? Is that what God wanted?

    8. In Genesis 6:19, Noah is told to take into the ark a pair of every kind of creature. Since Adam’s biologically human contemporaries were of a different kind from Adam, who was made in God’s image, then are we to presume that they were taken on the Ark too, as beasts?

    Polygenism and Scripture don’t mix, period.

  3. I thought science has pretty much proven that Adam and Eve never existed due to population genetics? If that is the case then Christianity falls apart. It seems now Christians are trying to scramble and reconcile this with theories like Adam is Hebrew for mankind or he was the first human to evolve or he was a king of a tribe or the account is allegorical etc. Perhaps it is time to admit that Genesis is wrong and move on. I would like to believe in Adam and Eve as much as the next guy but it doesn’t seem tenable anymore.

    Also, how can Michael Behe believe in human evolution/common ancestry and still be an ID proponent?

  4. An important issue here, and (as always) I appreciate Dr Torley’s contribution to it, my general agreement with Bill Carroll notwithstanding. If I could find time to engage everyone in this (Coyne, Carroll, and Torley), I would; but, the reality is that many such conversations will happen only in a better place, at a happier time (if God is more generous to Mr Coyne than Mr Coyne is to God).

    I will respond to just one aspect of Dr Torley’s commentary–namely, his quotation from Cardinal Bellarmine, which is not exactly quoted out of context (Bellarmine’s position is accurately stated in the passage quoted), but the context is not given–and it’s quite important, if we want to see fully what he was saying.

    I’ve written about the context at length in an article that is available only in print, but of course that is no barrier to anyone who wants to dig into this more deeply: Edward B. Davis and Elizabeth Chmielewski, “Galileo and the Garden of Eden: Historical Reflections on Creationist Hermeneutics.” In Nature and Scripture in the Abrahamic Religions: 1700 Present, ed. Jitse M. van der Meer and Scott H. Mandelbrote, 2 vols. (Leiden and Boston: Brill Academic Publishers, 2008), vol. 2, pp. 437 64. (http://www.brill.nl/nature-and.....00-present)

    Some of the things we say there can be found in a column I did for BioLogos a few months ago: http://biologos.org/blog/galil.....den-part-1 and http://biologos.org/blog/galil.....den-part-2

    To cut to the chase (leaving out the subtleties, which are quite important as Dr Torley and I both realize), Bellarmine was saying, in context, that biblical teaching about astronomy (specifically, about the Earth being at rest and the Sun in motion) is no less authoritative than biblical teaching about Abraham or the Virgin Birth. In other words: b/c the Holy Ghost wrote all of scripture, challenging biblical astronomy puts on onto a slippery slope that ultimately undermines the deity of Christ.

    I have no reason to think that Dr Torley is either a geocentrist (as Bellarmine was) or a creationist (in the common YEC sense), but I do see striking parallels between Bellarmine’s attitude in 1615 and that of YECs now (including both heliocentric and geocentric proponents of the YEC view). It’s not clear to me where (if at all) Dr Torley’s position differs from that of Bellarmine, and therefore from that of the YECs whom I wrote about in my article. I’m sure it must, but it’s not clear to me just where.

  5. Various questions concerning Adam and Eve, their relative spirituality in comparison with each other, and which is the default, have arisen in my mind over the years, and seem to have a general bearing on this issue.

    I will begin, if I may, by copying (with additions) some paragraphs from a post I addressed to a Christian forum, yesterday:

    ‘What I do firmly believe, as a matter of everyday observation, is that women are innately more spiritual than men – like the angels, who are pure spirits, for better or worse. They just tend to be more sensitive, more tuned-in to the supernatural. Even men’s facial hair is suggestive of a greater level of carnality, isn’t it?

    Of course we are dealing here with mysteries. I mean, despite the fact that our scripture and tradition has afforded the church an enormous fund of wisdom concerning our human conduct and our destinies, the Bible itself is very mysterious, full of mystery, nevertheless.

    But it has also occurred to me that in their worldly abasement*, their kind of ‘spare rib’ anonymity, as part of our faith as well, women may well be closer to God the Father in his eternal essence. ‘From the womb, before the Day-Star, I begot you’ – Psalm 110.

    In addition, the fact of the Virgin Mary bearing the only-begotten Son of the Father, would seem to suggest a pretty remarkable degree of intimacy with Him, doesn’t it?

    Quite apart from considerations concerning our exalted and much cherished Mariology, a contentious issue to most Protestant denominations, in one of the prayers in the Roman Catholic breviary, Mary is described as ‘the highest honour of our race’, so characterizing the Catholic church’s attitude to women as demeaning, etc, is clearly a very facile, mistaken judgement.

    The fact is, we are all given different roles to play, and surely, the fact of women being essentially more spiritual would entail that they would bear heavier, gender-related crosses. ‘Top-weights’ in Life’s handicap, in horse-racing terms. To a degree, to be born a woman, is to be called to a greater degree of poverty of spirit, endemic to women’s historic, societal status in virtually all societies.

    However, is it not the case that, while still in the womb, the default of all of generic man is female – until, in some cases, a spurt of some hormone leads to the formation and birth of males.

    So, while Eve may have been taken from Adam’s side, Adam would have been inchoately female, before bifurcating into his male sexuality.

    Initially, I was thinking along the lines of Christ’s being cloned of the Virgin Mary, but I believe the cloned cell is, in the parlance of you boffins, as far as I can make out, ‘front-loaded, with all that is necessary for development conserved within it.

    Is it then the case – the medical profession must have terms to designate the respective stages of development, before and after the injection of the catalysing male hormone – that the default, pre-catalysis female state of all of us is mirrored in the virginity of Mary, the Second Eve, as Catholic spiritual writers sometimes refer to her? It would be a nice consonance, wouldn’t it?

    *’Self-abasing’, here, in spiritual, not worldly terms.

  6. Axel, wow! What a post! That is way beyond me and a bit troubling to me.

    ‘Even men’s facial hair is suggestive of a greater level of carnality, isn’t it?”

    I’m sorry, but there is nothing in Scripture at all to support this wild idea!
    Personal opinion is fine, but beards were a part of God’s original “very good” creation it would seem – unless you are going to claim that beards are a result of the fall.

    “But it has also occurred to me that in their worldly abasement*, their kind of ‘spare rib’ anonymity, as part of our faith as well, women may well be closer to God the Father in his eternal essence. ‘From the womb, before the Day-Star, I begot you’ – Psalm 110.”

    In Christ, there is neither male nor female. Both men and women are depraved sinners in need of forgiveness and reconciliation with God. The ground before the cross is level for both sexes. We may have different weaknesses in general, but we both have weaknesses. Whatever distinction you are trying to draw here is simply conjecture.

    In addition, the fact of the Virgin Mary bearing the only-begotten Son of the Father, would seem to suggest a pretty remarkable degree of intimacy with Him, doesn’t it?

    What? Are you suggesting that a man should have given birth to Jesus? You don’t think the fact that Mary was the mother of Jesus had anything to do with biology? Instead you think it has to do with some special intimacy with God?

    OK, I’m Protestant so I have trouble with this whole “cherished Mariology” thing, but I think you are reading into this far more than we know. She bore a child and that child was both God and man. Was there more to it than that? I don’t know. I think we’ll have to wait for heaven to find out the answer to that.

    “the fact of women being essentially more spiritual would entail that they would bear heavier, gender-related crosses.”

    First of all, I’m not sure this is a fact like you claim. Secondly, what in the world is a heavy gender related cross? Each gender has it’s own particular challenges.

    “However, is it not the case that, while still in the womb, the default of all of generic man is female – until, in some cases, a spurt of some hormone leads to the formation and birth of males. So, while Eve may have been taken from Adam’s side, Adam would have been inchoately female, before bifurcating into his male sexuality.”

    Axel, come on and think a little here! Why would Adam have ever been “inchoately female”? Are you suggested he developed in a woman’s womb for 9 months and went through the same changes you and I did? I don’t think so. God created Him directly from the dust of the earth. And the Scripture does say that the creation of man before woman is significant and speaks to our God-given roles. Women being taken from the side of man is also said to be significant and a hint at the God given roles she has.

    But even if you are right, even if Adam had a stage where he was female before he became male, what does that have to do with anything? To become a male that is what happens. So what! Why do you think there is special meaning in that? You are going way way beyond what Scripture tells us. If this is your opinion, fine, but there is really no Scriptural basis for this type of wild speculation.

    “Is it then the case – the medical profession must have terms to designate the respective stages of development, before and after the injection of the catalysing male hormone – that the default, pre-catalysis female state of all of us is mirrored in the virginity of Mary, the Second Eve, as Catholic spiritual writers sometimes refer to her? It would be a nice consonance, wouldn’t it?”

    Wow! This is really far out there! Is this how Catholics do theology?
    You think the default, precatalysis female state of all of us is mirrored in the virginity of Mary?

    What??? Come again? What in the world does that mean? Why would you think that anyway? What support do you have for such speculation? You are going way beyond what the Bible says here. The Second Eve? What does that mean? Axel, I don’t know where you are getting your beliefs from, but it is certainly not from God’s Word.

  7. JLAFan said “If that is the case(no Adam & Eve) then Christianity falls apart. It seems now Christians are trying to scramble and reconcile this with theories like Adam is Hebrew for mankind or he was the first human to evolve or he was a king of a tribe or the account is allegorical etc. Perhaps it is time to admit that Genesis is wrong and move on.”

    I have to agree with you there. I am a creationist so I don’t agree that “science” has proven that they did not exist, but I do agree that if they did not exist, then the Bible is is not credible. Jesus believed in Adam & Eve as did Paul. The Fall would have been a big myth and hence the story of sin entering into the world would be a lie. The Church took this as literal history as VJ has done such a good job of pointing out here. The Bible would simply lose all credibility if that were the case.

    I don’t believe for one minute though that science can prove they did not exit. It can give evidence that some people will interpret as giving support for that view, but there is no proof.

    Plus, creationists would have a very different interpretation of the facts than evolutionists would have. We both have the same facts. The difference is in the interpretation. You interpret them based on your evolutionary worldview and we interpret them based on our creationist worldview.

    I think Luskin and Gauger have a recent book out that shows that Adam and Eve very possibly could have existed. Might be worth a look.

    If you are not a Christian, just curious, but why would you want to believe in Adam & Eve just as much as the next guy?

  8. Good work, VJ. As you point out, the teaching of the Church in this matter is clear and consistent with Aquinas’ views. Frankly, I resent revisionist Catholics who falsely implicate Aquinas in their theological crimes.

  9. tjguy, why would carnality be bad, since, as you rightly point out it was part of God’s ‘very good’ creation? Are you not confusing our creation as flesh and blood, with carnality in the sense, not of merely a lesser spiritual nature, but of a culpably fallen one? I was not imputing greater sinfulness to men, as I indicated by the words, ‘for better or worse’ and my references, to the angels (pure spirits) and to attunement to the spiritual world.

    ‘In Christ, there is neither male nor female. Both men and women are depraved sinners in need of forgiveness and reconciliation with God. The ground before the cross is level for both sexes. We may have different weaknesses in general, but we both have weaknesses.

    Again, and for the same reason, I couldn’t agree more.

    ‘Whatever distinction you are trying to draw here is simply conjecture.’

    I thought I had made that clear at the outset. I’m sorry if I gave the impression I was pronouncing kind of ‘ex cathedra’.

    ‘What? Are you suggesting that a man should have given birth to Jesus?’

    Of course not. Merely suggesting that the manner of all human incarnation might have been disposed by God quite differently, unimaginably differently, but that he chose the Son of Man to be born of a virginal woman just might have been motivated by such considerations as I have suggested.

    ‘You don’t think the fact that Mary was the mother of Jesus had anything to do with biology? Instead you think it has to do with some special intimacy with God?’

    Having established that his creation of mankind via men and women as we are familiar with our race, I would suggest to you that it is an axiom of our faith that God chooses the most apt means for all his works; not necessarily just biological means, for goodness sake. I’m only interested in the biology, insofar as it engages my reflection in terms of possible associated spiritual dimensions. It hadn’t occurred to me that personal attempts at spiritual interpretations of scripture were outside the remit of VJ’s invitation.

    ‘First of all, I’m not sure this is a fact like you claim. Secondly, what in the world is a heavy gender related cross? Each gender has it’s own particular challenges.’

    If you say so.

    ‘Are you suggested he developed in a woman’s womb for 9 months and went through the same changes you and I did?’

    Your preferred, standard, approved, straighforward interpretation had occurred to me too, and it is certainly less gratuitously speculative, even less wildly so. I wonder, though, if wild speculations ever bear fruit. Maybe aye, maybe no.

    I’m no Origen, but he came up with some pretty ‘wild’ speculations, and yet he was held to be the ‘go-to’ man for all questions on Christian orthodoxy, so cut me a bit of slack, there’s a good chap.

    I almost get the impression in places that you somehow feel threatened by my holding women to be (in footbal parlance) ‘a bit special’. Or maybe it’s the Catholic allusions that make you very uncomfortable. Anyway, no great harm done. I fully concede that they are gratuitous and arguably even wild, speculations.

  10. Tjguy

    I think that if we apply “that’s just your interpretation” to one aspect of science, why not others? Some Christians seem to apply that to evolution and the age of the earth but what about chemistry, physics and botany? I would guess not because those aspects of science don’t threaten Christian theology. If we were to apply that then there would never be any consensus on anything.

    The reason why I say I want to believe in Adam and Eve is because I’m a Christian moving into the world of agnosticism (bordering on nihilism). Science seems to be doing a good job of debunking some Genesis accounts and I haven’t found a good way to reconcile faith and science. Science doesn’t have all the answers, Religion doesn’t have all the answers and the two can’t agree.

  11. Hi JLAfan2001,

    You say “science seems to be doing a good job of debunking some Genesis accounts”.

    Could you share with us what scientific evidence debunks what Genesis accounts please?

    Thank you.

  12. JLAfan2001:

    You wrote:

    “Also, how can Michael Behe believe in human evolution/common ancestry and still be an ID proponent?”

    This question shows that you are laboring under the misconception that ID and evolution are incompatible. You apparently think that ID is creationism. You need to do some basic reading in ID literature. You can find some material in the resources section on this site, and other basic material on the Discovery site. The book *Debating Design* edited by Dembski and Ruse should help as well. And of course *Darwin’s Black Box* by Behe.

    It isn’t a “theory” that “Adam” is the Hebrew word for mankind. “Adam” *is* the Hebrew word for mankind, and it’s used in that way in Genesis 1. But “Adam” is also used in Genesis 2-3 to refer to the “man” — the first human male — and later in that story it functions as the first male’s proper name.

    Whether or not Genesis 2-3 has been “proved wrong” by population genetics depends on what you think Genesis 2-3 is trying to say. And that depends on considerations such as literary genre. As a point of historical fact, most of the Church Fathers, especially the Latin Fathers, read it largely as chronicle. But how they read it, and what its author intended, may be two quite different things.

  13. JLAfan2001:

    You wrote:

    “The reason why I say I want to believe in Adam and Eve is because I’m a Christian moving into the world of agnosticism (bordering on nihilism). Science seems to be doing a good job of debunking some Genesis accounts and I haven’t found a good way to reconcile faith and science. Science doesn’t have all the answers, Religion doesn’t have all the answers and the two can’t agree.”

    Your account here makes me sad. It’s clear that you have been taught a wooden, literalist account of the Bible and of the Christian faith, and, unable to reconcile that with what you have been told that “science” teaches (although some of what you have been told that “science” teaches is dubious speculation), you are facing a crisis of faith.

    Trust me; there are many versions of Christian faith, and the ones worth holding onto are not incompatible with good science. If your Christian faith is based on a rich personal understanding, i.e., is not merely assent to a bunch of historical propositions or institutional dogmas, you won’t have any problem reconciling it with any sound science.

    What will cause you problems is (a) accepting a narrow, materialistic view of the world — such as that propounded by Dawkins and Coyne and Carl Sagan and Lawrence Krauss — as the truth of “science”; and (b) accepting a narrow form of literalist inerrantism as the representative of Christianity.

    Could you give me a sense of your personal background? A rough idea of your age, and your formal education, and social milieu of your family and friends, and your religious background? I might be able to help you with some suggestions if I knew more about “where you are at.”

  14. Alright, as someone who’s very sympathetic to the views expressed by those referenced in the OP, I’ll give some responses.

    One of the articles Torley references in his OP makes the statement that God’s existence is compatible with science. That’s a pretty broad claim that doesn’t itself turn on the truths of Catholic/Christian teaching. This much should be accepted by Torley straightaway.

    As for the specific list Torley gives in his comment…

    1: Any objection to the sort of account Kemp raises that turns on “But that would be some form of bestiality!” is going to be blunted by the obvious reply: the alternative account features inbreeding and incest to a high degree. I don’t think you can say ‘well incest is clearly superior to mating with the subrational!’ and make it stick – at least from where I sit, I don’t find the contrast very striking.

    2: This really comes across as a considerable stretch. First, you’re assuming that when God says ‘it is not good for man to be alone’, that this has only to do with Adam’s feelings of loneliness, as opposed to God viewing Adam as incomplete in some other way. More than, you are really, really reading a lot into Adam’s response when you take his response to mean “Aha! Eve looks like me, which is all that I require and nothing else whatsoever! Yay!”

    3: That’s a minor point at best: Kemp clearly thinks there’s an important, difference-in-kind between the two. When he talks about them being ‘human’, I take him to mean ‘biologically human’, which makes sense for his purposes.

    4: I think the difference between rational and sub-rational would make much of the difference here – even you yourself, I believe, have argued that there’s a difference when it comes to experiencing pain or fear or punishment from a rational context and a subrational context. Further, you’re cooking up a contrast: Adam, originally, was provided for. After his punishment, he is no longer provided for. That doesn’t mean that all the animals were also provided for – they were under different rules and a different relationship from the beginning.

    5: Not according to Kemp’s understanding. Eve really was mother of all the living, insofar as she was the mother of all rational humans.

    6: I fail to see the problem here, even if you assume the men are rational, especially given the lifespans they had. It seems to me that those ‘other men’ could have been rational creatures, and still fit with Kemp’s understanding. And that’s assuming that their hostility to Cain really would require rationality – something I’ll put aside for now.

    7: This is right back to the ‘mating with a sub-rational animal’ objection, and once again the contrast is ‘or incest’. As with 1, I don’t feel this has much force at all. We’re dealing with a pretty particular set of circumstances in the creation story.

    8: Noah’s Ark has its entirely own set of difficulties and understandings, even by your own measure. I’m almost positive your view here differs drastically from any literalist interepretation.

  15. Wouldn’t “lieralist interpretation” be an oxymoron? Either something is taken literally or it is interpreted.

  16. Actually, I should get into this regarding 6 again.

    Let’s assume that on 6, the ‘other men’ aren’t in fact rational creatures. But it’s still entirely possible for those creatures to be unensouled, while still being a threat to Cain. Being fearful, or even attacking someone, because of a violent action is certainly within the capacity of sub/non-rational animals. More than that, Genesis 4 doesn’t say that others will kill Cain because he’s a murderer and they hate murderers.

    From the NIV:

    Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is more than I can bear. 14 Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.”

    For all we know, Cain was threatened simply because he was a stranger to whoever he’d encounter, or some other reason.

    Kemp is entirely correct that the origins of the people in the land Cain is travelling to are not mentioned, and that really does do quite a job regarding placing the context of the history. I maintain that Kemp’s interpretation is very reasonable.

  17. Joe,

    Wouldn’t “lieralist interpretation” be an oxymoron? Either something is taken literally or it is interpreted.

    Probably. What I mean is that I’m pretty sure that Torley doesn’t take Noah’s story to mean that two of each and every creature on the whole of the earth was taken, given other views of his I’ve read regarding biblical history.

  18. “Wouldn’t “literalist interpretation” be an oxymoron? Either something is taken literally or it is interpreted.”

    Not so, actually. The original Protestant understanding of “literal” was described by William Tyndale, who said the only meaning of Scripture was the literal one, but that like other literature Scripture contains poetry, metaphor, parable, allegory and so on which are the literal meaning of those particular texts, properly understood.

    So for any text you need to do careful interpretive work to understand what “literal” means in that case.

    A “literalistic” interpretation is something else – in the case of Genesis usually meaning one that assumes it is written in the form of modern reportage, regardless of how it was understood originally. Even then, interpretation plays a large part – vapour canopies were never in the text, but for many years were read into a literalistic understanding of it. The rather limited effects described in God’s curses in Genesis 4 are often interpreted as a complete reordering of creation, though that’s not in the text. And so on.

  19. Coresa

    I don’t have any scientific references but there are articles stating that man arose from Africa around 100,000 years ago from a small tribe of around 10, 000. How can there have been one man and one woman if genetics can’t get below a population of that size. We would have mutated ourselves out of existence. Plus where does Homo erectus, Homo Habilis, Homo Neanderthalis fit into the creation account of Adam and Eve? There were other human species that went extinct. Why them and not us?

    Timaeus

    I know that ID is compatible with evolution and it’s not creationism but what is the difference between Behe’s view on evolution and Dawkins’ view if they both believe in evolution with common ancestry? The bible does say that Adam means mankind in Hebrew but it also refers to him as one man in the gospels as you stated. This is part of the problem did one man or a small population bring sin into the world and how was it done?

    You are right in assuming that I believed in the literal Genesis account but I don’t see how one can’t. Sin entered through Adam and Christ reconciled us to God. No Adam, no sin, no Jesus, no death, no resurrection, no afterlife. It’s a progression and if any one of these fails, the whole of Christianity falls.

    I don’t feel comfortable in giving out personal information over the blog but perhaps through PM would be fine

  20. –”Joe, Wouldn’t “lieralist interpretation” be an oxymoron? Either something is taken literally or it is interpreted.

    –Nullasalus: “Probably.”

    For Catholics, insofar as they are doing exegetical analysis, that word has a specialized meaning:

    Literalist
    (The fundamentalist extreme on one side) = Taking the passage word for word, regardless of historical or theological context. If the passage reads, “it was raining cats and dogs,” the literalist interpreter assumes that dogs and cats were really falling out of the sky. The literalist doesn’t always acknowledge the difference between metaphorical expressions and historical accounts.

    Literal

    (Sound exegesis)= Discerning what the author really meant to say when he wrote the passage, given the historical and theological context. In the above example, it would be obvious that the writer meant to say that it was raining very hard. The literal interpretation always recognizes the genre being used.

    Liberal

    (The modernist extreme on the other side) = reading one’s own preferences into the passage, even to the point of denying history. Forget what the passage says; it didn’t really rain. The whole thing was a story that was crafted to illustrate an abstract truth of some kind. With this perspective, miracles and hard-to-understand teachings are simply dismissed.

    This dynamic plays itself out daily. Even in the teeth of a clear Church teaching, Kemp, like most TEs, typically play the liberal card (polygenism). He can’t understand how monogenism could be true, so he simply dismisses it even if his Church tells him that a Catholic cannot legitimately do that. YECs, who insist that Genesis is providing not only a historical fact but also a chronological and literal account of all the events, typically play the literalist card (mandatory six day creation).

  21. JLAfan2001:

    The difference is that for Dawkins there is neither guidance nor any advance planning in the evolutionary process. For Behe, you couldn’t get from, say, reptile to mammal without guidance, or advance planning, or both. That’s where the “design” comes in.

    Your reasoning about Adam, sin, Jesus, redemption, etc. assumes both that Augustine has correctly understood Paul and that Paul has correctly understood Genesis. If either of these two conditions does not obtain, your reasoning fails.

    I don’t know what PM means.

  22. Timaeus

    Does the hand of God guide mutations today or is it the natural laws? If it’s the laws, why the hand of God then?

    If that is the case, then why trust anything the bible says? How do we know Paul was mistaken about the crucifiction? How do we know that the Gospels are accurate and not error ridden? How do we know the Exodus actually occurred especially since we have very little to no evidence of it? How do we know Job was real? If we start to look at scripture in way that this person or that person could have been reading things wrong, then nothing can be trusted.
    If not biblical inerrancy then what?

    PM is a private message. I don’t know if Uncommon Descent allows for that or not.

  23. JLAfan2001-

    Do the hands of the programmer guide the programs running your computer? Is there a programmer inside doing the spellchecking?

  24. StephenB,

    Even in the teeth of a clear Church teaching, Kemp, like most TEs, typically play the liberal card (polygenism).

    I don’t think it’s clear that Kemp is advocating polygenism – and according to he himself, he absolutely is not. He’s advocating an origin of humanity that’s compatible with monogenism (Adam and Eve were the first humans) with biological precursors that had poly- origins.

  25. –nullasalus: “I don’t think it’s clear that Kemp is advocating polygenism – and according to he himself, he absolutely is not. He’s advocating an origin of humanity that’s compatible with monogenism (Adam and Eve were the first humans) with biological precursors that had poly- origins.”

    You may be right. Perhaps I should not have put him in that category. I will revisit his comments.

  26. StephenB,

    For reference: http://www.nd.edu/~afreddos/pa.....genism.pdf

    Relevant section:

    The primary purpose of this paper has been to show that there is no real contradiction between a theologically conservative (monogenist) account of anthropogenesis and the scientific insights of evolutionary biology and modern genetics. The appearance of contradiction that has been asserted in recent years is based on a failure to make an important distinction. This fact should remind us of the importance of patience in the face of apparent contradictions. Contradictions are sometimes to be resolved not by the rejection of one of the apparently contradictory theories but by the recognition of just such a previously overlooked distinction.

  27. Timaeus @21, I don’t think that a mythical Adam or community-based original sin can be reconciled with Christian theology. If St. Paul misunderstood something as fundamental as the soteriological link between Adam and Jesus Christ, he would surely not be a reliable guide on other matters.

  28. JLAfan2001,

    Thank you for your post. You asked:

    I don’t have any scientific references but there are articles stating that man arose from Africa around 100,000 years ago from a small tribe of around 10,000. How can there have been one man and one woman if genetics can’t get below a population of that size. We would have mutated ourselves out of existence.

    You are probably referring to the recent paper by Heng Li and Richard Durbin Inference of human population history from individual whole-genome sequences (Nature 475, 493–496 (28 July 2011) doi:10.1038/nature10231), which Professor Jerry Coyne wrote about here. In Coyne’s words:

    …[O]ur ancestors went through two different phases of population “bottlenecking” (constriction): one occurred about three million years ago, when a large population declined to around 10,000 individuals. The authors note that while this may reflect population size decline associated with the origin of hominins after our split with the lineage that produced modern chimps, they also say that this could be an artifact of ancient genetic polymorphisms maintained by natural selection.

    The second bottleneck is the one of interest, for it’s the one associated with a reduced population size as humans left Africa…

    While the bottleneck for non-European populations was probably associated with a group leaving Africa and subsequently colonizing the world, we also see a somewhat less severe bottleneck in the African samples: from about 16,100 people about 100,000-150,000 years ago to 5,700 about 50,000 years ago. It’s not clear why the populations in Africa bottlenecked as well.

    Coyne argues that because “the effective population size” is “almost certainly an underestimate of census size,” “that only makes the problem worse” for monogenism, and he concludes that “we never went through a bottleneck of anything near two individuals, as the Biblical Adam-and-Eve story suggests.”

    Over at the Biologic Institute, Li and Durbin’s paper has recently been critiqued by Ann Gauger (see here and here).

    Some highlights from Gauger’s response to Li and Durbin:

    The idea that evolution is driven by drift has led to a way of retrospectively estimating past genetic lineages. Called coalescent theory, it is based on one very simple assumption — that the vast majority of mutations are neutral and have no effect on an organism’s survival…

    Li and Durbin’s paper, cited by Paul McBride in his review, is one such study. The authors use a sequential hidden Markov model, combined with an estimation of historical recombination events, to reconstruct human genetic history. ..

    Coalescent models rely heavily on the assumption that genetic change is neutral. There are indications that this is not the case in our genome as I have already discussed. So conclusions about population size drawn from these models should be provisional at best. In addition, all these calculations depend on assumptions of common descent as the only explanation for our origin. Such assumptions are not justified, when we see evidence of tangled trees at all levels of phylogeny. In an ideal world, such assumptions would have to be justified before being used in models such as this. [Bold emphases mine - VJT.]

    I personally accept common descent, but I certainly don’t believe that the events occurring in the human lineage which made us into rational human beings were neutral mutations. If there was a point in our past when these events were the predominant mutations (e.g. a sudden emergence of the human capacity to reason, which required accompanying changes in our brains), then at this point, Markov models would no longer apply.

    As it happens, it appears that one such event occurred about 2.5 million years ago, when humanity diverged from the australopithecines. You can read about it here.

    The long and the short of it is that although I accept evolution, the evolution I accept required a lot of intelligent guidance (and genetic manipulation) to get us to where we are. Evolutionary models which attempt to estimate ancestral populations under the assumption that no such guidance occurred are therefore worthless. As they say, garbage in, garbage out.

  29. Ted Davis,

    Thank you for your post. As you correctly point out, “Bellarmine was saying, in context, that biblical teaching about astronomy (specifically, about the Earth being at rest and the Sun in motion) is no less authoritative than biblical teaching about Abraham or the Virgin Birth” in his famous Letter to Paolo Foscarini, dated April 12, 1615.

    Here’s Bellarmine’s argument for why he thinks Catholics should hold to the traditional view that the Earth is the fixed center of the universe, around which the Sun moves:

    I say that, as you know, the Council [of Trent] prohibits expounding the Scriptures contrary to the common agreement of the holy Fathers. And if Your Reverence would read not only the Fathers but also the commentaries of modern writers on Genesis, Psalms, Ecclesiastes and Josue, you would find that all agree in explaining literally (ad litteram) that the sun is in the heavens and moves swiftly around the earth, and that the earth is far from the heavens and stands immobile in the center of the universe. Now consider whether in all prudence the Church could encourage giving to Scripture a sense contrary to the holy Fathers and all the Latin and Greek commentators.

    In response: I think that Cardinal Bellarmine’s understanding of Catholic tradition is wrong. He says that “the Council [of Trent] prohibits expounding the Scriptures contrary to the common agreement of the holy Fathers.” Common agreement alone is not enough. Bellarmine should have added, “common agreement that the Scriptures should be interpreted in this way.” Church Fathers who assert in passing that the Earth is fixed and that the Sun moves around it simply don’t count. They have to say more than that. At the very least, they have to say that this is what the Church believes, or that this is how Catholics interpret this verse. Ideally, they should then add that Catholics are forbidden to hold a contrary interpretation of the verse in question, and that to do so would be heretical.

    I haven’t gone through the Patristic interpretation of the verses commonly cited in favor of geocentricity, but I think they fall short of that standard. By contrast, the Patristic consensus in Adam and Eve does not.

    Epiphanius (310-403 A.D.), for instance, is very forceful:

    Two men were not formed (at the beginning). One man was formed, Adam; and Cain, Abel and Seth came from Adam. And the breeds of men before the flood cannot derive from two men but must derive from one, since the breeds all have their own origins from Adam.

    St. Augustine (354-430 A.D.) is even more emphatic:

    But whoever is anywhere born a man, that is, a rational, mortal animal, no matter what unusual appearance he presents in color, movement, sound, nor how peculiar he is in some power, part, or quality of his nature, no Christian can doubt that he springs from that one protoplast [original progenitor – i.e. Adam – VJT].

    Both authors take the trouble to denounce contrary views as “beyond the pale” – that is, they assert that no Christian can believe in polygenism. I’d say that’s pretty conclusive.

    On top of that, there’s the fact that Francisco Suarez (1548-1617), a Spanish Jesuit who is generally regarded as one of the greatest Scholastic philosophers after St. Thomas Aquinas, held that the immediate formation of Adam’s and Eve’s bodies by God is to be held definitively as Catholic doctrine, as I mentioned above.

    Finally, Pope Leo XIII wrote in paragraph of his encyclical Arcanum (On Christian Marriage):

    We record what is to all known, and cannot be doubted by any, that God, on the sixth day of creation, having made man from the slime of the earth, and having breathed into his face the breath of life, gave him a companion, whom He miraculously took from the side of Adam when he was locked in sleep.

    Once again, we’re back to a literal Adam and Eve – and, I might add, Eve formed from the side of Adam.

    I can only conclude that polygenism hasn’t got a leg to stand on, as far as Catholic tradition is concerned.

  30. nullasalus,

    Thank you for your thoughtful responses. A few points in reply:

    1. Is Kemp a polygenist? Well, he certainly is one of sorts. Kemp’s proposed solution in his paper, Science, Theology and Monogenesis (American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly, 2011, Vol. 85, No. 2, pp. 217-236) is that the human race is descended from only two people with rational souls (Adam and Eve), in addition to several thousand individuals who were biologically human – i.e. of the same species as Adam and Eve – but who lacked the capacity for rational thought, since they did not possess spiritual souls. Thus Kemp attempts to combine theological monogenism – the belief that we are descended from a single pair of individuals who were rational and in communion with God – with biological polygenism, which says that the human stock never numbered less than about 5,000 individuals at any stage in its history.

    2. Kemp’s view runs afoul of the ecumenical Council of Vienne (1311-1312), which declared in no uncertain terms: “[W]e define that anyone who presumes henceforth to assert defend or hold stubbornly that the rational or intellectual soul is not the form of the human body of itself and essentially, is to be considered a heretic.” However, Professor Kemp maintains that Adam and Eve had “biologically human ancestors” (p. 232), who belonged to a “biologically (i.e., genetically) human species” (p. 231), so it seems that he must therefore hold that these pre-Adamite hominids had human bodies; yet he also says that these hominids lacked rational souls – which in turn implies that the rational soul is not essentially the form of the human body.

    3. My own view is that no individual could ever be generated with a human body, but without a human soul. “Why not?” you may ask. The answer is that a human body is the kind of body that requires a rational soul in order to properly flourish; human beings, as a race, require the use of reason for their very survival, and without the ability to reason, the human race would not be viable and would swiftly perish. Around 2,000,000 years ago, human evolution reached a critical threshold in terms of our ancestors’ food and energy requirements, due to the fact that infants were being born with bigger brains, and requiring a much longer period of parental care. Various authors have argued that the food and energy requirements of Homo erectus (which I’m defining broadly to include Homo ergaster) could only have been satisfied if adult males and females had the capacity to make long-term family commitments held together by strong bonds, which presupposes an ability to plan for the long-term future. (You might like to have a look at Mathias Osvath and Peter Gardenfors’ 2005 paper, Oldowan culture and the evolution of anticipatory cognition and also Kit Opie and Camilla Power – especially their 2008 article, Grandmothering and Female Coalitions: A Basis for Matrilineal Priority? ). In other words, Homo erectus must have been rational – or else he would have starved to death as a species.

    The authors also make it quite clear that when we get to Heidelberg man (average brain size: 1225 cc) around 600,000 years ago, infants’ brains would have been far too big for their mothers to feed them by foraging alone. The long-term co-operation of a committed father would have been absolutely essential.

    4. For more details on the emergence of human rationality, see this article: Neural correlates of Early Stone Age toolmaking: technology, language and cognition in human evolution by D. Stout et al. in Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B, 12 June 2008, vol. 363, no. 1499, pp. 1939-1949, doi: 10.1098/rstb.2008.0001. The authors argue that the Acheulean tools made by Homo erectus required rational thought in order to make them – especially late Acheulean tools, dating from 500,000 years ago. A few excerpts:

    “The activation of right inferior PFC (BA 45) [prefrontal cortex, Broca's area 45 - VJT] during Acheulean toolmaking is of particular interest because PFC lies at the top of the brain’s sensory and motor hierarchies (Passingham et al. 2000) and plays a central role in coordinating flexible, goal-directed behaviour (Ridderinkhof et al. 2004). Thus, PFC activation during hand axe production probably reflects greater demands for complex action regulation in this task…

    “The activation of ventrolateral, but not dorsolateral, PFC [pre-frontal cortex] indicates that Acheulean toolmaking is distinguished by cognitive demands for the coordination of ongoing, hierarchically organized action sequences rather than the internal rehearsal and evaluation of action plans.

    “The increasingly anterior and RH-dominant frontal activation during Late Acheulean toolmaking reflects the more complex, multi-level structure of the task (figure 3), which includes the flexible iteration of multi-step processes in the context of larger scale technical goals.

    “Archaeological evidence of ESA [Early Stone Age] technological change thus traces a trajectory of ever more skill-intensive, bimanual toolmaking methods that overlap functionally and anatomically with important elements of the human faculty for language.”

    In short, we can be sure that Late Acheulean tools (dating from 500,000 years ago) required rationality to make them. Whether early Acheulean tools (dating from 1.8 million years ago) required rationality in order to produce them is less certain at this stage.

    5. I am amazed that you don’t see much of a difference in the “yuck factor” between incest and bestiality. One involves mating with a human being which is forbidden because the ties of blood are too close; while the other involves mating with a sub-rational animal. There’s simply no contest. Bestiality is much, much more disordered as an act.

    Kemp fails to recognize this point. Discussing the mating that would have occurred between Adam and Eve and other non-human hominids, he writes:

    The sin involved would be more like promiscuity — impersonal sexual acts — than like bestiality. (pp. 232-233)

    No. Humanity doesn’t come in halves. You’re either human or you’re not. Bestiality is bestiality, regardless of which animal you do it with, and what they look like.

    6. St. Augustine, in his City of God, Book XV, chapter 16, explicitly asserts that at the dawn of humanity, men married their sisters, and argues that it was permissible for them to do so, as it was necessary for the continuation of the human race:

    Chapter 16.— Of Marriage Between Blood-Relations, in Regard to Which the Present Law Could Not Bind the Men of the Earliest Ages.

    As, therefore, the human race, subsequently to the first marriage of the man who was made of dust, and his wife who was made out of his side, required the union of males and females in order that it might multiply, and as there were no human beings except those who had been born of these two, men took their sisters for wives — an act which was as certainly dictated by necessity in these ancient days as afterwards it was condemned by the prohibitions of religion… Therefore, when an abundant population made it possible, men ought to choose for wives women who were not already their sisters; for not only would there then be no necessity for marrying sisters, but, were it done, it would be most abominable.

    St. Augustine explains here why incest was justified in case of necessity, but adds that it would be abominable in other situations.

    7. I don’t think you have addressed my remark about Genesis 2:19, where God brings all the animals to Adam to name them, “and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.” Since the “biologically human” contemporaries of Adam whose existence is hypothesized by Kemp would have been of a different kind than himself, what did Adam call them? He couldn’t have called them humans, for that was the name of his kind. He must have therefore regarded them as being of another kind, and as less than human. But if he regarded them in this way, then he could not at the same time have regarded them as suitable mating partners. That was my point.

    8. Your memory served you correctly. I certainly don’t believe in a Flood that covered the Earth in the past. That contradicts everything we know about geology. However, my point in citing Genesis 6:19 was that the Flood story creates a similar dilemma: any “biologically human” creatures lacking a rational soul would had to have been taken on the Ark as beasts, in the Genesis story, which is absurd.

  31. StephenB,

    Thank you for your kind comments. I’m glad you enjoyed my post.

    Timaeus,

    I agree with you that polygenism certainly isn’t a make-or-break issue for ID. However, for people who are committed to the inspiration and inerrancy of every portion of Scripture (as Catholics, the Orthodox and many Protestants are), the historicity of Adam and Eve is a pertinent issue, vis-a-vis the findings of modern science.

  32. JLAfan2001:

    I don’t want to force my advice on you; I just thought that you sounded personally troubled, and that I could give better advice out of the public ear, where we could talk less academically and in a more neighborly manner. If you have a gmail address that conceals your identity, and would post it here, I’ll contact you via a gmail address of my own. But if you don’t feel the need of someone’s ear to bend, then don’t worry about it. I didn’t mean to be nosy; just thought I might be able to help.

    In answer to your question about Behe, he leaves it open whether God actually guides or steers the mutations, on the one hand, or “preprograms” the whole evolutionary process, on the other, so that the results fall out naturally, but are far from random. So it might be done with or without “interventions.” But either way, there is a design that God is following, a design that would not be achieved by the unguided and unplanned process that genuine, uncompromising Darwinians envision. Dawkins thinks that no design is necessary because natural selection is an adequate “designer-substitute.” I can’t make the difference between them any simpler for you. If you want more detail, read *The Blind Watchmaker* by Dawkins and *Darwin’s Black Box* by Behe. They are both well-written books, very clear, and logically coherent in their positions. I’d advise anyone trying to learn about Darwinism vs. ID for the first time to start with those two books.

    On Christianity and the Bible, let me be clear that I am not claiming to represent any Christian tradition in its pure form. I’m not asking you to adopt *my* understanding of Christianity. I’m merely pointing out that there are *many* understandings of Christianity, and that the literalist-inerrantist Protestant tradition you seem to be reacting against is only one of them. Behe, for example, is a devout Roman Catholic, and Polkinghorne is an Anglican priest. Neither one of them has experienced any faith crisis caused by not reading every word of Genesis as an accurate historical narrative. C. S. Lewis, one of the greatest conservative evangelical writers, did not interpret every detail in Genesis as a news report.

    I’m saying you might be more successful in finding an integrated Christian vision of life if you would cast your net a bit wider, look at the various Christian options out there. I can help you with that insofar as I have studied the Christian tradition academically for a few decades now, know the Biblical languages, have attended churches of many different denominations, and have family roots ranging from Catholic to Baptist, as well as broad theological sympathies for elements from the Eastern Orthodox churches and even from Judaism. There is a rich world of faith out there, and not all of it is in conflict with science or history due to statements made in Genesis. I’d be happy to point you to some of this richer world, and then leave you to explore it and make your own judgments.

    In answer to your final questions, I’ll say: one can believe that the Bible is true in all that it teaches, while disagreeing with inerrantism/fundamentalism over *what* it is that it teaches. Certainly the Roman Church, for example, does not require understanding every detail of the Garden story as a news report; as the current Catholic catechism states, there are figurative elements in the story. As for the Fall and Original Sin etc., these things are not interpreted in the same way by all Christian theologians; for more information on this you can read the classic study of John Hick, *Evil and the God of Love*, and follow that up by reading various more recent works on the subject. It’s *not* a question of having to throw out the baby just because you throw out the bathwater. The literalist-inerrantists would have you believe otherwise, but in my view they are wrong, and I’d hate to see you become another Bart Ehrman because you were posed the same lousy alternatives that he was posed by his stunted religious upbringing.

    Best wishes.

  33. torley,

    Is Kemp a polygenist? Well, he certainly is one of sorts.

    He’s not a polygenist with regards to the origin of the human race. According to his view, humanity had two human parents – Adam and Eve. Other varieties of polygenism simply aren’t a concern if they don’t impact this.

    However, Professor Kemp maintains that Adam and Eve had “biologically human ancestors” (p. 232), who belonged to a “biologically (i.e., genetically) human species” (p. 231), so it seems that he must therefore hold that these pre-Adamite hominids had human bodies; yet he also says that these hominids lacked rational souls – which in turn implies that the rational soul is not essentially the form of the human body.

    Respectfully, I think you’re misreading him on this point. “Biologically/genetically human”, with regards to Kent’s classification, first and foremost deals with the ability to produce fertile offspring, and therefore converging genetic lines. Such fertility does not require Kemp to maintain that these precursors had “the human form” in the relevant sense.

    I am amazed that you don’t see much of a difference in the “yuck factor” between incest and bestiality. One involves mating with a human being which is forbidden because the ties of blood are too close; while the other involves mating with a sub-rational animal. There’s simply no contest. Bestiality is much, much more disordered as an act.

    And I disagree with your assessment, especially considering just what the ‘bestiality’ is in this case. Whether in the classic understanding of Genesis, your understanding, or mine, what we have going on is a grave violation of the norm for a particular case – incest in one case, sex with the physically near-human in the other. To put it another way, both acts, under normal circumstances, would be called disordered – gravely disordered. But these weren’t normal circumstances, even in the traditional understanding.

    St. Augustine explains here why incest was justified in case of necessity, but adds that it would be abominable in other situations.

    I have great respect for Augustine, of course. But like Aquinas, he can be wrong about some things. I don’t deny his incest explanation – I just happen to think that the scenario Kemp and company outline is also quite acceptable. That Augustine didn’t think of it doesn’t concern me.

    Since the “biologically human” contemporaries of Adam whose existence is hypothesized by Kemp would have been of a different kind than himself, what did Adam call them? He couldn’t have called them humans, for that was the name of his kind. He must have therefore regarded them as being of another kind, and as less than human. But if he regarded them in this way, then he could not at the same time have regarded them as suitable mating partners. That was my point.

    Honestly, Torley, I think you’re reading so much into the passage and hypothesizing so much that I don’t really take this too seriously as an objection. Genesis, the relevant portions, is shockingly close on detail, and very suggestive of alternate scenarios. Trying to psychoanalyze Adam during the naming act (Also, I’d ask, do YOU think Adam named literally everything on the planet at the time?) is just so difficult.

    owever, my point in citing Genesis 6:19 was that the Flood story creates a similar dilemma: any “biologically human” creatures lacking a rational soul would had to have been taken on the Ark as beasts, in the Genesis story, which is absurd.

    Who says any were left by that time? And who says ‘any’ would need to have been taken up, as opposed to two anyway? Again, this just doesn’t seem serious.

    I think this is one of those issues where Christians would better be served admitting the space for reasonable disagreement.

  34. StephenB, Vincent:

    As you guys know by now, I’m not Catholic, but have the greatest respect for the Catholic tradition. And I’m not a Thomist, but I find much of value in the Thomist tradition, which when applied rightly is of great value in demolishing modern irrationality in theology, philosophy, and ethics. The luminous argumentation of Aquinas is a breeze of fresh air compared to the pompous, obscure, irrationalist crap (there is no polite word for it) issued by Teilhard de Chardin, and the Natural Law tradition in Catholic ethics has been a major bulwark against the forces that have caused mainstream Protestantism to slide into moral anarchy. I praise both of you when you present accurate historical information about what Thomas Aquinas and about Catholic teaching. Whether one accepts or rejects Thomas, or accepts or rejects Catholic teaching, one must first know the position one is accepting or rejecting.

    Nonetheless, my own view — to be sure a historically heretical one (which does not make it false) — has long been that no Christian author, church, or confession has ever got Genesis 2-3 completely right, so I don’t feel bound to accept the Roman interpretation, the Genevan interpretation, or the Augustinian interpretation which underlies them both.

    As for Paul, that’s a complicated question. His remarks on Adam and Christ are extremely brief and appear in only a very small portion of his writings. I don’t doubt that he personally envisioned a historical Adam and Eve, but to me his Adam/Christ parallel is pure midrashic interpretation, and the literal-minded “satisfaction” and “penal substitution” doctrines of Atonement which Rome and Geneva later built upon that interpretation were huge errors in Christian thought. I also think that historically the satisfaction and penal substitution theories have been major causes of atheism — and I think our friend JLAfan2001 is in danger of becoming the next casualty of such interpretations. I can’t defend all of that in a forum like this — I would need several scholarly papers to do it. All I can say here is that I don’t think Paul was “wrong” about Adam and Christ, but rather that his teaching was misinterpreted by many later theologians.

  35. Axel
    Facial hair in men is not equal depending on the identity.
    Facial hair probably did not exist with Adam.
    Its probably only a post flood adaptation of people to keep themselves dry.
    Human facial hair is triggered by the need to keep us dry and not warm.
    This is why at puberty we get hair in our armpits etc.
    the body just, back in the day and still in gear, recognized important episodic sweating as needing to be dried up. Being dry is important in nature to stay warm.
    Adam had no beard or ever could.

    Interesting point about Adam and feminine traits.
    I speculate here carefully but it has occured to me that possibly Adam was not fully manly when created.
    my reason is because until Eve came he seemed to have no hint that he was to get a female counterpoint as was obvious in the animal kingdom.
    This suggests, carefully, that he therefore didn’t anticipate a female because he could self reproduce.
    Therefore the rib taken from him was not a rib but rather a organ for this self reproducing ability and from it woman was made.

    Its a healthy option to me and would make us special in nature as the rest of nature was made male and female.

  36. For the record, let me say something with regards to Timaeus’ views.

    I’m, obviously, pretty firmly entrenched with the Catholic view on these matters, including the reality of a historical Adam and Eve, though admittedly with some leeway on the strict particulars. So right off the bat I disagree with Timaeus on this issue. On the other hand, I also don’t think Timaeus’ view should be dismissed out of hand, and I’m also not very convinced by arguments about how such and such interpretation is the interpretation upon which Christianity stands or falls, save for the existence and nature of Christ and His resurrection, God’s existence, etc. As I said, with regards to origins, I think there’s plenty of good reason to accept the reasonableness of multiple views, even if we disagree on said views personally.

  37. nullasalus,

    Thank you for your post. I’d like to address what I see as the essential points.

    1. Kemp, in his paper, Science, Theology and Monogenesis speaks of Adam and Eve’s non-rational contemporaries as “biologically human”: on page 232, he calls them “their merely biologically human ancestors and cousins.” A creature that’s biologically human has a human body, by definition. But according to Kemp, these creatures lacked rational souls. Therefore, according to Kemp’s logic, the rational soul cannot be the essential form of the human body – which contradicts the declaration of the ecumenical Council of Vienne that the rational soul is essentially the form of the human body. (I’m not saying that Kemp’s personal views are unorthodox, but I do think that his hypothetical scenario, taken to its logical conclusion, goes against Church teaching.)

    You argue that for Kemp, “biologically human” is defined in terms of inter-fertility with rational human beings, and you add that “fertility does not require Kemp to maintain that these precursors had ‘the human form’ in the relevant sense.” I find this statement of yours very confusing. When you say “the human form,” you obviously cannot be referring to the human soul, since Kemp himself acknowledges that it was absent in these sub-rational hominids. Alternatively, if by “form” you mean “visible shape” then you must be talking about the human body. But Kemp himself describes these hominids as “biologically human” (p. 232) – which presumably means they must have looked like us. Or are you hypothesizing that they didn’t look like us, but were genetically close enough to us to be able to inter-breed with us?

    But if that’s what you’re proposing, then you should be aware that Kemp expressly rejects this view on pages 230-231 of his article, where he discusses a scenario proposed in 1964 by Andrew Alexander, C. J., in which he posits one final mutation in our hominid ancestors, which did not create any reproductive barriers, but which made the body suitable to receive a rational human soul. Alexander proposes that this mutation spread quickly through the population of hominids, and that hominids lacking the mutation quickly died out.

    But that’s not Kemp’s view. Kemp rejects it, writing:

    “…[H]is [Alexander's] emphasis on genetics (a crucial mutation) may be misplaced. It creates for him the necessity to posit a not impossible but extremely unlikely co-occurrence of exactly two instances of the same mutation (one in a man and one in a woman) at roughly the same time.” (p. 231)

    (As an aside: this is a very secular objection on Kemp’s part. God can engineer mutations whenever He likes, and engineering two simultaneous ones is no problem for Him.)

    The account preferred by Kemp goes as follows:

    That account can begin with a population of about 5,000 hominids, beings which are in many respects like human beings, but which lack the capacity for intellectual thought. Out of this population, God selects two and endows them with intellects by creating for them rational souls, giving them at the same time those preternatural gifts the possession of which constitutes original justice. (pp. 231-232)

    For Kemp, it seems that the hominids lacking rational souls who inter-bred with Adam and Eve were physically indistinguishable from us. Therefore they must have had human bodies – which brings us back to the declaration of the Council of Vienne, ruling out this scenario.

    My own view, by the way, is that there was a final mutation in the human line, which created a barrier to reproduction, inhibiting mating between Adam and Eve and their hominid contemporaries. There are three changes in particular, which may have coincided with the emergence of Homo erectus, 2,000,000 years ago: first, a change from 48 chromosomes per body cell to 46, which occurred somewhere between 740,000 and 3,000,000 years ago and may well have coincided with the appearance of Homo erectus 2,000,000 years ago; second, a massive increase in the number of sweat glands (enabling our ancestors to run long distances in pursuit of prey, without getting over-heated), which probably occurred at the time when our ancestors acquired smooth, hairless skin, which Homo ergaster/erectus is believed to have had; and third, a total loss of body hair (which would have also helped our ancestors to radiate excess body heat), a process which was fully completed by 1,200,000 years ago at the latest. The sudden change in chromosome number would have hindered (but not totally prevented) inter-breeding between humans with 46 chromosomes and other hominids, who had 48. I would tentatively suggest that if the other changes (a profusion of sweat glands and a loss of body hair) occurred at the same time, they may well have rendered Homo erectus individuals sexually unattractive to other non-rational hominids, creating a pre-copulatory barrier to reproduction. That’s my theory; it’s probably wrong, but I’ll continue to embrace it until I see a better one.

    2. As for the morality of incest versus what you call “sex with the physically near-human”: once again, the fact that an animal is “near-human” in its appearance doesn’t affect the morality of the act one whit.

    Bestiality is wrong in a generic sense: it’s sex with the wrong kind of creature – a non-human animal. It is an essentially wrong act. Incest is not essentially wrong, so its wickedness is less radical. It is a profoundly anti-social act, but in a small population where the only human society is one’s immediate family, this objection would no longer be relevant. Incest is only morally revolting if there are moral alternatives to incest, which the individuals concerned spurned. Mating with the wrong kind of creature is not a moral alternative.

    3. In citing Genesis, I was endeavoring to show that polygenism of any flavor (including Kemp’s) doesn’t gel well with the Genesis narrative. Of course one can propose (as you do) that the near-human hominids had died out before the worldwide Flood (which I don’t believe in anyway, as a global event, although of course I do accept the reality of Noah). One can suggest that sub-rational hominids who saw Cain might have wanted to kill him, simply because they didn’t like the look of him. And of course, it is extremely unlikely that Adam named every living thing on the planet. The point I wanted to make, however, is that according to the Genesis narrative, God made everything according to its kind, and for Adam, a creature’s being “flesh of my flesh, and bone of my bone” was a sufficient criterion for its being one of his kind. There’s no room in the Genesis narrative for creatures of the same flesh as Adam, but of a different nature. That would be imputing to the author of Genesis a dualism which is utterly foreign to the narrative.

    You suggest that according to Kemp, “Eve really was mother of all the living, insofar as she was the mother of all rational humans.” But the same thing could be said of many non-rational female contemporaries of Eve. So it seems that according to Kemp, Eve was merely a mother of all the living, rather than “the mother,” as in Genesis 3:20 – unless you want to parse “the mother,” as “the only rational mother,” which is adding words to the text that aren’t there.

    Finally, I don’t think the arguments from Genesis are absolutely decisive. Personally, I think Romans 5:12 creates a much weightier difficulty for polygenism than Genesis. All I wished to show is that Kemp is driving a square peg into a round hole, with his exegesis. It’s a very awkward fit with the whole tenor of the narrative.

    Peace.

  38. Timaeus,

    Thank you for your very thoughtful remarks. I quite agree with you that the satisfaction and penal substitution theories of the Atonement are both unsatisfactory: I don’t like them either. I much prefer Robin Collins’ theory of the Atonement, which you can find here. It has affinities with the Moral Exemplar theory of Peter Abelard. It also has roots in the writings of the Greek Fathers Origen, Athanasius, and Irenaeus.

    I’d also recommend this short post by former atheist Jennifer Fulwiler, here.

  39. vjtorley,

    It is interesting that you cite Robin Collins as he used to be affiliated with Discovery Institute, but left “due to conflicting visions.” His ultimate rejection of Intelligent Design theories doesn’t seem to figure in your support of his ‘catholic’ position re: Adam and Eve.

    Timaeus has defended a murky position here regarding Adam and Eve in the past. Elsewhere he has spoken directly against ‘real, historical Adam and Eve.’ This is documented in the public record.

    I support your views, vjtorley, which affirm the historicity of Adam and Eve according to the teachings of the Church. These views, however, have nothing to do with ‘Intelligent Design’ theory in so far as it deals with origins of life and origins of biological information.

    If you are suggesting that Intelligent Design theory properly relates to human origins, please express yourself accordingly.

    “I intend to show below that the Catholic Church is still committed to the view that the human race is descended from a single original pair, Adam and Eve, and from nobody else.” – vjtorley

    Amen.

    p.s. in 2000 I met Kenneth Kemp; quite an insightful, clever, scholarly and devout fellow!

  40. I still don’t understand from the original post, does vjtorley think that Adam and Eve literally existed and are the ancestors of all modern humans?

  41. ‘Therefore the rib taken from him was not a rib but rather a organ for this self reproducing ability and from it woman was made.’

    How about a kind of gender-modified cloning, Robert, rather than an organ? I’m not sure I see why you think Adam would have thought of reproducing, whatever God had in mind.

    Your point in the same connection, in your concluding sentence would make sense, as well, wouldn’t it?

    ‘Its a healthy option to me and would make us special in nature as the rest of nature was made male and female.’

    I see your point about Adam not needing a beard. Perhaps we were more androgenous before the Fall, as well as before Eve and the Flood, which would be consistent with my conjecture.

    What is fascinating, as well, though, is how differently Adam and Eve might have thought. We seem to have different psychological inheritances, male and female, certainly a product of nurture, but probably, also, of nature, right from the beginning.

    A point that has occurred to me about body hair as an insulator: why don’t Eskimos have luxuriant beards? Do they have any? Or is it a holdover from migrations from Asia, not having yet … dare I say it.. ‘evolved’?

    Reverting to the Genesis account, I wonder if the narrative is simply a way of making more vivid for us what God would have always had in mind (designed) for Adam and ourselves.

    Incidentally, re tjguy’s objection, Christ often cured people of physical sickness by casting out devils, but it is clear that sickness is seldom a punishment for personal sin, but for the Original Sin we all inherit.

    However, it is interesting that, health-wise – and one of the key messages of the Faith is that true strength is passive – women tend to be stronger than men.

    When my mother worked as a nurse at the Children’s Hospital (I forget where), if they heard that a newborn baby was struggling to survive, they’d ask, ‘Is it a boy or a girl?’ And if it was a girl, they’d often say, ‘She’ll survive.’

  42. Joe

    “Do the hands of the programmer guide the programs running your computer? Is there a programmer inside doing the spellchecking?”

    Just out of curiosity, what is your belief when it comes to the programmer? I know that you don’t believe in molecules to man so how did the programmer program nature to give birth to mankind?

    Vjtorley

    I’m not a biology student by any means so some of this stuff goes over my head. What exactly are neutral mutations? Also, when I look around the internet it seems a lot of Gauger’s stuff is in question.
    If you believe in common descent then man was not a special creation. Why should God give a fig about a bunch of smart evolved monkeys?

    Timaeus

    The big difference between ID and evolution is that the designer can’t be scientifically detected. Dawkins believes that if evolution by natural selection is detectable by science why posit a designer that isn’t?

    In terms of casting my Christian net wider, this brings me back to my original view. Science is disproving the Christian religion and instead of giving it up, we are constantly having to modify it. If the faith was true, science would have confirmed and approved it as such. I don’t have a problem with Adam and Eve being created as primitive by God and then evolving to what we are now. I may not even have a problem with the rest of life being evolved from primitive ancestors according to their kinds. I do have a problem with us being descended by ape-like creatures. This shows that we were not a special intention by God. BTW, what are you theistic believes concerning God?

    Actually, may I ask what everyone’s personal beliefs are ?

  43. Regarding Gregory’s remarks at 39:

    Gregory appears to have done a volte-face on Adam and Eve.

    At various times, and publically, Gregory has refused to defend the conception of Adam and Eve which Vincent Torley promotes here.

    Gregory, both here and on BioLogos, has been given many chances to affirm clearly — against the population geneticists of BioLogos and many other TEs — that *Adam and Eve were the sole genetic parents of the entire present-day human race*, and every time he has been given that chance, has either ducked the question, or else has stated or implied that Christianity doesn’t require actual *biological parentage* of the whole race by Adam and Eve, but only that Adam and Eve were real historical people.

    But Vincent’s position is clear: the Catholic Church has always taught monogenism — Adam and Eve were *the sole biological parents of the race*. And Gregory now endorses this position without reservation. What changed your mind, Gregory?

    You may reply that you have not changed your mind, and you may point to your many aggressive objections on BioLogos against its doctrine of Adam and Eve. But a close study of your objections there indicates that your opposition to BioLogos was based on your charge that BioLogos was denying a “real, historical, Adam and Eve.” Yet this was not the case. Denis Alexander sketched some scenarios where Adam and Eve were real individuals, a pair of hominids “adopted” by God to become “federal heads” of the future human race, but were not the sole parents of the entire human race. And Darrel Falk made it clear that, in opposition to Denis Lamoureux, BioLogos made room for the possibility of a “real, historical Adam and Eve” — while also making it clear that scientific biology has disproved the existence of an Adam and Eve understood as the sole parents of the entire race.

    You at the time loudly insisted upon a “real, historical Adam and Eve” — which BioLogos (in contrast with Lamoureux) did not deny — but you did *not* at any time disagree with the BioLogos conclusion (driven by population genetics) that Adam and Eve could not have been the sole genetic parents of the entire human race. You were notified of your apparent acquiescence to BioLogos population genetics at the time, by one or more posters on BioLogos, and you were later notified of the same, by me here on UD. You were informed of the contradiction between the BioLogos “settled genetic science” and the traditional Christian understanding of Adam and Eve. But even after being so informed, at no point did you take the opportunity to say: “Ayala, Venema, Falk, and Alexander have all made erroneous population genetics calculations. There could have been a single couple, within the past 100,000 years, that was the sole source of all the genes currently existing in the human population.” But you sidestepped the biological disagreement. Perhaps you were afraid to take on the biologist-TEs, given your usual deference to them in all matters pertaining to genetics and organic evolution. But whatever the reason, you issued no challenge to their scientific conclusions. You complained that their religious view was unorthodox, while leaving their science unchallenged. Yet, as was clearly explained to you, if their science is correct, the traditional view of Adam and Eve *cannot* be true.

    If I am wrong, show me passages where, when asked by me here, or by others on BioLogos, you stated unambiguously that Adam and Eve were *the sole genetic parents of the entire human race* — and therefore, by implication, that the population genetics calculations of Ayala, Alexander, Venema, Falk, etc. were *wrong*.

    The moment you show me the unambiguous statements from your pen, I will retract my statement about your past views. Until then, I maintain that your agreement with Vincent Torley above constitutes a sudden volte-face.

  44. JLAfan2001:

    Your comments in 42 indicate that you have not been listening to me with full attention, or else have not understood what I have said to you.

    You write: “Science is disproving the Christian religion and instead of giving it up, we are constantly having to modify it.”

    I took great pains to indicate that science is not “disproving the Christian religion,” but could be a threat only to the shallow, spiritually defective, anti-intellectual literalism-inerrantism that you, in your lack of historical and theological knowledge, have *mistaken* for the Christian religion. If you give up Christianity because of “science” — and you have indicated that you are about to do so — the cause will not be any defect of Christianity, but a defect in yourself, a spiritual and intellectual laziness which disinclines you to search for deeper and more satisfying versions of Christianity, even when others have offered you help in that search.

    Your phrase “The big difference between ID and evolution” shows that you are still mixing up categories. ID is opposed to Darwinism, not “evolution.” You are confusing a process (evolution) with various explanations of the process (design on the one hand, random mutations plus natural selection on the other).

    Your problem is that you are trying to think these difficult matters out without having done any of the necessary study, either on the science side or the theology side. I can’t insert into your head the necessary scientific or theological understanding. You have to do that yourself. When you have convinced me, by the quality of your discussion, that you have read the two books I have suggested — Dawkins’s The Blind Watchmaker and Behe’s Darwin’s Black Box — I will respond to you further on the science. When you have convinced me, by the quality of your discussion, that you have been reading essays by C. S. Lewis and other Christians whose thought has some sophistication, I will respond to you further on the theology. Until then, I simply cannot invest the time trying to straighten out your confusions as you think out loud, improvising as you go along.

    Your internet handle suggests that you are a reader of comic books. If you want to understand serious questions of science and theology, I suggest that you invest your reading time in library books instead.

  45. JLAfan:

    Just out of curiosity, what is your belief when it comes to the programmer?

    That there was at least one. But that isn’t a belief. That is an inference.

    I know that you don’t believe in molecules to man so how did the programmer program nature to give birth to mankind?

    Actually I know, not believe, that there isn’t any way to scientifically test the premise of molecules to man evolution via any mechanism. But I do NOT categorically deny the possibility given a design scenario. As a matter of fact I would say that is the only way such a thing would be possible.

    BTW the designer has been scientifically detected.

  46. JLAfan,

    If you believe in common descent then man was not a special creation. Why should God give a fig about a bunch of smart evolved monkeys?

    For one thing, man is not just ‘a bunch of smart evolved monkeys’, and you’re incorrect with regards to the claim that special creation and common descent are incompatible. But for another, by Genesis, God always cared about more than humans – hence you can see God calling His creation “good” even with regards to animals, plants, the universe itself, and so on.

    So I’d have to ask, why wouldn’t God care about humans, regardless of their origins? Why is ‘created directed out of dust’ somehow better than ‘created directly from pre-existing hominids’ or even ‘created via an intentional, guided evolutionary process’?

    I’m not a biology student by any means so some of this stuff goes over my head. What exactly are neutral mutations? Also, when I look around the internet it seems a lot of Gauger’s stuff is in question.

    Just about anything is in question if you ‘look around on the internet’. I understand what you mean, however – you read about an argument, you go to find counterarguments and criticisms, and you certainly find them. The problem is, if it goes over your head, then how do you know that the counterargument truly works? How do you know they’re even fairly representing the claim they’re addressing to begin with, or even the conclusions?

    I’m not giving a solution to this problem right away, but I’m putting it in greater relief.

    The big difference between ID and evolution is that the designer can’t be scientifically detected. Dawkins believes that if evolution by natural selection is detectable by science why posit a designer that isn’t?

    For one thing, science doesn’t detect natural selection as Dawkins posits it. For Dawkins, natural selection is entirely unguided, without purpose, intention or direction. But as even atheist Elliot Sober points out, science does not and cannot show this. The result is you’re left with an evolutionary process, but science doesn’t show you whether this process is guided or not.

    You see this problem expanded to a lot of scientific territory: there’s this constant claim that “science disproves religious claims!” when in reality it usually A) doesn’t, B) disproves only a narrow claim, or C) actually supports a religious claim (see the debates over fine tuning, cosmology, quantum physics, etc.)

    Science is disproving the Christian religion and instead of giving it up, we are constantly having to modify it. If the faith was true, science would have confirmed and approved it as such. I don’t have a problem with Adam and Eve being created as primitive by God and then evolving to what we are now. I may not even have a problem with the rest of life being evolved from primitive ancestors according to their kinds. I do have a problem with us being descended by ape-like creatures. This shows that we were not a special intention by God.

    Again, that doesn’t show we’re not a special intention by God – that’s a constant refrain from some people, but it simply does not logically follow.

    What’s more, the idea that ‘if the religion were true, science should show as much’ is flawed since it assumes A) that the most relevant and central religious claims are scientific ones, and B) that a religion’s validity means ‘never being wrong’. You seem to actually not think B, since you’re talking about an openness, but you’re drawing the line in the sand over descent from apes. I think that’s a big mistake, especially how you’re putting it.

  47. 47

    JLAfan,

    Evolution has material requirements. Evolution is not capable of establishing those material requirements.

    Darwinian evolution is 100% dependent upon the existence of recorded heritable information (i.e. it is the information that evolves over time). Without that, there is no Darwinian evolution. Science has demonstrated that this information exists in a semiotic state. Semiosis is a processes that uses representations and protocols (rules) instantiated in matter (as a medium) in order to transfer the information.

    Evolution cannot establish this semiotic state, and the logic is simple: If Darwinian evolution itself is dependent upon semiotic information to exist, then it cannot be the source of the semiotic information. To say otherwise, is to say that somehthing that does not yet exist is capable of causing something to happen.

    If you care to understand these issue a little more clearly, I would suggest the following as a modest start:

    A short history of biosemiotics Marciello Barbieri

    The physics of symbols: bridging the epistemic cut Howard Pattee

    The concept of information Rafael Cappurro

    Good luck to you

  48. Timaeus

    Sorry, I didn’t mean to offend you. Perhaps I don’t understand everything you are saying but I don’t think that makes me spiritually or intellectually lazy. I have been searching for an answer for a about a year now. I’ve been looking at things like cosmology, miracles, evolution, NDEs, historical Jesus etc. but the one thing I can’t seem to get over is the evolution. I grew up as a literalist/inerrantist. I was told that anything outside that and you good be slipping into incorrect doctrine, new age, spiritualism etc. When I hear things about modifying my worldview, it feels like accepting new age doctrine (not saying that’s what you believe because I really don’t know what you do believe).

    Joe

    Do you believe in the evolutionary tree of life or believe life was more like an orchard? Just trying to get a feel for what you think.

    Nullasulas

    “But for another, by Genesis, God always cared about more than humans – hence you can see God calling His creation “good” even with regards to animals, plants, the universe itself, and so on.”

    Why would God create such an ecosystem that relied on killing each other for survival and call it good?

    “Why is ‘created directed out of dust’ somehow better than ‘created directly from pre-existing hominids’ or even ‘created via an intentional, guided evolutionary process’?”

    Good point. I guess because God took the time too specifically create us rather than nature doing it’s thing.

    “Just about anything is in question if you ‘look around on the internet’. I understand what you mean, however – you read about an argument, you go to find counterarguments and criticisms, and you certainly find them. The problem is, if it goes over your head, then how do you know that the counterargument truly works? How do you know they’re even fairly representing the claim they’re addressing to begin with, or even the conclusions?”

    Another good point about believing something I don’t understand. I guess because of the challenge posed against it, I end up assuming the subject in question is wrong. Honestly, part of the problem of my searching is all the back and forth comments, articles, debates etc. gets real tiresome. I think that if God was real then there should be one irrefutable argument for His existence.

    Upright Biped

    “If Darwinian evolution itself is dependent upon semiotic information to exist, then it cannot be the source of the semiotic information. To say otherwise, is to say that something that does not yet exist is capable of causing something to happen.”

    I was using an argument similar to this the other day. How can evolution create a system to adapt to the environment before it knew there was an environment to adapt to?

    I appreciate the help, guys. I’m just really struggling to make sense of things. The following quote from Willaim Provine basically haunts my steps concerning evolution.

    “Let me summarize my views on what modern evolutionary biology tells us loud and clear … There are no gods, no purposes, no goal-directed forces of any kind. There is no life after death. When I die, I am absolutely certain that I am going to be dead. That’s the end for me. There is no ultimate foundation for ethics, no ultimate meaning to life, and no free will for humans, either.”

  49. JLAfan2001,

    Why would God create such an ecosystem that relied on killing each other for survival and call it good?

    This question shows up even if evolution is false. Animals are carnivores period, whether they evolved to be so or were created as such.

    As for why – probably because death, particularly animal death, does not preclude something being good. In fact the very idea of death as something that can be ultimately made good is pretty central to Christianity and judaism both.

    Good point. I guess because God took the time too specifically create us rather than nature doing it’s thing.

    Sure, but nothing precludes God ‘specifically creating’ us through evolution, because evolutionary theory as science does not say evolution is unguided, unpurposeful, etc. Evolution, for God, is just another creation method – certainly in principle. The outcomes of evolution aren’t unknown to God, and anyone who says that evolution is unguided is going way, way beyond science. If you’re interested in reading, I suggest having a look at ‘Where The Conflict Really Lies’ by Alvin Plantinga.

    Another good point about believing something I don’t understand. I guess because of the challenge posed against it, I end up assuming the subject in question is wrong. Honestly, part of the problem of my searching is all the back and forth comments, articles, debates etc. gets real tiresome. I think that if God was real then there should be one irrefutable argument for His existence.

    Sure, but even if there were one irrefutable argument, that doesn’t mean you wouldn’t get a thousand people (for whatever reason, honest or not) offering what they call refutations. It would just mean the refutations are wrong, and you’re back to square one of having to figure out if the refutations are right.

    I agree that going through the comments get tiring – people never stop arguing, *even if they are decisively proven wrong*. This isn’t just relevant to the question of God, but just about everything but mathematics and logic – and some people dispute the fundamentals of logic or math. (We’ve seen them do it on UD.)

    I appreciate the help, guys. I’m just really struggling to make sense of things. The following quote from Willaim Provine basically haunts my steps concerning evolution.

    The problem with Provine is that ‘modern evolutionary biology’ tells him no such thing – he is misrepresenting what science as science can actually indicate, not to mention the state of the field. Plenty of *atheists* disagree with Provine (I recommend the Elliot Sober article I linked), to say nothing of theists. Don’t let the fact that he’s an evolutionary biologist saying something forcefully haunt you, because frankly, scientists often go far beyond their field to pontificate, or far beyond the data. (See the controversies over string theory, see the original fights over everything from plate tectonics to quantum physics. Scientists love to misrepresent their authority and knowledge – they’re similar to most other authorities in that respect.)

  50. 50
    CentralScrutinizer

    JLAFan2001: I think that if God was real then there should be one irrefutable argument for His existence.

    If God were real, maybe arguments are not the way to discover that fact. Maybe he wants to directly reveal his existence to you.

  51. 51

    JLAFan2001: I think that if God was real then there should be one irrefutable argument for His existence.

    There is:

    If everything in the Universe is contigent, then there must be at least one thing that is necessary, and that necessary thing cannot be contingent on this Universe.

    Or you can follow the other logical conclusion:

    Silencing all Christians is a perfectly acceptable way of dealing with them.

  52. Axel.
    my mom was a nurse too and I heard things about girls being stronger then boys too.
    However perhaps its just poor analysis. More gorls then boys are born and so on.

    Adam would of seen all creatures in male/female divisions and parts and so if he was the male one it would suggest to him a chick is coming.
    Yet it seems he had no such idea.
    So i suggest he was self reproducing and knew it.
    So the “rib” was this organ taken away and so today we have no evidence of it.

    I mean Adam had no beard because it was perfect in Eden and no threat from nature. Perhaps after he needed it.

    The eskimo would not need hairy hair growth as hair, I say, is for keeping people dry. Not warm.
    Its rainy in europe but not asia/North America.
    Animals in the tropics are very hairy also but not because its cold.
    I see out hair growth as simply a reaction to moisture which the body, wrongly, interpreted as a threat to warmth. So we need deordant and have hair there uselessly. And so on.
    It all indicates biological change comes from innate triggers but no grand strategy.
    Its possible asian bodies represent the original look of post flood people below the neck.
    Hairless.

  53. JLA fan, you wrote:

    “Sorry, I didn’t mean to offend you. Perhaps I don’t understand everything you are saying but I don’t think that makes me spiritually or intellectually lazy. I have been searching for an answer for a about a year now. I’ve been looking at things like cosmology, miracles, evolution, NDEs, historical Jesus etc. but the one thing I can’t seem to get over is the evolution. I grew up as a literalist/inerrantist. I was told that anything outside that and you good be slipping into incorrect doctrine, new age, spiritualism etc. When I hear things about modifying my worldview, it feels like accepting new age doctrine (not saying that’s what you believe because I really don’t know what you do believe).”

    OK, you’ve now told me two things: You grew up as a literalist/inerrantist. And you’ve been searching for answers for about a year now. It would help if knew a bit more. For example, how old are you? (Not exactly, just roughly, e.g., teenager, 20s, 30s, 40s) And what formal education do you have beyond high school? Technical diploma? Four-year bachelor’s? And if the latter, what subject? Humanities? Social sciences? Natural science or math? Engineering? Business? Phys. Ed.? Etc. Also, did you grow up with music (outside of religious music), art, or other forms of culture in the home? Did you go to a public or private school, and if private, was it a religiously oriented school that taught inerrantism, YEC, etc.?

    All this sort of information would help me to help you. What I would tell a 40-year old with a Ph.D. in Mathematics who grew up listening to Mozart at home and went to a suburban public high school with high academic standards and was in the Drama Club there had two or three lifelong best friends who were Catholics or Episcopalians and had occasionally observed their religious services or activities, and what I would tell a 20-year-old with no university education, who wasn’t allowed to play cards except for UNO, and even then not on Sundays, and listened only to revivalist music at home, and was taught that Catholics and Episcopalians were no better than pagans, and that drinking a glass of beer would send one straight to hell, would be quite different. That’s why I suggested that you give me an e-mail address that conceals your name, so that I could write to you with suggestions that are more personally oriented.

    Evolution as such is no threat to any forms of Christianity except for those which are Genesis-literalist in a very narrow sense. The vast majority of Christians on the planet are able to fit evolution into their Christian beliefs. But people like Provine (whom you quote) and people like Dawkins try to drive a wedge between science and faith. You should know — if you don’t already — that Provine grew up in a narrow fundamentalist home, and his extreme atheism is a reaction against that. You don’t find many people who grew up in moderate Catholic or Anglican or Lutheran homes throwing out their religion because of evolution. That should tell you that it’s not Christianity, but only a certain kind of Christianity, that is in tension with evolution.

    You also have to understand that “evolution” can mean anything from what Provine means by it — an atheistic, materialistic world view which reduces man to nothingness — to a simple historical assertion that organisms have changed their form over time — an assertion that in no way requires atheism or materialism, and is compatible with saying that God planned and guided all those changes with a view to ending up with man, whom he intended to instruct in divine ways (i.e., the ways taught in the Bible).

    There are writings that can help make these things clear to you. I can point out some of them to you. But there is no point in my doing so until I have some idea of who you are. You may be a very non-academic sort of person who reads at only 100 words per minute and for whom reading a 400-page book with long sentences and university-level vocabulary is like climbing Mt. Everest. Or you may be a very well-educated person for whom long books on scientific or theological subjects are no problem. You may have already read some of the things I would point you to. You may also have read a lot of rubbish, and if I knew the authors you had been reading, that might give me a clue to lead you out of the darkness you are in and into the light.

    At this point, with my limited information, all I can tell you is that there is hope. You don’t *have* to end up like ex-fundamentalists-turned-leading-atheists like Bart Ehrman and Will Provine. Your fundamentalist upbringing is a disadvantage, because it will have taught you to polarize things, and to think in black and white, and to avoid reasoning out theological and philosophical matters for yourself and rely on authority instead. Someone raised Anglican or Jewish or Catholic, where freedom of thought is more often praised, and learning about other views is encouraged, will not have this problem. On the other hand, if you know your Bible very well, and are open to different readings of it than you are used to hearing in the home and pulpit, you might respond to certain approaches which are Biblically grounded but not inerrantist-fundamentalist.

    The ball’s in your court. I’m willing to talk to you in public, but if you’d rather, I’d do it privately.

    And don’t worry about Will Provine. I have academic training as good as Will Provine’s — probably better, because when I went through it was much harder to get a Ph.D. than it was in Provine’s day. I know theology far better than Provine, I know science at least as well as Provine, and I probably know philosophy as well as or better than Provine. I also know the Biblical languages and world religions far better than Provine, and far better than all the New Atheists — Hitchens, Dawkins, etc. — put together. I can dance with them on any dance floor in the world, and match them step for step, and usually do better than that. I don’t fear that any atheist/materialist will shake my belief in God, because I know all their arguments better than they do, and I know all the standard counter-arguments, plus I have a few of my own.

    So don’t worry, if your concern is that God might not exist. God exists, all right. It’s just that the New Atheists pea-brains have a shallow idea of God. And it’s really the inverse of the shallow idea of God you were taught; and the two positions, the atheist and the narrow fundamentalist, play off each other in an endless dance of ignorance which reinforces the prejudices of both sides. I think that both atheism and inerrantism-literalism need to be smashed, because I think both of them are cancers eating away at the spiritual life of man and blocking man’s view of God. So if you want my help, I’m willing to give it. But I need your cooperation to do it.

    Your alternative is to wander around on the internet, picking up all kinds of “views.” If you know how to discriminate among all these views, and pick out the good from the bad, that could help. But I get the impression that the avalanche of “views” is drowning you rather than liberating you, making things seem more hopeless than hopeful. If that’s what’s happening to you, turn off your computer and start reading some good books. I can give you a list, tailored to whatever level of understanding you are at.

    Best wishes.

  54. Robert Byers,

    “I mean Adam had no beard because it was perfect in Eden and no threat from nature. Perhaps after he needed it.”

    Created with absence for all hair? after Fall, make transformation of hairy man y woman.

    sergio

  55. Robert, in any event, it is apparently a matter of persuasive anecdotal observation concerning adult females as well. Don’t women satirically call the common cold, ‘man ‘flu’? They appear to age quicker than us, yet live longer! None of my opinions and conjectures here are scientifically-based, of course, still less authoritatively so, but they seem to me to present a coherent picture of ‘reality on the ground’.

    I’ve read a few true stories about individuals who had survived situations, sometimes for prolonged periods, insanely detrimental to their health – a recent one concerning a man in WWII, who, with another serviceman, survived the still-standing, record length of time, adrift in a survival dinghy. Both were finally ‘rescued’ by what turned out to be a Japanese naval ship, and taken straight to a concentratin camp! He lived into his nineties. An old age for man, isn’t it?

    Now, if we take the history of womankind, I believe we can see a kind of parallel with that man’s experience. I mean their very survival, until quite recently has been marginal, in the sense of being largely dependent on marriage or the beneficence, such as it was/is(!) of society, whether ‘grass roots’, pursuant to Christian love, or government. I also remember reading that the ultimate icon of courage and strength (‘machismso’, on the face of it) among the Inuit, was an old woman. I can’t remember her epic story, but it was of phenomenal endurance against the elements.

    They also seem to have a psychological, gender-based inheritance, which makes them more mindful of material security, prudent in money-matters, not to speak of being more capable in terms of their aptitude for multitasking*.

    In other words, if it doesn’t break you, it makes you stronger. You sometimes see it with racehorses, the harder they fight for the lead where it matters, the stronger, faster and more difficult to overtake they become – always coming back – or doing their durndest. There’s a horse called Tullius strikes me that way.

    Re the body-hair, I had been taught that it was for protection against the cold, hence polar explorers always wear beards. But anyway, it’s certainly all very complicated to speculate upon. ‘Lots of Ins and Outs’, as the Dude would say.

    * I’d hardly claim this as a mark of ‘machismo’, but when I cook a meal (I only heat them up usually), I have to cook each item, eat it, then do the same to the other ‘components’ of the meal, in turn.

    Their vocation has been more spiritual, both in terms of their sensitivity for the supernatural and their role as mothers, lynch-pins of the family, so it was thought by foolish people that their intelligence was of an inferior order, mutatis mutandis, to that of males. (one of the funniest things I ever heard was they wouldn’t make good bank-managers – having looked after the family’s finances since the dawn of time)

    Now, when our societies are under immense economic threat, due to the predations of the one percent and their enables a little lower down – and the process has been going on for several decades, of course – we are finding that it is the females who are excelling in their academic studies! Well, who’d a thunk? And in science subjects!

    As I’ve said elsewhere, I believe our worldly intelligence is a degradation of our spiritual intelligence, although for a good enough purpose – most importantly, to protect and aid the more endemically, spiritually-endowed, the poorer part of the poplulation. If motivated, they can become more worldy-wise, but less so, the worldly-wise in the other direction.

    A leading Irish nationalist politician and one-time freedom-fighter, who, as a lad, had worked in a butcher’s shop, impressed an English MI5 officer to the extent that he remarked that he felt he had been talking with someone of the level of a brigadier. I think he might have been of a subordinate rank, himself! In other words, ‘Needs must when the Devil drives.’ Many people of ordinary status do not develop their wordly intelligence for any number of reasons; some, I believe, associated with a subconcious class loyalty.

    Anyway, these are all generalisations, perhaps some of them very wide of the mark, but such as we must make in order to try to make sense of our world, science being very limited in its purview in the immeasurably subtler areas of our knowledge, as it relates to more specifically human affairs.

  56. JLAFAN:

    Do you believe in the evolutionary tree of life or believe life was more like an orchard? Just trying to get a feel for what you think.

    Seeing that evolution doesn’t say anything about teh origin of life which means it is OK with multiple origins, it does NOT say anything about a tree of life and would be perfectly OK with an orchard.

    Also there isn’t any way to test for a tree of life.

  57. Joe

    “Also there isn’t any way to test for a tree of life.”

    If there is no way to test for a tree of life how did (presumably) biologists come up with it? There must have been something that lead to that idea.

  58. JLAFAN:

    If there is no way to test for a tree of life how did (presumably) biologists come up with it?

    Darwin came up with it via his imagination.

  59. Joe

    I always thought that the fossil record, homology and the genetic variations supported the tree of life theory and that’s why it’s been around for so long.

  60. sorry, that was suppose to be genetic similarities.

  61. And taht same evidence can be used to support a common design and/ or convergence. What the tree of life scenario lacks is evidence that supports the differences observed can be accounted for via accumulations of genetic change.

  62. JLAfan2001:

    If you aren’t going to reply to my carefully-drafted post of last night — perhaps you’ve absorbed everything from my posts that you can, and have nothing more to say in reply — that’s fine, but let me know. You’re now the only reason I’m monitoring this thread, so if I’m of no further use to you, I won’t be checking in on it again.

  63. Timaeus @34

    “I don’t doubt that he personally envisioned a historical Adam and Eve, but to me his Adam/Christ parallel is pure midrashic interpretation, and the literal-minded “satisfaction” and “penal substitution” doctrines of Atonement which Rome and Geneva later built upon that interpretation were huge errors in Christian thought.”

    I think you’re mistaken about Rome and Geneva – it was Rome, Constantinople, Wittenberg and Zurich as well as Geneva. The doctrine’s found clearly in Gregory of Nyssa, John Chrysostom, Cyril of Alexandria etc – in other words, all branches of the catholic Church back to early times. A nice summary from the traditional Eastern Orthodox perspective here.

    We seem to be going through a phase of rewriting Church history rivalling 1984 nowadays, seemingly based on few people having any real idea of Church history to challenge stuff being made up.

    But regarding your words to JLAfan2001 I thoroughly endorse the fact that there is nothing being thrown at Christianity by either science or atheism now that is a serious challenge to it – and I say that, as you know, from a more conservative theological position than yourself.

    I haven’t heard any significant new arguments that weren’t being thrown at me 40 years ago at Cambridge – and most of them stand up less well now than they even did then.

  64. timothya

    Thank you for your post. You wrote:

    I still don’t understand from the original post, does vjtorley think that Adam and Eve literally existed and are the ancestors of all modern humans?

    Yes. I’m inclined to think they lived around 2,000,000 years ago (coinciding with the emergence of Homo ergaster/erectus) although I’m open to persuasion that they may have lived approximately 600,000 to 700,000 years ago, coinciding with the emergence of Homo heidelbergensis.

    I personally believe the fossil and genetic evidence points strongly towards common descent, but the rapidity and magnitude of the changes occurring indicates even more emphatically that the process whereby man emerged was an intelligently guided one. As for Eve being made supernaturally from the side of Adam, I have no problem with that, should it turn out to be true.

    I believe in monogenism (descent from an original couple) because it has always been the faith of the Christian Church that there was an original Adam and Eve, and that Jesus Christ is the New Adam. As to how the effects of in-breeding were avoided, and how the genetic evidence can be squared with the teaching of monogenism, I think Drew’s Multi-Germic theory explains it best (see http://whyevolutionistrue.word.....e-contest/ ), although I’d change the date. It goes like this:

    …God slightly tinkered with the genes of two existing hominin pairs to ensure that the next baby they each had would have brains which were capable of interacting with a soul. These two individuals, one male and one female were Adam and Eve. God then imparted them both with many germ line cells each carrying a different genome, this allowed that each of Adam and Eve’s children would not be genetic siblings so that there would be no loss of fitness due to sibling interbreeding. Each distinct gene set was based roughly on the genomes of various human-like beings that had preceded Adam and Eve, which had evolved through natural processes, but was distinct enough that it allowed for the brains of the offspring also to interact with a soul. One consequence of this modification was that it gave the F1 generation enough genetic diversity to appear as though they sprang up from a large pool of existing ancestors. It may also have been necessary that for a few generations following F1 that the individuals continued to have the variable germ cells to further protect the offspring from inbreeding defects.

    That seems a good enough explanation to me, and I can’t see why it wouldn’t work.

  65. gregory

    Thank you for your post. You wrote:

    I support your views, vjtorley, which affirm the historicity of Adam and Eve according to the teachings of the Church. These views, however, have nothing to do with ‘Intelligent Design’ theory in so far as it deals with origins of life and origins of biological information.

    If you are suggesting that Intelligent Design theory properly relates to human origins, please express yourself accordingly.

    Intelligent Design is the search for patterns in Nature which can be scientifically identified as the work of an Intelligent Agent. The success of Intelligent Design as a project does not stand or fall on how many progenitors the human race had.

    On the other hand, the emergence of human beings is an event for which one would expect to find signs of intelligent guidance. We are, after all, the most complex organisms known to exist in the cosmos. Consequently the time during which humans emerged is a legitimate focus for ID to conduct its search.

    If monogenism is true, then the genes of the first human beings may well have been intelligently manipulated, to avoid the harmful effects of in-breeding. If Intelligent Design theory can identify signs of such manipulation, then that would be a legitimate object of study in and of itself.

    But it is still early days yet. The scientific answers to those questions lie decades in the future.

  66. JLAfan2001

    Thank you for your post. You wrote:

    I’m not a biology student by any means so some of this stuff goes over my head. What exactly are neutral mutations? Also, when I look around the internet it seems a lot of Gauger’s stuff is in question.
    If you believe in common descent then man was not a special creation. Why should God give a fig about a bunch of smart evolved monkeys?

    Quoting Wikipedia, “In genetics, a neutral mutation is a mutation that has no effect on fitness. In other words, it is neutral with respect to natural selection.”

    Ann Gauger’s writings on human origins have been challenged by Paul McBride, recently. Ann Gauger has responded to McBride (see here), but I have no problem with invoking some supernatural manipulation of the human genome at point when humankind emerged. See my reference to the Multi-Germic theory in post #64 above.

    Finally, I consider the creation of the human soul (which is spiritual) and the supernatural intervention required to transform a somewhat human-like hominid (Australopithecus) into a creature (Homo) with a truly human brain and body, together constitute what I would call an act of creation, while at the same time preserving common descent. Since we are created, then of course I would expect God to care about us.

  67. Jon:

    I won’t quarrel over your sources — I accept that they say what you say — but other things I’ve read, by reputable scholars, indicate that while the doctrines of Atonement in question can be found in Eastern Orthodox writers, they are definitely more commonly found, and more emphasized, in Western than Eastern Christianity, especially in the later Middle Ages and Reformation. I don’t have time to look up the “reputable sources” at the moment, but here is a popular source which makes the sort of statement I’ve seen in more scholarly ones:

    http://www.journals.uts.edu/vo.....ement.html

    I wouldn’t trust this source on its own, but I’ve seen similar things elsewhere.

    Note the distinction it makes between the “classic” and “penal substitution” and “satisfaction” theories. That’s the distinction I was using. If it turns out that the distinction is faulty, then of course I’d have to adjust my historical conceptions accordingly.

    I add that it’s important to distinguish between “the Greek Fathers” and “Eastern Orthodox Christianity.” Just as Western Christian theology was not frozen in time with St. Augustine, so Eastern Christian theology was not frozen in time with the Greek Fathers. There was development in Eastern theology. Certainly I have heard an educated Greek Orthodox priest — I believe he was either a seminary professor or a Metropolitan — in an interview, denouncing what he called the “Western” understanding of penal substitution; he must have *some* traditional basis in Eastern theology for such a bold assertion. Even if he is misinterpreting his sources, the claim warrants investigation.

    An interesting research project would be to find out how the penal substitution and satisfaction notions fared in the various Eastern theologians and churches *after* the period of the Greek Fathers. I haven’t done that, but I’d be glad to hear of any book with a title like “Forms of the Doctrine of the Atonement in the Greek and Latin Middle Ages.”

    As for Zurich and Wittenberg, I’d have no argument about your point there. I was writing in shorthand, and picked Geneva as a symbol for “Protestant” because Calvinist theology is usually the most pointed and clear of all the Protestant theologies.

    So I’ll revise my statement as follows: “In Roman Catholic theology at least from the late Middle Ages to the present, and in the main stream of classical Protestant theology, and possibly also in the Christian East [research pending], doctrines of Atonement focusing on “satisfaction” and “penal substition” have been dominant.”

  68. Timaeus, I don’t think that Catholic theology is consistent with the “penal substitution” theory of atonement. Christ, as God, offered to pay the debt to Divine justice incurred by human sin. The Father did not punish Son for what we did, rather the Son offered Himself up willingly by identifying with us. Indeed, we, not God the Father, are responsible for Christ’s passion. It was not the wrath of the Father coming from the top down; it was love of the Son coming from the bottom up. The first idea pits God against God, but the second idea has God working with God. I think this is best way to interpret St. Paul.

  69. Hello JLAfan2001,

    I do not post often because I’m not at my computer often enough to respond in a timely manner after I have posted. However, I feel a need to respond to what you’ve posted.

    I would encourage you to stick with your original “literalist/inerrantist” view. After spending over forty years studying/following macro-evolution, it is simply not worthy of your faith. Everything I was taught about macro-evolution forty years ago has been proven wrong. Everything I was taught thirty years ago has been proven wrong. Twenty years ago? Ten years ago? Five years ago? Anything that hasn’t already been proven wrong, I feel confident will be eventually.

    I know that what I’m saying will probably be anathema to many, but seriously, if the Bible changed its views even a tenth as often as evolutionists, the Bible wouldn’t be the standard by which evolution is measured.

    What you said earlier about Christianity I would say about evolution. Science is not disproving Christianity, rather the Bible “disproves the Darwinist religion and instead of giving it up, they are constantly having to modify it.”

    By contrast, the Bible is a rock. You can stand on it.

    Yes, there are a whole lot of people out there, even theologians and priests, …actually, mostly theologians and priests, who pose a myriad of views about how the Bible should be interpreted, who wrote what parts, etc., but notice that these myriad views also come and go. I can’t tell you how many trendy new views I studied in seminary that have now been discarded as so much hot air, which is exactly what they were.

    You can see the same trend in archeology. Go back forty years, or even more, and follow the trends. Over those years, too many archeologists to count have been cock-sure that they have made a discovery that has proven the Bible wrong, only to be proven wrong themselves by another find.

    And all the while, the Bible stands there – solid as a rock. A rock that you can stand on. With confidence.

    There is a theological reason for this that you may not have considered: Jesus is the Word of God. He is God’s Word – the Bible – wrapped in flesh. John could not be any clearer about this. The Bible cannot fail anymore than Jesus can. They are one and the same.

    Your Savior is worthy of your faith and your confidence. Be patient.

    And remember, we’re not called to have all the answers. We’re called to be faithful. As I’ve worried less about having all the answers and more about following Christ in every area of my life, especially fulfilling the Great Commission, my faith and sense of peace have grown exponentially. There’s simply nothing like seeing the change Christ brings into a person’s life to remind you of Who owns truth. When you witness that power, all the man-made knowledge, wisdom, endless words, and debates just look like the foolishness they are.

    God bless you.

  70. StephenB:

    I’ll defer to you on what current Catholic teaching is. I was just reporting on what I read, i.e., that in the Middle Ages, with people like Anselm, “satisfaction” and “penal substitution” explanations became common.

    I’ve since done some more reading:

    One of the earlier theories, still held by some in the Middle Ages, was that the death of Christ was the ransom paid to the Devil, to buy back (in Latin, “redeem”) the “rights” he had acquired over mankind. That view is found in Origen, and with modification in several Greek and Latin Fathers, though some (e.g., Gregory Nazienzen) rejected it.

    Anselm argued that only an infinite “satisfaction” could repair an infinite offense against God, and so Christ, who was God, and hence infinite, was the only possible thing that could be offered. Peter Abelard rejected this explanation, and offered one in terms of the divine love. St. Bernard apparently violently criticized Abelard’s solution. The later Scholastics followed the line of Anselm. Aquinas accepted Anselm’s explanation for what actually happened; however, he cautiously added the disagreement that the method of satisfaction was not “imperative” as Anselm had represented it; God could have found another way. Aquinas’s version became the current position among Catholic theologians of his era, but it was later criticized by the Scotists.

    Luther and Calvin apparently moved in the direction of “penal substitution.” This caused a violent reaction from the Socinians and others later on, a reaction which became so strong in the 19th century as to produce some very limp-wristed liberal explanations of the Atonement which are so wimpy one wonders why the authors didn’t just scrap the doctrine altogether.

    In contrast with all these views is the view of Athanasius: the purpose of the Incarnation was not primarily to deal with sin; God would have become incarnate even if we had not sinned, because he wanted man to become divine. It is through the incarnation of Christ that man has the path to become divine.

    The article I’m summarizing offers this generalization:

    “The general patristic teaching is that Christ is our representative, not our substitute; and that the effect of His sufferings, His perfect obedience, and His resurrection extends to the whole of humanity and beyond.”

    Whether this is a correct statement or not, I cannot say. But it’s offered in a major reference work, *The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church*, ed. Cross and Livingstone. An extensive bibliography of specialist works is appended to the article.

    Whether Paul should be blamed for what Anselm, Luther, Calvin and others made of his statements of course depends on how Paul’s statements are to be interpreted. I believe that his remarks about “in Adam …” and “in Christ …” are sufficiently broad to allow for a variety of readings. I would favor one in which a kind of mystical participation is being referred to. (I suppose one would expect that from a Platonist.) Certainly I don’t favor one in which Adam’s eating of the fruit is somehow conceived of as “downloading” a sort of metaphysical “bacterial colony” upon the whole human race, which compels everyone to sin (either by deed or in desire), and, since sin means eternal damnation, needs to be cured by a sort of “Christ-injection” (taken through the “syringe” of faith) which leaves the “bacteria” still floating around in the body, and leaves us with the sniffles (since we still sin) but makes the body immune to the greater effects (i.e., removes the penalty of eternal damnation), so that we don’t actually die of the disease.

    In any case, I didn’t want to start a major argument about the Atonement! My point was that Paul might not have meant what many have thought he meant about Adam and Christ. He might *not* have been saying “There was this real guy, Adam, who ate an apple, and tainted the whole human race so that it cannot but sin, and that’s why we all stand condemned, but fortunately another real guy, Christ, came along and took care of the bad effects of what Adam did.” He might not have been saying that Adam is the *cause* of either individual or racial sin, in the modern sense of the word “cause.” It might be that he meant that we all sin “in Adam” — out of our human nature.

    Of course, this argument has nothing to do with the biological question, which is separate. On the biological front, I have no objection to a real first human couple from which all human beings have descended; I don’t trust population geneticists as far as I can throw them, and nothing would make my smile broader than to see a good mathematical proof that they have been wrong. But on the more important theological point, I find the attempt to use Adam as a *causal* explanation for the sins of each subsequent person very dubious. As a causal explanation for *death* — that’s a different matter. In fact, that is all that Genesis said that Adam *was* responsible for — the fact that we all die, not that we all sin or have some special proclivity for sin. Genesis never sticks poor Adam with the blame for that.

  71. Timaeus

    A quick one. That Eastern orthodoxy has moved isn’t in doubt – but if so it means it has moved away from a doctrine dating back into the first millennium in the East, not a johnny-come-lately Roman/Reformed perversion.

    I’m no Orthodox, but the writer I linked to puts the sea-change in Orthodoxy to a couple of influential leaders in the 20th century (primarily Patriarch Romanides and Metropolitan Anthony), apparently constituting an Orthodox equivalent to the 19th century upsurge in Protestant liberalism. They taught that Orthodoxy had for 1500 years been in bondage to Western Catholic thinking – in other words, they were revisionists with an agenda.

    When I read what those in the science-faith discussion say approvingly about Irenaeus v Augustine, etc it’s clear this new strand is what they mean by “Orthodoxy”, which has repositioned those authors to suit the new theology (eg to claim falsely that Irenaeus did not teach that sin is inherited from Adam). That’s why I try to check original Patristic sources whenever people claim their support nowadays – they are seldom treated fairly.

    StephenB – penal substitution, as taught in historic Protestantism, never had any idea of an angry Father venting his spite on his unwilling Son. That was an ignorant perversion that crept into popular Evangelicalism in the 20th century (I remember hearing it, and objecting to it, back in the 60s), and which has become the straw man used to dismiss all propitiatory views of the atonement as “cosmic child abuse”. For the real Evangelical view, read John Stott’s “Cross of Christ”.

  72. Jon, you are right about the correct Evangelical view. In my attempt to be brief and to dramatize the difference between Catholic theology and reformed theology, I used the wrong metaphor with the word “wrath.” Most Evangelicals do not characterize God the Father that way. Thank you for the fraternal correction.

    As I am sure you know, the basic difference between Catholic and non-Catholic views of atonement are related to the notion of condign merit. Catholics typically accept it and non-Catholics typically do not. Naturally, I accept the Catholic view as expressed in the Council of Trent.

  73. Thanks StephenB

    What’s interesting is how sacrificial atonement is, with variations as we’ve discussed, still a key element in Catholic, Protestant and historic Orthodox branches of the faith. Which is not surprising in view of the New Testament emphasis (not least the whole of Hebrews).

    I read somewhere today that what Anselm did, in essence, was not to formulate a new, mediaeval European, doctrine but to rediscover the Hebrew root of Christian atonement that had been lost, on which others could then rebuild. That makes sense from my recollection of reading the Cur Deus Homo.

  74. Do you have to believe in Adam and Eve?

    Here is a non-scientist’s response:

    Believing in Adam and Eve is not a requirement to be saved.

    However, I think you need to believe in Adam and Eve to make sense out of the Bible. Jesus believed in Adam and Eve as did Paul. In fact, there are no inspired writers of the Bible who dismiss the story as myth. As VJ has so clearly pointed out, the vast majority of early Church Fathers believed in Adam and Eve as well.

    (They also believed in a literal interpretation to chapter one which unfortunately, VJ doesn’t seem to hold to, but that’s a separate issue.)

    In my opinion, the only way you can reject Adam & Eve and still believe the Bible to be God’s Word is if you already believe and are simply trying to find a way to read evolutionary science into God’s Word.

    If we give up on this battle and throw out Adam & Eve as myth, how many of our children do you think are going to have confidence in God’s Word? They are clearly going to see what we are doing – desperately trying to find a way to keep the Bible believable in the face of increasing contrary evidence. You might be able to handle the contradiction, but the writing is on the wall for your family if you take this position.

    If you don’t care if your kids reject the faith, then sure, go ahead and throw out Adam & Eve. My question is what will be the next thing to go? The flood has already been trashed by even many IDers. How about the Tower of Babel?

    For many, this type of compromise opens the door for further compromise and lowers our view of God’s Word. Questioning miracles throughout Scripture and even questioning the virgin birth and the resurrection could very easily follow in future generations. After all, if science has authority over God’s Word, then we “know” these miracles must have a natural explanation, right?

    Do you have to believe in Adam & Eve to be saved? Of course not, but to remain intellectually consistent in biblical interpretation, to maintain a high view of God’s Word, and to prevent a further slide away from God’s Word, it is pretty important!

    Before you throw out Adam & Eve, think of the implications this will have for you and your kids. It will not be a positive thing!

    Question: Does anyone know of anyone who was saved while maintaining that Adam & Eve are plain myth? I’m sure they exist somewhere, but I would bet they are very very few.

    How impressive would this be to unbelievers? Would this encourage them to become Christians or more likely discourage them to become Christians?

    Any thoughts?

  75. Adam and Eve? News of their demise has been greatly exaggerated. As well as fossil evidence for human evolution.

  76. Hello, tjguy.

    We interacted a while back, in the Craig Crushes Ayala discussion. I hope you found my final olive branch there acceptable.

    On your current comments, I’d say this:

    If the reason for rejecting a literal Adam and Eve is only to harmonize with science, then you are right. One surrender will lead to another, whenever “science” speaks, and piece after piece of Christian religion will be jettisoned.

    However, if the reason for rejecting a literal Adam and Eve is exegetical, i.e., if a Biblical scholar, after long study and thought, becomes convinced — by features of both style and contents — that the Adam and Eve story was not meant to be read as history, but as myth or legend or parable or some other genre, that is legitimate, because the conclusion is coming from within the Bible, not being imposed on the Bible from outside. And Bible-believing Christians should *want* to know if they have been misreading Genesis all along, so that they can adjust their theology to what Genesis actually teaches.

    In the case of JLAfan2001 — who seems to have abandoned this thread — we have someone who was brought up to believe that Genesis 2-3 was meant to be read as history, and as a result is now on the verge of dumping Christian faith altogether, because he thinks that if Genesis 2-3 is “disproved,” then all of Christianity will fall. If he becomes an atheist, it will be because of his reading of Genesis 2-3 as historical chronicle. But what if it is not *necessary* to understand Genesis 2-3 in that way? Then JLAfan will have dumped Jesus Christ for no good reason.

    The Church has to make room for people with different understandings of the genre of Genesis 1-11. If it does not, if it insists that all of Genesis 1-11 must be taken as historical chronicle, and must be either accepted as a photographic and audiotape record of past events, or be denied as a pack of lies — there will be an exodus of people out of Christian churches who would otherwise have remained Christian.

    You may say, “But the Church will also lose people if it teaches that Genesis 1-11 is not history, because then some believers may think the whole Bible has no historical value.” That may be the case. So there is a trade-off.

    We could get calculating about this. We could say, which is better, to lose 20 fairly uneducated and not very intellectually thoughtful Christians from your congregation, because you teach that Genesis 1-11 is not literal history, or to lose only 3 Christians from your congregation — but those among the best educated and most thoughtful in your Church — because you insist that Genesis 1-11 is literal history, and try as they might, they cannot believe that? It isn’t clear to me that the 3 thoughtful Christians are less important for the future life of the worldwide Christian Church than the 20 unthoughtful ones who just want safety and security out of their religion and don’t want to wrestle with hard questions.

    But it shouldn’t come down to sacrificing one group or the other. All members of a Church, the spiritually unadventurous and intellectually insecure, and the thoughtful and bold, are valuable and necessary. The answer is for all evangelical churches, whether their members incline to theistic evolution, or ID, or OEC, or YEC, to allow for honest intellectual disagreement over the genre of Genesis 1-11 and therefore not impose any interpretation upon the congregation, and not to impose any intra-Church penalties (e.g., you can no longer teach Sunday School) for those who hold a minority position on Genesis.

    But can evangelical churches rise above their usual revolting local politics, and live with such tolerance? Can one imagine a church led by Ken Ham allowing someone who believes in evolution to be a Sunday School teacher? Or even an organist? Can one imagine a church led by TEs not utterly marginalizing anyone in their congregation who took Genesis 1-11 literally? Christians have a long history of social ostracism and theological condemnation of other Christians who disagree with them. Can American evangelical congregations rise to this challenge, tolerating literalists in Massachusetts and evolutionists in Georgia? Or are they too petty and tyrannical for that?

    One thing is certain, based on history and my own personal experience: if the polarization continues, conservative, Genesis-literalist churches will continue to be breeding-grounds for atheism. There are just too many good, honest, intellectual, text-based reasons — reasons that have nothing to do with giving in to evolution — for thinking that Genesis 1-11 was not meant to be understood primarily as historical writing. And that means that the university-educated intelligentsia of the conservative evangelical churches — people whose gifts could help them to lead those churches — will tend to leave those churches, either joining liberal churches or dropping Christianity altogether.

    Bart Ehrmans and Will Provines don’t emerge from churches where the leadership and the congregation think like C. S. Lewis or G. K. Chesterton. They emerge from churches where the leadership and congregation think like Ken Ham and Henry Morris. It’s precisely because JLAfan2001 was taught the Christianity of people like Ham and Morris, rather than the Christianity of Lewis or Chesterton, that he is on the verge of abandoning his childhood faith. That’s been my only concern for hanging around on this thread. But since JLAfan2001 wants to keep pressing his foot to the floor on his spiritual accelerator pedal as he roars downhill, and won’t stop the car and let me or anyone else point out to him a gentler country road to a better destination, there is nothing I can do but leave him to his own devices. I expect that he will conclude, as so many conclude who read Genesis on the low intellectual and spiritual plain of Ken Ham and Richard Dawkins, that Genesis is “false,” and therefore that the story of Jesus, being “based” on the story of Genesis, is likewise “false,” and will leave the faith. I give him three months, six months tops, before that happens, unless someone with greater spiritual gifts than mine is able to intervene. And it makes me sad.

    And what’s even sadder is that neither of the two agents who should bear the blame — himself, and the literalist-inerrantist teachers against whom he is revolting — will acknowledge any fault for his apostasy. His teachers will blame him for rebellion, and he will blame Christianity itself for being anti-scientific, when in fact his teachers, in their backwoods theological ignorance and narrow-mindedness, are largely to blame for his rebellion, and he is to blame for not listening to moderate voices who have offered him another way of thinking about science and another way of thinking about Christianity. Thus, if he ends up as an atheist, I will no more excuse him for that than I would Bart Ehrman or Will Provine. If a Christian finds a certain formulation of faith incompatible with science, it’s the Christian’s responsibility to leave no stone unturned, to leave no version of orthodox Christianity untried, before abandoning the faith. If the Christian insists: “No, it’s either literalism-inerrantism or atheism for me” — that rigidity and stubbornness is entirely of his own making, and so is the bed on which he will have to lie.

  77. Timaeus

    Sorry for the late reply. I think tjguy echoes my thoughts as you already know. Yes, I am beginning to reject the faith primarily based on what science is uncovering but also what you are bringing up too. You seem to reject a literal reading of Genesis while others don’t. What makes your reading more valid than a literalist? If we all have our different views of scripture then where does truth lie in all of it? It becomes as subjective as atheism. Why does CS Lewis or GK Chesterton have it right and Ham or Morris doesn’t? I had no idea that ID proponents reject the flood. That makes me question the bible even more. Why do we accept the creation and flood accounts as stories and not the gospels? Jesus was real, sure, but maybe the accounts are exaggerated especially if they were written some 40 years later. This is why athiests laugh at theists. The evidence is piling up that the bible isn’t true and theists continue to make excuses. If Adam and Eve was mythical then why did Jesus die? If not for penal substitution then why? I can give you my email address but I’m almost looking for you to convince me now that Christianity is right rather than looking to change what I believe. What makes you so convinced that God is real?

  78. To me Adam and Eve are the same as universal common ancestry. On one I do not categorically deny either and on the other I do not see any (exclusive) confirming evidence.

    And then there is Lilith- allegedly Adam’s first companion…

  79. JLAfan2001:

    Thanks for getting back to me.

    Do you drive a car? Have you ever been stuck in the snow, and started spinning your wheels? And when you find you are spinning your wheels, how much good does it do to press the gas pedal harder?

    This is your problem. You are spinning your wheels. The actions you are taking to try to solve your problem are only sinking you deeper into the rut. The analogy with the car should tell you that a different kind of action is necessary.

    So you think you have found some way in which science contradicts Genesis, and your response is to demand that I or someone else proves that Genesis is “true” in exactly the sense of “true” that is causing your problem in the first place. You were alarmed when someone suggested that Adam and Eve could be taken non-literally; but when I suggested that a non-literal Adam and Eve might not be a problem, because the text might have a different meaning than you were brought up to believe, instead of investigating that possibility, you are distracted by hearing that some ID people don’t accept a literal global Flood, and now you alarmed that maybe the Bible isn’t “true” about the Flood either. You still have not grasped that your fundamentalist-inerrantist upbringing taught you a crippled sense of what it means to say that the teaching of a text is “true.” I’ve been trying to widen your sense of “truth.”

    An engineer like Henry Morris tends to take “truth” as empirical truth — scientific or historical facts that one can measure and “prove” or “disprove.” That’s the mentality that governs literalism-inerrantism, an engineer’s mentality. As long as you continue to approach every religious teaching like an engineer — it’s got to be measured, weighed, tested, verified by evidence — you are going to miss the *point* of the teachings. I can’t “prove” that my parents loved me — but I’m darned sure that they did. And if someone comes up with some “evidence” that seems to contradict the fact that my parents loved me — say, for the sake of example, my father whacked me once when he was in a bad temper — I’m going to say that they are just silly, that they don’t understand the meaning of the word “love” if they think they can just count up good things and bad things, and if my parents did X or more bad things, then they didn’t love me. I would say that anyone who tries to determine if his parents love him in that manner is a complete idiot, even if he has a Ph.D. in Engineering or Accounting.

    If you want to know if the story of the Good Samaritan is “true,” are you going to take up the study of archaeology and ancient history, and try to find records of this Samaritan, and if you can’t, declare that the story must be made up and is therefore a lie? I trust that you are not so foolish as that. I trust that you understand that the truth of that story does not depend on verifying the name the Samaritan or the location of the ancient road on which he found the stranger.

    In the USA, millions of words have been written in “defense” of Genesis 1-11, trying to prove that every single past-tense sentence in the stories corresponds, in a 1-for-1 way, with a past event, as if Genesis is a transcription made from on-site videotape. And it’s precisely out of these communities of literalist believers that atheists are generated, as they discover that it’s impossible to make the story correspond in a 1-for-1 way with what happened in the past as determined by history, archaeology, etc. It never occurs to them that the logical conclusion is not that the stories are “false” but that the stories are being read in the wrong way, are being asked for the kind of truth that “science” and “history” provide, when they are not scientific treatises or historical documents, but another kind of literature entirely, with different aims.

    You would think that literalists-inerrantists would get a clue from the fact that not a word of Genesis 1-11 (beyond the mere fact that God created the world in some unspecified way) is found in any of the Creeds of the Church. No Adam and Eve. No Fall. No Flood. No Cain and Abel. No Babel. The Church, when it formulated its Creeds — its summary of core affirmations — did not think these things needed to be even *mentioned*, let alone stressed to the exaggerated degree that literalism-inerrantism stresses them. Yet the defense of Genesis 1-11 continues to be the core concern of American literalist-inerrantist Protestantism. Far more is written by literalist-inerrantists about the Flood and about radioactive dating and about the meaning of the word “day” than is written by them about Jesus! That’s how distorted the emphasis is.

    You want me to prove that Genesis 1-11 is “true” in a sense of “truth” that I reject. I can’t prove to you that it’s true in that sense. Nor would I want to, because the “truth” you want me to establish has nothing to do with Christianity. It’s an engineer’s or accountant’s caricature of Christianity, all “facts” and no soul. As if digging up some ancient city mentioned in the Bible could “prove the Bible is true.” Only a spiritual idiot could think in that way. None of the religious geniuses of Christianity thought in that way, or occupied themselves with such questions. Read any of the great saints and mystics.

    You can start by reading something simple. Look at some of C. S. Lewis’s writings. *Mere Christianity*, perhaps, or *Miracles*. You will see a defense of the main Christian doctrines there. But actually his fictional works are even better. *Out of the Silent Planet* is an engaging story which beautifully captures a number of foundational Christian teachings. You will learn more about the meaning of “Creation” from reading that novel than you will from a hundred literalist defenses of 24-hour days in Genesis.

    I pick Lewis because he is Protestant and therefore is more likely to be trusted by you. Other literalist-inerrantists have found Francis Schaeffer’s works liberating. I prefer Lewis, but maybe Schaeffer would work better for you, because he is American and his cultural style may resonate more with you than a British writer would. But if you are open-minded enough to read non-Protestant literature, there are also many Catholic writers who would serve. You could read Chesterton, for example.

    I’m shooting in the dark here. I’m crippled because I don’t know your age and educational level, and I don’t know whether you work as a plumber in a small town with no library, or are a business student at a major university with a huge library. It’s hard for me to tell you what to read when I don’t know your educational background or what you have access to.

    What you should stop reading — at least for the moment — is fundamentalist versus atheist arguments over the Bible. These are exactly what are causing your problem. You need to look at Christian faith with new eyes. You need to read different things, and you need a new environment.

    Do you have any friends who are Episcopalians, Catholics, or Greek Orthodox? Or for that matter even Lutheran or Christian Reformed? Have such people take you to their church services; go to hear religious speakers that they admire, or join them in a Bible study. And listen to some of the sacred music of Bach, and some medieval plainsong. Have you ever been to Europe? If you have the money, go! Look through the art galleries at the Christian art. Walk through the cathedrals.

    Basically, you’ve been raised in a spiritually suffocating environment, and you see the only way out as atheism. But it isn’t the only way out. There are forms of Christianity that are beautiful, liberating, emotionally rich, filled with art and music, stimulating to the intellect rather than restrictive of it, and compatible with science and philosophy. But you have to make the effort to find such forms of Christianity. And you won’t find them by wrangling on the internet about fossils, Adam and Eve, etc. If you mire yourself in such debates, you will have Richard Dawkins and Will Provine trying to make you an atheist, and Ken Ham and his friends trying to pull you back into the suffocating religion you are trying to escape. Spiritually speaking, that’s like a choice between being burnt at the stake or being guillotined.

    Turn off your computer for a few weeks. Stop listening to all these people. Walk through a French cathedral, have a Catholic friend in your home town explain the Stations of the Cross to you, do a weekend retreat in an old monastery, read Lewis, read Chesterton, read Dickens’s Christmas Carol, listen to great sacred music from Bach or Handel, read the poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins. Get away from the Philistine world of American fundamentalism and Anglo-American atheism.

    If you can find a true, rich, Christian faith, you will find that the questions about Genesis will sort themselves out with little effort. It’s putting the cart before the horse to try to deal with the historical veracity of Genesis before you have first understood what Christian teaching and Christian life are actually about. Find people who can show you that. They’re around.

    I’ve exhausted my time for this discussion. I’ve made a large effort here. Only you can make it bear fruit. I don’t live where you live, so I can’t help you in person, but there are people who can — if you look for them. If you don’t seek out such older, wiser Christian heads, if you keep trying to ascertain by your own intellectual powers the truth about God, by arguing about historical proofs and disproofs Genesis with strangers on the internet who have no more understanding of Christianity than you do, you will just keep spinning your wheels in the snow, eventually wearing away all the snow and hitting the asphalt bottom of atheism. If that’s what you want, just keep pressing that gas pedal.

  80. JLAfan2001:

    Although you didn’t ask me, I will offer my thoughts in the most abbreviated way I know how:

    When in doubt, I think the safest course for non-Catholic interpreters of the Bible (Catholics accept the teaching authority of the Church [Adam and Eve were indeed historical figures]) is to follow the pattern expressed by the early Church fathers, who were closest to the apostles and most likely to get it right.

    Among many others who insisted on a real Adam and Eve, we could include such major figures as Clement of Rome (who knew St. Peter) Tertullian, Justin Martyr, Ireneaus, and Clement of Alexandria.

    I would not follow the consensus of modern Biblical “experts” on the existence of Adam and Eve for the same reason I would not follow the majority of evolutionary biologists on origins. Unlike the earliest Church fathers, they didn’t know the apostles or their immediate successors. Also, don’t forget the consistent teaching of the Catholic Church to the same effect, which should help to confirm the point.

  81. JLAfan2001,

    A few comments to add on to Timaeus’.

    First, the evidence is not “piling up” in the way you suggest – if anything the NT and much of the OT is more corroborated now than it was in the past. Even on the scientific front, things have gotten drastically harder for atheists in general than for theists. (An eternal universe used to be the assumed model – that was skunked. Materialism was assumed true, but quantum physics skunked that. Life was considered easy to arise, and now we have fine tuning and OoL considerations to say the least. The idea that Christ didn’t exist was considered plausible in some quarters over a century ago – now it’s a crank idea. The list goes on.)

    You ask a fair question in “Why is Lewis and Chesterton right, while Ham and Morris are wrong?” But really, the fact that they disagree doesn’t mean that there’s no way to tell one is wrong or one is right (or that both are wrong for that matter). While I disagree with Timaeus about Adam and Eve, I disagree more strongly with Morris and Ham, personally – the fact that they (or at least people like them) take their view as the only reasonable interpretation, despite some considerable historical differences, well argued, is a strike against them to begin with.

    I’d also note that you’re arguing to atheism by way of what you see as bible inaccuracies – but theism is prior to the bible. Far and away most arguments for theism stand regardless of the truth of the bible, and you’ll see that argued even from prominent and fairly conservative apologists (William Lane Craig for example, who I also recall views the truth of evolution as a non-issue biblically.)

    I’m not interested in psychoanalyzing you too deeply. But I think one thing you said so far in this conversation is pretty telling: you think if Christianity is true, then it should be totally obvious to the point that any arguments against it should be able to be shut down immediately. But keep in mind, that’s not even a biblical standard – see Christ being rejected, even by His apostles. Doubt and confusion and surprise is pretty much part of Christianity.

    Which is why I think the problems you’ve raised so far are problems that are pretty small, and easily answered – unless you’re of the view that there should never be any problem with faith or moment of doubt, if the faith is true. In which case all I can say is, that seems unreasonable from every angle.

  82. What’s the literal interpretation of the following?

    All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,

  83. JLAfan2001

    My 2c. I’ve been a Christian 47 years, and you don’t go that long without serious doubts and dry periods unless you’re a bigot.

    In retrospect the times when the truths of Christianity seemed in doubt were usually, in truth, the result of fearing that God no longer loved me. That was often the case in many years of pastoral work with others too.

    The head, in other words, often gets the blame for problems in the heart.

  84. Mung

    “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness…”

    How about, “You should struggle to understand and act on Scripture in the same way the disciples struggled to understand and act on the words of Jesus”?

    In other words, he was always right, but they often got him wrong.

  85. JLAfan2001,

    I know what it’s like to have lots of doubts, so I will keep you in my prayers. I think Timaeus’ spiritual advice is pretty sound – especially what he writes about the need to take some time to enjoy good music, good art and beautiful cathedrals. It’s time to soak your soul in some beauty.

    But I sense a more immediate need. You are fast running out of solid intellectual arguments for belief in a personal God, and are in real danger of giving up belief in everything sacred. Here are some good links that should serve you well.

    Fine-tuning argument and origin of the universe

    The Teleological Argument: An Exploration of the Fine-Tuning of the Universe by Dr. Robin Collins.

    Vilenkin’s verdict: “All the evidence we have says that the universe had a beginning.” The article has lots of links to articles of mine, refuting common objections to the fine-tuning argument and arguing for the cosmos having been designed.

    Origin of life and evidence for Intelligent Design

    The Case Against a Darwinian Origin of Protein Folds (in BioComplexity 2010(1):1-12. doi:10.5048/BIO-C.2010.1) by Dr. Douglas Axe.

    The Origin of Life, a talk given by Professor John C. Walton, a Research Professor of Chemistry at St. Andrews University, on September 21, 2010, and available online here.

    Programming of Life by Dr. Don Johnson. An excellent video.

    ATP synthase: majestic molecular machine made by a mastermind by Brian Thomas, M.S. The video at the end will blow you away.

    Miracles

    Turin Shroud ‘was created by flash of supernatural light’: It couldn’t be a medieval forgery, say scientists

    The Enigma of the Shroud of Turin (Why it couldn’t be a fake)

    Discrepancies in the Radiocarbon Dating Area of the Turin Shroud by M. Sue Benford and Joseph G. Marino. Destroys the myth that the Shroud is medieval.

    Blood on the Shroud of Turin: An Immunological Review by Kelly P. Kearse.

    The Shroud and the “Historical Jesus”: Challenging the Disciplinary Divide by Dr. Simon Joseph. Argues that the Shroud does indeed belong to Jesus, and not some other Jew, as some people have suggested.

    The Shroud of Turin . Stephen Jones’ blog on the Shroud (very balanced).

    Modern Miracles

    The Making of a Saint by Eric Reguly.

    The flying saint by Fr. Renzo Allegri. The last paragraph is revealing:

    It has been calculated that Joseph’s ‘ecstatic flights’ took place at least 1,000 to 1,500 times in his lifetime, perhaps even more, and that they were witnessed by thousands of people. They were the phenomenon of the century. They were so sensational and so public that they attracted attention from curious people from all walks of life, Italians and foreigners, believers and unbelievers, simple folk, but also scholars, scientists, priests, bishops and cardinals. They continued to occur in every situation, in whatever church in which the saint prayed or celebrated Mass. It is impossible to doubt such a sensational and public phenomenon which repeated itself over time.

    The Miracle of Calanda . Article based on in the book Il Miracolo by Vittorio Messori. Evidently God does heal amputees.

    The Eucharistic Miracles of the World . Ongoing Eucharistic miracles taking place right under the nose of science.

    That should keep you busy for now. Good luck in your quest!

  86. JLAfan2001,

    Actually, I’d like to give a different reading recommendation than everyone else here.

    I suggest The Last Superstition by philosopher Ed Feser. And I’m going to explain why I’m recommending it.

    The book is not a defense of Christianity specifically. The title suggests that it’s an attack on the New Atheism, and while it is to a degree, there’s more to it than that. What the book does is explain the history of philosophical and metaphysical thought from ancient greece to now, noting what ideas came about, why they came about, what the reactions were to them, etc. Largely with a focus on classical theism, materialism, etc.

    I know you’re saying you want a defense of Christianity in particular, but I think what you’d be better off with before that is an understanding of modern science and philosophy, its origins and problems, the distinction between metaphysics and physics, etc. More importantly, you’d probably want these things explained to you in a book that’s written for a non-expert to understand. Well, TLS does a great job of that. If you read it, you should have a greater appreciation for the history of theistic thought, an understanding of the problems posed by modern materialism, an understanding of the classical arguments for God, etc.

    After that book, even if you’re persuaded by it, you’re still going to want defenses of Christianity – again, Feser says explicitly that the book defends theism period, and thus leaves it open as to whether Christianity, Judaism, Islam, neo-Platonism, etc, or any other religion is the true religion. But after this book, you will be (in my opinion) better equipped to approach that question intellectually – and more importantly, you’ll be able to distinguish (rightly) between theism generally and particular religions. You’ll also be able to ask better questions of atheists and theists alike.

  87. Good comments from Jon Garvey, Vincent and nullasalus. JLAfan2001 now has a lot of suggestions for constructive reading. And reading good material, rather than arguing on the internet, is what I think he should be doing. The diligent seeker after truth will spend a higher percentage of time reading than arguing. Arguing can be useful for clarifying one’s ideas, but unless one has first done some studying, the quality of the argument will not be good.

    For JLAfan, I’d recommend at least two hours of book- or article-reading for every one hour spent in debate or conversation.

    I’m now confident that JLAfan has received good advice and moral support from a number of people, so I’m exiting.

  88. How does population genetics work in conjunction with mitochondrial eve and y chromosome adam? They say that homo sapiens evolved from a population of around 10,000 around 150,000 years ago. How does one woman and one man come out of that? Please explain in high school terms. :)

  89. JLAfan,

    When someone figures out a way to test all the claims of population genetics what they say will mean something.

  90. JLAfan2001,

    In response to your query regarding Mitochondrial Eve, the following information is taken from Wikipedia:

    Mitochondrial Eve was the woman from whom all living humans today descend, on their mother’s side, and through the mothers of those mothers and so on, back until all lines converge on one person. Mitochondrial Eve is estimated to have lived around 200,000 years ago, most likely in East Africa.

    However, just because all women alive today descended in a direct unbroken female line only from Mitochondrial Eve, it does not necessarily follow that she was the only woman alive at the time. Evolutionary scientists theorize that there were lots of other women alive at Eve’s time who have descendants alive today, but sometime in the past, each of their lines of descent included at least one male.

    As I said, Mitochondrial Eve in no way implies monogenism (belief in Adam and Eve). Monogenism is a datum of faith, not science. Current scientific estimates of the size of the ancestral population from which Homo sapiens evolved lie in the ballpark of 10,000, but of course, those estimates are based on purely naturalistic assumptions, including the assumption that most mutations are neutral, having no effect on an organism’s fitness. If God intervened in human evolution, that would not be true.

    The Multi-germic hypothesis, humorously put forward over at Why Evolution Is True by Drew, illustrates one way God might have done it. Drew’s proposal was tongue-in-cheek, but Jerry Coyne judged it the most plausible of the proposals made for reconciling the data of science with belief in monogenism. Here’s an excerpt:

    …God slightly tinkered with the genes of two existing hominin pairs to ensure that the next baby they each had would have brains which were capable of interacting with a soul. These two individuals, one male and one female were Adam and Eve. God then imparted them both with many germ line cells each carrying a different genome, … so that there would be no loss of fitness due to sibling interbreeding. [The germline of an individual is the sequence of germ cells that have genetic material that may be passed to a child. Gametes such as the sperm or the egg, are part of the germline; body cells, a.k.a. somatic cells, are not. A germ cell is any biological cell that gives rise to the gametes of an organism. - VJT] Each distinct gene set was based roughly on the genomes of various human-like beings that had preceded Adam and Eve, which had evolved through natural processes… [The genome is the entirety of an organism's hereditary information, including both the genes and the non-coding sequences of the DNA. - VJT] One consequence of this modification was that it gave the F1 generation [i.e. the generation after Adam and Eve - VJT] enough genetic diversity to appear as though they sprang up from a large pool of existing ancestors.

    To my mind, the scenario described above doesn’t seem too extraordinary to take seriously. It requires only one miracle, which would have coincided with the appearance of Adam and Eve.

    I think this will be my last post for this thread. Many thanks to Timaeus and to everyone else who contributed.

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