Death and the Fall of Man

This is my (mis)understanding of things:

  • It is acceptable for Catholics to believe evolution is true.
  • At some point in time, we officially became Man, and God gave us immortal souls.
  • Man, in the Garden of Eden could not suffer, die, was not tempted with sin until Satan, the deciver, decieved Eve, and Eve convinced Adam to sin as well.
  • Every animal could die, except Man, until the original sin - then they could die again as well.
  1. Is that correct?
  2. Now, after we are baptized, why must we now die, suffer, and be tempted with sin? Why are we not restored to the state of grace in the Garden, as God originally may have had things?

I thought I had already understood these things. Please clarify.

The Church has not so specifically spelled things out here, but yes, evolution is acceptable to Catholic teaching. My preferred, and a common, view of the death issue, is that the death St. Paul writes about in Romans, and that is indicated as the result of sin in Genesis, is spiritual death, not physical. I think physical death as a coronation, as a transition to a closer presence with God, was always intended. I think one finds this idea in Tolkien as well, a great Catholic writer. He wrote in the Silmarion that death was a gift of Iluvatar (God) to man, that we go to a new reality, and that Morgoth (Satan) quickly fomented fear of death as the unknown and envy among men for elves, who did not die. Thus a gift, physical death, was turned to a feared curse. Scripture can be read in keeping with Catholic theology to be concerned with spiritual death, that is eternal separation from God.

:thumbsup: Jesus told us not to fear those who kill the body…

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought that the actual scientific theory of evolution, which does not contain any reliance on supernatural meddling, is not acceptable to the RCC. The RCC has been forced to back-pedal in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence that evolution is true; but I understand the RCC version, while perhaps not formalised, inserts good ol’ God as a guiding influence.

Evolution is a scientific theory which stands on its own merits without unnecessary supernatural intervention. Therefore it is at best disingenuous to declare that “evolution” is acceptable to the RCC.

Aside from this sneaky wordplay, it’s also highly confusing. Creation and “Evolution” (the RCC version) can’t logically both be acceptable. So which is “true” in the eyes of the Church?

The church simply opposes theories of evolution which are explicitly atheistic, meaning those versions whose proponents (Richard Dawkins, as always, the prime example) claim it disproves God’s existence or role in creation. It is a perfectly tenable position to hold for a theist that an omnipotent, omniscient being could set into motion a universe which would bring forth life, knowing fully in advance exactly how it would develop, with no need of further interference. This goes right along with the fine tuning argument: given the laws/constants that were in place at the Big Bang, the development of the universe as it is was inevitable.
And it seems that there’s only one thing known in the universe that does not necessarily obey its laws: us.

Well, there’s a difference between a scientific theory that (like all scientific theories) doesn’t rely on an arbitrary supernatural agent, and a scientific theory that claims the non-existence of such an agent (no scientific theories make such a claim, it’s just that the necessity of the supernatural would make the theory unscientific, so the supernatural is precluded). The theory of evolution (the real one, not the RCC version) provides, with a huge amount of evidence and in great detail, an entirely natural explanation for a phenomenon that was previously superficially explained by “God did it.” In that sense, the theory makes God redundant. It’s not proof he/she/it wasn’t involved, but it does show why he/she/it isn’t required.

It is a perfectly tenable position to hold for a theist that an omnipotent, omniscient being could set into motion a universe which would bring forth life, knowing fully in advance exactly how it would develop, with no need of further interference.

Yes, this seems to confirm what I said in my previous post. The scientific theory has no need of the “god” hypothesis, whereas the RCC version has it as an intrinsic motivator. That’s why it’s disingenuous.

This goes right along with the fine tuning argument: given the laws/constants that were in place at the Big Bang, the development of the universe as it is was inevitable.

That’s not the fine tuning argument - the fine tuning argument is that those laws were created with the purpose of the subsequent creation of intelligent life; that if the laws were more than very slightly different, life could not exist. It’s a fallacious argument, of course.

And it seems that there’s only one thing known in the universe that does not necessarily obey its laws: us.

How do we not? We are physical beings, subject to the laws of physics. I’d be interested to learn in what manner you think we contravenve those laws.

When you say that evolutionary biology makes God redundant, you are imputing an unsupported metaphysical assumption into the science itself. Evolutionary biology explains the diversity of life forms on Earth only. It does NOT have anything to say on abiogenesis, or on the bigger questions even still of the causes of the Big Bang, the mechanisms undergirding the laws of physics, etc.

There is no “RCC version” of evolutionary theory. Rather, the science on the matter is what it is, and one person may assign their own metaphysical assumptions and baggage to the hard facts (the atheist saying a First Cause is redundant, though it is manifestly not so) or another person may assign their metaphysical reflections to the hard facts (a First Cause based on other, philosophical reasoning such as found in Aquinas’ five ways remains a fundamental and rational belief). But no one has said, and Catholicism does not require, somehow inserting God into the actual science itself any more than it does to explain how a car engine runs.

I don’t get where there’s a problem. The way I see it is that all of creation is made in the image of God. Everything imitates Him in some way. The universes apparent self-subsistence imitates Gods absolute Self-Subsistence. I was thinking the other day how amazing it is that all life originated from one thing (I’m not sure what that thing is but I mean the first living matter). Life itself imitates God’s creative act (from Unity to multiplicity).

There is no “RCC Version.” And there are, contrary to the party line, differing theories of evolution. While the theory of evolution may be fact, the mechanism of natural selection does not enjoy the same privileged status. And the opposition isn’t strictly religious: Lynn Margulis, for example, is a completely secular scientist who has leveled some rather interesting criticism of neo-Darwinism and offered an equally intriguing alternative.

Yes, this seems to confirm what I said in my previous post. The scientific theory has no need of the “god” hypothesis, whereas the RCC version has it as an intrinsic motivator. That’s why it’s disingenuous.

Again, I don’t know where you’re getting this idea of a “RCC version”. The Church holds no definitive position on evolution and has never proposed its own take on it. It only denounces those who would use it towards the ends of eliminating God from the picture of creation altogether (creation meaning the universe as a whole.) Individual Catholics are free to hold a wide variety of views on evolution, including the view I outlined which does not conflict with mainstream evolutionary theory in any way whatsoever.

That’s not the fine tuning argument - the fine tuning argument is that those laws were created with the purpose of the subsequent creation of intelligent life; that if the laws were more than very slightly different, life could not exist. It’s a fallacious argument, of course.

That’s pretty much exactly what I said. And it is not a fallacious argument. It is as much a fact as evolution, despite what Victor Stenger might say. Why don’t you hear what Dr. Luke Barnes, a post-doctoral researcher at the Institute for Astronomy in Zurich, Switzerland has to say about that? If fine tuning weren’t viewed as a problem by materialists, we wouldn’t see so much focus being placed on multiverse theories, which are, thus far, the only plausible materialistic solution to the “problem.”

How do we not? We are physical beings, subject to the laws of physics. I’d be interested to learn in what manner you think we contravenve those laws.

Oh, you materialists. :rolleyes: Reducing everything to the laws of physics. We are, to the best of our knowledge, the only thing in the universe capable of denying its nature; acting against instinct; exercising free will. I really didn’t think I was going to have to spell it out.

I’m saying that no evidence of any supernatural influence on the naturalistic process described in the theory can be found. Therefore it is most appropriate, for reasons of parsimony and simplicity, to assume that no such influence exists.

The theory of evolution is not concerned with abiogenesis et al, you’re right. But that’s not the point (those phenomena have their own (immature as yet, but still supported by limited evidence) scientific theories and hypotheses. Again, God is not required).

The point is that - apparently - the RCC allows its followers to accept evolution. Only it’s not evolution, it’s a Catholic hijacking of evolution where an unnecessary supernatural entity is inserted. This is why saying that evolution is acceptable is disingenuous - because it implies that the theory of evolution is acceptable, when in fact it’s a bastardised version with an unsubstantiated hypothetical add-on.

There is no “RCC version” of evolutionary theory. Rather, the science on the matter is what it is, and one person may assign their own metaphysical assumptions and baggage to the hard facts (the atheist saying a First Cause is redundant, though it is manifestly not so) or another person may assign their metaphysical reflections to the hard facts (a First Cause based on other, philosophical reasoning such as found in Aquinas’ five ways remains a fundamental and rational belief). But no one has said, and Catholicism does not require, somehow inserting God into the actual science itself any more than it does to explain how a car engine runs.

Then I’m mistaken - I heard a story where the Pope apparently “accepted” evolution - only it turned out it wasn’t the scientific theory, it was the “… and God did it” version. I may have been misinformed.

Regardless, the uncomfortable fact remains that the RCC appears - although not in documented form it seems - to accept both Creationism and the evidence-based alternative, despite the fact that they are mutually exclusive.

Okay - I should have clarified “RCC version” - I meant the version apparently publicly accepted by the Pope, who speaks for the RCC. Apologies for any confusion.

Again, I don’t know where you’re getting this idea of a “RCC version”. The Church holds no definitive position on evolution and has never proposed its own take on it. It only denounces those who would use it towards the ends of eliminating God from the picture of creation altogether (creation meaning the universe as a whole.) Individual Catholics are free to hold a wide variety of views on evolution, including the view I outlined which does not conflict with mainstream evolutionary theory in any way whatsoever.

No, it doesn’t conflict, it’s just baseless.

That’s pretty much exactly what I said. And it is not a fallacious argument. It is as much a fact as evolution, despite what Victor Stenger might say. Why don’t you hear what Dr. Luke Barnes, a post-doctoral researcher at the Institute for Astronomy in Zurich, Switzerland has to say about that? If fine tuning weren’t viewed as a problem by materialists, we wouldn’t see so much focus being placed on multiverse theories, which are, thus far, the only plausible materialistic solution to the “problem.”

Exactly why do you consider that “fine tuning” points to the existence of a supernatural creator? Just because it’s incredibly unlikely? It’s a common trope amongst the religious that materialists see the “fine tuning” argument as problematic. It’s not true. Multiverse theories are not a defence mechanism.

Oh, you materialists. :rolleyes: Reducing everything to the laws of physics.

Until it’s shown there’s something else, it would be foolish to do otherwise.

We are, to the best of our knowledge, the only thing in the universe capable of denying its nature; acting against instinct; exercising free will. I really didn’t think I was going to have to spell it out.

Free will? We don’t have any. We are physical creatures, made up of particles, operating due to electro-chemical processes which are influenced by the physical world. If you can describe the mechanism by which we are able to overcome the laws of physics, you’re up for a Nobel prize.

Nothing you’ve said here shows that we act against the laws of the universe.

The pope does not speak for the Catholic Church on matters of science.

No, it doesn’t conflict, it’s just baseless.

There is absolutely no difference in the theory. There is a difference in the metaphysical interpretation, neither of which has any more solid base than the other. Materialism makes unprovable assumptions just as well as theism. Metaphysics are unavoidable. See Stephen Jay Gould’s “Non-Overlapping Magisteria.”

Exactly why do you consider that “fine tuning” points to the existence of a supernatural creator? Just because it’s incredibly unlikely? It’s a common trope amongst the religious that materialists see the “fine tuning” argument as problematic. It’s not true. Multiverse theories are not a defence mechanism.

I’m not arguing that it necessarily does, although the opinion of myself and many others is that it does. But what is an undeniable fact is that had any one of the numerous constants set at the Big Bang differed by an nigh-incomprehensibly small degree, we would not be here having this conversation. And yes, multiverse proponents have said that it’s the only viable materialistic explanation for the fine tuning of our universe.

As for why I believe it does point to a creator, several other things influence this perspective, among them: a) personal experience, b) study of philosophy, c) historicity of Judaism/Christianity, e) documented miracles/apparitions, f) the foresight of the Church, and numerous others.

Until it’s shown there’s something else, it would be foolish to do otherwise.

The mind that’s making your arguments doesn’t obey the laws of physics.

Free will? We don’t have any. We are physical creatures, made up of particles, operating due to electro-chemical processes which are influenced by the physical world. If you can describe the mechanism by which we are able to overcome the laws of physics, you’re up for a Nobel prize.

The mind is not a physical thing and is, hence, not subject to the laws of physics. Your body is subject to the law of physics.

Denial of free will is self-refuting. If you don’t have any choice but to think what you’re thinking, why should I believe you? You couldn’t possibly come to any other conclusion right or wrong.

Nothing you’ve said here shows that we act against the laws of the universe.

The ability to analyze and comprehend the universe and make choices based on reason is not inherent in any law of physics.

So Catholics are free to believe in the scientific theory of evolution, sans deity, if they wish? Okay.

There is absolutely no difference in the theory. There is a difference in the metaphysical interpretation, neither of which has any more solid base than the other. Materialism makes unprovable assumptions just as well as theism.

Perhaps, but materialistic science has been shown to work, and to tell us useful and reliable things about the world. The same cannot be said of of religious belief.

Metaphysics are unavoidable. See Stephen Jay Gould’s “Non-Overlapping Magisteria.”

I know of it, it’s flawed by the assumption that there is more than one viable “magisteria.”

I’m not arguing that it necessarily does, although the opinion of myself and many others is that it does. But what is an undeniable fact is that had any one of the numerous constants set at the Big Bang differed by an nigh-incomprehensibly small degree, we would not be here having this conversation. And yes, multiverse proponents have said that it’s the only viable materialistic explanation for the fine tuning of our universe.

Which ones? Not the majority, as far as I’m aware. “Coincidence” is a perfectly viable materialisic explanation.

As for why I believe it does point to a creator, several other things influence this perspective, among them: a) personal experience,

Which has been shown to be an unreliable indicator of truth

b) study of philosophy,

Which has not been shown to be a reliable indicator of truth

c) historicity of Judaism/Christianity,

Which has not been shown to be a reliable indicator of truth

e) documented miracles/apparitions,

Which have been shown to be an unreliable indicator of truth.

… wait. What happened to d)?

f) the foresight of the Church,

Example? And how does foresight prove the existence of a creator?

and numerous others.

If you say so. Your list so far is effectively empty though.

The mind that’s making your arguments doesn’t obey the laws of physics.

Well it does, because my “mind” is a product of the processes of my brain, which is a physical entity. Therefore it obeys the laws of physics.

The mind is not a physical thing and is, hence, not subject to the laws of physics. Your body is subject to the law of physics.

If you consider the mind to be non-physical, you surely have some rationale. Let’s hear it. And while you’re at it: can you explain how the non-physical mind influences the physical brain? What mechanism does it use? Where does the mind reside? How does it connect with our brain? Where’s your evidence?

Denial of free will is self-refuting. If you don’t have any choice but to think what you’re thinking, why should I believe you? You couldn’t possibly come to any other conclusion right or wrong.

Ultimately that’s true. But it doesn’t mean that what I’m saying is just as likely to be false as true. My thoughts are based on what works and what doesn’t, what follows logically and what doesn’t, what hypotheses are based on evidence, and what aren’t. These are all valid inputs into the brain process. Some brains are predisposed to critical thought, others aren’t. I contend that yours is one of the latter, mine is one of the former.

So denial of free will is not self-refuting. A lack of free will is not the same thing as random thoughts emanating as a result of neurons firing haphazardly.

Don’t get me wrong - I feel like I’ve got free will. But I also know that, to the best of our knowledge and in the total absence of any evidence to the contrary, it’s almost certainly just an illusion. And this is being confirmed by advances in neuroscience.

The ability to analyze and comprehend the universe and make choices based on reason is not inherent in any law of physics.

Yes it is - the brain does all that, and it’s a physical entity acting on physical inputs. To the absolute best of our knowledge. The “sense” that this may not be so is not a reliable indicator.

Hello, Wanstronian! Good to you’re still kicking!

The RCC does not believe in “supernatural meddling.” It believes that God moves everything (except our own morality), in all places, at all times. I see you still think we do our own thing.

Evolution is a scientific theory which stands on its own merits without unnecessary supernatural intervention.

Really? What is it about “evolution” that makes it causal?

Therefore it is at best disingenuous to declare that “evolution” is acceptable to the RCC.

It is acceptable at the explicate level, which as we know is largely illusionary anyway.

Aside from this sneaky wordplay, it’s also highly confusing. Creation and “Evolution” (the RCC version) can’t logically both be acceptable. So which is “true” in the eyes of the Church?

There’s no problem here. Creation was God’s initial step in configuring space into the universe. Evolution is God’s continuing steps in configuring, and re-configuring space into more and more perfect material things. Material things are configurations of space - or more precisely, s-points - that appear to us, on the explicate level, as material things.

God bless,
jd

Wanstronian:

Actually, they just stop short at some arbitrary point, don’t go any further, and don’t say why.

The theory of evolution (the real one, not the RCC version) provides, with a huge amount of evidence and in great detail, an entirely natural explanation for a phenomenon that was previously superficially explained by “God did it.” In that sense, the theory makes God redundant. It’s not proof he/she/it wasn’t involved, but it does show why he/she/it isn’t required.

And it does this How? By postulating a dozen redundant abiogenesis hypotheses?

That’s not the fine tuning argument - the fine tuning argument is that those laws were created with the purpose of the subsequent creation of intelligent life; that if the laws were more than very slightly different, life could not exist. It’s a fallacious argument, of course.

Yep. I believe that all of them came about by pure chance, then, also by pure chance, coincided. A lot of very highly important “pure chance” events taking place here, aren’t there?

How do we not? We are physical beings, subject to the laws of physics. I’d be interested to learn in what manner you think we contravenve those laws.

Actually, we don’t. God does. He is the ultimate Algorithm Maker, if you will.

God bless,
jd

I’m going to answer your last replies but then I’m out of this conversation. It seems you’re getting a little hostile, in a passive-aggressive way, and I’m not here to fight over whose brain is better evolved.

I explained perfectly well what I meant in my first post. But to recap: Beyond the initial act of creation (which would have “preceded”, for lack of a better word, the Big Bang) we are not required to posit any additional direct action on God’s part in the development of the universe.

Perhaps, but materialistic science has been shown to work, and to tell us useful and reliable things about the world. The same cannot be said of of religious belief.

Science tells us useful things about how to predict and manipulate the world. To name a few of the practically useful and beneficial aspects that are provided by religion which cannot be produced by scientific inquiry: a) a sense of objective purpose b) a sense of objective meaning c) an objective moral order d) solace. These are only a few.

I know of it, it’s flawed by the assumption that there is more than one viable “magisteria.”

Your assumption that there is not is flawed. Scientific data on its own can be little more than numbers. Even the statement “God is not necessary” is a metaphysical reading, not implicit in any scientific observation. Further, your assertion that there is NOT more than one viable magisteria (the valid one being science) is not a scientific but a philosophical statement, and thus invalidates itself.

Which ones? Not the majority, as far as I’m aware. “Coincidence” is a perfectly viable materialisic explanation.

If you think coincidence is a plausibly sufficient explanation for the fine tuning of our universe, well… I would have to say you’re at least as naive as a theist.

Which has been shown to be an unreliable indicator of truth.

And yet everyone depends on it for their understanding of truth, nonbelievers included.

Which has not been shown to be a reliable indicator of truth

And yet science itself both begins and ends with it: speculation as to the meaning or implications of scientific discoveries, even if the given speculation is that there is no meaning to them, is philosophical; not scientific. Science cannot speak to meaning or lack thereof.

Which has not been shown to be a reliable indicator of truth

It is a reliable indicator of the truth of the reality of its superficial claims, i.e. the existence of Jesus, the origins of the Church… in the Old Testament, stories which were previously thought to be fabrications have been vindicated via archaeology (the story of the Hittites, for example).

Which have been shown to be an unreliable indicator of truth.

But many of which science has failed to explain, despite attempts to do so.

… wait. What happened to d)?

I’m honestly not sure. I must have lost my place.

Example? And how does foresight prove the existence of a creator?

Humanae Vitae, for a recent example. Augustine and Aquinas’ philosophies, which prefigured and provided grounds for Christian acceptance of such discoveries as evolution. The Big Bang theory being formulated by a Catholic priest. These things don’t “prove” the existence of a creator; they are anecdotal data which help to strengthen conviction. I would not argue that this is scientifically reasonable, but no one makes every decision of belief in his life based on scientific proof. You do not decide who you will marry or befriend based on the scientific proof of their character. Decisions about persons are made intuitively, with the help of reason. Any attempt to do otherwise will undoubtedly prove socially disastrous.

If you say so. Your list so far is effectively empty though.

It is empty to the person who limits their perception to materialism.

Well it does, because my “mind” is a product of the processes of my brain, which is a physical entity. Therefore it obeys the laws of physics.

Where’s the scientific proof for that? As any good scientist knows, correlation does not equal causation, and neuroscience allows for a range of interpretations. You still fail to appreciate the huge role philosophy/metaphysics plays in scientific interpretation.

If you consider the mind to be non-physical, you surely have some rationale. Let’s hear it. And while you’re at it: can you explain how the non-physical mind influences the physical brain? What mechanism does it use? Where does the mind reside? How does it connect with our brain? Where’s your evidence?

Again, I cannot provide anything that will satisfy you because you are determined to limit everything to material explanation. Any rationale I give you, you will reject because it does not follow the rules of observational science.

Ultimately that’s true. But it doesn’t mean that what I’m saying is just as likely to be false as true. My thoughts are based on what works and what doesn’t, what follows logically and what doesn’t, what hypotheses are based on evidence, and what aren’t. These are all valid inputs into the brain process. Some brains are predisposed to critical thought, others aren’t. I contend that yours is one of the latter, mine is one of the former.

I contend that you’re rather presumptuous and pompous. You have not presented any objection or idea that I myself have not had before, and no data of which I was unaware or do not comprehend. I was not always a religious believer. What you fail to understand is that a Christian, or a person of virtually any other religious stripe, can comprehend the workings of the universe in just as objective and critical a way as you; they simply also believe there is something beyond it which cannot be detected by our rationale alone. And your embrace of the results of the critical thinking of others does not make you, yourself, a great critical thinker. When you’ve contributed as much to our understanding of the world or the human person as Georges Lemaitre or Francis Collins, I might take your insult seriously. Such passive-aggressive remarks as these are unbecoming and, honestly, make you look a little insecure to me. They are also the reason I will not continue to dialogue with you.

So denial of free will is not self-refuting. A lack of free will is not the same thing as random thoughts emanating as a result of neurons firing haphazardly.

Don’t get me wrong - I feel like I’ve got free will. But I also know that, to the best of our knowledge and in the total absence of any evidence to the contrary, it’s almost certainly just an illusion. And this is being confirmed by advances in neuroscience.

If you are wrong, you would never know it or see it. Again, all physical data requires metaphysical interpretation. These interpretations are not, themselves, scientific. If you have no free will, your thought processes are as blind as mine, and hence, unable to detect or correct error. You must also, then, accept that there may be modes of perception unavailable to you which may be available to others and which, even if they were true and valid, you would be unable to understand. Just because you understand the mechanical function of something does not mean you comprehend the entire reality of it. If that’s all you perceive in it, you have no way of proving that your perception is true.

Neuroscience is not confirming any such thing. Many neuroscientists believe it is, but it is a question that lies beyond the scope of their discipline. I don’t have time to get into it, but the attempt to address free will scientifically is a failed enterprise based on a fallacy. In short, free will requires something that transcends known physical laws. Looking for it in the physical world is foolish. The ability to manipulate or alter the human brain and its processes does not prove that there is not a free will controlling it; only that outside forces can interfere with it.

Science speaks in numbers. Once implications are placed upon it, including materialistic ones, it has left the realm of objective science. Your entire argument is self-defeating and demonstrates a naivete that belies your claim to superior critical thinking skills.

Feel free to respond, but do be aware that I will not be replying any further.

:thumbsup: Faith in neuroscience is fashionable but unrealistic because it is self-destructive!

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