Hi, so my favorite idea to reconcile evolutionary history with the fall of man is that Eden was a parallel dimension, and when we were expelled from Eden, we ended up in a slightly different place with things like death, mosquitos, etc. Also maybe the history here is different, and in this universe our bodies have an evolutionary history that traces back to apes.
Anyway, would believing this theory be heretical or schismatical or something like that? TIA
I doubt it-as it’s just speculation anyway. But for an alternative view I’m enjoying, to my own surprise, many aspects of the book, “The Science of God” by Gerald L. Schroeder while admitting to being almost a complete ignoramus about much of this topic. But there’s much in the way of sound science behind it in it IMO, and some strikingly revelatory info if you give it a chance. I’m actually studying it with a couple of people with science backgrounds in biology and physics. We’ll see where it leads anyway.
Whether or not it’s orthodox or heterodox, it is not heresy if you aren’t deliberately opposed to church teaching, and it’s not schismatic if you aren’t setting up your own church to teach it.
As for orthodoxy, I don’t think the question is settled on “what” exactly Eden was. Your solution is creative, but I prefer the simpler approach: the natural environment didn’t change, but human beings — our first parents — and their relationship (or vulnerability) to it did.
I have a few excellent videos by Dr. William Lane Craig and Michael Jones that I have watched on Eden and the historicity of Adam and Eve that I think you may find very useful. They are largely in conformity with Catholic teaching and Catholic’s would do well to interact with the material in them. Also - Pope St. John Paul II himself accepted evolutionary theory so long as the presentation of the theory does not preclude God existing.
Here are the videos -
Dr. William Lane Craig is also publishing a book on the historicity of Adam and Eve which you should be on the lookout for if you want more in depth analysis if the video lectures were insufficient.
That is a very useful approach to the question, especially when considering that many scholars accept that the first 11 chapters of Genesis are mytho-history (historical narrative presented in highly mythological terms to convey certain truths that could not otherwise be conveyed) and therefore should not be taken absolutely literally (i.e. literal tree of the life and tree of the knowledge of good and evil).
So in this scenario was there death before the fall? If not, then evolution couldn’t take place without death. If there was death before the fall… then what did we really lose, we were already dying anyway?
We lost sanctifying grace, and according to tradition we also lost the preternatural gift of immortality, symbolized by the tree of life in scripture. This Catholic Answers tract from 2011 discusses the gifts and implications.
Adam and Eve could have been born to beings anatomically identical to them but lacking human souls and thus lacking personhood. Their parents would have been mortal but Adam and Eve in their pre-sin state would have possessed the gift of immortality.
I suppose. It seems like a real stretch to make eden exist on earth.
But this world isn’t supposed to be our home. We were created for a different world, for heaven. So I find it more consistent that Eden was another world that we were created for, something like heaven.
I’ll throw a little fuel on this fire, simply for entertainment purposes.
When God expelled the couple from the garden, it says:
Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them. – Genesis 3:21
Many people assume that this means animal skins. But if Eden is a non-physical dimension, then this could mean human skins. That is, when they were expelled, they were placed in physical, human bodies. And they lived the rest of their lives clothed in human skin, as we are clothed in human skin.
Just like its English equivalent, the Hebrew word used there for “skin” (עור), could have either meaning–the skin of a man, or the hide of an animal.
They were embarrassed to be seen naked - to have their sexual organs showing so they definitely had bodies. If not what were they embarrassed about enough to want to cloth themselves or what were they covering with fig leaves?
And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were [spiritually] naked [that is, from the moment they ate from the tree, they were disconnected from God]; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons [that is, they covered up their spiritual nakedness with attachment to outward things, just as we do, trying to distract ourselves from emptiness inside by focusing our attention outward on the physical world]. – Genesis 3:7
And the rabbis in the Zohar had a similar interpretation. Here’s what they said about that verse:
“And the eyes of them both were opened…” (Beresheet 3:7). Rabbi Chiya said that they were now opened to know the evils of the world, which they were not aware of up to then. As a result of opening their eyes to evil, they learned that they were naked. Since they lost the sublime luster that enveloped them; it was gone from them and they were left naked of it.
The phrase: “And they sewed fig leaves together” (Ibid.) [means that] they cleaved to the shadows of that tree from which they ate to cover themselves, as the so-called “leaves of the tree,” “And made themselves loincloths.” Rabbi Yosi said: Because they acquired knowledge of this world and became attached to it, they saw that this world was governed by these leaves of the tree. Thus, they made themselves a stronghold to strengthen themselves with these leaves in this world. They became acquainted with all sorts of sorcery and wanted to protect themselves with weapons made from the leaves of the tree.
When Jesus says that the Kingdom of Heaven is near, this could be the parallel dimension of Eden. Now those of us with the Holy Spirit are capable of transitioning closer into Eden or getting little glimpses into it. Also over there we had bodies, but they were better than these bodies we have now that have defects and get old.
@White_Tree that seems very Gnostic (closely related to Kabbalah), and can be used to deny a physical bodily resurrection in the eschaton, but affirm only a spiritual or ethereal one. In that case we are straying into heresy.
Mircea Eliade used to speak of in illud tempore, in another time. It was a phrase used in religions to designate an alternate timeline. Once upon a time. Dreamtime among those who study Australian Aboriginees. The story is not historical in a modern sense, but is truer. This is the Reality, this other time when God is active, our regular life is a poorer reflection of that other time.
Myth of the Eternal Return probably has the most detailed explanation of it.
Possibly. Though just because something “seems Gnostic” that doesn’t mean it’s wrong.
If it were the case that denial of a physical resurrection was a necessary and unavoidable implication of that interpretation, then sure, you could claim the interpretation was inaccurate, or at least heretical. But just because that interpretation could be used to deny a physical resurrection, that doesn’t mean such a denial is a necessary implication of it.
Similar to what I demonstrated with @BT3241’s example of the verse describing the fig leaves. That verse could mean they had physical bodies. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that. It could mean something else entirely.
Is the interpretation right? Who knows? Is it a little unusual? Sure. But c’mon, you clicked on a thread titled “Eden as Parallel Dimension.” You had to expect things were gonna get a little weird in here.
All I was trying to show is that the idea of Eden as a parallel dimension or other non-physical place is not necessarily precluded by the Scripture, and may even be supported by a particular reading of it.
It’s an interesting idea, I think, even if we can’t know for certain whether or not it’s right.