evolution and Genesis Fall narrative

I am having some involuntary doubts about the Fall account.

as I understand it, Adam and Eve are two historical persons to whom we are all related, and their fall caused the death and disorder of the natural world

but humans didn’t even exist for most of evolutionary history, which involves much death

maybe evolution is correct

maybe evolution isnt correct

it is correct.

A couple of weeks ago (in a thread that asked whether, if the Fall had not occurred, the earth would not have become hopelessly overcrowded) I postulated that the “death” that is incurred by the Fall is in fact supernatural death - the loss of the supernatural life that God “breathed” into human beings which makes us unique among animals, “in the image and likeness of God.” So then if our first parents had not sinned, at the end of their natural lives they would have simply passed into the life of Eternity, as Our Blessed Mother did. So our pre-human parents would have died a natural death, not losing a relationship with God because it had not been given them yet. Our human parents were given that ability to have a relationship with God, which they destroyed by their sin, which was a rejection of Him (which is what any sin is). God in His mercy makes it possible for that relationship to be restored, so that we can once again live in relationship with Him, both during and after our natural lives.

This is obviously not Church teaching, but it is, I believe, completely compatible with the Church’s teaching. Perhaps it helps you sort out your questions?

What animates any living being is a soul. Contrary to what we learn on TV, every living being, even plants have souls. The difference is that human beings were created with immortal souls while animals and plants souls exist only as long as they do, so when their bodies die, their life force/soul is no more. Before human beings, all things were engendered, lived and died. Humans were to be immortal in both body and soul, but when we fell from grace that gift was blighted by physical death.

As for the world being overpopulated if humans didn’t die, NHInsider, this idea doesn’t take into account the fact that reproduction is a choice not automatic and wisdom about having children would have been perfect instead of imperfect as it is now. This is not to say that people shouldn’t have children, just that we aren’t always intelligent about it nor morally right in the way we reproduce.

Can’t speak to the question as it wasn’t mine in the first place. . . .

Ah, I read over your thread too quickly. :blush: Still, it’s a valid question with a reasonable answer, yes?

yes that is helpful

so it sounds like we are saying that although the world, pre-fall, was in “a state of journeying”, and involved natural death, there is nothing evil about natural death (of our pre-human ancestors and of other animals)?

I’m not sure the answer works - it presumes that by some form of “perfect” continence, the number of new people born would never exceed the earth’s capacity, even if there were no reduction by natural death. Which would require that after some number of generations, reproduction would end, and the number of human beings in the universe would be fixed and static, and the commandment to “be fruitful and multiply” be terminated. It also perhaps requires that animals not be consumed for food (because that requires death - but then, so does the consumption of plants, actually, unless we posit that the Lord instructed Adam and Eve to eat only the fruits of the plants in the Garden, and how many human beings could the planet support on fruits and nuts alone . . . you see the logical difficulties this entails?)

That would be my conclusion, yes. Nor, by extension, of our own natural death, since as St. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15 (see especially v: 44-50)

It is sown a natural body, it shall rise a spiritual body. If there be a natural body, there is also a spiritual body, as it is written: The first man Adam was made into a living soul; the last Adam into a quickening spirit. Yet that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; afterwards that which is spiritual. The first man was of the earth, earthly: the second man, from heaven, heavenly. Such as is the earthly, such also are the earthly: and such as is the heavenly, such also are they that are heavenly. Therefore as we have borne the image of the earthly, let us bear also the image of the heavenly. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot possess the kingdom of God: neither shall corruption possess incorruption. (DRB)

I do see, but what none of us can see is what God had in mind for humanity as we grew in numbers. He may have wanted us to inhabit other worlds, which would explain the desire so many have of finding other inhabitable planets. Whatever God intended, we cannot know that now since it didn’t happen. We can only speculate. :slight_smile:

That is correct catholic teaching. The encyclical on origin of the humans says that Catholics are not free to believe in polygenism for the reason that the pope at that time was unable to find a way to reconcile the doctrine of Original sin with other theories of the development of man.

In the NAB bible, the book of Tobit chapter 8, which is taken to be 2nd canon, there is the statement that “you made Adam and Eve; and from these two the human race descended”
usccb.org/nab/bible/tobit/tobit8.htm

However, when I look at my Greek copy – as the book of Tobit is not found in hebrew – it is found in a different verse number – eg:6.
But it unmistakably says “εκ τουτων εγενηθη το ανθρωπων” – out of these, came to be mankind offspring.

So, In any event, other scriptural books treat Adam as a single human figure from whom the whole race descended in a consistent fashion w/ church teaching.

but humans didn’t even exist for most of evolutionary history, which involves much death

That is correct, and even in the book of Genesis – Man was made last, at the end of the seven days of creation. (not literal days.). The entire earth awaited him to tend it, and put it in order.

That death existed before – is not really a problem. God said to Adam that the fruit was to be his food – therefore, it is clear that the fruit had to die in order for Adam to eat it. Not only that, God in proclaiming the fertility of the natural world spoke about the seeds inside fruit causing the reproduction – hence, Jesus’ statement about what a seed is to do (die) in order to bear fruit is what you need to look at carefully:

Unless a seed fall into the ground and die, it remains but a single grain – but if it die, it will yield a rich harvest.

This isn’t the death of the curse that God threatens Adam with – for that is “die to death” – eg: a double death. It goes even beyond the death of his seed which is required for fertility of his wife. The blessing of fertility includes a self sacrifice (no matter how small it may seem to us now.)

*Immortality *is a result of God’s friendship. Jesus himself says “I am the resurrection”.
Adam and Eve could not loose control of their body to death and decay for as long as God was with them; He made up for their necessary deficiencies. This is the same that will occur in Heaven – Jesus will make up for our necessary deficiencies allowing us to live eternally.

I don’t know exactly what paradise was supposed to be for Adam and Eve if they had not sinned. What it means that the world fell with them is something that Evolution, or even the Fossil record without Evolution, requires us to consider very carefully.

Peace of Christ.

no where does Catholic doctrine hold that there was no death in the natural world before the creation of the first human beings. death is part of the natural order of animals and lower life forms. the Faith has never denied that. Adam and Eve suffered certainly supernatural death, that is, the soul’s separation from relationship with God, and the consequences of the fall may have shortened the intended lifespan of human beings, because of sinful practices of a sinful humanity, and we can infer that had they never sinned, the first humans would have remained living, body and soul, in the presence of the Lord, but that does not speak either way to life and death cycle of lower organisms.

interesting.

that’s what my friend thinks also.

we both thought of Elton John’s “it’s the circle of life”!

Maybe not - see idvolution.org

Not really – there are other ways to solve the problem – such as an earth that gets bigger and gravity weaker, etc. But what you have said is already anticipated in the idea of the new heavens and earth that Jesus wants us to live in. He says:

Matth 22:28 At the resurrection therefore, whose wife of the seven shall she be? For they all had her.
Matth 22:29 And Jesus answering, said to them: You err, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God.
Matth 22:30 For in the resurrection they shall neither marry nor be married, but shall be as the angels of God in heaven.

It also perhaps requires that animals not be consumed for food (because that requires death - but then, so does the consumption of plants, actually, unless we posit that the Lord instructed Adam and Eve to eat only the fruits of the plants in the Garden, and how many human beings could the planet support on fruits and nuts alone . . . you see the logical difficulties this entails?)

And Jesus ate fish after his resurrection from the dead. Although Seventh day Adventists seem to argue that Adam was to be a vegetarian, God never forbade him to eat animals. Again, though, if God were supporting the body in immortality – the number of fruits and nuts would not be a problem. A single loaf of bread and two fish fed 5000 people – manna (an insect product, like honey) was provided in the desert.
It isn’t as if God hasn’t already demonstrated that he can make food go as far as needed – whereas your position is that of the Israelites in the desert: Can God make food?

That would be my conclusion, yes. Nor, by extension, of our own natural death, since as St. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15 (see especially v: 44-50)

St. Paul talks about a definite evil there – the evil of corruption. Not all dead bodies will rise. Our natural death – is not natural when it includes corruption.

And, if you study the saints – you will find out about “incorruption” of the body being a sign of sainthood; For some of his faithful, God will not allow them to experience corruption. There is a stopping of the body – to be sure, it is “dead” in that sense – but they are as if sleeping, not rotting.

I just wanted to expand on my first response in which I said “this idea doesn’t take into account the fact that reproduction is a choice not automatic and wisdom about having children would have been perfect instead of imperfect as it is now. This is not to say that people shouldn’t have children, just that we aren’t always intelligent about it nor morally right in the way we reproduce”.

We cannot assume that when God told Adam and Eve to be fruitful and fill the earth that that meant that immortal human beings were to breed like rabbits ad infinitum. I believe Tolkien dealt with this problem quite nicely in LOTR in the way his Elves reproduced. They had children but not one every year of their long lives, but one every few centuries. With a population that never ages and never dies self-restraint would be a hallmark of marriage. Couples would still be self-giving and open to children they simply might not see the need for nightly/weekly marital relations. Indeed, the conjugal act might be a special event between spouses, celebrated with feasting and merriment–something we fallen, pedantic modern humans seem to have lost. Anyway, the way such things would have been viewed might have been very different from the way we see them from our respective. That’s all I’m trying to say.

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