Garden of Eden, evolution and Original Sin


#1

I believe in evolution: that the world, and all that is in it has evolved over billions of years, and will continue to do so as long as there is a plant to evolve on.

I believe that the story of the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve and the snake which seduced here is part of a ‘creation myth’, a story that the Semites (like almost every other civilisation or community) developed to explain their origins, their value system, and their style of life. We understand that the first 11 books of the Bible are allegorical in this sense. Books 1 and 2 of Genesis give us two versions of the Garden of Eden ‘creation myth’.

This leaves me wondering, if the ‘snake’/Satan was not responsible for introducing evil into the world, where Original Sin originated?


#2

According to the book I mention below…

The Semitic “creation myth” is actually quite unique. Not at all like “every other civilation or community” came up with. The only one I know of that starts with “nothing” and involves a single God creating everything. There are no battles amongst gods, and the heavenly bodies are not themselves gods.

And the 2 versions of the garden of Eden creation myth - Chapter 1 tells us of the Creator God of infinite power - Elohim. Genesis 2 tells us of the God of covenant fatherhood, Yahweh. Different emphasis.

I’d highly recommend the book “A Father Who Keeps His Promises” by Scott Hahn. It goes into a lot of detail about your exact questions and comments. In fact, I often recommend that book even when it doesn’t directly answer anybody’s questions :slight_smile:


#3

Nice:) you got any freebies? The best things in life are free you know;)


#4

You might try this:

salvationhistory.com/online/salvationhistorytrack.cfm

It looks to be similar to Hahn’s book, but it may not be identical.

Hope this helps!


#5

Your entire question is predicated on what you do “not” believe about our origins.

However, you are asking this question on a Catholic website and the Catholic Church teaches that which you do not hold to be true.

So, therefore, your question is odd. After all, the replies you get will be that you are mistaken regarding Genesis, our first parents, and Original Sin.

The encyclical Humani Generis may be helpful as well as the Catechism for understanding what the Catholic Church teaches on this subject.


#6

My understanding of what an allegory is is that it is a true story where certain elements of the story are represented with symbols.

For example, in the Creation story, Adam and Eve represent our first parents, the man and woman from whom we are all descended. We don’t know what their real names were, or what sort of language they had. The serpent represents the Devil.

Somehow, in what way we don’t know, the Devil communicated with our first mother and induced her to disobey God in some way, which is represented by the taking of the “fruit” (outcome?) of a “forbidden tree” (something was occurring spontaneously that they weren’t supposed to participate in?) . She then caused our first father, her husband (whom we call Adam), to share in the same sin.

When I was younger, I used to think that maybe she tapped a gas well, set it on fire, and then, after she showed the pretty flames to Adam, he started playing with it and accidentally burned down the Garden of Eden, thus explaining the “sword of fire” that evicted them at the end of the story - it also explains why the entire region is desert country today).

The disobedience itself, whatever form that took, is what caused the human race to become estranged from God, which is really what Original Sin is, essentially - the lack of a relationship with God.

As I get older, I realize that whatever our first parents did was much more serious than either taking a piece of fruit or setting a fire - whatever they did was a premeditated act of wilful disobedience towards God; not something that could happen by accident or through thoughtlessness.

The fact that we don’t remember what the sin was isn’t so important, though, as long as we keep in mind that all sin creates a distance between ourselves and God.


#7

The same book I mentioned above gives one perspective on this.

The serpent was not a snake, but a dragon. Life threatening. The dragon told Eve to “eat the fruit and you will not die.” Do as I say and you won’t die. Or in other words, disobey ME and you WILL die.

Adam’s sin was actually many sins. Told by God to guard the garden (“tend”) Adam lets the dragon threaten his spouse both physically, and spiritually (by telling her to disobey God). Adam sits there and watches it all happen. He could have put his faith in God and called on God for assistance - God, make haste to help me - but he didn’t.

Adam could also have sacrificed his own mortal life to save both Eve’s soul and his own, but he doesn’t do that either. He is unwilling to sacrifice something material (his mortal body) for something spiritual (obeying God).

Christ, as the new Adam, calls on the Father and ultimately sacrifices everything in the way that Adam could not.

That’s all I remember, but there’s a more detailed explanation in Hahn’s book.

:slight_smile:


#8

That’s a perspective I hadn’t considered before. Thanks!! :slight_smile:

Adam’s sin was actually many sins. Told by God to guard the garden (“tend”) Adam lets the dragon threaten his spouse both physically, and spiritually (by telling her to disobey God). Adam sits there and watches it all happen. He could have put his faith in God and called on God for assistance - God, make haste to help me - but he didn’t.

Adam could also have sacrificed his own mortal life to save both Eve’s soul and his own, but he doesn’t do that either. He is unwilling to sacrifice something material (his mortal body) for something spiritual (obeying God).

Christ, as the new Adam, calls on the Father and ultimately sacrifices everything in the way that Adam could not.

That’s all I remember, but there’s a more detailed explanation in Hahn’s book.

:slight_smile:

Great points!! I like Scott Hahn - I should get that book; it sounds very interesting. :thumbsup:


#9

First of all, I’m so sorry that you don’t believe in the Biblical account of Creation, and our first Father and Mother’s fall from grace. On account of this fall, Christ needed to come down to once again open the gates of Heaven and to heal this rift that this first disobedience caused. Because of Christ’s coming, we now have the amazing gifts of Confession, Holy Communion, the Sacraments and especially the gift of our Catholic Faith. I had not gone to Confession personally for around 15 years, and when I finally did go through the encouragement of another convert to the Catholic Faith, my life was changed forever. The joy that I have now, I can’t believe that I lived without this gift for so many years. It makes me at times wonder if perhaps the lack of people going to Confession has caused so much depression these days - just an observation…
While looking at the whole Bible, the Old Testament is perfectly fulfilled in the New Testament. If you look at Genesis 3:15, God says to Eve “I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.” Then, if you look at the New Testament, even Jesus at times referred to His own Mother as “woman” such as in St. John 19:26, when Jesus is hanging from the Cross, “When Jesus therefore had seen His Mother and the disciple standing Whom He loved, He saith to His Mother: Woman, behold thy son.” We believe that Mary is the new Eve of the New Testament, and as Jesus gave Mary to John as his Mother, she is everyone’s Mother as well. In Revelations, it is fitting in that it talks about the Woman again, at the very end of the Bible. In Revelations 12:1, it says “And a great sign appeared in Heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars:” We believe that Mary, the woman, is the Queen of Heaven.
So, we enjoy the beauty, truth and perfect fulfilllment of everything pertaining to the Woman of the Bible, and every other teaching that we believe in that is found throughout God’s Holy Word.

I do encourage you to read Dr. Scott Hahn’s book. He is such a great resource in the Catholic Church:) and in understanding Biblical principles.


#10

I shall go back to sources again, but I would be interested in your own view. I am aware I am on (and have been on) a Catholic website. Why do you say that 'the Catholic Church teaches that which * do not hold to be true"? Does that mean that the Church teaches intelligent design rather than evolution? or what?*


#11

Carol,
here is a good beginning for you:

Concerning human evolution, the Church has a more definite teaching. It allows for the possibility that man’s body developed from previous biological forms, under God’s guidance, but it insists on the special creation of his soul. Pope Pius XII declared that “the teaching authority of the Church does not forbid that, in conformity with the present state of human sciences and sacred theology, research and discussions . . . 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—[but] the Catholic faith obliges us to hold that souls are immediately created by God” (Pius XII, Humani Generis 36). So whether the human body was specially created or developed, we are required to hold as a matter of Catholic faith that the human soul is specially created; it did not evolve, and it is not inherited from our parents, as our bodies are.

While the Church permits belief in either special creation or developmental creation on certain questions, it in no circumstances permits belief in atheistic evolution.

catholic.com/library/adam_eve_and_evolution.asp


#12

We also have to believe that the whole human race is descended from one set of parents.

From “Humani Generis”, paragraph 37

37. 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. Now it is no no way apparent how such an opinion can be reconciled with that which the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the Teaching Authority of the Church propose with regard to original sin, which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam and which, through generation, is passed on to all and is in everyone as his own.[12]

Nita


#13

Whether one must believe in the sort of monogenism mentioned in Humani Generis is open to debate, in part because the requirements for papal infallibility are not met. In addition, many theologians these days (unlike the 1950s of Humani Generis) would argue for a compatibility of original sin and humanity having more than two ancestors.


#14

The Church does not attempt to teach science.

We are free to believe whatever we want about the origins of life, with the exceptions that we must believe

  • that Adam and Eve are one man and one woman,

  • that they were the very first human beings,

  • that all human beings who have ever lived are descended from them,

  • that God created everything that exists (including the Devil) and that, at the time that He created each thing, it was good. (The Devil did not rebel against God until later.)


#15

when you study human anatomy and esp embryology, the way that the human body comes together and the way human structures are related to equivalents in other animals provide a convincing argument for evolution
for example there are certain muscles derived from panniculus carnosus esp in the face, which in other animals cover most or all of the body

as for original sin, I accept we all have the tendency to sin - the origin of that tendency doesn’t matter to me


#16

But you have failed to say anything of substance. Is there anyone who doesnt believe in “evolution”? It is the specifics of the nature of man and his immortality as they relate to evolution which are controversial - you havent even begun to address those issues with this statement and it just leaves one thinking, “so what?”

This leaves me wondering, if the ‘snake’/Satan was not responsible for introducing evil into the world, where Original Sin originated?

You appear to have an unusual sense of logic. You accept your opinions of evolution and the origins of Genesis without any particular substance other than your opinion and yet you are wondering about where evil came from? Why not just form an opinion and beleive it - like you did with the first two issues?
You did the same thing on the issue of why Christ allowed schism in the Church, predicating your entire line of reasoning on your OPINION that God has not intervened in keeping the Church unified. You dont demonstrate the ability to distinguish between speculation and reasonable sound assumption.


#17

While the Church permits belief in either special creation or developmental creation on certain questions, it in no circumstances permits belief in atheistic evolution.

special creation = ?
developmental creation = ?
atheistic evolution = ?

Thanks for the link.


#18

Surely you know that more than half of all Americans do not believe in ‘evolution’, and that it is not taught in many state schools, and that in other states it must be taught in conjunction with creation theory?

So ignore the question: I did not ask you to reply. But perhaps you would like to expand on your ‘specifics of the nature of man and his immortality as they relate to evolution’. I am not clear what you are getting at here.

You ask: This leaves me wondering, if the ‘snake’/Satan was not

responsible for introducing evil into the world, where Original Sin originated? – You appear to have an unusual sense of logic. You accept your opinions of evolution and the origins of Genesis without any particular substance other than your opinion and yet you are wondering about where evil came from? Why not just form an opinion and beleive it - like you did with the first two issues?

You did the same thing on the issue of why Christ allowed schism in the Church, predicating your entire line of reasoning on your OPINION that God has not intervened in keeping the Church unified. You dont demonstrate the ability to distinguish between speculation and reasonable sound assumption.

My questions are not based on opinion, they are based on study of materials, a long life of experience and observation, learning from people and the Bible and other resources, and actually thinking about things. I thought about this issue of original sin, and wondered if there were a possible problem if there was not a Garden of Eden and a snake. I do not know what you are going on about, but you seem to be very angry with me.


#19

Ex cathedra proclamations by the Pope are not the only way infallible doctrine is established. In fact it’s the rarity. Pope Pius wasn’t proposing a new infallible doctrine in Humani Generis, he was reaffirming doctrines already in place.

Would you mind giving the names of some of the many theologians that subscribe to polygenism and also their works or writings on how they reconcile it to the 2000 year old teaching of the Church on original sin and to the teaching of Scripture - specifically the following passages.

*Romans 5:15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s *trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. 5:16 And the free gift is not like the effect of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brings justification. 5:17 If, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. 5:18 Then as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men. 5:19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man’s obedience many will be made righteous.
and

*1 Corinthians15:45 Thus it is written, “The first man Adam * (three separate Greek words are used here: first, man, and Adam) *became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 15:46 But it is not the spiritual which is first but the physical, and then the spiritual. 15:47 The first man *was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 15:48 As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven. 15:49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.

Would prefer some links if any of their writings are online.
Thanks,
Nita


#20

Wel, we can slice it and dice it any way that suits our beliefs, but just observing the human race and the history of as little as the last hundred years or so one must be drawn to the conclusion that there is a terrible weakness and inclination to evil in the human race. Whether one chalks it up to Adam and Eve or evolution really doesn’t change that fact. Even if one believes in evolution somewhere in the distant past there must have been a pair that could be called human as opposed to just another apelike creature. The exact blow by blow description of what, why, and how we ended up how we are is never going to be known this side of paradise. The first books of Genesis are as good an explanation as any other one one could write.


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