How does one reconcile theistic evolution with original sin without falling into the dangers of Teilhard?


#1

Polygenism…the denial of Adam and Eve as literal people who transfered the stain of original sin onto their offspring-- therefore, by successive generation, unto us as well.

Some people just outright deny that Adam and Eve were literal people…a postion that I and the Church I belong have strongly rejected…and these people, like Teilhard, therefore reject original sin to accomodate the evolutionary hyposthesis.

This isn’t to say that all people who reject original sin do so for evolutionary compatibility. I think the Orthodox, for example, do not believe in original sin in the same sense that Catholics do for example. Likewise, Jewish believers believe something went wrong in the beginning, even if thisd wrongness it isn’t on the scale of the Catholic doctrine of original sin. Evolution isn’t the issue in this sense.

Nonetheless, other people seem to reject evolution because it, once again, seems to lead toward the conclusion of polygenism. Other passages of Catholic and Orthodox Scriptures seem to likewise deny one of the most powerful evolutionary aspects of the evolutionary hypothesis: death itself.

For example, the doctrinal teachings of the deutero-canonical Book of Wisdom knows that God made man after His image, creating him for immortality (ii, 23), so that death entered the world, apparently, only through the envy of the Devil (ii, 24).

In short…

For God formed man to be imperishable; the image of his own nature he made him. But by the envy of the devil, death entered the world, and they who are in his possession experience it.

It appears that God had no intention for death for man, that humanity would be spared from death if they would follow God’s path. And yet much death must have occured in order for man to have been brought forth by God from pre-existing species.

The two views appear to be irreconcilable as far as I can determine with very little middle ground available. That’s why I say this really is a deep mystery.

Evolution is highly plausible, more than a theory but not quite a fact in the same sense that gravity is a fact. I’m supposing that it’s very possible that we are misunderstading something like how we misunderstood the earth to be the center of the solar system at one time.

I am open to theistic evolution but I am still skeptical. When in doubt, I will default to the historical exegesis of the Scriptures until something more defined is revealed to be reasonably true. I would, however, like to have a good answer for this though.

How does one reconcile theistic evolution with original sin without falling into the dangers of Teilhard?

This is indeed a great mystery. :shrug:

God, what is the answer to this question?


#2

Ah ha a spin-off from the 777 page creation-evolution thread, to make another 555 page creation-evolution thread. :thumbsup: :slight_smile:

After 3+ years of discussing this subject in here, I still don’t have good answers to the theological objections. Plus its late and I’m tired. :yawn: I simply affirm macroevolution, affirm traditional Catholic dogma, and say I don’t know how to completely reconcile. But – as for some suggestions by evangelicals and Catholics on evolution with original sin, Adam/Eve, the Fall:

Adam was a Australopithecine (lived 5 million years ago)
Adam was a Neanderthal (lived about 200,000 to 500,000 years ago)
Adam was an early homo sapiens (lived about 40,000-50,000 years ago)
Adam was created ex nihilo (also part 2) and inserted in the “train of humanity” (and lived about 6,000-10,000 years ago)

And a list I got from Loren Haarsma (physicist for Calvin College) which is nice:


(1) God used evolutionary creation of plants, animals, and some hominids; followed by special creation of Adam & Eve, the parents of all modern humans, in a literal Garden of Eden several tens of thousands of years ago.
(2) God used evolutionary creation, including modern homo sapiens; followed by special creation of Adam & Eve, as representatives of all existing and future humanity, in a literal Garden of Eden.
(3) God used evolutionary creation, including modern homo sapiens; followed by special selection of Adam & Eve, as representatives of all existing and future humanity, in a literal Garden.
(4-6) The same as 1-3 above, except the Garden of Eden story is an allegorical re-telling of some other historical event. The historical details of The Fall are unknown, but it involved revelation from God, choice, and rebellion.
(7) Same as #1 above, but occurring 5 million years ago with the Genesis flood (a local flood) corresponding to the filling of the Mediterranean basin; Abraham (Genesis 12) is a modern person.
(8) God used evolutionary creation, including modern homo sapiens. The story of Adam, Eve and the Garden of Eden is an allegorical version of some actual historical event, in the distant past, where God revealed Himself to a group of humans (perhaps more than two), and the humans rebelled. The Fall was not inevitable, but a choice. Original sin “spread” from this group who received the first “revelation” outward to eventually include all humans.
(9) Same as #8, but the story of the Fall is a telescoping of multiple events of revelation and rebellion in human pre-history.
(10) Same as #9, but taking into account the slow development of hominid intelligence and self-awareness over time. Analogous to the gradual development from the ordinary self-centeredness of an infant into the sinful selfishness of a toddler.
(11) Same as #10, but the eventual sinful state of humanity was inevitable, given the number of opportunities for it to happen.


Numbers (8) to (11) appear to support a form of polygenism. See also his chapter contributions to Perspectives on an Evolving Creation (2003) edited by Keith Miller, all conservative evangelical Christians. The book to get by a conservative Catholic philosopher is Origin of the Human Species by Dennis Bonnette which I need to re-read. Excerpts in the article above. Plus he has two recent articles (he sent them to me) in the New Oxford Review (July/Aug 2007, “Must Human Evolution Contradict Genesis?”) and in Social Justice Review (Sept/Oct 2007, “Did Darwin Prove Genesis a Fairy Tale?”). Bonnette is more conservative than John Haught (Responses to 101 Questions on God and Evolution, God After Darwin, Deeper Than Darwin, Is Nature Enough?).

Phil P


#3

BTW, I have not read Teilhard but have read about him and he seems to affirm more than just polygenism. He has a “pantheistic” view of Catholicism where everyone is evolving to something he calls the “Omega Point.” Kind of freaky New-Age sounding theology, but he was an excellent paleontologist for his day. And he is one of those associated with the notorious “Piltdown Man” forgery that creationists always bring up. :slight_smile:

Phil P


#4

Original sin is the only christian dogma that can be proven by reading the morning paper - G.K. Chesterton


#5

I thought I would try to avoid some controversies concerning him. But you are correct-- he was involved in more than a few controversies.

Nonetheless, I don’t think evolution necessitates pantheism, although some would ascribe evolution to it. Likewise, just because he was involved in forgeries for piltdown man doesn’t necessarilly disprove evolution either-- just as people falsely claming to have seen Noah’s ark doesn’t disprove the possible existence of an actual ark somewhere.

Reducing it to it’s bare minimum, the two key points of contention, as far as I can tell, appear to be the matter of original sin toward God without caving into a polygenism which actually denies the truth the original sin.

I guess I’m trying to get to the heart of the matter on this-- and, God willing, present a coherent theistic evolution model which harmonizes with the Genesis account without throwing away crucial dogma which is necessary for the faithful.

Genesis is not a myth. But it is using symbolic language-- and, I would conjecture, using phenomenological symbolic language, appearing as if recounted from the perspective of man as revealed from the Creator himself.

I’ve been reading on this matter on and off for several years now and would like to share my thoughts on this-- despite claims to the contrary, it is indeed one of the most divisive questions running the gamut of Christian dialogue today. It is late however and I need my sleep.

But tomorrow I’ll present some ideas regarding theistic evolution. Ask St. Augustine to pray for me on this matter too. I’ll need his insight.


#6

:smiley:


#7

You don’t. Theistic evolution is flawed in that it places a theory ahead of Sacred Scipture. Pope Leo XIII quoting St. Augustine said not to depart from the literal and obvious meaning of Sacred Scripture unless by necessity. It is not necessary to depart from the literal and obvious meaning of Genesis. Contrary to what some may think we are still permitted to believe what the Bible says in Genesis. So just believe it. Going by a theory first can lead to error as you have pointed out. Modernism has a bad foothold with theistic evolution because it leads to a flawed way of looking at Scripture. You are forever trying to reconcile Scripture to the latest theory. So believe what the Bible says and let theories come and go like the wind.


#8

Teilhard wrote before moden genetics, a mutation can be so sucessful that a single individual can eventualy be so competitive that he and his descendants will eventually have more sucess and gradually replace the gene pool with their own. Even modern biologist believe there was a genetical Adam and Eve. The first modern woman and the first modern man. There were other men and women but those were the first modern ones. And when they have children with other human beings their unique genes (and the original sin?) were passed to the other ones. Eventually replacing the less successful genes.


#9

I’m surprised drpmjhess (Petrus) hasn’t responded to this topic. I noticed Petrus (drpmjhess) wrote in msg. 46, “…I have a book coming out in May 2008 on Catholicism and science that deals in part with Pierre Teilhard de Chardin…” in the topic Reconciling Evolution with Adam and Eve
forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?p=2771605#post2771605
http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?p=2771605#post2771605
(Interesting read msg. 46 – 73. Humm)

I’d be curious to learn what drpmjhess (Petrus) plans on writing about Teilhard de Chardin. All I can say is that it is unfortunate that Teilhard de Chardin has a swam of New Age and Intelligent Design folks as fans promoting pantheism and panentheism.

I’m not an advocate for pantheism or panetheism. Why? Because it destroys science and dissolves the mystery of God and the real historical truth about Jesus. I love Jesus and the Holy Spirit. :heart:

PETRUS (drpmjhess), why aren’t you participating on this thread since you have claimed you are a Catholic Theologian?

inthecloud, please give me the name of the modern biologist that believes there was a genetical Adam and Eve. There aren’t any biologists that I know that claim what you have written.

Regarding New Age:


#10

As inthecloud suggests, evolution is not necessarily incompatible with monogenism. Monogenism simply requires a belief that all mankind are descended from one man. The Church teaches that the doctrine of Original Sin requires a belief in monogenism, although some theologians disagree.

The Church also teaches that however God developed creation, whether through Big Bang and evolution or other means, He creates each person’s individual soul. The first real man was, therefore the first ensouled man. From this first ensouled man, who also committed the first sin, all mankind is descended. We refer to that man as Adam, but neither the doctrine of Creation or of Original Sin requires that we believe that he lived in Mespotamia 6000 years ago. Whether that first man was the first biological human after a long period of evolution, or created on the spot, or created by God through some other means we can’t even imagine, has no effect whatsoever on the doctrines of Divine Creation or Original Sin. That is my understanding of the teaching of the Catholic Church.

No idea what that has to do with this Teilhard fellow.


#11

TMC, I would like from you a link(s) from the Vatican supporting your above mentioned statements that ‘The Chruch teaches that the doctrine of Original Sin requires a belief in monogenism’ and ‘The Church also teaches that however God developed creation’.


#12

Sure. Humani Generis rejected polygenism see here in para 37:

vatican.va/holy_father/pius_xii/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-xii_enc_12081950_humani-generis_en.html

Which says:

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.

This doesn’t say you have to hold to monogenism, but once you reject polygenism that’s all thats left. Some say the Church doesn’t hold to that, and maybe it doesn’t. I don’t think that monogenism s compelled by the doctrine of Original Sin, but have no problem with it, really, and I don’t find it to be incompatible with evolution.

I assume that the second part of your question refers to the individual creation of souls. That is also in Humani Generis, in para 36 available at the same link. It says in part:

For these reasons 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, 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.

This is, of course, not scientifically deducible at this time, and probably ever. I don’t think any of this can be considered infallible, but the direct creation of the spirit was affirmed by JPII in 1996:

If the human body take its origin from pre-existent living matter, the spiritual soul is immediately created by God (“animas enim a Deo immediate creari catholica fides nos retinere iubei”; “Humani Generis,” 36). Consequently, theories of evolution which, in accordance with the philosophies inspiring them, consider the spirit as emerging from the forces of living matter or as a mere epiphenomenon of this matter, are incompatible with the truth about man. Nor are they able to ground the dignity of the person.

http://www.newadvent.org/library/docs_jp02tc.htm

John Paul said that the study of evolution had progressed since Humani Generis and that “new knowledge has led to the recognition of the theory of evolution as more than a hypothesis.”

He didn’t address monogenism, so maybe his silence indicates some rethinking of the issue.

At any rate, there is no incompatibility between evolution (in general) and divine creation (in general). People who think they are incompatible are either misunderstanding one of them, or holding such a strict interpretaion that they are forcing a false conflict.


#13

Thanks, Phil. For someone who was tired, you still gave alot of great info to peruse.


#14

I have always wondered how evolution deals with the subject of death. According to my *limited *understanding, evolution favours small beneficial changes in organisms. These changes are naturally selected because they give the organism a better chance to survive and propagate.

If this explanation is accurate, then why has evolution not created an indestructible, unstoppable super creature by now? As far as I can tell, the closest evolution has come to immortality is the virus. But scientists are not even sure you can clasify this as a living organism.

Maybe my view of evolution is too simplistic. I’m thinking that evolution cannot simply favour one creature over all the others, or else the ecosystem would collapse, since all creatures are fairly interdependent.

The two views appear to be irreconcilable as far as I can determine with very little middle ground available. That’s why I say this really is a deep mystery.

Evolution is highly plausible, more than a theory but not quite a fact in the same sense that gravity is a fact. I’m supposing that it’s very possible that we are misunderstading something like how we misunderstood the earth to be the center of the solar system at one time.

I have the same hunch.

I am open to theistic evolution but I am still skeptical. When in doubt, I will default to the historical exegesis of the Scriptures until something more defined is revealed to be reasonably true. I would, however, like to have a good answer for this though.

How does one reconcile theistic evolution with original sin without falling into the dangers of Teilhard?

This is indeed a great mystery. :shrug:

God, what is the answer to this question?

I believe his understanding of evolution was probably as flawed as his theology. I don’t think evolution is an unstoppable progress towards something better. It can lead to very dangerous progressions, like the super bugs in hospitals (MRSA) or the bubonic plague, or other terrible forms of disease.

Still, evolution itself does not provide us with an answer to *why *we have to die. I don’t think it can. But our faith does.

God bless,
Ut


#15

<< Thanks, Phil. For someone who was tired, you still gave alot of great info to peruse. >>

You’re welcome, I may be tired but I can post on this subject in my sleep. I dream about reconciling monogenism and evolution. Just kidding. :slight_smile:

For those interested in Fr. Pacwa’s position, he did one show on this topic (probably several shows since then) after JPII’s 1996 statement on evolution. Although falling into some typical creationist misunderstandings, he seems open to evolution and even suggested Adam/Eve might have been Neanderthals. I realize the problems with that since most paleoanthropology books tell you Neanderthals and homo sapiens probably didn’t mate.

Here (converted to MP3) is the Fr. Pacwa with Mother Angelica program. This is a program I don’t have yet linked on my massive audio page. :thumbsup:

Note also he made a mistake on the translation. It turns out the correct translation (from the French) was indeed “more than a hypothesis” as Jimmy (then James) Akin explained 10 years ago.

Phil P


#16

Steve40 << It is not necessary to depart from the literal and obvious meaning of Genesis. >>

However, when the Popes depart from the literal and “obvious” meaning of Genesis, that gives Catholics reasons to do so. See John Paul II in his Theology of the Body (including the footnotes), and Benedict XVI (Cardinal Ratzinger) In The Beginning… They clearly depart from the literal and adopt a more symbolic or figurative interpretation. The Catechism also while affirming Adam/Eve, and traditional Catholic dogma on original sin, says Genesis contains symbolical and figurative language (CCC 337, 362, 375, 390, etc).

Steve40 << Contrary to what some may think we are still permitted to believe what the Bible says in Genesis. So just believe it. >>

Just as we are permitted to believe the earth is flat and doesn’t move. But should we? If you are talking what the Bible actually states “scientifically” about the earth and universe, you have a flat disk with a hard dome over it. So just believe it. I’ve quoted Fr. Stanley Jaki before on this, see his Bible and Science, pages 19-25 quoted here.

Steve40 << You are forever trying to reconcile Scripture to the latest theory. >>

A scientific theory is a model or framework or explanation of the facts that is well supported and established by the scientific data and evidence: so evolution, gravity, atomic theory, Relativity, germ theory of disease, are all well-supported and well-established theories, etc. Any future theory will have to explain the data better than the current one. What won’t change are these facts that need to be explained if evolution (and natural selection) is not true:

“…there has been a confusion, partly deliberate, of the fact that organisms have evolved with theories about the detailed mechanics of the process. The facts of evolution are clear and are not disputed by any serious scientific worker. The universe is over 11 billion years old, and the earth, in particular, is over 4 billion. That is a fact. Life on earth is at least 2.5 billion years old, and, as new evidence accumulates, the best estimate of the origin of life gets pushed further and further into the past. That too is a fact. It is also a fact that there were no mammals or birds 200 million years ago and no vertebrates 600 million years ago, while there are no dinosaurs now. Finally, it is a fact that under conditions that have existed on earth for the last billion years, at least, all living organisms arise from previously living organisms. So, the present complex living forms have evolved by an unbroken and continuous process from the simplest living forms of the pre-Cambrian era. To assert, on the contrary, that the earth and life on it are a paltry ten or hundred thousand years old and that the complex forms living today arose in an instant from unorganized matter is in contradiction not simply with the corpus of biological knowledge but with all scientific knowledge of the physical world. To deny evolution is to deny physics, chemistry, and astronomy, as well as biology.” (Richard Lewontin, March 1982, Introduction to Scientists Confront Creationism [W.W. Norton, 1983] )

BTW, this book has recently been updated as Scientists Confront Intelligent Design and Creationism (W.W. Norton, 2007). And don’t forget Cardinal Schonborn’s new book Chance or Purpose? Creation, Evolution, and a Rational Faith (Ignatius Press, 2007).

BTW, I don’t recommend the other creationist videos offered by Ignatius Press (“Incredible Creatures that Defy Evolution”, Parts I or II, nor “Icons of Evolution”, etc) since they contain simply bad and wrong creationist science.

Phil P


#17

BTW, there are many other facts that need to be explained if evolution is not true, but I couldn’t list them all. Many of them are presented in a series of “Questions that Creationism Cannot Answer” on this page (my summary of Theobald’s “Evidences for Macroevolution” article).

But this thread is about theistic evolution, so I don’t want to go off topic. Of course theistic evolution assumes there is good scientific evidence for evolution to begin with, which I have shown there is.

Phil P


#18

Before this slips off the front page, two articles by Dennis Bonnette are now online at AnswersInCreation.org website (an old earth creationist site)

Did Dawin Prove Genesis a Fairy Tale? by Dennis Bonnette
Must Human Evolution Contradict Genesis? by Dennis Bonnette

As I said, Bonnette is more conservative than Haught and has no desire to water down or re-interpret traditional Catholic dogma. From his bio for his book Origin of the Human Species:

Dr. Dennis Bonnette retired as Full Professor of Philosophy at Niagara University in Lewiston, New York, where he was also Chairman of the Philosophy Department from 1992 to 2002. He received his doctorate in philosophy from the University of Notre Dame in 1970, and taught philosophy at the college level for more than 40 years.

Phil P


#19

This issue has always bothered me so I’m going to read these articles and any other relevant sources I can find.


#20

According to Dr. Richard Geraghty, PhD (St. Joseph’s House of Studies, the college-level facility of the Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word, at EWTN.):
Since, however, the cultural elite of today have a strong bent towards atheism or at least agnosticism, they push the theory of evolution as a proof that the world has not been created by God and that man is simply a higher animal without an immortal soul. In this propaganda effort they have taken a scientific hypothesis and turned it into a philosophy. …The Catholic Church is united with these Christians in opposing evolution AS A PHILOSOPHY. With the Protestants, the Church insists that God created the world and that man has an immortal soul. The Church, however, does not oppose evolution AS A SCIENTIFIC THEORY. The reason is that she does not hold for an absolutely literal interpretation of those chapters of Genesis. Thus the Church sees no necessary conflict between the belief that God created the world from nothing and the scientific hypothesis that the world has evolved over millions of years. Again, the Church sees no necessary conflict between the belief that God created directly the souls of Adam and Eve and the scientific hypothesis that Adam and Eve descended from non-human ancestors. Thus even if can be proven scientifically beyond a reasonable doubt that man has descended from some lower animal like the ape, the Church will not have to change its position. Thus the Church is content to let the scientists go about their business and will only react when some step beyond the limits of science in making the claim that the theory of evolution has made Christianity obsolete."


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