I am trying to grapple with the concept of there ever existing an earthly paradise with theistic evolution. According to some people here, man evolved and then God gave them spirits. But for that to work there had to be much dying and suffering before God gave spirit. Also, what is up with all the ice ages and natural disasters before that point?. As far as I understand, the earth would yield fruits without labor. How then did evolution work if there was no competition for food? It is only after man is expelled that labor is necessary.
If the idea that earth was perfect before silly, then why isn’t a new perfected earth silly?
Of course the garden of Eden is a myth - myths are not necessarily untrue. I always got the impression that either the garden was a small area of the earth where the first man and woman lived in complete happiness (there may have been flaws in the rest of creation but the first humans had no experience of it) or the first man and woman lived in complete happiness because of their closeness to God before the fall even though the rest of the universe wasn’t perfect. But I’m not a theologian, those are just my thoughts.
What do you mean when you ask if it’s a myth? I mean, the Garden of Eden is true, - it’s also dogma that Adam and Eve were real people, we all descended from them, and that God is the Creator, and He made them and gave them souls (and gave us souls too). In my understanding the Church does not require us to believe theistic evolution, - the Church says that anything you believe can’t contradict the doctrines of the faith. So no polygenism, atheism, thinking the soul evolved, etc. There are Catholics who dont agree with evolution, in my understanding they are free to do so. Sorry I dont know enough to answer your questions about animals dying etc. I think that - there’s so much that we don’t know, and scientists assume that evolution is true but it’s a theory, not a fact. I’m talking specifically about species evolving from other species: not about natural selection of traits like hair colour, etc. I studied science in university and I was taught why people think that humans and animals evolved, - but I think that in the end, God is the one who knows how He created the world when people reject God’s existence because of something that doens’t make sense to them about His creation, that’s very unfortunate and it’s good to remember that humans don’t know everything and science has been wrong many times in the past, since it’s constantly - evolving - pun intended so this is just my point of view. I just leave it up to God, He knows how He made everything, I don’t
Faith and reason don’t contradict and our faith is not unreasonable. But this is talking about true reason, and the Catholic faith.
The Garden of Eden is real, according to the Catechism, as are our first parents. With a theistic evolutionist outlook, one can ascribe it and they to a special act of creation by God, a miracle of his intervention in the natural order. That’s the whole part of “theistic” in theistic evolution; if God can not guide, and intervene in, the process, it is nothing but atheistic Darwinism. Having the God in the Evolution allows for the guiding and intervention; without guiding or intervention, what is the use for God in evolution? The same for a progressive creationist, although progressive creationism lends itself more to it, as each and every kind was directly created by God.
The dogmata of the Church are these: the universe was created out of nothing. Adam and Eve were real people who committed a real, original sin, the stain of which we inherit. Each soul is created by an act of God at the moment of conception. Beyond these three propositions, there is much room for disagreement and debate amongst the faithful on questions of origins. (That is, no, Catholics are not required to be theistic evolutionists, nor to be six-day creationists; these are but the two poles. All views that fit within those dogmata - essentially everything but atheistic Darwinism - is permissible to the faithful. At one pole, there is six-day creationism, at the other, theistic evolution. Between the poles, there is old-earth creationism, day-age creationism, gap theory, progressive creationism, intelligent design, etc.)
I like letting the text speak for itself, and avoiding the contortions necessary to make it fit with the wisdom of man (which is less than the folly of God…for God has made the wise foolish) which will be outdated in another century, much as phlogiston-fire was outdated in the 19th century but current in the 18th, so I’m a six-day creationist. (Also, that Darwinism was invented specifically to explain origins without the need for a creator sits unwell with me, although it explains not abiogenesis, or the origin of life from molecules.) The Bible is perfect; science is not; so when one seems to conflict with the other, the Bible wins. Note, that I say “seems”, as both science and the Bible, properly done and interpreted, can never conflict. But we won’t have a perfect science nor a perfect hermeneutic this side of the second coming. In science, there are many places for error; in the Bible, the only place for error is interpretation.
If you are interested in origins questions, I suggest reading Darwin on Trial by Philip Johnson (I don’t know his theological position, and I suppose that’s a testimony to the unbiased nature of his work; his other works are also good), Darwin’s Black Box and The Edge of Evolution by Michael Behe (Theistic Evolutionist/Intelligent Design), More than a Theory by Hugh Ross (Progressive Creationist), and Genesis, Creation, and Early Man: An Orthodox Christian Vision (Six-Day Creationist) by Russian Orthodox Hieromonk Seraphim Rose. Sometimes one needs to break the chains of the mind first in order to see more fully other things; that’s why I recommend the books in that order; one can stop anywhere along the journey, or walk the road until the end.
I do not believe (although some of the above authors do, and give it the old college try, generally glossing “death” to mean “spiritual death”) that an old earth with “red in tooth and nail” evolution (i.e. not gap creation) and its death and pain before sin can be true; I believe only six-day creation gives an adequate response, although others disagree
I believe all who think deeply on the question of origins come to the view shared by myself and Fr Seraphim Rose, although experience vitiates my belief.
I will refer you to the Pontifical Biblical Comission replies under St. Pius X on Genesis, which delineate how far either way theologians are permitted to go in interpreting Genesis. I also like the articles on the Roman Theological Forum website on said topic.
The Garden of Eden was not the whole world, only a small part of it; that is how they could be chased out.
The Angels who were assigned to guard it have hidden it’s access from us.
In the rest of the world, all the other natural factors, food shortages, predation etc. held sway, including human body death, after A&E left Eden.
A&E’s bodies were the same as ours, therefore kept alive by entropic chemistry. So ISTM that they would at some point have to “transition” into eternal life. But this would have been a smooth movement without fear, grief or mystery from the “human body” to pneumatikon soma. Not at all resembling what we know as death.