Reconstructed discussion whether belief in literal Adam & Eve is warranted

With the moderator’s permission I am reposting my last few on-topic posts in the discussion I was having with Dr. Bonnette in the now closed thread: “**If Adam and Eve were real people…?” **I invite him to reply to these.


[quote=Dr. Bonnette]Alec,
[/quote]

Before we get into a discussion of your last two posts, I’d like to point out a problem in your mode of discourse. You seemed anxious to determine what my worldview is for reasons that have become obvious. Rather than determining my worldview for the reasonable motive of setting a context for the discussion and better understanding my perspective, you use it again and again as an a priori argument against my position. In other words, your claim is that my worldview is the foundation and cause of my arguments and observations and that because my worldview is, in your eyes, a priori wrong and yours right, then it follows that my arguments must fail. But this mode of discourse is plainly fallacious. My observations and reasoning are the warrants for my worldview, not the other way round, so for you to combat them successfully, you need to focus your attention on my observations and reasoning rather than claiming that my worldview is itself an argument against me, and that yours is itself an argument in your favour. That might do for the pulpit, but not for the academy.

I can understand your desire to restrict our dialogue exclusively to secular natural science, but must remind you that this is a Catholic forum thread and that Catholics have no need to be intimidated into casting aside their theological and philosophical truths in favor of purely secular arguments immersed in the errors of materialism – errors repeatedly condemned by the Catholic Church.

Leaving aside for the moment your question-begging characterisation of Catholic beliefs as “truths” and secular arguments as “errors”, can I remind you about what you said in the post that I was replying to:

Whether you know my philosophical tradition or are convinced by its proofs is irrelevant to the task at hand, namely, showing that natural science can be reconciled with Christian belief about human origins. The burden of proof falls on you to show that these beliefs are contradictory to good natural science, not merely to your personal materialist philosophy

In other words, it was your suggestion that we limit our discussion to determining whether the findings of natural science can be reconciled with a literal Adam and Eve - in your words everything else is irrelevant. I am perfectly happy to do that - the findings of studies of human molecular biology are totally incompatible with a literal Adam and Eve and I am quite prepared to demonstrate that that is the case. However, if you want a broader discussion that also examines the warrants we each have for our world views, I am also happy to engage in that way. What you must not do, however, if you wish to be credible, is to take your worldview as a given, and reject mine out of hand. If you call on your philosophy as evidence for your position, then you must show how it is more reasonably likely to be true than mine.

Not being restricted by your scientistic presuppositions, I am free to accept evidence you apparently prefer to ignore because it comes from a theological perspective. Since your worldview sees God as an unnecessary hypothesis, and since you reject the possibility of genuine miracles a priori, you reject out of hand the empirically verifiable, historical evidence of direct divine intervention in the world.

There you go - this is an example of how you erroneously claim that I argue from my worldview to a rejection of the evidence. This is a direct inversion of the reasoning that I actually follow, which is to argue from the evidence to my worldview. I ask you to have sufficient respect for me, not to misrepresent me in this way again.

Consider these examples: (1) the hundreds of cures certified by the International Medical Commission at Lourdes as totally beyond scientific explanation … the most widely-witnessed miracle in all history when the sun danced in the sky before some 70,000 witnesses at Fatima in 1917, and the some 400 recorded resurrection miracles of Christian history…Christians rightly infer that such miracles bear witness to the truth of revelation. … Your secular inferences contradict what Catholics and many other Christians believe to be direct divine intervention in the world verified by historical evidence of unimpeachable authority.

There are several different severe problems which arise from a belief in miracles (if we define these as events in which God directly intervenes to procure an outcome, which would not have occurred in the normal course of events, by suspending or violating the laws of nature). First of all, since such events are, by definition, rare (if they were common they would undermine the epistemic principles of a well-behaved universe in which both folk science and sophisticated science are able to determine truth), then to claim that their occurrence can be empirically verifiable is contradictory. Secondly to claim that miracles are beyond explanation by science is to indulge in a species of God of the Gaps argument - it is no accident that the miracles of Lourdes were verified more frequently in the past, and that today, the verification of new miracles has all but dried up (the last in 2005 of a miracle claimed to have happened *53 *years ago - and only 67 have been verified by the Church in all the years since 1858, not thousands as you say). I refer you to Clarke’s law. At best, it is possible to say that a “miracle” is currently unexplained by present scientific knowledge. Thirdly, the class of miracles at Lourdes, for example, is indistinguishable from that class of illness which is known to be susceptible to spontaneous remission, misdiagnosis or conventional treatment, with the irrefutable class of illness such as recovery from amputation conspicuously absent. Fourth, there is a severe philosophical problem with miraculous cures: viz, if God is just how can he be prepared to suspend the laws of nature on behalf of one individual, when so many others are suffering? If God acted on behalf of Anna Santaniello, where was He during the Holocaust?

With regard to Fatima, I note that not all present witnessed the so-called dancing sun, nor was it witnessed at any distance away from Fatima, say in London or Paris. So the dancing sun was not a literal natural phenomenon as described, but a subjective or a natural local one, and moreover, one that not all present observed and that was reported with differences and inconsistencies by those who did observe it.

Claims of resurrection miracles have the same problems as cures at Lourdes, only more so.

To be continued

Continuation

[quote=Dr. Bonnette]You point to philosophical disagreement among professional philosophers as undermining the credibility of Christian philosophers, such at St. Thomas Aquinas, to attain objective philosophical truth.
[/quote]

I do indeed. You are a professional philosopher. You must know that Anselm’s ontological argument, the Five Ways and the Kalam argument are far from being accepted as valid proofs by the majority of professional philosophers. The truth or otherwise of Thomistic proofs for God hardly represent the core subjects of modern philosophical discourse.

The Catholic Church dogmatically teaches that the existence of God can be known by unaided natural reason, as St. Paul says in Romans 1:20, reasoning from the things that God has made (causality).

That might well be so, but the teaching of the Catholic Church cannot be evidence for the truth of its own claims without further reason. The teaching of the Church is surely irrelevant to a philosophical debate.

I know that non-Christian philosophers reject the proofs for God’s existence, but they do so by denying such basic presupposed principles everyone uses when playing a game of billiards, namely, that one can know what is happening on the table, and that when a ball is moved it is moved by something else. Atheists and agnostics deny such proofs by denying such basic metaphysical and epistemological first principles as non-contradiction, sufficient reason, and causality (e.g., Hume), and the ability to know the external world.

The problem here is that you mix up different classes of denial. It is important to understand that the Five ways, for example, proceeds from what you call common sense or intuition about the way the world operates. That common sense and intuition is denied by modern findings of natural science. In other words, Aquinas’s concept of the natural world is outmoded, and since his axioms are based on his own outmoded observations or those of Aristotle, then his premises are flawed and his conclusions cannot fail to be flawed. It is not necessary to deny the ability to know the external world, in order to deny necessary causality, motion or contingency - one should not conflate the different classes of denial as you do here.

The findings of physics are deeply non-intuitive. Quantum mechanics undermines the necessity of causality and supports the concept of non-locality. Galilean relativity undermines the concept of absolute motion. Special and General relativity extends that caustic view to accelerating frames and simultaneity. It is no longer possible to subscribe to absolute time and space. Spontaneous symmetry breaking in the early universe undermines the concept of necessary physics. It has become possible to conceive of a past eternal universe. In post-Newtonian physics, the concept of infinite regress of per se causes cannot be formally excluded, because causes in the Aristotleian sense of X causes Y causes Z where X, Y and Z are individual in-action entities in a chain of efficient causes is no longer necessary. The concept of the universe as uncaused brute fact cannot be excluded.

Your own claims about natural science would have no validity at all if you did not first embrace these principles, principles which are presupposed by natural science but defended exclusively by classical philosophy, such as that of St. Thomas Aquinas.

That is not so, as we have seen. It is necessary to acknowledge that some aspects of the natural world are knowable in order to do science; it is not necessary to acknowledge strict causality or non-contradiction in all circumstances. Anyone who claims that there is no contradiction in Nature has not considered wave-particle duality, or non-locality or the many paradoxes of QM and GR. Even Newton’s description of gravity (action at a distance, where the material and efficient cause of the acceleration is a force and not some specific other moving body) is a problem for Aquinas’s arguments, particularly the First Way (as the philosophical debate between Newtonian and Cartesian views of planetary mechanics - resolved in favour of Newton - demonstrates).

Suffice it to say that Aquinas’s notions of causality, motion, contingency, perfection and teleology are hopelessly outmoded. The substances of the world are not as he and Aristotle (and you) suppose.

It is hardly news that a materialist, such as yourself, would reject these proofs. Moreover, your nominalistic rejection of the spirituality of universal concepts is exactly what a materialist, such as yourself, would maintain.

Here again, you are arguing from my conclusion rather than from my reasons. A nominalistic interpretation of universal concepts is a perfectly valid one, and not one that you are entitled to deny a priori. The claim that universal concepts are actual entities which exist in a spiritual domain is evidence of a fundamental confusion between symbols and their referents. We have covered this ground before - I do not reject the realist interpretation of universals because I am a materialist; rather, I am a materialist because this, and other putative “proofs” for the existence of a real spiritual domain, independent of material grounding, are so unsatisfactory.

This is not a war between science and religion, but a war between the illicit presuppositions of philosophical materialism and the sophisticated common sense of classical philosophy, preferred by the Church, prior to the modern period wherein philosophers blundered into subjectivism, epistemological idealism, relativism, and materialism.

There you go, begging the question again by describing philosophical materialism as illicit. There is no philosophical sense in which you can legitimately and non-prejudicially describe philosophical naturalism as “illicit”. And we have seen what, in good reason, we should make of the “sophisticated common sense of classical philosophy”. It seems bizarre that a professional philosopher can reject wholesale the findings of modern philosophy as a blundering into error.

to be continued

Continuation

[quote=Dr. Bonnette]Human Genome Project scientists infer that some 7 million years ago a common ancestor gave rise to two lineages: one leading to champanzees and bonobos, and the other leading to hominids. You infer that such data precludes any single pair of first parents subsequent to about that time.
[/quote]

The genomic and palaeontological considerations that conclude the divergence of human and chimp lineages 7 million years ago are not identical to the genomic considerations that exclude the possibility of a literal Adam and Eve.

Further, you claim that paleological evidence precludes the instantaneous appearance of true man, since it shows rather the gradual emergence of intellectual faculties and variations over time and place and between individuals.

I didn’t say that it precluded it - but the evidence does not support the instantaneous appearance of humans with modern cognitive abilities.

In so doing, you reveal that your latter inference is not based upon pure science, but upon philosophical inferences affected by your materialist presuppositions.
Both Catholic faith and philosophical reasoning maintain that the spiritual intellective soul is strictly immaterial and cannot arise gradually from mere matter.

Well either we are both right to use material evidence to assess the emergence of human abilities or we are both wrong. You cannot legitimately use material evidence to determine a timing for the emergence of fully human individuals and deny me the use of similar evidence to demonstrate that human cognition appears gradually over time. What Catholic faith claims is irrelevant to the epistemic case - it is its claims which are in question, so they cannot be advanced as evidence - and to claim that “philosophical reasoning” shows that “spiritual intellective soul is strictly immaterial and cannot arise gradually from mere matter” is to be selective as to what brand of philosophical reasoning you admit - perhaps your brand of philosophical reasoning concludes that, but we have seen that a) that is not generally shared amongst philosophers, and b) that you have given no convincing warrant for that belief other than the disputed realist interpretation of universals.

Purely sentient animals can imitate intellective activity through internal sense faculties, namely, the central sense, imagination, sense memory, and estimative sense

How do you propose that we tell the difference between the imitation of intellective activity of which sentient animals are capable and true intellective capability of man?

Man alone possesses true intellect and a spiritual soul. But this soul enables him to perform purely spiritual acts of conceptualization, judgment, and reasoning employing faculties which are not always in act, or which exhibit extrinsic dependence on sentient faculties and organs. Thus, one would expect variation in appearance of purely intellective activities over time and from individual to individual

But that’s not what the evidence supports. The evidence is that human intellect is *intrinsically *dependent on the sentient faculties and organs, primarily the brain. I can demonstrate without a shadow of a doubt that human faculties are dependent on a material brain. We can demonstrate that what you call the human spiritual soul has a proximate material cause, the material brain - there is no evidence of any human intellectual activity or soul or spirit in its absence. The material brain is necessary - no valid consideration denies its sufficiency.

A rudimentary grasp of how operative potencies work reveals that man is fully human throughout his life, but that such activities as waking, singing, talking, reasoning, understanding, and so forth, come and go.

You have never addressed my scenario of a human born so brain damaged that no uniquely human activity is possible - such a person deserves to be treated with the dignity of a human not because of operative potencies, of which they have none, but because of species identity.

Yes, man is an animal, but he is not “nothing but” an animal. At whatever moment in prehistory the first true human being appeared, a being with a spiritual soul directly created by God – at that moment Adam appeared.

Here, you are merely restating your religious preference which you have been unable to support by philosophical or scientific argument.

The fact that you put no credence in either Christian teaching or traditional philosophy simply reveals that your entire perspective arises, not merely from natural science, but also from your atheistic and materialistic philosophy. I am certain you will affirm that you are a naturalist, but it is misleading to suggest to any and all that your evidence from natural science is the only source of your judgments about God and human origins.

I put no credence in those specific tenets of traditional philosophy that we have discussed, because I find arguments in support of them to be badly flawed. I put no credence in Christian teaching because I see no warrant for the entire Christian worldview. I have already told you that my perspective arises from considerations in addition to my science and I have never claimed that evidence from natural science is the only source of my judgement about the probability of God’s existence. Arguments from natural science are however the only source of my conclusions about human origins. I cannot see what other valid source of evidence there can possibly be. The conclusion about the size of the human and pre-human population is a biological one that depends only on considerations of natural science.

To be continued

Continuation

[quote=Dr. Bonnette]The Human Genome Project is a very recent phenomenon, and its full meaning and implications may yet need further study and understanding. Most of those associated with it have no grasp of the work of Christian philosophers, or else may not be taking into account the implications of Christian philosophizing in their analysis.
[/quote]

Of course they are not. It is not the duty or the place of natural scientists to accomodate Christian philosophising.

One thing I have noticed is that literature describing population sizes is replete with references to “estimates,” hardly a concept conducive to infallible or apodictic pronouncements.

The concept of confidence intervals is valid here. Nothing in science is known to infinite precision and accuracy. That does not mean that we cannot exclude certain conclusions. For example we know that gravity operates with an inverse square law. There is some uncertainty about whether the power law is precisely and identically two in all circumstances. Nevertheless, we know enough to completely reject the notion that gravity operates linearly or according to a cube law. Similarly, although we cannot know the exact minimum bottleneck in the ancestry of extant humans, we know enough to exclude the possibility that extant humans arise from a population that passed through a bottleneck of two. Don’t you want to know how we know, or have you decided to reject whatever evidence I can produce out of hand?

Further, it seems to me that using genetic data from modern humans to estimate/reconstruct prehistorical lineages and population changes is fraught with uncertainties based upon assumptions/postulations

What unjustified “assumptions” or “postulations” (postulates?) are you referring to?

I am certain that you will now inundate me with “overwhelming evidence” that you will allege only a troglodyte or total ignoramus would hesitate to embrace, but my point, in part, is that you are yourself selectively ignoring much more traditionally established evidence in order to reduce all human knowledge to allegedly near-infallible natural science, the hallmark of a philosophical positivist.

I can inundate you if you wish, but the most important point here is that there is no other universally admissible evidence, outside natural science, for the biological ancestry of humans - we have seen enough of the relative efficacy of competing epistemologies to know that, given a choice between natural science, philosophy and ancient texts in determining the truth with regard to natural phenomena, we should choose natural science every time. Even if we leave aside the question of the emergence of fully human faculties, and whether that was manifested gradually or instantaneously, we can say without doubt that human ancestry never passed through a biological bottleneck of two, either in pre-human, newly human or human era.

Alec
evolutionpages.com

It really is much simpler than this; people beget people so your options:

  1. deny humans are unique thus we are just a version of life as all other forms of life which originated in an evolved single source or clustered sources. ( we are apes; apes are us, and /or corn is just an unwise evolution )

  2. Claim people are unique and evolved as such (we are our own god)

  3. Claim people are unique and this unique quality is from god (church teaching)

The unwise attempts to date the time of Adam and Eve is irrelevant because condition 3 requires Adam & Eve and conditions 1 & 2 deny Adam & Eve were significant whether present or absent.

O.K. guys, promise me you will play nice. I don’t want to pick up my marbles and go home…again. :wink:

Here is where I am regarding Eve & Adam.

[size=2]Originally Posted by grannymh

http://forums.catholic.com/images/buttons_khaki/viewpost.gif
That kind of evidence is amazing! It certainly fuels my imagination. :smiley: Wouldn’t art and music be indicative of imagination and creativity abilities beyond cognition?
[/size]

Alec’s reply

I don’t think so - I think art and music and poetry and other creative abilities arise from human cognition - they are all one with our intellectual ability.

granny:

[size=2]Especially when one considers the difference in degrees between us and animals. Compare the night music of alley cats with an opera sung in a hall in Italy. Compare the architecture in Paris with a prairie dog village.

[/size]
Alec:

Sure - I agree that humans are very different in degree with regard to their abilities. (I would however prefer to use the example of songbirds rather than alley cats. Song birds use homologous brain areas compared with human music making and speech, they are inventive, they create musical phrases, they learn from others, they have a musical culture; and they produce music which is exquisitely beautiful. Give the choice between spending a summer evening in my garden listening to a songthrush as the sun goes down, or a night in La Scala at a performance of La Boheme, I choose … both.

granny:

[size=2]A question about the evidence you are referring to. What is it that says it is evidence of humans?

[/size]
Alec:

Interesting question, and not that easy to answer. The fact that the art is found in conjunction with human deposits; and because in some cases the human artists used their own hands as stencils; and the fact that all the evidence indicates that humans are the only animals to have achieved that level of sophistication, I suppose.

Alec
evolutionpages.com

Today’s comments to: “The fact that the art is found in conjunction with human deposits; and because in some cases the human artists used their own hands as stencils; and the fact that all the evidence indicates that humans are the only animals to have achieved that level of sophistication, I suppose.” – Alec

I would think “that level of sophistication” would include both manual and mental (cognition) dexterity. Knowing that it is art would be a subjective opinion on our part. It would be fair to say that appreciation of art, although described six ways to Sunday, is still an example of an intangible which is uniquely human. Humans also design and build museums to preserve art for public enjoyment and then renovate them. Of course, there are birds that renovate nests; but again, there is a high level of sophistication between that and de l’Orangerie and d’Orsay, both renovated museums. Even primates who are close to human beings in dexterity stop short of Claude Monet.

So that I stay on topic, I am confident that a literal Adam & Eve is warranted from a scientific view point which begins with us.

Yes, I am aware of the general evolutionary theory going backwards in time. When I have a senior moment or two in that regard, I’m sure a kind poster will correct me.:wink:

For me, my own protocol is to start with what I experience around me. First, humans are distinct from animals. Alec said above: " Sure - I agree that humans are very different in degree with regard to their abilities." To that I would add the obvious that there is something about humans which is intangible. This is an important difference.

I know I am going to have my head on a platter for saying this. But for my own discussion purposes, I don’t want to call this intangible something a soul, nor do I want to get into intelligent design. (However, I will comment on others’ philosophical ideas.) Furthermore, whether or not “intangible” is within the scientist’s realm or without is not the point. There is enough experiential evidence to acknowledge that an intangible difference exists. It is perfectly acceptable for a scientist to say that some of the “evidence” points to an intangible difference between humans and other species.

Alec, I like your example of song birds. Let’s keep that one for use later on.
One question to think about. Regarding your choice above: “Give the choice between spending a summer evening in my garden listening to a songthrush as the sun goes down, or a night in La Scala at a performance of La Boheme, I choose … both.” How is it, Alec, that you can choose both?

Easter blessings and good thoughts to all,

granny

At best, it is possible to say that a “miracle” is currently unexplained by present scientific knowledge.

I just wanted to throw in my 2 cents on this one. A while back i had asked on these and other forums about how a religious believer goes about quantifying what is or is not a miracle.

I never got a consensus answer (i never ever seem to get an consensus answer ;)) but two options did appear on how to define it:

1.) A Direct Violation of the natural laws of the universe

2.) An Indirect Influence along the Aristotlean “4 Causes”

So, if i got this down correctly, this be something to the effect that the Deity produces an effect well within the natural laws of the universe but via indirect means.

IE: While It maybe the Final Cause of the effect, the effect itself (let’s take a dramatic one - Parting of the Red Sea) is in fact the production of the 3 other causes (Formal, Material, and whatever the 3rd one is that i can’t remember right now)

EDIT - Btw, i’m invoking Aristotle here only as an example. I guess a more basic way of framing this would be something to the effect of:

Person is Sick —> Sick Person Prays --> Deity receives prayer —> Deity influences natural laws in favor of Sick Person —> Sick person gets better.

How the “mechanics of the miracle” is thought of will determine whether or not it can be disproven. If its option 2 - then the whole situation gets exiled to the realm of metaphysics and outside the proper boundaries of science.

What i do find infinitely interesting is that once upon a time, many Church thinkers (Catholic or Greek Orthodox) were hard at work both in the natural sciences and natural philosophy with the belief that they could in fact define and prove a miracle.

This line of research if you will seems to have essentially dried up - or at least is no longer on the hierarchy’s “to-do” list anymore.

Kudos to them though for at least giving it a shot - most Protestant and Evangelical thinkers wouldn’t have made the attempt.

The Catholic tradition seems to be consistent with quantum indeterminism, that the universe is “porous” and God can act without violating natures laws.

Here is a good read:

 	   [**Faith, Reason & Science:The View from the Catholic Tradition**]("http://www.gonzagafaithreason.org/files/pdfs/Tkacz-fideism-lecture.doc")

The Catholic tradition seems to be consistent with quantum indeterminism, that the universe is “porous” and God can act without violating natures laws.

Ahh see, now that’s an interesting take on things. Could you suggest a book Buffalo? :smiley:

EDIT - LOL - nevermind you just did.

Biology takes methodological naturalism as its guiding assumption,so of course it is incompatible with Catholic doctrine. In order to be convinced of scientific explanations of origins,you have to accept the unjustifiable naturalistic world-view that goes along with those explanations. The policy of methodological naturalism has to do with the results of experimentation are explained,not to experimentation itself,since the supernatural cannot be experimented upon anyway.

The question of whether there was a literal Adam and Eve should be understood as the question of whether there was an actual first man and woman who were created by God. Literalism has to do with how literaure is interpreted,but what ultimately matters is whether or not what is written corresponds with what actually is. The story of Adam and Eve uses symbolic images,but it is written,and was understood by the Jews,as a narrative of real events and real persons. In ancient times,writers of history often mixed mythology,symbolic language and the supernatural with records of specific events and persons.

It stands to reason that there had to be a first man and woman who were created,since human persons come into existence at once at conception. There is no gradual evolution in the coming into being of humans,so why should we think that our earliest ancestors gradually evolved into humans from other creatures over the course of thousands of years? Genetic mutations come from pre-existing alleles. They are not changes in genetic substance,they are changes of the form of the genetic substance. The variety that is manifested over generations in genetic material is intrinsic to it. Mutations can only draw from what was already there in the pre-existing alleles. And these mutations do not cause major structual changes or lead to a separate species which is incapable of breeding with the parent species. Speciation doesn’t go any farther than hybrids that can’t reproduce and partial reproductive isolation between populations.

The Catholic tradition seems to be consistent with quantum indeterminism, that the universe is “porous” and God can act without violating natures laws.

God himself sustains the order of nature. What we call the “laws of nature” are just “what ususally happens” and are the results of God having created and arranged things the way that they are. It is not as if the laws of nature are rigid mechanisms set in place guiding nature. What we call the “laws of gravity”,for example,are just scientific measurements of a phenomena that results from the planet being the size and mass that it is,and being suspended in empty space. It was God who made the planet and set it in the context of empty space,causing gravity and its measurements to exist. The laws of nature are actually the results of divine providence.

Depends what you mean by intangible. If by “intangible” you mean a difference that cannot be explained by the emergent properties of matter, then I disagree. I do not think that any human capability is, in principle, inexplicable by that approach (although, of course, some explanations, even if available in principle might be inaccessible in practice owing to their complexity and so on). If by “intangible”, you simply mean that there is a big difference between and other animals in their intellectual and cognitive abilities, then I agree. The difference is one of degree and not one of kind.

Alec, I like your example of song birds. Let’s keep that one for use later on.
One question to think about. Regarding your choice above: “Give the choice between spending a summer evening in my garden listening to a songthrush as the sun goes down, or a night in La Scala at a performance of La Boheme, I choose … both.” How is it, Alec, that you can choose both?

The glib answer is that I will choose to go to Milan in one week and stay at home, presumably when the weather forecast is better, another week.

But I guess you are asking whether my ability to conceptualise the existence of La Boheme and the existence of songbird simultaneously, speaks of a difference between us and other animals that is too great to bridge naturally. My answer is that it is not too great to bridge naturally (particularly since I have experienced both in the past). It is no different fundamentally from the ability to choose between hunting in the wooded area where we saw some some fat wart hogs last week, and fishing in the river, because it’s the time of year that the fish run.

Alec
evolutionpages.com

It’s riddled with logical error and fallacy, the most glaring being

a) the claim that theology is a method for uncovering the truth about the supernatural that is analogous to the claim that natural science is a method for uncovering the truth about the natural world. There are many reasons why that is pure wishful thinking, including motivational, methdological and performative ones

b) [FONT=&quot][FONT=Arial]the claim that “The scientific study of the physical world, however, reveals that it could not be the way it is unless there existed something that is not part of the physical world and at the same time the cause of the physical world” [/FONT][/FONT][FONT=&quot][FONT=Arial]on which much of what follows is based and [/FONT][/FONT][FONT=&quot][FONT=Arial]which is simply not true.

As for quantum indeterminism, just how do you distinguish between a miracle and the natural world rolling along according to its natural laws, if God only acts directly through quantum indeterminism?

Alec
evolutionpages.com
[/FONT][/FONT]

In that case, you must hold that all natural scienceis incompatible with Catholic doctrine, which is a very bizarre position to hold.

It stands to reason that there had to be a first man and woman who were created,since human persons come into existence at once at conception. There is no gradual evolution in the coming into being of humans,so why should we think that our earliest ancestors gradually evolved into humans from other creatures over the course of thousands of years?

Because the evidence shows that humans are biologically related to other animals in degrees of closeness according to a phylogeny, because the molecular evidence shows that humans and other geat apes had a common ancestor, and becasue we see the emergence of humans in the palaeontological record.

Genetic mutations come from pre-existing alleles…Speciation doesn’t go any farther than hybrids that can’t reproduce and partial reproductive isolation between populations.

The rest of your claims are wrong, they contain fundamental errors of understanding that have already been explained to you and they are off-topic.

Alec
evolutionpages.com

I don’t disagree that this is a way to look at nature. But I do think that the laws of nature are stronger and more reliable than “what ususally happens”, otherwise no-one would ever get in an aeroplane.

Alec
evolutionpages.com

Honestly, I’m not quite sure what I actually mean by an intangible which exists in kind. I was hoping you would help me…The following quote from your post 293 in closed Adam & Eve thread was addressed to someone else. Nonetheless, it is uppermost in my mind. I believe it addresses the issue of “kind.”

You have never addressed my scenario of a human born so brain damaged that no uniquely human activity is possible - such a person deserves to be treated with the dignity of a human not because of operative potencies, of which they have none, but because of species identity.

Regarding the questions of "intangible " being explained or unexplained by the emergent properties of matter-- again, I am going to rely on you to help me sort out the terminology and what it implies – which of course will benefit our discussion. I do have to remain firm that in order for me to propose a possible theory for a literal Adam and Eve, my foundation is based in what the human being is now.

I want to do what Art Garfunkel did during his concert. His first set began with his recent music and worked backward by decades. I do hope my son wasn’t too embarrassed by my being one of the few, unencumbered by arthritis, who stood up and clapped when he sang “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” Thus, when you mentioned, “emergent properties of matter” I would like to know the recent evaluations. Please give me a link to a summary, when possible. I easily confuse page numbers with dates. I will probably rule out the experiments (recently in popular media) which involve lots of wires attached to a person’s head because of their limited scope and reliability. Data showing evolving cognitive ability should be saved for when we go backward in time all the way to “The Sound of Silence.”

I do not think that any human capability is, in principle, inexplicable by that approach (although, of course, some explanations, even if available in principle might be inaccessible in practice owing to their complexity and so on).

I can deal with possible theories as long as I am not bound to believe them. And likewise, I hope you will see my theory or theories as possible without committing yourself to belief. It’s a lot more fun to be free to explore possibilities. :smiley:

If by “intangible”, you simply mean that there is a big difference between and other animals in their intellectual and cognitive abilities, then I agree. The difference is one of degree and not one of kind.

I’ve reread the above and now think, I better have it clarified, since, to me, the difference between human and animal and how far it goes back is key. Please, can we agree to keep creationism and young earth out of our discussion? As for the concept of soul, I have always been philosophically confused about it. I know experientially that it exists because it is that which connects me to God. Yet, for me it is both intangible and unintelligible, i.e., I am not capable of understanding it with my intellect alone. Right now, I would like to exclude it from our current discussion. Being feminine, I do have the right to change my mind later on. :wink:

I need to set the table for Easter. My clan will be arriving tomorrow. So I will have to put off replying to the rest of your post. As for fishing in the river when the fish run, when I’m in Alaska, it is a marvel to see both fishermen and bears fishing in the river at the same time. Maybe the lesson is that we all need to be fed…

Easter blessings and good thoughts to all,
granny

To hecd2

Alec,

It must be God’s will that I respond to you once again, since I found this new thread by sheer providence. (You would say chance.) I do not intend to remain at this task for long, nor to fill multiple screens that ignore the CAF rule that “messages should be short.” Perhaps, also, I was misled by the rule that said that posts “must be respectful of the faith of the Catholics” into thinking that your total rejection of God and Christianity was alien to the spirit of exploring and understanding Catholic teaching. Certainly, many thread participants simply argue from Magisterial teaching alone.

You raise many standard objections to the miracles which fill Catholic history, but the only thing that matters is to note what God has done, not what we think he could or should have done. There is no substitute for simply reading the accounts for yourself, and I have given you some sources previously. Many readers of CAF already know the arguments and have sorted the evidence for themselves. One site about Lourdes you might check out is metacrock.blogspot.com/2008/08/lourdes-and-healing.html . As has been said, for the unbeliever, no amount of evidence will convince. Still, you should understand that this perspective is a rockbed of truth for many Catholics, and that the Church Herself insists that miracles are Her evidence. (Incidentally, I never said “thousands” of miracles had been proclaimed by the Church at Lourdes. I said “only some 100 have thus far been accepted,” which is pretty close to the 67 you cite.) As to numbers of miracles, would it have been more impressive had Christ died and risen from the dead ten times instead of once?

You say the scientific evidence is “totally incompatible with a literal Adam and Eve.” What matters here is not my personal speculations, but what the Church has claimed. Pius XII in Humani generis addressed polygenism carefully, saying simply that “it is in 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” (HG 37)." What the Church as taught, though, is the “special creation of man.” That is precisely what both miraculous evidence of a supernatural order and traditional Christian philosophical arguments for human spirituality support. You reject these sources, and this medium is ill-suited to full demonstration. Still, if man does possess a spiritual soul, then at some point in evolutionary history, the first appearance of such a “besouled” primate would constitute the “special creation of man.”

You claim that “Aquinas’s notions of causality, motion, contingency, perfection and teleology are hopelessly outmoded,” and that “common sense and intuition is denied by modern findings of natural science.” In so saying, you would have us accept the findings of modern science which “undermines the necessity of causality” [and other metaphysical first principles]. But you fail to grasp the force of my point. Science in fact does accept the universal validity of non-contradiction, sufficient reason, causality, etc., in its very methodology. If its methodology cannot be universally applied, then it becomes mere faith and whim. Your admission that we cannot exclude the “universe as uncaused brute fact” is the ultimate avoidance of reason’s universal application. Antony Flew and Kai Neilsen avoid God with the same “reasoning.” But such is the ultimate abdication of reason, the same reason that always demands consistency in direct laboratory observations and causal explanations for observed phenomena. If these principles are selectively applied, why should we take seriously the claims of positivism that science alone provides true guidance to reality?

On the contrary, natural science presupposes these first principles which it “borrows” from metaphysics. (See Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange’s God: His Existence and Nature, vol. 1.) If metaphysics is a pseudoscience, as positivists claim, then so is natural science, and all the claims you make on its behalf.

As said above, I do not intend to remain on this task for long. Your claims require full courses in traditional Catholic theology and philosophy for proper response. I am merely trying here to provide an outline of response to you, one which other readers of this thread may investigate if they so desire.

Yes, I know I am suppose to be setting the Easter table. But I have been waiting for the chance–like your question above-- to give a scientific definition of miracle which I found in some English translations. The definition given by some Italian scientists is: a miracle is an extraordinary phenomenon. If I ever write an article for an evolutionary-type website about Eve & Adam, I would title it “Extraordinary Phenomenon.” ;):smiley:

Since someone raised the question as to how miracles are discerned, the following criteria in use for Lourdes and cited in the web site I mentioned above are as follows:

"1) The diagnostics and authenticity of the disease has been preliminarily and perfectly assessed;

  1. The prognosis provides for an impending or short-term fatal outcome;

  2. The recovery is sudden, without convalesce, and absolutely complete and final;

  3. The prescribed treatment cannot be deemed to have resulted in a recovery or in any case could have been propitiatory for the purposes of recovery itself. These criteria are still in use nowadays, in view of their highly logical, accurate and pertinent nature."

Care is also taken to rule out “any psychopathic component, as well as any other subjective pathologic state or manifestation (which are therefore not verifiable)” so as to make certain that only scientifically, medically verifiable cases are considered.

Again, those serious about examining the evidence of Lourdes would do well to check out the site at metacrock.blogspot.com/2008/08/lourdes-and-healing.html as well as any and all other sites dealing with the miraculous, especially at Lourdes and Fatima. Some sites are skeptical, and that is fine. But careful examination of the arguments and data on all sites, both pro and con, is warranted for those desiring to determine the truth.

It is well and good to suggest that cures rely upon limited scientific knowledge at the time, but careful examination of individual cases has led many to conclude that this a priori “explanation” is inadequate in concrete application. Those on their deathbed do not readily get up and thrive. Nor were medical doctors in the recent past entirely inadequate in their knowledge of what is physically possible according to the laws of nature regarding healing and recovery.

It is amusing that there hasn’t been one article I referred that you agree with. :smiley:

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.