The 867th Thread on Evolution: I counted


#1

Okay, to make this simple, I’M CONFUSED!!!

Here’s why:

I do not understand the Church’s official teaching on Common Origins. Does the term “evolution” always encompass a common ancestry between all modern animals (and humans), or is this just a bad connotation?

What of polygenism? What support is there for it? Against? Does it seem to anyone else that the CC is moving closer and closer to this theory?

If the likelihood of life on earth was as scarce as the figures report, then isn’t the implication that all life did, in fact, find its first origins in a single cell? If this is so, what conclusions are we to draw?

sigh I love biology, but I hear daily a 100 conflicting positions. I want to be objective in my search for truth and not, as my science teacher says, “walk through life with tunnel vision.” The problem is that, from what I understand, most modern science textbooks can’t keep up with the constant revisions to Darwin’s theory–and don’t want to anyway, what’s more, in the good name of secular science. In doing so, they oftentimes end up representing the Olde-style, fundamentalist-extremist, all-homologies-are-evidence-for-Common-Ancestry style of thinking and ignore critics of this position (an increasing number).

Simultaneously, our culture is so steeped in cartoonish parodies of Java Man and talk of a “missing link” that it can’t think independently of such notions!

I have no qualms with evolution (I actually like the subject and find it fascinating), but I want to know about rock-hard evidence for new species devloping from old: Is there any? What about genera? Whole new phyla?

I’m ranting and becoming redundant, I know, but I need some clarification on this issue:

(1) Doctrinally, as pertains to what the Church officially teaches here;

And,

(2) Scientifically, regarding issues such as Common Origins and polygenism.

Any help?


#2

The Church teaches two essential things that you need to know:

  1. God created everything; there is nothing (no material) existing that God did not create.

  2. Adam and Eve are just one man and one woman, the biological parents of the entire human race. No human being has ever lived whose ancestors did not include Adam and Eve. Everyone alive today is descended from Adam and Eve.

Oh, and 3. They sinned, and brought the consequences of their sin upon their children (including us) and upon the whole world, which hasn’t worked quite right ever since then. The rest of the Bible and indeed the entire historical record is the substance of what happened next.

Everything else is open for speculation - dinosaurs, cave men, and the whole bit.


#3

Get ready to duck and dodge. Provided people respond, you’re going to hear many different answers and many of them conflicting too.

I personally agree with you this is a confusing area. I generally have not found the answers to this question very good. I see points on many sides to be fair but would like some more solid answers on this question.

As is, I’m going to leave it to God and continue to investigate the matter on my own as God guides me based on Catholic sources. I guess I will finally admit that I do think that God did indeed use evolution to speciate life on earth. But I haven’t read any very good defences on how these two views can be easilly reconciled yet.

If someone tells me that God could have used both evolution and special creation to bring about humanity, I’ll agree. But I’m not going to pretend that we’ve got all the answers on this either. We simply don’t have all the details worked out as nicely as we’d like to claim in my opinion.

Consequently, if someone tells you it has to be one or the other, don’t believe them.

I don’t.

I don’t think the Church teaches this either/or dichotomy either-- although there are some who will say she does.

But, provided one keeps their head on their shoulders, I think reading all the various points of view can be very beneficial to someone open to God’s love. :slight_smile:


#4

I agree with the first two. :slight_smile:

I’m not so sure about the third part though. :frowning:

I think it’s open to further investation to be honest. Of course, I could be wrong and I readilly admit it-- so I wouldn’t recommend jumping to any conclusions. I’m just not seeing anything concrete yet which leads me to hold this third point as something distinctly and assuredly Catholic.

The devil was a murderer from the beginning. And, since it is indeed the angels who put into execution God’s law regarding the physical world, it seems to me that the devil may have been at work distorting God’s creation much further back into history than we are currently able to discern.


#5

And the reason there will be many different opinions is that the Church does not pronounce on scientific theories. It has only insisted on the two items mentioned by jmcrae.

As to polygenism, it is not clear whether the Church has entirely ruled it out. But it has said that it does not see a way that it could be reconciled with the concept of original sin.

When speaking of ‘special creation’ as being possibly a part of evolution, there is really only one instance of special creation that needs to be posited, and that is Adam and Eve. And here we are not talking about their bodies. Special creation in that instance could have consisted of infusing a rational soul into a pair of an existing species which was in other bodily respects indistinguishable from modern humanity.


#6

Monogenism may be doctrine, but it’s not dogma.


#7

That’s why I agree with him on those two first points.

As to polygenism, it is not clear whether the Church has entirely ruled it out.

I mean no offence, but it seems fairly clear to me that this has been been ruled out as far as the identity of Adam and Eve are concerned. There really are two literal people who literally did sin and literally did commit an orignal sin that led humanity to a fall.

Regarding polygenism, however, Pope Pius XII stated:

[quote=Humani Generis 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 either that after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parents of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents. Now, it is in no way apparent how such an opinion can be reconciled that which the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the teaching authority of the Church proposed with regard to original sin which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam in which through generation is passed onto all and is in everyone as his own” (Pius XII, Humani Generis 37).
[/quote]

Honestly, this seems to be fairly clear language being used against these two forms of polygenism. I mysrlf have started a thread to investigate this question. But there simply seems to be no easy way to reconcile these two views.

To be fair, we also read previously…

[quote=Humani Generis 36]“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. However, this must be done in such a way that the reasons for both opinions, that is, those favorable and those unfavorable to evolution, be weighed and judged with the necessary seriousness, moderation and measure, and provided that all are prepared to submit to the judgment of the Church, to whom Christ has given the mission of interpreting authentically the Sacred Scriptures and of defending the dogmas of faith. Some however, rashly transgress this liberty of discussion, when they act as if the origin of the human body from pre-existing and living matter were already completely certain and proved by the facts which have been discovered up to now and by reasoning on those facts, and as if there were nothing in the sources of divine revelation which demands the greatest moderation and caution in this question.” (Pius XII, Humani Generis 36).
[/quote]

So on the one hand, we read that we cannot take these two forms of polygenism at liberty. They appears to be dangerous thoughts regarding our doctrine of orignal sin. On the other hand, we are still left with the question of exactly what this “pre-existent and living matter” is or was-- so it seems as though we can investigate this question cautiously.

Is there some other form of polygenism that we may investigate?


#8

There was only one Adam.

From Humani Generis, 1950 (available online):

“For the faithful cannot embrace the opinion which maintains that either after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their natural generation from him as from the first parent of all, or that Adam represents a ceratain number of first parents. Now it is 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.” From Part 37.

God bless,
Ed


#9

I agree.

When speaking of ‘special creation’ as being possibly a part of evolution, there is really only one instance of special creation that needs to be posited, and that is Adam and Eve.

Not necessarilly. In the plagues of Egypt the plague of gnats may actually discount this assertion.

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Tell Aaron, ‘Stretch out your staff and strike the dust of the ground,’ and throughout the land of Egypt the dust will become gnats.” They did this, and when Aaron stretched out his hand with the staff and struck the dust of the ground, gnats came upon men and animals. All the dust throughout the land of Egypt became gnats. But when the magicians tried to produce gnats by their secret arts, they could not. And the gnats were on men and animals.

Now this may be poetic language for insects “rising out of the ground”-- and I haven’t discounted this.

I have to also admit that I’ve read some very plausible theories on how these plagues could be explained by a chain reaction of natural causes-- which, in my opinion, would support a theistic evolutionary model of God guiding the events to conform to his will.

However, this may be exactly what it appears to be too-- God creating life quite literally from the dust of the earth. I find it intersting to note that the magicians, Jannes and Jambres, quite readilly proclaimed “This is the finger of God” when they could not reproduce the miracle. This seems to imply that this wasn’t just poetic language for “insects rising out of the ground”, because this is something which the magicians could have done using “slight of hand tricks” and other illusions.

There statement could still be indicative of simply assenting that the Hebrew God caused the events to happen without being physically involved. So perhaps the “dust of the earth” phrase implies a gathering from distants lands for example.

But at other times in the Scriptures the “Finger of God” phrase seems to explicitly imply that God’s hands were highly involved on a physical level, such as Exodus 31:18 and Deuteronomy 9:10, where God inscribes the Ten Commandments. In this sense, God’s hand (or the hand of a messenger) is also observed inscribing Mene , Mene , Tekel , Parsin as well-- see Daniel 5:5…

But you did not honor the God who holds in his hand your life and all your ways. Therefore he sent the hand that wrote the inscription.

At another time, the “finger of God” seems to drive out evil spirits as well, with God being spiritually involved on bringing about the physical manifestations of miracles associated with the driving out of demons…

[quote=Luke 11:20]But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you.
[/quote]

So I don’t think this is all that clear to be fair.

And here we are not talking about their bodies.

But you don’t know this for certain.

It certainly remains possible for God to have created Adam’s body quite literally from the dust of the earth. If God did indeed create a life form from the dust of the earth there in Egypt, it remains possible for God to have done this with Adam and the other animals in the garden too.

Special creation in that instance could have consisted of infusing a rational soul into a pair of an existing species which was in other bodily respects indistinguishable from modern humanity.

And I think the operative word is “could”.

Regarding the infusion of the soul, there is no doubt within Catholicism that this human eternal souls only happen by an act of God. So there’s no debating this part.

The mystery comes in regarding how did God create Adam’s body-- special creation or theistic evolution?

As a far as I can tell the Church has not spoken definitiely on this matter JimG.


#10

On the other hand, from EWTN:

EVOLUTION AND POLYGENISM

              Presupposing all this, according to the opinions of the above         mentioned exegetes and theologians, it results that Revelation and Dogma         say nothing directly concerning Monogenism or Polygenism, neither in         favour nor against them. Besides, these scientific hypotheses are *per         se *outside the field of Revelation. Within this context, different         combinations of the scientific theory of evolution are therefore         hypothetically possible or compatible with the doctrine of original sin.

One can nevertheless consider biological monogenism together. Humanity has its origin in a single couple; this couple committed the sin against God and as a result of this all their children are born in original sin. This is the classical doctrine.

Or it is possible to admit a biological polygenism and a theological monogenism. Evolution brought about not a single couple but many men, who constituted the primitive human population. One of these, who may be considered the leader, rebelled against God. This sin passed on to all men, his contemporaries, not by imitation, but by real propagation (Council of Trent Session V, DS. 1513), that is by a real solidarity already existing in this primordial human population. In them actual sinful humanity has its origin.

It is also possible to combine biological and theological polygenism: all the primitive human population rebelled concordantly against God and from them are born the other sinful men.

These hypotheses are only suppositions which many think are not contrary to Revelation and the bible. Even if we accept as valid the scientific theory of evolution and polygenism, it can still be in accordance with the dogma of original sin in the various manners indicated.


#11

Yes, the quote from Humani Generis essentially says that it is “in no way apparent” how polygenism can be reconciled with the doctrine of original sin. That does not, to me, constitute ruling it out entirely. (Note that what anthropology identifies as homo sapiens, cannot from this temporal distance, be positively equated with what we know as human beings, i.e. having body and a rational soul.) Infusion of a soul into an existing hominid by definition creates a new species which is biologically identical with the old.


#12

But that’s not theology. That’s science.

And from a purely scientifically minded person there may be absolutely no distinction between the two-- therefore no distinction in species either.


#13

This is why I tend to favour the “special creation” idea.

In any case, special creation has to have occurred at some point, even if all God actually created were space, time, light, heat, and water - and if at some point, then why not at six different points, as described in the first chapter of the Book of Genesis?


#14

Science can’t detect an immortal rational soul, so the infusion of a soul into an existing species is theology.

But anyone could presumably detect the difference between two bodily identical species, one of which had a rational soul, and one of which did not. The one with the rational soul would engage in activities requiring intellect and free will–writings, language, discourse, internet forums. And in fact the beginnings of written history begin about 10,000 years ago, although the species homo sapiens apparently existed much earlier.


#15

In the fairy tales, a frog + a kiss = a Prince. In Evolution, a frog + time = a Prince. Time is the magical component of Evolution. If evolution is inobservable and seemingly ridiculous today, scientists resort to the “billions and billions of years” that evolution needs. The Scientific Viewpoint includes a lot of science AGAINST evolution—not just science that seems to show that evolution may have happened. The stronger science favors the Creationist point of view. Fossils themselves, especially the great death pits found throughout the world, are scientific evidence of, not evolution, but of a world-wide catastrophe (the Flood). You see, in order for a fossil to be formed, an organism must be BURIED RAPIDLY. Of all the buffaloes killed when the whites came to the Americas, practically no fossils were formed—because they were not buried rapidly.


#16

Citing a Chick tract does not exactly lend your point of view much credibility, Phil.

What is this ‘stronger science’ you speak of that favors creationism?


#17

mid << What is this ‘stronger science’ you speak of that favors creationism? >>

All kinds of stuff, you know, the usual:

I read that article, and nowhere did it say where these transitional fossils are.

That’s because there are none. Take a trip to any museum you want. You’ll never find any. Every so called transitional fossil has either been proven a fraud, or misidentified. I hope you’re not going to use Lucy or Homo Erectus or any other so called ape men.

There is not one scientific proof of evolution. Period. Tell me your best proof that you have for accepting such a ridiculous theory over the reality of God creating the world in 7 days.

To accept such a theory, thereby you would have to deny God and that would affect every decision and every thought you have in the rest of your entire life on this Earth. That sounds like something I would have to have overwhealming evidence to accept.

Evolution is a new liberal Godless theory…yes theory…that evil men have conjured up (just a couple hundred short years ago) in order to deny God, so that they will have no one to answer to, and no rules to follow.

definitely not Phil P


#18

Show that they’re fraudulent, if you please.

There is not one scientific proof of evolution. Period. Tell me your best proof that you have for accepting such a ridiculous theory over the reality of God creating the world in 7 days.

I wouldn’t call it ‘ridiculous’, if I were you. After all, which is more bizarre: observable mutation and speciation or a superbeing reaching down, molding a person out of clay, and breathing life into him?

To accept such a theory, thereby you would have to deny God and that would affect every decision and every thought you have in the rest of your entire life on this Earth. That sounds like something I would have to have overwhealming evidence to accept.

You don’t have to deny God to accept that evolution is a decent explanation. You just have to stop taking the first chapter of Genesis as literal, historic fact. The Church doesn’t have a problem with this.

Evolution is a new liberal Godless theory…yes theory…that evil men have conjured up (just a couple hundred short years ago) in order to deny God, so that they will have no one to answer to, and no rules to follow.

Sure it’s a theory. So’s gravitation. You don’t have a problem with that one, I hope?

Nor was it ‘conjured up’, as you say, for the sole purpose of denying God. If anything, a theist could look at it and be amazed at how subtly the divine works: not by the crude, broad strokes of specific creation, but as a cosmic watchmaker or machinist, who endows his creation with the capacity to grow and change.


#19

<< Sure it’s a theory. So’s gravitation. You don’t have a problem with that one, I hope? >>

Ah ha, secular godless gravitation is a theory also, and therefore, just not true.

Intelligent Falling my good man, Intelligent Falling. :stuck_out_tongue:

maybe Phil P


#20

The teaching of Pius XII in Humani Generis in 1950 does not not exactly favour polygenism - however, he did not entirely rule out the possibilty that in the future there might be a way of reconciling it with the dogmas of the unity of the human race & original sin. He did leave that possibility open - but teaches monogenism in that encyclical. Here’s what he said on the matter:

[LIST]
*]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 either that 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 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, 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][/LIST]papalencyclicals.net/Pius12/P12HUMAN.HTM

[See also 35 & 36]

If the likelihood of life on earth was as scarce as the figures report, then isn’t the implication that all life did, in fact, find its first origins in a single cell? If this is so, what conclusions are we to draw?

sigh I love biology, but I hear daily a 100 conflicting positions. I want to be objective in my search for truth and not, as my science teacher says, “walk through life with tunnel vision.” The problem is that, from what I understand, most modern science textbooks can’t keep up with the constant revisions to Darwin’s theory–and don’t want to anyway, what’s more, in the good name of secular science. In doing so, they oftentimes end up representing the Olde-style, fundamentalist-extremist, all-homologies-are-evidence-for-Common-Ancestry style of thinking and ignore critics of this position (an increasing number).

Simultaneously, our culture is so steeped in cartoonish parodies of Java Man and talk of a “missing link” that it can’t think independently of such notions!

I have no qualms with evolution (I actually like the subject and find it fascinating), but I want to know about rock-hard evidence for new species devloping from old: Is there any? What about genera? Whole new phyla?

I’m ranting and becoming redundant, I know, but I need some clarification on this issue:

(1) Doctrinally, as pertains to what the Church officially teaches here;

And,

(2) Scientifically, regarding issues such as Common Origins and polygenism.

Any help?

IMHO, the Church is not entitled to tell biologists their business - unless they are entitled to tell the Church its business. The Church has no competence in the sciences, & scientists have no competence to teach theology. Any assumption of authority by the Church over matters in which it is a learner rather than a teacher, is intolerable; as would any similar assumptions by scientists in matters beyond their competence.

Bad science for the sake of sounness in doctrine is very bad for doctrine - for doctrine to insist on what is in fact bad science is a failure in faith: it implies God is not capable of looking after the Church. So for doctrine to be sound, sound science is needed; neither the Church nor any academic discipline is well served by Fundamentalism.


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