Theistic Evolution and the Bible


#1

I was shocked to find out recently that the Church (JPII especially) supports the idea of theistic evoultion. I believe that this is only to prevent another Galileo embarrasment. However, I cannot reconcile theistic evolution with a Biblical understanding of the world and certainly not even the new Testament.

To start with an easy example, we are commanded to keep Holy the Sabbath day (every 7th day), like God did when creating the Earth. Now if Genesis is merely a race memory written down by Moses for an ancient people 1500 years after the event and cannot be taken too literally, then can one not start to question did God “reveal” or “inspire” the Decalogue through Moses? And since Jesus referred to it also, can that not be brought into question? See the domino effect? That is just one example.

Another is that sin entered the world through one man (Adam) and woman (Eve), and salvation came through one Man (Jesus), through one Woman (Mary). It is a beautiful type and shadow thing, But if we evolved, who were the first two actual human beings who had a soul? What species were they? So their parents did not have a soul, but they did? That sounds silly to me.


#2

David << then can one not start to question did God “reveal” or “inspire” the Decalogue through Moses? >>

Moses gave the Commandments in Exodus 20 (and Deut 5). Normally the portion of Genesis that is considered non-historical by biblical critics or of “mythical” genre is Genesis chapters 1-11. Abraham (Gen 12) would be historical. This wouldn’t effect Moses handing down the 10 Commandments. The “six days” and God resting on the 7th represents the human work week, as per Ludwig Ott (Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, page 92-95).

David << Another is that sin entered the world through one man (Adam) and woman (Eve), and salvation came through one Man (Jesus), through one Woman (Mary). It is a beautiful type and shadow thing >>

Human sin (and therefore, human death) entered the world at Adam/Eve who were the first truly human couple infused with spiritual souls. They suffered “spiritual death” (separation from God) at the Fall when they made a deliberate choice to sin (original sin). Animals, plants, and cells were dying long before the Fall.

David << But if we evolved, who were the first two actual human beings who had a soul? What species were they? >>

Hard to say what species, some argue Homo sapiens created, some Homo sapiens evolved, some Neandertals, some early Australopithecus, and some perhaps another species. These are some of my favorite articles / books on the topic. Not an easy problem to resolve I’ll admit.

David << So their parents did not have a soul, but they did? That sounds silly to me. >>

Parents would not have a soul, since Adam/Eve would be the first truly human couple infused with spiritual souls. Sounds a lot less silly than believing the earth is 6000-10000 years old, and Adam had a pet Brontosaurus in his backyard, which is the typical (young-earth) creationist response. Genesis 4 places Adam/Eve (and Cain/Abel) at a time with metal tools, sophisticated musical instruments, plant and animal domestication, farming, and cities. This is post- or New Stone Ages (late Neolithic Period). But we know homo sapiens existed long before this period of time, early Stone Ages (we originated 150,000 to 200,000 years ago in Africa according to all scientific evidence).

One article on the topic in the Vatican’s own newspaper – available on EWTN’s site, “The Credo of Paul VI: Theology of Original Sin and the Scientific Theory of Evolution”, L’Osservatore Romano, 17 April 1969.

Another article is the more recent Communion and Stewardship: Human Persons Created in the Image of God by the International Theological Commission headed by Cardinal Ratzinger in 2004.

I’ve compiled several Catholic creation-evolution-ID articles here

Phil P


#3

I have posted some questions for you in a related thread,

Moses wrote the book of Genesis as one book, agreed? Interesting that he chose to change styles halfway through. Things that make you go Hmmm.
I’ve said elsewhere that I believe in the Big Bang (since is doesn’t contradict the Bible). So I see no contradiction between an old Earth and the Bible (The sun and moon were not made until the fourth “day”). What’s more, the latest is that we are not related to Neandrethal man at all, that is, that there is no direct line from a common ancestor directly to man, but more like a web, with many “nearly humans” dying out and their traits re-emerging in other species. Sounds like people finding unexpected thiings and trying to support their a priori presumption that evolution must be the only way man could have come to be.

The ages that come from such “scientific” evidence and the conclusions drawn are a long bow. Carbon dating requires that one knows how much carbon (in radioactive form) there was in the first place. I do CT scans of skull for a living, and I can tell you that most of those found (I’ve seen the fossils), are normal human skulls. People are seeing what they want to see. I myself have seen far less human looking skulls on people I have scanned than the fossils!


#4

David << I have posted some questions for you in a related thread >>

All righty, I’ll try to take a look. I’m not expert in the science, many others in here are much more knowledgeable. However, I have been trying to resolve the theological conflicts on this topic in here since 2004 or so. :smiley:

David << Moses wrote the book of Genesis as one book, agreed? Interesting that he chose to change styles halfway through. Things that make you go Hmmm. >>

True, however Moses could not have written about his own death. Moses’ death is spoken of at the end of Deuteronomy. Most scholars today would conclude the Pentateuch (first five books of Moses) was edited by a series of authors. Do you know who accepts that idea? Again, John Paul II. I invite you to read his Commentaries on Genesis in his “Theology of the Body” series. I have not studied this idea in depth, it is called the “JEPD” theory of authorship. See especially Biblical Account of Creation Analyzed by John Paul II, dated 1979.

David << What’s more, the latest is that we are not related to Neandrethal man at all, that is, that there is no direct line from a common ancestor directly to man >>

True about Neandertal. I linked that article from my site as a possible Adam/Eve. Much of the evidence is against the idea we evolved directly from Neandertals. We were contemporaries at one point, and they died out as a species about 25,000 years ago.

David << Sounds like people finding unexpected thiings and trying to support their a priori presumption that evolution must be the only way man could have come to be. >>

No, the evidence that we evolved from previous life forms is substantial. Common descent is not debated today in science. Exactly how we did that and through what lines of descent (who is directly related to who) is what is debated. Many knowledgeable people in here can help you on the science.

The International Theological Commission statement endorsed by Ratzinger calls common descent “virtually certain” :

“Since it has been demonstrated that all living organisms on earth are genetically related, it is virtually certain that all living organisms have descended from this first organism. Converging evidence from many studies in the physical and biological sciences furnishes mounting support for some theory of evolution to account for the development and diversification of life on earth, while controversy continues over the pace and mechanisms of evolution. While the story of human origins is complex and subject to revision, physical anthropology and molecular biology combine to make a convincing case for the origin of the human species in Africa about 150,000 years ago in a humanoid population of common genetic lineage.” (Communion and Stewardship, 2004)

David << The ages that come from such “scientific” evidence and the conclusions drawn are a long bow. Carbon dating requires that one knows how much carbon (in radioactive form) there was in the first place. >>

Carbon dating takes us back 50,000 years. This is not how we get how old the earth is. The general radiometric dating techniques is how we get back billions of years. And they’ve been well-established and well-tested for 50+ years on the oldest earth rocks, moon rocks, and meteorites. The assumptions have been well-tested also, and the “Isochron” methods do not require knowledge of the initial daughter. Read Dalrymple’s book The Age of the Earth (1991) or read the general Age of the Earth articles from TalkOrigins.

David << I do CT scans of skull for a living, and I can tell you that most of those found (I’ve seen the fossils), are normal human skulls. People are seeing what they want to see. I myself have seen far less human looking skulls on people I have scanned than the fossils! >>

OK, all I can say is go back through the evidence for human evolution (pictures included). A fancy Flash site is BecomingHuman.org by professional paleoanthropologists. Another nice resource are all the past “Science Friday” archives (Real Audio required), listen to all the ones on human evolution (there are dozens).

Phil P


#5

[quote=PhilVaz]No, the evidence that we evolved from previous life forms is substantial. Common descent is not debated today in science. Exactly how we did that and through what lines of descent (who is directly related to who) is what is debated. Many knowledgeable people in here can help you on the science.
[/quote]

Thanks for the information, PhilVaz. This particular bit has been a curiosity for me lately. How are we certain that all life is related? I ask this because it seems possible to me (and I’m anything but a scientist) that there could have been multiple origins of life, even primitive life. I know we supposedly share genetic detail with everything from bananas to lizards, but I’ve never had it explained to me how two events of abiogenesis would result in obviously distinct genetic lineages. Along the lines of how species can branch off and develop new yet similar characteristics.

So it’s not the descent part I’m wondering about here, so much as the common part. The possibility of different roots in that tree of life.


#6

DNA make RNA makes protein. So a stretch of DNA is transcribed into a stretch of RNA, and then the protein, a chain of amino acids, is read off the RNA, Now there are a large number of possible small amino acids, but life only uses 20 of them. All organisms use the same twenty. Moreover, with tiny differences, all use thes same genetic code. E.coli DNA codes for exactly the same protein as the same DNA in an elephant. If fact if we wish to study an elephant protein, the standard technique is to introduce the gene into E. coli to grow a large quantity of it.

Now the code is determined by molecuales called transfer RNAs, also coded for for DNA. These tRNAs are not turned into protein. The three bases at the lower end of the tRNA, the anti codon, bind to the messenger RNA, and that is how the cell translates RNA into protein. Though there are theories about how the genetic code arose, essentially it is arbitrary.
The chance of independently-arising organisms using exactly the same system is too tiny. therefore we conclude that all living things are derived from the same organism. This would not have been the first living thing. Either it arrived from outer space, or its descendants drove all other things extinct.


#7

Nulla << This particular bit has been a curiosity for me lately. How are we certain that all life is related? I ask this because it seems possible to me (and I’m anything but a scientist) that there could have been multiple origins of life, even primitive life. >>

For that, an “abiogenesis” expert can answer. The lines of evidence for common descent are…

In spite of the extensive variation of form and function among organisms, several fundamental criteria characterize all life:

(1) replication,
(2) information flow in continuity of kind,
(3) catalysis, and
(4) energy utilization (metabolism).

These four functions are required to generate a physical historical process that can be described by a phylogenetic tree. A basic prediction of the genealogical relatedness of all life, combined with the constraint of gradualism, is that organisms should be very similar in the particular mechanisms and structures that execute these four basic life processes.

– All known living things use polymers to perform these four basic functions: polynucleotides, polypeptides, and polysaccharides.

– All known life uses the same polymer, polynucleotide (DNA or RNA), for storing species specific information.

– All known organisms base replication on the duplication of this molecule.

– In all known organisms, enzymatic catalysis is based on the abilities provided by protein molecules and these are constructed with the same subset of 22 amino acids (even though there are 293 naturally occurring amino acids).

– All known organisms, with extremely rare exceptions, use the same genetic code for transmitting information from the genetic material to the catalytic material.

– All known organisms use extremely similar, if not the same, metabolic pathways and metabolic enzymes in processing energy-containing molecules.

Now don’t ask me to explain all that, I took this from my summary of Theobald’s material (2002 version). :thumbsup:

The basic “creationist” response is that all this shows a “common designer” rather than “common descent.” But there are other problems with that: anatomical and molecular vestiges (structural remnants of lost functions: python pelvises, blind cave fish with eyes, flightless beetle wings, etc), atavisms (reappearance of lost characters: whales with rare hindlimbs, extra toes in horses, thigh muscles in birds, dew claw in dogs, “true human tail” in humans, etc), and pseudo-genes or non-functioning but still copied DNA, see Plagiarized Errors and Molecular Genetics.

Phil P


closed #8

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