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Catholicism and Evolution

August marked the 60th anniversary of the encyclical Humani Generis, prompting this short essay in the Wall Street Journal. Money quote:

While Pius was willing to concede that there was reason to believe the human body was the product of evolution, he was adamant that the special status of Adam as the father of the human race should not be a matter of question. "For the faithful," he wrote, "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."Pius declared that it was not apparent how such a theory of a founding population of humans, and not a single couple, could be reconciled with original sin. That Catholic doctrine regards the Fall as an historical rebellion against God; a sin actually committed by an individual and which is passed on through the generations from him to all men and women.Subsequent research into genomics, however, has settled this question against Pius. It's not that scientists cannot trace human ancestry back far enough to an Adam and Eve; it's that in principle, the level of genetic variation present in the species today rules out a founding population with fewer than several thousand individuals.

John Paul II, for his part, called evolution "more than a hypothesis," and went so far as to indicate that, while there is necessarily an "ontological leap" from ape to human, that perhaps the timing of such a leap could be gleaned where signs of human self-awareness, conscience, etc. may be observed. In sum--there's no real shift from Pius in insisting that the creation of the human soul must have been direct, a supernatural grace bestowed on some lucky ape. His reasoning is that no materialist notion of the soul could ground a strong concept of human dignity. He doesn't take on the problem of a founding population and whether that causes our doctrine of Original Sin to run aground. (It wasn't that kind of document, but I'm unaware of any other papal statement since Pius' on that point.) That question seems to remain. I see an echo of this concern in the CDF's 1981 reiteration of the warning against reading Teilhard de Chardin, who argued for a more evolutionary conception of human history altogether.So what's at stake here? Well, lots of big doctrines are in play--the nature of the soul, Original Sin and its transmission, and Christology, for starters. Is it time perhaps to re-open the possibilities raised by Teilhard's evolutionary mysticism? Where might that take us?HT: The Daily Dish, Zoe Pollock

About the Author

Lisa Fullam is associate professor of moral theology at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley. She is the author of The Virtue of Humility: A Thomistic Apologetic (Edwin Mellen Press).

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I read the Genesis account of the fall as myth, not literal history. And it's not clear to me that genomics - a science of the body - says anything whatever about the soul. I don't see the problem - what am I missing here?

Jim,Well, according to the Catechism

390 The account of the fall in Genesis 3 uses figurative language, but affirms a primeval event, a deed that took place at the beginning of the history of man.264 Revelation gives us the certainty of faith that the whole of human history is marked by the original fault freely committed by our first parents.265264 Cf. GS 13 1.265 Cf. Council of Trent: DS 1513; Pius XII: DS 3897; Paul VI: AAS 58 (1966), 654.

Current science tells us we didn't have first parents. So as Lisa asks, what is Original Sin and how is it transmitted? And if it is some kind of flaw in human nature or matter, how was Mary exempted from it? How do we interpret (or reinterpret) the Immaculate Conception, which is an infallible statement?

We declare, pronounce and define that the doctrine which holds that the Blessed Virgin Mary, at the first instant of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace of the Omnipotent God, in virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of mankind, was preserved immaculate from all stain of original sin, has been revealed by God, and therefore should firmly and constantly be believed by all the faithful.

It's one of the two statements by a pope universally agreed to be infallible, but we don't know what in the world it means.And then what about Jesus as the New Adam? (For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead came also through a human being. For just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life.)I'd say if you don't accept that the human race descended from two and only two individuals (and almost nobody does, nowadays), there are a lot of things in Catholicism that are in serious need of reinterpretation. Or maybe they should just be abandoned altogether, like Limbo was.

I think the monitum against Teilhard can be safely disregarded given how then Cardinal Ratzinger praised elements of this thinking in Introduction to Christianity. More recently in 2009http://ncronline.org/news/ecology/pope-cites-teilhardian-vision-cosmos-l... have found Teilhard's work poetic, rich and spiritually satisfying. I enjoyed his work the Divine Milieu,

Bravo for the WSJ calling out all Christians who want to have their cake and eat it too on this matter. This is the theological pressure point in the glass of Christianity. Push to hard and it will shatter. Christology and Soteriology are the big issues, but add to that everything related to sexuality. If evolution is right, heterosexuality is an evolutionary trick to increase adaptive possibilities. There is no normative message hidden in it regarding how relationships between two people should actually be ordered.As one who almost became a Jesuit because of Teilhard, I confess I now find him not quite enough. The Omega Point is arbitrary, or merely code for a moral telos in the universe (a fine concept in itself). And there is no better reason to view the universe as the cosmic body of Christ than to view it as the cosmic "body" of God (or at least one of many parts of a much more expansive body than we can even imagine).Take away the literal Adam and Eve and Christianity as we know it is in very big trouble.

Most of the difficulties reside in the scientific principle cited above: in principle, the level of genetic variation present in the species today rules out a founding population with fewer than several thousand individuals. This does not imply that several thousand individuals independently committed sins before generating humanity, but that is how it is understood.As I understand it, there are several things that we know:1>, there was a "first sin", a sin temporally prior to every other sin.2> Unless genomics has changed since I last checked, all humanity can be traced back to a single male progenitor and to a single female. They were not alive at the same time.(I have my doubts about all this, but that is what they used to say because of the ununique properties of y chromosomes and mitochondrial DNA.)3> The first 'humans' intermarried with others who were not their offspring. This is implicit in evolutionary theories of how species come to be, and it is explicit in Genesis 6:4 "At that time the Nephilim appeared on earth (as well as later), after the sons of heaven had intercourse with the daughters of man, who bore them sons." (ie not all the founding population had to be 'human'.)Given these idea, I have no problem with the Adam and Eve story as an explanation of our origins as a group of individuals each capable of sin. The structure parallels the structure of the history of our physical evolution, and the inaccuracies are not particularly important. Genesis and Evolution are both stories about the development of humans, but human is defined differently b yeach so that are not exactly comparable.As for Chardin, I can support other efforts to tell how humans came to exist. I would not want them to replace the stories we already have, but if they can exist alongside, the more insight we can get, the better off we will be.

I never found the quote from the Catechism or the New Testament references to "Adam" problematic. And yes, I too find it hard to accept that we are all descended from one primordial couple.Perhaps I just haven't been thinking critically enough about it, but it always seemed evident to me that the Catechism was very careful in the way it chose its words. By acknowledging the figurative language of Genesis 2 & 3 and then by opting not to name our "first parents," the text allows for an interpretation that our first parents needn't have been a specific couple. It is making a more general reference, telling us that somewhere along the line, the human race--in whatever evolutionary state it was at the time--somehow turned away from God, with the result that humanity's relation to God, both corporate and individual, was dramatically altered.How it happened, when it happened, and maybe even why it happened are probably irretrievable and unnecessary. *That* it happened--that's the real issue. And I would wager that far fewer people will debate the universal reality of sin and the need for redemption/salvation from that sin.

"Take away the literal Adam and Eve and Christianity as we know it is in very big trouble."Not so, Joe P. It is the concept not the literalness that is the point."And I would wager that far fewer people will debate the universal reality of sin and the need for redemption/salvation from that sin."This is more the point. We do have to get away from indelible marks and the "magic" of baptism. Baptism is commitment to discipleship, not membership in a "club."We have to get away from the church of dogma and the church of liturgy. When most Christians shy away from loving enemies we need more attention to that command of Christ. "What good are you if you are only good to those who are good to you. Even the heathen do that."Dogma creates pageantry, grandiosity and fantasy. While discipleship is the heart of the message of Jesus. Original sin is in selfishness and straying from God. The counter to the straying is discipleship and crucifixion. Not continued grandiosity. The poor and the downtrodden are still generally absent in the midst of the Miters and the red hats. Jesus did not speak in grandiosity. "The blind see, the lame walk and the poor have the gospel preached to them." Really too simple or foreign to the "wise of this world.

Original sin is a concept advocated by St. Augustine and widely accepted in the West but the view of the Eastern Church Orthodox Church is rather different. I am relying here on John Meyendorff's Byzantine Theology: Historical Trends and Doctrinal Themes.

For me, the idea of evolution impacts on the problem of evil. If God is all powerful and all good, then the responsibility for suffering and for the fallen world traditionally lands on us (Adam and Eve/original sin). But science shows that two individuals couldn't be the only parents of the race, and that there was no idyllic time when creatures lived in peace in a perfect garden. What does this do, not only to how suffering is explained away, but to atonement theory, the idea that Jesus came here and died to make up for Adam's mistake?I guess some (Teilhard, Keith Ward, etc) explain suffering and death as inevitable with the use of free will in the process of growth and change in an imperfect universe, and they see Jesus as giving a good example rather than atoning for original sin,. This doesn't really seem to answer my questions about suffering, though.

Mark Jameson says: " . . . by opting not to name our 'first parents,' the text allows for an interpretation that our first parents neednt have been a specific couple." Jim McK says: "The first humans intermarried with others who were not their offspring."I think you are ignoring the fact that the statement about first parents in the Catechism footnotes the Council of Trent, Humani Generis, and Humani Vitae. The point of this thread is that Pius XII was wrong in Humani Generis. Here is the pertinent passage:

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

I don't think it is possible to explain away what Pius XII said or what the Catechism says, which is that the human race started out with one man and one woman from whom all living humans are descended. If the Catechism authors were giving themselves "wiggle room" so that "first parents" could be interpreted as meaning something other than the man and the woman from whom the entire human race is descended, why would they have been so emphatic about the certainty of the revealed truth?Revelation gives us the certainty of faith that the whole of human history is marked by the original fault freely committed by our first parents.

Its not that scientists cannot trace human ancestry back far enough to an Adam and Eve; its that in principle . . .Here we enter into a conflating of different things, science and "principles", thereby confusing the issue, not clarifying it.Science might utilize "principles," but principles are not in and of themselves "science." Rather, science is foremost concerned with actual verifiable proof, the scientific method is one of repeating experiments and hard data.In the case of man's origins, this means actual anthropological physical evidence. And for all the "principles" of evolution, there is still a very large gap in the historical physical evidence between so-called pre-humans and the current species of homo sapiens. Also known as "the missing link." That is, it has not yet been scientifically proven.THAT is what the science says. All of the rest is conjecture. Educated conjecture maybe, more probable than not maybe, but conjecture and hypothesis nonetheless.

What is Original Sin, and when did it occur? Suppose we accept the idea that the story of Adam and Eve is a figurative story not about two people who sinned, but about a group of humans who sinned and from whom we are all descended. How long ago did that happen? At what point in prehistory did humans reach a level of moral development such that a sin on their part could fairly be attributed not just to them, but to all of their descendants? Whatever constituted "the Fall," it had to have been an "original fault freely committed." Surely it had to meet the criteria for mortal sin. Did humankind reach a stage of moral development at which it is possible to attribute mortal sin to them early enough so that all those who now live are their descendants? What were homo sapiens like before "the Fall"?

Here we enter into a conflating of different things, science and principles, thereby confusing the issue, not clarifying it.Bender,You are parsing the language of an article in the Wall Street Journal. It could just as easily have said, "The level of genetic variation present in the species today rules out a founding population with fewer than several thousand individuals."In the case of mans origins, this means actual anthropological physical evidence.Are you saying scientists must find physical evidence that the human race did or did not descend from two individuals responsible for Original Sin? Exactly what kind of evidence would that be? . . . . there is still a very large gap in the historical physical evidence between so-called pre-humans and the current species of homo sapiens. Also known as the missing link. There were homo sapiens sapiens in Europe 35,000 years ago, and more than twice as long ago in the Middle East. So presumably Original Sin occurred more than 70,000 years ago.What link is missing, and what has it got to do with Adam and Eve? Does it predate or postdate them?

I love Teilhard, and especially like his view of original sin, precisely because I think it preserves the tradition so well. A while ago, I wrote a paper in which I tried to both explicate Teilhard and show how he is "orthodox," and how on problematic areas his thought could be modified, etc. Here's some stuff I wrote on his idea of original sin which might be helpful in making clear just what he's saying exactly. Note: referenes to "CE" are to "Christianity and Evolution."...We have explained how for Teilhard, Creation equals Incarnation: to explain how Redemption is equal to both, we must examine his view of original sin, which attempts to reconcile the doctrine with evolution. Teilhards view of original sin was and remains controversial for many, but I believe it is ultimately reconcilable with orthodoxy, precisely because of how it preserves Catholic dogma: it does not at all water down original sin. Original sin, he says, is everywhere, as closely woven into the being of the world as the God who creates us and the Incarnate Word who redeems us (CE 54). Some parts of Teilhards writings on the subject do pose problems that need to be corrected; other parts, however, only appear to do so because of the rhetorical strategy he employs. I will first lay out his view, and then address various concerns and problems.Traditionally, Catholicism has taught that physical evil the suffering and death of all creatures came into the world because of original sin, here meaning the sin of the first humans. However, science tells us that life existed on earth for over three billion years before the first humans evolved, and hence that suffering and death also existed long before humans: Thousands of centuries before a thinking being appeared on our earth, life swarmed on it, with its instincts and passions, its sufferings and deaths (CE 38). If science is right, how should we re-interpret the doctrine of original sin? Teilhard describes what he sees as the sort of solution advanced by the conservative (CE 48) theologians of his time:[block quote (I don't know how to do formatting?)]Through sin comes death. In order to get away from evidence that is only too clear, an attempt is now being made to weaken this illuminating phrase. Death, it is agreed, most certainly existed for animals before mans transgression, and, had man been faithful, even in his case it could not have been averted except by a sort of permanent miracle. (CE 81) [Thus,] All along the line, they minimize. Today, the preternatural gifts given to our first parents are whittled down as far as possible. The range of the properties found in the earthly paradise is reduced. The consequences of the transgression are limited by saying that the suffering and death introduced into the world simply refers to mans suffering and death (CE 48)[end block quote]Teilhard argues that this way of solving the problem avoids criticism by simply giving up, and that, what is more serious, it compromises the very content of the dogma (CE 48). He strongly objects to attempts by theologians to solve the problem by limiting the effects of original sin to humans alone, for various reasons, two of which are most important. First, such a reinterpretation is manifestly contrary to the spirit if not to the letter of St. Paul, for whom the Fall is above all a solution to the problem of evil (CE 48):[block quote]St. Paul is categorical: Per peccatum mors. Sin (original sin) does not explain the suffering and the mortality only of man: for St. Paul it explains all suffering. It is the general solution of the problem of evil. (CE 39-40; emphasis in text).[end block quote]In other words, if we limit original sins effects to humans, we are left with a God who has designed carnivorous creatures (such as lions, sharks, etc.) whose very nature is to live by preying upon other creatures, causing them terror, pain, and death. We would no longer be able to say that such evil reflects the worlds fallen condition; we would have to say that this is how God intends creation to be. Indeed, we often find people taking this attitude: confronted, for example, with killer whales devouring baby seals, one might shrug and say, Thats just the instinct nature gives them i.e., thats how God created them. For Teilhard, this must not be how God created them, must not be their true, authentic nature; it must be part of their fallenness.Teilhards second reason for rejecting attempts to limit original sin to humans is even more crucial for him: unless the whole world is fallen, Christ cannot be the redeemer of the whole world (CE 38-39; 54, 190). The spirit of the Bible and the Church is perfectly clear, he insists: the whole world has been corrupted by the Fall and the whole of everything has been redeemed. Christs glory, beauty, and irresistible attraction radiate, in short, from His universal kingship (CE 39, emphases in text).Teilhards solution to the problem is to re-imagine original sin here meaning the fallen condition of the world with all its suffering, death, disorder, inclination of humans to sin, etc. not as the result of the sin of the first humans, but rather as like an inevitable shadow, like smoke from fire (CE 84), that appears for the duration of Gods act of creation, i.e., while God is still drawing being out of nothingness and unifying it as the Mystical Body. With inorganic matter, this shadow, original sin, appears as disorder and chaos; on the level of life, it appears as suffering and death; on the level of thought, it becomes moral evil, evil freely chosen: thus, the sin of the first humans is when humans freely gave in to the shadow (CE 195) i.e., it is when we sold ourselves into slavery to Satan.Note here that for Teilhard, humans are born with original sin, this shadow, just as traditionally taught not only because its presence is universal, but even because it is passed down through human generation; moral evils emergence with humans can be regarded as having contaminated the human phylum; and, in consequence, every new human being must be baptized (CE 149 n.4; also 85, 146). He claims that under his theory, individual baptism retains, and in an even more emphatic form, its full justification; in each soul there is something which needs to be purified (CE 196-197). I am not aware of any passage where Teilhard says it explicitly, but it should go without saying that in his theology, humans are still born without sanctifying grace, just as traditionally taught, etc.The following is a series of quotes I have cobbled together from Teilhards various essays in Christianity and Evolution which explain his view in greater depth:[block quote]In one sense, if to create is to unite (evolutively, gradually), then God cannot create without evil appearing as a shadow evil which has to be atoned for and overcome. This is not a limitation on Gods power, but the expression of a law of nature, an ontological law, which it would be illogical to suppose God could contravene. (134-35) [A]s a matter of logic which applies to every conceivable world, the creative act takes the form, for those beings which are its object, of transition from a state of initial dispersion to one of ultimate harmony. (83) [Evil] necessarily appears in the course of unification of the multiple, since it is precisely the expression of a state of plurality that is as yet incompletely organized. [T]he original weakness from which the creature suffers is in reality the radical condition which causes it to be born from a starting-point in the multiple, always retaining in its fibres (until it is finally and permanently spiritualized) a tendency to fall back towards the bottom, into dust. (84) Strictly speaking, there is no first Adam. The name disguises a universal and unbreakable law of reversion or perversion the price that has to be paid for progress. (41) For the Almighty, therefore, to create is no small matter: it is no picnic, but an adventure, a risk, a battle, to which He commits Himself unreservedly. (84-85) By the very fact that He creates, God commits Himself to a fight against evil and in consequence to, in one way or another, effecting a redemption. (40) [The evils that are] rampant all around us on earth, [t]hese tears, this blood, and these vices, are in reality a measure of the value that we represent. Our being must, indeed, be precious for God to continue to seek it through so many obstacles. And it is a great honour that He makes us able to fight with Him, that His word may be accomplished in other words that there may be creature. (33)[end block quote]To develop Teilhards view with my own ideas: original sin is a resistance on the part of creation to being created and united in love, an inclination to remain and slide back into nothingness, the refusal of grace. Creation is a movement out of nothingness toward Christ, and original sin is like the inertia that must be overcome in order to move any object from a state of rest to motion. It represents the action of the negative forces of counter-evolution (CE 150). It is creation saying to God, like Lucifer, non serviam; it is a refusal to let the Mystical Body of Christ be born i.e., the reverse of Marys yes, her fiat mihi (Lk. 1:38). It is worth noting here that in the Vulgate, Creation, Incarnation, and Redemption all begin with a fiat Fiat Lux at Creation (Gen. 1:3), Fiat Mihi at the Anunciation, and Fiat Voluntas Tua at the Agony in the Garden (Mt. 26:42, see also Lk. 22:42, Mk. 14:36).Of course, it is Christ who redeems the world from original sin, and so the process we have identified as Creation/Incarnation is also Redemption, because it is a process by and in which Christ redeems the world from the opposing shadow of original sin. However, before moving on to consider Redemption further, it is necessary to address certain issues raised by Teilhards theory of original sin.(I'll leave out the rest, since this is probably way too much already)

By the way, the problems/issues with Teilhard's theory that I went on to address are as follows:1) Problem: Unacceptable Limitation of Omnipotence?2) Problem: Not Due to Human Fault?3) Problems: Inevitability/Freedom of Sin; Concupiscence vs. Absence of Sanctifying Grace...I thought I'd mention these ahead of time in case anyone points them out, just to let you know that I know these are issues!

There was a book in response to the Catechism in which a number of leading theologians criticized its biblical fundamentalism.

Jim McK - thanks; your comment touched on exactly the sorts of things I was thinking of when I posted my initial comment.Brendan McGrath - thank you; very interesting and thought provoking. (FWIW, my rule of thumb is, nobody's comment is too long if it's filled with good stuff!)

Btw, if you haven't done so, please do click on the link Lisa provided to the WSJ article and read the whole thing. Its overall tone is not an attack on Pius XII for his putative faulty theology, but a celebration of his attempt to take science seriously and reconcile/integrate it with Christian faith.

This topic is probably a good reminder that we need to approach important questions with a certain humility; we can't know everything there is to know. Clearly, science has transmogrified considerably since Pius XII wrote Humani Generis. Istm this is precisely the sort of dynamic that drives development in theology: new facts to sort through, or new light on existing facts.

David Nickol said: Jim McK says: The first humans intermarried with others who were not their offspring.(David:) I think you are ignoring the fact that the statement about first parents in the Catechism footnotes the Council of Trent, Humani Generis, and Humanae Vitae. Me:David, I think you're missing the point. Draw your family tree, going back some reasonably drawable number of generations, like four. Label one pair of your great-grandparents "Adam" and "Eve" and their direct offspring "Cain" (or "Seth," if it makes you feel better about yourself.) Now, everybody in the tree is "biologically human" in the sense that any genetic or morphological evidence that can ever be discovered will indicate they are the same "species" as Adam, Eve and Cain. But only those with a line of descent from Adam and Eve are "theologically human," i.e., possessed understanding and free will and were tainted with original sin. The others, like Mrs. Cain, will have left fossil evidence which makes them indistinguishable from those who are "theologically human" even though they were not. All of the people in the leaves of the tree are in what geneticists call the "founders' population." But only those descended from Adam and Eve qualify as "true men" in Pope Pius' sense of the words.

Newman: The believer "is sure, and nothing shall make him doubt, that, if anything seems to be proved by astronomer, or geologist, or chronologist, or antiquarian, or ethnologist, in contradiction to the dogmas of faith, that point will eventually turn out, first, not to be proved, or, secondly, not contradictory, or thirdly, not contradictory to any thing really revealed, but to something which has been confused with revelation.... If he has one cardinal maxim in his philosophy, it is, that truth cannot be contrary to truth; if he has a second, it is, that truth often seems contrary to truth; and, if a third, it is the practical conclusion, that we must be patient with such appearances, and not be hasty to pronounce them to be really of a more formidable character. ( Idea of a University)

We shouldnt overlook the interesting new development reported by the WSJ article: Father Denis Edwards at Flinders University in Australia treats the second person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, as a more active partner in the development of the evolving cosmos. This seems as good an example as any of what journalists call burying the lede.Is the new rank order in the Trinity a temporary expedient or is it permanent due to a Teilhardian evolutionary process? Obviously the Catechism will have to be revised. Certainly someone should notify the Pope about the latest change.

Bill M. You will get no arguments from me about the odious and ad hoc character of the concept of original sin. In this case, however, I think the concept requires literalness (although, literalness does not require the concept).Felapton: Any chance of that there are still some theologically nonhuman types roaming around looking a lot like humans? If not, why not? If so, how might we tell the difference between the two kinds of humans (maybe the theologically nonhuman show themselves by subscribing to Commonweal!).Fr. Komonchak: Once, after I had consumed about 4 or 5 pints of Guinness, a German Bible scholar and archeologist asked me what I thought about the idea of revelation. I said that I thought is was great, the only problem was knowing when one had gotten hold of a revelation. I really like the dictum that truth cannot be contrary to truth. I sometimes personalize the same claim by saying that truth need not fear truth. But the Newman text that you cite leaves me wondering how the the believer can be sure of anything without also being sure that something is indeed a revelation. If any given part of revelation can, in principle, be subjected to the claim that it was not "really revealed" what does it mean to be sure of anything at all?

"Baptism is commitment to discipleship, not membership in a club.CCC 1213 Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit (vitae spiritualis ianua), and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission: "Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water in the word."We have to get away from the church of dogma and the church of liturgy."You know, one of those "dogmas" of the Catholic Church is that one need not necessarily be in communion with the Catholic Church to attain salvation.

OK. Ultimately, I believe that what we are confronted with in trying to harmonize all of these things, is the Council of Trent.The catechism's section on the Fall is good to (re-)read. There seems to be an underlying assumption, in this discussion and in general, that original sin spreads through humanity (somehow) via human reproduction. But this assumption is somewhat of a headscratcher, even apart from the revelation of genomics, for a couple of reasons: if human fallenness is a property of the soul, and God 'ensouls' a new human at conception or at whatever point it happens, then how does *bodily* human reproduction transmit the fallenness of human nature from parent to child? Also: if baptism washes clean the stain of original sin, then how is it that original sin reappears in the offspring of baptized parents? It's interesting that the Catechism (almost) avoids specifically affirming that original sin has spread through the human race via bodily reproduction. It has this interesting quote from St. Paul, with some commentary on the same :[Begin quote]402 All men are implicated in Adam's sin, as St. Paul affirms: "By one man's disobedience many (that is, all men) were made sinners": "sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned."289 The Apostle contrasts the universality of sin and death with the universality of salvation in Christ. "Then as one man's trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man's act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men."290 [...]404 How did the sin of Adam become the sin of all his descendants? The whole human race is in Adam "as one body of one man".293 By this "unity of the human race" all men are implicated in Adam's sin, as all are implicated in Christ's justice. Still, the transmission of original sin is a mystery that we cannot fully understand. But we do know by Revelation that Adam had received original holiness and justice not for himself alone, but for all human nature. By yielding to the tempter, Adam and Eve committed a personal sin, but this sin affected the human nature that they would then transmit in a fallen state.294 It is a sin which will be transmitted by propagation to all mankind, that is, by the transmission of a human nature deprived of original holiness and justice. And that is why original sin is called "sin" only in an analogical sense: it is a sin "contracted" and not "committed" - a state and not an act. [End quote]Istm that a fair reading of these passages leaves open the question of how original sin spread throughout the human race. it is a mystery; somehow, all humans are united in such a way that Adam's sin affected all of us, just as somehow, Christ's redemptive act affects all of us. The specific mechanics of it just aren't clear.But ...Admittedly, that word "propagated" in 404 above does seem to bring us back to the notion of original-sin-transmitted-via-bodily-reproduction. This sense is further strengthened paragraph 419 of the "In brief" section:"We therefore hold, with the Council of Trent, that original sin is transmitted with human nature, "by propagation, not by imitation" and that it is. . . 'proper to each'" (Paul VI, CPG 16). "(Paul VI's CPG is the "Credo of the People of God".)I've noticed the Catechism's proclivity for slipping entirely new material in its "In brief" sections :-).I'm not enough of a Tridentine to be able to navigate the Council of Trent docs to find the original passage. But dollars to donuts, the passage being referenced by the CCC and Paul VI will be a Trent 'de fide' declaration :-). And it seems pretty likely that Pius XII was relying on the same Trent material in saying what he said in It may be that the CCC, in its emphasis on St. Paul's passage, is trying to lay the groundwork for development of what Trent declared.

"We shouldnt overlook the interesting new development reported by the WSJ article: Father Denis Edwards at Flinders University in Australia treats the second person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, as a more active partner in the development of the evolving cosmos. "I had noticed that, too, Patrick. :-). Were it the NY Times letting that one slip by, I'd have rolled my eyes and thought, 'ah, well, just more of the same.'. But the Wall Street Journal?! If they can't straight the order of the Three Persons in One God, why should we believe their closing stock prices?

Why, why, why are we even discussing this? The WSJ and David Nickol are yanking your chains. Catholics believe that God is revealed both in scripture and in creation. Scientists attempts to understand creation continue to evolve, and are quite different today than in the time of Pius. He knew very little about evolutionary science and even now it is poorly understood by most people who are not specialists. The conflict that many posters perceive here comes from non-Catholic ways of interpreting scripture and misunderstanding the nature of truth claims in science (facts vs. theories).In June a letter was published in an elite American journal of science. The letter complains about religion distorting the publics beliefs about human evolution and says, in part:When facts conflict with beliefs, it is the beliefs that must give way. The scientific community should not recoil from strong support of the scientific facts, nor should scientific bodies refrain from sharing data that reveal that much of the public does not understand central facts about the world and the universe in which we live.LETTERSFacing the Facts on the Public's BeliefsScience 4 June 2010:Vol. 328. no. 5983, p. 1228 Id post a link, but a subscription might be required. These scientists are claiming that human evolution is a fact, and so do some posters on this thread. Joe P says If evolution is right, heterosexuality is an evolutionary trick to increase adaptive possibilities.Joe, please. This is not a fact. What is a fact? Species are mutable is definitely a fact. The idea that humans evolved from a simpler species is not a fact but an extremely well corroborated theory. So, okay, evolution is more than a hypothesis. Theories evolve, much more quickly than the text of the catechism. In order to keep the two in balance in your minds, I recommend common sense. Im really just repeating what Jim Pauwels said, but longer.Im grateful that my own area of science is too technical and boring to cause any of you to become upset with the catechism. Feel free to discuss original sin, but I think yoking the subject tightly to theories of human evolution is not helpful. And remember: the things I believe are facts. The things you believe, are beliefs.

Newman's advice is echoed in the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Faith of the first Vatican Council: "Even though faith is above reason, there can never be any real disagreement between faith and reason, since it is the same God who reveals the mysteries and infuses faith and who has endowed the human mind with the light of reason. God cannot deny himself, nor can truth ever be in opposition to truth. The appearance of this kind of specious contradiction is chiefly due to the fact that either the dogmas of faith are not understood and explained in accordance with the mind of the Church or unsound views are mistaken for the conclusions of reason."The only thing lacking is the advice that patience and some time may be necessary before one can decide the issue.

Fr. Komonchak: As best I can tell, the passage you cite assumes the "dogmas of faith" must be true. If I am wrong in drawing this conclusion, I would appreciate knowing why. If I am not wrong, I am wondering why any reasonable person should accept this conclusion.Kathleen Mortell: I do not think you are being fair. You accuse some "posters" on this thread of reading scripture in non-Catholic ways. Perhaps this is so, but it seems to me that a more helpful claim would be to show how a Catholic way of reading scripture overcomes the difficulties presented. As for the evolution of heterosexuality, allow me to restate my claim: heterosexuality has all of the characteristics of an evolutionary trick to increase adaptive possibilities (details in support of this claim could be provided upon request). Therefore, its presence in nature does not, by itself, reveal the hand of God, and so does not, by itself, reveal any normative conclusions about the proper character of human sexuality. This is not a belief, it is an argument. If you disagree with the argument, please explain why.

Thanks to Brendan McGrath for his fine comments. We Catholics do have a responsibility to work to make sense of our faith. But we also have to recognize that we will not get definitive clarity about many things, especially about how the dogmas we accept fit with whatever other knowledge of other topics that we acquire. At the end of the day, the fact of evil is something for which we can account. We can try to explain it away or we can try to fit it into some overall neat philosophical or scientific theoretical system. There is no reason to think that either of these approaches will do justice to the fact of evil.That's no intellectual disaster. What would be intellectually disastrous is to claim that one has definitive about evil, either its origin or its ramifications.Newman's observation that truths do not contradict one another stands. But in the case of evil, one of the truths is that it is a mystery that is not completely fathomable.

David, I think youre missing the point. Draw your family tree, going back some reasonably drawable number of generations, like four. Label one pair of your great-grandparents Adam and Eve and their direct offspring Cain (or Seth, if it makes you feel better about yourself.)Felapton,Let's go with your proposal here. I'll say my father's father's father was Adam, and my father's father's mother was Eve. This means that I -- as a direct descendant of Adam and Eve -- am both biologically and theologically human. However, it also means that everyone on my mother's side of the family is biologically human but not theologically human. It means that my very own mother, on the minus side, was not theologically human and did not possess understanding or free will, but on the plus side was not tainted by original sin.With your theory, which is specifically contradicted by Pius XII, an unknown number of those we consider to belong to the human race are not theologically human. Since we have no way of tracing ancestry back to the two individuals who were "Adam" and "Eve" and whose descendants are theologically human, we have absolutely no way of knowing who is merely biologically human and who is biologically and theologically human. You yourself might not be theologically human.

The WSJ and David Nickol are yanking your chains.Kathleen,I am, in this instance, quite delighted to be yanking chains by taking the "orthodox" Catholic position and defending it from people like Felapton and Mark Jameson who are coming up with their own theories in an attempt to harmonize Catholic teaching and contemporary science. The conflict that many posters perceive here comes from non-Catholic ways of interpreting scripture and misunderstanding the nature of truth claims in science (facts vs. theories).I am not myself interpreting scripture, but rather relating what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says and what Pius XII said in Humani Generis. I forthrightly acknowledge that I would not interpret scripture in the same way, but we are not here discussing my interpretation of scripture. We are discussing the Catechism and Pius XII.Let me state the problem bluntly. The Church's interpretation of the story of Adam and Eve, even though the story is taken to be in figurative language, is that the human race descended from one man and one woman, a couple living at the same time and in essence married to each other, and that everyone alive today could trace his or her family tree back to that one man and one woman. Those two people, the mother and father of the human race, did something that alienated them from God, and as a result, their descendants -- the whole human race -- are alienated from God and bear the "stain" of Original Sin. Original sin is inherited. One person, Mary, was exempted from the stain of Original Sin by a miraculous intervention resulting in the Immaculate Conception. (How else are we to understand the transmission of Original Sin as being transmitted from parents to child when there is a dogma of the Catholic Church that says Mary was immaculately conceived? Clearly the Church believes Original Sin is transmitted at the moment of conception.

Joe Pettit: You wrote: "As best I can tell, the passage you cite assumes the dogmas of faith must be true. If I am wrong in drawing this conclusion, I would appreciate knowing why. If I am not wrong, I am wondering why any reasonable person should accept this conclusion."You are correct in drawing the conclusion that the passage I cited assumes the dogmas of faith must be true. I do not know why any reasonable person would not assume from the passage I cite that the dogmas of faith must be true.

David,Your mother also has a line of ascent to Adam and Eve, as do all living people. All that is required is that at various points in human history, the people who were not theologically human failed to propagate, except in combination with theologically human people. You can't draw it, but the tree is more like 300 generations deep, so you yourself probably have several different lines of ascent going back to A&E.Genetic "bottlenecks" are a well-established feature of human history. There is genetic evidence that, for example, all Europeans in the generation immediately following the Black Death had some shockingly small number of ancestors. (I mean the union not the intersection.) The vast majority of humans who have ever lived have no living descendants.Of course, we know by Faith that all living humans are theologically human. The Church says so and I don't know about you, but I accept with perfect filial docility all that Holy Mother Church teaches, even the arrant nonsense.

David, actually, I think this particular hare-brained explanation was introduced by Jim McK, not Mark Jameson, who might be annoyed to hear it attributed to him. I'm not suggesting I find it particularly convincing; I just don't think it's scientifically invalid. We don't have to discuss it if you're worried that Kathleen Mortell might call you stupid. I realize how convincing an argument it is when somebody says we better shut up and stop taking our religion so literally or the smart people will make fun of us. I myself, when I remember that this is the faith for which St. Laurence was roasted on a grill, St. Joan was burnt at the stake and St. Maximilian Kolbe was gassed with Zyklon B, find that I can stand to be called dumb for holding it. I believe I could even perdure if she accused me of having cooties.

I do not know why any reasonable person would not assume from the passage I cite that the dogmas of faith must be true.Fr. Komonchak,Is the belief that all humans now alive descended from two individuals who committed Original Sin a dogma? Is Original Sin itself a dogma? I think it is agreed that the Immaculate Conception is dogma, so what would it mean for Original Sin not to be dogma?

David Nickol: I believe that there is a dogma with regard to original sin, founded scripturally in particular on Rom 5:11-21. What elements in the obviously symbolic scriptural account in Gen 2-3 are to be interpreted literally, that is, historically, seems to me to be in good part an open question, upon which paleo-anthropology and genetics will have something to say.

All that is required is that at various points in human history, the people who were not theologically human failed to propagate, except in combination with theologically human people.Felapton,Let's look again at what Pius XII said:

For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains that either after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parent of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents.

If I understand your theory, when Pius XII says "true men," you are claiming he means "theological men," direct descendants of Adam who have souls and free will. So in essence-- since "theological men" must necessarily be descendants of Adam -- you are claiming that Pius XII said there were no descendants of Adam who were not descendants of Adam. This is of course a tautology, and I wonder why Pius XII would bother to say it.Also, your theory has "theological men" reproducing with "biological women," and "theological women" reproducing with "biological men." In other words, "true men (and women)" interbred with mere "biological men (and women)." The descendants of Adam, with souls and free will, married other biological humans who did not have souls or free will. And all that's necessary to make this a valid theory for today is that the merely biological humans died out. So at one time, and perhaps for thousands or tens of thousands of years, humans with free will and souls lived side-by-side with, and intermarried with, humans without free will and souls. It is an interesting theory, but I say with a great deal of confidence that it is not what Pius XII meant. What do you suppose it is like to be married to someone without free will and a soul?

To Jim and Bernard -- thanks for your appreciative words about my post! Jim, taking some encouragement from your words about a comment not being too long if it contains good stuff, let me post another piece of my paper in an effort to contribute to the question of how original sin is transmitted. (By the way, could someone please direct me to how I can find out about formatting posts with italics, block quotes, etc.? I've replaced some italics with caps.) The part about how original sin could be transmitted is near the end:3) Problems: Inevitability/Freedom of Sin; Concupiscence vs. Absence of Sanctifying GraceThere is another issue or at least a question that we must address. Teilhard says that with humans, original sin breaks through onto the moral level, where sin becomes something freely chosen i.e., the sin of the first humans was FREELY committed. Yet some passages in Teilhards writing suggest that human sin was INEVITABLE (CE 149, 197) and of course, if this were understood to mean that the first humans (or any humans) had no choice, it would render Teilhards theology unorthodox, since sin is always something freely chosen; it would also contradict what he implicitly claims elsewhere when he calls the first sin MORAL evil. On closer investigation, however, it becomes clear that Teilhard is not making such problematic statements when he speaks of inevitability. Instead, he writes of the inevitability (as a statistical necessity, in a population) of the appearance of sin (moral evil) at the level of man (CE 149). Thus, he is not denying human freedom: he is merely saying that, given a large enough population, it is statistically inevitable that one or more will CHOOSE FREELY to sin. In a footnote, the editor of "Christianity and Evolution" makes the same point implicitly; the editor observes that when Teilhard says that starting with man, the shadow of disorder and suffering over the universe becomes sin, he makes a clear-cut statement [that] avoids the ambiguity of certain expressions which might result in evil appearing to be in man the pure statistical result of a process of evolution (195, n. 10).Having clarified this point, there is another issue we must address. Though the first humans (Adam and Eve, as they are called by tradition) had the freedom NOT to give in to the shadow of original sin, a problem is raised by the fact that they did not (according to the evolutionary worldview) plop down into the universe as full-grown adults confronted with the choice. Rather, the first true human(s) i.e., the first organisms created through evolution with reflection, self-consciousness, thought, etc. had to mature from infancy. Now, wouldnt that mean that Adam and Eve would already have been infected with the shadow of original sin, and thus be in need of baptism? (As I will discuss later, this might actually be an advantage rather than a difficulty in the theory, but for now, let us assume it would be unorthodox and thus a disadvantage.)Once again, the difficulty disappears upon further consideration, though this is not an issue that Teilhard himself discusses. The need for baptism is occasioned NOT by the absence in newly born humans of PRETERNATURAL gifts (i.e., not by the fact that humans are subject to death, suffering, concupiscence, etc.), but by the absence of SUPERNATURAL gifts, i.e., the absence of sanctifying grace which leaves us in a state of sin. Now, with regard to the preternatural gifts, we can conceive of three possibilities:1) Adam and Eve were given preternatural gifts (preservation from corruptibility, from concupiscence, etc.) at conception, birth, etc.2) Adam and Eve were offered preternatural gifts, but never had them, since they rejected them by their first sin.3)Adam and Eve never had and never could have had preternatural gifts, since humanity (and the world) will only be capable of receiving such gifts at the end of their journey, i.e., when Creation is complete.Regardless of which of these three scenarios is correct, Adam and Eve would not have been in a state of sin and needed baptism, i.e., would not have been without sanctifying grace, until their first sin assuming, that is, that God had infused them with sanctifying grace before that sin. The key point to remember here, of course, is that for Catholicism (in contrast to certain varieties of Protestantism), concupiscence in and of itself is not sin; its presence in the justified (i.e., in those who are in a state of grace) is not sin, and it is in fact natural to humans; it would only be by preternatural gifts that we would be preserved from it; baptism does not remove it or any of the other effects of original sin (Smith 47-51, Miller 321-338 [references to George D. Smith's "The Teaching of the Catholic Church"]). In other words: prior to their first sin, Adam and Eve would (except in scenario #1) have been infected with the shadow of original sin NOT on the MORAL level, i.e., the level of thought/reflection, but only on the NON-moral levels, i.e., only on the level of disorder that belongs to all matter, and on the level of suffering which belongs to life and on those non-moral levels. The infection (including concupiscence) of the shadow on these levels is not sin; it is not incompatible with sanctifying grace.I wrote above that Adam and Eve would not have been in a state of sin prior to their first sin, assuming that God had infused them with sanctifying grace before that sin. Should we, however, make that assumption? I made it above because it seems closer to tradition/orthodoxy, but it is worth asking whether Teilhard himself would have said that, and/or whether it is required by orthodoxy to say it. Would it not simplify things more for the worldview under consideration if Adam and Eve, like all other humans, were born without sanctifying grace, and, by their first sin, simply REJECTED sanctifying grace? i.e., chose NOT to have an implicit desire for Baptism (just as any human not baptized with water chooses, by their first mortal sin, either not to implicitly desire Baptism, or chooses, having implicitly desired Baptism earlier, not to implicitly desire Penance/Reconciliation for that first mortal sin)? Regardless of which theory we decide upon, we should address the following question: why are all humans since Adam and Eve born without sanctifying grace? I think the best option is to say that when the shadow of original sin broke through onto the moral/spiritual level with the first humans free acceptance of it, it introduced the same darkness to the FABRIC of the universes moral/spiritual level that was already present in that fabrics material level (as disorder) and organic level (as suffering). The sin of the first humans shattered the moral/spiritual level of the universes fabric like a bullet through a window, i.e., it allowed the shadow of original sin to pervade the moral/spiritual level in such a way that all souls are born without sanctifying grace, etc. The key point Im getting at here is that the shadow of original sin infects us on all levels (material, organic, moral/spiritual) NOT via an ancestral connection to Adam and Eve, but via the universe itself. In other words, we are born with original sin not because fallen humans gave birth to us, but because we were born in a fallen universe (whose fallenness on the moral/spiritual level was introduced by humans). I am expressing all this in language that is perhaps foreign to Teilhard, but it gets at a main point in his theory, which is that original sin pervades and results from the universes STRUCTURE, and is not limited to the descendents of a single couple.

One comment to add: Incidentally, one of my many pet peeves about the Catechism is that in its discussion of original sin, it skips or at least glosses over the connection of the topic to that of grace. I.e., it gives this vague statement about losing "original holiness and justice" which, while in line with conciliar statements, leaves unclear the crucial point that the essence of original sin (read: originated sin, not originating sin) is the absence/lack/privation of sanctifying grace in the soul. Indeed, the discussion of grace, justification, etc. seems to be relegated to the section on morality. I'd much prefer that the catechism follow more closely the structure of the old theological manuals: 1) Fundamental Theology: Knowledge of God by Reason and Revelation (revelation made in salvation history, mediated in Scripture and Tradition, and expressed by the Church/magisterium -- infallibility, etc.); Faith; etc.2) God as One and Triune (yes, I know the arguments for following the creedal structure, but it's clearer this way)3) Creation and Fall (including preliminary look at grace with regard to supernatural gifts and the loss of them)4) Christology and Soteriology -- Incarnation and (Objective) Redemption5) Mary (somewhere in here)6) Justification and a fuller look at grace (sanctifying vs. actual, created vs. uncreated, etc.)7) The Church 8) The Sacraments9) The Last Things

If you type into a search-engine Ratzinger original sin heresy, you will be brought to a number of websites devoted to the heresies of Joseph Ratzinger, some of which maintain that because he is a heretic, he is not a legitimate pope. Among the heresies for which he is indicted is the one said to be expressed in these paragraphs of a book published when he was archbishop of Munich:

"In the Genesis story that we are considering, still a further characteristic of sin is described. Sin is not spoken of in general as an abstract possibility but as a deed, as the sin of a particular person, Adam, who stands at the origin of humankind and with whom the history of sin begins. The account tells us that sin begets sin, and that therefore all the sins of history are interlinked. Theology refers to this state of affairs by the certainly misleading and imprecise term 'original sin.' What does this mean? Nothing seems to us today to be stranger or, indeed, more absurd than to insist upon original sin, since, according to our way of thinking, guilt can only be something very personal, and since God does not run a concentration camp, in which ones relative are imprisoned, because he is a liberating God of love, who calls each one by name. What does original sin mean, then, when we interpret it correctly? "Finding an answer to this requires nothing less than trying to understand the human person better. It must once again be stressed that no human being is closed in upon himself or herself and that no one can live of or for himself or herself alone. We receive our life not only at the moment of birth but every day from without--from others who are not ourselves but who nonetheless somehow pertain to us. Human beings have their selves not only in themselves but also outside of themselves: they live in those whom they love and in those who love them and to whom they are 'present.' Human beings are relational, and they possess their lives--themselves--only by way of relationship. I alone am not myself, but only in and with you am I myself. To be truly a human being means to be related in love, to be of and for. But sin means the damaging or the destruction of relationality. Sin is a rejection of relationality because it wants to make the human being a god. Sin is loss of relationship, disturbance of relationship, and therefore it is not restricted to the individual. When I destroy a relationship, then this event--sin--touches the other person involved in the relationship. Consequently sin is always an offense that touches others, that alters the world and damages it. To the extent that this is true, when the network of human relationships is damaged from the very beginning, then every human being enters into a world that is marked by relational damage. At the very moment that a person begins human existence, which is a good, he or she is confronted by a sin-damaged world. Each of us enters into a situation in which relationality has been hurt. Consequently each person is, from the very start, damaged in relationships and does not engage in them as he or she ought. Sin pursues the human being, and he or she capitulates to it." Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, 'In the Beginning...', pp. 71-73

In an interview with Peter Seewald, in 1996, Ratzinger, now head of the CDF, addressed the question in response to a question:

Are Catholics allowed to doubt, or, if they do, are they hypocrites and heretics? The strange thing about Christians seems to be that they distinguish between religious and scientific truth. They study Darwin and go to church. Is such a division possible in the first place? There can, after all, be only one truth: either the world was really created in six days, or it developed over millions of years.In a world as confused as ours, doubt will inevitably assail individuals again and again. Doubt need not be immediately associated with a fall from faith. I can sincerely take up the questions that press upon me while holding fast to God, holding to the essential core of faith. On the one hand, I can try to find solutions for the seeming contradictions. On the other hand, I can also be confident that, though I cant find them all, there are solutions even when I cant find them. Again and again in the history of theology, too, there are things that remain unresolved for the moment that should not be explained away by forced interpretations.Part of faith is also the patience of time. The theme you have just mentioned - Darwin, creation, the theory of evolution - is the subject of a dialogue that is not yet finished and, within our present means, is probably also impossible to settle at the moment. Not that the problem of the six days is a particularly urgent issue between faith and modern scientific research into the origin of the world. For it is obvious even in the Bible that this is a theological framework and is not intended simply to recount the history of creation. In the Old Testament itself there are other accounts of creation. In the Book of Job and in the Wisdom literature we have creation narratives that make it clear that even then believers themselves did not think that the creation account was, so to speak, a photographic depiction of the process of creation. It only seeks to convey a glimpse of the essential truth, namely, that the world comes from the power of God and is his creation. How the process actually occurred is a wholly different question, which even the Bible itself leaves wide open. Conversely, I think that in great measure the theory of evolution has not gotten beyond hypotheses and is often mixed with almost mythical philosophies that have yet to be critically discussed. (Salt of the Earth, 30-31)

We must have the audacity to say that the great projects of the living creation are not products of chance and error. Nor are they the products of a selective process to which divine predicates can be attributed in illogical, unscientific, and even mythic fashion. The great projects of the living creation point to a creating Reason and show us a creating Intelligence, and they do so more luminously and radiantly today than ever before. Thus we can say today with a new certitude and joyousness that the human being is indeed a divine project which only the creating Intellegence was strong and great and audacious enough to conceive of. The human being is not a mistake but something willed; he is the fruit of love. He can disclose in himself, in the bold project that he is, the language of the creating Intellegence that speaks to him and that moves him to say: 'Yes, Father you have willed me.' (In the Beginning, 54-56)

Here is a link to a document published by the International Theological Commission, chaired then by Cardinal Ratzinger, on Communion and Stewardship: Human Persons Created in the Image of God. The initial paragraphs on the biblical material are worth looking at, but particularly nos. 62-70, which address some contemporary scientific questions.http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/cti_documents/rc_...

Brendan,I am using square brackets rather than angle brackets (less-than and greater-than symbols) so that the HTML coding here is visible:[i]This is italics[/i][b]This is bold[/b][b][i]This is bold italics[/i][/b][i][b]This is also bold italics[/b][/i][blockqote]This is a blockquote. This is a blockquote. This is a blockquote. This is a blockquote. This is a blockquote. This is a blockquote. [/blockquote]Now here is that same text using angle brackets (Shift-comma and Shift-period on the keyboard) so that the coding works.This is italicsThis is boldThis is bold italicsThis is also bold italicsThis is a blockquote. This is a blockquote. This is a blockquote. This is a blockquote. This is a blockquote. This is a blockquote.

So what about the possibility of gradualism w.r.t. souls? Here's why I ask: one way to understand the doctrine of original sin is that it's a response to a puzzle: how did humans, created good by an all-good God, commit sin in the first place? Is sin a defect in our nature, and if so, why isn't God responsible for our sin? The doctrine exists to get God off the hook for sin, and reasonably enough. A God who would create beings which would inevitably wind up liable to damnation by their very nature cannot be called benevolent. Sin cannot be "natural" to us if God is good. Teilhard's approach allows us to see evil in all creation as revelatory of creation's incomplete or unfulfilled state (if I follow correctly,) so God also hopes and intends that the leopard will indeed lie down with the lamb one day, and not be thinking "Lambchops for lunch!" This leads one to considerations of the nature of God more along the lines of process theology, which give traditional Catholic systematicians hives, but even so...Traditionally, some one human had to be responsible for messing up all subsequent humanity--some ONE had to be morally at fault, and it wasn't God. Current teaching allows bodies to be the product of evolution, but not souls. Souls are of different "stuff," being non-material, so God has to infuse them individually every time, with all the complexities of THAT doctrine well noted above. We know that humankind evolved from prior anthropoid populations, and that there were other populations of hominids (who may also have been "persons," though it's hard to say,) afoot along the way that are now extinct. That evolution may have been along the lines of a "punctuated equilibrium" model typical of most evolutionary change, in which long periods of relatively gradual change are punctuated by periods of rapid change. (Hence the paucity of "missing links," though they do exist.) But even "rapid" change by evolutionary standards is slow when looked at ape-by-ape. Perhaps our hominization, personalization, or ensoulment wasn't a matter of God deciding magically to go "PING" and give some ape a human soul, but rather maybe souls evolved along with our bodies, (and continue to do so.) Sin became sin, and not merely "nature red in tooth and claw," as we developed the neurological and psychological equipment to recognize it as such. This doesn't require that souls be merely "material," but only requires a thorough hylomorphism at the species level. Once clearly human, we are clearly ensouled, clearly morally responsible creatures. Would this approach be consistent with the function of the doctrine, and also consistent with current evolutionary science? We still can have a redemptive role for Christ, though redemption would be seen more along the lines of knocking off a long accumulation of encrusted human sin than un-doing a single catastrophic act. But doesn't sin actually work that way? More like rust or bad barnacles than broken bones?

Brendan, I am enjoying these passages from your paper, but feel that it's only fair to warn you that Fr. K may give you a grade :-).

From Brendan's paper on Tielhard de Chardin:"The sin of the first humans shattered the moral/spiritual level of the universes fabric like a bullet through a window, i.e., it allowed the shadow of original sin to pervade the moral/spiritual level in such a way that all souls are born without sanctifying grace, etc. The key point Im getting at here is that the shadow of original sin infects us on all levels (material, organic, moral/spiritual) NOT via an ancestral connection to Adam and Eve, but via the universe itself. In other words, we are born with original sin not because fallen humans gave birth to us, but because we were born in a fallen universe (whose fallenness on the moral/spiritual level was introduced by humans). "Whether this syncs up with what the CCC and Cardinal Ratzinger (and, perhaps, St. Paul) see as original sin pervading humankind via some sort of inter-human connectivity, I'm not certain. But the "bullet through glass" imagery is striking.

David, It doesn't have to be thousands of years and nobody has to die. Suppose Adam and Eve's generation has 10000 people in it. Suppose everybody marries and every marriage has two children. Finally, suppose that every person tainted with original sin marries a person not tainted with original sin. In Seth and Cain's generation, there are 2 Tainted and 998 Untainted individuals. Seth and Cain each marry an Untainted woman and all four grandchildren are Tainted. The other 996 Untainteds reproduce themselves. So in the second generation, there are 4 Tainted and 996 Untainteds. Each of the four T's marries a U and in the third generation there are 8 T's and 992 U's.Now in the 13th generation (about three or four hundred years after Adam and Eve) there are 8192 T's and only 1808 U's. But suppose each U marries a T. Now in the fourteenth generation, everybody is tainted.You can easily (I think) prove to yourself that this does not depend on everybody having only two children. If each pair produces N children, then the result is the same. In the fourteenth generation everybody is tainted with Original Sin. But there are a lot more people.It's important to remember that original sin is not Mendelian; it's superdominant. If either of your parents is theologically human, you will be too. Pope Pius is using "true men" to mean "men tainted by original sin." He says all men tainted by original sin are descendants of Adam. It is not a tautology; it's a description of the observed pattern of inheritance.I don't think it would be so awful to be married to somebody who was not tainted with original sin. The effects of original sin include ignorance, malice, misdirected desires. How awful would it be to live with somebody who was incapable of ignorance, malice and misdirected desires? I freely concede that the argument is ridiculous. But you said it is not valid. You said Pope Pius' encyclical and phylogenetic principles are mutually incompatible. Jim McK said, no they aren't. This is why I agree with Jim. I agree with you that no self-respecting apologist should come within a parsec of an argument this preposterous.

Felapton: You write, "no self-respecting apologist should come within a parsec of an argument this preposterous." This is certainly in the top 10 list of best dotCommonweal lines evah!

I got some of the numbers wrong. Here they are again:Generation Adam/Eve (0): 2 T 9998 UGeneration Seth/Cain (1): 2 T 9998 U(Seth and Cain (T) marry Mrs. Seth and Mrs. Cain (U); all four of their children are T. The other 9996 U's marry each other and produce 9996 more U's.) Generation 2: 4 T 9996 U Generation 3: 8 T 9992 U...Generation N: 2^N T, 10000-2^N U...Generation 13: 8192 T, 1808 UGeneration 14: Everybody is T.

Do like the words of Ratzinger quoted by Joe K. Makes so much sense and avoids all the scholastic trappings which Brendan and others feel are necessary. Just shows what potential Ratzinger had if he did not get misled by the restorationists.

(I admit some trepidation in entering this pedigree aspect of the discussion, but, well, here goes...) Felapton, you posit that EVERY T marries a U, at least while such exist. You also say that it might be good to be married to a U, ("No, really, I'll do the dishes again. Just because I love you, honey...") Now surely it is possible that, by choice or by chance, some U's would NOT marry or mate with T's. There would be, then, a population of humans untainted by original sin. unless you DEFINE human as T, in which case we're back to square one with the whole problem, yes? now U's need not inherit original sin, of course. They are also free to commit it, just as all angels are presumably free to switch teams to the other side if they want to. But in order to ensure that ALL living humans are deprived of original sin, they'd ALL have to sin. Then we're back to the "is sin natural or inevitable?" question.Now let me go a step further, into the Very Silly. What if (:-)) Mary was from a FAMILY of U's, thus her son also? That'd save us wondering about the baptismal status of Joachim and Ann!! And if, by chance Jesus were the ONLY human left at the time from that lineage--the last untainted man. Would it have been a sin for him to fail to try to find another U and leave offspring? Or if Mary Magdalene WAS that other untainted one...Quick! Call Dan Brown!!

David -- thanks so much! I knew about the HTML tags for bold, italics, etc., but I didn't know they could be used here. Thanks especially for the block quote thing, though; I never knew that one!Bill -- I do like the scholastic trappings, or rather, I like to hold together many different parts of the tradition: to calibrate Teilhard with scholasticism, with post-Vatican II theology, with Trent, with the Church fathers, with the mystics, etc., etc. One doesn't necessarily need to use scholastic terms, but I think it's important at least for someone to show how things could be translated, to show where the linkages are, etc.

Felapton, thank you for an excellent elaboration of my comments. I wish I had thought of using adjectives! theologically human vs biologically human!There is something left undeveloped. There is evidence for a parallel to the tainted/untainted evolution. All Y chromosomes in modern men are descended from a single ancestor's Y chromosomes. (the National Genographic Project traces all Y chromosomes back to a man in Africa 60,000 years ago.) If we call that chromosome Y and another male chromosome G, we get a development very much like what you describe with T & U. Something similar happened with mitochondrial DNA. So as far fetched as the Tainted/untainted development sounds, the basic process has happened. I see no problem in supposing that it also happened with other things, like 'original sin'. Genomics describes particular constructs being propagated physically; I do not see how that can invalidate a teaching that a construct was propagated physically.Which is not to say that I think is how original sin was propagated. I tend more toward thinking it was propagated socially, through the change of social relations that occur when a child is born. But I do not think the WSJ is correct in saying that genomics contradicts Genesis, or even Humani Generis.

JP2's Fides et Ratio quotes Humani Generis to imply that rejected errors have to be examined critically, which puts an altogether different spin on what the same encyclical says about Adam and Eve:in his Encyclical Letter Humani Generis, Pope Pius XII warned against mistaken interpretations linked to evolutionism, existentialism and historicism. He made it clear that these theories had not been proposed and developed by theologians, but had their origins outside the sheepfold of Christ. He added, however, that errors of this kind should not simply be rejected but should be examined critically: Catholic theologians and philosophers, whose grave duty it is to defend natural and supernatural truth and instill it in human hearts, cannot afford to ignore these more or less erroneous opinions. Rather they must come to understand these theories well, not only because diseases are properly treated only if rightly diagnosed and because even in these false theories some truth is found at times, but because in the end these theories provoke a more discriminating discussion and evaluation of philosophical and theological truths Fides et Ratio 54

Lisa,It's not Dan Brown whom we should be contacting, but rather Anne Rice. The more I have pondered this idea of the theologically human and nonhuman, the more I am convinced that the idea of theological nonhumanness is the most compelling rationale for belief in vampires to date. You see, vampires are immortal, and since the wages of sin are death, the theologically nonhuman would not die unless they were exposed to sunlight (a clearer symbol for theology cannot be imagined!), or, if they were stabbed through the heart with a stake (clearly a veiled referernce to the Summa Theologicake, or cae or something like that).Brilliant!

Hi Lisa,Well, this is a demonstration that a solution exists. Obviously, if you set up the system and let it run, there would be more random mate selection and, you are right, in every generation you would expect a number of U's. However, due to the (non-Mendelian) inheritance pattern of Original Sin, the fraction of U's would be monotonically decreasing with generations. Given any initial population, with only A&E tainted, a number of generations can be found after which the expected value of number of U's will be much less than one individual.Jim McK,Yes, it's similar to Y-chromosome transmission. And thank you for repeating what I think I've said about a hundred times now: The point is not that this is a particularly attractive or plausible theory of Original Sin. The point is that it proves definitively that Humani Generis and modern genetics are not contradictory. Joe P.,It's a thought experiment, not a history journal article.

Which Hebrew word does "sin" translate? And what was the meaning of the Hebrew word? The Greek word didn't mean what Christians mean by sin (an offense against God), it just meant "missing the mark".I'm wondering if the Hebrew word connoted something more like the Greek meaning. Or perhaps it meant a mere *fault* in the sense of a "discrepancy" or "imperfection" or "weakness", or maybe some combination of those meanings. Further, it seems that Genesis includes many mythological elements from neighboring peoples. It would seem to me that *their* meaning(s) of the sin word in should, if possible, also be consulted before deciding on "offense against God".If the meaning in Genesis was originally just an imperfection, then it seems to me that the meaning of "original sin" might easily be interpreted as meaning human nature -- including its propensity to do evil and not to do what should be done. Adam and Eve then become irrelevant theologically except as illustrating human personal relationships with the personal God/Trinity. (I say Trinity because the God who speaks in Genesis refers to Himself in the plural, "we". Yes, Genesis says that Adam and Eve were sinless before the Fall. But perhaps this is just part of the mythical character of the account. Is there any evidence in the history of evolution that there were in fact perfect homo sapiens? People or just a couple of saints without faults?

Oops -- need to edit better. Should be:If the meaning in Genesis was originally just an imperfection, then it seems to me that the meaning of original sin might easily be interpreted as meaning the propensity of all human beings to do evil and not to do what should be done.

Ann -- I remember from freshman year of high school that the Hebrew word for sin was "chet" or something, and yes, that it meant "missing the mark." (This, along with the fact that I can give the title of any Dawson's Creek episode if given the number, and vice-versa, demonstrates my uncanny memory. ^_^)

Hi Ann,The usual Hebrew word for "sin" (חַטָה) does not appear in the Genesis narrative. (It does appear in parts of Exodus which are older.) I have heard the line that it means "missing the target," but I urge skepticism. In my previous parish there was a kind of craze for pretending that Hebrew words had some deep meaning which was completely contrary to the usual translation and which incidentally had the effect of completely changing commandments' meaning into commanding something the speaker advocated. These are the same people who used to tell us that אַהַבַת חֶסֶד (Mic. 6:8) means "love tenderly" instead of "love mercy."

My browser is getting the vowels wrong (putting them after the letters) instead of under them. Hope yours does a better job.

More from Newman on evolution:In June 1870 Oxford University was considering granting a degree to Charles Darwin, and some opposition was expressed. Edward Pusey wrote to Newman for his view. Here is how Newman, who would later say that personally he had no great dislike or dread of [Darwins] theory, replied:

I have not fallen in with Darwin's book. I conceive it to be an advocacy of the theory that that principle of propagation, which we are accustomed to believe began with Adam, and with patriarchs of the brute species, began in some one common ancestor millions of years before.1. Is this against the distinct teaching of the inspired text? if it is, then he advocates an antichristian theory. For myself, speaking under correction, I don't see that it does - contradict it.2 Is it against Theism (putting Revelation aside)-I don't see how it can be. Else, the fact of a propagation from Adam is against Theism. If second causes are conceivable at all, an Almighty Agent being supposed, I don't see why the series should not last for millions of years as well as for thousands.The former question is the more critical. Does Scripture contradict the theory? -was Adam not immediately taken from the dust of the earth? 'All are dust'-Eccles iii,20-yet we never were dust-we are from fathers, Why may not the same be the case with Adam? I don't say that it is so-but, if the sun does not go round the earth and the earth stand still, as Scripture seems to say, I don't know why Adam needs be immediately out of dust-Formavit Deus hominem de limo terrae-i.e. out of what really was dust and mud in its nature, before He made it what it was, living. But I speak under correction. Darwin does not profess to oppose Religion. I think he deserves a degree as much as many others, who have had one.

I also urge that the letter be read that Newman wrote in 1868 on Darwin; it is published in full by Chalres Monia on my thread entitled Newmania 8: Christianity and Scientific Investigation.In his Grammar of Assent, concluding a section on the indefectibility of certitude used the following illustration:

Again, let us suppose, for argument's sake, that ethnologists, philologists, anatomists, and antiquarians agreed together in separate demonstrations that there were half a dozen races of men, and that they were all descended from gorillas, or chimpanzees, or ourangoutangs, or baboons; moreover, that Adam was an historical personage, with a well-ascertained dwelling-place, surroundings and date, in a comparatively modern world. On the other hand, let me believe that the Word of God Himself distinctly declares that there were no men before Adam, that he was immediately made out of the slime of the earth, and that he is the first father of all men that are or ever have been. Here is a contradiction of statements more direct than in the former instance; the two cannot stand together; one or other of them is untrue. But whatever means I might be led to take, for making, if possible, the antagonism tolerable, I conceive I should never give up my certitude in that truth which on sufficient grounds I determined to come from heaven. If I so believed, I should not pretend to argue, or to defend myself to others; I should be patient; I should look for better days; but I should still believe. If, indeed, I had hitherto only half believed, if I believed with an assent short of certitude, or with an acquiescence short of assent, or hastily or on light grounds, then the case would be altered; but if, after full consideration, and availing myself of my best lights, I did think that beyond all question God spoke as I thought He did, philosophers and experimentalists might take their course for me,I should consider that they and I thought and reasoned in different mediums, and that my certitude was as little in collision with them or damaged by them, as if they attempted to counteract in some great matter chemical action by the force of gravity, or to weigh magnetic influence against capillary attraction. Of course, I am putting an impossible case, for philosophical discoveries cannot really contradict divine revelation.

While praising W.S. Lillys chapter on science, which included mention of Darwin, Newman, in a letter written when he was 86, remarked: But the more I was pleased, the more I was frightened as you proceed to express your belief that the first men had tails. I think this temerarious. This illustrated Newmans reservation about premature and facile concordism in The Idea of a University, p. 380: "...religious men, who, from a nervous impatience lest Scripture should for one moment seem inconsistent with the results of some speculation of the hour, are ever proposing geological or ethnological comments upon it, which they have to alter or obliterate before the ink is well dry, from changes in the progressive science, which they have so officiously brought to its aid."

AnnThe relevant Scripture on original sin is Romans 5:just as through one person sin entered the world, and through sin, death, and thus death came to all, inasmuch as all sinned -- for up to the time of the law, sin was in the world, though sin is not accounted when there is no law. But death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who did not sin after the pattern of the trespass of Adam, who is the type of the one who was to come.There are abundant alternate understandings of Adam and Eve, but it is difficult to read Romans 5 without coming to the opinion that "In Adam's fall we sinned all." as an early American hornbook put it.

Lisa: "Sin became sin, and not merely nature red in tooth and claw, as we developed the neurological and psychological equipment to recognize it as such."Agreed. It seems to me that original sin hit the scene the same time as the rise of human self-awareness: not just consciousness, but self-awareness (e.g., here I am, thinking about me thinking about me). The Genesis story is the image-filled narrative of that, not the historical play-by-play. But it gets to the heart of it because even the Genesis story relates it to knowledge: Adam's sin is taking a bite of the tree of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. Animals are not concerned with questions of good and evil, but people are, at least past a certain age. Clearly we do not speak in terms of good and evil until we are old enough to have constructed a context for it, identifying for whom something might be good or evil: good for me, good for you; bad for me, bad for you, and realizing we are all separate people. The understanding of good and evil comes with the territory of self-awareness and is a product of the evolutionary rise of consciousness, and thus ego, the thing that separates us from the other life forms on the planet. While not knowing the science, the writers of the Genesis story got the connection between sin and consciousness. It seems to me that consciousness, and thus ego, is the thing that separates us from the other life forms on the planet and was the thing that tossed us out of the garden.Aquinas (not surprisingly) makes some very interesting points concerning consciousness. He doesnt use the term but his Augustinian understanding of the Second Person of the Trinity as the self-awareness of God provides the meaning. First he says that God modeled creation after his own concept of himself (i.e., the Second Person of the Trinity), indicating that creation, too, would become self-aware. Secondly, he says that uniting the Son with humanity fitted God's plan for humanity, for we were intended all along to "share the image of his Son" , becoming self-aware in a better, happier way. Thirdly, he says that the Incarnation "fitted the sin it was remedying: for Adam sinned by craving knowledge, and man is brought back to God by the Word of true wisdom." (3A 3, 8) Our first crack at self-awareness got us part of the way, but not all the way, to where we should be, and the remedy and path forward for us is modeled in the life of Christ.You could say that the incarnational take on human consciousness (and ego) looks on it as a preliminary, insufficient state that needs evolving into something better, a flawed state of affairs that needs healing and a push into the future (e.g., redemption), for which Christ is the means, by modeling how to be both self-aware, divine and divinely happy. Remember that Aquinas defines sin as those actions that serve to block our path to becoming who we are supposed to become; from this point of view, the rise of self-consciousness itself could easily be considered a necessary if unfortunate phase requiring redemption to get us to the next stage in our evolution (i.e., what providence has in store for us).Does Aquinas speak in terms of ego and the rise of consciousness? Nope, he uses the imagery of Genesis since that's what he knew; if he were alive today, I expect he would render things differently. It seems to me that however you see it, the phenomena are the same. Humanity is by its very nature flawed; call it original sin or call it the framework of human consciousness. Either way we are both "out of the garden" and stuck in space-time with egos through which we must navigate existence. It is from this we are redeemed and the means by which we mend and repair this state is grace, a healing of the soul.

<Humanity is by its very nature flawed; call it original sin or call it the framework of human consciousness.Jeanne,But the Catholic concept of Original Sin begins with God creating human beings that are not, by their very nature, flawed. The idea of Fall followed by the necessity of Redemption makes not sense if God's original creation was a flawed human nature. There can be no "Fall" if if there is no height to fall from. And if God created human beings in a state in which they required redemption, pretty much everything about the redemptive death of Jesus has to be rethought.

1) I recommend that everyone who has not had her/his DNA tested do so. (I am not their agent, merely a satisfied customer.)http://www.familytreedna.com/Default.aspx?c=1I like Ancestry.com, too, and it's particularly entertaining when the two support each other. 2) I see the Garden of Eden as the point at which our Ancestors were between the gathering/hunting stage and the agricultural stage. They were gardeners. They had discovered that tending a plot where things grew made life easier than constantly searching, but they had not yet bent to the plow. Paradise. Leisure. Sitting around eating fruit that dropped from the trees. Becoming aware of themselves. But as the generations passed, and some began cultivating the land, those who preferred windfalls helped themselves to the surpluses the more industrious had begun to accumulate. This, in the eyes of the first farmers, was a SIN. Stealing. They needed to protect their surplus, so they invented guards and priests.

Today's Wall Street Journal has a piece by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow bearing the title "Why god Did Not Create the Universe." At one point, they say: "As recent advances in cosmology suggest, the laws of gravity and quantum theory allow universes to appear spontaneously from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why exist."A few observations:1. The laws of gravity and of quantum theory are mathematical formulae that logically entail some mathematical consequences. All the terms and relations in these formulae are univocally defined. Any "translation" of them into natural language terminology (e.g., terms like 'creation,' 'universe,' 'spontaneous," etc.) are interpretations in non-univocal language of univocal discourse. The "translation" is not perfectly equivalent to the original mathematics.2. Of greater point here, Hawking and Mlodinow say that these laws "allow" universes to appear. Note that they do not say that they necessitate them to appear. Furthermore, to call "spontaneous creation" a "reason" is peculiar talk. Do they claim that "spontanous creation CAUSES the universe to exist? Reasons explain why something comes to be. Causes explain how they come to be. But all ordinary uses of the term 'cause' refer to transformations of some 'elements' into something else. But of course, what we mean by saying that God created is not at all to say that He made something, that He transformed something into something else.All this is a cautionary tale about not claiming to talk about any natural science, including evolutionary theory, and theology or Scripture in the the same "language." Scientific language either confines itself to univocal terms or at least aspires to do so. Theology and Scripture do not do so. So the "conversations" between scientists and theologians and Scripture scholars demand the recognition that there may be some things that can properly be said in one of these languages that cannot be said in the other. And furthermore, there is no compelling reason to claim that one of these languages is "better at expressing the totality of reality" than the other. There is both room and much need for both languages and the speakers of both of them.

David, I couldn't agree more that pretty much everything, including the redemptive death of Jesus, needs to be rethought. Not rejected, but rethought to make it understandable to people today. Two of the touchstones to the Catholic intellectual tradition are the harmony of faith and reason and the goodness of Gods creation. So, we think that reason seeking truth brings us closer to God and that God created a world that is good: the world is good, the world is worth knowing, and reason and evidence are ways of knowing it. I think we are therefore obligated to keep the tension going between our basic understanding of dogma and what reason and evidence tells us.As to your specific point, I would say that God created creation, of which human beings are a part, evolving out of the rest of creation as it moves towards complexity and consciousness. We need to re-characterize the whole idea of original sin in light of what science tells us and the insights offered in entire sweep of the tradition (not just the papal pronouncements of the past century).

On the Stephen Hawking piece in the WSJ, at least he addressed the essential question - why is there not nothing - as opposed to the usual God versions of straw men (i.e., God as the old guy with the beard sitting on the throne) who usually get attacked (e.g., Dawkins et.al.).Bernard, I agree that "There is both room and much need for both languages and the speakers of both of them." and would add that they each should stick to their proper domains. As Stephen Jay Gould says in is book Rocks of Ages, "the magisterium of science covers the empirical realm: what the Universe is made of (fact) and why does it work in this way (theory). The magisterium of religion extends over questions of ultimate meaning and moral value. These two magisteria do not overlap, nor do they encompass all inquiry (consider, for example, the magisterium of art and the meaning of beauty)."More at:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-overlapping_magisteria

Felapton,Why have such a complicated theory to "prove" Humani Generis is not incompatible with the evolutionary findings of contemporary science? Why not propose that at some point in history, God selected two biological humans, made them theological humans, and put them in the Garden of Eden. Things in the Garden happened pretty much as they are described in Genesis. After the Fall, the children of Adam and Eve, who were theologically human (but fallen creatures) intermarried with biological humans, with their offspring being theological humans. Eventually, every human on earth has Adam and Eve as a common ancestor. Y Chromosomal Adam and Mitochondrial Eve are not our only common male and female ancestors, just our most recent ones, so as long as the real Adam and Eve predated them, I see no conflicts with contemporary genetic findings. Alternatively, everything happened as described in Genesis, and the offspring of Adam and Eve married only each other. In order to have a great deal of diversity in his new creatures, with each new generation for, say, the next thousand years, God dramatically sped up the rate of mutations, and instead of relying on natural selection, he allowed only neutral or beneficial mutations to take place. Thus we have a tremendously diverse population that nevertheless originated from Adam and Eve alone. I think there are many, many ways to protect the story of Adam and Eve, and demonstrate that the entire human race really did descend from two and only two humans. I shall be suggesting some more soon.

Stephen Jay Gould says in is book Rocks of Ages, the magisterium of science covers the empirical realm: what the Universe is made of (fact) and why does it work in this way (theory). The magisterium of religion extends over questions of ultimate meaning and moral value. Jeanne,I loved Gould, but he's wrong, at least about the Catholic religion. If Jesus did not die and then rise from the dead -- historically and factually -- then Catholicism is false (1 Corinthians 15). If Mary was not assumed bodily into heaven, then an infallible truth of Catholicism is false, and the Church is not infallible. Christianity depends on certain events having really and truly happened. Although historians may be wary of declaring miracles true, and for good reason, nevertheless Christianity is not merely about meaning and ultimate moral value. It's about what happened in first-century Palestine.

Jim McK --You seem to be assuming that St. Paul was uninfluenced by Genesis. ISTM the fact that he had a literal interpretation tells us only that he had a literal interpretation, not that the literal interpretation was a true one.

"Adams sin is taking a bite of the tree of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil"Jeanne --True, the story is about knowledge, but I can't see how it was a sin to come to know the truth about good and evil, so I can't believe that that was what God was forbidding. On another thread I speculated that this "tree of good and evil" could have referred to the sort of "mystical" experience which is commn among Buddhists (though Buddha had not had his experience yet). Such mystics think that they are identical with an Absolute which is beyond good and evil. This sort of pseudo-knowledge could have been the sort of experience that God was forbidding. It seems to me that Jahweh is always at a pains to distinguish Creator and Creature and any sort of "knowledge" that blurred that non-identity would have been condemned by Him -- He constantly cautioned against other so-called gods.

"I loved Gould, but hes wrong, at least about the Catholic religion. If Jesus did not die and then rise from the dead historically and factually then Catholicism is false (1 Corinthians 15). If Mary was not assumed bodily into heaven, then an infallible truth of Catholicism is false, and the Church is not infallible."David N.--It seems to me we need some extremely accurate definitions/meanings of "the Faith", and "the Church". Otherwise we're all just a bunch of cherry-picking eclectics. For instance, the "dogmas" you've chosen above aren't exactly the ones I'd pick as definitive.I think we need some threads on this subject. (Have all you guys noticed how scientific, theological and scriptural our interests have gotten lately? Wonder why.)

Ann, re the tree, while the story says it was a sin to take that bite (which I agree doesn't make a whole lot of sense), I see it more like this: once we took the bite (i.e., became self-aware) then we also became aware of questions of mortality, ego, good and evil.Maybe the story reflects the OT writers' thought that God did warn us of the dangers of self-awareness "Sheesh, humankind, do you really want to go there?" but we ignored the warning ;-) A good question. Maybe being a happy ape isn't such a bad way to go.The argument against that is the Augustinian definition of the Second Person of the Trinity as the self-awareness of God. So if the thought is that we can participate in that, maybe we just need to keep forging ahead, evolving out of the primeval goop and dealing with the complexities of a self-reflective ego in hopes of continuing the evolution into something better.

Ann,You wouldn't pick the Resurrection as definitive??? It's in the Nicene Creed and the Apostles Creed. See 1 Corinthians 15:12-19:

But if Christ is preached as raised from the dead, how can some among you say there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then neither has Christ been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then empty (too) is our preaching; empty, too, your faith. Then we are also false witnesses to God, because we testified against God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, neither has Christ been raised, and if Christ has not been raised, 6 your faith is vain; you are still in your sins. Then those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are the most pitiable people of all.

Also, it may be of relatively minor importance in the overall scheme of things whether Mary was bodily assumed into heaven, but there is no doubt that it was infallibly stated in no uncertain terms. If one infallible statement is untrue, the Church cannot claim infallibility for the pope.

Alright, since we've raised the question of having to rethink redemption, I can't help but posting THAT part of my Teilhard paper. First, though, I'm going to post the part on Creation and Incarnation -- because for Teilhard, Creation = Incarnation = Redemption. I've omitted most footnotes. The excerpts I posted earlier about original sin fall in between the "Creation and Incarnation" section and the "Redemption" section. Here's a rough outline (of this one part of the paper; it's very long), followed by the exerpts:Part II. Teilhards Theology: All Becoming Christ, Christ Becoming All (Creation = Incarnation = Redemption)A. Creation and Incarnation CommunionB.Original SinC. RedemptionHere's Section A, "Creation and Incarnation -- Communion":Teilhards theology can be summed up in three words as All Becoming Christ (King 77-78) i.e., Creation is the process by which all the universe, through humans, is unified/incorporated into Christs Mystical Body; it is Christ drawing all things to Himself. (There is, however, a force acting against this movement, as we will see.) But the phrase can also be reversed to Christ Becoming All (King 77-78) i.e., Christ filling all, assuming humanity and the universe as His Mystical Body, becoming incarnate in the wider sense: the Word/Son assumes not only an individual human body (and soul), but a cosmic, Mystical Body (not, however, in a hypostatic union, in such a way that humans or the world itself could be worshiped more on this later). I.e., the fruit of Marys womb comes to a wider fruition: Mary could be called not only Theotokos or Christotokos, but Cosmotokos, Geotokos, Ecclesiotokos, etc. the dark, cold void of space containing the universe becomes, because of the Incarnation, the warm, gentle womb of Mary, our Mother. [footnote: This sentence represents my own thought, not that of Teilhard, though of course it is based on his thought.] Thus, the same unifying, transforming story, movement, etc., seen from different angles, can be called either Creation or Incarnation. God says Let there be Light, and brings about, as the fruition of that Word, the Light of the World. [footnote: Obviously Im using communication of idioms here, and using Light of the World to mean Christ with His Mystical Body.] As noted previously (I.I) the bonds that hold together the members of Christs Mystical Body are not merely juridical or moral, but organic (CE 67). Salvation and damnation, therefore, are no longer simply the blessing or curse that falls arbitrarily on the being, from outside. [Rather, they] affect the whole relationship of the element to the centre of universal cohesion, that is of universal beatification: either incorporation in it, which brings fulfillment, or severance from it, which brings loss of organic structure (CE 73).As should already be apparent from the earlier summary of The Phenomenon of Man, we cooperate with God in the entire process as co-creators: all of our prayers, works, and sufferings of each day, with Gods grace, contribute to building the earth for Christ to consecrate as His Body; we contribute to evolution, now reflective and hominized i.e., we work towards and anticipate the Kingdom of God (Mystical Body).As indicated on the diagram at the beginning of this essay and as anticipated earlier, to say that Creation is the formation of the Mystical Body is to say that cosmogenesis = ecclesiogenesis, and vice-versa, for the Mystical Body is the Church (in its Militant/Pilgrim, Suffering, and Triumphant aspects), the Communion of Saints, etc. As mentioned earlier, Karl Rahner says that because of the Incarnation, all Theology is anthropology and vice-versa; I would add that because of the Incarnation in the wider, Teilhardian (and Pauline) sense, all cosmology is ecclesiology and vice-versa. The cosmos is more properly called the ecclesiocosmos, and the Vatican II document could perhaps be titled The Modern World in the Church. Of course, we are speaking here of the Church/Mystical Body considered with its widest boundaries, with a broad view of baptism of desire, etc. There are of course different degrees to which someone or something is part of the Mystical Body.For Teilhard, the life (and, as well see, the death) of each creature and of all creation is an act of communion, of Christ coming to be within us, and of our incorporation into Christ (primarily through Baptism, the Eucharist, etc. sacraments make possible the wider process, as I will explain later). And of course, communion with and love of God involves communion with and love of all other humans, all creatures, all creation:

It is impossible to love Christ without loving others (in proportion as these others are moving towards Christ). And it is impossible to love others (in a spirit of broad human communion) without moving nearer to Christ. (DM 144)

From another angle, the story is actually a transubstantiation all creation is transubstantiated/incorporated into the Mystical Body of Christ: the term transubstantiation is used in a real but analogous way, as the world does not actually become Christ/God in the way the bread and wine do. Each of us, and the universe as a whole, is like a Communion wafer:

As our humanity assimilates the material world, and as the Host assimilates our humanity, the eucharistic transformation goes beyond and completes the transubstantiation of the bread on the altar. Step by step it irresistibly invades the universe. In a secondary and generalised sense, but in a true sense, the sacramental Species are formed by the totality of the world, and the duration of the creation is the time needed for its consecration. In Christo vivimus, movemur et sumus. (DM 125-126)

Another passage brings out more clearly the connection here to Creation/Incarnation:

[W]hen Christ descends sacramentally into each one of His faithful [in Communion], it is not simply in order to commune with him [or her], it is in order to join him [or her], physically, a little more closely to Himself and to all the rest of the faithful in the growing unity of the world. When, through the priest, Christ says, Hoc est corpus meum, This is my body, the words reach out infinitely far beyond the morsel of bread over which they are pronounced: they bring the entire mystical body into being. The priestly act extends beyond the transubstantiated Host to the cosmos itself, which, century after century, is gradually being transformed by the Incarnation, itself never complete. From age to age, there is but one single Mass in the world: the true Host, the total Host, is the universe which is continually being more intimately penetrated and vivified by Christ. From the most distant origin of things until their unforeseeable consummation, through the countless convulsions of boundless space, the whole of nature is slowly and irresistibly undergoing the supreme consecration. Fundamentally since all time and for ever but one single thing is being made in creation: the body of Christ. (CE 73-74)

I said above that life for Teilhard is a communion/transubstantiation. To understand this fully, however, we must see that for Teilhard, this communion is completed/consummated by death; death is a communion. The conical diagram with Omega at its summit is in fact Golgatha with the Cross at its summit; indeed, Teilhard says, the human epic the entire journey of the universe, so full of suffering, the entire process described in The Phenomenon of Man resembles nothing so much as a way of the Cross (PM 313). To draw on the overall idea of his Mass on the World (HM 119-134) and other works such as The Divine Milieu, life is communion from the Host/Body, and death is communion from the Chalice/Blood. To develop this with my own ideas: life is death and death is life; living is a long dying; our whole life is, from different angles, both a dying and a being born. And, moreover, dying is rising. In short, the entire extent of the human and cosmic journey is, from different angles, one long birth, life, death, or resurrection.This section (II.A) raises a number of issues and concerns that must be addressed before we proceed further. [skipping the discussion of issues raised by the preceding, and skipping the original sin section, from which I posted excerpts before] C. RedemptionAs stated before, it is Christ, of course, who redeems the world from original sin, and from all sin:

Christ is still He who bears the sins of the world; moral evil is in some mysterious way paid for by suffering. But, even more essentially, Christ is He who structurally in Himself, and for all of us, overcomes the resistance to the rise of spirit inherent in matter. Christ is He who bears the burden, constructionally inevitable, of every sort of creation. He is the symbol and the sign-in-action of progress. The complete and definitive meaning of redemption is no longer only to expiate: it is to surmount and conquer. (CE 85, emphasis in text) The Cross is the symbol and significant act of Christ raising up the world with all its burden of inertia, but with all its inherent drive, too; an act of expiation but one also of breakthrough and conquest. (CE 135)

Thus, the process we have identified as Creation/Incarnation is also Redemption, because it is a process by and in which Christ redeems the world from the opposing shadow of original sin. It is Christ on the Cross, with His Death and Resurrection, who overcomes/atones for sin; the Cross is the instrument whereby God effects Creation, Incarnation (in both the narrow and wide sense!), and Redemption. To borrow a term which Teilhard applies to the Sacred Heart, the Cross is the motor of evolution (CE 244). Christs blood circulates and vitalizes even more than it is shed (CE 146). Thus, the journey/story of each of our lives and of the universe can be called either Creation, Incarnation, or Redemption. The formation of the Mystical Body of Christ, the act of communion, is not only Creation ex nihilo, but Redemption ex nihilo not only Genesis ex nihilo, but Exodus ex nihilo. It is a journey out of darkness and into light (into the Light, Christ), a fusing together of shattered pieces of glass (or of a puzzle), a process whereby a bird caught in the oily sludge of nothingness is washed clean and set free to fly.I believe a helpful way to understand Teilhards idea that Creation = Incarnation = Redemption is to compare Incarnation to inarboration, to Christ becoming a tree (one that comes to bear fruit, fruition) the Tree of Life, in all the many meanings that term holds (evolutionary tree, the Cross, the Church, etc.) in such a way that Christs Nativity, Life, Passion/Crucifixion/Death, Resurrection, and incorporation of the world into His Mystical Body, are all phases of one process of Incarnation (=Creation, Redemption). Incarnation in the narrow sense is like Christ becoming a seed. Incarnation in the wider sense is like Christ becoming a tree: i.e., becoming a seed, dying into or being killed by the soil or dust (dust which is of the same nature as the seed, for soil is decayed, fallen, organic matter i.e., to become flesh is to become dust), resurrecting/germinating (emerging from the tomb) as a small plant, and finally absorbing/incorporating the surrounding soil/dust into itself (through Baptism, Eucharist, etc.), drawing all things to itself, to grow into a tree i.e., both Christ and the soil are inarborated. Note that to rise as part of the tree, any surrounding plants must first die into the soil as the seed did.In summary, for Teilhard, Creation, Incarnation, and Redemption are all different aspects of one and the same process whereby All Becomes Christ, and Christ Becomes All.

David, The pope is not infallible and Jesus still remains with his people. The important thing is following Jesus and not sacralizing the clergy and bishops.

David asked Why have such a complicated theory to prove Humani Generis is not incompatible with the evolutionary findings of contemporary science?Because the article from the WSJ claimed that Humani Generis is incompatible with genomics. The "complexity" of the theory is about showing the fallacy, the assumption that humans only intermarried with humans. (Personally, I do not see this theory as complex. It is simple: Genomics describes a process by which all men share versions of one Y chromosome, and a similar process would explain why all people have inherited original sin.)everything happened as described in Genesis, and the offspring of Adam and Eve married only each other??? Genesis describes Cain as being in fear of others "anyone might kill me" Gen 4:14. It does not say that these 'others' are descendants of Adam, nor does it make any claim that Cain married a sister. The only thing I can think of that could imply this is that Eve is the mother of all the living, which can be read in different ways. Reading the 'others' out of the story is an unnecessary distraction that complicates any theory.

As I said, there are a lot of ways to interpret Genesis. It portrays adolescence. Self-awareness. The beginnings of human society. You can look for more possible meanings all you want. I encourage it even. I think Bill Moyers published a number of them in GenesisBut nothing you find will affect beliefs about original sin, because these come from St Paul. He is interpreting the Genesis story, and maybe doing a botched job of it, but his theologizing is also in the inspired text. His version of Adam and Eve is as much a part of our religious heritage as the Genesis version. If you want to understand original sin, read the Pauline depiction of Adam, and the Genesis version in light of St Paul's.

In The Evolution of God, Robert Wright reminds readers what a "hands-on deity" Yahweh was for Adam and Eve. He "made garments of skin" for them, walked in the garden, etc.Charming, imho, to imagine the creator of the universe sitting under a tree, sewing, walking in the evening breeze, etc. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/031606744X/ref=s9_simh_gw_p14_i1?pf_rd_...

Bill -- You wrote, "The pope is not infallible and Jesus still remains with his people. The important thing is following Jesus and not sacralizing the clergy and bishops." -- On what basis or from what standpoint are you claiming that the pope is not infallible? Certainly the pope is not infallible on everything and does not claim to be, but according to Catholicism, he (or she) does exercise infallibility when teaching ex cathedra. It seems that David was trying to deal with various questions within the framework of Catholicism. For what it's worth, my basis for believing that the pope is infallible when teaching ex cathedra is the following, though I can "prove" none of it (though #1, one could argue, can be known by reason, etc.):1) I believe that there is a God (self-subsistent being, eternal, immutable, simple, etc.).2) I believe that this God has revealed Himself/Herself to us.3) I believe that this revelation has taken place in salvation history, and specifically through the Israelites' experience of God's words and actions, culminating in Christ.4) I believe that this revelation is contained/mediated in Scripture and Tradition, and entrusted to the Catholic Church.5) I believe that part of God's revelation/plan/etc. is that the successors to St. Peter (however hazy and blurry the line might be in various places) can exercise infallibility.As for why I believe #2-5, for me I suppose it comes down to faith, even though in the past theologians would have put those more at the stage of "preambles of faith" or something. I guess for me, faith is needed not merely to believe what God reveals, but to believe that God is revealing in the first place and that He/She is revealing in this or that way.

David N. --I was thinking of that set of beliefs you mentioned. No, I don't think infallibility is one of the original, defining beliefs, nor is it implied by the defining beliefs except that they imply that the Bible etc., being the work of the Holy Spirit, cannot possibly be false *as intended by the Holy Spirit and Jesus*. (The popes'/bishops' interpretations, however, can be false.) Neither does the Assumption seem to be a primary one, at least not in a literal sense. (Heaven is not literally up in the starry skies!) I have no objections to it tken non-literally at all, and it does seem consonant with the rest of the basics as I see them. Yes, of course, the Resurrection is one of the basics, one against which all the interpretations of the rest of Scripture must be measured.

"Maybe the story reflects the OT writers thought that God did warn us of the dangers of self-awareness Sheesh, humankind, do you really want to go there? but we ignored the warning ;-) A good question. Maybe being a happy ape isnt such a bad way to go."Jeanne -- What sort of self-awareness are you talking about here? Simply being conscious that we are conscious?I would agree that thorough going awareness of all the levels of human awareness, including the unconscious and certain sorts of mystical experience, can be dangerous psychologically. Dipping into the uncs. without a guru or therapist can be psychologically devastating, and the mystical experiences in which the self is 'known' as identical with God can be spiritually destructive of genuine spiritual intuitions. But otherwise I don't see self-awareness as a threat, unless it leads to pride, maybe.

When Yahweh made the garments for Adam and Eve, did they see him kill and skin the animals?Aug. 9th New Yorker cartoon about Adam and Eve:http://www.cartoonbank.com/2010/no-one-said-we-couldnt-eat-the-snake/inv...

When tourists in Mark Twains time were taken through the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem they were shown a particular column and were advised that from under this very column was taken the dust from which Adam was made. The claim was that by a happy coincidence both the Creation and the Crucifixion had occurred at what was considered to be the center of the world.Of course Twain never missed a chance to scoff at this or other claims about relics or holy places.Innocents Abroad, Chapter LIII.

HI David, (3:11 p.m. yesterday)I'm not understanding what you mean by "complicated theory." You call it "complicated" then immediately say it's exactly what you (now) propose. What is the problem?When somebody proposes "A and B are contradictory," (as you and the WSJ did) any counterexample in which A and B are found to be compatible is a satisfactory proof that the proposition is false. I presented the simplest counterexample I thought would fit in a combox. I'm not concerned with saving the entire Genesis story. I agree there are many ways to interpret its various details. I'm only concerned with what the Church teaches. Both of the following are definita de fide by the Council of Trent: That Adam's sin is transmitted not by imitation but by descent, and that original is transmitted by natural generation. The rest is open to discussion. These things are part of the Catholic faith. You can deny them all you want, because you're not Catholic. Those of us who are Catholic must accept them.So it is good to find that there is no contradiction between modern genetics and Humani Generis. Not that any of us ever doubted it. Now we've demonstrated it to everybody else too.

I meant: "Original sin is transmitted by natural generation."

) I believe that part of Gods revelation/plan/etc. is that the successors to St. Peter (however hazy and blurry the line might be in various places) can exercise infallibility."Brendan, You cannot prove as can no one. Infallibility was unheard of until the 12th century. The message of Jesus is metanoia not grandiosity and asserting that I know God better than you. The message of Jesus to his leaders is that they should take the last place. Which for the most part they have not.

Bill Mazzella says: "Brendan, You cannot prove [this] as can no one. Infallibility was unheard of until the 12th century ..."What does this mean? For any non-self-contradictory proposition, there exist premises such that the proposition can be proved from the premises. It is meaningless to say "X can't be proved." It can only be true or false that "X can (or can't) be proved from Y" where Y is some set of agreed-upon premises.

That Adams sin is transmitted not by imitation but by descent, and that original is transmitted by natural generation. The rest is open to discussion. These things are part of the Catholic faith. You can deny them all you want, because youre not Catholic. Those of us who are Catholic must accept them.Felapton,I would like to believe that Catholics differ from fundamentalists in not having to come up with ad hoc explanations to get out of tight spots. My favorite such explanation is from the Scofield Study Bible, in which one proposed solution to the problem of Matthew 16:18 goes like this: "And I say also unto thee, That [Jesus points to Peter] thou art Peter, and upon [Jesus points to himself] this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."It seems to me your invention of "biological humans" and "theological humans" -- the latter being the "true men" Pius XII speaks of -- in order to salvage paragraph 37 of Humani Generis is similar to introducing the pointing finger of Jesus in order to dispense with the Catholic interpretation of Matthew 16:18. The idea of "theological humans" (who possess "understanding and free will and were tainted with original sin) marrying "biological humans" (who apparently did not possess "understanding and free will") is akin to bestiality, if not actually bestiality. I think the only reasonable interpretation of "true men" in Humani Generis is "descendants of Adam and Eve and only Adam and Eve." That is clearly what Pius XII meant, and it seems illegitimate to claim anything else in order to be able to give religious assent to the words of Humani Generis and not the meaning. I freely concede that the argument is ridiculous. But you said it is not valid. You said Pope Pius encyclical and phylogenetic principles are mutually incompatible. Jim McK said, no they arent. This is why I agree with Jim. I agree with you that no self-respecting apologist should come within a parsec of an argument this preposterous.One of the problems with your analysis is that Pius XII had ventured into the realm of science by saying that all human beings were directly descended from Adam and Eve, and you took his statement -- which is open to empirical verification -- and moved it back into the nonempirical realm of (very bad) theology. You admit that your argument is preposterous, and therefore you seem to be saying that any nonempirical statement can be shown not to be wrong by making up a preposterous set of circumstances in which it is not wrong. I hope you do not actually want to apply that principle to all of theology!

Ann, I mean simply being conscious that we are conscious, but see it as not so simple, as that it brings up the notion that we are separate people, gives us egos which can end up pretty twisted, makes us worry about morality, and raises the possibility of the unconscious (i.e., you wouldn't worry about your unconscious if you weren't self-conscious in the first place. As you say, complexity, complexity, complexity.

the only reasonable interpretation of true men in Humani Generis is descendants of Adam and Eve and only Adam and Eve. That is clearly what Pius XII meant,I don't see it.What I do see is permission for research and speculation on "the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter" and a separate category of "true men." Those pretty much express the concept of biological humans and theological humans. I cannot see any reason to count the terms as identical.If Humani Generis means what you claim it means -- that Adam's children have only generated children by unions with other children of Adam, ie incestuously -- then the WSJ does effectively contradict that teaching with what has been learned from genomics. I just do not see why anyone would read Humani Generis as meaning that.

"Ann, I mean simply being conscious that we are conscious, but see it as not so simple, as that it brings up the notion that we are separate people, gives us egos which can end up pretty twisted, makes us worry about morality, and raises the possibility of the unconscious (i.e., you wouldnt worry about your unconscious if you werent self-conscious in the first place. As you say, complexity, complexity, complexity."Jeanne --I think we have just a semantic problem here. I think of "consciousness" as meaning simply "awareness". Then there is "mind" which includes awareness plus all the stuff found within the scope of awareness and the activities of the mind, e.g., judgment, reasoning, creativity, etc.

I agree. When I way self-consciousness, I don't mean just consciousness, I mean that specific sense of "me thinking about me." Dogs are conscious, but I don't think they are self-conscious. So they have feelings and have some fairly sophisticated reasoning abilities, but I don't think you'd find a dog sitting there thinking, "Gee, here I am, Pluto the puppy. I wonder if I should have chewed that shoe even though no one saw me. I wonder what I'm going to be when I grow up. I just don't know. Sometimes I wish I was a cat ..."

Bill -- I do agree with some of the spirit of your comments, and I do recognize that infallibility and the whole edifice of "fundamental theology" (if I'm using the term correctly) requires faith, etc. At the same time, though, a few observations -- you wrote, "The message of Jesus is metanoia not grandiosity and asserting that I know God better than you. The message of Jesus to his leaders is that they should take the last place.I agree with this, though I'm not sure that infallibility properly understood is really incompatible with it. Also: by making these statements, aren't you also doing the same thing as the Magisterium by claiming that you "know God better" than they do? I.e., that you know that Jesus's message is about this and not that, etc.? That's really in essence what the Church does in any dogmatic definition: it says that Jesus's message (more broadly, God's revelation) is about this, and not that.

If you're going to object to Genesis as implying that Adam and Eve's "true human" children must have mated with each other incestuously, then consider the alternative: the true children who mated with non-true humans were guilty of bestiality.C'mon.

While I agree that Felapton's Hypothesis does seem to make it POSSIBLE to explain the universality of Original Sin spreading as a superdominant trait throughout the early human population, (though it doesn't rule out the possibility that there would be "biological" but not "theological" humans remaining, i.e., a population of humans untouched by the Fall,) I don't think Pius wants to go there:

For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains that either after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parent of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents. Now it is 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] (Humani Gen. 37., citing Trent.)

Other problems remain: why would we think that sin is transmitted sexually? In other words, how is it that a state affecting only the supernatural and individually and divinely infused part of us (part of the same body of doctrine,) is transmitted in semen? Remember that until recently, the child was thought to be mostly the offspring of the father, while the mother provided merely material and circumstance for the growth of a new child. How can semen, which is not itself personal, transmit sin when it does not transmit the (human) soul? The notion of Original Sin as a sexually-transmitted disease is part of Augustine's extreme anxiety about sex, not a necessary or substantive part of the tradition. The orthodox, e.g., get along just fine without that notion, while still having a lively sense of original sin.Now if we were to posit a developmental/intrinsic ensoulment, rather than an extrinsic ensoulment, we get a more nuanced and thoroughgoing hylomorphism, we don't wonder if semen carries original sin, we don't have to split the original population of humans into biological and theological humans, (and require that those concupiscent T's chased after any innocent Untainted's they could get their selfish paws on, and the uncorrupted U's somehow went along.) We would have evolved into humanity, just as each of us grows to moral maturity.

If Humani Generis means what you claim it means that Adams children have only generated children by unions with other children of Adam, ie incestuously then the WSJ does effectively contradict that teaching with what has been learned from genomics.I just do not see why anyone would read Humani Generis as meaning that.Jim McK,Here are some examples of people reading Humanae Generis the way I read it. Can you give me some examples of people reading it the way you read it?

Encyclopedia of Theology by Karl Rahner (1975)Nevertheless the Churchs magisterium, provisionally at least, does not reject the scientific thesis that man, as far as his body is concerned, stands in historical connection with the animal kingdom; the question may be freely discussed (Pius XII in an address in 1941 [D 2285] and in Humanae Generis [D 2327]), but this freedom does not extend to the question of monogenism (D 2327).

The Catholic Answers Book 2, by Peter M. J. Stravinskas (1994)I think Pope Pius was saying that monogenism (the descent of the entire human race from one set of parents) is the preferred explanation, but polygenism (the descent from multiple sets of parents) is possible if one can reconcile it with the doctrine of original sin. To date, I am not aware of anyone who has successfully met the challeng of the Pope on that score; if someone came up with a theory that could safeguard the doctrinal concerns, it would then be the responsibility of the Magisterium to pass judgment on it. As I say, that has not happened yet and may actually be a moot point because scientific concensus seems once more to be favoring monogenism over polygenism.

The BlessedVirgin Mary in England by Brother Anthony Josemaria Even more, Pope Pius XII in the same Encyclical Humani Generis declares that no catholic can validly hold to the theory of polygenism. The same condemnation of polygenism was repeated by Pope Paul VI in 1966.

The Catholicism Answer Book: The 300 Most Frequently Asked Questions by John Trigilio, Kenneth BrighentiWhat Pope Pius XII (1939-1958) taught in his encyclal letter Humani Generis (1950) was that Catholic faith demanded a belief in monogenism -- that the human race originated from one set of human parents (named Adam and Eve in the Bible). Polygenism is the theory that the human race came from several sets of parents. Thirthy-three years later, a group of biochemists in California, avowed agnostics, discovered that mitochondrial DNA showed that every human being on the earth who ever lived or will live is related, since all men and women can genetically be traced back to one original biological woman. She is the genetic mother of the human race.

Theological investigations, Volume 19, Karl RahnerIf Pius XII still thought that monogenism was an indepspensable and urenounceable element of the Catholic doctrine of original sin, we may nevertheless hold a different opinion today and, while maintaining the doctrine of original sin and its essential meaning, eliminate a monogenistic interpretation of this doctrine as an historically conditioned amalgam . . .

God Interrupts History by Lieven Boeve (2007)In the encyclal Humanae Generis, which appeared on August 12, 1950, Pius Xii, for example, still continued for the most part to uphold the historicity of the biblical creation narrative, particularly the notion of monogenism (humanity can be traced back to one single set of parents), in an effort to secure the theological notion of original sin. As a matter of fact, he even went as far as to forbid research into the notion of polygenism by Catholic academics.

One of the problems with discussing the Felapton-McK Hypothesis, is that Felapton, at least, concedes that it is preposterous. As I understand him, Felapton contends only that if you can show one way, no matter how preposterous, Pius XII could have been right in saying all true men are descended from "Adam," then you have proved Pius XII was not wrong. Felapton seems to be saying that when criticizing something a pope has said, even when that pope was not speaking infallibly, you must demonstrate that the pope was wrong not merely beyond a reasonable doubt, but beyond any doubt. Felapton seems to be taking the quote from Newman given by Fr. Komonchak September 3rd, 2010 at 10:05 am and raising what Pius XII said in Humanae Generis to the level of dogma.

Brendan,I appreciate your staying with the dialogue. Jesus did say that God hid the gospel from the wise and powerful and gave it to the simple and unlearned. The pope and bishops sided with the wise and powerful and tried to make the gospel a vehicle of domination. The leaderships killed people for disagreeing with a dogma while committing murder against them. This is power and domination not humility, crucifixion and loving your enemy. Clearly the gospel is not that difficult. The definition of dogma is largely a power move which threatens to kill or imprison anyone who disagrees. The history is clear. Infallibility is the most grandiose concept to come out of the papacy. The hierarchy has used revelation as a tool of domination. Not a vehicle of service. What does papal legates all over the world do. They are principally concerned with furthering papal privilege.Jesus Crucified, loving one's enemies are simple concepts which have not been implemented. Coat of Arms and all the trappings of the Vatican are power symbols. Taking the lowest place is unknown in the Vatican except in a symbolic way.

David,None of those quotes, as far as I can see, espouse your theory. Nor do they contradict what I have said. In fact, both The Catholic Answers Book and The Catholicism Answer Book, in the passages you cited, says precisely what I have been saying all along: all of humankind can be traced to Adam. just as all can be traced to some guy who lived in Africa 60,000 years ago. Rahner otoh seems to make clear "that man, as far as his body is concerned, stands in historical connection with the animal kingdom" and that this is distinct from the question of monogenism, which I would think supports the idea that biological human and theological human are distinct concepts that should not be conflated as you would have it.What you are espousing is the theory that theological human (=Children of Adam) only intermarried with other theological humans. That theory is indeed incompatible with genomics and evolution. And it is incompatible with Genesis, which describes 'others' who presumably are not brothers and mentions intermarriage with the Nephilim. (Thank you, Ann, for making explicit my allusion to the absurdity of "bestiality" and "incest" in this context.)None of this is to defend Pius XII as if he could not make a mistake. He makes some in Humani Generis in my opinion. But monogenism is not scientifically impossible. As your answer books say, "scientific concensus seems once more to be favoring monogenism over polygenism."

What you are espousing is the theory that theological human (=Children of Adam) only intermarried with other theological humans. That theory is indeed incompatible with genomics and evolution. Jim McK,I am not espousing the theory that "theological humans" only intermarried with other "theological humans." I am, however, saying that is what Pius XII meant.What I think is confusing -- and has been confusing me in some of this discussion -- is that both Pius XII (as I interpret him) and contemporary geneticists believe in monogenism. As I now understand it, polygenism is the belief that different races had different origins. I don't think any serious scientist believes that today. The difference between the monogenism of Pius XII (as I understand him) and that of modern science is that Pius XII believed the human race began with two parents, and modern geneticists believe it began with group. I don't think we disagree on the science. We both seem to believe in Mitochondrial Eve and Y-Chromosomal Adam. But of course if Pius XII (as I interpret him) were correct, they would have been husband and wife instead of being separated by over 100,000 years. (Thank you, Ann, for making explicit my allusion to the absurdity of bestiality and incest in this context.)I am not quite sure what Ann meant, but of course as I understand Pius XII, the intermarrying of the descendants of Adam and Eve would indeed have been incestuous. (Also, if the story of Noah's Ark is taken literally, the children of Noah's sons would have had to intermarry to repopulate the earth.) And what you and Felapton call "theological humans," Pius XII called "true men." What would it be when "true" men and women intermarry with "non-true" men and women? I think the theory of "theological humans" intermarrying with "biological humans" assumes there is no essential difference between the two. But if the belief is that humans as we know them came into existence when God directly intervened in evolution to make creatures in his image and likeness, where there had been no such creatures before, then there had to be a profound difference between merely biological humans and theological humans. Whether you want to call it bestiality or not, the idea of true humans mating with "biological humans" who (according to Felapton) had no soul and no free will is really quite bizarre.

Jim McK,By the way, are you saying that Mitochondrial Eve or Y Chromosomal Adam, committed Original Sin?

David,I have been using Y chromosomal Adam as an example of how a trait travels through a population. (and because it means all the references to "men" don't have to be changed to "people.") With scientists using Adam and Eve language it is simple to convey the idea, but the same process applies to all evolutionary changes, eg bipedalism. With that concept of evolution in mind, I see no reason why Pius' monogenism would be contradicted by genomics.The problem with bestiality lies in mixing up definitions of human. A theological human is also a biological human human, so mating with a non-theological human is still the mating of two biological humans and not bestiality. Whether those mates are "helpmates" as described in Genesis 3 is another question. In part because of it, I lean toward thinking that "sin" as a social construct is passed on socially rather than through generation. To use Felaptons example, an Untainted person who marries a Tainted person becomes tainted, and not vice versa. And a child becomes tainted as soon as he enters into a social relationship with another person, ie parents. But there are problemms with that, and I have not pursued it to the point where I would defend it.

Lisa, I have already said I do not see exclusive endogamy in Humani Generis. Rereading it does not change that. Why do you think he uses the word "true"? What would be a "false man"? I doubt that he is talking about quiche.Pius says that original sin is passed on "through generation", not through sexuality. While Augustine may gave identified this with sexuality, there are other aspects to 'generation.' Consider a snip from Fr Komonchak's quote of Cardinal Ratzinger: sin means the damaging or the destruction of relationality. Sin is a rejection of relationality because it wants to make the human being a god. In the womb, a child is deeply tied into a relationship with the mother, but at birth that tie is severed. It is not a complete severance, and other bonds grow as a result, but it is a disruption of relationality.This disruption differs from animal births because of our consciousness. Not that the infant is conscious, but as her grows, he becomes aware of the isolation caused by exile from the depth of relationality in pregnancy. Every person can 'recall' their isolation, either by imagination or just by feeling the air on their face and knowing they are exposed.That describes one way of passing on original sin through generation that is not sexual. There may be others. Just because Augustine chose sexual activity as the mode of passing on original sin we cannot assume it is the only mode by which it can happen.

David N: Christianity depends on certain events having really and truly happened.Yes. But many schools of Christian thought do not accept the event of the bodily assumption of Mary as having really and truly happened.Roma locuta, finita est? Nope.

"The problem with bestiality lies in mixing up definitions of human. A theological human is also a biological human human, so mating with a non-theological human is still the mating of two biological humans and not bestiality."Jim --Bestiality would not be simply the mating of two generically "biological humans" (if there are biological ones that were not "fully"/"true"/"theological" human. Bestiality would be the mating of a fully/tre/theological human with a different species, a non- fully/true/theological human (the other kind of biological human, that is). These are two different species ontologically, hence the bestiality.

Jim, A couple more points: 1. to equate "true" humanity with "fallen" humanity (iow, to parallel Pius' language with your own,) would seem to imply that we weren't human pre-fall, but somehow less than human. We would then truly be our own co-creators, since God would only have created the incomplete un-fallen form now mercifully (?) extinct. 2. We could also wonder about the tens of thousands of years between Adam and Eve, and then the tens of thousands of years before all the unfallen humans died out. How do we describe those populations? 3. The Adam and Eve hypotheses are extrapolated from a wide range of DNA from several continents, and finding the most recent common ancestors, male and female. This does not rule out the possibility that we might discover another population of people (not necesssarily particularly remote, but just un-tested by those looking for those recent common ancestors,) who do not trace to the same common ancestor. It could be that this population's last common ancestor with us is back in the earliest speciation, that first population of humans (again, hard to identify a "moment of speciation" archeologically.) Or before it. This theory DEFINES "first common female ancestor" as "Eve who sinned," and "first common male ancestor" as "Adam who sinned." Is it problematic to assert that any "true" human (from A&E on,) MUST sin? COuld we still assert that sin isn't natural to us, since by this theory it is sin that defines us as human?2. Even if we extend "generation" beyond sexuality, we're left with a problem, and especially if we think of birth as itself a sin, since it marks a disruption of a relationship. I'd say that, given what we now know about actual biological reproduction, to hold both of these positions (or either,) leaves us either siding with the Manichees, or barely a stone's throw from them. Remember that the Manichees' basic stance was that spirit is holy, and matter profane. the world of matter was created by an evil demi-urge, who strove to capture spirit in matter. Thus, the worst thing one could do would be to participate in the on-going evil of incarnation--to reproduce. Augustine's response to this was basically to through up his elegant rhetorical hands and say. "and yet God did this, so somehow it must be good." Grace does abound where wretched humans are incarnate, but surely God could have been gracious to us without tossing us into the mire of sinfulness that starts merely with our birth! Don't forget also his "Oh happy fault, oh necessary sin of Adam," pinning his Christology to a human cause. Tying sin to the very process of human generation, whether sexual or more broadly concerned, is problematic. Indeed, I'm not at all certain that the very notion of special creation of the human soul isn't, given current science, irreducibly Manichean. I realize I 'm opposing Aquinas here, but remember the vastly different scientific world Thomas lived in. And let me state clearly--in using terms like "Manichean," I mean no insult, just a shorthand to designate a philosophical construct: a matter/spirit dualism in which incarnation is problematic. The Manichees are alive and well today, of course, since a version of Manicheanism is a strong aspect of some New Age thought. Even Augustine was only just non-Manichean, and some dispute that. (Just as when some say "scratch a moral theologian, find a Pelagian," it's not an attack, just shorthand for a direction many of us tend towards.)

Prof Fullam,If I recall Peter Brown's biography of Augustine, original sin was his response to why christians were baptizing babies. In the Confessions, he also offers his view of the "greediness" of infants at the breast.Augustine is a moderate to anyone who's ever read Jerome on sex.

Rereading it does not change that. Why do you think he uses the word true? What would be a false man? Jim McK,I don't see that it is necessary to conclude that because Pius XII said "true men," that he was leaving open the possibility that some other kind of men existed. It seems to me that what he was saying was that any human being alive after Adam (and Eve) had to be a descendant of Adam and Eve. In Catholic thinking, what is it that makes us human? I think that Pius XII meant that there were no human beings before Adam, and after Adam, there were no human beings who were not descendants of Adam. For those who accept that God intervened in evolution and made humans from protohumans, any protohumans continuing to exist at the time of Adam or afterward would not have been humans. They would have been protohuman animals. If God created man by intervening in evolution (rather than simply letting evolution run its course and at some point resulting in man), then there has to be a first man, and for Pius XII, that first man was Adam. Positing biological men and theological men seems (to me) to indicate there is no biological difference between the first humans and the immediately preceding protohumans. Your theory also robs the story of Adam and Eve of most of its meaning if you are saying that figuratively what it tells us is that when God created man, he created only one person. What could plausibly be the point of creating one lone human and letting his humanity spread like a mutation through the protohuman population? (Remember the part about, "It is not good for man to be alone?") What about the other creation story? Does it talk of biological humans or theological humans?

Then God said: "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and the cattle, and over all the wild animals and all the creatures that crawl on the ground." God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them, saying: "Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that move on the earth." God also said: "See, I give you every seed-bearing plant all over the earth and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit on it to be your food; and to all the animals of the land, all the birds of the air, and all the living creatures that crawl on the ground, I give all the green plants for food." And so it happened.

JC,Right--what's the point of "cleansing" someone who cannot possibly be personally responsible (heck, not yet really CAPABLE) of sin? One of the fun things about this kind of question (indeed much of systematic theology,) is the interwoven nature of doctrine. How we understand original sin is connected to theological anthropology, theology narrowly speaking, Christology, and even (as you point out) sacramental theology. Not to mention the faith/reason question. So shall I infer that anyone still following this thread finds no obvious theological problem with gradualism w.r.t. the evolution of the human soul?

"vA theological human is also a biological human human, so mating with a non-theological human is still the mating of two biological humans and not bestiality."Jim McK --If a theological human has a trait that makes him essentially different from a non-theological one, then there are two different specie involved.(Not that I'm arguing about facts here -- I'm just arguing that IF there were theological and non-theological humans THEN, their mating would have been instances of bestiality according toRC theological definitions.)

"Indeed, Im not at all certain that the very notion of special creation of the human soul isnt, given current science, irreducibly Manichean. I realize I m opposing Aquinas here, but remember the vastly different scientific world Thomas lived in."Lisa --While there might be some Manicheean overlay of Aquinas' metaphysical description of what it is to be a human being, his view that we have souls is derived from Aristotle, who, in the de Anima, argued against the materialists' notion that people were simply material organisms. He concluded that it is necessary to affirm that there is a spiritual soul (which "informs the body" and is the source of our rational powers).There are problems with Aristotle, of course. First, he needs to account for the *origin* of human souls, but as far as I know he doesn't try to. Second, he grants that the lower animals also have souls ("souls" = "psyches" in Greek), It seems that at the end of his life he identified those souls with the organic *structures* of the parts of the purely animal bodies. As I see it, this is quite a contemporary notion. It requires no individual creation of animal (and plant) psyches. But rational souls, says Aquins, being purely spiritual, need a spiritual cause, and Aquinas identifies this cause with God, the Creator. The contemporary neo-atheist scientists, of course, are unwilling to go down that route.

Lisa,I am not sure I have answers for your questions, but I will try.1. I'll agree. How does that differ from every other interpretation of Adam and Eve? God creates an innocent person capable of sinning, who sins and then must live with the consequences of that. I do not see any problem.2. See my answer to David -- mitochondrial Eve and y chromosomal Adam are examples of monogenism with respect to human-defining traits. Moral Adam and Eve would be a similar example of monogenism with respect to moral/sin defining aspects of humanity. They do not need to be the same as the 'Adam and Eve' w/r/t mitochondria and y chromosomes. Drawing species boundaries through time is notoriously difficult, so referring to populations in flux is tricky. I suppose it also depends on how we define human.3. How does this differ from your first comment? Does it help if we make moral Adam and Eve were the first persons capable of making a sinful choice? I just don't see why this question does not apply to every reading of Adam and Eve that suits Pius' criteria.2. Associating sin with birth is indeed a problem. At least Genesis does it first, with the "cursing" of Adam and Eve. The choices seem to be birth, the woman's 'urge for her husband', labor, or turning back to dirt. None of them seem like good choices, but birth at least is about the beginning of the person, and the beginning of alienation in a person. A full explanation probably will account for consciousness, but I can only guess at that.Does this explanation come near to Manicheism? Probably. What explanation of biological and moral dimensions of humanity does not? Granted, I have no idea what "gradualism w.r.t. the evolution of the human soul" could possibly mean...

So shall I infer that anyone still following this thread finds no obvious theological problem with gradualism w.r.t. the evolution of the human soul?Lisa,I see no problem . . . unless you're a Catholic!

366 The Church teaches that every spiritual soul is created immediately by God - it is not "produced" by the parents - and also that it is immortal: it does not perish when it separates from the body at death, and it will be reunited with the body at the final Resurrection.

If a new soul is created immediately (that is, directly) by God for every human person, in what sense could a soul evolve? A soul doesn't have chromosomes and genes. It can't have mutations. A soul does not reproduce. Souls are created one at a time. They can't evolve.Of course, that is based on a very crude definition of what a soul is. But it is hard to get away from that definition if a soul is created at the time of conception, leaves the body at death, and is reunited with the body at the final Resurrection.

Positing biological men and theological men seems (to me) to indicate there is no biological difference between the first humans and the immediately preceding protohumans.Yes, that is pretty much the point. The difference is not biological, but on a different level, traditionally called "rational". Is there a problem with that?As to the first creation account, it talks about the creation of theological humans, humans who are made in God's image. Physical features are probably not what make us images of God. Rather it is our ability to Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over..." Other animals can be fruitful and multiply, but only 'true' humans can be commanded to do it, and can try to fulfill that command.And I have no clue of what you are getting at with your remark about creating "one lone human". Isn't that what the story says?

Yes, that is pretty much the point. The difference is not biological, but on a different level, traditionally called rational. Is there a problem with that?Jim McK,The problem, as I see it, is that it implies that the human body is not up to the task of being human. It needs an extra, nonmaterial part. It will mean -- and this may not trouble you -- that science will never be able to explain the workings of the human mind. I am not an expert on souls, but I believe your position is an extreme form of dualism. It also raises the question why, when death is defined as the soul leaving the body, mere "biological humans" are alive. And I have no clue of what you are getting at with your remark about creating one lone human. Isnt that what the story says?You have me confused now, based on other things you have said, I am going to assume this is your theory: Y Chromosomal Adam and Mitochondrial Eve themselves have nothing to do with the story of Adam and Eve. They are merely examples of how genetic material from individuals can spread through an entire population. And with the biblical Adam and Eve, it is not genetic material; it's basically a soul. Is that correct?

FYI: were working on the bug thats displaying e-mail addresses instead of usernames.

Re: Trent, Adam and Eve, and Original Sin - in whatever context it was that Trent said whatever it said on this topic (can anyone post the actual text here, btw?), I'm pretty sure it wasn't in response to advances in genetic science. I have a vague impression that it's formula of 'inherited, not mimick'd' is in response to a heresy (possibly Arianism?) that posited that humans sin, not because original sin is intrinsic to the human condition, but because humans imitate other humans who sin. If that were a true, than in theory, a human could be raised in a bubble, apart from other humans, and she would not sin - an experiment that monks and anchorites/esses have conducted many times but without success, so far as we know.In short, it seems that what Trent has been trying to tell us is that original sin is intrinsic to the human condition. Felapton's interesting theory notwithstanding, I still don't see that genetics or any other modern biological science would lead us to conclude otherwise.

Jim McK,I have a hard time holding in my head the concept of most recent common ancestor, and I realize I have been making an error about Y Chromosomal Adam and Mitochondrial Eve. I can't at the moment figure out if it makes your hypothesis more unlikely or less unlikely. I was not taking into account that Mitochondrial Eve is not our most recent common female ancestor. She is our most recent common matrilineal ancestor. That is, you must trace your ancestry to her back through your mother, your grandmother your great grandmother, and so on. Likewise, Y Chromosomal Adam is the most recent common patrilineal ancestor, and you must trace your ancestry to him through your father, your grandfather, your great grandfather, and so on. So if Adam and Eve had sons only, who married nontheological women, the real Eve would have had no chance of being Mitochondrial Eve, because she had no direct female descendants. However, the real Adam and Eve would nevertheless both have to be common ancestors to everyone alive today, unless Adam and Eve were not monogamous. I will try to figure out more of the implications later, but thinking about this too long makes my head hurt. Also, it causes Pius XII to spin in his grave.

The decrees on Original Sin from the Council of Trent are here.

David, The soul is a non-material part of every living being. It can be vegetative, animal, or rational, with vegetative subsumed within the animal and both within rational. A true human is one with a rational soul. A protohuman has only an animal soul. They are alive, and physically indistinguishable from true humans, but have no rational soul. And yes, the body is not up to the task of being human; it needs a rational soul.Mitochondrial Eve is the most recent common ancestor who has modern mitochondrial genes. Others, like her mother or grandmother, may have the same m-DNA, but they are not the most recent. Ditto for Y Adam, who is the most recent common ancestor with the Y chromosome. If a couple had only sons, the woman's particular line of m-DNA would die out -- this what happened to all women alive at the same time as m-Eve, more or less. This process is not limited to mitochondria and Y chromosomes. Presumably, if one identified the gene for red hair, tested a representative sample of red haired individuals, you could construct a profile of the most recent common ancestor, or discover that there were multiple ancestors, or some other situation. Because m-DNA and Y chromosomes are passed on by only the mother or father respectively, they are easier to track, but the other could be done.My argument was that this is the process by which traits are handed down. Genetics is easily traceable, but it works the same regardless. If a man gave every child a gold coin, and every one of his descendants and only they, did the same thing, you could tell something about the man by who had gold coins. Genealogists do this with family names. Given this, it seems entirely appropriate that a story would tell how the traits that distinguish humanity were passed on from a first parent. And if that makes your head spin, imagine how I feel! I am not any kind of expert in all of this, and I am getting questions like "Why only one" from you, and "What makes it singular" from Lisa. It has been interesting, but I am not sure I have helped the discussion of original sin much by going into such detail about genetics.

Sorry for jumping in after all this discussion. Only one of you has alluded to Rahner in this thread. He wrote extensively on original sin and in some ways would suggest that he is clearer than deChardin.He does not use scripture literally - rather, he places the current and past church sacramental history/theology in a context and posits a "supernatural existential" prior to original sin - link to explanation: http://3rdmillennium.blogspot.com/2006/09/karl-rahner-on-original-sin.ht... points:- "In this context he reinterprets the notion of original sin. It is called original sin because human beings have established guilt throughout history. He rejects the traditional understanding of original sin as biologically transmitted through Adam and Eve. Rather, original sin refers to the fact that guilt is universal and ineradicable. This fact is evident since every one is co-determined by others guilt as well as by the whole history of wrongdoing. In this context, Rahners statement about grace as Gods self-communication within the depth of human existence obtains its significance.Original sin, therefore, expresses nothing else but the historical origin of the present, universal and ineradicable situation of our freedom as co-determined by guilt, and this insofar as this situation has a history in which, because of the universal determination of this history by guilt, Gods self-communication in grace come to man not from Adam, not from the beginning of the human race, but from the goal of this history, from the God-Man Jesus Christ. (FCF, 114)"- "Rahner argues that human beings as Gods partner have to be able to receive Gods loving grace. Here he relies on the Thomistic notion of obediential potency, which becomes the conditionor better, a remainder concept (Restbegriff)in the human existential constitution that has been present before God offers grace, even prior to sin (FCF, 124). This condition he calls the supernatural existential. In Rahners most-quoted words, Gods self-communication as offer is also the necessary condition which makes its acceptance possible (FCF 128). The end and goal of Gods grace, finally, is that human beings receive the final vision of God (beatific vision), which implies an ontological relationship between God and creatures. Yet, it is not merely an ideal reality in the future. Rather, according to Rahner, it is an historical experience, hic et nunc,[I]n grace, that is, in the self-communication of Gods Holy Spirit, the event of immediacy to God as mans fulfillment is prepared for in such a way that we must say of man here and now that he participates in Gods being; that he has been given the divine Spirit who fathoms the depths of God; that he is already Gods son here and now, and what he already is must only become manifest. (FCF, 120)"

"Original sin" in the Christian sense in no way implies that the original, personal act of freedom of the first person or persons is transmitted to us as our moral quality. In "original sin" the sin of Adam is not imputed to us. Personal guilt from an original act of freedom cannot be transmitted, for it is the existentiell [sic] "no" of personal transcendence towards God or against him. And by its very nature this cannot be transmitted, just as the formal freedom of a subject cannot be transmitted. . . . For Catholic theology, therefore, "original sin" in no way means that the moral quality of the actions of the first person or persons is transmitted to us, whether this be through a juridical imputation by God or through some kind of biological heredity, however conceived. -- Karl Rahner

I am far from being a theologian, but to me this sounds like it could be part of an article titled "Everything You've Ever Heard About Original Sin Is Wrong." How is it possible to reconcile these statements from the Catechism about baptism with what Rahner says about Original Sin?

1250 Born with a fallen human nature and tainted by original sin, children also have need of the new birth in Baptism . . . 1263 By Baptism all sins are forgiven, original sin and all personal sins, as well as all punishment for sin. In those who have been reborn nothing remains that would impede their entry into the Kingdom of God, neither Adam's sin, nor personal sin, nor the consequences of sin, the gravest of which is separation from God.1279 The fruit of Baptism, or baptismal grace, is a rich reality that includes forgiveness of original sin and all personal sins . . . .

How is it possible to reconcile the dogma of the Immaculate Conception with what Rahner says (or Ratzinger says, in the quotes given by Fr. Komonchak) about Original Sin? I don't put much stock in apparitions, but for those who do, how can you make any sense of the Virgin Mary saying to Bernadette of Lourdes, "I am the Immaculate Conception"? It seems to me that it is dogma that Original Sin is an act freely chosen by humans in the past and is passed on at the moment of conception "by propagation, not by imitation." While I acknowledge that the dogma of the Immaculate Conception is probably one of the less critical dogmas, nevertheless, it was formally pronounced as an infallible truth. How can a Church that claims to be under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, so that it cannot teach error, present to the faithful an infallible pronouncement that is at best a statement the meaning of which is either innocuous or cannot be determined?

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