dotCommonweal

A blog by the magazine's editors and contributors

.

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

Comments

Commenting Guidelines

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.

Pages

Share

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).