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Featured Why Evolution and Christianity are Fundamentally Irreconcilable

Discussion in 'Science and Religion' started by Hubert Farnsworth, May 29, 2018.

  1. Skwim

    Skwim Veteran Member

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    Sure there is.
    [​IMG]

    Starfish 5 arms
    Humans 2 arms

    More seriously.

    Human
    Definition: A bipedal primate belonging to the genus Homo.
    source

    [​IMG]

    Note that Homos evolved from Australopithecus africanus


    Not at all.

    " The differences between Homo habilis and Australopithecus are: homo habilis possesses a greater cranial capacity(610 to about 800cc), it has reduced prognathism- a flatter face and a shorter tooth row. Homo habilis has limbs still reminiscent of apes in terms of their relative proportions."
    source

    .
     
  2. dfnj

    dfnj Well-Known Member

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    An omnipotent Christian God can create the Universe in any amount of time including all the fake fossil and carbon dating evidence. God's proving ground for faith is perfect in it's creation of presenting the inquisitive mind the greatest amount of doubt. If God's test for faith were easy it would be a decision and not a choice. So evolution may appear to be true and our God created the Universe exactly according to Genesis.
     
  3. lewisnotmiller

    lewisnotmiller Grand Hat
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    Which atheists? The ones saying they are incompatible, or the ones saying they are compatible?

    Any reason you speak of 'atheists' as if they're a single, dogmatic group in concord?
     
  4. dfnj

    dfnj Well-Known Member

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    When I first read your post I read "spectrum" as "speculum".
     
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  5. lewisnotmiller

    lewisnotmiller Grand Hat
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    It's neither proven fact, nor narrative. It's a scientific theory, or more correctly a set of connected theories.

    Both fact and narrative are so commonly misused these days I'm surprised they retain any meaning at all.
     
  6. Subduction Zone

    Subduction Zone Veteran Member

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    Why would you worship a lying god? In fact if your god is willing to lie there why accept the story of eternal life? It could be just another convenient lie.
     
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  7. dfnj

    dfnj Well-Known Member

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    Whether or not God is lying is purely subjective. Accepting the story of eternal life is a choice made through having faith in a particular type of God. Just because you are making the choice nothing is "sacred" and nothing is "divine" is just a different choice. Your choice is no better than mine or anyone else's. It is pure hubris on your part to think your way of thinking is the "right" way of thinking.
     
  8. Subduction Zone

    Subduction Zone Veteran Member

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    Your first sentence is erroneous. I stopped there.
     
  9. blü 2

    blü 2 Well-Known Member
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    The Garden story in Genesis never mentions sin, original sin, disobedience, the fall of man, death entering the world, spiritual death or the need for a redeemer. The attempt to make the story mean those things comes centuries later.
    Leaving aside the point I just made, and imagining instead that the Garden story is indeed about the fall of man, why need it be literally true? Why can't it be a moral fable about man's fallen state?
     
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  10. robocop (actually)

    robocop (actually) Well-Known Member
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    I really should read "The third Chimpanzee" by Jared Diamond to answer this post, but don't have time.
     
  11. Hubert Farnsworth

    Hubert Farnsworth Well-Known Member

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    Fair enough, but I still don't understand how you can have original sin if there is no first human.
     
  12. Hubert Farnsworth

    Hubert Farnsworth Well-Known Member

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    LOL. How is my view illogical and irrational? Do you think I'm a creationist?
     
  13. 9-10ths_Penguin

    9-10ths_Penguin 1/10 Riboflavin
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    @Hubert Farnsworth 's take on the issue does line up with the official Catholic position.

    They don't require belief in a literal Garden of Eden or a talking snake, but they do hold as a point of doctrine that there was an original male-female pair of the first "true humans" and that all "true humans" descended from them. Polygenism is explicitly declared as incompatible with the Catholic faith.
     
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  14. sealchan

    sealchan Well-Known Member

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    I like this but I think that applies only to a very common but childish understanding of the Bible. Christianity is not really supposed to be a rational moral code or theory as is evolution (as a rational explanation for the source and development of life), it is supposed to be a bridge to spiritual transcendence over the confines of mundane reality. The two systems have different concerns and only the literalist has the problem or disagreement between the two to work out...or not.
     
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  15. Vouthon

    Vouthon In varietate concordia
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    @sayak83 thanks for highlighting this post for me!

    I completely disagree with this statement. There is nothing that 'Answers in Genesis' has gotten right, either with regards to their theology or science. In my humble assessment, the webmasters of that site could do with a crash-course in Divinity School and from a Physics department. Like, ASAP. :confused:

    They could start with familiarizing themselves with some good textual criticism from scholars well-versed in the study of the Hebrew Bible, preferably in the context of the ancient Near East.

    If they did, then they might come to understand that the Book of Genesis was written in the genre of Babylonian creation myth, as an inspired effort to rework and adapt themes from texts such as the Mesopotamian Enuma Elish and the Baal text from Ugarit. It was part of the prevailing literary genre of the era: defined by shared vocabulary, imagery, motifs and tropes stretching across neighboring cultures, a genre about the establishing of the ordered dominion of the national deity over the primordial forces of watery chaos, before anything was created, represented by "the Deep".

    The Jewish author took these already long-established motifs and imbued them with a monotheistic focus, to emphasize Yahweh's sovereignty over the cosmos. There is nothing scientific about this genre: the sacred author didn't receive a special vision of the formation of all things. The details are essentially borrowed from the earlier pagan texts but 're-jigged', very expertly, into a coherent framework that serves the author(s) sectarian agenda.

    So, point no.1 - the first chapters of Genesis have nothing to teach us about cosmology, physics, biology or any other scientific field of study. It is a beautiful and startlingly subversive Mesopotamian creation myth, which seeks to emphasize God's sovereignty over creation and ability to form order out of chaos. Pope Pius XII warned us in 1943,


    "What is the literal sense of a passage is not always as obvious in the speeches and writings of the ancient authors of the East, as it is in the works of our own time. For what they wished to express is not to be determined by the rules of grammar and philology alone, nor solely by the context; the interpreter must, as it were, go back wholly in spirit to those remote centuries of the East and with the aid of history, archaeology, ethnology, and other sciences, accurately determine what modes of writing, so to speak, the authors of that ancient period would be likely to use, and in fact did use... What those exactly were the commentator cannot determine as it were in advance, but only after a careful examination of the ancient literature of the East"

    (Divino Afflante Spiritu 35–36)​


    See:

    Evolution | scientific theory


    Biblical scholars point out that the Bible is inerrant with respect to religious truth, not in matters that are of no significance to salvation.

    Augustine, considered by many the greatest Christian theologian, wrote in the early 5th century in his De Genesi ad litteram (Literal Commentary on Genesis):

    It is also frequently asked what our belief must be about the form and shape of heaven, according to Sacred Scripture. Many scholars engage in lengthy discussions on these matters, but the sacred writers with their deeper wisdom have omitted them. Such subjects are of no profit for those who seek beatitude. And what is worse, they take up very precious time that ought to be given to what is spiritually beneficial. What concern is it of mine whether heaven is like a sphere and Earth is enclosed by it and suspended in the middle of the universe, or whether heaven is like a disk and the Earth is above it and hovering to one side.

    Augustine adds later in the same chapter: “In the matter of the shape of heaven, the sacred writers did not wish to teach men facts that could be of no avail for their salvation.” Augustine is saying that the book of Genesis is not an elementary book of astronomy. It is a book about religion, and it is not the purpose of its religious authors to settle questions about the shape of the universe that are of no relevance whatsoever to how to seek salvation.

    In the same vein, John Paul II said in 1981:

    The Bible itself speaks to us of the origin of the universe and its make-up, not in order to provide us with a scientific treatise but in order to state the correct relationships of man with God and with the universe. Sacred scripture wishes simply to declare that the world was created by God, and in order to teach this truth it expresses itself in the terms of the cosmology in use at the time of the writer.Any other teaching about the origin and make-up of the universe is alien to the intentions of the Bible, which does not wish to teach how the heavens were made but how one goes to heaven.

    Do you reckon that 'answers in Genesis' have done this? If they had, then they wouldn't be treating a book written in the genre of Near East creation myth and imbued with a rich and symbolic language, as a primer on evolutionary biology.

    Point no. 2 - evolutionary theory has nothing to tell us about 'original sin', because sin is a spiritual concept, not amenable to quantification or replication by experiment. Also, the story of “Adam and Eve” was not popularly referenced within the Hebrew Bible, nor was the narrative itself primarily, or originally, concerned with a catastrophic ‘fall from grace’ at all, as later exegetes assumed on the back of the influential Pauline exegesis in Romans. As the scholar James Barr noted in his chapter on “Natural Theology in the Jewish Tradition” in the book Biblical Faith And Natural Theology:


    4: Natural Theology in the Jewish Tradition


    “...After the story of Adam and Eve is first narrated in Genesis, nowhere in the books of the Hebrew canon does anyone go back to that incident in order to use it as an explanation for the origin of sin, evil, and death..."


    (continued......)
     
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  16. Vouthon

    Vouthon In varietate concordia
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    My point no. 3 - the black-and-white distinction you draw between humans and other animals, in terms of physiology and material processes, is unnecessary. What differentiates humans from animals, in the Christian mindset, is our rational and spiritual soul created in the image of God.

    Since he recognized that we are formed out of the same basic materials (i.e. carbon) of which all creatures are made out of, St. Thomas Aquinas, in the 13th century, had no qualms about categorizing human beings as animals in the biological sense:


    "But it was fitting that the human body should be made of the four elements, that man might have something in common with the inferior bodies, as being something between spiritual and corporeal substances." (ST P1 Q91 A1)​

    "Socrates and Plato ... have the same human species; others differ specifically but are generically the same, as man and donkey have the same genus animal." (De Principiis Naturae 45)​


    The Bible likewise emphasizes that humans are not fundamentally different from other animals in terms of biological function:


    Ecclesiastes 3:18-22

    18 I said in my heart with regard to human beings that God is testing them to show that they are but animals. 19 For the fate of humans and the fate of animals is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and humans have no advantage over the animals; for all is vanity. 20 All go to one place; all are from the dust, and all turn to dust again.


    Our primary and intrinsic difference, in the theological sense, resides in the fact that God infused within us a rational soul (consciousness) that will return to Him at death, as the selfsame scriptural text affirms later in the narrative:


    Ecclesiastes 12:7

    the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.

    Point no.4 - the autonomy of the natural order and of processes like natural selection are not incompatible with belief in an omnipresent Divine Being as the ultimate Creator of the universe, unless one is wedded to a belief in God as some kind of tyrannical micro-manager.

    Your perspective here disregards the crucial contribution that Christian doctrine made to primitive science, in enabling natural philosophy to move away from the pagan belief in 'gods' being causally involved in the everyday operation of the natural world. The father of Hellenic philosophy, Thales, had believed that:

    1. The magnet has a soul [which moves it]. (De Anima 405a19)
    2. All things are full of gods. (De Anima 411a7)

    Plato therefore imagined that stars and planets were divine beings, while Aristotle regarded them as rational souls made out of luminous aether, since his cosmology required an individual unmoved mover for each sphere.

    Early Christians rejected this worldview, as can be seen from the sixth century Christian philosopher John Philoponus (born around 490, dead sometime in the 570s):


    John Philoponus facts, information, pictures | Encyclopedia.com articles about John Philoponus


    Philoponus’ main significance for the history of science lies in his being, at the close of antiquity, the first thinker to undertake a comprehensive and massive attack on the principal tenets of Aristotle’s physics and cosmology, an attack unequaled in thoroughness until Galileo.

    Philoponus’ philosophy of nature was the first to combine scientific cosmology and monotheism. The monotheistic belief in the universe as a creation of God and the subsequent assumption that there is no essential difference between things in heaven and on earth, as well as the rejection of the belief in the divine nature of the stars, had already been expressed in the Old Testament and was taken over by Christianity and later by Islam.

    The monotheistic dogma of the creation of the universe ex nihilo by the single act of a God who transcends nature implied, for Philoponus, the creation of matter imbued with all the physical faculties for its independent development according to the laws of nature, a development that he conceived of as extending from the primary chaotic state to the present organized structure of the universe.

    This deistic conception of a world that, once created, continues to exist automatically by natural law, was completely foreign to the classical Greek view, which never considered the gods to be “above nature” but associated them with nature, reigning not above it but within it. The shock created by this conception of Philoponus’ is reflected in the words of Simplicius, who is bewildered by the idea of a god who acts only at the single moment of creation and then hands over his creation to nature.


    Likewise, St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas both believed in a concept known as the actualization of potential.

    In De Trinitate and his Literal Commentary on Genesis, St. Augustine interprets Genesis as God having endowed creation with the capacity to develop - that is, a view compatible with, albeit different from, our contemporary understanding of evolution. Augustine employs the image of a dormant 'seed' to aid his readers in understanding this point, what Alistair Grath refers to as Augustine's belief in "divinely embedded causalities which emerge or evolve at a later stage." See:


    Augustine, Genesis, & the Goodness of Creation | Henry Center


    Augustine also argues for a notion of “seminal seeds.” His argument is that, when God created the world, he both created actual “stuff”—animals, vegetation, etc., but also created seminal seeds by which (over time) “new” things would come forth.

    Thus, at some point after the original creation, we really do see “new” creatures, “new” vegetable life, and so on. But when animals reproduce, or when the seeds of a plant lead to the existence of a new plant, there is no autonomous creating going on.

    Rather, God is still the ultimate creator, because within humans, or within other living things, exist these seminal seeds created by God, and only through these seminal seeds does new life come into being.



    In the Summa Theologica, Aquinas likewise argues in favour of the view that God created all things to have potential:


    On the day on which God created the heaven and the earth, He created also every plant of the field, not, indeed, actually, but “before it sprung up in the earth,” that is, potentially.…All things were not distinguished and adorned together, not from a want of power on God’s part, as requiring time in which to work, but that due order might be observed in the instituting of the world.


    It is for this reason that the Catholic Church is utterly comfortable with the idea of the human body evolving from antecedent biological forms, so long as one continues to uphold the special creation of the rational soul by God and its infusion into the corporeal form. Pope Pius XII thus declared in 1950 that "the teaching authority of the Church does not forbid that, in conformity with the present state of human sciences and sacred theology, research and discussions . . . take place with regard to the doctrine of evolution, in as far as it inquires into the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter—[but] the Catholic faith obliges us to hold that souls are immediately created by God" (Pius XII, Humani Generis 36).
     
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  17. Hubert Farnsworth

    Hubert Farnsworth Well-Known Member

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    Maybe, but evolution implies that there was no first human, and thus no original sin. Sure, you can still accept the teachings of Jesus and believe in evolution, but the core doctrine of Christianity is completely at odds with the implications of evolutionary theory.
     
  18. metis

    metis aged ecumenical anthropologist

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    And it's compatible with Christians whom are not literalists.

    For example, the world's greatest expert on Homo erectus going back a half-century ago was Fr. Teilhart de Chardin, a Jesuit priest.
     
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  19. sealchan

    sealchan Well-Known Member

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    Again only if you find it necessary or consider as important or relevant that Christianity teaches a literal history. I think that this is many believers greatest mistake.
     
  20. Vouthon

    Vouthon In varietate concordia
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    That's not entirely correct, actually. The Catechism defines that “the transmission of original sin is a mystery that we cannot fully understand.” (CCC 404)

    Pope Pius XII did not declare polygenism 'incompatible' (i.e. heretical). He said that it wasn't 'apparent' to him how it fitted in, since in 1950 few if any theologians had yet explicitly addressed the question.

    Modern theologians do not necessarily discern any conflict between polygenism and Catholic teaching on original sin. An example of this can be found in The Christian Faith in the Doctrinal Documents of the Catholic Church (1996 edition), on Humani Generis where the authors / editors Fr. Neuner and Dupuis, S.J. state:


    "Pius XII treats two questions regarding the origin of the human person. Firstly, the human being's origin through evolution from other living beings...Secondly, monogenism or polygenism, i.e. the question whether the human race must be conceived as descending from a single couple or can be considered to originate from several couples: polygenism is rejected because 'it does not appear' [or 'it is not at all apparent'] to be reconcilable with the doctrine of original sin inherited by all from Adam. Recent theology, however, is seeking explanations of original sin under the supposition of polygenism." (J. Neuner, J. Dupuis, The Christian Faith [1996], page 169)​


    Further, see also the article published in L'Osservatore Romano, "The Credo of Paul VI: Theology of Original Sin and the Scientific Theory of Evolution" by Roberto Masi, published in 1969:


    "....according to the opinions of the above mentioned exegetes and theologians, it results that Revelation and Dogma say nothing directly concerning Monogenism or Polygenism, neither in favour nor against them. Besides, these scientific hypotheses are per se outside the field of Revelation.

    Within this context, different combinations of the scientific theory of evolution are therefore hypothetically possible or compatible with the doctrine of original sin...It is possible to admit a biological polygenism and a theological monogenism. Evolution brought about not a single couple but many men, who constituted the primitive human population. One of these, who may be considered the leader, rebelled against God. This sin passed on to all men...that is by a real solidarity already existing in this primordial human population. In them actual sinful humanity has its origin.

    It is also possible to combine biological and theological polygenism: all the primitive human population rebelled concordantly against God and from them are born the other sinful men. These hypotheses are only suppositions which many think are not contrary to Revelation and the bible. Even if we accept as valid the scientific theory of evolution and polygenism, it can still be in accordance with the dogma of original sin in the various manners indicated
    ."

    (Roberto Masi, from L'Osservatore Romano, the newspaper of the Holy See, weekly edition in English, 17 April 1969)

    The Church has not thus far defintively clarified the question of monogenism versus polygenism, though an International Theological Commission document on creation and evolution endorsed by then Cardinal Ratzinger from 2004 stated:


    "While the story of human origins is complex and subject to revision, physical anthropology and molecular biology combine to make a convincing case for the origin of the human species in Africa about 150,000 years ago in a humanoid population of common genetic lineage. However it is to be explained, the decisive factor in human origins was a continually increasing brain size, culminating in that of homo sapiens."

    This passage is compatible with both monogenetic and polygenetic interpretations, since it is unclear whether the "humanoid population" in question is to be regarded as the first humans, or the immediate ancestors of the first humans. And moreover:


    "Catholic theology affirms that that the emergence of the first members of the human species (whether as individuals or in populations)...Acting indirectly through causal chains operating from the beginning of cosmic history, God prepared the way for what Pope John Paul II has called 'an ontological leap...the moment of transition to the spiritual.'"
     
    #40 Vouthon, May 30, 2018
    Last edited: May 30, 2018
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