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Did Dinosaurs Die Before the Fall?

trex-giganotosaurus-comparison1
 
St. Paul tells us:
 

"For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive" (1 Cor. 15:21-22).

 
Does this mean that there was no death--of any kind--before the Fall of Man?

Would that mean that no animals, plants, or microbes died?

What about animals that are carnivores?

Were lions vegetarians? How about alligators? Or sharks?

How about carnivores like Tyrannosaurus Rex?

Let's take a look at the subject . . .

A Key Concept

 
To set the stage, I need to introduce a key concept: entropy.

Entropy is a very important concept in the sciences. Put simply, entropy is the tendency of things to run down or break down over time.

Systems that are subject to entropy tend to dissipate energy and lose organization over time.

Entropy is the reason why the stars shine, and it's the reason that you get hungry.

As stars burn their fuel, the heat and light they produce spreads out into the universe. It dissipates.

If stars weren't subject to entropy then all the energy they generate wouldn't dissipate. It would stay bundled up in the star.

As your body burns fuel (food), you dissipate energy, too--partly in the form of body heat. That's why you need to eat, to replenish your body's fuel.

If you weren't subject to entropy, your energy would never flag, and you wouldn't need to eat.

Now here's the thing . . .

The Whole Material Universe Is Entropic

 
The entire physical universe, so far as we can tell, is entropic, or subject to entropy.

All material systems run down or break down over time.

A seeming, partial exception is life. Living things, in some respects, seem to gather energy and create organization.

Thus some have tried to define life in terms of a kind of weird anti-entropy.

But the exception is, at best, partial, because all living things die. Ultimately, entropy overcomes every living organism.

So what about death before the Fall?

And what about our prospects for immortality after the General Resurrection?

St. Thomas Aquinas on Material Things

 
Although the term "entropy" hadn't been coined in his day, St. Thomas Aquinas recognized that it was the tendency of all material things to break down over time.

In his day, they referred to this as the tendency of material things to "corrupt" and to the idea that material things are "corruptible."

It's the same basic insight people have today; they just used different language to express it.

Given that man has a material body, how does Aquinas explain the idea that death entered the world through sin?

Give Me Immortality or Give Me Death!

 
Aquinas's basic answer is that, because man's body is material, it would have a natural tendency to run down and break down--to "corrupt"--over time.

Thus, in that sense, death is natural to man.

The human body will eventually die . . . unless something stops that from happening.

Nature can be supported and elevated by grace, though, and so it is within the power of God's omnipotence to prevent death.

And God chose to do this. He gave man the grace needed to avoid dying, but we lost this grace through the Fall.

Aquinas writes:
 

"Now God, who is the author of man, is all-powerful, wherefore when He first made man, He conferred on him the favour of being exempt from the necessity resulting from such a matter: which favor, however, was withdrawn through the sin of our first parents.
 
Accordingly death is both natural on account of a condition attaching to matter, and penal on account of the loss of the divine favor preserving man from death [Summa Theologiae, II-II:164:1 ad 1; cf. I:97:1]."

 
This also explains how we will be immortal after the General Resurrection: After the General Resurrection, God will restore to us the grace needed to prevent our bodies from breaking down over time.

Indeed, he will do far more than that.

So much for man.

What About the Animals?

 
Hypothetically, God could have done the same thing for the animals (and all other life forms) that he did for us: He could have made them initially immune to death and then removed this grace when man fell.

But did he?

Aquinas doesn't think so.

He writes:
 

"In the opinion of some, those animals which now are fierce and kill others, would, in that state, have been tame, not only in regard to man, but also in regard to other animals.
 
But this is quite unreasonable. For the nature of animals was not changed by man's sin, as if those whose nature now it is to devour the flesh of others, would then have lived on herbs, as the lion and falcon.
 
Nor does Bede's gloss on Genesis 1:30, say that trees and herbs were given as food to all animals and birds, but to some.
 
Thus there would have been a natural antipathy between some animals [Summa Theologiae I:96:1 ad 2]."

 
Aquinas thus holds that it was not all death that entered the world through man's sin, but human death.

In his view, animals could and did kill and eat each other before the Fall.

Can we do anything to test this view?

Good Morning, Starshine

 
You have to be careful looking to Genesis with an eye toward mining scientific ideas out of it.

The purpose of the creation accounts in Genesis is to present the work of the Creator in a religious and theological way rather than in a scientific way.

Thus John Paul II warned:
 

"Above all, this [creation] text has a religious and theological importance. It doesn't contain significant elements from the point of view of the natural sciences. Research on the origin and development of the individual species in nature does not find in this description any definitive norm or positive contributions of substantial interest [General Audience, Jan. 29, 1986]."

 
But it is worth noting that, even on a highly literalist reading, Genesis does envision the pre-Fall universe in a way that suggest the existence of death for non-humans.

First, there is the fact that the sun and the stars are shining before the Fall.

Second, there is the fact that God gives Adam and Eve permission to eat the various fruits found in the Garden of Eden (except for one). Thus, Adam and Eve needed food.

Both of these facts indicate that the pre-Fall universe was subject to entropy.

Living things in the pre-Fall universe would have had the same tendency to run down, break down, and die--unless supported by God's grace, as in the case of man.

Death Visits the Plant Kingdom

 
We can go even further, though, because of God's permission to eat fruit.

That means death. Specifically, the death of the fruit's flesh (and its seeds, if those get chewed up, too).

The fruit's flesh (and its seeds) are alive. They're made of living cells.

The seeds are even little fruit embryos, which makes them independent organisms.

Of course, they aren't human.

They aren't rational beings, so they don't have rights or a right to life, and it's okay to eat them.

But they do die when we eat and digest them.

The same thing is true of other plant matter we eat.

Dinosaur Death Before the Fall?

 
The subjection of the pre-Fall universe to entropy and the existence of plant death before the Fall have significant implications for the question of animal death.

We know from these that, because of entropy, every living organism (including animals) would die unless supported by grace.

We also do not have any indication that life forms other than man had access to the grace needed for immortality (the tree of life). Nothing is said about them eating from it.

And we know, because of the permission to eat plants, that some living things did die, either on the level of cells (as in the case of a fruit's flesh) or on the case of an organism (in the case of a seed).

Absent any particular reason to group animals with humans rather than plants, one would naturally expect animals to have died prior to the Fall as well.

That includes dinosaurs.

This conclusion seems reinforced by the fact that some of them are carnivores.

And it seems abundantly reinforced by the fossil record.

Given what we now know, it looks like Aquinas was right: It was human death, not all death, that is the result of the Fall of Man.

Back to St. Paul

 
This seems to be what St. Paul had in mind in the passage we began with.

Note that he spoke in terms of human death and resurrection--of death and resurrection coming to those who are "in Adam" and "in Christ" ("For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive").

The Christian faith does not envision animals fitting those descriptions.

St. Paul himself thus seems to be speaking of human death entering the world.

The same is true of the parallel passage in Romans 5:
 

"Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned [Rom. 5:12]."

What Now?

 
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In fact, the very first thing you’ll get if you sign up is information about what Pope Benedict said about the book of Revelation.

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Jimmy Akin

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Jimmy Akin is a Senior Apologist at Catholic Answers, a member on the Catholic Answers Speakers Bureau, a weekly guest on the global radio program, Catholic Answers LIVE, and a contributing editor for Catholic Answers Magazine. He's the author of numerous publications, including the books The Fathers Know Best (Catholic Answers, 2010); The Salvation Controversy (Catholic Answers, 2001); and Mass Confusion: The Do's & Don'ts of Catholic Worship (Catholic Answers, 1999). Many of Jimmy's books are also integrated into the Logos software. Follow Jimmy's writing at JimmyAkin.com.

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  • Steven Carr

    'Aquinas thus holds that it was not all death that entered the world through man's sin, but human death.'

    As they grew up, did Adam and Eve ever notice that they could have their heads chewed off by a lion and not die?

    • Adam and Eve could have been killed - by said lion - but they would not have died in and of themselves. Something external, such as an accident, another human, etc, could be a cause of death. According to Scott Hahn, Adam's failure to stick up for Eve was because of his fear of death at the hands of the 'nahash', dragon/serpent (not a garden snake).

      • David Nickol

        Adam and Eve could have been killed - by said lion - but they would not have died in and of themselves.

        1. Did Adam and Eve exist?
        2. If so, what is there in Genesis that tells us how the could and could not have died?

        • Fr.Sean

          Hi David,

          I think this might help to answer your question;

          http://tofspot.blogspot.com/2011/09/adam-and-eve-and-ted-and-alice.html

          • David Nickol

            Fr. Sean,

            Can you point me to an authentic Catholic source—something with, say, an imprimatur or a nihil obstat, or something by a respected theologian or popularizer of Catholic though—that entertains the possibility that offspring of the first humans mated with soulless-and-almost-but-not-quite humans to produce human (and ensouled) offspring? It strikes me as a perfectly appalling bit of speculation in which ensouled men and women would commit bestiality by marrying soulless animals, and children would be raised by one human and one animal parent. I can't imagine this is something accepted by the Magisterium.

          • "Can you point me to an authentic Catholic source—something with, say, an imprimatur or a nihil obstat, or something by a respected theologian or popularizer of Catholic though—that entertains the possibility that offspring of the first humans mated with soulless-and-almost-but-not-quite humans to produce human (and ensouled) offspring? It strikes me as a perfectly appalling bit of speculation in which ensouled men and women would commit bestiality by marrying soulless animals, and children would be raised by one human and one animal parent. I can't imagine this is something accepted by the Magisterium."

            The Church's magisterium has not ruled on this particular question. Therefore Catholics are free to accept or reject Mike's explanation (which I consider plausible.)

            However, once again, this comment seems to be another attempt (though not always by you) to sully Catholic teaching by associating it with pejorative terms. See, for instance, the false association of miracles with "magic."

            Bestiality, that despicable act, refers to sex with animals. (We'll assume for the moment that humans are not animals, otherwise all human intercourse would be considered bestiality and I don't think any of us would stretch the term that far.) Yet Mike Flynn's hypothesis concerns ensouled humans having intercourse with humanoids. Thus were not talking about humans having sex with animals but with humans who have no soul. This is simply not bestiality.

            To push the point further, I assume you're an atheist who believes that *no* humans have souls, since souls don't exist (please correct me if I'm wrong.) I also suppose you're able to distinguish between modern humans and modern animals. But if both are true, and you can make that distinction between today's soulless humans and animals, you should be able to make that distinction about their ancient counterparts.

          • David Nickol

            However, once again, this comment seems to be another attempt (though not always by you) to sully Catholic teaching by associating it with pejorative terms. See, for instance, the false association of miracles with "magic."

            What is under discussion here—the offspring of Adam and Eve mating with "humanoids" is not Catholic teaching. You yourself have said,

            The Church's magisterium has not ruled on this particular question. Therefore Catholics are free to accept or reject Mike's explanation (which I consider plausible.)

            If it is indeed the case that the Church's magisterium has not ruled on this question, then it is clearly not Catholic teaching. For an idea to be a permissible speculation not contrary to Catholic teaching is quite different from it being Catholic teaching. According to you, Catholics are free to accept or reject Flynn's proposed scenario, but somehow, when I reject it, you accuse me of trying to "sully Catholic teaching."

            To push the point further, I assume you're an atheist who believes that *no* humans have souls, since souls don't exist (please correct me if I'm wrong.)

            I would never describe myself as an atheist, and I believe it is possible that human beings have souls, although exactly what that would mean I find difficult to understand. I have a great many doubts, but I have never even considered myself to be an agnostic.

            Thus you should agree that a human having sex with an soulless human is not the same as a human having sex with an animal.

            No, I don't agree. If humans have souls in the sense that the Catholic Church conceives of souls, those souls are what make a person a human being rather than an animal. It has been argued here that the spiritual soul is what confers the capacity for abstract thought and human reason. A "humanoid" without abstract thought and reason would be an animal. It would not be a moral agent. It would not be a person. As a mother or father, it would not have the capacity to raise a human child, to teach it language, or to love it in a human way. Such a creature could not give the kind of consent required to enter into a human marriage. A sexual union between a "true human" and a soulless "humanoid" would be just as much bestiality as sex between a human and our closest relatives in the animal world, the chimpanzee or the bonobo. The spiritual soul, according to the Catholic Church, is what sets men apart from the animals. A humanoid without a soul would be a nonhuman animal, no matter how close the biological relationship.

          • "According to you, Catholics are free to accept or reject Flynn's proposed scenario, but somehow, when I reject it, you accuse me of trying to "sully Catholic teaching.""

            You're right. Mea culpa! I was a bit too sensitive after yesterday's "magic" vs. "miracle" back-and-forth. I should have been more careful in my response. It's true we're not discussing "official Catholic teaching", but only a particular hypothesis about human origins, on which the Church has yet to rule.

            Yet still, my point remains: Mike Flynn's proposal is not akin to bestiality.

            "I would never describe myself as an atheist, and I believe it is possible that human beings have souls, although exactly what that would mean I find difficult to understand. I have a great many doubts, but I have never even considered myself to be an agnostic."

            Wow, I'm surprised by this. Regardless of how you would identify yourself, how would you answer this question: does God exist?

            "No, I don't agree. If humans have souls in the sense that the Catholic Church conceives of souls, those souls are what make a person a human being rather than an animal."

            OK. Ironically, we're talking past each other by assuming each other's positions. You're assuming the Catholic view of man, and thus building your conclusion. I'm assuming the modern, materialistic view of man, and thus building an opposite conclusion.

            I agree that humanoids are "animals" in the Aristotelian sense. But I don't believe they are animals in the sense implied by the modern word "bestiality", which is not meant to refer to sex with humanoids but with non-human beings.

          • David Nickol

            how would you answer this question: does God exist?

            I would answer it as follows: There is no conclusive proof either way, but most of the time, my sense (intuition, gut feeling, etc.) is that there is a God. However, there are certain moments when I have a sense that there is no God. I don't believe it is a question that can be answered by reasoned argument or inquiry. I think I could read every book that deals with the question without coming to any better conclusion than I already have. If anything tips me definitively one way or the other, it is going to be personal experience.

            But I don't believe they are animals in the sense implied by the modern word "bestiality", which is not meant to refer to sex with humanoids but with non-human beings.

            From my point of view (although I presume not from yours!) you are caught in a contradiction here. If God created mankind in his own image and likeness, even if he did so by infusing a soul into a "highly evolved" humanoid—the most "advanced" humanoid possible without a spiritual soul—then the gulf between the highly evolved humanoids and true humans is still immense. If Adam and Eve had humanoid parents, those parents were not humans, but animals. Think how much of our humanness Catholics attribute to the spiritual soul. If the Catholic Church (and all those who believe we could not engage in abstract thought, use reason to understand, and make moral decisions) is correct that to be human one must have a spiritual soul, then humanoids without souls really are animals. They cannot reason, they cannot think abstractly, and they cannot make moral decisions. Such beings could not marry, because they could not understand what marriage was. To engage in sexual intercourse with such a creature—even if you don't want to call it bestiality—would be immoral, because it could in no way realistically be said to be sex within marriage, and such a creature, being incapable of abstract thought and any moral sense, could not meaningfully consent. I still think it would be the moral equivalent of bestiality (in the eyes of the Catholic Church), but if you don't like that comparison, then I would say the next closest one is statutory rape. A humanoid without a soul (like a minor) might be receptive to sex, but it could not have the intellect and will to consent to it.

            If an "advanced" humanoid and a true human can meet and interact on the same level, then there is no need to posit a spiritual soul for human activity.

          • Fr.Sean

            David and Brandon,
            I apologize for starting a discussion and then not being able to respond. My intention in posting the article was not to provide a description of what the Church teaches but just a reflection/hypothesis. Much of the confusion about how humanity began and how it's related to Adam and Eve I think is rooted in a misunderstanding of how we understand or interpret the creation stories and what is meant by "myth" in biblical terminology.
            Romans 8 states; "All creation groans in eager expectation of the revelation of the children of God, for creation was subject to futility, not of it's own accord but by the one who subjected it".

            if Creation somehow shares in redemption than i would suppose it's possible that some of those creatures were guided to develop something beyond just instincts, or rational thought, and thus began to have a closer "likeness" to God because of rational facilities and the ability to choose.
            While I am not a fundamentalist, i do believe (I'm not saying my faith rests on it) that Adam and Eve were real people and the creation accounts are based on a historical event. Again, I don't read the bible literally, but the creation accounts do reveal faith, not science or history verbatim.
            Perhaps that question will be answered for us one day.

  • David Nickol

    Even the Catechism acknowledges that Genesis 3 "uses figurative language" (390) or "symbolic language" (362). I really do not understand why anyone in the 21st century writes as if there were two human beings named Adam and Eve who are the "parents" of the human race.

    In any case, I don't believe a close reading of Genesis 2-3 gives any indication that Adam and Eve were going to live forever. For example, God says to Adam, "You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.” God expels Adam (and Eve) from the Garden "lest he put forth his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever." Is the following (part of Adam's punishment) a hint that Adam would have lived forever?

    In the sweat of your face
    you shall eat bread
    till you return to the ground,
    for out of it you were taken;
    you are dust,
    and to dust you shall return.

    It doesn't seem so to me, since nothing similar is said to Eve. I think it means Adam's punishment is a life of "hard labor" until he dies rather than his punishment is hard labor plus a death that he would not have otherwise died.

    So while I don't believe two people named Adam and Eve existed, I don't think the characters in the symbolic tale of Adam and Eve were depicted as living forever.

    Even for those who believe in "the Fall," it is unnecessary to look to Genesis to determine if dinosaurs died! They went into extinction 65 million years ago, and modern humans date back less than a million years. Homo erectus dates back only about 1.8 million years, and even Hominidae (the great apes) date back only 15 million years. The dinosaurs had been dead and gone for tens of millions of years before there was anything even remotely resembling humans.

    • The 'living forever' is now a problem for fallen man; they had committed deliberate offense to God, requiring blood sacrifice in atonement. Taking of the tree of life would be to take God's gifts without being worthy, compounding the issue. After the Fall, we lost immortality.

      • David Nickol

        requiring blood sacrifice in atonement

        Please explain this. Is there some law of existence—binding God himself—that says an offense against God requires "blood sacrifice"? God cannot forgive without blood sacrifice?

        After the Fall, we lost immortality.

        What is the evidence that "we" had it in the first place? Also, did Adam and Eve have immortal souls? Jews in the period from which the story of Adam and Eve dates to did not have the concept of the immortal soul, but certainly Christians would say Adam and Eve had immortal souls.

        • God set the ground rules for existence, and the whole point of 'blood sacrifice' means the expiation with one's life of the sin one has committed against God. God could have chosen otherwise, but didn't. In His mercy, He allowed us to transfer the sacrifice to animals, otherwise we'd be stuck outta luck.

          The implication of declaring that Adam and Eve 'shall die' post-fall, indicates that pre-fall they would not.

          Regarding Jews having the concept of immortal souls, from the little that I understand of even Egyptian mythology, they believed in a 'ka' that lived on after death.

    • C. J. W.

      Quite right. There is entirely too much transparent desire out there --among Christians in general-- to make a literal reality of the poetry of Genesis. This was acceptable when we didn't know facts, but clearly it is not now.

      But, though there was not a literal Eve, Adam, Garden, or Serpent, surely there was a human who was the ancestor of every person alive today. Everyone who follows paleoanthropology has heard of the "mitochondrial Eve."

      Perhaps any species which achieves a certain degree of sentience experiences a kind of "Fall." Perhaps humans were simply the first such species. Perhaps before this threshold, it is "well enough" for a creature to simply live and die in the crucible of nature (the "Garden of Eden" which we in some way acknowledge in our aesthetic appreciation of raw nature, embracing both its brutality and beauty).

      I'm not going anywhere in particular here, just musing.

      PS: The dinosaurs are alive and doing quite well. In fact, the lion's share of the species of terrestrial vertebrates alive today are dinosaurs! I'm speaking of course about the birds, which are therapod dinosaurs to any modern morphologist.

  • Peter Piper

    This article seems to suggest that God isn't too worried about the suffering of animals, since He looked at a world in which animals were subject to entropy, and therefore to suffering and death, and `saw that it was very good'. Have I understood this correctly?

    • Mary B Moritz

      Death itself is normal on this earth. Even in a world with only plants, they would die, and higher forms could not have involve without animals - everything is interwoven. Mass extinction of species occured multiple times, not only with dinosaurs, but e.g. also when cynobacteria started photosynthesis leading to the Great Oxidation also called the Oxygen Catastrophe or Oxygen Crisis (see: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=533442746726563&set=a.398653416872164.85214.393336394070533&type=1&theater) .

      If we see an eagle with its majestic flight, it is at least my impulse to thank God for this wonderful creature - but I am aware that he is doing this in order to hunt for his youngsters - good or bad? Probably not fot for the small rabbit on the run...

      The CCC explains this very well: "But why did God not create a world so perfect that no evil could exist in it? With infinite power God could always create something better. But with infinite wisdom and goodness God freely willed to create a world "in a state of journeying" towards its ultimate perfection. In God's plan this process of becoming involves the appearance of certain beings and the disappearance of others, the existence of the more perfect alongside the less perfect, both constructive and destructive forces of nature. With physical good there exists also physical evil as long as creation has not reached perfection." (http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/para/310.htm) - it's kind of a very short version of Thomas Aquinas Summa Theologia q 49.

      • Peter Piper

        Yes, suffering and death is normal, and is part of the way that the lives of various creatures are intertwined. But as your quote from the CCC points out, and as Jimmy Akin implies in the OP, God was not constrained to make the world in such a way that suffering and death of animals were ubiquitous, but He did so anyway. He then said that this (pre-fall) world was `very good'. Much as I love the poetic language of `in a state of journeying', I don't think it provides much of a justification for this apparently callous behaviour on God's part.

        • DannyGetchell

          What we should glean from this is that when God terms something as "good" he is not using the word in the same sens as he intends us to use it......

  • There are two problems about dinosaurs dying before the fall: Biblical and moral. Jimmy does a good job solving the biblical problem but does not address the moral problem.

    So I ask, in the same vein as Peter Piper , will the new heavens and the new earth involve the suffering and death of many animals, including the eventual extinction of numerous species? If not, then why was there suffering before the fall?

    • Mary B Moritz

      Paul, just a guess, but if God wanted "to create a world "in a state of journeying" towards its ultimate perfection" (see comment to Pater Piper; CCC 310), then there should be no death for plants animals and humans in the new heaven and the new earth.

      • This means that Adam and Eve didn't mess up the world. God made a messed up world to begin with. Adam and Eve just messed it up even more.

        • Perhaps that's true, but if so, what's the implication? The Catholic Church has never taught that God created a perfect world in the beginning.

          • I thought the Catholic Church did teach that God made the world perfect. Thanks for the correction.

            Why didn't God make this a perfect world? Not that he'd have do to anything in particular, but I just wonder if there's a moral dimension to this. I have a pit of spikes and pit of pillows and keep throwing puppies into the pit of spikes.

            Someone says "Why are you doing that to the puppies?!? That's terrible!"

            And I say "I'm bringing the spiky room to perfection. Eventually puppies will cover the spikes, and the future puppies will land on soft dead puppies and walk away happy and free."

            "Why not throw the puppies in the room with pillows?"

            "Nothing says I have to."

          • "I thought the Catholic Church did teach that God made the world perfect. Thanks for the correction."

            You're welcome, Paul. I should have also pointed you to the relevant section in the Church's Catechism which implies that God did not create a perfect world. Though it doesn't answer your "why?" question, it is a magisterial document and does suggest a non-perfect world:

            "But why did God not create a world so perfect that no evil could exist in it? With infinite power God could always create something better. But with infinite wisdom and goodness God freely willed to create a world "in a state of journeying" towards its ultimate perfection. In God's plan this process of becoming involves the appearance of certain beings and the disappearance of others, the existence of the more perfect alongside the less perfect, both constructive and destructive forces of nature. With physical good there exists also physical evil as long as creation has not reached perfection." (CCC, 310)

          • DannyGetchell

            the appearance of certain beings and the disappearance of others, the existence of the more perfect alongside the less perfect,

            To me, that implies that only one sort of being will eventually exist, since with more than one there would always be differences of perfection.

            This is a bit disquieting. I personally think the perfect car is the Jaguar C-type, the perfect food is a well constructed Reuben sandwich, and the perfect band is the original lineup of Dan Hicks and his Hot Licks. But it would be pretty boring to be stuck with only those three for all eternity.

          • "Why didn't God make this a perfect world?" I would venture to say that in a perfect world nothing would happen as change would by definition move the world away from a perfect state.

            "Viva Cristo Rey!!"
            DHS

          • Do you think that the new heavens and the new earth will not involve change of any kind? Or maybe you disagree with Mary Moritz, and think that death and destruction await us (or at least the animals we meet) in the imperfect new heavens and new earth?

            Finally, in response to a very interesting hypothetical, do you think there is only one possible state for a perfect thing? Jesus's resurrected body at least appeared to move and talk. Is Jesus's resurrected body imperfect? Or did it only appear to move and talk (this sounds a bit gnostic)? Or maybe there are an infinite number of ways for bodies to be perfect?

          • Hi Paul,

            "Jesus's resurrected body at least appeared to move and talk. Is Jesus's resurrected body imperfect? Or did it only appear to move and talk (this sounds a bit gnostic)?" Well, since we do not have an experience of a glorified body like Jesus' in our everyday life, your guess is as good as mine.

            "Or maybe there are an infinite number of ways for bodies to be perfect?" An intriguing thought but I think that Cantor's work in Transfinite numbers proved that although there are many types of infinities, each one is unique. So, for any given entity it appears that there is only one way of perfection (infinitude).

            "Viva Cristo Rey!!"
            DHS

          • I think we're getting lost in terms that I don't understand. You seem to say that perfection is the same as infinity. So, if I were twice the size I am, my body would be twice as perfect? Jesus would have had a very imperfect resurrected body, because he wasn't as big as a whale?

            I suppose what I'm really asking is what do you mean by perfection, and what do you mean by infinitude?

            Finally, do you think that there will be the death of animals in the new heavens and the new earth? If not, then why was there animal death before the fall?

          • Mary B Moritz

            Hi Paul, sorry the misunderstanding, I do NOT think that there is death and suffering in the new heavens and new earth! Sometimes, I may stumble across the language border (I am not a native English speaker); I said: if.... then. Since I think "if" is correct, "then" applies... :-)

          • Thanks for the clarification. I think I understood you the first time, though.

            When I ask Harbey " Or maybe you disagree with Mary Moritz, and think that death and destruction await us (or at least the animals we meet) in the imperfect new heavens and new earth?"

            What I'm saying is that you, Mary, think that there is NO death and destruction in the new heavens and new earth, and I was asking whether Harbey agreed or disagreed with you about that. It seems as though he disagrees with you. Harbey seems to think that human death is necessary for things to move.

          • Mary B Moritz

            Thanks so much, now I got it!

  • gwen

    why is this article not called "Jimmy Akin's musings on whether or not Aquinas answers the question, did the dinosaurs die before the fall"? Once again, nonsensical and imprecise articles from Catholics at Strange Notions.

    • "why is this article not called "Jimmy Akin's musings on whether or not Aquinas answers the question, did the dinosaurs die before the fall"?"

      We considered that, but thought it was too long.

      "Once again, nonsensical and imprecise articles from Catholics at Strange Notions."

      Thanks for the constructive feedback, gwen.

      • gwen

        Given the immense amount of literature from fields such as paleontology, archaeology and bio-archaeology, and the acknowledgement (even by the author here) that the Bible is not a source of scientific information, it seems like the train has left the station here regarding any logic, theory or intelligent thought. What credentials does Jimmy Akin have to tell us with authority about when dinosaurs lived and died?

      • Peter Piper

        Thanks for the constructive feedback, gwen

        I share a lot of gwen's frustrations with Strange Notions, and if you are open to constructive feedback I will try to give some here.

        Although many of the articles here are thought-provoking and well written, there are also regularly articles which I find hard to engage with, for reasons which I suspect are shared by many other atheists. For example, there have been articles which rely on, or only hastily introduce, important and subtle philosophical points with which many atheists will not be familiar (I'm thinking in particular of Cows, Quarks and Divine Simplicity, though the OP here is similar in that it assumes we will understand the context and importance of the quote from Aquinas). There have also been articles which come across as hectoring and uncharitable in the way that they relate to those who disagree. I'm thinking in particular of the review of God's Philosophers, though again there are other examples.

        I suspect that this isn't due to any malice on the part of those selecting the articles, but that instead it is difficult to avoid these sorts of problems if you are deeply embedded in a Catholic worldview. Thus, for example, if you are familiar with the philosophical concepts of substance, form, accidents and so on then it can be easy to overlook how confusing these things might be for someone who hasn't encountered them before. Similarly, what might appear to be insulting or uncharitable to someone who holds a particular point of view might not have the same emotional force for someone who doesn't hold that point of view and so might slip by unnoticed.

        How can this be fixed? Well, I think one helpful thing would be to get some atheists, preferably atheists who aren't very familiar with Catholic worldviews, involved in the process of selecting articles. They might be better placed to spot some of the problems I've mentioned above, and so to point out that some articles are not suitable for the particular audience of Strange Notions.

        • Chris

          "There have also been articles which come across as hectoring and uncharitable in the way that they relate to those who disagree. I'm thinking in particular of the review of God's Philosophers, though again there are other examples.I
          suspect that this isn't due to any malice on the part of those
          selecting the articles, but that instead it is difficult to avoid these sorts of problems if you are deeply embedded in a Catholic worldview"

          The review you are complaining about was written by an atheist.

  • Vaclav Chmelir

    According some theologians, the beginning of Genesis is only reflection of Babylonian captivity. It was turned into creation story by Platonism. The idea of original sin is best explanation of separation: I think, that it concerns not only human race, but all animals too.

    • Peter Piper

      According to some theologians, the beginning of Genesis is only reflection of Babylonian captivity.

      Link, please.

  • Kim

    I always thought that Adam and Eve were protected from death and God did not create death because of their actions. In Genesis God warns Adam and Eve that if they eat from the Tree of Knowledge that they will die. How could Adam and Eve understand what he meant if death was non-existent? And if they didn't know what it meant how could they be guilty of eating from the Tree, if they never understood the consequences?

  • Mikegalanx

    Just to get it clear, the argument by Mike Flynn that was linked to says there were three kinds of creatures: animals, ensouled human beings (originally only Adam and Eve) and humanoids without souls.

    And Adam and Eve would have lived forever, barring mishap- like Tolkien's Elves- except for the Fall.

    The children of Adam and Eve mated with non-souled human beings,but souls are a dominant trait- an ensouled human being and an unensouled humanoid will have an ensouled child,even though one of their parents would be soulless.

    Would make for interesting conversations around the campfire:

    "What happens when we die, Daddy?"

    "Well, if we're good and believe in God, you and me and Little Sister will go to Heaven."

    "And Mommy?"

    "Naw, she doesn't have a soul. so she'll just snuff out like Fluffy the cat of Spot the dog."

    • Adam Wykes

      Of course, while the tone of the statement implies that it is a bad thing for Mommy to die and "snuff out," actually determining that this is bad thing which no just creator would allow is a difficult question.

      In fact, it looks to me like all the other living things in the kingdoms of life have it easier than ensouled human beings; they are not distant from god; they live according to their deterministic nature and are not saddled with the baggage of free will that would allow them to sin and grow distant from their creator. Whether they live or die, thrive or suffer, they are part of creation: in union with god.

      That particular instance of consciousness is gone, but what of consciousness? It is arguable that the same happens to each of us when we sleep, and there is nothing unhappy about sleep. Biologically, I fear death because I am drawn into the common sense conclusion of equating my conscious experience with myself, but there are many indications, spiritual and scientific, that would show me that the continuity of my conscious experience does not equate to my self.

      There is this biological idea that death and suffering are bad in and of themselves, but spiritually, what is evil about them? Suffering can bring a person closer to god, to the religious person, and death is the final hurdle to heaven. Murder is not spiritually bad because it causes death; it is bad because it expresses an extreme lack of love for another person by disrespecting their animal needs and a pathological desire to hurt someone (that is spiritually futile, but that's besides the point).

  • Geena Safire

    Entropy is a very important concept in the sciences. Put simply, entropy is the tendency of things to run down or break down over time.

    That is going so far down the simple road that it is wrong. Entropy is the tendency for things, in a closed system, to become less organized and more random and thus less able to do work.

    It isn't defined as 'things running down,' although entropy means they can run down and they cannot wind or refuel themselves naturally (i.e., without energy input). There are many causes for something to break down, including mechanical stress, but entropy means things can break down and cannot repair themselves naturally.

    -----

    A seeming, partial exception is life. Living things, in some respects, seem to gather energy and create organization. Thus some have tried to define life in terms of a kind of weird anti-entropy.

    It's true that "some have tried to define life" in those terms. But only those who didn't do well in high school chemistry, physics or biology. It is fractally wrong -- wrong in every conceivable way.

    You'll note I said above that entropy applies in a closed system. The Earth is not a closed system. It receives energy from our Sun (which increases in entropy).

    But even in a closed system, there can be some items/systems using energy in physical, chemical or biological processes leading to greater order in one place and while greater disorder occurs in others. Entropy isn't equal everywhere because the universe isn't smooth. It was infinitely smooth (infinitely low entropy) only at the moment of the Big Bang.

    In addition to energy directly from the sun (for plants and some prokaryotes) there is energy available on Earth in substances that can be converted into energy for living things -- we call this 'food.'

    Living things are not closed systems; in fact, they cannot be. Energy input is required for the processes of life. They become closed systems upon death.

    ---

    That means death. Specifically, the death of the fruit's flesh (and its seeds, if those get chewed up, too).

    Actually, no. The production of fruit is for the purpose of enticing animals to eat the fruit and thus scatter the plant's seeds far and wide.

    The seeds are hardy enough to go through the digestive tract. Sure, some seeds may get chewed -- but they are made not tasty, in order to discourage chewing seeds.

    ----

    I understand you're an apologist, Jimmy, and not a scientist. But surely you have access to Catholic (or sympathetic) physicists and biologists who would be willing to vet your musings in their fields. I generally check my Catholic ideas out on some learned Catholic friends before I publish them, in order to avoid looking foolish.

    Further, bringing in the volatile abortion argument when it is completely irrelevant to your subject matter might be cute for a Catholic-only audience. But given the mission of Strange Notions of dialogue with atheists, it is simply needlessly inflammatory.

  • mriehm

    This is just silly. Humans evolved. Evolution necessitates death. All ancestors of humans, all the way up the animal line, died. Humans inherited programmed death in their genes from their ancestors. There has always been aging, to the point of death. All animals, including humans and early humanoids, have always been at risk of death from aging and myriad risks in the natural world.

  • Hey if you're believing in Genesis in anything like a literal sense, anything is possible. But I don't see what entropy has to do with this. Entropy is not just the reason we die but also live and grow.

  • Edwin Taraba

    How do we know that entropy existed before the fall? What
    was the universe like before the fall? Jimmy seems to assume that cells are
    individual organisms each with their own identity, mind and life and death
    cycle. Yet they may not be individual organisms. Cells, taken collectively,
    constitute a single organism. Only the life and death cycle of “an organism”,
    an organized body constituting a sapient being, is in question. When Leo XIII
    said Truth cannot contradict Truth (Providentissimus Deus) too many Catholics
    begin to twist the meaning of scripture to make it fit science, forgetting that
    science is imperfect and always changing its basic precepts even on a daily
    basis. Truth cannot contradict Truth should be an appeal to focus on the
    untruths in science. For in the “science” of evolution untruth abounds -
    ignorance, prejudice and self deceit abound. Oops, I may have insulted an
    atheist, or lost scientist. But science only improves when untruths are
    revealed. Better that we insult untruths that deserve insult than let them drag
    us along with them to their ends in eternal flame. Call a sin a sin. Call a
    brood of vipers a brood of vipers. Evolution is bad science and should be
    labeled terrible ignorance that Pius XII called A FALSE OPINION THREATENING TO
    UNDERMINE THE FOUNDATIONS OF CATHOLIC DOCTRINE. Those are strong words. Those
    are True words. Advertise that. Call to mind the horrors of bad science present
    in evolution. That is what Humani Generis called us to do. Those that suppress
    or misunderstand that point should “Get Thee behind me Satan”. Get on track
    with the Magisterium’s intent and if we have to, get the Magisterium back on
    track with God when they go astray, rather than acting as if they have never
    gone astray before. Remember that God hath chosen the foolish things of the
    world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to
    confound the things which are mighty. Let us not place Jimmy, Aquinas and
    Augustine too much higher above the level of the fallible humans they are, struggling
    like many of us, to understand how God created. Let us remember that when
    comparing humans to The Almighty God there is very little difference in the
    level of Wisdom between me, you and Jimmy, and Aquinas for that matter. Putting
    these human philosophers on a scale with God and the Angels who witnessed
    creation, fallible humans struggle from a stand point of ignorance not much
    higher than any other fallible humans. And let us avoid adding to scripture to
    try to bring it into alignment with our partial understanding of a grand
    universe created from nothing by God in the beginning of time. Many are not
    aware of the affect Einstein’s relativity will ultimately have on this
    discussion when it begins to be understood the affect that gravity has on the passage
    of time. That 7 twenty-four hour days (or revolutions of the Earth) could
    transpire on Earth while at the same time billions of years pass in other parts
    of the expanding universe during creation week. It is not at all unfeasible
    given that time and motion are relative. To begin understanding this consider
    that passengers in an airplane are sitting still, moving at 500 mph, 1600 mph
    and 67,000 mph all at the same time depending on the frame of reference –
    depending on which objects you are comparing. In the same way creation week
    could have been one week long for an observer on Earth while star light made
    its billions of light year travel to Earth. Thus as 2nd Peter
    Chapter 3 said, one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like a
    day – that is to God and the angels who viewed everything transpire from a
    position outside the universe. Jimmy seems to assume that cells are individual
    organisms each with their own identity, mind and life and death cycle. Yet they
    are not individual organisms. Cells, taken collectively, constitute a single
    organism. Only the life and death cycle of “an organism” is in question. Putting
    the cells of a fruit into the context of a life, death and immortality of their
    own may be a misconception. This misconception is possibly due in part, on a
    more basic level, to our own ignorance of what a cell really is and not only
    that, but what a molecule and the atoms, neutrons, protons, and electrons
    composing each molecule really are. I do not believe the creation and destruction
    of individual cells is a valid component of the argument and do not believe it places
    the argument in its proper context. First, the life of the fruit on a tree is
    different than the life of the tree itself. The life of a sperm is different
    than the life of an embryo. Though a body decays in the grave it is resurrected
    to immortal life. Not only do we not understand what a cell is in this life we
    certainly do not understand the composition of a glorified resurrected body in
    terms of its cellular composition. Resurrection may be independent of the
    existence of the trillions of cells that composed the body on earth. Scripture
    states: And the Lord God formed man of the slime of the earth: and breathed
    into his face the breath of life, and man became a living soul. And the Lord
    God had planted a paradise of pleasure from the beginning: wherein he placed
    man whom he had formed. And the Lord God brought forth of the ground all manner
    of trees, fair to behold, and pleasant to eat of: the tree of life also in the
    midst of paradise: and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Scripture goes
    out of its way to explain that before the fall all animal life was vegetarian, every
    beast of the earth. Genesis 1:29-30 And God said, “Behold, I have given
    you every herb bearing seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every
    tree in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for
    meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to
    every thing that creepeth upon the earth wherein there is life, I have given
    every green herb for meat”; and it was so.” Scripture goes out of its way to
    portray the Kingdom
    of Heaven as a
    resurrected world where animal death does not exist yet returns to the kind of
    paradise spoken of in Genesis regarding the early world. Isaiah 11:6-7 The wolf
    shall dwell with the lamb: and the leopard shall lie down with the kid: the
    calf and the lion, and the sheep shall abide together, and a little child shall
    lead them. The calf and the bear shall feed: their young ones shall rest
    together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. How do you know that the
    fall did not bring about a major shift in all of creation converting a paradise
    into the evils and pain of the fallen world? How do you know what details were
    involved in this transformation? How do you know that carnivores existed in the
    Garden of Eden? How do you know scientifically what constituted the chemical
    and biological life of paradise and try to force our concept, the paradigm of
    the fallen world, to match the daily bread of pristine paradise of Eden? Thus whether your
    name is Bede, Augustine, Aquinas, or Akins you are human and you were not
    present during the early world nor did you witness God making life out of the
    ground of the earth. Therefore do not ADD to Scripture, by going into
    unfruitful imaginations at great length trying to conceive how it happened –
    only because a false science contradicts our previous world view of paradise?
    Accept that the fall happened. It caused a major change in everything and
    reject false science where it rejects the Almighty Omnipotence and the all
    powerful creative power of the One and Only Supernatural God. There are a preponderance
    of fallacies to be pointed out in radiometric dating and the invention, (not
    the discovery of) the geologic “time scale”, the science of paleontology and
    fossils, DNA and microbiology. The science of sedimentology and the presence of
    petrified trees in the strata demonstrates how strata may have been formed by
    the great flood. Is it not time that we face the fact that the fossil record
    does not support Darwin
    because evolution did not happen. Pope John Paul II said “Today, more than a
    half-century after the appearance of that encyclical, some new findings lead us
    toward the recognition of evolution as more than an hypothesis.” Why did he not
    mention the dozens, no hundreds, of books that contradict Darwin’s random mutation and natural
    selection ideas? Maybe he never read any of them including Darwin’s books where he questioned his theory
    in the chapter “Difficulties with the theory”. Maybe Catholics need to call to
    the floor the complete absence in John Paul II’s statement of any scientific
    point that contradicts Darwin except through subtle implications of there being
    more than one theory of evolution, all the while he preserved, and highlighted
    and drove home the main point of his speech, that there is no conflict between
    Catholic doctrine and evolution – a completely wrong twist to the spirit of
    Humani Generis. Maybe we need to strengthen the scientists who point the finger
    at bad science in evolution and stop trying to bend over backwards expending
    our energies broadcasting words that allow bad science to modify our Catholic
    doctrine. Maybe it is time to raise the red flag that Humani Generis is a call
    to fight against evolution calling it a false opinion and a fictitious doctrine
    threatening to undermine the foundations of Catholic doctrine. It is time we
    ally ourselves with the science of creation and get off the evolution band
    wagon.

  • Max Driffill

    This article seems to assume that there was a literal Adam and Eve. Why? Were Adam and Eve not human? How could anything Adam and Eve do have affected anything that happened prior to their existence. I assume, since the author tries to appeal to the fossil record he thinks it has something meaningful to say about reality. Humans are a relatively new player on the evolutionary stage (anatomically modern humans, Homo sapiens are at best 250,000 years old). Was the Garden in some kind of alternative space, while the biota did its thing? And what are we to make of the fact that the fossil record demonstrates that primates have been succumbing to death since they first appear in the fossil record (hence all the fossils eh?)

    What follows may appear to be small quibbles but from the perspective of an evolutionary biologist will be an important point.

    1. Humans are animals. Please quit using false distinction humans and animals...

    2. Dinosaurs didn't die out. At least one line of theropods squeaked past the Cretaceous/Tertiary event. They are with us to this very day. They are the birds.

  • Andy Rhodes

    What is the evidence that God knows what he’s doing? She created a Garden of Eden that collapsed after just one sin, thus ruining the entire cosmos. What kind of planning and love is that? He felt that he had to flood the Earth and kill everything on it to start over, but didn't change the DNA of the human species "infected" and "depraved". So the same pattern of rebellion against God was virtually guaranteed to happen again, even though God would continue to blame humans 100% for their actions regardless of the significant moral, intellectual and emotional weaknesses they received at birth. What could describe a more embarrassing track record of mismanagement and waste? She placed us on planet Earth, which is largely inhospitable to human life. Only through over 100,000 years of perseverance toward technological, social and moral development has our species learned how to survive consistently. Before the 20th century, the expected life span for all human history was 35-40 years or even lower. During that lifetime, people suffered from disease, famine, attacks by predatory creatures, ignorance, violence, fear, natural disasters, dread, etc., often limited like wild animals in the midst of a labyrinth of dangers and terrifying surprises, with no guarantee of anything beneficent or providential.

    Traditional monotheism certainly wasn’t obvious to 99% of world cultures throughout history, as only the three Abrahamic faiths and Zoroastrians believed that way. Comfort, guidance and protection deriving from a perfectly good, wise and powerful God eluded humans in their billions by no fault of their own – the genetic hardwiring of their brains didn’t lead them inevitably to see the world as being rooted in something other than pantheism, animism, polytheism, atheism, deism or panentheism. God made a cosmos that is built on the necessity of continual cycles in destruction-creation and life-death. Without the death of stars, there would be no galaxies or life in the universe. Without biological death and life processes integrated together, the Earth’s ecosystem would not function. The orthodox Christian assertion of a “safe” environment for human (or other) life in the Garden of Eden is completely implausible given these realities. God made a dangerous universe from the beginning. There’s no evidence of a biblical Fall away from an earlier utopian origin. The Bible says that in the future God will create a New Heavens and New Earth that is systematically designed to be without sin, death and severe pain and yet many people will be there who didn’t choose Christ – babies, the mentally handicapped and perhaps the unevangelized as well. So, why would God make our current universe so harsh and baffling? And why hide or make unintelligible the various essential revelations of God from most people for most of history?

    Given what I’ve said above, why would it be rational to trust that God is looking out for our welfare, here or in the afterlife? I can see goodness and wonder in nature, yet there is also a vast range in types of suffering, waste and tragedy awaiting living things on this planet. This is not because of sin. The universe has been like this since shortly after its existence was inaugurated 13.7 billion years ago. A conservative young earth creationist who wants to maintain that the cosmos began 6,000-10,000 years ago is stuck in the dilemma of explaining how the biology, physics, geology, chemistry, etc.(1) of such a recent start could match with with the radically contrasting record found in the field of natural history and all other areas of science which have been studied and verified for centuries, many times by researchers with Christian beliefs.

    (1) disagreementsihavewithchristianity.wordpress.com/2012/02/29/if-physical-death-entered-the-world-because-of-sin-why-does-science-contradict-this

    ==========================================

    The paragraphs above were copied from one of the articles on my blog site: disagreementsihavewithchristianity.wordpress.com. I'd love to hear feedback on any of the 20 articles there, if you feel so inclined.

  • Andy Rhodes

    While acknowledging the majority of traditional orthodox theological interpretations until the past two centuries, how can the validity of the Bible’s claim that physical death came into the world through sin (including the suffering of both humans and animals) be maintained since death is an integral part of the universe (according to common sense observation and today’s scientific community in paleontology, evolutionary biology, embryology, cell biology, botany, astronomy, astrophysics, geology, geography and math)? And if this classic Judeo-Christian belief has become untenable, the entire doctrine of the atonement falls apart and salvation from damnation is not needed because it is clear that the universe (made by God) has always operated within the parameters we understand now. In recent centuries, growing scientific knowledge about the ages of things like galaxies and rocks and species has forced many Christian theologians to develop other explanations in which death of some or all sorts existed before sin. But, these viewpoints make it much harder to defend God’s goodness, given that natural evils for nonhuman animal suffering and humans are then recognized as being apparently congruent with the original divine plan, with or without sin.

    http://www.probe.org/christian-views-of-science-and-earth-history/

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_evil

    The web link below presents a one page list of modern science’s understanding of how death is natural and generative. I think there may have been spiritual or relational “death” that appeared after the first major rebellion against God and continues today when people resist healthy forms of relationship with Her/Him, fellow humans and/or the rest of nature. But, this spiritual, ethical, psychological and/or physical damage creates a finite need for salvation from specific circumstances and/or temporal conditions, not a cosmic dilemma that requires an eternal solution.

    http://www.thegreatstory.org/charts/death.html