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The Scientific Possibility of Adam and Eve

Until the advent of Darwinian evolution, most Christians believed that the entire human race actually descended from our literally-real first parents, Adam and Eve.  Many still do. In 1950, Pope Pius XII issued an encyclical, Humani Generis, in which he wrote that “revealed truth and … the magisterium of the Church teach” that Original Sin is "a sin truly committed by one Adam [ab uno Adamo], and which is transmitted to all by generation, and exists in each one as his own."1 The current Catechism of the Catholic Church: Second Edition tells us that “Adam and Eve committed a personal sin” … “which will be transmitted by propagation to all mankind….”2

Still, this account of our literal first parents and Original Sin, which is the essential rationale for the need of Christ as a Redeemer, has been challenged by modern scientific claims on two fronts: (1) the Christian belief that true man suddenly appeared in the form of Adam has been replaced with the standard theory of human evolution in which progressive changes in early primates evolved the consciousness and intelligence of modern man, with no clear line of demarcation marking his initial appearance, and (2) the claim that our human species arose from a single pair of first parents has been replaced with evolution taking place in large populations whose number never saw a bottleneck (reduced population) of just two individuals.

The former claim arises largely from the evidence of paleoanthropology, revealed in the gradual, progressive development of tools over time, and the latter arose particularly from the work of geneticist Francisco Ayala, whose often-cited mid-1990s studies maintained that the human population never was fewer than several thousand individuals.

Instant Appearance of the First True Human Beings

Paleontology discovers progressive improvement in tools made by evolving primates, which seems to correlate with development of hominin brains and anatomy. (Hominin is a term that includes recent humans together with extinct ancestral and related forms.) This sequence finally blends into the sophisticated tool-making and other abilities of modern man. Yet, there appear to be no sudden signs of a “spiritual-souled” Adam. Neo-Darwinists infer that all this improvement can be explained in naturalistic terms. Yet, what these facile materialist scenarios overlook is the fact that the rational case for man’s essential superiority over brute animals remains robust. Christian philosophy argues that true man is marked by intellectual activities of understanding, judging, reasoning and free will that manifest the spiritual soul’s presence.3

Complex sentient behaviors of irrational animals enabled early primates to produce primitive stone tools, even including early Acheulean stone hand-axes exhibiting some symmetry—wrought by Homo erectus hominins dating back 1.4 million years. Still, it wasn’t until the early Middle Pleistocene period, some three-quarters of a million years ago, that later hand-axes appeared having a congruent, three-dimensionally symmetrical shape that apodictically demonstrates true human intellection.4 This, as well as evidence of early controlled use of fire, appears about that time— evincing the first unequivocal presence of the human spiritual soul. These sophisticated artifacts may be viewed as scientific evidence, which also has an important philosophical implication, namely, that such artifacts necessarily imply the activity of an intellectual agent – a qualitatively superior, true human being with a spiritual soul.5 True man may have been present earlier, but remains thus far undetected.

Since mere matter can never evolve into spirit, true man must have appeared instantly at some point —regardless of the misreading of fossil tool evidence by Neo-Darwinians. Scientific failure to detect that fact and that moment in no way undermines the philosophical necessity of its reality. The scientific possibility of a literal Adam and Eve remains intact despite the gradual improvement of toolmaking. Moreover, the philosophical proof that there must be a first true human being lends support to the credibility of Adam and Eve, since having a spiritual-souled first true man is part of that biblical account.

The Challenge Posed by Modern Genetics

Until very recently, it has been accepted scientific dogma that human beings could not have arisen from a single mating pair of first true humans. This claim has been based on the distribution of single nucleotide polymorphisms in the human population, and coalescence and lineage disequilibrium studies. Researchers have estimated the hominin population at the time of our origin had to be in the thousands. Indeed, some researchers claim that there has never been a hominin population smaller than one thousand in the last two million years.6

Yet these estimates are subject to confounding error because of the assumptions involved, for example, “...a constant background mutation rate over time, lack of selection for genetic change on the DNA sequences being studied, random breeding among individuals, no migrations in or out of the breeding population, and the assumption of a constant population size,”7—such that DNA sequence differences (polymorphisms) alone are insufficient to determine effective population size.8

Perhaps the best example of such a failure is the study by geneticist Francisco Ayala published in Science (1995),9 in which he claimed that a mating pair of just two first true humans was scientifically impossible. Ayala based his claim on the large number of versions (alleles) of the gene HLA-DRB1 that are found in the present human population. Ayala claimed that there were thirty-two ancient lineages of HLA-DRB1 prior to the Homo (human)/Pan (chimpanzee) split, which he said occurred six million years ago. The problem is that each individual carries only two versions of a gene – so that there would be no way that just two individuals could have possibly passed on all those alleles at any time since the lineages split. A bottleneck (reduced population) of just two true human beings, Adam and Eve, appeared to be scientifically impossible.

But it turned out that Ayala’s claim of thirty-two ancient HLA-DRB1 lineages contained methodological errors. The DNA he chose was subject to strong selection, hypermutation, and gene conversion, which skewed his results. Recognizing the problem, Tomas Bergström et al. published a study (1998) showing just seven such alleles at the time of the Homo/Pan split, with most of the present genetic diversity appearing in the last quarter million years.10 Still later, another study (2007) by von Salomé et al., inferred that only four such lineages existed more than five million years ago, with a few more appearing shortly thereafter.11

While this article is too short to analyze all the genetics pertinent to these studies, often overlooked is the inherent epistemic weakness of these retrospective calculations. It is all too easy to make false assumptions that invalidate results. The assumptions of random breeding among individuals, constant mutation rates, or constant population size may be incorrect. Even the methods used for analysis can make a difference. One need merely think of the errors already noted in present day computer models about trends of climate change.

Indeed, claims that “Adam and Eve are scientifically impossible,” are not scientific, as science is always subject to revision, as we shall see.

The Proposed “Interbreeding Solution”

Given the seemingly problematic genetics of a literal Adam and Eve, philosopher Kenneth W. Kemp, writing in the American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly (2011), proposed an alternative solution in the form of the interbreeding hypothesis, that is, that present genetic diversity in genes, such as HLA-DRB1, might be explained through interbreeding between Adam and Eve’s true human descendants and their subhuman “relatives” in the same biological population.

Kemp’s hypothesis meets the theological requirements that Adam and Eve must be the first true human beings and that all true humans today must be their biological descendants. In any such scenario, the possession of intellect by true men would enable them to outcompete their subhuman “cousins,” thus explaining why such nearly identical subhumans are no longer extant.

Given that studies by Bergström et al. and von Salomé et al. showed that many fewer excess alleles need to be explained than Ayala initially claimed—but that the estimate hovers on the border of what can pass through just two ancestors, it is possible that such an interbreeding solution might still be needed in order to explain present genetic diversity.

But, the question remains as to whether such a potentially ethically-problematic solution, entailing sexual intercourse between true men and subhuman animals, is really necessary.

More Recent Genetic Studies

In 2017, a series of unexpected events occurred that amply illustrate the need for caution in making claims about human beings’ origin. Biologist Dennis Venema published the claim that it was as certain as that the earth revolves around the sun that we came from a population of thousands. This precipitated a prolonged discussion by scientists on the website, Biologos, which revealed that, despite all the claims, no one had directly tested whether or not we could have come from a first human pair. Recounting the story at Evolution News, molecular biologist Ann Gauger described how two scientists decided to finally directly test the possibility.  They ran different computer models and, amazingly, they found that:

 “A bottleneck of two that is older than 500,000 years ago cannot be ruled out. That does not mean such a bottleneck ever existed, but rather that the possibility cannot be excluded. Future models may change that number of 500,000 years, up or down...
 
This is based on an analysis of the genetic data run by Drs. Schaffner and Swamidass, themselves evolutionary biologists and not ID supporters.”

In the context of a lengthy and highly technical analysis on his blog, Dr. S. Joshua Swamidass, summarized the results as follows:

“A very recent bottleneck (say 50 kya) seems impossible, but a more ancient bottleneck of our ancestors (if very brief) at 500 kya might be consistent with the evidence. Sometime before 500 kya, this couple would not be Homo sapiens, but they might (exact dates debatable) be the common ancestor of Homo sapiensDenisovans, and Neanderthals.”

Swamidass realized that there was yet another way to disprove a first pair. If it could be shown that human beings share too many alleles (more than four) of any gene with chimps or gorillas, that would argue for our common descent from a population of more than two. (Adam and Eve could pass along only four.) This passing along of alleles between species by common descent is known as trans-species polymorphism (TSP). The gene family most likely to demonstrate TSP is the HLA family, including HLA-DRB1, the gene Francisco Ayala studied in 1995 in an attempt to demonstrate Adam and Eve were not possible.

In light of the model results described above, Dr. Swamidass re-examined Ayala’s work. Swamidass found a paper, published in BMC Evolutionary Biology (2016), that analyzed the genetic networks of HLA genes, along with about 12,000 other genes. This study found that the apparent TSP of HLA-DRB1, along with other HLA genes (HLA-DPB1, HLA-C, HLA-A, and HLA-B), is probably due to convergent evolution. Human alleles are mutating over time toward the same sequence, likely due to selection that favors that sequence.

Referring to the results of that paper, Swamidass notes, “… HLA-DRB1 is the most variable HLA gene. It is notable for having over 500 squares in the DNA of about merely 1,000 individuals, compared with an expected number of less than 10. That means if we had tried to put the DNA into a tree, we would see at least 500 mutations discordant with a phylogenetic tree. This is just a stunning result, because it means that HLA-DRB1 alleles are just not well described as a tree.”

What Swamidass means is that HLA-DRB1 shows signs of convergent evolution. The 500 squares he refers to are places where the HLA-DRB1 DNA sequence is more similar than it should be, showing signs of converging on a particular sequence.  Thus any similarity between chimpanzee and human HLA-DRB1 sequences is probably due to convergent evolution also, not TSP. This considerably weakens TSP as a challenge to a first pair.

Any conclusions based on the assumption of TSP are called into question. At this point, it seems even TSP cannot be used to rule out a first hominin mating pair

This is on-going, exciting research, not yet published in a peer reviewed journal. It shows that the claim that we had to come from a population of thousands was based on presumption and not proof. The claim that a first pair is impossible, when tested directly, was wrong. Finally, a first human mating pair is possible, but not proven.

I am indebted to Dr. Ann Gauger, who pointed out all this recent research and its implications to me, and who has assisted me in my preparation of the scientific sections.

Conclusion

It was never the intent of this paper to offer scientific proof of Adam and Eve’s literal reality. The sole purpose has been to show that they are not scientifically impossible. 

Based on the best available evidence and analysis, this goal has been achieved.

The most recent research indicates that the best likelihood for there being two first parents for the human race is prior to half a million years ago. This finding comports significantly with my own speculation stated at the beginning of this article, namely, that, based on intellect-evincing artifacts, the probable time for the first true human beings—Adam and Eve—would be some three-quarters of a million years ago.

This philosophical inference that the makers of such artifacts must be true human beings means that they would be proper candidates for being identical with the possible “first hominin mating pair” discussed in the previous section.

And yes, as Swamidass points out, given their ancient time frame, this would make them “the common ancestor of Homo sapiensDenisovans, and Neanderthals.”

Few understand that adequate speculative treatment of a literal Adam and Eve requires proper correlation of three disciplinary perspectives: theological, philosophical, and natural scientific. Theologically, Adam and Eve must be the first true human beings and all true men must be their descendants. Philosophically, the first true man must be the first hominin possessing intellect and a spiritual soul – as evinced by artifacts, such as those artistic stone hand axes of three-quarters of a million years ago. This is the reason why “candidates” proposed more recently in time cannot possibly be the true first parents, since there is evidence that true humans would chronologically precede them. Finally, in terms of natural science, it must be shown that – unless there is need for recourse to the interbreeding hypothesis – a bottleneck of just two true first human beings is possible. A credible case for that very possibility in the speculative time frame that I propose has just been offered, as shown above.

Therefore, a literal Adam and Eve is scientifically possible.

Of course, the positive evidence for the actual existence of a literal Adam and Eve lies, not in natural science or philosophy, but in the two thousand years of Christian miracles, singularly embodied in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Redeemer promised by God to our first parents, Adam and Eve, after they had personally committed Original Sin. To Christians, these miracles, especially when combined with the newfound evidence for the scientific possibility of a literal Adam and Eve, will serve to demonstrate the rational credibility of this foundational doctrine of the Faith.

Notes:

  1. Humani Generis, n. 37
  2. CCC, 404.
  3. Dennis Bonnette, Origin of the Human Species (Sapientia Press, third edition, 2014), 69-71,103-110.
  4. Ibid., Preface to Third Edition, xiv.
  5. Ibid., 163-164.
  6. John Hawks et al., “Population Bottlenecks and Pleistocene Human Evolution,” Molecular Biology and Evolution 17, no. 1 (2000): 2-22.
  7. Ann Gauger, “The Science of Adam and Eve,” in Science and Human Origins, Ann Gauger, Douglas Axe, and Casey Luskin (Seattle, WA: Discovery Institute Press, 2012), 105-122.
  8. P. Sjödin, I. Kaj, S. Krone, ‡M. Lascoux and M. Nordborg, “On the Meaning and Existence of an Effective Population Size,” Genetics 169 (February 2005): 1061–1070 ; J. Hawks, “From Genes to Numbers: Effective Population Sizes in Human Evolution,” in Recent Advances in Paleodemography, ed. Jean-pierre Bocquet-Appel (Springer Netherlands, 2008), 9-30. See also, Dennis Venema and Scot McKnight, Adam and the Genome: Reading Scripture after Genetic Science (Brazos Press, 2017).
  9. Francisco J. Ayala, "The Myth of Eve: Molecular Biology and Human Origins," Science 270 (1995):1930-1936.
  10. Tomas Bergström et al., “Recent Origin of HLA-DRB1 Alleles and Implications for Human Evolution,” Nature Genetics 18 (1998): 237-242.
  11. Jenny von Salomé et al., “Full-length sequence analysis of the HLA-DRB1 locus suggests a recent origin of alleles,” Immunogenetics (2007) 59: 261271.
Dr. Dennis Bonnette

Written by

Dr. Dennis Bonnette retired as a Full Professor of Philosophy in 2003 from Niagara University in Lewiston, New York. He taught philosophy there for thirty-six years and served as Chairman of the Philosophy Department from 1992 to 2002. He lives in Youngstown, New York, with his wife, Lois. They have seven adult children and twenty-five grandchildren. He received his doctorate in philosophy from the University of Notre Dame in 1970. Dr. Bonnette taught philosophy at the college level for 40 years, and is now teaching free courses at the Aquinas School of Philosophy in Lewiston, New York. He is the author of two books, Aquinas' Proofs for God's Existence (The Hague: Martinus-Nijhoff, 1972) and Origin of the Human Species (Ave Maria, FL: Sapientia Press, third edition, 2014), and many scholarly articles.

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  • " ethically-problematic solution, entailing sexual intercourse between true men and subhuman animals"

    Isn't the proposed solution a whole bunch of incest?

    • Dennis Bonnette

      You are confusing bestiality with incest.

      Incest, which is not what I describe, was not forbidden in the Bible until the time of Moses in Leviticus 18:6 -- long after Abraham.

      http://www.biblestudy.org/question/what-does-bible-say-about-incest.html

      • I'm not: Adam and Eve have kids and those kids either mate with their mother and each other(the incest), or their subhuman neighbors (the beastiality). what's the alternative?

        • Dennis Bonnette

          Yes you are. The article specifically refers solely to bestiality.

          It does not, in that statement, address the question of intercourse between true human beings.

          • I think incest is implied due to lack of alternatives, but if not, lay out an alternative.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            But that is not what your initial comment referred to in the article.

            Moreover, my initial reply to you answers any biblical concern about initial relations between Adam's children. So, what's the problem?

          • the problem is that there is no apparent alternative to incest between Eve and her male children, or between her male and female children. saying it was forbidden doesn't answer anything.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            First, most commentators do not allege that either Adam or Eve had relations with any of their children.

            Second, obviously, the only way to avoid an interbreeding solution, such as Kemp proposes, is that relations must have taken place between Adam and Eve's children.

            Three points are relevant here:

            (1) This was necessary for the initial propagation of the human race.

            (2) We have no certitude about whether the genetic conditions of these initial relations would be harmful to offspring.

            (3) As I already noted, they were not forbidden according to the Bible.

          • oh I see, not forbidden. my mistake.

          • Yep, your mistake.

          • David Nickol

            Is it your position that incest is not inherently evil, and can be morally acceptable if God wishes to allow it? Is incest forbidden by "divine command" or by "natural law"?

            What about bestiality?

          • Jim the Scott

            The Talmud seems to suggest Mother and son incest is intrinsically evil across the board. Bestiality is intrinsically evil.
            See my post above.
            https://strangenotions.com/the-scientific-possibility-of-adam-and-eve/#comment-4007727616

          • David Nickol

            It may be interesting to note what the Talmud has to say, but I don't see the relevance.

          • Jim the Scott

            Catholics accept Tradition as well as Scripture and the Talmud may or may not be transmitting authentic divine tradition. (The Church would have to rule of course). So it is clearly relevant.

          • Rob Abney

            God allows incest and bestiality by allowing human free will.
            Incest between parent and offspring is a violation of natural law.
            Incest between siblings or cousins is a violation of human law.
            Bestiality is a violation of natural law.

          • BTS

            I conjecture that if God can create such a complicated process as evolution He could also avoid building a necessary reliance on incest into the mechanism. He in his infinite creativity could certainly devise a better strategy. I also question how a creation event that happened a minimum of 75,000 years ago could be passed down orally for, well, just about 75,000 years until finally a culture that could read and write committed it to paper, er, papyrus? Seems unlikely. I am a Catholic and I have studied this issue to the point where I am intellectually convinced Adam and Eve as individuals did not exist.

          • Jim the Scott

            Why do we need an oral tradition passed down for 75,000 years to tell us about Adam? If God can via divine revelation tell us things about Him we cannot learn with natural reason (like He is a Trinity) then why can't he tell Moses we came from Adam even if stories of Adam died out in natural human memory by the time Genesis was inspired by God?

            BTW if you have ever read the Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma by Ott you would know the proposition "The first man was created by God." is taught De Fide meaning it is taught infallibly by the Church.

          • BTS

            Jim, I understand your point about the Adam and Eve story being Dogma. I also understand, as an intellectual Catholic, struggling with my belief in certain literal truths. I won't argue that from a theological point of view if God exists He can do anything. Inspiring Moses would be trivial. But this article by Dr. B is a scientific article, and Dr. B is seeking the truth, as are we all. And I contend, after reading on this topic for years, and reading through countless debates on this topic, that the science is not looking good. To say otherwise one has to participate in all sorts of mental gymnastics that - at least in my case - lead to all sorts of cognitive dissonance.

            Church doctrine says scientific truth cannot contradict theological truth, correct? In fact, there can be only one truth, not multiples. We have to go where the science leads us. Unless you believe that God is deceiving us with the science.

            I am still interested in anyone's opinions on exactly HOW an oral tradition got passed down for 75,000+ years and eventually written down by the Genesis authors. What is the mechanism? It just seems so unlikely to me.

            Ultimately I think I am going down Chardin's road. I would love to see an article on this site about his work. Teilhard de Chardin was a Catholic theologian who was way ahead of his time on the evolution debate. He believed all creation is moving - SLOWLY - toward the omega point. (God). But his views ruled out Adam&Eve and original sin, and so the the Catholic Church exiled him to China. He also believed that God was not controlling every aspect of evolution, that God was letting evolution unfold toward Him without micro-managing it. Chardin is where the Church needs to go.

            (Note: At least in exile Chardin got to have some fun: he helped discover Peking Man! )

          • Jim the Scott

            You opinions are intellectually bankrupt even if Catholicism is false and there is no God. That is how bad they happen to be.

            > And I contend, after reading on this topic for years, and reading through countless debates on this topic, that the science is not looking good.

            How does science render it impossible or implausible that God might have infused an ancient Hominid with an immortal soul? Do you find biological polygenesis impossible because it is irrelevant. One can have theological monogenesis and biological polygenesis. You objection is like saying "I don't believe in the existence of natural selection because I cannot prove it using my particle accelerator". Good grief man have you never heard of a category mistake? Cause all your doubts without exception are based on one.

            https://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2011/09/monkey-in-your-soul.html
            https://www3.nd.edu/~afreddos/papers/kemp-monogenism.pdf

            >To say otherwise one has to participate in all sorts of mental gymnastics that - at least in my case - lead to all sorts of cognitive dissonance.

            If I stopped believing tomorrow I would find your "scientific" objections laughable.

            >I am still interested in anyone's opinions on exactly HOW an oral tradition got passed down for 75,000+ years and eventually written down by the Genesis authors.

            Maybe it is a race memory? Or maybe not such oral tradition has been passed down and the information of our origins is purely from divine revelation? Or do you discount divine revelation? If so how are you still Catholic? Can you disprove this with Science? No you cannot even if there is no God. So your objections are foolish and I have little patience with bad argument regardless who is making it.

            >He also believed that God was not controlling every aspect of evolution, that God was letting evolution unfold toward Him without micro-managing it.

            You have an ID mechanistic view of the divine not a Catholic and Scholastic one. Enough! Correct yourself.

            http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/search?q=concurrentism

            Do some reading on divine providence and stay away from Calvinists and ID proponents. They are not Catholic.

            Now do your homework.

          • BTS

            Don't tell me what to do.
            I engaged you civilly and you attacked my intelligence. I am flagging your post.

          • Jim the Scott

            >Don't tell me what to do.

            I am old & I will tell everybody what too do if I feel the need too. If you won't take my obviously correct advice that is on you sir.

            >I engaged you civilly and you attacked my intelligence. I am flagging your post.

            That is a lie. I attacked your opinions not your intellect or intelligence. I said your opinions are intellectually bankrupt and they are that even if you are a brillant fellow. Stephen Hawkings, God rest his soul, was brillant but his opinions on philosophy where bankrupt. So why are you complaining?

            I am flagging you right back.

          • Jim the Scott

            PS. I am sorry if I was overly harsh. It is early in the morning. I haven't had my coffee.

            We should start again.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            As I point out in my book, Origin of the Human Species, God could have created Adam and Eve directly and literally "from the slime of the earth," if he so chose. So, too, he could have avoided the need for any of Adam's children to marry a sibling -- as you point out.

            But many of my writings on this subject attempt to explain human origins in a manner consistent with some form of evolutionary theory, and hence, the need to speculate of such matters as possible procreative activity between Adam's immediate offspring.

            I don't know that any scholars would claim that the events of Genesis were passed down by oral tradition in literal fashion. Most of what is claimed, as I understand it, is that Genesis is inspired by God to teach what He wishes mankind to know about its origins.

            You may be a Catholic and you may be convinced that Adam and Eve did not exist, but that is not what the Catholic Church teaches about the matter, even in the relatively recent Catechism of the Catholic Church, which speaks of Original Sin as a sin that Adam and Eve committed and passed down to all true men by propagation. See the first paragraph of my article.

          • BTS

            What percentage of Catholic theologians would you say agree with you that Adam and Eve were literal figures? ie, Where do you think you are on the spectrum? I was discussing the topic of Adam and Even with a fellow Catholic who is a Chardin expert and he stated that many modern Catholic theologians have abandoned this idea of a literal Adam & Eve. Is it a hot topic at conferences? I am curious.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            I am not a theologian and I do not attend conferences since my retirement in 2003. But, the first paragraph of the article and documentation in several other of my articles on this topic demonstrate clearly that a literal Adam and Eve are Church doctrine, even in the section on Original Sin in the Council of Trent.

            So, I would not hold my breath for any change in the original teaching.

            And I would not trust any theologian who might be a fan of Teilhard de Chardin, since he managed to get his writings placed under a monitum by the Church back about 1962 -- for, as I recall, swarming with "theological ambiguities" and "downright errors."

          • michael

            The Hebrew says dust, not slime.

          • BCE

            Mine is not intended to be theological, but the question of incest is one of those "gotch ya" atheists like to raise.

            Incest is not just a biologic issue but social.
            Such that a father should not have sex, even with an adopted daughter. And if you adopt, two unrelated children, they are social siblings and it's taboo for them to be sexually intimate with each other.
            If unknowingly you marry your sibling because you were both adopted as infants, into separate homes and had no knowledge of the other, then you're not consciously in an incestuous relationship.

            The biologic risks of inbreed illness is small in one generation, especially among the very healthy with no genetic flaws.

            However another problem of incest is that socially we need to be able to bond in loving and trusting relationships with family; and that would be undermined if we needed to fear our gestures of affections will be misread and exploited and manipulated into sexual relationships by family members we are trusting (for food, shelter, protection, learning etc)

            As the story goes...Adam had other sons and daughters; and lived 900 years. ****
            Imagine a son, age 20, leaves home, and then lives many miles away.
            Returning at age 300 he happens to meet a girl 16 (his sister).
            Cain goes off....east of Eden
            Even Seth supposedly lived 912 years. He might have had sisters
            hundreds of years younger then himself that he had no familiarity with.
            Cain may have been separated from never living with and knowing a
            sister as a sister.

            Now you might not believe in the story or their long life expectancy.
            But still (very clever though) the story makes clear there's a possible sufficient age gap between siblings, which could have cut off family ties between some siblings for many many years. Thus change what is considered an 'immediate family member'. Thus avoiding a 'moral' problem.

            The church doesn't stop adopted persons from marring because of the risk they might unknowingly marry a sibling(as might others)
            Rather it is morally wrong when it happens between those family members known to each other.

          • David Nickol

            I just ran across the true story of a man and a woman who married, and then the man discovered his wife was his half sister. (The mothers of the man and the woman had each conceived by the same sperm donor.) Is their marriage still valid? Is the husband obligated to tell his wife? May they still have sex with one another. A quick look at New York State Law indicates to me that the couple must refrain from sex:

            A person is guilty of incest in the third degree when he or she marries or engages in sexual intercourse, oral sexual conduct or anal sexual conduct with a person whom he or she knows to be related to him or her, whether through marriage or not, as an ancestor, descendant, brother or sister of either the whole or the half blood, uncle, aunt, nephew or niece.

            They were innocent of incest before they discovered their blood relationship, but now that the husband knows, he seems to be guilty of incest under the law any time he has sex with his wife.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            You see? Ignorance IS bliss!

          • Rob Abney

            Rather, he's always guilty since he's married, no matter if he has sex or not.

          • David Nickol

            Rather, he's always guilty since he's married, no matter if he has sex or not.

            It seems to me the husband is not guilty of anything, so long as he and his "wife" do not engage in sexual relations.

            According to Canon Law (which I just looked up), consanguinity (a close blood relationship, which would certainly be the case for half siblings) is a diriment impediment to marriage, meaning that the marriage would be both illicit (prohibited) and invalid (not a marriage even if all the other requirements for marriage are present).

            In other words, if would be a sin for the half brother and half sister, knowing their blood relationship, to "marry" in the Church, and even if they were unaware of their blood ties, no marriage ceremony would be capable of actually uniting them in marriage.

            Civil law would vary from one jurisdiction to another, but throughout the United States, knowingly attempting such a marriage would be at best a crime. As far as I can tell, the illegality of the marriage would also make it null and void.

            In the case I read about, the husband only found out about the blood relationship well after he and his wife were married and had children. So from both a civil and religious (Catholic) point of view, the marriage was not criminal or sinful. However, I will go out on a limb and say that from the Catholic point of view, no valid marriage ever took place, and depending on where the couple lives, they may not even be civilly married.

            However! There seems to be an idea floating about that incest is not intrinsically wrong—that it is only wrong because God decided to forbid it some time after Adam and Eve's children (grandchildren, etc.) had already married, in which case, might we reason that God would make an exception for the half-brother and half-sister in the case under discussion?

          • Rob Abney

            I was referring to NY civil law, from your reference. I agree that there is a good reason that a Catholic tribunal might rule that the marriage was null. I would not think that they would be judged to be sinful due to being unaware of the kin, so no exception needed, unless they continued as man and wife after the discovery, at that time some might say that Pope Francis would readily offer a dispensation.

          • David Nickol

            I agree that there is a good reason that a Catholic tribunal might rule that the marriage was null.

            Might? Assuming it is established that a half-brother and a half-sister have "married" in the Catholic Church, there is simply no question that the marriage is invalid. I am currently researching (and having a rather difficult time of it) whether the whole marriage tribunal process would actually be necessary. Recent reforms by Pope Francis would seem to imply that in cases of clear-cut nullity, a bishop can act as the judge.

            at that time some might say that Pope Francis would readily offer a dispensation.

            Would those "some" who might say such a thing be critics of Pope Francis? There can be no dispensation, even by the pope, to allow half siblings to marry. I know some consider Pope Francis to be "going rogue" in some instances, but I can confidently state that he would never give a dispensation to half-sibling to marry.

          • Rob Abney

            From the Catholic Encyclopedia (I know you are a big fan of it), you have a lot of support but not total support.
            "Benedict XIV, emphasized the fact that the popes had never granted a dispensation for a marriage between brother and sister, even where the union might have occurred without a knowledge of the relationship on the part of the contracting persons."
            "In whatever is forbidden by the law of nature there is no dispensation. In the direct line of consanguinity Nicholas I supposes that there is no room for dispensation. However, in cases of infidels when one or both are converted, while it is to be held that marriages within the first degree of the direct line are invalid, in all others the Holy See has to be consulted."
            "Whatever dispensing power is available resides principally in the supreme authority of the Church, namely the Apostolic See."

        • Is that a problem?

          First, techincally speaking it's not incest until you have a law against it and a reason for that law (genetic deterioration), which is not the case at creation.

          Second, if you believe in the theory of evolution of life forms from LUCA (last universal common ancestor), you have 3.8 billion years of practical incest (2.6 billion years of asexual cloning or self-incest) and 1.2 billion years (around 40 million generations) of highly probable sexual incest (limited, isolated, tribal populations, with no knowledge of genetics and little intelligence).
          https://www.livescience.com/2226-incest-taboo-nature.html

          If inbreeding (incest) is ok through 40 million generations of sexually reproducing human ancestors thorugh a genetic code that evolved through billions of years of trial and error genetic code, it's not a problem for the few generations between Adam and Moses,who had a perfectly designed genetic code.

          • David Nickol

            From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

            2388 Incest designates intimate relations between relatives or in-laws within a degree that prohibits marriage between them. St. Paul stigmatizes this especially grave offense: "It is actually reported that there is immorality among you . . . for a man is living with his father's wife. . . . In the name of the Lord Jesus . . . you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh. . . . " Incest corrupts family relationships and marks a regression toward animality.

            It is certainly not ridiculous for anyone—including those who believe Adam and Eve were the true "first parents" of the human race—to acknowledge that the idea of the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve intermarrying is a serious issue to be dealt with.

            Incest may be "not so taboo in nature," but we do not make moral judgments about animal behavior, nor do we use it as a standard against which to judge human behavior. Rape may have been quit common among nonhuman ancestors, but it is prohibited for humans. Those who oppose gay rights have never shown any signs of changing their minds about the moral prohibitions against homosexuality when shown how common homosexual behavior is in the animal kingdom.

            The Catechism says that "incest corrupts family relationships," so I don't think anyone can be blamed for raising some serious questions when it is claimed that God created the human race in such a way that the second generation of men could marry only their sisters and the second generation of women could marry only their brothers.

          • Rob Abney

            Is the serious issue that both you and the Catechism are more strict on the subject of incest than God?
            What would your objection be if you were around prior to the Catechism/Canon Law?
            Do you agree that this level of incest does not violate natural law?

          • Dennis Bonnette

            I claim no special expertise on this question of incest and would point out that it is not an issue intended to be directly addressed by the thesis of my article. Nonetheless, the following considerations occur to me:

            First, we must distinguish between natural law and Church law, since while Church law can never allow what natural law forbids, it can, as positive law, forbid what natural law allows. It appears that Church law allows even first cousins to marry with proper ecclesiastical dispensation.

            Second, incest, as sexual relations between close relatives, is not in the same ethical category as the intrinsically evil sexual sins against nature, such as, masturbation, homosexual acts, and contraception, which directly contradict the natural procreative end of the act.

            Third, it appears that the essential moral objections to incest are (1) potential biological harm to the offspring, and (2) that it may corrupt family relationships.

            Pertaining to the first objection, since we have no real certitude concerning the genetic conditions of our first parents -- some three quarter million years ago or more, there cannot be the certitude that harm would result to the early generations of their offspring.

            Pertaining to the second objection, if we assume that the life spans of Adam and Eve were anywhere as long as is commonly claimed, it is entirely possible that siblings would have been raised so separately chronologically that little danger of corruption of family relationships would occur. Or, perhaps God's providence provided such needed protections.

            Therefore, it appears that the natural law in the case of incest is based primarily on rational principles which, though absolute and objective in themselves, need to be applied relative to the likely circumstances of the medical and social context.

            From these considerations, I can see no absolute objection to Adam and Eve's children marrying, despite later correct and necessary prohibitions of incestuous behavior.

          • BTS

            Contraception is more sinful than incest? I disagree wholeheartedly.

          • Jim the Scott

            Objectively it is more sinful since it disfigures the final cause of the sex act in a more extreme way then bonking one of one's relatives does.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            And I disagree with your disagreement.

            We need arguments in philosophy and theology, not mere opinions.

          • Why is endogamy between Adam and Eve's offspring a serious issue?

            This does not make sense for many reasons.

            1. Ethnocentric fallacy: what's wrong for us today was wrong for them then. Says who?

            2. Not objectively wrong: people who reject God reject objective morality, thus cannot say that what's wrong for our culture was necessarily wrong for Adam and Eve's offspring.

            3. Incest is common in nature. Humans have developed culture-based laws against it, but there is no biological reason against inbreeding.

            4. Our laws against incest are based on genetic reasons. Such reasons did not apply to Adam and Eve's offspring since, in context, their genetic code was perfect.

            5. If you believe in evolution, you must necessarily believe in 2.6 billion years of asexual reproduction (cloning or the ultimate form of self-incest) followed by 1.2 bililon years of sexual reproduction by lower intelligence common ancestors who knew nothing of genetics, lived in small, isolated populations where inbreeding was the norm for over 40 million generations through a trial-and-error genetic code that was far from perfect. If incest was not a problem in such a highly risky scenario for over 40 million generations, why would it be a problem for the 25 generations from Adam and Eve to Moses, particularly since the original genetic code, in this context, was perfectly created by God?

            As for incest and opposition to homosexuality, people correctly do so for two reasons:

            1. Saynig that something is natural and therefore good is an Appeal to Nature logical fallacy.

            2. Even from a Darwinian perspective, evolution is built on survival of the fittest, which is biologically defined as reproductive success. Homosexual practice has zero reproductive success and should thus be disapproved.

            The argument for endogamy in Adam and Eve's offspring is not at all similar to the argument for homosexuality. No one says that incest is natural, therefore good. The argument is that, since initially, in Adam and Eve's context, the genetic code was perfect, there were no good biological (and therefore social, cultural, legal) reasons against endogamy in their offspring. The opposite is true for homosexual practice; there are no biological and evolutionary advantageous reasons for it, while there are teleological reasons (for theists) and functional reasons (for atheists) against it.

          • David Nickol

            Why is endogamy between Adam and Eve's offspring a serious issue?

            The issue is not endogamy. It is brother-sister incest. They are by no means synonymous.

            This does not make sense for many reasons.

            To what does this refer? Note that I was careful in my comment not to "take sides" in the debate. My point was that it is not frivolous to raise questions about the morality of incest with those who conjecture that the sons and daughters of Adam necessarily engaged in brother-sister incest. Given the ancient Jewish prohibitions against incest, the Catholic prohibitions against incest, and the "incest taboo" spoken of by anthropologists, it is not a frivolous question to ask, "But would it not have been wrong for the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve to mate?" Those who would answer, "No, it would not," would not be justified, in my opinion, in objecting that it is an impertinent question. I fail to see how anyone could object to what I am saying here.

            1. Ethnocentric fallacy: what's wrong for us today was wrong for them then. Says who?

            Certainly it would be the Catholic argument that there are a great many moral proscriptions (based on Natural Law) that do not change from age to age. Dr. Bonnette argues that brother-sister incest is not against Natural Law, but if I read him correctly father-daughter or mother-son incest would be. Of course, the Bible doesn't say Adam and his daughters engaged in father-daughter incest, but then again, it doesn't say Adam/s children engaged in brother-sister incest. That is what leaves and opening for the conjecture that Adam's children mated with proto-humans.

            2. Not objectively wrong: people who reject God reject objective morality . . . .

            That is not necessarily the case. There are atheist who believe in objective morality, although I think theists generally believe these atheists can't adequately justify such beliefs.

            thus cannot say that what's wrong for our culture was necessarily wrong for Adam and Eve's offspring.

            The argument, as I see it, at least, is not that incest is wrong today and therefore was wrong for the second generation of humans. I think it can be argued that father-daughter incest is considered wrong today and would be wrong at any time, anywhere in human society. The question is whether brother-sister incest is always wrong, or whether it is wrong under certain conditions that obtain today but did not obtain in the second generation.

            3. Incest is common in nature.

            That tells us nothing about the morality of incest. Homosexuality is common in nature, too, and Catholics generally reject the argument that something common in nature is "natural" in the sense that Natural Law would approve of it. Also, it seems to be a matter of controversy just how common incest is in mammals, and it is the kind of thing that varies from species to species.

            Humans have developed culture-based laws against it, but there is no biological reason against inbreeding.

            The biological probability of an occasional instance of brother-sister incest resulting in a genetic defect is quite low. However, for a story of the problems of continued inbreeding, read about the Hapsburgs.

            4. Our laws against incest are based on genetic reasons.

            Our laws against incest, and in fact the "incest taboo" noted by anthropologists, are not based on genetics. The science of genetics is very young, and the prohibitions against incest are ancient. Also, incest laws forbid sexual relationships between individuals that have no blood ties (stepfathers and stepdaughters, adopted sons and daughters, and so on). Prohibitions categorized by anthropologists as being part of the "incest taboo" vary from one culture to another among peoples who have no knowledge of genetics whatsoever.

            Such reasons did not apply to Adam and Eve's offspring since, in context, their genetic code was perfect.

            Who has sequenced the genetic code of Adam and Eve? Where did their DNA come from? And what is a "perfect" genetic code? I have never come across the claim that Adam and Eve had "perfect" DNA before, and in addition to being totally and completely conjectural, it strikes me as basically meaningless.

            That's enough for now!

          • BCE

            I agree it's a serious issue.
            My other example (about possible large age gap(say between Seth and a sister) and living apart for perhaps hundreds of years) was not to suggest God is inconsistent in forbidding incest. But only that
            an offence can be objectively wrong, but the outrage against it and penalty mitigated.

            Incest *is and *was objectively a disorder.
            So the sin is objectively wrong.
            And Cain and Seth and their siblings sinned.

            Many of these comments seem an attempt to try and prove God made
            some exceptions, and that incest, for Seth, was good.
            Or that the Biblical God is so arbitrary that there is no objective evils.
            Seth was a fallen creature.
            Genesis is a telling(or tale) about what happened, and not what God desired for us.

      • Raymond

        Was it that incest was not forbidden until Leviticus, or that the stricture against it was not written until Leviticus? Cain certainly was punished for committing murder long before the Commandments existed. And the Israelites worshiped the golden calf before Moses came down from the mountain. If incest was forbidden, why wouldn't have always been forbidden, whether or not it was written down?

        And this reasoning also assumes that Leviticus was written contemporaneously with "the time of Moses" - and by Moses - which is not universally held by all Bible scholars. If the Pentateuch was not written until later - say the time of the Babylonian captivity - would incest have continued to be allowed up until that time?

        There is also an implication in this reasoning that God's conception of morality changes over time. How could an all-Good, unchanging God have one moral outlook at one point in time, and a different outlook later? Wouldn't incest, murder, having other gods before him, etc. always have been morally proscribed?

        And let's look at the phrase "forbidden in the Bible". Was incest forbidden by Moses or by God? In the Gospels, Jesus states that Moses allowed divorce because of the hard-heartedness of the Israelites. Since divorce was allowed by Moses despite God's hatred of it, is Moses an arbiter of morals ahead of God? Would the restriction against incest in Leviticus be from God, or from Moses?

        • Dennis Bonnette

          While I could address the ethics of incest, I would rather simply point out that the purpose of this paper is to test whether a literal Adam and Eve could have actually existed -- despite the claims of Ayala and some other geneticists, and also to deal with the objection raised by paleoanthropoloogy. I think I have dealt with those objections.

          If someone is concerned with the problem of incest or others want to respond to your excellent questions, they should feel free to comment.

          • Raymond

            Fair enough. The conversation does seem to have taken several turns.

  • David Nickol

    Therefore, a literal Adam and Eve is scientifically possible.

    What is meant by "scientifically possible"?

    Even accepting all of your arguments, this conclusion does not seem to me to be warranted. The idea of a first "true man" (Adam), possessing a spiritual soul directly created and infused by God into the offspring of one of a group of pre(true)human ancestors, is not a scientific idea. The most that can be said, it seems to me, is that science cannot rule out the possibility that the human race had two and only two "first parents." It may seem like quibbling, but it seems to me that the meaning of "not scientifically impossible" differs from the meaning of "scientifically possible." It is not "scientifically possible" that God infused a soul into an animal to create the first "true man." Whether or not God did such a thing lies outside the realm of science, so it seems to me "scientifically possible" has no clear meaning.

    • Jim the Scott

      David,
      Dr. B is talking about the possibility of biological monogenesis. Obviously we have no scientific way to establish when the first true human received a soul.

      Re-read the article bro. Cheers.

      • David Nickol

        I was responding to a specific passage, quoted in my message above, which was as follows:

        Therefore, a literal Adam and Eve is scientifically possible.

        I stand by the point I made above in regard to this statement.

        • Jim the Scott

          That obviously mean a literal first parents who are the sole origins of the human race. I know the back round David trust me. Dr. B is a great defender of biological monogenesis. He has done it in his book which I have read and he has done in in the third addition.
          https://www.amazon.com/Origin-Human-Species-Dennis-Bonnette/dp/1932589686

          I own & read the second addition. Since the 2md edition some evolutionary scientists have claimed (Jerry Coyle for example) that it is "scientifically impossible" for the human race to have descended from a single pair.
          (Of course those of us who read Kemp's paper & the Talmud roll our eyes at Coyle with his either Atheism or Fundamentalism mentality). Dr. B is challenging that view here. Which I think is plausible. Maybe biological monogenesis has some traction?

          • David Nickol

            Maybe biological monogenesis has some traction?

            It seems to me the idea of the human race descending from two "first parents" would be of little or no interest to modern science were it not very much bound up with Christian dogma. Whether or not anyone has definitively disproved it yet is quite different from demonstrating that it is true. I am unaware of any scientific evidence that the story of Adam and Eve is literally true (whether or not they were the two ensouled individuals referred to in the Bible or just two homo sapiens who evolved "naturalistically" and happened to wind up as the ancestors of all currently living homo sapiens).

          • Jim the Scott

            In a like manner if it wasn't for the desire to discredit religion some Atheist scientists would not make the extreme claim science has "disproved" monogenesis. The literal truth of the story of Adam and Eve or wither it is a symbolic tale of the fall of the first man and woman or if it is just a little of both is not at issue. It is only wither or not we came from a single pair or not & if it is impossible. The later is the only role science plays. We believe in Adam and Eve based on the authority of divine revelation. Science can't tell for certain if we came from a bottleneck of two people or not.

        • Dennis Bonnette

          "Scientifically possible" means that nothing known at present in natural science precludes the possibility of a single mating pair of first true humans. Because such a pair is scientifically possible, it is also possible that God gave them spiritual souls.

          The fact that natural science cannot explain how a spiritual soul could be infused into matter does not make the science irrelevant. The fact that the article shows how natural science can now remove the Ayala-type objection means that science has shown how Adam and Eve are now possible, despite the alleged "scientifically impossible" objection of Ayala.

          Jim has the background right.

          • Raymond

            "Because such a pair is scientifically possible, it is also possible that God gave them spiritual souls"

            I still don't see how that follows. The first statement talks about scientific possibility, but the second has no such scientific grounding. It isn't a matter of science whether or when God gave human beings souls.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            They had to be able to exist physically before the question of whether God chose to make such beings with spiritual souls arises.

  • Jim the Scott

    @SattaMassagana:disqus @drdennisbonnette:disqus

    If biological monogenesis is true then obviously brother and sisters mated with each other or Adam and Eve might have mated with their offspring. According to the Talmud some of the Rabbis claimed after Eve's death Adam took one of his daughters to wife in order to build up the world. The Talmud does suggest that the laws against incest (males sleeping with their mother excepted) don't apply to gentiles innately(but of course Judaism teaches Gentiles can take on additional negative laws from the Torah in order to increase their holiness and commented on how it seems the providence of God that virtually all Gentile nations even pagans have adopted laws against incest).

    OTOH Kemp's view does have some basis in Jewish Tradition as well.
    http://www.aish.com/tp/i/moha/48931772.html

    According too the Talmud Adam and Eve had humanoid contemporaries "wild men" who lacked a nefesh(soul or spirit). Also the Talmud claims Adam and Eve temporarily broke up after the murder of Able by Cain and "mated with demons" and had offspring. Since spirits cannot literally mate one might think humanoid genetically compatible animals might be possessed by fallen angels.

    Now I don't personally think we need take the Talmud's claims as literal divine revelation BUT they do show us the belief Adam and Eve mated with humanoids is a view acceptable to Bible believing orthodox Jews.

    The only problem here might be is it Zoophilia (the act of which is intrinsically evil BTW) for a human with a soul to mate with one of these creatures? Well from the Talmudic jewish perspective since you can reproduce with them it is not bestiality.
    From a Catholic perspective what makes homosexuality and bestiality intrinsically evil is that it does pervert the act of sex by thwarting the final causality of the act.
    Of course if Kemp's view is correct then this activity is the exception not the rule.

  • Jim the Scott

    Remember Bestiality and Homosexuality (i.e. the sex acts themselves) are intrinsically evil since they thwart the final causality of sex which is reproduction.

    "Wild Men" or humanoid contemporaries of Adam and Eve who had no souls do not fall into this category. So they could be the exception that proves the rule.

    • Ye Olde Statistician

      thwart the final causality of sex which is reproduction.

      Not if the 'beasts' are biologically identical to the humans. It just cuts down on meaningful dialogue between the couple. Many wives will tell you about low cognitive husbands even today.

      Tool-making may indicate intelligence, but has little to do with intellect, which is the faculty of forming concepts rather than images. The imagination can produce feats that resemble those of the intellect. Look for evidence of music, mathematics, physics, and other systems of speculative thought.

      • Jim the Scott

        Well that was my point. The "Wild Men" or souless humanoids could breed with Adam and Eve since they do not fall into the category of gay sex or animal wrongness which is non-reproductive since they are genetically "human".

        BTW Mike you being a hard Scif fi writer (& I am a hard scifi fan) here is some speculation. I wonder if this will only become an issue again if in the far future an evil Transhumanist society adopts criminal gene-spicing of Human DNA and Animals?

        https://orionsarm.com/eg-topic/45beac611ad40

        Or if mankind does to it's females what the Kzinti did to theirs (i.e. make them non-sapient)?

        Cheers man & God bless.

        • OMG

          Speaking of splice, Swamidass moderated Longman and Schloss (an OT theologian and a biologist) in 2012 in a Veritas talk, on YouTube. They came up with some interesting splice. Have you seen it?

          • Jim the Scott

            I'll check it out. I am always interested in fringe speculations on theology and philosophy.

            Do you evangelize & baptize Aliens? I don't believe an AI is possible but if it was would it have a soul or would it just be an animal. etc....

          • OMG

            Longman and Schloss are not that far off the graph! They don't discuss evangelization of AI creatures, but they do come up with some early 'figurative' hominid forms best left to one's imagination.

            Think of the poetic justice if science were to splice a hominid form bearing some 666-type trademark, calling to mind the beginning while calling forth the end.

          • David Nickol

            It seems to me if one accepts the arguments that humans must have a spiritual soul in order to engage in abstract thought, the same would necessarily apply to aliens and even to artificially intelligent entities.

            As to evangelizing or baptizing aliens, the Vatican Astronomer has written a book titled Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial? which I have not read. But if Original Sin is "transmitted" in the way the Catholic Church teaches, extraterrestrials would not have it. As I said, I have not read the Vatican Astronomer's book, but some years ago he made some interesting observations as noted in this story headlined Vatican astronomer says if aliens exist, they may not need redemption.

          • Jim the Scott

            When I get around to it I believe there is a position paper on the subject written by some Vatican Accademic. I'll post you a link.

            Cheers.

      • David Nickol

        Could a proto-human without a soul enter into marriage? I would think the requisite faculty for consent to marry would be absent from a proto-human lacking a soul. Somehow the idea of the sons of Adam impregnating proto-human females seems slightly less objectionable than the idea of soulless males impregnating ensouled females.

        Would monogamy have been morally required under the circumstances? Or were there no moral rules governing sexual relations of ensouled humans with soulless proto-humans?

        It seems to me quite significant that Jesus goes all the way back to Genesis when discussing the nature of marriage:

        He [Jesus] said in reply, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate.”

        I have always understood the story of Adam and Eve to be about the first marriage. It never occurred to me or any of my teachers in Catholic school that what followed Adam and Eve was a period of incestuous relationships or copulation with soulless creatures.

        • Ye Olde Statistician

          Nice quote about divorce. Male and female are biological distinctions, not metaphysical ones. It doesn't say how smart the males were.

          Is it against the law for Border Collie to lie with Irish Setter? That's as close as anything modern can come to the existence of a single species with very distinct kinds. Besides, as Augustine said, "Many things were done in the course of duty in those times which now cannot be done without libidinousness." Because it is a shamefully wicked thing to strip the body naked at a banquet among the drunken and licentious, it does not follow that it is a sin to be naked in the baths. (On Christian doctrine, Book III Chap12)

          But we also learn that "the sons of God saw how beautiful the daughters of human beings were, and so they took for their wives whomever they pleased." This sounds like humans with rational souls (i.e., in whom God had breathed spirit) still married (i.e., had sex with) humans with only sensitive souls. The flood ended this, since metaphysical humans could foresee what was coming and prepare, while those without intellect and will could not and were therefore caught in the flood.Eden?

          • David Nickol

            Nice quote about divorce. Male and female are biological distinctions, not metaphysical ones. It doesn't say how smart the males were.

            Cute. But Jesus is clearly speaking about "true human" males and females. There is, strangely, no mention of soulless proto-humans preceding or following Adam and Eve. Such things are inventions to harmonize a particular interpretation of Genesis with modern science.

            This sounds like humans with rational souls (i.e., in whom God had breathed spirit) still married (i.e., had sex with) humans with only sensitive souls.

            The NAB interprets the "sons of God" you mention who are attracted to human women as heavenly beings. The JPS Jewish Study Bible translates the passage as follows:

            When men began to increase on earth and daughters were born to them, the divine beings saw how beautiful the daughters of men were and took wives from among those that pleased them.

            In a footnote it indicates that, while some well known (or older) translations had "sons of God" in place of "divine beings," the JPS does not consider that to be acceptable even as an alternate reading.

            The RSV (Catholic Version) renders Genesis 6:1-2 as follows:

            When men began to multiply on the face of the ground, and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were fair; and they took to wife such of them as they chose.

            Your reading would basically amount to the text reading as follows:

            When men began to multiply on the face of the ground, and daughters were born to them, the sons of God men saw that the daughters of men were fair; and they took to wife such of them as they chose.

            It does not seem at all plausible to me.

          • Jim the Scott

            There is, strangely, no mention of soulless proto-humans preceding or following Adam and Eve.

            An argument that assumes Sola Scriptura David? Come on you know better. We are not Lutherans here buddy. Catholics my friend hold too Scripture and Tradition (2 Thes 2:15 & 3:6) not Luther's Scripture alone. I've called you on this before.
            Sola Scriptura is not in the Bible so it's false by it's own standard. An Atheist/Agnostic/Skeptic/Deist using it is just weird. What is next? A metaphysical naturalist who confesses Sacraments work ex opere operato(which would be lovely but still weird)?

            Peace.

          • David Nickol

            An argument that assumes Sola Scriptura David?

            It would seem to me that the only time it is appropriate to admonish someone for "assuming" Sola Scripture for a reference to the Bible is when that someone is ignoring Tradition (in the sense understood by the Catholic Church). As far as I am aware, there is nothing whatsoever in Catholic Tradition to even hint at soulless proto-humans with whom the children of Adam interbred. Can you produce anything at all from Catholic Tradition about such a thing?

            Twentieth- and twenty-first speculations by Catholic authors about "true men" interbreeding with proto-humans at the dawn of humanity do not constitute Tradition. It is perfectly appropriate to look to Scripture in evaluating such speculations. Assuming for the sake of argument that the creation accounts in Genesis reflect some kind of historical reality, it is true that the accounts are far from exhausting, and the absence of accounts of interbreeding with photo-humans is not proof it didn't happen. But if speculation that it did happen is considered admissible in conjecturing about human origins. then it seems to me arguing that it didn't happen is at least as reasonable, since there is no evidence either in Scripture or Tradition.

            I've called you on this before.

            If ever previously you have made an argument that I have based some assertion or conjecture on Sola Scriptura, I believe you have been mistaken, as your are in this instance.

            As an aside, I think we have all been using phrases along the lines of "soulless humans." I am sure Ye Olde Statistician would inform us that "soulless humans" are dead humans. According to him (following Aquinas, I believe), proto-humans had souls, but only animal souls.

          • Jim the Scott

            David you complained about souless humans not being in scripture. That is what you wrote. Moving the goal posts does not convince me guy. I brought up tradition and your counter response is equally invalid since the Catholic Church doesn't believe in Sola Tradisio either also Jewish Tradition does make reference to "Wild Men" who had no Nefesh (i.e. spirit) who where contemporaries of Adam & Eve and given the Supercesionalism Claims of the Church being the Heir to Old Testament revelation since the coming of the Messiah we could look right there. Of course we don't have to since where does Church dogma require Scripture and Tradition must make reference to "Wild Men" (aka souless humanoids)? It doesn't that is just taking a Protestant mentality and expanding it to the rest of our revelation sources.
            You can't read Protestant presupositions into Catholicism or remake our religion in Luther's image. Sorry about that but I think that is what you are doing. You are naturally free to disagree. "Souless Humans" is shorthand for "Not having an immortal spiritual soul made in the divine image". Obviously all living things have an animat soul and in the case of animals a sensitive soul both of which are mortal.
            Anyway I promised you a link to a paper on Catholic views on Aliens. It's a fun read. Enjoy.
            http://ieti.org/tough/books/succeeds/sectVp11.pdf

          • David Nickol

            David you complained about souless humans not being in scripture. That is what you wrote.

            I did not complain. I stated. And the context is very important. As I understood Ye Olde Statistician, he was implying that when Jesus spoke of marriage and divorce, and specifically when he referenced Genesis on the joining of males and females (in marriage), it could have included the "marriage" of a proto-human male with an animal soul to a true human woman with a human soul. Jesus was referencing Genesis as it was understood in his time, not in the light of 20th- and 21st-century conjectures about interbreeding of true humans with proto-humans.

            As I said, it seems to me accusations of belief in Sola Scriptura are relevant when authentic Tradition is being ignored or denied. I am open to information that Catholic Tradition contains something relevant to the acceptance of the idea of descendants of Adam interbreeding with animal-souled proto-humans, but I seriously doubt anything exists.

            Thanks for the link. I look forward to reading the paper.

          • Jim the Scott

            Jesus referenced Adam's marriage to Eve(both had souls). Any sex between one of them and a "souless" humanoid would not have been a marriage but fornication in the case of Adam or adultery in the case of Eve(Jewish Law allows male polygamy so a married man who sleeps around is a fornicator and not an adulterer unless he sleeps with another man's wife. This changes and is made stronger un the NT.). Mike can clarify what he means. There are many opinions on the texts he cites from the chruch Fathers and Rabbis. The "sons of God" can be "celestial beings" or the sons of Seth who was a righteous man vs Cain's daughters who was not righteous.
            Both interpretations are found in both Christian and Jewish literature and commentaries,
            OTOH since fallen angels can possess animals there is no reason why The Watchers* couldn't possess "souless" humanoids. That would be the only way to make sense out of "celestial beings" sleeping with women since they are not material beings.

            *Angels(i.e. "divine beings") who fell after lying with human women.

            As I said, it seems to me accusations of belief in Sola Scriptura are relevant when authentic Tradition is being ignored or denied.

            There is no dogma here being denied therefore no "authentic" tradition by Catholic standards is being denied.
            Anyway you will enjoy the paper. The paper itself is accademic but I found the link to it on a Pencil N' Paper Scifi RPG website.

            Cheers.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            There is, strangely, no mention of soulless proto-humans

            Something had to be the "clay" and the indications are that it was not literally aluminum silicate [https://ir.uiowa.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1076&context=igsar]. That into which the spirit was breathed (spiratus est).

            Nor would such creatures be soulless. If they were soulless, they would be inert meat. They would have been informed by a sensitive soul, like any other animal; perhaps with a more highly developed faculty for animal prudence.

            If the sons of God were not those whom God begot by breathing in the spirit (inspiratio) but some sort og "heavenly beings", how is it that they could take the women to wife? Biologically, they had to be of the same species.

          • OMG

            Despite the picturesque and endearingly quaint portrait of A and E engaged in wedded bliss...there exists another. Edith Stein, phenomenologist, AKA St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, convert to Catholicism from Judaism, martyred in Auschwitz, wrote a few pages about original sin. (I cannot cite where, but probably it's from her collection of Essays on Women.) St. Teresa delicately describes Eve's sin as a probable openness. Eve perhaps gave birth to some truly bad DNA. And Adam trotted after her.

            The New Testament begins with Matthew's genealogy of Jesus--book of generation-- biblos geneseos, which can be translated as 'book of genesis.' Mary rectified Eve's course through the blessed fruit of her womb. That's evolution for me.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Council of Trent did not say that Eve sinned, but only Adam. Aquinas had said likewise.

          • OMG

            Hmmm. Well, Adam was no innocent. Wonder what would have been our plight if Adam had not followed Eve?

            Any idea why Trent would say that? Mere oversight? Protective of the weaker sex? Or was Adam to exemplify 'mankind'? Eve, taken from his rib, was bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh. So what she did was attributed to him? So wives may therefore blame their spouses?

          • OMG

            The other floating notion is that he either knew or should have known that Eve was near the tree, and he should have brought some influence to bear upon her. He should have been in some solidarity with her and not have left her alone in that part of the garden.

          • OMG

            I ploughed through some Aquinas to find a satisfactory explanation. Basing his thought on Aristotle, Aquinas apparently maintained that generation of life, of human nature, occurred only through the transmission of semen; the male, therefore, was the determining factor. [This also explains the reason for patrilineal descent, genealogies, and inheritance systems.] As women apparently were not seen to generate human nature, they could not therefore transmit sin. They were vessels for nourishment and nurture but apparently not participatory causes. Trent also would have held to this line of thinking in the mid 1500s, until Mendel in the mid 1800s.

            Aquinas' De Malo does have an entire section on original sin. The metaphysics are of a high order, but this was very clear: Christ was unable to contract original sin because he was conceived of the Virgin without semen from a man. And the Virgin was previously purified because complete purity befitted the flesh that the Word of God received, not because her purification was necessary in order that Christ should be conceived without original sin. (Question IV, Article 7, Reply 6.)

          • David Nickol

            Fascinating!

          • OMG

            Aristotle and Aquinas never fail to impress.

          • David Nickol

            But I thought your point was that dogmas from the Council of Trent were to some extent based on mistaken notions of Aristotle and Aquinas regarding human reproduction. Women are not equivalent to mere soil in which men plant seeds that it is women's function to nourish. Human reproduction is a 50-50 proposition in which the woman contributes fully half of what is heritable.

          • OMG

            As you say, human reproduction is a 50-50 proposition. Trent was talking about original sin, not human reproduction.

          • Raymond

            I thought God warned Noah and instructed him to build the Ark. Are you suggesting that the people that died in the Flood "without intellect and will" did not have souls? How could they have sinned and been subject to God's wrath?

          • So not only are you a gnostic, but also a pre-Adamite.

            All humans have rational souls and bodies. There are no humans without rational souls, no matter what your gnosticism told you.

        • Rob Abney

          When they taught you that Adam committed the first sin, did they imply that it was the only sin? I'm sure there were more to come.

        • Michael Murray

          Perhaps at the time they employed the excuse we see amongst the current clergy in relation to sexual depravity and abuse: "they were different times, we didn't appreciate it was wrong, we didn't understand the effect it had on the children, etc, etc". Perhaps anyone caught committing bestiality was just moved to a new parish.

          • Rob Abney

            And they would also become public school teachers, and sports doctors, and Hollywood executives. All because they walked away from God.

          • Michael Murray

            So the Archbishop who looked after them and hid them away so they could attack more children also walked away from God ? Strange then that the Pope won't make him stand down. The Church has shown itself completely corrupted by these scandals. I'm just amazed that people still support it by staying part of it.

          • Rob Abney

            One of the lessons to learn from the story of Adam and Eve is that there are demons in this world who will tempt us to do evil, and other people will be used by the demons to tempt us.
            You might also be amazed that people stay in the Church because of a love of God and to be provided with the grace needed to try to avoid the temptation for evil.
            Don't hope for complete corruption of the Church because if that happens the world will end.

          • Arthur Jeffries

            The Church has shown itself completely corrupted by these scandals. I'm just amazed that people still support it by staying part of it.

            You're amazed because you see the Church as just another human institution, just like you see the Eucharist as just bread and wine, and the Bible as just a collection of old books, and Jesus as just some ancient teacher. In other words, you do not have faith.

          • David Nickol

            I understand what you are saying, but I think the issue needs to be addressed less confrontationally.

            First, of course, the Catholic Church doesn't see itself as "just another human organization," but it does see itself as a human organization (at least in part), and there has been corruption in the Church from the very beginning, and sometimes in high places. Judas was one of the Twelve, for example. And there have been some perfectly terrible popes.

            Of course it goes without saying that people outside the Church do not have faith. You say it almost as an imprecation. But it is not only "non-Catholics" who are disturbed. I can't claim to know many Catholics, but I am aware of some who have lost faith in the Church because of the "abuse crisis." The revelations about Cardinal McCarrick are shocking. His case makes me think of Dr. Larry Nassar (the doctor who abused Olympic athletes for nearly two decades). It seems clear to me that kind of behavior can't go on for so long without may people at best "looking the other way." Plenty of people who "have faith" have acted much more horrifically than many people who don't "have faith." I don't pretend to know what went on in the mind of Cardinal McCarrick, others like him, and their enablers. but it seems to me if they "had faith," they may be even more culpable for their outrageous behavior than if they are total frauds.

            When Jesus was being crucified, it is claimed that he said, "Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do." However, unless he is a total fraud, McCarrick and others like him "have faith" and know exactly what they are doing. And even if "demons" tempted them, the fault is still theirs for giving in.

            "Non-Catholics" have every right to be appalled at the sexual abuse problems in the Catholic Church and how badly they have been handled, and it seems to me that Catholics should be outraged as well (and many of them are).

            This is definitely not the forum in which to discuss this issue, which is why I didn't reply to the original message bringing it up. But it is a very serious issue and cannot be dismissed with a wave of the hand or with sneers at people for not having faith. Those outside the Church who wonder how Catholics can still support it deserve serious answers.

          • David Nickol
          • OMG

            How many are 'few'? Who has defined Catholic credentials? Are Douthat's writings considered Catholic dogma, doctrine, permissible belief? What would Aristotle say? Let me plough!

          • OMG
          • Arthur Jeffries

            I replied, but my comment was unfortunately detected as spam. It should come through eventually, and if not I'll just repost.

          • David Nickol

            Thanks. I saw your reply before it disappeared. I do have one further thought, and that is that I don't think it is at all accurate to say the Catholic Church "has shown itself completely corrupted by these scandals." I don't think it is even necessary to have faith that the claims that the Church makes about itself are true to reject such a sweeping condemnation. I got a first-rate education in Catholic school (grades 1-12) and the worst scandal I can think of is one of my high school teachers (not a religious) was arrested for indecent exposure (I am pretty sure he was drunk) in a local park. Oh, and some parishioners thought it was immodest for our pastor to wear Bermuda shorts while gardening. I do, however, agree with those who think an exhaustive investigation of Cardinal McCarrick is a must, and anyone who actively enabled him or even just looked the other way should be exposed. Some think that might include a beloved pope. It is a scandal of the first magnitude.

          • Miguel

            Is science without scandals? Or democracy, or liberty? Not even public, secular education is free form pedophily, but there is no major reaction to that.

            Only religion is always targeted. 75% of pedophilies are relatives or neibourgs of the victims, and no one wonders why people are still part of families or neibourghoods. From the atrocious medical experiments during the Reinasciance to the nuclear explosion over cities in 1,945, the morality of science hasn't been questioned to the point that it itself and its continuity were questioned.

            It is impossible to answer to non believers on why to remain in a religious denomination, or in religious faith for that matter, after such terrible undones, because a disbeliever cannot understand what keeps a believer within belief; I guess there are different reasons for differente believers -if you only take into account the catholic church, you will find near to a billion of believers; you cannot expect all of them the give the same answer- but, as far as I am concerned, the problem of absurdity -what Teilhard de Chardin called "the problem of the action"- is even worse, and more excruciating, than the very problem of evil.

          • David Nickol

            There is one thing that must be acknowledged, and that is the Catholic Church is not like "science" or public school systems. The pope is supposed to be the Vicar of Christ, and the bishops are successors to the apostles. "Science" is not a well organized hierarchy with one person responsible for everything from the top down. The Catholic Church is. Every bishop and cardinal was appointed by a pope. That is not how "Science" works.

            For everyone, but especially for Catholics, when a priest molests a child, it is a greater evil than when, say, a public school teacher molests a student. When you want to call someone a traitor, the name that really stings is not Benedict Arnold or Brutus. It's Judas, because he was an apostle and he betrayed Jesus.

            Cardinal McCarrick up until quite recently would have been considered a "prince of the Church." He was a man of great influence and authority. That he rose so high in the hierarchy and got away with his misbehavior for so long surely indicates there were those who looked the other way or even helped him cover up his crimes.

            That said, I think most people (including atheists) understand, to some extent, at least, the loyalty others feel toward groups with which they self-identify. I don't think most people really expect Catholics to leave the Church because of the "abuse scandals," as bad as they are.

          • Miguel

            Many people, disenchanted with organized religions, have turned to science. To them, science has a moral responsibility, disreganding how it works organizationally.

            It is never a good thing to start an answer with a picky comment, but, with all due respect, I am almost sure for the victim it doens't make any difference, it is not a consolation that the adult who is molesting him, or her, is not a priest but an uncle, a public teacher without priesthood ordination or the neibour from across the street.

            It is true that in the Western world, when a proper name is used to mention a traitor, the name chosen is Judas, due to the burden of religious, Christian influence over this culture; I mean, the Western World. But it would be weird that the evils commited by the religious enviroment were, in fact more serious that similar actions performed by non religious people.

            It will, because then even the non religious would be accepting a certain, rationalistically mysterious superiority on the side of the religious persons and institutions. And that would mean, at the very least, that any form of religious skepticism is a failed attemp at leaving religion; they wold be still under the dominion of religion, or it influence.

            And not because religion is still in society and no one can escape from society, even if the former is true, but because they still act as if religion and religious institutions were the lighthouse for morality every one were meant to follow.

            Because, a person trully liberated from religious influence and maintaining an ethical commitment, should regard every evil of a similar nature as equally evil.

            P.S.: It is true that science is not meant to work as an institution guided by the principle of authority, but there always has been a degree of usage of that principle within science. i have read in the internet complains about richard Dawkin conditioning which versions of the theory of evolution can be presented to the audience and which not.

            Science can be different from religion, but scientists are not that too different from believers. Scientists also want certitude and attach themselves to what has been accepted; and change is also very difficult to accept within science.

          • In other words, you do not have faith.

            Why, aside from the church's disapproval, should I think that is a problem?

          • Arthur Jeffries

            "In other words, you do not have faith" is nothing more or less than a concise explanation of Michael Murray's amazement. I went into more detail in my response to David Nickol, which is still being treated as spam but it will probably appear eventually.

          • "In other words, you do not have faith" is nothing more or less than a concise explanation of Michael Murray's amazement.

            OK. I've noticed that most Christians, when they talk about lack of faith, seem to consider it a problem. I take it you're not one of those Christians?

          • Arthur Jeffries

            It's not my practice to go around criticizing people for not having faith. I only mentioned that Michael does not have faith so that he could recognize that those of us who remain in the Church do so because we have faith. There was no implied critique in my comment.

          • So, you don't want to be critical, just informative?

          • Arthur Jeffries

            Yes, I wasn't criticizing Michael Murray. I don't judge him for not having faith.

          • David Nickol

            I had a problem with your comment since it seemed to imply that to "have faith" was to believe in all the claims the Catholic Church makes about herself.

          • Arthur Jeffries

            Michael is amazed that people don't leave the Catholic Church, and I am a Catholic, so the faith I referred to in my reply to him is the Catholic faith.

          • Miguel

            Well, in a religious enviroment...

            I admit I haven't read the exchange from which you received that answer. I also have to admit this is a website for attempts of communications between believers and non believers, so I have to concede you a thing: it would be non sense to expect faith from the people "from the other side" in such an enviroment as this intends to be.

            But, on the other side, you maybe could try to understand that, for the people on your side, to come here and discuss with the people from "this side", implies that the lack of faith is a big issue for us. That is a difference that, for sure, conditionates any attempt to dialogue, but, if I can finish in a light mood, c'mon, disbelievers! So many of you (I don't mean every one and I don't mean this as a sarcasm or an offense) claim to be more intelligent, or rational, than us the believers, you should be more capable to understand! ;)

            I apologize in advance if that comment, intended more as a joke, causes bad feelings.

          • I take no offense at the joke, but I think it might be irrelevant. I am not among those who think there is a correlation between intelligence or rationality and religious skepticism.

            But a religious worldview and a nonreligious worldview cannot both be right, so one of them must be, in some way, more defensible than the other. If the key difference between them is that one accepts faith as a justification for some beliefs and the other does not, then we should be discussing the epistemic virtues, or absence thereof, of faith.

          • Miguel

            Thanks for taking the joke well. On the concept of "faith", it merely means "confidence", and it is impossible to stablish any knowledge without confidence on some basic statements which can be, all of them, impossible to prove, as axioms.

            And, therefore, it is possible for every form of knowledge to be based on one kind or another of faith.

            As an example, rationailsts scholars defended, rationalistically, that The Iliad had to be pure legend, without elements of truth, of historical truth, ince the supernatural was protrayed. But, from the end of the XIX century on, it has been proven that that was not the case.

            Also, in tha same century, Christ was meant to be a myth for similar academical circles, but since the middle of the XX century, the consensus among historicians is that Christ was, indeed, a real, historical figure.

            Sure, in some cases in some places faith has been an obstacle to knowledge; in others, rejection of faith has been an obstacle for knowledge. And the industrial begining of chemical and nuclear weapons had nothing to do with religious faith. So, the discussion about the final condition of faith as an obstacle or a helper of faith, could complicate itself almost to the infinite.

          • On the concept of "faith", it merely means "confidence", and it is impossible to stablish any knowledge without confidence on some basic statements which can be, all of them, impossible to prove, as axioms.

            And so, when a Christian tells me I lack faith, all they're really saying is just that I don't accept certain axioms that they accept?

          • Rob Abney

            How can Miguel answer for all Christians Doug, he can only answer for himself. Then you can add him into your tally of all Christians that have discussed the topic of faith with Doug Shaver, it’s a small sample size still.

          • How can Miguel answer for all Christians

            I'm not asking him to do that. I am suggesting that he consider the implications of defining faith in the way he has defined it.

          • Rob Abney

            Here's a definition from The Catholic Encylopedia.

            The foregoing analyses will enable us to define an act of Divine supernatural faith as "the act of the intellect assenting to a Divine truth owing to the movement of the will, which is itself moved by the grace of God" (St. Thomas, II-II, Q. iv, a. 2). And just as the light of faith is a gift supernaturally bestowed upon the understanding, so also this Divine grace moving the will is, as its name implies, an equally supernatural and an absolutely gratuitous gift. Neither gift is due to previous study neither of them can be acquired by human efforts, but "Ask and ye shall receive."

            That temptations against faith are natural and inevitable and are in no sense contrary to faith, "since", says St. Thomas, "the assent of the intellect in faith is due to the will, and since the object to which the intellect thus assents is not its own proper object — for that is actual vision of an intelligible object — it follows that the intellect's attitude towards that object is not one of tranquility, on the contrary it thinks and inquires about those things it believes, all the while that it assents to them unhesitatingly; for as far as it itself is concerned the intellect is not satisfied" (De Ver., xiv, 1).

            So when a Christian tells you that you lack faith, this is what he may mean.

            From what has been said touching the absolutely supernatural character of the gift of faith, it is easy to understand what is meant by the loss of faith. God's gift is simply withdrawn. And this withdrawal must needs be punitive, "Non enim deseret opus suum, si ab opere suo non deseratur" (St. Augustine, Enarration on Psalm 145 — "He will not desert His own work, if He be not deserted by His own work"). And when the light of faith is withdrawn, there inevitably follows a darkening of the mind regarding even the very motives of credibility which before seemed so convincing. This may perhaps explain why those who have had the misfortune to apostatize from the faith are often the most virulent in their attacks upon the grounds of faith; "Vae homini illi", says St. Augustine, "nisi et ipsius fidem Dominus protegat", i.e. "Woe be to a man unless the Lord safeguard his faith" (Enarration on Psalm 120).

            http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05752c.htm

          • So when a Christian tells you that you lack faith, this is what he may mean.

            If I wish to communicate with a particular Christian, knowing what they may mean is of little use. I have asked many Christians what they mean when they talk about faith, and their answers have been all over the epistemological landscape.

          • Rob Abney

            I agree that Christians have a large variety of levels of understanding and abilities to articulate the term faith. The term faith also has a number of ways that it can be used.
            I've provided a very detailed definition, I would not be able to do that if I weren't able to cut and paste, my point being that it is too complicated for most of us to express clearly.
            But, since I was able to paste the definition, what is your response when I say that you lack this specific faith?

          • If I correctly understand what I read, I can't have faith unless God gives it to me, and he won't give it to me unless I ask for it. Since I don't think he is real, I can't ask him for anything. I must conclude, therefore, that I don't have it.

          • Rob Abney

            Your conclusion seems accurate but the reason is faulty. If you believed in God it would be because you have the gift of faith. To receive the gift of faith you have to ask for it, but it doesn’t mean you are asking God for it, you simply need to express your desire.

          • You mean, I could believe if I had a strong enough desire to believe?

          • OMG

            Scripture supports God's mysterious, merciful, and loving ways. A person could receive a grace toward faith if he truly wanted to know or possess it. So long as one's motives for asking are neutral, without skepticism (or other negative attitudes), He does not deny anything we ask in bona fides if what we ask is good for our salvation.

          • Scripture supports God's mysterious, merciful, and loving ways.

            You say so. My interactions with hundreds of people who have studied scripture tell me otherwise.

          • Rob Abney

            They say so. But why are you relying on their subjective interpretation Doug?

          • I place neither more nor less reliance on their interpretation than I do on yours.

            I see no reason to privilege anyone's interpretation, considering that I can read it myself and make my own judgment about what it does or does not support.

          • Rob Abney

            I assumed you would rely only on your own interpretation, that's why I commented.
            But do you ever give more credibility to someone who has more knowledge on the subject?

          • do you ever give more credibility to someone who has more knowledge on the subject?

            When there is a manifest difference in relevant knowledge, I will take that into consideration.

          • Rob Abney

            Do you ever find that manifestation? How about Thomas Aquinas, would you give more credence to his explanations?

          • Do you ever find that manifestation?

            Some scholars manifest more knowledge than others about how the scriptures came into existence.

            How about Thomas Aquinas

            I have read hardly any of his own work. Most of what I know about his thinking, I have learned from Catholic scholars commenting on his work.

            would you give more credence to his explanations?

            When he says in effect, "This is how scripture should be interpreted from the Catholic perspective," I give him a great deal of credence.

          • Rob Abney

            Wow, I didn't know that you had not read any Aquinas.
            Read this page and see what you think about it. http://www.newadvent.org/summa/1002.htm

          • I did not say I had not read any. I said I had read very little.

            Thank you for the link. It will take some time to compose a response, but I will post it when I can.

          • Most of the comments I could make, I have already made in other threads on this forum. I can summarize them thus.

            Aquinas's arguments for God's existence are heavily reliant on certain premises he takes from Aristotle's metaphysics. I believe I am correct in rejecting Aristotle's metaphysics. If that belief is correct, then I correctly infer that Aquinas has failed to prove God's existence.

          • Rob Abney

            but I could not disagree more about judging anyone's reasoning by the conclusions they reach.

            Doug, your presuppositions are showing. Aquinas builds upon some of Aristotle but is not totally dependent upon him, in fact he sometimes contradicts him. So, if you decline to engage Aquinas' proofs because of your anti-Aristotle stance then you are limiting your reasoning in a biased manner.

          • Aquinas builds upon some of Aristotle but is not totally dependent upon him

            I did not say he was totally dependent. I said he was heavily reliant.

            in fact he sometimes contradicts him.

            That would be a relevant observation if I had claimed that Aquinas was assuming Aristotle's infallibility, but I made no such claim.

            if you decline to engage Aquinas' proofs because of your anti-Aristotle stance then you are limiting your reasoning in a biased manner.

            I engaged him enough to see how important some of Aristotle's ideas were to Aquinas's reasoning.

            Here is a challenge for you. Restate Aquinas's Five Ways without including a single premise that conveys an Aristotelian metaphysical principle. If you cannot do that, then what you need to be arguing is that I am mistaken in believing that Aristotle was wrong. It makes no difference if Aquinas sometimes disagreed with Aristotle. Aquinas certainly did agree with some of Aristotle's ideas, and he used those ideas as premises in his argument. If Aristotle was wrong about those ideas, then Aquinas's argument was unsound.

          • Rob Abney

            Here is a challenge for you. Restate Aquinas's Five Ways without including a single premise that conveys an Aristotelian metaphysical principle.

            That's a time consuming challenge for me since I'm a Thomist hobbyist not a professional, I'll keep it in mind as we continue to interact at SN, But I'll address the first way now. Aristotle's understanding of being and essence is different from Aquinas' especially the being and essence of God. Small differences in the beginning make a big difference later.
            "With Aquinas, on the contrary, the being of the thing becomes
            identified with the aspect that is expressed by the term "existence/'
            It is an aspect that stands in sharp contrast with a finite thing's
            nature. Being is present as a nature only in God. Everything else has
            to receive it as an actuality that comes from outside, from an efficient
            cause. In that framework, Aquinas can follow the structure of
            the Aristotelian reasoning from sensible things in their mixture of
            actuality with potentiality to an actuality that has no potentiality
            whatever. But whereas for Aristotle the actuality reached was finite
            form, for Aquinas it was infinite existence. This radical difference
            arose from the way actuality in sensible things was conceived. For
            Aristotle the things were actual through their form. For Aquinas the
            composite of form and matter was made actual by existence. Existence was in this way the ultimate actuality of every finite thing,
            and always distinct from the thing's nature."
            Excerpt from The Cambridge Companion to Aquinas. Article by Joseph Owens beginning on page 38.
            https://the-eye.eu/public/WorldTracker.org/Sociology/Philosophy%20-%20The%20Cambridge%20Companion%20Series/The%20Cambridge%20Companion%20to%20Aquinas.pdf

          • OK, so according to Owens, the premises to which I referred were Aquinas's own, not Aristotle's. I still disagree with those premises, and unless I'm being unreasonable in disagreeing with them, I'm not being unreasonable if I disagree with Aquinas's conclusion.

          • Rob Abney

            What are the premises that you object to?

          • I'm a materialist. I object to the assumption that abstract concepts have any existence independently of our minds.

          • Rob Abney

            From the same journal, "The way to intellective cognition passes from
            sensory cognition through abstraction: the intellect abstracts the intelligible
            content from sense images. Aquinas's frequent reproach to
            the Platonists is that they project our necessarily abstract mode of
            knowing onto the mode of being of things, which leads them to hold
            incorrectly that what is abstracted in the intellect is also " separately
            abstracted from physical things, in reality."
            I think your anti-Aquinas may be rooted elsewhere?

          • You seem to be trying to prove that Aquinas and I don't actually disagree about those premises, but that I think we disagree because I'm misunderstanding him so badly.

            This is from from a philosophy website:

            Moderate Realism is the view that there is no separate realm where universals (or universal concepts) exist, but that they are located in space and time wherever they happen to be manifest. Moderate realism represents a middle ground between Platonic Realism or Extreme Realism (see section above) and the opposite extreme, Nominalism (the position that abstract concepts, general terms or universals have no independent existence, but exist only as names).

            It distinguishes between the thing itself with the way it exists: a thing exists in the mind as a universal, and in reality it exists as an individual. Thus, what our ideas present to us in a universal does not exist outside the mind as a universal, but as an individual. Moderate Realism therefore recognizes both sense knowledge, which presents things in their individuality, and intellectual conceptual knowledge, which presents things in their more abstract nature.

            A similar attempt to bridge the gap between Realism and Nominalism is known as Conceptualism, the doctrine (initiated by Peter Abelard) that universals exist only within the mind and have no external or substantial reality. Modern Conceptualism, as represented by Immanuel Kant, holds that universals have no connection with external things because they are exclusively produced by our a priori mental structures and functions.

            Aristotle espoused a form of Moderate Realism, as did St. Thomas Aquinas, and even some modern philosophers such as the Frenchmen Jacques Maritain (1882 - 1973) and Étienne Gilson (1884 - 1978). (https://www.philosophybasics.com/branch_realism.html#Moderate)

            I am a nominalist. Whatever else he might have been, Aquinas was not a nominalist, and that is the basis on which I reject his conclusions. If you're trying to prove that I'm mistaken, you need to prove that nominalism can't be true, not that I have misunderstood Aquinas.

            I think your anti-Aquinas may be rooted elsewhere?

            What anti-Aquinas? I'm just disagreeing with him about some philosophical concepts. I also disagree with my wife about quite a few things. Does that make me anti-Louise?

          • Rob Abney

            What is it that makes a chair a chair? Is it just because we have named it a chair or are there universal attributes common to all chairs? Would a nominalist consider a stump a chair?

            I'm glad to hear that there is a Mrs. Shaver but I bet she is not a nominalist!

          • I'm glad to hear that there is a Mrs. Shaver but I bet she is not a nominalist!

            There is, and she is not, but that would be my brother's wife, who like him is an evangelical Protestant. My wife kept her maiden name when we got married. As a result, I sometimes get called "Mr. Schmidt."

            My wife was raised Catholic but became an atheist by the time she was an adult. I'm not sure whether she is a nominalist. She is not very interested in serious philosophy, so we don't talk much about it. I doubt she even knows what a nominalist is.

            She volunteered to proofread all my papers while I was in college. Whenever she was done with one of my philosophy papers, she usually said something like, "I didn't understand any of it, but I didn't see any obvious mistakes." (My professors did understand what I wrote, which was all that mattered.)

          • What is it that makes a chair a chair?

            Nothing makes it a chair. The way we use our language makes the word "chair" refer to an object of a certain kind that serves a certain purpose. If an object is of a different kind, then we just don't call it a chair.

            Would a nominalist consider a stump a chair?

            Probably not, but in some situations they might consider it a stool.

          • Rob Abney

            What is the certain "kind" that is found in all chairs?
            What's the difference between a stool and a chair?

          • What is the certain "kind" that is found in all chairs?

            Any assembly of components to which English speakers attach the label "chair."

            What's the difference between a stool and a chair?

            See https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/stool and https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/chair.

          • Rob Abney

            That’s a circular definition, you are simply saying a chair is whatever we call a chair!
            What makes the assembly of components be a chair and not something else?

          • That’s a circular definition

            You didn't ask for a definition. Your question was: "What is the certain "kind" that is found in all chairs?"

            you are simply saying a chair is whatever we call a chair!

            Why should I think otherwise? How could we know if a chair was actually something else? What would it even mean if that were the case?

            What makes the assembly of components be a chair and not something else?

            The use to which the assembly is intended to be put.

          • Rob Abney

            The use to which the assembly is intended to be put.

            Exactly! The teleos of the creation, the purpose that the maker instills into the assembly, the form of a chair.

          • the purpose that the maker instills into the assembly, the form of a chair.

            When human beings make something, they make it for a certain purpose. That purpose exists in the human mind and nowhere else. It dictates the physical shape and arrangement of the thing's components, and English speakers might refer to that shape and arrangement as the thing's form. We can often thus infer the purpose from that form. But the purpose exists only in the mind of the human maker, and it does not get transferred or copied from the mind into the thing that is made.

          • Rob Abney

            Premise 1. When human beings make something, they make it for a certain purpose
            Premise 2. That purpose exists in the human mind and nowhere else
            Premise 3. might refer to that shape and arrangement as the thing's form
            Premise 4. We can often thus infer the purpose from that form
            Conclusion: But the purpose exists only in the mind of the human maker, and it does not get transferred or copied from the mind into the thing that is made.

            Even Louise would say that your conclusion doesn’t follow from your premises.

          • your conclusion doesn’t follow from your premises.

            You seem to have assumed that I intended my statements to constitute an argument. I did not. I intended only a denial of the statement to which I was responding. You made that statement without argument, and so I can deny it without argument.

          • Rob Abney

            Can you make your denial into an argument then?

          • Can you make your denial into an argument then?

            I cannot reword the statement "I don't believe X" so as to turn it into an argument against X.

          • Rob Abney

            Are you saying that X could be true but you just don't believe it yourself?

          • If I say, "X is true, but I don't believe X," then I'm contradicting myself.

            If I say, "X is possibly true, but I don't believe X," then there is no contradiction.

            If I say, "I don't believe X, so X cannot be true," then I am in effect claiming to be infallible.

          • Rob Abney

            Which of your statements do you apply to this previous statement that you made: "But the purpose exists only in the mind of the human maker, and it does not get transferred or copied from the mind into the thing that is made."

          • In my epistemic judgment, the proposition "Purpose exists independently of human minds" is possibly true, but I don't believe it is true.

          • Rob Abney

            Thanks, I didn't think that you would take the infallible option!

          • Ficino

            Since a chair is an artifact, and thus, a secondary substance, it might be better to argue from nature - e.g. what is it that makes a mockingbird a mockingbird or whatever.

          • Rob Abney

            Thanks, but I was following the lead of G.K. Chesterton, "Thus when Mr. H. G. Wells says (as he did somewhere), 'All chairs are quite different', he utters not merely a misstatement, but a contradiction in terms. If all chairs were quite different, you could not call them 'all chairs'.

          • Ficino

            Does Chesterton flesh this out? Because every chair differs from every other chair: it has different matter, different accidents (location, etc.). It sounds as though perhaps Chesterton is taking "quite" as though it does different work than what Wells may have meant that word to do.

            Anyway, I am eager to hear how Chesterton (or you!) would use the chair example in an argument to refute nominalism.

          • Rob Abney

            Elsewhere I saw that Wells referred to each chair as being unique, which is true in terms of accidents but not true in terms of the substantial form which is "chairness". Nominalists deny universals especially form/substantial form, and they say that each chair exists as a name for an associated image in the brain.

          • OMG

            Rob,
            You or Doug may find this enlightening: Cory, Therese Scarpelli. "Rethinking Abstractionism: Aquinas’s Intellectual Light and Some Arabic Sources." Journal of the History of Philosophy, vol. 53 no. 4, 2015, pp. 607-646. Project MUSE, doi:10.1353/hph.2015.0074

          • OMG

            So you've chosen what you want.

          • So you've chosen what you want.

            I believe what I have observed. Whose observations should I believe instead of my own, and why?

          • OMG

            Until the microscope, we could not observe microorganisms. Perhaps you haven't yet discovered a proper instrument with which to view a hidden God.

          • Perhaps you haven't yet discovered a proper instrument with which to view a hidden God.

            Yes, perhaps so. But possibility does not imply probability. I'm not saying there isn't a hidden God. I'm saying I have no good reason to believe there is one.

          • OMG

            If you have no good reason, then you have no reason? Do you realize what you have just said? Or do you believe I have misunderstood what you intended to say.

          • If you have no good reason, then you have no reason?

            I'm not saying that. Apologists have offered plenty of reasons for believing in God, and I think it would be silly of me to say that they are not actual reasons. I don't find them sufficient to justify believing in God. I think reasonable people can disagree about their sufficiency, but not about their existence. There are lots of atheists who do say there is no reason for anyone to believe in God. Those atheists, in my judgment, are not being reasonable.

          • Rob Abney

            It’s more basic than that even, you would have faith if you had a desire to have faith.

          • It’s more basic than that

            You say so. It looks to me as if you're making it more complicated. When I ask "Why should I believe?" the church seems to be admitting that it cannot give me a simple answer.

            you would have faith if you had a desire to have faith.

            Can you explain the difference between wanting faith and wanting to believe?

          • Rob Abney

            I don't understand how I made it more complicated, what is more complicated than having a desire?

            "Why should I believe" is a totally different question than we've been discussing though.

            Wanting faith refers to a desire to accept things that can't be seen, wanting to believe refers to a need to see evidence that should be available.

          • Rob Abney

            I don't understand how I made it more complicated, what is more complicated than having a desire?

            "Why should I believe" is a totally different question than we've been discussing though.

            Wanting faith refers to a desire to accept things that can't be seen, wanting to believe refers to a need to see evidence that should be available.

          • Wanting faith refers to a desire to accept things that can't be seen, wanting to believe refers to a need to see evidence that should be available.

            My willingness to accept something is irrelevant if I have no reason to believe that the thing exists.

            If I can see it, then I have a reason to believe it exists, but if I can't see it, I could have some other reason to believe it. I cannot see Julius Caesar, but I have plenty of good reasons to believe he once existed.

          • Rob Abney

            I'll retract the words "things that can't be seen" and replace with "things that can't be known through reasoning", which was my initial definition of faith.
            If you can use reason to affirm your belief then it is not a matter of faith, for instance the Incarnation is a matter of faith only.

          • If you can use reason to affirm your belief then it is not a matter of faith, for instance the Incarnation is a matter of faith only.

            Now I'm confused. I thought the church endorsed the use of reason to affirm belief in God's existence. But belief in God is also a matter of faith, is it not?

          • Rob Abney

            We can know that God exists through natural reasoning alone, but our natural reasoning is more likely to lead us into error if we don't also have faith.

          • David Nickol

            We can know that God exists through natural reasoning alone . . . .

            Is the claim that every individual can know through natural reasoning that God exists?

          • Rob Abney

            Yes, every individual can but not every individual does.

          • So, our natural reasoning can err, but if we also have faith, then we are protected from error. Am I understanding you correctly?

          • Rob Abney

            If we have faith we are less likely to err but not we can certainly still err.
            And without faith it is much more difficult to correctly reason to the existence of God.

          • I suspect that just about everyone agrees that reason can be exercised either properly or improperly. What the church seems to be saying is that we can determine whether we are reasoning properly by seeing what conclusions we reach.

          • Rob Abney

            Good point. But the conclusion is not arbitrary, it is the result of centuries of proper reasoning by many people, including those who have the highest degree of credibility.

          • We atheists, obviously, have little credibility in a forum like this, but I could not disagree more about judging anyone's reasoning by the conclusions they reach.

          • As an example, rationailsts scholars defended, rationalistically, that The Iliad had to be pure legend, without elements of truth, of historical truth, ince the supernatural was protrayed. But, from the end of the XIX century on, it has been proven that that was not the case.

            What was discovered in the 19th century and afterward was that the city of Troy actually existed and was destroyed by warfare during a period consistent with the narrative of the Iliad. Nothing else about the narrative was proved factual.

            Also, in tha same century, Christ was meant to be a myth for similar academical circles, but since the middle of the XX century, the consensus among historicians is that Christ was, indeed, a real, historical figure.

            The consensus among historians has always supported the historicity of Jesus of Nazareth. A few scholars in late 19th and early 20th century challenged that consensus. They attracted some attention, but almost no converts in academia. And if the consensus has been reinforced since the mid-20th century, it has not happened because of anyone's discovery of previously unknown facts about Christianity's origins.

          • Ficino

            Miguel, I think much of what you say above applies to different beliefs. But 'faith' is a theological virtue. Aquinas says that for faith, two things are required: 1. intellect must be commanded by the will to assent to the truth of faith; the will tends toward obeying divine truth. From this angle, faith is only from God. 2. “credibilia" must be proposed to the person who believes, and this is done through angelic or human intermediaries, ST 1a 111.1 ad 1.

            I think you are equivocating on "faith." A scholar's belief or disbelief in the existence of the city, Troy, that figures in the Iliad is not an instance of that species of belief, the theological virtue, faith, that Doug was talking about.

          • Alexandra

            Innocent and good Catholics will always continue to love and respect God.

            Our relationship to God is the most important one in life. This is true for everyone, whether they know it or not. No randomn priests, whether they commit heinous evil or not, is going to change that.

            Given that you were a former Catholic, a really long time ago, I expect you are already familiar with this parable:

            Mathew 13:24-30
            "[Jesus] proposed another parable to them. “The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off. When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well. The slaves of the householder came to him and said, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where have the weeds come from?’ He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ His slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ He replied, ‘No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until harvest; then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters, “First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for. burning; but gather the wheat into my barn.”"

            The Church is a mystical union of God, not simply a human organization or institution. But there will be weeds among the wheat. But Jesus also assures us, even the gates of Hell shall not prevail against the Church. (Mathew 16:18).

            Pope Francis said: “Jesus is our hope. Nothing—not even evil or death—is able to separate us from the saving power of his love.”
            We are united to Jesus through his Church that he established.

            So evil, even of the worst kind; and hurting an innocent child is evil of the worst kind, will not prevail. God is with us, especially with the innocents amongst us. Love is more powerful than evil.

          • OMG

            Thank you for the loving response. “We are not baptized into the hierarchy; do not receive the cardinals sacramentally; will not spend an eternity in the beatific vision of the pope. Christ is the point.” It says everything I feel, with much more loving pith. - Frank Sheed's quote.

          • Miguel

            Shoe mw one, only one, institution or idea within which, or in the name of whcih, evil hasn't been done, including liberty, democracy and human rights. It is impossible to walk away from everything.

            It wasn't religion which brougth industrial contamination or nuclear weapons, and still many suppor science as ethically superior to religion.

            Besides, it almsot would be a good thing if to end catholic priesthood, or Churh, or the hole religious thing, would end wars or pedophily, because those horrors could be ended comparatively easy. But that wouldn't work in the real world.

            Every where where there are many adults in contact with may children, there are cases of pedophily. That obviously doesn't equates to such horrors having to be accepted, but as far as I know, 75% of pedophilies are relatives or neigbours of the victims.

            Not to speak about pedophily in public schools. That isn't a big scandal because is not as commented in the media as catholic pedophilia, but is a real problem.

            And none can stay away from every source of evil because it is impossible to walk away from everything.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Suchlike did not exist at the time, although it is true that a few decades ago secular psychologists recommended the best action would be to make no big deal about it, and the kids would soon get over it.

          • Mike

            another uncomfortable historical reality swept under the rug

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            But psychology will survive, even as such things are swept into the memory hole.

      • OMG

        Seriously funny first paragraph.

  • Ruben Villasenor

    Possible and impossible both have burdens of proof and need to be demonstrated. Demonstrating one does not affect the other.

    • David Nickol

      I agree, which is why I maintain that "scientifically possible" implies somewhat more than "nothing known at present in natural science precludes the possibility . . . ."

    • Dennis Bonnette

      It is always possible to view possibility from different perspectives.

      In truth, nothing is known to be actually possible unless and until it is actually real. For, no matter how possible something may appear to be "on paper," it may turn out that there is simply no causal agency that can produce it -- making it effectively impossible.

      It is necessary to read this paper in terms of the claims made by Ayala and others that modern genetics prove that a literal Adam and Eve are "scientifically impossible." The contradictory to this claim is demonstrated primarily by showing that the scientific basis for this claim was not valid. Once it is shown to be invalid, then the basis for saying a single hominin mating couple is impossible is removed -- in terms of the context in which the false claim was made.

      Hence, it is not unreasonable in this historical context to say that such a first pair is "scientifically possible." Of course, this does not prove that they are actually possible, since that would require finding the actual pair themselves -- which no one really expects to do -- short of finding them still holding hands beyond the Pearly Gates.

      • Ruben Villasenor

        So in reality you are back to square one which is an unknown. Invalidating the claims by Ayala means they got it wrong, it does not mean it is possible or impossible. You eliminated this one specific method claim. That does not mean it defaults to being possible or that it is not impossible.

        • Jim the Scott

          So what? Ayala got it wrong so you cannot claim science has eliminated monogenesis. It's that simple. Dr. B is not making any greater claim then this from my reading.

          • Ruben Villasenor

            I didn't say science or anyone eliminated anything. If monogenesis is possible it needs to be demonstrated not just asserted or postulated. It is a nice idea but until it can be shown to be possible and tested there is no need to consider it.

          • Jim the Scott

            But from Dr. B's end he is dealing with the people who have claimed it has been proven impossible via science. Taking away that roadblock is a necessary first step. I think he is successful for the most part.

            Of course for us Catholics who are sympathetic to Theistic Evolution the Kemp paper shows biological monogenesis is not absolutely necessary for a theological one. So personally I am indifferent which is ultimately true.

          • Ruben Villasenor

            The first step is demonstrating that monogenesis is possible. If it is not possible then it really does not matter if there is a claim blocking its consideration or not.

          • Jim the Scott

            Actually here is the irony. If it is not possible the Kemp paper (and my link to the aishe website) shows the "scientific impossibility" of biological monogenesis is a non-starter objection. But it is nice to have more options.

            Cheers boss.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            And, I have also published a peer reviewed paper showing precisely that both routes to theological monogenesis constitute alternative or complimentary possibilities.

            https://dialnet.unirioja.es/servlet/articulo?codigo=5244649

    • Ben Champagne

      Please share an example where demonstrating a possibility or impossibility does not affect its opposite.

      • Ruben Villasenor

        Thought about it and yes if something is demonstrated it does affect the opposite. What I should have said is that invalidating one claim is not a demonstration that X is possible or impossible unless that claim is all encompassing and mutually exclusive.

    • Demonstrating one does not affect the other.

      If X is proved impossible, then there can be no proof that it is possible.

      If every attempt to prove that X is impossible has failed, then I think possibility is a reasonable default. What I see happen with some regularity, though, is apologists attempting to infer probability from possibility, i.e.: It could have happened, therefore it did happen.

  • Raymond

    "later hand-axes appeared having a congruent, three-dimensionally symmetrical shape that apodictically demonstrates true human intellection. This, as well as evidence of early controlled use of fire, appears about that time— evincing the first unequivocal presence of the human spiritual soul."

    This reasoning doesn't make sense to me. If 1.4 million years ago primitive man created poorer tools, and .700 thousand years later man created better tools and made use of fire, how does it follow that this demonstrates the presence of a soul? Over that time period, man could easily have figured out how to improve their tools and recognized the value of fire. There doesn't seem to me to be any basis for saying that because man demonstrated cognitive improvement that some supernatural agent ensouled the human race. If there is a connection between the development of intellect and the possession of a soul, do babies born with physical defects that damage their intellect - such that they cannot learn to use tools or understand fire -have souls?

    • Dennis Bonnette

      You have to examine evidence of behavior to see whether it can be explained by purely sentient abilities or whether it requires an intellect. So, the task is to examine the evidence and see when unequivocal signs of intellect are present. The examples I offer appear to fulfill that requirement. Specifically, the three-dimensionally congruent symmetrical stone hand axes that appear about three quarter of a million years ago appear to require that the maker possess an ability to imagine the geometry of the unseen side in order to attain their proper symmetry.

      We know animals can make tools through the use of imagination. I treat these subjects in my book, Origin of the Human Species, and do not try to repeat all that in this short paper.

      Since the intellect is a property of the human soul, whether someone is born with physical or mental defects or loses consciousness or becomes demented in old age is irrelevant to the presence of an intellect.

      • Raymond

        Your last paragraph doesn't answer my question. We aren't talking about people who had intellect and lost it - is seems clear they had souls and would retain them after their intellect failed. If a baby never has the capacity for intellect, does it have a soul? It's sort of a chicken and egg thing - does intellect lead to a soul or does soul lead to an intellect?

        • BCE

          All human persons have a human soul.
          God's intention was that man have a sufficient intellect, he also
          intended man to see(not be blind). However once our parent chose
          to know evil, then it became known. That includes entropy, and imperfections. A blind person, or one with a brain injury or defect
          has a human soul; since they are still a human person.

        • Dennis Bonnette

          We do presume that anyone born of humans is human. Being a human means to have a human soul, as BCE just said below.

          One of the properties of the human soul is to have intellect. The intellect (potential intellect) has the ability to perform intellectual activities. But the actual performance of those activities requires the proper function of the senses as well, including the brain functions on which the senses themselves depend.

          If there is an organic defect, it may not be possible for the intellect to perform its proper acts. That does not demonstrate the absence of intellect -- only the absence of its operation.

          Again, if the child is a child of true humans, we possess the moral certainty that he possesses a human soul and its proper faculties, namely, intellectual and volitional (the will).

  • michael

    Question for everyone here: What would have to happen in order for your o be converted to atheism?

  • Dennis Bonnette

    Since the question of incest appears in some discussion as a side issue on this article, I am posting this comment at the top of the thread. Also, I am doing so because I had posted it earlier in a reply to someone and somehow Disqus appears to have deleted it.

    I claim no special expertise on this question of incest and would point out that it is not an issue intended to be directly addressed by the thesis of my article. Nonetheless, the following considerations occur to me:

    First, we must distinguish between natural law and Church law, since while Church law can never allow what natural law forbids, it can, as positive law, forbid what natural law allows. It appears that Church law allows even first cousins to marry with proper ecclesiastical dispensation.

    Second, incest, as sexual relations between close relatives, is not in the same ethical category as the intrinsically evil sexual sins against nature, such as, masturbation, homosexual acts, and contraception, which directly contradict the natural procreative end of the act.

    Third, it appears that the essential moral objections to incest are (1) potential biological harm to the offspring, and (2) that it may corrupt family relationships.

    Pertaining to the first objection, since we have no real certitude concerning the genetic conditions of our first parents -- some three quarter million years ago or more, there cannot be the certitude that harm would result to the early generations of their offspring.

    Pertaining to the second objection, if we assume that the life spans of Adam and Eve were anywhere as long as is commonly claimed, it is entirely possible that siblings would have been raised so separately chronologically that little danger of corruption of family relationships would occur. Or, perhaps God's providence provided such needed protections.

    Therefore, it appears that the natural law in the case of incest is based primarily on rational principles which, though absolute and objective in themselves, need to be applied relative to the likely circumstances of the medical and social context.

    From these considerations, I can see no absolute objection to Adam and Eve's children marrying, despite later correct and necessary prohibitions of incestuous behavior.

    Edit: Computers are amazing! This comment just reappeared on the thread!

  • >Until very recently, it has been accepted scientific dogma that human beings could not have arisen from a single mating pair of first true humans.

    Why would you all this dogma? It is ridiculous to think that any population that was reduced to two individuals would survive.

    Your piece has discussed no dogma but shown a healthy scientific debate on the size of known human population bottlenecks. You've provided no evidence that there has ever been a population of two, a brief search shows the best candidate for the smallest population is in the tens of thousands.

    It may not be scientifically impossible but it is extremely implausible.

    • Dennis Bonnette

      Your claims about your "brief search" showing a smallest population in the tens of thousands is precisely the kind of popularized claim that makes this, metaphorically speaking, "accepted scientific dogma."

      Your personal claim that it is "ridiculous to think that any population that was reduced to two individuals would survive" is another example of that "dogmatic" thinking.

      That is precisely why this paper was written to show that the very latest models from reputable geneticists show that a hominin single mating pair is possible prior to 500 kya. Possible, not proven -- as the paper repeatedly points out.

      Your saying that there has been "provided no evidence that there has ever been a population of two" is also what the paper repeatedly points out.

      You have said nothing that is not already clearly stated in my article, except for you added claim that such a bottleneck is "extremely implausible," which is not what the latest models show. No such conclusion is referred to in the cited sources.

      • David Nickol

        Abel became a herder of flocks, and Cain a tiller of the ground.

        Wouldn't the occupations of Cain and Abel as well as the shipbuilding feat of Noah be a strong indication that 500 kya is far too early for the first "true" men?

        Also, Ye Olde Statistician says below:

        Tool-making may indicate intelligence, but has little to do with intellect, which is the faculty of forming concepts rather than images. The imagination can produce feats that resemble those of the intellect. Look for evidence of music, mathematics, physics, and other systems of speculative thought.

        If he is correct, would that also not indicate the first "true" men came much later than 500 kya?

        • Dennis Bonnette

          No, on both counts.

          First, I know you know enough about Catholic biblical interpretation to know that Genesis is read as figurative language for the most part. The only parts I know are not so read are the overall statement that God created the world and the theologically necessary doctrine of original sin that entails two literal first parents.

          So depictions of how Cain and Abel earned their livings are irrelevant.

          As to the valid point made by YOS, it is well known that animals can make tools -- starting with the birds nest that is made by someone with a birdbrain.

          While it is obvious that "systems of speculative thought" manifest intellect, intellect can also be discerned in certain sophisticated artifacts, such as those I mention in the article. And they date back more than 500 kya.

      • >that makes this, metaphorically speaking, "accepted scientific dogma."

        But I am not a scientist and this is not a science forum. You accused science of being dogmatic here, I take it you retreat from this characterization?

        >Your personal claim that it is "ridiculous to think that any population that was reduced to two individuals would survive" is another example of that "dogmatic" thinking.

        Not at all. This is an extraordinary claim, the chances of such a small population surviving, especially given how extremely vulnerable humans are in childbearing and childrearing. Humans are social animals we need our groups to be protected. The idea that a human baby could survive with just one defender who would be absent much of the time foraging, is ridiculous.

        You do not have the credentials to accept your claims about what the science of paleo-genetics shows.

        • Dennis Bonnette

          If you insist on nit-picking terms, I said that the term "dogma" was being used metaphorically. As such, there is plenty of evidence on the internet of people speaking "dogmatically" as if a bottleneck of just two is "scientifically impossible."

          As for credentials and the question of whether a bottleneck of just two could survive and prosper, the fact that at least two highly-credentialed geneticists conclude that just such a bottleneck is possible implies that this is not a ridiculous possibility -- or surely they would have pointed it out.

          Moreover, if the hand of divine providence was at work deep in our ancient past, the survival of Adam and Eve's offspring would be easy work to achieve. The bottom line is that we were not there, and so, we do not know. All the article attempts to show is that it is possible that two first true human beings could have been the parents of the entire human race -- and that it does.

          • >whether a bottleneck of just two could survive and prosper, the fact that at least two highly-credentialed geneticists conclude that just such a bottleneck is possible implies that this is not a ridiculous possibility -- or surely they would have pointed it out.

            No, it is a ridiculous idea. Yes it is not scientifically proven impossible for a human to wrestle a polar bear and win, that doesn't make it in any way plausible.

            >Moreover, if the hand of divine providence was at work deep in our ancient past, the survival of Adam and Eve's offspring would be easy work to achieve.

            But this makes the whole idea of placing Adam and Eve within an evolved chain of hominids otherwise subject to nature even more ridiculous. If God is going to intervene, why not just start exactly like it is portrayed in Genesis? And consider the implications of this move for theodicy on the POE.

            >The bottom line is that we were not there, and so, we do not know.

            Sure so given the priors are overwhelming against such a twosome surviving, it is unreasonable to accept the human population was ever just two people.

          • Jim the Scott

            I see no reason why a polar bear I am wrestling can't as Willed by Divine Providence suffer an aneurysm during the fight? That is hardly implausible. Indeed the whole of evolution is a series of "lucky accidents" add that to the classic view of Providence and there you have it.

            If God is going to intervene, why not just start exactly like it is portrayed in Genesis?

            He could have but He is not obligated too. He can create anyway He wants and he can reveal it anyway he wants. Given His omnipotence no way he chooses to create is "hard" for Him. For God 13 billion years of creating or 5000 years is the same effort.

            Need I remind you Theodicy is only for Theistic Personalist " "deities" who are moral agents? Go Classic or go home. That is my Motto.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            What you do not seem to grasp is that the science behind these new models is not ridiculous, but a meticulously worked out genuine possibility. Take a good look at Dr. Joshua Swamidass's extensive analysis here: https://discourse.peacefulscience.org/t/heliocentric-certainty-against-a-bottleneck-of-two/61

            Read through that carefully and then tell me there are no solid scientific underpinnings beneath this new perspective.

            The simple fact is that much of the recent arguments have been about a more recent Adam than 500 kya. So, it was a surprise to all when they looked back further and found that such a bottleneck was not at all impossible -- not proven, but not absurd either. Realize that for a long time, it was simply accepted that Dr. Ayala's "proof" against such a bottleneck was definitive. It is now evident that he made serious errors, as you can see in the Swamidass link I just gave you.

            I do not in this paper address precisely how God created Adam and Eve. That is separate speculation, which I do address at length in my book dealing with the matter. God could have done it literally "from the slime of the earth," if he so chose. Or, do you have a limited preconception of what God is and what he can do? He may also have used an evolutionary scenario, as I also speculate in my book. My book examines whether an evolutionary scenario is reasonable. As I said, we don't know because we were not there.

            That is not the topic of the paper. The main genetic topic has to do with the scientific possibility of a bottleneck of two prior to 500 kya in terms of sound genetics -- and that is the evidence to which I refer you.

            Again, your presumption against the first parents surviving assumes there is no such thing as divine providence -- which means you are merely presuming your atheism.

        • Dennis Bonnette

          >"You do not have the credentials to accept your claims about what the science of paleo-genetics shows."

          I do not like to have to defend my own competence to write on the subjects that I have published on, but you raise a question here that requires an explanation.

          My work in this article on Adam and Eve is interdisciplinary in nature. Virtually no one writing a genuinely interdisciplinary work has credentials proper to every aspect that is treated. It is the nature and the challenge of such works that no one is fully qualified by education to deal with all elements that must be treated.

          My book, Origin of the Human Species -- Third Edition (Sapientia Press, 2014), is also interdisciplinary in character. Just like the present article on Adam and Eve, my book treats of matter proper to philosophy, theology, and natural science: physics, chemistry, biology, genetics, evolution theory, and so forth. My perspective throughout, though, is that of a philosopher -- so that I remain within my credentialed field of competence.

          Nonetheless, in order to treat adequately the interface of the various disciplines, it is necessary to do analysis and make judgments proper to those fields. One way of doing this is to consult various experts in those fields and get their input, or even have them review appropriate sections of the work to make certain that they are handled competently.

          If you read carefully the present article, you will see that I was assisted in writing the science sections by Dr. Ann Gauger, who is a competent geneticist.

          Moreover, if you look at the back cover of my book on human origins, you will see endorsements by both a full professor of biological sciences and an emeritus professor of molecular and cellular biology -- both Ph.D.s at secular universities.

          As I said, no one who writes in interdisciplinary matters is fully credentialed in all the relevant areas. Virtually no one, who writes on evolution, possesses a Ph.D. in evolutionary theory! But chemists, biologists, philosophers, theologians, geneticists, astronomers, and so forth, write on the topic of evolution and its various sub-topics all the time.

          Finally, the claims I make in this article concerning human origins are not merely mine, but are the findings of the various experts in specialized disciplines whom I cite. Moreover, it is the special competence of the field of philosophy to evaluate the epistemic status of the various particular sciences, especially when their findings touch on the interface with other sciences. In the case of both my book and this article, I am making a philosophical analysis of the interface of philosophy, theology, and the various pertinent natural sciences.

  • Dhaniele

    As you would be well aware, back in the 80's they came to the conclusion through the study of mitochondria that all human beings had a common female ancestor going back around 250,000 years. How does that fit into this picture?

    • Dennis Bonnette

      As the article indicates, a quarter million years is much too recent a date to conform to the paleoanthropological evidence regarding aesthetic stone hand axes that must have been made by true human beings -- which artifacts are dated to three-quarters of a million years ago.

      • David Nickol

        I remember being taught in Catholic school a fair amount of "details" about Adam and Eve, a lot of which I believe came from Aquinas. For example, Adam and Eve allegedly possessed preternatural gifts, such as "infused knowledge." (See here for more.) How does that rank as "Catholic teaching"? It is sometimes difficult to know what is authoritative teaching and what is not. I am sure I would have been in serious trouble in elementary school if I had expressed doubts about Limbo, for example, but apparently it has always been theological conjecture.

        • Jim the Scott

          If God can act supernaturally on a hominid to give it a soul so "it" ceases to exist and "he" begins to exist then God should be able to give preternatural gifts to them as well. Thought I would have to consult Ott (that could take me a while to find) to see the level of doctrinal certainty these doctrines have. If they are (De Fide) then they are infallible but I dont' thing most of them are De Fide.

        • Dennis Bonnette

          I think we both know that, while Catholic elementary school may impart a pretty good sense of Catholic teaching, it certainly is limited by the talent of the nuns and teachers who run it.

          But you also link here to Fr. John Hardon, S.J., who is one of the best American theologians -- in fact one who wrote a short, positive review of my human origins book.

          He says this of the doctrinal status of infused knowledge in Adam: "The possession of infused knowledge is held to be common and certain doctrine, though some assign a higher dogmatic note." That would mean is isn't dogma -- as Jim the Scott rightly notes in his comment here.

          In fact, I mention infused knowledge in Adam as one of the praeternatural gifts given to our first parents as taught explicitly by the 1909 Pontifical Biblical Commission

          From what I know, it appears infused knowledge in Adam simply means that God gave him some knowledge of himself, of natural law, and of the laws of nature that Adam did not have to learn by natural means. Hardly a surprising belief, considering that God had to directly intervene in the order of nature in order to create the first true human being.

          • David Nickol

            Thanks for this very complete answer!

    • Jim the Scott

      There is mitochondria "Eve" and Y chromosome "Adam" and some ill informed religious people and anti-Religious people erroneously conclude they are to be identified with Biblical Adam & Eve(they lived tens of thousands of years apart & thus obviously where not mates). Long story short they don't have to be the real ones indeed for all we know the real Adam and Eve's genes could be extinct from the modern human gene pool.

  • Miguel

    But the problem can be that the physical authors of those books, like the Genesis, weren't scientis, but priests; their goal wasn't to make claims about physics or biology, but about faith.

    To my knwoledge, already Origenes remarked that Adam, in hebrew, means "man" in the sense of "mankind". The ethymology of the name of Eve is not known, but it is suppoused to mean "fertility". Saint Hyeronimus, in his prologue to his translation to the book of Genesis, claimed: "In this book, there are as many mysteries as words; and each word hides many.". And, I think in the Second Vatican council, was settled, so to speak, that those texts weren't, at least always, to be taken verbatim.

    In fact, those are jewish books written in hebrew. And there are many homophonies and wordplays in hebrew, which in fact formed the basis for the current -but since when?- understanding in the jewish tradition that there are four levels of reading, or understanding, of those texts, and none of those levels is a literal reading.

    • OMG

      Interesting post. Thank you.

      The New Testament (Luke 12:26) has Jesus referring to the book of Moses as the law. Since the first five books describe 'the law,' Christians took Jesus more or less literally and accepted Moses to have been the author, recognizing that those books contain different styles, implying more than one author. Anyway, Moses was neither scientist nor priest, but a prophet, one who knew and communicated aspects of the divine not known to the average Joe.

      Just as four levels of reading are used in the traditional reading of scripture, Catholics employ four levels (senses) today. One of those is literal. If a literal meaning of Hebrew scripture was not accepted, how would one have understood "In the beginning, God created the earth"? Or why would any Hebrew person (scientist or priest) bother to write or say anything at all? Babel before Babel have been the result. By their nature, words denote as well as connote. Granting that much of Genesis is likely metaphorical, we ought to allow that some may be literal. Else we become close-minded, perhaps at odds with reality. [That may be against the Law.]

      • David Nickol

        If a literal meaning of Hebrew scripture was not accepted, how would one have understood "In the beginning, God created the earth"?

        From the NAB (RevEd):

        Until modern times the first line was always translated, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Several comparable ancient cosmogonies, discovered in recent times, have a “when…then” construction, confirming the translation “when…then” here as well. “When” introduces the pre-creation state and “then” introduces the creative act affecting that state. The traditional translation, “In the beginning,” does not reflect the Hebrew syntax of the clause.

        * [1:2] This verse is parenthetical, describing in three phases the pre-creation state symbolized by the chaos out of which God brings order: “earth,” hidden beneath the encompassing cosmic waters, could not be seen, and thus had no “form”; there was only darkness; turbulent wind swept over the waters. Commencing with the last-named elements (darkness and water), vv. 3–10 describe the rearrangement of this chaos: light is made (first day) and the water is divided into water above and water below the earth so that the earth appears and is no longer “without outline.”

        Genesis 1:1-3 from the Jewish Publication Society Study Bible is translated as follows:

        When God began to create heaven and earth—the earth being unformed and void and a wind from God sweeping over the water—God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.

        A note to verse 2 says:

        This clause describes things just before the process of creation began. To modern people, the opposite of the created order is “nothing,” that is, a vacuum. To the ancients, the opposite of the created order was much worse than “nothing.” It was an active, malevolent force we can best term “chaos.” In this verse, chaos is envisioned as a dark, undifferentiated mass of water.

        • OMG

          Thank you. Literally.

    • Dennis Bonnette

      You are quite right that much of what is written in Genesis may be interpreted figuratively, and recent popes have confirmed this.

      Still, regarding theological monogenism, that is, that there are a set of two literal first parents for the entire human race, is presupposed by the doctrine of Original Sin, clearly taught by St. Paul, affirmed by the Council of Trent in its treatment of Original Sin, taught by Pope Pius XII in Humani Generis, and even confirmed by the present Catechism when it speaks of Original Sin as being a "personal" sin.

      So, while much of Genesis may be figurative, certain essential truths are not -- is also affirmed by the 1909 Biblical Commission. Among these literal truths are the dogma of Original Sin and the doctrine of theological monogenism.

      • David Nickol

        The problem for many of us is that this reading of the Bible is influenced by the "authority" of the Church. If it were not for the dogma of Original Sin as formulated by the Catholic Church in the ways you described, it would seem obvious (particularly in the 21st century) that the story of "first parents" is entirely figurative (at best) and not factual. It seems to me that Pius XII was arguing in Humani Generis that Catholic dogma made it necessary for Catholics to accept as fact elements of the Adam and Eve story that were widely believed to be factual when the dogma of Original Sin was formulated but are highly dubious now.

        While there is a very slight biblical basis for something like Original Sin (based on St. Paul saying that in Adam all sinned), Original Sin as a Catholic dogma is an invention of the Catholic Church. Of course, for those who believe in the authority of the Church, that is entirely legitimate. But for those who don't (including Jews, who have never made anything remotely resembling the Catholic dogma of Original Sin out of the Adam and Eve story, what to Catholics is interpreting the Bible, seems to "non-Catholics" as imposing meanings on a text that are not found in the text itself.

        • David Nickol

          P.S. I don't think there is anything novel or controversial about this. Bible-believing Christians (not just Catholics) regard and interpret the Bible is a totally unique text, differing from any other, and therefore having its own unique set of "rules" for interpretation. So non-Bible-believing individuals can never agree with Bible-believers when it comes to interpreting the Bible. What's more, depending on their beliefs about the Bible, even Bible-believing Christians often cannot agree with one another. For the most obvious example, there are fundamentalists who are appalled that Catholics would treat anything about the story of Adam and Eve as figurative.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            >"If it were not for the dogma of Original Sin as formulated by the Catholic Church in the ways you described, it would seem obvious (particularly in the 21st century) that the story of "first parents" is entirely figurative (at best) and not factual."

            I am not too concerned about debates over how to interpret the Bible in general and Genesis in particular, since I am well aware of the impact certain philosophical presuppositions have had on the thinking of many modern scholars. Certainly, Bultmann is famous for his "demythologizing" the Bible right out of its claim that Jesus rose from the dead!

            Since we are dealing in Genesis with a text that was written a couple millennia ago, but which depicts events that took place maybe three-quarters of a million years ago (according to my speculation), the meaning of that "story" clearly depends on (1) whether you believe it really was inspired by God, (2) what kind of message you think it was designed to deliver, and, most importantly, (3) how much credence you put into the authority interpreting it. In other words, if you actually believe, as do I, that the Catholic Church is the one and only authentic revelation of God, then, of course, you are going to accept the linking of a real Adam to a real Original Sin, which is intrinsically linked to the baptism of every Christian baby.

            That is why the task of my paper is not to defend the teaching of the Catholic Church (and of many other Christian denominations, even today) as being authentically based in Scripture and tradition, but rather to defend that literal reading's rational credibility and scientific possibility as it is presented in the paper itself.

          • Miguel

            The existence of evil is undeniable, and therefore there is an origin for evil. At least in the Eastern Orthodox Church -not a member, just curious- sin is more defined as an unnatural state of humanity, on which it -us- is separated from God; an state from which the performing of evil deeds is basically unavoidable.

            I am not sure, but on the possibility for that understanding to be based on the Greek Fathers of the Church, even if the notion is not mainstream dogma in the catholic church, it must be known, at least by those who know those textes. At least some of the Greek Fathers are also saints in the Catholic Church.

            What I consider problematic in many statements, and attitudes in the Catholic Church, is the tendency to handle matters as a lawyer; with that spirit of "this is the law, this is what has been written on that matter, and the letter, aswell as its meaning or sense, are equally esential." I don't think that works well, specially since scientific revolution, among other movements (which didn't create a better world, is true) shaked the former confidence in the principle of authority.

            So, maybe I would consider benefical a more flexible attitude whn handling certains aspects of the dogma. But sure, on the one hand it would be nearly impossible to reach an agreement on which of them and to which degree. And it is necessary to have a system of reference to which all the members can adhere.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            What you are saying is really, "Why not just ignore the existence of the Catholic Church and its claims to be the sole authentic revelation of God that teaches in the name of God." As Jesus said at the Ascension, "Going therefore, teach ye all nations...." Mt. 28: 19. Douay-Rheims. I think I have accurately depicted the teaching of the Catholic Church on the relevant points regarding Adam and Eve.

            It is not mere legalistic formalism to say that the need for a Redeemer makes sense solely on acceptance of the Christian belief in the initial Fall of Adam and Eve through Original Sin. You can believe whatever else you wish, but that simply is not Catholic belief and teaching. Indeed, until recently virtually all Christian denominations shared this same belief, and many still do.

            My article simply aims to show that such belief is rationally credible and not scientifically impossible -- even today.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            I agree with Miguel in the sense that I've always had a hard time understanding, from a logical and narrative perspective (i.e., setting aside questions of magisterial infallibility), why so much is considered to be at stake in these debates about Adam and Eve.

            I understand that Christ's salvific role only makes sense if we are in need of redemption. But, a modest amount of self-reflection is sufficient to convince me that I am indeed in need of redemption. That need is self-evidently present regardless of what particular series of events it was that put the world in this state. I don't think I need to remember precisely how I came to be thirsty. I just need a drink of water.

            So, if it were possible to set aside questions of infallibility, would it then still matter so much which aspects of the Genesis account (if any) are literally true? Isn't the point in either case that something (who knows exactly what) has gone wrong in the course of human history, and that we are in need of an outside assist in order to deal with it?

          • David Nickol

            from a logical and narrative perspective (i.e., setting aside questions of magisterial infallibility)

            Well, from a logical point of view, if even one "infallible" pronouncement by the Church is in error, the Church is not infallible. Other "infallible" pronouncements are not necessarily in error simply because one is proven to be incorrect, but they certainly can't be accepted as infallible. Once you don't have dogma, it seems to me, you don't have a Catholic Church.

            Absolute proof that the human race did not descend from two and only two parents would probably not bother most Catholics, because most Catholics already do not accept everything that the Church teaches. So these issues are of paramount importance only to those Catholics—"good" Catholics—who accept the idea of dogma and infallibility.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            most Catholics already do not accept everything that the Church teaches. So these issues are of paramount importance only to those Catholics—"good" Catholics —who accept the idea of dogma and infallibility.

            I don't know. Maybe that is mostly true, but I think I have at least one counter-example when I consider my own self. I live in the nether-space in between your "most Catholics" and your '"good" Catholics'. I kinda sorta accept the ideas of dogma and infallibility, in some vague and caveated sense. And yet for all that vagueness, I don't think I am prone to cavalierly dismiss anything that the Church teaches. When I do disagree with Church teaching, I work pretty hard to understand the contours of the disagreement.

            And so then, before I'm going to put in all that hard work to understand a given teaching, I want to understand why it would even matter. It is in that spirit that I am asking my question. I can see why it is important, from a salvific perspective, to recognize the broken-ness of the world that we live in, but I cannot see (and therefore I am asking) why it is important, from a salvific perspective, to subscribe to any particular account of how we ended up in this fallen state.

          • Rob Abney

            why it is important, from a salvific perspective, to subscribe to any particular account of how we ended up in this fallen state.

            Its good to know history because history has a nasty habit of repeating.

          • OMG

            Good explication of perspective.

            I'm not sure if I understood you to say that you do or don't accept that we had a set of first parents who had free will and chose to disobey God's command.

            In any event, what would be the message, the significance for us, if our God of omnipotence developed or evolved his summit of creation--his man created in his image, with whom he desired to communicate love, and on whose behalf he sent his only begotten consubstantial son--from the slime of the earth without His spirit imbued at the same time. It is His spirit, his image which is at issue in our humanity.

            If we have no account of who our parents were or what type of God created them, how many of us would accept love like that? I don't know if my faith would survive. I definitely want to know where I "was" and where I "am" in the family portrait. Who are my parents? I definitely want a mom and a dad, flawed as they may be.

          • OMG

            Catholic Answers culls this from Providentissimus Deus (1893):

            The Catholic Church has always taught that "no real disagreement can exist between the theologian and the scientist provided each keeps within his own limits. . . . If nevertheless there is a disagreement . . . it should be remembered that the sacred writers, or more truly ‘the Spirit of God who spoke through them, did not wish to teach men such truths (as the inner structure of visible objects) which do not help anyone to salvation’; and that, for this reason, rather than trying to provide a scientific exposition of nature, they sometimes describe and treat these matters either in a somewhat figurative language or as the common manner of speech those times required, and indeed still requires nowadays in everyday life, even amongst most learned people" (Leo XIII, Providentissimus Deus 18).

          • OMG

            Unearthed but without time to mine, on first glance I think I may have struck gold: http://www.thomisticevolution.org/disputed-questions/the-historicity-of-adam-and-eve-part-i-theological-data/

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Beware. Fr. Niconar Austriaco is offering fool's gold.

            He is simply supporting polygenism, citing a single word, "populations," found in an International Theological Commission statement that does not even have the status of the Ordinary Magisterium.

            Please read the beginning sections on the doctrine of theological monogenism found in my two peer reviewed articles:

            https://dialnet.unirioja.es/servlet/articulo?codigo=5244649

            and

            https://muse.jhu.edu/article/678131

          • David Nickol

            He is simply supporting polygenism, citing a single word, "populations," found in an International Theological Commission statement that does not even have the status of the Ordinary Magisterium.

            Are you sure you are not rushing to judgment? Fr. Austriaco also says the following:

            The Commission then makes the following theological claim: “Catholic theology affirms that that the emergence of the first members of the human species (whether as individuals or in populations) represents an event that is not susceptible of a purely natural explanation and which can appropriately be attributed to divine intervention” (no. 70, my emphasis). This suggests that both monogenism and certain types of polygenism remain viable theological opinions for Catholic theologians seeking to be faithful to the doctrinal tradition.

            It seems to be pretty much the consensus among those who argue for something very much like a literal Adam and Eve that there would have been no physical distinction between Adam and Eve and their respective parents. From a scientific standpoint, the grandparents of the human race would have been of the same genus and species. The hypothesis that the children of Adam and Eve, as "metaphysical" humans, bred with mere "biological" humans with no human souls, strikes me as closer to polygenism than monogenism (in the sense Pius XII used the words).

            There was this quote from the Commission:

            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” (no. 63).

            I haven't read the two papers you link to yet, but you seem to place the origin of "true humans" (with human, spiritual souls) back prior to 500 kya. So when the commission speaks of the "human species" originating about 150,000 years ago, they are using a designation that is a matter of consensus among scientists. I don't see that scientific designations should be based on when the first of our ancestors received human souls (assuming, as the Commission seems to) that that was what happened.

          • OMG

            I'll defer to Dr. B., but it seems that he explains here: "...an International Theological Commission statement...does not... have the status of the Ordinary Magisterium."

            It seems that his point was to philosophically juxtapose compatibility of science with magisterial theology rather than speculative theology.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            I guess I have to repeat that that Theological Commission is at best merely an advisory group. It does not speak for the Magisterium. If you read my papers that I linked to, you will see that the actual teaching of the Church is different and demands theological monogenism, meaning, just a single first human couple with all true humans descending from them.

            As for Fr. Austriaco, further in the same papers, he writes:
            "First, does the narrative presuppose single or multiple original parents? Neither. It suggests that both possibilities can be reconciled with the theological data because there could either have been one contemporaneous original couple or a handful of original contemporaneous and even related members of a family."
            http://www.thomisticevolution.org/disputed-questions/the-historicity-of-adam-and-eve-part-iv-a-theological-synthesis/

            The above claim cannot be "reconciled with the theological data" as he maintains, because it remains open to "a handful of original contemporaneous and even related members of a family," which is clearly theological polygenism as defined by Piux XII in Humani Generis.

          • OMG

            Thank you, Dr. B., for pointing me to the mother lode. I also recently ordered your book.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            I won't get rich on one book sale, but I thank you for the interest and purchase.

            In all fairness, I looked at other parts of that web site you found on Thomistic evolution and there is much valuable material there for your beneficial mining. Fr. Austriaco is a Dominican priest and an excellent ethician. We just have a little difference regarding monogenism which I know from other of his publications as well.

          • OMG

            You may not be so, but I expect to be enriched.

          • Arthur Jeffries

            It's an excellent website. The primary contributor to the site, Fr. Nicanor Austriaco, is a priest in good standing who has a Ph.D. in Biology, as well as an S.T.L. and S.T.D.

          • OMG

            Please see Dr. B.'s reply to D. Nickol below. It points a few inconsistencies in a few of Fr. Austriaco's sentences. So a bit more precision from the Father is perhaps all that is needed...

          • Rob Abney

            If you refer to those who accept dogma and infallibility as “good” catholics, how do you refer to the ones who don’t?

          • David Nickol

            They are "bad" Catholics. But please note that I am using scare quotes. I had assumed it was clear that I was not taking it upon myself to judge which Catholics actually deserve to be called good or bad.

          • Rob Abney

            Do the scare quotes mean that the terms good and bad mean the opposite of the usual meaning? Or that the terms are someone else's judgments? Or a special sense? Or maybe they were sneer quotes.

          • David Nickol

            Having been an editor for most of my career, I think discussing punctuation can be interesting. However, my use of quotation marks in my comment was by no means out of the ordinary, and I would have expected any literate person to understand what I was saying.

            What I find odd is that you are ignoring the issue Jim and I were discussing, which was the place of dogma in Catholicism. Surely you must have a position on that.

            My point was that it is a very serious matter indeed to doubt or disbelieve even one Catholic dogma. (By the way, I thought Jim gave a good answer, but I am not sure you would agree.) On matters classified as dogma, the Catholic Church doesn't claim to be right 80 percent of the time, or 90 percent of the time, or even 99.9 percent of the time. When it elevates a matter to the status of dogma, it claims certainty 100 percent of the time. I thought you would agree with that.

            Now, exactly what a Catholic is bound to believe when it comes to Adam and Eve and Original Sin, I would not venture to say. But it seems important to Dr. Bonnette to argue that a literal Adam and Eve (parents of the human race) cannot be ruled out by science.

          • OMG

            David - Interesting that you are/were an editor. What would you say to my proofing for you? Morgenbesser post needs some scaring.

          • David Nickol

            Not sure what you mean. Perhaps the whole post should have been in quotes or have been a blockquote, since it was taken word for word from Wikipedia. But since I gave a link to the source within the message itself, I decided to simply reproduce the item.

            Morgenbesser post needs some scaring.

            Proof away, or scare away, or whatever. I thought it was interesting that the term scare quotes was invented by Elizabeth Anscombe, a very important philosopher in her own right as well as Wittgenstein's literary executor.

          • OMG

            You know some stuff!

            The absence of quotes made me wonder whether you wrote for Wikipedia.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            First, as I am sure you realize, my paper was written in light of the Catholic teaching about monogenism -- testing to see whether such teaching is credible and not scientifically impossible.

            I am not a theologian, so accept the following as merely pure speculation, but it occurs to me that one of the effects of Original Sin is the loss of rational control of our lower sentient natures.

            One could understand that after reaching the use of reason and sinning, God might deprive an individual human being of what otherwise should be the natural order of his powers, that is, the dominance of emotions by reason.

            But all mankind suffers this "ontological inversion" of his rational powers and animal appetites -- apparently from birth. This could argue to the "inheritance" of some kind of moral defect by the whole of mankind. Otherwise, why does it affect every human being? (Obviously, I am not speaking of man here as merely a highly evolved animal.)

            If this line of reasoning is correct, then it argues for some sort of initial fall or sin among the first human beings, which has somehow affected all their descendants. That sounds a lot like the Christian doctrine of Original Sin, does it not?

            Then you get into speculation as to whether only some first men sinned and not others? But where is the line of those who did not sin? Did only the sinners have offspring? It would make sense that if there were just two founding members of the human race and they sinned, then all their descendants would constitute the entire human race.

            I realize that this speculation is based on the claim that rational powers must in a purely original human state dominate the lower passions. Yet, since such rational powers are superior in nature to lesser passions, such dominance should reign. In fact, it is argued that the present condition of the human race -- with it propensity to sin, is a sign of the effects of Original Sin. That is why some say today that man is but a drop of reason in a sea of emotion.

            These rambling speculations my not fully answer your question about the need for a Redeemer, but if one can argue that mankind fell as a whole in some sense, then the concept of a need for a universal Redeemer may make more sense. But such thinking seems to comport more with the traditional story of Genesis and the Fall needing a Redeemer for all.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            Insofar as that -- the notion that all of humanity is in the same compromised and insufficient boat together -- is the core, non-negotiable aspect of the Humani Generis teaching on evolution, I have no problem assenting to it. I find it reasonable to affirm that as an insight "seen with the eyes of faith". I also agree with Pius XII's phrasing that "it is in no way apparent" how certain versions of polygenism can be reconciled with this insight of faith.

            I suppose all I really object to is the notion (one that I'm not attributing to you or to the Church) that one should foreclose on, or even de-prioritize, polygenistic lines of inquiry in the study of evolution. I gather that the science is far from settled on this issue, but if the weight of scientific evidence one day leans much more clearly toward polygenism, then so be it. If -- hypothetically -- we arrive one day at an extremely well-supported scientific theory that can "in no way apparent" be reconciled with Humani Generis, then it seems to me we will have to re-examine Human Generis to determine whether it really articulates a non-negotiable objection to polygenism per se, or whether it is more fundamentally a less-specific statement that, as you say, "mankind fell as a whole in some sense".

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Should what you hypothesize occur, it would not mean that Humani Generis was wrong. It would merely mean that Kemp's interbreeding alternative must then be correct. Kemp's hypothesis is perfectly consistent with theological monogenism, meaning that all true human beings would be descendants from a single first couple.

          • Phil Tanny

            "Why not just ignore the existence of the Catholic Church and its claims to be the sole authentic revelation of God that teaches in the name of God."

            Indeed, why not?

            A quick example....

            Jesus the carpenter never showed the slightest interest in the construction of church buildings, and yet Christian denominations around the world have spent billions upon billions of dollars on such projects for centuries, thus wasting money which should have been spent on serving the needy, a subject Jesus did speak to quite frequently and earnestly.

            Why do church leaders still do this to this day? So the clergy will have a pretty stage upon which to perform. Without all the props, the clergy are nothing, so vast resources are invested in the props. That's all there is to it! What we saw clearly in the sex abuse scandal is that clergy are primarily interested in.... the clergy!

            And, while I'm ranting, Jesus politely stuck his finger in the eye of his clergy, which is specifically why they had him killed.

            That is the example set by Jesus, 1) largely ignore the clergy, and 2) seek direct connection with God.

            Ignoring the clergy does not automatically equal ignoring the teachings of Jesus or becoming an atheist or any of that.

            If nothing else, here's yet another reason to ignore the Catholic clergy's claim to be the voice of God. The word "Catholic" doesn't appear in the Bible even once. So if you believe the Bible is the word of God, there's your answer, as inconvenient as it is.

          • OMG

            Time permits only one quick question in response to one of your statements. You say that humanity is in a (as you say) "state from which the performing of evil deeds is basically unavoidable." Is it your contention, then, that persons have no inhibiting power against the performance of evil deeds? I would argue (as would the Catholic Church) that people may partake of grace. Grace, a share of God's life, definitely has the power to strengthen our resolutions to good and to counteract our inclinations to evil.

        • David, well said. And I applaud your patience. Dr. Bonnette has basically bought into the junk science of the Discovery Institute.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Before people start smearing the scientific credentials of my sources in the Adam and Eve article, let me state clearly that Dr. Joshua Swamidass, whom I principally cite, is not to my knowledge even associated with the Discovery Institute. He is not an ID theorist. He is a professor at the Laboratory and Genomic Medicine Division at Washington University in St Louis.

            And anyone who thinks Swamidass has not done a very thorough job of analyzing every relevant angle on this matter should first read through in detail his blog column here:
            https://discourse.peacefulscience.org/t/heliocentric-certainty-against-a-bottleneck-of-two/61

            I wish any reader much patience and careful reading, since the Swamidass research is extremely extensive and technically intricate -- aimed primarily at those with appropriate credentials in the related fields.

            The other scientist is a population geneticist named Dr. Steve Schaffner of the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He, too, is not an ID theorist.

            So, let us be reasonable and not dismiss respectable science with superficial and false name calling.

          • OMG

            You may as well try gagging yourself with a spoon in your attempt to discredit Dr. B.'s buying any junk science. Check out the ideological claims of Swamidass from WUSL's top-ranked School of Medicine to see who buys or peddles junk. It ain't Dr. Swamidass, and it ain't Dr. B. who peddles junk. So if you know something about Discovery Institute, why don't you air your knowledge here? Are you a scientist? A philosopher? Oh, I see, you write, just like the rest of us.

          • BTS

            David's comments are always enlightening and clear. I will often skip long portions of discussions just to read his contributions. Keep up the good work.

      • OMG

        Here St. Thomas cites St. Gregory on the sense of scripture: “Holy Writ by the manner of its speech transcends every science, because in one and the same sentence, while it describes a fact, it reveals a mystery.”

        Also, “The author of Holy Writ is God, in whose power it is to signify His meaning, not by words only (as man also can do), but also by things themselves. So, whereas in every other science things are signified by words, this science has the property, that the things signified by the words have themselves also a signification.” –Summa Theologiae, Ia Q. 1, A. 10.

      • Miguel

        Certainly, the author or authors of the book of Genesis intended, at the very least the creation of the world by God to be understood literaly, I have to concede that. Nevertheless, I still think that they -or he (or more likely a chain of authors througouth a certain amount of time? That woulnd't necessarily be uncompatible with divine inspiration)- who wrote were "jumping", I would dare to say poethically in their usage of the language, when speaking of Adam, between the singular -personal name- sense of the term, and its original sense -a word to say "mankind".

        Obviously, this next proporsal has zero chances to be accepted, but possibly they didn't even pretended to say that it was necessarily a single person who commited that first sin, but the whole group. That would altere the "communal" condition of the sin. That would, indeed, render quite methaphorical the claim about the forbiden fruit -and I think it is necessary to take as an image that the problem was to achieve knowledge (thet tree wans't banned for whimsical reasons, but because it provided a certain "knowledge" which was inadecuate)- possibly meaning that the reaching of a certain level of awareness implies a certain risk of fall.

        • Dennis Bonnette

          I am not a scripture scholar. I don't pretend to be one. I was already aware of some of the points you make above.

          What I said above still describes the position of the Catholic Church (and many other Christian denominations) regarding the reality of a literal set of first parents for the entire human race, Adam and Eve.

          Many today have abandoned that doctrine because they think that evolutionary theory and the findings of modern science do not comport with it. The point of my article is to show that such concerns may not be necessary.

          • Miguel

            Well, I am neither a scripture scholar. I cannot say that there weren't two real, physical, Adam and Eve. As a matter of fact, before y read the article, I thought it was going to use as an argument the mythocondrial Eve and the "Y" chromosome Adam, who are claimed to be real, but not contemporaneous.

            That is one of the reason why I tried to present the ideas as proposals, hypothesis, not facts necessarily to be accepted. And one of those proposals was precisely that more than one meaning could be coexisting at the same time in these texts.

            Because I am convinced these texts are anything but simple; they can have a literal level of reading, but by no means that exhausts them of meaning. If I am right about that, such a fact could, indeed, be confusing for some believers, but also could be a good defense against some of the conceptual attacks from disbelievers or believers with drastically different doctrines. Why? Simply, because the Church could say that the literal understanding is only a part of what the scriptures say.

            Take, for instance, the massacres described in the Old Testament; they hurt modern sensibility. But the multiple meaning condition can help a lot to diminish that scandal.

            Returning to the theme of the article, science, even if many times correcting itself -a situation whcih can provide credibility to it from the point of view of intelectual honesty, but which also should bring to its supporters to more humbleness when using it against faith- cannot be ignored, not only for gettin many things right, but also for being of public -but not necessarily accurate knowledge- so I think it could be useful to mploy those tools of scriptures understanding which tell us about a much more complex landscape when reading and understanding them.

          • Phil Tanny

            What do the Biblical Commissions have to say about how we got from Adam and Eve to Cain and Abel's children, and from there everyone else?

            Adam. And Eve. Then Cain and Abel. One woman in the house. Three men. What happened after that?

            What kind of fancy talk gymnastics do the Biblical Commissions use to get around this one?

  • michael

    Matthew 24:36 The Bible says ONLY The fFather knows when The Final Judgement is. How then is it that TheHoly Spirit and Divine Nature of The Son also know, according to Augustine? Does Augustine not see the word "ONLY" Matthew 24:36?

    • Miguel

      Maybe because the Fahter, the Holy Spirit and the Divine Nature of Christ are only one being, although three Divine Persons. Ok, ok; Christ is the person, not his Divine Nature. But still, as much as they are truly three different persons, the are truly one being, and therefore it is possible for what is divine in al three of them to achieve that kowledge.

      Besides, in that fragment Jesus doens't explicitly mentions the Holy Spirit in the list of persons not knowing that date...

      I admit the tone of this answer sounds joking, even if the matter is serious and I mean my asnwer truly; specially the first paragraph. One of the problems is that the scriptures can be complicated to understand some times, specially about their limits. Another problem here could be that, faced by the theologicians in the fisrt centuries of Christianity on the real relation between Jesus Christ and the Father, and that quote was one of the sources of problems:

      If Christ is as divine in nature as the Father, how could the Christ not to know things as the date for the end of the physical world? If memory serves me well, the answer accepted was that the human nature of the person of the Christ didn't know, but that once in Heaven, the divine nature of the Christ recovered His total divinity; and every knowledge involved in that divine nature.

      And, just because that matter is fundamental to me, I want to present, as an explanation or justification for the Holy Trinity and those characteristics atribuited to it as the one mentioned above, that, for conductist psychology, love, as uncommon and difficult as it can be, exists and unites persons until making them a single being, but in that single being every one keep being the unique, differentiated person that he or she is.

      And, as far as I know, it has been accepted that those who love each other intensely enough -wether if spouses, siblings or parents and children- under very intense circunstancies can actually feel what is happening to the other. And since John, in the first letter, chapter 4th verse 8th claims that God is love, it makes sense for God to be one being and more than one person, and for all those persons to be different from eacho other, and to reach a degree of intimacy and mutual knowledge as to know whatever the other two of them can know.

      • michael

        there is no such thing as extrasensory perception. This post is baloney.

        • Miguel

          To my knowledge, that people with intense love bounds can feel each other from afar, is no longer controversial. Is more common among siblings, or between partens and ofsprings, than couples, and quite possibly not experienced by every one fitting the deffinition, but real.

          • OMG

            I had no idea that my father was dying. One night at 3-4 AM, I awoke in a sweat from a dream where I stood in front of the fuse box at my parents' home, perplexed, not knowing how to reset a failing fuse and puzzled too, why I and not my handy father was not present to fix it. An hour or so later my brother phoned to say that my father had succumbed to cardiac arrest an hour or so prior.

          • Miguel

            Thanks for sharing, OMG.

  • W2.718281828stl2.718281828y

    Since mere matter can never evolve into spirit, true man must have appeared instantly at some point —regardless of the misreading of fossil tool evidence by Neo-Darwinians

    That's not science at all.

    • Dennis Bonnette

      Of course not, but it is a philosophical judgment applied to the empirical data. Science itself is in no position to pass judgment on a philosophical judgment without itself stepping beyond the bounds of its own competence.

      • W2.718281828stl2.718281828y

        It's a philosophical judgment based on nothing at all, which is attempting to show some aspect of science is incorrect. It's trying to play in science's yard, without justification.

        • Dennis Bonnette

          You misunderstand. This philosophical judgment does not say that some aspect of science is wrong.

          What it says is that, at some point in time, the first true human beings appeared, marked by possession of intellective, spiritual souls. This judgment says nothing that science can either detect or contradict. It is a purely philosophical inference based on the appearance of artifacts which are philosophically interpreted as requiring the spiritual faculty of intellect.

          What scientist claims to be able to detect or disprove the existence of spiritual faculties -- and to do so without himself making philosophical claims?

          • W2.718281828stl2.718281828y

            This philosophical judgment does not say that some aspect of science is wrong.

            Sure it does:
            "regardless of the misreading of fossil tool evidence by Neo-Darwinians."

            Right there.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            It is a philosophical misreading. You are grabbing a line out of context. Earlier I had said, "Neo-Darwinists infer that all this improvement can be explained in naturalistic terms."

            Naturalism is a philosophical position -- one that relies heavily on science, but which is not itself science.

            Reread the three or so paragraphs in context. You will see that mine is a philosophical argument. Scientists can collect fossils. But the interpretation given in terms of the nature of the agents of artifacts entails judgments that often go beyond mere observation and entail philosophical assumptions.

            If you think I am contradicting science, go ahead. What matters is that the philosophical arguments in that section of the article stand on their own merits. If you wish to refute them, you have to do so in similar philosophical terms. Just saying science says something different does not address the philosophical issues involved.

          • W2.718281828stl2.718281828y

            Earlier I had said, "Neo-Darwinists infer that all this improvement can be explained in naturalistic terms."

            And you are trying to assert, through your completely unverified and unverifiable supernatural assertions, that they're wrong.

            Which means you're making assertions about science.

            But the interpretation given in terms of the nature of the agents of artifacts entails judgments that often go beyond mere observation and entail philosophical assumptions.

            You could justify the same sort of objections to orbital mechanics by going back to the old idea that angels are the ones propelling planets in their orbits.

            Just saying science says something different does not address the philosophical issues involved.

            And I find it just as compelling as the argument that angels move planets around.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Frankly, the real problem is that you appear to have absolutely no knowledge of the philosophical underpinnings of my analysis in that section of my paper. I give some references to my own book there, but more importantly there is an entire science called philosophical psychology as well as its attendant metaphysics with which you are obviously totally unfamiliar.

            In light of the above, there is little purpose in us continuing to make counter-assertions here. Those who know the philosophical science to which I refer will readily grasp what I am talking about in this section. Others, like yourself, clearly will not.

          • W2.718281828stl2.718281828y

            Frankly, the real problem is that you appear to have absolutely no knowledge of the philosophical underpinnings of my analysis in that section of my paper.

            Just don't make "scientific" pronouncements based on it and I'll ignore it.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            The problem is that philosophy has sciences within its discipline just as does natural science. It is just that philosophy is not experimental science. Both natural and philosophical sciences are empirical, which is why both can make judgments within their own proper domain about natural world truths. Neither domain is competent outside its own field, although philosophy is regulative of the epistemic status of the various natural sciences, since no natural science judges its own first principles. That is exactly why philosophy can make a statement such as that there must have been a first true human being that was essentially superior to prior subhuman hominins.

          • W2.718281828stl2.718281828y

            That is exactly why philosophy can make a statement such as that there must have been a first true human being that was essentially superior to prior subhuman hominins.

            No it can't, not validly. You're just making up "facts" out of whole cloth.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Please explain then the facts that you allege I am making up and why they are philosophically and scientifically incorrect. Demonstrate that you understand the underlying philosophical issues and arguments I am making in that section and why they are not coherent and demonstrative. Also explain why the conclusion I draw is not applicable to the scientific evidence.

          • W2.718281828stl2.718281828y

            Please explain then the facts that you allege I am making up

            The one I quoted:
            "there must have been a first true human being that was essentially superior to prior subhuman hominins."

            and why they are philosophically and scientifically incorrect.

            I don't care about "philosophically incorrect", but you haven't done anything to show it's scientifically correct.

            Demonstrate that you understand the underlying philosophical issues and arguments I am making in that section

            I understand that you make up "facts" out of whole cloth.

            Also explain why the conclusion I draw is not applicable to the scientific evidence.

            Because you aren't following the scientific method. What evidence do you have that your statement is correct? What could falsify your claim? What predictions does it make?

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Thank you for revealing that you have no understanding of the philosophical issues underlying this entire passage and that you have no desire to do so.

            Moreover, thank you for showing that your only philosophical commitment is to the philosophy of scientism and that you do not even realize that this is itself a philosophical commitment to the total assumption that natural science is the only meaningful way in which to rationally understand reality.

            Now please show me how you empirically verify your assumption that the only meaningful statements are those which can be empirically verified. How do you empirically falsify this claim?

          • W2.718281828stl2.718281828y

            Thank you for revealing that you have no understanding of the philosophical issues underlying this entire passage and that you have no desire to do so.

            You can't make up your own pet philosophical issues and try to apply it to scientific fields.

            Moreover, thank you for showing that your only philosophical commitment is to the philosophy of scientism

            As opposed to just-making-up-crapism?

            you do not even realize that this is itself a philosophical commitment to the total assumption that natural science is the only meaningful way in which to rationally understand reality.

            You're the one making up dogmatic statements like "Since mere matter can never evolve into spirit" with NO evidence for any of it, or even the existence of "spirit".

            Now please show me how you empirically verify your assumption that the only meaningful statements are those which can be empirically verified.

            I haven't claimed that -- but you are making up all kinds of things, like the existence of "spirit" and your unsupported assertion that mere matter can never evolve into it.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            You may not have explicitly claimed the principle of empirical verification, but you are clearly operating as if it is your sole criterion for truth -- and this is your own form of dogmatism.

            Since you do not even seem to realize that you have embraced a particular philosophical position, which itself requires an explanation you cannot verify in an experimental setting, there is no reason for me to continue this dialogue.

            Thank you for your discussion.

          • W2.718281828stl2.718281828y

            You may not have explicitly claimed the principle of empirical verification, but you are clearly operating as if it is your sole criterion for truth -- and this is your own form of dogmatism.

            Oh dear, I don't believe things like "spirit" exist without sufficient evidence.

            Since you do not even seem to realize that you have embraced a particular philosophical position

            I'm not going to let you construct a straw man around me.

            which itself requires an explanation you cannot verify in an experimental setting, there is no reason for me to continue this dialogue.

            Just don't try to apply or compare your imaginary claptrap to actual science.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            You just got the last word.

  • DLink

    Since the Adam and Eve narrative is religious and precedes Darwinian evolutionary theory, it is probably best to acknowledge that we do not know the exact details of humanity's origin as inspired by God to the writer of Genesis. And since new evidence is continually being presented to the scientific community regarding early humans and human like beings, a bit of restraint would be called for here also. The students of Darwin made their first, and probably most significant mistake, by thinking that they had all the answers when they didn't even have a complete understanding of the work of Gregor Mendel which would have to be melded with Darwin for even a basic theory on species evolution. This article is interesting and the comments even more so but they more illustrate what we don't know with certainty more that the reverse.

    • David Nickol

      The students of Darwin made their first, and probably most significant mistake, by thinking that they had all the answers . . . .

      I am not sure what your intention is here—to somehow "throw shade" on early Darwinians? Darwin's own theory of how adaptive modifications arose in populations and how they were transmitted to future generations sounds like nonsense today and included the inheritance of acquired characteristics. But Darwin's basic idea of evolution (natural selection) is still the basis for all of the life sciences today. It is foolish to belittle him or his early followers for not having worked out the next 150 years worth of developments in the field. Nor do I think there is any substance to the charge that "they" (whomever you are referring to, if anyone) thought they had all the answers.

      There are powerful religious reasons to believe in Adam and Eve as our "first parents," but were it not for Christian dogma, I doubt that scientists would entertain the possibility or try to prove it wrong.

      • DLink

        Of course I was not referring to all all adherents of Darwin's posits, only those scientists who tried use use them to discredit religious belief. Lack of space prohibited listing all the subsets of Darwin's followers who have attempted to mold them for their own purposes. They range from racialists, to Lysenkoists to Atheists and all sorts in between. In any event, trying to force a unified theory in this area is probably not going to convince those with personally held strong opinions.

  • Dennis Bonnette

    Some readers of Strange Notions might be interested to know that it just got picked up by the National Catholic Register online paper:

    http://www.ncregister.com/blog/tito-edwards/the-scientific-possibility-of-adam-and-eve-a-popular-atheist-meme-gets-debu

  • SUSAN ANN ELLIOTT

    In my opinion the story of our creation perhaps is each "ADAM has his own EVE", substance relevant "the pair's of each animals from Noahs Crusade. Seemingly enough that theory would explain the FLESH and its' need to rub up on a mate...the soul could be searching for its rib portion in a sense and so that by the way could take many generations to reunite with your original flame, in that the perfect child as Jesus like could be born if the elements of Christ has been exercised within the family lines. (Of course this time hopefully we would not repeat the SIN at the Cross.)

  • Vince

    But there's more to it than just the allelic diversity. There's the shared genetic "mistakes" (endogenous retroviruses, pseudogenes, etc.) between humans and apes. If Adam and Eve were specially created with a "perfect" genome this virtually forces the interbreeding scenario.

    • David Nickol

      I can't bear to read through all the arguments again, but I don't think the idea of Adam and Eve having a perfect genome is in any way necessary to the "first parents" argument. I can't see how there could have been two "first parents" of the human race, but conceding that somehow there were, positing perfect genomes seems entirely unnecessary. I don't even know what a "perfect" human genome could be.

      • Dennis Bonnette

        What you are saying is what most geneticists have been echoing for the last many years. But the whole point of the article is that Dr. Swamidass has found a point in time in which a bottleneck of two could well have appeared. But the key is that you have to go back more than five hundred thousand years to find that point -- which is far earlier than most people want to go.

        • Sample1

          Respectfully, I see a distinction between:

          A. A bottleneck of two 500kya cannot be excluded
          B. A bottleneck of two 500kya could well have happened

          You’ve claimed a literal Adam and Eve is scientifically possible. Are you advocating the “appeal to possibility” fallacy:

          X is possible
          X is true

          If you are, it’s game over for me. But, I don’t think you are. So if it’s not that what do we have?

          What do you mean by saying A&E is possible? For it to be possible, we need evidence. What we have though is evidence of an absence. For your claim to hold you must assert that evidence can never be excluded; that is not demonstrated. Or, you must procede unscientifically and value possibility more than probability. Something logic or philosophy may do, but science does not.

          I think agnosticism, neither possibility nor impossibility, on the two-human bottleneck hypothetical is, currently, the only rational conclusion available.

          But an agnostic conclusion doesn’t sound as sexy as, “therefore, a literal Adam and Eve is scientifically possible.” Maybe not, but it’s an accurate statement of scientific caution where probability is valued more than possibility. A proper understanding of science is required, just as you claim proper understandings of philosophy and religion are required.

          Mike
          Edit done.

          • BCE

            I think the Adam and Eve narrative is of interest to anti-theists because it gives them a premise: if this is not true, then the bible is not the inspired word(of God).

            Instead it is remarkable.
            It illuminates, that although the Genesis author knew there were many thousands of people, living in far off places, with varied traits, he
            non-the-less deduced they were of one family(a single species).

            That what some argue (like Dawkins), is that mutations(that are inheritable) happen to individuals(while not creating a new species).
            There is still a nexus; a connection back to that mutation.

            That while the OT author knew humans numbered in the hundreds of thousands, he still deduced the first humans began as a small isolated population.
            That's remarkable since not only do mutation begin with individuals, but
            need isolation to significantly effect both gene and pheno-type.

            That a city of millions(like New York ) can have * the first baby born at 12am Jan 1st*
            of course this is not connected to species but to time.
            It illuminates how time itself(a single moment) defines an eternal change in relationship,like a son to its father, and to all else that exists.

            That they were created man and women.
            this may seem ridiculously obvious.
            Yet only in recent time did Fisher define the fact that in humans
            (at birth) the sex ratio is near 1:1 and adjusts to maintain a 1:1.
            And that Hamilton(Dawkins and others ) recognize that altruism
            is reinforced in humans by the 1:1 mutual care of biologic offspring.

            There's ways the Genesis narrative can have relevance to modern ideas!

          • David Nickol

            I think the Adam and Eve narrative is of interest to anti-theists because it gives them a premise: if this is not true, then the bible is not the inspired word(of God).

            I don't think most "anti-theists" feel that it is necessary to prove that the Bible is not the inspired word of God!

            By the way, what is it with "anti-theist" becoming the new designation for "atheist" here? And if it makes sense, are we supposed to call the theists "pro-theists"? I think many "pro-theists" here see SN not as a site for dialog between Catholics and atheists, but rather as a battle between good and evil.

            But what do you mean when you speak of "the Adam and Eve narrative" as true? Even the Catechism admits it is in "figurative language." Was there really a tree of life, a tree of knowledge of good and evil, and a talking serpent?

            Note that Genesis is a compilation of at least two creation stories. In Genesis 1 we have the seven days of creation, with animals being created first on the sixth day and human beings (not Adam and Eve) then created as God's final act of creation. In the second account (Genesis 2), God creates a single man, declares it is not good for him to be alone, creates all the animals, and then creates Eve.

            Both accounts can't be right, can they? Why would the inspired word of God begin with two accounts that contradict each other?

          • Phil Tanny

            I think many "pro-theists" here see SN not as a site for dialog between
            Catholics and atheists, but rather as a battle between good and evil.

            Regrettably, yes. That said, some, even many, is not all.

            If the true purpose of this site was dialog between Catholics and atheists the effort would have been made to have ownership of the site not reside with either party. Or at least an editor could have been hired with no stake in any outcome other than quality content.

            Catholics love to say the word "dialog" and they are often quite sincere, but what they really mean by dialog is they are the spiritual parent, we are the spiritual children. I've been doing this for a couple decades now, and whenever you tinker with that formula too much the ban button typically comes in to the picture.

            But, to be fair, it's not that different on atheist sites. I've been banned from too many of them to count.

            One Catholic editor put it most concisely when she called it "the tribal nature of the Net".

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Of course, I am not committing an "appeal to possibility" fallacy to claim that scientific evidence exists of a literal Adam and Eve.

            On the other hand, I think you are imposing a definition of "scientific possibility" that is not universally accepted.

            >"For it to be possible, we need evidence."

            Evidence of what? Possibility or probability? You insist it be one of probability. But that is not what the word "possibility" means.

            In point of fact, others use the phrase, "scientific possibility," just as I did -- that is, as something that is logically possible within the realm of science. In fact, here is an example that is far "less possible" than the one in genetics to which my article refers:
            http://whatculture.com/tv/5-doctor-who-concepts-that-are-scientifically-possible-and-5-that-are-impossible

            Given that the many claims in the past against the possibility of a two hominin bottleneck are based on genetic computer modeling, the two new computer models by Drs. Swamidass and Schaffner that shows such a bottleneck is actually possible prior to 500k ago is just as much evidence as prior assumptions against such a possibility.

            >"I think agnosticism, neither possibility nor impossibility, on the two-human bottleneck hypothetical is, currently, the only rational conclusion available."

            Notice here that you step outside your own terminology when you refer to a "rational" conclusion. Is that purely scientific usage of the term, "rational"? I don't think so. I can argue that the only rational conclusion possible is obtained by combining what we know from genetic possibility with theological fact, namely, the logical requirement of Christianity for an original sin requiring actual persons to commit it.

            You don't share the faith commitment of Christians on this point, but bear in mind that Christians propose a LOT of evidence for their belief system. You reject the evidence, but it is still "evidence." Does this not count as a basis for reaching a "rational" conclusion about scientific possibility?

            I submit that you are simply imposing a politically correct usage for the phrase, "scientifically possible," which is not shared even by all scientists, as is evident from the link I gave you above.

            Finally, here is another example of speculation about the Higgs boson in which the term, "possibility," in a scientific context, certainly does not equate to evidence of "probability" as you seem to demand it must:

            https://www.extremetech.com/extreme/95097-what-does-a-higgsless-universe-mean-for-science

          • Sample1

            Let’s try this. I still disagree. Not showing they can’t exclude it does not necessarily mean it is therefore possible.

            Mike

          • Dennis Bonnette

            For decades, since Francisco Ayala published his now famous study claiming Adam and Eve were impossible genetically, many scientists have been telling their hearers that Adam and Eve are "scientifically impossible," based on the claim that a bottleneck of just two hominins could never have occurred. These claims frequently focused on events in relatively more recent times, such as 140,000 years ago.

            That is why Swamidass and Schaffner's two separate new computer models showing that a hominin bottleneck over 500,000 years ago was not genetically impossible was news. Showing that present genetic diversity could arise from a single mating pair of hominins, as long as it was over half a million years ago, was the work of the same kind of computer modeling employed to disprove such a pair's possibility by Ayala and others using both Ayala's method and other genetic methods of reaching the same conclusion.

            If you would follow the link in the article to Swamidass's blog and read his careful analysis of all the various lines of objection to such a single pair, you will see how thorough his investigation really is and why its conclusion now reverses the claim that Adam and Eve are "scientifically impossible."

            One might argue that mere logic demands that what is not scientifically impossible must be scientifically possible!

            It seems to me that by the time you find the kind of direct evidence that would allow you to admit that Adam and Eve are "scientifically possible," you would have had to have actually found proof of their existence! This would be to confuse possibility with certitude, not mere probability. Can you show me how they could be merely probable, but not actual? Remember, if Swamidass is correct, prior to half a million years ago, there is no good scientific reason to say they did not exist. For, if they pass all the tests of overcoming genetic arguments against them, their possibility is scientifically proven.

            Now you could use another sense of "possibility" and say they were not possible because nothing ever caused them to exist. That is possible. But it is not how we normally use the word, "possible."

          • Sample1

            From your article link, Swamidass says:

            This is probably correct [Ayala’s work], in that there is no evidence for a bottleneck that I can see. But he [Ayala] means here to mean that a bottleneck has not happened: i.e. there is evidence against a bottleneck in the last several million years. That may be incorrect-Swamidass.

            “May be incorrect” is not evidence for possibility. It’s an assertion. Uncertainty is not necessarily possibility, it is just uncertainty. A gap in knowledge. Swamidass gives no evidence. He does ask others to replicate Ayala’s work, however.

            One might argue that mere logic demands that what is not scientifically impossible must be scientifically possible!

            Swamidass has not shown either! He has only claimed that one paper (Ayala’s) is not enough for him to make a confident claim against a single generation bottleneck. Despite saying it may be correct! Despite not providing contrary evidence.

            This would be to confuse possibility with certitude, not mere probability.

            I am not confused about the distinctions between possibility and probability. :-)

            Mike
            Edit done.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            That column from Swamidass's blog is extremely long and took me hours to read in full the first time. I am not going through it again right now. But I think you can find some texts there also that are more favorable to my position.

            Here is such a text: “A very recent bottleneck (say 50 kya) seems impossible, but a more ancient bottleneck of our ancestors (if very brief) at 500 kya might be consistent with the evidence. Sometime before 500 kya, this couple would not be Homo sapiens, but they might (exact dates debatable) be the common ancestor of Homo sapiens, Denisovans, and Neanderthals.”

            Clearly, you are not convinced that the matter is an open question. I am convinced it is. What is clear is that Swamidass and also Schaffner have a new take on this question and that, contrary to your hint about Swamidass being Adam-biased, there is a legitimate basis for scientific discussion of this matter.

            I am sure we won't come to agreement on the genetics here. I will also admit that the certitude of Adam's existence comes from my own conviction of the truth of Christian revelation. I do not claim it comes from science. But I also do not believe that science has closed the door to such conviction.

            Now you will claim that all this comes down to blind belief in Christianity. But it depends on one's perspective. I would say that Christian belief is hardly blind, but that opens an infinite can of worms between us.

            I would also say that philosophically God's existence and the demonstrability of the human spiritual soul's existence makes the need for a first true human being with spiritual soul a philosophical necessity.

            That to me relegates the exact scientific status of Adam a somewhat secondary matter, even though the work of the geneticists I have cited open the "scientific possibility" of Adam's existence to new light. It is not a matter of just whistling in the dark -- although, of course, you will feel that it is.

          • Sample1

            I’ll look into it more. Neither of us are professional geneticists.

            Ultimately I am more interested in how you try to connect, in your mind, the three perspectives of theology, philosophy and natural science into a coherent whole.

            But first, I’ll read more about Swamidass.

            Mike

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Look at paragraph six of my Conclusion. That is where I sketch the connection between the three diverse disciplines. It is like solving an equation with three variables. They all must be right at once to get a credible result. I see some address one, or even two, of the three -- but no one seems to address all three at once.

            That is why I place Adam back at least three-quarters of a million years, since we have signs of true intellect that far back. More recent candidates are nonstarters. Moreover, the first true man (with spiritual soul) must be Adam, for theological reasons. Several angles must correlate at once. I realize that you don't expect them to correlate, just as you don't think that God is a coherent concept.

            Conversely, I would suggest that because these paleoanthropological-Adam concepts do correlate and the concept of God is coherent that this is evidence of the truth of the doctrines. :)

          • David Nickol

            Of course placing Adam and Eve a half million years ago wreaks havoc on the rest of the story. Genesis 4:2 says,

            Next she [Eve] gave birth to his brother Abel. Abel became a herder of flocks, and Cain a tiller of the ground.

            In 500 thousand B.C., agriculture and the domestication of animals lay about 480 thousand years in the future. Cain is said to have founded a city (Enoch). There were no cities on earth before (very roughly) ten thousand years ago.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            This would be problematic for someone who reads Genesis literally, but Catholics need not do so. The only things we take literally were defined (not dogmatically) by the Biblical Commission and most pertain to Adam and original sin.

            So, none of this bothers me at all.

          • David Nickol

            The only things we take literally were defined (not dogmatically) by the Biblical Commission and most pertain to Adam and original sin.

            Here's an interesting excerpt from the Pontifical Biblical Commission document Concerning the Historical Character of the First Three Chapters of Genesis

            III: In particular may the literal historical sense be called in doubt in the case of facts narrated in the same chapters which touch the foundations of the Christian religion: as are, among others, the creation of all things by God in the beginning of time; the special creation of man; the formation of the first woman from the first man; the unity of the human race; the original felicity of our first parents in the state of justice, integrity, and immortality; the command given by God to man to test his obedience; the transgression of the divine command at the instigation of the devil under the form of a serpent; the degradation of our first parents from that primeval state of innocence; and the promise of a future Redeemer?

            Answer: In the negative.[Bold added]

            I suppose the "special creation of man" could be broadly interpreted to include ensoulment of the offspring of a proto-human, but "the formation of the first woman from the first man" strongly implies to me that the creation of Eve from Adam's rib is affirmed by the Pontifical Biblical Commission. (In light of that, it seems to me the "special creation of man" must be the creation of Adam from the dust of the earth.) Also, the affirmation of "the transgression of the divine command at the instigation of the devil under the form of a serpent" strongly implies that the eating of the "forbidden fruit" in Genesis is to be taken literally.

            It seems to me that if this much is to be taken literally, it is simpler just to take the whole of Genesis 2-3 literally than to question the historicity of other parts of the account.

            I notice that the Pontifical Biblical Commission also pretty much confirms that Moses wrote the Pentateuch, although allowing that what we have is not completely what Moses wrote:

            Subject to the Mosaic authorship and the integrity of the Pentateuch being substantially safeguarded, may it be admitted that in the protracted course of centuries certain modifications befell it, such as : additions made after the death of Moses by an inspired writer, or glosses and explanations inserted in the text, certain words and forms changed from archaic into more recent speech, finally incorrect readings due to the fault of scribes which may be the subject of inquiry and judgement according to the laws of textual criticism?

            Answer In the affirmative, saving the judgement of the Church.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            I think you are simply misreading the meaning of the PBC's finding regarding the formation of the first woman from the first man. It need not mean a literal use of Adam rib.

            In my book, Origin of the Human Species, chapter twelve, "Adam and Eve's Origin," I treat this specific topic in light of the PBC's findings. See pp. 169-180.

            On p. 177, I hypothesize the possibility of monozygotic twinning as a way to meet the meaning of the text without having a literal reading of the Genesis text. Some theologians have proposed other possible solutions.

            Now, I also admit that even though Adam's body might have been formed through some evolutionary mechanism, this would not preclude that God perform a miracle to make Eve just as Scripture depicts. After all, God has performed many miracles in the history of man. He is not bound by the laws of his own making.

            But if a non-literal interpretation of the PBC finding on Eve's origin is correct, then all your other inferences about what must be read as "equally literal" simply do not follow.

          • David Nickol

            I think you are simply misreading the meaning of the PBC's finding regarding the formation of the first woman from the first man. It need not mean a literal use of Adam rib.

            Even if you are otherwise correct, I think "simply misreading" is a little strong. First, I quoted the document directly. Second, I said:

            but "the formation of the first woman from the first man" strongly implies to me that the creation of Eve from Adam's rib is affirmed by the Pontifical Biblical Commission.

            I didn't "simply misread." I stated my own interpretation.

            The hint to me that the PBC is interpreting Genesis literally is their inclusion of "the transgression of the divine command at the instigation of the devil under the form of a serpent." The Catechism merely says:

            390 The account of the fall in Genesis 3 uses figurative language, but affirms a primeval event, a deed that took place at the beginning of the history of man. Revelation gives us the certainty of faith that the whole of human history is marked by the original fault freely committed by our first parents.

            The Catechism leaves open the possibility that temptation by a talking snake is allegorical. But the PBC interprets it literally.

            On p. 177, I hypothesize the possibility of monozygotic twinning as a way to meet the meaning of the text without having a literal reading of the Genesis text.

            Sorry, I don't have access to the book, but is your proposal that Adam was conceived, twinning took place, and God changed the resultant second zygote to a female?

          • Dennis Bonnette

            I should have said "misinterpreting" rather than the stronger "misreading."

            But I don't think the PBC is committed to the literal rib thing when it says that Eve is taken from Adam. Some theologians even take that as merely meaning she was from the same species, with no physical connection. My hypothesis at least maintains a physical connection.

            And the CCC reading makes clear that the language is figurative, even though based in some real history. After all, I did note some real historical events, such as a real personal sin on Adam's part.

            And yes, you read my meaning for monozygotic twinning precisely correctly.

            I would add more but I have a class to give in two hours.

          • Phil Tanny

            The Catechism leaves open the possibility that temptation by a talking snake is allegorical.

            Good work Catechism!! Honestly, this is just too silly. One of the world's most intelligent and articulate religions puzzling over a talking snake. Well, as crazy at that is, maybe that proves there WAS a talking snake! Beer, more beer, that's the solution here.

          • Phil Tanny

            Original sin is not sin. It's the human condition, our immersion in the symbolic realm, which is both the source of our genius, and our insanity. Calling this sin is just the Catholic obsession with judgment and guilt etc.

          • Phil Tanny

            Not to mention that if the Adam and Eve story is taken literally all of humanity descends from a couple of MF, clear evidence that having sex with one's mother is approved by the Bible!! Yahoo, let's party mom! Honestly, this thread would go so much better with a case of beer.

        • michael

          https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20191107072037AAw0Ang I showed the responding person link ot this article, pointing out what you say about alleles. Underneath his initial reply he added in response: It explains that by discussing interbreeding with "subhumans" which means that the ancestors of our species would have been more than just a single pair, and the author pretty much fails to realize that. Oh yeah, and his article talks about humanity suddenly getting souls. Author NOT a scientist.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            It is a little hard to follow just who is saying what here and what conclusion is being made.

            All I can tell you is that Dr. Gauger -- contrary to what is alleged by someone here -- is definitely NOT a creationist. Also, Dr. Swamidass is a research professor at Washington University in St. Louis. This university has 24 Nobel Laureates associated with it. So I suspect his science is fairly respectable.

            Swamidass's estimate that the entire human population could have come from a single mating pair more than 500,000 years ago does not assume any interbreeding with other "stock" as a source for genetic diversity. See my article.

            The only thing that is certainly correct is that the Swamidass calculations are not peer reviewed, but a lot of good scientific work is not peer reviewed prior to its being published in a peer reviewed venue. I listed for you myself three of my peer reviewed articles. But I have many more articles that are not peer reviewed. Does that mean that what I write in peer reviewed journals is to taken as dogma, but what is in non-peer reviewed venues is garbage? I am still the same scholar. And so is Swamidass, regardless of the venue in which he is writing. If a competent scholar writes something that is untrue, it is so, not because of where he publishes it, but because it is untrue -- even if it is peer reviewed.

          • michael

            I have read the article. It specifically mentions descendants of Adam and Eve interbreeding with "Subhumans".

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Now I am not sure which article you refer to. What is more important is that it has long been known that present genetic diversity can be had by simply having a single genuinely human pair's descendants interbreeding with subhuman hominins. The result matches the definition of theological monogenism. That is, the single original pair could be the ancestors of all present human beings and all true humans could be the descendants of that original pair. The real challenge is to show that these two criteria are met without any interbreeding between humans and subhumans. Dr. Swaminass's has proposed at least one model that meets this second scenario -- provided you place the original human pair back at least 500,000 years, which is the time frame I propose based on the time period in which clearly human artifacts first appear.

          • Phil Tanny

            Gotta wonder, why does anything in this subject matter at all? And...

            Is there really a guy named Dr. Swami's Ass???

          • michael

            The one titled "The Scientific possibility of Adam and Eve".

          • michael

            So sibling incest creates genetic diversity in Dr. Swaminass' model?

          • Dennis Bonnette

            If you phrase it that way, it sounds worse than it is. The traditional understanding of Adam's descendants has always been that they intermarried. The key to that particular model of Dr. Swamidass was that, if you go back far enough in time, modern genetic diversity could, indeed, arise from an initial pair of two.

            It appears that Dr. Swamidass has examined and proposed several different possible scenarios. So, one must be careful in designating which one is being talked about. The one I mention in my article on Strange Notions refers to the one mentioned in the first paragraph above.

          • michael

            In an off-topic note: What is God punishing the damned for if nothing we do or don't do can harm or help God, who immutable, impassable, and has infinite beatitude? Does Aquinas write on this question? Please answer soon!

            Does Aquinas write a lot on how God has free will? Of course, you wrote an article on the topic which I have read, but it's not satisfactory. I believe the First Cause HAD to create everything else, we just don't know anything about HOW.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Why should what can or cannot happen to God have anything to do with the administration of divine justice? Do you think God should give the Beatific Vision to Adolf Hitler? You are missing the whole concept of God's role as creator and judge of all he creates. If someone freely abuses his own nature as well as those of others, is it absurd to grant that God has a role to play in judging the merit or demerit of his choices?

            Gosh. That's funny. I thought my article on God's free will was satisfactory. I am sorry to hear from you that it was not. I can only conclude that you must know more about the topic than do I. Why don't you write the next article on that topic?

            It is nice to know what you believe about what God had to do. But, it would be more enlightening if you gave a reason for your belief. Or, is it merely blind faith?

          • michael

            If I had a kid who was doing things to hurt his or herself (Which The Bible NEVER describes Hell as, it always describes Hell as a punishment inflicted externally by God instead of how CS Lewis' book describes it) and I was benevolent, I'd force my child to stop doing the harmful thing, not smite them with unamiginable agony forever and ever. That would solve nothing. And yes, I would give Adolf Hitler The Beatific Vision. To do otherwise would solve nothing and make me far worse than him.

          • Phil Tanny

            Why don't you write the next article on that topic?

            Why don't you use your credibility as a lead author to contact the site owner to make that possible?

            The mission of this site is supposed to be dialog between Catholics and atheists. So every other article or so should be by an atheist or those of a non-Catholic perspective.

            Tell Brandon you won't be submitting any more articles until the other side has been given equal time, or stop lecturing us. Thank you.

          • michael

            What is the point of choosing to love God for his own sake, when he already has infinite beatitude regardless of anything we do or fail to do? It seems redundant. Please answer calmly.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            I will answer concisely. Loving God for his own sake does nothing for God -- precisely for the reason you mention.

            Loving God for his own sake perfects us human beings and makes us fit for achieving our last end (heaven), since we are then using our free wills to make the most perfect possible choice: the highest existent good, which happens to be God himself.

          • Phil Tanny

            Speaking of conciseness, the Apostle John said it best when he claimed "God is love". Three words.

            To me, this is the best philosophy, getting to the bottom line by the shortest possible route, in universally accessible language.

            If one wishes to be a Christian, "God is love" is really all one needs. Those three simple words map out a path any serious person can easily spend an entire lifetime walking, and never reach the end of it.

            What's genius about keeping the message to three words is that it boils the decision down to a single point, leaving no escape path, no place to hide. We're going to walk that path, or we're not.

            All the billions of other words on the subject are a mechanism for putting the decision off, that's why they're so popular.

          • michael

            Isn't that exactly what the church calls "Imperfect contrition", just obeying him for a reward or out of fear? And it doesn't make sense to say that mortal sin means we don't will his good, since said sin has 0 affect on him.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            No, that is not imperfect contrition. Imperfect contrition just means being sorry for one's sins for fear of God's just punishments, and not because we have offended one who is all good and deserving of all our love. The latter would be the motive of perfect contrition -- an act which immediately restores the sinner to the state of grace.

            I am not quite certain what your last sentence even means. Perhaps, you are claiming that sin does God no harm and hence has no value. Not so. By mortal sin, one alienates himself from God to his potential eternal detriment. No, it does not negatively affect God. It negatively affects the sinner in his relationship to God. Sin wounds our nature and our relationship to God.

            Frankly, if I had some of your misunderstandings about the nature of God and creation and His Church, I would probably also be an atheist and ex-Catholic. Is it possible to you that perhaps the truth is different than you have come to believe?

          • michael

            But as i pointed out, it's impossible to offend a being who is impassible.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            You are not even reading my replies.

            The sense of "offense" is analogous to what happens when you express your intentions to someone and they reject them.

            God expresses his intentions to us in giving us a nature whose free fulfillment will lead to eternal happiness. In sinning we reject his intention and thereby reject our own eternal happiness.

            That does not make God in any manner less perfect or less happy in himself. But it sure does screw up our existence!

          • michael

            I know, but my point is that since the church defines "love" as "willing the good of the other", it is redundant to love God since he already has all the good he could ever have. Therefore sin is not a sing of not loving him.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            To love another is to intend their good. But intellectual love is the act of the will desiring the good. It does NOT mean willing the good of another in the sense of wanting to improve him, since it can merely mean being having an appetite or desire for the good as known.

            Since God is infinite goodness, it is perfectly natural to love him, meaning that the will desires him. It does not mean that one has to will that he be better than he is. Once again, your defective understanding of philosophy leads you to a false conclusion.

            Sin reflects a lack of love for God since in it we prefer some finite good whose possession is somehow in conflict with a proper love of God. For example, by committing adultery, someone prefers the illicit pleasure of sex relations in violation of the marriage contract made before God which excludes sex with someone to whom one is not married. In so doing, the sinner prefers this finite good to fidelity to his marriage vows pledged before God. Even such violations of the non-sacramental natural marital union constitutes a grave violation of the natural contract, which sins against the God who creates our natures and its natural law requiring adherence to such natural contracts.

          • michael

            In order for there to be crime to punish, there must be a crime victim.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Your analogy to human crime and punishment does not apply here. Still, even in human law, we do punish people who abuse themselves by taking illegal drugs -- since it indirectly harms the good order of society.

            But the crime we commit in offending God's laws is the wanton waste of the good nature he has given us. We don't need to do this. It is the product of free will. You also miss the point that it would be intrinsically unjust to give the great reward of heaven to those who deliberately reject all that is good and holy.

            You seem to want to have your cake and eat it too. Misuse freely all of God's gifts -- and then demand that his infinite justice not notice. That is an intrinsically irrational position.

          • michael

            There are some countries now where drug users are treated a patients and not criminals.

            "That is an intrinsically irrational position" How so?

          • Dennis Bonnette

            It depends on the illegal drug and why it is so designated because legislators judge it is harmful to society.

            What is self-contradictory is "intrinsically irrational," as in God mandating natural laws by creating us with fixed natures and then expecting the all-knowing God not to notice the violation of natural law.

          • michael

            If I were God I'd use mind control to force everyone to obey. Otherwise I would not be benevolent or praiseworthy.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Thank God you are not God!

            You pretending to be God would dishonor the dignity of the human person by not respecting or permitting his freedom.

          • michael

            Allowing people to be in endless unfathomable anguish is not promoting dignity at all.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            The outcome of our choices is ours to choose. Don't blame God for our bad choices. He creates us and gives us free will. He respects our dignity by letting us use that will. God is never unjust or unmerciful to those who in the least respect deserve mercy. You just want to rewrite the way reality works to suit your preferences. You would allow free agents to choose the most vile of evils with no consequences. We don't know the exact details of hell, but we do know it entails permanent separation from God. It appears that some people genuinely do not want to be good or to love God, even if he does exist. What is God to do with them? Deny them their free choice? None of us knows how God will actually judge the individual soul. But we can know a priori that he will be just and no one will receive a punishment they do not deserve. You are prejudging God's actions when you do not even know what they will be in individual cases.

            Some authors have even allowed that hell may exist as an existential possibility, but that no one will actually go there. Yet, conversely, if it is a genuine existential possibility, then it is also possible that some will so abhor God that they will prefer to permanently separate themselves from him.

            You seem to want to prejudge the whole of reality when in fact you know a very small portion of it. Still, the small portion that reason can prove does prove that God exists and he is all good. So, a rational and reasonable solution must exist, even if it exceeds your personal comprehension.

          • michael

            Also, it doesn't explain how loving God "FOR HIS OWN SAKE" isn't redundant for him since loving him does not effect him.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            You may thinking of "for his own sake" in the meaning used when we say, "I am doing this for your own sake, not mine," There it means the same as "for your own good," as in assuming you are in need of some good you do not possess.

            But phrases are not always used the same way. When we say that we love God "for his own sake," that means -- not so he can gain some good he does not have, but rather, that we love him, not merely for some gain on our part, but because we realize that he is all good and loving and deserving of all our love -- just because of who and what he is ("for his own sake").

          • michael

            So he deserve servile devotion while having done nothing to earn it? Doesn't sound reasonable. Also does'nt explain how disobeying him shows a lack of that love or obeying him shows that love if it doesn't affect him, or make it not feel redundant.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Having done nothing to deserve it?!!!!

            God created us and sustains us in existence every moment of our lives by means of a purely gratuitous gift to us. Ought we not have some gratitude? And would we not be misusing our free wills by refusing to be thankful to such a gracious gift from God, who would be just as perfect and happy had he never chosen to share his beatitude with us in some fashion?

            You totally misunderstand the notion of obedience here as well. Natural law is the law of our very natures, given to us by the creative act of God. For us to violate natural law is for us to pervert the proper nature of our being. Again, God is doing us an immense favor by pointing out the "rules" that follow from human nature, so that we may avoid the self-destructive results of violating the very constitution of our lives.

            Frankly, you sound like you have your entire understanding of God in his relation to his creatures bitterly inverted!

          • michael

            He also created Ebola and Cholera. What a gift!

          • Dennis Bonnette

            As I said in the previous reply, if you insist in saturating your mind solely with the evil you see in the world, you will never understand why it is necessary that an all good God is causing it to exist at this very moment.

          • michael

            does a child who's parents starve them and inject them with Ebola or Malaria owe gratitude to their parents at all? Of course not.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            So, your real problem is the problem of evil, isn't it?

            Go reread my article on this complex problem on this site. I admit that if you insist on starting with the evil in the world, this will probably so blind you that you will never understand how it could be created and sustained by an all good and loving God.

            But if you start with the proofs for the existence and nature of that all good and loving God, and if you see that his creation of creatures with free will necessarily entailed the possibility of things going very wrong, at least on the short term, for that world -- then, and only then, will you be able -- if you sincerely wish to do so -- to see that the great evils in the world are not God's direct fault, and that they serve a greater good.

            But this latter enterprise appears to be something you have little interest in doing. Nonetheless, it is the true explanation of the reality in which we find ourselves -- for the simple reason that, reason tells us, despite the evil we see around us, its existence can only be explained by an infinite Creator who must also possess the goodness of creatures in an infinite manner.

          • michael

            I have already read that article more than once long ago and dismissed it. And humans do not freely choose to get Ebola.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            I guess if you dismiss my article it must be false. Right?

            Humans may not choose Ebola or any other suffering, but free agents can and must have introduced disorder into God creation, which disorder can lead to suffering.

            Your problem is that you simply reject out of hand the whole structure of two thousand years of Christian philosophy -- and yet, time after time, have shown that you do not understand correctly key parts of it.

          • michael

            If that's true, then prove humans manufactured Ebola in a lab and prevented God from getting rid of it. If you can't do that, you must blame God for Ebola.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            That God creates a world of free agents and allows them to work out their salvation freely does not make him responsible for all the evil that flows from their misuse of freedom.

            As long as permitted evil can work to a longer term good end, such as the sanctification and salvation of souls, God bears no condemnation for permitting it. You seem to think you know better than God how every evil somehow must be his direct fault. You are not God. You do not know the purposes of divine providence. You are merely confusing your own limited knowledge with the omniscience of God, and thereby are condemning his judgments based on your own ignorance.

            And, if you read my article on the problem of evil, you either could not understand it or did not bother to take the time to do so, since the point made just above was in there.

          • michael

            "God works in mysterious ways" isn't a rational answer you could assert or dismiss just anything with that kind of open-mindedness. Nad God could ret rid of ebola without messing with Free Will. Messing with Free Will would mean planting amino control helmet on people.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Unless you possess the infinite knowledge of God you cannot judge the wisdom and goodness of his plan for this world. You are playing "Mr. Fix It" with divine providence, which is a larger scope of reality than we can understand fully. But we can understand that God exists and is all good. We can also understand that we are free creatures and that free creatures, if freedom if real, can choose lesser good than they know they should, and thus, that outcomes not intended by God at the outset of creation can occur.

            My article points out that the only rational solution to the problem of evil is to start with what reason can prove about God's goodness, and only then, try to see how evil is compatible with that goodness.

            You insist on the perverse methodology of starting with evil and thereby blocking your mind to the authentic explanation. I cannot help you with that.

          • michael

            If obedience to God does no benefit him, it's only common sense that it is meaningless and redundant to "will the good of God".

          • Dennis Bonnette

            You still don't get it, do you? Obedience to God benefits US, not him. Willing the good of God is willing that his will be done -- FOR US, while at the same time perfecting our own nature by us choosing to love the most perfect good.

            You sure are determined to turn something good and beautiful into a false image of itself!

          • michael

            That's like saying..,.how od I put this... reverse the things behind the comma in that second sentence and the things in front...it'd be the same message. that's circular.... and still described imperfect contrition by describing reward as the motive.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Not so. In imperfect contrition, we are sorry for sin for fear of just punishment. In perfect contrition, it is not fear of punishment that motivates contrition, but sorrow for offending the goodness and justice of God.

            Perfect contrition does prefect our nature, but that is an indirect effect of so loving God for himself and feeling badly for acting against his just laws. Even so, we will still fear his punishments, but that is not the sole or even primary motive for our contrition.

          • David Nickol

            Since imperfect contrition is sufficient for absolution in the sacrament of penance, must we not imagine that we will find in heaven those who hate but fear God but were lucky enough to have a priest handy at the time of their deaths to hear their confession?

          • michael

            If willing his good means wanting to have the beatific vision for our own good, and giving him what he deserves because we want to give what he deserves by doing that same thing, then they are not distinguishable from one another.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            The distinction is between willing something because it helps ourselves and willing something because it is simply right and good in itself. Fear of punishment is self-serving. Loving God because he is all good and because it is right and good to love him is focused primarily on God, not ourselves.

          • michael

            That is not the only definition of Imperfect contrition I was taught. I was taught it can also mean obeying simply out of a desire for reward. And besides, what's the difference between fear of punishment and sorrow for offending the goodness and justice of God, if offending the goodness and justice of God is the very thing that the punishment is? You said "offending him" is just metaphorical language for hurting ourselves by not listening to him.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            You are having great difficulty in seeing distinctions.

            "I was taught it can also mean obeying simply out of a desire for reward, not just out of fear."

            I don't know who taught you, but here you are not talking about contrition at all! You are talking about reasons for avoiding sin in the first place. Avoiding sin simply is not sinful at all -- and as such requires no contrition!!!

            Regarding actual contrition, you confuse several objects. First, I did not say that offending God is merely metaphorical language. The offense is real, since an act is committed against the order created by God. But that is not the same as to say that it affects God himself. Rather, it wounds our own relationship with God, thereby, leading to the justice of punishment for our sin.

            Second, the punishment is not the same as "offending the goodness and justice of God." Where are you getting this stuff? Offending God's justice is what merits the punishment, which may entail purgatory or hell.

            Third, "fear of punishment" as a motive for contrition is not the same as "sorrow for offending the goodness and justice of God," since the former is a self-serving motive, whereas the latter is centered on the goodness of God in itself -- without reference to our own reward or punishment.

          • michael

            Define "contrition" if it isn't wanting to avoid sin.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Here is your definition: "sorrow for and detestation of sin with a true purpose of amendment, arising from a love of God for His own perfections (perfect contrition), or from some inferior motive, as fear of divine punishment (imperfect contrition…"
            https://www.dictionary.com/browse/contrition

            Notice that it is not merely wanting to avoid sin, but rather a true purpose of amendment, which means a sincere intention to avoid sin in the future. I could want to avoid sin, but not enough to take the deliberate means to avoid it.

            More importantly, you miss the main point. The essence of contrition is "sorrow for and detestation of sin." The purpose of amendment is something added to that essence making its sincerity complete and evident.

            Once again, you are rejecting everything you see about religion and the Catholic Church, based primarily on your biases and eternal misunderstanding and twisting of its actual nature and teaching.

            Did it ever occur to you that you may simply be totally misjudging all of this based on your own misunderstanding? Do you really want to see any truth in it? It is very hard to understand anything if you are convinced a priori that it is all false and evil.

          • michael

            I'll only call God good when he gives everyone free dessert.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            What you really appear to oppose is the simple fact that this life is an "entrance exam" to the eternal happiness of heaven -- a good so great that justice requires that it be somewhat merited and not blindly given to those who choose to be selfish and ungrateful.

          • David Nickol

            From Mirriam-Webster Unabridged:

            contrition: state of being contrite : consciousness of guilt or sin giving rise to humility and sorrow
            Synonyms: contriteness, guilt, penitence, regret, remorse, remorsefulness, repentance, rue, self-reproach, shame

            Contrite: broken down in spirit with grief and penitence for sin or shortcoming : remorseful : humbly and thoroughly penitent
            Synonyms:apologetic, compunctious, penitent, regretful, remorseful, repentant, rueful, sorry

            This concept is taught in second grade in Catholic schools, when children make their first confession. If you didn't know what it meant, you should have looked it up. It is unreasonable to expect others to teach you elementary vocabulary that even small schoolchildren are expected to understand.

          • michael

            Where am I getting this stuff? The Catechism (But not The Bible) says Hell is the natural consequence of mortal sin, not something posed externally by God.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            If you got that definition of contrition you gave up above from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, you must be reading a counterfeit version, since it isn't the one in my copy.

            Hell IS a natural consequence of mortal sin, but I bet you are taking this out of context in some way. Check 1861 to which this short phrase directs you. It says mortal sin is a radical possibility of human freedom, which if not redeemed by repentance and God's forgiveness, can cause exclusion from Christ's kingdom. It also says that although we can judge that an act is in itself a grave offense, we must entrust judgment of persons to the justice and mercy of God.

            How is this so unreasonable, given that God himself will never destroy our freedom by forcing us to love him. And that also means that no one ever goes to hell save by his own free choice. The is the mystery of iniquity. No one is forced to exclude himself from heaven, except by his own free choices and actions. Don't blame God for our own misuse of our freedom.

            One alternative would be that God not make us free. But that is impossible, since spiritual creatures are by their very nature have intellect and free will. To make them otherwise is to square the circle. The other alternative is that God makes us free, but then never allows anyone to misuse his freedom. That would be mock freedom, of course, and a violation of human dignity.

            You just cannot bring yourself to accept that eternal punishment can only occur if the person choosing it deserves it because he chooses it. And that does not have to be you or me or anyone else, because God wills that all be saved and no one can escape salvation save for his own free fault. Is that unfair?

          • michael

            Spiritual just means they have an immaterial aspect to their existence, since spiritual means immaterial. And restricting actions isn't violating dignity, it's something called "police work". And if that's how you define free will and describe it's consequences then free will itself is profoundly, infinitely evil.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Your first two sentences may be true, but I don't see their significance.

            Free will is a necessary corollary to possession of intellect, since it is the ability of the intellect to see various alternative goods which is required for freedom to work. The fact that free will can be misused is not evil at all, since we are called upon by God and nature to use our freedom rightly and to choose goods that authentically lead us to God in the end, thereby obtaining eternal happiness.

            Again, it is not rational to blame God because man misuses his own free will -- just as you don't blame a baseball bat company because someone uses a bat to bash another's brains out.

          • michael

            I guess the people shouting "Shame on the NRA" are mistaken then.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            How did you know?

          • michael

            That was sarcasm, of course.

            Anyhow, when civilians in Nazi Germany and japan in the 40's got firebombed, I'm sure the pain they felt sure felt like real, existent, substantive thing and not just a privation. How do you disprove that? Nad how do you disprove God doesn't have pain in this scenario, based on the words of your article "how to approach the problem of evil"? What's int here sure doesn't actually explain "God can'nto give that which he doesn't have, he does'nt have pain, he does'nt give pain because it's a privation and not positive reality like good". Citations other than the one already given from near the start of Summa Theologica?

            Also remind me again if God doesn't make souls from nothing what does he make them from? Citations? Why does Aquinas say he makes them from nothing?

          • Dennis Bonnette

            I am not primarily in the citation business, but prefer to just reason things out following the general principles, method, and doctrine of St. Thomas and his best commentators.

            I can see you think you have found an undeniable fault in the Thomistic understanding of the metaphysics of evil as being a privation. But it is not all quite as simple as you may think.

            If being as desirable is the good, then God, as infinite being, is infinitely desirable and good. How, then, can he produce creatures in which evil exists?

            In principle. whatever God makes is good, since it exists as he makes it and its nature is the measure of its goodness in the sense that, if it lives up to its nature, it is good. Thus, the world as God originally created it is good.

            Without trying to explain every possible case (which would take a book), what of the problem of pain? If God makes sentient beings, they fulfill their natures by seeking the sentient good, such as food or sex or comfort. But, just as the animal seeks sentient goods for the sake of itself or the species, so, too, it needs to avoid sentient evils that threaten those same goods. Hence, the benefit of pain as a warning of sentient evils. But just as greater goods give greater pleasure, so do greater evils need greater pain to move the animal to avoid them. So, the tiger cub must recognize the difference between a playful bite from another cub as opposed to a death grip by another adult tiger.

            In a word, pain serves a useful purpose for sentient beings. Now, God could well have created a paradise in which no pain was experienced, and perhaps he did initially.

            But we find a world after the fact of evil choices affecting the harmony of all creation. We find the world after evil has already been introduced into it -- not directly by God, but by free agents that create evil per accidens in the course of seeking illicit goods. (Such as apples from the wrong tree!)

            Evil spirits could exist before mankind and might introduce a disorder as grave as a musician playing off key would eventually cause chaos in a symphony orchestra -- unless the director steps in to stop it.

            Since pain then is a useful part of sentient reality, its role in creation may expand to many arenas. Is it positive being? Yes, in that it is a warning to sentient beings to avoid evils. It is good in itself in that role, but causes a privation of peace and comfort for the animal experiencing it.

            I could probably write a book on this topic, but I am just trying to reorient your thinking enough to begin to see that pain is not ipso facto evidence of an evil God.

            Pain, like every other part of creation, is both perfect insofar as it exists and serves a purpose for the animal, and yet, a sign of the limitation found in every creature -- just like the motion of wheels is useful to us humans limited to being in one place at a time, but still as limited things, wheels can only move so fast without breaking or some other failure.

            Since God is not a sentient being, he "gives pain" to creatures when he creates sentient beings. But that does not mean he needs to suffer pain as does the animals that have sensation. Yes, he could have avoided causing all pain -- just by not making that kind of being we call animals. But then, that kind of perfection would never be created. No dogs in heaven!

            No, God does not take some "nothing" and make something out of it. Finite beings come from something. Not from some preexisting finite being, but from the infinite power of God.
            Creatures come from the power of God causing them, but without any loss or change to God. That is creation. The phrase, "coming from nothing," is a bit misleading, since it sounds like God took some "nothing" and turned it into "something," which would be absurd.

          • michael

            So soul's are made of God's power in a way analogous (ANALOGOUS) to how tree bark is made of carbohydrates and sugars?

          • Dennis Bonnette

            This makes me think of St. Thomas's comment about David of Dinant "stultissime" declaring that God is pure prime matter.

            You insist in treating God's power as if it were a material entity with material properties.

            I begin to wonder whether you really want to understand the philosophical explanations at all. The term "made of" should be replaced with "comes from" God's power. You either did already know that, or you should have known that.

          • michael

            No I don't, that's why I said ANALOGOUS.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            You switched from analogy to equivocation when you compared an effect flowing from a cause to something being merely composed of its parts -- when you switched from efficient causality to material causality. You can find some element of analogy in almost anything, but these are entirely diverse orders of causation.

          • michael

            Is it's more like "the water comes from the spray can"?

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Water comes from a spray can by taking some of the material in the can and squirting it to the outside.

            You show again that you are thinking like the total materialist you appear to be.

            Causality tells you solely about what happens to and in the effect. It tells you nothing about changes in the cause.

          • michael

            Also there was a post you made where you talked bout how are choices are not brute fact but influenced by the desire for the supreme good, pressure etc. what are ALL the things that come after the etc.? (I really don't know why I don't ask this a long time ago...)

          • Dennis Bonnette

            You have a million questions about Thomistic philosophy, but have never taken a proper college course in these things -- which would go a long way to answering your questions.

            Frankly, I don't have the time to give you a complete education in Thomistic philosophy. Get yourself at least a couple good Thomistic text books and read them, for example those by Martin Vaske, S. J.

            All sorts of physical and psychological causes can influence or impede completely the exercise of free will. The will is there, though, and as long as these influences do not completely impede the exercise of the will, some element of freedom is present. If it is totally obliterated, the power remains but simply cannot act for the time being.

          • michael

            Also how is God all-praiseworthy just by being God?

          • Dennis Bonnette

            You praise what is perfect and good. Does not God meet these criteria?

            You really need to study an organized presentation of Thomistic philosophy, rather than raising a hundred questions that are easily answerable within the Thomistic synthesis.

            I am not saying you must agree with Thomism. Others here do not. But they know enough about the synthesis to challenge key points that really might decide the value of the philosophy as a whole. Take a look at some of the objections raised by Ficino or David Nickol as examples.

          • michael

            Which book doe she focus on the praiseworthiness/worthiness of adoration?

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Just what "she" are you talking about? I did not mention any.

            It really looks like you are typing much faster than you are thinking.

            If you really understood that God gave you the gift of existence, are you telling me that you would still be so ungrateful as to not know enough to say "thank you" and to acknowledge God's infinite transcendence to you as a mere creature -- virtually next to nothingness and cringing of the edge of raw contingency?

          • michael

            S"She is a typo for hastily putting the S in "does' in the wrong place. And no, that would be not enough for him to earn respect. That'd be like respecting your parents for willfully crating Ebola and injecting you with it.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            As I said, you were typing too fast.

            So you don't even appreciate God giving you your life?

            You simply ignore or refuse to acknowledge the distinction between someone directly harming you and Someone creating a world that you do not fully understand, but yet blame its Creator for all that happens in it -- even when the bad things that happen may be the work of creatures' free wills.

          • michael

            Humans did not will or create Ebola.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Are you intentionally trying to misunderstand my point?

            You and I both know humans would never will Ebola.

            So, the point is that God creates free beings. Those free beings deliberately make evil choices. From those choices follow natural results that God neither directly wills nor directly creates -- since they result from the secondary causality of natural agents.

            If you will to rob a bank, you may not directly will being shot by a bank guard in the process, but being shot is an unintended result of your evil choice to rob the bank.

            What don't you understand here?

          • michael

            Nothing a kid with Ebola ever did provoked the virus to strike him, unlike the robber provoking the bank guard.

          • michael

            (Just got back from out of State) Which book and chapter in Aquinas' bibliography does he explain, form logical premise to conclusion instead of faith-based dogma, that it's "right" to torment people forever for not bowing to God? What does it solve?

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Frankly, I think I have answered this same skeptical question for you previously.

            It may only give you further content to misconstrue, but maybe you need to slow down a little bit and carefully get familiar with the mentality that creates hell for itself. I doubt you will read this to its conclusion, and I don't vouch for its authenticity, but it might give you some food for thought, if not more fodder for you blazing cannons. You might as well have a better understanding of what so provokes your skeptical scorn:

            https://www.theworkofgod.org/Library/catholic/letter_from_hell.htm

          • michael

            Which question? The question of what Aquinas says, or the question of where he wrote it/

          • Dennis Bonnette

            I am responding to the substance of your question:

            "that it's "right" to torment people forever for not bowing to God? What does it solve?"

            If you want to research Aquinas, you can do so yourself. I am not an historian of philosophy, but a philosopher. I may sometimes give references, but the argument should always follow reason itself.

          • michael

            Then tell me which chapter of which book eh wrote answers the question.

          • michael

            Also where doe she explain why we ought to bow to God and worship him. "because he's good to us" doesn't explain it because the church teaches that his rewards come from bowing to him, not the other way around.

          • michael

            Where does Aquinas explain how simply existing and being God deserves our respect and demand we bow at his feet?

          • Dennis Bonnette

            If you have such hubris that you would not bow before God almighty, there is nothing I or St. Thomas could say to convince you.

          • michael

            Are so sure? Give it a shot. Bowing has to be earned, after all.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Were I you, I would want to be extremely sure that the God of classical theism does not exist before trying to tell him that humbling oneself before him is something he has to earn.

            Since the question of humbling oneself before God arises on the hypothesis that he does exist, then the given existence of an Infinite Being to whom we owe our very existence should make us very aware of how little we are in his Presence. Being humble is merely a matter of truthfulness in that case.

          • michael

            How does just existing and being God make him worthy of such servile treatment or justify unless torment for those who do not bow to him?

          • michael

            Where does Aquinas explain why God just existing and being infinite makes it right for him to smite people who don't serve his will for his own sake?

          • Rob Abney

            for it has been shown above (I:19:4) that the will of God is the cause of things. Therefore things are necessary, according as it is necessary for God to will them, since the necessity of the effect depends on the necessity of the cause (Metaph. v, text 6). Now it was shown above (I:19:3), that, absolutely speaking, it is not necessary that God should will anything except Himself. It is not therefore necessary for God to will that the world should always exist; but the world exists forasmuch as God wills it to exist, since the being of the world depends on the will of God, as on its cause. It is not therefore necessary for the world to be always

          • michael

            Where is the part that says "And here is why it's OK for him ot smite those who do not serve him"?

          • Rob Abney

            "it is not necessary that God should will anything except Himself"

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Your question is so filled with confusion and misdirection that it is hard to know where to begin, since its wording is itself loaded with bias against any reasonable explanation.

            This is all based on natural law, which is God's ordinance for his creation as understood by man. Being the Creator, God naturally has dominion over his creatures. By his very nature as composed of body and soul, man is capable of corruption and death unless God provides otherwise. So, in the first instance, everything that happens -- however hard to understand in this life -- must be understood as subordinated to God's providence for our afterlives. This instantly renders much of your constant criticism moot. Thus, even the punishment of whole nations for offending the right-reasoned ordinance of God need not prevent the good in those nations from reaching an eternal reward -- a reward that may be even greater for nobly bearing undeserved earthly suffering.

            Moreover, should we, through the deliberate misuse of the God'-given gift of free will, set ourselves dead against all that is good and holy -- even hatred of God himself, then both nature and God himself have every right to redress our self perversions. The natural punishment for, say, adultery is loss of one's spouse and the gaining of alimony payments.

            Thus, the supernatural punishment is naturally failure to reach the last end of beatitude God wills for each person, but which would be a grave injustice to give to those willingly undeserving.

            Do you ever really try to understand these sorts of matters from God's perspective?

          • michael

            No, I do not, since as you all say "God is beyond human understanding" and "God works in mysterious ways.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            I am sure you realize that those statements are no excuse for refusing to use your human reason to understand the existence and nature and your obligations to an Ultimate Cause.

            And saying God's mysteries exceed all human understanding does not mean we cannot know some rational truths about him, e.g., his existence and the major divine attributes. Even the Holy Trinity -- a revealed mystery -- does not entail contradictions of what natural theology enables us to understand naturally about God.

            That is, unless you are looking for an excuse to refuse all understanding. Remember, that our reason is also a gift from our Creator. He rightly expects us to use it to trace back from finite effects to him as the Ultimate Cause

          • michael

            In this article: http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2016/10/how-to-go-to-hell_29.html Edward fever pretty clearly says fallen angels sin excuse their intellect convinced them something other than god was their ultimate good, and that this is irreversible since they have no bodies. Since God is the source of Intellect, how does this make them instead of God responsible for their behavior? In the same paragraph he also says humans are also NECESSARILY oriented toward choosing wha they PERCEIVE as the absolute good.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            First, it is Dr. Edward Feser, not "fever!"

            Yes, God is the cause of angels' existence, intellect, AND free will. It is the free will, not the intellect, that got them into trouble.

            Dr. Feser is right in saying we humans necessarily choose what we perceive as the absolute good. How then to we sin?
            Simple, in this life we have no such clear apprehension of the absolute good, which is God. There are atheists and agnostics and skeptics, like yourself. Right?

            Moreover, when choosing between finite goods, the free will is not necessitated, since the intellect can always see alternatives with both good and bad aspects -- simply in virtue of them being limited in their perfections.

          • michael

            Also your post did not bring up the issue of victims of firebombing and how their pain is a privation instead of an actual existent positive reality.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            It is the same general answer as I gave above for all pain. Of course, the function of the neurons during pain is real and positive, which is why they are functioning as designed. I explained that pain has a good purpose in general, but that does not mean that people cannot suffer as a result of the sinful free actions of free agents. Pain is painful, of course. But its basic mechanism serves the good of the individual and the species. The fact that it results from free agents doing evil does not prove that God is evil for having created sentient beings that can feel both pleasure and pain.

            You may have read my paper on the problem of evil, but you certainly did not understand it.

          • michael

            What is the great good created by the pain of victims of firebombing then? It doesn't want them about anything since they obviously had no means to survive these bombings. It seems gratuitous. Why didn't God turn the bombs into bread?

          • Dennis Bonnette

            You continuously want to claim you know more than God.

            The whole concept of creation and providence -- once free agents are introduced -- is that God may permit evil consequences of sin in order that some greater good may result. We know by demonstration that God is all good. Therefore, it is shear hubris on our part to claim that he does not know what he is doing or that his plans are really evil.

            Victims of firebombing have no means to survive the bombing in this life, but the plain fact is that eventually all of us will die somehow -- and what really matters is where we end up in the next life. Remember, this is simply an "entrance exam."

            Since God gives life, he can take it away with no fault -- especially because "it is in dying that we are born to eternal life." (St. Francis)

          • michael

            Aquinas wrote wrote: "On the contrary, Augustine (De Orig. Animae iii, 15) mentions certain opinions which he calls "exceedingly and evidently perverse, and contrary to the Catholic Faith," among which the first is the opinion that "God made the soul not out of nothing, but from Himself.". Was Augustine of Hippo wrong about God making the soul out of nothing then?

          • Dennis Bonnette

            I would not say St. Augustine was wrong. But you may be wrong in reading his "out of nothing" in the typical mistaken manner as I explained above.

          • michael

            Free will isn't an necessary corollary to intellect, since hypothetically someone could still have the brightest intellect in the word and someone could put a mind control helmet on that person.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            You absolutely do not understand the difference between having the immaterial faculty of free will and the obvious fact that external physical conditions can inhibit its exercise.

            You could also prevent the exercise of free will by getting someone roaring drunk or by inducing a coma.

            The faculty is not the same as its operations, which anyone knows can be inhibited by external means.

          • michael

            Being in a coma isn't messing with free will, it's abolishing will altogether. Messing with free will would indeed d be getting someone drunk or more directly by using a mind control helmet. The latter would leave the intellect intact.

          • Phil Tanny

            Just a thought, it might help in some circumstances to drop the Him pronoun which suggests God is a human like character. That works for many, but is also an obstacle for many others. You suggest a human-like entity, they see no such entity, and the distracting quibbling begins.

            In the age science, and when speaking to atheists, it may be more helpful to talk of God in terms of a unifying force of nature, or something along those lines.

            The human-like Jehovah character has proven it's usefulness over many centuries, but to atheists, referring to God as a Super Person often sounds an awful lot like the repeating of memorized phrases from scripture, not exactly a welcoming open door for them.

  • michael

    Physical genetically proven FACT: The total human population has never dropped below tens of thousands of breeding pairs. While DNA does show what is called a "Y chromosomal Adam" and "mitochondrial Eve", that is NOT the same thing as the absurdity of all the world's people coming from just one lone couple with no one else around.

  • swamidass

    Dennis, this is Dr. Swamidass. I had a question. Can you please give me some clarity as to why genetic sole-progenitorship (opposed to genealogical) is so important you. My book is about to come out, and I'd really like to hear your thoughts on it. Why exactly is genetic sole-progenitorship so critical for you when many Catholic scholars (Kemp, Suarez, and Feser) think that genealogical ancestry is more important?

    • Dennis Bonnette

      Hi, Dr. Swamidass. Good to hear from you.

      I do not absolutely preclude the possibility that modern genetic diversity could have arisen from interbreeding between true human beings and subhuman nearly-identical hominins -- should the evidence show that such a case was absolutely necessary.

      Nonetheless, since interbreeding objectively entails the very unnatural act of bestiality (far worse, morally, than incest), that scenario is not preferable to one in which such acts would not occur. Frankly, I have not thought about some of this for some time and therefore please understand that these are simply my first reactions to your question.

      The fact is that either scenario meets the requirements of theological monogenism, since both would entail that there is only one first true human being and that all true humans would be his descendants (except Eve, of course, perhaps). But It seems hardly appropriate that when God tells our first parents to cleave to one another and go forth and fill the earth, he had in mind us engaging in a lot of morally perverse bestiality being required in order to accomplish his natural purpose! I realize that such behavior would occur after original sin, and thus be more understandable in man's fallen condition. But you asked why I think it important to maintain sole-progenitorship, and that is my answer.

      • swamidass

        Thanks for the note Dennis. I understand better where you are coming from. That is really helpful.

        I am sure however that the premise you are working from isn’t right. There are much better ways to understand interbreeding than beastiality. Other ways of understanding this exist, so even if we don’t agree with them, we cannot facily conclude that interbreeding entails beastiality.

        If you found a better way of thinking about interbreeding, would that change your assessment?

        Hope to talk more!

        • Dennis Bonnette

          The concept of interbreeding may be broader biologically than it is defined from the perspective of natural law ethics. If you have another way of approaching this matter, I am fully open to hearing it.

          But, if interbreeding is defined as sexual relations between a genuinely human person and a subhuman hominin -- no matter how human appearing, I would think that natural law ethics would strictly forbid it.

          Having just spoken to you by phone, I concur with you that if there were genuine human beings (meaning rational animals) prior to Adam, then sexual relations between Adam's descendants and those rational animals which were not his descendants would not constitute the immoral act of bestiality, since it would not be actual interbreeding (since they would in fact and in truth belong to the same philosophical natural species).

          The entire question would revolve about whether there were any rational animals (with spiritual souls) prior to Adam. As far as I know, there were none. But that is a theological question which is outside my competence as a philosopher.

          • Phil Tanny

            Ok then, so I will now claim that this entire line of inquiry is not Christian, which in fairness is true of most of the rest of the site as well, including the vast majority of my posts.

            A billion human beings live on the edge of starvation, while modern civilization rushes blindly towards a cliff.

            And this is the kind of drivel that "intellectual elites" turn their attention to. What may we ask, is either rational or compassionate about such a choice?

            Ok, your turn, go ahead, you may retreat now in to the "above it all" defense, the favorite hiding place of academics facing challenges they can not meet.

        • Dennis Bonnette

          I do see one problem with trying to comport Catholic teaching with the pre-Adamite theory you propose.

          If one accepts the authority of Pope Pius XII's encyclical, Humani Generis, n. 37, it reads: "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."

          Clearly, a pre-Adamite theory would imply the forbidden claim that "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," since the pre-Adamite hypothesis would precisely have true men around with and after Adam who came from the pre-Adamite stock, and not from Adam.

          The only problem with this is the "it is in no way apparent" clause, since some today claim that polygenism might somehow be reconciled with Church teaching.

          Still, I think that the definitive objection to this recent claim is the following sentence, which affirms that original sin "is passed on [from Adam] to all" (meaning all true human beings with intellective, rational souls). Since the pre-Adamite stock would have been around with and after Adam, they could not have received original sin from him.

          Thus, the pre-Adamite theory conflicts with "revealed truth and the documents of the Teaching Authority of the Church." The force of this last statement arises not only from its position in an encyclical, but with the well-known scholarship of Pius XII. Thus, the encyclical may not be dogma, but Pius XII himself affirms its basis on this point as being "revealed truth and the documents of the Teaching Authority of the Church."

          • swamidass

            Thanks Dennis.

            It all comes down to what you precisely mean by "true human". I go into this in depth over 4 chapters in the book, starting in fact from Humani Generis.

            I also am not proposing a pre-Adamite theory per se. Any how, at this point the book is coming out in less than a month, and I'll send you a copy. It will make more sense to pursue the conversation after you've seen that.

            Peace.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            I look forward to seeing a copy, Josh. Thank you.

            I confess that I think of "true human" solely in ontological terms as being any "rational animal." As we used to say in teaching about it, if something with a green slimey body and ten legs slithered up from the floor onto a table and started up an intelligent conversation with you by typing on a computer keyboard, that we would have to call a human being. Of course, we expect them to look a bit different from that description. So, it isn't a question of whether some hominin looks like a modern human being as much as it is a question of whether this hominin manifests the properties of intellectual understanding, judging, and reasoning.

          • swamidass

            I think I understand you here.

            Think about this.

            This "green slime human" does NOT descend from Adam. Is he a challenge to monogenesis? Not really, because he is not the type of human to which the the monogenesis doctrine is referring, even if he is fully a philosophical human. If this slime human is not a challenge to monogenesis in present day, why would be a problem if he arose alongside or before Adam and Eve? He would not be a problem. He might be fully human from a philosophical point of view, but he is not the type of human to which the doctrine of monogenesis is referring.

            You rightly making a distinction between philosophy and theology. The doctrine of monogenesis is spoken in theological language, with theological precision that may not map cleanly to philosophical categories and language.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            I agree with your definition of true human as an intellective, spiritual-souled, animal.

            Your explanation may be correct, but I do not think it comports with Catholic doctrine for one simple reason. That is, the Council of Trent solemnly defined that Adam is the representative of the whole human race and that all men inherit the stain of original sin with him.

            If the pre-Adamite theory is correct, then there would have been true human beings (as we both define them) both with and after the time of Adam. This would mean that there would have been true men on earth who were not the descendants of Adam and who did not have the stain of original sin on their souls.

            This is clearly contradictory to the dogmatic teachings of Trent regarding original sin, which is why Pope Pius XII made the affirmations he did in Humani Generis, 37.

            So, I would say that, while your explanation may comport with some form of Protestant theology, I do not see how it can be made to comport with Catholic doctrine. Since all my research is directed at showing how natural science and Thomistic philosophy is in rational harmony with authentic Catholic doctrine, my research would not affirm any form of the pre-Adamite theory.

          • swamidass

            Respectfully, it seems you misunderstand my point.

            If I am correct, there would NOT be "true humans" as I define them before or alongside Adam and Eve. The people outside the garden would be philosophical humans, but they would not be AE's descendents, and therefore (for this reason) would not be "true humans" (which I use here only as a technical term).

            The people outside the garden would be philosophical humans, but they would not be "true humans" because they lacked one key component of the theological definition of "human," namely they do not descend from AE.

          • swamidass

            With all due respect, you seem to misunderstand me.

            Using "true human" as a technical term, it would mean "intellective, spiritual-souled, animal that descends from Adam". Green slime man would be "intellective, spiritual-souled, animal that DOES NOT descend from Adam," and therefore not a "true human." People outside the garden would be "intellective, spiritual-souled, animals that DO NOT descend from Adam," and therefore not a "true humans," even though they are fully human and not beasts.

            Therefore, there would be no "true humans" (by these definitions) before or alongside Adam, even though there would be philosophical humans (intellective, spiritual-souled, animals that DO NOT descend from Adam) out and about. Because the theological doctrine does not reference these non-true humans, we do not have conflict with Catholic teaching.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            You define "true human" as meaning "intellective, spiritual-souled, animal that descends from Adam."

            If your definition of true human was what Pius XII intended, then his statement in H.G., 37, that "the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains 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" becomes a mere redundancy.

            That is, he was saying nothing at all, since it would then simply mean that the true men after Adam were true men that descended from Adam. I can only make sense of this if he were trying to say something meaningful, namely, that polygenism was excluded.

            He was intending explicitly to say that all men (rational animals) on earth with or after Adam were his biological descendants. That is precisely the reason that polygenism is excluded. Otherwise, there could have been other rational animals that were not descended from Adam.

            What I have added to this is that this teaching by Pius is also the dogmatic teaching of the Council of Trent, as Pius himself affirms in H.G., 37, when he refers to what "the documents of the Teaching Authority of the Church propose."

    • Phil Tanny

      Hi Dr. Swamidass,

      Can you summarize, hopefully in terms accessible to non-academics, why this topic merits our attention? I'm asking because...

      To me, the Book of Genesis is a deeply insightful commentary on the fundamental human condition of direct personal relevance to each of us today, and a remarkable bit of ancient prophecy which accurately predicts where our modern civilization finds itself today. Point being, I'm definitely interested in that story, as our relationship with knowledge seems central to the human experience.

      But I don't understand a focus on historical speculation regarding Adam and Eve's possible literal existence. However such speculation might go, how does anyone benefit from it?

      • swamidass

        Excellent question. I explain my answer in the publicly available first and last chapters of my book. Let me know what you think!

        https://peacefulscience.org/download/excerpt-genealogical-adam-eve/

        • Phil Tanny

          Apologies, not trying to be rude, but you'll need to share more to sell me on joining your list and downloading and reading your book.

          It looks like you have your own forum, but I can't get it to load.

          If you wish to briefly summarize your answer to my question I'll read it with interest, understand it is only a taste, and perhaps investigate further from there.

          Thank you.

          • swamidass

            Okay, than read the endorsements. They explain why they didn’t value. See for your self: https://peacefulscience.org/download/endorsements-genealogical-adam-eve/

          • Phil Tanny

            Thanks for the link, I read the endorsements. They don't explain why we should be concerned with whether Adam and Eve existed.

            I'm not against the topic, it just seems far less important and useful to me than other lessons we might take from the Book of Genesis.

            But, to be fair, there doesn't appear to be much interest in our relationship with knowledge, and I don't seem capable of explaining why we should care about that either.

            Good luck with your book. It seems I should just bow out of this subject and move along.

  • David Nickol is the best reason to entertain what otherwise is Dr. Bonnette's ludicrous exercise in contorting reason to accommodate a pointless belief in a literal Adam and Eve. To David's point, because we can agree that something is not 'scientifically impossible' it does not follow that it should be entertained as scientifically possible. It certainly isn't plausible. But as too many of the articles at this site make clear, when it comes to engaging science, the operating procedure is always the same: we know what the answer is supposed to be (according to Faith), now let's mangle reason in order to justify it. So much for Fides et Ratio....

    • Dennis Bonnette

      When you refer to belief in a literal Adam and Eve as being "a pointless belief," all you are saying is that you ridicule the religious beliefs of hundreds of millions of your fellow inhabitants of earth, whose doctrine of original sin and the implications of baptism you do not accept. The whole point of this site is to allow the rational discussion of such beliefs -- but that is another area not at issue in my article.

      When you say such belief "certainly isn't [scientifically] plausible," you completely ignore the interbreeding explanation offered by Dr. Kenneth Kemp and others as outlined in the article above. Even if you don't accept the alternative explanation that I personally propose above, you are on the wrong side of genetics if you claim that interbreeding could not account for present genetic diversity, while still comporting with theological monogenism.

      What you clearly reject is the plausibility of my own alternative scientific explanation (which I think is quite coherent if you have actually read the article and Dr. Joshua Swamidass's genetic analysis). But that is irrelevant to the simple fact that the interbreeding solution is entirely consistent with the science which you seem to think so abhorrent to Christian belief.

      The central point of my article was simply to show that the interbreeding solution might not be scientifically necessary.

    • Phil Tanny

      I'm not going to enter in to the Adam and Eve debate, other than to agree it's pointless, and not Catholic. It's not Catholic for intelligent educated people to waste time on such arcane abstractions while a billion human beings live on the edge of starvation. I declare myself to be equally guilty of engaging in similar pointless conversations. Trying to break some pretty bad habits...

      Pope Francis just gave an important speech about ridding this planet of thousands of hydrogen bombs. That's Catholic. And definitely not pointless.

      Ok, so Francis is just talking too, and as evidenced by the lack of discussion of nukes on this site, not doing an especially good job of mobilizing a billion Catholics to focus on this existential threat. Still, in credit to him, at least he's talking about a subject that actually matters.

      • Phil Tanny

        To be fair, I'm also on an atheist philosophy site right now, populated by folks who pride themselves on their ability to reason, and like all philosophy sites everywhere, there's also very little to no discussion of nuclear weapons, except that which I am able to briefly stir up.

        Ignoring nuclear weapons is not Catholic.

        Ignoring nuclear weapons is not an act of reason.

        Catholics and atheists, united at last!