Are Original Sin and Evolution Compatible?

Some Catholic thinkers argue that the doctrine of Original Sin and the theory of the evolution of the human body are incompatible. Consider, for example, this article from Remnant, written by Peter Wilders:

“Indeed, how can there have been a first man Adam who committed the original sin of pride in collusion with the first woman Eve, if he had ancestors going back into the mists of time? How can Adam, the perfect creation of God, have been a grunting Neanderthal or other such hominid species? If he were, the Church has lied and its dogmas have no application to Catholic teaching. Yet, the “credo” of today’s science is that there was a gradual development from a hydrogen particle to man. The notion of a single man created ex nihilo is not envisaged.[…]

Let it be clear. All speculation on Adam having had ancestors, in any form whatsoever, negates the teaching Magisterium of the Church.”

Let us examine these claims.

The doctrine of Original Sin holds that the first man, Adam, sinned through disobedience to God’s commandment. The consequences of that sin, namely a lack of sanctifying grace, are transmitted to Adam’s posterity.   Note that the action which constituted the Original Sin took place after Adam’s creation as the very first human being. So what we have here are two separate events: first, the creation of the first man, and later man’s fall.

Now, the theory of evolution holds with respect to man’s body that it was developed from a pre-existing animal body. Don’t forget that Catholic doctrine holds that man’s soul can only be created immediately by God; we cannot endorse any view which holds that man in his entirety (body and soul) is derived entirely from natural causes. However, we can hold that God created man’s body using a pre-existing animal body through some evolutionary process. Note Pope Pius XII’s Humani Generis:

“…[T]he Teaching Authority of the Church does not forbid that, in conformity with the present state of human sciences and sacred theology, research and discussions, on the part of men experienced in both fields, take place with regard to the doctrine of evolution, in as far as it inquires into the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter – for the Catholic faith obliges us to hold that souls are immediately created by God.”

Thus Catholics may hold the possibility that the human body was developed through some process of evolution, but Catholics must also maintain that the human soul is directly the creation of God.

Mr. Wilders seems to think that bodily ancestors to Adam would have to be some sort of sinless primitive humans. Orthodox Catholic advocates of evolution do not, and in fact cannot, claim this. The ancestors of Adam could not have been human, otherwise they would not have been ancestors of the first man, they would have been men themselves. The first man, whatever means God used to create him, was quite distinctly the first man. Any ancestors, if they existed, who contributed to the formation of his body were quite distinctly not men, but animals. There is and must be in Catholic teaching a clear demarcation between man and not-man.

Once you do have the first man, however, you have Adam, and Adam may sin. The doctrine of Original Sin applies to the first man and his descendents. It is irrelevant to his non-human bodily ancestors. Their existence has no bearing on his free choices as a man or the effects of those choices on his fully human ancestors.

Let’s also take a look at how Humani Generis treats the issue. Crucially, HG explicitly discusses the question of the compatibility of Original Sin and evolution. HG quite pointedly does not forbid investigation into the hypothesis of the development of man’s body via evolution. It does forbid a specific version of evolutionary theory, namely polygenesis, because that theory, in the words of HG, is not apparently reconcilable with the doctrine of Original Sin:

“When, however, there is question of another conjectural opinion, namely polygenism, the children of the Church by no means enjoy such liberty. 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.”

Thus, in one and the same document, the Church teaches that the doctrine of Original Sin is incompatible with one specific form of evolutionary theory, but also explicitly allows the general idea of human evolution without any other concerns about compatibility with Original Sin.

So, the pertinent magisterial document allows for the general compatibility of Original Sin and the evolution of the human body. Reason as well demonstrates their compatibility: evolution applies to some aspects of how man’s body was formed; Original Sin applies after the first man is in existence and disobeys God, regardless of the details of his coming-into-existence. They apply to two separate points.

53 comments on “Are Original Sin and Evolution Compatible?

  1. charles allan says:

    I believe that evolution is incompatible with Adam and Eve and the rest
    of the Bible. Eg where on the ape to man continuum would Judgement
    and eternal life take place. God says He created all living things.

    If the Church cannot believe that Adam was made instantly from earth then how can it believe in the resurrection since Jesus was dead and his
    three trillion cells had returned to earth or dust. Plus Lazarus was dead
    and smelling so his body had returned to dust . So God did not need
    evolution . The loaves and the fishes were instantly created.

    To believe in evolution takes the miracles out of the Bible.

    There is also nowadays an abundance of creation evidence – such as diamonds , coal oil gas and the sedimentary column C14 dating when they should show not a trace.
    Behe and Denton have demonstrated the astounding complexity of the
    cells inner workings which Darwin knew nothing about.

    So I think most churches have tended to obfuscate – the arguments. – rather than take on the scientific establishment.

    However take some old lady or other non scientific church member who
    believes that the Creation must have come from God but is not interested
    or capable in grasping the scientific detail. Should a church expel that
    member -In my opinion I don’t think so. So I think the Churches have tried to be all things to all men – Eg there will be a lot of evolutionists in the Churches, scientists etc that the churches may lose if they insist on
    a very strict creationist view – some people are not scientific.

    But Darwin’s crazy theory has done untold damage to the Church and
    society.

    How does an evolutionist believe that about 20 billion humans are going
    to instantly resurrected with new eternal bodies.

    • Thomas E. Vaughan says:

      Judgment and eternal life would take place only at the point of man on the ape-to-man continuum, if evolution of the body were admitted as a real possibility. That is, at the point of God’s special creation of the first human soul. Or perhaps I do not understand your initial question.

      It is not the case that “the Church cannot believe that Adam was made instantly from the earth”. Rather, the Church permits the Catholic to entertain the special creation of Adam’s body as a real possibility, just as she permits the Catholic to entertain evolution of the body as a real possibility. The permission to entertain the possibility of the evolution of the body in no way denies the reality of miracles, in which the ordinary laws of nature are suspended. The Church just teaches that although there are certain truths revealed in Genesis, the special creation of Adam’s body is merely a possibility and not one of the certain truths. To be sure, the special creation of Adam’s body has been considered probable by most Catholics over history, but this has never been a definition of the Church. Elsewhere in scripture, there are many examples in which the Church teaches that a miraculous event is a certain, revealed truth.

      To believe in evolution might take one miraculous interpretation out of a reading of the Bible. However, considering the evolution of the body as a real possibility is not the same thing as believing in evolution. In my view, a Catholic should not believe in evolution, just as he should not ever believe in any scientific theory. A scientific theory is not a proper object of belief. After all, it can be disproved through observation but never proved. Nevertheless, the possibility of the evolution of the body might reduce the special creation of Adam from a certainty in the mind to a possibility in the mind.

      The Church does not demand that an uneducated person (or anyone for that matter) subscribe to any particular scientific theory. The Church does, however, point out where a nominally scientific theory stops being scientific, as when it makes non-scientific, philosophical claims. Also, the Church claims the authority to interpret scripture and to identify what interpretations of scripture are permissible to the Catholic.

  2. Tim J. says:

    This subject is even more interesting to me now, as I am in the middle of reading C.S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy.

    • M. B. says:

      Tim, funny you should mention that — I’ve got an essay upcoming in the Sept. issue of “Touchstone” about Lewis’ view of space as portrayed in the Space Trilogy …

  3. Miracles God says:

    Great post, and I love the space trilogy, especially Perelandra =)

    Physical death came by man, but evolution claims man came through death, and one can’t have it both ways. Death is and has always been a curse (Deut. 30:15,19; Ezek. 18:32; John 5:24; Rom. 5:12,17,21; 6:16,21,23; 8:2,6; I Cor. 15:21,26,54-56; Heb. 2:14, James 1:15, Rev. 1:18), but macroevolution, whether theistic or not, requires that God formed man through unimaginable suffering and death. Macroevolution therefore slanders God’s perfectly loving character for man and all the rest of His creation, since it would require God to curse the universe from the beginning. The truth is death has always been a curse, and our loving God has no pleasure in it. It is a bitter enemy as a direct result of spiritual condemnation of man’s sin and not before, and one day this temporary curse will be graciously and permanently removed according to God’s original creative intent (Rev. 20:14, 21:4-5).

    Evolution is sold as scientific through today’s educational system, but it is the opposite of true science, see Miracles of God, Evolution or False Prophets?. Moreover, an increasingly large percentage of today’s leading scientists believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as intelligent designer of the universe and life. Even atheist evolutionists clearly see positive evidence for intelligent design of the universe and life — they just refuse to believe what they see. Check out Intelligent Design vs. Evolution — The Miracle of Intelligent Design.

    Evolution isn’t compatible with the Bible’s teaching about the cause of physical death, which is the sin of man; and it is also not compatible with God’s loving character, original or eternal stated intent for His creation. If one believes in a God that formed or develops life through death, it is not the God of the Bible.

    • charles allan says:

      Mircales – Well Said

    • Thomas E. Vaughan says:

      You raise some very good and interesting points.

      That the bodily death of the human person is a curse and that God is not the author of this death are certain. So you have a couple of good premises.

      Your conclusion does not follow, however, in part because you have not proved another premise that you assume. Whether the death of animals is comparable to the death of a human being and whether animals can really suffer as a human being can suffer are debatable points.

      Although I tend to agree with you that the death of animals reflects a brokenness in nature, a brokenness of which God is not the author, I still do not then leap to the conclusion that macroevolution is an impossibility.

      There is another possibility, one which is rarely considered in a discussion such as this, and I am always pointing it out whenever I join in. Likely, those who recognize me here are tired of it (and me).

      It could be that even though Adam is the first human person in time as we know it, Adam is the first human person in a more fundamental sense. Priority in time is only one kind of priority. There is also priority in logic and in thought. Just as God makes the angels free in eternity (outside of time), it could be that Adam and Eve were initially free in eternity and that their choice in eternity broke the universe very deeply, so that the even the laws of physics throughout all of time in this universe are affected by Original Sin. It is very difficult to express a vision of eternity in human words, and the vision of the Garden in Genesis may be a vision of eternity.

      The Church teaches that all physical evil is the result of Original Sin. Considering the hypothesis of evolution as if it were true, the Catholic would seem forced to choose between

      (1) Adam’s initially being shielded by grace from the pre-existing brokenness of the universe only until he sinned or

      (2) Adam’s initially existing in an unbroken universe (possibly even without time but nevertheless allowing for him to exercise freedom).

      In the second case, the consequence of his bodily sin in the perfect universe was not only the breaking of his body but also, by the physical connection of his body to the universe, the breaking of the whole universe throughout all time.

  4. Human Ape says:

    I’m two days late so nobody will read this.

    “Are Original Sin and Evolution Compatible?”

    Who cares? Original Sin is a goofy idea and not worth taking seriously.

    Science is a lot easier to accept when people throw out ancient superstitions. Clinging to ridiculous religious beliefs just makes life more complicated than it has to be.

    I ask evolution-deniers to read and/or listen to this Rhode Island radio speech from biology professor Ken Miller:

    http://darwin-killed-god.blogspot.com/2010/07/if-theres-anything-that-might-make.html

    • Thomas E. Vaughan says:

      You say that Original Sin is a goofy idea.

      Do you know why Catholics consider it to be important, apart from the fact that the Church claims Original Sin to be a certainty of revelation?

      You would seem to be misinformed if you think that the Catholics are in any way opposed to science. With respect to the topic in this thread, and following Pope Pius XII, the Church teaches that the evolution of the human body is to be considered a real possibility.

      If you think that science is something to be “accepted” as if it proclaimed some truth, then you would appear to have a misconception about the nature of science. A scientific theory can be proved false but never proved true, and so it seems to me not to be a proper object of belief. Of course, if you just mean that we should accept the judgment of the relevant scientific community as to which theories at present best fit the data, then I agree with you. But this is not to say that any of them of true.

      Although there might be evolution-deniers who post here, the Catholics who post here are likely to be persons who admit at least the formal possibility of the evolution of the human body.

  5. charles allan says:

    Apeman – there are about 2 mllion DNA differences between man and ape
    plus lots of switch on and turn off genes which can disable DNA.

    Bananas have 50% of your DNA – do you feel like a banana.

    Dogs look so different – compare poodle with dachhund but they are
    still dogs and can breed.

    Just because an ape looks slightly human means nothing.

    I ask creation deniers to look at BEHE AND DENTONS animations
    of the working of the cell – and will you still think a muddy pool created
    them ???????

    As Hoyle the astronomer said it would be easier to believe that a gale
    blowing through a garbage dump could create a fully working plane
    than a cell could create itself. It was basically due to Darwin’s ignorance
    of celulllar biology that he could produce such a crazy still unproven theory.

  6. charles allan says:

    Science is based on logic so one should say I don’t like original sin
    therefore I will blindly choose science because it sounds better or appeals to me ????

    There is no scientific logic or proof in evolutionary theory.

    Look at the world it full of original sin.

  7. Thomas E. Vaughan says:

    The author of the article wrote:

    “Once you do have the first man, however, you have Adam, and Adam may sin. The doctrine of Original Sin applies to the first man and his descendents. It is irrelevant to his non-human bodily ancestors.”

    That last sentence is not necessarily true.

    The Church teaches that even physical evil is the result of Original Sin.

    The question is whether the laws of physics are seen as broken by virtue of their naturally leading to the death of animals and also to the suffering and death of human beings.

    It is quite natural for a tornado to kill an innocent baby. This follows from our understanding of physics. One might adopt the position that the laws of physics hold at all times, even before Adam in history. Either Adam’s sin removed an extra miraculous grace that existed for a short time after his appearance and prevented the universe from hurting Adam according to its nature, or the universe itself, created by God initially to exist in bodily harmony with the human person, was damaged by Adam’s sin. But according to the hypothesis that the laws of physics hold at all times, Adam’s breaking of the universe would need to be an eternal event. In this view, Original sin affects even Adam’s animal ancestors.

    See my response above to Miracles God.

    • M. B. says:

      Thomas,

      Yes, this is a thought I have given some thought to — if we accept that Adam’s sin had effects throughout natural creation, as Paul teaches, what does that mean about Creation before his sin? Did the effects spread backwards through time, so to speak? C. S. Lewis offers some similar speculation, postulating that for those in Heaven, all of their history will be seen as a development of Heaven, and for those in hell the opposite. I haven’t had time to work this out, though, so I’d be careful about endorsing it too heartily. It is nevertheless a very thought-provoking idea…

    • Thomas E. Vaughan says:

      M.B. wrote, “if we accept that Adam’s sin had effects throughout natural creation, as Paul teaches, what does that mean about Creation before his sin?”

      The most obvious meaning to me is that “before” should refer not to temporal precedence but to a logical precedence of some kind. There seems to be no time in the physical history of the universe before the sin of Adam. At every time, even at a time arbitrarily close to the beginning of time, the universe seems to have been as broken as it is now.

      Your question above might be seen to involve a misconception similar to the one which seeks to avoid the necessity of the Creator by the assertion that the universe is infinitely old. Of course you do not harbor this misconception, but the idea that no beginning implies no creation (as if creation must be localized to a point at the beginning of time) is similar to the idea that no Fall at a particular point in time implies no Fall (as if the Fall must be localized to a point near the beginning of human history in the world as we see it).

      M.B. wrote, “Did the effects spread backwards through time, so to speak?”

      In the view that I am proposing, no.

      The effect of the Original Sin would spread backward in time only if the Sin were committed in the broken history. But the Original Sin would rather be what causes the universe to be broken at all times, and so the Original Sin must therefore be directed against that which is not broken, in order to break it.

      It would be better to say that in this view the Original Sin is committed in eternity. This view would require that in the logical (not temporal) beginning, God created the physical universe perfectly suited to Adam and Eve. But they did something in eternity to break it, and it might even be that time itself is an effect of Original Sin.

      I am not familiar with your reference to the interesting speculation of Lewis. Do you have a reference?

      As an aside, I might point out that there *is* an event that did occur in the history of the broken world so that its effects might properly be seen to flow both backward and forward in time from it: the Incarnation.

      We believe that through the Logos all things were made. Even without the Incarnation, there is truly a sense in which creation is eternal, so that even if the universe were infinitely old, there is still a logical beginning in the Creator. Nevertheless, there is also a focus in time for creation, regardless of whether the universe is infinitely old. The Incarnation was a real event in the history of the broken world, and it might even be seen as the event that holds all of history in existence, for it is in the Incarnation that the physical world touches and flows out from God, in a sense, both backward and forward in time.

    • Thomas E. Vaughan says:

      By the way, the two most interesting aspects of this speculation, to me, are

      (1) that something like the possibility of an eternal Fall seems necessary in order to provide for the possibility of the evolution of the human body and

      (2) that even if Adam and Eve sinned in eternity to damage the universe so that it now appears to have more than a ten-billion-year history with physical laws that naturally lead to the death of every living thing, Adam and Eve ended up appearing, as a consequence of that sin, in the broken world at a particular point in its history.

    • M. B. says:

      Thomas,

      The Lewis reference is from “The Great Divorce.” You offers some good thoughts, but like I said I haven’t had a chance to really sit down and work this question out. Perhaps I will do so and draw up a future post on it. Do you have any references you would suggest on the topic?

    • Thomas E. Vaughan says:

      M.B.,

      Thanks for taking the time to respond. I need to read more Lewis, and so I’ll put The Great Divorce onto my list.

      Yes, I should very much enjoy seeing another post of yours along this line in the future.

      Unfortunately, I don’t have any good references.

      My observations and conjectures on this topic arise out of my own feeble struggle to reconcile the possibility of evolution with the idea that even physical evil is the result of moral evil.

      Of course, I desire to arrive at a view that is consistent with the Catholic Faith, and I am prepared to jettison any speculation if I became convinced that it is inconsistent with the Faith.

      The brief spurt of activity that I have put into messages on this thread does not reflect a realistic level of effort on my part. I seem unable to make the time to read the publications that I need to read in order to make real progress toward ruling out what might end up being a bunch of silly speculations arising out of fundamental ignorance.

      My lack of formal training in philosophy and theology makes me suspicious of my speculations.

      The bottom line, however, is that the universe looks to me so deeply broken as to necessitate a view of the Fall that is deeper than the view that we learn as children in the third grade. If we don’t go deeper, then we’re forced to posit ad-hoc solutions, such as the idea that the first persons had magical shields to protect them from death by bad weather, at least until they sinned, and then God took the shields away.

      This just doesn’t square with the idea that God created the universe for man to meet his bodily needs.

      As things now stand as a consequence of the Fall, man’s body seems to behave precisely as other things in nature behave, and the rules governing things in nature appear from astronomical observations to extend essentially unchanged far back in time before the appearance of the first humans in the history of this world. Everything seems to have been broken since long before man came along to make his first mistakes in time.

  8. SG says:

    charles allan Says,

    “As Hoyle the astronomer said it would be easier to believe that a gale
    blowing through a garbage dump could create a fully working plane
    than a cell could create itself.”

    But what would happen if an infinite number of gales blew through an infinite number of junkyards??

    Not only would at least one “fully working plane” be the result, but at least one exact duplicate of Boeing’s new dreamliner.

    Are you saying that you have proof that the universe is NOT infinite?

    SG

    • Thomas E. Vaughan says:

      There might be an infinite set of gales and junkyards that would *not* ever produce a working airplane.

      And there might be a different infinite set of gales and junkyards that *would* eventually produce a working airplane.

      Similarly, even if the volume of the physical universe were infinite, it might still be that cellular life would never arise naturally.

      Or, if the volume of the physical universe were infinite, it might be that cellular life would arise naturally in at least one place.

      We just don’t know whether life arose naturally, regardless of whether the universe has infinite volume.

      I think that a Catholic, at least, should be able to accept the possibility that living organisms arise naturally in the physical universe.

      However, even if the physical universe naturally gives rise to living organisms, it does *not* follow that the physical universe naturally gives rise to a being with a free will and an intellect.

    • Anonymous says:

      “However, even if the physical universe naturally gives rise to living organisms, it does *not* follow that the physical universe naturally gives rise to a being with a free will and an intellect.”

      Then how could God have arisen from the nothingness?

      And I am not buying either: He just IS or He always HAS BEEN.

      Those are both just cop-outs.

      Oh and – charles allan Says,

      Yes I studied statistics, and I dont recall a part of the class titled – “The Statistics of Infinities”.

      Last time I checked, no mathematicians could do meaningful statistics on probabilities of events occurring in an infinite universe.

    • Thomas E. Vaughan says:

      Anonymous,

      Who claims that God arose “from the nothingness”? I think that no one here makes that claim.

      I think that claims about God often do not amount to a cop-out.

      One may start by defining “God” not to be something (like my dog) that has existence. Rather, God is existence itself, whatever must be in a thing (or in its constituents, at the bottom) so that the thing exists. Now if this were all that there is to God, then it would be a cop out. This is just a basic definition, a starting point for thinking about things, and shouldn’t even be particularly controversial, except that some would say that the definition is not very useful.

      There are many radical claims about God, but these can be seen according to the above definition as radical claims about existence itself. Among the most radical are the claims that existence itself is rational, intelligent, and free, lending itself to (creating) things in an orderly, intelligible way according to its desire so that they exist.

      Most of statistics presupposes the existence of infinite sets. The problem with gales and junkyards is that they are not well defined infinite sets.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thomas,

      “Who claims that God arose “from the nothingness”? I think that no one here makes that claim.”

      I was merely responding to the statement:

      “even if the physical universe naturally gives rise to living organisms, it does *not* follow that the physical universe naturally gives rise to a being with a free will and an intellect.”

      So what frame of reference must we put ourselves in to imagine:
      A physical universe WHICH naturally gives rise to a being with a free will and an intellect such as GOD ??

      If we cannot imagine such a universe, then God should not exist…..

      I say that we have two “statistically significant” samples:

      One in which something “GOD-like” can exist
      and a Second in which WE can exist under God.

      If those are not two cases of: “A physical universe WHICH naturally gives rise to a being with a free will”

      Then I do not understand what can be more “statistically significant” than that.

      We only really have one example of “universe with intelligent life” and it has intelligent life in it.

      So I say (as far as we know) the chance of intelligent life beginning in a “Universe” is 100%.

    • Thomas E. Vaughan says:

      Anonymous,

      At the most basic level, God is by definition not a thing that has existence but is rather existence itself. So whether the universe has the property of giving rise to a thing of some kind or not is irrelevant to the existence of God. The question of God, at the most basic level, really just boils down to whether anything at all exists. That is, to whether God creates anything or not, to whether existence itself participates in anything or not. (Of course, there are radical claims, from the Jews and Christians for example, about the nature of existence itself, and these might be considered, but that’s secondary in this context.)

      By “naturally gives rise to living organisms” I mean that the matter and energy in the physical universe, organized and evolving according to the laws (nature) of the physical universe, might at some point spontaneously generate living organisms. It is not obvious to me why this could not be so, just by way of a materialist explanation of things.

      There are, however, reasons to suspect that materialism cannot explain the existence of a mind with an intellect and a free will. Even if materialism could account for the existence of living organisms, it is by no means clear that materialism can account for living organisms with intellect and freedom.

      The existence of things that have minds suggests that something other than space, matter, energy, and their laws for interaction exists. These other things—not God but other, non-material things that God creates—would seem to exist apart from the physical universe of matter, energy, space, and time.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thomas,

      “At the most basic level, God is by definition not a thing that has existence but is rather existence itself. So whether the universe has the property of giving rise to a thing of some kind or not is irrelevant to the existence of God.”

      But, however, there must have been the premise of:

      “Rather, God is existence itself, whatever must be in a thing (or in its constituents, at the bottom) so that the thing exists.”

      And

      “physical universe naturally gives rise to a being with a free will and an intellect.”

      So are we saying that there was NOT some sort of “universe” in which GOD himself was some construct of a “free will and an intellect.”

      Are we arguing that God does not posses: “free will and an intellect.” and therefore does not require an “existence” him/herself?

      I know this can go on & on, but to assume that our universe is so special that WE are a miracle presupposes that the “construct” that allowed God to exist is just as unlikely, but we just ASSUME HE exists…..

      Sounds a bit circular to me…
      Well. We KNOW GOD exists, but for US to exist without a GOD is preposterous….Umm wait a minute….

    • Thomas E. Vaughan says:

      Anonymous,

      Your thinking is too hard for me to follow. I certainly would never advance the premise that a being with intellect and free will could arise naturally within the physical universe. In fact, there are good reasons to doubt any materialistic explanation of intellect and free will. So I don’t know where you get that.

      For the moment, I am not ascribing any attributes to God but merely defining “God” as “existence itself”. One might consider (or reject) other claims about God at a later point in the discussion. For example, one might at some point discuss the claim that existence itself has an intellect. But that would be down the road in this discussion because there seems still to be some misunderstanding or miscommunication about whether God is seen to arise from something else.

      Existence itself is the logical starting point for all of being. With respect to things that have existence, existence itself is both immanent and transcendent. Immanent because existence itself is in everything that has existence. Transcendent because existence itself is other than everything that has existence. Even without the attribution of other predicates (like intellect, freedom, etc.) to existence itself, it is natural to identify existence itself with God, if for no other reason than that the God of the Western tradition is seen as both immanent and transcendent with respect to everything that has existence. So even if you never come to see God as the Jew or Christian sees God, you might nevertheless recognize existence itself as possessing a couple of the features of the Jewish God.

      With respect to the existence of bodily creatures, like humans, with intellect and free will, it is no more a miracle that our intellects did not arise through natural processes within the physical universe than it is a miracle that anything at all exists. The existence of a mind in a human being just suggests that the physical universe is not the full set of all things that have existence.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thomas said:

      “Your thinking is too hard for me to follow.”

      I agree with everything you have said above.

      I was merely making a point to those that think that Humans could not possibly exist without “intelligent design”.

      My point is this: If it is preposterous to imagine that living cells can self-assemble without the intervention of a higher being, then is is just as preposterous to believe that GOD came about without a higher level being.

      That still makes sense even if GOD is just “existence itself”

      If GOD can “self-assemble” or just exist without a creator, then why is it so hard to believe that lifeforms like us can come into being without a creator?

      Based on that, see if this makes more sense (or irony):

      Well. We KNOW GOD exists, but for US to exist without a GOD is preposterous….Umm wait a minute….

      And POOF, GOD disappears in a puff of logic.

    • Thomas E. Vaughan says:

      Anonymous,

      You wrote:

      “I was merely making a point to those that think that Humans could not possibly exist without ‘intelligent design’.”

      Those who promote what has recently been called Intelligent Design (ID) seem to make the deeper claim that even the structures in single-celled organisms (not just humans) have an “irreducible complexity” that requires special creation because the physical universe could not have given rise to these structures through physical process.

      I am skeptical of this and of ID. ID seems to me to invoke a false god of the gaps.

      Plants, animals, and even the human body might be the products of some natural evolutionary process. Naturalism, however, seems inconsistent with the existence of the human mind, for various reasons. For example, there are for materialists at least three serious mind-body problems, related respectively to consciousness, intentionality, and rationality (http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2010/08/fodors-trinity.html). Also, there is Roger Penrose’s argument that thought is non-algorithmic, whereas physical laws appear to be algorithmic. And there’s a lot more.

      You wrote:

      “If it is preposterous to imagine that living cells can self-assemble without the intervention of a higher being, then is is just as preposterous to believe that GOD came about without a higher level being.

      That still makes sense even if GOD is just ‘existence itself’.”

      Like you, I disagree with the ID folks about the possible natural assembly of organelles, but you still appear to be missing a fundamental point here.

      If God is existence itself, then God did not “come about”. Existence itself is the logical origin of all being, regardless of how many (even infinite) layers of universe-within-a-universe might exist and regardless of whether the universe is infinitely old. Either a contingent thing exists or it doesn’t. If so, then it depends on existence itself (and on other things, too). Existence itself, however, is not contingent; it doesn’t depend on anything. Existence itself is known to be if any contingent thing, like my dog, is known to be, simply in order logically to satisfy the contingency and thereby to allow the contingent thing to exist. That is, there must be existence if some contingent thing has existence.

      You might at this point still deny that existence itself has any ideas about design, but you should be able to see, if you think about it, that existence itself is that which allows for the case in which something actually exists (and we know this to be true because we are here), as opposed to the case in which nothing exists (and we know this to be false because we are here).

      You wrote:

      “If GOD can ‘self-assemble’ or just exist without a creator, then why is it so hard to believe that lifeforms like us can come into being without a creator?”

      The difference between existence itself and things that have existence is precisely the difference between the creator and the created, even if you think that the creator has no mind.

      Nothing can exist without existence itself, just as no creature can exist without the creator. These mean the same thing.

      But that’s not the right response to your question. The right response is that the physical universe (presumably a collection of things that have existence and that interact according to some rules) might have a structure such that living things could develop within it according to its own rules. The ID folks seem to think that something must have happened, at least at one point, outside the rules of the physical universe in order for life to exist in the physical universe. I look at that suspiciously, as you seem also to do. But the case of the human mind is a different thing, as you can readily discover by reading some stuff on the philosophy of mind.

      You wrote:

      “Well. We KNOW GOD exists, but for US to exist without a GOD is preposterous….Umm wait a minute….

      And POOF, GOD disappears in a puff of logic.”

      Douglas Adams is sometimes very funny, but his bit that seems to have inspired this relies on a misconception. God does not require faith to exist, and there must be at least one thing that is not contingent in order for contingent things to exist.

  9. charles allan says:

    SG
    GALES MAKING A PLANE – (teh eh)

    This is a rehash of the old argument about monkeys and typewriters
    eventually coming up with Hamlet. Sorry the probablility mathematicians
    have declared this “ABSURD”

    The likliehood of a SINGLE protein molecule being arranged by chance
    is ONE IN 10 to the power of 161.
    The number of atoms in the whole universe is est. at 10 to the power of 80. So we would need 10 to the power of 81 universes for this to happen IE ten times more universes than there are atoms in our own universe. FOR ONE PROTEIN MOLECULE ???????????????
    ( Dr James Coppedge – probability expert)

    Plus random changes go backward as well as forward so even if your
    plane is 10% complete the next gale can blow it to bits. Something Dawkins avoids in his blind watchmaker idiocy.

    The lengths people will go to to avoid the existence of God are astonishing.

    Is anyone ever taught probability theory these days .

    Bear in mind this is for ONE protein molecule – we have thousands
    in our bodies all working in harmony.

    When you start your random plane making company let me know
    so that I can avoid investing in it.

    By the way I take it you are a died in the wool evolutionist who has not
    studied probability theory ?

  10. charles allan says:

    So Jesus the pre incarnate Son of God who ” threw the stars into the sky”
    and through whom alll things were created him was told by his father he would have to come through the ape line together with his mother – starting off as say a jellyfish. What manner of nonsense is this – no wonder so many Catholics turn to Bible believing churches.

    ” It is easy enough to MAKE UP STORIES of how one form gave rise to another …… but such stories are not part of science .”

    “Fossils may tell us many things but one thing they can never disclose is
    whether they were ancestors of anything else”

    Colin Patterson – Senior Palaeontologist at the British Museum of Natural
    History ( what an honest evolutionist)

    “Evolution is baseless and quite incredible” Ambrose Fleming BAAS.

    “The lack of intermediate life forms persists as the trade secret of
    palaeontology ” Stephen Jay Gould – evolutionist.

    • Thomas E. Vaughan says:

      Charles allan wrote,
      ‘So Jesus the pre incarnate Son of God who ” threw the stars into the sky” and through whom alll things were created him was told by his father he would have to come through the ape line together with his mother – starting off as say a jellyfish.’

      The possibility that the body of the Mary, in whom the Son’s body drew nourishment at took form, might have been constructed by a brutal evolutionary process is surely nothing in comparison to the fact that the Son of God was told by his Father that His body would be killed by crucifiction.

      The idea that the evolution of the body is somehow beneath the dignity of Christ seems a bit silly when put into proper perspective.

      If you think about all of the disgusting aspects of a human body, the fact that God would become man is really amazing, regardless of the origin of the disgusting aspects.

    • charles allan says:

      Thomas
      Not quite sure of the contrasts you are making . But there
      is no scientific evidence for evolution and also the Bible does not mention it.
      It is just a baseless unproven theory re started by an untrained man who mistook ADAPTATION of species for the complete change of one “kind” of animal into another by chance processes. EG His finch stuff is nonsense – they can adapt their beaks and are still …… finches.

      Hoever Evolution was not invented by Darwin – it goes back thousands of years. Plus Darwin got his ideas from people
      like Wallace.

      So I am 100% sure that Jesus and his mother were NOT descended through apes. Just because an ape looks humanoid means nothing – we have 50% DNA in common
      with bananas but we look nothing like them.
      Jesus made cooked fish instantly without using “a brutal evolutionary process” Lazarus was instantly recreated
      without a “brutal evolutionary process”

      When Adam and Eve were created there were no “disgusting”
      aspects to them – this came through the “curse”
      In Heaven there will be no disgusting aspects – “nothing
      unclean will enter Heaven”

      We knew Adam’s age so the original sin started early on before they had children.

      It all goes back to the refusal to take God at his word

      ” did God really say that ” ” did God really mean that”

      Evolution is a great deception of the Devil. It is the start of
      the slippery slope of disbelieving the Word of God.

      PS -Still waiting for anyone on the site to give only ONE example of macro evolution.

    • Thomas E. Vaughan says:

      Charles,

      Your earlier post (in which you consider that Jesus “was told by his father he would have to come through the ape line”) suggested that the evolution of the body is beneath the dignity of the Christ. I just pointed out that, even if the body were the product of an evolutionary process, then the Christ’s mission was still to suffer a much greater affront to His dignity.

      As to the rest,

      (1) Would you claim that there could never be idea of speciation that is consistent with the observable evidence?

      (2) How do you have you come to the conclusion that the revealed truth of a particular passage of scripture resides at the level of the literal?

  11. charles allan says:

    SG
    Anyone found ONE example of evolution ???? If the evolutionists haven’t
    then how can a Christian. There should be millions of examples. No evolutionist has ever come up with ONE credible answer. It is all done by
    artists imaginations and digital manipulation.

    A transitional has to last millions of years to become another transitional
    therefore millions must have survived. Have you ever seen a squid chasing deer that can also eat pine cones and give birth under water AND CATCH FISH ?

    It is always a great question for evolutionists – give me ONE example -floors them.

    Google up ” Dawkins Stumped ” for a laugh – not for the disputed pause
    - but for the gibberish he comes out with re the genome – He must be on
    the lower scores of IQ. He is a showman rather than a scientist.
    But far more dangerous is Attenborough due to his sublety and old boy English style.
    David was honest enough to admit his flying monkey did not turn into a bird and apologised to his fellow scientists. (recent program)

    PS bacterial resistance is not evolution – it is already built in.

    Adaptation is always confused with evolution – Darwin’s great mistake.

  12. charles allan says:

    The Bible says original sin began in the Garden of Eden. Some Creationists assume that animals could speak like us but God took this power away from them after the snake deceived Eve. You might laugh but we all know the parrot can speak ( and Balaam’s donkey for a while)

    Thomas the statisticians say a junkyard wind could never produce a plane
    (It is called ABSURD) – look at the odds on one protein above.

    If you saw a crashed spaceship on the other side of the moon and I said
    it could have designed and made itself by accident – you would laugh your head off – I hope.

    It seems that the Word of God is being replaced by mystic philosophy
    and gnosticism.

    God can create instantly – he can move the sun backwards.

    Why not google up BEHE’s animations of the living cell – they are billions
    of times more complex than a plane .

    Compare the self taught taxonomist Darwin with Behe’ s up to date
    knowledge using the electron microscope.

  13. charles allan says:

    Thomas
    Saying the crucifixion adds credibility to an evolutionary approach merely because it is humiliating is very tenuous and illogical.
    If I came through the ape line ( which I did not) I would know nothing about it .

    Answer to 1 – Yes I gave you a few quotes above from evolutionists who say there is no evidence – I actually could have filled pages from evolutionists who say we have found nothing. And Paul in the Bible says our flesh is different from the animals. Dawkins and Attenborough
    are showmen who never give detail. The observable evidence points to creationism and Bible literalism more than ever now.

    LITERALISM – We have to accept something literally unless it is clear from the context that it is symbolic metaphorical etc and is clearly not to be taken literally.
    However this still does not stop us taking a literal meaning.
    Eg I can say this car goes like lightning – this means its fast – but obviously not as fast as lightning.
    But generally the Bible should be taken literally. Eg If Jesus says there
    is a Hell of eternal torment and is backed up by the rest of scripture- then
    this should be taken literally.
    Remember it is the Devil who said ” did God really say that ? ” in other
    words he undermined literalism.

    REVELATION – which is supposedly symbolic actually explains what the
    symbolism means right the way through– so it is an easy book to understand.
    Jesus also wanted us to read Revelation – see start – and not take away or add to any passage.

    • Thomas E. Vaughan says:

      Charles, I did not say that the crucifixion lends credibility to an evolutionary hypothesis.

      However, I did say that to attempt (as you appeared to do) to rule out an evolutionary hypothesis on the basis of an affront to the dignity of Christ is to employ a specious line of reasoning.

      1. Let’s ignore the biologists for a moment. Are we to suppose that the geologists are uniformly incompetent in their ability to provide relative ages for strata?

      2. Why should we default to the assumption that the truth of revelation lies in the literal meaning?

  14. charles allan says:

    Thomas – EVOLUTION IS A RELIGION – NO FACTUAL BASIS

    I thought you said it was more that the humiliation of evolution would be similar to crucifixion therefore one reinforces the other ??
    I would suggest it is blasphemy to say that Mary the mother of Jesus came from the say the jellyfish through to the ape line.

    YES – ANY GEOLOGIST WHO BELIEVES IN EVOLUTION BY PRETENDING HE CAN DATE THE STRATA IS EITHER INCOMPETENT OR LYING
    The main assumption of the geological column has not changed since LYELL. He was a lawyer who knew nothing about geology and did not have the scientific methods necessary.

    CIRCULAR REASONING
    You see the strata is dated by CIRCULAR reasoning – utterly unscientific.
    The strata is dated by the fossils found in it and the fossils are dated
    by where they are found in the strata. There is nowhere in the world where the strata match up. Although we expect most sea creatures to
    be encased lower down due to the mud flows from the Noachin flood.
    Most intelligent animals would move to higher ground and be drowned
    and rot – like humans – that is why there are so few human fossils.

    The strata are exactly what we would expect as evidence for a world wide flood. A fossil can only be formed by a flood ( which geologists admit)
    (or occasionally a lava flow as at Pompey). It needs a catastrophe to
    encase the creature quickly in sediment.

    Wilberforce won the debate but the newspapers wanted the headlines. Most of the world’s surface – about 80- 90% is sedimentary ie laid down by a flood with billions of fossil creatures not one of which shows missing links. There are trilobites at the top of mount Everest. Every mountain range shows fossils. Darwin said if no links were found after he died then his theory is sunk. He also observed the sudden appearance of fully formed species as they look like today.

    C14 dating was ignored since it only goes to about 100,000 yrs.
    HOWEVER the RATE team are now C14 dating ALL coal oil gas and diamonds at 40,000 years – they should show not a trace.
    There was less C14 before the Flood – it is still building up.

    Plus google up National Geographic for the dinosaur soft tissue find.
    Do you believe soft tissue can last 70 million years ?????????

    Lava from a 200 year old volcano was sent round labs for radiometric
    daing and the labs came up with dates ranging from 200 million to
    1.2 BILLION years.

    There are plenty of creationist websites which deal with the flood layers
    because that is what they are – FLOOD LAYERS – even evolutionists admit this.

    Also there are (old) mountains which sit atop layers of ( much younger)sediment ( supposdly 200 million years younger) and the geologists have never explained this .
    Maybe mountains can be blown by strong winds ????

    I recommend a copy of Morris and Whitcomb’s – “the Genesis Flood ”

    Dr MACKAY has a website – he is an experienced geologist unlike
    LYELL.

    I would avoid “talk origins” which is mainly purely evolutionary but gives
    the impression of careful discussion.

    • Thomas E. Vaughan says:

      Charles,

      I do not deny the possibility of literal truth in the early chapters of Genesis.

      But you insist on the certainty of the literal truth.

      On the one hand, the problem with trying to use scientific arguments for your view is that scientific theories at best offer only possible explanations of the data and are not proper objects of belief. The “creation science” folks, who argue that various literal claims in Genesis can be proved by science, make exactly the same mistake that the materialistic atheists make when they try to use science to claim that God does not exist, that the human person is just a bunch of matter, etc. Also, regardless of the nonsense philosophical claims of some in the scientific communities, the right authority to say which scientific theories best fit the data rests with the research communities surrounding the peer-reviewed journals.

      On the other hand, it seems that you uncritically select only those theories that fit with your prejudice regarding the interpretation of scripture. You may appeal to convenient and sympathetic sources as you wish, but if you do not acknowledge that even atheists can do good scientific work, then you will make no real progress in any discussion of science.

      The fundamental problem with your view, from my point of view, is that it lacks a proper appeal to authority to say which interpretations of scripture are permissible and which are not. Much of the real controversy would disappear, for example, if you accepted the authority of the Church to guide you in possible interpretations. A Catholic is free to argue that the early chapters of Genesis do contain literal truth as you suggest, but he is not free to insist that a contrary view is impermissible.

      As a Catholic, I for my part would take the opposite stance. If I felt like taking the time, I might argue that the literal sense is not the sense of revealed truth in many cases near the beginning of Genesis, but I do not deny the possibility that the literal sense does contain revealed truth. Anyway, I don’t feel like taking the time now, especially if my correspondent does not even admit the possibility that I am right in this case.

  15. charles allan says:

    Anonymous – Thats strange lots of mathematicians have.

    Plus why is it so easy to believe that the universe made itself but
    someone would have to make God ???????????

    As GOD said ” I am who I am”

    Or have I picked you up wrongly.

  16. charles allan says:

    Anon – OUT OF NOTHING – NOTHING CAN COME.

    Nothing has ever made itself – it has never been observed.

  17. charles allan says:

    THOMAS
    THERE ARE BRILLIANT ATHIEST SCIENTISTS WHO DO GOOD WORK

    But since evolution is based on faith with absolutely no evidence it is a religion therefore is nothing to do with good science – so not really an argument.
    I gave some quotes from scientists above from Colin Paterson and Stephen Jay Gould who say they have found no evidence
    of evolution . I could give lots more .

    So you are comparing good science with an unproven religion called evolution. Whereas science agrees with the Bible .

    I have been waiting on the several blogs for ONE , only ONE example
    of evolution out of the millions there should be . Not websites but in your
    own words briefly could you describe ONE piece of evolutionary evidence.

    About a half of my youngest daughter’s RE class was devoted to evolution. This by a teacher who knew nothing about evolution.

    • Anonymous says:

      “I have been waiting on the several blogs for ONE , only ONE example
      of evolution out of the millions there should be . Not websites but in your
      own words briefly could you describe ONE piece of evolutionary evidence.

      About a half of my youngest daughter’s RE class was devoted to evolution. This by a teacher who knew nothing about evolution.”

      http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/speciation.html

      Happy now?

  18. charles allan says:

    MARY THE MOTHER OF JESUS DID NOT HAVE APE ANCESTORS.

    Thomas – contd from above – when my daughter questioned the teacher
    on some crazy evolutionary points she was ridiculed – and this in a Catholic school !

    It is all part of the great falling away predicted in the Bible. My niece
    told me that God did not create her but evolution did – this is what happens when confusion reigns. Children spot these inconsistences
    immediately .

    The shelves in the Christian bookshops are groaning with first class
    scientists who have written creationist books challenging Dawkins and all.

  19. charles allan says:

    I AM 100% SURE THAT GOD WILL NOT TAKE 4.5 BILLION YEARS TO
    RESURRECT US ALL ON THE LAST DAY – IT WILL BE AN INSTANT CREATIVE EVENT – IN THE TWINKLING OF AN EYE.

    I would love to accept one authority ie like the Magisterium – but to give
    one example the Catholic Church did at one time believe in creationsim and now leaves it open. Before Darwin the geologic column was regarded as perfect evidence of the Noachin Flood. When someone
    found a fossil they regarded it as an animal which died in the Flood.

    Anyway Jesus told us about Adam and Eve – Peter lectured on creationism and the flood as did Paul even outlining a prediction about
    the way evolutionists would think.

  20. charles allan says:

    DOES EVIDENCE NOT COUNT ? NOT A SHRED OF EVIDENCE THAT
    ANYTHING CAN MAKE ITSELF.

    There is not a shred of evidence that anything made itself – including matter. All of creation shows ID in every aspect. From the balancing equations in the universe and atoms to the complexity of the cell.
    God has always been – he lives in eternity – we have not been given the power to fully understand eternity.

    ” God can be seen by the things he has made so there is no excuse”
    Paul I think.

    To think that one thing could make itself is illogical enough – to think that
    trillions of things made themselves is mind boggling.

  21. charles allan says:

    Thomas – It was anonymous that I thought was maintaining things can make themselves. But maybe I am picking him or her up wrong.

    When my Catholic brother in law ( lapsed) asked me who made God my immediate answer was that you believe that someone must have had to make God but no one was needed to make the universe and all that it contains . So his very question was a contradiction .

  22. charles allan says:

    Anon – not really true that an infinite number of universes can solve the
    problem of ABSURD chance. This is because any beneficial change( if ever) can go backwards to a non beneficial change ( as it would due to entropy) and thus more than cancel out out the supposed beneficial changes.
    If you went to the dark side of the moon and saw a crashed spaceship
    and I said it could have made itself – you would think I would need certified. Science must rely on evidence and nothing has ever been observed to have made itself now or in the past.

    The monkeys on typewriters will never write HAMLET since we are talking pure blind chance. Surely you must see the tons of observable evidence of creation rather than rely on these impossible scenarios that Dawkins uses to overcome the evidence of creation which is staring everyone in the face.

    The Bible says there will be no excuse for being an unbeliever since
    God can be clearly seen by the things he has made through Jesus .
    Every creature shows Intelligent Design – eg what about the bombadier
    beetle – that can mix two chemicals add an enzyme and fire a chemical
    cocktail at your eye. Does a chemical machine gun make itself ???????

    The ” blind chance would have to apply to every creature ever made on one planet ” ??????????????? You should watch the debate between Dawkins and his former mathematical colleague Lennox – who knows about probability.

  23. charles allan says:

    ANON – this cosmologist seems to know littlte about stats since I said
    above – this unbeilevable chance would to have happened in ONE planet
    called EARTH which would make it even more improbable.

    What he has said is nothing new – evolutionists had to overcome the
    mathematical improbility some way – eg like Dawkins multiverses – who made the multiverse machine that spews out universes like a one armed bandit ?
    Carl Sagan came out with the same nonsense.
    It used to be typewriters and monkeys producing Hamlet.

    How could the incredible amount of matter in our own universe pop out
    of a tiny dot ?????? Anything is believed but the ” Books of Moses”.

  24. charles allan says:

    Thomas – I am familiar with Talk Origins – although it appears to discuss
    fairly it always comes to an evolutionary conclusion. It does not explain
    how selection of the fittest can redesign DNA . When you look at what they say it has no substance in my opinion. The top evolutionists are
    still frantically searching for even one intermediate species out of millions.