Friday, December 9, 2011


There are limitations to the historical-critical analysis of Sacred Scripture as well as relying too heavily on literary criticism also. In terms of the first, Pope Benedict in his book on Jesus takes a very sharp razor to much of historical-critical analysis of the Scripture although he does not negate it altogether.

I have found some scholars and priests becoming so dogmatic in trying to debunk people's belief in a literal Adam and Eve and in a literal Manger scene, that in the process they have helped to erode and destroy people's faith rather then build it up. My seminary class in 1976 started with about 60 men. By the end of the first year it was down to 30 and many of those who left, left because of the liberal, Catholic-faith destroying teachings of modern Scripture scholars and those who promoted the spirit of Vatican II theology using the hermeneutic of rupture rather than continuity with what preceded Vatican II. The worst label anyone could give you back then was "you are so pre-Vatican II!" It was like calling you a Nazi.

As it concerns Adam and Eve and all the stories of Genesis up to Abraham, I think it is appropriate to teach that these are not "historical" in the classic sense of what constitutes history. Once we get to Abraham then we begin to enter more into classical history.

If one chooses to see these chapters as a parable, the truth of the Church can never be challenged as it concerns the nature of God's creatures and who is the Creator and that Original Sin tainted the human race and excluded them from salvation. But from the beginning, God has a plan of salvation fulfilled in Jesus Christ and what is called the "Christ Event."

It should bother no one that some accept Adam and Eve as literal and the first 11 chapters of the Book of Genesis as literal. It should not bother anyone that some choose to understand these books in a parabolic sense while embracing the totality of what the Church teaches concerning creation and the fall of the our first parents.

The following apologetic is rather good I think:

By Fr. Peter Joseph, STD.

The Church teaches that the whole human race is descended from Adam and Eve:

Old Testament: This is the obvious sense of Sacred Scripture: before the creation of Adam, “there was no man to till the ground” (Genesis 2:5); Eve is “the mother of all the living” (Genesis 3:20). This is re-asserted in other Old Testament books: e.g., Wisdom 7:1: “I also am mortal, like all men, a descendant of the firstformed child of earth.” Tobit 8:5-6: “Tobias began to pray: Blessed are You, O God of our fathers … You made Adam and gave him Eve his wife as a helper and support. From them the race of mankind has sprung.” (RSV version)
New Testament: St Paul speaks of “the first man Adam” in contrast with Jesus, the new Adam (1 Cor 15:45, and 47. Cf. 1 Tim 2:13; Lk 3:38; Acts 17:26). He says, “sin came into the world through one man” (Romans 5:12). Seven times in Romans 5:12-19, St Paul speaks of Adam as “one man”. If there were many first men, then St Paul was completely wrong, and so is the Bible in the Old and New Testaments.
The Fathers: So many of the early Fathers, such as St Irenaeus and St Justin, following the idea of St Paul, called Jesus the ‘new Adam’—and then developed the idea and called Mary ‘the new Eve’. If there were many Adams and Eves, then Jesus and Mary have been given useless and meaningless titles by the Church. The Adam-Eve and Jesus-Mary parallel is taught all through the centuries. Vatican II says the same in its documents quoted below.
Catholic doctrine of Redemption: The doctrines of Original Sin and the Redemption require us to believe that we are all descended from Adam: we sinned in Adam, because he was our parent; and because we inherited his sin, we had need of Redemption. The Council of Trent’s solemn and infallible decree of 1546 on Original Sin begins by speaking of the sin of “the first man Adam”.
Pope Pius XII: ‘Polygenism’ (belief in several original ancestors) is therefore contrary to the teaching of the Church. Pope Pius XII in 1950 declared, “Christ’s faithful cannot embrace a theory which involves the existence, after Adam’s time, of some earthly race of men, truly so called, who were not descended from him as the ancestor of all men, or else supposes that Adam was the name given to a multiplicity of original ancestors.” (Encyclical Humani Generis)
Vatican II: The Second Vatican Council speaks of Adam and Eve, and the new Adam and the new Eve, in at least 7 passages, quoted below.
The Catechism: Belief in the descent of all men from one man Adam is called ‘monogenism’. It is upheld in the Catechism of the Catholic Church at least 13 times, quoted below.


Q. If Adam and Eve had only Cain and Abel, where did everyone else come from?

A. The account in Genesis does not claim to list all their children by name, but makes it clear that there were others: Genesis 4:17 mentions that Cain had a wife. Gen 4:25 mentions the birth of Seth, another son of Adam and Eve. 4:26 mentions Seth’s son, Enosh. Finally, 5:4 says, “Adam … had other sons and daughters.”

Q. Does this mean that brother and sister married at the start?

A. Yes: at the beginning of the human race, marriage between close relations was necessary and unavoidable but was closed off once the necessity had passed. God the Creator ensured that it led to no genetic problems.

Q. What about science?

A. Scientists have not proved the multiple origin of the human species. The fact that all men all over the world, formally educated or not, have the gift of speech and the power to grasp intellectual and moral truths, tends to show that we are all members of the same family, and is, therefore, fully consistent with the doctrine revealed to us that we are descended from a single pair of ancestors. This argument is confirmed by world-wide similarities in ancient traditions and folklore, and is not affected by differences of race and language. All races
are true to a common type, despite their varieties and considerable differences. The human races are all capable of breeding with one another. Difference in language is due chiefly to geographical separation. As the study of philology and linguistics advances, the kinship is gradually being established between all languages, even between those which at one time were thought to be totally unrelated. The more recent researches into human genetic structure would very much favour the common origin of the human race.

Q. I have heard it said that the book of Genesis is just a myth. Why, then, insist that there is history within it?

A. Some parts of Genesis are symbolic; other parts are to be taken literally and historically. The Church guides us as to which is which. Pope Pius XII in his encyclical Humani Generis (1950) said:
The first 11 chapters of Genesis, although it is not right to judge them by modern standards of historical composition, such as would be applied to the great classical authors, or to the learned of our own day, do nevertheless come under the heading of history; in what exact sense it is for the further labours of the exegete to determine. These chapters have a simple, symbolic way of talking, well suited to the understanding of a primitive people. … It may be that these ancient writers of sacred history drew some of their material from current popular stories.

So much may be granted; but it must be remembered that they did so under the impulse of divine inspiration, which preserved them from all error in selecting and assessing the material they used. These excerpts from current stories, which are found in the sacred books, must not be put on a level with mere myths, or with legend in general. Myths arise from the uncontrolled imagination; whereas in our sacred books, even of the Old Testament, a love of truth and simplicity shine out, so as to put these sacred writers on a demonstrably higher level than their profane contemporaries.
The same Pope in the same document ruled out the idea that ‘Adam’ means several people, as quoted above.

Q. How are we to understand the six days’ creation by God?

A. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says:

337. God himself created the visible world in all its richness, diversity, and order. Scripture presents the work of the Creator symbolically as a succession of six days of divine “work,” concluded by the “rest” of the seventh day. On the subject of creation, the sacred text teaches the truths revealed by God for our salvation, permitting us to recognize the inner nature, the value, and the ordering of the whole of creation to the praise of God.

338. Nothing exists that does not owe its existence to God the Creator. The world began when God’s word drew it out of nothingness; all existent beings, all of nature, and all human history are rooted in this primordial event, the very genesis by which the world was constituted and time begun.

Catholics are permitted to believe either in the literal creation in six days, or in a long period of time directed by God. One may believe that God literally created the world in six twenty-four hour days, or over many years through some secondary causes willed by God Himself. The most important thing is, whatever ‘method’ or ‘process’ was used, it occurred and was willed by God. But as to the evolution of man, any theory can only refer to the evolution of the human body, not the human soul—since each person’s soul is directly created by God. The human soul is spiritual, and therefore cannot arise through any natural process.

The Church teaches that:

God directly created the soul of Adam.
God directly creates every human soul.
The human soul is spiritual.

God created the soul of Adam, as every human soul, immediately out of nothing (direct creation). But in forming the body of Adam, He made use of material already existing (indirect creation), and transformed it. Was it an animal body that God transformed and elevated—or was it matter straight from the Earth? The Church has not ruled on the question. But if evolution has occurred (which is far from proved, and even contrary to the evidence), it can only mean evolution of the body, not of the soul. No human person can appear on the earth except by divine intervention, by God’s creation of a soul.


Did Vatican II change the Church’s teaching on Adam and Eve? The answer has to be No, since no Council can change Church teaching. Here are some quotes from three Council documents to show the Council upheld traditional teaching:

Lumen Gentium: Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (1964), in 5 different paragraphs:

02. Fallen in Adam, God the Father did not leave men to themselves, but ceaselessly offered helps to salvation, in view of Christ, the Redeemer …At the end of time it will gloriously achieve completion, when, as is read in the Fathers, all the just, from Adam and ‘from Abel, the just one, to the last of the elect,’ will be gathered together with the Father in the universal Church.

53. The Virgin Mary, who at the message of the angel received the Word of God in her heart and in her body and gave Life to the world, is acknowledged and honoured as being truly the Mother of God and Mother of the Redeemer. … At the same time, however, because she belongs to the offspring of Adam she is one with all those who are to be saved.

55. The Mother of the Redeemer … is already prophetically foreshadowed in the promise of victory over the serpent which was given to our first parents after their fall into sin.

56. The Father of mercies willed that the incarnation should be preceded by the acceptance of her who was predestined to be the mother of His Son, so that just as a woman [Eve] contributed to death, so also a woman [Mary] should contribute to life. … Thus Mary, a daughter of Adam, consenting to the divine Word, became the mother of Jesus. … For, as St Irenaeus says, she ‘being obedient, became the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race.’ Hence not a few of the early Fathers gladly assert in their preaching, ‘The knot of Eve’s disobedience was untied by Mary’s obedience; what the virgin Eve bound through her unbelief, the Virgin Mary loosened by her faith.’ Comparing Mary with Eve, they call her ‘the Mother of the living,’ and still more often they say: ‘death through Eve, life through Mary.’

63. The Blessed Virgin … by her belief and obedience, not knowing man but overshadowed by the Holy Spirit, as the new Eve brought forth on earth the very Son of the Father, showing an undefiled faith, not in the word of the ancient serpent, but in that of God’s messenger.

Dei Verbum: Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation (1965) in 1 paragraph:

03. God … from the start manifested Himself to our first parents. Then after their fall His promise of redemption aroused in them the hope of being saved (see Gen 3:15).

Gaudium et Spes: Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (1965):

22. The truth is that only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light. For Adam, the first man, was a figure of Him Who was to come, namely Christ the Lord. Christ, the final Adam, by the revelation of the mystery of the Father and His love, fully reveals man to man himself and makes his supreme calling clear. … He Who is ‘the image of the invisible God’ is Himself the perfect man. To the sons of Adam He restores the divine likeness which had been disfigured from the first sin onward.


Many paragraphs of the Catechism speak of our first parents Adam and Eve:

360. Because of its common origin the human race forms a unity, for “from one ancestor, [God] made all nations to inhabit the whole earth”.

374. The first man was not only created good, but was also established in friendship with his Creator and in harmony with himself and with the creation around him.

375. The Church, interpreting the symbolism of biblical language in an authentic way, in the light of the New Testament and Tradition, teaches that our first parents, Adam and Eve, were constituted in an original “state of holiness and justice”.

376. The inner harmony of the human person, the harmony between man and woman, and finally the harmony between the first couple and all creation, comprised the state called ‘original justice’.

379. This entire harmony of original justice, foreseen for man in God’s plan, will be lost by the sin of our first parents.

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.

391. Behind the disobedient choice of our first parents lurks a seductive voice, opposed to God, which makes them fall into death out of envy. Scripture and the Church’s Tradition see in this being a fallen angel, called ‘Satan’ or the ‘devil’. The Church teaches that Satan was at first a good angel, made by God: The devil and the other demons were indeed created naturally good by God, but they became evil by their own doing.

399. Scripture portrays the tragic consequences of this first disobedience. Adam and Eve immediately lose the grace of original holiness.

404. How did the sin of Adam become the sin of all his descendants? The whole human race is in Adam “as one body of one man”. By this “unity of the human race” all men are implicated in Adam’s sin, as all are implicated in Christ’s justice. Still, the transmission of original sin is a mystery that we cannot fully understand. But we do know by Revelation that Adam had received original holiness and justice not for himself alone, but for all human nature. By yielding to the tempter, Adam and Eve committed a personal sin, but this sin affected the human nature that they would then transmit in a fallen state.

411. The Christian tradition sees in this passage an announcement of the “new Adam” who, because he became obedient unto death, even death on a cross, makes amends superabundantly for the disobedience of Adam. Furthermore many Fathers and Doctors of the Church have seen the woman announced in the Protoevangelium as Mary, the mother of Christ, the “new Eve”.

417. Adam and Eve transmitted to their descendants human nature wounded by their own first sin and hence deprived of original holiness and justice; this deprivation is called “original sin”.

635. Christ went down into the depths of death so that “the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.” … [Then comes a quote from an ancient homily]: “Today a great silence reigns on earth, a great silence and a great stillness. A great silence because the King is asleep. … He has gone to search for Adam, our first father, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, He has gone to free from sorrow Adam in his bonds and Eve, captive with him—He who is both their God and the son of Eve”.

766. The origin and growth of the Church are symbolized by the blood and water which flowed from the open side of the crucified Jesus. For it was from the side of Christ as He slept the sleep of death upon the cross that there came forth the ‘wondrous sacrament of the whole Church. As Eve was formed from the sleeping Adam’s side, so the Church was born from the pierced heart of Christ hanging dead on the cross.


Guess Who said...

"Parable" is not the literary genre of the Creation accounts.

"Some parts of Genesis are SYMBOLIC..."

"These chapters have a simple, SYMBOLIC way of talking..."

"375. The Church, interpreting the SYMBOLISM of the biblical language..."

A myth is a story that uses SYMBOLS to describe reality, but a reality that is beyond human understanding.

I have no beef with anyone who wants to believe that the Creation accounts are literally factual.

I do have a great beef with those who say we MUST believe them to be literally factual, especially in the face of the SYMBOLIC nature of so much of the language employed by the divinely inspired authors.

Robert Kumpel said...

Father, this makes me think of the whole fundamentalist Protestant controversy about evolution. It's always been a non-issue for me. I do not know if evolution is a scientific reality or not anymore than I know that Adam and Eve's existence was historical fact. The arguments can go on and on and they mean nothing to me because God could have created the universe any way He chose.

One of my religion teachers, an Augustinian priest, used to say, "If A=B and B=C, then A=C. Where there is mind there is order and where there is order there is mind and there is order in the cosmos, therefore there is mind in the cosmos."

Original Sin? Anyone who denies it is either blind to reality or a disciple of Matthew Fox.

Enough said.

Durer's Mom said...

Durer's Adam and Eve have . . . BELLY BUTTONS! Now what could that mean...?

Gene said...

Once again, Ignotus chooses to be flip and dodge the question. Eve also looks like a good old German frau. What could that mean?

Marc said...

Great post, Father. I was thinking our discussion yesterday would prompt an entire post on this today!

Pater, continuing our discussion from yesterday, please notice how the rest of us have cited Church teachings and documents for our positions and against your fallacies. You, on the other hand, cite Charles Darwin, scientists, and yourself for your authority.

Moreover, no one is arguing that the symbolic literary genre is not utilized in Genesis. I, personally, am not a fundamentalist, seven-day creation sort of person.

What I do know is that the Church proposes for our belief that our first parents were literal, historical people and that there were only two people from whom the entire human race descended. How do I know that? Because the Holy Church tells me that that is true.

Were these first parents named "Adam" and "Eve"? Likely not as those names are symbolic of their role in history. Does the use of the symbolic literary genre in the naming of these people change the fact that they actually existed in history? No. Both literary genres may be used simultaneously.

At its base, the Church teaches we can believe in the theistic evolution of the human body. But, we must believe in the ex nihilo creation of the human soul for our first parents and each subsequent person.

Do I believe in the evolution of man? No. It is logically unsound based on theological principles. Moreover, that position was not generally held amongst the Church fathers and Theologians (and they are much smarter than I am).

I disagree that God would place something so glorious and immaculate (yes, immaculate) as the human soul in the womb of a mere animal. This is a supposition that seems contrary to the things God has revealed of himself and our relation to him.

Anonymous said...

Guess Who: _My_ beef is with those who say that because scripture includes _some_ symbolic language in _some_ places--which I have never disputed--a passage that has been declared by several Church authorities (which have been cited and quoted ad nauseam) must be accepted as historical _must_ fall under the symbolic umbrella; this despite the fact that the declarant has produced no magisterial authority whatsoever relating to _that specific passage_. Church teaching aside, it may, but not , in the philosophical sense, necessarily. Again, a simple Venn diagram will display that fallacy.

With one exception, I agree entirely with what Marc said in his post here. I am no fundamentalist--except when the Church has repeatedly declared something to be fundamental. In my one point of disagreement with him, I'm even prepared to say that man is biologically a product of theistic evolution.

CCC 390 speaks of "figurative language,, but affirms a primeval event, a deed that took place at the beginning of the history of man" (my emphases). Only the _language_ is figurative, not the _reality_. Again, my example of raining cats and dogs. My language is figurative, but the rain is an event, a deed, a reality. Marc, Pinan, and I have all conceded many points you have made about literary forms and figurative language, yet you continue to refuse, obstinately, to acknowledge the plain language (not to mention the authority) of catechisms, commissions, and popes, as well as the basics of logical disputation. Who, I ask, is being the fundamentalist here?

This post is my last on the subject. Evolution may or may not be true, but this increasingly heated discussion is about to devolve into something ugly. You may have the last word if you want it.

Anonymous said...

This concern still seems off the mark, a bit. Adam was the first *mensch*. He was one of a pack of animals. While in this state of ignorant bliss Adam had some concept of God and cultivated his relationship with Him. Adam was distinct from the other animals in this manner and so was his clan with Eve et al. (Like the guys that invented fire and wheels) God picked Adam from among the animals because Adam was on the right track and nurtured that relationship with Adam. But Adam presupposed on that relationship, perhaps as the other pagans in the region did with their pagan gods and as Moses did later and even a little bit from Abraham. So God smacked him down, basically house trained him.

By the way, the human lineage to Anatolia is pretty solid both genetically at the mitochondrial level as well as linguistically.

So sure, there was a 'patriarch' and his wife. They started the voyage for the part of us that counts, the soul. It might be possible to 'find' them in some fashion as individuals. And it matches just fine with science and theology.


Marc said...

rcg, An interesting idea. A couple questions raised by your post:

Where is the ex nihilo creation of the "Adam's" soul in your idea?

How does your idea of an evolving "Adam" square with Question III and its response from the Biblical Commission of 1909 as cited in my last post in the former blog entry? I am concerned particularly with the de fide doctrine of the "special creation of man", which does not seem to be present in your idea. You seem to posit more of a special relationship with a particular "animal".

I could be misreading what you are writing, though. So, please explain, if you have a chance. I really do think it is an interesting, speculative idea.

Gene said...

If you want to know what Eve looked like, you should watch, "And God Created Woman." The version with Rebecca de Mornay is more historically accurate because she is nearer to perfection than Bardot was. Now, before Marc, RCG, and Buck begin urging me to Confession, I want to be clear that I watched both versions for strictly theological/exegetical there.

Templar said...

I see Father was doing his research while the rest of us were posting to the original thread.

I think it's safe to say that Ignotus, is a Modernist, Liberal, Leftist, Socialist, Progressivist (fill in the blank with your favorite moniker for those left of center) and simply can not bring himself to recognize the authority of anything that pre-dates 1965. Although I acknowledged his actual debating in the previous forum, and rightly so, it is notable that without actually saying so, he dismisses anything from the Church that harkens back to the "dark days before V2" if, like many of those left of center, he sees us as a more "grown up, mature, or enlightened" people now. It fits hand in hand with his other notions that he espouses here.

I am still glad to see him offer actual bonafide debate counter points, even if his supoprting points come from Darwinsim, etc. It all fits in my mind anyway.

Anonymous said...

Marc, I don't know that I would put it anywhere. I simply accept that somehow God saw fit to do it. If I had to pick a point I would say the point when God 'recognised' us as unique from the other animals.

Here is an interesting and thorny point. The eventual appearance of man in our form seems to be an inevitable result of the way the universe behaves at the macro level. In other words, life does not happen randomly, but only under specific circumstances. Within those circumstances the elements have many ways to combine, but they only 'succeed' in certain ones. So the selection is natural, but is almost per-ordained. The Creator sourced the rule set, we are physically predestined. So He adds another level of complexity: Free will. For some reason we have bodies to repose the soul. I don't know why, He's The Boss, and what He says, goes. God established a special relationship with dust, mud, animal, whatever. It's a Gift Horse. As cells differentiate they are one thing at one moment and somehow they change and are another. The Creator tended us until we were ripe.

When you break thought and philosophy down to the most basic elements you reach a point where you are left only with parts that must be present to have anything at all to examine. The question at this point is did we create a god to justify these elements, or did we reach a point along the way where God saw fit to reveal something to us? We have tools in philosophy for this, disciplines like epistemology to help us track it, and in the end we are overwhelmed by the limits of our mortality, by time.

I have always enjoyed Lao Tzu's admonition that the name that is named, is not the true name. God told us to not name Him, but only know He Is. I am mostly annoyed by the simple mindedness of St Theresa of Lisieux, this simple girl, who humiliates me in her humbleness. My not insubstantial mind, totally inadequate to Name the Name she effortlessly embraces.

I am concerned that Church dogma, in this case, could become an obstacle to faith through misapplication. This is a legacy of the Enlightenment and something that seems to also manifest itself these days in social doctrine, economics, etc. We put people in a bad position by asking them to proclaim faith in something that is on the fringes of human knowledge to satisfy dogma that may be politically driven. Making people look foolish is a bad evangelisation technique.


Gerbert said...

Interesting scientific find! A long term scientific study using men and women of abundant ethnic diversity was done about 5-6 years ago. The study followed the mitochondrial DNA of women and the y chromosome of men, to sum it up quickly, it has been proven that we came from one man and one woman. It is now fact not myth, call them what you will, Adam and Eve sound good to me!

Jen Eticist said...

Common Misconceptions Regarding Mitochondrial DNA:

Not the only woman -

One of the misconceptions of mitochondrial Eve is that since all women alive today descended in a direct unbroken female line from her that she was the only woman alive at the time. Nuclear DNA studies indicate that the size of the ancient human population never dropped below tens of thousands. There may have been many other women alive at Eve's time with descendants alive today, but sometime in the past, those lines of descent included at least one male, who do not pass on their mother's mitochondrial DNA, thereby breaking the line of descent. By contrast, Eve's lines of descent to each person alive today includes precisely one purely matrilineal line.

Gerbert said...

At the time of mitochondrial Eve, there where other two legged upright walking animals on the earth, from what I gather the main point of Humani Generis is that when God created what we understand as man one characteristic that differentiates man from animal is the soul, at that point in time when the soul was imparted was when man was created, all others would be considered to be animal. As you state all modern females share the same mitochondrial DNA acknowledging a beginning from one single woman. While it can not be proved or disproved mitochondrial Eve may be the starting point of man, and it follows an Adam had to exist also. All life has a beginning, it would be hard for me to believe or for you to prove that there where always a minimum of 10,000 human beings on the earth. Even the universe had a starting point and has been and still is expanding.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

But God had no starting point and His infinity expands infinitely. If you come to the end of the universe, what's on the other side?

Gene said...

It isn't about mitochondrial DNA...
Theo Logian

Gene said...

Attempting to justify theological truths to science is bad theology. Enlisting science as an ally of revealed truth is bad methodology. Although the Church seeks to co-exist peacefully with science, and although She sees no necessary conflict between faith and science, She has never (wisely) attempted a systematic "theology" or a dogmatic predicated upon scientific respectability.
Hard science has no need of theology. Its methodologies are minimalist and experimental, and science rejects unnecessary or overly complex explanations for phenomena. The theologian will always lose to the hard scientist on the scientist's territory.
And, why should the theologian suck eggs for science? May I employ Galileo's famous quote, "The Bible tells us how to go to Heaven, not how the Heavens go."
The relationship of science to theology should stop with Immanuel Kant. Metaphysics (which is what we are actually talking about here)and science are incompatible from a scientific viewpoint. The scientist has no basis upon which to discuss theology because he cannot take it to the lab. The theologian cannot enlist science as a "proof text" because science does not recognize revealed truth.
Now, I suspect, as I mentioned before, that both anrthropology and astrophysics are beginning to reach a point ( bio-anthropology,quantum, sub-quantum,etc.) at which their methodologies break down. Perhaps the place where science and theology ultimately meet will be in these glimpses of the Mystery. The scientist may glimpse this Mystery now if he attends Mass somewhere...

Anonymous said...

I did not mean to distract people from the central idea of this post with the example of Mitochondrial DNA. In fact that is sort what I am trying to say: the physical world does not reject God, but our understanding of God or His world can be in error and create an obstacle to understanding both. If, somehow, someone figures out that the DNA did not come from the same woman, but from more than one, does that disprove Eve, or the theory of DNA as we understood it? These sorts of links are not very strong because they are constructs for Man to understand his origin qua man. These are the shadows on the wall. People are foolish enough to think that when a human theory is disproved or challenged it disproves a Church teaching.

This is one of the reasons I don't usually care to discuss theology or Church teachings with Protestants. They don't have the same understanding of how the Bible came into being, for example. If some ancillary article is challenged they think I am attacking the existence of God.

So here is a real diversion: If I believe something in error about God, do I actually believe in God or something else?


Jen Eticist said...

Gerbert's post is about mitochondrial DNA. Gerbert's misconception is that the research indicates that there was but one woman. This is not the case.

Gene said...

Why do we keep up this silliness about trying to square science with Revelation? It is dangerous ground...the logical conclusion of which is for the scientist to take a consecrated Host to the lab and see if there are any blood vessels or human tissue that appear under the microscope. If not, quod erat demonstrandum, there is no Real Presence. This is how science works. What else would you like to square with science...the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection, the Ascension (I know, space ships), walking on water, raising Lazarus?
I took a lot of biology in college and Physics 101. I continue to read scientific literature...I can tell you that I do not give a damn about mitochondrial DNA in any discussion of Adam and Eve. Can you not see how silly that is? Hard science will, of necessity, reject Biblical Revelation and the Magisterium of the Church a la Occam's Razor. Theologians look foolish when they play this game.

Jen Eticist said...

Science doesn't concern itself with faith. Science tells us "how" things work, not "why."

Faith, on the other hand, has no business trying to tell science "how" things work, but what is the purpose or meaning (the "why")of things.

I can see exactly how silly it is to "prove" divine creation by citing mitochondrial DNA.

Unfortunately many people of faith don't understand the distinctions, and many people of science don't understand the spiritual.

Gene said...

No Jen/Ignotus, technology tells us how things work; science tells us why.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, "technology" doesn't tell us "how" photosynthesis works. Or embryogenesis, or cell division, etc. These properly belong to science.

Gene said...

Science and technology are not mutually exclusive. Science may also tell us "how" things work. Technology does not necessarily tell us "why."

Anonymous said...

Technology is applied science. The level of understanding is variable.


Anonymous said...

We also understand that our creation stories are based in part on earlier pagan creation accounts.

Gene said...

Anonymous/Ignotus at 7:09, most of us dealt with those questions in our sophomore year in college. Where were you? Read Chesterton's, "The Everlasting Man," for the paganism thing. Now, get back to your movie...what is it, "Jesus Christ Supoerstar?"

Pater Ignotus said...

"Only in this way does one correctly understand the singularity of the biblical creation account. The pagan creation accounts, on which the biblical creation story is in part based, end without exception in the establishment of a cult."
- Pope Benedict XIV, A New Song For the Lord.

Maybe His Holiness needs to read a little Chesterton too...?

Gene said...

Ignotus, so what is your point? I'm sure the Pope has read Chesterton. Did you mean Benedict XIV or XVI? Benedict XIV's would have been an older song for the Lord...
Now, we were talking about your sophomore year in college and those dilletante questions that come up in discussions of "the Bible as literature."

Gerbert said...

The reason for my comments on mitochondrial Eve was not that I believe only one woman existed, but,
that I thought it was a thought provoking study, quite remarkable in my opinion, although it would stand to reason that there would be defining mark that would show a commonality in our genetic make up from the beginning of the creation of man to now. My comments where not meant to say that it proved the existence of a literal Eve or Adam, but to acknowledge that our species had a specific beginning in creation history and that we would be descended from that beginning. I certainly understand there are theological truths and scientific truths, but I acknowledge that they both come from the same source and in this way are not at odds with one another.

Pater Ignotus said...

It seems I hold the same view as the Holy Father regarding the creation accounts. We dilletantes are legion, it seems.

Pater Ignotus said...

Marc, I do believe that humans are the product of evolution. I have no hesitation in believing that God can choose to do as God desires, includng placing a soul in a "mere" animal.

Pius expressed his doubts regarding his understanding of original sin vis a vis polygenism.
I find nothing in HG 37 that demands a belief in the symbolic/mythological Creation accounts of Genesis.

The argument is phrased in terms of the then current understanding of original sin. That is where the discussion of HG should be, not in the nature of the literary types found in Genesis.

Of course "first humans" existed - that is not our disagreement. The argument that evolution was not held amongst the Church Fathers is meaningless, since the notion of evolution was not developed until centuries after the Church Fathers thought about human origins.

It is not necessary to believe that the Creation accounts are literally true in order to believe the Church's teaching on Original Sin.

Gene said...

Ignotus, The flip manner in which you mention "belly buttons" and your generally smug attitude indicate that you are being disingenuous about what you believe. I'll bet there are a lot of beliefs you do not share with the Holy Father...I would bet we could start with the Creed, but we'll never know, will we?