Saturday, December 20, 2014

Knowing an ape from Adam


On questions about biological evolution, both the Magisterium of the Catholic Church and Thomist philosophers and theologians have tended carefully to steer a middle course.  On the one hand, they have allowed that a fairly wide range of biological phenomena may in principle be susceptible of evolutionary explanation, consistent with Catholic doctrine and Thomistic metaphysics.  On the other hand, they have also insisted, on philosophical and theological grounds, that not every biological phenomenon can be given an evolutionary explanation, and they refuse to issue a “blank check” to a purely naturalistic construal of evolution.  Evolutionary explanations are invariably a mixture of empirical and philosophical considerations.  Properly to be understood, the empirical considerations have to be situated within a sound metaphysics and philosophy of nature.

For the Thomist, this will have to include the doctrine of the four causes, the principle of proportionate causality, the distinction between primary and secondary causality, and the other key notions of Aristotelian-Thomistic (A-T) metaphysics and philosophy of nature (detailed defense of which can be found in Scholastic Metaphysics).  All of this is perfectly consistent with the empirical evidence, and those who claim otherwise are really implicitly appealing to their own alternative, naturalistic metaphysical assumptions rather than to empirical science.  (Some earlier posts bringing A-T philosophical notions to bear on biological phenomena can be found here, here, here, here, and here.  As longtime readers know, A-T objections to naturalism have absolutely nothing to do with “Intelligent Design” theory, and A-T philosophers are often very critical of ID.  Posts on the dispute between A-T and ID can be found collected here.)

On the subject of human origins, both the Magisterium and Thomist philosophers have acknowledged that an evolutionary explanation of the origin of the human body is consistent with non-negotiable theological and philosophical principles.  However, since the intellect can be shown on purely philosophical grounds to be immaterial, it is impossible in principle for the intellect to have arisen through evolution.  And since the intellect is the chief power of the human soul, it is therefore impossible in principle for the human soul to have arisen through evolution.  Indeed, given its nature the human soul has to be specially created and infused into the body by God -- not only in the case of the first human being but with every human being.  Hence the Magisterium and Thomist philosophers have held that special divine action was necessary at the beginning of the human race in order for the human soul, and thus a true human being, to have come into existence even given the supposition that the matter into which the soul was infused had arisen via evolutionary processes from non-human ancestors.

In a recent article at Crisis magazine, Prof. Dennis Bonnette correctly notes that Catholic teaching also requires that there be a single pair from whom all human beings have inherited the stain of original sin.  He also rightly complains that too many Catholics wrongly suppose that this teaching can be allegorized away and the standard naturalistic story about human origins accepted wholesale. 

The sober middle ground

Naturally, that raises the question of how the traditional teaching about original sin can be reconciled with what contemporary biologists have to say about human origins.  I’ll return to that subject in a moment.  But first, it is important to emphasize that the range of possible views consistent with Catholic teaching and A-T metaphysics is very wide, but also not indefinitely wide.  Some traditionalist Catholics seem to think that the willingness of the Magisterium and of contemporary Thomist philosophers to be open to evolutionary explanations is a novelty introduced after Vatican II.  That is simply not the case.  Many other Catholics seem to think that Pope St. John Paul II gave carte blanche to Catholics to accept whatever claims about evolution contemporary biologists happen to make in the name of science.  That is also simply not the case.  The Catholic position, and the Thomist position, is the middle ground one I have been describing.  It allows for a fairly wide range of debate about what kinds of evolutionary explanations might be possible and, if possible, plausible; but it also rules out, in principle, a completely naturalistic understanding of evolution. 

Perhaps the best-known magisterial statement on these matters is that of Pope Pius XII in his 1950 encyclical Humani Generis.  In sections 36-37 he says:

[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.  However, this must be done in such a way that the reasons for both opinions, that is, those favorable and those unfavorable to evolution, be weighed and judged with the necessary seriousness, moderation and measure, and provided that all are prepared to submit to the judgment of the Church…

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.

The pope here allows for the possibility of an evolutionary explanation of the human body and also, in strong terms, rules out both any evolutionary explanation for the human soul and any denial that human beings have a single man as their common ancestor.  This combination of theses was common in Thomistic philosophy and in orthodox Catholic theology at this time, and can be found in Neo-Scholastic era manuals published, with the Imprimatur, both before 1950 and in the years after Humani Generis but before Vatican II.

For example, in Celestine Bittle’s The Whole Man: Psychology, published in 1945, we find:

[T]he evolution of man’s body could, per se, have been included in the general scheme of the evolutionary process of all organisms.  Evolution would be a fair working hypothesis, because it makes little difference whether God created man directly or used the indirect method of evolution…

Whatever may be the ultimate verdict of science and philosophy concerning the origin of man’s body, whether through organic evolution or through a special act of divine intervention, man’s soul is not the product of evolution. (p. 585)

George Klubertanz, in Philosophy of Human Nature (1953), writes:

Essential evolution of living things up to and including the human body (the whole man with his spiritual soul excluded…), as explained through equivocal causality, chance, and Providence, is a possible explanation of the origin of those living things.  The possibility of this mode of origin can be admitted by both philosopher and theologian. (p. 425)

Klubertanz adds in a footnote:

There are some theological problems involved in such an admission; these problems do not concern us here.  Suffice it to say that at least some competent theologians think these problems can be solved; at any rate, a difficulty does not of itself constitute a refutation.

At the end of two chapters analyzing the metaphysics of evolution from a Thomistic point of view, Henry Koren, in his indispensible An Introduction to the Philosophy of Animate Nature (1955), concludes:

[T]here would seem to be no philosophical objection against any theory which holds that even widely different kinds of animals (or plants) have originated from primitive organisms through the forces of matter inherent to these organisms and other material agents…

Even in the case of man there appears to be no reason why the evolution of his body from primitive organisms (and even from inanimate matter) must be considered to be philosophically impossible.  Of course… man’s soul can have obtained its existence only through a direct act of creation; therefore, it is impossible for the human soul to have evolved from matter.  In a certain sense, even the human body must be said to be the result of an act of creation.  For the human body is made specifically human by the human soul, and the soul is created; hence as a human body, man’s body results from creation.  But the question is whether the matter of his body had to be made suitable for actuation by a rational soul through God’s special intervention, or if the same result could have been achieved by the forces of nature acting as directed by God.  As we have seen… there seems to be no reason why the second alternative would have to be an impossibility. (pp. 302-4)

Adolphe Tanquerey, in Volume I of A Manual of Dogmatic Theology (1959), writes:

It is de fide that our first parents in regard to body and in regard to soul were created by God: it is certain that their souls were created immediately by God; the opinion, once common, which asserts that even man’s body was formed immediately by God has now fallen into controversy…

As long as the spiritual origin of the human soul is correctly preserved, the differences of body between man and ape do not oppose the origin of the human body from animality

The opinion which asserts that the human body has arisen from animality through the forces of evolution is not heretical, in fact in can be admitted theologically…

Thesis: The universal human race has arisen from the one first parent Adam.  According to many theologians this statement is proximate to a matter of faith.  (pp. 394-98)

Similarly, Ludwig Ott’s well-known Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, in the 1960 fourth edition, states:

The soul of the first man was created immediately by God out of nothing.  As regards the body, its immediate formation from inorganic stuff by God cannot be maintained with certainty.  Fundamentally, the possibility exists that God breathed the spiritual soul into an organic stuff, that is, into an originally animal body…

The Encyclical “Humani generis” of Pius XII (1950) lays down that the question of the origin of the human body is open to free research by natural scientists and theologians

Against… the view of certain modern scientists, according to which the various races are derived from several separated stems (polygenism), the Church teaches that the first human beings, Adam and Eve, are the progenitors of the whole human race (monogenism).  The teaching of the unity of the human race is not, indeed, a dogma, but it is a necessary pre-supposition of the dogma of Original Sin and Redemption. (pp. 94-96)

J. F. Donceel, in Philosophical Psychology (1961), writes:

Until a hundred years ago it was traditionally held that the matter into which God for the first time infused a human soul was inorganic matter (the dust of the earth).  We have now very good scientific reasons for admitting that this matter was, in reality, organic matter -- that is, the body of some apelike animal.

Aquinas held that some time during the course of pregnancy God infuses a human soul into the embryo which, until then, has been a simple animal organism, albeit endowed with human finality.  The theory of evolution extends to phylogeny what Aquinas held for ontogeny.

Hence there is no philosophical difficulty against the hypothesis which asserts that the first human soul was infused by God into the body of an animal possessing an organization which was very similar to that of man.  (p. 356)

You get the idea.  It is in light of this tradition that we should understand what Pope John Paul II said in 1996 in a “Message to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.”  The relevant passages are as follows:

In his encyclical Humani Generis (1950), my predecessor Pius XII has already affirmed that there is no conflict between evolution and the doctrine of the faith regarding man and his vocation, provided that we do not lose sight of certain fixed points…

Today, more than a half-century after the appearance of that encyclical, some new findings lead us toward the recognition of evolution as more than an hypothesis.  In fact it is remarkable that this theory has had progressively greater influence on the spirit of researchers, following a series of discoveries in different scholarly disciplines.  The convergence in the results of these independent studies -- which was neither planned nor sought -- constitutes in itself a significant argument in favor of the theory…

[T]he elaboration of a theory such as that of evolution, while obedient to the need for consistency with the observed data, must also involve importing some ideas from the philosophy of nature.

And to tell the truth, rather than speaking about the theory of evolution, it is more accurate to speak of the theories of evolution.  The use of the plural is required here -- in part because of the diversity of explanations regarding the mechanism of evolution, and in part because of the diversity of philosophies involved.  There are materialist and reductionist theories, as well as spiritualist theories.  Here the final judgment is within the competence of philosophy and, beyond that, of theology…

Pius XII underlined the essential point: if the origin of the human body comes through living matter which existed previously, the spiritual soul is created directly by God…

As a result, the theories of evolution which, because of the philosophies which inspire them, regard the spirit either as emerging from the forces of living matter, or as a simple epiphenomenon of that matter, are incompatible with the truth about man.

End quote.  Some traditionalists and theological liberals alike seem to regard John Paul’s statement here as a novel concession to modernism, but it is nothing of the kind.  The remark that evolution is “more than an hypothesis” certainly expresses more confidence in the theory than Pius had, but both Pius’s and John Paul’s judgments on that particular issue are merely prudential judgments about the weight of the empirical evidence.  At the level of principle there is no difference between them.  Both popes affirm that the human body may have arisen via evolution, both affirm that the human soul did not so arise, and both refuse to accept the metaphysical naturalist’s understanding of evolution.  John Paul II is especially clear on this last point.  As you would expect from a Thomist, he rightly insists that evolutionary explanations are never purely empirical but all presuppose alternative background metaphysical assumptions.  Hence he notes that a fully worked out theory of evolution “must also involve importing some ideas from the philosophy of nature” and that here “the final judgment is within the competence of philosophy and, beyond that, of theology” -- not empirical science per se.  And as Bonnette notes, the Catechism issued under Pope John Paul II essentially reaffirms, in the relevant sections (396-406), the traditional teaching that the human race inherited the stain of original sin from one man.

Neither those conservative Catholics who would in principle rule out any evolutionary aspect to human origins, nor those liberal Catholics who would rule out submitting the claims made by contemporary evolutionary biologists to any philosophical or theological criticism, can find support in the teaching of either of these popes. 

Monogenism or polygenism?

But again, how can the doctrine of original sin be reconciled with what contemporary biology says about human origins?  For the doctrine requires descent from a single original ancestor, whereas contemporary biologists hold that the genetic evidence indicates that modern humans descended from a population of at least several thousand individuals. 

This is an issue I addressed a few years ago in a series of posts (here, here, and here).  Longtime readers will recall that I there rehearsed a proposal developed by Mike Flynn and Kenneth Kemp to the effect that we need to distinguish the notion of a creature which is human in a strict metaphysical sense from that of a creature which is “human” merely in a looser, purely physiological sense.  The latter sort of creature would be more or less just like us in its bodily attributes but would lack our intellectual powers, which are incorporeal.  In short, it would lack a human soul.  Hence, though genetically it would appear human, it would not be a rational animal and thus not be human in the strict metaphysical sense.  Now, this physiologically “human” but non-rational sort of creature is essentially what Pius XII, John Paul II, and the philosophers and theologians quoted above have in mind when they speak of a scenario in which the human body arises via evolutionary processes.

The Flynn-Kemp proposal is this.  Suppose evolutionary processes gave rise to a population of several thousand creatures of this non-rational but genetically and physiologically “human” sort.  Suppose further that God infused rational souls into two of these creatures, thereby giving them our distinctive intellectual and volitional powers and making them truly human.  Call this pair “Adam” and “Eve.”  Adam and Eve have descendents, and God infuses into each of them rational souls of their own, so that they too are human in the strict metaphysical sense.  Suppose that some of these descendents interbreed with creatures of the non-rational but genetically and physiologically “human” sort.  The offspring that result would also have rational souls since they have Adam and Eve as ancestors (even if they also have non-rational creatures as ancestors).  This interbreeding carries on for some time, but eventually the population of non-rational but genetically and physiologically “human” creatures dies out, leaving only those creatures who are human in the strict metaphysical sense. 

On this scenario, the modern human population has the genes it does because it is descended from this group of several thousand individuals, initially only two of whom had rational or human souls.  But only those later individuals who had this pair among their ancestors (even if they also had as ancestors members of the original group which did not have human souls) have descendents living today.  In that sense, every modern human is both descended from an original population of several thousand and from an original pair.  There is no contradiction, because the claim that modern humans are descended from an original pair does not entail that they received all their genes from that pair alone

Of course, this is speculative.  No one is claiming to know that this is actually what happened, or that Catholic teaching requires this specific scenario.  The point is just that it shows, in a way consistent with what Catholic orthodoxy and Thomistic philosophy allow vis-à-vis evolution, that the genetic evidence is not in fact in conflict with the doctrine of original sin.  Naturally other Catholics and Thomists might reasonably disagree with it.

Having said that, I have yet to see any plausible objections to the Flynn-Kemp scenario.  This brings us back to Prof. Bonnette’s article.  In response to the Flynn-Kemp proposal, he writes:

The difficulty with any interbreeding solution (save, perhaps, in rare instances) is that it would place at the human race’s very beginning a severe impediment to its healthy growth and development.  Natural law requires that marriage and procreation take place solely between a man and a woman, so that children are given proper role models for adult life.  So too, even if the union between a true human and a subhuman primate were not merely transitory, but lasting, the defective parenting and role model of a parent who is not a true human being would introduce serious disorder in the proper functioning of the family and education of children.  Hence, widespread interbreeding is not an acceptable solution to the problem of genetic diversity.

Moreover, given the marked reduction in the number of ancient HLA-DRB1 alleles found by the later genetic studies of Bergström and von Salomé, it may turn out that no interbreeding is needed at all, or at most, that very rare instances of it may have occurred.  Such rare events might not even entail the consent of true human beings, since they could result from an attack by a subhuman male upon a non-consenting human female.

I put to one side Prof. Bonnette’s remarks about the genetic evidence, which I’ll leave to the biologists to evaluate.  Bonnette allows that some interbreeding may have occurred, but he claims that it cannot have been “widespread” and that the reason has to do with natural law.  But what is the problem, exactly?

Back in 2011, when Flynn, Kemp, and I first wrote on this topic and the Flynn-Kemp proposal was getting a lot of attention in the blogosphere, some people objected that interbreeding of the sort in question amounted to bestiality.  But of course, no one is suggesting that we should approve of the interbreeding in question.  The claim is merely that in fact it may have happened, even if this was contrary to natural and divine law (just as Cain killed Abel even though this was contrary to the natural law, and just as Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, even though this was contrary to divine law). 

Nor would it be a good objection to suggest that no one would plausibly have been tempted to engage in such interbreeding.  After all, the scenario in question would hardly be comparable to that of the average member of contemporary civilization being tempted to have sex with an ape, which would of course not be psychologically plausible.  For one thing, the sub-rational but genetically and physiologically “human” creatures in question would not be like apes, or indeed like any of the non-human animals with which we are familiar.  They would more or less look like us.  Furthermore, they would even act like us to some degree.  As I noted in a recent post, though a purely material system could never in principle exhibit true rationality, it might simulate it to a significant extent (just as if you add enough sides to a polygon you will get something that looks like a circle even though it could not really be a circle).  The sub-rational creatures in question would have been sphexish, but a sufficiently complex sphexish creature might seem not to be on a superficial examination.  Recall Popper’s distinction between four functions of language: expressive, signaling, descriptive, and argumentative.  The sub-rational creatures in question would not be capable of the latter two functions (which presuppose rationality) but they might have exhibited very sophisticated versions of the first two functions.

Meanwhile, the earliest true humans would not have had anything like the modern civilizational accompaniments of sexual activity, especially given the effects of original sin.  Obviously it would be absurd to think of their liaisons as involving smooth techniques of romantic seduction, contemporary standards of personal hygiene, etc.  So, the cultural “distance” between primitive true human beings and the sub-rational creatures in question need not have been so great as to make the sexual temptation psychologically implausible.  It might have been comparable to a very uncultured and unsophisticated person taking sexual advantage of an even more unsophisticated and indeed very stupid person.  Not that it was exactly like that, since even a stupid person is still intelligent in the strict sense, whereas the sub-rational creatures in question wouldn’t even rise to the level of stupidity.  The point is that the situation could have been psychologically close enough to that for the temptation to be real.  (As I indicated, partly in jest, in one of the earlier posts, we might think on the model of Charlton Heston’s character “Taylor” being attracted to the Linda Harrison character “Nova” in Planet of the Apes -- not that the early sub-rational creatures would have looked quite that good!)

It doesn’t seem that the “bestiality” issue per se is really the heart of Prof. Bonnette’s objection, though.  His point seems instead to be that a “union” of a true human being with a sub-rational creature of the sort in question would be dysfunctional vis-à-vis the proper rearing of truly human children.  This is true, but it is hard to see how it is a problem for the Flynn-Kemp scenario, for nothing in that scenario requires that such “unions” be anywhere close to optimal from a child-rearing point of view, or even that there be “unions” (of some long-term sort) in the first place.  All that it requires is that there was enough interbreeding to account for the genetic evidence appealed to by contemporary biologists.  It isn’t clear how the question of whether, how, and to what extent the sub-rational creatures were involved in child-rearing affects the judgment that there was sufficient interbreeding. 

Perhaps Bonnette thinks that child-rearing would have been so deficient that the population of true humans could not have survived long enough to displace the sub-rational creatures.  But it is hard to see why.  Surely the child of a “union” between a true human being and one of the sub-rational creatures would have an advantage over the offspring of two sub-rational creatures, for such a child would itself have rationality and at least one rational parent, whereas the other sort of offspring would have neither.  Moreover, we needn’t think in terms of such pairings in the first place.  Why not think instead of a scenario where a truly human male forms a union with a truly human female but also has several sub-rational but genetically and physiologically “human” females as concubines, where the resulting children are all essentially reared by the human couple?  And such arrangements need only have occurred frequently enough for the truly human population to supplant the population of sub-rational creatures.  There is no need to flesh out the Flynn-Kemp scenario in the specific way Bonnette (apparently) does.

So, it seems to me that neither Prof. Bonnette nor anyone else has raised any serious difficulty for the Flynn-Kemp proposal.  However, Prof. Bonnette is right to hold that many Catholics need to show greater caution when commenting on matters pertaining to evolution.

365 comments:

1 – 200 of 365   Newer›   Newest»
Tom said...

Would there have been any way for the earliest humans to determine they were different from the other, near-human animals? I doubt they'd have the philosophical training necessary to make the distinctions made in this post and in Thomist philosophy generally.

Anonymous said...

It isn't entirely clear to me that the notion of there being two types of humans (rational vs. non-rational) that are genetically identical yet behaviorally different is a coherent one. To have the same genes means that their brains will be wired the same way during development. It therefore seems that they would have to act not just in a somewhat similar way, but entirely in the same way; their equivalent neural hardware doesn't allow for otherwise. Maybe we can posit that the soul exhibits some influence over the patterns of neural activity, but it seems that this violates one of the main motivations for accepting hylomorphic dualism over substance dualism (that it avoids the interaction problem). Alternatively, we might posit that the relationship between the rational soul and the neurons in the brain is a matter of formal, rather than efficient, causation, but this doesn't seem to work either; if two people are behaving differently (e.g., if one can formulate and verbally state a logical syllogism and the other cannot), then they must be exhibiting some material difference in the nature of their brain activity (in particular, there must be some difference in the processing capability of the neural structures that ultimately project to the vocal cords used in verbally stating that syllogism).

It seems to me that the only way for this proposal to work would be to say that the sub-rational humans are behaviorally identical (not just similar) to the rational ones. To argue otherwise would go against the claim you have made elsewhere that hylomorphic dualism is fully compatible with neuroscience in a way that substance dualism is not.

Anonymous said...

(from same Anonymous--I am coming at this as a cognitive neuroscience researcher sympathetic to, but not at all sold on, the Hylemorphic picture of the mind/brain)

Luke said...

I would think it more likely, if we're going to maintain the doctrine of monogenism, that all modern humans are descended from an original pair of fallen humans, whose descendants gradually wiped out their unfallen brethren.

Luke said...

PS
They should remove "Anonymous" as an option for "Choose an Identity." If you want to be anonymous, just choose a pseudonym under "Name/URL"

Bilbo said...

Dr. Feser, two questions:

(1) If God creates each soul separately, then where would be the necessity of creating all souls with original sin? Given that Adam and Eve have fallen, why the necessity that Cain and Abel have souls with original sin?

(2) Some Protestant Christians, in an effort to deal with biological polygenism, have suggested that Adam and Eve were the representative couple of the human race, whose ultimate fate depended on their actions. Thus, when Adam and Eve fell, the whole human race was consigned to disobedience, or original sin. Is this option available to Catholic theology?

Thursday said...

Evolution through natural selection tends to produce an animal that is oriented towards survival in a pretty amoral way. This is deeply engraved on their biology, including their brain. While this could be characterized as a kind of natural evil, such an animal can't really be immoral, as that requires rationality.

However, the creation of a rational being from this animal by adding an immaterial intellect to it, would seem to create a rational creature that is, from the moment it is created, oriented towards evil. It would seem to be immoral in its orientation, from the very beginning, by its very nature. Which means that God would directly have created an evil thing, or at least have created a being that was already inherently tempted by evil.

James said...

Several quoted references to the ‘spiritual soul’ are made in this post (as well as one to the ‘spiritual origin of the human soul’). Could someone explain to me, or point me to an explanation of what this ‘spiritual soul’ might be on a Thomistic reading? It’s clearly not Aristotelian (or NT, for that matter) and, outside of medical contexts, not even Greek, where spirit and soul are typically different in kind, at least until … what? … Chrysostom? Or is that where I’ll find my answer?

Brandon said...

Anonymous,

What standard are you using for 'behavioral identity' and 'behavioral difference'? If a raven bends a stick to pull something out of a hole, is that behaviorally identical (in the relevant sense) to a human being bending a stick to pull something out of a hole? If a human being with an IQ of 50 solves problems differently from a human being with an IQ of 140, is that a behavioral difference (in the relevant sense)? It just seems odd to try to put it in terms of behavioral identity and difference, given that behavior is exactly where human beings differ widely and subrational animals are capable of overlapping with humans -- unless, that is, you have some definite and specific standard of behavioral identity and difference that would be applicable when we are dealing with the coarse-grained division of types of humans.

(I'm also a little unclear why you are talking about 'genetic identity' here when the hypothesis doesn't require identity, but merely genetic similarity adequate to be considered the same reproductive species.)

Mr. Green said...

Ott: the Church teaches that the first human beings, Adam and Eve, are the progenitors of the whole human race (monogenism). The teaching of the unity of the human race is not, indeed, a dogma, but it is a necessary pre-supposition of the dogma of Original Sin and Redemption.

Hm, is it? Obviously, for Original Sin to be passed on to all men, all must be descendants of Adam. But is it metaphysically necessary that all men therefore have a direct biological link directly to Adam? That’s certainly the most obvious way, and indeed the only way under normal, natural circumstances. But to be human is to have a human form, or soul, and God is not limited to creating new members of any species according to some biological rule, however natural it may be. When you put hydrogen and oxygen together in the right way, you get a new substance of the species water, but that water is not “descended” from any other water.

So, given that God could create new humans any way He chose, could any of them be said to be descendants of Adam if they did not have that historical biological dependency? Since Original Sin is not inherited genetically, perhaps it is possible. I think it is a strong argument that without the chain of begetting, it would not be correct to say that such a person — while fully human — was literally a descendant of Adam. And yet if God can raise up sons of Abraham from a stone, then surely He can create sons of Adam from an ape.

Anonymous said...

Brandon,

"What standard are you using for 'behavioral identity' and 'behavioral difference'? If a raven bends a stick to pull something out of a hole, is that behaviorally identical (in the relevant sense) to a human being bending a stick to pull something out of a hole? If a human being with an IQ of 50 solves problems differently from a human being with an IQ of 140, is that a behavioral difference (in the relevant sense)?"

Thanks--saying "cognitive difference" might be more precise than "behavioral" difference. In the cases you cited, the behavioral outcome is the same, yet the series of cognitive operations leading to that behavior is different. And yes, you are right in implying that rational vs. non-rational humans might do similar things but as a result of different cognitive operations. However, I stuck with the word "behavioral" to keep things simple, because there should be outwardly observable behavioral differences between rational and non-rational humans according to the AT account--not just cases of them doing the same thing for different reasons.

Here's a simple example of a behavioral difference that we might expect from rational vs. non-rational humans. Ask both of them to deduce what one can conclude from the propositions "all men are mortal" and "Socrates is a man." The rational one should be able to do it and the irrational one shouldn't (after all, Feser says in many of his posts that the ability to reason from premises to conclusions is one of the main hallmarks of rational thought). There must be a brain difference underlying this behavioral difference--in other words, there must be some difference in the material sequence of events beginning with the words of this brainteaser entering the person's eardrums and ending with the person's vocal cords saying either "Socrates is mortal" or "I don't know." If there were not a difference somewhere in that material sequence, then their vocal cords could not produce different responses. (I am speaking in reductionist terms here to make my point concrete).

"(I'm also a little unclear why you are talking about 'genetic identity' here when the hypothesis doesn't require identity, but merely genetic similarity adequate to be considered the same reproductive species.)"

Yes, my terminology was a bit sloppy--better to say "of the same general kind" rather than "identical". It doesn't change my point, though. If you have two organisms whose brain follows a certain developmental pathway mate and reproduce, their offspring's brain will not follow a radically different developmental pathway (certainly not enough to, in one generation, make a huge leap from non-rational to rational thought). At any rate, if the Thomistic/Aristotelian picture is right, you can't get rationality out of genes and brains by themselves anyways, so this is all sort of tangential.


To spell things out: if rational and non-rational humans behave differently on average (even in the hard-to-detect ways that Feser mentions), then they must have different brains on average (unless you want to introduce an interaction problem by positing a soul that can jostle neurons around) and therefore different genes. But this contradicts the claim that rational humans and non-rational humans are genetically similar. So I don't see how an ATer can make the claim that the rational vs. sub-rational humans behave differently in any respect whatsoever. At best, the non-rational human would be a sort of cognitive zombie, who is a perfect behavioral replica of a rational human but makes rational-sounding pronouncements for non-rational reasons (Feser actually discusses this idea in an earlier post: http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2013/12/zombies-shoppers-guide.html)

Vincent Torley said...

Hi Ed,

Thanks for an interesting post. I have to respectfully disagree with your assessment of Kemp's proposal. The key issue, as you rightly point out, is the possibility of there being a creature just like us in its bodily attributes, but lacking our intellectual powers, which are incorporeal. I maintain that this scenario is impossible.

Aquinas taught that the human soul is essentially the form of the human body (Summa Theologica I, q. 76 art. 1); which means that nothing can be said to have a human body unless it also possesses a human soul. The ecumenical Council of Vienne (1311-1312) took the same view, for it declared in no uncertain terms: "[W]e define that anyone who presumes henceforth to assert defend or hold stubbornly that the rational or intellectual soul is not the form of the human body of itself and essentially, is to be considered a heretic." However, Professor Kemp maintains that Adam and Eve had "biologically human ancestors" (p. 232), who belonged to a "biologically (i.e., genetically) human species" (p. 231), so it seems that he must therefore hold that these pre-Adamite hominids had human bodies; yet he also says that these hominids lacked rational souls - which means that for Kemp, the rational soul is NOT essentially the form of the human body. I think Kemp owes his readers an explanation of how he can reconcile his declared views with the official teaching of the Catholic Church. The only explanation he gives is a brief, cryptic remark near the conclusion of his article, where he declares that "Adam's non-intellectual cousins would have had a sensitive soul sufficient to engage in all the acts of image apprehension and manipulation of which other animals are capable, without the power to abstract from those images the concepts that distinguish human from animal cognition" (p. 235). All well and good; but on Kemp's account, Adam's cousins still had human bodies, yet they lacked rational souls – which entails that the rational soul is not essentially the form of the human body.

Thoughts?

Anonymous said...

Great...to square evolution with Christianity, we now require the divine creation of a large mass of *subhuman* creatures which nevertheless "more or less looked like human beings"? In order that they might appear as alluring prospects for human-subhuman copulation? And God chose all this instead of just going ahead and granting them full humanity? God sure does have a knack for making reality bizarre, seedy, and confusing, and unnecessarily so.

Daniel said...

Holiday stuff prevents me setting down and writing up a proper post at this instance but I think Torley's criticism is pertinent. An entity which is exactly like a human being save for its lacking a rational soul is of essential necessity a different species from Man - to infuse rational souls into them would not be to alter an existing substance but to change it into a totally different one.

How can one 'inherit' Original Sin if Original Sin is not even a proper privation only the absence of something gratuitous? To say one inherits it would be akin to saying Ed inherits from his father the property of not being emperor of China or some such thing. It seems an odd way of speaking. If there was a Fall and we are to take 'Grace' or whatever is the correct term as gratuitous then I fail to see what problem it presents to say that after X privileged group of humans which proved themselves unworthy (to speak of worthiness and unworthiness in connection with something gratuities seems odd to me*) further members of the human race were no longer gifted with Grace.

*What is the PSR for gratuitous Grace? Since A-T does not endorse a best Possible Worlds affair then the notion of the Deity creating entities lacking this capacity yet capable of receiving it then giving it to them arbitrarily straight off is not impossible but still it seems implausible to say the very least.

JonathanPW said...

I would really like Dr Feser to respond to what I think is the most important objection to the Flynn-Kemp theory (which has already been raised in the combox). Thomist philosopher Dr Lawrence Feingold sums it up:

"The most important principle underlying this debate is that the body of a thing is for the sake of its form. Thus an essential difference in the substantial form cannot be indifferent with regard to the configuration of the body. It is absurd to think that the same body could be animated by two essentially distinct kinds of souls—rational and irrational. Given that the soul is the form of the body, an essential difference in the soul necessarily has fundamental consequences with regard to the disposition of the body and to the perfection and disposition of its organs. We have seen that it is supremely fitting that the external senses of man, and especially his internal senses, be developed in a maximal way, without particular emphasis on any one single sense. The bodies of the animals—including that of the monkey and other primates—are always specialized and adapted to certain particular circumstances.

"Therefore, even Neo-Darwinian evolutionists admit that man cannot have developed directly from the monkey (or any currently existing primate), because the monkey is too specialized and highly adapted to its particular environment: too much would have had to be undone before progress could begin towards becoming man. They think that the ancestor of man would also have been an ancestor of the monkey and of all the other primates that we know today: it would have had to have been a more generic primate that had not yet become specialized.

"In addition, there is an enormous, discontinuous, and abrupt difference between the soul of a monkey and the soul of a man. They are essentially distinct. The soul of man cannot be the product of evolution, since it is created by God. But according to the hypothesis of the evolution of the body, this evolution would have been continuous and gradual, and always accidental in every step of the evolutionary process. How can this presumed continuous and accidental change of the body be compatible with the radical and essential change of the soul which is the very form of the body?

"The idea of an evolution of the body of man might be more reasonable if the soul were not the form of the body. But it is the form of the body, and it cannot be understood how the body could evolve without a corresponding “evolution” in its form: the soul (which does not evolve since it is created directly by God, and which transcends matter, on which this supposed evolution would depend).

"Moreover, the body with its essential disposition of organs is part of the essence of man, as both St. Thomas and Aristotle affirmed (against Plato). The essence of a physical thing includes the form (or soul) and some determined kind of matter. Every corporeal essence therefore determines a body essentially distinct from the bodies of other species. Thus the body of man cannot be the result of continuous accidental changes to the body of some primate. It must be the result of a radical, discontinuous change, in the same way that the soul of man is radically different from that of the monkey."

Dr Feingold's entire talk can be listened to (or read) here: http://www.hebrewcatholic.net/09-04-the-question-of-evolution/

Vasco Gama said...

Ed,

You when you say

«since the intellect can be shown on purely philosophical grounds to be immaterial, it is impossible in principle for the intellect to have arisen through evolution»

I would prefer to state that we don’t understand how it could be possible (but then we don’t understand a lot, even if we try hard to understand everything).

But, maybe I am completely wrong (I could not read the philosophical argument you linked).

Brandon said...

Anonymous,

Your example of a behavioral difference makes assumptions about the sophistication of language that I'm not sure we can make in the context of this particular hypothesis. It isn't clear to me why you assume that the behavioral difference would have to be already observable rather than counterfactual (i.e., observable under some in-principle conditions).

I also still don't follow your genetic argument:

if rational and non-rational humans behave differently on average (even in the hard-to-detect ways that Feser mentions), then they must have different brains on average (unless you want to introduce an interaction problem by positing a soul that can jostle neurons around) and therefore different genes. But this contradicts the claim that rational humans and non-rational humans are genetically similar.

But this seems just to reiterate what made your previous comment unclear. The point that was unclear and still is unclear might be expressible by taking two points and bringing them together into a third point. (1) Modern human beings have different brains on average, so it's not the mere fact of having different brains on average, but of large-scale, coarse-grained differences in type, where the type is determined not just by any differences, nor even necessarily by any obvious differences, but solely by in-principle cognitive function. (2) The same issue arises on the genetic side. We already know that ancient humans had different genes from modern humans; even modern humans have different genes from each other. The question is whether they are different in such a way that they cannot reproduce fertilely. (3) Since being a member of the population of biological humans is a reproductive trait, not a cognitive one, your argument logically requires that all possible organisms capable of reproducing fertilely with a modern human have the kinds of brains in principle capable of rational thought that is clearly distinguishable in behavior from merely local problem-solving and use of signs and tools. It is unclear to me what is grounding this claim, which requires a rather substantive understanding of the relation between cognition, reproductive ability, and behavior.

None of this is a criticism, mind you; it just seems to be the case that you are taking some step or steps in the argument as obvious when in fact it's not clear what they would be, thus making it difficult to determine what is really doing the work in the objection.

Brandon said...

I am skeptical of the Flynn-Kemp hypothesis, but I think a number of critics are missing the point that part of the issue here is that biological species is not the same as species determined by substantial form; the former is purely operative and in this context is determined entirely by the ability to have fertile offspring.

We can see the issue, assuming for the moment that Thomistic principles are governing how we understand substantial form, by considering the problem with Feingold's argument, as quoted by JonathanPW above:

The idea of an evolution of the body of man might be more reasonable if the soul were not the form of the body. But it is the form of the body, and it cannot be understood how the body could evolve without a corresponding “evolution” in its form: the soul (which does not evolve since it is created directly by God, and which transcends matter, on which this supposed evolution would depend).

However, Aquinas's own account of how we get to have our substantial form on an individual level sees our development as going through several substantial forms in the womb. As Aquinas understands it, our individual bodies are in fact prepared for our rational souls by a succession of substantial forms. Now let's posit an idea that is not ruled out by this alone: suppose there is an organism that undergoes a very similar process in succession of substantial forms, but whereas in our case the substantial form becomes a rational form at some point, in this case the substantial forms are just more and more sophisticated animal forms, to some completion point. In other words, there is a fork in the road, and we take one path and the posited organism another. The question then becomes, on the basis of this alone, can we know that the organisms of the different pathways would necessarily be unable to have fertile offspring? You have to have the necessity in order to establish that Thomistic principles ruled out the Flynn-Kemp scenario, because Aquinas's own account of development entails that your own body was prepared for by an animal body disposed to become your body. Aquinas's principles about the generation of substantial forms, in other words, are quite general, and quite generous as to what they allow.

Now, nobody in fact holds Aquinas's account of development any more; it's a point on which everyone recognizes that empirical evidence has modified things on points Aquinas thought had to be determined by empirical evidence. My point is that merely appealing to Aquinas doesn't seem to work, and that several critics (like Feinberg) have arguments both appealing to Aquinas and making claims about generation of substantial forms that do not seem to be true even of Aquinas's own account. Any claims about substantial forms in this context require specific justification.

Brandon said...

I probably should have quoted the Feinberg paragraph immediately prior to the one that I did; I think that paragraph makes my point more clear.

Anonymous said...

Great...to square evolution with Christianity, we now require the divine creation of a large mass of *subhuman* creatures which nevertheless "more or less looked like human beings"?

Read it again. You've misunderstood. Probably intentionally, but still.

ccmnxc said...

Due to my unfamiliarity with this particular debate, I'm curious: what alternatives are there to the Flynn-Kemp hypothesis that still allow us to hold to monogenism?

G. said...

'Great...to square evolution with Christianity, we now require the divine creation of a large mass of *subhuman* creatures which nevertheless "more or less looked like human beings"?'

It is ridiculous isn't it? That mathematicians, physicians, biologists and the like do have open criticisms of Evolution, but it seems that it must be reconciled with Christianity, without actually placing the theory under the full throttle of scrutiny. Fr. Chad Ripperger with his work The Metaphysics of Evolution has demonstrated the incompatibilities of Evolution with First Principles. It would be great if Dr. Feser would give his insight upon Fr. Ripperger's work.

Edward Feser said...

Vincent,

Three points. First, your objection is not really an objection to the Flynn-Kemp proposal per se, but to the very idea of Adam having pre-human ancestors. It is therefore an objection against Pius XII and John Paul II as much as against Flynn and Kemp, since both these popes speak of the possibility that the human body arose via evolution. It is important to emphasize this, because you are framing this as a question about the theological orthodoxy of the Flynn-Kemp proposal. You are really, implicitly, challenging the orthodoxy of what both of these popes allowed as a permissible opinion. Or if not, you owe us an explanation of why the orthodoxy of the Flynn-Kemp proposal, but not that of Pius XII and John Paul II, is put in question by the considerations you raise. Certainly you should be more cautious about questioning the Flynn-Kemp view's orthodoxy.

Second, the answer to your objection is implicit in the passage from Koren I quoted above, and Koren's position is standard among those Thomists who allow that the human body could have arisen via evolution. It's also implicit in the other things I say in the post. To say that the human body might have arisen via evolution (whether Thomists like Koren and me are saying it or whether Pius XII and John Paul II are saying it) is to speak somewhat loosely. Precisely for the reasons you cite, only a body infused by a human soul is human in the strict, metaphysical sense. The sub-rational creatures in question do not have human bodies in the strict sense (which is why I put scare quotes around "human" when I referred to them) but rather bodies having their manifest physiological features in common with true human bodies. The thesis that Pius XII, John Paul II, Flynn, and Kemp all rightly regard as compatible with the considerations you cite is that in creating Adam, God infused a human soul into what was not strictly a human body but nevertheless was very similar to one insofar as it had these manifest physiological features in common with it. Only after infusion was it strictly a human body, though.

Third, among the manifest physiological features that the sub-rational and not-strictly-human bodies have are reproductive faculties that allow for interbreeding with true human beings. This is part of the Flynn-Kemp proposal that goes beyond anything Pius XII or John Paul II say, but it is perfectly compatible with the considerations you cite, just as xenotransplantation is compatible with those considerations. Certainly there is nothing in the idea of the soul as the form of the body that per se rules out interbreeding. Nor is there anything in the Magisterial statements you cite that rules it out.

So, I think you are seriously off-base in trying to make this a question about orthodoxy. It's also a pretty odd move coming from someone who has accused others of being "heresy hunters," fretted over whether ID might be declared heretical, etc.

Edward Feser said...

Re: Feingold's remarks, what I say above in response to Vincent Torley is applicable to them as well.

I haven't read the talk beyond the passages JonathanPW quotes above, but if Feingold overlooks the point that the idea of "the evolution of the body" is meant in the loose sense I described, I'd be very surprised, since it seems to me that that's a pretty common point in the literature. No one, to my knowledge, denies that the infusion of the human soul marks a dramatic metaphysical jump. The claim is merely that manifest physiological traits might still be held in common (just as, as everyone knows, we have eyes, ears, legs, etc. in common with other animals) and that this could include reproductive capacity.

Jack Ferrara said...

Okeedokey, I'm a little confused about some things…
If you've already answered my points I apologize now, I've been known to miss the forest through the trees so I don't want to seem like I'm trying to make an obnoxious point.

Does this mean then that there is literally an "original sin" gene according to the Magisterium? Does this mean the biblical characters of Adam and Eve had to literally exist?

Also, does this beg the question of why does God allow something like humans without rational capacity to evolve (e.g. why would Adam's parents not have rational capacity but Adam does)?

Anonymous said...

I guess I'm just old fashioned. If God did not create the first human pair by a special act of creation so as to create the species of mankind tout court, then it will have to be proven to me absolutely. On this point I would accept nothing short of a Dogmatic Teaching of the Magisterium.

Linus2nd

Mr. Green said...

Ccmnxc: Due to my unfamiliarity with this particular debate, I'm curious: what alternatives are there to the Flynn-Kemp hypothesis that still allow us to hold to monogenism?

The most obvious is that God doesn’t worry about what knots the knickers of materialistic biologists in the twenty-first century and just created man miraculously.

The second most obvious thing is that the one thing we know about evolutionary biology is that we don’t know much about evolutionary biology. Only a few decades ago, biologists were getting excited about “mitochondrial Eve”, and then “Y-chromosome Adam”, who of course lived eons apart except maybe they didn’t or maybe they did after all, and anyway mitochondria might not be inherited solely maternally in the first place. So there’s not a lot of point getting worked up about today’s speculative extrapolation from highly limited circumstantial evidence in the first place.

Step2 said...

@Vincent Torley

Although Neanderthals did look different from modern humans they were capable of interbreeding with homo sapiens. They had all the biological supports for a language but their language would have had a narrower range of vocalizations than ours. From inferences based on multiple factors the parts of the Neanderthal brain related to social complexity and abstract thinking were less developed than our own but not absent. What is somewhat interesting is speculation about what to make of the 30,000 or so years between the extinction of the Neanderthals and the beginning of the Neolithic revolution where rational thinking truly began to flourish. Could those have been the “sub-rational” fully anatomical humans, based not on genes or cognitive potential but on food security and learning? This could explain that while no biologist doubts that genetic evolution is still ongoing, it is socio-economic and technological evolution that became dominant factors in human history after the Neolithic period.

Mr. Green said...

Anonymous: Ask both of them to deduce what one can conclude from the propositions "all men are mortal" and "Socrates is a man." The rational one should be able to do it and the irrational one shouldn’t

As an aside to Brandon’s cogent comments, I would just add that my computer can “figure out” simple syllogisms; a human brain has a lot of complex “programming”, and indeed, to be suited as a body for an intellectual soul, it would have to be extremely capable in such respects. So it would not be surprising per se if a similarly complex human-like brain were perhaps able to produce effects similar to real understanding.


Daniel: To say one inherits it would be akin to saying Ed inherits from his father the property of not being emperor of China or some such thing.

Well, he did, didn’t he? I suppose it’s a bit odd because Ed’s father was never the emperor of China in the first place, but Adam really did have preternatural gifts that he could have passed down. If Ed’s father won the lottery, but squandered it all leaving nothing but debts, we would quite correctly say that Ed inherited his impecunious state.


Vasco Gama: I would prefer to state that we don’t understand how it could be possible (but then we don’t understand a lot, even if we try hard to understand everything).

But we do understand how it could be possible for an immaterial intellect to arise from a material biological process: namely, not at all. It has nothing to do with vagueness about the process, but because we can demonstrate that the human soul is (or has) an immaterial aspect, and thus is not a material effect of any kind.


G.: but it seems that it must be reconciled with Christianity, without actually placing the theory under the full throttle of scrutiny.

It is a bit silly, because at the end of the day, the biology simply doesn’t matter for Christianity, any more than traffic patterns do. But because of the undue publicity it gets, often illegitimately framed as a “challenge” for religion, it is worth pointing out every now and then that even if we assume that everything biologists think today is literally true, it still isn’t a problem for traditional Christianity. And sometimes it’s interesting to consider the matter from a purely academic perspective. But “disproving” special evolution is irrelevant to religion or metaphysics too; if someone has scientific issues to raise, that is a scientific matter.


Jack Ferrara: Does this mean then that there is literally an "original sin" gene according to the Magisterium?

No.

Does this mean the biblical characters of Adam and Eve had to literally exist?

Yes.

why does God allow something like humans without rational capacity to evolve

Why not? It’s no more a problem for God to create dumb beasts a lot like humans than for Him to create dumb beasts that are kinda like humans, or that are not very much like humans at all, from apes to apricots and everything in between.


Linus2nd: If God did not create the first human pair by a special act of creation so as to create the species of mankind tout court, then it will have to be proven to me absolutely.

That's a perfectly acceptable position to take. Of course, you should hold it only tentatively, since there has been no Magisterial pronouncement ruling out some of the more speculative alternatives, either.

JonathanPW said...

Thank you, Dr Feser, for your reply to Feingold's argument. I might be mistaken, but it doesn't seem to me that Feingold is overlooking your "evolution of the body in the loose sense". His problem is with the idea that even though the soul is the form of an animal's body (and therefore informs the disposition of organs and physiological makeup), the Flynn-Kemp hypothesis would entail that the rational "feature" of the human soul has no such impact on the human body. Or, conversely: an animal body ripe for human ensoulment would need to display display physiological features that reflect the presence of rationality, not only because of the relationship between matter and form, but because of how an animal with a physiological makeup that reflected rational capabilities but with a brain that was in fact incapable of such rationality could hardly win a survival of the fittest contest.

JonathanPW said...

*could hardly HAVE WON a survival of the fittest contest.

Either that or the physiology of the bodies we have have reflect nothing of a rational soul. (If what I think is a human displays no rationality can I be so sure that he is actually a human?)

Mr. Green said...

Bilbo: (1) If God creates each soul separately, then where would be the necessity of creating all souls with original sin?

I don’t think there is any metaphysical necessity; that’s just the way God chose to do things. That is, God wished to create human family, as opposed to say, a series of unrelated independent human “clones”. (And bear in mind that God foresaw He would become part of this human family Himself, which of course would not be possible if there were no such thing.)

(2) Some Protestant Christians, in an effort to deal with biological polygenism, have suggested that Adam and Eve were the representative couple of the human race […]. Is this option available to Catholic theology?

I don’t think there’s a way to square it… Adam has his representative authority over mankind precisely by being the father of the whole human race. (I think the relevant point is that the effects of original sin apply to us by virtue of being born as sons of Adam, which is why to escape them, we must be born again.)

Mr. Green said...

Thursday: However, the creation of a rational being from this animal by adding an immaterial intellect to it, would seem to create a rational creature that is, from the moment it is created, oriented towards evil.

I guess you mean that animals do lots of things that would be immoral if humans did them? But spiders do things that would be bad if seals did them, and so on. But still, the most we can conclude is that there is a possibility that human beings would be susceptible to certain temptations — and temptations are not evil.


James: Could someone explain to me, or point me to an explanation of what this ‘spiritual soul’ might be on a Thomistic reading?

The Profeser is just distinguishing between a material soul — such as a plant or animal has — and the intellectual souls that humans have. “Spirit” generally refers to its non-corpoeal side, while “soul” generally refers to it qua form of the body.


JonathanPW: an animal body ripe for human ensoulment would need to display display physiological features that reflect the presence of rationality, not only because of the relationship between matter and form, but because of how an animal with a physiological makeup that reflected rational capabilities but with a brain that was in fact incapable of such rationality could hardly win a survival of the fittest contest.

I think this is covered by previous points, including Brandon’s above. And “could hardly win” is horribly hand-wavey; it’s not as though we have any specific details as to their capabilities or the state of their environment or anything else. Animals have many amazing survival instincts that appear “clever” to us because we naturally interpret them intellectually, even though the animals themselves are not rational. Who knows what these hypothetical near-humans would have been capable of? The most we can say is that given a lot of fairly arbitrary assumptions, it might be “unlikely” for them to have survived well. And frankly, evolutionary biologists are the last people to have any place complaining about what’s “likely” or not.

G. said...

Mr. Green:
'It is a bit silly, because at the end of the day, the biology simply doesn’t matter for Christianity, any more than traffic patterns do.'

The problem is however that the biology is able to be isolated from Evolution itself. Young Earth Creationists have constantly cited that specific functions of the organs need not an explanation of their origin, just how they work. Evolution thus functions as an Ontological element that does try to rival that of Christian ontological notions, and it also has to be considered if Evolution is a rival ideology. Evolution it should be noted is not new, it finds itself in Greek writings, even if a prototype, and has a heavy relation with Enlightenment principles.

TheOFloinn said...

I am a bit uneasy with the term "Flynn-Kemp," since I claim no great originality in the thesis for myself. But a fellow named Jerry Coyne stepped up and claimed that the necessity of 10,000 biological kinda-humans blew Catholic theology out of the water. He challenged anyone to come up with a way to reconcile the genetic record as presently interpreted and the dogma of original sin, and promised a prize to whoever might do so.

Well, being a prize-mongering sort, I entered the contest. I recollected reading at Chastek's blog some while previously the difference between "there is one man from whom all humans are descended" and "all humans are descended from only one man."

http://thomism.wordpress.com/2010/06/23/mere-monogenism-and-adam-and-eve/

So I worked it up with a little help from Helen Keller and the Underground Grammarian. I ran across the paper by Kemp. And I said, well, this is one way in which the two can be reconciled. Did I win the prize? You gotta be kidding. Coyne retreated back into his fundamentalism. That's not how he reads Genesis! Namely, in a prosaic and naive Sunday School literalism.

Yet even so reading, just where did Cain and Seth find wives?

TheOFloinn said...

To have the same genes means that their brains will be wired the same way during development. It therefore seems that...

...that brains are not souls?

Actually, it's quite possible to have the same genes and develop in utterly different manners: e.g., locusts/grasshoppers, helmeted water fleas with/without "helmets," etc.
http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB111412143645613760
http://aeon.co/magazine/science/why-its-time-to-lay-the-selfish-gene-to-rest/

we might posit that the relationship between the rational soul and the neurons in the brain is a matter of formal, rather than efficient, causation

As indeed the soul is defined as the substantive form of a potentially living body.

If God creates each soul separately, then where would be the necessity of creating all souls with original sin?

Way I heard it, God does not create from necessity.

adding an immaterial intellect to [an amoral animal], would seem to create a rational creature that is, from the moment it is created, oriented towards evil.

Like "original sin"?
http://dhspriory.org/thomas/ContraGentiles4.htm#52

there should be outwardly observable behavioral differences between rational and non-rational humans

I think we get a taste of that from Helen Keller's account of when the use of language "clicked" for her. In her own telling, she thought of herself prior to that enlightnment as being little more than an animal.

There is an account here: http://tofspot.blogspot.com/2011/07/talk-to-animals.html

by positing a soul that can jostle neurons around

Does a sphere jostle rubber molecules around to make a basketball?

a different species from Man

That's 'species' in a philosophical sense; not 'species' in the sense of an interfertile population.

Thus an essential difference in the substantial form cannot be indifferent with regard to the configuration of the body.

Do women have souls, then, that differ from men's? After all the configuration of their bodies is happily different from those of men.

the evolution of the body, this evolution would have been continuous and gradual, and always accidental in every step of the evolutionary process.

Recent advances in genetics indicate that evolution may be not only sudden and discontinuous but also specific.
http://shapiro.bsd.uchicago.edu/Shapiro.2013.Rethinking_the_%28Im%29Possible_in_Evolution.html

Also, does this beg the question of ...

Aaargh! Pet peeve alert! Pet peeve alert! That is not "begging the question".....

If God did not create the first human pair by a special act of creation so as to create the species of mankind tout court...

Then we would have to imagine God as a cause in the world in competition with other causes. Must we also reject the laws of thermodynamics because God must create light "tout court"? "Let there be light!"

“mitochondrial Eve”, and then “Y-chromosome Adam”

Both of which nicely illustrate that all humans my be descended from a single individual without being descended from only that single individual. And note that these individuals are an even more restricted case,requiring strictly maternal and strictly paternal descent.

TheOFloinn said...

Addendum:
This may also prove useful in conjunction with Helen Keller:
http://www.sourcetext.com/grammarian/less-than-words-can-say/02.htm

TheOFloinn said...

James Chastek makes another point about all this: That Adam need not even have been "the first being with a rational soul" but simply "the first person called to participate in a life that was higher than reason."
http://thomism.wordpress.com/2014/12/21/positive-monogenism/

Anonymous said...

TheOfloinn:

James Chastek sounds like a materialist in his thinking. If Adam was not the first being with a rational soul, then what species was? And given that the Rational Soul is understood as what is meant by being created in the image of God, what other species is created in the image of God? Is that rational soul capable of Sin? Is it capable of redemption? Positive Monogenism sounds borderline heretical.

Anonymous said...

I am surprised by the continued assumption that we are rational creatures. This derives from the Scientific Enlightenment, does it not? Yes, we are capable of argument, but it is usually irrational, or subject to confirmation bias (we always ignore or bypass what we don’t like). Yes, we describe stuff, but we all have our own point of view about its value to us.

If we were really rational beings, would we be in the process of destroying ourselves and the planet?

David T said...

Yes, we are capable of argument, but it is usually irrational, or subject to confirmation bias (we always ignore or bypass what we don’t like). Yes, we describe stuff, but we all have our own point of view about its value to us.

And since by your logic this is merely an expression of your own confirmation bias and values, we can safely ignore it.

John West said...

Anonymous,

I am surprised by the continued assumption that we are rational creatures. This derives from the Scientific Enlightenment, does it not?

The medieval Church considered man as rational animals, so probably not. It is, I think, an old Greek notion.

Jules said...

Anon,

I am surprised by the continued assumption that we are rational creatures. This derives from the Scientific Enlightenment, does it not? Yes, we are capable of argument, but it is usually irrational, or subject to confirmation bias (we always ignore or bypass what we don’t like). Yes, we describe stuff, but we all have our own point of view about its value to us.

If we were really rational beings, would we be in the process of destroying ourselves and the planet?


This would be like asking "If animals are moving beings, why they can't move at the speed of light?" or "If animals are moving beings, why my dog stay immobile when sleeping?". Having the power to do something does not mean that this power is absolute or that is always being exercised. Humans beings are capable of reason, even if our reasoning is not perfect or sometimes is not exercised; thus, we are properly said to be rational animals - in the same sense you can say that a dog is a moving animal.

Dennis Bonnette said...

Thank you, Dr. Feser, for letting me know about your article, which mentions my work.

Most noteworthy are the critical contributions to the Church by yourself, Professors Flynn, Kemp, and others, by (1) taking seriously the Catholic doctrine of theological monogenism, and (2) answering the claims of geneticist Francisco Ayala and other secular scientists who maintain that the traditional doctrine of a literal Adam and Eve is “pure fantasy.” This modernist attack upon the very underpinnings of the Catholic faith demands swift and sure response, since it does grave harm to the entire theological order of the Fall, the need for a Redeemer, and the coming of Jesus Christ himself, whose incarnation to redeem all mankind we celebrate in scant days.

I am most impressed with the argument you offer for the idea that early true humans would be tempted to engage in carnal relations with their subhuman “cousins” in the assumed same biological species. After all, when one considers the undying affection exhibited by many contemporary canines for their modern masters and combines it with the thought of a Linda Harrison (as you jestingly suggest) who will never say she has a headache, the temptation to have such a subhuman female for a concubine would appear almost irresistible. On the other hand, one wonders whether the absence of intellect in that “concubine with animal passions” would not make long-time associations inherently unattractive, leading to “irreconcilable differences” – in which case the thought of established, long-lasting polygamous families, happily caring for concubine-produced offspring, seems less likely than momentary carnal liaisons leaving unwanted bastards in their wake.

Early in your critique of my objection to “widespread” interbreeding, you say, “I put to one side Prof. Bonnette’s remarks about the genetic evidence, which I’ll leave to the biologists to evaluate.” Later, while apparently defending such widespread interbreeding, you note, “All that it [the Flynn-Kemp scenario] requires is that there was enough interbreeding to account for the genetic evidence appealed to by contemporary biologists.” But that is precisely to miss the important new contribution to this issue made by a review of the genetic studies that shows that scientific claims asserting polygenism are not definitive. (See my Crisis article: link in Dr. Feser’s article.)

Since the later genetic studies by Bergstrom and von Salome indicate that the number of ancient HLA-DRB1 alleles to be explained are far fewer than geneticist Francisco Ayala and those who follow him erroneously assume, it follows that there may well have been needed only rare “interbreeding incidents” – or, perhaps none at all!

This means that arguments about the relative plausibility of inherently directly-unverifiable, chronologically-retrospective, paleo-sociological speculations – either yours or mine – might be entirely unnecessary and irrelevant. (Yes, the inherent impossibility of direct observation of genetic conditions hundreds of thousands of years ago applies to the genetic studies also, which is yet another reason why they are not definitive.)

These paleo-sociological speculations appear to violate Occam’s Razor, since we are attempting to resolve the attacks on monogenism by means of complex alternative scenarios -- when the extant scientific data suggests a much simpler solution, namely, that there is presently no definitive case for the need of any interbreeding at all, much less that it should be a widespread phenomenon.

I sincerely applaud your proposal of a solution favoring theological monogenism based on the worst case scenario, but fear that it is presently a superfluous concession to the secular polygenists.

Greg said...

@ Professor Bonnette

These paleo-sociological speculations appear to violate Occam’s Razor, since we are attempting to resolve the attacks on monogenism by means of complex alternative scenarios -- when the extant scientific data suggests a much simpler solution, namely, that there is presently no definitive case for the need of any interbreeding at all, much less that it should be a widespread phenomenon.

I think the point of the 'Flynn-Kemp' hypothesis is not to claim to have an account of what happened; it is to provide a plausible way in which the Catholic doctrine would be consistent with the claim of biologists that mankind could not have arisen from a pair of initial humans. (In that sense it is like Plantinga's free will defense, and the issue of simplicity does not arise.)

If Catholic doctrine does not need to be made consistent with that claim, since that claim might be false, then that is even better. (So the approaches need not be taken as mutually exclusive.)

Wm Sears said...

Why is there no mention of Noah and family in this discussion of Adam and Eve, where the same problem occurs again? One can argue that the problem is even worse for Noah since we are now much closer to historical times and the possibility of interbreeding with non-rational humans has disappeared given the world wide flood. Is it the position of the Catholic Church that the flood was not world wide? A serious answer would be appreciated.

Vincent Torley said...

Hi Ed,

Thanks for your reply. Just to be clear: I am not accusing Professor Kemp of heresy. What I am saying is that he hasn't satisfactorily explained how his views can be reconciled with the declaration of the ecumenical Council of Vienne that the soul is essentially the form of the human body.

You write that my objection "is not really an objection to the Flynn-Kemp proposal per se, but to the very idea of Adam having pre-human ancestors" and that it is "therefore an objection against Pius XII and John Paul II as much as against Flynn and Kemp." Not so. As Fr. Brian Harrison convincingly shows in his article, "Did the Human Body Evolve Naturally?" at http://www.rtforum.org/lt/lt73.html , the kind of evolution envisioned by previous Popes (certainly by Pius XII) was special transformism, which granted that evolution from the first cell up to the level of hominids may have occurred in a purely naturalistic fashion, but which posited "a last-minute supernatural intervention at the moment of Adam's conception" so as to give his embryonic body "the genetic constitution and physical features of a true human being," making it "physically apt for - and hence requiring - a rational soul." Fr. Harrison argues that this is the only kind of evolution that squares with Catholic doctrine.

You hypothesize that "in creating Adam, God infused a human soul into what was not strictly a human body but nevertheless was very similar to one insofar as it had these manifest physiological features in common with it." I'm afraid that won't do. It is simply absurd to suppose that there can be two different kinds of creatures, possessing exactly the same bodily capacities, but different NON-bodily capacities (none at all for what Kemp calls biological man, versus the capacity to reason for what he calls philosophical man). On Aristotle's account, the soul is not only the formal cause of the body but also its final cause, and the powers of the soul are precisely those powers which it should fittingly have, given the kind of body it has. Consequently, if two creatures have the same kind of body, then they must have the same kind of soul.

JonathanPW summed it up best when he wrote: "the body of man cannot be the result of continuous accidental changes to the body of some primate. It must be the result of a radical, discontinuous change, in the same way that the soul of man is radically different from that of the monkey."

Or are you seriously claiming that there could be two individuals which were atom-for-atom duplicates of one another, with one possessing a rational soul and the other lacking it?

Finally, if it be urged that God's infusion of the human soul is a supernatural act, I would answer: that's true, but the human body is nevertheless the kind of body that requires a rational soul - otherwise it would die. Creatures with large brains like ours have an extended infancy, and require careful nurturing by parents who are capable of making a commitment to lifelong monogamy - which requires the use of reason.

Finally, in response to the question, "Where did Cain get his wife?" which has been raised on this thread: everyone knows that he married one of his sisters. The Bible says Adam and Eve had many sons and daughters.

Greg said...

@ Vincent

Or are you seriously claiming that there could be two individuals which were atom-for-atom duplicates of one another, with one possessing a rational soul and the other lacking it?

So you would be surprised for a Thomist to deny that the matter-form relation is one of strict supervenience? In what sense then could a rational soul be immaterial?

Scott said...

@Vincent Torley:

"Or are you seriously claiming that there could be two individuals which were atom-for-atom duplicates of one another, with one possessing a rational soul and the other lacking it?"

I don't see what's supposed to be so obviously wrong with that claim. Is the intellect immaterial or isn't it?

Scott said...

Heh, Greg got there first.

Scott said...

@Vincent Torley:

"It is simply absurd to suppose that there can be two different kinds of creatures, possessing exactly the same bodily capacities, but different NON-bodily capacities[.]"

Here again, I don't see why. Why couldn't two bodily identical creatures differ in one's possessing and the other's lacking an immaterial intellect?

Brandon said...

I think it's also worth pointing out that 'identity' is not part of the proposal and never has been. Indeed, I don't understand why critics keep bringing it up; the hypothesis requires that the two be similar enough for a breeding population, not that they "possess exactly the same bodily capacities" or (even more inexplicably irrelevant) be "atom-for-atom duplicates". Why is this so difficult to grasp?

Mr. Green said...

G.: Evolution thus functions as an Ontological element that does try to rival that of Christian ontological notions, and it also has to be considered if Evolution is a rival ideology.

True, and I should clarify that naturally it’s actual biology that is not and cannot be a problem for Christianity, but ideology pretending to be “science” is something else. Prof. Feser has of course deal widely and well with this issue.


Wm Sears: One can argue that the problem is even worse for Noah […] Is it the position of the Catholic Church that the flood was not world wide?

I believe that officially the flood had to be large enough to wipe out all mankind. But Noah is not in the same position as Adam because he was not the first man — he already had all sorts of genetic variation, wherever it came from, so the parallel is not exact. And since Noah’s sons’ wives could have come from all over, it would be hard to make any attempts at a similar type of problem tight enough… perhaps someone could argue that it’s “unlikely”, but I think it would be hard to go beyond that.

Edward Feser said...

Vincent,

No, you didn't actually type the sentence "Kemp is a heretic." What you did do was to suggest that his position amounts to one that the Council of Vienne declared heretical. You even made sure to quote the part that says that anyone who takes the view you attribute to Kemp "is to be considered a heretic."

And yes, I'm familiar with Fr. Harrison's writings on this subject, and my remarks above are fully compatible with what he says. When I spoke of a scenario in which:

God infused a human soul into what was not strictly a human body but nevertheless was very similar to one insofar as it had these manifest physiological features in common with it

I did not mean that he infused it into a fully grown adult human-like body. I meant that he infused it, at conception, into organic matter that derived from sub-rational creatures physiologically similar to human beings, so that the matter in question therefore had the genetic underpinnings of those physiological traits. The infusion "upgraded" the resulting truly human organism into something even the most complex sub-rational creature could not have been otherwise.

Since this is what Thomist authors of the sort I quoted in the main post have in mind -- talk of the "evolution of the human body" is, as I've indicated, just shorthand for this more complex scenario -- I assumed that a fair-minded reader familiar with the Thomistic literature on this topic would know what I meant.

But let's cut to the chase, shall we? Suppose all these qualifications are made. How exactly is the Flynn-Kemp view incompatible with any of this? It seems to me that there is nothing in what they say that can't be said equally well when one adds all the qualifications Fr. Harrison would insist on. In particular, you've said nothing to show that the interbreeding they speak of is incompatible with interpreting the evolution of the body scenario in the way Fr. Harrison would insist on.

And it is, after all, the interbreeding scenario specifically that is what Flynn and Kemp add to the discussion. The idea that the human body in some sense evolved is not original with them, and the details of how exactly this might have happened is not what they spend most of their time talking about. Yet for some reason you have wanted to make that the issue in your criticism of Flynn and Kemp.

So it seems to me that the stuff about the Council of Vienne, and the quibbling over how exactly the we formulate the claim that God infused a human soul into living matter derived from sub-rational creatures, are red herrings. Let's add all the qualifications necessary. What exactly is the problem with the Flynn-Kemp scenario?

Edward Feser said...

Yes, what Brandon said at 5:50 PM. Let me re-post it:

I think it's also worth pointing out that 'identity' is not part of the proposal and never has been. Indeed, I don't understand why critics keep bringing it up; the hypothesis requires that the two be similar enough for a breeding population, not that they "possess exactly the same bodily capacities" or (even more inexplicably irrelevant) be "atom-for-atom duplicates". Why is this so difficult to grasp?

Exactly. All this other stuff is beside the point and just muddies the waters.

Edward Feser said...

Hello Prof. Bonnette,

Many thanks for your comment. My main point is just to emphasize that there is a range of positions one can reasonably take consistent with Catholic orthodoxy and Thomistic philosophy on the one hand, and what we actually can be said to know from the biological evidence on the other. I think we agree on this main point.

Wm Sears said...

Mr. Green,
I don't see why Noah would have more genetic variation than Adam but in any case the comparison here is a potential bottle neck of two people that can be expanded to thousands by interbreeding with the "non-humans" versus a much later bottle neck of five which cannot be expanded. This is a much more serious problem both because of this limitation and the fact that it is much closer to the present. We have for the sake of argument allowed Adam and Eve to be tens of thousands of years in the past but we do not have that luxury with Noah who is not Paleolithic. For the purposes of argument I have ignored the geological impossibility of a world wide flood but in addition to that there is the lack of time required to produce the present human diversity from five individuals (Noah, his wife, and the three daughters in law as the sons do not add additional genetic variation). So you see the problem is a more difficult one which is why I do not understand the emphasis on Adam and Eve while completely ignoring the Noah problem. I have also ignored the ages of the Patriarchs problem in order to focus on this one issue.

rigadoon said...

"The Catholic position, and the Thomist position, ... rules out, in principle, a completely naturalistic understanding of evolution."
But the scientific understanding of evolution is completely naturalistic. So Catholics and Thomists are rejecting science, but are afraid to admit it. They fool no one but themselves with myths about androids. Better to admit the truth: Christianity and naturalistic science are contradictory: both cannot be true.

Dennis Bonnette said...

Since questions have been posed here about how the human spiritual soul can come to actuate a material body that is somehow the “product” of an evolutionary process, it might help some to take a look at my article, “The Philosophical Impossibility of Darwinian Naturalistic Evolution.” (Link at http://www.godandscience.org/evolution/philosophy_darwinian_evolution.html.

This article explains the difference between the biological species concept and the philosophical natural species concept as well as how this difference applies to the exact relationship between form and matter in any claimed evolutionary process. While evolutionary mechanisms can prepare the matter of a living organism so that it is extremely close in its disposition to a new and succeeding form, the surprising fact is that it is only the succeeding form that can actually so dispose the matter as to be perfectly fit for that final form. There is great complexity to the hylemorphic doctrine as it interfaces with certain aspects of evolutionary theory. The aforementioned article explains this in some detail.

Vincent Torley said...

Greg and Scott,

You ask: "Is the intellect immaterial or isn't it?" My answer is that of course it is. The act of understanding a concept is not a bodily act.

Nevertheless, I maintain that the body of a rational animal must be essentially distinct from the body of a sub-rational animal. Were it not so, then the rational soul would not be not essentially the form of the human body, as the Council of Vienne declared. So there must be some physical difference X which sets humans apart from humanlike hominids.

This difference X is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for rationality. I am not saying that rationality supervenes upon our physical attributes.

What might the difference X be? I suggested previously that a large, slow-maturing human brain would do the trick: an infant born with such a brain would require parents capable of committing to a lifelong monogamous relationship (which chimps and gorilas don't do) in order to bring it up - in other words, rational parents.

The human body, then, requires a human soul, but it cannot explain the origin of the human soul. Only a supernatural act of God can do that.

Greg said...

@ Vincent

Nevertheless, I maintain that the body of a rational animal must be essentially distinct from the body of a sub-rational animal. Were it not so, then the rational soul would not be not essentially the form of the human body, as the Council of Vienne declared. So there must be some physical difference X which sets humans apart from humanlike hominids.

Can you flesh out the inference being made here? If the molecular constitution of a rational animal were not distinct from the molecular constitution of a sub-rational animal, why would it follow that the rational soul is not the form of the human body? Scott asked this already but your post did not address his question. (I phrase it in terms of molecular constitution so that we do not err in taking "human body" to refer to mere shapes or arrangements of particles.)

In other words, why cannot there be some creature that bears the non-rational powers of humans but is not rational? It might be an atom-for-atom duplicate of some human, though it would not have a human body since it doesn't have a human form. (There can be a bit of ambiguity in saying that the soul is the form of the human body, since strictly speaking the notion of a "body" is already related to form.)

I am not saying that rationality supervenes upon our physical attributes.

If atom-for-atom duplicates necessarily have the same form, then form supervenes on molecular arrangement. That's what 'supervene' means. (And if form supervenes on molecular arrangement, then rationality supervenes on molecular arrangement. But this view strikes me as inconsistent with Thomism even if we aren't considering the specifically rational.)

Of course, as Brandon pointed out, this talk of identity and atom-for-atom duplicates is not relevant to Professor Feser's post.

Vincent Torley said...

Hi Ed,

Thanks for your reply. Let me see if I've got this right. You maintain that Adam and Eve were the progeny of hominids which looked very similar to humans but were not exactly the same, but which were nevertheless capable of interbreeding with humans. Adam and Eve were infused with a rational soul at conception, and the infusion "'upgraded' the resulting truly human organism." I'm not sure whether you're suggesting that the act of ensoulment may have also transformed their genes, making them physically different. That's an interesting proposal.

Now, as long as Adam and Eve's bodies had some physical capacity making them more fitted to receive rational souls, and which their sub-rational parents' bodies would have lacked, then I would have to agree that your proposal is compatible with the Council of Vienne's declaration. If this is what Professor Kemp meant then it would render his proposal orthodox as well.

Nevertheless, I think that the idea of Adam and Eve being able to inter-breed with sub-rational hominids is just plain dopey, even if it's orthodox. Why? Because it puts God in a very poor light. If God made us in His own image, then it stands to reason that He would not have wanted rational beings to interbreed with sub-rational beings. That would be an unspeakble abomination. Logic dictates that in order to prevent this, God would do two things: (a) make it impossible for humans and non-humans to physically interbreed (for if they did, what would the progeny be - human or non-human?) and (b) design humans in such a way that they found non-human hominids physically repellent (which is precisely how we do find them: apes are unusually ugly creatures), so that they'd never be tempted to interbreed.

Re the possibility of interbreeding: humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes in their cells. Apes have 24. The change seems to have occurred between 740,000 and 3,000,000 years ago: see http://science.kqed.org/quest/2008/05/12/chromosome-fusion-chance-or-design/ . That would certainly have rendered interbreeding difficult, and other genetically engineered changes wrought by God (relating to the development of the brain) may have rendered it completely impossible. I believe, as does Professor Bonnette, that the first true human being was Heidelberg man, who may have appeared as early as 1.3 million years ago. If he did, this would roughly coincide with two events which may have created a reproductive barrier between humans and other hominids: first, a massive increase in the number of sweat glands (enabling our ancestors to run long distances in pursuit of prey, without getting over-heated), which probably occurred at the time when our ancestors acquired smooth, hairless skin; and second, a total loss of body hair (which would have also helped our ancestors to radiate excess body heat), a process which was fully completed by 1,200,000 years ago.

If the first human beings were hairless and sweaty, then humans and otheer hominids would have found one another physically repugnant: we would have smelled awful to them, and they would have looked ugly to us.

That's an evolutionary scenario that makes theological sense. Kemp's seems theologically unfitting, even if it is orthodox.

TheOFloinn said...

But the scientific understanding of evolution is completely naturalistic.

That is because modern science only seeks to understand the natural aspects. As St. Albertus Magnus put it back in the day:
“In studying nature we have not to inquire how God the Creator may, as He freely wills, use His creatures to work miracles and thereby show forth His power; we have rather to inquire what Nature with its immanent causes can naturally bring to pass.”
-- De vegetabilibus et plantis (13th cent.)
So methodilogical naturalism was a medieval Christian invention. Heisenberg later noted:
"What we observe is not nature itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning."
– Physics and Philosophy: The Revolution in Modern Science
So if your methodology can only look at the naturalistic aspects, it will only see the naturalistic parts and not the whole.

Christianity and naturalistic science are contradictory: both cannot be true.

Fortunately, science need not drag naturalistic metaphysics along with it.

Edward Feser said...

Vincent,

1. Re: my “interesting proposal,” again, neither I, nor Flynn nor Kemp as far as I can tell, are saying anything about the evolution of the human body and the infusion of the first human soul that hasn’t been said already by Thomists for six or seven decades, and which informed what Pius XII said in Human Generis and what John Paul II said in his address. There is nothing at all novel in that particular aspect of their position, and its orthodoxy is a settled issue. Hence your attempt to criticize the Flynn-Kemp scenario on the grounds that it is at odds with the Council of Vienne and the doctrine that the soul is the substantial form of the body is, as I have said, a red herring.

2. Re: your claim that the Flynn-Kemp interbreeding scenario is “dopey, even if orthodox” because it would “put God in a very poor light” if he tolerated such interbreeding, if that is your problem with it, why didn’t you say so from the start instead of questioning the view’s orthodoxy on completely unrelated grounds?

3. Re: your objection that God would make such interbreeding impossible given that it is immoral, presumably you agree that incest is also immoral and against God’s will, at least apart from rare exceptions like Cain and his sister. Given your reasoning, then, God should have made it impossible for incest to result in offspring, apart from miraculous interventions (e.g. to allow Cain and his sister to get the human race going). And yet it is not impossible. True, the offspring that result often exhibit birth defects, but still it is possible, and there are not always birth defects. So, why wouldn’t God allow for the possibility of the Flynn-Kemp interbreeding scenario, even if he disapproves of it (just as he allows for the possibility of fruitful incestuous relationships, despite disapproving of them)? Also, you say that since God would disapprove of the sort of interbreeding the Flynn-Kemp scenario describes, he would make such interbreeding repulsive to true human beings. Well, most of us find incest repulsive -- and yet it still happens with significant regularity. So why wouldn’t the interbreeding also still occasionally occur even if most early humans found it repulsive?

4. Re: what you say about ape chromosomes, sweat glands, etc., none of it is relevant, because the Flynn-Kemp scenario doesn’t postulate humans mating with apes, and neither does it specify exactly what the sub-rational quasi-human creatures were like in their appearance (or, for that matter, what the earliest true humans were like in their appearance). Your suggestion that the one group would have found the other physically repulsive is completely groundless.

Vincent Torley said...

Hi Ed,

Thanks for yiour reply. First, I think you are reading Kemp very charitably. (That's your right, of course; but you shouldn't expect others to agree with your reading.) In his article (see http://www3.nd.edu/~afreddos/papers/kemp-monogenism.pdf ), Kemp refers to a 1964 article by a Fr. Alexander, who posited a "final crucial mutation" which "did not give rise to a new biological species" but provided the material condition for God to endow hominids with a rational soul. That was the kind of scenario theologians used to consider 50 years ago. Kemp goes one step further: he dispenses with the mutation, because he thinks Fr. Alexander's "emphasis on genetics (a crucial mutation) may be misplaced." Instead, he posits "a population of about 5,000 hominids," who are very like us. "Out of this population, God selects two and endows them with intellects by creating for them rational souls," making them "truly human." Nowhere does Kemp explicitly state that there was something different about their bodies. Nowhee does Kemp state that this ensoulment took place at conception; the language he uses suggests, if anything, that they were adults. Your scenario of two individuals that were slightly different from the rest being endowed with rational souls at conception is, as I've said, a very charitable reading of Kemp's account.

But enough of that. You evidently disagree with Thomist philosopher Dr. Lawrence Feingold when he writes: "Thus the body of man cannot be the result of continuous accidental changes to the body of some primate. It must be the result of a radical, discontinuous change, in the same way that the soul of man is radically different from that of the monkey." I'd like to hear why.

Re incest: by definition, humans belong to the same biological species, so they are capable of interbreeding with one another. God could not make brothers and sisters fertile but naturally incapable of interbreeding without making them separate species. God could, on the other hand, create genetic and psychological barriers to reproduction between humans and non-human primates, and logic would dictate that He actually did so. Kemp's scenario assumes that He didn't: the first true humans were very similar to the other hominids they lived with, and evidently there were no psychological barriers to interbreeding either. As I say, that makes God look very sloppy.

You write that the Flynn-Kemp scenario doesn’t postulate humans mating with apes. I didn't say it did. I said it postulates humans mating with other hominids. I mentioned apes only in the context on chromosome change, which took place in the lineage leading to man, either when Homo erectus emerged or when Heidelberg man emerged. The scenario I proposed, where sweat glands and hairless skin coincided with the emergence of Heidelberg man, was put forward as a plausible hypothesis only: it was meant to illustrate how God could have created barriers to interbreeding, had He wanted to.

Vincent Torley said...

Hi Greg,

You write:

"If atom-for-atom duplicates necessarily have the same form, then form supervenes on molecular arrangement. That's what 'supervene' means. (And if form supervenes on molecular arrangement, then rationality supervenes on molecular arrangement. But this view strikes me as inconsistent with Thomism even if we aren't considering the specifically rational.)"

I reply: that depends on what kind of necessity you're talking about. I would argue that of THEOLOGICAL necessity, anything which is biologically human must also possess a rational nature (and hence, a spiritual soul). Thus I deny the theological possibility of human beasts. I also deny the TEMPORAL possibility of such creatures ever coming into existence. But because having a body does not entail being able to reason in a law-like fashion, I would acknowledge that human beasts are NOMOLOGICALLY (and hence REALLY) possible.

I hope that clears things up. I wrote an article on this issue for Uncommon Descent in January, titled, "Zombies, duplicates, human beasts and consciousness" at http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/zombies-duplicates-human-beasts-and-consciousness/ .

Glenn said...

Nowhere does Kemp explicitly state that there was something different about their bodies.

Well, Kemp does state that while, "A certain bodily form (and a fortiori a certain mutation) may be necessary for hominization...it is not sufficient[.]"

And subsequently talks about the terminus post quem, i.e., "the point at which there had first evolved an animal body capable of the brain activity prerequisite for rational thought."

But, yes, as astutely observed, Kemp does not explicitly state that there was something different about their bodies.

Jeffrey S. said...

Great post Ed!

A follow-up question for you and the usual suspects (Brandon, Mike Flynn, etc.):

Given what has been said by the Magisterium and Thomist philosophers, what about the problem of natural suffering and more broadly, the problem of the Biblical account of Adam and Eve's sin bringing death to the world? Here is a (smart, Young Earth) Protestant pushing back against the idea of evolution being compatible with Scripture:

http://dougwils.com/s7-engaging-the-culture/natural-evil-and-the-classical-christian-school.html

ALEXANDER VI said...

The traditional understanding of two human beings bringing pain and death into the world by their own actions is, of course, preposterous. But Feser succeeds in giving an interpretation of the doctrine of original sin that is even more preposterous....

Anonymous said...

Translating Alexander VI: "I dislike Christianity intensely. I am emotionally comforted by the false claim that evolution disproves it. Stop saying what you're saying, please. It really bothers and upsets me."

Anonymous said...

As I say, that makes God look very sloppy.

Maybe to you, but unless there's an actual argument there, this is meaningless.

Really, Vincent. You back ID, you've heard the "sloppy" criticism over and over again, and I've seen your reaction to it. You are not impressed. Why in the world would it be meaningful here?

As has been pointed out, you're in the unenviable position of arguing that Ed's view must be wrong because you find interbreeding with similar but unensouled hominids repellent. No, the tasteful solution is... incest.

It's not much of a criticism.

monk68 said...

I have benefited greatly from Dr. Lawrence Feingold’s writings and lectures. However, with respect to the question of the compatibility of thomism and the natural evolution of the human (technically pre-human) body, I think he has overstated what a consistent thomistic metaphysic requires. Great care is required here, so I will tightly parse what he says. He maintains that:

“. . . the body of a thing is for the sake of its form. Thus an essential difference in the substantial form cannot be indifferent with regard to the configuration of the body. It is absurd to think that the same body could be animated by two essentially distinct kinds of souls—rational and irrational.”

While all of the above is true, nothing about such truths determines whether the bodily difference(s) between an irrational animal and a rational animal follows upon the reception of a new substantial form, or whether the reception of a new substantial form may follow immediately upon a bodily difference arising from preexisting secondary causes. In other words, nothing about the truths which Dr. Feingold presents (that the body of a thing is *for the sake of* its form, or that substantial form cannot be indifferent regarding the configuration of its matter) block the possibility that causes *other than* the new intellectual form itself might be responsible for “disposing” pre-human bodily matter precisely for reception of a new intellectual substantial form.

Talk of matter being “disposed” to receive form is common parlance within the ambit of thomistic discussions concerning corruption and generation. In thomistic accounts of corruption and generation within the network of natural secondary causes, the moment that some matter is properly disposed to the reception of some new form, that form is immediately received, giving rise to a new substance.

Moreover, while the immateriality of the intellect entails that it must be directly created by God, the fact that the intellect’s temporal operations depend extrinsically upon input from the senses which are themselves intrinsically tied to matter, suggests a need for the proper disposition of bodily matter such that human intellectual activity might be exercised.

Accordingly, there is no reason that natural causes might not account for the development of pre-human bodies up to the very threshold of, and including, some final genetic alteration(s) which (acting something like a final trigger) decisively disposed the pre-human body for reception of new ontological capacities of intellect and will. In such a scenario, it would be precisely the reception of these new and immaterial capacities (following immediately upon such properly disposed matter) which would “trans-form” the previously present animal soul into a “rational” soul (i.e. constitute true metaphysical-man - the rational-animal).

I am not, of course, suggesting that God was *bound* to wait upon evolution to eventually give rise to some last bodily change which disposed some complex-sensate hominid for the immediate ontological leap to intellection; but given the Catholic principle that “grace builds upon nature”, I see no reason why it would be unfitting for God to bring metaphysical-man (Pius XII’s “true” man) into existence in just this way. As an additional anecdote one might note that God seems currently committed to investing intellectual and volitional capacities whenever the matter is disposed for their reception. For even in cases where a zygote is formed in any number of extra-marital (and therefore morally suboptimal) contexts, God nevertheless immediately infuses the intellectual and volitional capacities which constitute the rational soul.

continued . . .

monk68 said...

Given all of that, when Dr. Feingold says:

“Given that the soul is the form of the body, an essential difference in the soul necessarily has fundamental *consequences* with regard to the disposition of the body and to the perfection and disposition of its organs.”

He seems to be unnecessarily presupposing that the necessary alteration of matter concomitant with the existence of a new substantial form must *follow* reception of the form. But as I have argued, that is not the only possibility for achieving the necessary alteration of matter vis-à-vis the form/matter nexus of a new substantial form.

Dr. Feingold continues:

“But according to the hypothesis of the evolution of the body, this evolution would have been continuous and gradual, and always accidental in every step of the evolutionary process. How can this presumed continuous and accidental change of the body be compatible with the radical and essential change of the soul which is the very form of the body?”

I have just explained how that might be possible.

Dr. Fiengold continues with the following argument:

“The essence of a physical thing includes the form (or soul) and some determined kind of matter.”

True

“Every corporeal essence therefore determines a body essentially distinct from the bodies of other species.”

True

“Thus the body of man cannot be the result of continuous accidental changes to the body of some primate.”

Non-sequiter - since the alternative explanation I have provided, drawing from thomistic insights concerning the manner in which substantial forms are corrupted and generated in nature, retains the truth of the premises.


-Pax

DNW said...

"This is an issue I addressed a few years ago in a series of posts (here, here, and here). Longtime readers will recall that I there rehearsed a proposal developed by Mike Flynn and Kenneth Kemp to the effect that we need to distinguish the notion of a creature which is human in a strict metaphysical sense from that of a creature which is “human” merely in a looser, purely physiological sense. The latter sort of creature would be more or less just like us in its bodily attributes but would lack our intellectual powers, which are incorporeal. In short, it would lack a human soul. Hence, though genetically it would appear human, it would not be a rational animal and thus not be human in the strict metaphysical sense."


The following is not meant to be dispositive merely indicative, and the latter, in a general and possibly even analogical sense.

But, as most here know, it appears from some of the literature that the earliest (in excess of 100k bp) of the "AMH" or anatomically modern humans, were not behaviorally modern. At least that is the argument of some. They might have been somewhat like Feser's allusion to "Nova" ... but likely much dirtier and less appealing to present sensibilities, even if distinctly un-apelike.

You don't need to go to specialist literature in order to show this anymore. It's on Wikipedia! LOL

The "Archaic human admixture with modern humans" title page has numerous papers linked to at the bottom.

Why Denisovens or others need be seen as primary "post Adamic" mates eludes me.

But I guess the Catholic goal is to preserve the notion of the moral unity of mankind.

If however it were shown that there were such as thing as an immortal soul (as is commonly imagined rather than Thomistically understood) and that some surviving populations of hominid/human were lacking this attribute, I am not sure why it should create any intellectual difficulties.

Emotional problems for some, yes; and not just for Christians.

I have noticed that among politically progressive anti-theists there is an as strong if not a stronger negative emotional reaction to the notional possibility. It probably has something to do with the progressive's emotional commitments to what they see as the highest human value which they take to be "inclusion", community, "caring" and stuff like that.


A site covering topical developments:
http://dienekes.blogspot.com/

Irish Thomist said...

@Ed

I wasn't going to comment much here but I really like how you have laid this out.

I do think a follow up on how substantial form and the like ties in according to your view.

I'm open minded about this - lets say Edward for the sake of argument that all in this community of primates were identical (just to be specific and consider the details) with the exception of two who were 'ensouled' so to speak. Would that theory not raise questions of its own? Also the objection of 'bestiality' doesn't necessarily make complete sense if the beings are physically the same in every way, does it? I mean if the creatures are 'pre-human' minus the potential of reason within their formal nature? Just wondering if anyone has additional thoughts.

I read this earlier and it was long so please be charitable if I have forgotten details.

I'm not entirely convinced of some evolutionary models or the precision of the science behind such models - but I do think the evidence points to some kind of evolution.

Irish Thomist said...

I am just offering a counterpoint. I have no hard and fast opinions on this.

Brandon said...

Also the objection of 'bestiality' doesn't necessarily make complete sense if the beings are physically the same in every way, does it?

Bestiality requires undue species for procreation; ex hypothesi, human persons are able to have human persons as offspring with the human-ish animals in the scenario, so I don't think the bestiality objection gets off the ground at all. You can't commit bestiality with something with whom you can have genuinely human children.

Joe K. said...

May I ask a perhaps off-topic question concerning this? I'm not sure if it could receive its own blog post.

I don't think I have any problem with the argument made here. In fact, I think it works just fine, at least from a philosophical prospective. My question concerns something different.

If a human being is a rational animal, and original sin is transferred directly (or at least through some sort of reproduction) by human homosapiens, as described in this post, would other rational animals that are not homosapiens be born without original sin?

For example, assuming Vulcans existed, they would be "human" in the general Aristotelian sense (as rational animals), but they wouldn't be homosapien human. As such, assuming no Adam and Eve event (or equivalent) took place on Vulcan, would they be born without original sin? What would this mean if they were?

Along this same line, has there been an interpretation that says the sin of Adam and Eve as HUMANS, not as human homosapiens, placed original sin on all HUMANS, not just human homosapiens? So, in such a case, the Vulcan would be born with original sin? (Leave aside for a moment the idea that Vulcans (or some really ancient alien civilization) may have existed before Adam and Eve).

John West said...

Alexander Pruss had an interesting thought on distinguishing other-planet "animals" versus kingdom “Animalia” awhile ago:

Animals and Animalia

Craig Payne said...

Dear Wm Sears: I believe that it is not required of Catholics to think of the flood as "geographically" universal, but simply to think of it as destroying all humans within its geographical boundaries (anthropologically universal). For example, Augustus decreed a tax for "the whole world." No one thinks of that as the entire geographical world. Likewise with Noah and the flood.

Jeremy Taylor said...

I'm confused about why the Roman Church says there must be a single pair of corporeal human beings from which we are all descended. Why can't Adam and Eve be symbolic (which is not necessarily the same as allegorical)?

Wm Sears said...

Craig Payne,
If by anthropologically universal you mean that all humans were killed except for Noah and company by a less than world wide flood then all the problems that I pointed out still remain. If you mean that the flood was local as implied by the Augustus example then I suppose you would have said so directly.

Not required of Catholics to think (believe) is an odd expression. I am more interested in what is believed, especially by the clergy, and how it is justified.

Brandon said...

Wm Sears,

I take it you're not Catholic; it's a fairly common expression among Catholics, indicating that there is no official position on the subject. I'm not sure why you are interested in the beliefs of the clergy -- what a priest believes is no more important or privileged with respect to the position of the Catholic church than what a layperson believes -- but in any case there's no way of determining what the clergy believe except by survey, which as far as I know nobody has done on this sort of question.

Jeremy Taylor,

It's the way Humani generis usually is read.

(My own view, which is controversial and not common, is that in context what it actually says is that the Catholic doctrine of original sin requires that original sin proceed from a sin truly committed by one Adam, which comes to all through generation; so, because of this, one must not reject the claim that "there must be a single pair of corporeal human beings from which we are all descended" unless one can also make clear how one can do so while preserving this aspect of the doctrine of original sin intact.)

Luke said...

I thought that nearly all Catholics except for Catholic who had been convinced by Bible literalists didn't think of anything like a literal ark happening.

Craig Payne said...

Dear Wm Sears: I just meant that all humans were killed who fell within the extent of the flood. If it was not a global flood, then not all humans were killed. There are other biblical examples in which "all the world" does not mean the entire globe, but the extent of the known world of the time.

I don't think there is an "official" Catholic interpretation of the story of the flood, as there is (for example) in the case of monogenism and polygenism.

Dennis Bonnette said...

Central to much of our speculation has been the question of whether any interbreeding is needed to account for present genetic diversity – and, if so, how much. The concept of interbreeding is accepted as a generally recognized phenomenon.

Still, when we speak of interbreeding, it appears we are talking about a phenomenon we know only from application of the biological species concept. For example, a lion and a tiger can mate to produce a liger or a tigon. Some hybrids of both plant and animal species can reproduce successfully.

The problem is that the mating of a subhuman hominin with a true human being constitutes interbreeding between distinct philosophical natural species, not merely between two biological species. I am not a biologist, but I know of no instance in which diverse natural species (as opposed to biological species) have successfully interbred.

For those unfamiliar with the distinction between the biological species concept and the philosophical natural species concept, I refer you again to my article: “The Philosophical Impossibility of Darwinian Naturalistic Evolution.” See http://www.godandscience.org/evolution/philosophy_darwinian_evolution.html See also, my book, Origin of the Human Species: Third Edition (2014), chapters two and four.

The modern biological species concept distinguishes “species” in terms of such non-essential categories as cladistics, morphology, or reproductive isolation – all expressed in terms of merely accidental characteristics, such as presence or absence of a backbone, ability to mate and reproduce successfully, and so forth. The philosophical natural species concept penetrates beyond sensible accidents to essential properties, which are either present or absent, such as the various powers of sensation, intellect, and will.

Thus, while the tiger and lion are distinct biological species, they belong to the same philosophical natural species. An oyster and an elephant would belong to distinct natural species, since the elephant has all five external senses, but the oyster not. I know of no instance in which a plant has interbred with an animal, nor an animal with man. Certainly not an oyster with an elephant!

Perhaps we should not so easily assume that interbreeding between natural species, between man and subhuman, are actually possible. And yet, my Crisis article assumes interbreeding as a possibly needed solution.

Most arguments about interbreeding seem to center on whether the matter – the biological organization – is suited to successful mating that would produce true human offspring. Yet, as my article posted on the God and Science web site argues, it is form that determines the matter, not vice versa. Since the forms of man and subhuman hominin are distinct, one wonders how the matter can be compatible. I have argued in the past that the superior human form might dictate the outcome of the union in favor of true human offspring.

In any event, it appears that our facile assumption that interbreeding happens throughout nature, and thus, should easily be available between Adam’s descendants and members of the same biological species is no longer so manifestly evident – once we notice that this distinction is, not necessarily one of biological species, but definitely one of philosophical natural species. Of the latter, we may have no parallel example in nature. Hence, the facile assumption just might not be warranted.

Vincent Torley said...

Hi Ed and everyone,

I'd like to briefly review Ed's remark that "neither I, nor Flynn nor Kemp as far as I can tell, are saying anything about the evolution of the human body and the infusion of the first human soul that hasn't been said already by Thomists for six or seven decades, and which informed what Pius XII said in Human Generis and what John Paul II said in his address."

Just to show how traditionalist Pius XII was, here's what he said regarding the formation of Eve, when he addressed the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on 30 November 1941:

"God formed man and crowned his brow with the diadem of his image and likeness. . . . Only from man could there come another man who could call him father and parent; and the helpmate given to the first man also comes from him and is flesh of his flesh . . . . Her name comes from the man, because she was taken from him."

Later in the same discourse, the Pope added that we should await further light from biology and paleontology in regard to human origins, so it is not surprising that in 1950, he granted theologians the freedom to explore this option. But as Fr. Brian Harrison demonstrates in his article at http://www.rtforum.org/lt/lt73.html , the kind of evolution envisaged by the Pope was not by any stretch of the imagination Darwinian. It involved a special act of God which brought about the final physical transformation that resulted in the formation of the human body. Moreover, that physical transformation gave the first man a body that was specially fitted to receive a rational soul, as well as making the first man recognizably different from other creatures. And Pius XII reiterated the teaching of Leo XIII in Arcanum that Eve was formed from Adam's side.

The Flynn-Kemp proposal doesn't postulate an act of God at the final step in the evolution of the human body; it envisages a natural change. Moreover, it isn't even a large change: Kemp rejects the view that a mutation would have been required, on the ground that a simultaneous mutation in two individuals (Adam and Eve) would have been physically unlikely. (His wording here shows that he envisages the change as a natural one.) Kemp does not say whether the first man was recognizably different from other creatures, but he thinks Adam was similar enough to other hominids to interbreed with them. Finally, Kemp does not believe Eve was formed from the side of Adam.

If that's continuity of doctrine, then I'm a monkey's uncle!

Re other readers' remarks on incest vs. bestiality: the latter sin is infinitely more wicked than the former, and much more clearly opposed to natural law. Accordingly, there can be no comparisons between Cain marrying his sister and Adam consorting with beasts. Ed argues that Adam didn't interbreed with an ape, but from the perspective of natural law, an australopithecine is an ape is a dog is a pig is a rat (with apologies to Ingrid Newkirk). They're all the same: beasts. If the thought of Adam consorting with a dog disgusts you, the thought of him consorting with a sub-human hominid should disgust you equally.

Vincent Torley said...

Continued...

I have argued that one would expect God to have made Adam markedly different from other hominids, so as to discourage interbreeding, and that He would have created a genetic barrier as well, to prevent the possibility of any hybrid children being born. (Incidentally, Ed doesn't say whether these hybrid children would have received human souls. What about a hominid that was 99% human?) Various readers have objected that by the same token, one would also expect God to have created barriers to incest - but He didn't.

However, this objection is completely beside the point. Consider the numbers. A man growing up in a community will encounter a multitude of eligible women with whom he can start a family. There is no need for God to create a barrier to incest, because it's not a choice that a man is likely to make, given the vast range of women from whom he can choose. By contrast, in Kemp's evolutionary scenario, Adam and Eve were the only two humans among a population of thousands of hominids. Cain, looking for a wife, would have had to choose from marrying his own sister (a genetically unwise choice) and marrying one of thousands of attractive female sub-human hominids. From a purely genetic standpoint, Cain would have been a dope to marry his sister: the risk of deformities arising in their children would have been very great, and modern medical care was non-existent. God would have been therefore asking Cain to do something unreasonable in expecting him to choose his own sister over an attractive female hominid with whom he could safely inter-breed, without any risk of genetically deformed children. Only if God had created barriers to reproduction between Cain and sub-human hominids would it be rational of Cain to marry his sister instead.

I hope these considerations show why the bestiality scenario envisaged by Flynn and Kemp is a variance with Church tradition and also at odds with reason.

Joe K. said...

"If the thought of Adam consorting with a dog disgusts you, the thought of him consorting with a sub-human hominid should disgust you equally."

Sorry, I just don't see this. For obvious reasons. Sexual attraction (especially the sex act) rarely has to do with recognition that the object of desire is metaphysically human (that is, rational). If the body of the person is sexually appealing, rationality is often the last thing on anyone's mind.

In the same way one might be attracted to some android that looks exactly human and simulates humans exactly but clearly is not human and does not have rationality. This is the plot, of course, of much science fiction (Jude Law from Artificial Intelligence comes to mind. Or Blade Runner, of course.). Should such an android be created, certainly many men would line up (or at least pursue them by accident). (Or if you prefer to just not get into sci-fi, you might just consider the fact that animated or CG pornography is very popular, and that many men (most men?) are aroused just by drawings of the female form: things which are obviously not human at all.)

Unless you are More opposed to men having sex with hominoids that they can actually reproduce with (and so fulfilling a natural end of sex) than their having sex with synthetic non-living creatures? This just seems silly, though.

A dog is of course nothing like this, and one's disgust as concerns men and dogs is not based on some issue with rationality, at least not directly. One is disgusted because he's attracted to something that doesn't resemble a human in any way (and so he is attracted to something that is totally out of line with his natural sexual ends). The hominoid in this case not only resembles a human but looks identical to one. I wouldn't find it strange or really disturbing at all, even if I wouldn't advise it, for him to be sexually attracted to such a thing.

Step2 said...

@Joe K.
As such, assuming no Adam and Eve event (or equivalent) took place on Vulcan, would they be born without original sin?

The question indicates a lack of storytelling imagination. Michelangelo helpfully painted the root of the creation story on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. It is a mythological way of explaining that being born causes the loss of the innate and immersive connection with an entity that provides all our natural needs and this loss is a necessary cost of gaining knowledge.

Edward Feser said...

Vincent,

First you insinuate that Kemp is heretical, then you deny that you are doing so and allow that his view is orthodox, and now you are back to insinuating that he is heterodox. And once again you insist on bringing in this irrelevant stuff about how precisely Adam (and now Eve) was formed.

Let me say it one more time. What Kemp (and Flynn) were concerned to address was, specifically, the question of monogenism versus polygenism. For goodness sake, it’s in the title and abstract of Kemp’s article. Even more specifically, they are concerned to show that there is a way to reconcile monogenism with the genetic evidence that modern humans descended from a population of several thousand individuals. The precise nature of Adam’s (and Eve’s) creation is not what their argument is about. And as I have already noted, the interbreeding scenario -- which is what their argument is about -- is in any case logically independent of questions about the precise nature of Adam’s (and Eve’s) creation. (Pius himself explicitly distinguished the issue of the origin of Adam’s body from the issue of monogenism versus polygenism -- and here you are blurring them together again in his name!)

So, to keep bringing up the topic of what Pius XII, or Fr. Harrison, or whomever said about Adam’s and Eve’s creation, as if it were crucial to evaluating the Kemp-Flynn thesis, is simply intellectually dishonest. And repeatedly to question Kemp’s orthodoxy on that basis is worse than dishonest. You say that I am reading Kemp too charitably but in fact you are reading him uncharitably, to all appearances willfully so. You seem hell bent on throwing whatever charge against him you think might stick, and in particular seem disturbingly eager to try to find a way to accuse him of heterodoxy.

It is also very curious that you never address the issue that motivates the Kemp-Flynn proposal in the first place, viz. the genetic evidence. (This contrasts markedly with Prof. Bonnette, who is also critical of Kemp but does address this genetic evidence and never stoops to questioning the orthodoxy of those who think the Flynn-Kemp thesis worthy of consideration.) Yet unless you have some answer to this main motivation for the Kemp-Flynn thesis, all the stuff about sweat glands, ape chromosomes, how gross it would be to mate with a sub-rational quasi-human creature, etc. is just so much hand-waving.

In fact your behavior here is so odd that one suspects that there is more going on here than meets the eye. And of course, those of us who have witnessed your antics over the years have a pretty strong suspicion what it is. Once again, I would wager, it’s ID über alles: Kemp and Flynn simply concede more than an ID enthusiast like yourself can bear, and thus must be taken down, and smeared as heretics if possible. Am I close?

Vincent Torley said...

Hi Ed,

Re Kemp's orthodoxy: I have not only affirmed it in my comments on this thread, but also in a previous post on Uncommon Descent (see http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/adam-eve-and-the-concept-of-humanity-a-response-to-professor-kemp-part-1/ ): where I wrote: "Now, Professor Kemp is a loyal and devout Catholic, and I do not wish to question his orthodoxy, but I think he owes his readers a better explanation of how he would reconcile his declared views with the official teaching of the Catholic Church than the brief and rather cryptic remark he makes in a passage near the conclusion of his article."

That's a clear affirmation of Kemp's orthodoxy. I will say, however, that there is a discontinuity between what he proposes and what previous Popes have said. That doesn't make his views wrong, but it makes them somewhat suspect.

You also write: "It is also very curious that you never address the issue that motivates the Kemp-Flynn proposal in the first place, viz. the genetic evidence." That's because I've addressed it in two articles I wrote previously on Uncommon Descent. Here they are:

http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/in-a-pickle-about-adam-and-eve/

and http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/who-was-adam-and-when-did-he-live-twelve-theses-and-a-caveat/ (see the first paragraph)

I don't wish to repeat myself on this thread, but my second article contains links to posts by Dr. Ann Gauger (a trained biochemist) which have addressed this question in detail. I'm surprised that you haven't read her articles: they have attracted considerable discussion online.

I would also appreciate it if you would kindly refrain from imputing personal motives to me, a person whom you have never met.

Anyway, Ed, I have no wish to cause any further acrimony, so I shall bow out of the discussion at this point. I'd like to wish you and your family a merry Christmas and a happy New Year. Ditto to Dr. Bonnette, Professor Kemp and Mike Flynn. Cheers.

Vasco Gama said...

Vincent,

I have to say that I really do not understand your problems concerning this issue, but when you complain that

«The Flynn-Kemp proposal doesn't postulate an act of God at the final step in the evolution of the human body; it envisages a natural change.»

Is it hard for you to conceive that the proposal considers the “natural change” as “an act of God” (as I assume it does)? Or is it the case that this is not possible?

Daniel said...

@Brandon,

If the gratuitous nature of primordial grace is affirmed then I can't see what sense it has to say that the absence of this is passed on or comes from somewhere save in a very round-about relational way. If the first human beings were gratuitously given a supernatural capacity beyond that of their own nature, lost it due to a transgression and thus subsequent human beings were no longer gifted this capacity straight off (though were gratuitously granted another way to obtain it via the actions of Christ) what need it there for any direct descent?

Brandon said...

Daniel,

I'm not sure why you are emphasizing 'gratuitous' here; it was grace because it does not flow from our nature alone, but it was not gratuitous grace in the technical theological sense, being a distinct kind of grace from other kinds of grace (it is closest to, but different from, sanctifying grace). We were created in such a way that it is in our nature to receive it, and without it we cannot achieve our final end or fulfill our nature, so it was not gratuitous in most of the senses we usually mean by the word. As for descent, the idea is that it is grace that is not merely personal but given to the human race through Adam, which is why sin and death are said to have entered the world through him, and why fixing the situation requires us to become joined to Christ as New Adam.

If you are asking a question similar to Joe K. above, though, about whether there are legitimate ways to conceive of this 'descent' in ways that are not literal, physical descent, I myself, without speaking for anyone else, think there probably are (although most of them look odd), although they still require some definite form of descent, since the whole point of original sin is that we receive its disorder rather than cause it ourselves, and it would still have to recognize that original justice was to complete our natures, which we receive through generation.

TheOFloinn said...

it appears that our facile assumption that interbreeding happens throughout nature, and thus, should easily be available between Adam’s descendants and members of the same biological species is no longer so manifestly evident

Many seem to mistakenly believe that the dichotomy between two biological species is as gross as between lions and tigers; that is, that is it a discrete binary process rather than a more-or-less continuous one spread over several generations. During speciation, one is more likely to encounter conspecifics that are nearly identical from a materialistic point of view. The distinction between gray wolves and Alaskan huskies is largely a matter of behavior, not biology. Thus, we need only conceive of proto-wolves living at the same time as the larger stock of nearly identical beardogs, not fully developed dogs and bears (as we know them today) cohabiting.

Sure, a mating with a non-rational manlike being may be less than satisfying intellectually. Many wives have said so of their husbands. But that may well be why Adam was so lonely. His powers of speech and reason may have been rudimentary, but there is a difference between a little bit pregnant and not pregnant at all. Does anyone suppose that Lilith was metaphysically human? Or those from among whom the sons of Cain found wives?

Again, the story of Helen Keller discovering meaning and language compared to her earlier use of signs in a purely imitative manner is instructive. Animal instinct is far more supple than the Cartesian notion of meat puppets; and perception, memory, and imagination are capable of a great many behavioral traits that seem as if they were reasoned. It's what makes some animal species trainable.

Anonymous said...

It is a mythological way of explaining that being born causes the loss of the innate and immersive connection with an entity that provides all our natural needs and this loss is a necessary cost of gaining knowledge.

It is no such thing, and to make the classic mistake of thinking that Adam and Eve 'gained knowledge', full stop, rather than 'knowledge of good and evil', is a sad thing to see on this blog.

Fred said...

RE: Where Cain got his wife. Now, I don't know much about the ancient Hebrews, so somebody who does could blow this thesis out of the water, but here goes. "Adam," as I understand it, is Hebrew for "man." Most American Indian tribes had a word for their tribe that translated to "the human beings" or "the real people" or something similar. If the ancient Hebrew tribesmen who created or adopted the oral tales that were later transcribed as what we know as the Book of Genesis had a similar tribal mentality, it seems plausible that Adam was not the first "man" in the sense of biological human, but in the sense of the first Hebrew. The first "one of us." The bit about Cain's wife could be a holdover from that ancient tribal tale. After Cain fled, he married one of those "others" not a "real person" or a "human being," i.e. not a Hebrew.

E.Seigner said...

Dennis Bonnette: Still, when we speak of interbreeding, it appears we are talking about a phenomenon we know only from application of the biological species concept. For example, a lion and a tiger can mate to produce a liger or a tigon. Some hybrids of both plant and animal species can reproduce successfully.

The problem is that the mating of a subhuman hominin with a true human being constitutes interbreeding between distinct philosophical natural species, not merely between two biological species. I am not a biologist, but I know of no instance in which diverse natural species (as opposed to biological species) have successfully interbred.


But there's Genesis 6:1-4 to assure you that this has happened and there was offspring too :)

------------------

Every time Vincent Torley says "the soul is the form of the body" he really means "the body is the shape of the soul". Only this way the other things he says can make sense, such as the assumption that there cannot be two bodies alike, one with a soul and the other without. Even though in real life any person can be alive at one moment and dead the next instant - the body remaining the same atom for atom.

So, Torley is equivocating as per usual and also putting the cart before the horse.

Or is it just me?

Dennis Bonnette said...

Watching the “evolution” of this thread, I just want to make a few observations.

First, I think we need to keep our focus on the real enemy of Catholicism here, namely, the attack on our first parents, Adam and Eve. That attack came, earlier on, from paleoanthropologists, but more recently from some geneticists. Particularly, in 1995 Francisco J. Ayala, published a genetic study in Science, declaring that a single mating pair of hominins in the last several million years has been impossible – simply because there was, at that time and since then, too much genetic diversity to pass through just two individuals.

This scientific claim attacks the theological doctrine of monogenism, which, as Humani generis makes clear, requires that Catholics believe that there was a single first true human being, Adam, and that all true human beings derive original sin through propagation (not by imitation) from him.

Recently, responses to these secular attacks on monogenism have been offered. From what I can tell, many of us defending a literal Adam and Eve are sincere, practicing Catholics, who are also Thomist philosophers with advanced degrees in the field.

While attempting to defend the doctrine of monogenism, we all wrestle with speculations that entail theological and philosophical consequences. In some instances, we may inadvertently say things that appear to offend against other theological doctrines or philosophical truths – thereby drawing the criticism of others who wish to defend monogenism, but who suspect that our speculations are in error on some theological, philosophical, or scientific point. In some instances, these critiques are correct; in others, the error lies in over-interpretation of what must be held. Still, I think we should recall the essential sincerity and orthodoxy of all on “our side,” while focusing on the more critical need to refute the attack on a literal Adam and Eve, which undermines the entire theological order.

I would also hope someone will address the problem I raised earlier, namely, the difficulty that, while all cited instances of interbreeding appear to arise in terms of the biological species concept, it appears that we have no examples of real interbreeding between members of diverse philosophical natural species. If interbreeding is to be part of the defense of monogenism, this issue needs to be addressed.

Finally, I would also hope that more emphasis would be placed on the role of substantial form, rather than primary or “biological” matter, in explaining the sudden appearance of true man. Since form determines matter, not the reverse, we need an explanation that entails the ontological priority of form in any explanation of human origins. (See my article on “The Philosophical Impossibility of Darwinian Naturalistic Evolution” I mentioned earlier in this thread.)

For example, even if one hypothesizes (following evolutionary theory) that God infuses the human spiritual soul into matter derived from subhuman hominins – whether at an embryonic or adult stage of life, I conceive this as an act that – in light of the new substantial form -- virtually creatively transforms the whole nature of the entire organism, both soul and body, since every principle and part of the organism down to the least subatomic particle is instantaneously changed from subhuman in nature to the new and higher natural species of true man. That might be why, while Pius XII gave an address in 1941, during which he insisted on “the impossibility that the immediate father or progenitor of man could have been other than a human being,” the orthodox theologian John A. Hardon, S.J., later commented that since evolution has been popularized, “theologians have come to agree that transformism, or the evolution of the first man’s body from lower species, is compatible with the faith.” See Hardon’s The Catholic Catechism (1975), pp. 92-93.

Irish Thomist said...

@Joe K.

As I understand it the transmission of 'original sin' should be understood as a privation of sanctifying grace which would have been super-added to our nature and transmitted much like a monarchy transmits a 'crown' or throne. Adam and Eve represented all of the human community.

This raises fascinating questions about whether the fall of Adam and Eve was the best outcome compared to a later fall by their descendants and so on.

Irish Thomist said...

@Joe K.
On a side not we can talk some time on the comments on my blog - about the articles on your blog.

Billy said...

Maybe Adam and Eve's children, or childrens children, or further, mating with human-like non-humans is why some humans don't appear to have a very strong religious disposition?

Also though, did human-like non-humans behaviour in a religious manner? Or can this be held as merely superstition behaviour?

Billy said...

Is Adam and Eve's children mating with human like non-humans be considered immoral?

Billy said...

Also, if a human soul can be put in to a body, can it be removed without killing the body?

Would the body just become a human-like non-human again?

Edward Feser said...

Vincent,

This may be hard for you to believe, but when you make a comment here in the combox, not all of us rush over to your blog to track down and read through everything else you've written on the subject. I was responding to what you actually wrote here. And in the several lengthy comments you made here over the course of a couple of days you never addressed the question of the genetic evidence when criticizing Kemp -- even though that is the motivation for his position -- but instead focused on all of this irrelevant stuff. If you don't want people to accuse you of ignoring the main point, don't act like someone who's ignoring the main point.

As far as my "imputing personal motives" to you is concerned, one does not have to have met you in person in order to have a basis for such an imputation. One need only observe your behavior here and in many, many previous exchanges -- such as in our exchange back in August, in which you finally admitted a personal motive after several commenters amassed evidence that made that impossible to deny:

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2014/08/science-dorks.html?commentPage=2

Specifically, you finally admitted back then that your behavior was -- to quote your own exact words -- "somewhat uncharitable," that "there was an element of 'payback'" in what you were then saying, and that your unstated "real motivation in responding to Ed with such tenacity" in our first exchanges was that you feared (bizarrely) that my criticisms of ID might have some influence at the Vatican (!)

So, you've got a track record. And here you just keep adding to it. You keep raising questions about Kemp's orthodoxy, get annoyed when I call you on it, and then raise it yet again in the very act of denying yet again that you are doing so! For now, on the one hand you assure us that Kemp is a "a loyal and devout Catholic" and that you don't "wish to question his orthodoxy." Yet in the next breath you say that there is "discontinuity between what he proposes and what previous Popes have said" and that this makes Kemp's views "somewhat suspect"! -- even though, as I have already explained, there is in fact no reason to read Kemp in the uncharitable way you have been doing.

Serge said...

Just tried to describe the topic of the discussion to my wife.

She said that no rational human being would spend their time on this.

Which proves that interbreeding between rational human beings (my wife) and human-like creatures (me) is possible.

Q.E.D.

BenYachov said...

I can't believe I am missing out on this thread!

I am so posting something tonight.

PS.

Vincent you are killing me!

Killing me!

Edward Feser said...

Prof. Bonnette, thanks for those latest remarks. I'd like to add to them the following point: If someone like Kemp or Flynn were really inclined to dissent from Catholic and papal teaching and "sell out" to the Church's secular critics, surely he wouldn't go to such pains in order to defend monogenism, of all things!

In order to question Kemp's or Flynn's orthodoxy, one has to believe that they are so worried about conforming to current secular opinion that they are willing to deviate from the precise technical meaning that Pius XII had in mind in speaking of the evolution of the body -- a technicality completely lost on most people -- but that their alleged worry about conforming to current secular opinion does not prevent them from affirming a literal Adam and Eve (!)

This is, of course, ludicrous. Kemp and Flynn are manifestly trying to be consistent with Catholic teaching, and it is simply dishonorable to pretend otherwise. The issues involved in this matter are complicated, and as Prof. Bonnette says, occasionally people commenting on them may speak in inadvertently imprecise or misleading ways. If someone whose orthodoxy is otherwise manifest says something which taken in isolation may seem at odds with some Catholic doctrine, surely the reasonable thing to do is chalk this up to such inadvertence rather than to attribute a theologically "suspect" thesis to him.

BenYachov said...

If we can believe in a literal Adam and Evolution then that view is a threat to Atheist Evolutionists who wish to claim Evolution does away with Genesis & it is also a threat to fundamentalist Creationists who say the same thing as the Atheists & militant anti-Darwin ID advocates.

It is also a threat to liberal Christian Theistic Evolutionist who wish to make Adam a mere symbol.

The Kemp view harmonizes biological polygenism with theological monogenism and makes Adam the Ancestor of all human beings.

OTOH Prof Bonnette gives us good reason to believe that might not be necessary.

So it's all good in the hood.

Anonymous said...

I have not read all the comments, so I am not sure if someone already brought this up. Gerald Schroeder once brought up a similar hypothesis, but like his, this one falls flat. If you look at Genesis, it is clear that Adam and Eve {putting aside other lesser beings for a moment} lived a little over 5000 years ago. That means, that according to your theory, a rational, spiritual being only took form then, and not before. But we know humans lived in the Neolithic era the spanned well before 5000 years ago. How did they build cultures, beliefs, primitive societies without being rational to some extent? How did they have beliefs if they were not similar to us? So there could not have been an Adam and Eve per the Bible. Remember, any theory must take into equation what the bible actually says.

-Hanan

Larry T. said...

I appreciate the OP and the Kripke/Ross paper linked to; I have skimmed the comments but don't see the question I have. So...

Dr. Feser, you say in the OP that "since the intellect can be shown on purely philosophical grounds to be immaterial, it is impossible in principle for the intellect to have arisen through evolution."

I think I understand the immateriality of intellect and the determinacy of formal thinking, yet Section IV of your Ross/Kripke paper acknowledges the neccessity (though not sufficiency) of material processes in thinking.

Are you saying that there is at least some material aspect to the mental mechanics of thinking, including formal thinking? If so, wouldn't the materialist argue that certain evolutionary changes resulted in human neural matter and processes that enabled such activities as formal thinking, including the mental capture of concepts and propositions?

In other words, couldn't a materialist coherently argue that while formal thinking itself is immaterial (in the senses of being [1] an activity and [2] information/meaning encoded and decoded by the brain), the ability to think formally depends (at least in part) on the presence of biological equipment that itself resulted from evolution? Therefore, the materials would say the ability to think formally need not have been specially created and infused into humanity so much as learned, once the human equiment was already there to allow it.

I sense I am missing something, perhaps in the appreciation of materialism's entailments, or immateriality, or determinacy. I'd appreciate your thoughts.

Greg said...

@ Billy

Also, if a human soul can be put in to a body, can it be removed without killing the body?

There is a bit of a looseness in saying that "The soul is the form of the body" since "the body" is not a direct correlate of matter. But souls are the principles of activity of living things. If my matter were not informed by my soul, then I would be dead (and it would be my corpse, not my body).

Scott said...

@Larry T.:

"In other words, couldn't a materialist coherently argue that while formal thinking itself is immaterial (in the senses of being [1] an activity and [2] information/meaning encoded and decoded by the brain), the ability to think formally depends (at least in part) on the presence of biological equipment that itself resulted from evolution? Therefore, the materials would say the ability to think formally need not have been specially created and infused into humanity so much as learned, once the human equi[p]ment was already there to allow it."

I don't think so. A materialist might possibly argue (though see below) that the material processes necessary for (human) thinking evolved without special creation, but if those material processes aren't sufficient for formal thinking, then such evolution doesn't explain the origin of intellect itself.

It's also not obvious why/how material processes necessary for formal thinking would evolve by natural selection in the first place without being in any way "aimed at" supporting intellect, but I expect it could be argued that they conferred some selective advantage.

Anonymous said...

Hi Hanan,

I believe Catholic are permitted a lot of flexibility in how to interpret Genesis according to the literary genre of Genesis. The actual timeline of when Adam and Eve existed is one of these areas where a wide range of opinions are tolerated. Where Catholics are not permitted flexibility, I think, is in the actual existence of Adam and Eve.

Cheers,
Daniel

Anonymous said...

Thank you Daniel, but why is one thing flexible and not the other? How do you dodge the date issue exactly when you have a chronology in Genesis? Were Adam and Eve some sort of Homo Erectus types?

-Hanan

Irish Thomist said...

@Hanan

Only when someone is being literalistic about scripture and Genesis specifically which Edward Feser is not. You will notice that back at my blog there are good reasons for Catholics or any good Christian philosopher not to be literalistic (which certainly isn't a new thing).

Anonymous said...

Irish Thomist,

Hi,

I simply don't understand how you take that particular path. How do you decide what is literal or not in scripture? Why is the age issue up for grabs but not Adam and Eve? Clearly Genesis is saying they are the first of all humans 6000 years ago. What part of that can be taken non literal? And if man evolved, what stage was the soul given and how on earth did other humans around (which there were) receive the soul?

-Hanan

Irish Thomist said...

Are you saying that there is at least some material aspect to the mental mechanics of thinking, including formal thinking? If so, wouldn't the materialist argue that certain evolutionary changes resulted in human neural matter and processes that enabled such activities as formal thinking, including the mental capture of concepts and propositions?

I can't speak for Edward but I would simply state that the brain is in fact needed to actualize certain potencies such as sensation, formation, response and so on.

while formal thinking itself is immaterial

The way you are using the word 'immaterial' is an equivocation it would seem. Unless you really do mean that an immaterial 'soul' (so to speak) is the same as the immaterial meaning of written language (for example).

Irish Thomist said...

@Hanan

Thank you Daniel, but why is one thing flexible and not the other? How do you dodge the date issue exactly when you have a chronology in Genesis? Were Adam and Eve some sort of Homo Erectus types?

This would take a lot of explaining.

A number of things which it might help you to read up on are
1) What is actually doctrine in Genesis (next to nothing as it happens).
2) How Catholics engage the Bible (and my blog has touched on some of this - I might get time in the near future for more detail posts).
3) What Saint Augustine said already about Genesis long before the scientific method was developed (by philosophers of science - even if not always by name)


It's not special pleading or what have you; the Church doesn't pick and choose but instead simply discerned the theological significance of the creation myths (and yes we can indeed call them myths).

I think your question would take too long to explain because you seem not to have the background knowledge to start this conversation in greater detail. Maybe it would help to also know that Catholics don't have to be tied to Theistic Evolution (although something close to it may be true), ID or Creationism.

Anonymous said...

>Maybe it would help to also know that Catholics don't have to be tied to Theistic Evolution (although something close to it may be true),

Ok.

How are you defining theistic evolution here? I presume you are not tied down to random neo-darwinism are you?

-Hanan

Irish Thomist said...

@Hanan

What is the motive behind the question - What is your philosophical background i.e. who influences your thought?
I am curious if this is because you are open to listening or want to find some fault. If not that's good.

We don't read a fairytale literally because we know the authors didn't mean them to be taken that way - nor should we in our reading of scripture when we can conclude the author was not implying (or not necessarily implying) a literal historical account.

BenYachov said...

Hanan the Fundamentalist Atheist Anon wrote:

"If you look at Genesis, it is clear that Adam and Eve {putting aside other lesser beings for a moment} lived a little over 5000 years ago."

I reply: So many levels of wrong. The Book of Genesis DOES NOT SAY ANYWHERE ADAM LIVED 5,000 YEARS AGO."

Prove me wrong. Cite Chapter and verse please.

The 5,000 year time line and similar datings are based on the assumption there are no gaps in the various genealogies listed in the text and one can do a straight calculation back to Adam.

The Church Fathers gave no uniform age of the Earth. Some ages given where four, five or six thousand years old & one Father calculated it to be about 12,000.


>...... but why is one thing flexible and not the other?


I am only going to tell you this once.

Catholics don't believe in the false Protestant heresies of Sola Scripture(i.e. Bible alone without Tradition) and Perspicuity (i.e. clearness) of Scripture.

We are not Protestant Fundamentalists. By definition the polemics you use against the Young Earther Protestants have no meaning here. EVER!!!!!

>How do you dodge the date issue exactly when you have a chronology in Genesis?

This assumes there are no gaps in the chronology. In an ancient Hebrew text it would be legitimate to refer to me as James Scott Son of William Scott Jr. Well William Jr is not my Father. James Scott III is my Father. William Jr is my great-great-great-great Grandfather born 1792(I love Ancestry dot com BTW). So I can skip 6 generations or more. Heck I could be called James Son of Archie (my 8th great Grandfather born in the late 1600's).

So this is an epic fail.

You can't use the Bible to date the Age of the Earth get over it.

We are not fundies here get over that.

>Were Adam and Eve some sort of Homo Erectus types?

Humans are defined metaphysically not via some post Darwin species clade. Humans are rational animals. So all things being equal they could have been homo erectus.

Or not.

Oy vey!!

James Son of James (aka Yachov Ben Yachov)

Irish Thomist said...

@Hanan

What I am saying isn't about biology nor is it a biological answer. So 'Neo-Darwinism' has nothing to do with it.

My reply takes into account that possibly a development in our understanding of God's causal relation to the universe may change our view of how 'Adam and Eve' came about.

People here will know I have mentioned I would like to develop a theory that modifies concurrentism.

I might add that my reply was very non-committal. I am very very open-minded on the topic.

Irish Thomist said...

@BenYachov

"Hanan the Fundamentalist Atheist Anon wrote"

Is she indeed? Now that's interesting. My Sherlocking works in that case then - if not then maybe the investigation needs to run longer.

BenYachov said...

@Hanan

>I simply don't understand how you take that particular path. How do you decide what is literal or not in scripture?


Catholics have a Church with Authority and as I said we reject this Martin Luther Perspicuity of Scripture Mishigoss.

>Why is the age issue up for grabs but not Adam and Eve?

The existence of Adam is a formally defined Infallible dogma.
The age of the Earth and Cosmos are not.

>Clearly Genesis is saying they are the first of all humans 6000 years ago.

Where does the Bible formally teach we must calculate the age of the Earth via the genealogies?

Where does the Bible say the genealogies have no gaps?

chapter and verse please.


>What part of that can be taken non literal?

We look to the Church.
Private interpretation also sucks.

Your Protestant Atheism means nothing here.

>And if man evolved, what stage was the soul given and how on earth did other humans around (which there were) receive the soul?

Adam and Eve received souls from God and God gave souls to their offspring even if one of their parents was a sub-human.

Why is this hard?

You read Schroeder so you should know Jewish Tradition teaches humanoids without a Nefesh called "wild men" where contemporaneous with Adam and Eve. Also Jewish Tradition says after the death of Able Adam and Eve broke up for a time and had children by demons.

Well spirits can't have sex but humanoids can be possessed by them.

Why is this hard?

BenYachov said...

@Irish thomist

>I take it you two have had words before?

No but I have talked to his/her type before. Scratch an Atheist find a fundamentalist.

This person will either prove descent and admit they have to change up their game here otherwise they will devolve into "NO FAIR! YOUR NOT A FUNDAMENTALIST" like Jerry Coyne or some such Gnu.


>Can I add that there is nothing (that I am aware of) that even says we take Adam and Eve as their actual names even. I'm open to correction but doubt I'm mistaken on that.

Good point. Adam is what we call the first true human but for all we know his wife called him "Ugh" & he called her "Ooog".


>I'm sure like myself Edward is open on this issue to being convinced by the evidence and arguments.

Who knows dude?

I'm just venting at Gnus. It's what I do.

Irish Thomist said...

@BenYachov
"Scratch an Atheist find a fundamentalist."

I can't say I agree with that statement, but anyway leaving that aside for now my close second speculation was that she was an ID advocate or somesuch type.

I vent at GNU Atheists v.2 as well as can be seen here and here

Scott said...

@Irish Thomist:

"I can't say I agree with that statement[.]"

Oh, I don't know. I wouldn't say BenYachov's statement is true of every atheist, but it's true of enough of them that I know the pattern to which he's referring.

"…she…"

For the record, "Hanan" is a male name in Hebrew and a female name in Arabic.

Anonymous said...

>Hanan the Fundamentalist Atheist Anon wrote:

I am certianly NOT an atheist. I have my questions that I feel are legitimate. So I expect an apology

>The 5,000 year time line and similar datings are based on the assumption there are no gaps in the various genealogies listed in the text and one can do a straight calculation back to Adam.

But an assumption with strength. a) there is no reason to assume there are gaps. Why WOULD you after all? b) try to find early Judaic literature in, let's say second temple era (as an example) that would lead anyone to suspect the chronology was anything but literal and complete.

>You can't use the Bible to date the Age of the Earth get over it.

Sure you can. In fact ancient rabbis did just that. Again, find me source work for Jewish literature (that dates before the Church) that would take the chronology between Adam to Noah, than Noah to Abraham as anything but complete.

>The existence of Adam is a formally defined Infallible dogma.
The age of the Earth and Cosmos are not.

Yes. I realize that. The question on principle, still stands.

BTW, I am not ripping at Catholics here. At all. I just think Ed's theory here is completely convoluted and actually end up agreeing with Torley.

>You read Schroeder so you should know Jewish Tradition teaches humanoids without a Nefesh called "wild men" where contemporaneous with Adam and Eve. Also Jewish Tradition says after the death of Able Adam and Eve broke up for a time and had children by demons.


Wow now. Jewish tradition is incredibly BROAD and does not have ONE tradition as authority. You do realize that the idea that there were wild men, and Adam and Eve breaking up and spawned with demons emanate from Midrash right? They are there to fill in the "gaps" so to speak. The Torah mentions none of this, nor is Midrash considered authoritative in the sense of historical fact.


>Adam and Eve received souls from God and God gave souls to their offspring even if one of their parents was a sub-human.

>Why is this hard?

Because, if you ARE going to bring up Jewish tradition than you still have to work within the limits of Jewish tradition. Jewish tradition still would claim 6000 years of the world and for sure of human flourishing. Now this is obviously false since we know that humanity flourished and SPREAD way before this.

So how could Adam and Eve pass their soul to EVERYONE (not just their kin) already spread across the world. THIS is where Schroeder does not have an answer. In fact, when I DID ask him this question, he said the soul "somehow" spread to all the peoples and civilizations across the world.

Does that sound convincing to you?

-Hanan

Anonymous said...

Irish Thomist

>What I am saying isn't about biology nor is it a biological answer. So 'Neo-Darwinism' has nothing to do with it.

Maybe you would enjoy this blog post. It's old, but Michael Heiser is an incredible scholar of the OT and NT. His motto is to read the Bible is. And he is a believing Christian.

Anyways, enjoy

http://drmsh.com/2012/07/26/genesis-13-face-compatible-genome-research/

TheOFloinn said...

How do you decide what is literal or not in scripture?

This helps:
http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1202.htm

Many fundamentalist literalists seem to think that figurative reading means a text can mean anything at all; but this has never been the case. The early Church -- and hence the traditional churches -- have always regarded the OT as primarily figurative, salvation through Christ being that which is prefigured, and only beyond that do we ask whether the text is also a faithful record of actual events.

Jeremy Taylor said...

I would also recommend Dante's Il Convivio for a good introduction to the traditional levels of Scriptural (and beyond) interpretation.


I have a question, though. What of Eden? Genesis seems to imply that Adam and Eve seemed to inhabit a paradisial realm before the fall. It would be hard to just explain this as referring to their inner being alone.

Anonymous said...

Hi Hanan,

I would point you to the catechism of the Catholic church: http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p1s1c2a3.htm

Paragraph 109 and 110 are really important here I think:

" 109 In Sacred Scripture, God speaks to man in a human way. To interpret Scripture correctly, the reader must be attentive to what the human authors truly wanted to affirm, and to what God wanted to reveal to us by their words.75

110 In order to discover the sacred authors' intention, the reader must take into account the conditions of their time and culture, the literary genres in use at that time, and the modes of feeling, speaking and narrating then current. "For the fact is that truth is differently presented and expressed in the various types of historical writing, in prophetical and poetical texts, and in other forms of literary expression.""

Cheers,
Daniel

Gene Callahan said...

I know rigadoon is probably just a troll, but, "naturalism" is a philosophical position. It has nothing more to do with science than that some scientists hold it.

Step2 said...

It is no such thing, and to make the classic mistake of thinking that Adam and Eve 'gained knowledge', full stop, rather than 'knowledge of good and evil', is a sad thing to see on this blog.

"Good and evil" as paired opposites were a traditional Hebrew expression which meant "everything". The ancient Greeks and Egyptians used equivalent expressions, so it wasn't a unique literary device. A similar pattern is found in English phrases like "searching high and low", i.e. everywhere.

malcolmthecynic said...

"Good and evil" as paired opposites were a traditional Hebrew expression which meant "everything".

From what sources do you draw your theory from? Early Jewish scholars? Modern Christian theology?

Or are you getting this from a painting by Michelangelo?

Anonymous said...

Usually, for Step2, it comes from some random link he stumbled upon.

Vincent Torley said...

Hi Ed,

A short postscript to yesterday's post. I won't address your personal comments about my motives: I'll simply invite readers to compare what I've written about you in my posts on Uncommon Descent with what you've written about me on your blog, and draw their own conclusions. I might add that you've implicitly accused the Intelligent Design movement of worshiping a false God: you approvingly quoted Christopher Martin as writing, "The Being whose existence is revealed to us by the argument from design is not God but the Great Architect of the Deists and Freemasons, an impostor disguised as God, a stern, kindly, and immensely clever old English gentleman, equipped with apron, trowel, square and compasses."

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.jp/2011/03/thomism-versus-design-argument.html

Given that you are a well-respected Catholic Thomist philosopher with good connections, my fear of a Vatican condemnation of ID was not quite so bizarre as you claim.

Re the genetic evidence: since you don't want to read what I wrote in my posts on UD, I'll post it here for you.

1. Professor Jerry Coyne claims that the effective population sizes he cites are “based on reasonable estimates of mutation rates.” Coyne is assuming here that the mutations are natural and undirected. If Coyne wants to refute the Adam and Eve hypothesis as entertained by believers in intelligently guided evolution, then the question he really should be asking himself is: what would the effective population size need to be, if the mutations that gave rise to the human line were artificial and directed?

2. It has been argued that science has ruled out the possibility of monogenesis (see Dennis Venema's online article, "Does Genetics Point to a Single Primal Couple?" for a non-technical summary of the evidence); for a response, see Dr. Ann Gauger's chapter, "The Science of Adam and Eve," in Science and Human Origins, by Ann Gauger, Douglas Axe, and Casey Luskin (Seattle, WA: Discovery Institute Press, 2012), pp. 105-122, and see also Dr. Robert Carter's online article, "Does Genetics Point to a Single Primal Couple? A response to claims to the contrary from BioLogos" at http://creation.com/genetics-primal-couple . For an online response to Francisco J. Ayala’s 1995 article, "The Myth of Eve: Molecular Biology and Human Origins" (Science 270: 1930–6), see http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/adam-and-eve-possible-ayalas-contrary-claim-built-in-favourable-assumptions/ , http://www.uncommondescent.com/human-evolution/adam-and-eve-could-be-real-genes-introns-and-exons-tell-different-stories-here-who-to-believe/ and http://www.uncommondescent.com/human-evolution/science-and-human-origins-conclusion-it-is-possible-we-came-from-just-two-parents/ , and also http://www.biologicinstitute.org/post/26577072991/humanly-speaking-part-2. For a response to Li and Durbin's 2011 paper, "Inference of human population history from individual whole-genome sequences" (Nature 475, 493–496 (28 July 2011), doi:10.1038/nature10231), see here. For a response to Blum and Jakobsson's paper, "Deep Divergences of Human Gene Trees and Models of Human Origins" (Molecular Biology and Evolution (2011) 28(2): 889-898, doi: 10.1093/molbev/msq265), see http://www.biologicinstitute.org/post/28564267132/on-population-genetics-estimates . That's it.

Vincent Torley said...

Continued...


3. Dr. Ann Gauger has argued (see above) that the original human population need not have consisted of more than a few (four to fourteen) individuals. Critic Paul McBride points out that a few is still more than a couple. One reply to this difficulty is that God deliberately created Adam and Eve as genetic chimeras, whose body cells contained many germ line cells each carrying a different genome, and that He did this so as to make their children (e.g. Cain and his sister) as genetically diverse as possible and allow them to interbreed safely without the normal genetic risks that accompany incest. Professor Jerry Coyne actually wrote that this is the solution he would favor if he were a Christian who believed in Adam and Eve. See http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2011/06/11/winners-adam-and-eve-contest/ - in his words, "This answer, by Drew, appealed to me because although it posited another miracle (multiple germ cells in the Ancestral Couple), the miracle made good biological sense: that added genetic diversity was there to prevent inbreeding depression among the incestuously-produced descendants of Adam and Eve."

Finally, the fatal flaw in the Flynn-Kemp scenario is that it fails to address the question: would the progeny resulting from a human mating with a beast be automatically endowed by God with a rational soul or would they lack one? The former answer implies that a hominid with a single remote ancestor from the line of Adam would still be truly human, even if its immediate ancestors had lost the ability to speak or express rational thought many generations ago. The second alternative would mean that we are not truly human, since on the Flynn-Kemp scenario we are all descended in part from humans who mated with beasts. Neither alternative makes sense.

Once again, Merry Christmas, Ed. Bye!

BenYachov said...

@Hanan

So may levels of wrong.

>I am certianly NOT an atheist. I have my questions that I feel are legitimate. So I expect an apology.

I am sorry you are not an Atheist. But you are using their memes which are fundamentalistic and tedious.

>But an assumption with strength. a) there is no reason to assume there are gaps. Why WOULD you after all?
b) try to find early Judaic literature in, let's say second temple era (as an example) that would lead anyone to suspect the chronology was anything but literal and complete.

I see only weakness. The NT is Second Temple era.

"Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham”-Gospel of Matthew Chapter One verse one.

So…..David was literally Yeshua’s dad and Abraham was his Grandpa? Sure pal….


Back in the 19th Century William Henry Green, wrote in "Primeval Chronology”
Bibliotheca Sacra (April, 1890), 285-303.

"It can scarcely be necessary to adduce proof to one who has even a superficial acquaintance with the genealogies of the Bible, that they are frequently abbreviated by the omission of unimportant names………The omissions in the genealogy of our Lord as given in Matthew 1 are familiar to all. Thus in verse 8 three names are dropped between Joram and Ozias (Uzziah), viz., Ahaziah (2 Kings 8:25), Joash (2 Kings 12:1), and Amaziah (2 Kings 14:1); and in verse 11 Johoiakim is omitted after Josiah (2 Kings 23:34; 1 Chron. 3:16); and in verse 1 the entire genealogy is summed up in two steps, "Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham………."

Its been known for the last hundred and fifty years the genealogies are not complete. They are accurate in that the persons are the sons of these individuals such as I am in that very same sense the Son of William Robert Scott II of Grand Cayman my 4th great Grandfather of old. But gaps obviously exist.

>Sure you can. In fact ancient rabbis did just that. Again, find me source work for Jewish literature (that dates before the Church) that would take the chronology between Adam to Noah, than Noah to Abraham as anything but complete.

The last time I checked the Wiki it said "Nahmanides, often critical of the rationalist views of Maimonides, pointed out (in his commentary to Genesis) several non-sequiturs stemming from a literal translation of the Bible's account of Creation, and stated that the account actually symbolically refers to spiritual concepts. He quoted the Mishnah in Tractate Chagigah which states that the actual meaning of the Creation account, mystical in nature, was traditionally transmitted from teachers to advanced scholars in a private setting.”

BenYachov said...

The Rabbis tried the calculate the age of the Earth this way and so did some Fathers. But we have no authoritative Tradition defined by the Holy Church that says this is how you count the days of the world because the church has not ruled it authoritative. Thus it is an open question.

>Wow now. Jewish tradition is incredibly BROAD and does not have ONE tradition as authority.

Which kind of contradicts your claim before the Rabbis must have all thought the genealogies contained no gaps. Besides we have the New Covenant Church which can guide us.

>You do realize that the idea that there were wild men, and Adam and Eve breaking up and spawned with demons emanate from Midrash right? They are there to fill in the "gaps" so to speak. The Torah mentions none of this, nor is Midrash considered authoritative in the sense of historical fact.

I can believe it has no authority whatsoever but what it shows is the idea Adam might have mated with subhumans and produced offspring is compatible with Biblical belief. Since non-Sola Scriptura bible believing Jews speculated thus. As one Agnostic Evolutionist noted in a book he wrote about Genesis and Evolution called THE GENESIS ENIGMA by Andrew Parker he said he can claim Native American Religion is compatible with common dissent by virtue of them calling animals “Brother wolf” “Brother bear” etc & it does not mean he believes Native American Religion has anything but a natural human origin.
>Because, if you ARE going to bring up Jewish tradition than you still have to work within the limits of Jewish tradition. Jewish tradition still would claim 6000 years of the world and for sure of human flourishing. Now this is obviously false since we know that humanity flourished and SPREAD way before this.

No I don’t have to do that. Catholic Supercessionalist Theology claims the Church subsumes Jewish Scripture and Tradition for her own. I have to work within Christian Tradition & it allows me to believe in different ages of the Earth. It is an open question for us.

Sorry.

>So how could Adam and Eve pass their soul to EVERYONE (not just their kin) already spread across the world. THIS is where Schroeder does not have an answer. In fact, when I DID ask him this question, he said the soul "somehow" spread to all the peoples and civilizations across the world.

I don’t believe Adam came 5,000 years ago & as a Catholic Christian I don’t have too and I only have to use Jewish Tradition in a Christian manner which I do. I am not obligated to use it in any other manner.

Edward Feser said...

Your comment was temporarily stuck in the spam filter, Vincent, sorry about that. Anyway, Merry Christmas to you and yours.

Irish Thomist said...

@Scott

Thanks. Somehow I overlooked the Jewish connection and was reading the name like Hanah!

It also looks like my option two was correct - that the person is not atheist but some type of ID type which I worded so as to include creationists and literalist types.

Mr. Green said...

Vincent Torley: […]I wrote: "Now, Professor Kemp is a loyal and devout Catholic, and I do not wish to question his orthodoxy, but […]."
That's a clear affirmation of Kemp's orthodoxy.


Actually, that is far from a clear affirmation. It is a long-standing rhetorical device to say, “I do not wish to question X, but…” when one actually and deliberately means, “I do wish to question X…”. In fact, it’s such a standard and venerable figure of speech that it has a traditional Greek name: paralipsis. If you are not questioning his orthodoxy, then there is no need to allude to it in the first place. If that is not providing the context for discussion, then that word (or words like “suspect”) should simply not be used at all. If contrasting his views to Papal authority is not the issue you wish to raise, then do not bring it up, even in passing. It would suffice to say, “I do not understand how his view can be reconciled with this other claim."

Mr. Green said...

Wm Sears: I don't see why Noah would have more genetic variation than Adam

Because Adam and Eve had no ancestors, whereas Noah’s grandchildren (from six different people) had very many. (The assumption is that if God created Adam and Even directly, then they would be “pure” with no genetic variation at all, which is entirely possible, though as pointed out, hardly something we can take for granted.) Now if you are claiming there is a different sort of bottleneck from the sons of Noah and their wives, you will have to be more biologically specific about exactly what the problem is supposed to be.

Anonymous said...

"After all, the scenario in question would hardly be comparable to that of the average member of contemporary civilization being tempted to have sex with an ape, which would of course not be psychologically plausible."

Speak for yourself, Feser!!

Alan said...

I have just skimmed the comments, so may have missed someone addressing this earlier, but paleoanthropologists have long had names for the two types of folks addressed in the thread: Anatomically modern humans (They look like us, but behave like Neanderthals to give a really simplistic analysis) and Behaviorally Modern humans (us and such like). Feel free to google the terms. There is no contradiction between the claims of this post and science, to include noticing the difference posited.

Dennis Bonnette said...

Twice above I have invited others to speculate on how to solve the problem I raise, namely, that while interbreeding is found commonly among various biological species, we have, perhaps, no verifiable instance of it occurring between diverse philosophical natural species, as would be the case between true human beings and subhuman hominins of the same biological population.

I realize that this problem will be grasped properly only by professional Thomist philosophers and theologians. Few others will understand fully the distinction between the biological species concept and the philosophical natural species concept. Still, it is a substantive difficulty and one that must be addressed. Since no others have yet offered a response, let me present the outline of my own thoughts on the matter.

The following line of argumentation is redacted from my article, “The Rational Credibility of a Literal Adam and Eve,” which is scheduled for publication in the peer reviewed Spanish Thomist journal, Espiritu, in its June 2015 issue:

Essentially, we grant that Adam and Eve appear somehow amidst a virtually biologically identical population of hominins. I do not say absolutely identical, but “virtually” so, since the fact that they and that population belong to diverse natural species requires that they possess essentially distinct substantial forms. Since matter is determined by form, not vice versa, there must be some material, and hence biological, difference between the two diverse species – whether scientifically detectable or not. Still, since these differences might be smaller than even those between distinct biological species that can mate and reproduce, such as the lion and tiger, no inherent biological objection need be granted.

But what of the distinction between the natural species involved? What of the fact that the substantial form of the true humans would be essentially superior in kind from that of the subhuman hominins? How can two diverse substantial forms “combine” in the same procreative act?

This difficulty can be addressed by recalling that form actuates and determines the disposition of the matter. Thus, in principle, one can argue that the superior substantial form, that of the true human being, would so dominate the procreative process as to determine what would be the most proximate potency of the matter. This, in turn, could determine which form is properly apt to actuate the matter of that which comes to be in procreation. Given the assumed genetic virtual identity of members of the same biological population, then, the true human’s substantial form would determine that the procreative process might result in successful reproduction of true human offspring. All this assumes, of course, that God infuses the human spiritual soul into the embryo thus produced – as He must do in every human conception.

Since we do not know that such interspecific procreation absolutely could not have taken place at the beginning of the true human species, and since the above biological and philosophical analysis presents a plausible scenario for such interbreeding events, one can argue that, if necessary in order to make the Catholic doctrine of monogenism possible in fact, such interbreeding must have occurred – since the doctrine itself cannot be in error. All this, of course, assumes that any such interbreeding is actually necessary, which, as I have argued repeatedly, might not turn out to be the case in light of the fact that the scientific arguments against monogenism are not definitive.

BenYachov said...

Prof Bonnette

Hi, Big Fan BTW.

I think you solved the problem for us but it is as you said it might not be necessary if it can be shown what we would call biological
monogenism is not impossible after all. Theological monogenism is mandated for Catholic Christian in communion with the Bishop of Rome.
The offspring of Adam and Eve’s mutual children would all have to have human souls given by God even if one of them mated with a sub-human. Humans are ultimately defined metaphysically as rational animasl or animals with immortal souls made in the divine image. I think that transcends the mere clade species category of modern evolutionary classification.

I have been studying Jewish Tradition and it has surprised me how some elements in it might point to this possibility of inter-breeding.


The First Man
http://www.aish.com/tp/i/moha/48931772.html

I don’t know for certain and as is my way without a definitive ruling from the Church I have no preference for either view (i.e. Kemp view vs the biological Monogenism view). But I would say baring a ruling from the Church both are valid positions a Catholic might hold. Like Thomism vs
Scotism.

Cheers sir. It’s an honor and Merry Christmas.

PS.

Merry Christmas to all of you & especially to Prof Feser.

BenYachov said...

BTW to those who claim if I invoke Jewish Tradition I am wedded to a 5000 year old creation. I answer with this article.

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/jewsevolution.html


"A literal interpretation of the biblical Creation story among classic rabbinic commentators is uncommon (yet there is universal agreement regarding the literal understanding of the time of the creation of Adam). One of several notable exceptions may be the Tosafist commentary on Tractate Rosh Hashanah, where there seems to be an allusion to the age of creation according to a literal reading of Genesis. The non-literal approach is accepted by many as a possible approach within Modern Orthodox Judaism and some segments of Haredi Judaism……

………….In his commentary on the Torah, Rabbi Bahya ben Asher (11th century, Spain) concludes that there were many time systems occurring in the universe long before the spans of history that man is familiar with. Based on the Kabbalah he calculates that the Earth is billions of years old.

Rabbi Israel Lipschitz of Danzig (1800s) gave a famous lecture on Torah and paleontology, which is printed in the Yachin u-Boaz edition of the Mishnah, after Massechet Sanhedrin. He writes that Kabbalistic texts teach that the world has gone through many cycles of history, each lasting for many tens of thousands of years. “



Genesis teaches Adam lived literally 5000 years ago indeed!

I say no! Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah!

Santi Tafarella said...

Can we be clear as a bell here?

First, there was never a bottleneck of two people that accounts for the diversity of humans living today.

Second, geneticists tell us that the diversity of contemporary humans derives from no less than 12,500 black African ancestors, 2,500 of whom left Africa to populate the rest of the globe between 50,000 and 100,000 years ago. That's as narrow as the bottleneck ever gets.

Third, the probability that Y-chromosome Adam (120,000-350,000 years ago) and mitochondrial Eve (140,000-200,000 years ago) were of the same reproductive age at the exact same window in time, were located close to one another geographically, and actually had children together, is vanishingly small. (If you want to chuck a miracle into your first-couple thesis, I suppose that would be the place to do it.)

But, in any case, there was no first couple. There was not even a first human. There is only the continuum of an evolutionary lineage that goes all the way back to the first cell.

In other words, like thumbing slowly from one page of a cartoon flip book to another, a single offspring does not tend to dramatically vary from its parent.

Just as one cannot pinpoint the moment when a tadpole becomes a frog, or a toddler a child, so there was no moment that a Homo heidelbergensis couple gave birth to the first "true" Homo sapien. These classifications are for our convenience, but at the boundaries they're not meaningful. If you're going to refer to the "first" Homo sapien, he or she spent its first nine months in the womb of a Homo heidelbergensis mother, and could just as easily have remained designated as one of those as one of us.

Introducing the miraculous insertion of souls into a first couple, and positing that that first couple's offspring slowly displaced the soulless, doesn't help, for their genetic markers would still accompany them, and geneticists say that our contemporary genetic diversity is too large to be explained by a bottleneck of two people. There never was such a dramatic, two-person, genetic bottleneck.

So Occam's razor here suggests something much simpler than the bestiality hypothesis: Genesis 2 and 3 should not be read literally.

Like the Iliad, the Genesis story has beauty, poetry, and psychological power, but strictly speaking, it's not true. There was no first man formed from inorganic dust, no first woman drawn from his rib, no special garden between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers where they lived, no forbidden tree they ate from by which death and sin entered the world, and no children they produced that went on to colonize the planet.

So it's okay to treat an etiological narrative as an etiological narrative. It's okay to correct a genre category mistake (mistaking a figurative narrative for a literal one). Once you've reached bestiality-hypothesis territory to save the literal reading of the Adam and Eve story, it's time to go back to the drawing board.

Occam's razor, baby, Occam's razor.

Anonymous said...

Ben

>I see only weakness. The NT is Second Temple era.

Very true, so I will leave it up to you to show me in the NT where Adam did not live 6000 years old, and where early Jews such as Philo or Josephus or DDS or anything from that time believed that chronology in Genesis is not complete. And since early rabbinic statements never considered Adam to have lived earlier than that time, it is hard to imagine even Jesus believing he was older than that.

(BTW I would check to see what year it is according to Jewish tradition and ask yourself why that number.)

Anonymous said...

Daniel,

I realize that we must take the conditions of their times; the culture, the knowledge etc etc. But the info cannot be false. Let me give you an analogy that someone tried with me. If your child asks you how babies are born would you give them the whole talk about sperm, egg, ovulation, cell division etc? Most likely not. You MAY tell them that Mommy and Daddy get together and a baby comes from that. That message may be DILUTED for the intended audience, but it is still TRUE. Now imagine I told the child a stork comes and brings the baby from the sky. The child will understand that too, but in this case, the story is FALSE.

You see the difference?

-Hanan

Wm Sears said...

Mr. Green,
Quote "Because Adam and Eve had no ancestors"

So, unlike the Catholic Church and Feser you reject evolution entirely and are going for a direct creation out of the clay followed by the rib episode. Otherwise they have ancestors, mothers and fathers etc. Individuals do not have genetic variation. This is a term that applies only to a group or population of individuals. Thus there can be no difference between Adam and Noah as individuals in this respect. The Adam and Eve bottle neck versus the Noah and family one I have already explained in a previous comment. What part wasn't clear?

Scott said...

@Hanan:

"Very true, so I will leave it up to you to show me in the NT where Adam did not live 6000 years old[?], and where early Jews such as Philo or Josephus or DDS or anything from that time believed that chronology in Genesis is not complete."

Perhaps you've misunderstood BenYachov's point that the NT is itself Second Temple-era Jewish literature and that Matthew's gospel displays fairly unambiguous evidence that he didn't think genealogical summaries had to include every generation.

Perhaps you also missed his quotation from a source acknowledging that "there is universal agreement [among classical rabbinic sources] regarding the literal understanding of the time of the creation of Adam."

Perhaps you also missed his remark that, as a Catholic, he wouldn't in any event be bound to follow any teaching on this point other than that of the Church, including that (those) of Judaism, even if (as is not the case) every other such source disagreed.

In other, fewer words: asked and answered. Move on.

Anonymous said...

>Perhaps you also missed his remark that, as a Catholic, he wouldn't in any event be bound to follow any teaching on this point other than that of the Church, including that (those) of Judaism, even if (as is not the case) every other such source disagreed.

Of course I did, which is why I asked whether traditions (in general) are something that emanates FROM the Bible or are read INTO the Bible. That is an important difference.

-Hanan

TheOFloinn said...

there was never a bottleneck of two people that accounts for the diversity of humans living today.

Again, the focus is entirely on the biological human, not on the metaphysical human.

geneticists tell us that the diversity of contemporary humans derives from no less than 12,500 black African ancestors

That's "biological diversity."
Besides, if there were 12,500 humans, then surely there were two.

the probability that Y-chromosome Adam (120,000-350,000 years ago) and mitochondrial Eve (140,000-200,000 years ago) were of the same reproductive age at the exact same window in time, were located close to one another geographically, and actually had children together, is vanishingly small.

So what? We don't suppose that these two deductions were in fact the "first couple." For one thing, doctrine does not require a first ancestor through an exclusively male lineage or an exclusively female lineage.

There is only the continuum of an evolutionary lineage that goes all the way back to the first cell

On closer inspection, the continuum is actually digital, not analog. It proceeds in generations. Surely, the idea that 12,500 proto-humans crossed over at the same time is less probable than that one or two did so first.

Just as one cannot pinpoint the moment when a tadpole becomes a frog, or a toddler a child, so there was no moment that a Homo heidelbergensis couple gave birth to the first "true" Homo sapien.

It can't be "just as," because the tadpole is the frog and the toddler is the child and they do develop continuously. However, from one generation to the next, you are talking about distinct individuals, one of which may well bear a mutation that the other does not.

The marker of metaphysical humans is the capacity to abstract concepts from concrete particulars. Either you can do this even a weenie little bit or you cannot do it at all. There is no such thing as half a concept.

If you're going to refer to the "first" Homo sapien, he or she spent its first nine months in the womb of a Homo heidelbergensis mother

You sure? Might have been erectus, no?

and could just as easily have remained designated as one of those as one of us.

Only if the child was unable to abstract universal concepts from concrete particulars.

TheOFloinn said...

whether traditions (in general) are something that emanates FROM the Bible or are read INTO the Bible.

The Bible is one of the Traditions, but recall that it was not finally put together until after the Church was a going concern.

Anonymous said...

Scott,

Your thoughts on this?

http://drmsh.com/2012/07/26/genesis-13-face-compatible-genome-research/


-Hanan

Anonymous said...

>Again, the focus is entirely on the biological human, not on the metaphysical human.

How can one separate the two? I think this is also Torley's problem as well I am not mistaken

-Hanan

Tyrrell McAllister said...

@ Santi Tafarella: Introducing the miraculous insertion of souls into a first couple, and positing that that first couple's offspring slowly displaced the soulless, doesn't help, for their genetic markers would still accompany them, and geneticists say that our contemporary genetic diversity is too large to be explained by a bottleneck of two people. There never was such a dramatic, two-person, genetic bottleneck.

My worldview is basically that of Daniel Dennett, so I'm not interested in the "Flynn-Kemp" theory as an actual account of what likely happened. Still, I can sympathize with Feser, because he seems to me to have given a perfectly clear explanation that people find weirdly difficult to understand.

For example, nothing in this theory requires that the change from "pre-humans" to "true humans" was genetic. There needn't have been any alteration of the sequence of A, G, C, and T in the genome. God performed some material alteration on two pre-human individuals, but this alteration didn't need to be at the genetic level. God could have altered the brain directly, for example. Or the alteration could have been even more physically subtle, so that the material difference (apart from behavior) would be as hard to detect as the material difference between the pre- and post-transubstantiated host. Perhaps the alteration happened in utero, or perhaps it happened to two adults. The theory as presented here isn't committed to either scenario, as far as I can see.

At any rate, this alteration, on AT metaphysics, would have utterly destroyed the two pre-human individuals as substances and would have replaced them with two new substances, true humans, whose bodies were constituted out of the same matter as the lately departed pre-humans. Then, on this theory, God performs a similarly "humanizing" alteration of all biological descendants of this original couple. The process doesn't need to leave any detectable "genetic bottleneck" or have any implications for what kind of genetic diversity we would now observe, because the alteration needn't have been genetic in the first place.

The original couple of true humans in this story don't have anything to do with mitochondrial Eve or Y-chromosomal Adam. Those were the last female and male common ancestors, respectively, but they weren't the first. The Adam and Eve in the Flynn-Kemp theory would evidently have predated both mitochondrial Eve and Y-chromosomal Adam.

TheOFloinn said...

biological human, metaphysical human.

How can one separate the two?


See the linked article by Kemp in the original post.

John West said...

Hanan,

Of course I did, which is why I asked whether traditions (in general) are something that emanates FROM the Bible or are read INTO the Bible. That is an important difference.

Why do you capitalize words so frequently? It makes you seem much angrier than you probably are, like you need to yell every few words. Yet, I suspect that's not what you intend.

Also, I think the reply is something along the lines of "The message was Christ. The Bible is one way we learn about that message. His Church is another." As Scott writes, the Church predates the Bible and assembled it.

Jeremy Taylor said...

Tyrrell McAllister, don't feed the trolls.

Scott said...

@Hanan:

"Your thoughts on this?"

I'm not sure why my "thoughts on this" are relevant.

Anonymous said...

>Why do you capitalize words so frequently? It makes you seem much angrier than you probably are, like you need to yell every few words. Yet, I suspect that's not what you intend.

Just for emphasis, not anger. I get lazy to use the italics tag

>I'm not sure why my "thoughts on this" are relevant.

Why are any thoughts relevant? We are sharing thoughts on this issue aren't we? I felt it was an appropriate post.

Anonymous said...

Hi Hanan,

I agree with what you say, but I don't see an explicit time line presented in Genesis. The Catholic church does not have an explicit teaching on this either.

Cheers,
Daniel

Anonymous said...

At least not one that has to be taken literally.

Cheers,
Daniel

BenYachov said...

Merry Christmas all!

A brief addition to Scott's fine response.

>Very true, so I will leave it up to you to show me in the NT where Adam did not live 6000 years old,

Why would I do that? We still don't believe in Sola Scriptura.

>and where early Jews such as Philo or Josephus or DDS or anything from that time believed that chronology in Genesis is not complete.

Excluding the NT that is an Argument from Silence.

> And since early rabbinic statements never considered Adam to have lived earlier than that time, it is hard to imagine even Jesus believing he was older than that.

Question begging. Even the early Rabbis said the days of creation where a mystery and unlike our days. Jesus as the God-Man would know how old the world is & he need told us how old it was & when his Apostles asked him about the nature of the Cosmos he told them it was unimportant.

Thought my memory is fuzzy as to which verse.

Too much Egg Nog.

Happy Holidays Hanan.

Irish Thomist said...

@ Bonnette

Quite impressed with what you were saying at Dec 24, 2014 9:09 AM.

I'm glad to see someone addressed this like yourself. Although can it not be argued that the form of an exact physical human minus a soul can be different to a human with a soul since the soul is an immaterial aspect of the form 'infused' by divine action so to speak... Then proceed to point out that the very fact that one form has an immaterial aspect (which is not confined to transmission via genetics but 'transmits' its nature - like 'original sin') can by necessity mean that whatever the child is, it is both a form of which a supernatural aspect and a natural aspect is united by transmission of the form?

@All
Also all this has made me think (and previous posts) - since animals are conscious are they not also both material and immaterial in some sense?

After all it is rationality that distinguishes us (and what that entails). I am still learning (as we all are I hope), so feel free to enlighten me on this one. Explain what distinguishes this animating principle from the three types of living thing - the vegetative, the sensitive, the rational.

Irish Thomist said...

@ Santi Tafarella

Can I ask did you actually read anything before you commented?

Also since this is an area of biology that shifts like the sands in the Sahara you might be wise holding off argument by the 'zeitgeiscience' (a portmanteau of which you can guess the meaning).

Holding 'an' Occam's razor to a Thomist is like holding a rubber stick to an armed soldier. Your going to have to argue both what you mean and why reducing something to the simplest explanation is always relevant.

Oh by the way, are you arguing that all life came from one source or many?

Like the Iliad, the Genesis story has beauty, poetry, and psychological power, but strictly speaking, it's not true. There was no first man formed from inorganic dust, no first woman drawn from his rib, no special garden between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers where they lived, no forbidden tree they ate from by which death and sin entered the world, and no children they produced that went on to colonize the planet.

Last time I checked we weren't creationists or literalists but thanks for letting us know to the contrary.

Oh, and nice to have you back. Have a Happy Christmas.

Irish Thomist said...

@Hanan

Of course I did, which is why I asked whether traditions (in general) are something that emanates FROM the Bible or are read INTO the Bible. That is an important difference.

Said to a Protestant - the listen.
Said to a Catholic - they laugh.
Well I'm not option one. Moving on.

Irish Thomist said...

@Tyrrell McAllister

What you said at
At any rate, this alteration, on AT metaphysics, would have utterly destroyed the two pre-human individuals as substances and would have replaced them with two new substances, true humans, whose bodies were constituted out of the same matter as the lately departed pre-humans. Then, on this theory, God performs a similarly "humanizing" alteration of all biological descendants of this original couple. The process doesn't need to leave any detectable "genetic bottleneck" or have any implications for what kind of genetic diversity we would now observe, because the alteration needn't have been genetic in the first place.
is inaccurate. One need only think of the ontological change that occurs when one becomes a priest. Think of something 'added'. Also to claim something was 'destroyed' rather than added to is purely rhetorical and has no weight beyond this.

Although I appreciate the rest of what you said.

Scott said...

@Irish Thomist:

"Also all this has made me think (and previous posts) - since animals are conscious are they not also both material and immaterial in some sense?"

As I understand it, yes, and it goes beyond the basic sense in which every material substance has an immaterial aspect. A dog has perceptual experience, and if (as it seems) perceiving an object in some way involves receiving its form, then the experiential aspect of the dog must be "immaterial" since the dog doesn't become a bone upon receiving the bone's form through perception. It also seems that the dog must to a degree share in what A-T calls our "common sense" (meaning the inner "sense" that, to put it roughly, "assembles" our various kinds of sensory experience into perceptual experience of external objects).

That doesn't mean, though, that the dog is an immaterial substance. Sensory and perceptual experience depend on material organs and can't occur without them.

"Explain what distinguishes this animating principle from the three types of living thing - the vegetative, the sensitive, the rational."

I don't think I'm telling you anything you don't already know here, but the way the lines are usually drawn is this: a substance with a vegetative soul has the power of immanent causation; one with a sensitive soul also experiences sensation; one with a rational soul also possesses intellect and a power of abstraction and conception that is not strictly dependent on material organs and can in principle occur without them.

I'm not convinced, though, that it's very important to this scheme that we deny even rudimentary sensory experience to substances with vegetable souls, as long as we deny that such experience rises to the level of perception. To my mind the really important distinction is between sensation and sensory perception, and I don't see that the scheme would suffer if it turned out (as it might) that, to borrow Timothy Sprigge's phrase, there is "something that it is like" to be a potato plant at least to the rudimentary extent of having sensations. Plants do, after all, seem to respond to external stimuli in some way, but that doesn't mean a plant "perceives" a rock in the soil the way a dog does.

Irish Thomist said...

@Scott

Thank you.

I just wonder where this is touched on specifically by some author, including Aquinas himself. It is more philosophy of mind which wasn't so much an angle Aquinas would have been approaching such a matter. At least not in the modern sense with our expectations.

I suppose it all comes down to avoiding reducing a formal cause to a material cause in our thinking. It is so easy to do it and get mixed up in the mechanistic explanation offered by science divorced from philosophy.

Of course in a sense we describe all these things that are living as having a 'soul' so to speak.

Tyrrell McAllister said...

@Irish Thomist

But, under AT metaphysics, becoming a priest doesn't involve a change of substantial form (the nature of "man" persists through the change), whereas becoming human does. If the substantial form informing a piece of matter changes, doesn't that mean that the original substance goes out of existence? I thought that this was part of the AT account of change.

But I'm just a curious outsider, not a true believer, so I'd appreciate confirmation or correction on this point.

Irish Thomist said...

@Tyrrell McAllister

Becoming a priest results in a permanent ontological change (however one likes to phrase that metaphysically) so you could say that it is a direct parallel with what we have been speaking about. In a sense a priest is raised above the angels by an elevation of his being.

I do not know of any good articles on the metaphysics of the priesthood so sadly I can't give you much more than that.

BenYachov said...

@ Santi Tafarella

Happy boxing day you brain Gnu!


>Second, geneticists tell us that the diversity of contemporary humans derives from no less than 12,500 black African ancestors, 2,500 of whom left Africa to populate the rest of the globe between 50,000 and 100,000 years ago. That's as narrow as the bottleneck ever gets.

Which of course does nothing to overthrow Kemp's solution of accepting a biological polygenesis with a theological monogenesis.


>Third, the probability that Y-chromosome Adam (120,000-350,000 years ago) and mitochondrial Eve (140,000-200,000 years ago) were of the same reproductive age at the exact same window in time, were located close to one another geographically, and actually had children together, is vanishingly small. (If you want to chuck a miracle into your first-couple thesis, I suppose that would be the place to do it.)

Accept nobody here believes Biblical Adam and Eve are identical to Y-chromosome Adam & mitochondrial Eve. Indeed Kemp's thesis does not presupose that at all.


>But, in any case, there was no first couple. There was not even a first human. There is only the continuum of an evolutionary lineage that goes all the way back to the first cell.

We have already had this discussion. Evolution simply cannot be true since Darwin never had access to a partical accelerator. Clearly it is impossible to calculate the atomic weight of natural selection therefore natural selection does not exist.

Silly Dawkinite.

Santi Tafarella said...

Irish Thomist:

Thanks for your kind greeting. Merry Christmas to you as well. My wife, our two daughters, and I stayed home, kept holiday music on low in the background all day, cooked, opened presents, and went absolutely nowhere. It was great. The family gathering--a mix of liberal agnostics (me, my wife, and kids), evangelicals, hard-core Baptists, Tea Partiers, and Catholics, got done earlier in the week, and is always, um, interesting.

TheOFloinn said...

since animals are conscious are they not also both material and immaterial in some sense? ... what distinguishes this animating principle from the three types of living thing - the vegetative, the sensitive, the rational.

0. "To Deepen into Art..."
http://tofspot.blogspot.com/2014/06/to-deepen-into-art.html

1. In Psearch of Psyche: Some Groundwork
http://tofspot.blogspot.com/2014/07/in-psearch-of-psyche-some-groundwork.html

2. In Psearch of Psyche: Man the Vegetable
http://tofspot.blogspot.com/2014/07/in-psearch-of-psyche-man-vegetable.html

3. In Psearch of Psyche: Day of the Triffids!
http://tofspot.blogspot.com/2014/10/in-psearch-of-psyche-day-of-triffids.html

4. In Psearch of Psyche: Man the Animal
http://tofspot.blogspot.com/2014/10/in-psearch-of-psyche-man-animal.html

At that point, other matters began to consume my time, and I have not yet gone back to finish it.

Santi Tafarella said...

@The OFloinn:

Your responses to my first set of objections, in the light of population genetics, to your (and others') soul-bestiality thesis, make perfect sense individually (they maintain the logical possibility of your thesis), but cumulatively, they're problematic.

Ever since Darwin, science has been giving us a clear invitation to go straight to Occam's razor and arrive at the simplest explanation for the first eleven chapters of Genesis: they're camp-fire style etiological narratives, not to be read literally.

So, yes, of course, if you're willing to pay the price, you can maintain a logically possible route around the data of contemporary population genetics that "saves" a literal reading of Genesis from the deliverances of population geneticists, but you do this at a very high price.

The first price you pay is that your soul-bestiality thesis has to wall itself off from reality testing. Not only does your thesis bypass experience and science in the present, it guarantees that experience and science can never touch it with new data in the future. Metaphysical argument substituting for science, and miracle soul insertion accompanied by bestiality, might save a favored thesis from empirical scrutiny, but it also isolates.

The second price you pay is in terms of thinking dogmatically as opposed to grayscale ("on a scale of 1-100, how likely is it that my thesis is true, and are there other theses that account for the data more naturally?"). Once you've decided that you have to treat Adam and Eve as historical personages, you've locked yourself into defending a complicated and improbable Genesis thesis against a simpler, more probable, more straightforward one: Genesis is an etiological narrative.

Treating Genesis as an etiological narrative turns the conflict between Genesis and science into a genre category mistake. Thinking it probable that the first eleven chapters of Genesis consist of figurative narratives, not historical ones, makes Adam and Eve explanation simple: they probably didn't exist. Crisp and clean, and no metaphysical caffeine. Occam's razor. Everything we know about the world--all of our background knowledge--naturally and easily fits the etiological narrative thesis.

The third price you pay is that, by introducing a science inaccessible miracle--God put souls that science can never trace into two individuals 200,000 years ago--you've now got a fresh theodicy problem: after already conceding so much to science (humans evolved from nonhuman primates), why stop short at the very last moment? Why would God go through such a tortured and long evolutionary/mass death process to get a human body, form, and brain (three billion years of death and evolution from first cell to first hominids) when, at the last moment, he planned to simply bypass the whole process and do something miraculous anyway?

And then why the immediate cock-up by the first couple in the Garden (three billion years of creation undone in a day, no do-overs)? And then why, after leaving the Garden, would God have used the method of soul-people having intercourse with non-soul creatures (bestiality) to get the soul trait to spread? This soul/non-soul intercourse and rape might even have gone on for thousands of years. The whole story is very complicated. It's obscure. God works in mysterious ways to get creatures in his image spread throughout Africa (and later, the world). Or maybe the Adam and Eve story is just an etiological narrative.

So that's my three additional objections to your thesis: the short circuiting of future reality testing, Occam's razor, and theodicy. Treating Genesis as an etiological narrative just seems to get rid of a whole lot of Sturm und Drang.

TheOFloinn said...

Ever since Darwin, science has been giving us a clear invitation to go straight to Occam's razor

The Principle of Parsimony long predates Br. William of Ockham, OFM. A modern version might run "Don't include too many variables in your model because then you won't be able to understand your own model. It's a plea to simplify our models; it's not a limit on reality.

the simplest explanation for the first eleven chapters of Genesis: they're camp-fire style etiological narratives, not to be read literally.

Sure. You seem to think we here are literalists, like fundies and atheists.

Which would Ockham's Razor say is preferrable: "an entire population of 10,000 hominids became sapient" or "one hominid became sapient first, and it spread from there." From a statistical point of view, the former seems unlikely.

your soul-bestiality thesis has to wall itself off from reality testing. Not only does your thesis bypass experience and science in the present, it guarantees that experience and science can never touch it with new data in the future.

I do not share your lack of faith in science and am not prepared to declare what Science!™ may or may not discover "in the future." There are a great many things about the past that "bypass" experience in the present.

accompanied by bestiality

This really bothers you, doesn't it? In what way is it bestiality for two members of the same biological species to copulate?

thinking dogmatically as opposed to grayscale ("on a scale of 1-100, how likely is it ...

Questions of probability cannot be answered without a prior model.
Also, no finite set of data can completely determine a theory. Genetic evidence may point to an ancient population of 10,000 individuals, but it cannot be entirely determined to this conclusion. Some other theory might account for the same facts.

Once you've decided that you have to treat Adam and Eve as historical personages

recte: "prehistoric" personages.

you've locked yourself into defending a complicated and improbable Genesis thesis

However, the rationale is statistical. It is far more likely that sapience arose first in one individual than that it popped up simultaneously in 10,000. The story itself need not be a factual account.

The doctrinal belief is that all men at the present time are descended from the same ancestor. It is not that all men are descended from only one ancestor, or that the events are factual. All of humanity is a single race, not just a single biological species.

introducing a science inaccessible miracle--God put souls that science can never trace into two individuals 200,000 years ago

Not everything is "science accessible." We have art, law, and any number of other human activities.

Why would God go through such a tortured and long evolutionary/mass death process to get a human body, form, and brain

Why not? Recall how many stars had to form and explode in order to fuse the elements required for the formation of living things! Why, you'd need a universe to make a world!

why,..., would God have used the method of soul-people having intercourse with non-soul creatures (bestiality [sic]) to get the soul trait to spread?

Your constant demand for miraculous divine interventions is puzzling.

Irish Thomist said...

@TheOFloinn

There are More than Five Sensory Organs

I didn't see anything to do with the 'immaterial' nature of conscious animals.

Dennis Bonnette said...



@ Santi Tafarella:

Since you clearly reject the entire premise upon which Dr. Feser’s blog was written, I have no intention of engaging in protracted argument with you here. My own writings in this area, as well as those of serious Catholic scholars, such as Drs. Feser, Flynn, Kemp, Torley, Gauger, and others, are premised upon acceptance of the Catholic Church’s clear teaching of monogenism – meaning a literal pair of first genuinely-human parents, Adam and Eve.

You write “…the simplest explanation for the first eleven chapters of Genesis: they're camp-fire style etiological narratives, not to be read literally.”

This is a tempting modernist explanation. The problem for Catholics is that the Church clearly teaches that Adam and Eve are two literally real individuals. We cannot accept your “easy way out.”

Moreover, as I said in Crisis magazine, “Since the same God is author both of human reason and of authentic revelation, legitimate natural science, properly conducted, will never contradict Catholic doctrine, properly understood.” Thus, despite your many allegedly-scientific claims against the literal reality of Adam and Eve, we do not live in fear that sound Catholic doctrine will prove to be contradicted by legitimate science.

You make many wide-ranging claims to the effect that science disproves the possibility of Adam and Eve – as if there are no rational or scientific counter-arguments. I do not intend to respond to each of your claims in this thread. I have done so elsewhere, though. See my article dealing with these issues appearing in the Homiletic and Pastoral Review online: http://www.hprweb.com/2014/07/time-to-abandon-the-genesis-story/ See also, my article appearing in Crisis Magazine online: http://www.crisismagazine.com/2014/did-adam-and-eve-really-exist For a much more detailed explanation of the rationally defensible interface between authentic divine revelation and sound science, see my book, Origin of the Human Species: Third Edition (Sapientia Press, 2014). Also, forthcoming in June 2015 is a peer-reviewed article appearing in the Spanish journal, Espiritu, entitled “The Rational Credibility of a Literal Adam and Eve.”

I do not intend to reprise all these scholarly analyses here, except to point out that your sweeping claim about the alleged “scientific impossibility” of a literal Adam and Eve is not the sort of statement that cannot be refuted. Read some of my works. They will show – just for example -- that (1) the major study upon which most of these claims were based turned out to be vastly overstated because of methodological error, (2) such a sweeping universal negative inference, based on allegedly detailed knowledge of genetic conditions so ancient as to preclude any direct observation, is simply not the stuff of serious science, (3) paleoanthropological data in no way precludes the sudden appearance of true intellect in the hominin line, (4) one cannot rule out the possibility that future scientific studies might conclude that presently observed genetic diversity in modern man could be explained even without recourse to interbreeding (bestiality), and (5) even if some interbreeding did occur, the scientific studies I cite appear open to the possibility that such events might have been relatively rare – and possibly did not even entail consent on the part of true humans.

Forgive me if I politely decline to abandon belief in the rational credibility of a literal Adam and Eve and of original sin, which led to mankind’s need for the Divine Redeemer, whose birth we just celebrated worldwide.

John West said...

I have a question, though. What of Eden? Genesis seems to imply that Adam and Eve seemed to inhabit a paradisial realm before the fall. It would be hard to just explain this as referring to their inner being alone.

Actually, I would be interested in any answer to Jeremy Taylor's question too. I've always found "Eden" to be a fascinating concept.

Step2 said...

@malcolm
From what sources do you draw your theory from?

It is drawn from multiple sources, many of which you can read about at this totally random link.

Santi Tafarella said...

The OFloinn:

You asked me, "Which would Ockham's Razor say is preferrable: 'an entire population of 10,000 hominids became sapient' or 'one hominid became sapient first, and it spread from there.' From a statistical point of view, the former seems unlikely."

I agree that if you treat a single biological mutation as the boundary between one species and another, then that one mutation has to start with one individual in the population and spread to others. And the same principle applies to God miraculously inserting the first soul "mutation" into the hominid line.

But what causes you to propose such soul insertion to make a being essentially different from all that came before in the first place?

The death of special creation.

When you take just one step back from your soul-bestiality thesis, you realize that the only reason that you've had to propose such a wild idea is because science has overthrown Genesis's notion of the special creation of species.

Without the special creation of species, you've really got only one chess move left. You need to posit the special creation of souls--souls that enter the world via an already evolved biological species.

A miraculous birth.

And thus a very different (and far more complicated) narrative mutation has to get going from how the Genesis author thought Adam and Eve got started.

On the soul-bestiality thesis, a humble mother from the species Homo heidelbergensis, Homo rhodesiensis, or Homo antecessor--take your pick--had to birth Adam, the first soul-filled human, into the world. If this thesis is right, Adam's mother and Eve's mother were the Mary and Elizabeth of pre-history.

On the soul-bestiality thesis, it took God three billion years of death, violent competition, extinction, and evolution to get the biological mothers of Adam and Eve into the world. God then came to them specially--why in Africa then and there nobody knows--and miraculously started a divinely directed event inside their wombs. (God, it appears, needs more time to make bodies than souls.)

So it's complicated--not very Occam's razory--but there's a screenplay in there, don't you think? An epic Hollywood blockbuster?

Santi Tafarella said...

Dennis,

Thanks for the reading recommendations. I'll check out your articles and book.

As for the crux of the problem, I wonder if you would agree with me that it's this: Darwin upended special creation, leaving (ultimately) just one chess move left to anyone who posits a literal Adam and Eve: the miraculous insertion of a soul into an already evolved species of animal (perhaps Homo heidelbergensis).

Without the special creation of species, one needs to posit the special creation of souls--souls that enter the world via an already evolved species. This means at least two miraculous births--from two separate animal mothers. The Mary and Elizabeth of the Stone Age had to give birth to one male and one female possessing souls: Adam and Eve.

But then, once you've got the two souled humans--Adam and Eve--and their offspring going, there's still the problem of the non-souled, native population to deal with. They either have to be displaced or assimilated by interbreeding. Adam and Eve's soul mutation has to spread somehow through an already existing population (exactly the way a biological mutation spreads through a population--it starts with one and works its way out to the whole group).

By contrast, special creation is simple. It starts everything with "two" (two lions, two people, etc.), doesn't cloud up the boundaries, and doesn't set things along a continuum (as evolution does). God snaps his fingers, shapes dirt, or says abracadabra, and there things are. Easy. Magic. No mixing. No hybridity. No fuss. God rests on the seventh day, everything is in its place, and it's all good.

But with evolution, all is restlessness, mixing, competing goods, and ongoing negotiation--akin to democracy. No pause for the wicked. "Two" starts with the first cell that divided 3 billion years ago--and, like Lot's wife, it never really looks back. Lineages from that point forward are along a continuum (species divisions along the same lineage are for our convenience). And evolving species populations almost never bottleneck at two, then recover again. Ours certainly never did.

John West said...

TheOFloinn,

If you haven't already, you may want to look at the threads "Could a theist deny PSR" and "Nudge nudge, wink wink" to see Santi Tafarella's manner of "arguing" on here before exhausting too much time replying to him.

Otherwise, I apologize for my intrusion.

Irish Thomist said...

@Dennis Bonnette

When you use the term 'modernist' what do you specifically mean?

To my understanding the Church has preferred to break that 'problem' down into its more specific compositional parts since Pope Paul VI.

Glenn said...

1. The rational soul: a) is subsistent; b) exceeds the capacity of corporeal matter; and, c) does not depend on corporeal matter for its existence. -- ST 1.90.2.2

2. Therefore, the rational soul is not educed from the potentiality of matter. -- ibid

3. [F]rom the fact that the intellectual substance is in matter it does not follow that it is a material form, because that soul is not present in matter in the sense of being embedded in it or wholly enveloped by it, but in another way, as [has been] pointed out. -- SCG 2.69.4

Greg said...

@ Glenn

Right. I was going to point out that the Thomist holds as philosophically demonstrable that the soul is immaterial and that each soul (not just Adam and Eve's souls) is created directly by God. If humans evolved from animals without rational souls, then at some point God began infusing entities with souls. The Thomist is concerned to show that this conclusion does not contradict biological evidence. And it does not. (Occam's razor is irrelevant here. The Thomist might grant that the Adam-and-Eve story is not the most parsimonious account of the biological data, but he isn't explaining the biological data anyway.)

I would repeat John West's warning, and urge Professor Bonnette to consider it as well.

Scott said...

I concur with John West and Greg. Never have there been scare quotes more justified than the ones John West put around "arguing."

Vincent Torley said...

Hi everyone,

I have decided that this will be my very last comment on Ed's blog site. I'd like to point out one final difficulty with the Flynn-Kemp hypothesis. I'll put it in the form of a two-step argument.

1. Either Adam and Eve's hominid contemporaries had human bodies or they had human-like bodies that were in some subtle but significant way different from Adam and Eve's bodies. As I've pointed out previously, the former option would contradict the declaration of the Council of Vienne that the soul is essentially the form of the human body, so defenders of the Flynn-Kemp hypothesis must therefore argue that Adam and Eve's hominid contemporaries had human-like bodies. [Someone might want to argue that two bodies might be identical but that one might be human while the other is not, simply by virtue of the former's possessing a human soul - but that would render the Council's declaration tautological: the human soul is essentially the form of any body having a human soul.]

2. Either the property P that distinguished Adam and Eve's bodies from those of their hominid contemporaries was one whose occurrence in Nature was astronomically improbable, or it was not. If the former option is correct, then we are basically back with the special mutation theory proposed in 1964 by Fr. Alexander, and its attendant difficulties: the odds of its occurring in two individuals (Adam and Eve) at the same time would be infinitesimal, necessitating Divine intervention in the evolution of the human body (a proposal which the Flynn-Kemp hypothesis rejects as unnecessary and out of keeping with the evolutionary picture accepted by today's scientists). But if the latter option is correct and the property that distinguished Adam and Eve from their hominid contemporaries was not one whose occurrence was astronomically improbable, then there would have been nothing to prevent the same property arising again, on a later occasion, among the population of sub-rational hominids - in which case we'd have beings with human bodies arising independently of Adam and Eve. These beings would either be endowed by God with rational souls (which would mean that not all humans are descended from Adam, which contradicts the Council of Trent), or not (in which case they would have human bodies without human souls - a possibility ruled out by the Council of Vienne).

I conclude that despite its authors' excellent intentions, there's no way to get the Flynn-Kemp hypothesis to work.

Anyway, enough of that. I'd just like to wish Ed and his family and everyone here (including TOF) a happy New Year, and all the best for the future. Ed, you'll be happy to know that 2015 will be a Vince-free New Year: that's my New Year's present to you.

Dennis Bonnette said...


@ Irish Thomist

All I meant by "modernist" in that context was the aspect of forcing the reading of Scripture to conform to what is claimed to be the allegedly "unchallengeable" findings of modern science.

Greg said...

@ Vincent

As I've pointed out previously, the former option would contradict the declaration of the Council of Vienne that the soul is essentially the form of the human body, so defenders of the Flynn-Kemp hypothesis must therefore argue that Adam and Eve's hominid contemporaries had human-like bodies. [Someone might want to argue that two bodies might be identical but that one might be human while the other is not, simply by virtue of the former's possessing a human soul - but that would render the Council's declaration tautological: the human soul is essentially the form of any body having a human soul.]

I do not believe that your bracketed consideration here would render the Council's declaration tautological.

As I've pointed out, the statement "the soul is the form of the body" is elliptical. What it means is: When we speak of "the soul," we are referring to our form, the form of a human being. There is no "human body" without a human form, since our soul does not only account for our rational activities but for our vegetative and appetititive activities. So it seems that what the Council of Vienne is getting across is that we are required to say that we have rational souls as our forms.

But it doesn't follow from that that other organisms of the same biological species (or a very close biological species) must have the same form as we do. For they would not have human bodies if they lack a human form.

This does not render the Council's declaration tautologous because statements like "the soul is the form of the human body" are elliptical anyway, and they have to be read as elliptical or else they patently are tautologous; a human body is only human by virtue of its being the body of a human, something with a human form, so to read it non-elliptically is to read it as a tautology.

I think it is a lot more plausible that the Council was concerned with people who wanted to deny that we have rational souls, rather than people who claimed that genetically similar organisms might not have rational souls, especially given that the latter concern could not even be formulated in the 14th century. Or do you disagree?

"Body" is an ambiguous word. In some cases it refers just to some extended things. In other cases it is the material component of an organism. So the sense that you are appealing to would have to be clarified. But a human body is a specifically human body. You are right to worry about tautology, but that concern dictates simply that the statement should be read elliptically.

Greg said...

I should add that another sense of "body" might just be a substance. And in the case of a statement like "the rational soul is the form of the human body," that sense of body would not call for any alternative rendering of the statement. But in that case your objection to the Flynn-Kemp proposal does not get off of the ground.

Dennis said...

"Ed, you'll be happy to know that 2015 will be a Vince-free New Year: that's my New Year's present to you."

What an upsetting post, Mr. Vincent, truly, a very upsetting post. If however that is your take, I can't do much other than pray for you. With a heavy heart, I wish you a belated Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Brandon said...

So it seems that what the Council of Vienne is getting across is that we are required to say that we have rational souls as our forms.

Indeed, the Council's entire point in context is to rule out Apollinarianism about Christ, which shows that the formula is not in the least in danger of being a tautology at all. It quite obviously does not tell us anything of relevance about anything other than human beings in the strict sense, nor does it give any exposition at all about the implications for the body of the rational soul's information of the body.

«Oldest ‹Older   1 – 200 of 365   Newer› Newest»