Adam and Eve: allegorical progenitors?

11 Responses

  1. Chris says:

    One of the best ways of thinking (of the creation story) that I’ve read in a long time. Good counter argument for the creationists, and a good religious add-on to the evolutionists.

  2. Robert Hagedorn says:

    Saint Augustine couldn’t do it, but can anyone else explain what kind of fruit Adam and Eve ate in the story? After 6000+ years I think we’re all due an intelligent explanation. No guesses, opinions, or beliefs, please–just the facts that we know from the story. But first, do an Internet search: First Scandal.

  3. Derrick Kourie says:

    I am entirely in agreement with the writer of this letter. However, he skirts around the real difficulty that evolution poses to traditional theology: What does evolution, especially polygenism, imply about original sin?

    The theological implications of evolution demand a thoroughgoing review around notions such as atonement and original sin. Such a review seems long overdue.

    I have come to accept that a) there was no prior state of bliss (prelapsarian state); and thus b) that the first moment of sin does not signify a point at which God’s creation somehow went wrong and required “redemption” (buying back) or “atonement” (making up for the wrongs of the past).

    Rather, our ancestors gradually acquired the kind of consciousness that leads to freedom, and with freedom, they acquired the capacity for sin—the capacity to choose between good and evil. Therefore, our ancestors did not so much fall down as fall up. There was a gradual growth in consciousness from behaviour governed only by instinct, into behaviour governed by freedom and the capacity for evil.

    Jesus’ coming was not caused by an original sin that the required “buying back” creation (redemption), but by God’s loving desire to concretely be united with God’s creation. The Incarnation is indeed a “leap in evolution”, as the pope once said in an Easter sermon. Jesus comes to take evolution one step further; to enmesh the divine in the human and thus to sacramentally strengthen us as we awake into freeedom. Jesus’ Church, His teachings, His sacraments are all part of the new creation, spearheading evolution and leading it towards the future that God desires for all humanity.

    I cannot see that a theology along these lines can be avoided.

  4. Derrick Kourie says:

    PS: It seems that “polygenism” is a word that has become loaded with different interpretations. If it means that different races of homo sapiens are descendent from different pre-homo sapiens ancestors in different places, I would have difficulty with it, and I surmise that Anthony Sturgess would as well. As far as I know, scientific evidence indicates that homo sapiens emerged over time from a single (African based) pre-homo sapiens group (some hundred- to two hundred thousand years ago) and then subsequently diversified as subgroups spread into different geographical regions. There appears to be evidence that there was subsequent cross-breeding between homo sapiens and Neanderthal in Europe/Asia.

  5. Anthony Sturges does write a letter that is worthy of being looked into a deeper level than just ‘intellectual’.

    Thus to Robert H, I can only respond: if you need an intelligent explanation to the ‘kind of fruit’, then I need, first, an intelligent explanation as to the reason for the one tree (knowledge of good and evil) and not the other tree (of life) being the focus of the snake’s invitation to Eve?

    Dear Derrick

    I do not profess to have anything profound to say about ‘original sin and evolution’, What I do know, however, is that our original Fathers in Faith of the One Living God [the chosen People of God – read Judaism], did not subscribe – quite naturally – to a theology of original sin – the concept of which was developed by St. Augustine.

    I have read Matthew Fox’s ‘Original Blessing’ and now look (subscribe to ) Fr. Thomas Keating’s teaching. It all makes more sense and I understand it better under his concept of ‘the human condition’. It ties in with ‘the gift of free will’ and church teaching on the ‘primacy of conscience’.

  6. PS. So what does ‘original blessing’ mean to evolution or imply about evolution?

  7. pps ToRobert – why, if intellectual explanations are so important – do we need FAITH?

  8. Derrick Kourie says:

    Hi Rosemary,

    You’re quite correct: original sin is most strongly associated with Augustine. There is no explicit reference to the concept in the bible. Of course, St Paul, in one of his many metaphors about the meaning of Jesus, contrasts the obedience of Jesus and the disobedience of Adam. This appears to be the cornerstone scriptural texts upon which the doctrine original sin has been built over the centuries.

    However, in recent times there has been renewed interest among some theologians (Franciscans, in particular) in the works of Duns Scotus, and the theological tradition he represents. Bonaventure Hinwood (who could hardly be described as an outrageously liberal theologian) gave a fascinating paper at a recent theological conference, in which he traces the roots of Scotus’ thinking right back to the earliest times in Christianity. It would seem that Scotus’s writings emphasise the goodness of creation (Fox’s “original blessing”?), and Jesus’s coming as not being contingent on human sin. It is a view that is far more consonant with contemporary insights into evolution.

    I have not read the works of Fox, so I don’t know exactly what he means by “original blessing”. It is sad that our church authorities have not been able to rationally respond to his ideas. The same applies to the writings of his predecessor—Teilhard de Chardin. In both cases, attempts have been made to suppress their ideas. De Chardin is a personal favourite of mine. I cannot see how Christianity can avoid adopting and adapting his ideas if it is to survive and influence the future of humanity.

    Clifford Longley, in the Tablet of 24th Sept, has one of the most eloquent little articles that I have seen in recent times on these matters. He bases it on the pope’s speech in Britain last year in which he said: “…the world of reason and the world of faith—the world of secular rationality and the world of religious belief—need one another.” He ends thus:

    “The world has never had a greater need for a Catholic faith that makes sense of reality. Then we could all go out among the gentiles and proclaim the Good News. If on the other hand we preach a theology of salvation that cannot be reconciled with known science, as in the case of Original Sin, or an attitude towards sexuality that implies Darwinian evolution never happened, we are wasting our time. We cannot claim the right to question secular rationality, as Pope Benedict said we should, if we cannot allow secular rationality to question us.”

  9. Mark Nel says:

    Why is the term “BCE” and not “BC” used when mentioning the date of the Book of Genesis? I quote from the letter: “The Book of Genesis can be dated to between 1446 and 1406 BCE.”

    It may seem like a minor matter, in the context of the contents of the entire letter, but I do think it is significant enough for us to consider. Why choose BCE instead of the traditional term of BC? Have we considered what we are silently saying when we elect to use a secular term ahead of a term that specifically makes reference to an extremely significant Christian event.

  10. Gnther Simmermacher says:

    Mr Nel, I can’t speak for Mr Sturges; from our point of view it was an editing oversight not to change the usage to BC, which remains our housestyle.

  11. Mark Nel says:

    Thanks. Glad to hear that.