Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Modern biology and original sin, Part I

Our friend John Farrell has caused a bit of a stir in the blogosphere with his recent Forbes piece on modern biology and the doctrine of original sin.  Citing some remarks by Jerry Coyne, John tells us that he agrees with Coyne’s view that the doctrine is “easily falsified by modern genetics,” according to which “modern humans descended from a group of no fewer than 10,000 individuals” rather than just two individuals.  Those who have responded to John’s piece include Michael Liccione, Bill Vallicella (here and here), James Chastek, and Mike Flynn

Several things puzzle me about John’s article.  The first, of course, is why he would take seriously anything Jerry Coyne has to say about theology.  (We’ve seen ample evidence that Coyne is an ignoramus on the subject -- some of the relevant links are gathered here.)  The second is why John seems to think that the falsification of the doctrine of original sin is something the Catholic Church could “adapt” to.  (John’s article focuses on Catholicism.)  After all, the doctrine is hardly incidental.  It is de fide -- presented as infallible teaching -- and it is absolutely integral to the structure of Catholic theology.  If it were wrong, then Catholic theology would be incoherent and the Church’s teaching authority would be undermined.  Hence, to give it up would implicitly be to give up Catholicism, not merely “adapt” it to modern science.

In fairness to John, it seems he may have been speaking imprecisely.  He says, for example, that Eastern Orthodoxy does not accept the doctrine, which (as Bill Vallicella has pointed out) is not true.  What is true is that Eastern Orthodoxy does not agree with the Catholic way of spelling out the doctrine.  So, perhaps John would allow that it is not the doctrine of original sin per se that is in his view problematic, but only the Catholic understanding of the doctrine.  Still, at least one of the aspects of the doctrine that John apparently objects to -- the claim that there was an original pair of human beings through whom sin entered the world -- is also traditionally taught by Eastern Orthodoxy.  And whatever one says about Eastern Orthodox and other non-Catholic approaches to original sin, the point remains that if John were right, Catholicism would be in trouble. 

But John is not right, and the third thing that puzzles me about his article is why he seems to think the evidence cited by Coyne is obviously incompatible with the doctrine of original sin.  After all, the question of human origins is not a matter to which biological considerations alone are relevant.  Metaphysical considerations are at least as important -- indeed, they are more important, as we shall see -- and when they are factored in it can easily be shown that there is no incompatibility between the doctrine of original sin and modern biology.  Nor is the biological evidence something that the Church must now scramble to “adapt” herself to in order to salvage the doctrine.  In fact the subject is one that was addressed long ago, by (among other theologians) Neo-Scholastic thinkers writing in the era of Pope Pius XII’s Humani Generis, who tended to approach the issue from a broadly Aristotelian-Thomistic (A-T) point of view.  (Unlike Coyne, John has knowledge of Scholastic and A-T philosophy and theology, so it is surprising that he does not consider the possibility that the answers to the questions he raises might be found in these writers.)

There are two main issues that have come up in the discussion sparked by John’s article.  First, is modern biology consistent with the claim that the human race began with a single pair à la the biblical story of Adam and Eve?  Second, is modern biology consistent with the claim that this pair transmitted the stain of original sin to their descendents via propagation rather than mere imitation?  The answer to both questions is “Yes.”  In this post I will show why this is so in the case of the first question and in a follow-up post I will address the second.  What I have to say in this post will overlap to some extent with what Mike Flynn has said in his own excellent reply to John, and with what Kenneth W. Kemp says in his important recent American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly article “Science, Theology, and Monogenesis” (see ACPQ Vol. 85, No. 2 -- the same issue in which my article “Existential Inertia and the Five Ways” appears).  But I will approach things in a somewhat different way than either Mike or Kenneth Kemp do.  

What is man?

We can begin by asking what a human being is.   The traditional A-T answer is, of course, that a human being is a rational animal.  We are animals insofar as we have the capacities typical of animality in general -- nutrition, growth, reproduction, sensation, appetite, and locomotion.  These are all purely material capacities, all requiring bodily organs for their exercise.  We are rational insofar as we possess intellect and will.  These are immaterial capacities, and do not directly depend on any bodily organ, although they do depend on such organs indirectly.  I have explained the how and why in several places -- most fully in chapter 4 of Aquinas -- and have addressed some of the relevant issues in earlier blog posts, such as this one.  I will summarize only the most relevant points here.

What intellect involves, for the A-T tradition, is the ability to grasp abstract concepts (such as the concept man or the concept being mortal), to put them together into complete thoughts (such as the thought that all men are mortal), and to reason from one thought to another in accordance with the laws of logic (as when we infer from All men are mortal and Socrates is a man to Socrates is mortal).  All of this differs in kind, and not just in degree, from the operations of sensation and imagination, which we share with non-human animals.  Concepts have a universality and determinateness that no sensation or mental image can have even in principle.  The concept triangularity, for example, has a universality that even the most general mental image of a triangle cannot have, and an unambiguous or determinate content that the auditory or visual image of the English word “triangle” (whose meaning is entirely conventional) cannot have.  Indeed, concepts have a universality and determinacy that nothing material can have.  So while the A-T tradition holds, in common with materialism and against some forms of dualism, that sensation and imagination have a material basis, it also holds that intellectual activity -- grasping concepts, putting them together into judgments, and reasoning from one judgment to another -- is necessarily immaterial.  (Again, I’m not defending these claims here but just summarizing -- I’ve defended them elsewhere.)

All the same, for A-T the intellect does depend on matter in an indirect way.  For one thing, though the concepts we grasp are immaterial, we must abstract them from the mental images that derive ultimately from sensation, and imagination and sensation are material.  For another thing, even when we grasp an abstract concept, we always do so in conjunction with mental imagery (which is why the philosophically unsophisticated often confuse concepts with mental images).  For instance, the concept triangularity is not identical with either the word “triangle” (since people who have never heard this English word still have the concept of triangularity) or with any particular mental image of a triangle (since any such image will have features -- a certain color, say, or being scalene -- that do not apply to all triangles in the way that the concept does).  Still, we cannot entertain the concept of triangularity without at the same time forming a mental image of some sort or other, whether a visual image of some particular triangle, a visual or auditory image of the word “triangle” or of the corresponding word in some other language, or what have you.  The judgment that snow is white is not identical with a visual or auditory image of the English sentence “Snow is white,” since a German speaker (say) could make exactly the same judgment even though he would express it instead with the sentence “Schnee ist weiss.”  Still, we cannot form that judgment without at the same time forming some image or other (e.g. a visual or auditory image of “Snow is white,” or of “Schnee ist weiss,” or of some parallel sentence of some other language).  And so forth.  And this entails that any rational animal must have a material nature that is complex enough to support sensory and imaginative activity of the level of sophistication required to subserve immaterial intellectual activity.   Such sensory and imaginative activity cannot be a sufficient condition for intellectual activity, but it is a necessary condition.

Now for A-T, all material things are composites of form and matter, and “soul” is a technical term for the form of a living thing, specifically.  The soul is that which organizes a living thing’s matter in such a way that it is capable of the operations distinctive of living things.  Since the activities of living things other than human beings are entirely dependent on matter, their souls are themselves dependent on matter, and A-T allows that such souls may therefore have material origins.  But the human soul is different, precisely because it is that which makes us capable not only of material activities like digestion and sensation, but also of immaterial activities like thinking.  Hence it operates, at least in part, apart from matter.  Indeed, unlike the forms of other material things it is a subsistent form, capable of carrying on in existence beyond the death of the body of which it is the form, as a kind of incomplete substance.  For this reason, for A-T the human soul cannot in principle have a material origin.  In fact, it has to be directly created by God whenever a new human being comes into existence.  

On the one hand, then, A-T philosophers and theologians have been open to the possibility of evolutionary explanations of various biological phenomena, including the human body.  It might be that sensory and imaginative capacities of a level of complexity necessary to subserve intellectual activity arose gradually via evolutionary processes.  On the other hand, there are metaphysical constraints on evolutionary explanations, just as there are on all forms of empirical inquiry.  I have discussed some of these constraints in an earlier post, and for a more detailed treatment interested readers might look at an older Scholastic work like Henry Koren’s An Introduction to the Philosophy of Animate Nature, or the biology-related material in David Oderberg’s recent book Real Essentialism.  Most relevant to the issue at hand, for A-T there can in principle be no evolutionary explanation of the human soul precisely because the human soul can have no material cause of any sort.  We know this because (so A-T holds) we know on independent grounds that the distinctive capacities of the human soul (intellect and will) cannot be material.

A useful analogy is provided by the famous “weasel” example from Richard Dawkins’ The Blind Watchmaker (which I here adapt for my own purposes rather than his – so please spare me any complaints that I have misinterpreted him).  Dawkins describes a computer program which begins with a random sequence of 28 letters and “breeds” successive copies of the sequence, in such a way that via random errors or “mutations” in the sequence together with cumulative selection, the sentence “Methinks it is like a weasel” is eventually generated.  Now whether this is as useful an analogy to biological evolution as Dawkins thinks it is can be debated, but that is not to the present point.  The point is rather this.  Suppose we allow that a string of marks that looks like “Methinks it is like a weasel” could arise in nature via random mutation and natural selection.  Indeed, suppose we even allowed for the sake of argument that such a string could result only via random mutation and natural selection.  Would it follow that the English sentence “Methinks it is like a weasel” has, in that case, a completely naturalistic evolutionary explanation?  

No, that wouldn’t follow at all.  For an English sentence is not merely a string of marks, even if it is partly that (at least when written).  It also has a semantic content, and an evolutionary process of the sort described would no more generate that content by itself than my spilling ink on the ground in a way that left a set of shapes that looked vaguely like the word “cat” would by itself generate the actual word “cat,” semantic content and all.  The existence of the marks – whether the marks making up the word “cat” or those making up the sentence “Methinks it is like a weasel” -- is a necessary condition for the existence of the (written) word or sentence, but it is not a sufficient condition.  So, to explain the origin of a sequence of marks is simply not by itself to explain the origin of a certain English sentence.

In the same way, to explain how sensation and mental imagery might have developed via natural selection is simply not by itself to explain the origin of human thought, even if it is part of the story and even if it were allowed that the relevant material structures and processes could not have come about in any other way.  The same could be said of evolutionary explanations of whatever purported symbolic processing mechanisms cognitive scientists might claim to uncover.  Such mechanisms are really all sub-conceptual and not truly “cognitive” at all; for they are all, in effect, at the level of what A-T philosophers mean when they speak of sensation and imagination, insofar as computational symbols are of themselves no more universal or determinate in their content than mental images or words are.  These mechanisms may track our intellectual operations in a rough way, but they can never in principle either exhaust those operations or even exactly track them, since there is always some slack between conceptual content on the one hand and material symbols on the other.  (Again, these are themes I have explored at greater length elsewhere, including in this post and many other previous posts.)

To make a human being, then, it is not enough to make something having all the sub-conceptual or sub-intellectual capacities of the human body.  An animal having all those capacities may well look like a human being, and indeed have all the genetic and phenotypic attributes of a human being short of those phenotypic traits indicative of intellectual activity, such as language.  Perhaps it would look and act like the apparently sub-rational “humans” in the original Planet of the Apes movie.  But it would not be a human being in the sense in which A-T philosophers and Catholic theology understand “human being.”  For our nature is simply not exhausted by whatever traits flow from our genetic endowment.  “Human being” as used in A-T philosophy and Catholic theology is a metaphysical concept, and does not correspond exactly to (even if it overlaps with) the modern biological concept homo sapiens sapiens.  (In fact, some A-T philosophers would hold that the specific genetic and phenotypic traits typical of homo sapiens sapiens are not even essential to human beings considered as a metaphysical category: Anything that was both animal and rational would arguably be “human” in the relevant sense, even if it had a body plan radically different from ours.  See Oderberg’s Real Essentialism for a useful discussion.)

The origin of man

What has been said so far is along the lines of the sort of views you’ll find in Scholastic writers of the period of Pope Pius XII’s Humani Generis, and it reflects the pope’s teaching in that encyclical that:

 [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, the pope goes on to say:

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.

This is the passage John highlights as problematic.  Perhaps he thinks that what the pope is saying is that enquiry into an evolutionary explanation of human origins is permissible only to the extent that it might confirm, or at least be compatible with, the claim that evolution somehow generated exactly two human beings, one male and one female, from pre-human ancestors.  And since such a claim has been falsified (so John’s argument continues), Pius’s concession can be seen to have been too modest.  Given that the earliest human population could not have numbered less than 10,000 or so, a much more radical rethinking of human origins is now necessary.

But in fact no such rethinking is necessary, and Pius XII was making no such claim.  Notice that what the pope opens the door to is the possibility in principle of an evolutionary explanation of the human body, specifically, not of human beings full stop.  Nor does the pope say that exactly two such bodies will have to have been generated by evolution for an evolutionary explanation to be reconcilable with Catholic doctrine.  He also insists that the human soul can only have come from God.  

The implications of all of this should be obvious.  There is nothing at all contrary to what Pius says in Humani Generis in the view that 10,000 (or for that matter 10,000,000) creatures genetically and physiologically like us arose via purely evolutionary processes.  For such creatures -- even if there had been only two of them -- would not be “human” in the metaphysical sense in the first place.  They would be human in the metaphysical sense (and thus in the theologically relevant sense) only if the matter that made up their bodies were informed by a human soul -- that is, by a subsistent form imparting intellectual and volitional powers as well as the lower animal powers that a Planet of the Apes-style “human” would have.  And only direct divine action can make that happen, just as (for A-T) direct divine action has to make it happen whenever one of us contemporary human beings comes into existence.

Supposing, then, that the smallest human-like population of animals evolution could have initially produced numbered around 10,000, we have a scenario that is fully compatible with Catholic doctrine if we suppose that only two of these creatures had human souls infused into them by God at their conception, and that He infused further human souls only into those creatures who were descended from this initial pair.  And there is no evidence against this supposition.

This scenario raises all sorts of interesting questions, such as whether any of these early humans (in the metaphysical sense of having a human soul) mated with some of the creatures who were (genetically and, in part, phenotypically) only human-like.  (If any of the latter looked like Linda Harrison in Planet of the Apes, the temptation certainly would have been there.)  Mike Flynn and Kenneth Kemp have some things to say about this, but it does not affect the point at issue here, which is that there is nothing in the biological evidence that conflicts with the doctrine that the human race began with a single pair -- when that doctrine is rightly understood, in terms of the metaphysical conception of “human being” described above.

419 comments:

1 – 200 of 419   Newer›   Newest»
Carrot said...

OK, so if your view is correct and the genetic evidence is as Coyne presents it, at least one of these two claims has to be true:

(1) Adam and Eve both mated with non-humans.

(2) Some of the organisms who we now consider human are not in fact metaphysically human. They are merely biologically human.

I know very little about Catholic doctrine, so I'm curious whether option (2) is a bullet that Catholics can bite. If not, then they must accept (1), but (1) itself is the kind of thing that is open to falsification. Genetic evidence can tell us whether there is a man and woman who existed at the same time such that we are all descended from one or the other. I would be surprised if this were true, but I don't know if it is.

So suppose genetic evidence falsified (1), would you then accept (2)?

Carrot said...

Sorry, claim (1) in my comment above should be:

(1) Adam and Eve both mated with non-humans, and all of the organisms we now consider humans are descended from either Adam or Eve.

Monsieur l'abbé Ihou said...

Excellent post Dr.Feser, I had to defend this Catholic doctrine against atheists, when I was completing my master degree. They acknowledged the reasonable intelligibility of the Church's arguments about this matter. The atheist's "doctrine" on biology and evolution without original sin is more fragile than it seems, I wish there were more clerics and lay Catholics who took the defense of their faith seriously, and learned how to argue against sceptics.

Matthew G said...

Replies like this make me glad that sometimes, people get things completely wrong.

Anonymous said...

Genetic evidence can tell us whether there is a man and woman who existed at the same time such that we are all descended from one or the other. I would be surprised if this were true, but I don't know if it is.

I think you're mistaken here. You may be thinking of Y-Chromosomal Adam and Mitochondrial Eve and so on. But in the Adam and Eve case, I believe, the question is of the most recent common ancestor. I don't think that's open to discovery, though given the that human population apparently had a serious bottleneck at one point (not 2 people, but perhaps ~1000)...

BenYachov said...

>This scenario raises all sorts of interesting questions, such as whether any of these early humans (in the metaphysical sense of having a human soul) mated with some of the creatures who were (genetically and, in part, phenotypically) only human-like. (If any of the latter looked like Linda Harrison in Planet of the Apes, the temptation certainly would have been there.)

Actually this concept can be found in Jewish Tradition and the Talmud.

see here:
http://www.aish.com/print/?contentID=48931772&section=/tp/i/moha

People who accept Theistic Evolution by deny a real Adam and Eve are heretics as far as I am concerned.

I now have zero tolerance for that unscientific nonsense.

BenYachov said...

Of course people who accept Theistic Evolution & accept a real Adam and Eve are OK in my book.

If only the Biologos people would just get that then they would win the war against ID.

BenYachov said...

Carrot there is no way you can falsify one. None at all.

Everybody who lives today has Adam and Eve as a universal common ancestor even if few or none have their original genetic material. We all have their metaphysical legacy and that is all that counts.

I have great great great great great grandparents who I have no genetic material from. They are still my ancestors and I am their child.

awatkins69 said...

Good questions Carrot. I've made a full post on my own blog in relation to your question if you'd like to check it out here:

http://analyticscholastic.blogspot.com/2011/09/adam-eve-darwin-and-aristotle.html

I've copied the most important points in this comment. Hope it's clear and understandable:

"I would say that our first parents could have been even earlier hominids and that this possibility should make our theory nice and unassailable by modern genetics again:

Consider Dr. Feser's conclusions. He shows that even if there were 10,000 members of the biological species homo sapiens, this wouldn't prove that they were all metaphysically human. But we can look at this another way as well:

For all we know, God infused the rational soul into an earlier biological species. Of course, it's open to analysis of the anatomy of earlier species whether it would have been possible to infuse a rational soul into them, since as Feser points out a certain amount of physical development is a necessary condition for having a rational soul. However, I'd suggest that the amount of physical development necessary may be less than one might suspect. Here's why: I think that for every biological species there is some particular form characteristic to that species; after all, the form is the principle of life for any living thing, and the natural ends of a given form determine how a particular organism will develop. Since homo sapiens members develop differently from, say, homo erectus members, it follows that in some sense they have different natural ends (at least with regards to physical development) and we should conclude that they have different forms. This isn't very controversial really. To quote Feser:

"In fact, some A-T philosophers would hold that the specific genetic and phenotypic traits typical of homo sapiens sapiens are not even essential to human beings considered as a metaphysical category: Anything that was both animal and rational would arguably be “human” in the relevant sense, even if it had a body plan radically different from ours. "

But what this means is that having the particular form that we have is not necessary for being a human being metaphysically speaking.

This is an important point. Since having a homo sapiens form isn't strictly necessary for being a human being, this means that the amount of physical development necessary for exercising rational faculties will be different for each form. So having a smaller brain would be an impairment for a member of homo sapiens, since this is a defect relative to the homo sapiens form. But having a smaller brain may not be an impairment for a member of homo erectus. In fact, the brain the size of a very dysfunctional homo sapiens may very well be the brain size of a flourishing homo erectus. I think that this, in conjunction with the fact that the operations of a rational animal's intellect are primarily immaterial and suited by God particularly for that species' form, shows that there could have been fully functioning, rational animals in earlier hominid species. And we could have very well descended from a pair of these."

awatkins69 said...

Would be interested in what Dr. Feser and others think of this idea, supposing my post isn't too long to read.

Neil Parille said...

It's not clear to me if the current pope accepts the historicity of Adam and Eve. From what I've read he believes in the higher critical approach to the Bible and Genesis (JEPD or whatever it's called).

The contemporary Catholic approach to the opening chapters of Genesis is that they are not historical, just like the infancy narratives. I recall one Catholic theologian comparing Genesis 1-11 to Little Red Riding Hood.

KevinV said...

Ed, thanks for the post. One question: your post seems to loosen the connection between human biological structure and the presence of a soul more than a Thomistic view should allow. I'd think that on a Thomistic view, there is a natural regularity in nature such that when there is a certain biological configuration in the process of formation, that a soul is attached at the moment the configuration occurs, is bound to a body, creating a hylomorphic whole. So it's not clear how - unless Adam and Eve were quite biologically distinct from early hominids - how they could be so metaphysically distinct. If a more Cartesian doctrine of the soul was true, then sure, God can superadd a soul to a wide range of material configurations, but I thought hylomorphism was less permissive.

Now I know you can say that there's no sense to the idea of biological distinctiveness outside of metaphysical distinctiveness, but I think you can see my concern, namely that beings very biologically similar (substantial form of man apart) to Adam and Eve should have somewhat similar substantial forms, sufficiently similar, I think, to call what they have souls or something close enough to it to make some trouble for the idea of Adam and Eve as first parents of all metaphysically complete humans.

Anonymous said...

Here is the problem:

"Further, looking at different genes, we find that they trace back to different times in our past. Mitochondrial DNA points to the genes in that organelle tracing back to a single female ancestor who lived about 140,000 years ago, but that genes on the Y chromosome trace back to one male who lived about 60,000-90,000 years ago. Further, the bulk of genes in the nucleus all trace back to different times—as far back as two million years. This shows not only that any “Adam” and “Eve” (in the sense of mitochondrial and Y-chromosome DNA alone) must have lived thousands of years apart, but also that there simply could not have been two individuals who provided the entire genetic ancestry of modern humans. Each of our genes “coalesces” back to a different ancestor, showing that, as expected, our genetic legacy comes from many different individuals. It does not go back to just two individuals, regardless of when they lived."

From The Coyne blog post. how do you explain this?

Anonymous said...

Humans mating with non-humans ... isn't that bestiality? Also, how would the human in the relationship go about properly raising his/her children with a non-human spouse?

TGWWS said...

Neil Parille . . . Have you read the first part of Pope Benedict's "Jesus of Nazareth"? It should disabuse anyone of the notion that Benedict is wedded to "the higher critical approach". He's very clear that it has value, but equally blunt about when its practitioners stretch to make points, or violate the established teaching of the church.

BenYachov said...

>Humans mating with non-humans ... isn't that bestiality?

Under the YEC or strict two couple monogenism model incest is required to produce humanity.

All this could have taken place after the fall.

>Also, how would the human in the relationship go about properly raising his/her children with a non-human spouse?

Who knows?

BenYachov said...

Anon September 7, 2011 5:59 AM,

There is no reason why we must take Y Chromosome "Adam" and Mitochondrial "Eve" to be the Biblical Adam and Eve. Indeed there is no reason why any humans living today have to have any of their actual genetic material. They just both have to be universal common ancestors.

Coyne is a Gnutard.

Michael Faulkner said...

To Ben

So, what about original sin then, if we are to disregard the bible story?

secondly, why does God out of the blue just happen to install an immaterial soul into X-Eve and a few thousand years later install a soul into Y-Adam? What was so different about these humans?

Nothing - except for an immaterial soul which we can have no evidence for in princple, which does no explantory work and has no casual force either.

As any good philosopher will point out, consistency is not enough for a good philosophical scientific position, it is necessary but not sufficent for rational acceptance.

Vincent Torley said...

Hi everyone,

I blogged about this back in June, in a piece that I think you'll enjoy reading for laughs, as well as a few thought-provoking ideas:

http://www.uncommondescent.com/
intelligent-design/so-you-dont-believe-in-adam-and-eve-ask-an-atheist-for-advice/

The long and the short of it is that you have two choices: massive genetic engineering by God (or Satan) before or shortly after the Fall; or bestiality (ensouled humans breeding with human lookalikes lacking a rational soul). The number 10,000 doesn't just refer to the number of humans or human-lookalikes. It refers to the number of inter-breeding people in the human (or pre-human) population. Professor Coyne's point (and he is a biologist) is that barring a miracle, that number has never gone below 10,000. So the idea that Adam and Eve might have just wandered off somewhere and that they and their descendants remained in reproductive isolation from the other 9,998 (sub-rational) people in the Homo sapiens tribe, completely misses the point. They were all inter-breeding. That's what biology tells us - unless we are to believe in massive genetic engineering performed by God on Adam and Eve, to duplicate the variety that a larger population would give.

Loading up Adam and Eve with a sufficient number of different versions (alleles) of the same gene to duplicate the level of genetic variety that a population of 10,000 would naturally have, is certainly do-able for a Deity - but it's a pretty messy miracle, all the same. It requires a lot more tinkering with genes than, say, the Virginal Conception of Jesus Christ. Dare I say that it requires more tinkering than people suppose Intelligent Design to require?

The Catholic Church should either acknowledge the possibility of bestiality in our past (an odd possibility, which seems theologically inappropriate - surely God, in His wisdom, would have taken steps to prevent rational humans having children with sub-rational animals) or bite the bullet and say that God worked a pretty odd, messy miracle at the dawn of history.

I have to say that I find the Church's silence on the Adam and Eve issue to be deafening. And I think I know why. The hierarchy knows perfectly well that most Catholic biologists would leave the Church, if it insisted on its members toeing the line regarding Adam and Eve. It also knows that only about 25% of the clergy (a generous estimate) have orthodox views on the matter.

Finally, the Church realizes that if it insisted on Adam and Eve, it would have to give up its pretence of being Darwin-friendly, at least as regards biological evolution. We now know that to believe in Adam and Eve, you have to believe in a God who tinkered with our genes (unless it was Satan, which is unlikely). And Divine tinkering is anathema to any card-carrying Darwinist.

George R. said...

Ed writes:
"On the one hand, then, A-T philosophers and theologians have been open to the possibility of evolutionary explanations of various biological phenomena, including the human body… On the other hand, …there can in principle be no evolutionary explanation of the human soul precisely because the human soul can have no material cause of any sort."

The problem, of course, is that in A-T metaphysics the soul is the cause of the human body. For it is the form that causes a thing to be what it is, and the soul is the form of the human body. Moreover, the human body immediately follows upon the reception of the soul into matter. Therefore, there can be no human body without a soul, and there can be no matter informed by the soul which is not a human body. Therefore, since the soul cannot be the result of evolution, neither can the body.

Anonymous said...

VincentTorley, informative post, but I'd suggest being more cautious when dishing out a strict "Either/Or." You could very well be, and probably are, missing many other possibilities.

Richard A said...

Well, since I'm not a trained biologist except for what I've picked up in college and read since, I'd like to offer some suggestions based, no doubt, on profound ignorance.

1) It seems to me that when biologists trace genetic variations on mitochondrial DNA or the Y-chromosome, they're not counting years-from-the-original but generations (of mothers or fathers) from the original. Numbers of years ago is provided based on some rough estimate of how long a generation is. But if male generations are a little longer than female generations, couldn't that 90,000 to 140,000 year gap disappear?

2) I'd have a problem with bestiality, but I have no problem with God or His angels acting to nudge home erectus significantly toward homo sapiens. Even such an otherwise-respected Dearwinist like Stephen Jay Gould proposed an hypothesis of 'punctuated equilibrium' without a very comprehensive explanation of what mechanism does the punctuating, how it does it or how it decides when it does it.

3) Maybe I'm just an unrepentant creationist at heart, but I have to wonder about a theory that is based on genetic mutations 'knowing' that a minimum population of 10,000 individuals a few hundred thousand years ago is necessary to account for the genetic variation we are able to observe today. That may be true with the observations we are able to make today, but was it true then?

Anonymous said...

George R why do you reject evolution?

Michael said...

"So the idea that Adam and Eve might have just wandered off somewhere and that they and their descendants remained in reproductive isolation from the other 9,998 (sub-rational) people in the Homo sapiens tribe, completely misses the point. They were all inter-breeding. That's what biology tells us - unless we are to believe in massive genetic engineering performed by God on Adam and Eve, to duplicate the variety that a larger population would give."

I don't see what's so impossible about two ensouled children of the initial 10,000 hooking up, and them and their descendants, for the most part, refusing to interbreed with the sub-humans. I know that, having intellect and will, I would prefer a partner that also had intellect and will rather than not.

And I agree with the poster who talked about the close connection between metaphysical humanness and biological humanness. I would say if you have a biological human you need to grant metaphysical human status. But something that has metaphysical human status does not necessarily have biological human status--as Dr. Feser pointed out, it might very well be possible that a different kind of biological being have metaphysical humanness.

So if one is going to talk about the 10,000 non-metaphysical-humans, then I would say you would also have to say that they were not fully biologically human.

I also am sympathetic with George R and the close relation between matter and form. I think that saying the body of Adam and Eve was formed by evolutionary means is misleading. If anything evolution would explain the creatures leading up to Adam and Eve and not Adam and Eve themselves.

dmt117 said...

George R,

That's an interesting point. I wonder if there is a way past it using the English sentence analogy proposed by Dr. Feser. “Methinks it is like a weasel” may be merely a string of material shapes, or it may be the basis of an English sentence. No purely material account of the former can make it the latter. Similarly, there may be a creature materially similar to man who is yet not man because he has not been endowed with a rational soul.

BenYachov said...

@Michael

>So, what about original sin then, if we are to disregard the bible story?

Who says we are disregarding the Bible story? I cry bullshit! All people alive today have the Biblical Adam(whoever he was) as their universal common ancestor & from him we inherited original sin.

What's the problem?

>secondly, why does God out of the blue just happen to install an immaterial soul into X-Eve and a few thousand years later install a soul into Y-Adam? What was so different about these humans?

I just said there is no reason to believe Y Chromosome Adam etc is same as the Biblical Adam. Don't you read English?

>Nothing - except for an immaterial soul which we can have no evidence for in princple, which does no explantory work and has no casual force either.

Oh great another fundie Gnutard rocking the Scientism/Positivism nonsense!

We have dealt with this crap before.

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2011/03/scientism-roundup.html

>As any good philosopher will point out,

Which clearly excludes you.

>consistency is not enough for a good philosophical scientific position,

Since when are Adam and Eve a scientific position? Is the resurrection a Scientific position?

1949 called buddy they want their logical positivism back!

>it is necessary but not sufficient for rational acceptance.

Only if you are a dogmatic Positivist & as the link shows above that view is self-contradictory.

Read the POST!!!

I'm in no mood for this crap!

BenYachov said...

HEY PEOPLE!!!!!

Y-Chromosomal Adam and Mitochondrial Eve ARE NOT AND DON'T HAVE TO BE BIBLICAL ADAM AND EVE!!!!!

GEEZ!

The lot of you are thick!

DNW said...

It's amusing to note that these swords cut both ways: lopping off the heads of human solidarity pimping political progressives as neatly as they do Catholic traditionalists.

The reason is of course, that the evaporation of essentialist perspectives does as much to drive their moral community arguments against the wall as it does any traditionalist's.

So modern Europeans and Asians on at least one interpretation have about 4% "Neanderthal" DNA, whereas New Guineans have somewhat more. While subsaharan Africans seemingly have none. And the Bushmen? They nearly became another species, if it's still permissible to use that term instead of "populations".

It's almost enough to throw a wet blanket on a ratiocinating man's impulse to link arms and warble "we are the world" ditties.

No wonder that progressives seem either to decide to toss in the towel on the very notion of a rationally necessitated intra-specific morality altogether, or lapse into the brainless ecstasies of transhumanist utilitarianism.

No species, no intra-specifc, eh?

It must then be about something bigger. Maybe like sentience.

Yeah, "sentience", that's the ticket; that what we need to take us where we want to go.

It clears up the mystery as to why physically weak and personally annoying politically progressive males have a right to respect. It's because they're sentient; and if you don't look too closely, it all seems to follow from there.

Why ... it's almost as good as having a soul.

Crude said...

VJTorley,

The Catholic Church should either acknowledge the possibility of bestiality in our past (an odd possibility, which seems theologically inappropriate - surely God, in His wisdom, would have taken steps to prevent rational humans having children with sub-rational animals) or bite the bullet and say that God worked a pretty odd, messy miracle at the dawn of history.

I disagree with your criticisms of the first horn: I see no reason God 'would have taken steps to prevent' that, especially if the alternative is incest. I also think calling this "bestiality", while reasonable on one level, is a stretch here: We're talking about humans from the same population, breeding with each other after an external intervention of a grand sort. This is 'bestiality' only in a very technical sense.

Likewise, I disagree that 'Surely God, in His wisdom, would have...' for a number of reasons. God apparently provided quite well for humans if He did in fact permit this interbreeding, and again, when the options are interbreeding and incest, we're admitting that this was a time that involved some particular rules - not too surprising given the nature of the Fall.

Finally, I actually don't see why the Church must move into an either-or position on this question - and I say this as someone entirely comfortable with the idea of interbreeding at that time (which also seems to be Ed's point, and others'). I would be content with the Church acknowledging a range of possibilities which includes both your view and mine, since I think the exact particulars are inessential for moral teaching and understanding.

And frankly, God is 'tinkering' under either option. If you really think that Coyne would be happy with Ed's solution, much less refuse to condemn the whole thing as wrong, I think you're mistaken.

James said...

@BenYachov:

Although everyone posting here seems to have his own — often profoundly different — position with respect to this issue, nevertheless everyone except you has been able to keep it civil. I suspect that your interactions would be rather more productive if you would do the same.

The Deuce said...

Carrot:

(1) Adam and Eve both mated with non-humans, and all of the organisms we now consider humans are descended from either Adam or Eve.

Er, that doesn't follow at all from the conclusion that the homo sapiens population never dropped below 10,000. It could just as easily have been their descendents (like, say, Caine) that mated with humanoids.

James said...

@Crude:

I also think calling this "bestiality", while reasonable on one level, is a stretch here:

Registering my agreement here. I see no reason to suppose that, at least in the beginning, the rational and “sub”-rational homo sapiens sapiens needed to be so apparently different that interbreeding would be such a risqué thing to consider. Presumably the latter looked and behaved much like pre-cultural rational persons would; most of their faculties would have been in place; with reference to the behavior of apes, they likely would’ve had relatively advanced problem-solving and tool-using skills.

I don’t think we’re talking about something anywhere near comparable to, say, men breeding with horses, or even men breeding with chimpanzees.

BenYachov said...

James,

I have no patience for thoughtless trolls & Gnus.

I just got finished saying Y-Adam does not have to be Biblical Adam and some troll changes me to defend the idea M-Eve & Y Adam are Biblical Adam & Eve even though M-Eve lived tens of thousand of years before.

None of these people actually read the POST and that cheezes me off.

I don't apologize for it.

BenYachov said...

It's like saying I believe in an OLD EARTH & having some Gnutard challenge me to defend the idea the world was created in 144 hours!

Read the President's English people!

BenYachov said...

VJ,

Humping a goat is Bestiality. Having sex with something that is genetically a woman without is a stretch.

On the other hand there is the Nephilim in Genesis 6:1-8. How do we know angels didn't possess the bodies of the unsouled hominids?

Anyway your post is satire am I correct?

BenYachov said...

That is genetically a woman without a soul etc....

One Brow said...

I'm rather amused by the post. Having the descendants of Adam and Eve (and probably the original pair) mate with people incapable of intellect and will creates all sorts of interesting questions.

Non-human apes have limited versions of intellect and will. Were Adam and Eve proto-apes? Why do other apes possess diluted variations, if this is an on/off trait supposedly granted by God?

Did God plan/orchestrate the Fall? If not, was God's plan to have unFallen children mate with non-humans?

What would prevent a sub-human, adopted by humans at a time just after Adam, but not a descendent or Adam or Eve, from learning intellect and will? If the soul is truly just the form of the body, and the body of the sub-human undergoes the same processes as the body of the human, what is lacking? Of course, it's simple enough to saqy some of the processes in the soul are not processes of the body, but then the soul is more than the form of the body.

By how many centuries did souls precede abstract expression, like numbering? How far back would Adam and Eve be? If far enough back that they would be ancestors of people on both hemispheres, abstract thinking precedes written numbers by 10,000+ years. That's a long time for abstract thinking to leave no mark.

One Brow said...

BenYachov said...
On the other hand there is the Nephilim in Genesis 6:1-8. How do we know angels didn't possess the bodies of the unsouled hominids?

Having sex with the unsouled produces a giant, and they were all killed off?

BenYachov said...

One Brow,

I have attacked you in the past for confusing & contradictory posts. I stand by that but your last post........those are all intelligent and good questions!!!!

Wow who are you & what did you do with One Brow?

Just kidding! Good call!

BenYachov said...

>Having sex with the unsouled produces a giant, and they were all killed off?

Define giant One Brow. 7 feet? 8 feet? Who says they where all killed off? OTOH if you are referring to the Flood I see no reason to believe the Flood killed all humanity.

BenYachov said...

Of course those questions go beyond the topic of does biological polygenism negate theological monogenism?

Clearly not.

Mark said...

This is interesting:
"In fact, some A-T philosophers would hold that the specific genetic and phenotypic traits typical of homo sapiens sapiens are not even essential to human beings considered as a metaphysical category: Anything that was both animal and rational would arguably be “human” in the relevant sense, even if it had a body plan radically different from ours."

I'm not sure, though (and I don't have Oderberg's book), how some A-T philosophers can hold this. Other than accidental variation (Spock's ears and eyelids?), I would think any body that could support rationality would have to be substantially human and thus not different from our own bodies. In the A-T tradition, the human body is the highest material form and the human soul is the lowest immaterial form. There is only one "in between" possible without making substantial changes, right?

BenYachov said...

>That's a long time for abstract thinking to leave no mark.

No mark that survived archeology.

George R. said...

Crude,
Incest is evil for a reason, to wit, it is deleterious to the propagation of healthy offspring and the formation of sound families. For our first parents, on the other hand, since obviously their genetic make-up would have been quite extraordinary in order for them to fulfill their role as parents of the whole human race, there would have been no deleterious effects of their children marrying each other, and neither would there be any crime.

VJ,
I see no reason whatsoever to term the necessary possession by our first parents of an extraordinary genetic potency a “messy miracle,” especially since there was no necessary intervention in the natural processes of existing human beings. For Adam and Eve didn’t at one time have the same genetic make-up as modern human beings, and later God went in and changed them. They were simply created that way, in order that they could fulfill their unique purpose.


That may be true with the observations we are able to make today, but was it true then?

Precisely, Richard. Everybody seems to be making uniformitarian assumptions that I believe are completely unwarranted: “Dick and Jane from Burbank couldn’t generate the kind of genetic diversity we see in the human race today. Therefore, neither could Adam and Eve.” The argument is plainly fallacious.

One Brow said...

BenYachov said...
Define giant One Brow. 7 feet? 8 feet?

Tall enough that it is considered the distinguishing characteristic, and of the entire group, as opposed one or two individuals.

Who says they where all killed off?

Are there such tall tribes today?

OTOH if you are referring to the Flood I see no reason to believe the Flood killed all humanity.

One Brow said...

George R. said...
Precisely, Richard. Everybody seems to be making uniformitarian assumptions that I believe are completely unwarranted: “Dick and Jane from Burbank couldn’t generate the kind of genetic diversity we see in the human race today. Therefore, neither could Adam and Eve.” The argument is plainly fallacious.

I think the actual argument is that there are not enough genes in a single pair of humans to account for today's genetic diversity.

James B. Oakley said...

I see many people are having trouble understanding the concepts of 'Mitochondrial Eve" and "Y-chromosome Adam". They do not mean what some think they mean.

"Mitochondrial Eve" is the "woman" (see below) who carried the common ancestor of all extant human mitochondrial DNA. Mitochondria are are small organelle within cells who have their own DNA, which is NOT to be confused with nuclear DNA. They are useful to study because they are inherited exclusively along the female line. Given this, it is evident that "Mitochondrial Eve" is NOT the same thing as "the first woman", "the female ancestor of us all", or anything like that: the only thing special about her is that, today, only mitochondria related to hers are present in mankind.

It should also be noted that the "Mitochondrial Eve" concept does NOT necessarily point to the same individual in the past at all times, for it depends on what happens to human mitochondria today - or in the future. For example: it could happen that, 100,000 years into the future, all then extant human mitochondria are descended from a woman who lived in the 16th century - all that needs to happen for this to be true is for all other lineages to die out in the next 100,000 years. If this should happen, the 16th-century woman would become the "Mitochondrial Eve" of the humans of AD 102,011 - and, as is obvious, she would not have been "the first woman", the only female ancestor of the whole population of AD 102,011, or anything like that.

In the same way, the Mitochondrial Eve of the current human population need not even be an "anatomically modern human being" - as the example above shows, she can be later than the origin of modern humans, or earlier than it. (This is why I left "woman" between quotes in the beginning of the second paragraph above). The only way to ascertain which is to compare the putative date in which she lived (calculated from genetics, which needs a great many assumptions relating to the clicking of the molecular clock) with the fossil record of that time.

The same logic can be applied to "Y-chromosome Adam". And I think this also clears up why there is absolutely no need for M-Eve and Y-Adam to have been contemporaries - and again, if it were found that they were so, this could change in the future, for the identities and therefore chronology of M-Eve and Y-Adam are changeable.

I hope this helps clear up some confusions.

Crude said...

George R.,

Incest is evil for a reason, to wit, it is deleterious to the propagation of healthy offspring and the formation of sound families.

Are you really telling me that's the only reason it's evil? I have a hard time believing that.

But it seems I could play pretty much the same card you're playing. "Bestiality is evil for a reason" - say, because it's an abuse of sex and produces no offspring. But, in the context of the Fall, a special condition took place.

I want to stress here that I'm not saying 'there was no miracle'. I just think the interpretation I'm offering, and I sees others offering, is valid and reasonable.

BenYachov said...

@One Brow
>Are there such tall tribes today?

I thought you where refering to the propogation of the species. That is they died out without continuing the line of humanity to modern times. If they are our ancestors there is no reason their "bigness" has to survive as a modern trait or not.

Brian said...

The way I look at it is this way: knowing that Catholicism is true already on other grounds (i.e., proofs for the existence of God, miracles, fulfilled prophecies, etc.), I know that any discrepancy between Revelation and Creation must only be apparent since both come from God and God cannot contradict himself. Any Catholic or any person familiar with the Church's teaching on faith and reason knows what I am talking about. And so, I comfortable with the apparent tension and await when either the science changes or when the Magisterium of the Catholic Church clarifies the matter.

Bobby Bambino said...

Thank you for reminding us of that, Brian. A very good thing to keep in mind when trying to understand this debate.

Xerces said...

Well, I suppose this is as good a time as any to suggest another (admittedly bold) view of "original sin," "original human beings," and "the Fall of Man," that's consistent with our cosmic history in general and our biological history in particular. The more possibilities, the better, right? ;)

Anyway, before I tease out that view, let me just say that I think it's a mistake to jump head-first into these discussion about original humanity without talking a good deal about what the precise effects of original sin were. Particularly, in addition to leading to the spiritual corruption of human beings, did original also lead to universe-wide physical corruption, which of course includes the corruption of the bodies of human beings, and may also include the corruption of time itself? Many Orthodox theologians answer in the affirmative. But if that's true - if "original sin" caused the physical universe to be corrupted by "the powers and principalities of this age," can we even accept, in broad outline at least, the current scientific understanding of the history of the physical universe as being the God-intended history of physical reality? In this vein, and more pertinent to the point, was ~4.5 billion years of evolution leading up to homo sapiens ever God's originally intended plan for the emergence of human beings? Was there no "unbesmirched," "Golden" history of physical reality prior to the act of original sin? (Furthermore, did original sin and the subsequent Fall of Man change Maxwell’s equations? Or did it affect the laws of physics from the beginning of time, by backwards causality of some kind? Or is there something fundamentally flawed with the very concept of “laws of physics”? Questions abound.)

Xerces said...

(cont.)


That said, here's the alternative view (I wrote most of the following in a previous thread and in a different context, but it went unengaged):

---


On "original sin" and the Fall of Man, many traditional, Orthodox theologians say that the Christian claim has always been that, in some sense, the entire reality we experience and the entire cosmic reality we inhabit is a fallen and damaged reality - that, somehow, the world as we know it is currently under the dominion of "powers." How we understand those powers alters from age to age, but the thing that runs through it is the idea that we cannot look at the context of cosmic reality and see, written in it, the designs and ends of God in a straightforward way. The Christian claim has always been that it is "creation as a whole that is groaning in anticipation of salvation" (Romans 8). Additionally, there is Paul's statement to the Corinthians, "For now we see through a glass, darkly," which, while having distinctly Platonic undertones, points to the fact that nothing within cosmic and human history clearly manifests God's goodness.

Now, if the entire cosmos is "fallen," then this includes not only space and all of its contents, but time, as well (space and time are inextricably linked, after all). Fallen, cosmological time as we now experience it is but a shadow of true, genuine time (again, more whispers of Platonism). Consequently, you will not be able to, from where we are seated now in 2011, rewind the tape of our cosmic history all the way down the evolutionary epochs up until the Big Bang event and somewhere within this time-line stumble upon the "Garden of Eden" and our first ancestors (call them "Adam and Eve") in their God-intended forms. Hence, it makes no sense, for instance, to speak of things like "evolution, natural selection, predation, death and violence before the Fall." The Golden Age of God-intended humanity simply belonged to another kind of time, and so to another time-line altogether. We cannot hope to know precisely what went on in that time-line. All we know is that it contained the general acts of creation and original sin.

And that higher, more genuine time-line is where our God-intended ancestors fell from into ours, cutting that time-line off, collapsing that time-line into what is now our own time-line, subjecting the space-time manifold, including the past, to the "powers and principalities of this age," which then caused the past to undergo a restructuring in accordance with those powers and principalities. Hence the long, bloody, wasteful evolutionary process - an exemplary example of death and decay.

Evolution, in some form or another, is now the story of humanity's physical, bodily emergence. But it is not the story of the emergence of its mental and spiritual makeups, which, though fallen and deeply impoverished, still have their origins somewhere within the Golden Age of God-intended humanity.

Xerces said...

All very provocative. And incredibly muddled at this point, to the point of sounding a bit idiotic. I'll probably save some bits and reject others. But nevertheless, I do find it to be an interesting and fruitful line of thought to tinker with. It seems to erase certain problems (e.g. atheistic objections such as "Imagine how much our pre-human ancestors suffered in their primitive conditions! All of that was prior to humanity and hence prior to the Fall! Your loving God willed that!?" and other instances of the problem of pain throughout evolutionary history) in one fell swoop.

On a model like this, the objections of biologists like Coyne are completely side-stepped. The first human beings - "Adam and Eve" - were simply situated in a different kind of space-time world altogether, the fall from which resulted in whatever messy, biological history we observe regarding the genetic ancestry of our fallen bodily makeups.

BenYachov said...

>Particularly, in addition to leading to the spiritual corruption of human beings, did original also lead to universe-wide physical corruption,

That is a fundamentalist view not a Catholic view. Augustine for example and Aquinas both said Animals suffered death before the Fall of Man. Animals that hunted prey ate other animals before the fall etc...

Even if you are a Creationist like George R that doesn't mean if you are Catholic you accept all the stuff ANSWERS IN GENESIS puts out.

crystal said...

I do think we cann and should give up on the idea of original sin (and atonement as the fix for that - The Incarnation:
Why God Wanted to Become Human
).

The ida that only himans have the ability to "think" is an assumption, one that is being ever more challenged by research into animal behavior.

But even if we agree that God gave two human-like creatures special souls that made them "human", there's still the problem of the fall. There was no idyllic eden-like earth where all creatures lived in harmony together, where there was no suffering or death, and from which we were cast because the first two humans made an error in judgement.

BenYachov said...

>There was no idyllic eden-like earth where all creatures lived in harmony together,

How do you know this is the case? Still Original Innocence deals with Adam's relation to God. Animals still died even if you hold a Catholic version of YEC animals still died and prey animals still hunted in Eden.

Read Augustine.

>where there was no suffering or death, and from which we were cast because the first two humans made an error in judgement.

We don't have to take Genesis hyper-literally just as we don't have to take the Book of Revelations hyper-literally.

Nobody believe a literal seven headed beast will take over the UN during the End of Days.

TheOFloinn said...

why does God out of the blue just happen to install an immaterial soul into X-Eve and a few thousand years later install a soul into Y-Adam?

My daughter's mitochondrial ancestry goes through my wife, her Oklahoma mother, her grandmother, her covered wagon traveling great-grandmother from Missouri, at which point (ca. 1860) we lose sight of the maternal line. My son's Y-ancestry runs through me, to my dad, my grandfather, my great-grandfather, to my Irish great-great-grandfather, to my great³-grandfather, at which point (c. 1807) we lose sight of the paternal line.
Thus, all my living children trace back to a man and a woman who lives sixty years apart in two widely separated parts of the world. What's the problem.
As Ben Y has said, they ain't metaphysical Adam and Eve.
+ + +

We now know that to believe in Adam and Eve, you have to believe in a God who tinkered with our genes

No, we have to believe in one that informed the human soul with a rational part. Given that the rational part is immaterial, what have genes got to do with it?
+ + +
if you have a biological human you need to grant metaphysical human status.

For all humans today that is true; but only because non-rational hominids have died out. Otherwise, there is no "have to."
+ + +
an immaterial soul which we can have no evidence for

The evidences for a rational soul include cave art, grammar, systems of physics, speculative mathematics, and metaphysical wisdom.
+ + +
bestiality

Is it bestiality when a horse mates with a donkey?

Cain and Seth, we are told, found wives, and enough others for Cain to found a city. So Adam's kids were still of the same biological species as the rest of The Ten Thousand.

But we may begin to see why at first Adam was so very lonely. There was no one to talk to. And we may also see why bestiality eventually did become a fundamental taboo in human societies. At least until smart, hip post-moderns came along.

BenYachov said...

TOF

I read your blog post on Adam and Eve.

I CAN'T STO LAUGHING!!!!!!!!:-)

You bastard you made me happy.:-)

Here I was getting settled in for some serious anger. Now you come alone.

Well....I forgive you.;-)

Just kidding.


It was a funny post.

Cheers and God Bless.

BenYachov said...

It's funny an informative too.

crystal said...

Why should I assume Augustine had the inside dope on the lives of Eden animals? :) It's convenient to pick bits from the Adam and Eve story to believe and not believe, but it doesn't make for a very credible argument.

BenYachov said...

Why shouldn't you? Besides he is a bishop in the Apostolic succession and a receiver and transmitter of Tradition.

>It's convenient to pick bits from the Adam and Eve story to believe and not believe,

So I "believe" the anti-Christ will literally have 7 heads & 9 horns?
No but I do believe the Book of Revelation even if I don't take it hyper-literally in all places.

>but it doesn't make for a very credible argument.

We Catholics reject the Protestant heresy that says the Bible is perspicuous. An unclear Bible is the norm in ancient Judaism and Christianity.

Anonymous said...

BenYachov:">Particularly, in addition to leading to the spiritual corruption of human beings, did original also lead to universe-wide physical corruption,

That is a fundamentalist view not a Catholic view...."


Ben, calling that a Fundamentalist view of original sin is flat-out ridiculous. Many of the Greek Church Fathers were committed to the view that all of creation - living, inanimate, dead, visible, invisible - is holistically connected, what affects one thing affects all others, and that the initial act of sin changed not just human beings, but the face of the whole cosmos. St. Maximus the Confessor for example argues that humanity was the "priesthood" uniting heaven and earth, and by way of the first act of sin, heaven and earth were disjoined, thereby completely changing the metaphysical dimensions of the latter and introducing death into reality. This sort of understanding of the doctrine is well over 1000 years old.

It may not be in line with Augustine or Aquinas or Roman Catholicism, but from there don't descend into comedy by labeling it a Fundamentalist view. You're better than that.

The Deuce said...

No, we have to believe in one that informed the human soul with a rational part. Given that the rational part is immaterial, what have genes got to do with it?

I'm in basic agreement with you, but surely genes have *something* to do with it. At least, genes have something to do with phylogeny, and surely phylogeny has something to do with it. I grok that the rational soul is immaterial and created by God, but still, try giving a rational soul to a cucumber. You couldn't (or rather, God couldn't, without first changing it to something other than a cucumber). Or, even if we suppose that a cucumber could have a rational soul, what would it *do* with it? It couldn't communicate, or act in any way, on those universal abstractions. Before you can have a body who's form is a rational soul, you must have a body that *can* have a rational soul, and surely genes aren't totally unrelated to that.

Brian said...

Anon @ 2:46 PM

I was going to comment that Ben Yachov showed himself to be out of his element, but I decided not to because, heck, I'M out of my element! One of things that has disappointed in all of these responses from Feser, Flynn, Liccione, etc. is that their approach to the issue is from a logical and philosophical point of view rather than a Scriptural one. It's not clear to me how such a reading of Genesis affects the whole Bible, particular with respect to the notion of the New Creation. Since I am such a novice myself, I don't even know which questions to ask to clear that up!

TheOFloinn said...

@Deuce
That's what Dr. Feser said in the original post. The material substrate must be "complex enough" to support the rational soul. (Compare: When water is divided too many times it can no longer support the form of 'water' and becomes H2O molecules; when the molecule is divided, it takes the form of hydrogen and of oxygen. When hydrogen is divided, it loses the form of hydrogen and its parts take on the form of protons and free electrons.)

The idea of a rational cucumber is, however, intriguing. But if it gets into trouble and cannot communicate, it would be in a real pickle.

Anonymous said...

"prey animals still hunted in Eden"

uh....call me crazy, but an "Eden" wherein crocodiles snatch up wailing baby gazelles away from their mothers, soon to be intermingled with the sounds of jaws snapping bones and flesh being torn from limbs ..... isn't exactly an "Eden" as far as I'm concerned

rubbish. rubbish on stilts.

Josh said...

The idea of a rational cucumber is, however, intriguing. But if it gets into trouble and cannot communicate, it would be in a real pickle.

*facepalm*

Well done sir.

BenYachov said...

@Anon

>St. Maximus the Confessor for example argues that humanity was the "priesthood" uniting heaven and earth, and by way of the first act of sin, heaven and earth were disjoined, thereby completely changing the metaphysical dimensions of the latter and introducing death into reality.

I have some of St Maxius writings and I would need to see the actual quote and reference and read some commentary on it first. Till I do forgive me if I am skeptical.


>It may not be in line with Augustine or Aquinas or Roman Catholicism, but from there don't descend into comedy by labeling it a Fundamentalist view. You're better than that.

Well I am Catholic & that is the standard I go by. I can't do anything else.

BenYachov said...

Anon wrote:

>uh....call me crazy, but an "Eden" wherein crocodiles snatch up wailing baby gazelles away from their mothers,

I reply: What you are really doing here is imagining a poor human mother having a crocodile snatch her baby away(God Forbid!) & projecting her horror and emotions onto a mere animal. It's called the anthropomorphic fallacy.

If I believe philosopher Thomas Nagel then it is not possible logically for Richard Dawkins to imagine what it is like to be a Bat.
At best he can imagine what it is like to be himself small & hairy with wings. But the cognitive life of the bat is a mystery.

In a similar vain I have no reason to believe an Animal feels the same way a human does when it looses it's offspring. I see no logic in attributing human subjective experience to an Animal. Thus I have no reason to believe it is anymore tragic for the animal then it is for the Planet Jupiter to get bombarded by comets. Does planet Jove cry ouch? I think not. It's matter damaging matter. Nothing more. Animal pain is not the same or comparable to human suffering. Humans have spiritual souls animals do not.

This sophistry doesn't move me.

>rubbish. rubbish on stilts.

My sentiments exactly which is why I A Priori dismiss Rowe's Fawn argument. I'm not going to be moved by this nonsense either.

BenYachov said...

Of course animal suffering is a neat tangent but I would rather talk about Adam and Evolution.

Anonymous said...

I'm fairly ignorant of A-T philosophy, so the answer to this may be obvious, but here goes: Dr. Feser is suggesting that the difference between the truly human and the merely animal is the presence of a rational, immaterial soul. But if the soul is simply the form of the body, and the two homo sapiens are biologically indistinguishable, shouldn't their souls be indistinguishable as well?

TheOFloinn said...

call me crazy

OK. You're crazy.

an "Eden" wherein crocodiles snatch up wailing baby gazelles away from their mothers, soon to be intermingled with the sounds of jaws snapping bones and flesh being torn from limbs ..... isn't exactly an "Eden" as far as I'm concerned

How does it differ from one in which baby crocodiles starve to death? Let's not confuse anthropomorphic sentimentalism with rational thought.

Mr. Green said...

George R.: there can be no human body without a soul, and there can be no matter informed by the soul which is not a human body. Therefore, since the soul cannot be the result of evolution, neither can the body.

I still don't understand your opposition in principle to evolution in the general sense of new species developing over time (simply a refined view of something Aquinas explicitly accepted). Nor does this particular claim about man follow: it makes no more sense to me than to say, "Since the soul cannot grow and expand in size, neither can the body." The point is not that a (fully) human body had no (fully human) soul and then suddenly it acquired one; rather a (very) human-like animal at some point generated a human being that had its human soul from its first moment. Perhaps you have other grounds for objecting to this, or to the specific application to Adam, etc., but there's no metaphysical problem with it.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm... and I always thought that the Nativity of our Blessed Lord, as the "second Adam," was an image of the creation of the "first Adam," and the begetting of the Church from His side on Calvary the image of Eve's being built up from Adam's rib...

I mean, if our Blessed Lord took human flesh from the blood of His mother, did she therefore need the requisite genetic material to "account" for the "variation" present in her Divine Son from her own body plan - Somehow, I think not.

If the second Adam can lay claim to a miraculous origin for His sacred body, when to all appearances it would have seemed otherwise, then why not the first Adam also?

Furthermore, there are other theologically problematic elements involved in any naturalistic account of the creation of the bodies of our first parents.

Consider that shortly after Darwin’s Origin of Species appeared in 1859, the first significant magisterial response on the part of the Church was that of the German Catholic bishops, who, in their Provincial Council of Cologne (1860), condemned the idea of natural human evolution in no uncertain terms:

Our first parents were formed immediately by God. Therefore we declare that the opinion of those who do not fear to assert that this human being, man as regards his body, emerged finally from the spontaneous continuous change of imperfect nature to the more perfect, is clearly opposed to Sacred Scripture and to the Faith.

http://www.rtforum.org/lt/lt93.html

Such was also the view of the great Fr Garrigou-Lagrange:

Sacred Scripture tells us: "And God created man to His own image: to the image of God He created him: male and female He created them";[1366] "And the Lord God formed man of the slime of the earth: and breathed into his face the breath of life";[1367] "He took one of his ribs, and filled up flesh for it. And the Lord God built the rib which he took from Adam into a woman" (Gen. 2:21 f.). The Hebrew text conveys the same sense. The obvious meaning is that Adam's body was formed directly from the slime of the earth, not through succeeding periods by the transformation of species, and that the body of Eve was formed from Adam's rib. Moreover, the words "breathed into his face the breath of life" refer to direct action by God, without the interposition of the progressive evolution of plants and animals. Hence Leroy, Bonomelli, and Zahn, who defend the opposite opinion as probable, are not on firm ground.

The Fathers and theologians, with the exception of Origen, Cajetan, and a few others, are almost unanimous in their interpretation of the teaching of the Bible on the formation of the bodies of our first parents.[1368]


http://www.ewtn.com/library/theology/trinity2.htm#43

Both of these sources (the Roman Theological Forum and Fr Garrigou-Lagrange's commentaries on the Summa Theologica), by the way, appear to be endorsed by Dr. Feser himself, or at least, it seems that he regards them highly enough to provides links in the sidebar of his blog.

Go read them for yourselves - you will find that the Vatican was not always so amenable to a "naturalistic account" of the origin of the human body... in fact... the earlier Vatican responses to Evolutionist theology would almost seem to be infallible by Ordinary Magisterium of the Church...

Hey, I'm just sayin'...

Edward Feser said...

Anonymous,

Why do you ignore what Fr. Harrison says (in the rtf article you cite) about "special transformism" and Pius XII?

Hey, I'm just askin'...

Saint Brian the Godless said...

So many words, so little meaning.

And so much desperation, trying to prove that pixies and fairies and leprechauns are real. Or whatever.

Apologists are the greatest liars on earth. If I believed in satan, I'd believe that he was an apologist. The Father of Lies? It totally fits.

And christian morality is based in coercion, threats, and punishment. It's fear-based. That's not morality, it's animal training.

djindra said...

"the Catholic faith obliges us to hold that souls are immediately created by God."

IOW, it rests on dogma. And the dogma leads to incoherent nonsense like:

"For such creatures -- even if there had been only two of them -- would not be 'human' in the metaphysical sense in the first place."

And weird nonsense like this:

"...we have a scenario that is fully compatible with Catholic doctrine if we suppose that only two of these creatures had human souls infused into them by God at their conception..."

I admit I don't have a great deal of respect for what passes for metaphysics. But this is not metaphysics. It's theology.

Brian said...

Hey, "Saint" Brian, you might want to consider hanging around here. I took a look at your blog, and it seems you sure could use the education. More than a few atheists have come to this site, become acquainted with the classical philosophical tradition, and have completely changed their minds. Some have become theists, others have remained atheists but have abandoned their ways as a fundie idiot for atheism.

But hey, from a political point of view, I don't mind if you remain in your naivty and influence as many of your fellow atheists as possible, making the inevitable backlash against such immaturity beneficial to "our side."

So either way, it's all good.

Anonymous said...

Dr Feser,

Yes, Fr Harrison does write that a doctrine of special transformism as regards the origin of Adam's body alone remains an (arguably) orthodox position on the question, but it still leaves untouched the awkward problem of the creation of Eve, of which he writes:

5. Regarding the first woman. It is noteworthy that no censure was even necessary, during this period, either of a polygenistic account of human origins or of the thesis that the body of the first woman was also a product of evolution. This is because no Catholic author, it seems, had yet dared advocate these theses, in opposition to truths which were so firmly established in Scripture and Tradition. We saw Fr. Tripepi observe that neither Fr. Léroy nor any other contemporary Catholic evolutionists, to the best of his knowledge, were going so far as to question the historicity of God’s miraculous formation of Eve from Adam’s side as he slept. This truth, after all, in the middle of the historical period under discussion, was reasserted by the Supreme Pontiff himself as an "undoubted" part of "the Church’s permanent doctrine" (Encyclical Arcanum, February 10, 1880, §5).

So even if we accept special transformism as regards the origin of Adam's body, it seems that the special creation of at least one human body (i.e. that of Eve) is not so easily disposed of (and as I pointed out earlier, the special creation of the body of our Blessed Lord is an unquestionable fact, and the parallel between that and the creation of the bodies of our first parents has been drawn consistently throughout the Church's history by her Fathers and Theologians).

Please note also that Fr Harrison, having reviewed all the magisterial teachings on the subject, remains hopeful that within Catholic orthodoxy there may yet be:

a return to a belief in the historical truth of that natural and traditional reading of Genesis which Fr. Luigi Tripepi and the Holy Office defended in the 19th century: the direct, immediate formation by God of the first man’s body from non-living, inorganic matter.

The story of the Vatican's early interactions with evolutionist theology is indeed a fascinating and illuminating one.

Mr. Green said...

Xerces: The first human beings - "Adam and Eve" - were simply situated in a different kind of space-time world altogether, the fall from which resulted in whatever messy, biological history we observe regarding the genetic ancestry of our fallen bodily makeups.

It certainly is a fascinating area of speculation — although since we don't have access to the pre-fallen world, it's pretty speculative speculation. I've always been interested in the notion that because nature itself has changed, the evidence we see now would have meant something else if the Fall had never happened.

Anonymous said...

This sophistry doesn't move me.

Let's not confuse anthropomorphic sentimentalism with rational thought.


Oh, I get it! There is no issue here, other than a personal one. The problem is with me. I'm merely being an overly sentimental, insufferable nag.

Ok.



A bearded father and his young son are walking through Eden. After a few minutes, they come across a pack of hyenas gathered around a large object. They walk a bit closer, only to discover that the hyenas are starting to yank out the intestines of an injured female gorilla. It howls, but the hyenas naturally couldn't care less. The intestines are soon dancing between their teeth like hot, crackling sausage links. They keep tugging away until the gorilla has nothing but a heap of buzzing flies for a stomach. Then, amidst the deafening howls and the chunks of bloody intestine flying through the air, the father sits the boy on his lap, gestures towards the fiasco, and says, with a look of purely paternal love in his eyes, "Behold, my child, the deep, multitudinous glories of God! Blessed be His name! Love every inch of His resplendent handiwork!" Meanwhile, the gorilla's head now hangs from its body by one flimsy crimson thread, and flies are laying eggs in its belly.



Right. No problem of evil here. No absurdity within this situation in any form. There's not even an objective problem of aesthetics viz. the aesthetic standards expected of Eden. The issue is simply one of subjective sentimentality.

Well, I find your position of almost Stoic complacency to be patently absurd, and thankfully so do the bulk of Christians and non-Christians. Good luck trying to sell this brand of Christianity to the world. If that's Eden, then it isn't worth the ticket price of admission. And even if we had a ticket, we would, like Ivan Karamazov, throw it back in God's face without a modicum of hesitation.

Matteo said...

xerces--

I don't know why your comments have been ignored by everyone else, but I think you have it exactly right. The Fall was so radical that it wrecked the entire cosmos, past and present, with Adam and Eve being at the only common pivot point between the original creation and the messed up history we see today (a true physical history that really took place in our current timeline).

All of this is covered in some profound depth in the deeply mystical (and quite mind-blowing) book Meditations on the Tarot, a book warmly endorsed by von Balthasar.

Brian said...

They have been ignored Matteo because, as I said, they are approaching this issue from a primarily logical and philosophical point of view and not a Scriptural one. It's not clear to me that these guys know about Original Justice and the New Creation.

Anonymous said...

And even if we had a ticket, we would, like Ivan Karamazov, throw it back in God's face without a modicum of hesitation.

Oh, atheists. Always so precious.

Crude said...

I guess I've been ignoring Xerxes' idea, but not for lack of interest. It just seems so far afield of the discussion here that I have no input either way. Neither in favor nor against.

As for the anon, I think "anthropomorphic sentimentalism" was largely meant in terms of attributing to animals (rational) thoughts.

That said, I'm not moved by the description or the claims. This reminds me of the commenter some months back who went absolutely freaky at the thought that people may have digestive systems when resurrected.

Anonymous said...

Oh, atheists. Always so precious.

I am and always have been a Christian, you presumptuous gerbil.

BenYachov said...

I personally reject some of Fr. Harrison thesis on creation especially Eve.

Though he is entitled to his opinion. It seems to me Tradition teaches Adam was created as a full grown man thus I reject Fr. Harrison's belief Adam would have received his Soul in the womb of his biological Dame.

Philosopher Dennis Bonnette makes some interesting insights on the creation of Eve.

http://drbonnette.com/

See his book the Origin of the Human Species for details.

BenYachov said...

Anon 9:22

Your Gnu'quckery and argument from emotion has no meaning here.

Animal "suffering" in fact has nothing to do with the problem of Evil.

Only human suffering. Live with it.

Harold O said...

Would such a situation: Fallen En-souled Humans thrust among a population of non-rational; non-willful hominids explain slavery in its multifarious aspects and pervasiveness in human culture?

Outside of say insects, like ants, I can't think of another animal that employs slavery.

George R. said...

I still don't understand your opposition in principle to evolution in the general sense of new species developing over time (simply a refined view of something Aquinas explicitly accepted).

I’ve explained my position on this many times, Mr. Green, but I don’t seem to be persuading anybody. Let’s try something different: you tell me how you think evolution is possible according to Thomistic principles, and I’ll show you how and why you’re being ridiculous.

Nor does this particular claim about man follow: it makes no more sense to me than to say, "Since the soul cannot grow and expand in size, neither can the body."

It’s basic metaphysics, Mr. Green: a thing is subject to motion and growth insofar as it is material, but it has being insofar as it is formal. Thus, the body of a thing can change. The quiddity or form of the thing, however, cannot change. It can only either be or not be.

The point is not that a (fully) human body had no (fully human) soul and then suddenly it acquired one; rather a (very) human-like animal at some point generated a human being that had its human soul from its first moment.

That, I’m afraid, is neither metaphysics, nor theology, nor history, nor science. It is science-fiction, mythology, and a baseless fable. The only reason you believe it necessary to posit it is because you feel you must subject yourself to the judgment of a bunch of atheist scientists pronouncing on a matter in which they have no competence whatsoever.

Perhaps you have other grounds for objecting to this, or to the specific application to Adam, etc., but there's no metaphysical problem with it.

Again, Mr. Green, you keep saying that it’s metaphysically possible. But if you would just try to explain how it is possible, I could easily show you that the contrary is, in fact, the case.

BenYachov said...

Pius XII says belief in Evolution is possible for Catholics. Now a Catholic does not have to believe in Evolution to be a good Catholic. Nor is a Catholic required to be a Creationist but he can be if his prudent judgment moves him to that view.

George R is a Sede who denies the Authority of Benedict XVI so his views on Catholic Orthodoxy are suspect.

OTOH that heresy aside as long as he acknowledges Evolution in principle is not against the Faith but a valid opinion then we can rationally debate the issue.

Does George R's Sede heresy extend to Pius XII?

We shall see.

DNW said...

Saint Brian the Godless said...


And christian morality is based in coercion, threats, and punishment. It's fear-based."

Sounds like the modern liberal welfare state to me. But anyway: So Christian morality is based on a theory of consequences and outcomes, negative and positive. Yours is not?



"That's not morality, it's animal training."

Suppose for a moment that that is true. You are an animal are you not? Is there some objective rule that entitles you in particular to more? Not the ideologically derived entitlement of some abstract humanity, progressing toward Bertrand Russell's Heaven on Earth, but you in particular.

One Brow said...

BenYachov said...
>That's a long time for abstract thinking to leave no mark.

No mark that survived archeology.


If they made marks for the 10,000+ years before the marks archeology has discovered, they would have been making basically identical marks for over 10,000 years, with no progress at all toward a written language.

Really, it would be more sensible to say there were multiple sets of Adams, all of whom fell, and the Bible only records the actions of one. That would at least be consistent with the evidence.

I thought you where refering to the propogation of the species. That is they died out without continuing the line of humanity to modern times.


As far as I can tell, if they existed at all, they died out quickly.

If they are our ancestors there is no reason their "bigness" has to survive as a modern trait or not.

So the mix of humans and subhumans produced giants, and there are no giants, becasue they just stopped bearing giants?

One Brow said...

Xerces said...
The Golden Age of God-intended humanity simply belonged to another kind of time, and so to another time-line altogether. We cannot hope to know precisely what went on in that time-line.

Yet, we regularly make projections of the records of this Golden Age and find them fulfilled. For example, Tiltaalik rosae was found exactly where we were looking for it. That does not comport with the past being inscrutible.

One Brow said...

TheOFloinn said...
For all humans today that is true; but only because non-rational hominids have died out. Otherwise, there is no "have to."

What evidence is there for contemporaneous rational and non-rational humans?

The evidences for a rational soul include cave art, grammar, systems of physics, speculative mathematics, and metaphysical wisdom.

In order to provide evidence for a rational soul being granted externally, you need to show some phenomenon where the existence of rational soul creates a different prediction than the non-existence of the purported rational soul. However, the acceptance of cave art, et. al., is consistent with both the existence and non-existence of the purported soul; therefore it provides no evidence for or against existence thereof.

Isamel said...

@ djindra

As USUAL you make some criticism but you fail to give a serious argument.

Yours are just unsubstantiated opinions without meaning.

Did you even fully read Feses's post or did you just brouwse through it to find something to cpmaplain about?

---

Besides (NAtural) Theology an Metaphysic are closely related... so saying 'it's theology' is not really a criticism but a 'duh' phrase

George R. said...

Nor is a Catholic required to be a Creationist…

No?

Pope Leo XIII, Arcanum, 1880:
We record what is to all known, and cannot be doubted by any [not even by that joker Ben Yachov], that God, on the sixth day of creation, having made man from the slime of the earth, and having breathed into his face the breath of life, gave him a companion, whom He miraculously took from the side of Adam when he was locked in sleep.

Firmiter Decree, Fourth Lateran Council, 1215:
God…creator of all visible and invisible things, of the spiritual and of the corporal; who by His own omnipotent power at once from the beginning of time created each creature from nothing, spiritual and corporal, namely, angelic and mundane, and finally the human, constituted as it were, alike of the spirit and the body.

Yachov, you might not be the right guy to start accusing people of heresy.

One Brow said...

Brian said...
Some have become theists, others have remained atheists but have abandoned their ways as a fundie idiot for atheism.

Don't forget those who drop the usual points of contention and focus on other, equally fatal problems with the classical view.

One Brow said...

George R. said...
I’ve explained my position on this many times, Mr. Green, but I don’t seem to be persuading anybody. Let’s try something different: you tell me how you think evolution is possible according to Thomistic principles, and I’ll show you how and why you’re being ridiculous.

Simple enough: every organism has it's own form. We we talk about the form of a human or the form of a dog, it's actually talking about a grouping of similar forms, not a specific form.

My father had red hair because that was the result fo the processes in his body, aka his form. I have brown hair from my form. Therefore, we have different forms.

Since every organism has a different form from it's parent, and our collection of forms into groups carries to physical force, evoution is possible by the gradual deviations of forms over time.

Josh said...

One Brow,

However, the acceptance of cave art, et. al., is consistent with both the existence and non-existence of the purported soul; therefore it provides no evidence for or against existence thereof.

That's really just gainsaying his conclusion. The cave art is the evidence for a rational soul. A non-rational soul could not produce it. Ch. 1 from Chesterton's Everlasting Man and all that.

TheOFloinn said...

[heart-rending anthropomorphic tale of hyenas improbably attacking a live gorilla] Good luck trying to sell this brand of Christianity to the world. If that's Eden, then it isn't worth the ticket price of admission.

No one compels you to come. But you will notice that it is only the man who might be disturbed by the workings of nature. The hyenas, as you say, don't care. And neither do the other gorillas, who do not form a vigilante band and go forth to avenge their dead brother.

Some philosophies deal with nature as it is; others make up fables. Americans, and Westermen in general, being do far divorced from nature, tend to view her through the eyes of Disney cartoons.

http://www.videosurf.com/video/kruger-lions-kill-hippo-not-for-sensitive-viewers-64383527

In the video you will note the behavior of the two hippos.

BenYachov said...

@One Brow

& after a promising start we are back to hopelessness.

>If they made marks for the 10,000+ years before the marks archeology has discovered, they would have been making basically identical marks for over 10,000 years, with no progress at all toward a written language.

What is your argument One Brow? That humans before 10,000 years ago didn't have reason, will, language & a written language? Based on what? An absence of evidence? Plus what does this have to do with the senario of God giving souls to hominids? If you believe Rational Cognition is purely a natural phenomena sans God your statements make no sense.

>Really, it would be more sensible to say there were multiple sets of Adams, all of whom fell, and the Bible only records the actions of one. That would at least be consistent with the evidence.

How does this logically follow? One rational Adam or many contemporary ones either created by God or purely natural processes the ancient pre-history looks the same.

>As far as I can tell, if they existed at all, they died out quickly.

We really haven't established what constitutes a giant. A 5 1/2 foot tall man is a giant to a 3 foot pygmey. This statement is ambigious to the point of meaninglessness.

Are you going back too you old tricks One Brow?

>So the mix of humans and subhumans produced giants, and there are no giants, becasue they just stopped bearing giants?

We haven't established what contitutes a "giant"? Indeed One Brow I have no idea at this point what you are talking about.

What is your point? Speak plain English.

BenYachov said...

George R,

I've answered your misquotes of the Pope before so I won't repeat myself but I will say this if they really do mean what you claim they mean then Pius XII is the one you are arguing with.

Like he didn't know about these texts and their true meaning?

Does Pius XII contradict Leo XIII on these matters?

Seriously?

TheOFloinn said...

tell me how you think evolution is possible according to Thomistic principles

Thomas:
Species, also, that are new, if any such appear, existed beforehand in various active powers; so that animals, and perhaps even new species of animals, are produced by putrefaction by the power which the stars and elements received at the beginning.
-- Summa theologica, I.73.1.resp 3.

The powers of the stars and elements are the natural powers possessed by created being. You could even, if you squint, read "putrefaction" as "mutation," since both are a kind of corruption of corruptible matter.

Elsewhere, he gauges the increase of species (over time as well as over the world) as a positive good, being a participation of finite being in the infinity of God.

One Brow said...

Josh said...
That's really just gainsaying his conclusion. The cave art is the evidence for a rational soul.

In the post, I specifically referred to the externally applied rational soul. I'm not sure if you caught that or not. So, I'm not sure exactly how or if we disagree.

A materialist can still refer to the processes of the brain as a mind or a soul, but it's not an externally applied soul.

TheOFloinn said...

So the mix of humans and subhumans produced giants, and there are no giants, becasue they just stopped bearing giants?

'Giant' does not mean 'tall.' The Greek word gigas was used in Septuagint to refer to men of great size and strength, hence the expanded use in modern languages. Andre the Giant was not especially tall, but was extremely large and robust. The term was applied to very tall men only in the 1550s.

Makes you wonder how early humans viewed Neanderthals, doesn't it?

One Brow said...

TheOFloinn said...
And neither do the other gorillas, who do not form a vigilante band and go forth to avenge their dead brother.

Since you put those cluases in the same sentence, you seem to think one has a bearing on the other. Why would a lack of vigilante bands show a lack of caring, or vice-versa?

BenYachov said...

>What evidence is there for contemporaneous rational and non-rational humans?

None this is all speculation based on the presupposition that both Evolution and Catholic Doctrine are True.

Do you have any evidence rational and non-rational humans where not contemporaries?

How far back does "rationality" (One Brow's version) go based on existing archeological evidence?

BenYachov said...

>A materialist can still refer to the processes of the brain as a mind or a soul, but it's not an externally applied soul.

Of course now you take the time to mention and explain this.

What other bullshit are you going to lay on us from left field?

BenYachov said...

What is "externally applied soul" and what does this out of left field nonsense have to do with anything?

Is it like conflating Color as an expansive property vs Light Absorption Properties in Green Glass?

One Brow stop being a dick. For once. Please?

Josh said...

One Brow,

In the post, I specifically referred to the externally applied rational soul. I'm not sure if you caught that or not. So, I'm not sure exactly how or if we disagree.

A materialist can still refer to the processes of the brain as a mind or a soul, but it's not an externally applied soul.


In that case, the evidence would come when reflecting on the nature of such a being and realizing that the "soul" must be "externally applied" because it has immaterial powers, which cannot arise from material processes.

TheOFloinn said...

OneBrow
you need to show some phenomenon where the existence of rational soul creates a different prediction than the non-existence of the purported rational soul.

The rational soul provides the capacity for abstract thought. Abstract thought is evidenced by such things as art, grammar, systems of physics, speculative mathematics, and metaphysical wisdom, as aforesaid.

A non-rational soul would not provide such a capacity and there would be no art, grammar, systems of physics, speculative mathematics, or metaphysical wisdom.

There are two sorts of non-rational souls:
a) Vegetative, typical of plants, fungi, etc. No one suspects petunias of metaphysical wisdom, AFAIK.
b) Sensitive, typical of animals. This includes memory and imagination, often together called imagination. Because of this many higher animals are capable of clever problem solving and can be trained to associate sounds or signs with physical objects or motions. But as of yet we have not found the Tolstoy of the gorillas, the Cezanne of the giraffes, or the Newton of the dung beetles.
+ + +
the acceptance of cave art, et. al., is consistent with both the existence and non-existence of the purported soul

Given that the soul is what makes a being alive -- the Latin word is anima, as in "animate," and the Greek word is ενεργια, as in "energized." Absent a soul, the petunias, the pigs, and the people would not be alive at all, let alone capable/incapable of abstract thought.

Tursunov said...

Anon's gorilla/hyena story was amazing. It's been a while since I've laughed like that. Especially at the "crimson thread" bit.

One Brow said...

BenYachov said...
What is your argument One Brow? That humans before 10,000 years ago didn't have reason, will, language & a written language?

I'm sure they had reason, will, and language to a larger degree than chimpanzees, but probably to a lesser degree than us. There is no reason to think they had a written language.

However, 10000+ is the amount of time passing between when any Adma could have existed, and when written language began. At the very least, humans split into distinct groups (separated by oceans) some 18,000+ years ago, but wrtieen language is some 8,000 years old.

Based on what? An absence of evidence?

Existing evidence of the state of written languages some 8,000 years ago and its developmenjt sence then.

Plus what does this have to do with the senario of God giving souls to hominids?

As the tale has been told in this thread, the rational soul came with abstract reasoning, practically overnight, making a significant change. There is no evidence for this change for some 10,000+ years after the change had to have occured.

If you believe Rational Cognition is purely a natural phenomena sans God your statements make no sense.

I have been discussing the ramifications of your position.

How does this logically follow? One rational Adam or many contemporary ones either created by God or purely natural processes the ancient pre-history looks the same.

If you tie writing, etc. to the existence of the rational (exteranlly applied) soul, and writing begins independently in different locations, then the application of the externally applied rational soul becomes associated with multiple locatons.

We really haven't established what constitutes a giant. A 5 1/2 foot tall man is a giant to a 3 foot pygmey. This statement is ambigious to the point of meaninglessness.

So, the original humans were actually small compared to us, as descendants of human-subhuman hybrids, we are the Nephilum?

What is your point?

Trying to find out if you actually have an opinion on this. Following trains of thoughts to their conclusions. The usual.

One Brow said...

Josh said...
In that case, the evidence would come when reflecting on the nature of such a being and realizing that the "soul" must be "externally applied" because it has immaterial powers, which cannot arise from material processes.

What immaterial powers? It's one thing to say it can think about abstractions to the point where the abstractions no longer require a material basis, quite another to claim immaterial powers.

One Brow said...

TheOFloinn said...
Makes you wonder how early humans viewed Neanderthals, doesn't it?

A strong possibility, and much more likely than some notion of angels inhabiting non-human bodies.

BenYachov said...

>If far enough back that they would be ancestors of people on both hemispheres, abstract thinking precedes written numbers by 10,000+ years. That's a long time for abstract thinking to leave no mark.

About 40,000 years ago counting consisted of notches in bone. Formal written language came in the 6th millennium.

So human beings didn't think abstractly for 32,000 years?

Even if I deny God that seems a stretch.

Anonymous said...

>One Brow stop being a dick. For once. Please?


wow. talk about an extreme lack of self-awareness.

One Brow said...

BenYachov said...
Do you have any evidence rational and non-rational humans where not contemporaries?

I am not sure there can be a proof of this sort.

However, if there were rational and non-rational human contemporaries, where the humans had developed a written language, I would expect to see indications of that in the wrtitings of such humans.

How far back does "rationality" (One Brow's version) go based on existing archeological evidence?

Why do yo want to discuss my version in this thread? That will only confuse the issue.

Of course now you take the time to mention and explain this.

This was the first time people were discussing art, etc. as proof of the existence of said rational soul. I had no reason to bring it up earlier.

What is "externally applied soul"

Whatever Adam received that distinguished him from his contemporaries.

One Brow said...

TheOFloinn,

Summarizing your position is not the same as providing evidence of it.

Given that the soul is what makes a being alive

However, you propose a soul that does more than simply make something be alive. You propose an additional, added-in feature that grants rational capability. To provide evidence such a feature exists, you need to provide a different prediction than the predictions made by those who deny there is more than simply being alive at work in the minds of humans, and show why your different prediction is supported and the others are not.

BenYachov said...

>I am not sure there can be a proof of this sort.

Then why be a dick and ask the same question of others you know cannot be answered?

>However, if there were rational and non-rational human contemporaries, where the humans had developed a written language, I would expect to see indications of that in the wrtitings of such humans.

So are you saying humans prior to the 6th Millennium BC where non- rational?

You lost me or you are being a dick.

It could go either way.

One Brow said...

BenYachov said...
About 40,000 years ago counting consisted of notches in bone. Formal written language came in the 6th millennium.

So human beings didn't think abstractly for 32,000 years?


Those are the numbers you need to reconcile. Do tally marks in bone precede Adam, or could they be the work of the pre-Adamic population? If a fully rational person can make tally marks, why would they not make marks for other types of abstractions they have?

Even if I deny God that seems a stretch.

I agree. But what's thje resolution?

DNW said...

Whatever the larger issue, BenY has a point when he says:

"We really haven't established what constitutes a giant. A 5 1/2 foot tall man is a giant to a 3 foot pygmey. This statement is ambigious to the point of meaninglessness."

From a recent article, "Ancient bone from tall man found in Japan" http://www.stonepages.com/news/archives/004493.html

"Archaeologists have unearthed an ancient forearm bone from the Mabuni Hantabaru site in Itoman (Southern Japan), believed to be from a Jomon period male roughly 169 centimeters tall - much taller than the average for the period. The bone, measuring about 28 centimeters, is believed to date back 3,000-4,000 years. The average height of males from the same period is about 158 centimeters."


The "tall man", "much taller than the average" figures to be about five and a half feet tall.

One Brow said...

BenYachov said...
So are you saying humans prior to the 6th Millennium BC where non- rational?

I'm pointing out a difficulty with the notion of the sudden granting of rationality to a single individual, and seeing if there are interesting resolutions to be had.

BenYachov said...

>Why do yo want to discuss my version in this thread? That will only confuse the issue.

You have already done that with vengeance. If you are too much of a coward to share your view so it can be compared to our view then I see no reason why anyone should interact with you.

I am happy to compare my Catholic views with another Christian Tradition but not with a non-denomination putz with no objective set of beliefs for comparison.

In my experience he gets to criticise put me on the defensive while exempting himself.


It's unfair.

BenYachov said...

>I'm pointing out a difficulty with the notion of the sudden granting of rationality to a single individual, and seeing if there are interesting resolutions to be had.

That is a non-answer.

Yes or no are you saying humans prior to the 6th Millennium BC where non- rational?

Stop being a dick.

BenYachov said...

>Those are the numbers you need to reconcile.

Then there are no rational humans prior to 6000 years before the birth of Christ?

Are you now a Young Earth Creation now? I thought you where an Atheist?

Anonymous said...

BenYachov, seriously, knock it off with the crude language. You're bringing shame to Catholic Christianity.

BenYachov said...

Anon,

No.

TheOFloinn said...

As the tale has been told in this thread, the rational soul came with abstract reasoning, practically overnight, making a significant change.

Actually, no. The abstract reasoning came with the rational soul. Get your causal arrows pointing in the right direction.

There is no evidence for this change for some 10,000+ years after the change had to have occured.

But how do you know when the change "had to have occurred"? It only had to have had occurred some time prior to the first evidences.

No rule says that evidences must survive at all. What we have are haphazard survivors of what Francis Bacon called "the shipwrecks of time." The cave art at Lascaux is probably not the first art (and there are ambiguous evidences from much much earlier in SW Africa.) Grammar, songs and folk tales leave no fossils. We can only say what era when we do start finding evidences.

TheOFloinn said...

It's one thing to say it can think about abstractions to the point where the abstractions no longer require a material basis,

You really do need to read the original post.

Anonymous said...

Then you willfully bring shame to Christianity. And you're no better than One Brow. In fact, you're worse, being a loud-mouthed, trigger-happy hypocrite. Your internet mannerisms are truly sickening.

Have a nice day.

TheOFloinn said...

You propose an additional, added-in feature that grants rational capability.

Fairly obvious, isn't it? Consider the powers of each:
a) Inanimate form: gravity, electromagnetism, nuclear, radiative forces.
Animate forms [souls]
b) Vegetative soul: the above, plus reproduction, metabolism, homeostasis, morphogenesis.
c) Sensitive soul: the above, plus sensation, imagination, emotion, motion.
d) Rational soul: the above, plus intellect, volition.

the predictions made by those who deny there is more than simply being alive at work in the minds of humans

Consult the Einstein of the lichen, if you think that being merely alive is sufficient.

I grow perilously close to being convinced by you that there are humans not capable of rational thought.

BenYachov said...

TOF

You deal with One Brow.

I have no patience for his sophistry.

Happy hunting guy.

Anon,

Have a nice day.

Josh said...

One Brow,

What immaterial powers? It's one thing to say it can think about abstractions to the point where the abstractions no longer require a material basis, quite another to claim immaterial powers.

Intellect and will. And these don't admit of degrees; there is no "point" of abstraction where the particular transcends the particular and becomes the universal; we must posit an immaterial power to be able to "see" the universal. It's all in the blog post here. Do you guys just stampede to the comboxes?

TheOFloinn said...

I'm pointing out a difficulty with the notion of the sudden granting of rationality to a single individual

Think it through. What is the survival rate of antiquities? There are whole epoch of Egyptian history where we have nothing, or perhaps a handful of items. Other epochs both earlier and later are abundant with antiquities. Of all the X that ever were at time t, how many do we physically have?

OK, with me so far?

Now suppose there were one man producing Xs. How many of them would survive?

Now suppose there were 10,000 men producing Xs. How many of them would survive?

So if the rational soul were inspired in one man to begin with and spread gradually through succeeding generations, as if it actually were a dominant gene, say; what we would expect among the shipwrecks of time would be few to no antiquities in the period immediately after, when metaphysical man was few, then more and more as epochs passed.

Assuming the population of metaphysical men grew as a logistic curve, there would be a 'take off' point when the numbers would rise sharply from relatively few to relatively many. Their artifacts would likewise rise from rare/nonexistent to more plentiful, like a step-change.

I wish you knew mathematics. It's pretty clear from that perspective.

One Brow said...

BenYachov said...
>Why do yo want to discuss my version in this thread? That will only confuse the issue.

You have already done that with vengeance.


Not in this thread.

If you are too much of a coward to share your view

Taunting. Good form, sir.

so it can be compared to our view

If your view came out superior to my view, would that make the problems with your view go away?

It's unfair.

I'm discussing Feser's positions on Feser's blogs.

That is a non-answer.

It's an answer to the questions "Are you saying..." with added information about what I *was* saying, so you would need to ask me if I was saying fifteen different things before hitting upon the correct idea.

Yes or no are you saying humans prior to the 6th Millennium BC where non- rational?

I am not saying that.

Then there are no rational humans prior to 6000 years before the birth of Christ?

Again, the lack of evidence for rational humans, compared to the timeline required, is for you to reconcile, not I.

One Brow said...

TheOFloinn said...
Get your causal arrows pointing in the right direction.

I usually intend "came with" to mean correlation, not causation. In fact, using it otherwise would invoke a fallacy. So, my causal arrows in my understanding of this argument align with yours.

But how do you know when the change "had to have occurred"? It only had to have had occurred some time prior to the first evidences.

The change has to be early enough for Adam to be the ancestor of all humans, which would include native Americans. That put's it a little over 18,000 years in the past.

No rule says that evidences must survive at all.

However, when evidence of exactly one sort survives, and evidence of another sort (which would have been recorded in the same medium) is absent, we have not juust a case of abasence of evidence, but one of absence of evidence in a scenario where evidence could be reasonably expected. We have tally marks on bone that are 40,000 years old, but written language only 8,000 years. That's a big discrepancy for a fully rational group fo people.

You really do need to read the original post.

I did. If all Jash meant were the ability to reason on concepts not needing a material basis, then "powers" is a poor word choice.

Josh said...

I did. If all Jash meant were the ability to reason on concepts not needing a material basis, then "powers" is a poor word choice.

Why? Power --"A specific capacity, faculty, or aptitude." No. 2 on Webster.

One Brow said...

TheOFloinn said...
ONe Brow: ... the predictions made by those who deny there is more than simply being alive at work in the minds of humans ...

Consult the Einstein of the lichen, if you think that being merely alive is sufficient.


Once lichens acquire the minds of humans, I just may do that.

I grow perilously close to being convinced by you that there are humans not capable of rational thought.

I just wish there were more who would converse as if basic prepositional phrases were important to understanding a sentence.

One Brow said...

Josh said...

First, I apologize for mistying your handle earlier. I am usually more careful with handles than other parts of my post, and will endeavor to ensure I do not repeat that error.

Intellect and will.

Are you saying these powers are solely immaterial, or that they have an unremovable immaterial component?

Going back to the first exchange, if we are seeking evidence for this externally applied soul (or soup-part, perhaps), then you need to provide some prediciton for the immaterial notion of "intellect" and "will" that is not predicted by the materialist version of "intellect" and "will". Simply declaring that "intellect" and "will" are not material is not evidence.

And these don't admit of degrees;

By declaration? No person has more "intellect" or more "will" than any other person?

there is no "point" of abstraction where the particular transcends the particular and becomes the universal; we must posit an immaterial power to be able to "see" the universal.

Do we really ever know the universal? Are there universals that are not based on inductive or deductive processes?

It's all in the blog post here.

That I read a blog post does not mean that it answers specific questions in a satisfactory way.

One Brow said...

Josh said...
Why? Power --"A specific capacity, faculty, or aptitude." No. 2 on Webster.

I believe I understand what you meant, now.

One Brow said...

Think it through. What is the survival rate of antiquities?

This is a valid consideration. While I am not quoting the whle response, it is a good point to examine. If we have, for example, only 2 or 10 exmaples of tally marks and similar construct over the 32000 years prior to writing, then it is indeed possible that the writing was not preserved by chance.

Against that, you have to look at finding like Boredr Cave, where there where some 65,000 artifacts, including a tally stick, but none of them with writing.

Of course, it's possible to say that pre-Adamic humans could use tally sticks. That narrows the gap of time considerably, but also narrows the gap between them and Adam considerably.

Assuming the population of metaphysical men grew as a logistic curve,

That model would be based on the independence of the Adamic humans in the selection of mates (allowing for logistic increase in the general population), or the complete superiority of Adamic humans over non-Adamic humans to the point where non-Adamic humans basically offered no competition at all (allowing for logistic increase in the use of environmental resources). Eirther of those is a very significant assumption.

there would be a 'take off' point when the numbers would rise sharply from relatively few to relatively many.

AS opposed to the gradual increase in frequency seen for artifacts with numbers, followed by a quicker increase for artifacts with writing some 32000 years later.

I wish you knew mathematics.

I hope your mouth is large enough to contain that foot.

Josh said...

One Brow,

Don't worry about misspelling, etc. Doesn't bother me.

Simply declaring that "intellect" and "will" are not material is not evidence.

I agree, so the evidence or "prediction" one needs to warrant the conclusion is found in exploring the meaning of common names and universal ideas, as discussed in the blog post (triangles, etc.). It is the realist's conviction that a materialist cannot adequately explain the existence and signification of universals, and therefore the immaterial intellect is necessary.

By "degrees" I should have been more clear. I just meant that it is not a matter of brain complexity (degree) to cause the existence of the intellect, because, as has been stated, it is immaterial in nature, which means its cause is "external" as you put it.

Do we really ever know the universal? Are there universals that are not based on inductive or deductive processes?

When you say "we" in that sentence, what are you referring to? That should answer the first question...

As to the second, concepts or universals are not propositions; propositions are formed from concepts and universals. So I'm not sure exactly what you are asking?

DNW said...

"But how do you know when the change "had to have occurred"? It only had to have had occurred some time prior to the first evidences.

No rule says that evidences must survive at all. What we have are haphazard survivors of what Francis Bacon called "the shipwrecks of time." The cave art at Lascaux is probably not the first art (and there are ambiguous evidences from much much earlier in SW Africa.) Grammar, songs and folk tales leave no fossils. We can only say what era when we do start finding evidences. "


Indeed, and line with which, as we all know via conventional wisdom regarding social evolution, "first came the city then the temple".

After all, all the surviving evidence points to it, and since we have all the important evidence ... the conclusion is clear.

Or maybe not.


http://www.archaeology.org/0811/abstracts/turkey.html


http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/gobekli-tepe.html

BenYachov said...

18,000 years ago?

Most Old Earth Creationists and Theistic Evolutionists who believe in Adam put Him at 50,000 to 130,000 years or more.

(ie. Bonnette, Ross)


18,000 BC is a YEC date as far as I'm concerned.

Chuck said...

Couldn't the hypothesis that metaphysical humanity with an n=2 be falsified via distributed archeological evidence combined with genomic data? If art-work and tools offer a geographic distribution which confers equal time-lag genesis then that would mean parallel rational and volitional human forms that, by definition, would be human beings. And if this evidence happened with equal probability at the same time in different places then the joint probability would indicate that they probably aren't the same person.

Crude said...

I'm skeptical that the 'metaphysical humanity' of there having at some point been a first couple can ever be falsified.

'True human' is extremely flexible. My understanding of Catholic doctrine - which could be flawed, so bear with me - amounts to the claim that 'true humans' originated from a single pair, but this pair could have been situated in a greater population they were interfertile with. Ed here is outlining the Thomist understanding of Original Sin and what it means to be a 'true human'. But unless I'm mistaken - and I say this being extremely sympathetic to the view - the Thomist understanding of Original Sin or even the soul/humanity is not de fide. Some other standard - not necessarily one we know - may be possible.

That said, what strikes me about the conversation here is that it sounds a lot like creationist attacks on the fossil record ('Where are all the fossil artifacts I want to see and think should be there if what you're saying is true!' vs 'The fossil record is incomplete and imperfect, you can't expect anywhere close to a perfect fossil record, we're lucky to have what we have and what we do have fits neatly with this view.' Just swap 'fossil' with 'archaeological'.)

BenYachov said...

Chuck,

The first N=2 wouldn't know how to make pottery from a hole in the head.

Someone later invents it no doubt. So I don't see how that can work.

You can't disprove Adam. Maybe God but not Adam.

BenYachov said...

Good points Crude. Creationists can't falsify Evolution because of an imperfect Fossil record.

Neither can we falsify Adam with incomplete archeology.

Thought I don't think Adam and Eve have to be infertile with the unsouled Hominid Population.

Crude said...

Ben,

Interfertile, not infertile. "Capable of interbreeding."

BenYachov said...

Correction recieved.

BenYachov said...

The point of this post is John Farrell citing Jerry the Gnu Coyne is claiming biological polygenism undermines Original Sin and a theological monogenism Adam.

Clearly that is not the case.

Crude said...

I agree.

Why not say "Hey, Jerry Coyne says *God's existence is incompatible with science." I mean, that's rather the bigger claim, isn't it? And Jerry Coyne's a scientist, so apparently you can conclude this isn't a load of crap.

(* Save for a Deist God. Why no one has ever jumped on Coyne for this, I do not know. Theists gloss over it without pondering the problem of accepting a Deist God's compatibility with science versus a Theistic God's. Atheists gloss over it because... well, that's more complicated.)

TheOFloinn said...

That model would be based on the independence of the Adamic humans in the selection of mates (allowing for logistic increase in the general population)

No, because it also applies to the spread of communicable diseases within a static population, to the spread of genes through a population, to the spread of ideas like compulsory schooling and postage stamps throughout a population (of states or countries) where the behavior is communicated by one-on-one contact.

(Where the disease or behavior is acquired by contact with a central source, like polluted water or the New York Times, dissemination follows a decaying exponential curve.)

The frequency of artifacts is not proportional to the population. How many Eiffel Towers are there? Why didn't the Stonehenge people build pyramids? In order to leave a detectable number of surviving artifacts, the population would have to be above a certain level. Below that, the detritus would be none or so few as to be as yet undiscovered (or unrecognized). But the rapid increase of the logistic curve would move the population swiftly to a level where the amount of artifacts would be quite high.

It is still unclear why you think written language would be an immediate consequence of intellect and will.

BenYachov said...

>It is still unclear why you think written language would be an immediate consequence of intellect and will.

Good luck getting One Brow too answer that one. I still don't know if people prior to the 6th millennium BC where Rational or not.

I also don't see how a gap in archeology has any implications to the topic at hand.

Or how being given a Rational Soul equates being given technical knowledge.

He reads, writes built his own Xbox 36o etc...

GentleSkeptic said...

Ben Yachov is an effing TOOL.

Now watch him leave a string of, like, five insulting posts.

BenYachov said...

Actually I am a bastard.

GentleSkeptic said...

I stand corrected.

Edward Feser said...

Guys,

Enough already.

Daniel Smith said...

Thomas:
"Species, also, that are new, if any such appear, existed beforehand in various active powers; so that animals, and perhaps even new species of animals, are produced by putrefaction by the power which the stars and elements received at the beginning."
-- Summa theologica, I.73.1.resp 3.

I feel that Aquinas' arguments were weakest when he tried to fit them into a box - like here where he mistakenly believes the science of the day which held that life could be spontaneously generated, ("maggots from meat".)

I'm struck by the similarity of this discussion where - once again - theology is being modified to fit the science of the day.

My $.02

One Brow said...

Josh said...
I agree, so the evidence or "prediction" one needs to warrant the conclusion is found in exploring the meaning of common names and universal ideas, as discussed in the blog post (triangles, etc.).

You can derive formal truths, proofs, and similar types of knowledge by such exploration. I completely agree these explorations are important and valuable. However, they are not evidence. Ultimate, such formal processes , by their nature, reveal what has already been decided as true by the choice of the initial axioms. By contrast, evidence can lead to truths that are not the result of what we have previously assumed.

It is the realist's conviction that a materialist cannot adequately explain the existence and signification of universals, and therefore the immaterial intellect is necessary.

I acknowledge the accurateness of this statement. However, to qualify as evidence, one must first provide evidence for the reality of universals. That means doing this in a way where such reality is not implied from initial assumptions.

By "degrees" I should have been more clear. I just meant that it is not a matter of brain complexity (degree) to cause the existence of the intellect, because, as has been stated, it is immaterial in nature, which means its cause is "external" as you put it.

Clarification accepted.

When you say "we" in that sentence, what are you referring to?

Humans.

That should answer the first question...

My acknowledgement that humans exist is an answer that humans know what a universal is?

As to the second, concepts or universals are not propositions; propositions are formed from concepts and universals. So I'm not sure exactly what you are asking?

When we use something as a universal, how do we know we picked the right one? Is red a universal? Are crimson, scarlet, and the color of a robin's breast universals? If when I say "red", I picture scarlet and you picture fire-engine-red, are we still using the same universal? Is one of us wrong?

One Brow said...

BenYachov said...
Most Old Earth Creationists and Theistic Evolutionists who believe in Adam put Him at 50,000 to 130,000 years or more.

OK. So, why would a fully tribe of me, with the technology to write numbers, not develop the tehnology to wrtie words for another 24,000 years? That's a very large time gap to connect the two concepts together.

Mr. Green said...

George R.: you tell me how you think evolution is possible according to Thomistic principles, and I’ll show you how and why you’re being ridiculous.

Well, with an invitation like that...!

The quiddity or form of the thing, however, cannot change. It can only either be or not be.

Good, so far we're all in agreement.

The only reason you believe it necessary to posit it is because you feel you must subject yourself to the judgment of a bunch of atheist scientists pronouncing on a matter in which they have no competence whatsoever.

Now you're psychologizing, and worse, your psychology is wrong. I posit that it's metaphysically possible because it is — so far as I can see, and so far you have not shown how my understanding is wrong. As to whether it is physically possible, given the laws of science as we know, that is for biologists to address; and as to whether it actually happened, that is for historians (well, it's a matter of historical-science).

Here's how it is metaphysically possible: agents cause effects according to their natures; like can cause like, such as a fire igniting something, or unlike, as an electricity igniting something. Or to take biological examples, a cat can have kittens, or garbage can generate flies. A fortiori, an almost-fly (a creature that is very like a fly, but having a different form) can generate a fly. The OFloinn has quoted Aquinas on this, not for the first time, and Ed has addressed the issue, and I have asked you about it before, but I have yet to see how you can accept the greater evolutionary jump yet reject the smaller. (Or was Thomas in thrall to a bunch atheistic scientists?) Spontaneous generation counts as evolution as far the necessary metaphysical principle is concerned, and it has nothing to do with "fluctuating" souls or forms.

BenYachov said...

@Dr. Feser

>Guys,

>Enough already.

You got it boss.

@Daniel Smith

I have food for thought for you.

Aquinas and the other luminaries believe spontaneously generation was a natural process not a supernatural one. That is Primitive life comes into existence from inanimate matter via the processes of natural.

Now think about it. How is that different metaphysically from abiogenesis? Which is the search & study of potential natural processes that might explain the origin of life?

Granted David Oderberg in REAL ESSENTALISM argues against the origin of life having a natural explanation but historically the idea is not new.

Thus Gnu'Atheist types who boast science might one day explain the origin of life forget religious people long ago accepted primitive life could arise from purely natural processes.

So I submit Evolution is compatible with Aquinas & so is abiogenesis.

Think about it.

Cheers.

One Brow said...

TheOFloinn said...
One Brow: That model would be based on the independence of the Adamic humans in the selection of mates (allowing for logistic increase in the general population)

No, because it also applies to the spread of communicable diseases within a static population, to the spread of genes through a population, to the spread of ideas like compulsory schooling and postage stamps throughout a population (of states or countries) where the behavior is communicated by one-on-one contact.


You said "no", but then followed that with a list of models that agree with my point, from what I can tell. The spread of communicable diseases and of neutral genes are not based on the preferential selection of carriers of the disease/gene.

The spread of genes that create favorable or unfavorable phenotypes don't match a logistic curve.

As I said, your model presumes there would be no preferential selection for mates by Adamic or non-Adamic humans.

(Where the disease or behavior is acquired by contact with a central source, like polluted water or the New York Times, dissemination follows a decaying exponential curve.)

I agree that would also be a bad model. It's hard to describe a good model, though. Too many unknown variables.

The frequency of artifacts is not proportional to the population.

Agreed. Is this a response to my noting the large recorded gap between known examples of written mathematical abstraction and known examples of written language? If so, I don't see the relevance to that question.

But the rapid increase of the logistic curve would move the population swiftly to a level where the amount of artifacts would be quite high.

Again, I find the propositions necessary to support logistic growth to be questionable.

It is still unclear why you think written language would be an immediate consequence of intellect and will.

I'm unclear why you think noting the disparty between written mathematics and written language is the equivalent of saying written language would be an immediate consequence of intellect and will. Why would the two concepts, which seem so closely related, be so separated in time?

BenYachov said...

@One Brow

>OK. So, why would a fully tribe of me, with the technology to write numbers, not develop the tehnology to wrtie words for another 24,000 years? That's a very large time gap to connect the two concepts together.

You might as well ask why did Mankind develop written language only 6,000 years ago & then conclude persons who lived earlier than that where not rational. Why not 7,000 or 15,000?

If you then admit earlier men where rational thousands of years before writing then you answer you own question.

Plus as both Crude & TOF pointed out your argument is on the level of a Creationist arguing gaps in the fossil record against evolutionary transformism. In case your confused your the creationist in this analogy.

I'm sorry One Brow but if I 1) Deny God tomorrow and 2) profess Rationality has having purely a natural origin in man sans God I see no reason to believe modern men who lived 12,000 BS 40,000 BC etc where not rational.

At some point in the distant past they might not have been and only one existed either as created Adam or a hopeful monster via natural evolution.

But bottom line your argument has no negative implications via the Adam scenario spoken of here.

I am plain spoken in my languge. I just wish you where.

BenYachov said...

@One Brow

>Why would the two concepts, which seem so closely related, be so separated in time?

What does this have to do with Adam. I could deny God & it would still be a brute fact rational men based on archeology counted in 40,000 BC and wrote language around 6000BC.

So what you are asking has no implications positive or negative in regards to the possible existence of Adam.

Crude said...

You don't even need to go back that far in history to ask questions along these lines. Why did telescopes show up in this geographical region, but in another geographical region they did not?

Clearly a conspiracy was afoot.

BenYachov said...

Anatomically modern humans from the Wiki

"There is considerable debate regarding whether the earliest anatomically modern humans behaved similarly to recent or existing humans. Modern human behaviors characteristic of recent humans include fully modern language, the capacity for abstract thought and the use of symbolism to express cultural creativity. There are two opposing hypotheses regarding the origins of modern behavior. Some scholars argue that humans achieved anatomical modernity first, around 200tya, and only later did they adopt modern behaviors around 50tya. This hypothesis is based on the limited record of fossils from periods before 50tya and the abundance of human artifacts found after 50tya. Proponents of this view distinguish "anatomically modern humans" from "behaviorally modern humans".[8]

The opposing view is that humans achieved anatomical and behavioral modernity simultaneously. For example, proponents of this view argue that humans had evolved a lightly built skeleton during the transition to anatomical modernity, and this could have only occurred through increased human cooperation and the increased use of technology, traits characteristic of modern behavior."

With the above bit of information I am completely convinced One Brow's line of questioning is even more irrelevant.

BenYachov said...

Compare and contrast

One Brow,
>Why would the two concepts, which seem so closely related, be so separated in time?

>Some scholars argue that humans achieved anatomical modernity first, around 200tya, and only later did they adopt modern behaviors around 50tya.

So men become modern (language, writing, abstract thought etc) 10,000 years before numbers and 44,000 years before written language.

So you can be rational for 10,000 before learning to count and 44,000 years before learning to write.

So One Brow's argument is even more unremarkable.

StoneTop said...

That the Midocondrial Eve is not the same as the Biblical Eve, may be true. However the Midocrondrial Eve does give us a closest possible date when the Biblical Eve could exist (any closer and there would be people alive today who were not related to the Biblical Eve).

The notion that the Biblical Adam/Eve existed alongside beings that were biologically human, still not human as we see them today raises the question as to what exactly was the difference between Adam/Eve and their human but not human contemporaries.

Saying "Adam and Eve had souls, the others didn't" doesn't amount to much... unless the presence of a soul had a definable impact on Adam/Eve's behavior... otherwise you are just arguing for the existence of thetans.

StoneTop said...

So you can be rational for 10,000 before learning to count and 44,000 years before learning to write.

Why not? The lack of a number system does not mean that early man could not count, nor does the lack of a written language mean that spoken language isn't present.

Or is the presence of a number system / written language a defining feature of an ensouled human vs a human without a soul? In which case doesn't that mean that the tribes lacking a written language are not 'truly' human?

StoneTop said...

it would still be a brute fact rational men based on archeology counted in 40,000 BC and wrote language around 6000BC.

Written language didn't just pop into existence, it evolved from proto-languages that are much older.

BeingItself said...

Suppose we had two animals with human bodies. One of these animals was infused by a god with a soul, while the other was not.

How would we go about determining which one was the 'real' human being and which was not?

If Feser's theory of soul injection by a god is correct, then maybe some of us are real humans with souls, while some are not.

djindra said...

"Concepts have a universality and determinateness that no sensation or mental image can have even in principle."

Let's see...

In "Philosophy of Mind" we are to "conceive" of a man who stares at himself in the mirror only to discover he has no eyes with which to see. Then we are expected to "conceive" of hacking off the top of our skull to find we have no brain. This we can supposedly intellectually grasp.

In the "Edwards on infinite causal series" post we're expected to "conceive" of a scenario where you take a stick and put it halfway through a time gate, while the other half comes out in 3010 and pushes a stone.

In TLS we are assured that "imagining something and conceiving it in the intellect simply aren’t the same thing." Imagining something is "to form a certain mental image" but to conceive something is to form "a coherent intellectual idea of it."

But this is not only vague, it's nonsense when put to the test. The way Feser uses conceivability in the above examples and others is no better than the most fantastic imagining. Conceivability in his hands has no higher standards than imagining. The only principle at work here is the principle of a sophist who has no idea what his words mean and doesn't really care.

Perhaps that's what it takes to "intellectually grasp" the difference between a man with a soul and without, or a "universal" form called a "soul" that is also particular to each individual.

Vincent Torley said...

Hi everyone,

I'd just like to make a few quick comments on monogenism.

First, Ben Yachov is quite right to point out that talk of mitochondrial Eve is a red herring. Personally, I would place the advent of human rationality about two million years ago, with the arrival of Homo erectus/ergaster. Acheulian hand axes (which appeared at least 1.76 million years ago) require a considerable amount of planning to make. Often, too, these axes were transported over long distances, indicating that the creatures who made them were capable of thinking of the distant future and hence capable of abstraction.

Second, biologists are unanimous that at no stage in human prehistory has the population of inter-breeding humans (or pre-humans) who gave rise to us ever fallen below 10,000, so pushing back the origin of humanity back into the distant past won't make the Adam and Eve problem go away.

Third, the suggestion that two rationally ensouled hominids wandered off from the other 9,998 and set up their own little race of rational human beings is ruled out by science, barring a miracle by God. If that were the case, then there'd be genetic evidence of a bottleneck of two people, since these two wouldn't have inter-bred with the other 9,998. But the genetic evidence indicates otherwise.

Fourth, I do think it is odd that God would allow human beings with rational souls to inter-breed with humanlike creatures lacking rational souls. That is bestiality, because a creature lacking a rational soul is a beast. Accordingly, I would have expected God to have made rationally ensouled hominids visibly distinct from other hominids, to prevent pairing up with a sub-rational hominid occurring by mistake. Perhaps a mark on the body, on an absence of facial body hair, or visible "whites of the eyes" (we don't know when these appeared, but chimps and gorillas don't have them) - something like that.

Fifth, I would argue that the miracle required to create sufficient genetic diversity in the genomes of Adam and Eve as to duplicate the genetic diversity of a group of 10,000 people would have been a very messy one. So we have a real theological problem here, and it's not going to go away. The three theological problems with the miracle required are that it seems very ad hoc (why duplicate the genetic diversity of 10,000 people, instead of 1,000, 100 or 10? and why do it twice - once for Adam and once for Noah?), that it sounds "Philip Gossean" (God made genes in Adam and Eve that appeared to come from a group of 10,000 people, but He nevertheless wants us to believe it was only two), and that it seems that the details of the miracle can't be specified in a few simple words (exactly what new genes did God make in Adam and Eve?) Compare this with the virginal conception. It's not ad hoc: the advent of God incarnate had to be due to the will of God. It's not "Philip Gossean": the DNA of Our Lord would not give an impression of having come from two parents, as it would be much like Our Lady's with the exception of the Y-chromosome and the genetic switches. Finally, the specifics of the miracle can be described in relatively few words: make a Y-chromosome by stripping down an X, and switch on the genes in the embryo that normally need to be switched on by the sperm cell from the male parent.

In short: a lot of scientific and theological work has to be done here, to make Adam and Eve plausible to 21st-century Christians. We know it's part of revelation, but we'll need top-notch Catholic scientists to convince people that it actually happened.

BenYachov said...

@Stone Top

>That the Midocondrial Eve is not the same as the Biblical Eve, may be true. However the Midocrondrial Eve does give us a closest possible date when the Biblical Eve could exist (any closer and there would be people alive today who were not related to the Biblical Eve).

Only if you define "related" as inheriting genetic material. I see no reason to define it in that manner. Indeed many of Mid-Eve's contemporaries are also universal common ancestors in that any human alive can trace a great great....great grandparent linage back to one of them but none of their genetic material are transmitted.

>The notion that the Biblical Adam/Eve existed alongside beings that were biologically human, still not human as we see them today raises the question as to what exactly was the difference between Adam/Eve and their human but not human contemporaries.

I agree.

>Saying "Adam and Eve had souls, the others didn't" doesn't amount to much... unless the presence of a soul had a definable impact on Adam/Eve's behavior... otherwise you are just arguing for the existence of thetans.

I agree a little here with qualifications. The Soul like God is known via philosophical argument not empiricism alone. What is the nature of our rational nature? That is the question since we Catholics identify the rational nature with the soul.

>Why not? The lack of a number system does not mean that early man could not count, nor does the lack of a written language mean that spoken language isn't present.

Here we also agree.

>Or is the presence of a number system / written language a defining feature of an ensouled human vs a human without a soul? In which case doesn't that mean that the tribes lacking a written language are not 'truly' human?

This is another good point.

Not bad. In spite of some views of Tops which I think are too Gnu we have some agreement here.

Tops doesn't believe in God or Adam but I am gratified at least here he sees a weak argument.

Cheers.

Josh said...

One Brow,

However, to qualify as evidence, one must first provide evidence for the reality of universals. That means doing this in a way where such reality is not implied from initial assumptions.

If you mean I can't use the principle of contradiction, because it is an initial assumption, that belongs to a closed formal system, that "evidence" may lead us to overturn, well, I think we'll have to simply disagree there.

No one is begging the question here. Empirical fact: we seem to use common terms meaningfully. Philosophical question: what do these words refer to? Several reductio ad absurdums later, one rejects 2 of the three perennial answers to that question: conceptualism and nominalism. Of the third, realism, one is generally either a Platonic or Aristotelian realist. Arguments ensue....all based on evidence and philosophy that anyone can use, including the evidence and philosophy that you resort to to argue in the combox.

My acknowledgement that humans exist is an answer that humans know what a universal is?

Yes. 'Humans' in that sentence is a meaningful word, that signifies a common name, or universal. That you and I can talk about it as the same object of thought implies knowledge of one and the same universal.

If when I say "red", I picture scarlet and you picture fire-engine-red, are we still using the same universal? Is one of us wrong?

Our concepts can be confused, but not wrong. They are only "wrong" when combined with a predicate in a judgment that is in error. But what's wrong with your example is that concepts aren't mental images.

For instance, in one of the suburbs here in Texas, the fire trucks are white. Suppose it was the only fire truck I had ever seen. Then I'm led to the judgment, "All fire trucks are white," which is erroneous, because it mistakes an accident (color) for an essential quality. I have a confused concept of fire truck. The more one strips away particular aspects of something, the better formed the concept.

Harold O said...

Perhaps this article would be of interest to this conversation:

http://www.theatlanticwire.com/technology/2011/09/it-wasnt-just-neanderthals-ancient-humans-had-sex-other-hominids/42117/

Ismael said...

If when I say "red", I picture scarlet and you picture fire-engine-red, are we still using the same universal? Is one of us wrong?


it is the same universal if you are both thinking of 'redness', only the MENTAL IMAGE is different.

It's like saying triangle and one pictures an equilateral triangle and another one pictures an isosceles triangle...
they are both thinking of the universal of 'triangularity' but the mental image is different.


Also the mental image for a polygon with 10.000 sides is equal to the mental image to a polygon with 11.000 sides and equal to a circle, since our mind cannot picture adequately the differences of these geometrical objects...

...YET your mind does understand the difference between 10.000 sides and 11.000 and a circle... and understands that both triangles posses 'triangularity' and that both scarlet and fire-engine red are both hues of 'redness'....

it's not that if I say red you will picture emerald green...

So there is a difference between a 'universal', which is, indeed universal, and a particular object which possesses the universal's qualities, but not it is not the universal itself.


We can UNDERSTAND universals, but we can only picture particular objects in our mind.

Mathematics and geometry are a particular proof of this. Its axioms are often very abstract, yet they can be understood and at the same time we can only picture particular examples of it in our mind.

StoneTop said...

Only if you define "related" as inheriting genetic material. I see no reason to define it in that manner. Indeed many of Mid-Eve's contemporaries are also universal common ancestors in that any human alive can trace a great great....great grandparent linage back to one of them but none of their genetic material are transmitted.

related through Mid-Eve, as she is the common ancestor. Though you are missing my point... Mid-Eve represents the closest to "now" that the Bib-Eve could exist (with Bib-Eve being one of Mid-Eve's ancestors), otherwise there would be people running around today who were not descended from her. If Bib-Eve was one of Mid-Eve's contemporaries then Bib-Eve would not be the mother of mankind, but the aunt/cousin of mankind.

What is the nature of our rational nature? That is the question since we Catholics identify the rational nature with the soul.

So the non-ensouled humans would not have been rational? How exactly would you tell a non-rational from a rational?

BenYachov said...

>If Bib-Eve was one of Mid-Eve's contemporaries then Bib-Eve would not be the mother of mankind, but the aunt/cousin of mankind.

I think you are missing my point.

First, you don't explain why Eve has to be the closest "now" to us. She could be way early or way late.

Second you do realize you have great great great.....great grandparents in your family tree from whom you receive no genetic material whatsoever?

Guess what? They are still your great great great....great grandparents.

That's my point. Any of Mid Eve's contemporaries could be our universal common ancestor & nobody alive today receives a single chromosome from them.

We could not trace our descent back to them genetically but if hypothetically we had a sufficiently long genealogy record we could do it historically.

>So the non-ensouled humans would not have been rational? How exactly would you tell a non-rational from a rational?

I will leave the psychology to other or when I have the time seek out some articles by either Stove or Bonnette or Adler on the gulf between Animals and humans.

BenYachov said...

BTW to clarify a bunch of mentally disturbed humans do not constitute humans who are not rational.

Just like a bunch of humans that have their left legs amputated doesn't constitute a species of humans that are monopeds instead of bipeds.

We must get out catagories straight.

Cheers.

djindra said...

Ismael,

"YET your mind does understand the difference between 10.000 sides and 11.000 and a circle..."

This looks like it says something but really does not. I know I cannot imagine a 10,000 sided figure in all its details. But I can't imagine my wife in all her glorious details either. I can conceive that those details are there because I've seen them in the flesh. I can conceive many-sided figures exist because I assume they can be made or drawn. My conceiving is merely my assumption that these things exist, or theoretically could. IOW, I assume my conclusion. So when Feser claims there is a difference between conceiving and imagining, he's really doing nothing more than assuming his conclusion. This distinction between conceiving and imagining is no more than a hidden form of begging the question.

One Brow said...

BenYachov said...
You might as well ask ...

Regardless of what you think I might as well ask, I did not ask that, and have no intention of asking it nor discussing it. I don't see the connection to my question, nor any reason to think the question you suggested is relevant. I see no reason to go down that rabbit hole with you, and will ignore any further reference of yours to it.

Plus as both Crude & TOF pointed out your argument is on the level of a Creationist arguing gaps in the fossil record against evolutionary transformism.

Well, except for the gaps the Creationists refer to get smaller every decade, while the gap to which I refer only seems to broaden as additional discoveries are made.

>Why would the two concepts, which seem so closely related, be so separated in time?

What does this have to do with Adam.


Adam is a being suddenly transformed from having no rational capablity to a fully formed intellect and will, according to the tale. I'm trying to see how you fit the tale into this particular piece of historical evidence. So far, the only on-point response seems to be "random evidence presevation", which becomes increasingly untenable as the number of discoveries increases.

One Brow said...

Crude said...
You don't even need to go back that far in history to ask questions along these lines. Why did telescopes show up in this geographical region, but in another geographical region they did not?

Are you saying my questions about the same culture using the same technology for the same basic ideas, but 24,000 years apart, is similar to the the notion of contemporaneous, distinct cultures advancing at different rates technologically? I have trouble seeing that comparison as valid.

One Brow said...

Josh said...
If you mean I can't use the principle of contradiction, because it is an initial assumption, that belongs to a closed formal system, that "evidence" may lead us to overturn, well, I think we'll have to simply disagree there.

The principle of contradiciton, in and of itself, is not sufficient to prove the reality of universals. I was referring to other sorts fo axioms.

No one is begging the question here. Empirical fact: we seem to use common terms meaningfully. Philosophical question: what do these words refer to? Several reductio ad absurdums later, one rejects 2 of the three perennial answers to that question: conceptualism and nominalism.

Having read Feser's TLS, I could find no good reason to reject the version of conceptualism he presented, and the rejection of the version of nominalism he presented was reasonable, but certainly not logically required. I detailed that a little more in part 3 of my review. If you have other demonstrations of the inadequacy of conceptualism/nominalism, I will be interested in reading them.

However (and I fully acknowledge this is not relevant), you seem to think the principle of contradiciton allows for reducito ad absurdum automatically. This is not the case. I also have no problem with the use of raa in this discussion, but wanted to be clear it is a separate process.

One more point: the reality of universal is only a first step. The second step is the requirement that only an immaterial soul can see universal. In particular, that would mean claiming that, for example, chimpanzees don't see universals like red, unless I misunderstand your argument. So, perhaps some clarification on the difference between a universal "red" and what a chimpanzee sees would be in order.

One Brow: My acknowledgement that humans exist is an answer that humans know what a universal is?

Yes. 'Humans' in that sentence is a meaningful word, that signifies a common name, or universal. That you and I can talk about it as the same object of thought implies knowledge of one and the same universal.


Dogs acknowledge humans exist, as a group, to the extent that many dogs treat humans in the smae fashion. Do dogs recognize universals?

For instance, in one of the suburbs here in Texas, the fire trucks are white.

Well, that puts a little too much fire-engine into what I was asking, so I'll try again. It's possible that I missed a genuine answer in your response, so I apologize if this sems repetitive.

If when I say "red", I normally think of a crimson, and you think of scarlet, how do we know which of these is the correct concept, and which of us is confused?

One Brow said...

Ismael said...
it is the same universal if you are both thinking of 'redness', only the MENTAL IMAGE is different.

It's like saying triangle and one pictures an equilateral triangle and another one pictures an isosceles triangle...
they are both thinking of the universal of 'triangularity' but the mental image is different.


YOu have reduced universal to being arbitrary classifications by this statement.

Mathematics and geometry are a particular proof of this. Its axioms are often very abstract, yet they can be understood and at the same time we can only picture particular examples of it in our mind.

The properties of mathematics are arbitraily chosen for our convenience, and we change them for our convenience. We move from integer arithmetic to binary arithmetic in the blick of an eye, once we understand them. We pull out Euclidean, Riemannian, or Lobachevskian geometries at need.

One Brow said...

StoneTop said...
If Bib-Eve was one of Mid-Eve's contemporaries then Bib-Eve would not be the mother of mankind, but the aunt/cousin of mankind.

Bib-Eve has three sons, and no daughters. Each son marries a daughter of Mid-Eve. Bib-Even is every bit as much a mother of mankind as Mid-Eve.

Daniel Smith said...

BenYachov: "Aquinas and the other luminaries believe spontaneously generation was a natural process not a supernatural one."

That is precisely my point though. Aquinas invented theological and metaphysical "powers" ("new species of animals, are produced by putrefaction by the power which the stars and elements received at the beginning") to explain something that did not need to be explained - because THE SCIENCE-OF-THE-DAY WAS WRONG!

"So I submit Evolution is compatible with Aquinas & so is abiogenesis."

The current theories of evolution and abiogenesis could in fact be just as wrong as the theory of spontaneous generation. Scientific knowledge is notoriously unreliable - being constantly overturned when new information comes in. Why seek to wed theology to it?

BenYachov said...

Daniel Smith,

I don't I merely point out that it is compatible. Oderberg may be right.

BenYachov said...

>Bib-Eve has three sons, and no daughters. Each son marries a daughter of Mid-Eve. Bib-Even is every bit as much a mother of mankind as Mid-Eve.

Tradition says she had 65 children. We don't go by the Bible Alone.

One Brow you are an Ex-Catholic you should know that.

BenYachov said...

I'll dissect the rest of One Brow's wackyness later.

That is if TOF or Crude don't beat me too it.

Josh said...

One Brow,

One more point: the reality of universal is only a first step. The second step is the requirement that only an immaterial soul can see universal. In particular, that would mean claiming that, for example, chimpanzees don't see universals like red, unless I misunderstand your argument. So, perhaps some clarification on the difference between a universal "red" and what a chimpanzee sees would be in order.

That you don't find Feser's arguments or the reductios in general convincing is fine. I don't have a problem with that. What I do have a problem with is implying that arguments for realism are grounded in unjustified assertions as opposed to deductive arguments to explain certain things about human nature and reality. And I understand that you seem to think logic, like mathematics, is simply a tool that can change its nature to fit whatever task we put it to. That's fine too, though I disagree.

Gilson said we should "distinguish in order to unite," and that seems the best course of action.

I second Ismael's distinction of concepts not being mental images; if you think it is merely an arbitrary distinction of classes, then I think you've misunderstood. Our concepts are not arbitrary because they are dictated by the natures of the universals that they are formed from; in the case of triangles, triangularity as a concept is dictated by what it is to be a triangle, and nothing else. How is this arbitrary?

Dogs don't recognize universals, they get used to sense experience, to percepts. Read TOF's blog post for a better description on the distinction.

If when I say "red", I normally think of a crimson, and you think of scarlet, how do we know which of these is the correct concept, and which of us is confused?

Once again, this question shows that you seem to be confusing concepts with mental images, or percepts. Apply Ismael's critique to this question, because I agree with what he said.

I'll look at your Ch. 3 critique sometime, because I agree with Gilson, Feser, and R. Weaver that the problem of universals is the key to understanding why we are in this muddle today.

Daniel Smith said...

BenYachov: "I don't I merely point out that it is compatible. Oderberg may be right."

While correct theology is always compatible with the facts, my worry is that we are trying to make our theology compatible with the naturalist/materialist interpretation of those facts (which is, in large part, what the current theories of abiogenesis and evolution are.)

Josh said...

One Brow,

I've been to your blog post on this topic, and while there are a number of things to take issue with, I'd rather just focus on something small. Can you explain what you mean by:

it's fairly clear our concepts of the Pythagorean Theorem are different

Because this fact is not clear to me at all...

George R. said...

Here's how it is metaphysically possible: agents cause effects according to their natures; like can cause like, such as a fire igniting something, or unlike, as an electricity igniting something. Or to take biological examples, a cat can have kittens, or garbage can generate flies. A fortiori, an almost-fly (a creature that is very like a fly, but having a different form) can generate a fly.

Mr. Green, I have to admit your argument is not ridiculous.

But neither does it succeed.

For spontaneous generation really has nothing to do with evolution. SG as conceived by Thomas is just another mode of generation. So if SG is evolution, all generation is evolution, and evolution would be just another word for generation, and nobody would have a problem with it.

You seem to think, however, that SG could be a kind of evolution because it would not be a case of like generating like, but of unlike generating unlike. So, you reason, if a celestial body, according to Thomas, could generate an insect in putrefied flesh, then, a fortiori, a horse could generate something slightly different from a horse, under certain conditions. This is pretty good reasoning, and it brings up a crucial question: what is it primarily that determines a thing to generate the substance that it does? This, I believe, is a question that has very much been neglected.

Now it cannot be the form of the generator, though many might believe it is; for, as Thomas argued, in some situations unlike can generate unlike, as in the case of SG. But what is it then? The answer to this question is the reason why I maintain that evolution is metaphysically absurd: for I say that the substantial form of the any substance generated (be it animal, vegetable, or mineral) must also be the final cause of the process of its generation. In other words, the form of the thing generated is the cause that causes the process of generation itself, and causes it to generate the substance that it does. For if the efficient cause is the process of generation, then the final cause, which is the “cause of causes,” must also be the cause of the process of generation, and the form and the final cause are one. So, you see, in the case of substantial generation, like does indeed cause like, and it can never be otherwise. But the final cause can never be changed, for it is the cause of motion, not an effect. Therefore, substantial evolution is impossible.

Anonymous said...

Could someone comment on djindra's 6:45 comment? Thanks.

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