Friday, September 23, 2011

Modern biology and original sin, Part II

In part I of this series (and in a response to critics of part I) I addressed the question of whether monogenism of the sort entailed by the doctrine of original sin is compatible with modern biology.  I have argued that it is.  In this post I want to address the question of whether modern biology is consistent with the claim that the ancestors of all human beings transmitted the stain of original sin to their descendents via propagation rather than mere imitation.  The correct answer to this question, I maintain, is also in the affirmative.  Critics of the doctrine of original sin often suppose that it claims that there is something like an “original sin gene” passed down from parents to offspring.  And this, of course, seems highly dubious from a biological point of view.  They also suppose that to say that Adam’s descendents inherited from him the stain of original sin is like saying that Al Capone’s descendents somehow inherited from him his guilt for the crimes he committed, and deserve to be punished for those crimes.  And this too seems absurd and unjust.  But both of these objections rest on egregious misunderstandings of the doctrine.

Faith and reason

Before explaining how, I want briefly to say something about the rational foundations of the doctrine.  Some skeptical readers were critical of my appeal in my earlier post to Pope Pius XII’s Humani Generis, and mocked my statement that “there is no evidence against” the supposition that God may have infused human souls into creatures descended from sub-intellectual hominids.  They seem to think that what I was saying is that because a certain religious authority has said something, that by itself suffices to show that it is true, or that the mere fact that there is no evidence against a proposition licenses us in believing it if we are so inclined.  But this is a complete travesty both of my views and of Catholic theology.  

To be sure, while it has sometimes been suggested that the doctrine of original sin can be defended on purely philosophical grounds, probably the more common view is that it is a matter of faith.  But what is faith?  It is not what most people think it is; in particular, it is not a matter of believing something without any grounds for believing it, or believing it simply because you’ve taken a fancy to it, or because through sheer will you’ve worked yourself into a state of belief in defiance of all the evidence.  In short, faith, rightly understood, is in no way at odds with reason.  On the contrary, faith is, in a sense, grounded in reason.  

Suppose you know nothing about quantum mechanics but you do know a physicist who is both highly competent and scrupulously honest, and he tries to explain the subject to you.  Suppose further that you only understand part of what he says, and even that part you understand only imperfectly.  Still, you have no doubt that what he is saying is true.  You trust him, because he knows what he is talking about and wouldn’t lie to you.  You have faith in him, and your faith is perfectly rational.  Indeed, it is grounded in reason in the sense that it is reason that tells you that he is a reliable source of information, and thus can be believed even when what he is saying is something you could not have discovered for yourself and cannot even fully understand.

Faith in the religious context -- or at least in the Catholic theological context -- is like that.  To cite a representative definition, “faith is adhesion of the intellect, under the influence of grace, to a truth revealed by God, not on account of its intrinsic evidence but on account of the authority of Him who has revealed it” (Parente, Piolanti, and Garofalo, Dictionary of Dogmatic Theology, p. 101).  That is to say, faith involves believing some proposition we could not have discovered on our own and perhaps cannot even fully understand, but which we know must be true because God, who is omniscient and cannot lie, has revealed it.  But this faith is grounded in reason insofar as the claim that the proposition in question has in fact been revealed by God is something that can and should be independently rationally justified.  In short, reason tells us that there is a God and that he has revealed such-and-such a truth; faith is then a matter of believing what reason has shown God to have revealed.  In that sense faith is not only not at odds with reason but is grounded in reason.

Of course, how we know through reason that God exists and that He has revealed some truth is a large and complex matter.  I have defended several of the traditional arguments for God’s existence in several places (here, here, and here).  The way to get from God’s existence to the justification of the claim that some particular Christian theological doctrine (such as the doctrine of original sin) really has been divinely revealed would have to involve a number of further steps.  In particular, it would have to involve a defense of the claim that Jesus Christ claimed divine authority for His teaching, that He was resurrected from the dead, that only God could have effected this resurrection and that it therefore constitutes a divine seal of approval of Christ’s teaching, that Christ founded a Church with authority to pass on and interpret His teaching, and so on.  In other words, the rational defense of any particular purportedly divinely revealed Christian doctrine presupposes an independent rational defense of the truth of theism, of the veracity of Christ, and also (I would say) of the specifically Catholic understanding of revelation and authority.

Obviously I can hardly accomplish all of that here, in a single blog post, though of course many theologians have defended all of these points in detail over the centuries.  The point for now is just to emphasize that believing the doctrine of original sin is not a matter merely of appealing to authority, as if the reliability of the authority did not itself need to be rationally established (of course it does).  And I am not, in any event, pretending in this series of posts to establish the doctrine of original sin to the satisfaction of someone who is not already familiar with and convinced by the arguments for theism and Catholicism.  My aim is rather only to answer certain specific criticisms of the doctrine.  Hence when I said that “there is no evidence against” the novel monogenesis scenario sketched in my previous posts, I was not saying “There is no evidence against it, and that suffices to justify us in believing it.”  I was saying “This scenario is compatible with the genetic evidence, so the claim that the genetic evidence has refuted the doctrine of original sin fails.”  Naturally, a positive case for the doctrine would have to say a lot more than that.

Now some Catholic readers might wonder if I am presenting too rationalist an account of faith (as some readers of my book The Last Superstition seem to think I did there).  In particular, they might think that I have ignored the role grace plays in faith (a role referred to in the definition I cited above).  As the Catholic Encyclopedia says in its article on faith:

[I]n the minds of many faith is regarded as a more or less necessary consequence of a careful study of the motives of credibility, a view which the Vatican Council condemns expressly: "If anyone says that the assent of Christian faith is not free, but that it necessarily follows from the arguments which human reason can furnish in its favour; or if anyone says that God's grace is only necessary for that living faith which worketh through charity, let him be anathema."

But what I am saying is in no way in conflict with Catholic teaching, and is in fact just standard Scholastic theology.  As the very same article immediately goes on to say:

On the other hand, we must not minimize the real probative force of the motives of credibility within their true sphere—"Reason declares that from the very outset the Gospel teaching was rendered conspicuous by signs and wonders which gave, as it were, definite proof of a definite truth" (Leo XIII, Æterni Patris).

And as the same encyclopedia puts it in its article on fideism:

As against [fideistic] views, it must be noted that authority, even the authority of God, cannot be the supreme criterion of certitude, and an act of faith cannot be the primary form of human knowledge.  This authority, indeed, in order to be a motive of assent, must be previously acknowledged as being certainly valid; before we believe in a proposition as revealed by God, we must first know with certitude that God exists, that He reveals such and such a proposition, and that His teaching is worthy of assent, all of which questions can and must be ultimately decided only by an act of intellectual assent based on objective evidence.  Thus, fideism not only denies intellectual knowledge, but logically ruins faith itself.

It is not surprising, therefore, that the Church has condemned such doctrines…  On 8 September, 1840, Bautain was required to subscribe to several propositions directly opposed to Fideism, the first and the fifth of which read as follows: "Human reason is able to prove with certitude the existence of God; faith, a heavenly gift, is posterior to revelation, and therefore cannot be properly used against the atheist to prove the existence of God"; and "The use of reason precedes faith and, with the help of revelation and grace, leads to it." … [T]he [first] Vatican Council teaches as a dogma of Catholic faith that "one true God and Lord can be known with certainty by the natural light of human reason by means of the things that are made"…

As to the opinion of those who maintain that our supernatural assent is prepared for by motives of credibility merely probable, it is evident that it logically destroys the certitude of such an assent. This opinion was condemned by Innocent XI in the decree of 2 March, 1679… and by Pius X in the decree "Lamentabili sane"…  Revelation, indeed, is the supreme motive of faith in supernatural truths, yet, the existence of this motive and its validity has to be established by reason.

In short, the teaching that grace guides us to faith does not entail that at some point we just have to close our eyes real tight and will ourselves into believing some proposition for which there are insufficient rational grounds.  That is William James style fideism, not Catholicism.  When someone says “There but for the grace of God go I,” he does not mean that he did not freely choose to avoid a life of sin and that God somehow programmed him to avoid it, as He might program a robot.  Similarly, when we say that we are led to faith by God’s grace, this does not mean that we are not at the same time led to it by reason.

Let’s move on now to the doctrine of original sin itself.

What original sin isn’t

Many people seem to think that the doctrine of original sin says something like this: Adam and Eve were originally made for the eternal bliss of Heaven, but because they ate a piece of fruit they were told not to, they came to merit instead eternal torture at the hands of demons sticking pitchforks into them as they roast over hellfire.  Though Adam and Eve’s descendents had no part in their fruit-stealing, they are going to be held accountable for it anyway, and merit the same eternal torture (demons, pitchforks, hellfire and all).  For they have inherited a kind of guilt-carrying gene, which will automatically transfer them into the custody of the pitchfork-carrying demons straightaway upon death unless God somehow supernaturally removes it.  For some reason, though, this gene doesn’t show up in biological research, and its existence must be taken on faith.

Naturally, atheists and other non-Christians reject this scenario as too ludicrous for words.  And it is too ludicrous for words.  But it also has nothing to do with what the traditional doctrine of original sin actually says.  Indeed, it barely rises to the level of caricature; certainly it bears no resemblance to the traditional Catholic understanding of original sin.  Here as elsewhere, too many critics haven’t troubled themselves to find out what the main Christian thinkers have actually written, but rely on vulgar stereotypes.  And on the rare occasions when such critics do at least skim some serious theological work (so as to forestall the accusation that they haven’t done their homework) they are likely to read into it the ludicrous scenario just described. 

Properly to understand the doctrine of original sin requires understanding what traditional theology says about what human beings were originally made for, what the offense of our first parents consisted in, what the punishment for that offense was, and the sense in which we have inherited that punishment.  Let’s look at each issue in turn.  We will see that what traditional theology says is radically different from what many people think it says.  Nothing that I will be saying here is original.  You can find it in old works of Scholastic theology, and online in relevant articles from the Catholic Encyclopedia.  (See, for example, the articles on original sin, supernatural order, sanctifying grace, and concupiscence.  You might also look at a book like Matthias Scheeben’s recently reprinted The Mysteries of Christianity.  The best discussion of the doctrine I’ve read is in Thomas Harper’s long out-of-print little book The Immaculate Conception, but that is hard to track down.  You can read about Harper here and Scheeben here.)

Natural and supernatural

For Scholastic theology, human beings have, like everything else, a nature or essence, and what is good for them – what they need in order to flourish as the kinds of creatures they are – is determined by that essence.  Hence, for example, because we are by nature rational animals our flourishing requires both bodily goods (food, shelter, and the like) and intellectual goods (such as the acquisition of knowledge).  The point of Scholastic natural law theory is to provide an account of the various human goods and their moral implications.  (I provide a brief sketch of how this goes in the first half of this article, and also in chapter 5 of Aquinas.)

Now among the things that are naturally good for us is a certain kind of knowledge of God and a certain kind of religious devotion.  For as rational animals, we are capable of knowing the ultimate causes of things and of freely pursuing the good; and God is the ultimate cause of things and the highest good.  The paradigm of this natural knowledge of God is the sort of thing we know from natural theology – for example, the kind of arguments concerning God’s nature and essence one finds in Aristotelian or Neo-Platonic philosophy.  

As with other creatures, nature provides human beings with what they need in order to realize these goods, at least in a general way.  For example, we need food, and nature is set up in such a way that we can acquire it – by hunting and gathering, through basic farming, and also by the more sophisticated agricultural methods and economic institutions familiar from modern life, which our natural rational capacities have made possible.  We need knowledge of God, and philosophical investigation gives us such knowledge.  But as with other creatures, while nature provides the means to our ends, she doesn’t guarantee that every one of us will in fact realize those ends.  Due to misfortune, some of us sometimes go hungry.  Due to intellectual error and the complexity of the philosophical issues, some of us sometimes fail properly to understand the main arguments for God’s existence, or mix all sorts of errors into whatever knowledge of God we do have.  Due to the weaknesses of our wills, we also fall into moral error.  And when moral and intellectual errors multiply throughout a culture, the resulting general social environment may make it difficult for a given individual living within it to avoid more numerous and more serious moral and intellectual errors than he otherwise would have been prone to.  (Modern Western society provides a good example, insofar as the secularist portion of it is much farther from understanding the basic truths of natural theology and natural law than perhaps any other culture ever has been.  I have explored the contingent historical and philosophical reasons for this elsewhere.)

So, human beings in their natural state have only a limited capacity to realize the ends their nature requires them to pursue in order that they might flourish.  They have the raw materials needed for this pursuit, but the finitude of their intellectual, moral, and material endowments entails that there is no guarantee that each and every individual human being will in fact realize the ends in question, or realize them perfectly when they do realize them at all.  Nature has granted us what it “owes” us given what we need in order to flourish as the kind of creatures we are, but no more than that.  This is the situation Adam, Eve, and their descendants would have been in had God left the human race in its purely natural state.

But according to Christian theology, God offered to our first parents more than what was “owed” to us given our nature.  He offered us a supernatural gift.  Here it is crucial to understand what “supernatural” means in this context.  It has nothing to do with ghosts, goblins, and the like.  What is meant is rather that God offered us a good that went above or beyond what our nature required us to have.  In particular, he offered Adam and Eve the beatific vision – a direct, “face to face” knowledge of the divine essence which far transcends the very limited knowledge of God we can have through natural reason, and which would entail unsurpassable bliss of a kind we could never attain given our natural powers.  He also offered special helps that would deliver us from the limitations of our natures – that would free us from the ignorance and error our intellectual limitations open the door to, the moral errors our weak wills lead us into, the sicknesses and injuries our bodily limitations make possible, and so forth.

By definition, none of this was “owed” to us, precisely because it is supernatural.  Hence while God cannot fail to will for us what is good for us given our nature, He would have done us no wrong in refraining from offering these supernatural gifts to us, precisely because they go beyond what our nature requires for our fulfillment.  Still, He offered them to us anyway.  But this offer was conditional. 

The fall of man

The condition was the obedience of our first parents.  Yet they did not obey.  And of course, that is the point of the account of their eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge.  It wasn’t fruit per se that was important, but rather the will to rebel against the Creator.  (Recall Augustine’s youthful theft of the pears, where what was attractive about the theft was the fact that it was forbidden, not the fact that he got some pears out of it.)  The penalty was the loss of the supernatural gifts they had been given and that their descendants would have been given, and a fall back into their merely natural state, with all its limitations.  In particular, it was a loss of all the helps that would effectively have removed those limitations -- and worst of all, loss of the beatific vision.

In short, the penalty of original sin was a privation, not a positive harm inflicted on human beings but rather the absence of a benefit they never had a right to or strict need for in the first place but would have received anyway had they not disobeyed.  And it wasn’t the prospect of pitchforks and hellfire that Adam’s descendents had to look forward to because of what Adam did, but rather the privation of this supernatural gift.  What is essential to Hell is the loss of the beatific vision, and while Hell can certainly also involve more than that (including the pains of sense) the standard view is that it does so only for those guilty of actual sin, and not those (such as infants who die without baptism) who merely suffer the penalty of original sin, without ever having committed actual sin.  (For this reason the Scholastic tradition came to settle around the view that infants who die without baptism, and thus without removal of the penalty of original sin, probably enjoy perpetual natural happiness -- the highest state we could have attained without being raised to the supernatural gift of the beatific vision.)

You might compare the situation to that of a landowner who has sold an unimproved parcel of land to a certain family – which, just to be cute, we’ll call the Adams family.  In allowing the Adamses to take possession of the parcel, he’s given them everything he owed them.  But suppose he offers to throw in, for free, something extra – to plant on the land a vineyard using the finest quality vines, whose fruit will make possible the best wine.  This is something that all the descendents of the original Adamses who bought the land will profit from.  But the landowner makes the offer only conditionally.  He wants to see how Mr. and Mrs. Adams are going to handle things before turning the vineyard over to the Adams family as a whole, including the many descendents who are not likely to do any better with the vines than their ancestors are.  So if Mr. and Mrs. Adams do well with the first vines planted, they and their descendents will get to keep them and reap the benefits.  If not, the landowner will tear them out and leave the Adamses and their descendents with only the original unimproved parcel, which is all they were owed in the first place. 

Now suppose that Mr. and Mrs. Adams botch things up, and the landowner removes the vineyard.  The fault is entirely theirs, but all their descendents necessarily suffer the penalty just as much as they do, just by virtue of being Adamses.  Yet it is not a positive harm that is inflicted on them, but rather the loss of a benefit they were not entitled to but nevertheless would have received if not for the actions of their ancestors.  

The hereditary stain

Notice that there is nothing the least bit unjust about the landowner’s actions, since he never owed the vineyard to any of the Adamses in the first place.  He would have done Mr. and Mrs. Adams no wrong if he had refrained from offering the vineyard, and he does none of their descendants wrong in denying it to them.  Notice also that there is nothing remotely mysterious about how our fictional Adamses inherit the penalty of Mr. and Mrs. Adams’ error, and do so genetically.  For they do so, not because they’ve got some strange “vineyard-losing gene” but rather simply because they are the biological descendents of Mr. and Mrs. Adams, and the deal that would have gained or lost them the vineyard was a deal made with Mr. and Mrs. Adams on their behalf.

Similarly, we inherit the penalty of original sin, not in the sense that we’ve got some “original sin gene” alongside genes for eye color and tooth enamel, but rather in the sense that the offer of the supernatural gifts was made to the human race as a whole through their first parent acting as their representative.  Inheriting this penalty from Adam is more like inheriting your father’s name or bank account than it is like inheriting his looks or his temperament.  And there is no more injustice in this inheritance than there is in the landowner’s not planting a vineyard for Mr. and Mrs. Adams’ descendents.  

That, anyway, is how the doctrine of original sin came to be understood in the Scholastic tradition.  Obviously the account depends crucially on the distinction between the natural and supernatural orders -- a distinction that was blurred in Protestantism and has also been blurred by some modern Catholic theologians (a tendency criticized by Pope Pius XII at paragraph 26 of Humani Generis).  Part of the danger of blurring it is that doing so threatens to make a hash of the doctrine of original sin.  If Adam and Eve lost for us something we are in some sense owed by nature, or if the penalty of original sin did involve some positive damage to that nature rather than merely the privation of a supernatural gift, then it does come to seem unjust that we have inherited that penalty, and the door is opened at least a crack to the caricatures of the doctrine’s critics. 

285 comments:

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FrH said...

I believe that Harper's essay on the Immaculate Conception is excerpted from this book. Sadly, the Google scanner appear to have skipped about twenty pages, including the beginning of this essay. Fortunately, it appears (at least with a quick skim) that the pages discussing Original Sin are all there, beginning about page 290 or so.

StoneTop said...

Still, you have no doubt that what he is saying is true. You trust him, because he knows what he is talking about and wouldn’t lie to you. You have faith in him, and your faith is perfectly rational.

Actually that isn't at all rational. That he is an expert in the field of QM, and is known to be honest does not make his statements true.

After all we can look to Albert Einstein and his views on QM as a good example of an expert in physics who was yet proven wrong with his "God does not play dice with the universe" or his attempts to shoehorn his theories into a model of a static universe (through the introduction of the cosmological constant).

Even someone regarded as an expert in a field speaking within that field and making an honest statement is still bound by the extent of their knowledge.

The rational response is not "I have faith that statement X is true because the person telling me X is an expert in the field of Xology and is known to be honest" but rather "Statement X is probably true based on my knowledge that the person telling me is an honest expert in Xology".

Even mathematical statements (like the infinitude of the primes) are not "true", rather they are "given the axioms of the set N it is true that there are an infinite number of primes"

Brian said...

Actually that isn't at all rational. That he is an expert in the field of QM, and is known to be honest does not make his statements true.

StoneTop, you need to read more carefully. Feser isn't saying "He is an expert in his field, and that means what he is saying is true." That would be an argument from authority, and, formally speaking, that is irrational. But that is not what he said. What he said was "He is an authority in his field, so that means I am rational in trusting him."

The rational response is not "I have faith that statement X is true because the person telling me X is an expert in the field of Xology and is known to be honest" but rather "Statement X is probably true based on my knowledge that the person telling me is an honest expert in Xology".

Both responses are exactly the same.

Brian said...

I think it is wise to bring up the Catholic understanding of faith and reason which sharply differs from the Protestant understanding. I may be repeating myself, but I think Protestant Christianity, and American evangelical Protestant Christianity at that, is the only Christianity these atheists know. All of their criticisms of Christianity are informed by a Protestant understanding of the Bible, Christian doctrine, and the Church. Some of these atheists may be lapsed Catholics, but that actually does not mean much given the state of Catholicism, especially American Catholicism, which has been heavily Protestantized over the last century.

Sawyer said...

I wonder whether you have left a crucial point out in what you stated regarding Catholic doctrine on original sin.

According to Catholic doctrine, human beings are unable not to sin as a result of original sin. St. Augustine famously expressed that in his writings against Pelagius, and the Church affirmed his stance. Human beings are in bondage to sin, incapable of turning towards good unless God saves them and heals them.

Your statement, "In short, the penalty of original sin was a privation, not a positive harm inflicted on human beings but rather the absence of a benefit they never had a right to or strict need for in the first place but would have received anyway had they not disobeyed," seems to be Pelagian in that you are at least implying that human beings are morally unaffected by original sin; that they are capable of doing good on their own natural merits without the divine assistance of grace.

The penalty of original sin is more than the mere privation of a supernatural good. It also extends to the corruption of the human will so that the will is inclined toward evil, enslaved to sin, incapable of willing good unless God heals it by restoring it to right order in willing the good.

Edward Feser said...

Hello Sawyer,

Well, I guess I could fling back at you the charges of Baianism and Jansenism. But I imagine you don't intend to defend those errors any more than I intend to defend the Pelagian error.

Since it is late and I am at best semi-conscious, I will simply commend to you yet another Catholic Encyclopedia article, viz. the one on "Actual grace," written by the esteemed Msgr. Joseph Pohle:

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06689x.htm

Note especially the section on "Early Protestantism and Jansenism." Here's a sentence that stands out:

"Baius, however, overlooked the fact that the former rhetorician and Platonic idealist of Hippo does not always weigh every word as carefully as the wary Schoolman Thomas Aquinas..."

DH said...

Thank you for this wonderfully clear exegesis. Before I read it, I did not properly understand the doctrine, and now I do!

Two questions. One is to do with the absolute division between natural and supernatural gifts. Does this mean that Aquinas's vision towards the end of his life, or the experience of the disciples and St Paul who saw the resurrected Lord, belongs entirely to natural happiness, and has no relation to supernatural happiness?

Two, you write mockingly about devils and pitchforks. I can't be the only reader who would appreciate a lucid Feser post about Hell, to clear up popular misunderstandings.

StoneTop said...

But that is not what he said. What he said was "He is an authority in his field, so that means I am rational in trusting him."

Really? Because I gave the exact quote:

Still, you have no doubt that what he is saying is true.

not "is probably true" or "the evidence strongly supports that what he is saying is true"

Just a Guy said...

Dr. Feser, there seems to me to be a problem here. I thought that if one was in the presence of the Beatific Vision one would no longer have any desire to sin?

So, to my eyes, it seems to me like Catholic theology is contradicting itself. On one hand, it says nobody will sin in Heaven because we're in the presence of the Beatific Vision.

On the other hand, it says Adam and Eve were in the presence of the Beatific Vision and sinned anyway.

How are these two seemingly contradictory statements reconciled? I can't wrap my head around it.

BenYachov said...

Stone Tops,


He said "You have faith in him, and your faith is perfectly rational."

I'm sure Richard Dawkins has no doubt evolution is true and that he has no doubt his Boeing 747 "god" doesn't exist( I & every Classic Theist agree with him).

What Feser clearly means here is you can have no rational doubt.

I would believe Dawkins (arrogant jerk that he is) on a matter pertaining to expert knowledge on the mechanism of Darwinian Evolution over Feser any day of the week.

OTOH on matters related to Philosophy & that would include Philosophy of Science I would trust Feser's Grad Students over the Dawk both for their expertise vs the Dawk man's pathological incompetence in that area.

Enough of your remnant fundamentalist hyper-literalism already it is getting tedious.

The Masked Chicken said...

The actual quote is (from wikiquotes):

Quantum mechanics is certainly imposing. But an inner voice tells me that it is not yet the real thing. The theory says a lot, but does not really bring us any closer to the secret of the "old one." I, at any rate, am convinced that He does not throw dice.
Letter to Max Born (4 December 1926); The Born-Einstein Letters (translated by Irene Born) (Walker and Company, New York, 1971) ISBN 0-8027-0326-7. This quote is commonly paraphrased "God does not play dice" or "God does not play dice with the universe", and other slight variants.


The use of the word, "faith," in reference to what a physicist might say about quantum mechanics needs to be carefully parsed. It is rational to have a fiducial faith in the physicist, but not a theological faith, which, must, of necessity, be reserved to God, alone, as only he is incapable of either error or deceit. This does not mean that theological faith is unreasonable, but theological faith is partially a response to revelation. Aquinas makes a distinction between the preambles of faith, which can be known by reason (such as the fact that God exists) and faith, proper, which includes a revelatory aspect. This point is made in Arvin Vos's book, "Aquinas, Calvin, and Contemporary Protestant Thought," Christian University Press, 1985.

The Chicken

BenYachov said...

additional: If I flipped a Trillion quarters at once I have no doubt they would not all come up heads on the very first toss.

Give the absurdly high improbability against it it is rational to have no doubt the first toss won't come up all heads.

The Masked Chicken said...

So, to my eyes, it seems to me like Catholic theology is contradicting itself. On one hand, it says nobody will sin in Heaven because we're in the presence of the Beatific Vision.

No, you can't sin in Heaven because there is no ability to change the will. There is no time in heaven, at least in an earthly sense, and that seems to be required for sin. Time was present to Adam and Eve.

The Chicken

StoneTop said...

Now that a new day is here, and I've had some coffee...

To cite a representative definition, “faith is adhesion of the intellect, under the influence of grace, to a truth revealed by God, not on account of its intrinsic evidence but on account of the authority of Him who has revealed it” (Parente, Piolanti, and Garofalo, Dictionary of Dogmatic Theology, p. 101)

Your inclusion of "grace" and the definitions reliance on an argument from authority serves to show quite clearly that faith is not based on reason.

Your subsequent rewording highlights the argument from authority fallacy even further...

That is to say, faith involves believing some proposition we could not have discovered on our own and perhaps cannot even fully understand, but which we know must be true because God, who is omniscient and cannot lie, has revealed it.

Saying that you trust the authority of God to reveal the existence of God makes not even the tiniest drop of sense.

You go on to provide a number of rationalizations... but then those to require a reliance on the same irrational bit that you highlight above "grace" and the authority of that which you claim exists.

But the landowner makes the offer only conditionally. He wants to see how Mr. and Mrs. Adams are going to handle things before turning the vineyard over to the Adams family as a whole, including the many descendents who are not likely to do any better with the vines than their ancestors are.

Problems abound with this analogy... For example the presumption that the descendants "are not likely to do any better" which is not a reasonable assumption. Further while it may be reasonable for the landowner to remove the vines so that someone else can use them to make wine.

So the question still stands as to why the supposed disobedience of A/E must be passed down through the generations. Not just down to his (yet unborn) children but down through however many generations it would take to reach the present.

Saying "you cannot use these vines because your father was 'irresponsible' with them" doesn't make much sense... saying "you cannot use these vines because one of your great^4th grandfathers was 'irresponsible' with them" is incredibly irrational.

but rather in the sense that the offer of the supernatural gifts was made to the human race as a whole through their first parent acting as their representative.

Which is, again, not a rational action.

If Adam and Eve lost for us something we are in some sense owed by nature, or if the penalty of original sin did involve some positive damage to that nature rather than merely the privation of a supernatural gift, then it does come to seem unjust that we have inherited that penalty, and the door is opened at least a crack to the caricatures of the doctrine’s critics.

Yet doesn't it entail positive damage? After all hasn't mankind suffered down through the ages on the basis of that one original sin?

BenYachov said...

>On the other hand, it says Adam and Eve were in the presence of the Beatific Vision and sinned anyway.

Adam and Eve nor the Angels who where first created before Satan and his lot rebelled had the Beatific Vision

Adam and Eve had Original Innocence not the Beatific Vision. Everybody knows that! The Angel had an Angelic version of sanctifying Grace. After the proverbial war in Heaven the Good Angels who did not Rebel where given the Beatific Vision.

If not for the Incarnation and Sacrifice of Jesus we would not have it. Adam and Eve had Original Innocence.

BenYachov said...

>No, you can't sin in Heaven because there is no ability to change the will. There is no time in heaven, at least in an earthly sense, and that seems to be required for sin. Time was present to Adam and Eve.

That is incorrect only God is Timeless the Blessed in Heaven are not in Eternity but in Sempiternity.

Those who have the Beatific Vision could not sin. The Angels before the Fall of Lucifer had the Angelic version of Sanctifying Grace but not the Vision.

That Good Angels receive for being Faithful during the War in Heaven.

BenYachov said...

@The Masked Chicken

I hated correcting you since you are as funny as heck when you zing the New Atheists I often can't stop laughing I fall out of my chair.

But the correction in love from one Brother to another.

God Bless.

StoneTop said...

I'm sure Richard Dawkins has no doubt evolution is true and that he has no doubt his Boeing 747 "god" doesn't exist( I & every Classic Theist agree with him).

Really? On what basis do you make such a claim? After all he has also said "There is almost certainly no god."

What Feser clearly means here is you can have no rational doubt.

Yet I just pointed out that one can rationally doubt a statement made by a trusted expert (ask an astronomer before Hubble if the universe is static or expanding and they will, honestly and with confidence, say that that the universe is static... even though current evidence has overturned the static universe model).

I would believe Dawkins (arrogant jerk that he is) on a matter pertaining to expert knowledge on the mechanism of Darwinian Evolution over Feser any day of the week.

Sure... if he is speaking as to the current state of the Modern Synthesis Theory of Evolution. That is a bit different then assuming that his statement about the MSToE is "true" (in that his statements may be true about MSToE, but not that MSToE represents the true state of reality). Further it is not unreasonable to consider that Dr. Dawkins may misspeak, or not be aware of a piece of research that counters a specific claim he might make.

StoneTop said...

This does not mean that theological faith is unreasonable, but theological faith is partially a response to revelation.

By relying on revelation theological faith is unreasonable.

Anonymous said...

Adam and Eve did not enjoy the Beatific Vision. Dr. Feser's presentation does leave that a little bit unclear, although I don't think he meant to claim that they did. Adam and Eve would have received the Beatific Vision had they been obedient, although the mechanics of how that would come about are speculative.

I'm a little shocked however that Dr. Feser seems to deny that Original Sin had a deleterious effect on human nature. That I labor under the effects of original sin is not merely because I am conceived without sanctifying grace. If that were so, I would be become like pre-lapsarian Adam upon my baptism. Because of the loss of Original Justice, Adam's act wounds human nature. This damaged nature is transmitted to all his descendants, with the concommitant effects of darkened intellect, weakened will, and inclination to sin. Dr. Feser seems--I think he has just misspoken--to suggest that these effects are in comparison to what I would have if I possessed sanctifying grace. But the intellect is darker in comparison to an unfallen man's intellect with respect to nature, not with respect to how well that intellect would function with the assistance of sanctifying grace. And so on for the other effects of Original Sin.

Rob

BenYachov said...

>Your inclusion of "grace" and the definitions reliance on an argument from authority serves to show quite clearly that faith is not based on reason.

Feser did not make make an argument from authority!

I'm sorry but you are pathetic!

You are reading into his words your own self-serving meaning based on two words "no doubt" which you irrationally and irrespective of context endow an absolutest sense.

Just Two frekin words!

I don't see the qualifier "absolute" in front of "no doubt" & given the context I see no rational reason to interpret it that way.

Geez everyone else gets it!

What is the problem with you Gnus?

StoneTop said...

Give the absurdly high improbability against it it is rational to have no doubt the first toss won't come up all heads

Sure it is incredibly remote... but to say "no doubt" or even "no reasonable doubt" is to ignore that 1 in a 10^(10^(10^1.116580558097350)) chance that they would all come up heads. After all the all heads is no more or less likely then any other combination of heads/tails.

BenYachov said...

>Really? On what basis do you make such a claim? After all he has also said "There is almost certainly no god.

I am not intohyper literalism when it comes to the written & spoken word. I wasn't raised a Fundamentalist unlike some of us. I don't share their narrow mentality. I have no doubt Dawkins has no doubt "there is almost certainly no god" or that Evolution is true.

Why are you being a jerk about this?

>Yet I just pointed out that one can rationally doubt a statement made by a trusted expert (ask an astronomer before Hubble if the universe is static or expanding and they will, honestly and with confidence, say that that the universe is static... even though current evidence has overturned the static universe model)

But unless you have the knowledge to form a basis for a Rational doubt the default position is trust. Besides if the evidence is sufficient then having no doubt you are correct is rational. I have no doubt 2+2=4. I have no doubt if Dawkins tells me something about Evolution it is true.

>Further it is not unreasonable to consider that Dr. Dawkins may misspeak, or not be aware of a piece of research that counters a specific claim he might make.

That I would agree with but the Principle of Charity would compel me to interpret his words default in a positive manner and I would be seek to know what he meant not pettifog what he literally said.

At least in regards to his expertise in his own discipline.

BenYachov said...

>Sure it is incredibly remote... but to say "no doubt" or even "no reasonable doubt" is to ignore that 1 in a 10^(10^(10^1.116580558097350)) chance that they would all come up heads.

Then do you want to bet $1000 dollars on it? After all if you had any reasonable hope it would come up heads would you put down your money right. But if you no doubt believed it was a suckers bet you wouldn't right?

It's not hard!

BenYachov said...

It this going to turn into another 700 post thread where Tops, One Brow, djindra & the other Gnu'toids all argue dogmatically how Feser could have only meant one thing when he dared wrote the phrase "no doubt"?

(Of course to be Fair One Brow could go the other way agaisnt djindra & Tops just to be contrary)

If you are going to waste time arguing about the meanings of two words instead of the substance of the Post I have nothing more to say to the likes of anybody who does that.


I'm going to have to be the adult here and drop it.

No does anyone have any grown up criticisms to offer?

I'm listening.

Just a Guy said...

Hey Ben, your rudeness in this comment:

"Adam and Eve had Original Innocence not the Beatific Vision. Everybody knows that!"

...Was completely uncalled for. Obviously everybody does NOT know that, which means your statement was factually, 100% false to boot.

I wouldn't have asked the question if I "knew that", of course!

Don't be an elitist just because you happened to know the answer to a theological question that I did not know the answer to.

The point of the site is to learn, and how am I supposed to do that without asking questions?

I was not being a troll, I happen to be a Catholic who considers Dr. Feser a brilliant Godsend and one of the best Thomistic philosophers of our time, and I was hoping for clarification on a point I did not understand.

That's it. Nobody here needs to get defensive.

To all others who have so far responded-thanks for your input. I appreciate it.

Anonymous said...

Ben said:

"That I would agree with but the Principle of Charity would compel me to interpret his words default in a positive manner and I would be seek to know what he meant not pettifog what he literally said."

This is true. I collaborate with leading infectious disease researchers and current knowledge is taken as factually correct at virtually every instance, depending of course on the quality of evidence. Evidence of low quality is often dismissed outright. Unless there is significant data to suggest that we should doubt an established, evidence backed theory or mechanism, we accept it as true and build on that. Most experts are also pretty up to date, that's what conferences, journal clubs and panel discussions are for. The people I know at least, make sure they know what they're talking about before speaking to the WHO or governments.

W.LindsayWheeler said...

Original sin is not a "privation". I think all and sundry miss the point of the eating of the apple in the Garden.

It was about Limits. God put limits on Adam, and Adam went beyond the limits. Evil is the going beyond the limits. If you look at the Left, their psychology of ideology is the key to understanding it. They all seek to "Break Boundaries". They all seek the extreme. All Good, Beauty, and Truth exist in the Golden Mean, and this Adam rejected when he ate of the fruit.

This rejection is a sign of extremism, of rebellion. And so original sin is not a gene, but a mark on the soul; the soul seeks extremes, is without limit, is not trained to obey. It is naturally rebellious. Materialist biology has nothing on original sin. Original sin has to do with Soul.

Original sin and the immortality of the soul are Greek ideas, not Hebrew, not Jewish. And so it is Philosophy that answers that question. Original sin is a metaphysical concept not materialistic or biological.

Brian said...

StoneTope @ 5:27 AM. In that quote, he is talking about moral certainty - "you have no doubt" versus "there is no doubt" that what he is saying is true. Still, I could see how you would take it that way - it's just we are more used to the language of faith and reason that we pick up on these smaller things.

BenYachov said...

>"Adam and Eve had Original Innocence not the Beatific Vision. Everybody knows that!"

...Was completely uncalled for. Obviously everybody does NOT know that, which means your statement was factually, 100% false to boot

OH YEH! Well you know what I have to say to the likes of you.............you...you....you are absolutely right that was uncalled for.

Sorry, please accept my apologies.

BenYachov said...

@JUST A GUY

The previous post was directed at you again I am sorry.

Just a Guy said...

"OH YEH! Well you know what I have to say to the likes of you.............you...you....you are absolutely right that was uncalled for.

Sorry, please accept my apologies."

Thank you very much, and I of course accept your apology and I really appreciate the fact that you're offering one at all.

That was a very upstanding gesture, and know that there are no hard feelings.

BenYachov said...

Sorry for the friendly fire man. That was uncool.

Cheers.

StoneTop said...

Adam and Eve had Original Innocence not the Beatific Vision. Everybody knows that!

Except for Mr. Feser, who said:
In particular, it was a loss of all the helps that would effectively have removed those limitations -- and worst of all, loss of the beatific vision.

Feser did not make make an argument from authority!

Yes he did...
“faith is adhesion of the intellect, under the influence of grace, to a truth revealed by God, not on account of its intrinsic evidence but on account of the authority of Him who has revealed it” (Parente, Piolanti, and Garofalo, Dictionary of Dogmatic Theology, p. 101)

Both the inclusion of "grace" and "not on account of its intrinsic evidence but on account of the authority of Him who has revealed it"

the "Grace" bit is already not rational... and the reliance on the authority of the one whose authority (and even existence) is questioned to show that authority... well that is just an illogical appeal to authority.

Just a Guy said...

...Oh, and believe me when I say I'm not blameless here. I very nearly posted a very angry, insulting, and rather troll-like response that, shall we say, made rather insulting assumptions about your general character.

I had my cursor over the "Publish" button before I forced myself to step back a moment and think if this was REALLY the best way to approach the situation.

Trust me, as angry as that post was (and it's not as if the tone of it is all politness and happy-bunnies-I definitely took a shot at you at one point) it took a major act of will on my part to resist a total flame...and probably get myself banned.

Brian said...

StoneTop said: Saying that you trust the authority of God to reveal the existence of God makes not even the tiniest drop of sense.

Right. That is the fideistic error of Protestantism. Good thing that is not what Catholics believe nor what Feser said.

StoneTop said: By relying on revelation theological faith is unreasonable.

That is ridiculous. Faith is more sure, more certain than any other knowledge precisely because it rests on the infallible truth-teller who is God.

Pick up a Catechism. The following is the teaching of the Catholic Church:

1) The existence of God can be known through reason with certainty.

2) That God revealed himself through the God-Man Jesus Christ can be known by reason and historical investigation.

3) That Jesus Christ founded the Catholic Church and imparted to her the fullness of the Christian Revelation and divinely appointed her to interpret that Revelation can be known by reason and historical investigation.

These three, and there may be others that I a missing, are the "preliminaries" or "preambles" to the assent of faith, which (as Vatican I defined), is trusting in what God has revealed because God has revealed it, who can neither deceive nor be deceived.

Knowing that God exists, knowing that he revealed himself through Christ Jesus, and knowing that the Catholic Church has the fullness of that Revelation, we have faith in God and what he has revealed. And that faith is more certain and sure and true than any other knowledge precisely because it rests on an infallible authority. So no, theological faith is definitely reasonable.

Brian said...

StoneTop: and the reliance on the authority of the one whose authority (and even existence) is questioned to show that authority... well that is just an illogical appeal to authority.

Well, that's just it, StoneTop. Read my last post. His existence may be a question in your mind, but not to the Catholic Church and all those who, with her, hold to classical philosophy and theism. Read my points 1-3. Those are items of knowledge, we claim, that we are within the realm of reason and ordinary knowledge, and all men are obliged to seek it and know it.

This is one time where the argument from authority doesn't actually result in a formal fallacy. The argument from authority is a fallacy because an authority merely saying something does not make it true. But this Authority is different.

George R. said...

Adam's sin caused an actual defect in both his body and soul, which was then passed down to his progeny. That is an article of the faith. Some of the science experts here might recognize it as a kind of Lamarkianism.

I don't know if there is an "original sin gene." I would say rather that original sin enfeebled all of our genes in one way or another.

One thing's for sure, original sin resulted in not only a privation of the supernatural but also a corruption of the natural.

BenYachov said...

@Stone Tops
>Adam and Eve had Original Innocence not the Beatific Vision. Everybody knows that!

>Except for Mr. Feser, who said:
In particular, it was a loss of all the helps that would effectively have removed those limitations -- and worst of all, loss of the beatific vision.

Pay attention fundie at the time of their Fall from Grace Adam and Eve only had Original Innocence not the Beatific Vision that God intended to give them the Beatific Vision & presuming they resisted the proverbial temptation from the Snake/Devil they would have received it does not mean they had it at their fall.

If I offered you a million dollars to watch my dog & you got the poor thing killed then you lost a million dollars even thought I had not formerly given it to you.

It's really not hard.

Now stop pettifogging & hairsplitting and ask a substantive question & or make a substantive critique.

We are all waiting with baited breath. Come on you can do it.

StoneTop said...

I have no doubt Dawkins has no doubt "there is almost certainly no god" or that Evolution is true.


Those two statements are quite contradictory.... as Dr. Dawkins' definition of Evolution does not include the existence of a deity. So by admitting that a deity could exist (even if it is a remote chance) Dr. Dawkins is admitting that his view on Evolution may be wrong (not "is true" but "may be true").

I have no doubt 2+2=4. I have no doubt if Dawkins tells me something about Evolution it is true.

Your first part 2+2=4 is true iff you assume the axioms of the set of R. Assume a different set of axioms and 2+2!=4.

As to your second part... so if Dr. Dawkins came up to you and said that "Evolution is caused my midiclorians" you would accept that as a true statement?

Then do you want to bet $1000 dollars on it? After all if you had any reasonable hope it would come up heads would you put down your money right.

There is a great deal of difference between a "reasonable hope" and "no doubt"

But if you no doubt believed it was a suckers bet you wouldn't right?

That depends on how you define a "suckers bet" if you mean that betting on one single possible outcome has an incredibly low chance of winning then yes.

monk68 said...

Rob wrote:

"If that were so, I would be become like pre-lapsarian Adam upon my baptism. Because of the loss of Original Justice, Adam's act wounds human nature."

Rob, I am not sure whether you are Catholic or not, but in Catholic theology your statement does not follow. We can think of pre-lapsarian Adam in two senses: Adam as he existed strictly via nature (perhaps involving the processes of cosmic and biological evolution on the animal side of his nature), and Adam as he existed after reception of special Divine gifts superior to those arising from nature simpliciter.

In Catholic theology, the gifts nature-transcending gifts which God gave to Adam were of two general types: Supernatural and preternatural. The former gift, strictly speaking, is super-natural, for it just is an indwelling (one might say ontological) participation in the very life of God - that is - sanctifying grace (also technically called original justice). The later category of gift (preternatural) are often called "gifts of integrity"; which, while not strictly "supernatural" (because only God is above nature/creation in the broadest sense of "all that is seen and unseen”), they were nonetheless gifts which added an "integrity" or stability to strictly natural human capacities which nature simpliciter (given the finite, reciprocal, changeable nature of material reality) does not possess. The preternatural gifts included freedom from ignorance in the intellect, freedom from disorder in the will (which by nature is easily drawn to pursue lower, easily accessible finite and pleasurable goods in an inordinate degree such that one easily looses site of the legitimate place and role of such goods in man’s pursuit of his highest good or greatest fulfillment – i.e. the whole world of natural law and virtue ethics comes into play here); and finally, the preternatural gift of physical integrity which suspended the “natural” tendency of material bodies to change, decay, etc (i.e. freedom from physical sickness and death).

Again from a Catholic POV, both the strictly supernatural gift of participation in God’s own life (original justice), as well as the preternatural gifts of integrity (freedom from ignorance, passion and physical dissolution) were gifts ADDED to Adam’s strictly “natural” human nature. In the original disobedience, Adam forfeited BOTH the supernatural and preternatural gifts, returning him to the state of mere natural humanity he possessed before the addition of these gifts. A state, essentially comparable to the present state of un-baptized human beings, who besides being devoid of the participation in the life of God, quite naturally struggle against intellectual ignorance, unruly passions and disorder of will, and finally physical sickness, decay and death – all of which pertain to the natural order of changeable materiality (even intellectual ignorance is effected by materiality because of the dependence of the intellect on phantasms and percepts generated via material sensate interaction with the external world of nature).

(contd)

monk68 said...

In baptism (again from a Catholic POV), humanity is offered once again the most crucial of the original gifts of God – namely, the indwelling life of God (sanctifying grace / original justice – justification). This gift is offered to all the descendents of Adam in this life; yet God has chosen to withhold from man the additional preternatural gifts of integrity. The reasons for this withholding, according to Catholic theology, have to do with the virtue / value of redemptive suffering, and participation in the life and redemptive suffering of the Incarnate Christ, etc. - which is a much deeper and lengthy topic altogether. The key is that the primary gift of sanctifying grace/original justice is what is restored at baptism. That is the fundamental and crucial recovery which transforms human life – even suffering (which would cease if the preternatural gifts were restored). And, of course, participation in the life of God (sanctifying grace / remaining in a “state of grace”), leads, beyond this world, to an existence radically free (in a more elevated way) from the sufferings inherent to changeable material nature than could ever have been achieved by ongoing possession of the preternatural gifts of integrity.

Pax,

Ray

StoneTop said...

Right. That is the fideistic error of Protestantism. Good thing that is not what Catholics believe nor what Feser said.

Except in this case, where it was clearly stated that Catholics rely on the authority of God to demonstrate the authority of God.

Faith is more sure, more certain than any other knowledge precisely because it rests on the infallible truth-teller who is God.

Unless you have faith in the wrong God. After all don't the YEC's have faith that the Bible is literally true? And there are certainly Muslims who believe in the Koran... Sikhs have their faith... Wiccans have their faith... etc...

The following is the teaching of the Catholic Church:

Is the question here "what do Catholics believe" or "is what Catholics believe based on reason?"

is trusting in what God has revealed because God has revealed it, who can neither deceive nor be deceived.

Who says that God can neither deceive nor be deceived?

Knowing that God exists, knowing that he revealed himself through Christ Jesus, and knowing that the Catholic Church has the fullness of that Revelation, we have faith in God and what he has revealed.

So it is "the Catholic Church is right because it teaches that the Catholic Church is right?"

But this Authority is different.

In what way? Aren't you asking me to accept that the Catholic Church has the authority because the Catholic Church says it has the authority?

StoneTop said...

Pay attention fundie at the time of their Fall from Grace Adam and Eve only had Original Innocence not the Beatific Vision that God intended to give them the Beatific Vision & presuming they resisted the proverbial temptation from the Snake/Devil they would have received it does not mean they had it at their fall.

Right... that is what you say... not what Mr. Feser said. We can go on about "Original Innocence" but that' won't change what Mr. Feser wrote in his post.

Go back and look... you said:
Adam and Eve had Original Innocence not the Beatific Vision. Everybody knows that!

Which is clearly not true... as Mr. Feser clearly says that the consequence of the Fall was that A/E (and thus the rest of their line) lost the "Beatific Vision"

If I offered you a million dollars to watch my dog & you got the poor thing killed then you lost a million dollars even thought I had not formerly given it to you

And thus neither I nor anyone who can trace their line back to me can ever have a million dollars?

Didn't you state that those who have the "BV" will not (or cannot) "sin"? So had we been given the "BV" then wouldn't there be little to no suffering in the world?

djindra said...

....faith involves believing...because God, who is omniscient and cannot lie, has revealed it.

And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman.

She took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken.

Adam made love to his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain.

Altogether, Adam lived a total of 930 years, and *then* he died.

So who is to be believed, Yahweh or the serpent? Or neither? Why didn't either mention the obvious? "Oh, BTW, better eat from the Tree of Life first, for if you don't, you will surely die."

I think the message of the Bible is clear on one point. Yahweh has his own methods. Those methods are, as Nietzsche suggests, beyond good and evil, beyond truth and lies. Truth and lies don't even apply. Yahweh is inscrutable.

Kjetil Kringlebotten said...

Ed,

Are you saying that Adam and Eve had the beatific vision (but lost it), or that they were offered the beatific vision on the condition of obedience (but lost it due to disobedience)? AFAIK, the latter is Catholic teaching. Just want to clarification.

BenYachov said...

@Everyone

At this point I hoped against all hope Stone Tops would give up his fundamentalism & start to think rationally and philosophically even if only to be a rational Atheist or a philosophical one but it seems as evidenced from his last post he has freely chosen to follow the Troll path of djindra.

Most likely because it doesn't require any hard thinking.

I wrote:
>>If I offered you a million dollars to watch my dog & you got the poor thing killed then you lost a million dollars even thought I had not formerly given it to you

Troll boy answered:
>And thus neither I nor anyone who can trace their line back to me can ever have a million dollars?

How does that show you didn't lose a million dollars? In a like manner Adam and Eve did lose the Beatific Vision. A vision they would have received had they told the Snake/Devil what to go do with himself.

>Right... that is what you say... not what Mr. Feser said.

A fundamentalist to the end. I don't believe in a perspicuous Bible much less a perspicuous philosopher but I know the same back round info he does & I also know you have nothing serious to contribute here.

Your loss son.

Now the wife & I have a date!

Smell ya later.

djindra said...

BenYachov,

"In a like manner Adam and Eve did lose the Beatific Vision. A vision they would have received had they told the Snake/Devil what to go do with himself."

Adam and Eve did not have a "Beatific Vision" to lose and never would have had one if the serpent hadn't offered his advice. They knew nothing about good and evil. That means they knew nothing of Yahweh's goodness either. If "Beatific Vision" means anything it must include a knowledge of Yahweh's goodness. But they were refused that by the first commandment. Their "sin" made "Beatific Vision" possible.

Edward Feser said...

Hello all,

A few points:

1. When I say that Adam and Eve "lost the beatific vision," I don't mean that they had actually enjoyed it (in the way the saints in Heaven do) and then somehow sinned anyway. I just mean that it was going to be theirs if they wanted it -- what they had to do actually to "take possession" of it, as it were, was to obey -- but they chose instead to disobey.

2. Those here who are denying that original sin is essentially a privation are perhaps confusing it with concupiscence. In Catholic theology, original sin and concupiscence are distinct. Again, see the Catholic Encyclopedia articles I linked to for a useful overview.

3. I thank monk68 for his helpful remarks. I tried to avoid getting into the complications he brings up, since they were not relevant to the main point of the post and the post was complicated enough already. But interested readers who want to understand the Catholic approach to original sin should follow up on the points he makes.

Anonymous said...

djindra:

"Yahweh is inscrutable."

Even if that was true, why would it be a bad thing? We are after all hardly able to grasp our own physical world. No man is a specialist beyond a very narrow field. I'm curious why this makes you upset.

StoneTop said...

In a like manner Adam and Eve did lose the Beatific Vision.

Right... and then denied to all A/E's subsequent descendants? As your deity under your theology is the only source of the Beatific Vision then the situation is similar to someone being denied ever getting a million dollars because your dog died.

A fundamentalist to the end. I don't believe in a perspicuous Bible much less a perspicuous philosopher but I know the same back round info he does & I also know you have nothing serious to contribute here.

I have nothing to contribute? Your the one who keeps harping on my minor correction to your post... pointing out that not everybody knows that it was OI, not BV that was lost in the supposed fall.

George R. said...

monk 68:
In the original disobedience, Adam forfeited BOTH the supernatural and preternatural gifts, returning him to the state of mere natural humanity he possessed before the addition of these gifts.

It's worse than that. Human nature itself was damaged by the sin of Adam. That's why we call it "FALLEN human nature."

Tursunov said...

George R:One thing's for sure, original sin resulted in not only a privation of the supernatural but also a corruption of the natural.

George R:It's worse than that. Human nature itself was damaged by the sin of Adam. That's why we call it "FALLEN human nature.

George R, if human nature is fallen and corrupted as you say, then how can we possibly take it to be a sound guide to what is objectively good for us and what is objectively bad for us?

I mean, the entirety of Natural Law theory of morality and goodness in general seems to be in jeopardy if nature itself, including human nature, is currently corrupted.

monk68 said...

George wrote:

“Human nature itself was damaged by the sin of Adam. That's why we call it ‘FALLEN human nature.’”

No, that is not consistent with the Catholic theological tradition. Human nature is not "FALLEN" in the sense that human nature itself is damaged, corrupted, etc. In that case, the nature we now possess (post-lapsarian) would not, in fact, be human nature, but some disfigured approximation to it. Human nature is said to be "fallen" because that thing which already existed - human nature - had been ELEVATED beyond its intrinsic capacities. The "fallen-ness" is said only in reference to the prior elevation of the thing itself (which was what it was before being elevated). The thing itself - human nature – remains, after the fall, what it always was per se (prior to its elevation). It is a fall FROM grace (a supernatural and preternatural perch or height to which God had elevated it), not a fall in the sense of an intrinsic disfiguring, not a spoiling.

I wonder if perhaps you are associating the technical "what" of human nature (rational animal) with the special state of human nature AFTER it had been granted preternatural gifts, and then construing human-nature+preternatural-gifts as "human nature" per se?

That would be a serious (though understandable) theological mistake which WOULD entail that human nature itself has become corrupt or disfigured because it no longer possesses the preternatural gifts which one mistakenly took to be intrinsic to human nature simpliciter. Since, if human nature can truly be “human nature” only when in possession of one or more or these preternatural gifts; then "naturally", the obvious fact of the absence of such gifts among historical and modern men entails that we, as a race, no longer possess “human nature” so defined.

But again, the Catholic theological tradition affirms that the preternatural gifts were gifts ADDED ONTO an already in tact human nature; a nature which is naturally weak and naturally subject to ignorance, disordered passions and will, and physical sickness, change and decay. The various dimensions of human nature are naturally weak because intellect (dependent on material sensation), will (affected by emotions and feelings arising at least partly in conjunction with our bio-chemistry) and biology (our physicality) all have a relation to the material order – in itself good yet "naturally", changeable, finite, interactive, interdependent, progressive and requiring a constant process of death, decay, rebirth, etc. in order that the vast panoply of existents (including human beings) might come into existence, survive and even flourish (think ecosystems, biospheres, “uni”-verse).

At any rate, I think you are mistaken in your understanding of the Catholic notion of pre-lapsarian, pre-gifted, human nature. Because you begin with a false premise, you logically arrive at the false conclusion that human nature is intrinsically corrupt or essentially different from that possessed by pre-lapsarian, pre-gifted Adam. I maintain that Catholic theology does not affirm the premise, therefore it does not affirm the conclusion.

Pax

Ray

Tursunov said...

I mean, the entirety of Natural Law theory of morality and goodness in general seems to be in jeopardy if nature itself, including human nature, is currently corrupted.

Let me amend this: I meant to say "if nature itself and human nature" is currently corrupted, not "including human nature." "Nature" by itself is referring to the physical world of particles, processes, and events.


As of yet, I am unable to square the notion of a "corrupted physical world" with the Natural Law theory of morality and goodness in general.

monk68 said...

Tursunov wrote:

"I mean, the entirety of Natural Law theory of morality and goodness in general seems to be in jeopardy if nature itself, including human nature, is currently corrupted."

Right, and there are dire ramifications in the area of soteriology; for Catholic soteriology centers around the fact that Christ was hypostatically united to “our” humanity (human nature), which in turn serves as the fundamental basis for understanding how the free gift of Himself (including the common human nature He shares with us) on the cross can “cancel-out” or entail restitution (not penal substitution) for the evil act of our first parents and all past, present and future evil acts committed by "humanity" in aggregate. Christ's assumption of human nature (and indirectly the entire cosmos, since human nature is the apex of the material order, the bridge between the material and immaterial) is thus crucial for our understanding of human and cosmic redemption. If our current "nature" is not truly "human nature" full stop, and if Christ assumed our current nature then Christ did not assume "human nature" but something different - whatever our nature currently is. But Christ came to redeem “man”, not quasi-man. On the other hand, if Christ assumed “human nature”, but our current nature is not really “human nature” full stop, then Christ assumed a nature unlike ours and it becomes difficult to see how his obedience to the point of death on a cross can be representative of post-lapsarian man, since Christ would not be hypostatically united to “our” nature as it currently stands.

Anyhow, I believe it is crucial to be clear and precise about what human nature entails, and what it does not.

Pax

The Masked Chicken said...

BenYackov,

You wrote:

That is incorrect only God is Timeless the Blessed in Heaven are not in Eternity but in Sempiternity.

What I wrote:

There is no time in heaven, at least in an earthly sense, and that seems to be required for sin.

I said, "at least in an earthly sense." This in no way implies there cannot be other senses of time in heaven. I know about sempeternity or aveternity, as it is often called. This is a thelogoumena of St. Thomas Aquinas (and other theologians) used to explain how there can be motion in heaven, but not change. Nevertheless, my point stands - the will is unchangeable in heaven and the will is the seat of sin. Since the will cannot change, there cannot be sin in heaven. Adam could change his will and so, he could sin.

Please, read my comments more closely.

The Chicken

The Masked Chicken said...

Monk68,

You wrote:

No, that is not consistent with the Catholic theological tradition. Human nature is not "FALLEN" in the sense that human nature itself is damaged, corrupted, etc. In that case, the nature we now possess (post-lapsarian) would not, in fact, be human nature, but some disfigured approximation to it. Human nature is said to be "fallen" because that thing which already existed - human nature - had been ELEVATED beyond its intrinsic capacities. The "fallen-ness" is said only in reference to the prior elevation of the thing itself (which was what it was before being elevated). The thing itself - human nature – remains, after the fall, what it always was per se (prior to its elevation). It is a fall FROM grace (a supernatural and preternatural perch or height to which God had elevated it), not a fall in the sense of an intrinsic disfiguring, not a spoiling.

This is not entirely complete Catholic teaching. From, Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, Chapter 2, &24:

The consequences of original sin are, following Luke, 10, 30, summarized by the scholastic theologians, in the axiom: By Adam's sin man is deprived of the supernatural gifts and wounded in his nature (spoliatus gratuitis, vulneratus in naturalibus) The word gratuita usually means only the supernatural gifts and naturalia the gifts of integrity, which were part of man's abilities before the fall.

Ott goes on, in the same article to state that there are two possible acceptable interpretations of, "the wounding of nature." There is the positive form, wherein man lost his supernatural and preternatural gifts and was returned to a purely human state (this is your interpretation and St. Thomas Aquinas's), but there is also the acceptable interpretation that the wounding of nature was a genuine sickening, but not total corrupting of the human nature.

The Church has not made a definitive statement, either way.

In either case, human nature was not totally corrupted, as the Reformers hold.

So, both you and George have room within the Church for acceptability of your opinions.

The Chicken

George R. said...

Monk68,

Philosophically you raise a interesting point. Theologically, however, you’ve got a problem.
I'll deal first with the latter.

Council of Trent, Decree on Original Sin:
1. If any one does not confess that the first man, Adam, when he had transgressed the commandment of God in Paradise, immediately lost the holiness and justice wherein he had been constituted; and that he incurred, through the offence of that prevarication, the wrath and indignation of God, and consequently death, with which God had previously threatened him, and, together with death, captivity under his power who thenceforth had the empire of death, that is to say, the devil, and that the entire Adam, through that offence of prevarication, was changed, in body and soul, for the worse; let him be anathema.
2. If any one asserts, that the prevarication of Adam injured himself alone, and not his posterity; and that the holiness and justice, received of God, which he lost, he lost for himself alone, and not for us also; or that he, being defiled by the sin of disobedience, has only transfused death, and pains of the body, into the whole human race, but not sin also, which is the death of the soul; let him be anathema


I really don’t see how your views can be squared with those of the Council of Trent.

As for your philosophical argument, you write:

The thing itself - human nature – remains, after the fall, what it always was per se. . .

I would agree with this insofar as human nature refers to what man is essentially or substantially, i.e., insofar as man is the composite of substantial form and primary matter. But insofar as man is a concrete whole, i.e., a composite of body and soul, this is the way that he has been changed for the worse, as the Council of Trent teaches. Therefore, although the change is accidental not substantial, it has nevertheless done devastating damage to the human nature of Adam and all his posterity, excepting two.

George R. said...

Tursunov:
George R, if human nature is fallen and corrupted as you say, then how can we possibly take it to be a sound guide to what is objectively good for us and what is objectively bad for us?

As I wrote above, human nature has not been changed essentially, but has been accidentally perverted. Therefore, I say that human nature, in its fallen state, can be used a guide -- but not a SOUND guide.

I mean, the entirety of Natural Law theory of morality and goodness in general seems to be in jeopardy if nature itself, including human nature, is currently corrupted.

Human nature is corrupted, and Natural Law theory will always be in jeopardy as long as it refuses to be subject to divine revelation.

monk68 said...

The Chicken wrote:

“The Church has not made a definitive statement, either way.

In either case, human nature was not totally corrupted, as the Reformers hold.

So, both you and George have room within the Church for acceptability of your opinions.”

I grant what you say in terms of the lack of a definitive statement (one promulgated definitively via the ordinary or extraordinary Magisterium). But then, that is why I specifically maintained that George’s view is inconsistent with the Catholic “theological tradition” (not that it is heretical or outside the scope of allowable theological opinion, because not contrary to definitive teaching).

I would argue that Aquinas’ view is dominant and most representative of the scholastic theological heritage; precisely because it avoids many philosophical and theological pitfalls that other positions do not (I gave a few examples). And of course, Aquinas is recognized as the Church’s theologian par excel lance, the Angelic Doctor – though I grant this does not mean that all his theological opinions are thereby rubberstamped by the Magisterium. So thank you for the clarification.

Pax

Ray

monk68 said...

George quoted the Council of Trent as follows:

“. . . and that the entire Adam, through that offence of prevarication, was changed, in body and soul, for the worse “

But of course, Adam’s body lost the integrity it formerly possessed via the preternatural gifts; thus, returning the body to its natural susceptibility to sickness, decay and death. The soul lost the supernatural gift of sanctifying grace (original justice), returning it to its natural state of intellect and will wherein the intellect labors slowly and progressively against ignorance by way of sense – perception – conception and judgment, and the will is easily drawn to lower, more immediate finite goods which sustain biological and sensate life. Again, the entire quote is perfectly compatible with a change in Adam’s body and soul FROM a state of elevation (preternatural and supernatural gifts respectively) back to the state of human nature, just as Adam possessed it prior to being elevated by these nature-transcending gifts.

Again you quoted Trent:

“. . . or that he, being defiled by the sin of disobedience, has only transfused death, and pains of the body, into the whole human race, but not sin also, which is the death of the soul; let him be anathema”

By this, neither Trent, nor any number of other Magisterial passages, mean to imply that something akin to a sin-like substance or element is passed from Adam to his progeny. Rather, what is meant is that by Adam’s disobedience, man has lost the supernatural and preternatural gifts, thereby casting man back upon human-nature alone, which is – BY NATURE weak and easily susceptible to choosing lower goods over higher goods (the essence of sin) precisely because of natural ignorance in the intellect and weakness of will or intentionality in relation to the movement of the passions (emotions and feelings). In short, man in his NATURAL state is prone to sin through weakness, and Adam’s sin consigned us to nature, having lost for us precisely those gifts which would have overcome those weaknesses. Hence, his actions are said to effect sin in us on account of forfeiting for himself and his descendants those gifts which enable men to overcome sin. It does NOT mean that sin is an ontological thing in itself that can be passed on like a gene. Sin is a moral evil, which is a privation of a due good. Hence it is not, even in principle, a “thing” that can be passed on. Again the Catholic tradition is careful to affirm that concupiscence is not sin, but rather a prone-ness to sin via natural human weakness intrinsic to human nature per se.

Hence, I really don’t see why you don’t see how my (and Aquinas’) views can be squared with those of the Council of Trent.

You also wrote:

“But insofar as man is a concrete whole, i.e., a composite of body and soul, this is the way that he has been changed for the worse, as the Council of Trent teaches.”

I have no idea what you mean by this statement.

Pax

Ray

Tap said...

Fr. John Hardon S.J on the fall

BenYachov said...

Back from my date with the Wife. It was good.

The Chicken dude wrote:
>There is no time in heaven, at least in an earthly sense, and that seems to be required for sin.

Then I apologize and withdraw part of the criticism.

Thought I would still say it is the Beatific Vision alone by it's Nature that prevents saved persons and Angels from falling.

I would still say that just because time there is different is not a factor.

Sorry to quibble bro. Anyway still a big Chicken fan! Cheers!

djindra said...

Anonymous,

"Even if that was true, why would it be a bad thing? We are after all hardly able to grasp our own physical world. No man is a specialist beyond a very narrow field. I'm curious why this makes you upset."

It doesn't upset me in the least. I do wonder what the original writers of the biblical stories would think of the way their ideas are interpreted today. Was "faith" even on the mind of the author of the Garden of Eden? It seems better associated with Jacob and his wrestling. "No more shall you be called Jacob, but Israel," declared the angel, "for you have wrestled with God and with men, and have prevailed." To make the Garden of Eden into a story about submission and sin seems like a travesty of the author's intent to me. I think he understood there are no clear answers when one wrestles with God. But with that wrestling one can have dignity. With blind submission, one never does.

George R. said...

Monk68:

By this, neither Trent, nor any number of other Magisterial passages, mean to imply that something akin to a sin-like substance or element is passed from Adam to his progeny. . .It does NOT mean that sin is an ontological thing in itself that can be passed on like a gene. . . Hence it is not, even in principle, a “thing” that can be passed on.


Council of Trent:

this sin of Adam,--which in its origin is one, and being transfused into all by propogation. . .

monk68 said...

George

". . . this sin of Adam . . ."

This sin of Adam just is “the” original sin, the actual sin of Adam which gives rise to “original sin” in others as a state, not an act. It is a state involving the loss of, or privation of, sanctifying grace/original justice and its associated preternatural gifts of integrity. It is not an ontological thing or substance.

". . . which in its origin is one, and being transfused into all by propogation . . ."

Its origin is one because caused by the disobedience of one man. It is transfused into all because all the progeny of Adam, receive from him a nature which is deprived of sanctifying grace. The progeny of Adam are born in a "state of original sin", which is to say, born without original holiness or justice. His progeny are left only with human nature and its inherent weaknesses which make it prone to sin, so that upon reaching the age of reason, it is almost inevitable that any given human being will quickly engage in actual, culpable sin by choosing a lower good at the expense of a higher good due to ignorance, weakness of will or some combination of the two.

It is not as though human nature per se, left to itself, was ever inherently strong or capable of avoiding evil for any substantial length of time, and then Adam sinned and human nature was suddenly corrupted or weakened into some shadow of its former self, into the un-naturally inept nature that we all now possess. No, human nature was ALWAYS this weak in itself. It always required an elevation by God in order to rise above its own intrinsic weaknesses to attain a goal that transcends strictly natural capacities. Thus, God elevated human nature – in its natural state – to a new state and mode of existence where it was supported by supernatural and preternatural gifts. This the elevated state from which man “fell”. Without Adam's sin, we would have inherited a human nature which enjoyed the super-added benefits of both sanctifying grace and the preternatural gifts of integrity. Because Adam sinned, we are left with human nature alone, devoid of such gifts. In short, we inherit concupiscence from Adam (propensity to sin), which is just a fancy word to describe the natural weakness of human nature per se. And, naturally, this condition is transfused through natural propagation of an un-graced, unstable, human nature – which is what human nature always was and always will be unless elevated by divine gifts. We do not inherit actual sin, or a sin-substance through natural generation.

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church

“How did the sin of Adam become the sin of all his descendants? The whole human race is in Adam "as one body of one man".293 By this "unity of the human race" all men are implicated in Adam's sin, as all are implicated in Christ's justice. Still, the transmission of original sin is a mystery that we cannot fully understand. But we do know by Revelation that Adam had received original holiness and justice not for himself alone, but for all human nature. By yielding to the tempter, Adam and Eve committed a personal sin, but this sin affected the human nature that they would then transmit in a fallen state.294 It is a sin which will be transmitted by propagation to all mankind, that is, by the transmission of a human nature deprived of original holiness and justice. And that is why original sin is called "sin" only in an analogical sense: it is a sin "contracted" and not "committed" - a state and not an act.” [CCC 404]

Note the catechism’s clarification / interpretation of the theological tradition wherein original sin is “called ‘sin’ only in an analogical sense. I think you are missing that very point, which is why you seem to insist upon interpreting Trent in a different direction.

Pax

Ray

Brian said...

StoneTop: Except in this case, where it was clearly stated that Catholics rely on the authority of God to demonstrate the authority of God.

Read Feser's post again. Nowhere does he say that Catholics "rely on the authority of God to demonstrate the authority of God." Rather, as I have said, Catholics claim that, prior to the assent of faith, we can know through reason that God exists and that he is trustworthy.

StoneTop:Unless you have faith in the wrong God. After all don't the YEC's have faith that the Bible is literally true? And there are certainly Muslims who believe in the Koran... Sikhs have their faith... Wiccans have their faith... etc...

You think you are saying something, but you are not. It is precisely the point that, antecedent to to the assent of faith, we can know enough to know that 1) God exists 2) God revealed himself through Christ Jesus 3) Christ Jesus founded the CC and imparted to her to the fullness of Christian revelation. And so, if we are right, we would have faith in precisely the "right" God. In other words, you are comparing apples and oranges. Those groups (most of them, anyway) have fideistic faith - that is not the kind of faith of Catholicism.

StoneTop: Is the question here "what do Catholics believe" or "is what Catholics believe based on reason?"

They are related questions as far as this blog post is concerned. As Feser said, his goal was to explain Catholic teaching, not to support it. Hypothetically, our support of Catholic beliefs may ultimately fail, but that is not the point, here.

StoneTop: Who says that God can neither deceive nor be deceived?

Reason.

StoneTop: So it is "the Catholic Church is right because it teaches that the Catholic Church is right?"

I know this is very difficult for you - you seem incapable of not reading into Catholic thought Protestant assumptions. We are saying that the propositions I outlined earlier can be known by reason apart from faith, apart from the teaching of the Catholic Church. After that is established, we can make the assent of faith in God and trust in what he as revealed as stipulated by his divinely appointed Church.

StoneTop: In what way? Aren't you asking me to accept that the Catholic Church has the authority because the Catholic Church says it has the authority?

I am not asking you to do anything. Like Feser in this blog post, I am explaining Catholic teaching. Supporting it is an altogether different thing.

BenYachov said...

@Brian

You should know Stone Tops is an ex-Fundamentalist Protestant turned Atheist.

He actually thinks ANSWERS IN GENESIS is the historical way to understand the ancient Christian view of Creation and the Old Testament.

Go luck to you. I have no patience for willful stupidity.

BenYachov said...

What is it with New Atheists that the lot of them are mindless fundies when it comes to Holy Scripture?

Let's take djindra's ignorant nonsense.

>Adam and Eve did not have a "Beatific Vision" to lose and never would have had one if the serpent hadn't offered his advice.

So you are oblivious to the fact the serpent is really the Devil not an actual intelligent snake?

Also an Omniscient God would not have foreseen this to used it for His own purposes?

Not to mention that even a God with Foreknowledge and an immutable will can still will conditionally?

Of course you don't? Your a New Atheist. It's like asking a YEC to explain Punctuated Equilibrium. It's not going to happen.

>They knew nothing about good and evil. That means they knew nothing of Yahweh's goodness either.

Maybe I would take you seriously if you didn't treat the English Translation as divinely inspired & you didn't treat the Bible according to the Protestant perspicuity heresy.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tree_of_the_knowledge_of_good_and_evil

>If "Beatific Vision" means anything it must include a knowledge of Yahweh's goodness. But they were refused that by the first commandment.

YHWH is Goodness Itself and Being Itself. He is not some thing that has the property of Goodness he is that Goodness. Besides Grace is something God has to give you & you can't earn it by your mere natural powers. You can't pull yourself up to Heaven by your own bootstraps.

If the Tree was somehow a Sacrament according to your interpretation then it must be given freely by God and man has no right to take it or power to profit from it if he does.

If Adam and Eve obeyed then God would have given it too them and they would have had the beatific vision.

>Their "sin" made "Beatific Vision" possible.

Rather if we believe Aquinas their Sin made the Incarnation possible. Aquinas believed God the Word only became Incarnate to redeem us(Franciscans believe He would have done it anyway...they are entitled to that opinion). The Incarnation, Death Resurrection etc won us the Beatific Vision and an exalted place in Heaven above the Angels.

Part of the Goodness of God to allow evil so He may bring Good out of it and so forth.

Now you may response by saying something brilliant like "There is No God so none of this is true & you believe in farie tales" or worst "You can't prove this by science thus it can't be true" or some such Positivist nonsense no educated Atheist philosopher would be caught dead saying.

I don't care I am not proving anything to you. I'm informing you of the facts so you don't look like a complete arse. If you are going to disbelieve at least know what you are talking about.

djindra said...

BenYachov,

"So you are oblivious to the fact the serpent is really the Devil not an actual intelligent snake?"

The text says serpent. Your interpretation is that it's the devil too. And that's okay. But it's referred to as a serpent in the text. If the text can refer to the devil as a serpent I can too. If you have a problem with that, your problem is not with me. It's with the author of the text. You might have an issue with Jesus too: "Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves."

"Also an Omniscient God would not have foreseen this to used it for His own purposes?"

It doesn't matter. Besides, it was the serpent who was crafty, not Yahweh.

"Not to mention that even a God with Foreknowledge and an immutable will can still will conditionally?"

You're supposed to be exposing my nonsense, not exposing your own.

"Maybe I would take you seriously if you didn't treat the English Translation as divinely inspired & you didn't treat the Bible according to the Protestant perspicuity heresy."

I'm not a Protestant. I'm merely interpreting the text. You can believe the Pope's interpretation or your mother's. There's no difference to me. But if your favored interpretation is to be taken seriously on this issue, it's going to have to have a pretty good explanation of why Adam did not know good but was acquainted with Yahweh. That's a pretty serious statement the author is making. Your link doesn't touch that issue.

"YHWH is Goodness Itself and Being Itself."

How sweet. But I didn't raise that issue because I already assumed it. The issue is, assuming Yahweh is indeed goodness itself, how come Adam didn't realize that this being was goodness itself?

"Rather if we believe Aquinas their Sin made the Incarnation possible."

That's a different issue.

"Part of the [the] Goodness of God [is] to allow evil so He may bring Good out of it and so forth."

Again, that is not in dispute. My interpretation of the text depends on the goodness of Yahweh no matter what that means.

"Now you may response by saying something brilliant like..."

Your record at predicting what I'm going to say is very poor.

Tap said...

This is quickly becoming troll fest. Would you guys just ignore trolls? I mean if someone does not believe in God, why argue with him about grace, Authority of Catholic church, Santifying grace? Nature of Serpert.

BenYachov said...

Actually djindra has proven my point.

Scratch an Atheist find a Fundamentalist.

Anonymous said...

djindra: "But with that wrestling one can have dignity. With blind submission, one never does."

But would you expect your 3 yr old to understand everything you demanded of it? You know very well one can try to reason with children, mentally retarded, those with severe personality disorders and psychotics but you'll usually not win. Often children even understand that something is important, but don't want to oblige anyway. And there is surely dignity in submission as the man who tolerates a strict boss and swallows his pride to keep food on the table for his children or the engineer who left Zimbabwe with his family to work as a street sweeper or a car guard in Johannesburg so that his children won't have to suffer in his homeland or go through the process of immigration themselves.

Doognitz said...

I realize this is a moot point however one I have often wondered about.... what if the first generation "Adams Family" did not rebel against God? Would their progeny be subject to the same test? Or if they did not rebel would there even be a progeny.?

djindra said...

BenYachov,

Your definition of fundamentalism appears to apply to anyone who denies the Catholic interpretation of things.

djindra said...

Anonymous,

"And there is surely dignity in submission as the man who tolerates a strict boss and swallows his pride to keep food on the table for his children or the engineer who left Zimbabwe with his family to work as a street sweeper or a car guard in Johannesburg so that his children won't have to suffer in his homeland or go through the process of immigration themselves."

I agree.

In the first scenario it's unlikely the father gets dignity points in the boss's eyes and I doubt the father sees his dignity gained by a blind acceptance of the boss's rules. Those rules must be suffered through. They are not an unqualified good from the father's POV. The good is found outside the workplace -- outside the boss's Eden. The father lives under different rules.

The second scenario roughly parallel's my interpretation of Eden. The father does not blindly accept Zimbabwe's rules. He moves on. He escapes the comforts of Eden for a life where work is tough and dirty but nevertheless there is hope for real dignity.

Daniel A. Duran said...

djindra
“Adam and Eve did not have a "Beatific Vision" to lose and *never would have had one* if the serpent hadn't offered his advice.”

Highlighted part is question begging and not supported by what comes next, namely: “(before eating from the tree of good and evil) They knew nothing about good and evil.”

You made that up, Djindra. The author(S) of genesis expressly tells us that they knew about good and evil before eating from the tree.

“That means they knew nothing of Yahweh's goodness either. If "Beatific Vision" means anything it must include a knowledge of Yahweh's goodness.”

More question begging assertions unsupported by the biblical text.

“But they were refused that (beatific vision) by (disobeying) the first commandment.”

Disobeying the first commandment or any commandment presupposes the ability to distinguish good and evil. This contradicts what you said before about Adam and Eve not knowing anything about good and evil.

It is apparent that consistency is not your strength.

djindra said...

Daniel A. Duran,

"The author(S) of genesis expressly tells us that they knew about good and evil before eating from the tree."

Where?

"Disobeying the first commandment or any commandment presupposes the ability to distinguish good and evil."

No, it does not. One does not have to be good or know good to obey.

Esse Participatum said...

@monk68

You wrote: "In short, man in his NATURAL state is prone to sin through weakness"

I curious what your response to the following reasoning would be (I am myself wondering where the fallacy lies):

a) If man in his natural state is prone to sin, it would seem that he is in his natural state prone to imperfection.

b) But every being seeks its own perfection, and the principle means to this perfection are due to its nature.

c) If, therefore, man in his natural state is prone to imperfection because of some natural weakness, i.e. a lack of sufficient power (or some other quality), then he is in his natural state lacking something which is due to his nature (b).

The consequent seems absurd.

Daniel A. Duran said...

Djindra: “Where?”

“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was *good* for food and *pleasing* to the eye, and also *desirable* for gaining wisdom”

“No, it does not. One does not have to be good or know good to obey.”

Can you mention a single instance where disobeying a command is neither good or bad? I rest my case.

BeingItself said...

"Some skeptical readers . . . mocked my statement that “there is no evidence against” the supposition that God may have infused human souls into creatures descended from sub-intellectual hominids. They seem to think that what I was saying is that because a certain religious authority has said somethingthat by itself suffices to show that it is true, or that the mere fact that there is no evidence against a proposition licenses us in believing it if we are so inclined."

That is not what I thought you were saying, nor could a careful reading of my comments make it "seem" that's what I thought you were saying.

My point is simply that when you make magical unverifiable or untestable suppositions there can be no evidence against them.

So, your comment was meaningless.

Yet it provides a sophistical veneer of giving your supposition more weight.

You are stealing the concept of evidence from the skeptic's toolkit, but using it incompetently.

There are many great critical thinking books out there. I suggest you read one or two.

BenYachov said...

>Your definition of fundamentalism appears to apply to anyone who denies the Catholic interpretation of things.

Rather someone who doesn't used the Catholic method of interpretation or the categories of interpretation for Holy Scripture.

(i.e. Literal, Allegorical, moral,etc)

Someone who uses a literalistic hermeneutic 100% of the time and assumes the Bible is uniformly to be treated as a modern literary genre & perspicuous is a fundie.

Atheists have no business debating the proper interpretation of the Bible since they do no recognize the authority or divine origin of said Bible.

I can misinterpret the Koran contrary to Muslim norms of Koranic interpretation & throw out their Hadiths in order to "prove" the Deity of Christ from the Koran itself but what Muslim is going to be moved by that?

In a like manner why should any Catholic be moved by your Gnu'toid misinterpretation of Scripture djindra? Why do you waste our time?

If you had any brains you would learn philosophy already and make the case against the existence of God or particular arguments for the existence of God. Last time with One Brow at the end of the thread was a pathetic start but at least it was something.

Ah it's futile. A fundie Atheist Positivist is as tough a nut to crack as any YEC.

BenYachov said...

>My point is simply that when you make magical unverifiable or untestable suppositions there can be no evidence against them.

Your unstated Positivist Philosophy is just as magical unverifiable or untestable a supposition there can be no evidence against.

Quite a boast from a Scientism/Positivist Gnu.

It's about as boring to Catholics as Prot Fundies who rant "The Bible doesn't mention a Sinless Mary".

You have no coherent theory of evidence Gnu.

None at all.

Hypocrite!

BeingItself said...

Ben,

Not sure if you are misrepresenting me on purpose, or if your reading was just not careful.

I am not a logical positivist. I am not guilty of scientism.

The statement that was meaningless was "there is no evidence against it", because no evidence against it is possible.

His supposition was certainly meaningful, but it was extremely silly and ad hoc.

Anonymous said...

BenYachov,

From the point of view of an Orthodox Jew, would it be fair to characterize as "fundamentalist" any interpretation of the Hebrew Scriptures that departs from the methods and theories of the Talmudic sages?

djindra said...

Daniel A. Duran,

the fruit of the tree was *good* for food

A dog can see that something is good for food. Does that make a dog a moral agent? Does the dog know from *good* food that certain acts are *good* or *evil*? I think not.

and *pleasing* to the eye

Is seeing that an apple is pretty or enticing the same as the ability to know good from evil? I think not.

and also *desirable* for gaining wisdom”

*Gaining* implies one does not already have what one wishes to gain. And in the context of the story it's clear that Eve did not possess the wisdom she wished to gain.

Can you mention a single instance where disobeying a command is neither good or bad?

Certainly. A dog obeys or disobeys its master. The dog has no idea that its obedience is either good or evil.

If you rested your case you lost miserably.

BenYachov said...

>From the point of view of an Orthodox Jew, would it be fair to characterize as "fundamentalist" any interpretation of the Hebrew Scriptures that departs from the methods and theories of the Talmudic sages?

Pshat, Drash, Midrash and Gamentra are very close to Augustines method.

I would say no.

BenYachov said...

Beingitself,

You said "I am not a logical positivist. I am not guilty of scientism."

But you also said"My point is simply that when you make magical unverifiable or untestable suppositions there can be no evidence against them."

Cut the crap Gnu! The boldfaced words above are not typically used by persons who seek none empirical none scientific forms of proof.

So enough of the Scientism/Positivism.

Learn philosophy, respond philosophically or smeg off!

Anonymous said...

"Pshat, Drash, Midrash and Gamentra are very close to Augustines method."

I would say Augustine's method is very close to Pshat, Drash, Midrash and Gamentra. Yet A. departs in both method and in conclusions reached.

Anonymous said...

"Learn philosophy, respond philosophically or smeg off!"

Case in point. Who Gnu?

djindra said...

BenYachov,

You say a fundamentalist is "someone who doesn't use the Catholic method of interpretation or the categories of interpretation for Holy Scripture." So you make it clear you are playing alone in a rhetorical sand pile. When your usage of words like "fundamentalist" is unlike anyone else, it's safe to ignore your rants.

"Someone who uses a literalistic hermeneutic 100% of the time ..."

Translation: Someone who tries to use words as they are used by others.

"Atheists have no business debating the proper interpretation of the Bible since they do no recognize the authority or divine origin of said Bible."

I can interpret biblical stories like I can interpret Homeric stories or a movie. Your desire that I shouldn't doesn't move me.

"I can misinterpret the Koran contrary to Muslim norms of Koranic interpretation & throw out their Hadiths in order to "prove" the Deity of Christ from the Koran itself but what Muslim is going to be moved by that?"

Christians interpret the Jewish Torah to suit Christian purposes. So don't pretend I'm doing something you aren't.

"In a like manner why should any Catholic be moved by your Gnu'toid misinterpretation of Scripture djindra? Why do you waste our time?"

If I'm wasting your time don't read me. It wouldn't bother me a bit. All you do is throw eggs anyway. But your attitude is disingenuous. Christians use these stories to evangelize their faith. Since I think your religion is not only false, but easily abused, I have a duty to offer an alternative, particularly when I think my interpretation is a better interpretation.

monk68 said...

Esse Participatum wrote:

“a) If man in his natural state is prone to sin, it would seem that he is in his natural state prone to imperfection.

b) But every being seeks its own perfection, and the principle means to this perfection are due to its nature.

c) If, therefore, man in his natural state is prone to imperfection because of some natural weakness, i.e. a lack of sufficient power (or some other quality), then he is in his natural state lacking something which is due to his nature (b).”

I would distinguish the first premise by clarifying what in means to be prone to sin and imperfection. The prone-ness involves the ease with which the intellect can be trapped by ignorance, and the ease with which the will can be led to embrace lower goods at the expense of higher. But ease in no way implies necessity. A converse way of saying that the intellect and will are easily led astray would be to say that the natural intellect of man overcomes ignorance with great effort and difficulty, and that the natural will of man lights upon natural man’s highest good with great effort and difficulty. In short, man in his natural state – human nature – DOES possess sufficient capacities to seek and achieve his own NATURAL perfection (i.e. man has the necessary tools of natural intellect and will to reach a merely natural end, but he does not possess the necessary tools to achieve a supernatural end. The later requires new higher capacities capable of achieving a new higher end). St. Thomas speaks of this in the very first article of the Summa where he responds to the question concerning whether or not man needs a Divine Revelation. There he states that natural knowledge of God as first cause and creator and by extension our obligation to serve and show thanks to the Creator (which would roughly exhaust the perfection of man in his natural state – i.e. entail his highest end according to nature) are indeed possible for mankind, but only with great difficulty and after many errors and wrong turns. So, in short, proneness to sin and imperfection (ultimately the same thing) does not entail the impossibility of natural man achieving his natural end or perfection – it only means that it is achieved with great difficulty.

(cntd)

monk68 said...

As to the second premise, I would simply reiterate that the “perfection” of merely natural man (i.e. his highest good or highest end) is a natural knowledge and willful adoration of God as first cause and creator, since this knowledge and this willful embrace are the most that can be reached by merely natural intellect and will. And natural intellect and will are sufficient to achieve this end – though with great struggle and difficulty. Hence, the means to achieving natural perfection ARE given to natural man – to human nature per se. It is crucial to distinguish what “perfection” entails for human nature per se, over against what “perfection” entails for human nature assisted and supported by supernatural and preternatural gifts. After the initial offer and rejection of these gifts by our first parents, mankind suffers a privation, not of nature, but of super-nature. A privation according to the intentionality and plan of God for natural man (which entails the elevation of human nature into the very life of the Trinity). And there is no longer a question of a theoretical innocence for human nature (as though the gift had never been offered and rejected, as though the higher end of supernatural life had never been known). The gift has been rejected, and as a result, all the progeny of Adam are born with a complete human nature, yet nonetheless are said to suffer from original sin not because they lack anything within nature, as nature; but because they lack the supernatural justice and holiness which God wished to infuse within (add to) human nature in order to unite it with the Divine life. After the offer of an infinitely higher end for man than human nature, as nature, could ever lay claim to; there is no longer an option for man to rest or terminate his perfection in a merely natural perfection because man now knows there is a higher end opened up to him through the intentional gift of the Creator who seeks to be Father.

Thus, since man in his natural state does not lack sufficient means to achieve a strictly natural end (even though that achievement is quite difficult) the conclusion no longer follows.

Pax

Ray

Gail F said...

Tap said: This is quickly becoming a troll fest.

It's my experience that every post on this blog quickly becomes a troll fest. People seem to hang around here and argue while deliberately misunderstanding other people's arguments.

I enjoy the posts and some of the conversation but, sadly, my quest for intelligent discussion of philosophical and theological issues remains a quest. I honestly don't know why many of you bother. For instance, if you are not going to trouble yourself to understand what the word "original" means in the context of the term "original sin," why not go do something else with your time?????

Original sin is a fascinating concept. As Chesterton said, it is the only theological position that doesn't need to be defended, because we all have ample proof of it every day. I enjoyed (not the right word!) Alan Jacobs's book "Original Sin," which explores it in great detail. That is the only post I will leave here, merely out of the hope that someone actually interested in the idea might appreciate the recommendation.

Edward Feser said...

Re: trolls:

Folks, as you know, I prefer to moderate with a light hand and to keep things freewheeling around here, but that is only possible if you do your part and avoid troll-feeding and flame wars.

Like Tap and Gail, I am amazed that so many intelligent people waste time week after week with people who obviously have no desire to engage in a serious discussion. What they want is attention, and the reason they hang around as is that too many of you regularly give it to them.

So, please, do not feed the trolls. Not even to insult them or to call them trolls. That's what they want. It just craps up the combox and discourages serious people from commenting. Ignore them.

BeingItself said...

Ben,

Calm down. Let's have a conversation.

Feser provided a supposition that a god infused "souls" into two humans at some unknown time in the past. Then he said "there is no evidence against it".

Now, for that last phrase to mean anything, then some contrary evidence must be possible. Right?

So I ask you what could possibly be evidence against that supposition?

Tony said...

Stone Top is trying to push the modernist skeptic's notion that there is no such thing "knowledge" properly, at least not in humans, and the strict act of belief is an act that violates the human intellect's integrity. These are wrong.

Knowledge is where the intellect assents to a proposition with certainty based on adequate grounds to establish certainty. (One way of describing certainty is "without doubt", though there are other ways.) Several forms of experience provide adequate grounds for certainty: the sensory experience of the proper object of a sense faculty, when the organ is healthy: when you see the color red, you have adequate grounds for assenting to the statement "I see red" with certainty.

Also, self-evident truths provide adequate grounds for certainty: the statement "the whole is not less than the part" needs no further evidence outside the terms included. Anyone who suggests that he actually doubts this statement is either a fool or a madman (or both). Although highly educated skeptics may momentarily imagine that they doubt it, if placed in a situation where their money depends on recognizing truth, they don't doubt it in the least.

And the 3rd category are those propositions to which we reason (rigorously) from the prior known propositions.

If there is no such thing as being certain (with intellectual integrity, of course), then the skeptic MUST leave room for the possibility that the proposition "there is no human adequate grounds for certainty" being wrong, and thus someone else who says he has knows X cannot a-priori be said to be wrong, as the skeptic insists. Furthermore, the skeptic cannot actually doubt the rules of logic: though he may claim that there could be some other universe in which the rules are different, he cannot with integrity claim that he thinks the rules are not true here and now.

Tony said...

Belief, in its proper sense, refers to an act of assent in which you (a) don't properly speaking know the truth of the matter, (b) you assert the proposition as true, and (c) you do so with certainty (at least, without doubt, without reservation). It differs from opinion because with opinion you assert it as being possible to be wrong, you assert WITH reservation (you reserve room for mistake). It is not knowledge because you haven't adequate interior grounds for certainty.

The skeptic claims that such an act of belief violates the integrity of the intellect, which ought not to be asserting anything as certain without adequate internal grounds for certainty. Thus, ALL statements made when you don't know ought to be made with reservation. Thus the 1-in-a-trillion^trillion chance of all coins coming up heads is referred to as "very likely", not "certain."

That example may be right. But it does not get at the human reality. Humanly speaking, there are situations where we make acts of assent that call for assent of the complete, whole person, without reservation. For example, when you marry, you make a covenant with your spouse that involves ALL of you, not part. You don't reserve off a portion of yourself. For that reason, your consent is whole. But it would be naturally IMPOSSIBLE to make such a covenant if you retained doubt that the other party is doing likewise, that the other party loves you truly. The covenant is "I give my self to you and accept yourself to me", and it is NOT "I will give myself to you provided and on condition that you give yourself to me". There is no such condition. And this means that you believe, with certainty, that the other person loves you and is making the same covenant promise you are.

This gets to Joseph Pieper's comment that belief in a proposition always rests on a prior belief IN a person. I assent to the statement "she loves me" because I already believe in her as a person who represents herself to me without deceit. Belief implies a human loyalty: I trust her.

The skeptic points out that many times the person who believes his spouse is faithful turns out to be in error. This means that sometimes the belief happens to be misplaced in fact. It does NOT show that the act of belief is a wrongful sort of thing for humans to engage in. Let the skeptic's spouse ask him: do you believe that I love you. If the skeptic hedges and says "Oh, yes, with 97% confidence" then not only is his spouse upset, she is RIGHTLY upset with him. For this is not belief in her at all, it is a cold-hearted estimation of the risks and probabilities. And love cannot survive that. LOYALTY cannot survive that. Such a response is a admission of failure to be a true friend.Insofar as man is designed to belong to each other as friends, man is designed to believe IN each other. (This is why lying, always, does harm to society, it makes friendship and loyalty and total love impossible.)

Naturally speaking, belief in a friend does not prevent you from error: if the friend is, himself, mistaken, or has turned on you and deceives you, you will assert with certainty but you will be wrong. However, if the Friend is someone who cannot be in error and cannot deceive, then belief on the testimony of such a Friend cannot be error.

Josh said...

Tony,

Where can I find Pieper's comment that you mention? I'd very much like to read that...

djindra said...

Ed,

"I am amazed that so many intelligent people waste time week after week with people who obviously have no desire to engage in a serious discussion."

It works both ways.

BenYachov said...

@Edward Feser
>So, please, do not feed the trolls.

That's probably good idea there Prof Feser. Sometimes I answer them to test my arguments against a difficult opponent. Like setting a video game shooter to FATAL DEATHMATCH settings. You are not going to last more than 5 minutes with 2,000 Zombies falling on you and only 50 rounds and no body armor. But if your good you could last 7 minutes. Gnu’Atheist trolls are not intellectually challenging but their obstinate simplistic arguments sometimes are interesting. Thought they seem immune to adopting reason and common sense. Even if so doing doesn’t necessarily mean giving up their Atheism just the simple minded version of Atheism they hold.

But now I think is time for a moratorium on these people. Especially djindra and Tops is now a lost cause. I still have hope for Steersmen. BeingItself doesn’t seem to be following the argument so he is hopeless.

I will say this to BeingItself by way of a parting shot.

@BeingItself
>So I ask you what could possibly be evidence against that supposition?

You make a strong philosophical case that God does not exist. No god, nobody to give Adam and Eve souls. What you need me to tell you this? You can’t figure that out Genius? You make a strong philosophical case for materialism and or Metaphysical Naturalism. Same result! You take on Craig or NT. Wright & or the usual suspects’ arguments for the Resurrection of Christ. No risen Christ therefore Christ is not divine nobody to send the non-existent Holy Spirit to protect the Church from error. Thus no reason to accept the Catholic Church’s authority on these matters. Make a historic case that the early church wasn’t Catholic and wasn’t the Church Christ founded & there is no reason to listen to the Pope even if God exists and Christ is Lord. Make a philosophical case against the existence of miracles..etc. Rinse repeat!

But no, unless you can built a Time Machine and go back in time to witness the rise of man and see that it didn’t happen then no you can’t disprove God didn’t give two people spiritual souls 50 to 150 thousand years ago. But what of it? Do the other things it’s not hard. So quit your belly acking & maybe just maybe you will prove to be a rational Atheist instead of a bloody Gnu.

We are done. Now smeg off I am threw responding to you.

PS It is the duty of Catholics to do all the above in reverse.

It's still not hard.

BenYachov said...

BTW what Tony is talking about is brilliant! Perhaps in addition to doing the smack down on Positivism/Scientism we should look into Skepticism and the justifications for it. Not to mention the varieties of skepticism.

I myself am skeptical of skepticism specifically the kneejerk variety.

Anonymous said...

Ed,

Do you "do" Twitter? If so, what is your "handle"? If not, I think it'd be nice if you did.

BeingItself said...

Ben,

Thanks for the response.

You do seem to acknowledge that there could not be any evidence against a god infusing undetectable souls sometime in the distant past.

But then ask "What of it?"

Simple. Feser's claim that "there is no evidence against it" is meaningless. Which is all I'm claiming.

Aquinas3000 said...

I agree about the trolls. Especially djindra - I've read his comments and he's probably the most intellectually incompetent atheist commentator I've seen.

djindra said...

Aquinas3000,

"I agree about the trolls. Especially djindra - I've read his comments and he's probably the most intellectually incompetent atheist commentator I've seen."

And yet for all their trying, nobody here has ever made one competent argument against any of my positions. The clan much prefers walling themselves up in their dogmatic tower and pretending they are intellectuals. They invent enemy "trolls" or "gnu" atheists when their false sense of security is disrupted.

Vincent Torley said...

BeingItself

You take issue with Ed's statement that "'there is no evidence against' the supposition that God may have infused human souls into creatures descended from sub-intellectual hominids", on the grounds that souls are undetectable.

Spiritual souls are not empirically detectable, but their effects certainly are. Take a look at this video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vmanlBDFfw0

Empirically, I'd predict a sudden jump in the cognitive sophistication required to make stone tools, at the time true humans appeared. I'd also predict that since true humans had to have been capable of language (according to the Judeo-Christian account of origins) in order to disobey a Divine command, then the capacity for human language, which allows users to make an indefinitely large number of utterances from a finite number of elements, must have occurred at the same time, and that fossilized brain casts of early humans would confirm this.

My tentative guess is that the appearance of Acheulean hand-axes about 2 million years ago coincides with the ensoulment event described by Ed.

Got to go. Nice talking to you.

Daniel A. Duran said...

djindra:

“A dog can see that something is good for food. Does that make a dog a moral agent?”

Nice effort in trying to change subjects. You never asked whether Adam and eve were able to distinguish between moral good and evil. You asked whether Adam and Eve could distinguish between good and evil, period.

But your statement is a moot point to begin with; if you can consciously distinguish between good and evil in general you can distinguish between moral good and evil as well.

“*Gaining* implies one does not already have what one wishes to gain. And in the context of the story it's clear that Eve did not possess the wisdom she wished to gain.”

I wouldn’t care less about your interpretation of the bible and what you think the “context” of the story is. Whatever “tree of knowledge of good and evil” actually means is not what you think it means. The bible says that Eve and Adam could distinguish between good and bad prior to disobeying God. Have a problem with that? Your problem is with the text, not me.

“Certainly. A dog obeys or disobeys its master. The dog has no idea that its obedience is either good or evil.”

It's trivially true dogs do not understand whether they are acting morally or not…How is that even relevant to what I said?

Either the act of obedience is objectively good or objectively bad independently of what the dog thinks or fails to think.

“if you rested your case you lost miserably.”

ROFL, you’re not fooling anyone. Again, can you name a single act of disobedience that is neither good nor bad?

Let’s see how you will try to bluff your way out of this one. ;-)

BenYachov said...

@BeingItself

>Simple. Feser's claim that "there is no evidence against it" is meaningless. Which is all I'm claiming.

It's not meaningless if I have strong reasons to believe in God via philosophy plus strong reasons to believe the Resurrection of Jesus via the arguments of Craig, Wright etc and the other usual suspects plus the historical evidence the ancient Christian Church was Catholic.

Then I can trust Adam and Eve existed. I can then infer if Evolution is true that their bodies where the product of natural evolution & God created their souls.

Also I am right (& I'm not going to argue with djindra because he is an idiot & so far you are rational...so far) in that it is a complete waste of time for Atheists to argue the Bible with Catholics.

The Bible is not common ground between us & we Catholics don't believe the Bible is clear. It requires an Interpreter and we won't accept interpretations from infidels with an agenda.

See my remarks above regarding misinterpreting the Koran.

BenYachov said...

Additional: Also the Old Testament is our scripture too since the Jewish Apostles are the recipients of Authority from the Messiah replacing the Pharisees authority from Moses.

James said...

They invent enemy "trolls" or "gnu” atheists

Given my background I associate the word “gnu” with the free software movement much more than with wildebeests, and as a result instinctively pronounce it “guh-noo”. Thus every time somewhere here mentions gnu atheists I experience a little cognitive bump in which my mind attempts to interpret it as some kind of open source project.

There’s probably some overlap between GNU people and new atheists, of course, but I highly suspect that Richard Dawkins showers much more frequently than Richard Stallman.

Kjetil Kringlebotten said...

@djindra

Daniel A. Duran asked, “Can you mention a single instance where disobeying a command is neither good or bad?”

You answered, “Certainly. A dog obeys or disobeys its master. The dog has no idea that its obedience is either good or evil.”

You seem to be under the impression that you answered his question, but you did not. Daniel did not ask whether a person or a dog (or whatever) understood or had any idea that a given command is good or bad. He did not ask about the subjective part. He asked whether you could mention “a single instance where disobeying a command is neither good or bad.” What he asked was about the objective nature of a given command, not the subjective state and understanding of the one obeying.

Daniel A. Duran said...

Kjetil Kringlebotten said...

Glad to know someone at least did bother to read the text.

Anonymous said...

Feser:So, please, do not feed the trolls. Not even to insult them or to call them trolls. That's what they want. It just craps up the combox and discourages serious people from commenting. Ignore them.

It's amazing how, right after the good professor issues this admonition, people here go on to do the exact opposite, and do it with gusto.

StoneTop said...

Rather, as I have said, Catholics claim that, prior to the assent of faith, we can know through reason that God exists and that he is trustworthy

Right... because the Catholic Church says so, which it can because its authority to rule in such matters comes from its status as the successor to Paul, who got his authority form Jesus (and thus God).

Those groups (most of them, anyway) have fideistic faith - that is not the kind of faith of Catholicism.

Catholicism, from your own statements, is just as faith based as the rest of the lot. After all you are relying on faith that your beliefs are demonstrable via reason... even though they are not.

Reason.

Another assertion from faith? Now if you assume omniscience then not being decievable would be grounded in reason... but at the same time there is no reason why such an entity would not be both capable and willing to act deceitfully.

We are saying that the propositions I outlined earlier can be known by reason apart from faith, apart from the teaching of the Catholic Church.

Yet you have not began to do so. Your assumptions about the authenticity of the Catholic Churches accounts is grounded entirely on faith.

Like Feser in this blog post, I am explaining Catholic teaching.

And I am pointing out the flawed underlying assumptions that you are making.

Tony said...

Josh, Josef Pieper wrote a series of 3 essays, Faith, Hope, and Love, that were collected into a book with that title. Can be found here, published in 1983:

http://www.amazon.com/Faith-Hope-Love-Josef-Pieper/dp/0898706238/ref=sr_1_1/002-0094971-9798475?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1186990834&sr=8-1

I don't think it is online as a work.

Anonymous said...

For FrH (in the very first comment),

Fr. Harper's book is available in full at the following URL:

http://www.archive.org/search.php?query=peace%20through
%20the%20truth%20AND
%20mediatype%3Atexts

(I have inserted carriage returns in the URL to make it wrap in this comment box)

Tony said...

After all you are relying on faith that your beliefs are demonstrable via reason... even though they are not.

We are saying that the propositions I outlined earlier can be known by reason apart from faith, apart from the teaching of the Catholic Church.

Yet you have not began to do so. Your assumptions about the authenticity of the Catholic Churches accounts is grounded entirely on faith.

Stone Top, you are starting to live up to your handle, displaying the rocks in your head. This is not honest argument. The fact that we have not HERE provided the arguments that show reasoned proofs for the preambles to the Faith does not mean that this hasn't been done. Ed has done a magnificent job of one of the preambles - that God exists - over the past year, showing in a dozen posts reasons why the argument that proves God's existence - from reason - works, and disproving counter-arguments. You cannot reasonably expect ANYONE to include such a body of argument here in this thread, and this shows that you are being unfair in your comments. You are not really trying to make a sound argument, you are arguing for points.

Josh said...

Tony,

Thanks; that looks wonderful. Also, Stone Top fits the troll profile fairly well, judging by his last comments.

One Brow said...

Anonymous said...
It's amazing how, right after the good professor issues this admonition, people here go on to do the exact opposite, and do it with gusto.

Indeed. While I've got a bad case of SIWOTI, so it has not been easy, ignoring the obviously trolling posts has increased my pleasure in visiting this site.

One Brow said...

Tony said...
Ed has done a magnificent job of one of the preambles - that God exists - over the past year, showing in a dozen posts reasons why the argument that proves God's existence - from reason - works, and disproving counter-arguments.

Dr. Feser does fine with some low-handing fruit, but he also overlooks or mischaracterizes more serious objections. He's good at noting that mischaracterizations of the cosmological argument, but he did not touch Vallicella's post on whether form could be a part of a substance (Vallicella posited is could not be a proper part nor an improper part). He'll correct notions of tying original sin to Y-chromosome Adam, but stays silent on the argument that per se causal chains extend infinitely. So, it would be fair to say he disproves some counter-arguments.

StoneTop said...

If there is no such thing as being certain (with intellectual integrity, of course), then the skeptic MUST leave room for the possibility that the proposition "there is no human adequate grounds for certainty" being wrong, and thus someone else who says he has knows X cannot a-priori be said to be wrong, as the skeptic insists

Sure... just as no honest skeptic can say with certainty (where certainty would represent a probability of 1) that there is a fire-breathing octopus floating above their residence.

djindra said...

Daniel A. Duran,

This was your original claim: "Disobeying the first commandment or any commandment presupposes the ability to distinguish good and evil. This contradicts what you said before about Adam and Eve not knowing anything about good and evil."

I responded: "One does not have to be good or know good to obey.”

This is obviously true.

But you refused to see the obvious. Instead you switched the topic to: "Can you mention a single instance where disobeying a command is neither good or bad?

Kjetil Kringlebotten complained that I did not answer you directly. He noted that you asked "about the objective nature of a given command, not the subjective state and understanding of the one obeying." I agree, that is what you asked. But since that was not the issue, I chose to ignore it. No sense exploring every tangent and wasting y'all's time, right? And contrary to Kjetil implication, the subjective understanding of Eve is what the story is about. It's not about the objective goodness of the command itself from Yahweh's POV. We already assume he has a moral sense, don't we? And we should understand that the command was symbolic. There is no divine command against eating from a Tree of Knowledge. That particular command is forgotten in Leviticus, for example. And we don't assume Yahweh is put in a moral dilemma, do we? Choice is in Eve's hands. She must decide. Does anyone claim she already knows what is objectively Good and Evil. like Yahweh? Seriously? If someone raises his hand I'd like to know what he thinks the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil is doing in the story at all, then. What exactly was forbidden if not that knowledge?

Now we could also debate whether a "roll-over" or "fetch" command to a dog is objectively good or evil. But I don't really think it's necessary.

djindra said...

Me:“*Gaining* implies one does not already have what one wishes to gain. And in the context of the story it's clear that Eve did not possess the wisdom she wished to gain.”

Pretty issue-oriented, logical and obviously true, right?

Here's the response I received:"I wouldn’t care less about your interpretation of the bible and what you think the “context” of the story is. Whatever “tree of knowledge of good and evil” actually means is not what you think it means. The bible says that Eve and Adam could distinguish between good and bad prior to disobeying God. Have a problem with that? Your problem is with the text, not me."

That's the level of the "intellectual" response I'm accustomed to around here.

Codgitator (Cadgertator) said...

To focus only on the issue of epistemic assent, I think a fruitful distinction can be made between an "argument from authority" and a "source argument." Some kind of authority is inescapable, whether it is the authority of the sense, or of the truth, or of "science", or of God. Appeal to an authority is only fallacious when the authority's claim is divorced from the source of the claim. If the teacher says it is raining, and that is taken as fact by the class, they are rational or irrational if they can also find a connection between her claim and its source. A professor may one day make a claim about Napoleon, only to be corrected by a freshman. If the freshman is citing the very book being discussed by the professor, he is making a rational source argument against the professor's fallacious argument to his own authority.

Indeed, the classical notion of an authority is "authorial", and so weighing who is making the claim is like parsing which author would be closer to the source. The value of revelation is that it can come from no other source than God, not that it has the penal "authority" of God behind it.

Happy trails,

Codgitator (Cadgertator) said...

Besides, there are numerous things we believe not only without proof but also without knowing why they are true. Memory: how to prove your memory is accurate and how to explain that memory is of the past? Sense: how to prove your senses are accurate and that they pertain to "the real world"? Identity: how to prove that I am myself and how to understand why this would be so? Believing without "evidence" is not the point at all, and should be ignored for the red herring it is.

BenYachov said...

Actually the Gnu's could just simply admit biological polygenism doesn't invalidate the Christian doctrine of original sin nor in itself eliminate the existence of a possible Adam. Dr. Feser has shown that.

They could also admit Jerry Coyne is just a fundie moron without belief in gods who like Dawkins should stick to critiquing Young Earth Creationism and leave the more challenging philosophical Theism to more qualified Atheist philosophers. The man shouldn't get ideas above his station in life.

Gnu's would do better reading Sobel or Quintin Smith or some Atheist philosopher who mattered.

They don't have to confess the existence of God to assent to these obvious self evident truths.

It's really that simple.

Johannes said...

Professor Feser wrote:

"I want to address the question of whether modern biology is consistent with the claim that the ancestors of all human beings transmitted the stain of original sin to their descendents via propagation rather than mere imitation."

In my view the answer to that question is quite straightforward.

On the side of faith, the dogmatically-binding Trent "decree concerning original sin" mentions ONLY Adam and not Eve, not even once.

http://history.hanover.edu/texts/trent/ct05.html

"If any one asserts, that the prevarication of Adam injured himself alone, and not his posterity; and that the holiness and justice, received of God, which he lost, he lost for himself alone, and not for us also; or that he, being defiled by the sin of disobedience, has only transfused death, and pains of the body, into the whole human race, but not sin also, which is the death of the soul; let him be anathema:--whereas he contradicts the apostle who says; By one man sin entered into the world, and by sin death, and so death passed upon all men, in whom all have sinned."

St Thomas Aquinas explicitely addresses the hypothetical issue of what would have happened if Eve but not Adam had sinned, stating that "original sin is transmitted to the children, not by the mother, but by the father", which is consistent with Trent above.

http://www.newadvent.org/summa/2081.htm

On the side of modern biology, it is a well ascertained fact that all living people are descended PATRILINEALLY from one most recent common ancestor or MRCA, "Y-chromosomal Adam", which the latest studies indicate lived approx. 142 KY ago.

Therefore current knowledge of modern biology is entirely consistent with the doctrine of original sin propagated PATRILINEALLY to all men from one common PATRILINEAL ancestor, even though the concepts themselves of original sin and its propagation are completely foreign (though not contrary) to biology.

***

To note, the issue that has been raised by Professors Coyne and Rosenhouse recently deals with the fact that genetic studies also indicate that there has never been a population bottleneck of less than a few thousand individuals. Which has two possible (and not mutually incompatible) solutions which also satisfy the above doctrinal and biological facts:

a. Biblical Adam and Eve where our only ancestors, and their descendants' germ cells, for several generations, were miraculously endowed with genetic diversity as if coming from many unrelated people, except for their Y-chromosomes which were left untouched.

b. Biblical Adam was our only patrilineal ancestor (i.e. Y-chromosomal Adam), but his children, grandchildren and so on took for "wifes" the females of surrounding non-ensouled biologically human populations as they were wiping those populations off the map in the course of their expansion.

I wrote an article about this subject in the most recent post on my blog http://defeyrazon.blogspot.com/

Daniel A. Duran said...

Johannes:

I said something similar in a previous post about Adam and eve, but, I'll take a look at your article. It seems you have clear grasp of what is going on.

Johannes said...

In my previous comment, it should have been:

a. Biblical Adam and Eve *were* our only ancestors...

Daniel A. Duran said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BeingItself said...

Ben says:

"Actually the Gnu's could just simply admit biological polygenism doesn't invalidate the Christian doctrine of original sin nor in itself eliminate the existence of a possible Adam. Dr. Feser has shown that."

Sure, I will admit that.

Any belief whatsoever can be maintained with enough elaborate gerrymandering. Witness the recent Catholic geocentricism conference in South Bend. Those clowns use exactly the kind of ad hoc "reasoning" that you admire so much in Feser.

So I hereby admit that any belief cannot be disproved if the believer is willing to manufacture ad hoc stories to preserve his dogma.

But I will not admit that such maneuverings are reasonable.

Look up the "omphalos hypothesis" for a great example of the same technique.

Esse Participatum said...

@BeingItself

So, you think, that the belief in 2+2=5 "cannot be disproved if the believer is willing to manufacture ad hoc stories to preserve his dogma."?

"But I will not admit that such maneuverings are reasonable."

Given certain premises (Doctrine of Original Sin + Biology), certain conclusions follow. Nothing ad hoc here.

BTW: Who's all on the troll list?

Daniel A. Duran said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Daniel A. Duran said...

djindra:
"One does *not have to be good* or know good to obey…This is obviously true.”

Which means that a dog that disobeys its master and mauls a child is neither better nor worse than an obedient dog. And if your body goes into involuntary convulsions it is neither better or worse than if it follows your wishes…Thank you for the “obviously true” explanation, djindra.

“But you refused to see the obvious. Instead you switched the topic to…”

Don’t start this nonsense. From the start I talked about good and bad, period. When I spoke of moral goodness or badness I explicitly said so. That “I switched topics” is something you made up.

“But since that was not the issue, I chose to ignore it. No sense exploring every tangent and wasting y'all's time, right?”

I already addressed this. If a person understands good and bad in general (essential goodness) then he can distinguish between moral goodness and badness (accidental goodness). It is tangential or a waste time to you only because you’re not bothering to read what I wrote.

“the subjective understanding of Eve is what the story is about.”

Thank you for telling us what the story of the fall is all about. But I am afraid I’ll have to dismiss your biblical expertise since I know you did not read the story of the fall. How do I know it, you ask? Read on.

“we should understand that the command was symbolic.”

ROFL, a symbolic command? oxymoron. Either something is a commandment or it is not.

“There is no divine command against eating from a Tree of Knowledge.”

Now we know you have not read the story of the fall. Certainly you did not read this section,

1-“You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil…”

2-or this “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it…”

3-definetely you did not read this “Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”

If you want to be taken seriously at least read what you’re trying to criticize.

“Me:“*Gaining* implies one does not already have what one wishes to gain. And in the context of the story it's clear that Eve did not possess the wisdom she wished to gain...Pretty issue-oriented, logical and obviously true, right?”

I already addressed this: Whatever was to be gained by the “tree of knowledge of good and evil” is not what you think it means. The bible says that Eve and Adam could distinguish between good and bad prior to disobeying God.

you're not reading anything I wrote. But then again you did not read the story of the fall either, so at least you remain consistent in not reading texts.

“Here's the response I received: ‘I wouldn’t care less about your interpretation of the bible and what you think the “context” of the story is. Whatever “tree of knowledge of good and evil” actually means is not what you think it means. *The bible says that Eve and Adam could distinguish between good and bad prior to disobeying God.* Have a problem with that? Your problem is with the text, not me.’

That's the level of the "intellectual" response I'm accustomed to around here.”

If you cannot answer what I wrote (specially the part with asterisks) don’t try to bluff your way out, You will embarrass yourself in the end when people call your bluff.

Next time do the bare minimum, read the bible, read the comments. Otherwise you’re not worth my time. I’ll take Professor Feser’s offer of ignoring the ignorant.

BeingItself said...

Esse asks:

"So, you think, that the belief in 2+2=5 "cannot be disproved if the believer is willing to manufacture ad hoc stories to preserve his dogma."?"

Sure. Suppose Joe believes that his holy book is infallible, and his holy book says 2+2=5, then you could not convince Joe that 2+2=5 is false.

My Christian neighbor told me that god could make it so that 2+2=5.

Humans are not "the rational animal". They are the rationalizing animal. As Feser so aptly demonstrates by his complex ad hoc stories.

Esse Participatum said...

BeingItself:

"Suppose Joe believes that his holy book is infallible, and his holy book says 2+2=5, then you could not convince Joe that 2+2=5 is false. "

Thats not the question. I asked you whether the belief can be disproved, not whether you can convince Joe.

Philip Henry Gosse said...

BeingItself said:

"Sure. Suppose Joe believes that his holy book is infallible, and his holy book says 2+2=5, then you could not convince Joe that 2+2=5 is false."

Correct. Except it wouldn't be so transparent. It would be wrapped in hundreds of pages of opaque motivationally 'reasoned' arguments and read by 'conformationally biased' believers.

Ergo, Eve came from Adams rib and 'souls' were given to only two among many.

djindra said...

Daniel A. Duran,

"Which means that a dog that disobeys its master and mauls a child is neither better nor worse than an obedient dog."

We can both find plenty of examples where obeying a command is good, evil, or neutral. Your example shows nothing more than that. Bring up a dozen such examples. It still remains obviously true that one does not have to be good or know good to obey. It's ridiculous to claim otherwise.

But this is a tangent. It shows you have not even understood the context of the characters in the biblical story. You're trying to make Eve the master. But Yahweh is the master. Using your analogy, Eve is the dog. The dog has no idea that mauling a child is evil.

"If a person understands good and bad in general (essential goodness) then he can distinguish between moral goodness and badness (accidental goodness).

An infant can distinguish between tasty food and not-so-tasty food. Does that infant also distinguish between moral good and evil? How about an ant? Even an ant recognizes good food.

"a symbolic command?"

Show me a Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and I'll take you seriously.

"If you want to be taken seriously at least read what you’re trying to criticize."

You quoted Genesis. I was referring to commandments in Leviticus or Deuteronomy -- laws Christians or Jews actually follow. Show me such a command there concerning trees of knowledge of good and evil, and that will prove me wrong.

"Whatever was to be gained by the “tree of knowledge of good and evil” is not what you think it means."

What do you think it means? Or are you simply evading?

"Next time do the bare minimum, read the bible, read the comments."

I've not only read it, I've understood it as well as anyone can understand such myths. You OTOH...

djindra said...

BenYachov,

"Actually the Gnu's could just simply admit biological polygenism doesn't invalidate the Christian doctrine of original sin nor in itself eliminate the existence of a possible Adam. Dr. Feser has shown that."

This question is like "When did you stop beating your wife?" I don't know what a "Gnu" is and I don't admit to being one. But I don't know why anybody would claim biological polygenism invalidates Adam and Eve. It seems like a waste of energy and a dumb move.

BenYachov said...

>But I don't know why anybody would claim biological polygenism invalidates Adam and Eve. It seems like a waste of energy and a dumb move.

Then you are conceding that Coyne original claims regarding Polygenism where a a waste of energy and a dumb move?

Good on you then. That is a non-gnu thing to do. Notice you don't have to profess belief in Adam and Eve or God to do it?

Maybe djindra you might actually be evolving from brain dead fundie Gnu to a thinking rational Atheist?

Again good on you then.

Just don't blow it by saying stupid s*** in your next post.

BenYachov said...

@BeingItself

You pleaded with me for a civil discussion then show your true colors.

Typical two faced Gnu Fundie Hypocrite.

>Witness the recent Catholic geocentricism conference in South Bend. Those clowns use exactly the kind of ad hoc "reasoning" that you admire so much in Feser.

That is mindless name calling. I happen to know something about Geo-fundies & Feser is nothing like them in reasoning or logic.

Indeed to maintain Geo-fundie belief one has to reject Scientific Realism to the N'th degree. Feser being by definition a Aristotelian Moderate Realist can't do that anymore than as a Catholic he can embrace Sola Scriptura.

You are now the new djindra troll.

BenYachov said...

>My Christian neighbor told me that god could make it so that 2+2=5.


God can do anything but 2+2=5 doesn't describe anything it describes nothing. Thus adding new meaning to the phrase "There is nothing God cannot do".

It's not hard Dawkin boy! Even a fundie like yourself should be able to figure that out.

BenYachov said...

> So I hereby admit that any belief cannot be disproved if the believer is willing to manufacture ad hoc stories to preserve his dogma.

Your a pathological liar Beingitself. I already outlined what you have to do to disprove belief in Adam and Eve. Disprove or at least create credible doubt for the existence of God or the resurrection etc...

It's not my fault your village Atheism is of the simple minded Dawkins kind.

BeingItself said...

Esse,

I acknowledge the distinction. Sure, it could be "proved" to most people that 2+2 does not equal 5. But we could not convince the dogmatically committed.

Similarly, multiple lines of evidence show that the Adam and Eve story is false. But the dogmatically committed will make up tortured ad hoc stories in order to wall off their belief from reality.

BenYachov said...

>Similarly, multiple lines of evidence show that the Adam and Eve story is false.

>>"Actually the Gnu's could just simply admit biological polygenism doesn't invalidate the Christian doctrine of original sin nor in itself eliminate the existence of a possible Adam. Dr. Feser has shown that."

>Sure, I will admit that.


I reply: Make up your mind Gnu.

BenYachov said...

I know we shouldn't feed the trolls but sometimes they pretend to be civil, ask intelligent questions then when they sucker you in the mask drops.

Ah well...........

Daniel A. Duran said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
One Brow said...

Daniel A. Duran said...
But I like to embarrass them in public.

The Christianity of this board shines through!

Daniel A. Duran said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Daniel A. Duran said...

"The Christianity of this board shines through!"

Oh, nothing unchristian about mocking silly ideas in public, it helps people to perceive them for what they are worth and not to pay them any attention.

But if that scandalizes your sensibilities, I shudder to think what you would make of blessed Duns Scotus' method to "educate" those that reject the contingency of the world. ;-)

Daniel A. Duran said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Daniel A. Duran said...

But on second thought it is better to moderate such comments before people that are too thin-skinned get offended.

One Brow said...

Daniel A. Duran said...
Oh, nothing unchristian about mocking silly ideas in public,

Ideas can be mocked, but only people can feel embarrassed. Of course, its to be expected you would complain about one poster clarifying his plain words, and then turn around a few hours later and pretend you did not mean what your words p0lainly say. It's the behavior I have come to expect of Christians (although this site has a couple of exceptions).

it helps people to perceive them for what they are worth and not to pay them any attention.

Is "them" the people you acknowledge you enjoy embarrassing?

But if that scandalizes your sensibilities,

It tickles my funny bone.

I shudder to think what you would make of blessed Duns Scotus' method to "educate" those that reject the contingency of the world. ;-)

I have long since ceased to be surprised at the behavior of people.

One Brow said...

Daniel A. Duran said...
But on second thought it is better to moderate such comments before people that are too thin-skinned get offended.

Why hide your true nature? You think we're all just sinners here, right?

BenYachov said...

Your are a hypocrite One Brow. I've seen you act like a dick to people myself and others (Bob over at dangerous minds).

We have all seen you say one thing then turn around a dozen posts later and reverse yourself without acknowledging your former position.
Then you complain about not being understood.

What you doing here is running interference for the Gnu'noids.

Gnu trolls act like jerks (strangely not a single admonishment from you for their bad behavior) this inspires righteous anger from the Theists.

You try to guilt the Theists while ignoring how your own kind misbehaves.

Reminds me of the scene in WITNESS when the pucks pick on the Amish but act both surprised & indignant when Harrison Ford punches one of them out.

This is what we expect from Gnu trolls like yourself.

Well smeg off!

BeingItself said...

Ben,

There is no contradiction in my comments.

Do multiple lines of scientific evidence converge to show that the Adam and Eve story is false? Yes.

Is it possible that the Adam and Eve story is true? Of course. All the science could be wrong.

But that seems unlikely.

But all the science in the world will not matter to those who are willing to insulate their dogma from reality by adding more and more layers of silliness to their story.

BenYachov said...

@BeingItself

>There is no contradiction in my comments.

Taken literally there is clearly a contradiction.;-)

>Do multiple lines of scientific evidence converge to show that the Adam and Eve story is false? Yes.

How do you scientifically prove or falsify an animal Hominid received a hylomorphic soul(let's make it Cartesian just to make it interesting) fifty too hundred and fifty thousand years ago?

I thought you said this was unfalsifiable? Thus meaningless?

You are contradicting yourself.

>Is it possible that the Adam and Eve story is true? Of course. All the science could be wrong.

There is no science involved. My correct advice on how to deal with this involves philosophy and maybe historical argument.

Your are clearly contradicting yourself.

Catagory mistake. Of course I'm not convinced you are serious here.

BenYachov said...

BeingItself first wrote:

"My point is simply that when you make magical unverifiable or untestable suppositions there can be no evidence against them."

Like I said make up your mind.

BenYachov said...

I will show some mercy to you Beingitself.

If you mean YEC or Geocentricism have no scientific basis for their beliefs and that science seems to be against them then there is some validity too your statement.

With the exception of one person who posts here what you say is unremarkable.

BeingItself said...

"I thought you said this was unfalsifiable? Thus meaningless?"

I explicitly did not say that. Go back and read again.

BenYachov said...

Beingself,

I'm not interested in playing guessing games.

Speak plainly or get lost.

One Brow said...

BenYachov said...
Your are a hypocrite One Brow. I've seen you act like a dick to people myself and others (Bob over at dangerous minds).

Your interpretation of events carries no weight with me. I have not once insulted nor embarrassed B. Prokop. I may have sunk down to your level with you, although I don't recall any specific instance of doing so, but I have never addresseded you more stongly than you addressed me.

I make no pretense of atheism being a position that encourages the development of a superior moral sense. Your accusation of hypocrisy is hollow because I don't engage in embarrassing other posters, and I alswo don't claim being an atheist makes you a better, more rational person.

We have all seen you say one thing then turn around a dozen posts later and reverse yourself ...

Yor interpretation of my posting also carries no weight with me. Your response more often indicate misunderstaninding than understanding, and correcting the misunderstandings is nearly impossible.

As for the behavior of other atheists in this board, I find that both sides have people that regularly posts like donkeys, and both sides have people that want serious conversation (I was inclined to name some, but did not want to insult others by overlooking them), and that both sides have people that act both ways. That's the type of board Feser runs; it matches his posting style. If he wants his comments to be less confrontational, he should endeavor to to be less confrontational. I'm not going to call out rudeness and name-calling on a board where the author sets such an atmosphere.

I will be happy to call out instances of blatant hypocrisy.

BenYachov said...

>Your interpretation of events carries no weight with me. I have not once insulted nor embarrassed B. Prokop.

Actually I said "act like a dick" I never said "insulted nor embarrassed".

You going to do you little sophistical nonsense again?

Play your little word games, red herrings & sophistries aqain?

Not interested.

Bye!

BenYachov said...

Are there any Atheists here who want to do philosophy? Make philosophical arguments against the existence of God? Critique the metaphysics of Aristotle? Offer an alternative metaphysics?

Or are we condemned to hear the same anti-Fundamentalist, anti-YEC anti-ID scientistic crap over and over again? Coupled with the weird anti-philosophy=religion meme?

Seriously? Where is dguller or Chuck? BDK? Somebody! Anybody!

Oy Vey!

Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain.

Tony said...

Ben,

Even though a number of the atheist arguments here have been significantly below-par, that's no reason to stoop to vulgarisms. Can you pleeeease cut it out?

Also, please STOP feeding the trolls. You are doing no good and much harm to the com box.

BenYachov said...

>that's no reason to stoop to vulgarisms. Can you pleeeease cut it out?

I am a vulgar guy so that is a tall order I'll try to cut back but I make no promises.

>Also, please STOP feeding the trolls.

OK then but be part of the solution. Propose a topic for rational discussion in ref to the subject of the Post. We can talk about that and ignore djindra, One Brow, Tops and Being.

I can't think of everything. Cheers to you.

BeingItself said...

Ben,

Go back and read my comment:

September 25, 2011 4:04 PM

I can't be anymore straightforward than that. Please stop misrepresenting what I say. Thanks.

Daniel A. Duran said...

BenYachov said...
"Are there any Atheists here who want to do philosophy?"

I am not atheist but, I have a question for which I do not know the answer.

If original sin is not a sin in the normal sense of the word, why does the catholic Church continues to use a word that leads to so much confusion?

Is there any univocal or exactly alike element between original sin and venial/mortal sins?

any takers?

Daniel A. Duran said...

“Ideas can be mocked, but only people can feel embarrassed. "

Silly Ideas can be mocked, and hopefully the people that hold them will be embarrassed enough to give them up. What’s your point?

“Of course, its to be expected you would complain about one poster clarifying his plain words, and then turn around a few hours later and pretend you did not mean what your words p0lainly say. It's the behavior I have come to expect of Christians.””

This is from djindra:‘ we should understand that the command was symbolic. There is no divine command against eating from a Tree of Knowledge.’

We can agree that dijdrinda’s words are plain and clear. What is puzzling is that you accuse me of pretending not to say what I said. The original comment is still up there; ‘There is no divine command against eating from a Tree of Knowledge.’ “Now we know you have not read the story of the fall."

“Is "them" the people you acknowledge you enjoy embarrassing?”

The people that make ridiculous statements, like holocaust deniers or nambla proponents? Sure.
“It tickles my funny bone.”

Glad to know you find silly ideas and the people upholding them worth a chuckle or two.

“I have long since ceased to be surprised at the behavior of people.”

An unfortunate lie if the last few posts are any indication.

“Why hide your true nature?”

Says the person hiding behind a pen-name. And then you complain about Hypocrisy, go figure.

“You think we're all just sinners here, right?”

Now you finally got me there. I don’t know why that question is relevant to anything I have said so far. Was that addressed to me? I take it that the virgin never committed any sin.so we cannot all be sinners, literally. Are we all sinners right now? Hmm, I guess no. unless, you mean original sin, which is not a sin in the normal sense of the word. sometimes we commit venial sins, sometimes we do meritorious acts. some of us do mortal sins. A few never commit mortal sins. Does that answer your question?

Tony said...

Ben asks if I have any good commentary. Well, I have one thought: If we assume that the biologists know fairly well what they are talking about (for the sake of the argument) when they limit themselves to biology and don't dabble in philosophy or theology, the DNA evidence indicates that there cannot be a genetic bottleneck of less than 10,000 or so in tracing the human species back to clearly non-human ancestors.

What I am puzzled about is how far this evidence takes us - is it conclusive, or only the most probable of the options at the moment? For example, what if we come up with OTHER evidence, not based on DNA, or perhaps based on another part of the DNA record that hasn't been investigated yet, that there IS such a bottleneck, (say just for example, at 30 kya). Would this be one of those findings that forces us to revolutionize how we think about what it means to be biological ancestors? Or, would it simply lead to a modest change in biological argument that results in one of those "ad hoc" explanations of science? Are the biologists so ROCK SOLID SURE of their "no bottleneck" theory that they would be willing to stake evolution on the scales, so that if the bottleneck is found to exist after all, then they stop pushing evolution as a viable theory?

Here's another: just how awful is it, for purposes of theology, philosophy, and metaphysics, to suggest that God really did do a major (genetic or otherwise) intervention in humanity in producing Adam, Eve, and their immediate descendants? I mean, for Catholics, we are presumptively going to accept one of 2 stories: (A) God "prepared" men's bodies through primate lines, until He had something He was ready to make into a rational animal by Creatorial intervention. Or (B) He allowed the animal kingdom to produce primates ever close to humans, but when it came time to make humans He just formed them with whatever genetic code He decided was good for rational animal, even if there (i) was, or (ii) was not, a previous primate line with very similar genes. Either way, we are supposing divine intervention. Is it a particularly "better" way to explain this intervention by saying that He intervened the least possible, and therefore He must have chosen (A)? I don't see why that must be counted the better approach given an intervention anyway.

BenYachov said...

Because he is being polite and not personally attacking Dr. Feser I will respond briefly to Beingitself.

Forgive me Tony.


>The statement that was meaningless was "there is no evidence against it", because no evidence against it is possible.
September 25, 2011 4:04 PM

vs

>>Do multiple lines of scientific evidence converge to show that the Adam and Eve story is false? Yes.
September 28, 2011 12:31 PM

Still looks like a contradiction to me. Sorry BeingItself but the only way your reconcile these two statements is if you mean strictly a YEC interpretation of Adam and Eve.

Either you believe you can scientifically falsify Adam and Eve by claiming there is evidence that does so or you claim no evidence against it is possible.

You can't have it both ways.

BTW as I already explained Atheists of all stripes waste their time debating the Bible with us Catholics. We are not Fundie Prots we don't hold their suppositions.

Go learn philosophy.

BenYachov said...

@Tony

>What I am puzzled about is how far this evidence takes us - is it conclusive, or only the most probable of the options at the moment?

>Are the biologists so ROCK SOLID SURE of their "no bottleneck" theory that they would be willing to stake evolution on the scales, so that if the bottleneck is found to exist after all, then they stop pushing evolution as a viable theory?

If any of the Gnu's here knows advanced biology & genetics maybe they could answer us. Do something useful for once. I have often wondered that myself? Not that I care one way or the other since the idea Adam's offspring mated with other hominids seems to have parallels in Rabbinical Tradition. Not that I advocate using the Talmud in a Concordant manner but note that the idea Adam & Eve mated with humanoids without souls is not unkown to the people would read & believed the Bible in ancient times.

But that is a good question! Is it impossible for human kind to have come from a two person bottleneck? Is impossible in the sense that flipping a million coins & having them all come up heads the first time impossible? Or is it more like 2+2=5 impossible?

I asked this at the beginning and never got a response. Of course God could supernaturally mutate our genes over a few generations to give us genetic diversity but then again he might as well skip giving a hominid a soul & morph the dust into a man directly.

OTOH maybe rapid mutation happened due to some yet unknown natural cause or mechanism in Evolution?

It would be useful to know this.

djindra said...

Daniel A. Duran,

The original comment is still up there; ‘There is no divine command against eating from a Tree of Knowledge.’ “Now we know you have not read the story of the fall."

The context is there as well. Are you still searching for that Leviticus commandment against eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil? Or are you ready to admit you misunderstood me?

BenYachov said...

@Daniel

>If original sin is not a sin in the normal sense of the word, why does the catholic Church continues to use a word that leads to so much confusion?

Well mostly because we are sticklers for tradition. It is tradition to refer to the sin of Adam and it's consequences as original sin. Just as it is tradition to refer to Mary as the Mother of God because she is the Mother of Jesus who is God even thought persons might get confused and assume she is God the Mother which is Blasphemy.

Practically speaking if you use a consistent terminology people will get confused. However I am not convinced if we change the terminology that would really clear up the confusion. It could create more confusion.

Some did this after Vatican Two & I still wince when some know-nothing claims we Catholics have dropped Indulgences & Purgatory(not true short answer).

>Is there any univocal or exactly alike element between original sin and venial/mortal sins?

All sin unequivocally involves privation of something God wills a soul to have ideally.

Maybe other can do better than my answers.

God be with you Daniel.

BenYachov said...

One more treat for the trolls then I'll stop.

>The context is there as well. Are you still searching for that Leviticus commandment against eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil?

Yeh it's right next to the Commandment against leading Angels in Revolt against the Throne of God in Heaven. The Former St Lucifer the Lightbringer violated that one big time.

That would be Chapter 28 which discusses how if Angels get indulgences they will destroy Heaven and God(Kevin Smith read it).

It's the secret lost chapter of Leviticus we keep in a shoebox under the Superior General of the Jesuits along with the Keys to the Roswell UFO.

Good grief man don't you read Chick Comics because you sound like the type djindra?

Daniel A. Duran said...

BenYachov said...

yeah, you're right. sometimes is better to be consistent with tradition than changing things like terms every day.


"All sin unequivocally involves privation of something God wills a soul to have ideally. Maybe other can do better than my answers."

That was pretty darn good answer, actually.

Now, what was lost in original sin? how would aquinas answer the question? sanctifying grace? original justice? something else?

Can anybody weigh in? Mr feser. perhaps?

Codgitator (Cadgertator) said...

Well, it's good to see we're all agreed on the fact that scientific research is infallible. ;)

Mr. Green said...

Daniel A. Duran: Now, what was lost in original sin? how would aquinas answer the question?

I don't know if you've read all the comments so far, but there are some pertinent replies above, in particular form Monk68.

Mr. Green said...

One Brow : Dr. Feser also overlooks or mischaracterizes more serious objections.

Well, I don't think we can classify the seriousness of objections by whether Ed happens to respond to them. In his spare time. Out of thousands of comments. I'm not sure which argument about (im)proper parts you mean, but Ed has posted replies to Vallicella and lots about the cosmological argument, including per se causal chains.

The example of stick pushing stone is only that, and if it communicates the intended concept, then it is a successful example, even if it uses frictionless planes or fictional characters. The point is metaphysical so the argument doesn't fail if the example is physically impossible. (It may even help: Aquinas wants to argue that extending these causal chains infinitely won't get around his conclusion — if you argue such chains can't (physically) have any intermediate causes at all, that merely saves him a few steps.)

But simultaneity or infinity perhaps obscures the real point, which is instrumentality; that is, causes which do not act "alone" but are themselves caused by something else. The 'immediacy' is not one of sharing the same "frame" of time but of being im-mediated, without other stuff going on in the middle, without being separated by unrelated causes and effects. When the stick pushes the stone via a time-portal, there are not three separate sets of actions (one end of the stick moving, then a thousand years of other stuff, then the other end of the stick moving), but rather a single action: the stick moving the stone. To be sure, it is a compound action, with many (even temporal) parts, since "stick pushes stone" is not something that happens in a single instant. But considered as a whole it is not a mere coincidence of unrelated actions.

Thus the comparison to accidental causes. Abraham's begetting Isaac is incidental to Isaac's begetting Jacob, because we could have the latter without the former. I think the objection is that as Abe doesn't have to be around for Isaac to beget Jacob, neither does the hand have to be around to push the stick pushing the stone (there is no perfectly rigid stick that moves all at once; rather the atoms at one end of the stick move the adjacent atoms, and so on, until eventually the motion propagates to the other end and to the stone). It happens very quickly, but we might yank the hand away or dematerialize it while the motion was still passing along the body of the stick. And thus the hand is as accidental as Abraham to the end result. But no: Abraham cannot merely be gone by the time Isaac begets Jacob, he need never have existed. After all, God could have created a fully-grown Isaac last Thursday. No Abe at all.

(Can't we pull the same trick with the stick and suppose that God miraculously causes the stone to move without anything pushing it? Sure, but that's a different story. You can't explain how hand moves stick moves stone in a scenario that doesn't have a stick! Conversely, if what you want to explain is Abraham and Isaac's performance in the three-legged race at the father-son picnic, then you likewise cannot posit that Abe doesn't exist.)

That's why chronological simultaneity doesn't matter. It makes the example simpler to think of sticks in the naive way but in any case we have potency being reduced to act — i.e. things are changing. The engine is needed to pull the cars regardless of when they move, be it instantly or a week later. The cause & effect coincide not chronologically but in being part of the same act. If the engine really is the cause of the cars' motion then any explanation has to include the engine. And anything that causes change has its own actualization or got it from something else. And just as not even an infinite number of moons can reflect a sun that isn't there, neither can instrumental causes be reduced from potency to act without a "pure act" to actualize the chain.

Mr. Green said...

BenYachov: Tony: that's no reason to stoop to vulgarisms. Can you pleeeease cut it out?


I am a vulgar guy so that is a tall order I'll try to cut back but I make no promises.


The request itself, which I second, is eminently reasonable, it should even go without saying. It may not come naturally to you, but look on it as a chance to practice some of your favourite virtues. If you have't tried this, perhaps it will help to type out your responses but not actually post them. That way you can get them out of your system without polluting the comments for the rest of us.

>Also, please STOP feeding the trolls.

OK then but be part of the solution. Propose a topic for rational discussion in ref to the subject of the Post.


Ignore the troublemakers anyway. Not every article has to be 500 comments long. Also, not all of us can post every day. But nothing drives away genuine participation like troll-feeding, name-calling, and repeating the same thing ad nauseam. (Remember, infinite series don't help!!)

Mr. Green said...

Tony: Here's another: just how awful is it, for purposes of theology, philosophy, and metaphysics, to suggest that God really did do a major (genetic or otherwise) intervention in humanity in producing Adam, Eve, and their immediate descendants? […] I don't see why that must be counted the better approach given an intervention anyway.

Indeed, there is no particular reason. I think what prompted this latest set of posts was simply a challenge to see how closely one could hew to a particular biological result without postulating any (or minimal) miracles. It's a puzzle, to consider what's possible, but of course, at the other extreme, God could have pulled off any number of miracles (it's not like that makes it any harder for Him). Like brain-in-vat scenarios or other philosophical speculations, it can be instructive to ponder such ideas whether you have good reasons to think they're realistic or not. In this case, it prompted some interesting discussion of exactly what Original Sin is all about.

One Brow said...

Tony said...
Also, please STOP feeding the trolls. You are doing no good and much harm to the com box.

It does little good to ask a troll to stop trolling.

Before the howls of protest, I will add that I have never heard a definition of a troll that relied on which side they took in a dispute. If any atheist behaved as the poster you addressed even half as often, people on this board would not hesitate to label them a troll. I have no expectation that people will agree with me, due to the highly partisan atmosphere of this board. It is nonetheless true.

James said...

@One Brow:

If any atheist behaved as the poster you addressed even half as often, people on this board would not hesitate to label them a troll.

Although I hesitate to say so, I believe this is probably true (cf. my own comments on prior threads). There are atheist trolls here — I see no other label proper for (say) djindra — but the other side is both far too quick to apply such labels and itself too immediately abrasive. This doesn’t help matters. Heck, it drags it even further down.

I may disagree with you philosophically, One Brow, but from what I’ve seen of your behavior here, anyone who calls you a troll is letting himself be blinded.

One Brow said...

Daniel A. Duran said...
Silly Ideas can be mocked, and hopefully the people that hold them will be embarrassed enough to give them up. What’s your point?

When I mock silly ideas, I take no pleasure in people being embarrassed by them. You acknowledged you do. My point is that I suspect this is behavior you actually find inappropriate.

One Brow: ... you would complain about one poster... then turn around a few hours later...

This is from djindra:


I made no effort to defend djindra's integrity. He can choose to explain himself, or not. Whather djindra is guilty of the offense or not, your behavior stands in stark constrast to your complaint about djindra's behavior. Note the things being contrasted are "your behavior" and "your complaint".

What is puzzling is that you accuse me of pretending not to say what I said.

You said, "But I like to embarrass them in public.", where them referred to people. You later changed it to "... mocking silly ideas in public", the change is, as you say, plain and clear.

The people that make ridiculous statements, like holocaust deniers or nambla proponents? Sure.
“It tickles my funny bone.”


So, it's OK to make fun of people of a particular type? Is djindra the equivalent of a holocaust denier or a NAMBLA proponent, in some way that you are not?

Glad to know you find silly ideas and the people upholding them worth a chuckle or two.

I do chuckle at silly ideas. I don't laugh at people, even when they hold silly ideas.

“I have long since ceased to be surprised at the behavior of people.”

An unfortunate lie if the last few posts are any indication.


What indicates suprise, to you?

“Why hide your true nature?”

Says the person hiding behind a pen-name. And then you complain about Hypocrisy, go figure.


My legal name is publically availble on the internet, starting from a link at my website. I've also used it in repsonse to comments from Dr. Vallicella, because he has a stong prefernece for that. I use my 30-year-old nickname here, and on my blog, because it pleases me, and it is a part of my nature. If you wish to find/uswe my legal name, go for it. I will not be put out, at all.

That aside, attacks on my nickname are not a defense to your desire to hide your true nature.

Now you finally got me there. I don’t know why that question is relevant to anything I have said so far. Was that addressed to me?

Yes. Why not just say, "I laugh at people, even though I know it is wrong."? If you like, add a few remarks about how your tryihg to change.

One Brow said...

Tony said...
the DNA evidence indicates that there cannot be a genetic bottleneck of less than 10,000 or so in tracing the human species back to clearly non-human ancestors.

What I am puzzled about is how far this evidence takes us - is it conclusive, or only the most probable of the options at the moment?


Any finding in science is tentative. For eample, if you find evidence for the rates of genetic mutation in humans occuring at three orders of magnitude more that we have currently seen them, you could reduce the size of the bottleneck, biologically.

For example, what if we come up with OTHER evidence, not based on DNA, or perhaps based on another part of the DNA record that hasn't been investigated yet, that there IS such a bottleneck, (say just for example, at 30 kya).

That explanation would need to fit in with the level of genetic diversity, we know see in humans, which is a large part of the minimal bottleneck sise.

Or, would it simply lead to a modest change in biological argument that results in one of those "ad hoc" explanations of science?

What type of "ad hoc" explanations do you refer to?

Are the biologists so ROCK SOLID SURE of their "no bottleneck" theory that they would be willing to stake evolution on the scales, so that if the bottleneck is found to exist after all, then they stop pushing evolution as a viable theory?

The more likely response is to find out how the supposed population reduction could fit in with the genetic diversity of modern humans.

Here's another: just how awful is it, for purposes of theology, philosophy, and metaphysics, to suggest that God really did do a major (genetic or otherwise) intervention in humanity in producing Adam, Eve, and their immediate descendants?

Theists are certainly better choices to answer this, but I don't really a metaphysical problem if this can be made to work with the biology.

One Brow said...

BenYachov said...
But that is a good question! Is it impossible for human kind to have come from a two person bottleneck?

Science can answer, based on known rates of mutation, how long it would take the descendants of two people to generate the present level of diversity. That answer, to my understanding, takes us back to somewhere in the time of homo erectus. I may have misunderstood, though.

One Brow said...

Mr. Green said...
Well, I don't think we can classify the seriousness of objections by whether Ed happens to respond to them.

I agree. I think it would be proper to characterize them by the difficulty they present for being appropriately accounted for in the Thomistic metaphysics. My intention was to say that the problems which, under such a characterization could be calssified as easily resolved, are the problems about which Dr. Feser has habitually written.

I'm not sure which argument about (im)proper parts you mean,

It was negligence on my part not to have included this link.

I want to thank you for continuing our former conversation. I am going to read it carefully, and will probably take a day or two to respond.

BenYachov said...

>....That answer, to my understanding, takes us back to somewhere in the time of homo erectus.

Thank you for that.

That is at least useful scientific information as opposed to when you invent your own home made ambiguous philosophical terminology which has no fixed meaning and mucks up the conversation(such as conflating actual color with light absorption properties or more recently asking why Adam & his immediate rational descendants didn't leave archeological evidence of artifacts and then reversing yourself) & of course pisses me off.

I wounder how long this will last?

Anyway I got my eye on you don't leave town.

BenYachov said...

One Brow you are rubbish on philosophy but you seem to know your stuff regarding science.

>Science can answer, based on known rates of mutation, how long it would take the descendants of two people to generate the present level of diversity.

So if an unknown natural mechanism increased the mutation rate we could at least in theory have a two person bottleneck instead of two to Ten Thousand?

Kjetil Kringlebotten said...

Daniel, “If original sin is not a sin in the normal sense of the word, why does the catholic Church continues to use a word that leads to so much confusion?”

It is a sin in the normal sense of the word. The normal sense of sin (from the german word Sünde) means (in our language) both a state (a chasm between us and God) and a sinful act.

It is not confusing if one doesn’t want it to be.

StoneTop said...

So if an unknown natural mechanism increased the mutation rate we could at least in theory have a two person bottleneck instead of two to Ten Thousand?

Sure, and an unknown natural mechanism could have created the earth and everyone on it... with intact memories... five seconds before you read this post.

StoneTop said...

Are the biologists so ROCK SOLID SURE of their "no bottleneck" theory that they would be willing to stake evolution on the scales, so that if the bottleneck is found to exist after all, then they stop pushing evolution as a viable theory?

Actually that isn't how the Theory of Evolution works. The bottleneck wouldn't contradict any predictions made by the Modern Synthesis Theory of Evolution.

StoneTop said...

But that is a good question! Is it impossible for human kind to have come from a two person bottleneck? Is impossible in the sense that flipping a million coins & having them all come up heads the first time impossible? Or is it more like 2+2=5 impossible?

The answer would be that it is a highly unlikely (million coin flip territory), not impossible by definition (like 2+2=5 which is impossible under the definition of R).

The problem with a two person bottleneck is the low genetic diversity. Instances of inbreeding observed throughout history show that genetic defects tend to accumulate quickly among humans (European royalty is an example of a moderately inbreed gene-pool, Ashkenazi Jews and Tay-Sachs, or the increased incidence of genetic disorders in the Palestinian population).

One Brow said...

BenYachov said...
So if an unknown natural mechanism increased the mutation rate we could at least in theory have a two person bottleneck instead of two to Ten Thousand?

Well, there would be other issues to overcome (such small populations usually die off from inbreeding, for example), what you are asking here, in particulr, is for a natural cause of an increased mutation rate in the past that was no longer operative today. I don't know how you could demonstrate such a thing scientifically.

After all, we can and do measure our current mutation rate. So, it's not like we're guessing on a rate based on other factors, and adding a new factor will give us a new rate. The rate is measured. If a new facotr is found, it would mean that our exitmates of how much other factors contribute to mutation would need to be revised.

Tony said...

@ One Brow

Any finding in science is tentative. For eample, if you find evidence for the rates of genetic mutation in humans occuring at three orders of magnitude more that we have currently seen them, you could reduce the size of the bottleneck, biologically.

After all, we can and do measure our current mutation rate. So, it's not like we're guessing on a rate based on other factors, and adding a new factor will give us a new rate. The rate is measured. If a new facotr is found, it would mean that our exitmates of how much other factors contribute to mutation would need to be revised.

Ok, one comment I read on another site indicates that biologists took that known mutation rate, projected it backward to the Cambrian period, and found that it CANNOT explain the genetic variation and explosion of species that we have evidence for. In other words, that measured mutation rate has problems of its own.

It may be possible that the mutation rate varies with sunspots (or, insert your preferred alternate). In which case, you could have a very noticeable swing in mutation rates during different periods. If it also changes due to 2 or 3 other conditions, you could easily have unusual, infrequent periods where all of these periodic causes coincide with truly staggering mutation rates.

Just for example.

What OTHER assumptions are being made in the theory, that we are ignoring or assuming are very, very probable but are really only the best guess we have right now? Anyone want to predict which part of the theory is analogous to Newton's "space" that was written out of physics 100 years ago?

Only a miniscule part of evolutionary theory is subject to direct experimental verification. Indirect verification of its very nature rests on assumptions that THIS situation is "just like" THAT situation, which scientists tell us over and over again is how you end up with mistakes. I would like to see scientists actually observe some macro-evolution, preferably several instances of it, and even some experimental work in bringing it about, before they act so all-fired sure of their conclusions.

One Brow said...

Mr. Green,

I had a dotors appointment today that kept me waiting, and I studied your post in the waiting room.

I first want to note a distinction that occasionally crops up here. There is a difference between the model of per se causation that is based on act unleashing potency with no other stipulations, and the version of per se causation that is used in the First Cause argument. The former version has no need of simultaneity nor of fintie causal sequences/lattices, they can extend as long as time itself extends. You seem to be using it in a variation of the Cosmological Argument. However, the sorts of per se causal sequences that Feser uses (and other posters in here have put forth as being what these sequences really are) are both finite and simultaneous. Thus, a Newton's Cradle seems to fit fine with your depiction, but is dismissed as merely horizontal, not vertical, by another poster who seems to seek finiteness and simultaneity. Possibly the reason some think think I contradict myself in discussing per se causation is that I actually have no objection to the first depiction as a fairly useful picture, but find the second not at all useful as a model of reality. I know no traditional/acceptable terminology to refer to the two models separately. If you have none, we might call them the "extensive" and the "limited" versions of per se causation.

Now, as I said, I have no problem with the model of per se causation (I often think of it as "immediate motive force"). I understand the point of the time-wormhole illustration. I understand the difference between per se and per accidens.

I'm not fond of your extension of the illustration used for per se causation (this paragraph is purely nitpicking the example, and not central to the conversation). If Adam not needing to have existed because Isaac could have been created allows us to identify that chain as accidental, than there is a similar notion that would make the hand-stone-stick accidental: God can create a compression wave in the stick, and then the hand need never have existed at all. So, i don't think using "God could have created something in the middle" is useful for distinguishing per se and per accidens.

I do have a larger complaint with the last paragraph, in that it is using the metaphysical system to limit what the physical system is capable of. That just seems backwards to me. We create the metaphysics to describe the physics (Feser does this in some detail in his book). Thomasitic metaphysics is constructed on a specific notion of physical change. However, if that notion does not describe all types of change that occurs, we need to expand our notions to accomodate what occurs in order to have a useful metaphysics. This is not to say physics can disprove metaphysics, but rather that metaphysics based on poor physical models will have unreliable results. In particular, the notion that every change must have a cause seems to be an inaccurate notion of physics. Therefore, a metaphysics that relies on such a notion will not give a reliable picture of reality. When such a metaphysics says something "must" or "can not" happen, we have very little confidence in those statements.

Daniel A. Duran said...
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Daniel A. Duran said...
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