Author Topic: What if Theistic Evolution were true?  (Read 4173 times)

Offline Quaremerepulisti

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What if Theistic Evolution were true?
« on: September 26, 2018, 10:28:13 AM »
While we're speaking of "reason", here's a question:

How does a theistic evolutionist actually convince himself that the God he worships is good, nay, love?

I'm not interested in hearing scholastic angels-on-the-head-of-a-pin intellectualised rationalisations and moral sophistry to justify the mere assertion of it, where it's just a conclusion reached and signed off on in the face of the quite apparent moral dilemma that punches one in the gut when trying to reconcile goodness and love with the fundamental nature of this world and all the death, violence and suffering of innocents supposedly in it beforethe Fall. This is were the atheists again show more integrity and honesty than the theistic evolutionists.

This is Sacred Sciences subforum, where if you are going to dismiss something as "scholastic rationalization" and "sophistry", you are actually going to have to show how it is the case by reasoned and logical argument (e.g. "semi-scholarly discussion"), and not just merely assert it.  Here are two responses.

Answer 1.  You're equivocating on "before".  Granted, that world was temporally prior to the Fall, but not necessarily ontologically prior to the Fall, God foreknowing the Fall would happen.  An effect can precede a cause in time (though not ontologically), such as is the case with the Immaculate Conception.

Answer 2.  There is plenty of death, violence, and sufferings of innocents in the world after the Fall, some of it recorded in Scripture as happening by God's own express order.  If you have a theodicy which can explain how this can be together with a good and loving God after the Fall, then it should also suffice to explain why this could be the case before the Fall.  Either suffering of innocents is intrinsically contrary to the goodness and love of God, or it is not.
 
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Offline Pon de Replay

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Re: What if Theistic Evolution were true?
« Reply #1 on: September 26, 2018, 01:32:29 PM »
Answer 1.  You're equivocating on "before".  Granted, that world was temporally prior to the Fall, but not necessarily ontologically prior to the Fall, God foreknowing the Fall would happen.  An effect can precede a cause in time (though not ontologically), such as is the case with the Immaculate Conception.

If you posit the after-effects of the Fall as having also been extended by God to curse everything before the Fall, then what are you contending the fallen world fell from in the first place?  You would be negating the concept of a pre-lapsarian paradise, from which death first entered by sin.  You're saying, in effect, that there was never a paradise to have lost.  It's a nonsensical narrative that anyone could see has been devised ad hoc in order to harmonize with evolution. 

For all that you might argue in response, that Western theology has outlived its usefulness and been roundly quashed by science, how do you plan on contending with the charge that your nouvelle theologie is no better, since it's transparently just a matter of retrofitting and making things up as you go along?  "No man seweth a piece of raw cloth to an old garment: otherwise the new piecing taketh away from the old, and there is made a greater rent."
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Offline Quaremerepulisti

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Re: What if Theistic Evolution were true?
« Reply #2 on: September 26, 2018, 03:05:47 PM »
If you posit the after-effects of the Fall as having also been extended by God to curse everything before the Fall, then what are you contending the fallen world fell from in the first place?  You would be negating the concept of a pre-lapsarian paradise, from which death first entered by sin.  You're saying, in effect, that there was never a paradise to have lost.  It's a nonsensical narrative that anyone could see has been devised ad hoc in order to harmonize with evolution. 

I am sorry but I do not see a rigorous argument here, only a bare assertion followed by a bandwagon approach fallacy.

The bare assertion is that there never was a paradise to have lost, if it never in fact existed.  Your assertion is gratuitous and prima facie fallacious: you might as well argue that if I fail to show up for work and therefore don't earn a paycheck, there was never a paycheck to be lost, since it never existed.

And you never get around to actually showing how this is contrary to a loving and good God if it is in fact the case, while the traditional narrative of the Fall, followed by genocides, a global flood, and "nature red in tooth and claw" is perfectly in accordance with it.


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For all that you might argue in response, that Western theology has outlived its usefulness and been roundly quashed by science, how do you plan on contending with the charge that your nouvelle theologie is no better, since it's transparently just a matter of retrofitting and making things up as you go along?  "No man seweth a piece of raw cloth to an old garment: otherwise the new piecing taketh away from the old, and there is made a greater rent."

I don't plan on contending with that charge on this thread, except to say that theology should be the servant of truth and not the other way around, and one's theories should be revised to fit data, not data revised to fit theories, and that there is nothing wrong whatsoever in revising theories to fit data better - to fail to do so is pig-headed obstinacy.  In the meantime, please stick to the topic, which is theistic evolution and theodicy.
 

Offline Pon de Replay

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Re: What if Theistic Evolution were true?
« Reply #3 on: September 26, 2018, 04:24:48 PM »
The bare assertion is that there never was a paradise to have lost, if it never in fact existed.  Your assertion is gratuitous and prima facie fallacious: you might as well argue that if I fail to show up for work and therefore don't earn a paycheck, there was never a paycheck to be lost, since it never existed.

And you never get around to actually showing how this is contrary to a loving and good God if it is in fact the case, while the traditional narrative of the Fall, followed by genocides, a global flood, and "nature red in tooth and claw" is perfectly in accordance with it.

I'm not a position to argue for the theodicy of creationism, but clearly a god who permits only 7,000 years of misery is comparatively more merciful than one who gratuitously devises millions of years' worth.  The magnitude of offenses must surely matter somewhat.  If you had been told that one or two priests over the years had sexually abused children, you would probably not be happy about it, but you could stomach it on the notion that you're not about to let a few bad apples spoil the whole bunch.  But when you find that it's been hundreds of them, and that the hierarchy was shuffling them around and not reporting them to the authorities, then you are far more tempted to say things like "the Church is an organized crime ring."

But it's true that your claim is nonsensical.  Either that, or you seem to be denying that the Fall ever happened.  (I believe the Fall is de fide, though I'm not sure if that counts for anything in your scheme).  The fact remains that it would be meaningless to speak of a Fall, or a consequent penalty, if the penalty was already being meted out beforehand.  It would be like going up to someone in a jail cell and saying, "that does it.  I'm putting you in jail."

I think you are blazing a competely new theological trail, QMR.  You're becoming something the label for which might be a "radical Scotist," or perhaps an "ultra-Scotist," or even a "gnostic Scotist."  You are taking Duns Scotus' hypothetical about the Incarnation and running with it into insanity.  You seem to be arguing, and correct me if I'm wrong, that there was no paradise, there was no Fall, and that the Incarnation was not intended for redemption.  (Oddly, it was Duns Scotus' view that a non-redemptive Incarnation would've taken place in paradise).  Since we are clearly not living in paradise, and since Christ Himself spoke of his redemptive mission, I am at pains to see any coherence in this brave new theology.

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For all that you might argue in response, that Western theology has outlived its usefulness and been roundly quashed by science, how do you plan on contending with the charge that your nouvelle theologie is no better, since it's transparently just a matter of retrofitting and making things up as you go along?  "No man seweth a piece of raw cloth to an old garment: otherwise the new piecing taketh away from the old, and there is made a greater rent."

I don't plan on contending with that charge on this thread, except to say that theology should be the servant of truth and not the other way around, and one's theories should be revised to fit data, not data revised to fit theories, and that there is nothing wrong whatsoever in revising theories to fit data better - to fail to do so is pig-headed obstinacy.

It's pertinent to consider this point, because the practice of revising one's theology to fit the data renders the Christian religion as observably fallible as any other human endeavor, wrecking all claims to divine revelation.  Liberal Christianity, which you are more or less proposing here, has been tried for many decades now, and it has proven to be a failure.  Unbeholden to tradition, theology has revised itself right out of relevance.  It's a pig-headed obstinacy all its own to believe that an implicitly fallible religion is going to persuade too many souls of its necessity.

This issue even lightly touches on theodicy itself, for if God is all-good, and theistic evolution is true, then why did he inspire his sacred scriptures to read so horribly at odds with eventual scientific discoveries?  That is the behavior of a trickster god, deceiving the faithful for millennia, and then popping a 19th century surprise that upends the whole project and sets brethren against brethren to quarrel over the correct exegesis, while millions of others throw up their hands in exasperation and quit the thing entirely.  A good and prescient god would provide a revelation that could withstand the test of all time and accumulated knowledge, and thus be stewarded with the confidence of divine security.  He would not give his faithful something that is merely provisionally true until the next time there's a variance with science. 

Such a religion (one constantly on a quest for revision) is qualitatively no different from those crazed millennarianists who predict the end of the world on a certain date according to the bible and then, when the day passes uneventfully, well, they "revise their calculations to fit the data."  The data being that they were obviously wrong—but don't worry, they found the source of their error and you can trust them this time that it'll really happen on June 27th, 2022 (until it doesn't).  No different, really.
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Offline Arvinger

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Re: What if Theistic Evolution were true?
« Reply #4 on: September 26, 2018, 05:21:01 PM »
I agree with Pon de Replay that theistic evolution is making theology up ad hoc to reconcile theology and modern scientific dogmas (yes, it is a dogma - Darwinian evolution, even if true, cannot be observed empirically in a laboratory, it will always remain an interpretation of certain data and material such as fossils, rather than empirical observation). I know that there are interpretations of the Book of Genesis which allow to cram evolution into it, and some of them might even be logically defensible. However, lets ask ourselves this question - if we'd use purely exegetical tools, would we arrive to conclusion that the Book of Genesis teaches theistic evolution? Of course not, and it was manifestly not intent of the author to communicate such a thing. A most natural, and consistent reading of Genesis is that which was believed by Christians for hundreds of years prior to Darwin. The theistic evolution readings of Genesis are largely eisegesis rather then exegesis of the text, and the idea itself is based on an attempt to find a solution which would preserve both scientific dogmas and authority of Scripture, rather than genuine search for truth.     
 
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Offline Quaremerepulisti

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Re: What if Theistic Evolution were true?
« Reply #5 on: September 26, 2018, 05:52:10 PM »
I'm not a position to argue for the theodicy of creationism, but clearly a god who permits only 7,000 years of misery is comparatively more merciful than one who gratuitously devises millions of years' worth.  The magnitude of offenses must surely matter somewhat.  If you had been told that one or two priests over the years had sexually abused children, you would probably not be happy about it, but you could stomach it on the notion that you're not about to let a few bad apples spoil the whole bunch.  But when you find that it's been hundreds of them, and that the hierarchy was shuffling them around and not reporting them to the authorities, then you are far more tempted to say things like "the Church is an organized crime ring."

Well, theodicy is the topic of this thread, specifically the topic of theodicy of creationism vs. theistic evolution.  Now, by your logic, a God who permits only 200 years of misery is comparatively more merciful than one who devises 7,000 years worth.  Then, a God who permits only 2 microseconds of misery is comparatively more merciful than one who permits 200 years worth.  Then, a God who permits no misery at all is comparatively more merciful then one who does.  Etc.  The argument is, if there's a theodicy that can cover 7,000 years of misery, it can likewise cover 700,000,000 years of misery; time is not an argument, otherwise that very same argument could be used against 7,000 years.  You provide no reason to think this is not the case.

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The fact remains that it would be meaningless to speak of a Fall, or a consequent penalty, if the penalty was already being meted out beforehand.  It would be like going up to someone in a jail cell and saying, "that does it.  I'm putting you in jail."

You simply repeat your assertion, without even bothering to address the issue that God (unlike us) has certain foreknowledge of the crime, and while the result is anterior in time to the crime, it is still consequent to it ontologically.  Until you address these issues, I will simply gratuitously deny your gratuitous assertion of "meaninglessness".

Moreover, in Catholic theology the result of the Fall is not a punishment in the strict sense (unlike certain Protestant versions); it is the deprivation of additional gifts for which man and animals, etc., have no strict right to in virtue of their nature, but not the deliberate infliction of evil.  Catholic theology has to say this because otherwise man is being punished right from birth without him as yet being guilty of anything, and that would be unjust.  But that means, of course, that nature is, qua nature, red in tooth and claw.

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You seem to be arguing, and correct me if I'm wrong, that there was no paradise, there was no Fall, and that the Incarnation was not intended for redemption. 

You are wrong.  There was a fall and a quasi-Paradise in Eden.  But let me ask you this.  Why was there a Garden of Eden if the entire earth was a paradise?  If, immediately after the Fall, the entire earth became a non-paradise, why was it necessary to banish Adam and Eve from the Garden, which should no longer have existed?  What exactly happened after the Fall?  Non-carnivorous animals suddenly developed teeth, claws, the ability to digest meat, and the hunting instinct?  God worked miracles in order to ensure the "cursing" of creation?  You see, it's not only theistic evolutionists who have some tough questions to answer.

After the Fall, the Incarnation was indeed intended for Redemption but I'm with Scotus on the Incarnation happening even without the Fall.  Since God can't "change His mind" He must have taken His foreknowledge into account when He designed and intended things.  God is outside of time and sees all things in the same instant.

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It's pertinent to consider this point, because the practice of revising one's theology to fit the data renders the Christian religion as observably fallible as any other human endeavor, wrecking all claims to divine revelation.

Well, I'd say it renders theology as observably fallible as any other human endeavor, and it is, because it is practiced by fallible humans.  But at least this has the benefit of being honest.  And what's the alternative?  Insisting on a theology that doesn't fit the data?  How is that rendering religion any observably less fallible?

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This issue even lightly touches on theodicy itself, for if God is all-good, and theistic evolution is true, then why did he inspire his sacred scriptures to read so horribly at odds with eventual scientific discoveries? 

That ship sailed two centuries prior to Darwin with geocentrism, as you well know, and that I have termed it the Waterloo of traditional Catholicism, because it cannot withstand this critique, indignant denials and rants about "persecution" and "scientism" and the "arrogance of Galileo" and how this "isn't infallible teaching" notwithstanding.  The West had to revise theology so that the inspired writers weren't talking about reality as it actually was (which is how everyone interpreted the texts prior to that point), but only what sensibly appeared, even though a plain reading of the text gives no indication of that.  The West really has no good answer to this one, with its "dictator-God" model of Divine inspiration.  That's why I've gone over to the East, or one of the reasons.

 

Offline Quaremerepulisti

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Re: What if Theistic Evolution were true?
« Reply #6 on: September 26, 2018, 05:56:35 PM »
I agree with Pon de Replay that theistic evolution is making theology up ad hoc ... if we'd use purely exegetical tools, would we arrive to conclusion that the Book of Genesis teaches theistic evolution?

OK, fine.  You'd also not conclude that Scripture teaches heliocentrism/acentrism using purely exegetical tools.  But let's please keep the thread focused on theodicy.
 

Offline Arvinger

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Re: What if Theistic Evolution were true?
« Reply #7 on: September 26, 2018, 06:04:56 PM »
I agree with Pon de Replay that theistic evolution is making theology up ad hoc ... if we'd use purely exegetical tools, would we arrive to conclusion that the Book of Genesis teaches theistic evolution?

OK, fine.  You'd also not conclude that Scripture teaches heliocentrism/acentrism using purely exegetical tools.  But let's please keep the thread focused on theodicy.

Indeed, which is one of the reasons why I consider geocentrism to be a very real possibility. There are strong Scriptural arguments for it.
My point is that we need to interpret Scripture by the means of exegesis and understanding the intention of the author, his argument and what he intended to communicate. The moment you try to force onto Scripture ideas which were clearly foreign to the author and his intention, you are guilty of eisegesis and run into trouble. It is essentially the same thing as liberals do with the US Constitution - totally ignoring intention of its authors behind its specific elements, treating it as a living text understanding of which can be molded into whatever society dictates. Likewise, trying to force theistic evolution onto Genesis is to make Scripture a living text which can be molded into whatever current scientific dogmas declare.
 
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Offline Quaremerepulisti

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Re: What if Theistic Evolution were true?
« Reply #8 on: September 26, 2018, 07:53:02 PM »
Indeed, which is one of the reasons why I consider geocentrism to be a very real possibility. There are strong Scriptural arguments for it.

Unfortunately, it's not a very real possibility scientifically speaking (no matter what Sungenis says), unless God works a continuous set of miracles.

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My point is that we need to interpret Scripture by the means of exegesis and understanding the intention of the author, his argument and what he intended to communicate. The moment you try to force onto Scripture ideas which were clearly foreign to the author and his intention, you are guilty of eisegesis and run into trouble.

It's not that simple.

It is impossible to interpret Scripture without a certain prior philosophical, hermeneutical, and linguistic framework.  It is also impossible, as a human author, no matter how inspired, to even write Scripture without such a framework.  This is simply the way humans are.  It's not surprising that wires could get crossed several thousands of years later.  Things are historically conditioned and there's no way around it.

Now, you don't think God literally "walked" corporeally with Adam and Eve in the garden.  But you can't prove directly from the text that it wasn't the intent of the author to mean that.  You assume that he did not and was only speaking metaphorically, because if he did, it would be a philosophical error to say God is corporeal, and Scripture can't contain error.  Similarly with the talking snake, and many other things.

But the same arguments apply for natural science as they do for natural philosophy.  To argue otherwise is special pleading.  Thus, if the author didn't intend to communicate truths of natural science (as he didn't intend to communicate truths of philosophy), it doesn't matter if the natural world is different than he thought.  That is the standard answer to literal six-day creationism.  We can assume that he did not mean to teach a truth of natural science but was talking metaphorically, poetically, it was a literary form of myth or allegory, etc., because if he did, there would be a scientific error in Scripture, and Scripture can't contain error.

 

Offline Pon de Replay

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Re: What if Theistic Evolution were true?
« Reply #9 on: September 26, 2018, 08:52:12 PM »
QMR, the topic of this thread is, "what if theistic evolution were true?"  My answer is not that there is a perfect theodicy to creationism, but that rationalizing a theodicy to theistic evolution is even more difficult because the scale of the cruelty is so much larger.  The infliction of seven hundred million years of misery is objectively worse than seven thousand.  If this is not true, then there is no such thing as a "harsher sentence."  The defect in your own argument is that it's really no argument at all to say, "creationism has some misery, so it's no problem if my theology has seven million times as much misery."  To argue as much simply returns you to the bare-bones problem of theodicy itself, which is that there is no amount of evil whatsoever, in your view, that God could permit and not be omibenevolent.  In which case there is no reason to fret over the sexual abuse of minors by clergy—or anything else for that matter.  "Allah wills it."

The shortest answer to "what if theistic evolution were true?" is that it would mean the doctrine of the bible being divinely inspired comes into question, as the sacred authors were clearly not inspired to harmonize with the evolutionary scheme, and (inexplicably) provided instead something at odds with it.  As a result, you are forced to squeeze out of scripture things it doesn't say.  It would mean that liberal Christianity is the true religion, however incredible that may seem.  That religion will continue to dwindle, but it probably won't die.  We can't expect an end to it as cultish and spectacular as a mass suicide or a compound going up in flames.  It will plod on annoyingly, with rainbow flags, revised theology, jokes in sermons, and interpretive dance.

I have always, of course, agreed with (and liked) your summation of geocentrism as the Waterloo of traditional Catholicism.  All I am saying is that the proposed alternative (revising doctrines nearly into contradictions of what used to be believed) is no improvement.  That is the real Catch-22; the choice between a liberal Catholicism which is scarcely credible for its conceded fallibility, and traditional Catholicism, which insists on infallibility in spite of the Waterloos of its past.  As Donald Trump would say, "sad!"
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Offline Arvinger

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Re: What if Theistic Evolution were true?
« Reply #10 on: September 27, 2018, 06:55:03 AM »
Unfortunately, it's not a very real possibility scientifically speaking (no matter what Sungenis says), unless God works a continuous set of miracles.

Well, so you say.

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It's not that simple.

It is impossible to interpret Scripture without a certain prior philosophical, hermeneutical, and linguistic framework.  It is also impossible, as a human author, no matter how inspired, to even write Scripture without such a framework.  This is simply the way humans are.  It's not surprising that wires could get crossed several thousands of years later.  Things are historically conditioned and there's no way around it.

Of course, these elements are important, but they are part of exegesis of the text - there are indeed many parts of Scripture which require knowledge of wider historical context and ancient languages in order to understand them properly, no question about that. But these elements are to be evaluated in context of the text and what is it supposed to communicate. Every book of the Bible was written for specific purpose, with intention of communicating a specific message, and the linguistic, historical, etc. framework is to be used in order to understand what is this message. To argue for theistic evolution, you'd have to demonstrate that the intention of divinely-inspired author was to teach such a concept in first few chapters of Genesis. Of course, such a claim does not hold up to basic scrutiny.

Theistic evolution is simply a desperate attempt to acommodate modern scientific dogmas into Christianity while at the same time paying lipservice to the authority of Scripture and Tradition.   

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Now, you don't think God literally "walked" corporeally with Adam and Eve in the garden.  But you can't prove directly from the text that it wasn't the intent of the author to mean that.  You assume that he did not and was only speaking metaphorically, because if he did, it would be a philosophical error to say God is corporeal, and Scripture can't contain error.  Similarly with the talking snake, and many other things.

That is a different issue altogether - of course, there are parts of the Bible which are metaphorical and literal. There is no problem in interpreting the text in metaphorical way if there are good exegetical reasons for and it does not violate the message of the text and/or the argument being developed. It is entirely different thing than forcing a meaning upon the text which its author and 2000 years of Christian tradition did not even dream of. It is really a theological version of the Supreme Court claiming that the US Constitution guarantees rights to same-sex couples.

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But the same arguments apply for natural science as they do for natural philosophy.  To argue otherwise is special pleading.  Thus, if the author didn't intend to communicate truths of natural science (as he didn't intend to communicate truths of philosophy), it doesn't matter if the natural world is different than he thought. That is the standard answer to literal six-day creationism.  We can assume that he did not mean to teach a truth of natural science but was talking metaphorically, poetically, it was a literary form of myth or allegory, etc., because if he did, there would be a scientific error in Scripture, and Scripture can't contain error.

If the context and exegesis indicate that the author was not talking poetically, metaphorically etc., but rather literally, we have to allow Scripture to speak for itself, rather than interpreting it through the lenses of secular and scientific presuppositions. We know that inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture extends to all of its elements, not just theological truths (the opposite opinion was condemned by St. Pius X in Lamentabili Sane), therefore inerrancy includes facts about the world, geography, history, place-names etc. Therefore, if it can be demonstrated through exegesis of Scripture that it teaches something contrary to current scientific dogmas, it is evidence that the scientific claims are wrong, rather than indicating we need to force scientific dogmas upon Scripture.
 
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Offline Kirin

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Re: What if Theistic Evolution were true?
« Reply #11 on: September 28, 2018, 06:17:51 PM »
You are wrong.  There was a fall and a quasi-Paradise in Eden.  But let me ask you this.  Why was there a Garden of Eden if the entire earth was a paradise?  If, immediately after the Fall, the entire earth became a non-paradise, why was it necessary to banish Adam and Eve from the Garden, which should no longer have existed?  What exactly happened after the Fall?  Non-carnivorous animals suddenly developed teeth, claws, the ability to digest meat, and the hunting instinct?  God worked miracles in order to ensure the "cursing" of creation?  You see, it's not only theistic evolutionists who have some tough questions to answer.

I can actually answer this part, though I doubt an Orthodox Catholic would find the answer satisfactory.

Eden was not a novel idea invented by the Jews, many cultures and societies; notably, the Mesopotamians and the Egyptians had a notion of their land being somehow more blessed or more perfect than all others.

Egypt for instance was the land of Ma'at, blessed and separate from a world of Chaos ruled by Set Egypt was a beacon of Law and Order; a paradise in a universe of darkness.

Eden is another rehash of Semetic patriotism. We are the descendants of the chosen people from (not necessarily residing in) the promised land. This is all the more important when you consider that the Hebrew Bible was not canonized until the Babylonian captivity where the notion of them as strangers in a foreign land had long been deeply internalized.
 

Offline John Lamb

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Re: What if Theistic Evolution were true?
« Reply #12 on: September 29, 2018, 11:52:34 AM »
Question for Old Earth Creationists / Theistic Evolutionists — Is a dog a domestic wolf, or is a wolf a savage dog?
As many as received him, he gave them power to be made the sons of God, to them that believe in his name. (John 1:12)
 

Offline John Lamb

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Re: What if Theistic Evolution were true?
« Reply #13 on: September 29, 2018, 12:05:31 PM »
What exactly happened after the Fall?  Non-carnivorous animals suddenly developed teeth, claws, the ability to digest meat, and the hunting instinct?  God worked miracles in order to ensure the "cursing" of creation?  You see, it's not only theistic evolutionists who have some tough questions to answer.

The answer for this is simple. In paradise all animals ate the fruit / herb of plants:

"And God said: Behold I have given you every herb bearing seed upon the earth, and all trees that have in themselves seed of their own kind, to be your meat: And to all beasts of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to all that move upon the earth, and wherein there is life, that they may have to feed upon. And it was so done."

Note: Eating the fruit of a tree does not harm the tree, any more than taking milk from the breast. So all living species were protected from death.

However, with the Fall the ground itself was cursed, so that the fruits & herbs no longer provided the same nutrition as before. Animals like lions who once may have eaten figs and nuts, now found themselves under-nourished on the postlapsarian fruits. Therefore, in order to survive, they turned to the other animals for a source of sufficient protein. It is hunger and the fear of death that caused the animals to turn against each other; take these things away and most animals (those who have not developed into highly aggressive predators) are benign. There are lions kept in captivity today which are raised on a vegetarian diet; obviously this is not the ideal for a modern lion, but the lion in paradise might have easily been sustained on the fruits of paradise. The teeth and claws are not difficult to explain. Nuts can be difficult to crack (look at how sharp & powerful the beaks of certain birds are), and the growing carnivorous/predatory capacities of certain species (like lions) can be explained by Darwinian selection. My friend mentioned a wasp that injects its eggs into a caterpillar, which then hatch and eat the caterpillar. Brutal, but this can only be explained as above: the wasp can no longer find an appropriate fruit host for its offspring, so it turns to an animal (which provides the right nutrition) instead.


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The Keeper of Animals under King Hsüan, of the Chou dynasty, had an assistant named Liang Yang, who was skilled in the management of wild birds and beasts. When he fed them in their park-enclosure, all the animals showed themselves tame and tractable, although they comprised tigers, wolves, eagles and ospreys. Male and female freely propagated their kind, and their numbers multiplied. The different species lived promiscuously together, yet they never clawed nor bit one another.

The King was afraid lest this man's secret should die with him, and commanded him to impart it to the Keeper. So Liang Yang appeared before the Keeper and said: 'I am only a humble servant, and have really nothing to impart. I fear his Majesty thinks I am hiding something from you. With regard to my method of feeding tigers, all I have to say is this: when yielded to, they are pleased; when opposed, they are angry. Such is the natural disposition of all living creatures. But neither their pleasure nor their anger is manifested without a cause. Both are really excited by opposition.

'In feeding tigers, then, I avoid giving them either live animals or whole carcases, lest in the former case the act of killing, in the latter the act of tearing them to pieces, should excite them to fury. Again, I time their periods of hunger and repletion, and I gain a full understanding of the causes of their anger. Tigers are of a different species from man, but, like him, they respond to those who coax them with food, and consequently the act of killing their victims tends to provoke them. This being so, I should not think of opposing them and thus provoking their anger; neither do I humour them and thus cause them to feel pleased. For this feeling of pleasure will in time be succeeded by anger, just as anger must invariably be succeeded by pleasure. Neither of these states hits the proper mean. Hence it is my aim to be neither antagonistic nor compliant, so that the animals regard me as one of themselves. Thus it happens that they walk about the park without regretting the tall forests and the broad marshes, and rest in the enclosure without yearning for the lonely mountains and the dark valleys. Such are the principles which have led to the results you see.'


« Last Edit: September 29, 2018, 12:13:29 PM by John Lamb »
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Offline Quaremerepulisti

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Re: What if Theistic Evolution were true?
« Reply #14 on: September 29, 2018, 12:11:07 PM »
QMR, the topic of this thread is, "what if theistic evolution were true?"  My answer is not that there is a perfect theodicy to creationism, but that rationalizing a theodicy to theistic evolution is even more difficult because the scale of the cruelty is so much larger.  The infliction of seven hundred million years of misery is objectively worse than seven thousand.  If this is not true, then there is no such thing as a "harsher sentence." 

I deny both the premise and the conclusion following from it.

1.  That there is more time for evil to occur in theistic evolution vs. creationism and hence more animal suffering, I admit; that there is therefore less total evil to explain in creationism, I deny.  Creationism has many other types of evils it needs to explain that aren't the case for theistic evolution.

2.  That "rationalizing a theodicy" (meaning, one sees clearly why it is the case) becomes more difficult the more a given type of evil exists, I admit; that the amount of a given type of evil affects the validity of a theodicy in itself, I deny.  If God can have a sufficient reason for permitting evil X of a given type for the sake of bringing about a greater good Y of another type, then it is no argument how many instances of type X there are.  In the fact, the world is objectively better the more of type X there is, for that means the more of type Y there is.

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The defect in your own argument is that it's really no argument at all to say, "creationism has some misery, so it's no problem if my theology has seven million times as much misery."  To argue as much simply returns you to the bare-bones problem of theodicy itself, which is that there is no amount of evil whatsoever, in your view, that God could permit and not be omibenevolent.  In which case there is no reason to fret over the sexual abuse of minors by clergy—or anything else for that matter.  "Allah wills it."

Please don't straw man.  My real argument is, if there is a satisfactory theodicy for creationism, it will likewise be satisfactory for theistic evolution.  And theodicy does indeed say that there is no fixed amount of evil whatsoever that God could permit and not be omnibenevolent, as long as all that evil were permitted for a greater good.  If this is what you are arguing against, then you arguing against theodicy in itself and not the particular case of creationism vs. theistic evolutionism.

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The shortest answer to "what if theistic evolution were true?" is that it would mean the doctrine of the bible being divinely inspired comes into question, as the sacred authors were clearly not inspired to harmonize with the evolutionary scheme, and (inexplicably) provided instead something at odds with it. 

Yep.  But that is an argument to undesired consequences, if used to deny the antecedent.  Maybe the Bible being "Divinely inspired" does not mean that God dictated word-for-word what the sacred authors would write.  Maybe there was a Divine truth the sacred authors were intending to communicate, but were faced with limitations of human language, culture, presuppositions, etc.

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All I am saying is that the proposed alternative (revising doctrines nearly into contradictions of what used to be believed) is no improvement.  That is the real Catch-22; the choice between a liberal Catholicism which is scarcely credible for its conceded fallibility, and traditional Catholicism, which insists on infallibility in spite of the Waterloos of its past. 

How does conceded fallibility equate to lack of credibility?  And how is insistence on infallibility credible with the Waterloos of the past?