Incarnational insights on the emergence of man

It often seems to me that in the discussions over how evolution impacts theology, the theological adjustments felt necessary by many are often apparently snatched out of the air with little thought over how they change very basic Christian truths about, say, the nature of God himself. And that’s just when the theologians are writing. Start reading the comments of ὀι πολλοι and it’s like being in a rowing boat in the vicinity of Cape Horn. Somehow, it brings to mind an image from art history.640px-Pieter_Bruegel_the_Elder_-_The_Parable_of_the_Blind_Leading_the_Blind_-_WGA3511

One example. It struck me, in reflecting on recent allegedly Evangelical “evolutionary alternatives” to the biblical notion of sin, how fundamentally dualistic most of them are. Many picture a naturally evolved human animal, to which God chooses somehow to add something – perhaps the soul, or conscience, or some relational revelation. But sin is seen as an unequal struggle between the new God-consciousness and the old selfish animalism (leave aside for now the validity of evolution as a self-aggrandizing process). “We” lose the fight to the “It” of the animal nature, and so God has to sort it out and save us.

Whether or not the proponents of such ideas are wedded to a formal Cartesian view of some immaterial “ghost in the machine”, there is still the taint of a dualistic idea of “I” as the driver of some over-powered biological muscle car over which it is all too easy to lose control, as if a sheep might suddenly lapse into acting like a lion through inattention. Though the label is “evolutionary creation”, in practice it seems as though the “evolution” and “creation” bits operate under separate management, and at separate times, and end up producing conflicts. But though, post-sin, Scriptures like Romans 7 do present a conflict picture, this is not that of superadded-humanity against animality, but of the renewed human nature against the remnants of unnatural sin.

The best theology, whether based on the biblical Hebrew and Greek ideas or scholastic philosophy, sees man as an essential unity even when aspects such as “the soul” are distinguished conceptually. We are no more compartmentalised by our created nature than an animal is against the vegetative (in Aristotelian terms) aspects of its nature – the animal just is what it is in toto, at least until its nature is corrupted by some accident or by human interference. And that’s because however God creates natures – and that includes human nature – he creates something that is all of a piece, and not a Ferrari with a teenage driver, or even just the Ferrari with interchangeable parts. Any theology that ignores that is ignoring what it means for God to create at all.

A parallel example from theology (not least because the similar fundamental errors about God’s ways are often espoused by the same people for the same rationalistic reasons) is the Incarnation of Christ. And I want, in this, to point to the work on the subject done by one of the greatest Christian philosophers of the twentieth century, the late Bernard Lonergan. Unfortunately, as a Jesuit he wrote mainly in Latin, with his best stuff being buried in massive tomes now gradually been translated for the Collected Works. So he appears to be much less familiar to, and hence influential upon, Protestant academics than those like John Hick, to whose approach he is something of an orthodox antithesis.

In fact, so far I’ve only been able to whet my appetite for his work from summaries, but there is useful essay on his thinking on the Incarnation in an essay here. The author, Thomas Whaling, points out that the catholic doctrine of both Western and Eastern Churches, the Chalcedonian definition of 451, has been widely called into question by moderns as being incoherent. But the truth is it is only incoherent because of the presuppositions under which moderns labour. It is, indeed, paradoxical in insisting in the two natures of Christ perfectly conjoined, and yet not mingled, nor either of them suppressed. He is at all times truly and fully God and truly and fully man.

Whaling points out how commonly modern views of the hypostatic union of God and man in Christ in effect picture two “drivers” who control the life of Jesus at different times and at different levels. Two kids are wrestling with the Ferrari! God the Son, for example, is conscious of the human personality at both its own conscious and unconscious levels, whereas the human Christ cannot in turn be conscious of the Divine. Objections to such a “split-personality” (like that of John Hick) end up by ignoring one of the natures almost entirely, and in today’s intellectual climate it is usually the divine that is sidelined.

This is one major motive behind the kenosis theories  so popular in science-faith circles. An argument for it might proceed from the fact that for Christ to be truly human, he cannot have been aware of his divinity, or capable of acting divinely, but must be fallible like us. Ergo there is a motivation to find some justification for his having left the divine effectively behind, and so the entire theology of divine kenosis is built up from one misinterpreted word in Paul’s letter to the Philippians. One knock-on effect of that is that with the Son being present in Christ only in the most tenuous of ontological senses, biblical models of atonement that depend on the divine nature of Christ are an embarrassment, or alternatively become easily ridiculed, as in the idea that substitutionary atonement consists of God killing an innocent (and of course, uninformed) human.

Of course, the argument that Jesus must have been ignorant of divinity to be a man is no more or less true than its counterpart – that Jesus must have known his divinity in order to be God. There is a good case for leaving such deep issues to be held in the tension of faith. But, perhaps because prevalent false answers lead so many people astray, Lonergan’s approach seeks to answer reason with reason. He willingly shares the “low christology” approach (that is, arguing from man to God rather than vice versa) of the moderns because, as humans, we can only comprehend what is human in Christ and not what is divine. And so he looks to investigate the psychology of Christ. But he argues that this need not lead to a rejection of the Chalcedonian teaching, provided ones terms of references are clear and correct. In particular, he points to a misconception of “consciousness” that is usual in those who reject Chalcedon:

When it is said that Jesus could not be conscious of his divine nature, the term ‘consciousness’ is in need of clarification. Lonergan cautions that “a subject as conscious is not to be confused with a subject engaged in successful introspection.”

The necessary condition of consciousness, in the sense used by Hick, implies a successful introspection that assumes not only a subject as conscious but also a subject that has understood and conceived some psychological system and is seeking to  understand and verify this system in his or her own experience by a successful outcome of this inquiry.

In this case, a low christology demands of a Chalcedonian formulation that Jesus have, not just a consciousness of his divinity, but a rational self-awareness as God. Yet, we cannot be conscious of a judgment – only conscious while judging.

The essay is closely argued, and so I don’t want to prevent you from following it by abbreviating it here. But the starting point is that consciousness is entirely a subjective, experiential, thing, and not capable of being perceived as the object of consciousness. As conscious humans, we experience things as humans do, and consequently via the application of our consciousness to our perceptions come to know that we ourselves are human. Lonergan describes consciousness as a “preliminary unstructured awareness” within the person that serves as a, “prerequisite to intellectual inquiry.” This awareness is not a perception nor the act of perceiving. It is experience.

The failure to command a sufficient understanding of human self-awareness and self-possession finds no exclusion with Christ in low christologies – rather it highlights a methodological problem in such christologies. Remedying this problem allows us to continue with both a low christology and the Chalcedonian tradition.

Lonergan writes:

Again, there is no such thing as consciousness of consciousness. Therefore, although Christ has two consciousnesses, he is not conscious of the two consciousnesses.

The confusion arises when one assumes consciousness is perception by asking for a reconciliation of the experience of the divine consciousness’ perceptions in the life of Jesus, and the human consciousness in the life of Jesus. As a result, a third consciousness is understood as necessary – a consciousness of the unity of two consciousnesses in one mind. The problem is, that is not an implication of the Chalcedonian confession. Here, hypostasis is not maintained but collapsed.

The argument proceeds by showing the error of trying to picture Jesus as perceiving the divine from his human nature, or vice versa, which is not what Chalcedon had in mind at all:

That the Chalcedonian confession cannot reconcile this problem would be a fair criticism, if the Chalcedonian formulation supposed the cognitional structure of the person of Christ demands that the human nature cognize as the divine, and the divine nature cognize as the human. But if the person of Christ is to be truly human, his cognition must function in a properly human manner. And if the person of Christ is to be truly divine, the divine must function in its proper fashion.

That distinction does not, however, mean that Jesus in his human nature was unable to perceive his own divinity. Being sinless, he was unlike us fully open to the nature of God (possessing Beatific vision, in Lonergan’s AT Catholic terms). He was therefore able to attain self-understanding of his divinity by the same means that he, and we too, acquired self understanding of our humanity: the comparison of our conscious experience with our perceptions.

The net result of all this is that, whilst maintaining the “separation of the natures” in accordance with the historical doctrine of the Church, we can also rationally come to terms with Christ’s unity as a person, functioning seamlessly as both human and divine:

One must first exhibit consciousness so that the experience of oneself is possible, one must understand the nature of that person as data of sense and consciousness affords, and one must be able to form an understanding of this person and affirm that this person is actually oneself. The difference is that in Christ there are two natures to be understood in the person, yet this does not alter the process on the side of the subject as human, making the process still properly human.

The divine nature acts on the same experience that the human nature does, and there is no experience which the divine nature possesses in the life of Christ that the human does not. There is no second person who shadows the life of Jesus in his experiences, but a co-existing nature that is present and understood by him in light of his beatific knowledge.

Now it seems to me that grappling with this greatest of spiritual mysteries, the coming of the Son of God in human flesh as formulated by the Council of Chalcedon, and finding, as Lonergan does, that even this exercise provides insights into God’s ability to achieve this in one person – our Lord Jesus – and not as some strange and unnatural chimaera, should enable us to see that the human condition is comparatively simple.

If Christ in two natures can be intelligibly seen as one Christ (even though it may stretch our philosophical brain cells to comprehend the arguments), then how much more should the ordinary run of the human race be seen as an inseparable created unity, and not some strange hybrid of selfish evolution and God’s self-giving? Our inner disorder, surely, is all our own work from defying our single God-given nature.

Our salvation is firstly intended to bring us back to the divine order of our creation, and then to become like Christ, the God-Man, in our spiritual union with the Father.

Jon Garvey

About Jon Garvey

Training in medicine (which was my career), social psychology and theology. Interests in most things, but especially the science-faith interface. The rest of my time, though, is spent writing, playing and recording music.
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12 Responses to Incarnational insights on the emergence of man

  1. Cath Olic says:

    Jon,

    “Many picture a naturally evolved human animal, to which God chooses somehow to add something – perhaps the soul, or conscience, or some relational revelation.”

    The above quote and your article overall gives me the impression you may not be comfortable with Man being the result of an evolved hominid to which God immediately infused a soul.

    As a creationist, I believe God created Man immediately and in toto, body and soul-o.

    What do you believe?

    • Jon Garvey Jon Garvey says:

      Cath Olic

      On process I’m somewhat agnostic, or rather the views I have I acknowledge as speculative.

      But by whatever process man was created, I believe Scripture teaches, and experience shows, that he is a unity. Inasmuch as Catholic thinkers like Aquinas take a hylemorphic view of the soul, ie that “informing” matter it determines what we are (except for the attenuated perseverance of immaterial intellect pending the resurrection of the body), I’m happy with the idea of “soul”.

      Inasmuch as the soul gets interpreted popularly in a more Platonic way, and is therefore be seen as the ghost driving an optional body, I’m not happy at all – in Hebrew we are souls, rather than having souls.

      Next point: Catholic doctrine teaches that each soul is created directly by God (in Thomistic philosophy, because the immaterial intellect cannot be generated by material forms). And (as a Protestant) I can live with that happily too, as long as one doesn’t thereby dichotomise the essential human unity: it actually implies that each individual is created by God as a unity.

      But each individual is also formed by natural generation, which to me means one shouldn’t divorce too much the act of “creation” from secondary causes acting under God’s special providence. In other words, God’s creation of me isn’t his spotting a “natural” foetus and making sure he creates a “supernatural” soul to “go in it”. Generation is, at least in part, the means by which he creates me.

      Next point: is that compatible with an evolutionary scenario? You’ll perhaps know from BioLogos that I believe that unless evolution is purposefully directed by God’s universal providence, it isn’t theistic at all, so that’s what I mean by “evolution” here. That being the case, then the emergence of man by evolution can be seen as a special instance of generation: as soon as man becomes human, he has/is a human soul. That’s why he’s human.

      The problem for “theistic Darwinian gradualism” is that what differentiates man from the animals (the immaterial – the “soul” as I’ve discussed it) can hardly be acquired gradually, any more than Adam could enter relationship wth God gradually or sin gradually or incur death gradually. So for me, man could only become man by saltation – not traditionally allowed in evolution, but looking ever more plausible nowadays. And saltation doesn’t look a lot different from creation from dust, as traditionally understood, does it?

      One last thought: I’ve not defined “creation” carefully in this reply, and one needs to distinguish the philosophical and systematic-theology definition, ie “ex nihilo”, from the OT usage (as explored by John H Walton) of “determination of functional order”. The concept you use tends to colour how you see the problem, and the solutions.

      Hope that’s not confusing – your question helps me clarify my thinking.

  2. Cath Olic says:

    Jon,

    “So for me, man could only become man by saltation – not traditionally allowed in evolution, but looking ever more plausible nowadays. And saltation doesn’t look a lot different from creation from dust, as traditionally understood, does it?”

    I think saltation is allowed in evolution. I recall Dennis Venema and others insisting that modern humans have never been less than about 10,000 in number. To me, that means that at time X there were no human beings (which we all can agree to), and at X + one second there were 10,000. It also means that significant evolution can happen instantaneously and widely. Dennis and the others disagree, but I could never figure out why.

    “One last thought: I’ve not defined “creation” carefully in this reply, and one needs to distinguish the philosophical and systematic-theology definition, ie “ex nihilo”, from the OT usage (as explored by John H Walton) of “determination of functional order”. The concept you use tends to colour how you see the problem, and the solutions.”

    Skipping a lot of extra words, I would define “creation” as what is depicted in Genesis 1. It’s rapid, even instantaneous, and dramatic.

    • Jon Garvey Jon Garvey says:

      You won’t often find me supporting Dennis Venema, but I agree with him that a population bottleneck doesn’t imply, or even support, the sudden appearance of 10,000 from zero in population genetics terms. It’s not incompatible with it, of course – how else would the miraculous creation of a species of that population look?

      But all the population genetics approach suggests is that a whole population of one species evolved gradually, and that at one point along the way its mimum population was 10K, or whatever. So it’s pretty irrelevant to the “humanity in God’s image” question, except in terms of denying we all came from a first couple (if its assumptions and approximations are accepted).

      Creation in Gen 1 may be rapid, instantaneous and dramatic, but it’s also primarily functional. The role of the word in Gen 1 is important, but like all biblical words needs to be understood in the light of its entire Scriptural usage, and sometimes by the use of parallel words in other languages. And elsewhere it isn’t always rapid, instantaneous and dramatic, but is always God’s work and always brings an intended order into being (as when he creates Israel, or creates evil when peace is no longer appropriate to his will).

      • Cath Olic says:

        Jon,

        “… I agree with him that a population bottleneck doesn’t imply, or even support, the sudden appearance of 10,000 from zero in population genetics terms.”

        If the human population was never less than 10,000, then it not only implies the sudden appearance of 10,000 from zero in population genetics terms, it demands it.

        The other thing Dennis, et al, insist upon is ‘individuals don’t evolve, populations do.’ That’s pretty silly, to me.

        “Creation in Gen 1 may be rapid, instantaneous and dramatic, but it’s also primarily functional.”

        I don’t know what “functional” means here, but I do know that the ancient peoples didn’t need any help in figuring out the function of sexuality, hunting, fishing, farming.

        • Jon Garvey Jon Garvey says:

          The other thing Dennis, et al, insist upon is ‘individuals don’t evolve, populations do.’ That’s pretty silly, to me.

          Well, that’s a simple one – if you want to know why it’s not pretty silly (whether or not you believe it happened that way) you just have to read up on population genetics. I had the advantage of doing it in school zoology half a century ago, but since evolution has absolutely no relevance to medicine I forgot it all and had to look it up on the net when I got into this science-faith business. So you’re at no real disadvantage if you put in the legwork.

          As for what “functional” means with regard to creation, you might like to start here .

          • Cath Olic says:

            Jon,

            Regarding ‘individuals don’t evolve, populations do’, I don’t think it’s as simple as you imply.

            What MAY be simple is the explanation of a population’s characteristics changing. For example, the “evolution icon” of the English moth population becoming dominated by the dark variety in a sooty environment. But this is not evolution. Both the light-colored English moths and the dark-colored English moths were… English moths. Neither became a non-English moth.

            Tying this back to the other topic, Venema & Co. are saying 10,000 NON-human beings became 10,000 human beings in an instant. This is not a change in the characteristics (i.e. “accidents” in philosophical terminology) of the NON-human population. This is a change in kind (i.e. “essence” in philosophical terminology).

            “As for what “functional” means with regard to creation, you might like to start here.”

            I have no problem with creation being
            functional. I think it’s a given. It’s so basic as to go without saying.

            But in the piece you linked you wrote “In the next three days, Yahweh appoints functionaries (ie decrees destinies) for these functional domains: lights to mark times and seasons…”.

            That brings to mind a question I have sought the answer to for a long time now. In Genesis 1:14 we read “And God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for SEASONS and for days and YEARS”. I’ve wondered, if the author has already explicitly acknowledged time periods longer than a day (i.e. seasons, years) in Genesis 1, why would he in the same chapter say God created everything over six days AND go out of his way to define “day” six times (e.g. “there was evening and there was morning, a fifth day.”)? If long ages were actually used in creation, why wouldn’t the author say something like ‘over many years, a fifth season’?

            I’ve never had any luck in finding answers to these questions.
            Jon, do you know of any academic work which explains Gen 1:14 vis-à-vis the other “day” verses in Genesis 1?

            • Jon Garvey Jon Garvey says:

              Cath Olic

              I can’t see why you say that Venema is talking about 10K non-humans becoming 10K humans instantly, when he clearly believes they did so over many generations. I’m not endorsing that view, but one has to start where people are actually coming from to critique them.

              So his picture is of your population (isolated in a steadily changing environment, maybe) of peppered moths gradually acquiring actual changes in a whole range of areas rather than just melanism, which spread through that population when successful. Stir for a few hundred thousand years, and the changes are no longer reversible.

              They’re now a population of salted(!) moths that look on the peppered type as foreigners. Thus it’s the whole population that evolved into a new species, as individually acquired tiny gains or losses were mixed up over time.

              The observed reversibility of melanism needn’t, it’s said, apply to all mutations, since they involve many interacting genes which it may be impossible to restore to a former state.

              Now I grant that, viewed in terms of essentialism, gradualism poses a problem – but Darwinian’s aren’t overtly essentialists, though the fact they make many unconscious essentialist assumptions is indeed something to probe: as soon as someone attributes, say, unique spirituality to man, they’re talking essences and have some explaining to do.

              That said, I believe Aquinas has philosophical provision for essential forms to change other than instantaneously. David Oderberg would be the go-to guy to explore that, in Real Essentialsm – it’s the kind of thing Thomists ponder over.

              The evening and morning question has, I’m sure, many possible answers in terms of the features of genres, etc. But in a functional view, the commands God speaks are assigning new functions re mankind to perhaps existing material things, as one might say, “Let X be a priest”, though he’s 30 years old and has been in seminary for years, etc. I’m not a Catholic, but to quote a Catholic source “The Dignity of the Priest Surpasses all other Created Dignities”: the ritual assignation of function is seen as analogous (or more) to an act of creation.

              Since John Walton allows for God’s activity in this being over seven literal days (representative of the inauguration of God’s temple), he sees no problem in holding a literal 7 day Genesis creation together with a literal old earth, provided one understands “creation” as Moses would, rather than as moderns do, steeped in scientific materialism from birth. So his reasonably-priced Lost World of Genesis 1 is a place to start, though I find the more scholarly book mentioned in my post more persuasive because of its detail.

  3. Cath Olic says:

    Reply to Jon’s 03/07/2015 at 07:04 am,

    Jon,

    “I can’t see why you say that Venema is talking about 10K non-humans becoming 10K humans instantly, when he clearly believes they did so over many generations. I’m not endorsing that view, but one has to start where people are actually coming from to critique them.”

    I say that because you can’t go from non-human to human gradually, and because of what Venema and others have said clearly and repeatedly. Example:
    “As has been discussed several times here at BioLogos, there are multiple lines of evidence that indicate the human population has never been below around 10,000 members at any time in its history: we branched off as a large population to form our own species.”
    http://biologos.org/blog/understanding-evolution-mitochondrial-eve-y-chromosome-adam

    “So his picture is of your population (isolated in a steadily changing environment, maybe) of peppered moths gradually acquiring actual changes in a whole range of areas rather than just melanism…”

    Your phrase “acquiring actual changes” may be at the core of the evolution debate. Melanism, or at least whether an English moth shows light or dark colors, is not the acquisition of “actual change” in the essence of the organism. I don’t believe, and science hasn’t observed or demonstrated, an organism X or population of organisms X ‘acquires actual changes’ so that it is no longer X.

    “They’re now a population of salted(!) moths that look on the peppered type as foreigners. Thus it’s the whole population that evolved into a new species, as individually acquired tiny gains or losses were mixed up over time.”

    Scientists will call them whatever they want, but they’re all still moths, even English moths.

    “Now I grant that, viewed in terms of essentialism, gradualism poses a problem – but Darwinian’s aren’t overtly essentialists, though the fact they make many unconscious essentialist assumptions is indeed something to probe: as soon as someone attributes, say, unique spirituality to man, they’re talking essences and have some explaining to do.”

    Do you know of any people of note who have called them to explain?

    “The evening and morning question has, I’m sure, many possible answers in terms of the features of genres, etc. ”

    But I still have yet to see an answer, or even an analysis, on the Gen 1:14 vs. the other “day” verses.

    “But in a functional view, the commands God speaks are assigning new functions re mankind to perhaps existing material things, as one might say, “Let X be a priest”, though he’s 30 years old and has been in seminary for years, etc.”

    I see the acts of creation in Genesis first and foremost as calling into being. Any functioning of something is contingent on first being something. And as I said before, Moses and the ancient peoples didn’t need any help in figuring out function (e.g. of sexuality, hunting, fishing, farming.). God felt they needed help in figuring out how and why the functioning capabilities came to BE.

    “… [John Walton] sees no problem in holding a literal 7 day Genesis creation together with a literal old earth…”

    Are you saying Walton is OK with all living things be created within six 24-hour days, but not OK with the earth being created in within six 24-hour days?

    “…though I find the more scholarly book mentioned in my post more persuasive because of its detail.”

    What book is that? Oderberg’s?

  4. Jon Garvey Jon Garvey says:

    What book is that?
    The one of Walton’s mentioned and linked at the start of the post I linked to in my first reply.

    I see the acts of creation in Genesis first and foremost as calling into being. But isn’t it more important how the writer of Genesis and the Holy Spirit saw the acts of creation? Why would that be the same as as a modern Westerner sees it, several thousand years, a language, and a couple of continents removed? Something indeed has to exist to acquire function, but you can write about whichever is most important to you and your readers. The ancients were demonstrably more interested in “order from non-order” than they were with “existence from non-existence”. So even, in somewhat different form, were the mediaevals up until early modern science concentrated our minds on the material aspects of things rather than their role in the cosmos. But the mediaeval worldview is why doctors of the Church like Augustine and Chrysostom took such non-material and spiritual approaches to Genesis.

    I suspect that some appreciation of it is also why Pope Francis and his immediate predecessors have been so untroubled by the possibility of evolution and deep time – they have a tradition received from mediaeval theology and philosophy that explains why they draw the lines where they do, and not where predominantly Protestant YECs do.

    I say that because you can’t go from non-human to human gradually
    Ah that’s good – we’ve pinned down your difference with Venema, then, because he says you can. As I suspected, the difference is between essentialist realism and non-essentialist nominalism. Your task with Dennis, then, is to persuade him of the reality of essences, rather than saying he really believes in saltation.

    Do you know of any people of note who have called them to explain? Me, I already believe in essences, and have often hammered on about them both here and on BioLogos, but I’m not a person of note. I certainly know it’s been one of the central philosophical issues between those holding realist forms of scholasticism (including, of course, many Thomist Catholics) and those with the post-Descartes vagueness on such matters, many of whom are in the sciences. But it’s as hard to persuade some scientists to engage with scholastic philosophy as it is to get lay-Christians to read up on the necessary ANE studies to appreciate and gain more from the Genesis worldview.

    Nevertheless I’ve read some good stuff about it from celebrated Catholic Thomist philosopher Ed Feser on his blog – he appears to accept evolution as a secondary cause, but makes a clear exception for the human soul: he proposes a divine intervention in time (or possibly two, corresponding to the generic creation of man in Gen 1 and Adam in Gen 2). It’s actually not a million miles from what Walton has talked about, though as an ANE and Old Testament scholar rather than a philosopher.

    But to be truthful, people were raising the issue even with Darwin and his immediate crew, and I believe he even tried to engage with them, but he wasn’t much of a philosopher so it didn’t seem that important to him. He would probably see as of first importance his (supposed) material evidence and the theoretical case that gradual evolution happened, and then shrug and challenge the philosophers and theologians to make sense of it in their ivory towers while scientist did the “real work” on the nuts and bolts material world.

    • Cath Olic says:

      Jon,

      ““What book is that?” The one of Walton’s mentioned and linked at the start of the post I linked to in my first reply.”

      I looked back at your first reply and others, and I still don’t see it. Do you mean “The Lost World of Genesis”?

      “But isn’t it more important how the writer of Genesis and the Holy Spirit saw the acts of creation? … you can write about whichever is most important to you and your readers.”

      And what seemed important to the writer of Genesis and the Holy Spirit was not just the creation itself but also TIME and the TIMING of creation. This is evident from the writer’s distinguishing between days, seasons, and years, and also from his defining, and defining six times,what he means by “day” (i.e. “there was evening and there was morning, an Xth day.”). The writer and the Holy Spirit didn’t really need to mention time at all in Genesis 1. But they did, and repeatedly. Must have been important to them.

      “But the mediaeval worldview is why doctors of the Church like Augustine and Chrysostom took such non-material and spiritual approaches to Genesis.”

      Here’s a quote from St. John Chrysostom:
      “All the other prophets spoke either of what was to occur after a long time or of what was about to happen then; but he, the blessed (Moses), who lived many generations after (the creation of the world), was vouchsafed by the guidance of the right hand of the Most High to utter what had been done by the Lord before his own birth…
      ““In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,” as if calling out to us all with a loud voice: it is not by the instruction of men that I say this; He Who called them (heaven and earth) out of non-being into being—it is He Who has roused my tongue to relate of them. And therefore I entreat you, let us pay heed to these words as if we heard not Moses but the very Lord of the universe Who speaks through the tongue of Moses, and let us take leave for good of our own opinions.” – St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on Genesis, 2:2.

      And here’s one from St. Ambrose, teacher of St. Augustine:
      “Moses spoke to God the Most High, not in a vision nor in dreams, but mouth to mouth (Numbers 12:6-8). Plainly and clearly, not by figures nor by riddles, there was bestowed on him the gift of the Divine presence. And so Moses opened his mouth and uttered what the Lord spoke within him, according to the promise He made to him when He directed him to go to King Pharaoh: “Go therefore and I will open thy mouth and instruct thee what thou shouldest speak” (Ex. 4:12). For, if he had already accepted from God what he should say concerning the liberation of the people, how much more should you accept what He should say concerning heaven? Therefore, “not in the persuasive words of wisdom,” not in philosophical fallacies, “but in demonstration of the Spirit and power” (1 Cor. 2:4), he has ventured to say as if he were a witness of the Divine work: “In the beginning God created heaven and earth.” – St. Ambrose of Milan, Hexaemeron, 1:2.

      ““I say that because you can’t go from non-human to human gradually”
      Ah that’s good – we’ve pinned down your difference with Venema, then, because he says you can.”

      No. He says you go from zero human beings to 10,000 human beings instantaneously.

      “Your task with Dennis, then, is to persuade him of the reality of essences, rather than saying he really believes in saltation.”

      No. That would be your task, if you so choose. I can’t try anymore to persuade him. He, or BioLogos, won’t allow me to comment anymore.

      “… celebrated Catholic Thomist philosopher Ed Feser …proposes a divine intervention in time (or possibly two, corresponding to the generic creation of man in Gen 1 and Adam in Gen 2).”

      Feser believes the man in Gen 1 is different from the man in Gen 2?

  5. Jon Garvey Jon Garvey says:

    It will have to be “The Lost World of Genesis” as I see “Genesis 1 as Ancient Cosmology” is now out of print. But you could also get some insights from Walton’s NIV Application Commentary on Genesis.

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