Category Archives: Theology
My attention has recently been drawn to the work of Olivier Rieppel, a distinguished palaeontologist based at the Field Museum in Chicago, whose writings appear to show a mixture of scientific rigour with the historical and philosophical awareness so rare in scientific writing now. In other words he has the wit and courage to question received wisdom and go where the evidence leads, and moreover to know why he has done so. His latest book is on turtle evolution, provocatively entitled Turtles as Hopeful Monsters, which intrigues me a great deal, but finding its price is above my current budget at Amazon, I browsed some of his other books there … Continue reading
In a comment on a previous post about the role of creation in the origin of species, Noah asks: What would you say about the randomness we observe in the process of evolution? …I guess it’s similar to our discussion on why it takes thousands/millions of sperm to fertilize an egg if God intends me to exist. We’re presented with a reality that sure as heck seems to involve a ton of randomness, not just in events (car crashes, etc.) but in being (how many things had to happen by chance for me to exist?).
One of the points made by Michael Chabarek in the book I reviewed in the last post – perfectly valid as far as I can see in the primary sources – is that to Thomas Aquinas, the special creation of Adam (and of Eve from him) was an essential truth of the faith. Apart from his understanding of Scripture, this had to do with the immutability of fundamental natures (substances), as I mentioned briefly in my post, but also with the special nature of man as both a spiritual and an animal being, whose immaterial aspect (aka soul) cannot even in principle be formed by material secondary causes. On the … Continue reading
Over the seven years of The Hump I’ve dabbled in Aristotelian and Thomistic philosophy, mainly for the reason that it deals with intuitively obvious matters such as purpose, and form, to which conventional science (and therefore most theistic evolution) is completely blind. It also deals with divine action, providence, chance and so on in a way that makes the discussions of many Evolutionary Creationists seem frankly half-baked.
I’d like to follow up Edward Robinson’s piece on the “natural/supernatural” distinction by showing some examples of how meaningless the concept of “natural” is in everyday life. Of course, for the card-carrying believer in Naturalism as a worldview, “natural” must mean “everything”, which makes it a useless word anyway – unless it’s used in contrast to “artificial”, which as I’ll show is not without its problems either.
I’ve done several articles recently more or less motivated by the Genealogical Adam hypothesis, and Joshua Swamidass has asked me to put links to them, and to his own article at Peaceful Science, which is mainly about the science of the thing. I will do this below the fold, as well as linking to various others I did between 2011 and 2015, considering “matters arising” from treating the idea of a historical Adam as the forbear of all living men, though not the sole original ancestor. I hope you’ll forgive the fact that these pieces arise from thoughts as they have occurred to me, rather than being a systematic development … Continue reading
Back in May I did a piece on how the profound (and fascinating) changes in lower Mesopotamian topography over the millennia can endorse the broad historicity of the Genesis 2 narrative. But I did leave one or two loose ends then, some of which I might be able to tie up here.
The genealogical Adam hypothesis, which I’ve been dusting off again in recent posts because of Joshua Swamidass’s focus on it, has been accused of being an “concordist” position, designed solely to make belief in a literal Adam consistent with modern discoveries in fields from ancient history to genetics. But to some extent any interpretation is concordist, because we have to reconcile any text to what we already know, or believe we know.
The creation of man, as envisaged by the Bible, isn’t as obviously biological as is often assumed, which is important if one wants to take a “science and faith” approach that doesn’t lapse into mere scientism. Take, as a limiting case, the Christian who, according to both Jesus in John’s gospel and Paul, is a “new creation”. As far as I know, every man or woman who has ever been a Christian was born by generation in the usual biological way, and if one accepts evolution has ape ancestors – none of which has any bearing on the process of their new creation whatsoever, which is of the Spirit.
“Adam” means “man” in Hebrew (as “human” rather than “male individual”), and quite apart from the deliberate wordplay in Genesis it is generally believed to have some kind of etymological link in Hebrew with “adamah“, meaning “red” and hence “red (=fertile and tilled) soil”. This would not be far-fetched, since our own English word “human” appears to derive from a Proto-Indoeuropean (PIE) root meaning “earth”, thus distinguishing men from the gods of heaven. One question for the “genealogical Adam” hypothesis of my last post, in which Adam is an historical figure and universal common ancestor, but not the first man, is how he gets to take the word for all … Continue reading