Agnostic.com

33 5

To those who have a Christian background: How are New Testament theology and evolution compatible? Two problem cases.

Christianity is founded upon a premise that humanity required salvation from Adam’s sin, which doomed everyone. The so-called plan of salvation required a sacrifice to atone for what was believed to have happened in the Garden of Eden. But if evolution shows us anything, it is that the Genesis story is pure mythology. No Adam, no Eve, no Garden of Eden, no Tree of Knowledge, no talking snakes and no original sin. Mission cancelled, Abort! Abort!

Evolution also works against the idea of an eternal soul. In evolutionary terms, a soul would necessarily be an evolved feature. Did Lucy, a tiny hominid who lived 3.2 million years ago, have a soul? Did Neanderthals possess souls? Did early souls succeed, from the beginning, in the same way contemporary ones are assumed to, upon death of the host? Or did they just get 'stuck on the roof,' to quote the great Frisbeetarian, George Carlin? This entire soul concept isn’t supported by evolution. Christians who appear to accept evolution must confront the question: when did God choose to interfere with evolution and begin imparting souls?

p-nullifidian 7 Mar 22
Share

Enjoy being online again!

Welcome to the community of good people who base their values on evidence and appreciate civil discourse - the social network you will enjoy.

Create your free account

33 comments (26 - 33)

Feel free to reply to any comment by clicking the "Reply" button.

1

Some scriptures to consider; in that vein;
No son of man may die for another’s sins;
No one has ever gone up to heaven,
There is only one immortal

soul and life are the same root in the Bible too i guess

1

I say soul is an old word for what is now called personality. Each individual soul or personality is unique to that person, even twins have differences.

As to the garden story, wheither truth or fiction it is a work of genius especially when understanding it from original language. English translation really butchers the story in ways.

Here is the best explination I have come across explaining from original language.

Word Level 8 Mar 22, 2020
1

Being a non believer I believe when we are dead we are dead.
New Testament theology for me is a fairy tale.
Evolution at least has some basis in fact.
If one believes there has to be a beginning then when did the beginning begin?

1

There is a belief system in which the soul does evolve in a sense. The mechanism is reincarnation. The "soul" is immortal and experiences multiple lifetimes as a learning experience to evolve toward perfection. It does not have a name as far as I know and is not an organized religion. It is more of a spiritual philosophy. Reincarnation is a concept that is rejected by Christians perhaps even more than evolution.

There is no more evidence of reincarnation than of adam and the garden of eden.

@Theresa_N So I take it that you reject the life work of Ian Stevenson.

Even though you reject his studies, isn’t it still true that those studies constitute evidence? Even if you have made a detailed study of his work and have personally checked out the numerous cases and find them unconvincing, you must still admit that those studies fall into the category of evidence

If you have not personally checked the cases, interviewed witnesses, etc., then your assertion that there is no evidence is itself lacking in evidence

@WilliamFleming anecdotes are not science, never have been.....

@AnneWimsey The studies led by Dr. Stevenson are much much, more than anecdotes. Have you read any of the books? Have you checked out any of the cases.

Just because something doesn’t agree with your world view is no reason to close your eyes.

@WilliamFleming anecdotes are not science.

@AnneWimsey You said that already but you have not pointed out which of the case studies was based solely on anecdotal information. The team spent a huge amount of time and money verifying every case. Those that could not be verified were thrown out.

An open mind Is a great thing to have.

@WilliamFleming Maintaining an open mind is an essential attribute of skepticism. Without the ability to question, examine and re-examine, science is little more than a religion. It has been more than a decade since Dr. Stevenson's passing, but his hypothesies should easily be repeated by other scientists who might discover a previously unknown phenomenon. What new data and information has been collected in this area in the past 13 years? My mind remains open, but I seek further evidence and, most importantly, confirmation using the scientific method.

@p-nullifidian Active searching will reveal current research, or you could undertake your own research.

Just a cursory search gave me this:

[uvamagazine.org]

My role is not to persuade anyone—I don’t care if people believe or not, but for me it is very hard to dismiss Dr. Stevenson’s work out of hand. I suspect the dearth of research is because people do not want it to be true.

1

Those Christians I've known who accepted evolution (to be fair, it's quite a small number) fall into two camps.

One group believed in "Intelligent Design", which is just another name for Creationism, but the most sophisticated of them see ID as "Evolution guided by God" to result in specific end products: beetles, birds, cows, humans. They read the passage about God "breathing life into Adam" as meaning that God imparted a soul to human beings alone, among all the rest of the creatures of the world.

The others believed that humans are a special creation, and everything else randomly evolved, but, again, God made humans specially and gave them souls.

I believe that admitting human evolution would mean admitting we aren't elevated above all the other species in the world, and then they wouldn't feel "special" or "chosen". I suggest that they consider how lucky it is that the chain of events leading merely to one sperm meeting one egg produced each of us as individuals, but that never gets me anywhere.

I don't know as these are formal theories anywhere, or simply what the people I've known had come up with on their own. If the latter, it was a case of convergent evolution in the field of philosophy, where people with no connection to one another evolved the same theories separately. I've never heard of any church anywhere endorsing these ideas, though.

1

I was raised in a sect of Christianity that believes neither in evolution nor in eternal souls.

If I have understood such Christians correctly, though, Adam was the first "actual" human - the one who was finally human enough to be accountable for sin. Presumably, he was also the first to possess a functional soul (?). I do not know whether they think the soul evolved in him, or if it was bestowed upon him once he was good enough to receive it.

I too was raised in such a faith, one which does not teach evolution and engages in a relentless prooftexting exercise. It is for the evolution-accepting cafeteria Christians, who pick and choose what in their faith and its scriptures may be taken literally vs. what is allegory, that my remarks are addressed.

@p-nullifidian Have you some disagreement with cafeteria style? I used to hold such in contempt, but have since had a change of heart.

0

the dust of the earth

0

If you consider that Eden was a myth that was meant to describe a pre-material existence you can easily interpret the bible in a way that is consistent with evolution. When you move on to the next story Adam and Eve are given cloaks of skin. Notice however, that no time frame is given for the creation (or evolution) of these bodies.
Evolution theories support the idea that at some point the human brain acquired the ability for higher thought. According to Websters: " When it first entered English, atone meant to reconcile and suggested the restoration of a peaceful and harmonious state between people or groups." Therefore its not too difficult to see that biblical atonement refers to a return to a harmonious state with God. Further the word "Sin" was an archery term which described the separation between the arrow and the bullseye or center. So, biblically "sin" refers to our separation from God caused by the acknowledgment of evil. By the way evil does not exist in nature and neither does it exist in Eden. Only humans create evil , its a byproduct of our own egos (the earth bound serpent). Egos are necessary for survival in a material state of being, or at least they have been necessary so far.
The next evolution of mankind will feature a return to a non egoic state of being (atonement). In other words we will live strictly according to our higher consciousness which the bible symbolically describes as the Christ Spirit (Christian bible). The crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus symbolically describes the transition from our egoic state of being to our new atoned state of being. This atonement with God mind(higher consciousness) is necessary for a return to our Edenic state. We will be neither male or female in this state. as we were before the split into male and female.
Original sin, according to the original definition of sin, simply refers to our original separation and had nothing to do with sex. How could it? Mankind was given skin in the next story. Do animals have souls? Do they have a higher consciousness? They certainly do not recognize or judge events as good or evil, so they aren't like us. In other words I don't know.
By the way, I didn't come up with any of these ideas, its just good, old fashioned, fairly standard mysticism.

Oh I just remembered. There were animals in Eden therefore, according to Hebrew Scripture, animals would have souls.

"I didn't come up with any of these ideas, its just good, old fashioned, fairly standard mysticism."
Sure is, but when 'fairly standard mysticism' is merged into doctrine, as was done by Paul, this kluge becomes a dangerous set of ideas, in practice.

@p-nullifidian I basically agree with you. Poor Paul though. He only wrote about 6 of the letters attributed to him. Most of the trouble with today's Christianity come from the other letters. The bible would be better if it came with disclaimers. It would really be helpful if the New Testament writers had attributed their allegories to the Old Testament stories they rewrote.

@Seminarian Romans is considered a Pauline epistle and is where much, if not most, of Paul's core theology is argued.

@p-nullifidian Yes, I do not have many issues with Romans. Considering, Paul probably attended a Greek Stoic school in Tarsus and therefore probably maintained some Stoic ideas i have to agree with most of what he says. Of course, that doesn't mean I agree with the traditional Christian interpretation.

29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,

30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,

31 Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful.

 Sounds OK to me.
Oh as far as the anti-gay material, I believe that refers to the traditional Greek/Roman practice of older males taking teen boyfriends.  The Didache written later supports my claim.  

@Seminarian "For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous." Romans 5:19 (NIV)

The core theology of Paul which I found revolting is the notion (in opposition to Ezekiel 18:20) that the guilt of one may be passed on to his heirs and that this supposed guilt could, by some magical means, transferred to one individual, who then must die. Three immoral outrages of Christianity that I can never abide involve inherited guilt, its transfer to a sacrificial lamb, and that it required the debauching of a teenage virgin to produce a halfbreed god-man to be the sacrifice!

@p-nullifidian I don't blame you for not abiding that interpretation (which i know is the traditional interpretation). You could also read it as the disobedience of one man caused many to follow false teaching. Further, the correct teaching of one man caused many followers to be made righteous. I do realize that I am a heretic in the eyes of Fundy Christians, but given that I agree with you about Traditional Christianities moral outrages,. I am proud to be a heretic. By the way, I don't remember Paul mentioning a virgin birth. I'm pretty sure he didn't, because he never heard the story. I'm sure that story was added later to conform to a misinterpreted messianic prediction from the Hebrew Scriptures. I believe that the four gospels are nearly entirely allegorical and further the original Christians (Jews) would nave easily recognized them as such. I got that idea from Bishop John Shelby Spong. Finally, If you believe (as I do) that we are all spiritual beings temporarily inhabiting physical bodies then we are all half man/ half God, just like Jesus. Of course that would mean that our material bodies are always sacrificed eventually in order to eliminate our sin (seperation). Note: Sin was originally an archery term that described the distance from the center.

@Seminarian Ah, Bishop Spong, the heretic! Were I to have heard of him earlier, perhaps his '12 Points of Reform' would have acted as a cold splash of water on my face, instead of being 'too little, too late.' Imagine the doctrinaire believer being confronted with Spong's first point of reform: "Theism, as a way of defining God, is dead. So most theological God-talk is today meaningless. A new way to speak of God must be found." I have seen no convincing evidence that demonstrates we are "spiritual beings temporarily inhabiting physical bodies."

@p-nullifidian No there is no scientific evidence, at least that I know of. Its just a choice to believe or not. If belief improves one's life then they should believe. If it doesn't then they shouldn't. My Seminary teaches that God is a Principle that underlies universal(or divine) laws. We take this idea and try to use it as a basis for belief. Then we use study and our imagination to expand this idea into practical use. I find that Humanism is a worthwhile area of study, for example, along with Quantum and Relativity theories etc.

Write Comment
You can include a link to this post in your posts and comments by including the text q:473847
Agnostic does not evaluate or guarantee the accuracy of any content. Read full disclaimer.