Human or superhuman?

If you wanted an argument in early Christendom the issue of the Incarnation would always serve. Truly man or just pretend? Truly God or just inspired? Two persons with two natures or one person with two natures? Two wills or one will? Eventually, of course, we emerged with one person with two natures and so with two wills. Unfortunately orthodoxy still leaves us with mystery, and plenty of room left for debate.

One problem concerns knowledge. Christ was omniscient in his divine nature. How does this fit with his human nature? His human knowledge was processed through his human brain, and so it must have developed according to the stages of brain development. There was no danger of his sitting up in his manger and delivering a brief explanation of quantum mechanics. All he knew was the warmth of his mother’s breast and the smell of milk. But by the age of twelve he knew enough to quiz the elders in the Temple in his pursuit of his Father’s business, and his wisdom was to increase thereafter. Even the proclamation of his Father’s revelations cannot, as such, exceed the capacity of his or our human brain. “He who has seen me has seen the Father” – perhaps the deepest metaphor ever presented to mankind – remains a metaphor.

It wasn’t until the 7th century that the idea that Christ might have only one will was scotched. It puzzles our shallow minds that he had two wills, one human and one divine. Our everyday experience leads us to conflate “person” and “nature” but, as the Incarnation reminds us, these concepts are essentially different. In fact Christ’s human will harmonised with the divine will, without losing the limitation of being human.

And perhaps there’s the rub. Homo sapiens is not born as a blank sheet. He is, to use a modern metaphor, programmed. We need, for instance, to have no doubt that his mother and father’s upbringing helped to shape his adult life. And, through his relationship with them he learnt about the male and female character, and the bonding of two persons in marriage. Nor need we suppose that he was a goody two shoes; it is natural for the young to learn through parental correction. But human programming has a much longer history than that. It started in a primitive form of life and evolved through billions of evolutionary steps to a stage fit to receive the characteristics of intelligence and free will. You, I and Christ are cousins of the jellyfish, albeit rather far removed.

Instincts and emotions provide useful examples because we have inherited many of these from the lower animals. Our instinct to react immediately, both emotionally and physically, to signs of danger comes from our animal past. Our openness to altruism can readily be explained by its rôle in assisting the survival of pre-human groups. The hormone oxytocin, valuable in the bonding of intimate relationships — from the care of the whining baby to the physical love of marriage, is also present in dogs who love their humans. Perhaps the most prominent of our inherited instincts is that of reproduction, as any documentary recording the life cycle of a species will show. To which we must add the workings of the brain through which by far the largest portion of our mental activity is processed without our conscious attention. Its 22 billion neurons have been programmed through evolution and experience for a great range of tasks which we do not yet fully understand.

Christ, the man, was subject to all of this for his human nature was a fallen one, vulnerable to fear, sorrow and pain, and, on the cross, even vulnerable to that sense of abandonment which God reserves for very special souls. He is subject to sinful temptations including those resulting from the extensive passions of our lower nature, which, of course, he shares. Here we distinguish three stages: initial (unchosen) stimulus, contemplating the temptation, surrendering to the temptation. Christ only experienced the unbidden stimulus, then, through his human will, actively attuned to his divine will, rejected the further stages.

There is a danger that our grasp of Christ’s human nature is only notional. We have to face up to the fact that he was really one of us, experiencing humanity in all its knobbly, natural aspects, just as we do. It is precisely because we all share humanity that the redemption of human nature, through his suffering, could come about. And, as Hebrews emphasises, it is through this sharing that he can sympathise with our weakness because he has been tested in every respect as we are, and yet remains without sin. We recognise Christ in many ways, but we should never forget that he led us on the battlefield as a true comrade in arms.

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About Quentin

Science Editor, Catholic Herald. Portrait © Jacqueline Alma
This entry was posted in Catholic Herald columns, Neuroscience, Philosophy, Spirituality and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

104 Responses to Human or superhuman?

  1. Ann says:

    Where does Adam and Eve fit in?

  2. Brian Hamill says:

    ‘Christ, the man, was subject to all of this for his human nature was a fallen one…’ This sounds a bit dodgy to me theologically. The traditional teaching of the Church is that Jesus’ human nature, like his mother Mary’s, was not ‘fallen’. He did have the natural limitations of a created nature, like us, but ‘fallen’ implies he was subject the consequences of the Fall, among which is ‘an inclination to sin’. Perhaps its is better to say he had the same ‘unfallen’ human nature as Adam and so, on the cross, revised Adam’s choice from distrust to one of trust in God. He needed an ‘unfallen’ nature to have the clarity of mind and strength of will to make that choice. He is indeed our general on the battlefield but one ‘with special powers’, powers which, through his personal victory over Satan, he has handed on to us through the Gift of the Holy Spirit.

    • Quentin says:

      These are very tricky concepts, And we have to keep a clear head. You are right in suggesting that he was not subject to Original Sin, nor indeed was he able to sin (since he could not defy his own divinity). But he had the effects of Original Sin, which he voluntarily accepted, and they were natural to Christ because they belonged to human nature as such. So he was subject to fear, pain, weariness etc, and, most certainly, to death – the major outcome of Original Sin. He was also subject to sensual emotions, as I describe in the post.

      And this is really the point. It is only because he is like us in all things, except sin, that he was able to take us with him through the barrier to redemption. An unfallen Adam did not need redemption, he was in relationship with God already.

      • St.Joseph says:

        Quentin.
        Would not our human will harmonize with the Divine Will without losing the limitations of being human.
        As Brian Hamill says ‘He has handed on to us through the Gift of the Holy Spirit ‘;
        He said be Holy like your Heavenly Father is Holy!
        Have I misunderstood you?

      • Quentin says:

        Not sure I understand your question. But does this help? We try to harmonise our will with the divine will, but not only do we often fail but we often make mistakes and wrong judgments. Christ, in his human nature, never fails to recognise and respond to the divine will. But he has to do this through a limited human brain and limited thought processes.

      • milliganp says:

        Quentin, I think we have to be careful with words. Adam and Eve were capable of sin, as they had free wills – and then chose to sin. Jesus, in his human nature, would have had to have the same free will – or the temptation in the desert would have been a tautology. Similarly his obvious encounter with doubt in the agony in the garden points to the freedom of his human will not being invaldated by his Divine nature.
        Humans inherit the propensity to sin from Adam and Eve in the condition we call orginal sin. Mary had the capacity to sin, but not the propensity, and chose, freely, not to do so.

      • Quentin says:

        You’re right, we have to be very precise about words. Christ’s inability to sin was not a lack of free will, but the impossibility of a divine person wanting to go against the ultimate good of the divine will. Your tentative view is that of Theodor of Mopsuestia, and was condemned by the 5th General Council of Constantinople (6th century). Similarly, when you are in Heaven, your will remains free but it is inevitably turned towards the goodness of the beatific vision.

        I have referred to the temptations in the desert and the agony in the garden in https://secondsightblog.net/2015/03/26/telling-stories/

    • milliganp says:

      Brian, just for emphasis I would agree with your important statement “He did have the natural limitations of a created nature, like us”. I presume that Adam and Eve (even if metaphorical) needed to eat and sleep. Scripture implies, however, that pain and suffering did not enter into human existence till after the fall. I’ll leave that as a point for speculation.

  3. St.Joseph says:

    Quentin.
    Thank you.
    We as Christians and Catholic Christians have a better chance now through Holy Mother Church to be holy,
    We ought to know by the teachings of the CCC what holiness is..Also with the Gifts of the Holy Spirit through Grace.We automaticaly know right from wrong. Thats what we teach our children as Jesus taught us.
    However we are still human.
    I will give you an example,just a small one.
    We go on holiday to Spain to get the sunshine, however we dont have to lie on the beach topless.! (Females) That also applies to males trunks.
    We go to the Cinema, but dont have to see Fifty Shade of Green.
    Only a small example, Be Holy like your Heavenly Father is Holy.as Jesus told us.
    We can space our family,the way God made us.
    Also we ought to understand those we have not had our opportunity in life .To understand this as Gods Will
    We ought to have an informed conscience.
    It is not only Christians who know this. It is also common decency.and still live as humans.

  4. John Smith says:

    Your Second Sight News is always challenging and the latest is no
    exception! It is of course astonishing that Jesus became a man.
    Undoubtedly there is a great deal more in this than meets the eye. It is
    interesting that while we find it difficult to grasp the significance of
    the incarnation children don’t seem to find it such a struggle. I came
    across an illustration recently used in a children’s meeting where the
    subject was The Incarnation. It went something like this:
    “Suppose you have some tropical fish in a tank. Suppose you saw them
    fighting and killing each other. You know that you could save them if
    you became a fish and went to live in the tank. Knowing that they would
    probably kill you – would you do it?”
    “Don’t worry – we would lift your body out of the tank and give you the
    kiss of life. But there is one catch. We can’t bring you back to where
    you were – you’d have to stay a fish for the rest of your life!”
    That was an interesting illustration and the more I have thought about
    it, the more challenging it has become. God the Son was equal with God
    the Father, with all the glory of heaven. He chose to be a man, knowing
    that he would be killed when he came to earth. He knew too that even
    after God raised him from the dead, he would have to remain a man for
    the rest of eternity.
    So, when we get a resurrected body we will indeed be “like him”. Of
    course we don’t know much about this resurrection body but it is an
    exciting prospect that we will be “like him”! But what a decision he
    made – for us.

    Quentin notes: This came to me originally as a personal email. John Smith is an Evangelical minister of substantial standing, He is a very old friend of mine. I have his permission to reproduce this as a comment on the Blog.

  5. Advocatus Diaboli says:

    I hardly need to enter the lists here, do I? The delusion through history that god (or gods) makes himself present among human beings is pretty well universal. Think of the Greeks and the Romans, with their cheerful pantheon meddling in human affairs. Think of ancient Egyptian religion. Think of the endless Hindu gods.
    I admit that Christianity, as a result of its state protected run over 2000 years, has got itself worked out in its endless details (and endless internal controversy) but it all boils down to the same thing. In our ruffled world, humans look for hope so they invent gods who come to save them. It’s wishful thinking — Jove, Horus, Isis, Shiva, Vishnu, Surya, Jesus — they’re all the same.
    I don’t mean to offend, but look at the absurdities. If I claimed that I had two different wills, you’d put me in a loony bin. If I said I had two knowledges — one very limited and the other so large that it encompasses every sub atomic particle in the universe you’d think I was bats.
    It’s only because you learned this at your mother’s knee that you would give such a contradictory phenomenon a moment of your time. Human hope depends on human actions not in undisciplined imagination.

    • St.Joseph says:

      Advocatis Diaboli.
      I am ignorant of all these other gods, my knowledege is only of the One True God.
      Did they all rise from the dead?
      If you were a Christian you could claim you had two wills in theory, one for your own selfishness, and the other will in unity with God’s so as to become one with Him and rise with Him on the Last Day.
      Sometime it is difficult to know Gods Will for us. As we are only human.
      However we do have the Gift of Grace and The Holy Spirit
      It is not all undisciplined imagination..

    • Nektarios says:

      AD
      One thing you point out correctly, that man is a religious being….. but he has a fallen nature, being alienated from God…. and his mind darkened… so what does man do?
      He invents gods, man is very clever you know.
      Man was trying to get back to God, invented gods that needed placating and were quite capricious. They atrributed to them human attributes.
      The gods thought up by man, is not God, never was and never can be.

      However we come to the revelation of God. It is a long period of time before it appeared. In the OT they looked forward to One who woud come and deliver them from
      sin and from death so they could return to God….but this was God’s work solely and not man’s work as he was incapable of achieving it.

      Please read through Ephesians 1: 4- 14.
      Let me highlight it for you: verses 4- 6 is what the Father does.
      Verses 7 – 12 what Christ does.
      And verses 13-14 what the Holy Spirit does.
      All discussed in the Holy Trinity before the world ever was, or anything was created.

      Quentin – I do wish sometimes you and others were more acquaint with Scripture as you and others are with humanistic liberal thought.
      I thought we got rid of that several topics ago: Man is not this humanistic view of man,
      that is, Man is matter, plus energy plus chance that it just happened to work out that way. Nonsense!
      Theory, that is all that is with not a scrap of evidence to back it up. And the idea does not include anything spiritual at all, naturally. What lies and deceit.

    • Vincent says:

      AD, you might like to look at some differences. Jesus Christ is an historical figure, unlike the others you mention. While secular historians may disbelieve some aspects, such as miracles, they do so not for historical reasons but for dogmatic ones. They don’t believe miracles are possible.

      Second, when you read the accounts of Jesus (for example, the Sermon on the Mount, you may well find that the teaching of Jesus — focused on love and justice — is attractive to you also.

      Third, if you start from the hypothesis that God created man, you might see man’s propensity to turn to him (under different manifestations) to be a natural one. He was made by God, and looks for his own origins.

      • Alan says:

        Vincent – “While secular historians may disbelieve some aspects, such as miracles, they do so not for historical reasons but for dogmatic ones. They don’t believe miracles are possible.”

        This can’t explain the reason why many historians don’t believe in the miracles described in the Bible though can it? There must be lots who accept the miracles of their own faith without believing those of Christianity. Belief in the miracles of the Bible doesn’t seem to be for historical reasons either.

      • pnyikos says:

        Alan, belief in the miracles of the Bible has to be for historical reasons if it is not to be a house built on sand. The biggest historical reason is the testimony of the Apostles, and the much more numerous disciples of Jesus, secondarily testified to by St. Paul (see I Corinthians 15) for the Resurrection. This, according to C.S. Lewis, is the one doctrine on which early Christianity was based.

        In the same chapter, St. Paul makes his credibility and the credibility of The Way stand or fall based on whether Jesus rose from the dead. Belief in this miracle then makes belief in the other miracles, including the miracle of the Incarnation, much more natural.

  6. Martha says:

    I think the first part of the story is a very helpful analogy which makes a great impact, rather like one I was given as a child about becoming an ant, and even that would not truly convey the enormity of how much our God must love us, by Himself taking on the nature of His human creation. They illustrate both aspects of our redemption that God has lowered Himself to our level, and that He has raised us up to His.

    The second part, the “kiss of life,” opens another mystery, as It was really Christ Who brought about His own resurrection, and the question of God the Son “having to” remain a man for ever, and not be able to “go back,” as a downside, rather than as one He would delight in, probably leads on to so many aspects of theology that the children’s meeting would never end.

    It is certainly making me think hard, so thank you to John Smith.

  7. St.Joseph says:

    Martha.
    I thinkJesus rose from the dead in His Glorified body. I puzzle over the fact that he was not recognised by Mary, and He used to appear and disappear before He Ascended into Heaven.
    Then He ate fish with the Apostles.and walked through walls.
    So when we rise from the dead we will also have a glorified body because we rise in Christ
    They are all mysteries.to us..
    Thank you John Smith ..

  8. Nektarios says:

    Quentin
    `Christ, the man, was subject to all of this for his human nature was a fallen one,’

    This is an impossibility. Christ, unlike Adam, who had fallen in his nature, and we with him, had not fallen. How could Christ be the New Adam with a fallen nature?
    Focussing on Christ’s humanity, fallen man will attribute to Him our fallen nature.
    Going through the Gospels, it becomes clear the religious boffins did not know who or what He was. It is much the same today.

    Again in your introduction, you would have Christ -a product of evolution, – a distant cousin of a jelly- fish, as you think we are? This is heretical.
    Please read my reply to AD earlier with a reading suggestion with an outline of the activity of
    the Godhead, Ephesians 1: 4- 14. concerning You and everyone that believes before this world or universe ever was.
    Stick to sound words. Hold fast to the truth once delivered to us……

    • milliganp says:

      Nektarios, you need to accept that, at its core, this is a Catholic blog and most of those who post accept the Catholic approach to theology which admits the use of reason alongside revelation together with the tradition and teaching authority of the church.
      Like others I have tried to deduce your starting point but have failed to find any consistent theological methodology in your writings. From a Catholic standpoint the greatest flaw of Sola Scriptura Christianity is that you end up with thousands of versions of Christianity and yours appears to be just one of them.
      The Catholic approach to scripture also specifically excludes the use of isolated quotes to prove points, we see scripture as the basis of our faith and teachings but admit the 2000 year heritage of the faith lived in the life of the church. This was the basis of western civilisation until the abandonment of Tradition by the Protestant revolution and the introduction of Cartesian doubt into philosophy.
      Finally, in my view (which, sadly is rarely humble), this is a blog about faith and reason, so to exclude reason would render it pointless. We might as well insist that the gospels only be studied and quoted in the original Greek.

      • Nektarios says:

        Milliganp
        As usual you are taking a dig at some of my postings. Secondsight blog as such is open to all, not just Roman Catholics. So it should not surprise you that I coming first from an Evangelical background and presently in the Orthodox Church.
        My theological stance would naturally be comprising of both, wouldn’t they?

        I make no apology for being steeped in Scripture and the RCC propaganda about Protestants shows you don’t really know the facts, do you?
        Regarding Sola Scriptura, it is the Word of God after all, and should be read, understood
        and acted upon.
        Another reason for Sola Scriptura is it exposes our errors. You seem to be against Scripture, and in the more pristine RCC the monks learned so much scripture by heart,
        meditated upon it, and was instructed by it – yet you becry that I know, read and teach,
        preach what the Scriptures teach – what is the matter with you?

      • overload says:

        milliganp, “The [Roman] Catholic approach to scripture also specifically excludes the use of isolated quotes to prove points”
        ?!

  9. Ignatius says:

    Quentin,
    This is one of your best ever posts.
    Like the others I can’t quite go with you on the ‘fallen nature’ bit but it is an excellent observation. Because of course if we deny that Jesus was ‘like us in every way except for sin’ then we come eventually to the likelihood that he was not fully human. I think this post is your experience of life speaking and the deep awareness that, somehow, he is ‘like’ us and that we are ‘like’ him, comrades in arms as you say.
    Unlike Nektarios I do not find your reference to the Jellyfish heretical..so don’t panic, me and the boys wont be coming round with piles of firewood ! What you have here is cogent thinking. If Christ is a man then he is born of the race of men, currently we think the race of men came from the sea on stubby fins therefore so did he. I really like this thought, though perhaps more for its poetic rather than theological insight.
    You know of course that the race of men has a deep religious instinct, an instinct so deep as to be most likely primordial. You know too of course, that this instinct is as blind as a submerged cetacean groping the sea bed, that this religious instinct is ‘fallen’ and dangerous. It isn’t such a great leap to say that these deep instincts of self and other are our fallen selves, a primordial nature in need of redemption, outworking in active sin until checked then overcome. In this manner you could say that Jesus had a nature prone to sin; but saying that does not make it so and it is too much of a stretch , if we believe that his ‘dad’ was the Holy spirit…but believing so merely impales us on the horns of that other old dilemma of identity.
    I think your drift has as its impetus that sense which comes of tried and tested faith which says in growing wonder and revelation.. ‘ he is like me, we are brothers..’
    But I suspect you won’t get far by implicating the jellyfish!!
    Thanks for this post I have found it really helpful. 🙂

    • Quentin says:

      Thank you for this, Ignatius. I’m glad I communicated my understanding of the importance of the Incarnation to you. A couple of points among the contributions need attention.

      First, the jellyfish! Yes, I chose a vivid example to make my point clear. All biological creatures are descended from an original cell which had the capacity to reproduce through DNA. As it happens, scientists are interested in the jellyfish because some of its mechanisms work in the same way as they do in humans. This may lead to medical cures, etc. Similarly, lower animals such as mice have similar mechanisms to humans (some of them in the brain), and they are of course used as experiments before new procedures are used on humans. Since we are all descended from one stock, we are all connected through DNA, and therefore ‘cousins’.

      ‘Christ, the man, had a fallen nature.’ A problem in any article which is bounded by exact wordage is that detail cannot always be fully explained (which is why we have Secondsightblog). So I quote from the authoritative source: Fundamental Catholic Dogma, Ludwig Ott, Mercier Press, 1960.

      “In Christ, by virtue of his freedom from original sin, bodily defects were not as in other men, but He voluntarily adopted them in order to a) make vicarious atonement for the sins of mankind, b) to demonstrate the reality of His human nature, and, to afford mankind a model of patience in the value of suffering. These defects were, however, natural to Christ because they belong to human nature as such.”

      • Nektarios says:

        Quentin
        Now we have had your thoughts and reasonings, jellyfish and all, what does Scripture say about Him?What does Jesus say about Himself? What does the Holy Spirit communicate of Him?
        I suspect your reasonings for human fallen human beings may have some relations, but to the Son of God, our Creator, it only demonstrates that fallen nature truly is still walking around in the dark trying to make sense of it all. But Light has come into the world!

  10. Ignatius says:

    PS
    No way would I ever become a fish…let them fight, clean out the tank and get some guppies.

  11. St.Joseph says:

    When we talk about humans we might thing of the Stalins and Hitlers and lots and lots of others in the world.
    What do we ,mean when we say humans?
    Ignatius I liked your.thoughtful comment.

  12. Ann says:

    Christ had a human nature, and so was subject to all the human flaws, but he never gave into the temptation and acted upon anything that would break the ten commandments because he was able to engage his divine will. Is that right? What I don’t understand with regards to Adam and Eve, is they were created without sin, but I would say they had the human flaws, because they gave into the temptation, but as they were only humans, without any divine will to engage, how would it be possible for them to obey God.

    • Quentin says:

      It’s all very confusing, so we have to keep very clear minds.

      The phrase I used was ‘harmonising’ with the divine will. We all try to do that — rather unsuccessfully. Christ, as man, succeeded, in spades! Both in his knowledge and his choices. But, again as man, his grasp of the divine will could not exceed the capacity of man. Of course he could understand the divine will in every respect through his divine nature. If you want to understand how all this works I fear you’ll have to wait for Heaven.

      Adam and Eve shared with us the power of recognising that good should be done and evil should be avoided.They could also use their reason to discern the details of the natural law. In addition, the Genesis story gives us a brief account of God’s commands to them,.

      • Ann says:

        Thanks. Christ as man was also divine, able to obey. Adam and Eve being only human were expected to obey divine law……It doesn’t quite add up in my tiny human brain, but I’ll work on it.

    • St.Joseph says:

      Ann.
      I dont know if I am on the right track here.
      But I believe it has a great deal to do with Love. Love for God.first.

  13. Martha says:

    I wonder about the finding of Jesus in the Temple, as the 5th joyful mystery of the Rosary describes this episode. Did Christ’s awareness of His divinity break through in some way, that He must be in the temple, His Father’s house, and explain the scriptures to the theologians there, with whatever effect on their subsequent lives that might have had on their lives and teaching. Did He have to learn, as all adolescents do, that He should show more consideration to His mother and foster father, and realise how worried they had been? The gospel accounts do not record any apology from Him, rather that they should have understood, but then it apparently did not happen again, He remained “subject to them” for another 21 years before He began any public teaching.

    • St.Joseph says:

      Martha.
      I have wondered too about Jesus not being aware that His mother and foster father would be worried about Him’
      He was acting thoughtlessley.

      I think when God spoke to Adam regarding the Tree of Knowledge ,maybe God meant that we should not go beyond our means , that there are somethings more important
      Not trying to be God ‘instead of like Him’.!
      Without being presumptious,maybe Jesus learnt His first lesson as a human.!.

    • Quentin says:

      We have to remember that inspired Scripture tells us what we need to know. I have always supposed that the account was telling us that his mission was so immense that it overrode everything else, including his mother and father. And there are other occasions when he emphasises this, with reference to his own mother. No coincidence that this happened as he came to the threshold of adulthood.

      • Martha says:

        Thank you, Quentin, but I do still wonder what it is that we need to know from this incident. Jesus did not continue with the teaching part of His mission for another 21 years. As a human person He must have had to learn so many basic skills as a baby, how to walk, feed himself and so on, how to talk, what different words mean. Is it so different to think that he had to learn some social skills as an adolescent?

      • Quentin says:

        Martha, theology teaches us that he did acquire knowledge through experience, and it seems appropriate that he should have gone through the processes of adolescent change, which is indeed a learning process. (But we must always remember that in no instance did he sin). I think that we should welcome the difficulties we may have in understanding stories like the Finding in the Temple because, in exploring these, we may get some deep insights.

      • St.Joseph says:

        Quentin.
        I would have thoughtt when Jesus was 33 years old He would have not needed to say to His Mother .’ My time has not yet come’
        Who would have known that conversation between them, for it to be in Scripture.

      • St.Joseph says:

        Quentin.
        Sorry. 30 years old!

  14. Ignatius says:

    Nektarius

    “..Please read my reply to AD earlier with a reading suggestion with an outline of the activity of
    the Godhead, Ephesians 1: 4- 14. concerning You and everyone that believes before this world or universe ever was.
    Stick to sound words. Hold fast to the truth once delivered to us……”

    Trouble is, as Milligan P has laid out, we don’t do theology like this. If you ever get round to a thorough study of The Catechism of the Catholic Church you will be astounded by its scriptural basis, I was. You can accuse Milligan of ignorance etc re the sola scriptural view but it doesn’t wash really. I was in the evangelical/charismatic church for many years and I understand the sola scriptura perpective very well…which is why I simply fail to understand why you think anyone here should wish to heed your exhortations.

  15. Nektarios says:

    Ignatius
    There are many layers of depth in Scripture, the deepest being spiritual.
    The revelation is not RCC, Protestant or Orthodox. It is a communication by God through the Holy Spirit. The means were the Apostles, Preachers and Teachers and was slowly written down for the edificaton of the saints. Later with the invention of the printing press we had the whole Word of God.
    This argument about Sola Scriptura is fine, the trouble is, the depths of spirituality as contained in the Bible is being taught less and less.
    As for Reason – well man being a fallen creature, so is his reason?
    I am not suggesting to my Catholic brethren, sola scriptura as such, just get back and read scripture for your self – but I fear what I am saying is falling on deaf ears.

  16. Ignatius says:

    Nektarios,

    “This argument about Sola Scriptura is fine, the trouble is, the depths of spirituality as contained in the Bible is being taught less and less.
    As for Reason – well man being a fallen creature, so is his reason?
    I am not suggesting to my Catholic brethren, sola scriptura as such, just get back and read scripture for your self – but I fear what I am saying is falling on deaf ears.”

    Yes, I agree with you about this. I have been for awhile now quite shocked by the paucity of input along the lines you speak, also, as you say people do need to read the scriptures for themselves. On the plus side I meet a lot of interest in the individual ascent, there is more stuff about than we think though in my limited experience little of it is taught at parish level. Retreats however are booming and especially so where the focus is on the Apothatic way-Theresa of Avilla, John of the Cross for example. It seems to me that Catholic spiritual life is heavily dominated by the Kataphatic way…explanation, articulation, teaching, dogma etc and this breeds, as a needful reaction, a variety of devotional practices and a keen interest in the deepening of individual experience. This interest is mainly focussed on lectio divina, silent prayer and the use of scripture as an aid to the contemplation of Jesus’ life. I suspect there is far more going on in the life of many catholics than is obvious, this would be mainly because the deeper loves of the praying heart are, generally speaking, held as private and precious.

    • Nektarios says:

      Ignatius
      Thank you for your thoughts. I have read the works of Teresa Of Avila, and John of the Cross, and your source documents, Saints and homilies & so on, some of which are very good and spiritually helpful. Your last sentence, from my acquaintances with many RC brethren, I believe rings true.

  17. Martha says:

    St. Joseph, likewise, 18 years later, not 21!

  18. Ignatius says:

    Martha,
    “..I wonder about the finding of Jesus in the Temple, as the 5th joyful mystery of the Rosary describes this episode. Did Christ’s awareness of His divinity break through in some way, that He must be in the temple, His Father’s house, and explain the scriptures to the theologians there, with whatever effect on their subsequent lives that might have had on their lives and teaching….”

    I think the really interesting point about these musings is that they bridge into our own lives and experience thus giving us consolation and encouragement. For example have you not yourself just simply ‘known’ that you too ‘ must be in the temple of the Lord’?

    Have there not been times when the urge to be with God has come from deep within you and urgently?

    Equally do you remember the times when you read or heard a theological explanation which touched you deeply and you realised you had already grasped that point, as well or possibly more vividly than the theologian, you just never realised you knew..

  19. Geordie says:

    Quentin

    We seem to be taking it for granted that the theory of evolution is no longer a theory but a fact. It is still a theory and there are many missing links which modern science appears to skip over or ignore. I am quite happy with this theory but I think more emphasis should be given to it as a theory and that there could be alternatives. If we accept that even evolution required a designer then all sorts of alternatives could be considered. The literal teaching of scripture could be correct.

    • overload says:

      And even if we believe that evolution is truth, it may only be one side of a coin.

      • St.Joseph says:

        overload
        Thinking about Jesus healing the blind man by mixing his spittal with the dust on the ground,to remind us that God made Adam from dust.
        The blind man did not come to Jesus,but Jesus went to the blind man.
        Was Jesus referring to Genesis.
        Adam may and I only say maybe came from the dust of the earth as Scripture tells us,however Eve was made from his rib.
        Maybe God wanted females to be made from a human being.
        In preparation for His Sons Incarnation.
        I am waiting to be shot down in flames here, just thoughgts.

      • overload says:

        St Joseph, “The blind man did not come to Jesus,but Jesus went to the blind man.”

        I think what you mean to suggest is that evolution may not have arrived at the original creation of man? That man first made from dust—not evolved from dust—was also recreated in evolution?
        My own speculation along these lines:
        Did God make the heavens and universe, and then asked the angels to bow down to the man He had made; and then after the sin did the universe begin to degrade, and did He then also create a new universe to prepare for a switchover at The Flood; and did He ask the angels to construct and manipulate DNA (and the robots to read and replicate it) in the new universe, and to gently and quite freely, and largely passively, guide evolution—having already given them some prototype animal and plant models, and the final human model, to work towards?

        As for woman being made from man rather than dust, you suggest this as being in preparation for the Incarnation. What do you mean?
        This reminds me of Melchizedek who we are told was made yet without beginning and without geneology, and equal to the Son of God. A deep mystery.
        Perhaps Melchizedek was what Adam and Eve—through the evolution of their relationship with one another in obedience to God—would have been made/awakened into as ‘one flesh’ (rather than become ‘one flesh’ for the purpose of reproducing) if they had not sinned?

      • St.Joseph says:

        overload.
        I dont know the answer to your statments, just thoughts,
        You can work it out your self. I’m sure.
        I was just thinking of Ashes to Ashes Dust to Dust and into dust you shall return.
        Then my thoughts went to the blind man and Jesus making Him see from His spittal and dust,
        perhaps there was a connection.
        Maybe not. Just my thoughts,which I dont take seriously.

      • overload says:

        ok. Thats good u don’t take your thoughts too seriously.

      • St.Joseph says:

        overload.
        Some I do ,some I dont,

    • Quentin says:

      Geordie, all scientific propositions are theories and, at least in principle, capable of revision through new evidence. However, the accumulated mass of evidence concerning the general principles and methodology of evolution is so strong that it’s about as certain as any scientific thing we know. Of course there are all sorts of challenges which are presented to attack the theory, but none of substance. (Unless you have a new one!)

      The relationship between God’s creative power and evolution is of course a mystery. But there is nothing in evolution which contradicts it.

      • Alan says:

        Quentin – “The relationship between God’s creative power and evolution is of course a mystery. But there is nothing in evolution which contradicts it.”

        I can’t work out what form such a contradiction might take. Can you describe a possible example?

      • Quentin says:

        I don’t think there is anything which could contradict it, unless we found an entity uncaused and arising from nothing. The problems lies in the apparent clash between God’s immediate creation (let there be light etc) and the lengthy process of evolution.

        In fact, in a sense God’s creation is immediate. That is, he exists outside time, so however long from our perspective it has taken for the universe to develop, from God’s perspective it is a timeless projection of his will. Everything that exists does so because he wishes it to exist. The methodology of creation is irrelevant.

      • St.Joseph says:

        Quintin.
        Do you know if our bones turn to dust like our bodies.
        Perhaps a silly question!

      • Quentin says:

        Bones can last a very long time in the right conditions. Thus we have fossils from millions of years ago. But I imagine that they break down eventually depending on conditions. But I am no expert.

      • St.Joseph says:

        Quentin .
        Thank you.

      • milliganp says:

        Alan, I’ll play a minor sort of devil’s advocate. If we examine other animal species then in many species the process of selection involves violence or deceit; Thus strong males fight to be the Alpha male and only Alpha males get to mate and pass on their genes. Similarly for offspring, weak offspring are discarded or ignored. In humanity such behaviour would constitute what we call sin, and yet it seems to be integral to the plan of nature, not a by-product of the fall. Once we abandon the ‘myth’ of Adam and Eve, defining what constitutes ‘unatural’ fallen nature becomes difficult.

      • Nektarios says:

        Quentin
        Again, I assert that humanistic ideas that man is a product of evolution – that is, man is just matter, plus energy, plus chance that it worked out the way it did is a fallen humanity idea of what happened. Neat theories but that is all.

        It is vital for Christians to know the source, our Creator and Heavenly Father, Son and Holy Ghost as they were all involved. This is one of many reasons Scripture is necessary so we can gain wisdom and understanding from it.

        The Fatherhood of God does not exist in the vocabuary of the evolutionist.
        The exclusion of Godhead in the whole of creation and man as something different – `let us make man in our own image’, is missing in the evolution argument.
        This presents Christians who claim to be evolutionists with a problem – you see, evolutionists and scientists do not allow any external agency at work at all. So it is very difficult to speak about God as our heavenly Father, by the arguments of evolution. What then is the relationod ship does the Christian have with God by the evolutionist thinking? It is obvious the Christian can’t have one as God does not exist and just consign what God has done in Creation and Salvation He has has given us in His Word, consigning all that and subjecting all that to the evolutionists ideas and theories?
        At least, on the Sky at Night, astromony programme I watched last night, one said, “of course, all that we have said, are saying and can ever say will be theory. We can say, it was perhaps like this, but we can never say it is a fact.” Now that is honest!

      • overload says:

        Nektarios, if the beginning of creation was in fact Jesus’ last gasp “it is finished” on the cross, then evolution might concur with the Fatherhood of God. Then evolution could simply be the ripple (in all directions) which gives substance to that moment.
        The problem with evolutionary theory, I think you suggest, that it sees evolution as the driving force (and source?) of creation. But to deny evolution—that in time and space things evolve—is ridiculous. Not only can I observe the evolution of my own life, ideas, relationship with the world and others etc.; but also, we can look at dogs who have been bred (genetically manipulated) by man, which has generated an acceleration and diversity of changes to the species. And of course plant cultivation demonstrates a similar thing: quite apart from modern genetic modification technology, there is the simple age-old technology of trait selection/avoidance and honing; and there is also the technology of radioactive blasting to damage (change) the genes.

      • overload says:

        I think what I am saying is that it is ridiculous to suggest that natural selection is the only, or even the greatest, method of selection.

      • St.Joseph says:

        Perhaps mans intervention in nature through his own vanity has overuled Gods intentions.

      • St.Joseph says:

        God’s intentions.

      • overload says:

        St Joseph, you say gods intentions vs. God’s intentions?
        I was reminded recently of another story from Genesis, of the Nephilim. I’m not sure what their intention was; why where they reproducing through human women? Maybe just for lust, and/or maybe they had some agenda; I don’t know.

      • Alan says:

        “We can say, it was perhaps like this, but we can never say it is a fact.” Now that is honest!”

        I appreciate the honesty too. Even the scientific papers published primarily for the benefit of the expert few are littered with conditional statements that leave room for them being disproved by even a single piece of solid data that contradicts them. A few test results that might throw out the whole of our understanding about relativity had people questioning the possibilities and their long held beliefs. A conflict between two competing theories which both make the most remarkable predictions about our universe and it is readily accepted that something is fundamentally flawed with our understanding of them. Would that other hypotheses for creation were taught with even a fraction of that caution. Is it more common than I perceive it to be in scripture or sermon? – “In the beginning perhaps …”

      • Alan says:

        Overload – “I think what I am saying is that it is ridiculous to suggest that natural selection is the only, or even the greatest, method of selection.”

        Personally I’m reluctant to think I could even begin to know the limits of nature’s potential.

      • overload says:

        I agree.
        By ‘natural selection’, I think what I am actually saying—if I remember the core of evolutionary theory correctly—is that the combined method, which is the pairing of ‘survival of the fittest’ and ‘chance’, is not the only or greatest method of natural selection. The idea that there would be the will for survival, combined with chance, that a simple organism would develop into a human, is absurd. Why would it be for the benefit of merely the physical survival of a species to seek so much complexity? Are humans as a species any more likely to survive than bacteria? Physically speaking, they are far less likely.
        Without will, and wills, where is the way to evolve?

      • Alan says:

        Overload – “Without will, and wills, where is the way to evolve?”

        There might not be a “way” to evolve, just a blanket bombing process that tests the limits of what can survive by filling every possible niche it has the potential to. While we can imagine circumstances in which complexity and intelligence can offer an advantage (hence creating some drive in that direction) there are other circumstances in which simple and dumb might easily survive us. We may have made it only this far but we could still be an evolutionary dead end. We almost certainly need to spread to other planets to improve our chances of long term survival but, for all our skills, bacteria are probably better space-farers than we are at the moment!

      • overload says:

        Alan, “There might not be a ‘way’ to evolve, just a blanket bombing process that tests the limits of what can survive by filling every possible niche it has the potential to.”
        OK, call it process. And your very personification of this process indicates to me the existence of will, and will external to and greater than the mere physical survival of species. Surely, “where there is a will, there is a way”; without will, there is no impetus, no desire, no energy, to explore, test and enact this ‘blanket bombing’ process?

      • Alan says:

        Milliganp – “Alan, I’ll play a minor sort of devil’s advocate. If we examine other animal species then in many species the process of selection involves violence or deceit;”

        I’m not sure that I would nail it down as “the” plan of nature, but it certainly is a big part of it in a lot of cases. Sorry Milliganp, I’m not sure what I’ve posted here that this relates to.

      • Alan says:

        Overload – “without will, there is no impetus, no desire, no energy, to explore, test and enact this ‘blanket bombing’ process?”

        Without the desire or the will you are left with a process which copies, varies and spreads the successful variants according to their ability to survive. Reproduction and variation provide the means to carpet the environment with any viable creature, along with the many that aren’t viable – which is, of course, the “test”. To me, while an intelligence might be behind the process, it no more demands one than does a river that “tests” or “explores” and fills the course it eventually runs. What bounds the development of life and what potential it has is much, much more complex than the path of least resistance found by water, but that looks more like a difference of scale than one of principle to me. There could still be impetus, energy, and boundaries that are tested without the desire.

        The minimum I need to explain the facts doesn’t rule out God, but it doesn’t look to demand Him either. There are plenty of outstanding problems and questions of course, both within and beyond the issue of life’s diversification. We can wonder about what it takes to set such thing in motion or whether it needs a helping hand at some point, but I can’t rule out a similarly remarkable, albeit unknown, process at work their too! I can’t be that confident.

      • overload says:

        Alan, I’m struggling to to get my mind round all this.
        Intuitively I think that progressive evolution, with “impetus, energy, and boundaries that are tested”, but with no other will/desire other than the wills/desires of the individual creatures and species for personal survival, is more like trying to get water up a mountain rather than watching it flow down into the sea. Does not science, physics, mathematics require reason, and cause? What is the reason and cause for progress in evolution?
        My other thought is that WHY and HOW does a creature see survival as not just a personal thing but also, to some extent, as relating to species? Considering that life in different environments and on a planetary scale is interdependent (like an adaptive self-regulating organism?), do creatures also seek the survival of their co-dependants, locally, and globally? How could a creature understand this as expressed in will?
        My other thought is that actually all of creation may be an evolutionary process; so for instance the “big bang” initiated a rapid ‘evolution’ of laws which allowed for space time matter, sub-atomic matter thought etc. as we find them. And if this is not the case, then how do we explain the emergence of DNA, and arranged in chromosones, which is read and replicated by enzyme robots? For instance, how easily could a computer build itself, create its own software, and run itself?

      • Alan says:

        Overload – ” is more like trying to get water up a mountain rather than watching it flow down into the sea.”

        I can see how it could look that way. It would seem like an uphill struggle. But I can imagine some of the basic processes that allow for adding variety and complexity to a “relatively” simple original form … and I can see no obvious limit to the potential that has. It requires only a few simple conditions to start the ball rolling. Replication, variation and environments which constrict/shape the potential for development. So long as the replication and variation continue every boundary will continue to be pushed.

        OL – “My other thought is that WHY and HOW does a creature see survival as not just a personal thing but also, to some extent, as relating to species?”

        I can’t say for certain. I think I would have read about it if it were something about which we had a solid theory. But I don’t see it being an insoluble problem necessarily – with those sorts of “wider picture” instincts becoming favoured within a species. If they were beneficial to survival, and I can see how they might be, then that would make them all the more likely to be a successful adaptation. Not necessarily the only approach, but not doomed to a quick extinction either.

        OL – “And if this is not the case, then how do we explain the emergence of DNA, and arranged in chromosones, which is read and replicated by enzyme robots? For instance, how easily could a computer build itself, create its own software, and run itself?”

        My interest in science is now limited to reading popular publications like New Scientist and Scientific America. These things look to be areas of active research at the moment. I hear about ideas that are being tested and conditions that might favour the formation of complex organic molecules – mini factories of creation themselves. Is there some sort of “evolutionary” or developmental/creative force at work here too? Almost certainly I would say. I am open to what it could be though pending further discoveries . It might be appealing to think that since we put so much thought and planning into computers or software that can’t yet achieve as much then more thought and planning is likely involved in life’s much grander example. I don’t think it follows though.

      • overload says:

        Alan, thanks for your reply.

        I have heard that the largest living organisms on this planet are a certain species of fungus’ which extend greater than a mile circumference underground. I am inclined to wonder if the universe itself and all the matter therein could be one evolving and subatomically living ‘fungus’, out of which individual sentient beings (I am assuming even bacteria as sentient, if only vaguely so) have sprouted and evolved in the domain of gross-matter. And I can speculate about beings existing in and out of this ‘fungus’, perhaps not dependent on gross physical structure, or at least not dependant in the same way as we are. For instance stars are often associated with angels; could a star be the ‘body’, or perhaps rather the home-body, or clothing, of an angel? And if this might be possible, what about trees?

    • ignatius says:

      Geordie,
      We cannot ‘accept’ that evolution has a designer, that would be philosophically absurd since evolution, by its nature, is blind. The theory you propound is that of intelligent design. It is just possible to suggest that the thought of God, the word becoming flesh, is the process of concretisation by which God allows the material world to take shape, and that since we only see the process afoot in the ‘world’ where we live, then we name the process evolution and call it blind when in fact it is the only way Gods purposes can become ‘real’

      • pnyikos says:

        ignatius, it was a non-theist, Loren Eiseley, who first made me see that evolution could, in fact, have a designer, albeit not one that designed every step of the way, but one that might break in at key moments to push evolution in the right path. Few things have had as deep an impact on my thinking as Loren Eiseley’s words in his book on evolution, The Immense Journey :

        “Perhaps there also, among rotting fish heads and blue,
        night-burning bog lights, moved the eternal mystery,
        the careful finger of God. The increase was not much.
        It was two bubbles, two thin-walled little balloons at the
        end of the Snout’s small brain. The cerebral hemispheres
        had appeared.”

        In fact, if we are to really have free will, then there must be some quantum play in what happens, so that even if God did a perfect job of creation with the Big Bang, God also had to intervene from time to time to send evolution on its path towards intelligent life.

        On the other hand, the overwhelming evidence is that much evolution could easily have taken place without any intelligent intervention. The theory of intelligent design does not dispute that; it only affirms that intelligent design did take place, however frequently or infrequently.

  20. overload says:

    As to the nature of the Incarnation of the Son of God, and how we can have faith/know that Jesus is He—and in turn that He is Jesus (“God is our salvation”)…
    And thinking also about the significance of Jesus in the Temple, which some of you have been discussing…
    And harkening to Nektarios, I refer to Scripture…

    “the Incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel”
    Is this true? I think rather the Incarnation was pronounced by an angel. Did even the Virgin Birth made known the Incarnation? It certainly indicates it. But, had He died just after being born, or as a child, or as a 25 year old man, could He still be known as the Incarnation, even to His mother?

    But, Jesus was born 3 times, it would seem. And it is only in these 3 births, together, that He can be who He is.
    “This is the one who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ…” 1 John 5:6-12

    The first birth is the human virgin conception in a state of sinlessness. But this in itself does not give Him to us, nor confirm, nor even display, His divinity. It merely implies it?

    The second birth (or baptism) is by water—He was “anointed with the Holy Spirit and power” (Acts 10:38) (so before this He was not anointed with the Holy Spirit or with power)—at the hands of John the Baptist. This makes John also Jesus mother. Consider the meaning that “among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he” (Matt 11:11). Does this put John on an equal standing with Mary?

    His third birth (or baptism) is by blood at the crucifixion. (This makes also sin His mother?)
    This relates to the need for confirmation of His divinity. Hebrews 2 tells us that God made “the pioneer of [our] salvation”—Jesus—”perfect through what he suffered.” And Hebrews 5: “Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation…”.
    So, although sinless, He was not, prior to the cross, perfect—He was not technically speaking, as a human, perfectly divine. In His human life His divinity was, at best, in semi-suspension—like a ghost, and not at rest.
    Only in hindsight—knowing within our own being the truth and interdependency of all three births ( in 1 John 5 the Spirit talks only about 2 births; perhaps the first is taken for granted, so He talks only about the water and blood)—we can say that he was fully divine even in His human life.

    • milliganp says:

      Overlord, a near perfect example of the dangers of “DIY exegesis” and exactly why Catholics hold to allowing the teaching authority of the Church to clarify the many complexities and apparant contradictions that exist in in scripture.

      • overload says:

        Milliganp, thank you for your thoughtful consideration of what I wrote.

      • overload says:

        Milliganp, I mean to say, can you explain why what I have written is such a perfect example of the dangers of “DIY exegesis”?

      • milliganp says:

        Overload, I actually gave your post a considerable amount of thought and realised that to disassemble your thesis would take hours of careful study – time I do not have at present. However you have created what appears to be an entirely novel Christology based on using a small number of texts. I actually made several attempts to find if your thesis existed in any mainstream interpretation of the scriptural texts.
        As a Catholic I have been tought to read scripture “with the mind of the church”. Other Christian communities approach scripture with differing methodolgies.
        Nektarios berates us Catholics for not teaching scripture, or having personal familiarity with scripture, but I would say that the Catholic church teaches a faith which is entirely concordant with scripture, what we don’t teach is that every Catholic has to become an exegete in order hold the faith.
        The historical incident we call the Protestant Reformation largely abandoned the authority of the Church (based on scripture) to the authority of scripture alone, often personally interpreted. One could say that the reformation created a new Babel, thousands of voices interpeting scriture rather than the one voice of the Church.
        The internet is absolutely full (overloaded!) with scriptural interpretations inimicable to the faith of Catholics. The only sensible advice I can offer a Catholic is to not engage.

      • Quentin says:

        You won’t need me to confirm the precision of your explanation here. I just mention a further thought.

        Catholics are encouraged to read Scripture privately – any passage which takes our fancy. And then to sit back prayerfully and find, perhaps passively, whether that reading enlightens us in our particularly situation. Here Scripture is being used sacramentally. Through opening ourselves to the word of God we open ourselves to God.

        This is called Lectio Divina, and comes from the Benedictine tradition. Wiki explains it briefly in its introduction to the subject.

      • overload says:

        Milliganp, thank you then for considering what I wrote.
        You say “Catholics hold to allowing the teaching authority of the Church to clarify the many complexities and apparent contradictions that exist in in scripture.”
        I got confirmed in the RCC, and I also hold—so much as I rightly can in the circumstances—to allowing the Magesterium to explain Scripture. However, if this is not being done properly or outright incorrectly in some or many respects, and there is little or no willingness/capacity to listen to and address this problem by the magisterium, then there is a serious problem.

      • overload says:

        I come from a belief in the truth of traditional Buddhist teachings. A conviction that what was given by the Buddha is perfect doctrine. And this was my stepping stone to the Word of God. I have never ceased to believe in Buddhism (although my belief in its relevance to me has changed). If the RCC cannot explain this to me, then I cannot but see the RCC as ignorant. And yet, wonderfully, Scripture can explain this to me.

  21. overload says:

    Milliganp, my name is overload. What do you think that I am lord over?

  22. milliganp says:

    Response to Nektarios,May 11, 11:26pm.
    Your rejection of evolution has, I believe, 2 flaws. Firstly Man didn’t invent evolution, man discovered it; evolution is actually God’s invention. Secondly you tend to follow the line of argument that denies the evidence of fossils and DNA analysis. Humans have significant DNA overlap with Jellyfish. That doesn’t denigrate man; what we see as unique in Man is the presence of intellect and will. If God had chosen to give intellect and will to a jellyfish, then Jesus would have been a Jellyfish.
    In the flow of your argument you might as well object to someone saying a human being is “just a load of carefully arranged hydrocarbons” as meaning I am second cousin to a coalmine. Facts are facts and God is the author of all facts, natural laws etc.
    You also use the word humanist as if it were an insult. For Catholic Christians, humanism is the realisation of man as God’s greatest creation and man’s capacity for knowledge (including scientific knowledge) as the fullness of God’s intent for a creature imbued with intellect.
    It is interesting that Bertrand Russell opined that the Protestant rejection of Catholic Humanism condemned humanity to centuries of what we would now call fideism.There is no doubt that evolution challenges our understanding of how we came to be and what exactly constitutes “the fall” but God had given us brains to try and work it out. Denial is not a good starting point.

    • Nektarios says:

      Milliganp
      As usual you jump in with assertions or denials I was not inferring. I am sure you do not speak for the RCC if you think Humanism is Christian at all – it isn’t, let alone Catholic, though there are many Catholics who are humanists.
      Following the philosopher Betrand Russell will not get you very far at all.
      Like I said before, if Man’s in his nature is fallen from his first state, then so has his reason.
      our argument only shows you are walking around in the dark clutching at straws as you
      try to make sense of it all.

      • milliganp says:

        Nektarios, if you read up on the Renaissance, humanism was an entirely Catholic (Christian) development. You mistake the modern (mis)use of the word with its original meaning. I am not at all concerned at quoting Bertrand Russell, he was one of the greatest minds of his age and his summary of the origins and failings of Protestantism still ring true when looking at the faith of the US “Bible Belt”. Similarly, I am not remotely in the dark as I have the light of Christ, present in his Church to guide me.

      • milliganp says:

        This is not intended as an argumentative hammer but a quote from the wikipedia entry on Renaissance humanism says “Many humanists were churchmen, most notably Pope Pius II (Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini), Sixtus IV and Leo X, and there was often patronage of humanists by senior church figures. Much humanist effort went into improving the understanding and translations of Biblical and early Christian texts, both before the Protestant Reformation, on which the work of figures like Erasmus and Jacques Lefèvre d’Étaples had a great influence, and afterwards.”

  23. Nektarios says:

    Should have read – Your argument only shows…..

  24. Nektarios says:

    Milliganp – I was not berating the RCC far from it, but encouraging us all, no matter what denomination one is in, to read Holy Scriptures.

    How to read Scripture, the order of it is also in Scriptures. We get preoccupied asking God for things, for blessing for healings, for comfort and so on but that is not the divine order. It start with Praise, Thanksgiving and Worship. Would we rush into the presence of HM the Queen with all our requests without observing the protocol? Then how does one expect to be heard of God the King of Kings and Lord of Lords without observing the proper approach to Him?
    Lastly – the highest that man is and has as Christians, is not a product of evolution, but is spiritual.

    • milliganp says:

      Nektarios, several years ago I was asked to give a talk on prayer. I started with a childhood method taught to me by nuns ACTS, Adoration, Contrition, Thanksgiving, Supplication. As a child I had a problem with the Adoration part. As a Deacon I say the office which is strongly Psalm based and I realised that a key element of the psalms is praise so I modified the acronym to PACTS, Praise, Adoration ….
      I find it much easier to adore a God I’ve praised than to adore God as an isolated concept.
      If there were one thing I’d like my church to do it would be to place far greater emphasis on personal recitation of the psalms, after all these are the prayers Jesus recited in the synagogue and Temple and in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark Psalms (or hymns) were sung after the last supper and before the journey to the mount of olives.

  25. milliganp says:

    Re “`let us make man in our own image’, is missing in the evolution argument.”
    It is, I would suggest, self evident that evolution cannot explain the immortal human soul or the Adamic fall leading to original sin. It is speculation to presume that at some point God took a vertical ape and imbued it with a soul. Whatever way we came to be there does seem to have to be a decisive intervention by God as part of the process or our theology of the fall and human culpability for sin unravel.
    Evolutionary theory can explain butterflies, Giraffes and Apes (amongst others) but it cannot explain man in a way compatible with faith.

    • Nektarios says:

      Milliganp
      Never feel pressurised to accept the dogmas of evolutionary theory – it is just that.
      I trust the other contributors on the blog and th readers of the SSblog will come to the same conclusions that you have stated above.

    • Alan says:

      I would echo the reply from Nektarios.

      I would only warn against assuming that it were the theory that is obviously flawed and dogmatic rather than the faith.

  26. GD. says:

    Having followed these discussions for several months, and realising my intellect and academic learning is far below the level of most of you here I have always refrained from replying …… however on this occasion I find myself incapable of not expressing several ‘thoughts’ that seem to me to reconcile various paradoxes sighted in this article ………. I hasten to add I do not assert , only conjecture. As my unreasoned meanderings will prove ……

    Christ is not a man. Jesus The Christ, is a man. Christ is God reconciled with creation (including Man). Jesus The Christ is God physically ‘reconciled to creation & resurrected with creation’ (both, for all eternity. Or maybe just till the end of time?) as is the Original Creation before the ‘fall’.
    Which was Manifest in ‘time’ in the life of the man Jesus.

    If all of the above statements can be seen to be ‘correct’ individually, as I believe they are, and then united to exist as equally still ‘correct’ ???? …….. The ‘natures’ paradox of Christ and Mankind, creation & fall of man and evolutionary problems are somewhat less of a problem to ‘accept’.

    The physical manifestation of creation, as we perceive it, from our ‘divided’ ‘damaged’ ‘disunited’ state/natures, is not the original state of creation in harmony & unity with God. We perceive ‘a physically fallen creation via our fallen nature. And assume the creation in harmony & unity with God no longer is. (Is that assumption logical?)

    Unity in Christ – as in the Beginning Is Now & Ever Is – is the natural and true state of all creation.(?)
    Christ eternally(?) infinitely (?) has always been the being-of-unity for all creation(?).
    Christ is God. God is unchanging.

    The incarnation of Christ Jesus into the physical ‘fallen’ nature of man, and physical manifested state of a fallen creation (is there any difference?) was reconciling all things to himself. Reconnecting God & man(?).
    Christ eternally (& Infinitely?) because Christ is God, and God is unchanging, reconciles ‘time & space’ from within time and space, Jesus The Christ. Also from outside time & space – God.

    This for me reconciles the ‘paradoxes’ above. And, indeed, extending that non-dual way of seeing, most of the theological/intellectual arguments for and against one ‘side’ or the ‘other’. It’s ‘never’ one or the other, it’s ‘always’ BOTH& …….. God’s Reality.

    I repeat I do not assert, even though I believe! Who can know enough to assert from within a fallen nature! I ONLY CONJECTURE.

    • Nektarios says:

      GD
      Welcome GD to the Second Sight Blog.
      If as you say, you believe, then it is of vital importance to us what we believe. Christianity or faith, that gift of God, whereby we become children of God, Christians, then it is something extraordinary that has happened to us. We explore this prayerfully in Scripture and with our Christian brethren. It is not conjecture, because it is something that has already happened.

      The tragedy is, this is what Christians do, but it is not out of a born-again nature we have as Christians is just part of this notion modern man has about self-expresssion, which is an excuse concerning our sin, or the pleasure of it.

  27. Ignatius says:

    “This for me reconciles the ‘paradoxes’ above. And, indeed, extending that non-dual way of seeing, most of the theological/intellectual arguments for and against one ‘side’ or the ‘other’. It’s ‘never’ one or the other, it’s ‘always’ BOTH& …….. God’s Reality…”

    “Both …and.” I describes it well. The longer I go on in Christian life the more I see that God inhabits the prosaic:
    “Earth is crammed with heaven and every common bush afire with God, but only he who sees takes off his shoes..”
    Elisabeth Barrett Browning.

    The theory of evolution is no more than botany really. It is not to be feared but carefully elaborated upon.

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