CADRE Comments

A Rational Look at Christianity; Basing Reason in Truth

The contents page for this series can be found here. The previous entry, concluding Chapter 46, can be found here.

This entry constitutes Chapter 47, and ends Section Four.

This chapter mainly reiterates and spells out in some more detail how I arrived metaphysically at the conclusion that rebel supernatural entities exist, but it also arrives at the conclusion that these devils need the same help any of us sinners do: to be saved from their sins.

This is a very controversial position; and I can't quite figure out where plausibly to split the chapter into two entries, either. So, to avoid posting an extra-long chapter on a controversial topic among Nicene trinitarians, seeing as this journal is dedicated to ecumenical Nicene apologetics (what trinitarian affirmers of the Nicene Creed generally agree on instead of what we disagree about), I have posted the whole chapter, about 16 pages, to a thread at the Evangelical Universalist forum instead (where I have been posting these Sword to the Heart chapters in parallel tandem in order to help readers there get an idea where the coherencies are in orthodox trinitarian theism--but also because I have found ortho-trin to lead, by theological corollary, to one or another kind of Christian universalism.)

That thread can be reached by clicking this hyperlink or by copy-pasting the following address into your browser line:

Readers who want to skip this chapter won't be missing a whole lot, since (as I said) it's mainly working out the logic again from the previous chapter, and taking it a little further. The end result, whether or not the reader agrees with the concept that rebel angels also need God's salvation from sin, sets up the topic of the final Section of chapters in the book--where I will pull together and synthesize the doctrinal positions I have arrived at in the hundreds of pages up to now, to consider what I may expect God to do about sin in our natural history.

(Which by no coincidence I plan to finish around Easter week next month. {g})

Next up: Section Five, "The Story of Passion and Atonement".

Tom Gilson, author of the always entertaining and informative (and aptly named) Thinking Christian, has linked to a fascinating article about an archaeological find in Jordan that may prove invaluable to understading the first few years of Christianity.

According to Jordan battles to regain 'priceless' Christian relics, an article on BBC News by Robert Pigott, a collection of "70 or so 'books', each with between five and 15 lead leaves bound by lead rings, was apparently discovered in a remote arid valley in northern Jordan somewhere between 2005 and 2007." These books are written in some type of Hebrew code, but they contain several relatively clear Christian symbols. The books are presently believed to date about 2000 years ago -- within the first few decades after the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Photos of the book can be found here.

The question, according to the article, is not really about the age of the books as much as the content. The books are acknowledged to be very old, but it cannot easily be determined exactly what they say. Thus, it isn't even clear to this point whether these documents are ancient Jewish writings or they are among the earliest, if not the earliest Christian writings.

At least one expert is leaning towards the former. According to the BBC article,

One of the few people to see the collection is David Elkington, a scholar of ancient religious archaeology who is heading a British team trying to get the lead books safely into a Jordanian museum.

He says they could be "the major discovery of Christian history", adding: "It's a breathtaking thought that we have held these objects that might have been held by the early saints of the Church."

He believes the most telling evidence for an early Christian origin lies in the images decorating the covers of the books and some of the pages of those which have so far been opened.

Mr Elkington says the relics feature signs that early Christians would have interpreted as indicating Jesus, shown side-by-side with others they would have regarded as representing the presence of God.

"It's talking about the coming of the messiah," he says.

"In the upper square [of one of the book covers] we have the seven-branch menorah, which Jews were utterly forbidden to represent because it resided in the holiest place in the Temple in the presence of God.

"So we have the coming of the messiah to approach the holy of holies, in other words to get legitimacy from God."

Another person who has examined the books, Robert Feather, seems to believe that they are more Jewish than Christian according to Heavy metal secrets from a Mid-East cave. That article states:

"The first time I heard about the discovery, I was extremely cautious," Mr Feather said. "However, when I was given an opportunity to see and examine some examples…and visit the cave where they were said to have come from, my scepticism was allayed."

The books appear to be "Kabbalah-related and the nature of the content indicates a magical incantation style of writing," Mr Feather said. Before 400 CE, almost all ancient codices were made of parchment. The lead codices "predate any form of codex by several hundred years and this particular material was probably chosen to ensure permanency."

If it is like anything else related to early Christianity, I suspect that the books will take years to authenticate and even longer to translate. This is especially true since the Israeli Antiquities Authority doubts their authenticity describing them as a "mixture of incompatible periods and styles without any connection or logic. Such forged motifs can be found in their thousands in the antiquities markets of Jordan and elsewhere in the Middle East." Of course, experience shows that the IAA is quick to doubt authenticity of almost any new discovery from this period.

Still, the idea of what these books might say is, to say the least, intriguing to a archaeologicphile like myself. (No idea if archaeologicphile is a word, but it fits.)

Peter Kreeft once remarked words to the effect that the only thing required to believe any one of the 100 most absurd things that any human being can believe is to have a Ph.D. Such is the case with the recently publicized beliefs of Dr. Francesca Stavrakopoulou of the University of Exeter who argues that God had a wife who was edited out of the Bible.

According to God had a wife but edited out in Bible, says British theologian, Dr. Stavrakopoulou believes that the goddess Asherah, who is mentioned in several places in the Old testament, was not some competing false god, but was the wife of the biblical god Yahweh. While I realize a brief article in a newspaper is not going to contain the complete argument, the news source generally gives at least one argument that supports the thesis. Such is the case here, and the argument cited if representative of the good doctor's theory is not particularly good.

Here's the argument: After noting that there were competing gods to the God of the Bible, Dr. Stavrakopoulou notes:

The biblical texts name many of them - El, Baal, Molek, Asherah. Despite Yahweh's assertion in the Ten Commandments that "You shall have no other gods before me", it appears these gods were worshipped alongside Him, and the Bible acknowledges this.

From here, Dr. Stavrakopoulou notes that Kings reports that the "The goddess Asherah was worshipped in Yahweh's temple in Jerusalem. In the Book Of Kings, it says that a statue of Asherah was housed in the temple and that ...." So, this leads to the question: what was the relationship between Asherah and the God of the Old Testament? Dr. Stavrakopoulou has an answer:

Despite numerous references to Asherah worship in the Bible, there wasn't enough evidence to link her explicitly with the high god of ancient Israel, Yahweh. Until, that is, the discovery of a remarkable ceramic inscription in the Sinai desert.

"The inscription is a petition for a blessing," Stavrakopoulou says. "Crucially, the inscription asks for a blessing from 'Yahweh and his Asherah.' Here was evidence that presented Yahweh and Asherah as a divine pair. And now a handful of similar inscriptions have since been found, all of which help to strengthen the case that the God of the Bible once had a wife."

So, what are we to make of Dr. Stavrakopoulou's argument? In my view, not much. Let's start at the top.

Is it the case that other gods were worshipped alongside God? No question about it. One need only read the pages of the Old Testament to see that other gods were regularly worshipped in ancient Israel and Judah. However, the phrase "thou shall have no other gods before me" is not an invitation to maintain the worship of other gods. The entire message of the bible is that there is but one God, and that God is the only one who is deserving of worship. As early as Genesis 35, the Old Testament accounts show that God's chosen people are to put away other gods and worship exclusively the God who is "majestic in holiness, awesome in praises, working wonders." (Exodus 15:11). The same chapter that contains the phrase "have no other gods before me" (Exodus 20:3) also contains God's command, "You shall not make other gods besides Me; gods of silver or gods of gold, you shall not make for yourselves." Three chapters later, Exodus uses even stronger language of prohibition:

Now concerning everything which I have said to you, be on your guard; and do not mention the name of other gods, nor let them be heard from your mouth. *** You shall not worship their gods, nor serve them, nor do according to their deeds; but you shall utterly overthrow them and break their sacred pillars in pieces.

So, when one reads about other gods being worshipped alongside of the God of the Bible, it should not be heard to be some type of acceptance of the practice of worshipping other gods. Rather, these other gods were set up in direct opposition to the desires and teaching of God.

What does this mean? It means that the setting up of an Asherah or other gods in Israel and Judah conflicted with the laws of God of the Hebrews. Now, does this obvious opposition to the setting up of an idol to another god make it more or less likely that Asherah was the wife of the one true God? In my book, it makes it extremely unlikely.

But the argument continues: In the books of Kings, it states in several verses that an Asherah was set up in the Temple in Jerusalem. Of course, the question is: was this seen as a good thing or a bad thing? The text is very clear that every time the kings of the Old Testament set up these Asherahs anywhere they were evil kings and the setting up of the Asherah's were bad.

Consider the story of King Ahab. 1 Kings 16:30 and following tells that Ahab was evil in the sight of the Lord. He is described as having set up an idol for Baal in the temple of Baal and in 1 Kings 16:33, it says:

Ahab also made the Asherah. Thus Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel than all the kings of Israel who were before him.

Does this sound like the setting up of an Asherah is a positive thing? One would need to really stretch to find Asherah as some type of acceptable co-deity in light of these verses.

The verse which speaks about the Asherah being set up in the Temple is 2 Kings 21:7 where Manasseh, who did evil in the sight of the Lord, is reported to have "set the carved image of Asherah that he had made" in the house of the Lord. Again, is this seen as a good thing? 2 Kings 21: 11-12 reports:

Because Manasseh king of Judah has done these abominations, having done wickedly more than all the Amorites did who were before him, and has also made Judah sin with his idols; therefore thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, 'Behold, I am bringing such calamity on Jerusalem and Judah, that whoever hears of it, both his ears will tingle.

Note the word "abomination" connected to the fact that he made "Judah sin with his idols." So, quick question: is the setting up of the Asherah in the Temple seen as a good thing or a bad thing? Seems pretty apparent it is a bad thing -- a very bad thing. Hardly the view one would hold if Asherah were the wife and co-deity of God.

This is consistent throughout the Bible. There are no mentions of the construction of an Asherah that is positive. It is always seen as evil.

Additionally, it should be noted that Asherah wasn't the only other god set up in the temple. According to 2 Kings 23:4 the Asherah wasn't the only other god set up in the temple. Not only did the King Josiah, who did right in the sight of the Lord, remove the Asherahs that had been set up by Manasseh, he also brought out "of the temple of the LORD all the vessels that were made for Baal, for [fn]Asherah, and for all the host of heaven; and he burned them outside Jerusalem in the fields of the Kidron, and carried their ashes to Bethel." So, I suppose it would be appropriate to ask, using the logic of Dr. Stavrakopoulou whether Baal was Yahweh's brother. But I won't pursue that.

So, having shown that the Biblical teaching from the beginning is that no other gods than the God of the Hebrews was to be worshipped, having further shown that the times that the Asherah is erected are seen as evil times or abominations, it is difficult to believe that anyone would find that Asherah was a favored wife of God. But, of course, acknowledging (in a serious understatement) that "there wasn't enough evidence to link her explicitly with the high god of ancient Israel" (should be, there is NO such evidence), Dr. Stavrakopoulou's thesis turns on the discovery of a blessing in the form of an inscription found on a ceramic in the Sinai desert. (Of course, "a handful of" similar inscriptions have since been discovered.) The inscription "asks for a blessing from 'Yahweh and his Asherah.'"

Does the finding of a "handful" of similar inscriptions in the Sinai desert prove in any respect that this reference to "Yahweh and his Asherah" is common? Of course not. To assume that would be similar to reading books by some members of the Jesus Seminar and presuming that the absurd views stated in those books represent the views of Christianity as a whole. No one doubts that there were people living in ancient Israel and Judah who were polytheists. The Bible reports over and over that the people continued to worship other gods throughout the long, often sad history of Israel and Judah. So, does the fact that someone asked for the blessing of Yahweh and Asherah on a marriage surprise anyone? No. Does it mean that this was a general teaching of Israel and/or Judah at some point in time? Only if you are predisposed to think that it does.

After all, we know that the Bible clearly explains that God is the only God and the worship of him is to be exclusive. We also know that the worship of Asherah is associated with evil and abomination. So, to find that a couple of inscriptions on some buried pottery in the Sinai desert (which is largely outside of the territory of Israel and Judah) somehow trumps the clear teaching of the Bible to the contrary? Absurd.

Of course, Dr. Stavrakopoulou's argument has an answer -- the same answer that is always used to explain away inconvenient facts: The Bible text was changed at some point in the past to cover the teaching the Yahweh and Asherah were husband and wife.

How convenient.

Sorry, but I'm not buying that bridge.

[Note: the contents page for this series can be found here. The previous entry, starting Chapter 46, can be found here.]

[This entry concludes Chapter 46, "The Children of the First Sinners".]

[I ended the previous entry asking, "Why is it that other people suffer thanks to my sin? Why does God not negate the harmful, baneful results of my own actions, sparing those who find themselves standing in the paths of effect?"]

The first answer I reach is: I do not know that God does let every possible baneful consequence from my actions affect other people. On the contrary: I know I find myself thanking Him, that by providential circumstance other people have been spared from suffering which might have followed from some sin of mine.

This does not, by itself, provide a solution to my question, for if even one minor suffering of a victim resulted from a whole history of (otherwise silent) human sinning, then the question of why God would allow such an effect would remain viable. Yet I do find it to be of some comfort to recognize, from my own experience, that other people are sometimes (or even often) spared from the results of my sins.

I next notice, that such consequential suffering depends not only on God's permission, but also on the characteristics of Nature. You and I live together within an essentially neutral playing-field; indeed, I concluded many chapters ago that such a field is in fact necessary, given your and my existences as people. Nature, as it is, exists by the will and power of God; and God retains the capability of introducing effects into Nature.

But I also concluded that there would need to be some self-limitation on God's part, to how far He would act within Nature. If God manipulates me totally, then I am only a sort of sock-puppet, and not a true creature. If God does not let Nature be Nature, then by tautology Nature is not Nature. Yet Nature (not necessarily this Nature, perhaps, but some Nature) is necessary for you and I to be as we are. God can only introduce effects 'into' Nature by usually letting Nature be itself. And as a creation of God, self-consistent to its own derivative degree, Nature exhibits cause-and-effect relationships. These can be modified by God, up to and including the annihilation of Nature to any extent; but so long as God intends Nature to be Nature and to serve His purposes (including the purposes related to you and I as derivative individual people), then God will, by His own choice, only modify Nature's behavior to some degree.

I repeat: by itself this conclusion does not solve the problem I am now considering. It could only do that if I knew (which I do not) that God's negation of any external effects from my sinful choices would require such a massive uprooting of Nature on His part, that Nature effectively (or usefully) would cease to exist. For what it is worth, I do think it likely that given today's situation--the situation of human intransigence that has existed for all our recorded history--God would be unable to stop all pernicious results of all our sins without simultaneously unraveling the portion of space-time our species currently inhabits.

But in the case of the original sinners, who almost certainly had to be few in number (very likely as few as two individuals), I do not see that such a danger to Nature (localized or not) would have been forthcoming. I think God could have allowed their children to be what their parents no longer were. Indeed, if God grew us organically through the mediation of a biological process, then He would already have acted at least once in such a fashion, when He created the first sentient humans. And if God raised our first progenitors directly from the clay, or somesuch similar action, then He would have already accomplished the same type of reorganization even more dramatically!

Either way (or along any variation of two such extremes of subtlety and outright power), for God to do so again within the seed and/or womb of the first fallen humans would have been no more dangerous to Nature's existence as Nature, than the creation of the first humans themselves (and probably no more dangerous to Nature's viability than any other intentive act God can take within the natural system).

So, there must have been further reasons why God, in the case of the original human sinners, did not spare their children the fate of being born as 'fallens'.

Still, the general principle involved here is worth remembering: in order to preserve the character of Nature as Nature, God allows Nature to react naturally to actions introduced into the natural system.

If God allows Nature to retain its character, then what about my character--or the character of my distant forebears? We are derivative actors; we are people who are people, and who have our own personal character. If God second-guesses and immediately abrogates everything I do which happens to displease Him, then would He be treating me as a responsible person?

Here, I arrive at a frightening and humbling realization.

God's love and justice are never set aside, even for sinners.

I am a sinner. God loves me and does justice to me, sinner though I am. If He only let results He personally preferred to follow from my choices, then He would not be showing love to me, nor would He be acting justly to me, myself. It would be worse than my being a mere sock-puppet who only seems to be a real person: I would be a real person under slavery to a tyrant Who grants me only a useless legal fiction of freedom!

Yet unless He enslaved me in this way, then sooner or later someone might suffer for something I do, that they had not done.

It is because God loves me, a sinner, that the innocent suffer for my transgressions.

Thank God, I have reason to believe that God does spare some creatures, to some degree, from the evil I choose to do. Yet the underlying principle remains in effect--because God loves me, He lets some of my evil actions produce results imprinted by the character I have given to those actions.

Should you be angry at God for allowing people to suffer for my wrongs? Or should you instead be angrier at me for taking advantage of the love God shows to me?

And dare I suggest you remember that God shows you the same love, by letting your actions also have consequential effects--even if those effects are ones God would have preferred not to happen?

Persons who have not done a particular evil action, nevertheless suffer the results of that action--because God loves the sinner, too.

The innocent suffer for the sake of sinners such as I.

There is a further terrible purpose in such consequences for my sake--the results stand as a reminder to me, if I will only open my eyes, that what I am doing is wrong! It is love and justice to me, that I should be given such opportunities, despite my willful intransigence.

Is it love and justice to those who suffer? No; but that is my fault--not God's.

I therefore find no intrinsic inconsistency in the conclusion that God has allowed other creatures to suffer by the sin of the original sinners. It is certainly terrible, and even horrible--I think it is something every person needs to contemplate for herself, so that the full cost of our actions may be understood more clearly; for we sinners are all still contributing, even today, to the sin of Adam.

Yet when we are speaking of the first children of the original sinners, then still a mystery remains. If Adam and Eve should somehow suffer for the sake of Satan, that is one thing. But for God to allow the first human sinners to beget victims of their sin, who are then born as victims from birth--that is something else again. Where is the justice in this?!

A moment ago, I noticed that those who suffer from our sins serve as living examples to us that sin has consequences. A woman who sins in her pride may, in her pride, still find it easy to discount or disbelieve the damage done to her own soul (or even to her body) in consequence of her actions. But it can only be harder to deny responsibility for our actions, when the results of those actions are staring us in the face. The sins of the fathers may be made manifest in the next generation, for the sake of the fathers' understanding of sin and its results.

Even so, this purpose would be served only by the first children of the first sinners--not by further generations, who can only make the point redundantly. So, if the effects of the first sinners on themselves are passed in some measure to their children, why not stop the effect at the second generation?

(As I write this, I think of babies born with deformities and addictions, thanks to the abuse of the bodies (and souls) of their mothers and fathers. How can any man or woman see this, and not resolve to render justice and charity to each other and to their own bodies!? How?--by refusing love and justice when these seem to be leveled against themselves...)

Whatever natural consequences followed in the wake of the shifting of the synthetic shape, those natural consequences still could have been halted by God at that point without (probably) undue risk of abrogating Nature itself. Yet, God let it continue.

And, I admit: even the allowance of one subsequently twisted generation seems rather suspicious. Would the sinners not have been better off being saved by God from sin first, before breeding later?

I think there is a double-answer involved: two answers, which turn out to be connected. If God should let a fallen Adam and Eve have children--if more than this He outright commands it--then humanity as a group must have a task God expected them to try to perform, even in their fallen state. Yet common sense tells us that the fallen state of Man must be more inefficient than our original unfallen state. It makes more sense for God to restart the species in an unfallen state, as soon as feasible, than to allow it to continue in such a state.

Yet, here we are. Adam and Eve may have needed a salvation that did not consist of God sheerly 'fixing' the problem, but their children could still have been started correctly themselves, to fall or not to fall later upon their own choices as responsible entities.

The point is this: whatever genetic damage resulted from the twisting of the synthetic natural/supernatural 'shape' of the original sentient humans--whatever natural consequences resulted, to the fundamental units of their bodies, from the Fall of Adam and Eve--God must have had the power to fix it for the next generation; and a contemplation of God's love and justice indicates that He really ought to have done so.

Since He evidently did not--and since I am already convinced on other, prior grounds that God exists and has certain characteristics--what shall I conclude?

There must have been--there must still be--something else involved in the problem.

Something not merely reactive, like Nature.

Something making its own choices to affect our offspring.

Something actively sentient and with intricate power over Nature.

Something able, and willing, to rebel against God.

Something--or, rather, someone--other than the original human sinners.

And that is who I will discuss in the next chapter.

[Next up: the sinners before the first sinners! (And the end of Section Four.)]

[Note: the contents page for this series can be found here. The previous entry, concluding Chapter 45, can be found here.]

[This entry starts Chapter 46, "The Children of the First Sinners".]

I have argued that recorded history--even the history recorded by people who do not follow my own tradition--indicates that the tendency to act intransigently, in willful rebellion against what we perceive to be true, has been a perennial characteristic of our species. Because God would not have created us automatically in rebellion against Him (or against as much of Him as we could perceive), then our progenitors must have fallen into this state; and I think I can argue that the number of these progenitors must have been small, and the percentage of 'fallens' within that number must have been large: for the whole human race, as it stands now and as it has stood throughout history, exhibits the characteristics of sinful rebellion.

[Footnote: I am not arguing this from the worldwide prevalence of stories that suggest humankind was once in a better relationship with God, heaven, Nature, and/or each other, but have since 'fallen'. These could, I suppose, be explained as the result of an innate human resistance to our actual state of being. (The Fall must be only a fable, because so many cultures seem to remember it??) Even so, such a resistance is interesting. In fact, any 'resistance' to what would otherwise be considered a 'natural' situation, is significant. At any rate, having arrived at this conclusion on other grounds, I do pause here to acknowledge the existence of such stories.]

Such a rebellion would have changed the synthetic shape of the original sinners--the shape synthesized by God out of a combination of His own intentive actions and the mediation of a neutral 'playing-field' of reactive Nature, itself also actively created and upkept by God. This synthetic shape would have been linked interconnectedly between spirit and body; and consequences to the relationship between that unity of spirit and body would have followed from rebellion. This degradation of our physical and mental status would have been allowed by God in order to minimize the abuses of power which would follow from the rebellion--abuses God would restrict insofar as possible while still fulfilling both love and justice to the sinners.

The Unity of God's own transPersonal self-existent love and justice, entails that God shall choose to act eternally to fulfill love and justice even to His enemies--and this concept has massive implications for any subsequent theological conclusions I will (and ought to) draw.

But one of the more unsettling implications faces me now.

These original sinners, having rebelled against God, would find themselves existing as, in effect, a new species--perhaps related to prior species from which they had been previously raised (if that was how God accomplished their creation), but still distinctly different as derivatively active entities from those close relatives. [See first comment below for an extended footnote here.] Yet they would also be distinctly different from the sort of entities they had been before the 'Fall'. As creatures in a created unity between active spirit and reactive matter, that unity would still hold: for they would still be derivatively active (and thus personal) creatures, yet also would still occupy the space and time of material Nature.

The relationship of this derivative unity of ours to physical Nature, to matter and energy, results in a physical shape to the organ through which the unity is most acutely focused: our brains. Our fall as a species would have consequences for that shape. Yet what contributes, physically speaking, to the shape of our brains?

We know now that the chemicals of our genetic code serve this function. New cells replace or grow onto other cells throughout our natural life, even in our brains, according to processes governed at least in part by the constituent 'shape' of that genetic code.

The change of the synthetic shape at the moment of the first rebellion would therefore entail a corresponding change, either directly or indirectly by God's will, in the functionality of our genetic code, so that our unity as a living and efficiently functional organism would be preserved. (The change might be progressive over a lifetime, or even over successive generations; but there would also be an immediate change somewhere that would make the crucial difference.)

Also, such a pervasive change would be a signal even to the most stubborn of original sinners, that something drastically wrong had occurred--something that could be compared to an ideal state--something that needed to be corrected for their own good.

But whatever affects our genetic code, also affects our children.

The natural result would be that if these original sinners began to breed, they would produce more creatures of their new sort--creatures with a synthetic shape twisted by the choices of the first progenitors.

This, I repeat, would be the natural result. But speaking only of the natural consequence leaves the actions and choices of God out of the account. The next question is: would God allow this to happen?

In a way, the answer to this question is obvious: for here I am, a creature of this type who inhabits a world filled with similar creatures.

Given this, and given that I have already decided that God exists and has certain relationships to the natural universe, then I conclude that God clearly would allow the results of the 'sin of Adam' to be passed on to future generations.

But a recognition that this in fact has happened, does not of itself explain why God let it happen.

Some people may be satisfied with the mere idea that God let it happen, and so we should not bother ourselves further with questions about it. I would reply that this attitude hardly reflects a personal relationship with God as a Person.

Other people may say that since God has let it happen, He must have had a good reason, and since they trust Him in other regards, they are willing to trust Him here, too. I think this attitude is very much better! Yet I also think it still falls short of the mark. To honestly wonder why, and to seriously want an answer, and to not have an answer yet, is one thing. But to give up wanting to know why, as a choice on our part--even as a choice apparently based on a real trust in God--is to set aside our share of the responsibility in maintaining a personal relationship with God.

Such a closing of the eyes is, instead, a sign of a lack of faith in God: it is a sign that we do not trust God to do His part in relating to us. To wait patiently, keeping an eye out for solutions to a problem, with all resources at our disposal, ready to act and searching for light meanwhile, is to have an active faith in God as a Person. To shut our minds to problems because, deep down, we do not ever expect an intelligible answer, is to believe that God does not care what we think about Him.

"We shall understand by and by" has long been stripped of its meaning in merely 'popular' theology, and a totally opposite meaning has been perversely grafted to the phrase: it now effectively means, to many Christians, that we shall never understand--therefore, we ought not to look now. And it is just as faithless to maintain that we ought not to expect any worthwhile or useful answer until we reach 'heaven'--for that attitude reinforces a tendency to be lazy servants here and now.

In some ways, the sceptical unbeliever can represent a most faithfully prudent attitude: for such a sceptic may detect a discrepancy in the love and justice of God, and so may refuse to follow or sanction a belief in such a deity.

"How could God let that happen!?" such a sceptic demands, with a righteousness that is faithful to God in truth, while others who claim to have faith in God dare to be content with the vague suspicion--or worse, the outright claim!--that the God Whom they follow is not just!

Let me therefore face directly the implications of my own existence, as a person who was born with the mark of the sin of Adam.

Could God have prevented the children of the original sinners from being born in a 'twisted' shape?

I see no intrinsic contradiction to this proposal, so I conclude: yes, He could have--either through sheer miraculous power, or else by forbidding, through decree or through exercise of power, that the original sinners should have children. Similarly, He could have prevented me from being born in this condition: the condition of being a 'fallen man'.

So why would God have allowed fallen humans to be fruitful, and to multiply? If my own tradition has accuracy, why would God even command us to multiply our numbers, and yet not fix the problem from the outset?

That God could not 'fix' Adam and Eve (the original rebels of our species, although technically they need not have been only two in number) through a sheer act of His power, I have already deduced; for their problems stemmed from willed actions of their own, and their cure would require their own active repentance--a 'change of mind' which itself would be hampered by the change they had already effected in themselves by their rebellion. But as for their children, from 'Cain and Abel' down to you and I: none of us chose to be in this condition from our birth.

Let me remind my reader that I confess myself to be a willing sinner--I know I have made choices to flout love, justice, and other characteristics of ultimate reality, in favor of my own wishes at the expense of people. Insofar as that goes, I am no better than the original sinners, whether they are human Adams and Eves or the archangel Lucifer.

But that type of perversion is not what I am discussing here. I want to know why God allowed the sin of our human progenitors to affect the rest of us consequentially, in our bodies and in the relationship of our bodies to our minds.

As usual, if I speculate as though these original people existed in a historical vacuum, then I do not know if I could ever find an appropriate answer. But when I remember, that whatever perversions I may have been saddled with I am still a willing sinner also, then I have a standard by which to proceed.

Let me turn my question back upon my own head, then. Why is it that other people suffer thanks to my sin? Why does God not negate the harmful, baneful results of my own actions, sparing those who find themselves standing in the paths of effect?

(I remind my reader that the relative innocuousness of my own sins, makes no difference to the principle which I am considering here. So far as the direct fact of my active rebellion goes, I am no better off than people like Hitler.)

[Next up: we the unjust, beloved by God!]

[Note: the contents page for this series can be found here. The previous entry, continuing Chapter 45, can be found here.]

[This entry concludes Chapter 45, "A History of the Fall".]

The first sinners might want to put their corrupted synthetic shape back to its uncorrupted state, and that would be a good thing, as far as it goes. Indeed, love and justice on God's part would suggest that He will institute ways for them to know they have made a serious mistake that should be fixed.

It might be purely self-serving for Adam and Eve to want this; but the problem to be fixed is the result of their intentions to be self-serving. This cannot be fixed by being merely self-serving again. To truly want to fix it, must involve at least a partial negation of that intention. It is the first step, or one of the first, on the road of repentance.

But can they do it?

Basically the question is: once they have hampered their connection to the source of their knowledge and power, can they have enough knowledge and power to put themselves back?

Either they can, or they can't. If it had been flatly impossible for them to be saved from this, God would have annihilated them. More to the point, God would not have designed them so that rebellion was necessarily unfixable, precisely because He would not have wanted to annihilate them if they chose that choice.

God certainly would know how to help, and would want to help them. But one of the things they have hampered is their communication ability with God--and they have hampered it from their own 'side' of the contact.

Let us say I take a razorblade to my own eyes, and slice them badly. Then I prudently say, "Opps! That was a bad idea... um... I need to fix this. Someone show me how." But it shall be rather difficult to 'show me how', with my eyes all sliced up!

The situation of the Fall, however, is far more fundamental than that. Although some change to the synthetic shape (which I think I can conclude would involve some type of subordinate change at the natural level) has been accomplished, it is not simply a matter of our ancestors 'wanting' to put that shape back right, if they could. The shape is already the result of their willful (not merely instinctive) wanting.

(Wants aren't always merely instinctive feelings, as I can personally testify. The Fall of our first ancestors would have been predicated not by instinctual wants, if any--I don't know whether God would have allowed them to have wants of that sort, although I suppose it is quite possible--but rather by choices on their part to intentionally defy what they believe to be true. Actions tend to have feelings consequent to the actions, and so the action of wanting something tends to have consequent feelings as well; but I am not speaking of mere feeling.)

Okay, but can they not just sit down and transcendentally meditate, or something like that, and fix the problem?

I fully admit that this might help to fix the problem! But the problem, is that they have intentionally hampered their relationship with God. It might be somewhat helpful to meditate on how to re-achieve that relationship. But merely meditating on the abstract issue of the problem, won't solve the problem, even if they managed somehow to find the right answer. They have messed up their personal relationship to God as a Person, and to fix the problem that personal relationship is what they have to fully re-establish, not some intellectual theory or emotional feeling about the relationship.

(Many meditative operations are not about generating feelings or contemplating notions, of course--although I have found such meditations to be helpful as a tool, myself. In many cases, the meditations are a focusing operation designed to help get rid of 'clutter' in the mind. These can certainly be helpful, too. I am basically in favor of many different forms of meditation; but I question some of the goals. Any meditation that involves a depersonalizing goal, should be avoided--'personality', per se, is not the problem. The breach of personal relationships, especially with God, is the problem.)

So, to sum up: they need to get back in unity with God's character as a Person. But they have hampered their communication with God, so they have hampered their ability to discover or understand what that character is. Nearer is certainly better, but they should be right on the dot to achieve a full and proper unity. And remember, this is not like searching for a page in a book, or even quite like tuning a radio: what needs to be fixed is a personal relationship between active people (God and the individual). A magic codeword or passcard, or even knowledge about some metaphysical doctrine, won't fix the problem. A personal relationship isn't like that.

Will God help them? Of course! But, again, a magic codeword or passcard (or even some kind of forceful shifting of the synthetic shape by Him) cannot possibly accomplish the cure. God will work to help them, as people themselves, to understand Him as a Person again.

He will try to communicate with them.

But part of the problem is that they have messed up the 'radio' (so to speak) on their side. (‘Tuning the radio’ would not fix the problem by itself--but it is certainly part of fixing the problem.) His means of communication shall be more limited now, thanks to their own actions.

But God will still take every advantage He can of the newly limited channel of communication. He always has at least one foothold: He Himself continually acts to keep up their existence as active entities themselves. Whatever their own opinions or beliefs, He Himself still will relate to them as Person to persons. The Holy Spirit, the 3rd Person of the Divine Unity, still operates with the bare (yet still crucial) remnant of divine communication: find and accept truth, reject falsehoods. God would not have designed our predecessors so that any possible shifting of the synthetic shape could excise this contact of Person to persons--for this contact is what keeps the persons in existence.

No matter how far I try to harden my heart, to resolutely set my face against reality, reality still shall affect me. Reality is Personal; and I am a person. One way or another, that communication shall still continue, whether I recognize it as such or not.

So, if I choose to deal with truth to the best of my ability (however poor that ability of mine may be), then I am to that extent working with the Holy Spirit.

But remember that Truth is not itself abstract. Truth is Reality--more specifically, 'truth' is the relationship of a person to actual facts, and at the deepest level of reality this means that Truth is the actual relationship of God to God.

Our perceptions and communications of Truth may be abstract to one degree or another--I myself have had to use abstractions to try to communicate to you, my reader, what I have perceived to be true, even concerning the relationship of God to God.

But the foundational Truth itself is not abstract--it is actively real.

Consequently, while contemplation of truths (or even Truth) may be helpful in some ways, it is wasted without subsequent actions taken by us upon the truths we discern.

And those subsequent actions need to be taken with an intentive choice on our part, to remain true to 'the truth'--not necessarily to what we think is true; because our thoughts about what is true might be obstinate self-delusions, or they might simply be in error. Neither condition can possibly be healed unless we choose, as a goal, at every moment, even if beginning right now, even if we stumble and fall and pick ourselves up to try again--to be consistently for the Truth.

You, my reader, may not agree with me about the specific characteristics of ultimate Truth; but that is less important than whether you and I are actively committed, by our own choice, to pursue the objectively real truth--at the expense of our own preference-feelings, if necessary.

The first sinners would be in the same condition as I, in this respect. Would they, or would they not, as individuals, 'repent'? Would they change their willed intent back to embracing the truth?

Perhaps they would; perhaps they wouldn't. Even if they didn't, God would still be pursuing them, for the sake of fulfilling His love and His justice to them.

And the extent to which He would pursue them (and to which He does pursue you and I!) will be discussed throughout the remainder of this book.

Meanwhile, complications arise.

These first sinners, our human progenitors, do not exist in a vacuum. They exist within a reactive and vast Nature, which shall be busily going about its 'business' over time, even over mere moments of time. And they exist for some purpose; a purpose (or set of purposes) that must have been very important to God: for He let them do something quite astonishing, given their current rebellious condition.

He let them breed.

I will discuss the implications of this, in the next chapter.

[Next up: the broken inheritance]

James Hannam is a Historian, Ph.D. from Cambridge. He
has also been "Bede" one of the major internet apologists
known for "Bede's library." He is a member of the CARE.

On March 21 a ground breaking work, The Genesis of Science: How The Christian Middle Ages Launched the Scientific Revolution, (Washington DC: Regnery Publishing Inc. 2011), by Cambridge-trained historian James Hannam, takes its place in the United States on the shelf alongside other historical classics. The book has already been released in the UK (as God’s Philosophers).

For the last several decades historians of science have known something that still eludes the general public. Thanks to great books such as Margaret Jacob’s The Newtonians[i] or Lindberg and Numbers’ God and Nature,.[ii] the whole field of history of science is routinely aware of the fact that Enlightenment-spawned notions of the church persecuting burgeoning science in the Middle Ages, are just so much propaganda. As Hannam’s book documents there was no rash of would-be Einsteins in the Middle Ages put down and held back persecution of scientific ideas. The reason this book may be destined for status as a classic is two fold: first because Hannam’s engaging and easy style makes the material accessible; secondly because it fills a void not previously filled by the body of work in history of science.

Most of the works in question, such as those mentioned above, either deal with a later period (that of Newton and the Seventeenth or Eighteenth centuries) or they deal with the general sweep of history, touching upon every period and focusing mainly on modern times (such as the Lindberg book does). Hannam actually uncovers the depth of scientific work in the Middle Ages, the extent to which discoveries set up the process of scientific learning, and how the church nurtured it rather than held it back. The scope and details he brings to coverage of the period fill a void in a way other historians have neglected.

The work disabuses the reader of three grand misconceptions that the general public has been fed by non-specialist historical pedagogy at all levels of education: Medieval people did not think the earth was flat and their scholars could prove it was not; the Inquisition never persecuted anyone for doing or thinking about science; and the scientific learning that went on in the Middle Ages, including what the church promoted and enabled, set up the scientific revolution. The Jacob book demonstrates that English church men of the Seventeenth century made Newtonian science possible and boosted it among the general public, thus essentially creating modern science along the way; in the same way and with no less erudition Hannam demonstrates how the developments of the Middle Ages set up those developments in the latter era.

Hannam begins by discussing the history of the idea of the “dark ages.” How did historians come to regard this period after the fall of Rome up to the Renaissance as “the dark ages?” There has been a trend in history as a whole for the last 40 years to de-periodize history. The Renaissance is no longer understood as a period of time but more as a movement that overlapped several periods. One such major source would be Peter Burke, The Renaissance.[iii] According to Hannam, historians originally spoke of the “dark ages” meaning the period had little surviving in the way of documents or texts that furnished a lot of information about the era. It was the Enlightenment philosophers who began using the term in an anti-clerical way, to specifically refer to the church’s attitude toward science and the suppression of learning. It was really in nineteenth century France, Hamman tells us, where the structures of history were periodized and given names that reflect this ideology coming out of the Enlightenment. This was the century when the social sciences were organized and when August Comte began structural functionalism. They were extending the philosopher’s predilections to a re-write of the world.

In fact the centuries immediately after the fall of Rome saw much progress in the way of discoveries. Hannam opens the first chapter with the discussion of these discoveries. The old philosopher-based anti-clerical view sees the period it calls “the dark ages” (from the fall of the Western Roman Empire, to after the Norman conquest of 1066) as one in which progress stopped. In reality that era saw much in the way of progress. Western Europe made progress in technological terms, although the beginning of it seems very simple, low tech, unscientific--but it was not the arresting of progress. One of the first aspects of progress with the improvement of the plough, that led to increased food production and population explosion that enabled economic growth and the development of cities eventually. The Normans invented the stirrup that was a military advance and important in their conquest of the Saxons. The importance of conquest was the consolidation of power. There as a power vacuum after the fall of Rome. By consolidating power, greater communication became possible, discoveries could be disseminated. Most the discoveries in that era were in the area of agriculture.

The Genesis of Science is an immense research project pulled off masterfully. Oxford and Cambridge did their jobs in teaching Hannam how to research. It’s a vast understanding and spans the gamut of the field: medieval theology, cosmology, astronomy, even astrology and alchemy, all forms of medieval learning, mathematics--the vast range of human knowledge for people of the Middle Ages are summarized, and all the relevant developments to the story of how modern science emerged from human learning are recounted, yet in an accessible and easy to read style most engaging to the reader. The author proves his thesis that Christianity did not persecute science but nurtured it and enabled it to develop. “Popular opinion, journalistic cliché, and misinformed historians notwithstanding, recent research has shown that the Middle Ages was a period of enormous advances in science, technology and culture. The compass, paper, printing, stirrups, gunpowder, all appeared in Western Europe between 500 and 1500.” [iv] The compass allowed better navigation and trade and eventually led to discovery of the New World. Twenty million books were produced in the first fifty years after printing press was invented, a veritable explosion of knowledge which contributed in obvious ways to the rise of modern science, down the road. Yet there is a lot more to the story of development than just particular inventions from business and agriculture.

One of the major arguments made by skeptics, especially the “new atheists”, is that philosophy was useless and just “making things up,” but empirical scientific knowledge is factual and true and gives us an accurate understanding of the world. Actual scientists know there is more to it than this, but one hears atheists argue this way. Hannam’s book demonstrates that without the role played by reason, philosophy, and the church modern science would not have developed.

Modern science is a very specific kind of knowledge that blends empirical experimentation with rational analysis. Today we take it for granted and trust it to provide us with accurate information about nature. It’s hard to believe that a few centuries ago this scientific way of thinking hardly existed. Before the edifice of modern science could be built, it required the strong foundations that were laid for it in the middle ages. The cornerstone was a widespread acceptance of reason as a valid tool for discovering truth about our world. Clearly this could not happen without the approval of the Church, which at the time was the guardian of almost all intellectual endeavors. This means that the development of reason and its relationship with faith are both important parts of our story. So prevalent did rational argument become among philosophers during the middle ages that the period deserves to be thought of as the beginning of the “Age of Reason.”[v]

The traditional Enlightenment-philosopher-influenced historian has habitually lauded great individuals, such as Di Vinci for example, as bucking the trends, standing alone against the time, one guy by himself who was brilliant enough o see through the status quo. Yet Hannam points out that when one examines the immediate milieu of such thinkers, it usually turns out that they were products of a going concern, or influenced by trends already in progress around them. However brilliant the innovators, they were nevertheless the outgrowth of a progress that never stopped. One such example is that of St. Anselm of Canterbury, the author of the famous “ontological argument.” Fleeing his father in their native Aosta in the Italian Mont Blanc, across the Alps and into the Rhone valley, the young boy who would become St. Anselm settled for a time in northern France. He found the most dynamic region in Europe at that time. The ferment was around the Cathedrals because they served as focal points of human energy, effort, belief, concern and the use of technology of the day. The cathedral cities of Paris, Chartres, Rheims, and Orleans, provided a magnet that formed a hub of activity, not the least of which was a vital scene for scholarship and philosophy. It was out of this center that Anselm moved forth and helped to produce a theological and philosophical ferment. Skeptics look at medieval philosophy (or don’t look at it closely) and find silly unscientific concepts, but the truth is that these disputes, arguments and ponderings got science going.

Hannam deals with Copernicus and the fact that his system was never the least bit threatened by the church because it was proposed hypothetically and was not a challenge to authority. Hannam demonstrates a rich background that Copernicus drew upon, consisting of many ancient world and "dark age" thinkers known in the middle ages who believed in geocentrically solar system. The final chapter is a tour de force on Galileo demonstrating that his problems were politically driven not based upon any hatred of science by the church.

Overall Hannam has produced a wonderful book, and I think all who care about Christian apologetics, or even just the status of religion in the modern world, need to read it.

[i] Jacob, Margaret C. The Newtonians and the English Revolution: 1689-1720. Ithica New York: Cornell University Press, 1976.

[ii] David C. Lindberg and Ronald l. Numbers, ed, God and Nature: Historical Essays on the Encoutner Between Christianity and Science. .University of California Press, 1986.

[iii] Peter Burke, The Renaissance, New York: Macmillian, 1997.

[iv] Hannam, Genesis of Science, xvii

[v] ibid, xix

[Note: the contents page for this series can be found here. The previous entry, starting Chapter 45, can be found here.]

[This entry continues Chapter 45, "A History of the Fall".]

The first sinners have breached the derivative unity between themselves and God, insofar as it was possible for them to breach it. If God did that to Himself, if the Persons of God did that to Themselves, utter death would immediately entail for God, and for all of reality. We humans can only have been designed along similar, if derivative, principles. These creatures with great power and responsibility have chosen to rebel against the reality upon which they nevertheless inescapably depended.

As I reach this point, I remember something I deduced earlier: humans are 'human', to whatever degree, due to what I have called the synthetic shape. This shape is itself the most fundamental relationship to God that we have: all our other relations to Him, including our personal relations to Him, depend on that shape. In fact, all our relations to anything depend upon that shape. (Before I am accused of putting too much value on that shape, let me redress the balance by reiterating that the shape itself depends ultimately on the intentions of God, including the actions of God which are subsidarily a part of His primary action of self-existence.)

But our first ancestors must have decided to intentionally push themselves away from God, to change the relationship from one of harmony to dissonance. They had the capability to do this, and that is what they chose.

And one consequence to choosing that act, would be the changing of the synthetic shape.

The intentive actions grounding that shape are God's, but He has partially disassociated Himself from them, so that His 'wooden puppets' can be 'real boys and girls'. But this means we (or at least our ancestors) have had some ability to help shape our individual relationships to God.

When our ancestors willed themselves into opposition against God, not out of some accident of calculation or ignorance, but consciously setting themselves as people against the conscious Person Who was grounding their whole existence (including their ability to take such actions), then one result must have been a change in that synthetic shape--the relation, even the physical relation, of their wills to the underlying will of God. They might as well have said: "We want the shape to be like this instead of like that."

And in essence, that's what happened.

But the shape of that synthesis also grounded their ability (and still does for you and I today) to interact with other aspects of reality--and what they had been synthesized into existence within, was the automatically reactive field of Nature.

Their choice would consequently involve immediate reactions within them at the natural level--because that is the way 'Nature', as 'Nature', works.

Whatever those results could be, one thing at least must be true: the results could not possibly have granted equal or better efficiency (considering the overall sum of our efficiency) in our first ancestors' relationship with Nature.

But I think I can go even further than that. God would have created them to be masters of Nature; but now their relationship, not only to Himself but also to Nature, must change. They have demanded that it shall be so; their demand in and of itself would make it so.

This was not a situation where they could make their demand, and then God could say: "Petition refused, and for your own sakes I might add!" I do agree that such petitions and such a response would have been possible then (and still are now): our first ancestors might easily and excusably have asked for something out of ignorance or incompetence (they cannot be omnicompetent, for they are not God), and God might have then refused it for their own good.

But this demand was something that, by being what it was, necessarily (as a result of the situation of our creation and our relationship to God and to Nature) entailed the granting of their wish.

There were other actions even of that particular sort which they must have been capable of (and of which we still are today), but those actions would only be something of a joke: "God, I wish I could make wishes!" "No problem!"

But to wish to rebel against God, is not a joke. It is itself the first act of rebellion.

The action has been taken, and consequences of some sort shall follow, must follow. God gave them the ability to contribute to the changing of derivative reality, including themselves and their relationships; they chose to change; change must follow, or else God did not actually give them that ability to make changes.

But remember that none of this would (strictly speaking) have taken God by surprise. Our history is brought into existence and given the divine contribution of shape as (quite literally) part of one infinitely complex act of God. The infinitely positive efficiency of God's Unity is present at all points of our space and time: what He sees us doing in one place and time, He knows elsewhere and elsewhen.

This does not compromise our freedom to act: if I see you act, does that mean you are not free to act? If I saw you act five minutes ago, and see you act now, does my seeing you now somehow compromise the freedom you had five minutes ago when I was also watching you?

No. It is because God sees us and knows us at all points of space-time that we (or even space-time itself) can exist, and also that we can act within each of those points of space-time which we individually intersect.

So no, these results are not surprises to God in any way. Moreover, we should expect the result to be part of God’s design: if God creates derivatively active creatures intimately linked to their natural environment, then it makes sense to design into them what shall happen to them if they rebel against Him.

God will have built in safety valves.

A servant assigned to be a steward with power and responsibility over a kingdom, cannot be allowed to exercise all that authority and power once he has rebelled. Disruption in the kingdom shall already follow; but God will minimize it as far as possible--within the boundaries of other plans of His.

So, for instance, to minimize the disruption absolutely, God could have simply annihilated Adam and Eve on the spot. But that hardly fulfills love and positive justice, or even a merely punitive negative ‘justice’, to Adam and Eve--for they would be completely gone, and so would not exist any longer to be recipients of God's love and justice! Since God never has nor never shall (on peril of reality's self-destruction) set aside His love and justice, then I think annihilation must necessarily be out of the question. Some other plan must have been put into effect by the 'Fall'.

Would it be love and justice to our first ancestors to let them stay forever in the misery that they shall necessarily engender by their attempts to refuse the source of their own lives? God created them as purposeful creatures; but they cannot fulfill at least some of those purposes (His and theirs), because in their current condition they are in dissonance against God (and thus against His creations also) to one degree or other. Nor would it be love to simply let them stay that way forever--and God, Who is intrinsically and essentially love (if trinitarian theism is true), will never set aside His love for us.

Yet, justice must not be set aside, either; not even the negative justice that follows from committing injustice. Consequences must follow contingently upon those specific actions, as part of the fulfillment of fair-togetherness (i.e. of righteousness), even when that fulfillment must be against unrighteousness; consequences these newly fallen sinners shall have to face, one way or another--and, of course, how they 'face those consequences' is itself an action, entailing more consequences, which they must also choose how they shall meet, and so on, and so forth.

One of the consequences that must follow is, as I have said, the changing of the synthetic shape. Shall God merely 'poof' it back to normal? No; He gave those people power as people to help choose how that shape shall be, and for God to merely 'reset them' (the way I might reset a computer if one of the computer-controlled pieces does something that threatens to ruin my game) would be for God to cease treating those people as people. If they had not already become people, then God might have chosen to 'reset' them--it is certainly possible for Him to do this. But they had already become real people, or else they wouldn't have been able to rebel in the first place.

So the new shape must stay, even if the people must be removed to another part of the playing field (so to speak); and whatever God may choose to do with that new corrupted shape, He will not infringe, for love’s sake, on the personal ability and responsibility of those people to keep contributing to the shape. Surely He will have tweaked, and will continue to tweak, the synthetic shape as much as possible within the parameters of what else He wants to accomplish; but that is still a limit, even though a self-imposed one on His part.

So the synthetic shape remains--but in a new and necessarily more inefficient form.

Yet, once they realize the penalties they have brought on themselves, can Adam and Eve choose to put the shape back exactly as they found it?

[Next up: a question of salvation]

[Note: the contents page for this series can be found here. The previous entry, concluding Chapter 44, can be found here.]

[This entry starts Chapter 45, "A History of the Fall".]

In the previous chapter, I deduced that given the universality of certain observations (observations sceptics not only agree with but often use as grounds for their scepticism!), and given the validity of previous deductions on my part concerning the existence and character of God, the human race as a species is in a condition we must have 'fallen into' through the willful intransigence of (at least some of) our progenitors. I do not think I successfully deduced that there must have been only two ancestors to our species--an Adam and Eve--but I think I successfully induced that such a pair, falling either simultaneously or in quick succession, grants the highest intuitive probability of the condition spreading successfully throughout the whole human species so early, so prevalently, and in the face of what must have been so many inefficiencies contingent to the new condition. (The fewer the fallens and the more the unfallens in a population, the more unlikely the fallens would have superceded the species--yet the species has been superceded by the fallens.)

For sake of simplicity in the next stage of my discussion, I will speak as if there was an original pair who fell. I think the probabilities point that way, and it certainly gells with the religious tradition I am most familiar with (and even with many other traditions); but I remind my reader that it is not strictly necessary to my argument. It is, however, the easiest way to speak for convenience.

Many chapters ago, back in Section Three, I went through some inferences from principle to principle, to conclusions about how derivative rational persons (such as you and I) must relate to God. I concluded that my ability to derivatively act must proceed from a synthetic supernatural/natural 'shape': a shape formed physically, and also formed (superordinately to the physical) by God's own actions.

This must have also happened to the first rationally active humans (and I provided two 'stories', one traditional, one more modern in form, which more-or-less described the process). This was the shape God intended for them to be in--they were 'made in His own image'--and I think that even many sceptics would agree (for they use this argument themselves!) that God's love and justice would not be such that He would make us as we are now. So there must have been some significant differences, as well as similarities, in these first rational humans; including differences concerning how well they interacted with Nature.

Potentially speaking (and perhaps even in original actuality) they would have been far more powerful than you and I. Having been (one way or another) 'grown' into Nature, this power over Nature would have been a factor of the synthetic shape. These first rational humans may or may not have been full masters of Nature, but that was what they were being groomed for. God, working in a process, might have created them in such a way that they were still incompetent in some, or even many, aspects of life and action; but no love or justice would have been shown by God if He had made them automatically fatally incompetent. These people were people: not merely another preliminary organism sharing Nature's intrinsic characteristic of purely automatic reaction to stimuli. They were, within this Nature at least, something, or rather 'someone', new.

How long they lived before they discovered God, I do not know; how long they could live in this Nature, I do not know. But in principle, God would want to relate to them as Person to persons, as soon as possible. And so, sooner or later, one way or another, communication must have been established. Perhaps it was only through urges in the conscience as to right and wrong, or perhaps it was much more articulated--God would certainly have wanted it to be much more articulate eventually. And perhaps they had even gotten to that later stage.

At any rate, I deduced several chapters ago that the primary base of communication from God to man would at least be related to man's acceptance of discovered reality, and man's rejection (in principle) of contradictions.

This, in some fashion, must have been part and parcel of any communication God established with these people. But to recognize that I should reject contradictions in principle, entails the corollary recognition that I can attempt to embrace contradictions.

And so this also must have been a consequent to the first rational humans' communication with God. This, I emphasize, is at the least: the potential for treachery, to themselves, to each other, and to God's reality, might have been greater to almost any degree.

Here is only one example, that I draw from my own tradition, and that I present, not as being authoritative, but because it is popular, simple yet also deep with nuance, and gets the principles across.

God tells the first rational humans of this Nature--these first persons of our species--Adam and Eve--that they have permission to eat almost any of the fruits in the garden. There is only one tree of which they must not eat the fruit: the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. If they do so, He warns them, they shall die.

Now, there are several things worth noting already, in order to avoid spurious interpretations of this story. It is not 'knowledge' in and of itself which God forbids to Adam and Eve--although admittedly, and very unfortunately, this is how the story has often been interpreted, even by acceptors of this tradition, especially in the last several hundred years when the great heresy of faith/reason disparity was being most prevalently spread. Why would God forbid His children knowledge in total, when there cannot be much point to being rationally active without accruing and using knowledge? Indeed, to be actively rational is to be such that accruing some kind of knowledge is unavoidable!

No--God forbids them one category of knowledge: the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Does He forbid this permanently? Not according to the story I am familiar with!--and such a knowledge would be necessary for them eventually in order that they should mature as people.

The 'tree', after all, was not poisonous--its fruit was "good to eat"; and moreover the ‘tree’ was representative of something that God, in the Persons of the Unity, also does and possesses. But God would not have wanted them to get that knowledge one particular way. He was forbidding them to get that knowledge in a way that would hurt them.

Perhaps God meant for them to be properly exposed to this necessary knowledge through the next step that happened. In my tradition, Satan now enters the story.

I haven't said much (and have argued nothing, yet) concerning the existence of a supernatural chief rebel. And metaphysically speaking, he isn't a necessary feature of the story, at this point in my discussion. I can assure my reader (in fact I have done so already) that there are times when I willfully transgress against what I myself think is 'right', without needing the excuse of a tempter. That does not mean a tempter doesn't exist. All I am saying is that the tempter is (in a way) incidental to the story here. And since I am speaking of the Fall of Humanity, not (yet, anyway) of the fall of entities prior to humanity, I think I can functionally ignore the tempter for the moment. (Notice for example that within this same tradition of mine, the tempter needed no tempting to rebel!)

Let me go back a little, briefly: taking into account what I deduced about our creation as a species, and taking into account God's existence and characteristics (also previously deduced), and taking into account the condition in which I find myself and humanity-in-general now and throughout recorded history; I am trying to work through what must have happened to the first members of our species. God would have made them (within a range of parameters) 'this' sort of way; and (again within a range) He would have communicated to them in 'that' sort of way; and I know how this portion of the story must historically end. It is rather like solving a complicated math equation: fill in the variables (whether with ranges or determinant integers), and deduce the character of the missing pieces.

Our first ancestors, one way or another (the story in Genesis 2 represents one way to 'solve for the ranges'), would have been presented with some permissive restriction to their behavior, once they began to communicate with God. I think it would have been necessary for them to be presented with this choice, and I fully expect God would have given it to them in as concrete a form as possible, as soon as He considered it prudent to do so.

The basic choice I am speaking of, is this: God has said I should not do something, and has even given me at least one cogent reason why I should not (for example, 'If you eat this fruit, you shall die.')

Apparently I can do it, though.

Shall I do it?

This is the most basic form of the choice for or against rebellion. We see it happen in our own children, too, when they are very young. In the story of Adam and Eve, there is not one good reason (either ethically or in 'mere' logic) for disobeying God.

It is not like some of the ethical dilemmas you and I face today, where we may be required to choose between a number of options that all seem to involve some sort of 'necessary evil', and we agonize over the choice because we don't want to do the wrong thing.

The fruit (in this story) is good to eat--the Knowledge of Good and Evil is something good to have: whatever God forbade to our first ancestors must have been something which, in and of itself, they would not be naturally repelled by. The forbidden act must have been something for which there could be no justification--something which would involve their willing embracement of unreason.

I know God, I know (something sufficient of) what and Who He is, and I know I can trust Him; yet, I will convince myself that I cannot trust Him, purely so that I can do what I want. What He says I should not do, knowing Him as I do (however far that is), must be what I should not do; but I choose to do it anyway, to satisfy my self. What He says shall happen to me is something I certainly do not want and, knowing Him however far I do, it must be what shall happen; yet I want to do it, so I will choose to do anything I can to convince myself that the consequences shall not happen--that God either lies, or is mistaken.

I have every reason to accept that something is true; but I don't want it to be true. Therefore, I will refuse it to be true to the utmost of my ability. I will decide what is true, and it shall be whatever I want; even though every ounce of real reason says otherwise. Reality shall be the way I want it--no, the way I will it to be. Not the way I know it to be.

I shall supplant objective, ultimate reality.

I shall be God Most High.

That is the choice, whatever form it was presented in; and it is the same choice I am faced with today--and at which I sometimes still fail.

But 'fail' is too safe a word.

It is a choice at which I sometimes still fall.

Had our first ancestors refused to act that way, logically they would have indeed still received the Knowledge of Good and Evil after all. They only wouldn't have gotten it the wrong way. The would have received it, instead of taking it. And that makes all the difference.

But I can spend twenty minutes paging through a newspaper, or flipping across television channels, or surfing on the internet; and I can discover pretty easily how they must have chosen to act.

Putting it analogically (perhaps it even happened literally): our first ancestors decided to take the fruit.

Now what shall happen to them?

[Next up: the results of the Fall]

[Note: the contents page for this series can be found here. The previous entry, starting Chapter 44, can be found here.]

[This entry concludes Chapter 44, "The Fall".]

I can look at two different sets of data and infer my next conclusion independently from either of them.

If I was in total harmony with God originally, then I think my relationship to this Nature would have been significantly different than what I find it to be now. Yet, I don't ever remember being in that relationship with Nature. As far as my own memory goes, I seem to have been born in this condition.

But perhaps that is an illusion. However, I also have access to plenty of examples of other entities similar to my own type--other human persons, such as you, my reader--in all stages of life from cradle to the grave. All of them, or virtually all, are in the same relationship with Nature I am. There are some interesting hints of an improved relation here and there, among a few individuals or at particular moments in a person's life; but those hints invariably ratify the principle that to be in harmony with basic reality (in other words, to be in harmony, even if in ignorant harmony, with God) results in a significant and indeed marvelous improvement of our relationship with Nature.

Otherwise, the vast bulk of data suggests to me that human beings come into the world 'fallen'.

We come into the world in a relationship with Nature that seems to be the intrinsically hostile and dangerously inefficient relationship that would occur after we individually would choose to fall--the relationship, in short, that would signal to us something is drastically out-of-sync no matter how hard we're trying to ignore the implications of our condition.

At the same time, it seems a reasonably accurate inference from observation that humans other than myself 'sin'. For instance, a considerable fraction of the population is willing to admit that they sin; and a not-inconsiderable (yet different) fraction of the population is willing to admit that to behave in particular ways is truly ethically wrong even if they never admit to doing such a thing themselves--in other words, they testify to the principle even if they don't admit to transgressing the principle in practice.

Furthermore, it is not difficult to trace these same behaviors and states of being, as far back as the limits of recorded human history. With the first documents from the first civilizations, the condition is evident--often the condition, one way or another, has even provided the topic for the recorded communication!

The interpretations for why and how we are in this condition as a species differ formally--although they also often converge in surprising ways. This semi-convergence of interpretations, however, is not something I will use here as evidence, for I am a metaphysician and not (primarily) a historian. I am only recognizing the existence of the general principle implied by the data.

So this observation, combined with the observation that the human species tends to increase its numbers on the average throughout our history, and combined with my deduction that God would not have created us in such a lamentable state, leads me to the following conclusion:

At some point in the distant past, a certain number of humans--probably a smaller number than we find in the first recorded civilizations--essentially rebelled against God (although they may have had different descriptions or pseudo-justifications for why and how they chose to do this), and fell out of whatever original state God had created us in originally.

These last few inferences have not necessarily been deductions. That I am in such a state, I think I have deduced; that God would not create me originally in the condition I find myself, I think I have also deduced. (It is certainly a position favored by many skeptics, since they often appeal to our current general condition as evidence for arguing against God’s existence!) It seems to me a reasonably inductive further inference that humans in general are sinners, and also suffer some intrinsic result of human sinfulness from birth (even if they themselves have not yet rebelled).

If those inferences are granted, I can deduce (although it won't be stronger than any inductive argument in front of it) that we humans must have been this way for as long as we can (socially speaking) remember--the evidence necessarily entails this. From that point, I can inductively infer (subordinate to the prior sub-chain of inductive inferences) a further conclusion.

The condition seems endemic to our species, as far back as we go in history. But if my previous arguments concerning God's existence and personal character are valid, then we must not have always been that way. Yet at the dawn of recorded history, we all (as far as I can tell) are fallen. And the fallen state of our species can hardly be said to be more efficient at allowing us to live in the Nature God created, than whatever ideal condition in which He had originally produced us. (I mean the fallen condition in general must be less efficient. Granted, after the ‘fall’, we might still have increased particular sorts of efficiency beyond whatever we were capable of at the time of the fall. I don’t think we could, or can, be more efficient than we would have been had we remained unfallen as a species.)

Therefore all the probabilities are against the fallen-ness having spread effectively throughout a general population. I am not talking of something like a virus--not at the beginning anyway--but of a willed rebellious declension.

Anyone who first did this would be an object of pity (at best) in the original population, and would serve as an object lesson to definitely not do this! Also, such a person would be highly unlikely to be successful at breeding with any of the unfallens; so any contingent and intrinsically physical inclination toward that condition (as I will discuss soon) would be unlikely to be passed on. Multiple fallen members could breed easily with each other, I suppose; but the population of fallens would still have an extremely difficult time competing with the more inherently efficient unfallens. (Again, I suppose that the fallens could perhaps achieve a superiority of efficiency faster than would otherwise be prudent for them--for us--as a species; and that this would allow them to compete effectively in some ways. The question is how likely the first such fallen people would be at surviving to pass along their ideas and any contingent physical condition. Remember, by the dawn of recorded history the whole population has evidently been ‘infected’.)

The principles, along with the evidence, seem to me to point to the following conclusions:

The faster the population converts to a fallen state, the more likely the fallen population would survive to take over the species pool (so to speak). And given the conscious state of our ancestors (a condition necessary for anyone to be personally responsible ethically for their fall), it seems proportionately unlikely that a larger original population of unfallens would ever (much less quickly) convert to a fallen condition.

The highest probability for our whole species becoming endemically fallen, therefore requires (as an inverse proportion of probability) the lowest original number of the species.

And the lowest original number of any known complex species (ours in particular) is two: male and female.

I suspect, therefore, that the existence of a mated pair of humans analogous to Adam and Eve can be inferred from the data--without even resorting to scriptural authority.

This is not a deductive conclusion, I remind my reader again. I think it is a reasonably good explanation for the data, but there may be other explanations. For instance, I cannot (at the moment anyway) see any way to deductively conclude that we are not in this condition now due to prior sins we committed in a different Nature. I think can conclude, on the other hand, that proposing a reincarnated state from evidence of being sinners in this Nature does not account for the original state of human sin, but only puts the question an unknown-number-of-stages back for no gain. (This is not an argument against reincarnation per se, by the way--that might still be true, as far as it goes, and in hindsight I am not sure I can mount a deductive argument against it on the whole.)

At any rate, I conclude that God would not have created us like this to begin with, and that at some point in history the whole human population (however many that was) effectively 'fell from grace'.

And this Fall would involve horrifying consequences for the fallens; consequences which I shall discuss in the next chapter.

[Next up: the original sinners (and I)]

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