Another Catholic defends the historicity of Adam and Eve

When I was in Mississippi last week, I was once again given Catholicism as an example of a faith that has no problem with evolution. I politely disagreed, noting that the Church’s official doctrine accepts Adam and Eve as humanty’s literal ancestors, that Catholicism sees humans as evolutionarily special since God vouchsafed us a soul, and that the Church accepts the existence of demons afflicting us and has an Official Vatican Exorcist (and many other exorcists elsewhere) to expel them.  Further, even though the Church sort-of-accepts evolution, 27% of American Catholics are still young-Earth creationists. At the very least, one must describe the Church’s stand on evolution as “mixed.”

And even reputable Catholic theologians take an anti-evolution stand. One of them is Dennis Bonnette, whose ludicrous essay “Did Adam and Eve really exist?” (answer: “YES!”) appeared in November’s Crisis magazine. I don’t really know Bonnette, but reader Neal, who sent me the link (where do you people find this stuff?), describes him as “generally regarded as one of the Catholic apologetic heavy hitters, along the lines of [Edward] Feser.”

I didn’t know anything about Crisis magazine either, though its banner says it’s “A Voice for the Faithful Catholic Laity.” Crisis magazine describes its mission like this:

Crisis has conceived its mission around the Holy Father’s insights.  Each day, Crisis will remind countless Catholics of their heritage, give them the confidence to defend the common good, a just society, the teachings the Church, the family, the dignity of work and the sanctity of life. Our authors hope to help the new laity (and clerical readers) form both their intellect and their spirituality in a scholarly, but accessible, way.

Well, Bonnette’s article is hardly “scholarly”, for instead of following the data where they lead, he tries to buttress his churchy preconception that Adam and Eve were historical people. He has very little choice, actually, if he wants to defend the doctrine of Original Sin, which, of course, leads directly to the importance of Jesus. But he’s going against all of science.

The data showing that Adam and Eve didn’t exist, especially 6,000 years ago, include the tracing back of human DNA lineages to hundreds of thousands or even millions of years ago (some gene lineages antedate our split from the ancestors of chimps!); the fossil data showing our gradual origin over the six or seven million years since we diverged from that ancestor, and genetic data showing that even under very conservative assumptions, the human population did not fall below 10.000 individuals in the last million years.

Bonnette attacks the science in four ways:

1. The infallible Church has declared that Adam and Eve were real. And indeed it has. Here’s what Bonnette says, which is pretty accurate:

First, Church teaching about Adam and Eve has not, and cannot, change. The fact remains that a literal Adam and Eve are unchanging Catholic doctrine. Central to St. Paul’s teaching is the fact that one man, Adam, committed original sin and that through the God-man, Jesus Christ, redemption was accomplished (Romans 5:12-21; 1 Cor. 15: 21-22). In paragraphs 396-406, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, speaks of Adam and Eve as a single mating pair who “committed a personal sin, but this sin affected the human nature that they would then transmit in a fallen state” (CCC, 404). “Baptism, by imparting the life of Christ’s grace, erases original sin and turns a man back toward God, but the consequences for nature, weakened and inclined to evil, persist in man and summon him to spiritual battle” (CCC, 405). The doctrines surrounding original sin cannot be altered “without undermining the mystery of Christ” (CCC, 389).

Today, many think that Pope Pius XII’s encyclical Humani generis did not definitively exclude theological polygenism. What they fail to notice, though, is that the Holy Father clearly insists that Scripture and the Magisterium affirm that original sin “proceeds from a sin truly committed by one Adam [ab uno Adamo]” and that this sin is transmitted to all true human beings through generation (para. 37). This proves that denial of a literal Adam (and his spouse, Eve) as the sole first genuinely human parents of all true human beings is not theologically tenable.

Oooookay, well, we don’t have to deal with that, because it’s not really a scholarly argument. It’s an argument from authority.

2.  Scripture tells us that humans appeared instantly on the planet. Here Bonnette comes close to denying evolution in general. Indeed, earlier he characterizes evolution as if it’s something the media have cooked up:

The prevailing assumption underlying media reports about human origins is that humanity evolved very gradually over vast periods of time as a population (a collection of interbreeding organisms), which itself originally evolved from a Homo/Pan(human/chimpanzee) common ancestor millions of years ago. Therefore, we are not seen as descendants of the biblical Adam and Eve.

That’s about as weaselly as you can get about evolution. Does Bonnette see it as true, or just as a “prevailing media assumption”?

At any rate, says Bonnette, his hero Aquinas tells us that humans are unique because “true man is distinguished essentially from lower animals by possession of an intellectual and immortal soul, which possesses spiritual powers of understanding, judgment, and reasoning (Summa theologiae I, 75).” Ergo humans must have originated suddenly. Now you could say that the soul was instantly infused into humans, but “understanding, judgement, and reasoning”? If those aren’t just about God, but about matters in general, then we have to accept that the hominin brain underwent a huge and instantantaneous jump. And that’s just what Bonnette thinks. As he says:

Thus at some point in time, true man suddenly appears—whether visible to modern science or not. Before that time, all subhuman behavior manifests merely material sensory abilities. The fact that positivistic scientists cannot discern the first presence of true man is hardly remarkable.

 3. Science can’t disprove the existence of Adam and Eve because, well, it’s science. I’m not  kidding. Bonnette says that the population-genetic data showing that humans didn’t bottleneck at two people is merely an “inductive” conclusion from computer models. And it could be wrong!:

Such methodology produces, at best, solely probable conclusions, based on available evidence and the assumptions used to evaluate the data. There is the inherent possibility that an unknown factor will alter the conclusion, similarly as was the unexpected discovery of black swans in Australia, when the whole world “knew” all swans were white.

Yes, and that’s the way science works. There’s also the inherent possibility that all the oxygen molecules in Bonnette’s bedroom will move to one side of the room, suffocating him while he sleeps. It’s logically possible! Does he sleep with an oxygen tank?

Some things are more probable than others, though, and Adam and Eve come off, scientifically speaking, as highly improbable. When he says stuff like the above, Bonnette shows his misunderstanding, willful or not, of how science works. We go by what’s most likely, by what explanations best account for the data we have. What’s a better explanation: the fossil record, genetics, and conservative population-genetic calculations, or a Bronze Age book that has been shown to be wrong in many places? Further, Bonnette’s “scholarly” methodology is worthless, for it involves trying to fit all observed facts into the Procrustean bed of scripture. If you don’t believe me, see the last paragraph below.

4. The population-genetic data are wrong. Sadly, Bonnette attacks earlier and somewhat flawed calculations on the number of immune-gene lineages, ignoring the vast bulk of more recent data showing very ancient multiple gene lineages and a bottleneck in Homo sapiens of more than 10,000 people (note: 10,000 > 2!).  Ignoring this recent data (and it was of course available last November), he just waves his hands and says “science might be wrong.” Yes, it might, but I’d put my money on science much more readily than on Scripture, which hasn’t exactly had a great track record in helping us understand the origin of humans.

To show the lunacy of this whole enterprise, Bonnette spends some time considering the theory that perhaps humans did go through a bottleneck of two people (Adam and Eve), but it looks genetically like there were more people because the post-Adam-and-Eve humans interbred with Neanderthals. (We did, of course, breed with them, but that says nothing about Adam and Eve.) But Bonnette rejects this theory on the following grounds, which will make you chuckle (my emphasis):

The difficulty with any interbreeding solution (save, perhaps, in rare instances) is that it would place at the human race’s very beginning a severe impediment to its healthy growth and development. Natural law requires that marriage and procreation take place solely between a man and a woman, so that children are given proper role models for adult life. So too, even if the union between a true human and a subhuman primate were not merely transitory, but lasting, the defective parenting and role model of a parent who is not a true human being would introduce serious disorder in the proper functioning of the family and education of children. Hence, widespread interbreeding is not an acceptable solution to the problem of genetic diversity.

Here we are plunged into an Alice-in-Wonderland world completely alien from reason. It’s theology, folks! We’d all be really disordered if our ancestors interbred with Neanderthals!—although they did.

Finally, Bonnette gives us the real reason why Adam and Eve were historical:

 Since the same God is author both of human reason and of authentic revelation, legitimate natural science, properly conducted, will never contradict Catholic doctrine, properly understood. Catholic doctrine still maintains that a literal Adam and Eve must have existed, a primal couple who committed that personal original sin, which occasioned the need for, and the divine promise of, the coming of the Redeemer, Jesus Christ.

Amen, brother!
Adam-and-Eve-Halloween-Costumes

110 Comments

  1. NewEnglandBob
    Posted February 17, 2015 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    I got a big laugh reading Bonnette’s illogic.

    I guess the Vatican’s exorcist position has not been very effective over the centuries since the Vatican still exists and has not been exorcised.

    • kieran
      Posted February 17, 2015 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

      Some of those guys are benching 200lbs in Vatican gym….exorcised not exercised. I’ve been waiting years for an opportunity for that terrible joke.

      • rickflick
        Posted February 17, 2015 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

        …much appreciated Kieran. I only wish they were. 😎

      • grasshopper
        Posted February 17, 2015 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

        If a person doesn’t pay for his exorcism, can he be repossessed?

        • EvolvedDutchie
          Posted February 17, 2015 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

          That one had me literally laughing out loud. I have to be careful not to wake everyone. This would be a good show on Discovery though. Soul Repo, starting at the sixth of june at six o’clock.

          • Filippo
            Posted February 17, 2015 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

            Maybe he can declare spiritual bankruptcy.

        • Roan Ridgeway
          Posted February 18, 2015 at 8:15 am | Permalink

          That is funny = maybe even a question Father Guido Sarducci could aska de Pope.

        • Posted February 18, 2015 at 8:22 am | Permalink

          +1

    • Filippo
      Posted February 17, 2015 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

      sub

  2. eric
    Posted February 17, 2015 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    Bonnette spends some time considering the theory that perhaps humans did go through a bottleneck of two people (Adam and Eve), but it looks genetically like there were more people because the post-Adam-and-Eve humans interbred with Neanderthals.

    Um, I’m pretty sure the most recent assessments puts neanderthals as “people.” (that’s a criticism of Bonnette, not JAC). I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there’s a Linnean reshuffling in the near future, with homo neanderthalensis becoming homo sapiens neanderthalensis or something similar happening.

    Anyway, very nice takedown. So in his his ‘scholarly’ refutation of four points, there are two arguments from authority, one philosophical equivocation on possibility, and one laymen’s assessment that scientific data must be wrong. My world is shaking! Oh wait, that’s just snow falling off the roof.

    • Diane G.
      Posted February 17, 2015 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

      The really cool thing is that some have considered putting us in the genus Pan!

      But I digress.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted February 17, 2015 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

        Out of the Pan into the fire er homo. 🙂

      • Posted February 17, 2015 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

        Hey, it would be illegal under the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature to put humans into Pan. If the two genera are united, it has to be called Homo, because that genus was listed earlier on the page in the 1758 edition of Systema Naturae. Really.

        • Diane G.
          Posted February 17, 2015 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

          Sigh!

          Pan is so much cooler than Homo, though.

          • Matt G
            Posted February 17, 2015 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

            Homo is just the same ol’ same ol’, while Pan is everywhere!

            • Diane G.
              Posted February 17, 2015 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

              Great point!

            • friendlypig
              Posted February 18, 2015 at 3:55 am | Permalink

              Musical as well!

        • Posted February 18, 2015 at 11:55 am | Permalink

          Who are the parties to this agreement?

          • Posted February 18, 2015 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

            It isn’t an agreement. More like a standard. It’s enforced only by the willingness of biologists to abide by it, and the reason we do so is that stabilizes the names of the things we’re talking about and so reduces confusion.

            The code was established and is maintained by the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature. There’s a similar body for plants and another one for bacteria.

    • Posted February 17, 2015 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

      Define “people”.

      • eric
        Posted February 18, 2015 at 7:30 am | Permalink

        Of the same species we are.

        • Posted February 18, 2015 at 8:28 am | Permalink

          Then we don’t know whether neandertals are people. The evidence is ambiguous. Of course the term “species” is also ambiguous, as there is a continuum between one species and two species. Where modern humans and neandertals fall on that continuum is unclear. There was some interbreeding, but not that much. Is that because neandertal populations in areas of contact were small, or is it because there was partial reproductive isolation? Don’t know.

  3. Posted February 17, 2015 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    “Since the same God is author both of human reason and of authentic revelation, legitimate natural science, properly conducted, will never contradict Catholic doctrine, properly understood.”

    wow! two “properly” one “legitimate” and one “authentic”. Why how could anyone doubt someone who insists reality has to fit his nonsense.

  4. Timothy Hughbanks
    Posted February 17, 2015 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    even if the union between a true human and a subhuman primate were not merely transitory, but lasting, the defective parenting and role model of a parent who is not a true human being would introduce serious disorder in the proper functioning of the family and education of children. Hence, widespread interbreeding is not an acceptable solution to the problem of genetic diversity.

    Translation: That would be, like, gross and yucky! As if…!

    Hee, hee, hee… I can’t help but laugh. Can you imagine sitting in the seminary listening to the idiots who train more idiots in the art of how to “think” like this guy?

    • Posted February 17, 2015 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

      Rest assured, fine sir, the only training going on in the seminary is fund-raising.

  5. Posted February 17, 2015 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    The Adam and Eve thing isn’t important anyway. Scripture says all males must share Noah’s Y chromosome. That’s just a few thousand years ago.

    There’s a pretty severe female bottleneck also.

    • Timothy Hughbanks
      Posted February 17, 2015 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

      …and the post-flood *ahem* living arrangements *cough* must hasve been really yucky.

    • Pali
      Posted February 17, 2015 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, but the Catholics can explain away the Noah story as figurative without undermining Jesus – Original Sin being made figurative, however, makes Jesus’s “sacrifice” (meant to undo Original Sin’s consequences) a rather silly act.

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted February 17, 2015 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

        That was a conclusion I reached from this as well – if it all depends on Adam and Eve, the official position of the Catholic Church must to be to deny that The Flood actually happened. Which is good, except we need a new explanation for rainbows … 🙂

      • EvolvedDutchie
        Posted February 17, 2015 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

        In some way, Adam is important for islam as well. All muslims believe the Six Articles of Faith or face credible threats of violence if they don’t, because that’s apostasy and God is not down with that. The third article demands believe in the prophets including those of judaism and christianity. This shows that islam considers itself as the last en final revelation. Among those prophets are Adam, Noah and Moses. There is a big chance (to put it midly) that all three of them are mythical.

        • EvolvedDutchie
          Posted February 17, 2015 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

          EDIT: *belief in the prophets

    • Posted February 18, 2015 at 11:57 am | Permalink

      Yes, but I believe that Catholic doctrine has moved Noah to metaphor – showing there is progress!

  6. Brygida Berse
    Posted February 17, 2015 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    Crisis has conceived its mission around the Holy Father’s insights.

    I’ll give you a topic: The Holy Father is neither holy nor possessing insights. Discuss.

    • Draken
      Posted February 17, 2015 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

      And he’s not my father.

      • Matt G
        Posted February 17, 2015 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

        And there are a lot of them. Most are dead, but some in a state of suspended animation. Speaking of Ratzinger, how is he enjoying retired life with his “personal secretary” Gorgeous Georg?

    • Posted February 18, 2015 at 8:41 am | Permalink

      Sounds kind of like the Holy Roman Empire: neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire!

  7. cornbread_r2
    Posted February 17, 2015 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    From Bonnette’s article:

    “Thus at some point in time, true man suddenly appears—whether visible to modern science or not. Before that time, all subhuman behavior manifests merely material sensory abilities. The fact that positivistic scientists cannot discern the first presence of true man is hardly remarkable.”

    Something that I’ve found that most sophisticated Adam & Eve apologists have in common: They will not give a date for the appearance of A&E — by way of immunizing their speculations against falsification.

    • NewEnglandBob
      Posted February 17, 2015 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

      That Bonnette quote has the sounding of Deepak.

    • Sastra
      Posted February 17, 2015 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

      This quote also has an analogy in common experience: the transition of a newborn infant from “merely material sensory abilities” to someone with “understanding, judgement, and reasoning.” If we completely ignore biology, neurology, and physiology then this change can seem significant, mysterious, and magical.

      Maybe the history and development of All People is the same as the history and development of any one of them.

      In fact, a lot of the story of humanity’s Fall and the transmission of Original Sin kinda makes more sense if it’s seen as an allegory for just one single life — as viewed through an authoritarian lens. In the beginning a newborn is like an animal; as it gets older God magically forms it in the image of a Mental Agent which learns right and wrong (toddler) — and then one day is accountable for choosing to do wrong. They rebel. Because this child is allowed to get away with disobedience by being banished rather than killed its character just gets worse and worse. He or she is now unfit for adult company. There has to be some sort of blood sacrifice (or acceptance of blood sacrifice) in order to show repentance for the naughtiness.

      If all of humanity is being squashed into fitting into the story line of a single rebellious person, then no wonder attempts to harmonize the moral myth with broad reality is so laughable.

      • eric
        Posted February 18, 2015 at 7:40 am | Permalink

        Maybe the history and development of All People is the same as the history and development of any one of them.

        Yes, Bonnette’s nose-up sniffing that science can’t determine “the first presence of true man” makes the fairly typical religious mistake of demanding evolution produce evidence of saltation. Creationists do this a lot. The TOE actually predicts the opposite: that there will be no distinguishable ‘first’ and that what we will find (if there is a record to find) is a record of increasing cognition and incremental acquisition of the capabilities humans have today. Just like there is no single day on which a human goes from child to adult, there is no single generation at which the species went from nonsentient to sentient. I think this lesson is also important for how we view animal cognition. Sentience is probably not binary, its probably incremental. We have a lot of it…but some other animals have a little of it.

        • Sastra
          Posted February 18, 2015 at 8:43 am | Permalink

          Agree. Richard Dawkins talks about the human problem of the “discontinuous mind” in which everything is assumed to fit neatly into a neat, clear category. Either human or not-human; either adult or not-adult; either life or non-life; either male or female. But reality is more smeared out than that, with degrees in the gray areas which won’t fit into the transcendent concept of Perfect Essences. So the incremental steps are either denied — or counted as abominations.

          People often reason from what they know to what they don’t know. If “what they know” is distorted by magical thinking, I think that’s just extrapolated out.

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted February 18, 2015 at 12:47 am | Permalink

      “Positivistic scientists cannot discern the first presence of true man”? As opposed to non positivistic scientists? Or philosophers? Or theologians?

      This is just another invocation of ‘other ways of knowing’ when in reality the only way to discover truths about the real world is to check with the real world. You can say you’ve ‘discerned’ something until you’re blue in the face but if it’s a question about the real world then only empiricism is going to answer it. Plenty of epistemic approaches ask questions about the real world(and claim to answer them) but only one approach has an independent, objective arbiter, in the shape of nature itself, that can come down on one side or another – If that’s scientism then I’m a…scientism…ist. So is everyone on earth 95% of the time.

      When people are just flat wrong ‘other ways of knowing’ do seem to come in handy. It’s surprising how many seemingly absurd claims are actually ‘not amenable to science’ – often I hear a particular assertion and think to myself ‘what a load of obvious horseshit’ only to find out that in my reasoning I’ve apparently ‘pushed science beyond its province’ and am guilty of arrogance and hubris. It’s all very confusing.

      • Posted February 18, 2015 at 11:59 am | Permalink

        Actually, in their working practice, almost all scientists are realists, not positivists. Of course, some of the positivists in the past and present use it in their talk-philosophy to cover their religious beliefs. Cardinal Bellarmine, Galileo’s accuser, for example.

  8. Posted February 17, 2015 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    Most of the Old Testament is Iron Age; probably less than a twentieth of it is Bronze-age.
    http://web.archive.org/web/20071012051735/http://www.heardworld.com/higgaion/?p=493
    Probably more of the Old Testament was written in the Hellenistic era than in the Bronze Age.

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted February 18, 2015 at 9:32 am | Permalink

      Part of the myths originated in the Early Bronze Age though, didn’t they? [The Epic of Gilgamesh contains the flood myth, and since he seems to have been a historical person the myths go back at least 4 500 years; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gilgamesh ] So it covers a lot of myth evolution.

      The first evidence of that particular myth assemblage is the Dead Sea Scrolls, which is securely dated to the Hellenistic era and contains a small part (0.1 % IIRC) greek texts.

      The null hypothesis of origin should likely be Alexandria, which would be the cross section for the semite, egyptian and greek myths going into the assemblage, and also the possible origin for the first judaists (first fuzzy historical evidence AFAIK, re graves tied to them) and the first christianists (first historical mention AFAIK) both.

      • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
        Posted February 18, 2015 at 9:41 am | Permalink

        My bad; the Gilgamesh date only puts an upper limit. If oral retelling was reliable enough, the flood myths likely are about as old as the city states placed along river valleys. They have found archaeological evidence in China that just a few centuries after they tried to protect from or regulate the Yellow River floods, the inevitable sedimentation caused a catastrophic flood.

        The origin of the myths could then be Late Stone Age, for all we know.

        Perhaps one can use the flood evidence to conclude the oral myths (or the projected fears with or without catastrophic floods happening)_were_ somewhat persistent…

  9. Richard Jones
    Posted February 17, 2015 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    Bonnette is almost as funny as Ken Ham.

  10. chris moffatt
    Posted February 17, 2015 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    “..but this sin affected the human nature that they would then transmit in a fallen state”

    So. We now have a complete human genome do we not? In which case we should be able to identify the gene that transmits “original sin” to the offspring and suppress it. Then we can toss this theology stuff out and never deal with it again.

    • Matt G
      Posted February 17, 2015 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

      Maybe it’s epigenetic. Or congenital.

      • NewEnglandBob
        Posted February 17, 2015 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

        It’s Lamarkian.

    • Posted February 17, 2015 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

      That should be relatively easy. If I understand correctly, it should be the gene whose sequence changes radically when you’re baptized.

      • Posted February 18, 2015 at 8:50 am | Permalink

        Ah, I think I’ll apply to the Vatican for a grant to isolate that gene. I’m pretty sure I could make a long career out of that search!

        • Posted February 18, 2015 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

          Maybe the Templeton Foundation would be interested in supporting you?

  11. rickflick
    Posted February 17, 2015 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    I know a Catholic grandpa and grandma past age 80 from a 3rd world country who would find this convincing. Is that what the church is after? These arguments are aimed pre-conditioned minds with less than a 3rd grade education. (but of course those children do grow up, and a few percent become wealthy and when they die, they leave their wealth to the Vatican). Oh well.

  12. rose
    Posted February 17, 2015 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    For some it just has to be in the bible and thats it.Man being created in Gods image now that is weird,what does it even mean.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted February 17, 2015 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

      That women aren’t as worthwhile or valuable as men, so you don’t have to treat them as equals.

      • Posted February 18, 2015 at 7:28 am | Permalink

        Catholicism, the Vatican and the Pope are atavistic authoritarians descended from the Iron/Bronze age shift from matriarchal to patriarchal society. I’ve often thought that were I to worship any sort of deity it would have to be a goddess. Mary Queen of Heaven, Seat of Wisdom, Star of the Sea, or Our Lady of Chartres, Paris and so on, is my archetype of choice. Is it so quaint to think that the world of Homo sapiens would today be better off had patriarchy (by force not reason not prevailed in the West?

    • Michael Waterhouse
      Posted February 18, 2015 at 9:54 am | Permalink

      That is a good question. What does it mean. Given all the descriptions, especially so called sophisticated descriptions of what god is, what on earth could made in his or ‘its’ image really mean?

  13. merilee
    Posted February 17, 2015 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    sub

  14. Diana MacPherson
    Posted February 17, 2015 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    Crisis – interesting choice for the title of a magazine. Perhaps trying to fabricate a sense of urgency against secularization?

  15. Randy Schenck
    Posted February 17, 2015 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

    I liked the part about the oxygen molecules leaving the bedroom and suspect that may be this guy’s problem. I hope the couple in that picture are not a breeding pair.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted February 17, 2015 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

      I’m jealous of the female’s slim body. I never want to eat again now.

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted February 17, 2015 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

        My jealousy of her body makes me want to eat more!

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted February 18, 2015 at 2:02 am | Permalink

          I regret to say that picture is almost certainly not authentic. (Though ‘Eve’ is indeed very easy on the eye 🙂

          If you look closely, they are both wearing jandals (a.k.a. ‘thongs’ or ‘flip-flops’) and I am sure there was no mention of that in the scriptures.

          So I’m afraid we can’t really accept that picture as evidence.

          • Doug
            Posted February 18, 2015 at 5:51 am | Permalink

            I don’t think that they’re the real Adam and Eve–they have navels.

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted February 18, 2015 at 6:05 am | Permalink

              Well that seems pretty conclusive then. It would appear the couple in the photo are, sadly, not our ancestors, although (infinite surveys his own magnificent physique) I have to say there is a definite family resemblance in the torso area.

          • Posted February 18, 2015 at 9:03 am | Permalink

            LOL – plus there are extra adults in the background:-)

      • Michael Waterhouse
        Posted February 18, 2015 at 9:56 am | Permalink

        I think she is a bit too slim.

  16. Acolyte of Sagan
    Posted February 17, 2015 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    I had to laugh at “….reputable Catholic theologians…”
    Isn’t that – with or without the inclusion of a specific religion – the title of the world’s shortest book? Nicely hand-tooled leather cover, not a single page inside.

  17. Ionescu
    Posted February 17, 2015 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

    Every time you write catholic or muslim or whatever you put a capital. Yet when you write biologist, chemist without. Why Jerry? You assume the role of education, yet you don’t pay attention to what you do?

    • Diane G.
      Posted February 17, 2015 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

      Wha?

      For this sort of writing it is customary to adhere to traditional conventions. The purpose is to communicate clearly, not to trip readers up with irregular usages just to make some obscure political point or whatever.

      • Mark Sturtevant
        Posted February 17, 2015 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

        Weeelll, ’round here I see that that people sometimes put Important Words in lower case just to diss them a little bit. Especially god.

        • Diane G.
          Posted February 17, 2015 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

          I was talking about Jerry’s writing, not ours. Notice that he does always capitalize Jebus.

          😉

      • Ionescu
        Posted February 18, 2015 at 1:52 am | Permalink

        Diane, I know you are a fan girl. But try to reason with the brain. Jesus is a name. It does not matter if Jesus lived or not. Catholic, in this case, is the first word. So it gets a capital letter. Otherwise, it is catholicism. Accomodationism is something one should throw at those who one dislikes, right? And the speaker is always immune to this, right?

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted February 18, 2015 at 2:09 am | Permalink

          ‘catholic’ is a perfectly good, if little-used, adjective quite unrelated to the Catholic church. Hence the necessity of using ‘Catholic’ to refer to the religion because it does, in fact, have a different meaning.

          For example, a Catholic education would not in many cases be a catholic education.

          • eric
            Posted February 18, 2015 at 7:49 am | Permalink

            Yep I was about to say the same thing. The word does multiple duty; its the proper name of a specific sect, and its an adjective. JAC’s referring to “Catholicism” and “Catholic theologians” seems to be referring to the sect, so it’s correct to capitalize it. Like: the band Train took a train to the show.

            • Diane G.
              Posted February 18, 2015 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

              Or the Stones were frequently stoned.

          • Diane G.
            Posted February 18, 2015 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

            “For example, a Catholic education would not in many cases be a catholic education.”

            I’ve so gotta steal that. 😀

        • darrelle
          Posted February 18, 2015 at 7:27 am | Permalink

          You are so cute with your superior hat on.

        • Diane G.
          Posted February 18, 2015 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

          I love it when troll boys self-identify right off the bat.

          • rickflick
            Posted February 18, 2015 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

            Wait. Shouldn’t ‘Troll Boy’ be capitalized upon?

            • Diane G.
              Posted February 18, 2015 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

              😀

        • Posted February 18, 2015 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

          Ionescu, you need to get your tail out of here; you’ve been rude to people twice and that I won’t tolerate.

  18. Posted February 17, 2015 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

    Does anyone have or know the reference to the information Dr. Coyne mentioned being available last November about there being a bottleneck in Homo sapiens of no more than 10,000 people? I have some older articles, but nothing that recent.

    • Matt G
      Posted February 17, 2015 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

      There was an article from three or so years ago which gave the bottleneck population as 2000. I’d also like to know about more recent studies with larger datasets.

      • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
        Posted February 18, 2015 at 8:55 am | Permalink

        I think there are later papers that come to the same conclusion, but whenever I hear that 10 000 population size I am thinking of the paper and its figure that Jerry describes here [from 2011]. Sequencing shows that Homo Sapiens has bottlenecked through ~10 000 individuals, to compare with perhaps 100 – 200 000 (?) for all of Pan.

        But that is only part of the history, because I think that data is an observation of the average genome and not the introgressions. Later sequencing has shown that parts of anatomically modern man has introgressions through at least 3 other lineages: Neanderthal, Denisovan and, through Spanish fossils IIRC an earlier 3d “ghost lineage”. Neanderthals and Denisovans were ~2000 individuals each at the time, same as the european and asian H. sapiens bottlenecks. The ghost lineage may have been H. erectus and perhaps more populous originally – but let us say it was the same size at the time, as it disappeared about then (with the possible exceptions of small remnants such as H. floresiensis).

        Adding all our ancestry up it looks to me there were perhaps twice as many coexisting individuals that went into genetic melding pot that is anatomically modern humans.

        • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
          Posted February 18, 2015 at 8:59 am | Permalink

          Oy. So “Pan” isn’t binomial and probably shouldn’t be cursive.

        • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
          Posted February 18, 2015 at 9:02 am | Permalink

          Also, IIRC there has been talk of signs of at least a 4th “ghost lineage” (Neanderthals again?) introgressing into the Africa population. But I don’t think that has been securely established.

        • Matt G
          Posted February 18, 2015 at 11:04 am | Permalink

          Yes, the Li and Durbin paper is the one I was thinking of. But as you say, our lineage has done some intermingling which complicates the calculations.

  19. Posted February 17, 2015 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

    Just when the Pope had so many convinced that Catholicism could be at least a notch above creationist protestantism intellectually, here we have a reminder that myth is still myth, however ‘rationally’ or ‘compassionately’ presented.

  20. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted February 17, 2015 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

    I see that Adam and Eve have belly buttons.

    • rickflick
      Posted February 18, 2015 at 8:06 am | Permalink

      Perhaps those are just soul ports.

      • Posted February 18, 2015 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

        Can I get a USBSoul adapter and create a ghost in the machine?

        • rickflick
          Posted February 18, 2015 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

          It’s a free country.

  21. Roger
    Posted February 17, 2015 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

    Isn’t Edward Feser the guy who yells at everyone all the time? Say one word to him about anything and he screams his blogging head off, lol.

  22. papalinton
    Posted February 17, 2015 at 11:50 pm | Permalink

    When it comes rational discussion on things scientific, Bonnette is an ignoramus. As Paul Henri Thiry [1723-1789], French philosopher and encyclopaederiste, so insightly observed:

    “Theology is but the ignorance of natural causes reduced to a system.”

    You could not get more systemic nonsense than the utterly misguided dogma of Catholic apologetics.

  23. Nell Whiteside
    Posted February 18, 2015 at 3:52 am | Permalink

    I am becoming more and more convinced that religiosity, of whatever brand, affects the brain. Consequently, curiosity as well as logical and rational thought processes don’t appear to function. Has any research been done in this area?

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted February 18, 2015 at 8:01 am | Permalink

      I don’t think that is how it works. The most entrenched denialists are the most intelligent, as they are the ones with the most resources to fool themselves. [I think that is now a result, not my personal assumption as it was originally. But I have forgotten where it is in such a case (despite confirming my analysis!). Hasn’t Jerry written something on that lately? I tentatively connect it to research on politics.]

      Here are examples that show that general brain function can be unaffected, merely channeled:

      – In tests on moral reactions, religious and non-religious has basically the same reactions. [Again, lost the reference. It should be easier to google though.]

      – When subjected to magneto-cranial stimulation [Dawkins writes about his experience – but he doesn’t attribute it to magical agencies] and/or some tactile-visual simulations [which is researched in Sweden among other places, at Chalmers I believe], religious and non-religious can have out-of-body experiences and/or feel ‘invisible observers’. I’m pretty sure drugs, sleep deprivation, starvation et cetera could do the same trick. It is a normal reaction to some abnormal stimuli.

      – Recently it has been shown by psychological experiments and fMRI that when religious people are at a moral impasse or a new moral situation and try to project what their magical agency of choice ‘would do’, they engage the same areas that they and non-religious people do when they take direct responsibility and decide anyway. They are their own ‘gods’! [Again, no refs handy. I hope I describe it correctly anyway.]

      Re secondary effects such as closing down curiosity, you are bound to be correct I think. But I don’t know of any research there. Unfortunately the statistical null hypothesis is that those who stay curious and do research (say) tend to become non-religious, if they weren’t already. =D

  24. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted February 18, 2015 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    Since the same God is author both of human reason and of authentic revelation, legitimate natural science, properly conducted, will never contradict Catholic doctrine, properly understood.

    In other words, ‘I can’t hear the experts/see the facts/say the truth, na na na…’.

    I also like how theologians elevate their prattle… penmanship to the level of their imaginary beings, because who has a need for mechanisms – ‘It’s magic, folks!’

    • eric
      Posted February 18, 2015 at 7:53 am | Permalink

      In other words, ‘I can’t hear the experts/see the facts/say the truth, na na na…’.

      Actually, I read Bonnette’s statement as circular. “Since the same God is author both of human reason and of authentic revelation, legitimate natural science, properly conducted, will never contradict Catholic doctrine, properly understood.” = “Since my theology is correct, my theology must be correct.”

      • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
        Posted February 18, 2015 at 10:35 am | Permalink

        That is more appropriate: Bonnette is talking to himself (and whoever will listen).

        It comes out as the same of course, funny how theology works.

  25. Dominic
    Posted February 18, 2015 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    Bonette – what an arrogant twit! …”union between a true human and a subhuman primate” – my Neanderthal genes cry out to hear such an insulting phrase. I am surprised the Catholic Church does not use Adam & Eve to promote incest – if true (which it is not) that woulkd be the only solution to his riduculous problem. He may be the product of an in-bred incestuous bunch of Adamites, but exclude me out!

    • Dominic
      Posted February 18, 2015 at 7:45 am | Permalink

      In my annoyance I missed an ‘n’ from his name. Well he seems a few letters short of a sentence…

  26. Roan Ridgeway
    Posted February 18, 2015 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    I am deeply offended by Dennis Bonnette’s reference to my ancestors as “subhuman primates” as I am proud of my Neanderthal heritage (the National Geographic Genographic Project has established I am 2.3% Neanderthal). I’ll have Bonnette know that the U.S. Government does not consider my Neanderthal heritage to represent any sort of disability.

  27. Michael Waterhouse
    Posted February 18, 2015 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    What is this soul stuff that gets put in to us humans that other critters miss out on?

    Where does it come from? Is here less now than there was? Does everyone get the same amount?
    We all don’t have the same level of reason and intellect.
    And it seems true that animals have some reason, and emotion. It seems as though computers have some good intellect, so what really is special about humans anyway.
    What have we got that isn’t covered by animals and computers?
    Why do some people get good soul stuff and others bad (evil) soul stuff?
    The soul notion seems to be just another easily accepted assumption that really has no substance as a concept.

  28. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted February 18, 2015 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    It’s never good when a religious dogmatist claims religion will never contradict TRUE science.

    This was effectively lampooned in the original 1968 “Planet of the Apes”.

    • Matt G
      Posted February 18, 2015 at 11:10 am | Permalink

      Yeah, I love mission statements which contain contradictory principles!

  29. Posted February 18, 2015 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    There’s an inherent possibility that I can take a coin out of my pocket and flip it 10000 times over the next hour and have it land on heads every time. Because this possibility exists, we should accept it as not just likely, but true.

  30. Posted February 18, 2015 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    Correct me if I’m wrong.
    Mitochondrial “Eve’ lived about 140.000 years ago (I might be overtaken by new research there), and, this is something that needs to be explained to the laymen (particularly that age does not really influence this), she was part of a population. I have no clue why this is so hard to get across.
    Y chromosome Adam, equally part of a population, lived a few tens of thousand years later, undoubtedly a descendant of “Eve”.
    The bottleneck is supposed to have been much later, after the successful move of ‘moderns’ out of Africa about 80-90.000 years ago (earlier moves in the Levant were not ‘successful’), with the explosion of Mount Toba in Sumatra (I hope this sentence is grammatically correct and understandable, it is looong0 . Note, I never understood why this (Mt Toba) would be a bottleneck, since remaining African populations were not really affected. Or is the ‘bottleneck’ limited to non-african populations.
    There are many unanswered questions, but Bonette’s answers are so obviously BS.

    Again kudos to our host to take the trouble and time to take on a clown like Bonette. Where does he get the energy and time? I’m in awe.

  31. microraptor
    Posted February 18, 2015 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

    Adam and Eve is definitely a fact.

    You can see their advertisements on late-night cable.

    (For those who do not watch late-night cable, it’s the name of an online porn shop.)


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