Creation, Nature and
Fall of Man
and Origin of the Human Race
We are creatures made up of spirit and matter, body and soul. Our
spirit is the immaterial soul, which our senses cannot feel. But
our faith tells us it is there. So by way of our soul, we have some
share in the nature of the angels.
We can see that we have a spiritual soul in this way. Each of us
has a concept or idea of dog in general. Our mental dog is not high
or low, long or short, sharp-nosed or pug-nosed. If we hired the
very best artist, offered him any sum and his choice of mediums:
oil paints, carving, casting etc. , to make an image of our dog,
we would get nothing. For no material can hold this concept.
So that in us which holds it is not material, but spiritual. This
is all the more obvious in our concepts of goodness, truth, justice
Our soul can exist apart from the body. It will never die, because
being spiritual, it has no parts, and so cannot come apart. It will
live forever in happiness beyond what we can imagine, or in the
reverse, eternal damnation. The Book of Wisdom 3:1-4 says: "The
souls of the just are in the hand of God, and no torment will touch
them. They seemed to die, to the eyes of foolish people, and their
departure was considered evil . . . but they are in peace. Their
hope is full of immortality."
Each human soul is directly created by God Himself, it is not produced
by or derived from the
parents. The parents produce only the human body, and do even that,
only with the help of God's power. The uniting of the soul with
the body is called infusion. Modern biology knows that at the moment
of conception, when the 23 chromosomes from each parent join, the
complete genetic pattern of a unique being is already present. So
abortion is gravely sinful.
Many today think that the human body evolved from lower beings.
If they say that this happened without any help from God, it is
atheistic evolution. Not only theology rejects that foolish idea,
even mere reason rejects it: it supposes that matter could lift
itself up and up higher by its shoelaces, as it were, with no outside
source for the higher leves of complexity.
Pope Pius XII in Humani generis in 1950 told us we may consider
as a possible--not as something proved--that God established some
natural laws that would bring about this evolution from lower to
higher. Even so, the whole process would depend on God's creative
power. This is true especially of the human soul, which, being spiritual,
cannot have evolved. We would call this theistic evolution, that
is evolution involving the power of God at so many points.
The scientific evidence for bodily evolution is almost non-existent.
"Research News" in Science, November 21, 1980, reported
that the majority of 160 scientists at a conference at the Field
Museum in Chicago said Darwin was wrong in supposing there had been
many intermediate forms between species, e.g., between fish and
birds. The fossils do not give one clear case of that. So the scientists
decided on, "Punctuated equilibria", the theory that a
species might stay the same for millions of years, and then suddenly
by a fluke leap up into something higher. No solid proof was reported
as offered at the meeting.
Pius XII also noted that Catholics must believe, as a consequence
of the doctrine of original sin, that all men have descended from
the same two first parents. Science News, August 13, 1983, reported
that Allan Wilson, of the University of California, Berkeley, said
his study of specimens of mitochrondrial DNA from all over the world,
showed all existing humans come from one mother, who lived 350,000
years ago. More recent studies by many scientists agree that there
was only one mother, but lower the age to 200,000 years (cf. Newsweek,
January 11, 1988).
God had given to Adam and Eve, our first parents, three levels of
gifts: 1) basic humanity, consisting of a body and soul, with mind
and will. Each has within it certain natural drives and needs. No
one of these is evil in itself, but without the help of some added
gift to coordinate them, they tend to get out of order, to rebel.
2) God gave to our first parents an added gift, which is just such
a coordinating gift, which made it easy to keep each drive in its
place. (It is sometimes called the gift of integrity). When Adam
and Eve sinned, the lower flesh began to get out of line, to rebel.
Hence Adam felt the need of cover; before the fall, he did not feel
that, for the flesh was easily docile. God gave them also exemption
from physical death, which otherwise would be natural to a being
composed of parts, body and soul, which can come apart, and so die.
3) He gave them the life of grace, a share in His own life, which
made the soul basically capable of the vision of God in the life
God clearly intended they should pass on all thee gifts to their
children, including us. Through the narrative of the forbidden fruit,
however, the Sacred author tells us that God gave our first parents
some kind of command, whether it was about a tree or something else.
Whatever it was, they violated His orders, and fell from His favor,
losing sanctifying grace and the coordinating gift. Hence they transmitted
to us only that basic humanity, without the other gifts.
Except for Jesus and Mary, all the descendents of Adam and Eve
were conceived without sanctifying grace. Without that grace, the
soul is not capable of the vision of God in heaven.
Each new baby arrives without the grace God willed it should have.
An adult who sins mortally also lacks that grace: hence both can
be said to be in the "state of sin", they lack the grace
they should have, except that the adult is that way by his own fault,
the baby without any fault. John Paul II explained, in a General
Audience of October 1, 1986: "... it is evident that original
sin in Adam's descendants has not the character of personal guilt.
It is the privation of sanctifying grace... ." Privation means
the lack of what ought to be there. So when we speak of transmission
of original sin, it would be more accurate to speak of non-transmission
of sanctifying grace.
Original sin also resulted in a darkening of the mind and weakening
of the will, in comparison to what it might have been. Hence John
Paul II also said in a General Audience of October 8, 1986: "According
to the Church's teaching it is a case of a relative and not an absolute
deterioration, not intrinsic to the human faculties . . . not of
a loss of their essential capacities even in relation to the knowledge
and love of God." In other words, original sin took our race
down only to the essential level, the first level we described.
It did not make it positively corrupt, surely not totally corrupt
as Martin Luther thought.
Right after the fall, God promised to send a Redeemer. God said
to the serpent in Genesis 3:15: "I will put enmity between
you and the woman, between her descendants and yours. He will strike
at your head, you will strike at his heel." The Church, as
did the Jews, inteprets this as a prophecy of the Messiah.
-Taken from The Basic Catholic Catechism
PART TWO: The Apostle's Creed
First Article of the Creed: "I believe in God the Father Almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth."
©Copyright 1990 by William G. Most