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The origins of Man

Discussion of everything related to the Theory of Evolution.

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Postby alextemplet » Tue Sep 18, 2007 5:13 pm

Wait, back up a bit, I never agreed that mitochondria are entirely separate organisms, only that they originated as such. As I said before, it is no longer a case of one species living inside of another, but of two species merged into one. Where in biology is it stated that they are a whole separate organism? If they really are another species, as you claim, then what is their classification? Can you give me a binomial genus/species name for them? If they were another organism, they would be classified as such. They aren't.

The only reason I hypothetically supposed that they might be a separate species was to make a point that it's not theologically different from any other such symbiotic relationship. These are two very important points that I would like you to address. First, on what basis do you claim that mitochondria are another species? Second, even if they are, why does it matter?
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Postby genovese » Wed Sep 19, 2007 1:03 am

OK. We originated as two separate species and have now if you like "fused into one new species". We must have at some time lived as two separate species and although we are classified as one species now, is that because the theory is too recent in Time for biologists to think about re-classification? Apart from myself, I do not know of any other person who has given the problem much thought. Sure I know that this leaves me open to ridicule but I don't see why something living symbiotically within us and reproducing independently from us is not a separate entity? OK it will die without our support but so will we without mitochondrial support. If we have fused into the New species Homo Sapiens from two separate species, is that the point of our Creation? I would like to hear from a zoologist as to why it is not classified as a separate species. What is the reason for this?

On your second question " why does it matter?" This is due to my concern about us being special (Theologically speaking) and about us having souls which other species do not have. We are only the New Species Homo Sapiens with a soul because of the "fusion" with an animal with no soul.
How can that be? How can something with No soul make Homo Sapiens with a soul, for Homo Sapiens would certainly not be here without this souless creature.
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Postby alextemplet » Wed Sep 19, 2007 3:32 am

In answer to your first question, I do not think that the exact point at which the two species became one (assuming that point can even specified with precision) would be anywhere near to "our" creation if by "our" you mean humanity. It would mean the beginning of the domain Eukaria, with any species of Homo still a very, very, very long way off.

In answer to your second question, I already explained what is meant by being "special." It is a reflection of our ability to manipulate and control this planet, and also of our responsibility to maintain it.

If non-human organisms do not have souls, I still don't see mitochondria as being a problem. Evolution would then become entirely a story of the development of the physical body, with one soulless ancestor of humanity leading to another, until at some point God injected the soul into the body and humanity began. This is the Catholic Church's official take on the subject. As I already stated, I do not fully agree with this view, but even if this was somehow shown to be true, I would not see mitochondria as posing a problem at all.

Finally, your point about mitochondria being too new a field of study to be independently classified might hold some weight; however, I am nowhere near qualified enough to make that judgment myself. All I know is that they are not currently classified as a separate organism.
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Postby genovese » Wed Sep 19, 2007 6:07 am

"Evolution would then become entirely a story of the development of the physical body, with one soulless ancestor of humanity leading to another, until at some point God injected the soul into the body and humanity began."

I think that you have given me the answer that was missing in my mind. "until at some point God injected the soul into the body and humanity began." If this is the Vatican's point of view, then of course, I agree that mitochondria would not cause a theological problem for me, but I had always been under the impression that Humanity and the soul were all produced simultaneously at the time of creation.

I say this because Genesis does not take the possibility of evolution occurring. As I understand it from the Bible, Man was made + soul in the beginning.
The Vatican seems to be suggesting that Man was made a very long time after the world was created, presumably with mitochondria already well in place and that it was at that moment that God decided that the New Species was worthy of a soul because of its superior intelligence compared with other creatures.

It was as if God was waiting for man to appear before deciding to hand out the souls.

It is an interesting interpretation of Genesis which would never have occurred to me, but then I am not a theologian. I say this with all due respect for it must be very difficult in a rapidly changing world for theologians to re-interpret a text that was written thousands of year ago and still make it comprehensible to the uninitiated. Can you imagine what kind of Science we would be producing if we all had to work from a thousand year old text in Science?
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Postby alextemplet » Thu Sep 20, 2007 12:01 am

It's not a reinterpretation at all; the Catholic Church has never held to a literal interpretation of Genesis. In fact, the Church has supported evolution since the time of St. Augustine in the 4th century; long before Darwin was even born!

To elaborate on the Church's point, "day" has no exact meaning for two reasons:
1) The Bible states that a day is like a thousand years to God; this means that, since God is eternal, our measures of time mean little to Him. Also, "thousand" is a common Biblical term to describe any large "uncountable" number.
2) A day on Earth is 24hrs, but on Jupiter it is only 12hrs. On Mars, it is 25hrs. On Venus, it is three months. All of these places were created by God, who exists in Heaven. Who knows how long a "day" is in Heaven? Does Heaven even have days? The Bible does not tell us.

It can thus be understood that the seven days in Genesis 1 do not necessarily mean seven twenty-four hour periods. After all, the Church teaches that the Bible was written by God, and we don't know how long a day is to God. Also, the order in which life was created in Genesis (starting in the sea, then on land, then man at the end) is the same chronological order as scientific theories concerning evolution.

For these two main reasons (the uncertainty of the term "day" and the order in which life was created), the Church has always been a supporter of evolutionary theory. Indeed, the Catholic Church is (as far as I know) alone among Christian churches in supporting evolution from the very start. So it is no re-interpretation at all; merely what the Church has taught all along, only now with a bit more scientific knowledge to support it.
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Postby genovese » Thu Sep 20, 2007 6:16 am

That sounds all very convincing - but tell me why Darwin was pilloried by the church when he produced his theory, as he knew he would be and that is why he held back 15 years before making it public?

But to make sure that I have understood it correctly is the Vatican saying that God just watched or did he shape the evolutionary process? Did he know that Man was going to emerge eventually or did that just happen by itself (with a little help from my friend Mito).

If I have understood what you have said it seems as though it all depended on INTELLIGENCE as to whether the emerging creature was to be given a soul. If correct, can I infer from this that any human with a severe defect of the brain from birth - does not warrant a soul- OR any old person with senile dementia or Alzeiheimer's disease has their soul taken away, for non-compliance, so to speak?
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Postby alextemplet » Fri Sep 21, 2007 11:52 pm

The Catholic Church never opposed Darwin; that was the Anglican Church, the Church of England. Had Darwin been French instead of English, he would've had much less religious trouble. The Catholic Church is the only Christian church that has never opposed evolution; as I said previously, the Catholic Church has supported evolution since the 4th century, long before Darwin was even born.

But to make sure that I have understood it correctly is the Vatican saying that God just watched or did he shape the evolutionary process? Did he know that Man was going to emerge eventually or did that just happen by itself (with a little help from my friend Mito).


God could've done it either way; the neither the Church nor the Bible states whether God somehow guided the evolutionary process, or just allowed it to run itself.

To answer your last question, the Catholic Church is very firm in its position that all humans have souls.[/quote]
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Postby genovese » Sat Sep 22, 2007 5:06 am

“The Catholic Church never opposed Darwin”

If this is correct, then it is indeed encouraging, for you are right that he was severely opposed by the Anglican Church. I would like to see what the Catholic Church had to say about it in the 4th Century.

“God could've done it either way; neither the Church nor the Bible states whether God somehow guided the evolutionary process, or just allowed it to run itself”.

The problem with this “either way” approach is that it suggests that God could still be actively involved in the development of life. This would inevitably lead to accusations that all errors such as new viruses causing death and destruction, HIV etc. are the deliberate work of God against Humanity. It would also confirm my theological fears that He inserted (soulless) Mitochondria in order to produce intelligent Man who would then be capable of worship.

Genesis, on the other hand clearly states (to me) that creation was done and is now over and finished and that it’s up to Man to get on with it. Looking at the Genesis text again, and ignoring that it was all done in 6 days ( I take your point about Time) there is no real mention about Evolution taking place. The text starts to mention that Life took place on the 3rd day (Grass and Fruit Trees) on LAND. Then Fish and Fowl emerge in the SEA on the 5th day, and Man finally emerges on the 6th. day with all other animals such as cattle and creepy things. So if this is interpreted by religious people as indicating Evolution having taken place - I am not too impressed with the sequence of events. Also, each type of animal is created and encouraged to multiply. There is no mention that one animal species changes into another animal species as is absolutely necessary in the theory of Evolution.
Therefore I have to say that, my interpretation of the text does not allow me to believe that Genesis foresaw Evolution taking place.
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Postby alextemplet » Sat Sep 22, 2007 3:41 pm

In the 4th century, St. Augustine was the first Christian scholar to address the evolutionary issue, and he largely accepted the prevailing theories of his time, which were developed by the Greeks in the centuries before Christ. The ancients had a basic understanding of natural selection and heredity, although without any knowledge of genetics it was almost impossible for them to explain any of this in the highly detailed terms we use today.

The biggest reason the Church leaves the question open as to whether or not God guided the evolutionary process is because there is no real evidence either way, and I think we will both agree that it would be foolish for anyone to make such a conclusion without evidence.

The Catholic Church's official stance on the Genesis creation stories is that they are a metaphorical account meant only to show that God created the universe in an orderly manner; I myself have always taken this metaphor a step farther and said that it could be symbolic of the evolutionary process, as I explained earlier.
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Postby David George » Sat Sep 22, 2007 3:44 pm

I am not quite sure about the discussion but I can see genovese fighting for christianity and Alex for evolution and faith.But tell me genovese I think chirstians were one of the most notorious people who could not tolerate the egyptians gods,temples,people,language and destroyed one of the most spectacular civilizations the earth has ever seen.So how do you defend your people now.
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Postby alextemplet » Sat Sep 22, 2007 3:49 pm

Um, David, you might want to check your history on that one. Egyptian civilization was on its way out when the Assyrians took over and imposed their culture on the place. Then the Assyrians were conquered by the Persians, and then the Greeks under Alexander turned Egypt into a Greek colony. Then came the Romans and they imposed their civilization and culture on Egypt, and all of this before Christ was even born! So Egyptian civilization had ended centuries before Christianity came along.
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Postby genovese » Sat Sep 22, 2007 4:52 pm

David George says "..but I can see genovese fighting for christianity.."

I am obviously not doing very well with my case because I am arguing against the church's interpretation of Christianity - I am an atheist- but trying to be fair to every viewpoint, if it is logical, that is!

Alex says "..I myself have always taken this metaphor a step farther and said that it could be symbolic of the evolutionary process, as I explained earlier"

From the text in Genesis, I would like to know which words exactly make you come to this conclusion?

Alex also says "..In the 4th century, St. Augustine was the first Christian scholar to address the evolutionary issue,"

A religious scholar may well have come up with this idea, but was it accepted by the Vatican as a definate theory to account for the creation of Man? If so, at what date, roughly?
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