Monday, 30 November 2009
Darwin, Creation and the Fall: chapter 8
Mortimer has recenlty completed a PhD on different interpretations of the fall. Here he looks at Henri Blocher's view of the fall and original sin.
Original sin has been described as 'lack[ing] biblical warrant, is incoherent, unscientific and unhelpful' (p 174) Blocher's work, Mortimer notes, is important because 'Blocher asserts not only the scriptural validity of the doctrine but also its positive value' (p. 174).
Mortimer provides an excellent summary of Blocher's views. 'Blocher affirms the historical schema of creation, fall and redemption. It is the historical fall that is remedied by the historical cross' (p. 183).
Mortimer then looks at the evolutionary challenge to Blocher's views. He takes issue with Blocher's monogenism - the idea that 'Adam and Eve were a literal couple from whom the human race derives' (p. 187); a view he sees as 'inadequate' (p. 191). Polygenism - humans developed in several lines and so not all have Adam as an ancestor - is more in line with the evolutionary synthesis Mortimer maintains. And he is keen to defend polygeneism but hold on to a historic Adam and Eve. (A similar view is held by R J Berry in chapter 2.) To do this he suggests two possible options. One is to see Adam as a federal head, following Derek Kidner and Douglas Spanner; the other is to see, with Karl Rahner, Adam and Eve as representing a population rather than as a couple. Mortimer favours the latter option, but acknowledges it does need to be developed further.
It is a shame that Blocher hasn't responded to this paper. It does seem, from the previous chapter, that Blocher's views have slightly changed; he no longer sees the evidence for Adam and Eve as Cro-Magnons around 40 000 BC as conclusive.