The meaning of life in one post
(08-14-2016, 01:12 AM)Melkite Wrote: I'm currently reading a book called Before the Dawn.  It traces the human genome, archaeology and anthropology to establish a history of the human species from the common human-chimp ancestor all the way down to the beginnings of recorded history.  If true, it definitely throws a monkey wrench into the idea of original sin, as many things that we associate with sin can be observed in the behaviors of other apes, and certainly in humanity prior to the time that humans would have been given a rational soul, if lined up with Judeo-Christian ideas.  For example, war and cannibalism can be observed not only in chimpanzees, but also anatomically modern humans prior to becoming behaviorally modern humans (BMH being likely what would have been the start of rationally-ensouled humans). 

I've also been watching some videos of Fr. Mike Schmitz for Ascension Press.  One video I watched recently was about the laws of the Old Testament and if they still apply.  This has been an issue for me because I see a lot of the OT as describing a cruel, vindictive God who commanded and demanded genocide, wiped out all of humanity, demanded Abraham sacrifice Isaac, etc.  In this video, Fr. Mike explains that the reason the OT laws no longer apply to Christians is because many of those laws were specifically for the Kingdom of Israel.  The Kingdom of Israel, as a political entity, no longer exists, so those laws no longer apply, just in the same way as the laws of the Holy Roman Empire no longer apply.  But he also explained the seeming roughness of OT law as a gradual way of drawing people to the ideal God has for us.  We no longer have an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth anymore.  But Fr. Mike suggests that this was necessary during the Bronze Age because people at that time could not have accepted forgiveness as Christ taught.  He referenced the educational "+1" theory, whereby people can understand what they know and the next level beyond it, but not two or three levels beyond.  So the goal of educating is to take what a person knows and then take them just a little bit further, and once they have that, just a little bit further.  So, it would have been too much for these Bronze Age peoples to handle forgiveness as Christ preached.  People lived in societies that were very cruel by modern standards, where theft of a small item could mean amputation of a limb, or killing of a neighbor's cow could have meant your own death in retribution.  By teaching an eye for an eye, at that time, God was tempering the barbaric societies of the time so that later they could move even closer towards what God asks of us.  This all reminded me of something that my mother once said to me that has stuck with me.  She believes that the OT is basically elementary school religion, and that the NT is the religion the people have when they graduate from the OT.  Kind of the same idea, that one isn't ready for the NT until they've successfully mastered the goals of the OT.

At any rate, going back to this book, it got me thinking that all of these evolutions and adaptations that have taken place in early human history, when warfare, cannibalism and other things that we consider mortally sinful today were vitally necessary for their survival, what if they aren't sin in the way we understand it per se?  Chimpanzees war with each other, they massacre rival groups, taking no prisoners and almost gleefully murder other chimpanzees in an effort to protect the land where their females feed and protect their young.  It certainly isn't sinful to these animals, yet we consider it to be disgusting, abhorrent behavior in humans, even though this is the history of our species as well.  Assuming the evolutionary model is more or less accurate, what if religion, from the beginning of God making us aware of his existence, has been just one step in a long progression of God slowly drawing us towards perfection?  So, for example, warfare was both common and necessary to early humans, but it became less so as hunter-gather societies coalesced into sedentary societies.  Perhaps these things that were necessary in our history tens of thousands of years ago have become obsolete for our survival, and morality as we understand it is God drawing us towards greater perfection with our current mode of existence.

Like Heorot, I too appreciate your searching, Melkite.  And you do it in what seems to me to be an intelligent way.

A few thoughts, though.  Firstly, it seems to me that you and Fr. Schmitz take Darwinian macro-evolution for granted, as a proven fact.  Without wishing to totally derail the thread, I'd just say that that position is at best arguable in the extreme, as many prior threads on this board demonstrate.

Secondly, what about Matthew 5:17-19?
Quote:[17]"Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them.

[18] For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished.
[19] Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

The "Law" Jesus is referring to is, afaik, the Mosaic Law and commandments of the OT, the NT not yet having been recorded.  In that Law, forgiveness, as an act of God and as a command by Him is certainly not unknown.  It's mentioned at least 40+ times, albeit in different contexts and with different meanings attached.  See also Leviticus 19:15-18--
Quote: [15]You shall do no injustice in judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor.
[16] You shall not go up and down as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not stand forth against the life of your neighbor: I am the LORD.
[17]"You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason with your neighbor, lest you bear sin because of him.
[18] You shall not take vengeance or bear any grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.

Messages In This Thread
The meaning of life in one post - by Heorot - 08-13-2016, 10:39 PM
Re: The meaning of life in one post - by Heorot - 08-13-2016, 11:26 PM
Re: The meaning of life in one post - by Poche - 08-14-2016, 12:17 AM
Re: The meaning of life in one post - by Melkite - 08-14-2016, 01:12 AM
Re: The meaning of life in one post - by Heorot - 08-14-2016, 10:48 AM
Re: The meaning of life in one post - by Heorot - 08-14-2016, 01:53 PM
Re: The meaning of life in one post - by J Michael - 08-14-2016, 02:14 PM
Re: The meaning of life in one post - by Melkite - 08-14-2016, 03:18 PM
Re: The meaning of life in one post - by Heorot - 08-14-2016, 03:30 PM
Re: The meaning of life in one post - by Melkite - 08-14-2016, 03:41 PM
Re: The meaning of life in one post - by Heorot - 08-14-2016, 03:47 PM

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