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Did Neanderthals Have a Soul?

September 6, AD2017

order, design
The magisterium of the Church takes a direct interest in the question of evolution, because it touches on the conception of man, whom Revelation tells us is created in the image and likeness of God

Pius XII underlined the essential point: if the origin of the human body comes through living matter which existed previously, the spiritual soul is created directly by God…

The moment of passage into the spiritual realm is not something that can be observed in this way—although we can nevertheless discern, through experimental research, a series of very valuable signs of what is specifically human life. (Pope St. John Paul IIMessage to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences: On Evolution.)

Neanderthals with Souls?

I’ve recently finished a science fiction trilogy, The Neanderthal Parallax by Robert Sawyer, describing a parallel universe in which there is a Neanderthal civilization (technical–quantum computers, and all that), a world in which Neanderthals rather than Homo Sapiens, are the intelligent species.

We have an  image of Neanderthals as brutes, sub-human, but their brain size was generally greater than that of Homo Sapiens. There is archeological evidence to indicate that they cooperated as a hunter/gatherer community, and that they cared for disabled members of the community, thus showing compassion.

There is evidence from genetic research to reinforce the notion that Neanderthals were not sub-human. The Neanderthal genome has been explored in detail, to show that there is a 99.7% similarity between human (homo sapiens) and Neanderthal DNA.  However, since there are so many genes, that leaves quite a few that aren’t common.  Nevertheless, the similarities are important. For example, Neanderthals had the same two modifications in the FOXP2 gene as do humans; this is the the gene that governs development of language centers in the brain.   Moreover, genomic analysis suggests that trace amounts (1 to 4 %) of Neanderthal genomic material affects traits in modern humans, Eurasians, but not in Africans.

So, did the first humans intermarry with Neanderthals in Europe or West Asia?  And did these first humans AND Neanderthals have souls?  There is some evidence (controversial) that Neanderthals buried their dead and gave them gifts for an after-life.

What the Church Has Said

The Church has taken a position on evolution put forth by Pope St. John Paul II in an address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences (see the quotes above), a position which makes a clear distinction between the evolution of a material body, and a soul endowed by God. Even if one grants that this position is neither doctrine nor dogma, it is still a teaching that has to be carefully considered by the Catholic faithful, coming from the Vicar of Christ.

Here then, are several questions that occur to me. Some have been answered, at least partially, in Kenneth Kemp’s article, Science, Theology and Monogenesis (see below). I ask the reader to assess critically these questions, the partial answers given below, and then to consider the following general issue: Is there a conflict between what paleoanthropology and genomic research tell us and what we are to believe from Catholic doctrine and dogma?

•The evolutionary theory I have read suggests that new species arise not from one or two individuals, but from populations. If new species arise from differences in DNA, and these differences occur because of mutations, how is it that for a large number of individuals the same mutations  occur that give rise to a new species (within some limited time period)? Is it a rapid transmission of a dominant, mutated gene through a population from an individual, or is it the simultaneous mutation in many individuals, brought about by God?

•Definitions of soul from the Catholic Catechism and from the writings of Thomas Aquinas state that the soul is the “form” (in the Aristotelean sense) of the body, but immaterial. Rational faculties, the capacity to reason and to form abstractions, are attributes of a soul. These are presumably necessary conditions for there to be a soul. Are they sufficient conditions?

 •What kinds of archeological data would provide evidence for such rational faculties of a hominid: tool making, art, burial of the dead?

•Does genetic similarity between two species, and the possibility that interbreeding has occurred, imply that if members of one species possess a soul, so do members of the other?

Monogenesis and Original Sin

Monogenesis supposes that humans descend from one pair of ancestors, male and female, as opposed to polygenesis, that many humans were ancestors. That humans descended from only two is a cornerstone of Catholic dogma on original sin. As set forth by Pope Pius XII:

For the Christian faithful cannot maintain the thesis which holds that either after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parent of all, or that “Adam” signifies a number of first parents. Now it is in no way apparent how such an opinion can be reconciled with that which the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the magisterium of the Church propose with regard to original sin, [emphasis added] which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam and which, through generation, is passed on to all and is in everyone as his own. Pope Pius XII, Humani Generis)

Even if “biological” monogenesis does not obtain, what might be termed “theological” monogenesis could occur, and so Pius XII’s objection could be countered. This proposition has been explored in some detail by Kenneth Kemp, in the article linked above. We will discuss his thesis at greater length below. The essential base for this argument is a Thomistic view of body and soul, reflected in Pope St. John Paul II’s remark (quoted above) that “[even] if the origin of the human body comes through living matter which existed previously, the spiritual soul is created directly by God.”

Did “Mitochondrial Eve” Exist?¹

Is it the case that biological monogenesis did occur? Some evolutionary geneticists have justified the idea of descent from one ancestor (or a pair of ancestors) by the “Mitochondrial Eve” hypothesis, which proposes that all humans are descended from an African lady who lived some 100,000 to 200,000 years ago. It’s important here to realize that Mitochondrial Eve might have contributed only a small amount to our gene pool, given that there would have had to be many, many other great-great-……-great grandmothers.  (I have two great-grandfathers who were rabbis, but there were two other great-grandfathers who could have been real low-lifes.)

The Mitochondrial Eve hypothesis has been criticized by evolutionary geneticists who argue that “bottlenecks” (small population sizes) lead to minimal genetic variation and thus lower survival of species. Francisco Ayala has examined the variation in the gene DRB1 and concludes the variation is too large to admit of a small population (bottleneck) as ancestors.²

Ayala’s calculations have been criticized as being biased and based on assumptions that don’t apply. Let’s bypass the question of biological monogenesis and turn to Kemp’s proposal for theological monogenesis.

Theological Monogenesis – God Endows Souls

Kemp’s thesis, theological monogenesis, rests on the notion of biological and philosophical species:

The biological species is the population of interbreeding individuals. The philosophical species is the rational animal, i.e., a natural kind characterized by the capacity for conceptual thought, judgment, reasoning, and free choice.

St. Thomas Aquinas argues that a certain kind of body is necessary for rational activity, but is not sufficient for it. Rational activity requires, in addition the presence of a rational soul, something that is more than the power of any bodily organ, and that therefore can only come into being, in each individual case, through a creative act of God.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says ‘God created man in his image and established him in his friendship [CCC 396]’.  (Emphasis added, Kenneth Kemp, Science, Theology and Monogenesis)

I won’t give Kemp’s arguments in detail, but only a summary – please go to the original paper for a complete story. He supposes that a small population, about 5000, existed with the necessary physical characteristics (“body”) for rational activity. God selected two of these, a man and woman to be endowed with a soul, the capacity for abstract thought: e.g. to know that one would die, to have knowledge of one-self as an individual (self-consciousness), etc.

When would Adam and Eve have appeared in human prehistory? That point is not clear. Certainly tool-making is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for rational activity in the sense Kemp would take. Pebble tools go back to Homo Habilis some 2.6 million years ago, and in more advanced forms, possibly requiring rational forethought, to Homo Erectus, some 2 million years ago. Neanderthal man had a sophisticated tool-making capability, used fires, buried his dead with accompaniments

Summary

The questions raised at the beginning of this post have been answered only partially.   It is unlikely, but not impossible, that biological monogenesis occurred.   If we accept (as I do) that mind, self-consciousness and what we please to call “soul” are not solely a physical thing, but are immaterial, then we still are in the dark as to what constitutes paleo-archeological evidence for rational activity, activity that is sufficient to show that individuals in a species are endowed with souls.    We are unsure when in pre-history God gave two individuals their souls, and continued to do so thereafter for each of their descendants.

Nevertheless, to the question put in the title, I would answer “Yes!, Neanderthals did have a soul.”   I believe, with Kemp, that Theological monogenesis occurred in some proto-human ancestor of both Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens.  I would argue that any species that buries its dead with accompaniments has knowledge that life will end and a vision of an afterlife, and is therefore endowed rationally.

Finally, to all who would dispute that there is such a thing as a soul, and that mind/consciousness/etc. are purely physical phenomena. You’re welcome to your opinion, but I (and many others) don’t agree with you.

Notes:

¹Note that a similar story is given for an original “Adam”, traced through the Y-chromosome (passed from father to son), who lived 100,000 to 200,000 years ago.   Whether Y-chromosome Adam and Mitochondrial Eve were alive at the same time and had children is an interesting question, to which we’ll not know the answer (while alive).

²Ayala estimates that a population of 15,000 to 20,000 individuals is required for human ancestry. A more detailed explanation is given in Kenneth Kemp’s article.

References:

Francisco Ayala, Am I a Monkey?
Anne Gauger, Douglas Axe, Casey Luskin, Science and Human Origins

Photography: See our Photographers page.

About the Author:

Retired, cranky, old physicist. Convert to Catholicism in 1995. Trying to show that there is no contradiction between what science tells us about the world and our Catholic faith. Intermittent blogs at Rational Catholic and adult education classes here to achieve this end. Extraordinary Minister of Communion volunteer to federal prison and hospital; lector, EOMC. Sometime player of bass clarinet, alto clarinet, clarinet, bass, tenor bowed psaltery for parish instrumental group and local folk group. And, finally, my motivation: “It is also necessary—may God grant it!—that in providing others with books to read I myself should make progress, and that in trying to answer their questions I myself should find what I am seeking. Therefore at the command of God our Lord and with his help, I have undertaken not so much to discourse with authority on matters known to me as to know them better by discoursing devoutly of them.” St. Augustine of Hippo, The Trinity I,8.

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  • captcrisis

    This essay illustrates how you can’t square the Adam and Eve story with what is now known via science without adding epicycles upon epicycles. Or without redefining “Adam”, “Eve”, “man”, “woman”, “tree of knowledge”, and yes, “original sin”.

  • Mike

    I wonder why we consider the augument about evolution important and why we spend alot of time and energy discussing biological theories and hypothesies about our origin and postulating things we know nothing about and that science knows nothing about and can only guess. What we need to know is what has been revealed in the Person of Jesus Christ and the truths He has revealed. If only christians could spend more time meditating not just on the Bible but the VERY LIVING WORDS that JESUS SPOKE in the Bible…and for Maria A, there is absolutely nothing in the writings of Bl. Emmerich that supports evolution and the Church’s position about Mary’s death (sleeping) and Assumption has never changed with time though these facts were never formally defined until Pius XII era.

    • Thank you for your comment Mike. Your position is called “fideism”. The problem with taking that position is that requires cognitive dissonance, to believe partially in what science tells us about the world and ignore the rest. Pope St. John Paul II said we are carried on two wings–faith AND reason, and we should try to understand that God made the world, and that everything about the world he made is consonant with Catholic teaching. Or, in the words of Psalm 19a, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament makes known His handiwork”.

    • Maria A.

      Thank you all for interesting discussion .

      True, Bl.Emmerich explicitly does not allude to evolution explicitly , ,except mentioning the ( negative ) effects from The Fall , thus , the possiiblity that those who appear subhuman are the results of some similar effects and in The Lord , how we are so blessed to be set free .

      On this Feast of Nativity , may we too be given the grace to know that every human life is created in delight , by our Father , who has also , in The Son, taken upon the effects of the ways we invite in the spirit of lies against that truth , to set us free.

      May the prayers of our Mother , her blessed Parents and all of Heaven help us all, to renounce every such spirit against His truth , that they be commanded to depart away form us all ,our lands and nations, never to return , that we can take in more of His truth and His Spirit
      to thank Him and praise Him always , with all .

      .( courtsey – http://www.heartofthefather.com/about/unbound/ )

      God bless .

  • cave daughter

    Thank you for discussing this topic.
    My father recently had his DNA tested by one of the companies that tells you your genetic ancestry / ethnic make-up.

    They said he has more neanderthal DNA than 93% of their tested population ( this is “23andme” ).

    He is also a permanent deacon in the Catholic Church (LOL). Maybe the spiritual component comes from the 0.1% Ashkenazi Jew (just kidding).

    We are American but his DNA is 100% European and I understand they / we tend to have the most neanderthal.

    I am awaiting my results. Hopefully plenty of neanderthal DNA. My mother never had hers done and she is deceased. I think I basically know her genetics, but you never know.

  • Howard

    The claim that Neanderthals were a different species than we are is not universally accepted, largely because there is no universally accepted definition for what a species is. Some scientists consider the Neanderthals a subspecies, which does not sound so problematic.

    More to the point, the scientific arguments really have nothing to do with the soul. There is no scientific test that can determine whether or not a host has been validly consecrated. There is no scientific test that can tell if a man bears the mark of baptism on his soul; there is no scientific test that can show if the woman has validly been confirmed; there is no scientific test that can detect whether their marriage is actually sacramental; there is no scientific test that can show if the penitent has actually been absolved or the cleric has validly been marked with Holy Orders. The effects of sacraments are invisible to science. The presence of a soul is, too.

    • You make a good point Howard about “scientific” evidence for ensoulment. On the other hand, there are activities (mentioned in the article) that would be attributes of those who are ensouled. Can we take evidence for such activities as evidence for ensoulment?

    • Howard

      If we have to given an answer, we have no present alternative to using that evidence, since God has not given us special insight into the spiritual condition of people who lived tens or hundreds of thousands of years ago. Given the fact that we are unable to preach the Gospel to these people, though, do we have any compelling need to rush to judgement?

    • The presence of a soul is, too.

      Not true. If humans had a soul there would be a non-physical aspect of human beings that would have a physical effect on our body. This is ruled out by Core Theory. There are no forces not in the standard model and gravity that can have any effect on human beings.

    • Howard

      The fact that you are appealing to theory rather than experiment illustrates the point I made to you earlier today: You do not know what you are talking about. And I say that as a theorist!

      You put the cart before the horse. We discover our best approximations to the laws of nature by observation and experiment, not the other way around. That’s how we find weird things that were not expected and that flew in the face of existing theory, including quantum mechanics in its entirety (Einstein helped create it but never quite accepted it), particles like the muon and neutrino, and rather recently Dark Energy.

      Maybe Dr. Kurland is willing to deal with you, but I have no interest in it. Maybe a “retired, cranky, old physicist,” has more patience than a still-working, cranky, getting-older physicist.

    • Core Theory is derived from experimental evidence. Which means, to quote a theoretical physicist: You do not know what you are talking about.

    • Thank you for your comment, “Thinker”. You’re repeating the arguments made by Sean Carroll and other physicists who take science as a religion. I’ve dealt with this contention in a review of Carroll’s book, “The Big Picture”. See
      http://rationalcatholic.blogspot.com/2017/08/sean-carrolls-big-picture-reviewd-why.html

      If one knows something of the history and philosophy of science then one knows that theories are our attempt to make sense out of a very interesting universe, they are not immutable, they are not “laws”. Indeed, to paraphrase Wigner, that fact that mathematics explains (partially) what goes on is itself a wonder. Unlike what Hawking says, gravity is not a “thing’ and therefore cannot cause the universe; the Standard Model (about which I’ve written–see here
      http://rationalcatholic.blogspot.com/2013/04/god-symmetry-and-beauty-i-standard.html)
      is a beautiful edifice, but it has flaws, limitation and imperfections, which are admitted by many physicists.

      There are many philosophers, some of them non-believers, who do not credit material explanations for mind and consciousness. Read Thomas Nagel’s “Mind and Cosmos” or any of Colin McGinn’s books. …Enlarge your horizons beyond the very narrow and limited scope of materialism.

    • Accusing Carroll and others of taking science as a religion is false. No one needs to accept scientism in the sense you’re describing it. Even if some atheists do treat science as a “religion,” that is a negative mark against them – not atheism, materialism, or science simpliciter.

      So I read your blog post and it does absolutely nothing to refute anything I said. You say you’re a scientist. What kind of scientist? Do you understand physics in the relevant parts of my comment. Core Theory was developed by Frank Wilzcek, a Nobel prize winning physicist. It is based on 50+ years of experimental evidence. And if you read Carroll’s book properly, he goes into detail about how that knowledge is solid. It is not going to be changed by a paradigm shift in physics. It can’t be, because in order to be wrong, our best tested scientific theory – quantum field theory – must be wrong.

      This is not a matter of having incomplete data. Any possible force that can effect the particles of which we are all made of is parameterized by two factors: how strong it is and the distance over which it can effect other things. Gravity and electromagnetism are long range forces, but it’s easiest to measure long ranging forces that are strong. Those are the kinds of forces we’ve already discovered and described in Core Theory. No other long range strong forces can exist without having already been detected, and so are ruled out. And long range forces that are weak wouldn’t be able to interact with atoms. So they’re ruled out too. That only leaves us with short range forces, like the nuclear forces. These forces would have to be less than a tenth of a centimeter and such forces would be too short ranged to account for psychic phenomena like telekinesis and ESP. But they’d also have to be weaker than gravity (which is a billionth of a billionth of a billionth of a billions the strength of electromagnetism), or else they too would have already been detected. Another property of quantum field theory known as crossing symmetry gives us further assurance. Crossing symmetry says that if one field can interact with another one, the second field can produce particles of the first one. This means that if there were a new particle or force that could interact with the stuff that we’re made of, it would be able to be created by the annihilation of a particle and its antiparticle, due to the fact that in quantum field theory every particle has an antiparticle with an opposite charge. More simply: if a new particle can interact with ordinary particles, then that particle can be created in high energy collisions. We’ve tested collisions of particles and their antiparticles with enormous energies and no new particles or forces were found. This rules out all possible new particles and forces that can interact with people, animals, or inanimate objects made of atoms that is in any way noticeable or detectable.

      So that unequivocally rules out the existence of any form of dualism, and so goes the concept of the soul, Cartesian, or Thomistic. Stop pretending as if your metaphysics still has a chance. It doesn’t. I suspect you don’t understand the subject matter enough to know what you’re talking about.

    • Carroll, Dawkins, Kraus, Hawkings take science as a religion because they have faith (it’s not based on observation or the scientific method) that science can explain everything–what’s good, what’s beautiful, and, indeed, why science works. That’s not true. Science, as you point depends on empirical support. There is no empirical support to show that science can explain why Bach, Mozart, Berlioz, the Beatles are “beautiful”. There is no empirical support (despite the claims of ethnologists) for “you should love your neighbor as yourself” With respect to 50 years of support for the Standard Model, I’m well aware of that and if you had read my post you would have understood that. I’ve followed the development, the false starts and the successes. You can do a Google search to see wherein the Standard model may be inadequate.
      With respect to my capabilities as a physicist, I’m not a particle physicist, nor a theoretical physicist, but I have published papers involving quantum theory, density matrix theory. Google “Kurland-McGarvey” equation, so I’m knowledgeable about quantum mechanics. Moreover, I’ve read in the philosophy and history of science. Have you? Are you aware of d’Espagnat’s “veiled reality” of quantum mechanics? (In case you weren’t aware, d’Espagnat was one of the Aspect team–disproving Bell’s Theorem.)
      Again, I suggest: broaden your horizons–you might learn things that are disturbing but enlightening.

    • Carroll, Dawkins, Kraus, Hawkings take science as a religion because they have faith (it’s not based on observation or the scientific method) that science can explain everything–what’s good, what’s beautiful, and, indeed, why science works.

      Carroll and Krauss certainly don’t think science can explain everything. Carroll, for example, has said numerous times not everything is explained by science. I believe he even says so in his book you critiqued.

      That’s not true. Science, as you point depends on empirical support. There is no empirical support to show that science can explain why Bach, Mozart, Berlioz, the Beatles are “beautiful”.

      That’s because whether or not those things are beautiful is not a fact, and science deals with facts. Science can maybe tell us why we subjectively think certain things are beautiful, but beauty is really in the domain of philosophy, not science.

      There is no empirical support (despite the claims of ethnologists) for “you should love your neighbor as yourself” With respect to 50 years of support for the Standard Model, I’m well aware of that and if you had read my post you would have understood that.

      How does anyone who thinks loving your neighbor as yourself is good, know it’s good then? Technically virtually no one loves their neighbor as themselves. It’s totally impractical. I read your post and nothing in it indicated you are aware that there are no additional forces that have any effect on us. Hence, dualism is false.

      You can do a Google search to see wherein the Standard model may be inadequate.

      Yes, and it is adequate with regard to the fundamental laws of physics that concern everyday lives – which includes all human activity.

      Moreover, I’ve read in the philosophy and history of science. Have you? Are you aware of d’Espagnat’s “veiled reality” of quantum mechanics? (In case you weren’t aware, d’Espagnat was one of the Aspect team–disproving Bell’s Theorem.)

      Science is highly particularized, so merely being a scientist or even a physicist doesn’t necessarily give you knowledge about particular aspects of it and how they’re relevant to metaphysics or human experience. The philosophy of science is a big passion of mine. One needs philosophy in addition to science to make sense of the world. Yet the moment someone mentions there’s no scientific evidence for X, they get accused of “scientism” by folks like you as if to say, asking for scientific evidence requires a belief that science answers all things. Non-sequitor.

      Again, I suggest: broaden your horizons–you might learn things that are disturbing but enlightening.

      I’ve certainly considered non-materialism. In fact, I’m not fully committed to materialism – on certain definitions of it. But I’ve done plenty of research into Thomism, and I can’t find any good justification for it.

    • Gee, Thinker you must have read a different book than I did. I’ve spent a day rereading Carroll’s book and I can’t find any such statement. Can you give me some quotes by Carroll (and/or) Krausss that give specifics on the things they think can’t be explained by materialism/science?
      And if you say only “facts”, i.e. verified observations can be explained by science I would partially agree. I would in fact limit that to reproducible observations. That leaves a lot that can’t be explained by science, which is just my point.
      “and it is adequate with regard to the fundamental laws of physics that concern everyday lives”…but physics, as you point out, has nothing to do with morality, with ethics, with any sort of value judgments. So, what’s your point? As far as the laws of physics “that concern everyday lives–which includes all human activity”, there seems to be a lot of that activity that has nothing to do with physics.

    • OK, there’s much confusion going on, which is always the case.

      I don’t have the book in front of me so I can’t do that now. I know he’s said this in his talks.

      Nothing in beauty is a fact. It’s all subjective, even if the vast majority of people find something or certain things beautify.

      Morality exists on a different level than physics. The whole point of Carroll’s book is to show how reality needs to have separate descriptions at different levels. Morality, economics, and all the social sciences, exist on a higher level than physics, but nothing in those fields will contradict anything going on in physics.

    • Think, I agree with what you say, but I disagree with the weight you give to “factual” (i.e. observational) knowledge relative to subjective. We rely on subjective knowledge much more than we do on the laws of physics–which change–to conduct our daily lives: to do the good, to seek the beautiful and true, and to worship God.

    • Don’t get me wrong, my personal view is not that only things that are observable are facts. Carroll’s point is that the laws of physics in Core Theory that describe the world at everyday levels are not going to change. When we learn more about quantum gravity, or the physics of black holes (neither of which apply to the everyday world), it is not going to change the laws of physics in Core Theory, it will simply pad the container of what we know with additional knowledge, it’s not going to overwrite what we do know. That’s one of the central themes in his book, which is echoed by all good physicists. And subjective knowledge can’t show that to “do the good, to seek the beautiful and true, and to worship God”, are anything other than what you think we should do.

    • Docent

      To the Limited Thinker:

      “If humans had a soul there would be a non-physical aspect of human beings that would have a physical effect on our body.”

      What?

      “This is ruled out by Core Theory?”

      What?

      Time for you to learn some basics in metaphysics for some real serious and advanced thinking, especially relating to the nonsense of attempting to foist physics onto metaphysical concepts. In this regard you are…Not Even Wrong! 🙂

    • You’re not even coherent.

      Metaphysical claims have physical implications. Substance dualism for example, if true, would have physical effects that we could measure.

    • Docent

      You cannot measure the metaphysical, because it is beyond physical measurement. This is real metaphysics 101; not some pseudo-metaphysics you have merely set up as a straw man. You kinda remind me of Lawrence Krauss and his idiotic claims about nothing actually being something, again due to a flawed understanding of what nothing actually means.

      Objective science is indeed superb when it comes to actual physical measurement. However, it has absolutely no jurisdiction or insight into the spiritual/non-physical and/or metaphysical realm precisely because such cannot be physically measured. It is beyond science, and as soon as some scientists learn to accept the limitations of science, they will gain more wisdom by sticking to what they do know and learn the philosophy of being from sound philosophers and theologians just as some theologians and philosophers should learn objective science from objective scientists.

      Good luck in Wonderland. I’m sure you would be honored as a supreme logician in that realm.

    • If the metaphysical has an effect on the physical, like a ghost in the machine (AKA dualism), it is absolutely measurable. Hence, metaphysical claims can indeed have physical implications. So you don’t even know what you’re talking about.

      Take mental causation. This is a metaphysical view. Whenever I debate a theist on the topic of mental causation—which almost every theists believes in—I almost always hear the claim that if mental causation exists you wouldn’t be able to tell scientifically; the mind is non-material. This strikes me as odd. Why would this be the case? Anything that can affect physical matter is in principle verifiable and open to science. So I thought of this dialogue to show why this view makes no sense:

      Person A: There’s a ghost moving the cup across the table.

      Person B: There’s no way to tell if the ghost moved the cup across the table because the ghost is non-material.

      Person A: What are you talking about? We can see the cup moving across the table with nothing touching it.

      Person B: No, it’s impossible to tell if a non-material thing affects a physical thing.

      Person A: Are you insane? The cup is moving right now and nothing we can see is moving it.

      Person B: No, it’s impossible to tell if a non-material thing affects a physical thing.

      Person A: It’s moving! We can see the ghost affecting physical matter, and we’ve scientifically ruled out all other possibilities.

      Person B: No, it’s impossible to tell if a non-material thing affects a physical thing.

      Person A: https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/eb7c031467408c8f0eb6a067c7d2fa42636a4ca5621909116a4faec1b6ba7043.jpg

      So yeah, you have no idea what you’re talking about because you just don’t understand the subject matter enough. Go back to school and learn a little more and stop trying to pretend as if you’re smart like me. It’s not plausible.

    • Docent

      To the very limited, weak would-be thinker:

      Ha, ha, ha! You gave away your abject ignorance by referencing “like a ghost in a machine.” This is not what the soul is nor how it works, and it is not even close to being so to serve as a would-be analogy (your view is somewhat akin to Platonism in this regard, but Thomistic-Aristotelianism contains the proper understanding). Again, you attempt to force physical measurement on that which is spiritual and cannot be physically measured. There are indeed many real things that cannot be measured because they lack material being; things like love, imagination, thinking in general, and so on.

      Yes, the mind is indeed immaterial, and just because this strikes you as odd is not a refutation of this reality. In fact, given your limited understanding of legitimate metaphysics, it is not surprising that this notion would elude you and strike you as odd. It’s simply beyond your understanding, and to limited minds like yours, that which they do not understand often strikes them as odd.

      Next, your imaginary dialogue continues to miss the point since you insist on the nonsense notion of a ghost. Again, you are so far off the mark that you are not even wrong.

      Person A’s initial statement in your bogus dialogue sets up a false premise and straw man argument, but the true metaphysical understanding remains intact because you have not addressed it. You assume it is a ghost or ghost-like, and this is completely false. Again, you do not understand metaphysics, so the best you can come up with is a ghost, which is actually closer to what is done with things like dark energy and dark matter. We can’t see such things, but they must be there, right, because we can see actions taking place in space that we can’t explain without positing these invisible things. These are your kinds of ghosts, but such ghosts, if they do exist, are not metaphysical realities, which are not ghosts or ghost-like in any way.

      Lastly, if I was “smart” like you, I’d be just starting junior high, so I’ll stick with my numerous graduate degrees.

      “Ghost in the machine.” Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! What an incredibly nonsense notion you believe to be how metaphysics “works.” Again, not even close, so continue to tilt at the windmills of your own making, Quixote, and remain extraordinarily blind in the process.

      QED

    • I’m well aware that a “ghost in the machine” is not the only form of dualism. I was just giving you an example of a metaphysical view that clearly has physical implications. And that shows that “metaphysics” has physical implications. And that means I’m right, and you’re wrong.

      But of course that went way over your head.

      but Thomistic-Aristotelianism contains the proper understanding

      Thomistic Aristotelianism contains the proper understanding about almost nothing. Anything non-physical that has an effect on the physical is measurable. In this sense, I clearly know more about metaphysics than you do.

      Next, your imaginary dialogue continues to miss the point since you insist on the nonsense notion of a ghost. Again, you are so far off the mark that you are not even wrong.

      Clearly not given what I wrote above that shows you’re wrong.

      You assume it is a ghost or ghost-like, and this is completely false. Again, you do not understand metaphysics, so the best you can come up with is a ghost, which is actually closer to what is done with things like dark energy and dark matter.

      Someone who believed in ghost has a metaphysical view, and yes, that view would involve non-material things having an effect on material things. You ignorantly mistake “metaphysics” for “Thomistic-Aristotelianism” as if one particular metaphysical view is all of metaphysics. This is why you don’t know the subject matter enough.

      Dark energy and matter are physical things with physical properties that simply interact very weakly (if at all) with the ordinary matter that you and I are made of. If your mind were like dark matter, it would not have no effect on your physical behavior or movement at all because it doesn’t interact with it.

      So at the same time you’re telling me the mind is non-physical, it has an effect on physical matter by being a causal influence on your body, and you’re also trying to tell me you can’t measure metaphysical things like an immaterial mind or soul.

      To this I say: https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/eb7c031467408c8f0eb6a067c7d2fa42636a4ca5621909116a4faec1b6ba7043.jpg

      Lastly, if I was “smart” like you, I’d be just starting junior high, so I’ll stick with my numerous graduate degrees.

      Clearly those degrees haven’t made you any smarter.

      “Ghost in the machine.” Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! What an incredibly nonsense notion you believe to be how metaphysics “works.” Again, not even close, so continue to tilt at the windmills of your own making, Quixote, and remain extraordinarily blind in the process.

      No where did I say this is how metaphysics “works.” This is an example of metaphysics. Clearly you don’t understand examples vs subjects.

    • Docent

      Good luck in Wonderland.

    • Good luck maintaining your sophomoric level understanding of the world. It helps when avoiding cognitive dissonance.

  • Maria A.

    For those who struggle about evolution , the books based on the visions of Bl.Emmerich can be helpful.

    God , having foreseen our times , likely gave her the experience of seeing the history of creation and events thereafter , till the Assumption of bl.Mother , thus to help us in our times that challenges much regarding faith . .

    The amazing and authenticating aspect of her visions is the fact that till her visions came to light ,
    The Church had the oral tradition that Bl.Mother died while in Jerusalem ; thus , there is the Church of Dormition there ; Bl.Emmercih was shown how St.John and Bl.Mother came to Jerusalem for the synod, had a fainting near death like experience there and the Apostle prepared a tomb for her which later became the above church .
    She recovered , went to Ephesus with St.John and is assumed to heaven from there .

    http://www.ncregister.com/site/article/how-one-french-nun-found-marys-house

    Being around the Feast of Nativity. her book also gives delightful description of the nativity of Bl.Mother as well as of the Immaculate Conception , how it was in the Prefall plan of God , not exactly in a carnal manner .

    She describes Adam and Eve as filled with light , hairs like beams of light .
    The Fall brought changes and some of the so called primitive humanoids very well might be those who might have been affected by enemy spirits whose appearance even reflected same

    The Church’s teaching on the soul is the relevant one , how in baptism , we are reborn unto The Lord and our mission being to live in accordance with The Spirit , The church making ample provisions to help us all , regardless of our external looks .

    Glory be and a Blessed Feast of Nativity !

    • Thank you for your comment Maria. Very interesting account of this which I had not known about. However, i think you miss the point of what I was trying to do in this article–reconcile what is known from science about the descent of humans with Catholic teaching.