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An Evolutionary Adaptation of the Fall

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Abstract

According to John Polkinghorne, the Fall is the major Christian doctrine that is the most difficult to reconcile with contemporary science. Like him, however, I believe it is vitally important, even in this regard, to try to pinpoint the extent to which taking science seriously requires us to modify traditionally held beliefs. In this paper I focus on two problematic ideas associated with the Fall: (i) the idea of a primordial human couple (Adam and Eve), and (ii) the idea that this couple was subjected to bodily death as a result of their original misdeed. I argue that, contrary to appearances, it is possible to harmonize these beliefs with contemporary science – at least if one presupposes some kind of soul-body dualism. I also try to show that this dualism, although philosophically non-fashionable nowadays, is yet to be refuted or made redundant by current evolutionary theory or neurophysiology.

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