Thursday, May 01, 2008

Evolution and the Image of God

The Church says she is open to the possibility of evolution but I don’t know of anywhere she has wrestled with trying to explain how it could be reconciled with Christian theology, she just says “it can”. I have several major problems with evolution which I have never heard a satisfactory answer to.

1. Death and suffering existed prior to the fall and in fact were not really related.
2. Sin, in this model, seems to be reduced to the mental capacity to do wrong
3. God did not create animals to reproduce after their own kind as said in Genesis

Those are all theological objections, but I have scientific ones as well, irreducible complexity etc… The issue I want to try and bring up here is another theological one and that is that man was made in the image of God.

The body is sacred according to Catholic theology because it is the image of God, but given Theistic evolution, we have to carefully re-word why and how it is sacred. I’ve seen theologians remark that it’s not “the image of God” because there is a Person who looks like us somewhere in the sky but because of our personhood and our ability/need to relate to others. Ok. I can sort of buy that argument but I think the brunt of this point can be understood by grasping the Catechism’s warning for us to acknowledge that we are in God’s image and not the other way around.

But setting that aside for now, what separates us from apes given theistic evolution? Two things: DNA (we’re a little smarter and prettier) and a Soul. God inserted the soul into a smart ape and he became Adam. Adam’s body wasn’t sacred before God inserted the soul – and so by this model we see that the body isn’t sacred in and of itself anymore – it’s sacred (and it’s the image of God) because a soul was inserted into it. In short, the body derives all of its worth from the soul. This conclusion (which seems inevitable to me) is terribly inconsistent with Catholic theology of the body.

This is really sort of a baptized neo-Platonism. Physical matter is worthless but, this particular physical matter (the body) has some worth because it is animated by a soul. Then what happens when the soul departs at death? Shouldn’t the body return to a state of worthlessness? It doesn’t in Catholic theology, but we would have expected it to given theistic evolution.

I’m very open to hear thoughts on this one, perhaps I’m missing something.

27 comments:

George Weis said...

Just Gross!
I have heard of the big bang being able to be argued into creationism... with a non literal 24 hour day... but Evolution? I think not! Yes, Baptized Neo-Platonism it is! I hope they don't go down that road, it seems like some form of compromise to culture if you ask me.


-g-

andrew said...

what about pursuing the question along roughly aristotelian lines? assume a hylomorphic mind/brain relation such that certain properties of the former are not properties of latter (e.g., consciousness), and yet are ontologically joined to it, as evidenced by cause/effect relations between brain events and states of consciousness. in this way, we can pretty well see that rationality in animals demands sufficiently complex brains, even though rational activity is not reducible to material events; hence, we avoid both dualism and materialism, which are both incompatible w/ Catholic faith.

we can also see that gradual adaptations in biological life which yeild complex brains, render an orgamism more suited for rational life, which, as I just noted, seems to depend, for material beings, on material events (brain activity). The advent of rationality is (in my view) probably not the same in kind as the events by which the brain developed, but an age-old catholic maxim is that God's actions, though free, are fitting, so that he would be much more likely to bestow the gift of reason upon an animal with a highly developed brain than to give that gift to, say, crustaceans or birds or rocks.

andrew said...

I think c.s. lewis made an analogy like this: baptism elevates the life of rational creatures into a different order of existence, yet without any violence to, or denigration of, nature, much as the gift of rational soul does not denigrate the animal, it lifts the animal to a different and higher order of existence. grace builds on nature, mind builds on matter.

Gretchen said...

Thanks for bringing up this subject! One of our parish priests said evolution interferes with his sense of "Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever."

I tend to believe the simplest explanation is the most rational and realistic. And though there is a wonderful complexity in the creatures of God, it doesn't have to mean that the act of creating was complex. After all, when He speaks, things happen..."Let there be light, and there was light". There wasn't a sense of billions upon billions of years of incalculable processes going on first.

To my mind, evolution doesn't fit with God's character and methods. There's a gut feeling that it's just somehow wrong. And I guess I'm the reason why evolutionists think Christians are just nutty. :-)

Zombie said...

Good post, nice beard by the way.

Tim A. Troutman said...

Andrew, I can understand how the Aristotelean metaphysics can help make sense of the body being sacred and being the "image of God" while the soul is with it, but I don't see how this can help us make sense of the body still retaining its sacredness once the soul has departed. When we die, our bodies don't cease being the "image of God".

Also, the Catechism tells us that body and soul are so inseparable that the body can even rightly be seen as "the form of the soul". The way I am digesting that concept must be radically altered if I am to accept that I'm just a handsome ape dignified by a soul (and a nice beard - thanks Zombie! - one even begins to wonder am I dignified more by the beard or the soul?? j/k).

Evolution to me seems to rub the fur of Incarnation based - sacramental theology in the wrong direction and it feels like what's really happening is not that we're discovering theological truth but attempting to reconcile theology with scientific evidence (which we may or may not be falsely interpreting in the first place).

Still, I can see that to the extant I may try to gain sympathy for my position by referring to us as dignified apes - one could point out that the alternative is still dignified dirt. No matter how you look at it, our bodies are composed of materials which are not inherently holy or even magnificent.

Still, (and this is where I'm agreeing with Gretchen) it makes a great deal more sense to me that God created the body and soul as an inseparable union at one time rather than developing the body and inserting a soul into it. The latter sounds more 'hocus pocus' to me than the former. I think it's harder to believe in a developmental body + soul than a soul+body combo from the beginning.

The latter also makes more sense of the argument Athenagoras used in the second century to prove the resurrection - the body & soul were made to be inseparable and therefore it would be a "rip off" to resurrect the soul without the body. Yet what is merely inserted into a non-dignified body could easily be resurrected without the original body it animated. I don't see any violations going on here.

If the soul was inserted into the body and thereby dignified it, making the body the image of God, why is Scripture so particular about calling the body the image of God and not more accurately referring to "the person" as the image?

I dont mean to be dismissing any of your points - I am admittedly uneducated on the Greek philosophers so when we start talking about Aristotelean metaphysics I have a limited frame of reference.

Allen said...

.

Allen said...

Tim, don’t let anyone fool you. It’s not the beard it’s the shades that rule. On most points I would agree with your post. However this one is a tough pill to swallow. I do not understand how anyone can argue that evolution did not happen.
As for the "Fall of Man," and the understanding that man did not know death before the fall, did that include animals as well? After all, some animals were designed (by God) to reproduce, and eat other animals. I can buy Man did not eat flesh or know death. Does that have to include carnivores like the alligator?
The idea of intelligent design does not change the aspect of sin that I know of. Unless, I’m missing something – let me know. God created the direction for animals to grow, some died off and some lived, allowing for man to be dominate over all. Sin is something that Man created by wanting to be as great as God. You may have a bad dog, but they cannot sin because they do not have the capacity to sin.
Animals change as do Men. We have a very diverse world that formed from Adam and Eve. It’s impossible for me to think Adam was black, white, and red, with blonde hair, red hair, and a brunette all at the same time? How hard is it to believe that animals change in the same way that humans have changed? We know for fact, that men were much shorter only a few centuries ago.
I'm not sure how anyone can explain scientific fact without adopting a belief in intelligent design. The idea that creation did not happen in a week is ok with me. I see God's presence in all of nature and it's hard to believe that anyone could deny it. For me, intelligent design not only puts the Bible in Science, but it puts Science in the Bible to strengthen and support beliefs.
Great Post!!! Keep them coming. And yeah, I wont vote for Obama… 

Gretchen said...

Allen said that some animals were designed by God to eat other animals. Are you sure about that? I would think that the fall precipitated the 'dog eat dog' aspect of nature. After all Isa. 11:6 says: "The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them." And this is in reference to the coming of the Messiah, so to me it betokens the redeeming aspect of Jesus--bringing things back to a pre-fall status.

Also, man was not necessarily shorter a few centuries ago. There were plenty of tall guys running around--and historians are now figuring that poor diets had a lot to do with small stature. Think Japan after WWII--once the Japanese diet improved they began showing appreciable overall height differences from previous years.

Also, I haven't heard that man 'created' sin. Where is that in Catholic theology?

As far as red, blonde, brunette and black hair--not sure why that would be a problem. My mom had black hair, my dad had blonde hair. They had four kids--one blonde, one black and two brunettes. Not a problem. :-)

Tim A. Troutman said...

I think Gretchen is right again. Maybe me and her are both silly fundamentalists but I can identify with what she is saying the most!

I don't think animals were created to kill each other. God looked at Creation before the fall and said "it is good". He said that over and over. Even the Buddhists have learned that the smallest insect dying is not a good thing.

I think of the scenario in the garden before the fall (remember whatever the Church allows in the neighborhood of evolution, she mandates that we believe in a literal Adam and Eve from which all men are descended). In the garden, before the Fall, Adam or Eve could have been Mauled to death by a tiger or lightning could have killed one of them. Natural evil is still evil. It's not supposed to happen. Evolution requires natural evil and that is theologically problematic for me.

The potency of this point can be fully realized, I think, by telling the surviving family of a loved one killed by a natural evil that this was all part of God's plan from the beginning. You can't do it because we all know it wasn't part of his plan. Think of a toddler mauled by a pittbull - perfectly compatible with pre-fall evolutionary world. This is the point where I think that "gut" instinct that Gretchen was talking about can trump whatever science we think we know. Science changes regularly, but we've known from the beginning of time that natural evil is not part of the perfect creation plan.

Tim A. Troutman said...

Oh and Allen, I appreciate your comments and I'm not trying to absolutely disagree with you by any means.

You said you can't see how anyone can disbelieve evolution, I think the very opposite. I can't see how anyone can believe it. I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed but I know for a fact I'm much smarter than many of the people who believe in evolution and scoff at creationists (and there are many smarter than me on both sides). So I dont think its just an issue of me being too stupid to understand it. I think its an issue of ignorance of certain key scientific facts and philosophical arguments at best and at worst I may actually be right about it. I'm open to various possibilities!

Doc Rampage said...

There is a Protestant doctrine to the effect that "in God's image" means that a person consisting of a body, soul, and spirit reflects the Trinity. I believe that according to this theory, animals are short of God's image by lacking a spirit and angels by lacking a body.

I don't know how prevalent this idea is, though. And I'm inclined to think that angels have bodies.

andrew said...

Tim, its important to note that, according to Aristotle, all living things have souls: vegetable souls, animal souls and rational souls. The soul is the form of the body, not vice versa. Upon death, the soul ceases to "inform" the body, such that the material remains, which are no longer a body properly speaking (i.e., an integral being with an inherenet organizing principle), decompose.
Thus, when we die, the remains are just that- the remains. The remains are sacred in the sense that they are to be treated with respect, but they are not a human body, precisely because a human body is, by definition, ensouled. The idea that the remains continue to be a body, properly speaking, sans soul, really is a dualistic concept.

The hylomorphic (soul/body unity) understanding of the relation between soul and body would might lead us to suspect that God made man "at one time," as it were. But I do not know if this is necessary. And I do not know, in this case, what is meant by "at one time." Maybe you mean something like: God fashioned man over an undefined length of time but in less than 24 hours. This would certainly fit a certain kind of reading of the Genesis account of creation, but it also posits that man came into being over a gradual period of time, which is just what the theistic evolutionist would say.

Two related points: (1) I think that the best readings of the creation account will presuppose the entire Pentateuch as its context; such readings tend to ignore certain scientific questions about origins precisely because those are not the issues addressed by this text (when read in context).(2) The proponent of a less than 24 hour time frame for the making of man is still left with the problem of conceptualizing what this really went like, literally depicted, and, for our purposes here, with especial attention to the soul-body question. It is illogical to assume that this task is made any easier simply by the (putative) short time period. And if one counters that the text really gives us no basis for speculating about exactly how, in scientific terms, God went about fashioning man, then I would respond: that is exactly right.

Gretchen said...

Andrew said, "The idea that the remains continue to be a body, properly speaking, sans soul, really is a dualistic concept." So, the word 'corpus' when referring to Jesus on the cross is referring to...what? And if the 'remains' are nothing once the soul departs, why did the Lord accomplish a bodily resurrection? Why did he even have to die a bodily death, then? You can see the problems here--gnosticism, which ends up in ancient and modern heresies like Christian Science that deny the reality of the material world (and the divinity of Jesus).

The Scriptures do treat of time in referring to creation. Evening and morning and days are specifically mentioned. One can discuss what that actually meant, but let us be clear, God has idiomatic will. He brings forth without effort, inside or outside of time, as He wills. If you can agree with that statement, then the idea that His word going forth is purposefully designed to create in such a way that immense chunks of time are required in which to bring about an ensouled individual seems needlessly complex.

God became man. He took on flesh. That alone says something about the sacredness of the body. He spent 30-some years in that form, and then he died, rose, and ascended in that selfsame body. He healed human bodies right and left and raised dead bodies. We are promised a bodily resurrection in Scripture. The body is terribly important to Christian theology and always will be. And there will always be ideas, old and new, that attempt to negate and neutralize its importance. When I find myself on the frontier of some such ideas, I always go back to the cross and find a firm foundation.

Tim A. Troutman said...

Wow this is getting good. Andrew you got my gears turning but I think Gretchen made some good points too.

I still don't see why the focus on the "body" in Scripture rather than on "the person" which would make more sense given the Aristotelean way of looking at it. I said earlier that the body was the form of the soul, you are right it is the other way around according to the Catechism - I got my wires crossed.

CC 364 sounds a lot like what you're saying: "it is a human body precisely because it is animated by a spiritual soul"

But I think this is language inserted into the Catechism to account for the possibility of evolution being true. I can't see the above being written in the 1700s (doesn't mean it's wrong of course).

From what Gretchen said, I don't see how any of this can make sense of such distinction in Scripture between body and soul and the specific inherent dignity of the body (as opposed to the "person"). The argument for Christ's bodily resurrection is another strong one I think. Why was it even necessary? Couldn't His Body just decay and He resurrect with a new one? But God saw it necessary to show that the original Body and Soul were to be reunited in the resurrection because the Body has not lost its dignity.

andrew said...

some random thoughts about issues brought up on this thread:

(1) The word 'corpus,' after our Lord had given up his spirit and before the resurrection, refers to the corpse, which, per the CCC (as Tim noted), following St Thomas Aquinas (13th century), is not a body, strictly speaking. Neither the CCC nor the writings of St Thomas, a Doctor of the Church, are gnostic, for crying out loud.

(2) The Church teaches certain things about bodies for theological and philosophical reasons, and not in some kind of servile deference to 19th century biology. However, if biological science acheives interesting and widely accepted hypotheses concerning the origins and development of organisms, then the Church need not turn a deaf ear. A Pope has said that (a) biological evolution is probably a fact and (b) that fact is not incompatible with Christian doctrine. At the very least, we should exhibit some deference to the Holy Father's words, especially (b).

(3) To be a body is to be one thing; but a corpse decomposes into many things, precisely because it is no longer a body. Now, in reference to the resurrection: Our Lord's remains did not decompose because they were only in the tomb for some 30-40 hours. Also, Catholics are well aware of the fact that God may cause the remains of a saint to be mysteriously preserved. However, most remains, even the remains of many saints, are not thus preserved. They decompose (sorry) and return to dust, out of which grows plants, some of which are eaten by animals some of which are eaten by people.

(4) At the resurrection, human souls are re-embodied by virtue of having the material principle of man (which is an essential constituent of the human being) restored. Its not like there are a bunch of pretty corpses lying underground waiting for everyone.

Again: a body is a unity comprised of form and matter (these are philosophical terms denoting the active and passive principles of bodies). When a body is deprived of its substantial form it ceases to be that body. It is an aggregate of forms with no active unifying principle.

(5) All of creation is to be given honor and shown respect. But to suggest that a body has inherent dignity "as opposed to the person" is, ironically, to suggest that a human body is not a human person. Abortion, anyone? There can be no dignity inherent in the body that is not inherent in the person precisely because a human body is a human person.

When the body dies, it ceases to be a body, not on dualistic grounds, but precisely because the soul is an integral aspect of the body- they belong together. The remains of a human body do have a kind of residual dignity, and may even possess residual virtues, not in themselves, but because of their association with the human being that has passed away.

(6) Sadly, I think that a not-so-subtle kind of adversion to the physical world is at play in some of the comments made here. This world, and the physical processes by which life in it is sustained and develops is not gross. It is God's creation. Dirt and spittle and sperm and billions of living and dying insects and molars grinding up dead plants and animals is not gross. It is a gift.

Sorry for repeating myself so often.

Allen said...

Great discussion. I may be playing the devils advocate here, but it’s only for a better personal understanding. I still do not understand how everything we know in this physical world could be created in 1 week or 144 hours not counting the day of rest. Is God not timeless? There is no beginning or end to God. Christ was born, died and raised to save all men (B.C and A.D.) Therefore, someone could assume time has no meaning in spiritual terms. The Bible has many references to 40 days. Yet the 40 days is used to identify a time period that signals the completion of something. It may have been more or less than 40 days for all we know. What are the Catholic Church views on this? From what I understand, it is a symbol of completion vs. an actual reference to 40 physical days.
Animals may have not been designed to kill other animals but some were equipped to eat flesh and given a few tools to help. I assume God gave them these tools to preserve the natural order. If you allow the deer to multiply without control they will starve themselves by over grazing. Predators must exist to maintain a balance in nature. There is nothing evil about the predators. They are as much of God’s creation as the deer. However, they must exist to maintain balance. I may be wrong, but do the Buddhist believe in the ying-yang philosophy? (I have no idea personally.. I’m really asking..) Where darkness and light must co-exist, because one could not exist without the other? That could lead to several discussions in it’s self.
What about physical evidence that the world around us existed much longer than what is known to be the beginning of man. How does a literal understanding of 7 days of creation explain dinosaur bones that are millions of years old? Or fossils of plants that no longer exist that existed before man. Both must have known life and death before the fall of man. How does it explain that the light from stars we see in the sky at night took billions of years to reach us? If God created it in 24 hours 5 days before he created man, why is it not still billions and billions of years away? The night sky should be completely dark.
As you know Tim, I’m not a theologian by any means. Nor am I the brightest bulb in the bunch. Just humbly trying to understand. In summary, there are references in the bible to time that are not taken as literal time frames. Nature is God’s creation; therefore a wolf that eats a rabbit is not bad or evil. It is good because both are a part of God’s creation and the rabbit that suffers death is given so that the wolf may continue to live. When God saw that his creation was good, did that include the balance of nature in itself? And finally, how does it address physical evidence of a much older universe?

Tim A. Troutman said...

Andrew, those are good arguments. I need to mull over that for a while.

Allen - I am not advocating a literal 7 day creation or a young earth. Actually, I wasn't really arguing creation at all I was just voicing some theological issues I have with evolution that I don't know the answer to.

My general inclination is to believe in old earth creationism with God creating animals in versatile categories that have "evolved" or more properly adapted developing species within families. Fox-wolf-coyote all come from one canine in original creation for example.

On natural evil being part of God's plan from the beginning - I don't know how to make sense of that either.

Gretchen said...

The etymology of corpus is Middle English, from the Latin in the 15th century. The first definition, from the Merriam-Webster’s dictionary is: “1: the body of a human or animal especially when dead.”
Corpus does not refer exclusively to the body of Jesus Christ, but it is often used in connection with Him. I feel like we’re getting into the realm of the definition of ‘is’ here. Look, a body is a body. Some bodies are alive, some are dying, some are dead. In each of those stages they remain a body, though, as CCC365 says, “…it is because of its spiritual soul that the body made of matter, becomes a living, human body…”
Reading carefully, the text does not say the body is not a body when a soul is not present in it. It says the ‘body made of matter’ becomes a ‘living, human body.’ Genesis 2:7 says, “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” First there was a body comprised of earthly elements…then God breathed life into it. It was a body before and it was a body after. And it remains a body even after death.
CCC366 goes on to discuss the immortal soul: “…it does not perish when it separates from the body at death, and it will be reunited with the body at the final Resurrection.” The word body is being used here in the common sense. There is a clear distinction between an animated, living body, and a dead body, but the essential elements that comprise a corporeal body are the same, whether dead or ensouled—it is made of the dust of the earth. The glorious dust, I might add…the sweat and blood and the elements that comprise God’s palette. When it decomposes, it does not decompose into things that are not inherent in its nature as dust. It does not become something entirely different. Its elements are not otherworldly, but are still solidly earthly, though perhaps in need of God’s reforming power.
Also, bodies begin to decompose immediately after death. In fact, you could make a good argument for decomposition before death, especially when someone is dying of cancer or some other wasting disease. Medical science tells us it is impossible for a dead body (dead according to modern standards) to come back to life. So, it doesn’t matter if the body was dead for 30 or 40 hours or four days, as in the case of Lazarus or dead for thousands of years. Dead is dead. Can you please explain the ‘material principle’ of man. I understand that principle refers to a law or origin. Clarification would help me to better understand what is meant there.
I would appreciate it if someone could direct me to an online version of St. Thomas’ writings on this matter, so that I can read for myself what is being claimed for him.
Yes, a Pope has taught that evolution is not incompatible with Christian doctrine. I think we can certainly respect that teaching, and as evidence comes to light, both in agreement and in contradiction to that teaching, we can all watch with interest the ongoing discussion and engage in it ourselves.

Parodyonlife said...

Well. Evolution as a theory also could have happened AFTER the fall, instead of before. Man changed from what God wanted us to be, it makes a lot more sense this way.

Tim A. Troutman said...

Parody, I'm not sure where you're going with this. I don't think Darwinian evolution could happen after the fall because man has to be the sole culprit in the fall according to the dogma of original sin. In order for man to be the culprit, he has to be there and he has to already have a soul.

Amy said...

I'm joining this discussion a bit late, so there are a lot of other topics brought up here in addition to creation and evolution. The Church has gone through a lot of work to lay the foundations for we know about our origins.

Denziger's The Sources of Catholic Dogma in n. 2123 quotes the Pontifical Biblical Commission (at that time it was part of the CDF, so decisions made then have the authority of the Church behind them):

[I]n 1941… Pope [Pius XII] identified three "elements [that] must be retained as certainly attested by the sacred author, without any possibility of an allegorical interpretation." These are:

1. The essential superiority of man in relation to other animals, by reason of his spiritual soul.

2. The derivation in some way of the first woman from the first man.

3. The impossibility that the immediate father or progenitor of man could have been other than a human being, that is, the impossibility that the first man could have been the son of an animal, generated by the latter in the proper sense of the term. In context, the statement reads, "Only from a man can another man descend, whom he can call father and progenitor."

Gretchen said...

Tim, is man the sole culprit? Didn't satan have something to do with it? I mean, yes, man consented to it all, but God did punish the serpent, too, and foretold of the woman and her seed who would bruise the serpent's head.
I think what Parody was saying, is that a sense of creation changing or evolving would be a result of the fall. Before that, God had made everything and it was good (it didn't need changing or adapting; it was perfectly balanced and self-sustaining, etc). I believe he was saying the theory of evolution (as something conceivable) makes more sense if the fall came beforehand. After the fall, all kinds of changes could and did occur, both in the physical and mental realms. Those observable changes (micro-evolution, which no self-respecting Christian would dispute) lead some to believe in macro-evolution (theory only--a possible explanation of origins). At least I hope that's what he was saying. :-) I must say that the Protestants seem to be tackling this macro-evolution debate head on. I appreciate all they have done to shed light on the debate.

Amy said...

I don't have a problem with the theory of evolution provided it doesn't exceed it's boundaries. When people try to turn it into a religion, or anti-religion, they get into trouble. Evolution really only makes sense if (as I think Darwin explained) it's thought of as how God works in the world. Evolutionary theory can only explain process, not origins and not goals. The theory given by atheists on how life began has a lot in common with Dr. Frankenstein.

Parodyonlife said...

What Gretchen said was what I was going for.

Tim A. Troutman said...

Parody/Gretchen - thanks for the clarification I can buy that.

Amy - thanks for the contributions. Those are important guidelines for Catholics to understand. Sadly, I think many lay instructors are unaware that we are required to believe in a literal Adam and Eve as the parents of humanity.

andrew said...

St Thomas teaches that the intellectual soul is the substantial form of the body giving it existence:

Thomas Aquinas, summa contra gentiles, book 2, sections 68, 69
(available here: http://www2.nd.edu/Departments/Maritain/etext/gc.htm).

The way I am using the word "principle" (cf. Aquinas' usage in the above citations), a principle of something is that which determines its essential quality or nature. Whiteness, or snub-nosed-ness, or red-headed-ness are not principles of human nature. Soul and body are. I am arguing that man is a soul/body unity. So that he has two basic principles that determine his nature: his substantial form (the rational soul) and body (informed matter).

It is important to note that in aristotelian terms, "matter" does not mean "physical being," it means the raw potential to be a being (the passive principle).

Notice that if we define "body" as "informed matter," then it logically follows that when the matter ceases to be informed by the soul, then it ceases to the body it was, since it is the substantial form (soul) that makes the body such-and-so (e.g., a human being).

Gretchen does acknowledge an important distinction when she mentions the "common" sense of the word "body." In response to Tim's post, in particular the question of the significance of the body vis-a-vis human origins, I have been using a specialized sense of the word, namely a philosophical one (depending upon a metaphysics of form and matter). Obviously, in the common sense of the term, "body" is used to refer to a corpse. I indirectly acknowledge this by using the qualifier "properly speaking" when claiming that a corpse is not a body.

Remember that a body is not just a lump of stuff, like a refuse heap or a pile of marbles. It is a single, complex thing. Its parts make for its complexity. Its soul orders and directs those parts making for its unity. Once the soul is gone, there is no inherent principle of unity, and the body loses its essential identity.

The "particles" that make up my body today are an entirely different set from those which made up my body when I was born. Thus, there is good reason to suppose that in the vast majority of raised bodies, the particles of the corpse, which have been diffused in countless ways including being taken up into and made part of other bodies, will not be the physical particles comprising the resurrected body. It will be the same body in the basic sense that my body today is the same body as my body ten years ago, although not comprised of the same particles.

My basic point, vis-a-vis Tim's topic, is still this:

Just as baptism elevates the life of rational creatures into a different order of existence, yet without any violence to, or denigration of, nature, the gift of rational soul would not denigrate the animal, but lift it to a different and higher order of existence. grace builds on nature, mind builds on matter. The lower form of life is a preparation for the higher. Whether the physical brain was "prepared" for the rational soul in a nano-second or in a relatively long period of time such as 24 hours or millions of years, there is a process involved in getting from the slime of the earth to the image of God. The formation of the body is an essential part of this process.

Of course, this is so broad a suggestion that it may be of no use whatsoever with respect to the quest for the Holy Evolution.