TA 106 (Müller)


Commentary 27


by Maurice McCarthy
27 April 2008, posted 3 May 2008


In the course of writing C9 I realised that my concept of evolution had degraded.  I knew at once that I'd never really had the concept, never re-birthed it, never made it my own.  All I'd ever had was mental image or representation which had now faded.  I was surprised by my indifference to the realisation.  "Hmm, I'll have to think about this."


The meandering course of study and thinking which followed led me to a supremely simple accommodation of evolutionary thinking by Christianity, so simple you could tell it in stories to a 9 year old.  It adds absolutely nothing to the science but I've yet to find any way in which it contradicts the facts of evolution when seen through Ernst Mayr's population thinking. (Note 1.)


All living things have a soul.
The soul is the child of the spirit.
Evolution is the course of these children at play together.


This annihilates design and accommodates all chance as play.  The uniqueness of humanity can now be seen as the special case in which the spirit incarnates. In all other cases the spirit "hovers above" the child-souls.  The children now "learn", grow as souls by evolving through their living together in a physical environment.  Evolution is the course of experience of the souls in the world.  Design can possibly be relegated to a concept fit only for a mechanical universe but not a living one.


God is a Trinity.
Humanity is made in the image of God.
Therefore man has three parts - body, soul and spirit.


The distinction between soul and spirit is that only the second is immortal.  A question now arises.  Since the Church was the custodian of learning for many hundreds of years then any unexamined presuppositions there are likely handed on to science and philosophy.  The distinction between body and soul runs through the history of western philosophy to this day but that between soul and spirit was lost.  How come and what was its effect?


The answer appears to lie in Canon 11 of the 8th Ecumenical Council of 869-870.


"Though the old and new Testament teach that a man or woman has one rational and intellectual soul, and all the fathers and doctors of the church, who are spokesmen of God, express the same opinion, some have descended to such a depth of irreligion, through paying attention to the speculations of evil people, that they shamelessly teach as a dogma that a human being has two souls, and keep trying to prove their heresy by irrational means using a wisdom that has been made foolishness.  Therefore this holy and universal synod is hastening to uproot this wicked theory now growing like some loathsome form of weed.  Carrying in its hand the winnowing fork of truth, with the intention of consigning all the chaff to inextinguishable fire, and making clean the threshing floor of Christ, in ringing tones it declares anathema the inventors and perpetrators of such impiety and all those holding similar views; it also declares and promulgates that nobody at all should hold or preserve in any way the written teaching of the authors of this impiety.  If however anyone presumes to act in a way contrary to this holy and great synod, let him be anathema and an outcast from the faith and way of life of Christians." http://www.piar.hu/councils/ecum08.htm


This canon was assented without discussion.  It went through 'on the nod.'  It feels out of place with all the other canon's at the same Council but no one knows who draughted it.


The Council took place in the Hagia Sophia and its agenda was political.  The Emperor Basil had thrown the Patriarch Photius out of office and was seeking a religious ratification for this and so the right to expel all the priests that Photius had appointed.  Pope Adrian was seeking the supremacy of Rome over Constantinople and made it a condition of attendance that this was acknowledged.  Hence those Greeks who attended were a minority.  Anastasius, the Counsellor to the previous Pope Nicholas, arrived by chance for the last day.  Due to him we have a more or less complete record of the Council.


This synod (and one at Rome concerning Photius) were " ... totally condemned and abrogated and must in no way be invoked or named as synods" 10 years later.  The acts of the Council do not appear in the Byzantine canon and are missing from the Roman until around the late 11th century.  The spirit was never spoken against but from this time on it appears to become unacceptable to make any real distinction between the terms soul and spirit. It is never mentioned again.  The picture of humanity made in the image of God was clouded.


Spiritually, the time of the Council was still in the ascent of the intellect and therefore the spiritual task of the age was to provide an enclave for knowledge and learning.  However, after the death of Charlemagne, Lothar failed to hold the 'middle kingdom' (Lotharingia or, roughly, Alsace-Lorraine) as the earthly protection of spiritual development.  By effectively abolishing the spirit humanity, became a dichotomy.  This meant that science could be freed from all religious dogma - something which would have been nigh on impossible if the trichotomy had remained in force.  Canon 11 looks like a stroke of strategic genius.


Since materialism cannot explain consciousness (i.e. the soul) then the time has come right to reassert the trichotomy of soma, psyche and pneuma.  Most importantly of all, the soul evolves.






1. Darwin produced a divalent theory of variation and selection. He left presupposed the so-called unit of evolution, i.e. what /in principle/ was varying and being selected.  The candidates are the gene, some concept of the species or the ecology.  The first and the last do not tell us what the individual animal is.  In 1942 Mayr defined species as "groups of actually or potentially interbreeding populations, which are reproductively isolated from other such groups."




Maurice McCarthy.
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