11 August 2015

Personal and propositional faith, the 4 logical steps to explicit propositional faith, and the medium of Revelation

Abstract

I examine the complete definition of faith, involving both personal and propositional faith, and the four steps that are logically necessary to arrive to explicit propositional faith in response to divine Revelation, which is the "strict" traditional definition of faith. Then I focus on the medium of divine Revelation, whose identification is the third of those steps. I propose the theses that holding the foundational knowledge on theism and on the medium of divine Revelation, even when it is based on rationally apprehensible data, requires, at least for a significant subset of people, "an act of the intellect assenting to the ... truth by command of the will moved by God through grace", where the specificity of my thesis is "moved by God through grace", and thus is a kind of propositional faith distinct from its "strict" definition, which leads me to propose a "broad" definition of propositional faith.

The four logical steps to explicit propositional faith in response to divine Revelation

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) provides a "complete" definition of faith (as opposed to the "strict" traditional definition) in #150:

"Faith is first of all a personal adherence of man to God. At the same time, and inseparably, it is a free assent to the whole truth that God has revealed. As personal adherence to God and assent to his truth, Christian faith differs from our faith in any human person. It is right and just to entrust oneself wholly to God and to believe absolutely what he says. It would be futile and false to place such faith in a creature."

Faith thus defined involves two aspects, the second being a necessary consequence of the first:

- a personal adherence of man to God: faith as vital attitude, personal faith;

- a free assent to the whole truth that God has revealed: faith as knowledge, explicit propositional faith.

This "complete" definition of faith corresponds exactly to the calling by Jesus at the beginning of his ministry: «The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent [1] and believe in the gospel.» (Mk 1:15).

- "repent": personal faith;
- "believe in the gospel": explicit propositional faith.

Let's try to identify the logical steps involved. To "please God" one must "come to Him" (Heb 11:6), "adhere personally to Him". This personal adherence («repent»), which as we will see is step 2:

- pre-requires (step 1) to "believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him" (Heb 11:6). To note, the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews affirms that this belief in the basic tenets of theism, just by itself, constitutes faith, which is clear since he is talking about Enoch, the seventh patriarch (Heb 11:5-6), who lived before God made any revelation and who therefore could not have believed in any truths revealed by God "because of the authority of God Himself who reveals them". Since the belief "that God exists and that He rewards those who seek Him", which is affirming a proposition, is the necessary foundation for both personal faith and believing that God has revealed any truths and the revealed truths themselves, I call it "theistic foundational knowledge", which, in contrast with faith, which is based on the authority of God, is based on rationally apprehensible praeambula fidei (Rom 1:19-20).

- necessarily includes the disposition to believe whatever God has revealed in the past and/or will (at least in principle) reveal in the future, before (at least logically) knowing whether God has actually made any revelation at all. I call that disposition "implicit propositional faith" in response to the Revelation that God has made and/or will (at least in principle) make.

To note, Christians do believe that divine Revelation has been "sealed" with the death of St John Evangelist. However, this belief derives from what God has actually revealed, not from an a priori notion that all divine Revelation must already have taken place.

Now, it is clear that, to be able to "assent to the whole truth that God has revealed" (step 4), it is necessary first to identify the medium through which God has revealed and/or (at least in principle) is currently revealing/will reveal in the future (step 3). Since the identification of the medium of Revelation, which is affirming a proposition, is the necessary foundation for believing what God has revealed through said medium, I call it "foundational knowledge on the medium of Revelation", which, in contrast with faith, which is based on the authority of God, is based on rationally apprehensible motives of credibility (Jn 10:37-38).

In the mentioned case of Jesus' preaching in Mk 1:15, his audience, composed by Israelites, already held the basic truths of theism (step 1), and were able to identify Jesus as the medium through which God was revealing on the basis of the miracles that Jesus performed (step 3). Thus they were able to simultaneously perform steps 2 «repent» and 4 «believe in the gospel».

Thus we have the four logical steps to faith and their results:

1. Believe in God as Absolute Being and therefore Absolute Good, specifically OUR Absolute Good = theistic foundational knowledge, based on rationally apprehensible praembula fidei.

2. Adhere personally to God, which includes the disposition to believe whatever God has revealed and/or will reveal = personal faith, including implicit propositional faith.

3. Identify the medium of divine Revelation = foundational knowledge on the medium of Revelation, based on rationally apprehensible motives of credibility.

4. Believe in all the truths that God has revealed through the medium identified in step 3 = explicit propositional faith in response to divine Revelation, based on the authority of God who reveals.

The result of the last step, explicit propositional faith in response to divine Revelation, is what theologians and the magisterium traditionally refer to when speaking of "faith", and it could be called the "strict" definition of faith.


Stages and structure of the medium of divine Revelation

In the case of "sealed" views of divine Revelation, such as those held by Jews, Christians and Muslims, i.e. of a divine Revelation that has been fully completed in the past, the medium of Revelation which must be identified includes two stages:

- the original medium through which God has revealed in the past, and

- the proximate medium that currently holds the "deposit" of what God has revealed through the original medium and, in some views, provides authoritative identification and interpretation of that Revelation.

Regarding the original medium, and focusing on the "ultimate" such medium, Jews, Christians and Muslims identify it with Moses, Jesus Christ and his Apostles, and Mohammed respectively.

Regarding the proximate medium, there are two main views on its structure:

A. It is a book plus a tradition, both interpreted by a divinely assisted and authoritative magisterium, which is the belief held by Rabbinic Jews and Roman Catholics/Eastern Orthodox. (To note, I do not know the specific beliefs of the Orthodox and Conservative branches of Rabbinic Judaism about whether the consensus of rabbis is divinely assisted or just authoritative.)

B. It is just a book, which is the belief held by Karaite Jews, Christian Protestants and Quranist Muslims.

The views of the main denominations of Islam, i.e. Sunni and Twelver Shia, seem to be intermediate between these two, as they recognize the Quran and also the oral traditions about Mohammed (hadith), which were eventually written down in collections of books, different for each denomination.

In the Catholic Church, the doctrine of the proximate medium of Revelation was stated magisterially first by the Ecumenical Council of Trent and then by the Ecumenical Council Vatican I, in its Dogmatic Constitution "Dei Filius", which quotes Trent:

"Furthermore, this supernatural revelation, according to the faith of the universal Church, declared by the holy Synod of Trent, is contained "in the written books and the unwritten traditions which, received by the Apostles from the mouth of Christ himself, or from the Apostles themselves by the dictation of the Holy Spirit, have come down to us, transmitted as it were from hand to hand" [Council of Trent]." (ch. 2 "On Revelation")

"For the doctrine of faith, which God has revealed, has not been proposed as a philosophical invention to be perfected by human ingenuity, but has been delivered as a divine deposit to the Spouse of Christ, to be faithfully guarded and infallibly declared (fideliter custodienda et infallibiliter declaranda)." (ch. 4 "On faith and reason")

Identification of the medium of divine Revelation

Clearly the "strict" definition of faith, e.g. by the Ecumenical Council Vatican I in its Dogmatic Constitution "Dei Filius", ch. 3 "On faith":

"The Catholic Church professes that this faith, which is the beginning of human salvation, is a supernatural virtue, by means of which, with the inspiration and assistance of the grace of God, we believe that the things revealed by Him are true, not because the intrinsic truth of the things has been perceived by the natural light of reason, but because of the authority of God Himself who reveals them, who can neither deceive nor be deceived."

cannot apply to the identification of the medium of divine Revelation, lest the epistemic situation be circular, as a person should have to identify M as the medium through which God reveals by an assent to the truth that "God reveals through M" based on the authority of God who revealed (through M) said truth (i.e. that He reveals through M)!  Thus, the medium of divine Revelation must be rationally identified, based on its motives of credibility.

"Dei Filius", in line with its quoted teaching on the proximate medium of divine Revelation, states clearly that only the Catholic Church exhibits real motives of credibility of being such a medium:

"And, that we may be able to satisfy the obligation of embracing the true faith and of constantly persevering in it, God, through his only-begotten Son, has instituted the Church, and has bestowed on it manifest notes of that institution, so that it may be recognized by all as the guardian and teacher (custos et magistra) of the revealed word. For to the Catholic Church alone belong all those things, so many and so marvelous, which have been divinely established for the evident credibility of the Christian faith. Moreover, the Church by itself, because of its marvelous propagation, its exceptional holiness, and its inexhaustible fruitfulness in all that is good, because of its Catholic unity and invincible stability, is a great and perpetual motive of credibility and an irrefutable evidence (testimonium) of its own divine mission." (ch. 3 "On faith")


Could coming to hold the knowledge from steps 1 and 3 be a kind of propositional faith?

To answer this question, I will start by quoting four passages by St. Thomas Aquinas.

"Faith implies assent of the intellect to that which is believed. Now the intellect assents to a thing in two ways. First, through being moved to assent by its very object, which is known either by itself (as in the case of first principles, which are held by the habit of understanding), or through something else already known (as in the case of conclusions which are held by the habit of science). Secondly the intellect assents to something, not through being sufficiently moved to this assent by its proper object, but through an act of choice, whereby it turns voluntarily to one side rather than to the other: and if this be accompanied by doubt or fear of the opposite side, there will be opinion, while, if there be certainty and no fear of the other side, there will be faith.

Now those things are said to be seen which, of themselves, move the intellect or the senses to knowledge of them. Wherefore it is evident that neither faith nor opinion can be of things seen either by the senses or by the intellect." (ST II-II, q. 1, a. 4, resp.).

"All science is derived from self-evident and therefore "seen" principles; wherefore all objects of science must needs be, in a fashion, seen.

Now as stated above (Article [4]), it is impossible that one and the same thing should be believed and seen by the same person. Hence it is equally impossible for one and the same thing to be an object of science and of belief for the same person. It may happen, however, that a thing which is an object of vision or science for one, is believed by another" (ST II-II, q. 1, a. 5, resp.).

"believing is an act of the intellect assenting to the divine truth by command of the will moved by God through grace." (ST II-II, q. 2, a. 9, resp., quoted by CCC #155).

"As stated above (Question [1], Article [4]; Question [2], Article [1]), the believer's intellect assents to that which he believes, not because he sees it either in itself, or by resolving it to first self-evident principles, but because his will commands his intellect to assent. Now, that the will moves the intellect to assent, may be due to two causes. First, through the will being directed to the good, and in this way, to believe is a praiseworthy action." (ST II-II, q. 5, a. 2, resp.)

With this in mind, let's compare theistic foundational knowledge, or basic theistic belief, and faith strictly defined, i.e. explicit propositional faith in response to divine Revelation, in two respects:

A. the way by which the intellect reaches the truth to be assented to,

B. the basis on which the will commands the intellect to assent to that truth.

In faith strictly defined (step 4):

4.A. The intellect arrives at the truth to be assented to by listening to divine Revelation.

4.B. The will commands the intellect to assent to that truth on the basis of the authority of God who revealed it, who can neither deceive nor be deceived.

In coming to hold theistic foundational knowledge or basic theistic belief (step 1):

1.A. The intellect arrives at the truth to be assented to by reasoning metaphysically from created things.

1.B. There are two possibilities for the assent of the intellect to that truth:

a. The intellect may be moved to assent to it by its very object, which is the case when it "sees" as self-evident the Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR), i.e. the presupposition that reality is ultimately rationally explainable, so that rational demonstrations are reliable even when dealing with metaphysical issues like the ultimate cause of the universe.

However, I proposed in a previous article as "Thesis 1" that holding the PSR is equivalent to, or presupposes, holding theism ( why else should we assume that reality is ultimately rational?). If that thesis is correct, it would make plausible the case that many people may not "see" the PSR in itself as a self-evident first principle, but have to assent to it through an act of choice. Which leads to the second possibility for the assent of the intellect to basic theistic knowledge:

b. The will commands the intellect to assent to the PSR, and thus indirectly to the truths derived on its basis by reasoning metaphysically from created things.

Thus I propose in another article the following thesis, of course subject to its compatibility with the definitions of the Magisterium of the Church:

Thesis 2: "The inspiration and assistance of the grace of God" may be required by a significant subset of people for holding the PSR, or equivalently that reality is ultimately, metaphysically rational. It is in that sense only that holding the basic theistic belief may be a kind of propositional faith.

We can follow an analogous reasoning with step 3, the identification of the medium of divine Revelation:

In coming to hold the foundational knowledge on the medium of Revelation (step 3):

3.A. The intellect arrives at the truth to be assented to by reasoning on the basis of historical and documentary reliable data.

3.B. The will commands the intellect to assent to that truth on the basis of 1) the reliability and cogency of the collected data, and 2) trust on the infinite goodness of God, Who out of his love for us would not allow that we were exposed to misleading data that were so reliable and cogent.

leading to the following thesis, which as the former is subject to its compatibility with the definitions of the Magisterium of the Church:

Thesis 3: "The inspiration and assistance of the grace of God" may be required by a significant subset of people for the assent of the intellect to the correct identification of the medium of Revelation.  It is in that sense only that holding the foundational knowledge on the medium of Revelation may be a kind of propositional faith.

Thesis 3 is, then, that the identification of the medium of Revelation is, for many people, "an act of the intellect that assents to the ... truth at the command of the will moved by God through grace;" (ST Part II-II, q. 2, a. 9, resp., quoted by CCC #155), where the specificity of my thesis is "moved by God through grace". That is, I propose that the assent of the intellect to the correct identification of the medium of Revelation, though "by no means a blind movement of the mind" as it is based on rationally apprehensible motives of credibility, yet cannot take place, at least in some people, "without the inspiration and illumination of the Holy Spirit, who gives to all facility in accepting and believing the truth" (Dei Filius). If this is the case, the knowledge resulting from this step can be called "propositional faith", since "God has revealed through medium M" is a proposition.

The difference between this kind of faith and the "strict" definition of faith is that, whereas by the latter "we believe that the things which he has revealed are true, not because we perceive the intrinsic truth of the things by the natural light of reason, but because of the authority of God himself who reveals them," by the former we believe that "He has revealed through medium M", assenting to the intrinsic truth of that proposition perceived by the natural light of reason.

The opposite view to Thesis 3 is that assenting to the correct identification of the medium of Revelation is not a form of faith, but a purely human act of the intellect "inevitably produced by the arguments of human reason" and for which the grace of God is not necessary. Which IMV is problematic because it seems to base the whole edifice of faith on a weak foundation, as God would provide his assistance for believing the truths He has revealed but not for identifying the medium through which He has revealed those truths, which He would leave exclusively to our own forces [2].


Proposed qualified definitions of faith on the basis of their scope

If the proposed theses are correct, we could speak of propositional faith in a broader sense than the "strict" definition of faith. For that, I propose a "broad" definition of faith, so that all three definitions would be:

"Complete" definition (steps 1 .. 4): personal faith + explicit propositional faith;

"Broad" definition (steps 1, 3 and 4): explicit propositional faith in response to both rationally apprehensible data and divine Revelation;

"Strict" definition (step 4): explicit propositional faith in response to divine Revelation.

As said above, the "strict" definition is what theologians and the magisterium traditionally refer to when speaking of "faith".


Is it possible that a person who has identified partially incorrectly the medium of Revelation still has faith?

Now, since Jesus described the Holy Spirit as "the Spirit of truth" who "will guide you into all the truth" (Jn 16:13), do we have to assume that whoever has identified partially incorrectly the medium of Revelation, e.g. as just the Bible, does not receive any "internal assistance of the Holy Spirit", so that his assent to even actual truths revealed through the partially incorrectly identified medium of Revelation is NOT an act of faith but just the embracement of a human opinion? Regarding this question, I propose as Thesis 4 (subject to ...) that its answer is "it depends on the concrete historical circunstances of each case".

Let's consider the case of a non-Christian who receives for the first time the announcement of (a partially incorrect and incomplete version of) the Gospel from a preacher of a Christian denomination that incorrectly identifies the medium of Revelation, e.g. by holding the view of "Sola Scriptura". Thus the fully correct identification of the medium of Revelation is not an available option for that person at that time, as he is constrained to choose between believing in the version of Christianity he has learned about and remaining non-Christian. Regarding this case, we can adopt one of two possible views:

- the Holy Spirit provides his inspiration and assistance to this person, so that his assent to what is true in the (partially incorrect and incomplete) announcement of the Gospel he has received is an act of faith, and he is justified when baptized.

- the Holy Spirit does NOT provide any inspiration or assistance to this person, so that his assent to even what is true in the (partially incorrect and incomplete) announcement of the Gospel he has received is NOT an act of faith but just the embracement of a human opinion, and he is NOT justified when baptized.

Thesis 4 is, then, that the first view is correct. (To note, this view might have already been established in magisterial pronouncements I am not aware of, in which case it would be incorrect to refer to it as a thesis of mine.)


Notes

[1] In case Spanish-speaking readers find the term "repent" in Mk 1:15 somewhat strange, since contemporary Spanish translations have "convert" ("convertíos") instead, I will try fo facilitate seeing that both renderings are correct.

On the one hand, "conversion" has two meanings:
a. conversion to God, "turn to Him with all your heart and with all your soul" (Tob 13:6);
b. conversion from one religion to another.

Clearly "μετανοεῖτε" in the preaching of John the Baptist (Mt 3:2) and Jesus (Mt 4:17; Mk 1:15), as well as the variant "Μετανοήσατε" in the preaching of Peter (Acts 2:38, 3:19), have the first meaning, and the CCC speaks of "conversion" in this sense in points 1427-1433.  Thus, the Spanish rendering "convertíos", since it is universally understood according to that first meaning, is wholly correct.

On the other hand, by checking http://biblehub.com/mark/1-15.htm we can ascertain that no English translation renders "μετανοεῖτε" as "convert", but almost all of them as "repent" (*). This rendering is also correct since "a conversion to God with all our heart" necessarily includes "a turning away from evil, with repugnance toward the evil actions we have committed" (CCC #1431).

(*) The only exceptions being God's Word Translation: "Change the way you think and act" and Young's Literal Translation: "reform ye".

[2] Thesis 3 originated from a comment that Ray Stamper ("Monk68" in Prof. Feser's blog) posted on February 13th, 2011 in the "Called to Communion" site, under article "Son of a tu quoque" (comment #39):
http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2011/02/son-of-a-tu-quoque/#comment-15211

For all the reasons that Andrew just reviewed concerning the nature of “historical” proofs, I continue to think that the “motives of credibility” themselves – and not just the dogmas of faith – require a grace enabled “act of the will” to “believe” the very reasonable claims such motives support.

To note, I do not know whether Ray Stamper stills holds that view.

01 August 2015

Concordance between the narrative of Genesis ch. 1 and modern cosmology

The objective of this article is twofold. First and more important, to show the remarkable concordance between the narrative of the first two days of creation in Genesis 1:1-8 and the current conceptual framework of inflationary relativistic cosmology. Secondly, to show that, even though the concordance of the narrative of the following days with contemporary science is not uniquely determinable as that of the first two days, and also much less strict, the most natural choice for it leads to a remarkable symmetry in the duration of the seven days.

Part 1: days 1 and 2

First of all, some background on the exegetical and scientific levels is required.

On the exegetical level, I am not saying or implying that it was only after Aleksei Starobinsky proposed the theory of cosmic inflation in 1979 that the narrative of Gen 1:1-8 could be correctly understood. Clearly the "deep" teaching of that narrative was available to readers of all ages. What I am saying is than the conceptual framework of current cosmology allows an additional layer of interpretation of Gen 1:1-8 that, while much less important that the "deep" sense of that narrative, can provide some marginal apologetic value and, for believers, is quite aesthetically pleasing.

On the scientific level, it is well known that there are no observable "imprints" or "signatures" of the time before the inflationary epoch. Therefore, from the theistic perspective that God created the universe out of nothing in some initial state, it is perfectly consistent with current science [0], and at the same time maximally parsimonious, to postulate that said initial state was at the start of the inflationary epoch, empty of matter and radiation and with only the "inflaton" scalar field that drives inflationary expansion. (Moreover, when compared with the non-scientific mythology of the multiverse undergoing eternal inflation, this view enjoys the advantage of Occam's razor.)

With this background, let's examine the concordance between the biblical narrative, quoted verse by verse from the English Standard Version, and modern cosmology.


Day 1

1:1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. = Creation ex nihilo of both the spiritual (heavens) and physical (earth) universes.

1:2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. = In the inflationary epoch there was neither matter (therefore the universe was void) nor electromagnetic radiation ("light", therefore the universe was dark), but only the "inflaton" scalar field, which was probably the Higgs field (not the Higgs boson).

1:3 And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. = At the end of the inflationary epoch, the inflaton scalar field decayed in the particles of the Standard Model (event conventionally but, in my assumption of initial state, improperly called "reheating", because there was no previous "hot" state), including the photons of the electromagnetic radiation, i.e. "light". These particles were initially mixed in a homogeneous hot plasma, in which photons were constantly colliding with protons and electrons, so that the universe was opaque, a "luminous fog".

1:4 And God separated the light from the darkness. = The ongoing expansion of the universe caused the gradual cooling of the hot plasma to the point in which protons could capture electrons to form electrically neutral hydrogen atoms (event conventionally but improperly called "recombination", because there was no previous state when protons and electrons were "combined"). Shortly after, photons ("light") decoupled from matter and started to travel freely (event called "photon decoupling", properly for once!). At that time, part of the initial electromagnetic radiation was still in the visible region of the spectrum, but the greatest part had alreadly redshifted into the infrared.

1:5 And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. = As is well known, in the Israelite reckoning of time a day starts at sunset, so that each day is comprised of evening/night and then morning/daylight. This was strictly fulfilled in the "first day", when the universe started to exist in darkness ("there was evening"), and then "there was light" ("there was morning"). Duration of day 1: 400 thousand years (Ky). (For cosmology nerds: 378 +/- 1 Ky [1]).


Day 2

1:6-8 And God said, "Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters." And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. And God called the expanse Heaven. = This reflects the initial formation of structure, during which dark matter (a misnomer, as the correct name should be "transparent matter") started to collapse into the marginally denser regions by way of gravitational attraction, attracting in turn ordinary matter and giving origin to dark matter halos and then galaxies, leaving a void space ("expanse") between them.

1:8 And there was evening and there was morning, the second day. = Since the ongoing expansion of the universe causes a continual increase of the wavelength of the "background" electromagnetic radiation (that which started to exist at "reheating" in day 1), very shortly after "photon decoupling" that electromagnetic radiation went completely into the infrared region of the spectrum, so that the universe went back into "darkness" (from the viewpoint of hypothetic human observers) for at least 400 million years (My) ("there was evening"). Then, after the formation of structure, the massive and short-lived first-generation stars (Population III, or extremely metal-poor stars) were formed and started to emit visible light ("there was morning"). Duration of day 2: 450 My.

For cosmology nerds: day 2 ends at "reionization" [2]. Using Ho = 67.7, Om = 0.31 & zre = 10, all consistent with Planck 2015 [3], as input in Ned Wright's calculator [4], you get 472 My. Given the margins involved, 450 My is OK. If you don't know what I am talking about, congratulations, you're not a cosmology nerd.

Part 2: days 3 to 6

The remarkably precise level of concordance between the biblical narrative of Genesis ch. 1 and current scientific knowledge covers only the first 2 days of creation. However, if we continue the concordance with the following verses in a much less strict way, in particular ignoring the creation of the Earth and plants in day 3 before the creation of the sun in day 4, a remarkable symmetry in the duration of days is achieved.


1:13 And there was evening and there was morning, the third day. = The massive first-generation stars ended their short lives exploding as supernovas ("there was evening") and second-generation stars (Population II, or metal-poor stars) were formed and started to emit visible light ("there was morning"). Duration of day 3: 4,000 My. (This number is largely arbitrary but the sum of days 3 and 4 is not, as explained below.)

1:16,19 And God made the two great lights--the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night--and the stars. ... And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day. = Second-generation stars started to end their life cycle and shut down ("there was evening"), and third-generation stars (Population I, or metal-rich stars) were formed and started to emit visible light ("there was morning"), our sun being one of them. Duration of day 4: 4,900 My.

For nerds: the sum of days 3 and 4 is constrained on the lower side by the time of formation of the sun 4,600 My ago, as this event must occur in day 4. Further requiring that the sun became a main sequence star in day 4 constrains the end of day 4 to be later than 4,500 My ago [5]. My choice (for other reasons, see below) of 4,450 My ago for the start of day 5, and therefore for the end of day 4, fits this constraint neatly. Thus the sum of days 3 and 4 is 13,800 - 450 - 4,450 = 8,900 My.  The specific choice of 4,900 My for the duration of day 4, or equivalently of 4,000 My for the duration of day 3, is intended to place the start of day 4 shortly after the time of formation of the oldest Population 1 stars, currently estimated at 10,000 My ago [6].

1:20,23 And God said, "Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures,..." ... And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day. = For the start of the "evening" of day 5, I choose the impact on earth that created the moon [7], which according to current estimates happened 4,450 My ago [8], and which would have caused that "a fair fraction of material should have been vaporized by this impact, creating a rock vapor atmosphere around the young planet. The rock vapor would have condensed within two thousand years." [9] Then the earth cooled down and life appeared and evolved in the oceans. Duration of day 5: 4,000 My. (This is fully determined by my choices for the starts of day 5 and 6, 4,450 and 450 My ago respectively.)

1:24-31 And God said, "Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds--livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds." And it was so. ... And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. = For the start of day 6, I choose the Ordovician–Silurian extinction events, 447-443 My ago [10], with the "evening" loosely corresponding to the burst of volcanic activity that probably triggered the events [11]. Afterwards, life, both vegetal and animal, started to spread over dry land. For the end of day 6, the obvious choice is the creation of man, which according to current estimations of the time of Y-chromosomal Adam, a logical fit for biblical Adam, happened 200-300 ky ago [12]. Duration of day 6: 450 My.

Summarizing the duration and ending times of the 6 days, with "e" after a time meaning "exact":

day - duration - ending time - ending time
                 from t = 0    from today

1 -   0.4 My e -    0.4 My e - 13.800 My e
2 -   450 My e -    450 My e - 13.350 My e
3 - 4.000 My   -  4.450 My   -  9.350 My
4 - 4.900 My   -  9.350 My e -  4.450 My e
5 - 4.000 My e - 13.350 My e -    450 My e
6 -   450 My e - 13.800 My e -    0.3 My e
7 -   0.3 My e (still ongoing at the time of writing of Genesis)


References

[0] Paul J. Steinhardt, "The Big Bang Cannot Be What We Thought It Was", 2016 01 01. (Added as an edition to the article.)

http://www.edge.org/response-detail/26785

"The failure to detect the B-mode pattern means that there is something very wrong with the picture of a violent Big Bang followed by a period of high energy-driven inflation. Whatever processes set the large-scale structure of the universe had a to be a gentler, lower-energy process than has been supposed.

Simply lowering the energy concentration at which inflation starts, as some theorists have suggested, only leads to more trouble. This leaves more time after the Big Bang for the non-uniform distribution of matter and energy to drive the universe away from inflation. Starting inflation after the Big Bang and having enough inflation to smooth the universe becomes exponentially less likely as the energy concentration is lowered. The universe is more likely to emerge as too rough, too curved, too inhomogeneous compared to what we observe.

Something more radical is called for. Perhaps an improved understanding of quantum gravity will enable us to understand how the Big Bang and inflation can be discarded in favor of gentler beginning."

Which fits perfectly my postulate that the universe began to exist at rest at the start of the inflationary epoch, with no previous Big Bang. Whereby quantum gravity is not needed, Big Bang is discarded, and inflation kept.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recombination_(cosmology)

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reionization

[3] http://xxx.lanl.gov/abs/1502.01589

[4] http://www.astro.ucla.edu/~wright/CosmoCalc.html

[5] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Formation_and_evolution_of_the_Solar_System

[6] Blaauw 1995. "Stellar evolution and the population concept after 1950; The Vatican conference". P. 47.

http://adsabs.harvard.edu/full/1995IAUS..164...39B

[7] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giant_impact_hypothesis

[8] Carlson et al 2014. "How Did Early Earth Become Our Modern World?". P. 7.

http://seismo.berkeley.edu/~manga/carlsonetal2014.pdf

[9] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hadean

[10] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ordovician–Silurian_extinction_events

[11] http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn18618-highcarbon-ice-age-mystery-solved.html

[12] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Y-chromosomal_Adam


Creation of man. Concordance between science and Genesis account

Abstract

There are four data items from natural science that affect the possibility of compatibility between current scientific knowledge and the Genesis account on the creation of man, interpreted in a theistic evolution framework.

Two of those data items clearly support the case of historical Adam and Eve:

1. Y-chromosomal DNA shows that all living humans descend patrilineally from one most recent common ancestor (MRCA), "Y-chromosomal Adam".

2. Mitochondrial DNA shows that all living humans descend matrilineally from one MRCA, "Mitochondrial Eve".

One data item clearly plays against the case of historical Adam and Eve:

3. Whole-genome diversity shows that no human or pre-human population bottleneck ever was smaller than a few thousand individuals.

And the fourth data item has been in a state of flux lately:

4.a. Up to March 2013, the estimated time of Mitochondrial Eve [1] [2] [3] [4] was significantly earlier than that of Y-chromosomal Adam [5].

4.b. In March 2013 Mendez et al published a study which completely reversed the situation, by estimating 338 kya for Y-chr Adam [6].

4.c. Almost immediately, a study published by Melissa Wilson Sayres in April 2013 [7] offered a plausible re-interpretation of the results of [6], whereby Y-chr Adam would have lived 209 kya, much more in agreement with current estimations for mt Eve.

4.d. A few months later, a study by Elhaik et al [8] performed another independent re-assessment of the findings of [6], reaching an estimated time for Y-chr Adam of 208 kya, in striking agreement with [7]. This led to a subsequent exchange [9] between the authors of [6] and [8], which served to strengthen the scientific standing of [8] and weaken that of [6].

In conclusion: as of 2015, the error margins in the estimations of the mutation rates of Y-chromosomal and mitochondrial DNA allow for a significant probability that Y-chr Adam and mt Eve were contemporary of each other.

The issue is: how can we accomodate data item 3 with a historical Adam?  By at least two possible "concordant conceptual frameworks" or CCFs:

CCF1, involving only natural processes at the biological level, works best in the pre-2013 situation of mt Eve (who in this case would not have been Biblical Eve) living earlier than Y-chr Adam (who was Biblical Adam). 

CCF2, involving a high degree of miraculous divine intervention at the biological level to provide genetic diversity to the germinal cells of Biblical Adam and Eve and the first n generations of their descendants, works best in the current situation regarding time estimations, i.e. with Y-chr Adam and mt Eve being contemporary of each other. 


Introduction

The conceptual framework of divine creation of biological beings by means of evolution (theistic evolution) does not address the creation of true human beings as such, as opposed to just their biological layer, because essential to a true human being is a spiritual soul which can only derive from a direct creative act from God.  This is an essential point in Christian faith: a true human being is not a purely biological being, and his spiritual soul does not arise from his biological layer (or from the souls of his parents), but involves a direct creative act from God.

With that in mind, the central issue regarding the creation of true human beings is: how did direct divine creation of spiritual souls start?

- With only two beings-made-truly-human, a man and a woman, as Genesis says? (the "historical Adam" position)

- Or with a few thousand beings-made-truly-human (at the same time), to accomodate the fact that genetic data suggests that there has never been a population bottleneck of fewer than a few thousand individuals, humans or hominins? (the "symbolical Adam" position)

And even more importantly: does Paul's argument in Romans 5:12-19, which speaks of "Adam", "one man" and "one trespass", still work with the "symbolical Adam" position?  This question is an issue of biblical interpretation, and for Roman Catholics the answer is in the negative, as RCs believe that the task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone, and that teaching office has thus spoken on the subject in consideration:

"When, however, there is question of another conjectural opinion, namely polygenism, the children of the Church by no means enjoy such liberty. For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains 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 represents a certain 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 Teaching Authority of the Church propose with regard to original sin, 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." (Pius XII's 1950 Encyclical "Humani Generis", 37)

Therefore the issue for any scientifically-minded Christian who - whatever his denomination - embraces the "historical Adam" position becomes: can that position be made compatible with current scientific findings?  After studying the issue, we see two possible "concordant conceptual frameworks" (CCFs) whereby it can.  One, which we call CCF1, involves only natural processes at the biological level.  The other, which we call CCF2, involves a high degree of miraculous divine intervention at the biological level to provide genetic diversity to the germinal cells of Biblical Adam and Eve and the first n generations of their descendants.

Notation

t-men = true men = theological men = metaphysical men = with an infused spiritual soul

q-men = quasi men = biologically identical to t-men but without an infused spiritual soul

immediate-previous-hominins = individuals of the immediate ancestral species to q-men/t-men

where "men" above can be replaced by "women" or "people" as fit, keeping in mind that q-people were not really persons from the theological or metaphysical viewpoints, as they had no spiritual soul.

Possible cases for the creation of the first t-people, Biblical Adam & Eve

1U: Spiritual-only Upgrade

In this case q-people were brought into existence by way of biological evolution.  When there were at least several thousand of q-people around, God created Biblical Adam & Eve by producing in two q-people a spiritual-only "upgrade": they were biologically identical to the surrounding q-people, differing only by having been infused a spiritual soul.

2U: Physical & Spiritual Upgrade

In this case there were no q-people, and God created Biblical Adam & Eve by producing in two individuals engendered by immediate-previous-hominin parents both a physical and a spiritual "upgrade": at the biological level, at least a brain-enhancing macro-mutation, plus the infusion of a spiritual soul.

To note, Biblical Adam & Eve are the only t-people for which infusion of a spiritual soul could have occurred at any time after birth (and in our personal opinion, it probably occurred after they had become independent of their respective q- or immediate-previous-hominin parents).  In the case of all their descendants, infusion of the soul took place at conception.

Constraints that both CCFs must satisfy

First, 3 constraints coming from the side of science:

C1. Studies of Y-chromosome show that all living humans descend patrilineally from one most recent common ancestor or MRCA, "Y-chromosomal Adam".

C2. Studies of mitochondrial DNA show that all living humans descend matrilineally from one MRCA, "Mitochondrial Eve".

C3. Studies of genetic diversity show that there has never been a human or pre-human population bottleneck that was smaller than a few thousand individuals.


Then, 2 constraints coming from the side of Christian faith:

C4. Genesis chapters 1-3, interpreted in neither a literal nor a purely symbolic way, but in a way in which they, "in simple and metaphorical language adapted to the mentality of a people but little cultured, ... state the principal truths which are fundamental for our salvation" (Pius XII's Encyclical Humani Generis, 38), requires the existence of a couple of first human beings, i.e. with an infused spiritual soul.

This constraint is satisfied by both CCF1 and CCF2, as it is evident that, from the theological and metaphysical viewpoints, both q-people and immediate-previous-hominins, like chimps or gorillas, were just "dust of the ground".

C5. Pauline and consequent Catholic teaching on original sin requires (and cares only about) a historical individual Adam as patrilineal ancestor of all human beings and teaches fatherly transmission of original sin, as stated in:

- St Paul's treatment of the subject in Romans 5:12-19, which speaks only of "Adam", "one man" and "one trespass", and does not even mention Eve.

- St Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologica II-I, Question 81, Article 5 (http://www.newadvent.org/summa/2081.htm): "original sin is transmitted to the children, not by the mother, but by the father."

- Ecumenical Council of Trent, Session V, Decree concerning original sin, canons 1-4 (http://history.hanover.edu/texts/trent/ct05.html), which speaks only of "Adam" and "one man", and does not even mention Eve.

- Pius XII's Encyclical Humani Generis, 37, quoted at the beginning of this article.

To note, this constraint can be used by non-RC Christians by selecting only its Pauline part.


And finally, one somewhat loose observational constraint:

C6. Zoological and historical evidence show that group of chimpanzees or people deal with other groups competing for the same land by exterminating the males and taking the young females (relevant only to CCF1).

CCF2

We will cover first CCF2, which works equally well with both creation cases 1U and 2U.  It was originally proposed by Drew in Professor Coyne's blog on a comment dated June 2, 2011 at 9:07 am:

http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2011/06/02/adam-and-eve-the-ultimate-standoff-between-science-and-faith-and-a-contest/#comment-107005

and subsequently selected by Professor Coyne in this post:

http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2011/06/11/winners-adam-and-eve-contest/

as the best way to reconcile Genesis narrative and genetic data regarding overall theological and biological plausibility.  It is:

"Roughly 140,000 years ago God slightly tinkered with the genes of two existing hominin pairs to ensure that the next baby they each had would have brains which were capable of interacting with a soul. These two individuals, one male and one female were Adam and Eve. God then imparted them both with many germ line cells each carrying a different genome, this allowed that each of Adam and Eve’s children would not be genetic siblings so that there would be no loss of fitness due to sibling interbreeding. Each distinct gene set was based roughly on the genomes of various human-like beings that had preceded Adam and Eve, which had evolved through natural processes, but was distinct enough that it allowed for the brains of the offspring also to interact with a soul. One consequence of this modification was that it gave the F1 generation enough genetic diversity to appear as though they sprang up from a large pool of existing ancestors. It may also have been necessary that for a few generations following F1 that the individuals continued to have the variable germ cells to further protect the offspring from inbreeding defects."

As t-men mated with only t-women, it is irrelevant whether the creation case is 1U or 2U.

In CCF2 Biblical Adam is Y-chromosomal Adam, and Biblical Eve is Mitochondrial Eve.  This requires applying some "flexibility" to the date of Y-chromosomal Adam to make it match that of Mitochondrial Eve (whose determination is in principle more robust), which is the main drawback of CCF2 (regarding exclusively the fulfillment of constraints).  Aside from that, CCF2 clearly satisfies C1, C2 and C3 by design.  Satisfaction of C1 implies in turn satisfaction of C5.

We must point out that CCF2 has the same conceptual disadvantage as the creationist view that the universe was created 7500-7200 years ago looking as if it were much older, including scattered fossils on earth of animals that never actually existed.  In this case, mankind would look as if there has never been a population bottleneck smaller than a few thousand people while in fact we are all descended from only two people.  Although to be fair, we must also point out that the high degree of divine intervention in CCF2, in contrast with the creationist view of the age of the universe, not only or even mainly would have had the purpose of fulfilling the literal narrative of Genesis but also, and much more importantly, would have had the practical purpose of enabling mankind to achieve a healthy level of genetic diversity without having to resort to mating with beings that, while physically humans, were metaphysically animals.  Still, in our view CCF1 presented below is just as plausible both theologically and biologically, though it might seem somewhat shocking to some Christians.  And moreover, CCF2 and CCF1 could have coexisted, obviously with creation case 1U only, with God willing to perform miraculous genetic intervention as needed if t-men would not mate with q-women.

CCF1

CCF1, which works best with creation case 1U, is as follows:

Biblical Adam is Y-chromosomal Adam.  Mitochondrial Eve could be either Biblical Eve or a matrilineal ancestor thereof, as explained below. 

Biblical Adam and Eve themselves had intercourse only with each other.

Starting with Adam's children, or perhaps grandchildren, t-people, and specifically t-men, had to start dealing with q-people competing for the same land, and they took care of them in the typical way chimps or people deal with other groups competing for the same land: by killing them all, with the exception of young attractive q-women, which were spared to be used as "wives", or more exactly sex slaves.  (Hey, they looked as good as t-women but did not talk!  What else could a hard-working, hard-fighting t-man ask for?  This humorous comment is meant to remind readers that we are dealing with fallen men.) Thus, the restriction is simply that t-men mated with q-women as extensively as needed to satisfy C3 above, but t-women never mated with q-men.

Here an objection could be raised about why a similar degree of interbreeding did not occur with Neanderthals or Denisovans in Eurasia after the Out-of-Africa event (if any such interbreeding occurred at all [10]).  The answer is quite simple: as the Neanderthal and Denisovan lineage had diverged from the lineage leading to t-men around 800-600 KY ago, Neanderthal and Denisovan females, in contrast with q-women, looked really awful from the perspective of t-men, so that very few t-men (if any at all [1]) had such a terribly bad taste or were in such dire sexual need as to take them as sex slaves.

Regarding the offspring resulting from t-men having intercourse with q-women, there are two possible cases that satisfy C2:

I1: Interbreeding resulted in t-men who were reproductively viable.  Either there was no female offspring, or that female offspring was sterile. In this case Biblical Eve is Mitochondrial Eve.  This case is implausible from a biological viewpoint, and also, by implying simultaneity of Y-chromosomal Adam and Mitochondrial Eve, has the same drawback as CCF2: it requires applying some "flexibility" to the date of Y-chromosomal Adam to make it match that of Mitochondrial Eve (whose determination is in principle more robust). 

I2: Interbreeding resulted in both t-men and t-women who were reproductively viable.  In this case Mitochondrial Eve was the matrilineal MRCA of BOTH Biblical Eve AND all the q-women that t-men mated with.  This case is biologically plausible and can directly fit the current most probable dates for Y-chromosomal Adam and Mitochondrial Eve.

Leaving aside the mentioned drawback in case I1, CCF1 clearly satisfies C1, C2 and C3 by design. Satisfaction of C1 implies in turn satisfaction of C5. C6, though a much more loose constraint than the others, is also satisfied.  Whereby we can now broaden our treatment of C4 by focusing on another, usually overlooked passage: Genesis 6:1-4, where we add between parentheses the corresponding elements of this framework, to show their remarkable (and quite unexpected by this blogger) degree of concordance:

When human beings (q-people) began to grow numerous on the earth and daughters (q-women) were born to them,

the sons of God (t-men) saw how beautiful the daughters of human beings (q-women) were, and so they took for their wives whomever they pleased.

Then the LORD said: My spirit shall not remain in human beings forever, because they are only flesh. Their days shall comprise one hundred and twenty years. (Therefore the interbreeding was against divine will, as would be expected.)

The Nephilim appeared on earth in those days, as well as later, (could "later" refer to the much less frequent intercourse with Neanderthals and Denisovans after Out-of-Africa - if any such interbreeding occurred at all [1]?) after the sons of God (t-men) had intercourse with the daughters of human beings (q-women), who bore them children. They were the heroes of old, the men of renown. (this seems to imply that those "children" born by q-women were only male, which would support I1 above.)


At this point some shocked Christian could argue: How could it be that God would have planned that the formation of mankind, at least at the level of its genetic diversity, be carried out through immoral actions?  And the Christian answer is quite straightforward: Did not God plan that the redemption (new creation) of mankind be carried out through evil human actions like the betrayal of Judas and the condemnation of Jesus by the Sanhedrin?

In neither case did God positively order or even approve the respective evil human actions.  Rather, from eternity, He foresaw them, permitted them, and included them in his creative/redemptive plan (CCC 311-312, 599-600).


References

[1] Schuster et al 2010. "Complete Khoisan and Bantu genomes from southern Africa". Nature 463, 943-947 (18 February 2010).
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v463/n7283/full/nature08795.html

Estimate for mt DNA TMRCA: 205 kya.

[2] Cyran and Kimmel 2010. "Alternatives to the Wright–Fisher model: The robustness of mitochondrial Eve dating". Theoretical Population Biology, Volume 78, Issue 3, November 2010, pp. 165-172.
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0040580910000493

Estimate for mt DNA TMRCA: 174 kya.

[3] Behar et al 2012. "A ‘‘Copernican’’ Reassessment of the Human Mitochondrial DNA Tree from its Root". The American Journal of Human Genetics, Vol. 90, No. 4. (6 April 2012), pp. 675-684.
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0002929712001462
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3322232/

Estimate for mt DNA TMRCA: 177 kya.

[4] Fu et al 2013. "A Revised Timescale for Human Evolution Based on Ancient Mitochondrial Genomes". Current Biology, Volume 23, Issue 7, 8 April 2013, pp. 553–559.
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960982213002157
http://www.cell.com/current-biology/abstract/S0960-9822(13)00215-7

Estimate for mt DNA TMRCA: 120 - 197 kya.

[5] Cruciani et al 2011. "A Revised Root for the Human Y Chromosomal Phylogenetic Tree: The Origin of Patrilineal Diversity in Africa". The American Journal of Human Genetics, Volume 88, Issue 6, 10 June 2011, pp. 814-818.
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0002929711001649

Estimate for Y-chr TMRCA: 142 kya.


[6] Mendez et al 2013. "An African American Paternal Lineage Adds an Extremely Ancient Root to the Human Y Chromosome Phylogenetic Tree". The American Journal of Human Genetics 02/2013; 92(3).
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0002929713000736
http://www.cell.com/ajhg/abstract/S0002-9297(13)00073-6

Estimate for Y-chr TMRCA: 338 kya.

[7] Melissa Wilson Sayres 2013. "Timing of ancient human Y lineage depends on the mutation rate: A comment on Mendez et al".
http://arxiv.org/abs/1304.6098
http://www.researchgate.net/publication/236263763_Timing_of_ancient_human_Y_lineage_depends_on_the_mutation_rate_A_comment_on_Mendez_et_al

Estimate for Y-chr TMRCA: 209 kya.

[8] Elhaik et al 2014. "The ‘extremely ancient’ chromosome that isn’t: a forensic bioinformatic investigation of Albert Perry’s X-degenerate portion of the Y chromosome". European Journal of Human Genetics (2014) 22, 1111–1116.
http://nsmn1.uh.edu/dgraur/ArticlesPDFs/ejhg2013303a.pdf
http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Tatiana_Tatarinova/publication/259846781_The_'extremely_ancient'_chromosome_that_isn't_a_forensic_bioinformatic_investigation_of_Albert_Perry's_X-degenerate_portion_of_the_Y_chromosome/links/0deec536157cb7b0f4000000.pdf

Estimate for Y-chr TMRCA: 208 kya.

[9] Elhaik et al 2014. "An extended reply to Mendez et al.: The 'extremely ancient' chromosome that still isn't".
http://arxiv.org/abs/1410.3972

Further commented on:

https://khazardnaproject.wordpress.com/2014/10/17/the-flabbergasting-science-of-fernando-mendez-michael-hammer-and-co-authors/

https://khazardnaproject.wordpress.com/2015/06/20/so-what-happened-with-the-adams-chromosome-paper/

[10] A 2012 study showed that the excess polymorphism shared between Eurasians and Neanderthals (and possibly also that shared between Australians and Melanesians and Denisovans) is compatible with scenarios in which no hybridization occurred:
Eriksson and Manica 2012. "Effect of ancient population structure on the degree of polymorphism shared between modern human populations and ancient hominins".
http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2012/08/14/1200567109.full.pdf


03 January 2015

Descripción de la unión hipostática en términos filosóficos de esencia y acto de ser

Este artículo se basa en el titulado "Real distinction between essence and esse from the definition of person and the Incarnation" del 24 de junio de 2014.

Yo era agnóstico sobre la cuestión de si entre la esencia y el acto de ser o esse hay una distinción real o solamente formal. (Recordemos que hay distinción real entre dos cosas si y sólo si ellas son físicamente separables.) Más precisamente, percibía que la cuestión estaba basada en diferencias en las definiciones tanto de esencia (en la mente, ¿está la esencia o una representación de ella?) como de acto de ser. En consecuencia, percibía que se podía sostener ambas posiciones sobre la cuestión, por supuesto no al mismo tiempo en el mismo estudio. La situación parecía ser análoga a la del formalismo de la Mecánica Cuántica, donde la mecánica de matriz de Heisenberg y la mecánica de onda de Schrödinger son formulaciones equivalentes, en el sentido de que por cualquiera de ellas se llega al mismo resultado, aunque obviamente no se puede usar ambas al mismo tiempo en el mismo caso.

Esto fue así hasta que leí un artículo sobre cómo explicar filosóficamente por qué la naturaleza humana de Jesús no es una persona humana. Las soluciones presentadas por Escoto y Suárez me parecieron totalmente insatisfactorias desde el punto de vista filosófico. De la segunda, el supuesto "modo sustancial" que existiría sobre la naturaleza humana y haría que ésta fuese una persona era claramente una construcción mental espúrea, que existe solamente en la mente del observador que cree que existe. De la solución de Escoto, mejor ni hablar.

Pero luego me di cuenta de que había una razón de muchísimo más peso para la distinción real entre esencia y esse: los pasajes del Evangelio de Juan en que Jesús dice de Sí mismo simplemente "Yo Soy", claramente del mismo modo en que Dios (Padre) se llamó a Sí mismo "Yo Soy" ("Ehyeh") en Ex 3,14. Particularmente éste:

"En verdad, en verdad os digo: antes de que Abraham fuese, Yo Soy." (Jn 8, 58)

Si la esencia humana de Jesús existiese por su propio acto de ser contingente creado que no se distinguiese realmente de esa esencia, como sostienen Suárez y Escoto, Jesús debería haber dicho "antes de que Abraham fuese, Yo Soy en mi naturaleza divina". Pero de lo que realmente dijo queda claro, a mi juicio, que en Jesús hay sólo un acto de ser, el eterno Acto de Ser Subsistente del Verbo, o mejor aún, el eterno Acto de Ser Subsistente que Es el Verbo. La esencia humana de Jesús no existe por un acto de ser contingente creado que no se distingue realmente de esa esencia, sino por el Acto de Ser Subsistente del Verbo que la asumió.

Este caso, en el cual una esencia creada no existe por su propio acto de ser contingente, muestra que hay una distinción real entre esencia y acto de ser, porque ambos son físicamente separables. Habiendo establecido esta noción, la union hipostática puede ser descripta en términos filosóficos de esencia y acto de ser: la Persona del Hijo, que al igual que cada Persona divina es la Esencia divina (dogma de fe), la cual a su vez es el Acto de Ser Subsistente (concepto tomista), es el acto de ser del alma de Cristo.

En este marco es sencillo entender por qué la naturaleza humana de Jesús no es una persona humana, mientras que la naturaleza humana de un ser humano cualquiera, digamos Pedro, sí lo es. La naturaleza humana de Pedro es una persona humana porque su alma existe por su propio acto de ser contingente creado. La naturaleza humana de Cristo NO es una persona humana porque su alma NO existe por su propio acto de ser contingente creado, sino por el Acto de Ser Subsistente del Verbo que la asumió.

En este punto, destaco que estoy siguiendo la posición de Billot de que la persona es constituída por el acto de ser, y no por un "modo sustancial" que "selle" la naturaleza, como sostenían Cayetano y Garrigou-Lagrange de modo similar a Suárez, sólo que colocando ese supuesto modo sustancial entre la naturaleza y el acto de ser.

Obviamente que esta manera de explicar el misterio de la unión hipostática no es necesaria, porque no se puede decir que la Iglesia no entendió ese misterio hasta S. Tomás. Pero sí se puede decir que a partir de S. Tomás puede entenderlo mejor y/o más fácilmente. Además este marco resuelve en forma directa y simple cuestiones como por ejemplo las del inicio y posible fin de la unión hipostática: en este marco, si la Persona divina del Hijo se separase del alma de Cristo, ésta última inmediatamente dejaría de existir.

Describir la unión hipostática como que la Persona del Hijo es el acto de ser del alma de Cristo tiene dos consecuencias:

1. El Hijo de Dios asumió la carne por medio del alma. S. Tomás enseña precisamente esto en ST, Parte III, Cuestión 6:

"si se atiende al orden de la causalidad, la propia alma es de alguna manera causa de la unión de la carne con el Hijo de Dios. La carne no es asumible más que por el orden que guarda con el alma racional, que es la que le proporciona el ser carne humana." (Art. 1, Resp.)

"La carne humana es asumible por el Verbo gracias a la relación que guarda con el alma racional como con su propia forma. Y tal relación no existe antes de que se una a ella el alma racional, porque una materia se hace propia de una forma en el momento en que recibe tal forma; por eso en el mismo instante en que aparece la forma sustancial se termina la alteración. Y ésa es la razón de que la carne no debió ser asumida antes de ser carne humana, lo que aconteció al hacerse presente el alma racional. Así pues, como el alma no fue asumida antes que la carne, porque va en contra de la naturaleza del alma el existir antes de que se una al cuerpo, del mismo modo la carne no debió ser asumida antes que el alma, porque la carne no es humana antes de que tenga un alma racional." (Art. 4, Resp.)

2. El cuerpo de Jesús se separó de la divinidad al morir, y estuvo separado de ella hasta la Resurrección. El fundamento de esto es precisamente lo afirmado por S. Tomás en los textos resaltados en la cita del punto anterior, cambiando:

- luego de "tal relación no existe",
"antes de que se una a ella el alma racional" por
"luego de que deje de estar unida a ella el alma racional".

- luego de "ésa es la razón de que la carne no debió ser asumida",
"antes de ser carne humana, lo que aconteció al hacerse presente el alma racional" por
"luego de dejar de ser carne humana, lo que aconteció al dejar de estar presente el alma racional".

- luego de "la carne no es humana",
"antes de que tenga un alma racional" por
"luego de que deje de tener un alma racional".

A la objeción de que una continuidad en la unión hipostática con el cuerpo durante la muerte se deduciría del modo de hablar de los símbolos: "fue crucificado, muerto y sepultado" y "padeció y fue sepultado", respondo que S. Pedro habló de la misma manera del rey David en su discurso de Pentecostés: "el patriarca David murió y fue sepultado" (Hechos 2, 29).  Más aún, S. Pedro dijo dos versículos mas tarde: "de Cristo, que ni fue abandonado en los infiernos ni su carne vio la corrupción" (Hechos 2, 31), distinguiendo entre Cristo, esto es su alma unida a su divinidad, que descendió a los infiernos, y su carne, esto es su cuerpo muerto, que estuvo en el sepulcro.