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Regarding Daryl Domning's article, "Unfinished business" (NCR, Sept. 28): I share his desire for evolutionary biology's insights to be more fully part of our theological exploration. Theology is about mystery, about the understanding of the mystery of our Creator God's relationship with us. It seeks a deepening understanding of our Biblical vision. Even though our understanding deepens, it ever remains partial. In theology, as in faith, the affirmation is of primary importance. The explanation is secondary, for it is always conditioned by time and culture.

When it comes to the story of Adam and Eve, the critical thing to keep in mind is that it is a story. Into the echo of the refrain, "And God saw that it was good," the storyteller seeks through the story of the first man and woman to address how sin and evil come into an all-good creation, and with consummate insight introduces the tempter, not to obliterate responsibility but to indicate the very real intrinsic and extrinsic factors that are part of every moral act.

What we have sought to affirm through the centuries in pointing to the Genesis story is human solidarity. Once we return human solidarity to the context of all our moral deliberations, we will be freed from our almost exclusive focus on individuals apart from their cultural/societal context.


Portland, Ore.

Daryl Domning, in "Unfinished Business: Evolution offers an explanation of original sin," offers us a quick fix for the theological challenges surrounding the doctrine of original sin. "Ruthlessly selfish behavior," he tells us, is the result of evolution, not original sin. Just as physical evil, that is, the fact that material things come apart is inevitable, so moral evil, or sin, is unavoidable in evolving creatures with free will who have been bred for selfishness.

Unfortunately, this fix comes at a considerable price. Domning mistakenly conflates physical evil with moral evil. While it is impossible to create free creatures without the possibility of their abusing that freedom, that does not make moral evil the inevitable result of evolution.

In contemplating the crucifixion of Jesus and the ongoing tragedies in the world around us, we are not confronted with the inevitable result of evolution, but genuine moral evil that ultimately rests on human freedom.


Chiloquin, Ore.
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Title Annotation:LETTERS
Author:Tumulty, Matt; Arraj, Jim
Publication:National Catholic Reporter
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:Oct 26, 2007
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