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Continuity and discontinuity

It would appear, however, that there is both a continuity and a discontinuity in the subsequent development of things.  On the one hand there is a fundamental continuity in the materiality of all corporeal bodies: a continuity, therefore, from the 'particle-with-field', right through the atom, the activities of the elements (cf. Wis 7: 17)658, molecular compounds, types of material structure659 and mixtures660 to the human body; and on the other hand there is a discontinuity which is expressed in the distinction between this seamless matter on the one hand and on the other the human soul which in and of itself transcends the capabilities of both physical matter and organically organized bodies of matter, yet at the same time this human body is ordered to the soul as to the 'form' of its body.

This discontinuity is even evidenced at particular points on this otherwise continuous substrate of matter, particularly with respect to the virus and the cellular or living body, whether microscopic or directly observable to the senses.

The virus cannot itself be a form of life intermediary to the inorganic and the organic, if it requires a living cell in which to reproduce.  For if the virus cannot reproduce outside the cell then the cell must exist if the virus is to reproduce661; and if the cell must exist for it to reproduce, then how can the virus be said to be the intermediary state of something which is in fact fundamental to its own existence?  For if the cell did not co-exist at the 'time' of the virus then how would the virus have continued in existence?  In other words, the existence of the virus and the cell are not so much chronological points in a time sequence such as is required in the fall of dominoes, as the two simultaneously existing and interrelated facts, such as that of two stones in a mosaic.

The idea that a designer can make things that go together while they are at the same time different, because the two parts together make a whole which can communicate what the parts cannot individually, is a principle of design expressed in the very first line of The First Book of Moses: 'In the beginning God created the heavens* and the earth*' (Gn 1: 1); and the fact of their difference is not because one thing is in a causal relationship to another, although this can be the case as in the complementary difference between the body and soul, so much as that two different things are simultaneously662 created because of they are 'necessary' to the design.

The second type of discontinuity is the living body, which can be as simple as one cell663 or as complex as the human body.  A fundamental definition of an organism is that it is 'made up of different parts (or organs) that are instruments, or tools, of the whole'664.  The cell is a basic unit of life and from it comes other life like itself665: a general principle that also applies in the material order.  For just as particles 'react' with each other and produce other particles, so do cells reproduce themselves as cells666.

The governing activity of the nucleus of the cell in the process of its own division667 makes it difficult if not even impossible to envisage the formation of the nucleus from things which are naturally subordinate to it.  It would be like a grain of dust evolving into a seed.  But this is not to deny the usefulness of the term 'evolution' to denote that to which it more obviously and easily applies: the slight, secondary, and frequently negative modifications of a thing due to environmental factors and which cannot really be called evolution in a positive sense; and, more constructively, the dynamic and positive development of each individual and the cumulative development of human culture.

It is interesting to note, too, that scientists are themselves open to consider the existence of animals which feed off other animals as 'prior' to the animals which feed off the produce of the ground; although the animals which feed off the plants would have seemed to such scientists to belong to an earlier point in the evolution of life forms668.  Therefore, for example, it now seems as if they think the cow came after the lion, whereas before they would have thought the lion would have come after the cow.

This again testifies to the reality of the possibility that an animal could be part of a 'picture' which was composed of a general design which was executed in an act of the simultaneous creation of the principal differences between things, and the subsequent, indeed likely separate creation of individually created and placed pieces, each with their own dynamic of development and each with their place in a hierarchy of created beings.  In other words, if one is going to understand the created order as created, it is necessary to apply all the principles of design to it, including those of one dimensional design work, and not just those which ordinarily apply to three dimensional work.  Therefore once fundamental differences have been established in the original act of creation, it would then follow that the biblical principle of like from like (Gn 1: 12), which appears to be the principle by which everything is both reproduced and man is by nature conceived (Gn 1: 26-27), therefore seems to be a principle which holds throughout the different orders of reality.

There is again, however, that extraordinary continuity between all things that live, as there was between the material dimensionality of what exists, albeit there is the classic division of biological life into its vegetitative, animal and rational forms669.

If, then, the corporeality of the created human being can be sub-divided into an active and in some sense 'living' physical materiality, a truly biological form of life and a rational soul, how is one to understand the integration of these 'elements' in the totality of the whole person?

In conclusion, continuity and discontinuity are together a more effective ingredient for understanding the work of the Creator than either a uniform continuity of one thing through to everything, or an equally impossible discontinuity between things to the point of their utter and mutual unintelligibility to each other.

658 Cf. E. H. Maly, Elements Of This World, page 263 of Vol V, NCE.    Back
659 Cf. K. F. Herzfeld, Matter, Structure Of, pages 479 and 483 of Vol IX, NCE.    Back
660 Cf. M. J. Albinak, Substance, Chemical, pages 770-771 of Vol XIII, NCE.    Back
661 A. M. Hofstetter, Biogenesis, page 564 of Vol II, NCE; cf. also H. A. Bender, Life, In Biological Science, page 737 of Vol VIII, NCE; and H. A. Bender, Cell Theory Of Life, page 381 of Vol III, NCE.    Back
662 Dei Filius, art 3002, page 124 of TCF.    Back
663 I presuppose the normal activities characteristic of cellular life, as here and elsewhere it is not my intention to definitively define every aspect of these subjects.    Back
664 A. M. Hofstetter, Organism, page 757 of Vol X, NCE.    Back
665 A. M. Hofstetter, Biogenesis, page 564 of Vol II, NCE.    Back
666 A. Wolsky, Embryology, page 300 of Vol V, NCE.    Back
667 J. J. Callaghan, Cell Division, page 374 of Vol III, NCE.    Back
668 H. A. Bender, Life, In Biological Science, page 737 of Vol VIII, NCEI ).    Back
669 Cf. ST, Pt I, Qu 118, art 2, page 162.    Back

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