When Does The Person Begin?

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"Each One of Us is an Icon of the Beginning"

A summary of the arguments against the theory of an evolutionary development from one kind of being to another

If creation imitates the being of the Creator819, at the instant of its creation, then the being which is a unity-in-diversity from that first instant of its beginning (Ref 44 - These references take you to the relevant webpage - please use the main back button to return to this page), is a being which is necessarily a unity of what is in reality as diverse as heaven and earth.  In other words it is the fact of an immediate unity-in-diversity which is what properly excludes the possibility of a true development of one kind of being into another.  This is because such a compositional being reflects a decision of 'design' which is different, but complementary to, the developmental design of things through time (Ref 48).

There exists, then, a hierarchical order of being (Ref 26) and , beginning with physical matter and ascending to plant life, animal life, human life, angelic life820 and God, in which God is not in the series in the same sense as other things are (Ref 51), and which does not imply a chronological development of one thing to another (Ref 53).  These differences in being can be called 'discontinuities' ; and they are nevertheless in the context of a real 'continuity' within what exists as creation, and at the same time with that continuity which follows on the relationship of creation to Creator.  Finally, these discontinuities take a variety of forms, somewhat characteristic, as it happens, of the previous series of distinctions between things.  The first 'discontinuity' is, therefore, between creation and Creator.

A second discontinuity would be between the nature of an angel and the nature of a human being; however, this would be in the context of the 'continuity' of the variety of intellectual forms which the Creator chose to manifest in this hierarchy of being, the better to lead us to appreciate the absolute mystery of His own being.

A further and slightly different example of this 'discontinuity' is the beginning of each person (Ref 34), in that each soul is made 'immediately' by God (Ref 50); however, as is well known, that 'discontinuity' of each one of us is in the context of each one of being a member of the family of man (Ref 45).

A fourth example of this 'discontinuity' is that a virus cannot be an intermediary form to that of physical matter and biological life if it requires a biological cell in which to reproduce itself.  For it needs to exist what it is supposed to become (Ref 48).

Furthermore, if the sexual gametes are present to the sexual organs of the male and the female human being, from the earliest stages of the development of the male and female human being, then how can they transmit a 'useful' modification to their descendants (Ref).  For the modification would not be encoded in that genetic material, if the genetic material for the next generation is already 'in place' and awaiting the development characteristic of adolescence and, in due course, the fruition of the conjugal act.

Finally, if the nucleus is what governs cell division, then the nucleus cannot develop from what is a part of the whole which the nucleus controls, any more than a particle of dust could evolve into a seed (Ref 29).  In other words there is in fact a considerable difference between physical matter and organic life.

The question of human death raises a particularly relevant point precisely because the act of existence through which the person begins, is an act of existence which brings to one-being the diverse 'parts' of 'form' and 'corporeal matter' (Ref 46).  For whether one explains the 'division of body and soul' in relation to the one act of existence of the human being, or in terms of a form of corporeality which exists as virtual821 and which, on death, manifests itself, it is nevertheless the case that the body is no longer 'simply' matter.  The physico-biological matter which either became the body of the human being at conception or subsequently through digestion822, is physical matter which has entered into the 'identity', in a way appropriate to it, of the person whose body it is.

The 'discontinuities' to which one has referred, whether that between physical matter and viruses, the kind of being an animal is and the kind of being a person is, or that between man and the angels, or creation and God, are all discontinuities between the being of things which are sufficiently different to require a different 'form' by which they are what they are.  These differences between things, however, exist in the context of the continuity of creation and of the common fact of all creation to the Creator.  It is these 'discontinuities' which are the contra-indications to the theory of one kind of being developing into another.

Secondly, the theory of 'form' and 'signet first matter' is an argument in its own right against the 'absence' in a theory of how things come to be of an agent-cause of that thing coming to be, just as we cannot account for the change of the wood of a tree into a table without an account of the activities of the carpenter.  In other words it is a radically insufficient account of creation to suppose it can simply consist, as a kind of viable minimum, of one act at the absolute beginning of creation (Ref 55) and (Ref 28) and (Ref 47), (Ref 49), (Ref 50), (Ref 51), (Ref 52), (Ref 53) and (Ref 54).

St. Augustine says: 'There are those who consider that only the world itself was made by God, and that other things come into being through the world itself, just as He ordained and commanded, but without God's doing the work Himself.  The statement of the Lord, however, is proposed against them: "My Father is working even until now"'823.

Finally, the First Book of Moses gives two accounts of our creation: the first one in the context of the mystery of God's creation of everything; and the second one in the context of the fact that God made us in a way which as personal as the style of literature which conveyed it could communicate it to be.  Therefore a question for a Christian evolutionary theory would be how well does it address, if at all, the fact that God made man male and female in such a way as to express a particularly personal love of what and whom He had made: a Love which is 'immanent'824 in such a way as the creation of each and every one of us proceeds, as it were, through the 'sign of conjugal love' which manifests an inwardness turning outwards825: a Love insolubly expressed in love (Ref 4).

819 The 'distance' and the intimacy of communion between one person of the Blessed Trinity and another, could be said to be a parallel way of approaching the 'problem' of 'God as the absolute origin of all unity-in-diversity'.  Cf. Hans Urs von Balthasar, Glory Of The Lord, A Theological Aesthetics, I: Seing The Form, translated by E. Leiva-Merikakis, (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, reprinted 1989), page 328.  Abbrev. GOL.    Back
820 A, page 156.    Back
821 E. McMullin, Matter, page 477 of Vol IX, NCE; cf. also AQU, page 41.    Back
822 AQU, page 40.    Back
823 LIOG, page 84, excerpt 1694 (5, 20, 40), of Vol III, FEF.    Back
824 Cf. GOL, page 22.    Back
825 Ibid, page 112.    Back

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