A Catholic Approach to the Genealogical Adam

@vjtorley before I go farther, I want to emphasize that there are multiple ways of handling this. I was not presenting that view as normative. It is entirely possible that there a better way forward, or at least a way that you like better. I entirely support that.

So taking your view a bit farther, there is some things I cannot quite put together in your writing. It seems like an consistency, but I am not quite sure.

On one hand you are looking for evidence of a rational soul, but on the other hand you note that a rational soul can exist before a being is rational.

So if that is the view you take, that means rationality is intrinsic to our souls, which are immaterial, and can exist even if by all outward appearances we do not have rationality (e.g an embryo). If that is the case, it is possible that, for example, Homo erectus has a rational soul, but does not yet have the “underlying scaffolding” yet to make it evident. Right?

If that is the case, why even try and figure out “when” this occurs from scientific evidence/ You would just not be able to tell. For all we know, a “non-rational” ancestor of ours might just be an “embryonic” sort of state, with a rational state but not yet enough scaffolding.

So here, you are saying something else, that if Neandertals gain the genes to be “rational” then they ipso facto have a soul. I’m not tracking this on several levels,

  1. If descendents of Adam interbreed with others (e.g. Neanderthals) why do you care about genetic sole-progenitorship in the first place? In the end, it is just a red herring. We do not expect Adam and Eve to be our genetic sole-progenitors if there was interbreeding.

  2. Also, are you saying that the soul is determined by genetics? Does that mean a Sapien that looses this gene does not have a rational soul either? Why would we attach this to a gene?

  3. You seem to be saying that observable rationality (e.g. in a Neandertals-Sapiens hybrid) that is de facto evidence of a soul. Does that mean if humans ever made artificial intelligence with a rational mind, would then de facto have a soul?

  4. I should also point out your last criteria of religion is not knowable about our ancestors till within the last 10,000 years (“a desire to placate some Higher Power(s) in order to obtain favors and/or protection.”) So even if you see, for example, all the rest of these things, we could never be sure they had a rational soul by your definition, it seems.

I cannot make sense of all this together.

You seem to be looking for evidence of a rational mind in history, but you also hold that a rational soul can exist without a body capable of exhibiting that rationality. You seem to think that a rational mind, in all cases means there is a rational soul too, but I’m not sure how that could be true. I’m sure you do not mean that humans can construct a soul.

I’m not sure value is intrinsic in any context. It is only valuable if someone finds value in it. This blurs no lines, because Jesus died for all of us, not the animals. He clearly values us. This also echoes Scripture:

It is because of the value God places in man that we are to kill each other. That value, however, is granted to us by God (creator endowed). However, if you want to say we are valuable because we have souls, that is fine by me. I’m just not sure how having souls means we are valuable. It seems like a nonsequitur.

So sorry for the far ranging post, but I’m trying to figure out what you mean here. Can you clarify?