Christian-cum-evolutionary theory of the fall

Intelligence arising by nature is so complex that it takes ages to assemble and so will always arise as adapted to the conditions of those ages. We’ll be healthiest feeding on the amounts that we got over the ages of development, we’ll be naturally social with the sorts of groups that we spent ages being social with or hostile to the groups we were hostile to, and, most of all, we’ll be adapted to a world that isn’t changed all that much by our presence. But (practical) intelligence is by definition the power to adapt the world to your presence, which means that the exercise of our existence is now potentially in conflict with the conditions of our existence. The two need not conflict, but recognizing where they will conflict requires an extraordinary amount of prudence, and since even a perfect human intelligences cannot anticipate all that might arise from their actions, this prudence requires the even more difficult willingness to change what we are doing as soon as we recognize it threatens us.

One dimension of original justice was just this increased foresight (which probably required some direct communication with the divine) and the willingness to correct the course when unforeseeable evils arose.* The fall, considered from this angle, is nothing beyond the absence of such foresight or willingness to correct course. As fallen natural intelligence increases, therefore, the probability that it will contradict the conditions for its existence approaches 1. Notice I’m not pointing to the efficiency that technology gives us in killing or controlling others- it does give us this, but this is a superficial and specialized manifestation of the contradiction that arises from intelligence being adapted to a world without it. Intelligence means that the exercise of a natural power is not necessarily adapted to the conditions in which it exists, and because of this even good intentions and noble aspirations can be in conflict with the conditions of our existence. The human tendency to violence might well be an evolutionary accident arising from splitting off from a proto-chimp as opposed to some more peaceful ape, but seeking goods or striving for noble existence would be with us no matter how we existed, and we have problems even here. A fallen bonobo-evolved intelligence would kill itself off as surely as a fallen chimp one.

In other words, “the fall” is simply being an intelligence alone in the world.  We’ve described it in big-picture terms that point toward a species-level self-caused extinction (and this is part of being fallen), but this reality is fractal and plays itself out in smaller societies and in each individual life. No individual natural intelligence could anticipate all the consequences of its search for goods, and it must be willing to abandon its efforts in the face of new information.  Original justice was only the help we got to do this; the fall only its absence.

The fall thus does not make sin a logical necessity but a moral necessity. Pelagianism is not the failure to recognize an intrinsic corruption or birth defect but the naive belief that an undirected finite intelligence suffices to direct and correct itself, even in its first and most simple actions. If an Evolutionary psychologist wants to say that our tendency to evil is not an ancient curse but simply the character of intelligence in the world then we say that he’s missing that the curse consists in intelligence being alone in the world. The study of intelligence in the world is a branch of theology.

*I’m assuming that such a correction is a sort of human perfection, and so God would allow some unforeseen evils even in the state of original justice so far as they were perfective.

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