The Fall of Man, the Ascent of Man, and the Eternal Return

If the archeological evidence is evidence of anything, ages and eons passed over the earth long before the advent of Adam, obliterating all before them, and left countless creatures from trilobites to triceratops extinct, falling prey to pain and plague, famine, death, and the eternal war of nature red in tooth and nail.

The Horsemen of the Apocalypse are not only older than Genesis, but pull the chariot of evolution, and therefore deserve the same reverence we should pay our ancestors, who, apparently, are apes.

But if evil entered the world with Adam, as we are assured by the Wisdom of Solomon it did, how can such evils have been sovereign here before him?

Here is the text of which I speak.

1 Wisdom of Solomon

13 For God made not death: neither hath he pleasure in the destruction of the living.

14 For he created all things, that they might have their being: and the generations of the world were healthful; and there is no poison of destruction in them, nor the kingdom of death upon the earth:

15 For righteousness is immortal:

16 But ungodly men with their works and words called it to them: for when they thought to have it their friend, they consumed to nought, and made a covenant with it, because they are worthy to take part with it.

If we are unwilling to accept the Fall of Man with the simplicity and faith of a child, any number of questions will present themselves to our consciousness, and lead to further questions, and into mazes with no center.

Hence there are two approaches: one is to accept what seems a reasonable supposition about matters we do not know, and the other is to compare our answer, puzzling as it is, with the alternate answers, which are not merely puzzling, but impossible.

Let us try the second approach first, and compare the puzzles of our answer with the impossibilities of the alternative.

There are only three logical possibilities:

  1. man was in a low estate before he was man, and rose into it, going from being ape to apeman to man and someday to superman. We are like a house that is imperfect because the building is not complete.
  2. man was in a high estate, a prelapsarian estate, from which he fell, going from perfect man to fallen man, someday, if he is saved by a power outside himself, to reach his first state again. We are like a cathedral toppling into ruins because of some great, primordial disaster.
  3. man is trapped in an endless cycle of reincarnation, a wheel of eternity with no beginning no end, and any appearance of falls or rises is merely a temporary motion of the wheel as it turns. We are like the grass that dies in winter and blooms again in spring, over and over, without end.

Now, let us set aside possibility number 3 as logically impossible. There is no such thing as a story with no beginning for the same reason there is no such thing as a line of railroad cars, each being pulled by the car before it, but with no engine pulling the whole line.

Suffering has no beginning and no end in this view: and life is a hell, but not one from which the just can saved nor to which the damned are condemned, since there was no fall, no sin, and act nor event which condemned us here. In this view, all of time and space, all of infinite and eternity, is an illusion with no reality beyond.

If possibility 1 were true, then apes would be less well adapted to life than we are, and we are less well adapted than the superman.

But if we imagine what is meant by adapted to life, we have to imagine creatures that, when times comes to eat, they feel hunger and eat without being tempted by gluttony; when time comes to reproduce, they feel erotic love without being tempted by lust; and when time comes to die, they lay down without hesitation or regret, and pass away like a man falling asleep.

For such beings, there is no reason to sing a song or tell a story, because songs and stories have no natural reason to exist. They neither produce food nor reproduce the race.

But looking at the difference between man and ape, we see the exact opposite. There are many animals who lay down to die without any outward sign of fear or regret, and beasts that rut only in season, and do not eat to excess, but there is no beast that tells stories, and even songbirds do not make up new songs.

If the evolutionary model of the world is correct, there is no God, or, rather God is a figment, a make-believe, that we humans made up because we cannot reconcile our minds to the harsh nature of reality.

If the evolutionary model is correct, we hate the nature that made us, and cannot tolerate the death and endless despair that is our own inheritance. But there is no reason for evolution to evolve us with these useless and counterproductive characteristics.

To hate what is inescapable is futile. Futility that afflicts all creatures cannot serve an evolutionary purpose, on the grounds that evolution proceeds only by separating the unfit to survive from the fit. If all members of a species have the exact same characteristic, evolution does not operate, as all are unfit to survive equally.

In sum, if we were like the house not yet completed in building, we would not yearn for the upper stories not yet built, because we could have no memory and no expectations of what the upper stories might hold.

The evolutionary view of life explains everything except for Man. We do not fit into what the model predicts.

That leaves only the Fall.

The model of the Fall says that we are like ruined Cathedrals, with some stained glass smashed, and trees and plants growing up through the cracked walls, with the roof collapsed, but with enough of the stone still in place that the grandeur and glory of the original use and original meaning can still be guessed.

Now, it should be plain to anyone with eyes to see that the human condition of our life here on Earth is one of continual discontent, almost as if we remember or half-remember a world where these intrusions, interruptions, and convulsions of unhappiness, disease, pain, sin and death did not exist.

Our discontent is not with things that happen once in a while by accident, like earthquakes, but with things that happen to absolutely everyone, like death.

When a child dies, we have not only a sense of sadness, as when a friend moves to a distant land, but of outrage and injustice, as if the death of a child is something that ought not to happen, as if it is a trespass on something sacrosanct, a mockery, like throwing a chamber pot against a white shrine. But that children die is the rule of this world, the most natural thing in the world.

Our reaction, for those with healthy, normal, human reactions, is not one of frustration, as when something happened we prefer had not, but of invasion, interruption, rapine, desecration, as when some sacred promise had been broken, or as the all of reality is out of joint.

But death is not only part and parcel of this world, according to the evolutionary model, death is the one thing and the only thing lifting the race out of the bestial nature of the ape. It is the thing that kills the weak and culls the herd and leads to the hairless upright posture of man which turns our eyes to the stars. Death is our singular benefactor, the spur and whip of evolution. So why did not death evolve us to be unable to fear death? We do not fear eating nor copulating nor any other part of the natural process.

If the natural process of life and death were the only reality, we would not be able to imagine, nor able to long for, anything beyond or above that.

We would not be homesick for Eden.

I submit that it is obvious that all men are homesick for Eden in some way. Even the pagan who speaks of the Golden Age when men were half-gods, even the bold socialist who imagines a cure for all the evils of the free market once world revolution has erected Utopia, even the science fiction fan who seeks a future filled with rocketpacks and superskyscrapers and cities on the Moon: they are discontent with the here-and-now, and seek happiness in an era not their own.

So, odd as it seems, the Fall of Man is the only theory that explains the fact that we humans feel like exiles here on Earth, and death and sorrow feel like injustices and blasphemies. It may be a paradox, but the other theories are impossible.

Now, in proper Christian fashion, let us now see that the last shall be first, and address the other approach. What can we suppose about the Fall of Man? We simply do not have enough facts to come to a firm conclusion, but there may be enough to suggest part of an answer.

What do we know of Man before the fall? Almost nothing. We can assume that Jesus Christ after His resurrection was what man was always meant to be, that is, He was like Adam was before the fatal disobedience. Christ ate and drink after his resurrection, so therefore prelapsarian man was not a disembodied spirit, nor someone who turned away from the pleasures of the flesh. He was able to enter rooms through locked doors, and able to levitate up into the air and vanish from sight. The wounds in his body were still visible and sensible to the touch, but they did not harm him. And, since He had the authority even before He was crucified, Christ could heal the sick and command wind and wave to obey, and calm the storm with a word.

Now, it is not a leap of logic to suppose that ever saint of whom we have report who could also perform some or all of these miracles was merely following in the footsteps of Christ, and using a power which is naturally meant to belong to Man, but which Man lost when Man fell. When Adam rebelled against God, nature also rebelled against man, and storms stopped listening when commanded to be still, disease stopped fleeing at the touch of a hand.

If prelapsarian man had all the powers of a saint, then the diseases of the world were not, in fact diseases, merely microbes who were still in the place they were meant to be, harming no one and nothing. Animals surely lived and died, and fed on each other, but we can assume there was no accompanying pain, and that, at the touch of a hand, any beast Man loved would spring to life again. Storms and earthquakes would still exist, but could not hurt anyone or anything.

Our bodies, made of light, strong and ethereal substance, could step into locked rooms as easily as Saint Nicholas, or like him, be seen in two places at once, or pass at the speed of a dancing lightingbolt from place to place.

We could go without food for an indefinite time, like Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerick (who lived the last nine years of her life 1812-1824 without taking any food or drink) or we could eat with real gusto when delight, not need, inclined us, as when the risen Christ ate fish, bread, and honeycomb.

Such men as we shall one day be will walk on water, like Christ, but also walk and leave footprints, just as we do. The laws of nature will not suddenly stop; but they simply will no longer hurt.

There is nothing in the story of the Fall of Man that predicts that any physical changes would take place.

Now if you can show me any archeological evidence that early man in the upper northeast corner of Africa, before the Fall, was sensible of pain, that would be a conundrum. We might find evidence of their footprints, but not whether they walked on water, and we certainly will not find evidence that man in his youth was meant to live forever, because, in fact, he did not.

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