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PaulS

Evolution & Original Sin

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I know accepting evolution as scientific fact can be a real problem for some Christians, as it threatens their understanding of creation and original sin. I think some people are threatened because any such 'chink' in the armour of their doctrine may threaten a domino effect where all their beliefs go to water once one is compromised.

 

A Christian friend of mine who accepts evolution as fact believes 'the Fall' may have occurred when man developed the ability to speak & communicate and at this point separated himself from God through his actions. I would suggest he takes the eating of the apple as a metaphor for man going it alone against God's guidance/desires and getting himself into all sorts of trouble as a result.

 

So I was wondering if anybody else has/has heard of any alternative takes on this original sin belief and how some Christians may try to justify this belief against the existence of evolution?

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Genesis 3:22 and 23 are fairly explicit ,,,

What do you read in to those two lines?

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Yes, those verses say 'why' God drove man out of the Garden of Eden, but the impetus for doing so was Adam eating the apple.

 

If Adam did not exist (as evolutionists like myself would argue) then where does that leave this chapter of the bible and the concept of original sin? If you are a biblical literalist and you deny evolution, then it's easy - God created Adam, Adam then ate the wrong fruit, mankind is separated from God forever.

 

But if you accept evolution as fact, then that would seem to rock the foundation of fundamental Christianity - no situation where there is only one modern human on earth located in a specific Garden of Eden = no apple being eaten = no original sin = no need to be saved = no need for a God to send a Son to be crucified etc etc.

 

That being the case, have you heard Christians who accept evolution, justify the doctrine of original sin and if so, how might they?

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Paul I can't speak for literalist Christians ...

 

I do not understand what would make anyone think the Earth is six thousand years old ... You need to be asking YECs ... by and large they don't last long here.

 

The fall is Man tasting the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Do people people actually believe there was a physical tree that bore fruit of knowledge and evil? ... I have never heard anyone argue for this literal claim. It is always Adam broke God's command that is the fall and the original sin.

 

Yet it clearly states that ... knowing of good and evil is the problem.

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I am a Christian and I admit evolution with no problems for my faith. Christians that refuse evolutionism in the name of the Bible do not have respect for the Bible; they treat the Bible as a scientific text, refusing to consider literary criticism, science of interpretation, philosophical criticism, epistemology, history, philology... What can we expect from people that refuses almost every aspect of the world human culture, exept only their own ideas?

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Rom,

 

What many call Christianity these days relies upon the tenant that Jesus Christ was the Son of God sent as a Saviour to mankind to be a human sacrifice (atonement theology). Why was he required as a sacrifice? - Because man (through Adam) has inherited sin, is separated from God, and can only be reunited with God through accepting the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal saviour. The New Testament is indeed interpreted in several places as demonstrating that this sin is inherited due to Adam's disobedience of God.

 

So if there was no Adam, what does this mean to believers of this mindset? I know you can't answer on their behalf, but I'm just throwing the question out there to read what others may have heard/experienced.

 

Cheers

Paul

 

PS. Believe me, the majority of Christians DO believe in the literal interpretation of Genesis - that there was actually a specific single fruit tree, in a specific geographical location referred to as The Garden of Eden, and that a man created from dust by God did disobey and partake of a bite of that fruit, thus condemning all mankind in the generations to come to an eternal hell UNLESS they call upon Jesus Christ as their Saviour. I was one of them. In my defence, this belief was due to the indoctrination I received and it wasn't until I was 18 that I began to distance myself from such beliefs.

Edited by PaulS

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Angelo,

 

But apart from evolution, do you believe that mankind inherited sin because a physical Adam ate of a fruit and thus condemned all of mankind to eternal separation from God? I'm guessing not.

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I'm philosophically not metaphysic, I agree with the main philosophical orientation of Heidegger, so I cannot believe nothing about a physical Adam. I think that anybody that wishes to attribute sacredness to the Bible, instead than attribute sacredness to his own opinions and ideas, cannot believe to the idea of a physical Adam. If anybody believes to a physical Adam, it means that for this person the sacred thing is not the Bible, but his own comprehension of the Bible.

Edited by angel

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Paul

In my experience the majority of Christians don't believe in a literal Genesis ... But to be fair these Christians don't generally enter into debate. This is based on twenty five years in the UK and a similar number in Canada.

 

And even the literal belief of an immaculate birth is waning.

 

People tend to interpret the original sin as breaking God's command and don't seem overly bothered by what the command was or what its contents meant. Now that later commentators see this command breaking as sin is interesting and that later generations have taken the commentary as gospel is somewhat sad at least for me. Where in the Bible does it explain why we should not know of good and evil? I don't recall ever seeing a good explanation.

 

“That which is hateful to you, do not unto another: This is the whole Torah. The rest is commentary — [and now] go study.”

This can be interpreted as not doing evil stuff ... which of course is debatable or it could be interpreted as don't do what you don't want done to you. Fairly straight forward with a few caveats.

 

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Where in the Bible does it explain why we should not know of good and evil? I don't recall ever seeing a good explanation.

 

Genesis 2:17 says "but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die." This is usually interpreted as a command of God that intends to recall to Adam that he must not pretend to gain full knowledge about good and evil; Adam must engage himself in distinguishing good from evil, but he must remember that his judgements will be always imperfect. But this does not mean that God reserves to himself this knowledge: we could interpret in the sense that distinguishing good from evil is impossible even for God, because this distinction is based on human ways of creating schemes, ideas, concepts. This is relativism, but I think that at present we could agree about a specific meaning of what is good: good is working to obtain the maximum of freedom for the greatest number and greatest diversity of beings in the world.

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Angel ... this interpretation does not make sense to me.

 

So when Adam and Eve taste the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, does their knowledge of such things become perfect? If not why not and if so what is the problem?

 

I could interpret it as a nihilistic approach to good and evil, rather than a relativistic one. And frankly that makes way more sense, at least to me. And saying distinguishing good from evil is impossible even for God, does not make sense to me either ... If "God" can't tell the difference then evangelical interpretations of hell make no sense whatever.

 

The problem with metaphors, their interpretations are in the eye of the beholder.

Edited by romansh

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To me, Good and Evil are subjective concepts. There is nothing inherently evil except to the mind that judges it so. As Paul in the NT is recorded saying. " Except for the law, i would not have known good and evil. " "All things are lawful to me". It is the law that slays us and condemns us. Both the written and also the unwritten laws. Laws we write on our hearts by judging and measuring others. (for those that have not the law-Gentiles- See Paul's letter to the Romans) To him that esteems something as evil to him it IS evil. I think the story in Genesis is clearly an allegory and confirmed by many of the reported teachings of Jesus and Paul that to try to make up your own 'good' and 'evil' and live by the letter of a that law leads to death (spiritual). That is the fall and to walk in a spirit of forgiveness and non-condemnation is life from the dead or that fall.

 

Joseph

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I think that we should distinguish between interpretations of the Bible that try to be closer to its historical context and interpretations that try to extract from it concepts that are closer to our contemporary ideas, concepts and languages.
The biblical text does not say that tasting the fruit will make Adam acquire perfect knowledge; it says only that if they eat it they will die. The Bible does not contain theoretical concepts, such as "perfection", "universality" and so on; such words are in the Bible only in poetical texts, but the Bible does not contain an organized philosophical system. The literary and historical context allow us to observe that such expressions as "good and evil", "sky and earth" are "polar" expression, that is to say words that name the "polar", the extreme points of something, in order to mean the entirety of it. So, when we read that at the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, the idea is that he is the creator of everything. Knowing good and evil imply the more generic idea of knowing, understandin everything. This lets we say that the question about the tree of knowing good and evil does not contain moralistic reference about the question of what is good and what is evil. This is the historic and literary situation of the text.
If we want to speak about the evangelical interpretation of hell, we must remember that we are not speaking of strictly biblical concepts, but of evangelical concepts. At this point I prefer to highlight my opinion, that is, as you said, nihilistic. I'm not evangelical, neither catholic, neither agnostic or atheist; I prefer to take everything, because everybody could be righter than me, I cannot know. This "taking everything" coresponds in my mind to the forgiveness that Joseph has told. But forgiveness is something similar to nihilism and for this reason it scared so much the Jews, that they decided to kill Jesus.

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We are in the infinite and separate into the finite so to take angel's point that they will die could mean the finite will end. The infinite is endless so will not end so if one had this experience of being infinite in the finite they would try to communicate this with words and symbols that would most likely be misinterpreted by people without the experience.

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To me, Good and Evil are subjective concepts.

 

I must admit the objective and subjective are a little bit like one those illusory opposites we take a look at from time to time.

 

Energy comes to an object (we call that energy objective) that energy is in some way reflected or re-emitted from the object (and we call that subjective). Think of a mirror ... light hits a mirror and its reflection is perhaps distorted or incomplete.

 

And a quote from Joseph Campbell:

  • If all you think of are your sins then you are sinner.

     

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I believe evolution is a circle in the ocean of pure consciousness. A fish asked another fish what is the ocean. The other fish says the ocean is all around you, outside and inside. The ocean is you in all your parts and the whole. Sin meaning to miss the mark, which is hard to do in this concept related to Quantum Unity it is hard to miss the universe when you are in it. I guess at the time it was more polite to say "thinking you are separate" is because of original sin instead of saying are you stupid.

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I am one who views the bible as the writings of a spiritual people. As such the writing reflect the attitudes, views and beliefs of that society. When asked "where did we come from" and "why did this happen" they had no science to fall back on so their answers reflected their simple observations as well as story constructs.

 

As i have stated before, I view sin as mistakes and original sin as human flaws that drive us to make mistakes.

 

Steve

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