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I'm having a hard time with original sin

Postby Sure Breeze » Fri Dec 05, 2014 10:29 am

Here are some views that I've found:

1) Adam/Eve are literal. This can be dismissed because it's factually incorrect—there were no first two humans.

2) Adam/Eve is meant to say that early humans were perfect and then we wronged God somehow. However, again, there is no such thing as the first humans, so is it something like this:

[perfect pre-human ape] -> [perfect almost-human ape] -> [perfect human] -> some time later, we sin -> [flawed human]
How does this make sense? Or were the apes also not perfect? If they were not perfect then is it fair to say that we simply were never perfect.

3) Adam/Eve just a story, we always could die, no garden, no perfection, and at some point in time we disobeyed God. OK, but did everyone disobey or just some people? How can the entire human race completely disobey God when we, as a species, don't agree on anything? If it's somehow inherent then wouldn't we all have always had this capability from apes on up? This means we always had this original sin in the history of our species as opposed to someone doing something to disobey God - this means God created us with original sin in the first place. If that's wrong, we didn't all disobey, wouldn't that mean that some of us are more guilty than others of original sin due to mixing of bloodlines?

4) The Christian ancestors—Jews—didn't believe in the original, inherited sin. Considering it's supposed to be the same God and same people (we're all humans) and considering Jews have been around for almost four thousand years before Christians, why wasn't this hugely important thing not obvious for so many for so long? Why don't they still accept it, after two thousand years of Christian correction to what their/your God actually says.

Can someone explain—maybe I'm misunderstanding the whole thing. Biblical citations would be really helpful as well.
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Re: I'm having a hard time with original sin

Postby jimwalton » Fri Dec 05, 2014 11:06 am

As far as Adam & Eve being literal, that can't be so easily dismissed. You missed the very real possibility (the one I believe in) that Adam and Eve are literal but not necessarily the first human beings. What makes sense, given theology and science, is that when hominids evolved to the point of moral capability and culpability, God separated two of them out from the rest, "breathed into them his breath" (invested them with a soul), gave them roles and functions on earth, and offered them the possibility of a relationship with himself (a relationship he doesn't offer to any other life form).

Biblical citations?

Gn. 2.15: "The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden...." Took him from where? It implies he had been somewhere else before that. This interpretation actually has some similarity to the Gilgamesh Epic, where Uta-napisti (the flood hero) is taken from a normal earthly setting to an Edenic kind of setting where he will have an existence "like the gods". This sort of understanding would also make sense for Enoch (who was "taken") in Genesis 5. On the basis of Genesis 2 here, Gen. 5, and the Gilgamesh Epic table XI, it's altogether possible that Adam is being selected out from the everyday realm of the other (less evolved) hominids and placed in a specially prepared environment as a blessing. He is being elected from among them to play a special role: a priest for God (the words "work it" and "take care of it" in Gn. 2.15 are priestly terms, not agricultural ones).

In that case, when Adam and Eve were dismissed from the Garden (3.23-24), they had to leave the protective environment of the garden and go back out in the world, in the midst of other hominids not spiritually capable and morally culpable. It was among these that descendants of Adam & Eve "began to call on the name of the Lord" (Gn. 4.25).

Gn. 4.17. Cain got married. Whom did he marry? Well, there were others around, but they were "more" like animal-types than morally culpable humans. Cain feared for his life (Gn. 4.14). He lived in a city (a city? Not if there are only a handful of people around). And Lamech (Gn. 4.24) shows how morally vacant the "people" were. (Possibly a reason for the continental-sized flood of Gn. 6-8.)

Did it happen in this way? I'm not saying it did, but the text might allow for it. In this way the biblical text and science cohere; in the traditional view, the text and science conflict. The hard part is that we have to find what is true everywhere. Truth is true wherever it resides. Now, IF the science is right (about all the hominids, and evidence is growing), and if the Bible is right (and I believe that it is), the two have to tell the same story—and they can.

So here's the take on original sin. Hominids are evolving, and when they evolve to the point where they are not animals anymore but can be considered human (intellectually and morally), God separates them out, vests them with souls (now they are spiritual beings as well), puts them in a protective environment and creates a relationship with them, making it possible now for them to have eternal life.

Since they have free will and are morally capable, God outlines the rudiments of what a relationship with him looks like (priest and priestess who care for sacred space in relationship with him, and in exchange he will provide for their needs (nutrition and protection), give them roles and functions to rule the earth and subdue it (Gn. 1.27-28; 2.15, 19-20 et al.), and be their God. But since it's a love relationship, they must choose to love him (love can never be forced). God makes it easy for them: "You may eat from any tree in the garden except one." He is clear about the consequences of disobedience: "On the day you disobey me, you will be doomed to death" (you will lose that gift of eternal life). They're not perfect, but all they have to do is love God and choose to obey him (another mark of love), and God will bless them. They choose against him, and so, as representatives of the human race, choose to separate themselves from God even though he has separated them out to be with him. Well, he can't rightly override their choice (what kind of a choice is it if he takes away half the options). And so we have original sin by which all humanity is now separated from God.

But that's not the end of the story. Immediately God initiates a plan to redeem them from their sinful choice Gn. 3.16; 12.2-3, etc.), making it possible through his own sacrificial love to have a relationship with him once again.

Did God make them so that they would fail? Hardly. He did everything possible to help them. Did he make them flawed and then judge them for it? No, they had a reasonable chance to do the right thing. He made compliance easy. Did God give them something impossible to do? Nope. It was do-able. And when they did fail, he kept showing love and grace to them (Gn. 3.21), but the prospect of eternal life by this means was no longer an option (Gn. 3.22). They had separated themselves from God, and so the sacred space of the Garden was tainted, and ultimately done away with.

As Paul says in Romans 5.12-21, sin and death entered the world by this decision of A&E's, but God sent his Son to undo what they had done so that life and righteousness could once again be the picture, rather than death and sin.
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Re: I'm having a hard time with original sin

Postby Rogue » Fri Dec 05, 2014 2:18 pm

> Adam and Eve are literal but not necessarily the first human beings.

Bringing up yet more issues. How did "Original Sin" get passed to all other humans? Were there soulless humans that were in every way as conscious (same capacity to perceive each other), self-aware (demonstrated by death rituals going back tens of thousands of years, and painted hand-prints much older) and intelligent (same brain) which coexisted with specifically the descendants of Adam and Eve? How did God's punishment specifically of Adam and Eve not already exist? Why does every genomic study of human origins and human migrations completely discount there ever having been a progenitor couple?

> God separated two of them out from the rest,

One. Not two. God performed surgery on Adam in order to clone a woman from a rib. If there were other people, why choose a bachelor (to create from dirt), and not choose a woman? Why not choose a couple? And just what does it mean that God formed man from dust, if it selected an existing man?

> "breathed into them his breath" (invested them with a soul)

This completely contradicts the existence of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. If you're going to simply make up an entirely new story to suit your beliefs, then just admit the story is b.s.

> gave them roles and functions on earth

And in fact, paraded every animal past Adam, so that he could name them, and he could have dominion over them, which contradicts there could be any other humans. How did other humans survive if they didn't have dominion over other animals? Why is it only Adam was given this? Again, how was this passed to other humans? (Fun fact, at one second per species, it would take 100 days, of 24/7 non-stop naming; now for real fun, apply that to Noah.)

> offered them the possibility of a relationship with himself (a relationship he doesn't offer to any other life form).

A relationship that man can not have with God at any point since (supposedly) ancient times. Anyone who holds a dialogue with God is nuts, pure and simple. The "relationship" didn't end with Adam and Eve, it continued with Moses, Abram (Abraham), Jacob, etc. Also, there's no hint of a "relationship". God says, "Don't eat that", leaves, only to show up demanding "why'd you eat that?!" There is nothing to suggest God hung out smoking the weed with Adam.

However, as per OP, why a relationship with two specific humans from multiple species of humans, and why impose punishment on all humans based on the actions of the single one God made??
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Re: I'm having a hard time with original sin

Postby jimwalton » Fri Dec 05, 2014 2:52 pm

> How did "Original Sin" get passed to all other humans?

The Bible doesn't tell us that. It can't be strictly biological, because the Bible teaches that Jesus was sinless, and yet was fully human and had a human mother. Some had speculated, then, that "original sin" is passed through the father, but when it comes right down to it that doesn't really make sense.

It has to be more of a spiritual thing. When A&E sinned as representatives of humanity, they, and all humanity with them, became separated from God (separated from Life), and therefore "dead" in their sins. An analogy might be that if your parents gave up their citizenship and moved to another country and became citizens there, all of their offspring (theoretically forevermore) would be citizens of the new country, not of the former one. When Adam and Eve chose to renounce their citizenship in God's kingdom, so to speak, they became citizens of the kingdom of the world, and with them all their offspring.

> Were there soulless humans that were in every way as conscious (same capacity to perceive each other), self-aware (demonstrated by death rituals going back tens of thousands of years, and painted hand-prints much older) and intelligent (same brain) which coexisted with specifically the descendants of Adam and Eve?

There may have been soulless hominids—that's the way this interpretation of the story rolls out. But the time frame of tens of thousands of years back is irrelevant. No era is given for the Adam and Eve story. It may have been that long ago. But these other hominids, by scientific guesstimation, probably didn't have homo sapien sapien capabilities.

> How did God's punishment specifically of Adam and Eve not already exist?

Which punishment? The ones after they sinned? Those, by definition, were post-sin, not "already exist," so I'm not sure I understand your question. There were no punishments pre-sin.

> Why does every genomic study of human origins and human migrations completely discount there ever having been a progenitor couple?

The human family tree is being repeatedly redrawn as new discoveries are made.

Try checking out "Mitochondrial Eve" at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitochondrial_Eve

But all of this is far from being decided. New discoveries are remaking the landscape with regularity.

> One. Not two.

The term "adam" in early Genesis has two references. When used without the article it generally refers to a personal name. When used with the article it speaks of humankind. Gn. 2.7 and 15 both have the article. It's talking about humanity, not a guy.

> God performed surgery on Adam in order to clone a woman from a rib

No, you have this all wrong. They knew nothing of surgery, and that's not what the text is about. The "deep sleep" is a vision, not anesthesia. The "rib" is not an anatomical word elsewhere in the OT (a very unfortunate translation). It's more of an architectural word, and therefore speaking figuratively here. This text is not about Eve's material origin, but God is communicating to Adam about the nature and identity of the woman to whom he is about to introduce him.

> If there were other people, why choose a bachelor (to create from dirt), and not choose a woman?

The "create from dirt" is not a statement of material origin, but of humanity's mortal nature. See also Gn. 3.19; Ps. 103.14.

I'm trying to be brief here, so I don't write a wall. There is so much more to say, and you've asked many questions, but there is only so much space. My answers here are greatly abridged, and not all that has to be said.

> This completely contradicts the existence of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge.

It doesn't at all. I'm not making things up. The tree of Knowledge represents man's free will and his need to choose to love and obey. It was still a literal tree, but was vested with significance. We say, "The White House said..." Well, we all the White House didn't say anything, but it represents what the President and his staff report. When I draw a line in the sand and dare you to cross it, the line is virtually meaningless, but on the other hand it represents our relationship. That's what the tree was.

> nd in fact, paraded every animal past Adam, so that he could name them, and he could have dominion over them, which contradicts there could be any other humans.

Not at all. You're not reading carefully. In Gn. 1.27-28, all humans were given the authority to rule and subdue. All humans. And you'll notice in 2.19 it's "the adam" (definite article), indicating that all humanity is involved in the study and categorization of life. We do this with our Kingdom/order...genus/species system. We're STILL doing it as new species are discovered. It's not a contradiction at all.

> relationship

The whole Bible is about having a relationship with God. Gn. 4.26; 5.24; 6.9; 12.1-3 etc etc., all the way in Philippians 3.10 and others.

> why a relationship with two specific humans from multiple species of humans

They were ready. It was the right time and the right development.

> why impose punishment on all humans based on the actions of the single one God made??

Refer back to my "citizenship" analogy. But also this: God doesn't impose punishment for all of us based on the actions of the single one. You and I disobey all on our own. We're as guilty and rebellious as they were. Don't think God is punishing you for their sin; he is punishing you for your own.
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Re: I'm having a hard time with original sin

Postby Cabbage Head » Fri Dec 05, 2014 3:02 pm

> You missed the very real possibility (the one I believe in) that Adam and Eve are literal but not necessarily the first human beings.

Agreed. This is at least a logical possibility which was overlooked.

> What makes sense, given theology and science, is that when hominids evolved to the point of moral capability and culpability, God separated two of them out from the rest, "breathed into them his breath" (invested them with a soul), gave them roles and functions on earth, and offered them the possibility of a relationship with himself (a relationship he doesn't offer to any other life form).

Let's not jump to conclusions. This may make sense theologically, but it does not make a lick of sense scientifically. Indeed, you'd have to insist that other humans/hominids were devoid of 'souls' even though they were contemporaries of Adam and Eve—and if we're taking things somewhat literally (as appears to be the case), evidently there were other humans, as Cain found a female member and started a city with her. Presumably Cain had a 'soul,' so it seems likely that his offspring at the least (if not his wife and the other humans who populated his city) also had 'souls.' We could even go so far as to suggest a 'soul' was genetically inherited, in which case at least a quarter of Cain's offspring would've had 'souls' if it's a dominant trait.
All of this said, you remain correct that your suggestion is at least logically possible (given the logical possibility of a deity, which is dubious, but granted here for the sake of argument).

> Well, there were others around, but they were "more" like animal-types than morally culpable humans. Cain feared for his life (Gn. 4.14). He lived in a city (a city? Not if there are only a handful of people around).

Others, yes, but there is no indication whatsoever that they were " 'more' like animal-types than morally culpable humans." If fearing to be killed by someone indicates that the would-be killer is not a morally culpable human, then Cain himself might not have been a morally culpable human -- but if that's the case, then whence the 'souls' of Abel, Seth, et al.? For that matter, from where did Eve's 'soul' come? There is no indication that the 'breath of life' was breathed into her, and according to Genesis 2, before she was even made the various animals were paraded before Adam in search of a "suitable helper." If other hominids were effectively animals, probably they would have been paraded here, too, and if like kinds are important, probably they'd be the most likely to have been considered a "suitable helper."

...but probably this is taking the Genesis 2 account too literally. I suppose I would simply say at this point that there is simply no indication that Eve, Cain, Cain's wife, or other humans were not moral agents. Even if we did take them to be 'animal-like,' the mark given to Cain seems to indicate that they were moral agents.

If I'm still taking things too literally, I suspect you may be having things both ways. Surely you cannot selectively accept quasi-literal interpretations of Genesis 2, 4, and 5 without also admitting of similar interpretations within those same chapters.
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Re: I'm having a hard time with original sin

Postby jimwalton » Fri Dec 05, 2014 3:16 pm

> This may make sense theologically, but it does not make a lick of sense scientifically

This is a fascinating comment, because "souls" have nothing to do with science. They are not detectable, study-able, especially with a control group, or subject to empirical evidence, cause-and-effect, etc. You're right that souls don't have anything to do with the scientific arena.

Ca I insist that other hominids were devoid of souls even though they were contemporaries of A&E? I can. That's the interpretation I'm going with. It makes sense to me. Did Cain's wife have a soul? Great question. Wouldn't it be interesting if the obscure text of Gn. 6.1-4 had to do with ensouled people marrying uninsouled ones? There's no way to get that out of the text, but it makes for fascinating thoughts, doesn't it?

> Others, yes, but there is no indication whatsoever that they were " 'more' like animal-types than morally culpable humans."

I agree. Science tells us there were a variety of hominids around, with little to go by in terms of what they were, really. We're left with partial pictures, educated guesses, and theories. My point was that it's possible to interpret the Genesis text the way I am, and keep both theological and scientific integrity. That's not to be taken to mean that it's all figured out and clear. It's just an intriguing alternate course.

> where did Eve's 'soul' come?

The term "adam" in early Genesis has two references. When used without the article it generally refers to a personal name. When used with the article it speaks of humankind. Gn. 2.7 and 15 both have the article. It's talking about humanity, not a guy. All humans are invested with souls, Eve and Seth included, and all humans since them.

> Surely you cannot selectively accept quasi-literal interpretations of Genesis 2, 4, and 5 without also admitting of similar interpretations within those same chapters.

"Literal" is a slippery word and I don't like it. I think it's an inadequate term for discussions about the Bible. It just doesn't SAY anything meaningful. The Bible is filled with literary genres of all sorts, so "literal" becomes meaningless. I take Adam & Eve to be historical, but not necessarily the first. I think Adam & Eve are written about in the sense that they represent humanity (archetypes), but they not metaphors or allegories. They are pulled from the hominid base as a couple who had progressed to the point where they were moral capable, spiritual capable, and so God vested them with souls. So I don't even know what "quasi-literal" means in this case. The tree was a real tree, but it's significance was imputed on it (much like a line in the sand). The fruit wasn't magical, but was vested with significance (just like the tree). Adam & Eve were equals in status and role (no misogyny here). They were both mortal (Gn. 2.7), both moral (Gn. 2.17), and both blessed (Gn. 1.27-28).
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Re: I'm having a hard time with original sin

Postby Sure Breeze » Fri Dec 05, 2014 3:26 pm

> Adam & Eve being literal, that can't be so easily dismissed

Yes it can because the claim is that they are the first humans. If they're some random humans then my point #2 and #3 now apply.

> Cain got married. Whom did he marry

Exactly, so my point #2/3 now apply because original sin would only go to Adam/Eve and - maybe - their children and not, in fact, humanity who have nothing to do with it.

> And so we have original sin by which all humanity is now separated from God.

Although I like this paragraph there are a lot of problems with it. If humanity as a species has advanced enough for God to notice us and give us this choice, how is it moral for God to punish us when we refuse? It's literally: join me or burn forever... and this is from a loving and just God? In addition, my point #3 stands - the entire humanity could not have rejected God, only some people have but, as a result, the entire species is doomed. Why? In addition, clearly this was a choice from God, so why would the rejection be somehow genetic to the entire species? Clearly it doesn't exist in reality, this DNA code for original sin, so it has to be some unbelievably vengeful mark on the entire species for all time because of the action of a few of its members. Coming from, again, a just and loving God. Humanity was doing fine before God decided to chat with the early humans and give them this choice (assuming they were intelligent enough to understand it and its consequences). I also don't know how realistic it would be for us to be convinced it's God - it simply assumes everyone knows God somehow - and that there were explicit threats of: oh and I will curse every single offspring for the next trillion years as opposed to "don't eat this fruit". Some example of a warning. In addition, the fruit can't be true either - it has to be some symbol of knowledge, otherwise any diety with a brain wouldn't need to have fruit or the tree, or he'd put it inside of UY Scuti. It's like he's daring people to eat it, plus he knew they would anyway. Preteen bullies do things like this to small animals.

> Did God make them so that they would fail?

Yes, the tree was right there. I mean, teenage parents do a better job making sure their children don't reach the cookie jar.

> they had a reasonable chance to do the right thing

No they didn't because God knew what would happen and he let it happen anyway, as if his hands were tied and there couldn't be any other way.

> he kept showing love and grace to them

Is this the "you're going to hell" bit? I know what I would do: I would forgive them. No sacrifice or hell required. ... and that's assuming I would give them such a choice to get into trouble in the first place.

> They had separated themselves from God

Assuming Adam/Eve weren't literal and you're talking about our species, it's impossible for the entire species to separate itself from God or do any one thing at all. We're all different. If some jerks did something bad to a diety once, it doesn't - and shouldn't - spread to the entire species.

> As Paul says in Romans 5.12-21, sin and death entered the world

Clearly there was death prior to this. In addition, painful childbirth after this is also insane - it was always painful and there's not one shred of evidence that it wasn't, not for us now, not for early humans, not for apes, etc.

It seems like you're stuck on my first point and the other three points apply considering there is no way Adam/Eve were the FIRST and ONLY humans, which you yourself don't believe. Can you reply to those other points, since they now apply.
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Re: I'm having a hard time with original sin

Postby jimwalton » Fri Dec 05, 2014 4:11 pm

> Yes it can because the claim is that they are the first humans

That's what I'm telling you. It's not automatically the claim; there are other possible interpretations. It's like classical physics and quantum physics, or is light a wave or a particle. There's more than one way to look at things. That's why I brushed over your other statements, because if your #1 isn't necessarily valid, # 2 & 3 aren't relevant anymore.

There's a whole school of thought growing that Genesis 1 & 2 are not about material origin, but about God assigning role and function. It is getting quite a following, and it makes a lot of sense to me. But if Gn. 1-2 are not about material origins, but about order, role, and function, it changes the whole conversation. You can't insist on a traditional interpretation to which I don't subscribe; I won't defend it.

> Original sin

Let me put it this way. "Original sin" is a theological construct, creating a term to help us understand and be able to compartmentalize why we are all born separated from God. It doesn't mean we're all evil from the day we first breathe, or that we can't do anything right no matter how we try, but that we are separated from God. "Original sin" can't be strictly biological, because the Bible teaches that Jesus was sinless, and yet was fully human and had a human mother. Some have speculated, then, that "original sin" is passed through the father, but when it comes right down to it that doesn't really make sense.

It has to be more of a spiritual thing. When A&E sinned as representatives of humanity, they, and all humanity with them, became separated from God (separated from Life), and therefore "dead" in their sins. An analogy might be that if your parents gave up their citizenship and moved to another country and became citizens there, all of their offspring (theoretically forevermore) would be citizens of the new country, not of the former one. When Adam and Eve chose to renounce their citizenship in God's kingdom, so to speak, they became citizens of the kingdom of the world, and with them all their offspring. But also this: God doesn't impose punishment for all of us based on the actions of the single one. You and I disobey all on our own. We're as guilty and rebellious as they were. Don't think God is punishing you for their sin; he is punishing you for your own. We were born into a different "country", and we don't even recognize the country of our origin any more. Talk to most Americans and they'll tell you they're part Danish, Swedish, French, German, Native American, with a mix of Nigerian, but they're mostly Italian. We don't even know where we're from any more. We're American. So also here: we're born separated from God—the place of our birth, so to speak.

> If humanity as a species has advanced enough for God to notice us and give us this choice, how is it moral for God to punish us when we refuse?

Because of the kind of decision it is. It's a decision to want to not be associated with him. Let's make up a scenario, and hopefully this will be close enough to explain. You're a parent, and you raise your kid very lovingly, giving them every benefit, gift, and advantage. But there comes a time when he or she turns against you, says they hate you, they want nothing to do with you, and they slam the door on the way out of the house. You go running after them, "Don't leave. Don't leave." They refuse to come back and run away.

Let's say they get tangled up in some cesspool of humanity, and their life gets trashed by drugs, prostitution, and violence. Is it fair for them to say to Mom and Dad, "I can't believe you punished me like this. I thought you loved me. How dare you send me to the city to be raped, beaten, robbed, and drugged."

Hey, wait a minute. I didn't send you; you chose it. You left me. You rebelled and stormed away. Why am I to blame?

Now back to the Bible. God had given them every blessing and advantage, but they had their own choice to make: will I love God or will I do my own thing? They chose to do their own thing. God immediately initiated a plan to get them back. But they have to choose it.

Hell is refusing to come back. That's what it is. God invites you into a relationship with him, and if you refuse to come, then your destiny is to be separated from him. Why is God the jerk?

If I grow up in France because my great-grandparents decided to emigrate from America, that's not my fault. But you know what? I always have every chance to choose to move to America and become American. It's my right and my choice.

So also with God. You're born separated from him—we all are—, but all of us, each of us, have been invited to return. It's our choice. Anyone who wants to can come.

> Humanity was doing fine before God decided to chat with the early humans and give them this choice

And how do you know THIS? I'm guessing when it comes right down to it, you don't have anywhere near accurate enough information to make this statement.

< the fruit can't be true either

Of course it can. Suppose you and I are having words. You're ready to walk out, but I don't want you to. Not really. I lean down with my hand and draw a line in the sand between you and your car. I say, "I want you to stay, but if you cross that line and get in the car, you're telling me very clearly that you want nothing to do with me."

Listen. It's just a line in the sand that I drew with my finger (a simple piece of plain fruit). But by my words I have made that line the indicator of your choices about our relationship. The fruit was the indicator about their choices about their relationship with God. It wasn't magical, but it was profoundly significant. And it's not God's fault that they took the fruit and ate it. He didn't dare them to eat it; he gave them every reason not to.

> Clearly there was death prior to this

I agree with you. There was death in the system before Adam & Eve sinned. It's impossible to eat without killing something. The death of Romans 5 clearly has a deeper meaning.

> painful childbirth after this is also insane—it was always painful and there's not one shred of evidence that it wasn't, not for us now, not for early humans, not for apes, etc.

Of course it was always painful. Read the text before you criticize, please. Gn. 3.16 says, "I will increase your pains..." Notice that God doesn't curse Adam or Eve, but only the serpent and the ground. The increase of pain could easily be psychological. The root of the Hebrew word is often used to target mental or psychological anguish instead of physical pain. With death now the way it would be, and spiritual death, there is much greater anguish in bringing a child into the world.

> Your point #2: Adam/Eve is meant to say that early humans were perfect and then we wronged God somehow.

The text doesn't say they were perfect. You need to read more carefully. They were not guilty of sin (Rom. 5.13) until they sinned, but that doesn't mean they were perfect. Not every mistake we make is a sin (doggone it, I turned left instead of right. Or, I forgot to get the milk.). They're not sinners until the disobey God.

> #3: How can the entire human race completely disobey God when we, as a species, don't agree on anything?

We still all manage to disobey God. We are guilty, one and all. Our disagreements with each other doesn't have anything to do with our rebellion against God.

> #4: The Christian ancestors—Jews—didn't believe in the original, inherited sin.

I'm not so sure you're right about this. Try 1 Ki. 8.46; Ps. 14; Ps. 53; Ps. 143.2; Eccl. 7.20; Prov. 20.9. That's just a primer. There are more.

But I still don't think your points 2, 3 & 4 apply, just for the record.
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Re: I'm having a hard time with original sin

Postby Cabbage Head » Sun Dec 07, 2014 1:49 pm

> This is a fascinating comment, because "souls" have nothing to do with science.

Then I am somewhat confused, because you had originally said: "What makes sense, given theology and science, is that when hominids evolved to the point of moral capability and culpability, God separated two of them out from the rest, "breathed into them his breath" (invested them with a soul). . ." I agree that 'souls' are unscientific, but you seemed to be saying quite the opposite above.

> Can I insist that other hominids were devoid of souls even though they were contemporaries of A&E? I can. That's the interpretation I'm going with. It makes sense to me.

I don't necessarily have a problem with that, but it requires some suspect mental gymnastics, methinks, and it seems to raise more questions than it answers. Still, I won't begrudge you that view.

Of course, there are also Christians who believe animals have 'souls,' and if your insistence of Adam's and Eve's distinction is due to the 'breath of life,' then animals have that, too. I'm not arguing that animals do have 'souls,' but only that insofar as your interpretation is one way to do things, there are yet others as well.

> [Adam and Eve] are pulled from the hominid base as a couple who had progressed to the point where they were [morally] capable, [spiritually] capable, and so God vested them with souls.

I confess I don't know what this means. I think you're playing fast and loose with this 'soul' term, and I would really like some clarity as to just what it means, and what having one imparts on the subject in question. If Adam and Eve were moral agents (which is what I take from "morally capable"), then 'souls' seem unnecessary to grant moral culpability (for being a moral agent just is being morally culpable for one's misdeeds).

If you were to flesh out (pun intended) this 'soul' notion a bit more, I'd be interested in hearing more of your views on this.
Cabbage Head
 

Re: I'm having a hard time with original sin

Postby jimwalton » Sun Dec 07, 2014 1:57 pm

> I agree that 'souls' are unscientific, but you seemed to be saying quite the opposite above.

Thanks for letting me clarify. My intent is to show that theology and science can live side by side. After all, truth is truth, no matter where it is. When hominids evolved (there's the science part) to the point of moral capability and moral culpability (there's an axiological statement), God invested them with a soul (there's the theological part). I don't think we need to decided between science and theology, as if we can only have one and have to choose between the two.

> I don't necessarily have a problem with that, but it requires some suspect mental gymnastics, methinks, and it seems to raise more questions than it answers. Still, I won't begrudge you that view.

Thanks. I don't think it requires any gymnastics, but that's not a bad analogy. When young children are perceived as being gifted athletically, and they seem to have the body structure and the mental discipline to respond well to training, they are separated out from the rest of the population and placed in a particular location (a gym/boarding school) where they can be trained for a particular role and function (olympic champion). in that sense (as far as the analogy will go), Adam and Eve are the same way. When it is perceived that these have evolved to the point of moral capability and culpability, they are separated out, put in a special place, and trained for a particular role and function. I think it accords well with the Bible and does not contradict what scientists are discovering about human development.

> I confess I don't know what this means.

While "soul" can be difficult to define, for the sake of our discussion I'll say it's the spiritual part of us as humans, as opposed to the mental and emotional parts (neither of which can we see either). Our soul is the part of us that connects with God in relationship. I know that's simplistic, but it's something that animals weren't given. Their moral culpability in Genesis is not just a sense of right and wrong, but a sense of right and wrong as it pertains to a relationship with God.

We can certainly talk about this more, but hopefully that starts (or continues) the dialogue.
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