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Casey

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Original sin and evolution.
« on: August 27, 2008, 11:01:13 pm »
One of the aspects of Christianity about which I find myself the most confused is the implication of the evolutionary history of mankind on the doctrine of original sin.

A common theological reading of the early chapters of Genesis maintains that man was created in an innocent or pristine state, free from sin, and that, through disobedience before God, certain hardships entered into the human situation, including the need to toil for food and the like.  In the light of man's evolutionary history, however, I find it difficult to formulate a plausible picture of how this could have taken place.

I understand the species of homo sapiens to have come on the scene around 200,000 years ago in Africa.  Would the first sin of mankind have had to have been committed by a member of our own species, or might it have been committed by an evolutionary ancestor on the evolutionary tree?  If a member of our own species committed the sin, was this member co-existing with many other homo sapiens, such that his sin would have caused the corruption of perhaps many thousands of people far removed from his sinful act?  And when is it most likely that this sin occurred?  Very near the 198,000BC mark, or closer to the dawn of civilization, such that, if the latter were the case, humanity would have enjoyed a pristine state for many thousands of years before coming under the influence of original sin?

And what about this state of original innocence and security commonly held to be a part of man's germinal condition upon being created by God?  Even if humans lived for only fifteen years or so in such a state after they came into being through a process of (God-assisted) evolution, would they for that time have been relieved of the need to forage for food, relieved of the pangs of hunger, been free of all mental strife and anguish, and never a single time have come into conflict with other organisms, large or small, which belonged to this pristine condition?

And what was the spiritual experience of these innocent people?  A common reading of the early chapters of Genesis holds that their connection to God was far more perfect than our own, since we suffer the effects of original sin whereas they did not.  But how are we to conceive of their awareness of God?  The earliest evidence we have of any homonoid awareness of supernatural realities is the practice of ritualistic burial of the dead practiced by pre-homo sapien species.  There are early signs of animal worship as well.  But would these forms of religious consciousness not be understood as inferior to the experience of outstanding Christians from the past twenty centuries?  Must the spiritual experience had by humans before the Fall thus be understood as inferior to what came later?  Or should the first human beings, those not yet affected by sin, be thought of as possessing a certain mystical awareness of God which surpasses anything experienced by Christians closer to our own day?  What level of intelligence need by posited to suppose such a strong mystical consciousness, and does such a level of intelligence cohere with what is known about the intellectual capacities of the earliest humans?

Lastly, a common reading of the early chapters of Genesis holds that individual human beings would not have died if original sin had not occurred.  At Romans 5:12 Paul writes, "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned..."  If it took 500 years for humans to eventually sin, then did the first humans that evolved live for that entire period?  Moreover, at Genesis 3:22 God expresses concern over the possibility that humans might achieve immortality by eating of the tree of life: "And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever."  If man's original condition involved immortality, then how could God be concerned over man attaining something man already enjoyed?  Or if death was a part of man's original condition before sin, which would explain God's comment that man would become achieve immortality by eating of the tree of life, then why does Paul say that death only entered the world after sin occurred?

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Eric Stewart

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Original sin and evolution.
« Reply #1 on: August 27, 2008, 11:19:38 pm »

It's difficult to reconcile Genesis with Darwinism, innit?!  One of them has to go.


Must the spiritual experience had by humans before the Fall thus be understood as inferior to what came later?

Infinitely inferior, yes, to the experience of those now in heaven. They did not have the knowledge of good and evil, without which there was no way of knowing good as good, or God as good. Ignorance is not bliss. Those in heaven do have that knowledge, thanks to the fall of man, so they are able to appreciate God as good.

 
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alexd

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Original sin and evolution.
« Reply #2 on: August 27, 2008, 11:57:39 pm »
eric wrote:

It's difficult to reconcile Genesis with Darwinism, innit?!  One of them has to go.



You are correct about this.
This is the reason theists don't want evolution taught in schools.


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Eric Stewart

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Original sin and evolution.
« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2008, 12:07:58 am »

I do want it taught in schools, because it is a theory, but I don't want it taught as fact, or the only possibility.

One person with God is a majority.
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Harvey

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Original sin and evolution.
« Reply #4 on: August 28, 2008, 12:33:58 am »

Hey Casey,

You've asked some good questions. Let me try and give you my take on them. My view is based on my own peculiar PWS (possible world semantics).

Casey1981 wrote: Would the first sin of mankind have had to have been committed by a member of our own species, or might it have been committed by an evolutionary ancestor on the evolutionary tree?  If a member of our own species committed the sin, was this member co-existing with many other homo sapiens, such that his sin would have caused the corruption of perhaps many thousands of people far removed from his sinful act?  And when is it most likely that this sin occurred?  Very near the 198,000BC mark, or closer to the dawn of civilization, such that, if the latter were the case, humanity would have enjoyed a pristine state for many thousands of years before coming under the influence of original sin?


The movement toward human consciousness was a Jacob's ladder progression. It didn't happen all at once, but as our ancestors progressed up that ladder, they found themselves in one of the worst possible worlds that they could have become conscious in. The point where humans become morally conscious is an important rung on the ladder since it proved to God which of all possible worlds where our kind belonged. As it turned out, the Adamic model of the natural mind found itself in a Darwinian world because that is what it choose (where it belonged). That could have been as far back as 200,000 years ago, or it could have been as recent as 6,000 years ago.

Casey1981 wrote: And what about this state of original innocence and security commonly held to be a part of man's germinal condition upon being created by God?  Even if humans lived for only fifteen years or so in such a state after they came into being through a process of (God-assisted) evolution, would they for that time have been relieved of the need to forage for food, relieved of the pangs of hunger, been free of all mental strife and anguish, and never a single time have come into conflict with other organisms, large or small, which belonged to this pristine condition?


Pain and suffering is a relative term to what came before. For example, if we had just come out of the Holocaust, we would think that we found heaven living in the Western world today. The important point is that the garden experience was a delight and the past (probably horrible past) had been forgotten. My view is that they only knew paradise after a while of living in idyllic conditions for them at the time.

Casey1981 wrote: And what was the spiritual experience of these innocent people?  A common reading of the early chapters of Genesis holds that their connection to God was far more perfect than our own, since we suffer the effects of original sin whereas they did not.  But how are we to conceive of their awareness of God?  The earliest evidence we have of any homonoid awareness of supernatural realities is the practice of ritualistic burial of the dead practiced by pre-homo sapien species.  There are early signs of animal worship as well.  But would these forms of religious consciousness not be understood as inferior to the experience of outstanding Christians from the past twenty centuries?  Must the spiritual experience had by humans before the Fall thus be understood as inferior to what came later?  Or should the first human beings, those not yet affected by sin, be thought of as possessing a certain mystical awareness of God which surpasses anything experienced by Christians closer to our own day?  What level of intelligence need by posited to suppose such a strong mystical consciousness, and does such a level of intelligence cohere with what is known about the intellectual capacities of the earliest humans?


I think of them as primitive people. Although, I see Adam as our ancestor (meaning the whole lineage of life) coming into a conscious existence culminating with a moral mindset in the recent past. Their experience was innocent in that they did not have the level of cognitive, moral, social consciousness that we have today. They gradually evolved this mindset.

Casey1981 wrote: Lastly, a common reading of the early chapters of Genesis holds that individual human beings would not have died if original sin had not occurred.  At Romans 5:12 Paul writes, "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned..."  If it took 500 years for humans to eventually sin, then did the first humans that evolved live for that entire period?  Moreover, at Genesis 3:22 God expresses concern over the possibility that humans might achieve immortality by eating of the tree of life: "And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever."  If man's original condition involved immortality, then how could God be concerned over man attaining something man already enjoyed?  Or if death was a part of man's original condition before sin, which would explain God's comment that man would become achieve immortality by eating of the tree of life, then why does Paul say that death only entered the world after sin occurred?


I like the early Christian theologian Origen's concept to the Fall. He was heavily influenced by Philo of Alexandria, a contemporary of Paul who had similar ideas of Paul that we see in Romans, so it is not so crazy that Paul thought similarly to Origen (writing around 150 years after Paul):

He states that the story of paradise and the fall provides clear examples of details (God planting a garden, the trees, God walking there, Adam hiding beneath the tree) which cannot be taken literally and demand a symbolic interpretation, but does not say what that symbolic interpretation is. . . How then, it may be asked, did Origen relate the fall of Adam to the rational beings described in De principiis? . . . The evidence so far quoted is compatible with the view that Origen thought in terms of a first general fall of the rational beings as having preceded the moulding of man's bodily nature as described in Genesis 2:7 and a second fall of the protoplasts Adam and Eve, which resulted for them and their descendants in the conditions of life here on this earth. (C.P. Bammel, "Adam in Origen" in The Making of Orthodoxy: Essays in Honor of Henry Chadwick, Ed. Roman Williams, 2002)


So, if we think of the Adamic nature as taking on biological and mental properties (i.e., evolving into a human thinking person), then the immortality of man was spoiled by sinning. As a result of sinning, Adam consciously awoke in a world of sin and death, namely a Darwinian world. This was an optional world that Adam could have avoided. He could have awoken in a world purely of paradise, but his decisions forced the "natural mind" (i.e., a Platonic model) into a physical Darwinian universe. Hence, our existence is temporary--and death was made a part of it by what Adam choose.

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alexd

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Original sin and evolution.
« Reply #5 on: August 28, 2008, 01:02:53 am »
eric wrote:

I do want it taught in schools, because it is a theory, but I don't want it taught as fact, or the only possibility.



It's not taught as fact. It's taught as a SCIENTIFIC theory.
There is no SCIENTIFIC alternative theory for evolution.


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Eric Stewart

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Original sin and evolution.
« Reply #6 on: August 28, 2008, 09:56:47 am »

That's true, and that's why evolutionary suppositions are stated in factual terms, just assumed as factual, everywhere I see them, including textbooks. Yes, it is called a theory, but but treated as fact since evolutionists will not consider ID as a rival hypothesis.

One person with God is a majority.
~ Billy Graham

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alexd

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Original sin and evolution.
« Reply #7 on: August 28, 2008, 10:16:59 am »
eric wrote:

That's true, and that's why evolutionary suppositions are stated in factual terms, just assumed as factual, everywhere I see them, including textbooks. Yes, it is called a theory, but but treated as fact since evolutionists will not consider ID as a rival hypothesis.



It can be treated as a rival hypothesis, some did, tested it and proved it wrong. That is why it will never have the status of "scientific theory".


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Chris Witherall

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Original sin and evolution.
« Reply #8 on: August 28, 2008, 12:14:17 pm »

mind if I ask alex, how would you prove intelligent design wrong?


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john wickenden

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Original sin and evolution.
« Reply #9 on: August 28, 2008, 12:51:24 pm »
Casey

   

   perhaps you could enlighten me.

   

   Is this original sin thing the primary cause of all the guilt and anguish suffered, very badly suffered by many poor folk, and the excuse for authority by an elite who felt themselves qualified to pontificate about it and which of course gave them enormous power?

   

   cheers John

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Craig

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Original sin and evolution.
« Reply #10 on: August 28, 2008, 01:02:19 pm »
As I see it, Evolution poses no threat to my belief in God, Jesus and even Genesis. If one, however, believes it is the soul that is made in the image of God or the man's physical body then Evolution poses a threat to the Original Sin doctrine and the uniqueness of man (since it is proven that animals have souls and even feel guilt)

However, I hold that men are "Spirit" beings and not just souls. Sure we have a soul but the soul is not what gets saved or "born again"...it is our spirits. So when we are made in God's image, it was our spirit being made.

People often make the mistake that the soul and spirit are the same, howver they are not. The soul gives us the ability to relate to the outside world around us. The spirit gives us the ability to relate to the spiritual world around us (God).

So then, God could have implanted us spirits at a particular time in human history and the Bible can still be %100 true even given evolution.

make sense?

"You'll never stop at one. Ill take you all on!" - Optimus Prime

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alexd

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Original sin and evolution.
« Reply #11 on: August 28, 2008, 01:09:28 pm »
etiainen wrote:

mind if I ask alex, how would you prove intelligent design wrong?



As any scientific hypothesis.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T8O46wUCw5A
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iOMfVmLVhVA
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XkcE5kQQiH4
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZI58kSl0MM


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Chris Witherall

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Original sin and evolution.
« Reply #12 on: August 28, 2008, 01:15:44 pm »

I watched one of these videos (cool music, funny guy that sounds like Orlando Bloom and interesting points by the way!) are they all about YEC because thats not the same thing as ID by any means...?


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Eric Stewart

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Original sin and evolution.
« Reply #13 on: August 28, 2008, 02:32:52 pm »

john wrote: Casey

perhaps you could enlighten me.

Is this original sin thing the primary cause of all the guilt and anguish suffered, very badly suffered by many poor folk, and the excuse for authority by an elite who felt themselves qualified to pontificate about it and which of course gave them enormous power?

cheers John


John, that's silly.  Almost anything can be used for selfish purposes.
One person with God is a majority.
~ Billy Graham

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Eric Stewart

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Original sin and evolution.
« Reply #14 on: August 28, 2008, 02:36:59 pm »

Craig wrote: As I see it, Evolution poses no threat to my belief in God, Jesus and even Genesis. If one, however, believes it is the soul that is made in the image of God or the man's physical body then Evolution poses a threat to the Original Sin doctrine and the uniqueness of man (since it is proven that animals have souls and even feel guilt)

However, I hold that men are "Spirit" beings and not just souls. Sure we have a soul but the soul is not what gets saved or "born again"...it is our spirits. So when we are made in God's image, it was our spirit being made.

People often make the mistake that the soul and spirit are the same, howver they are not. The soul gives us the ability to relate to the outside world around us. The spirit gives us the ability to relate to the spiritual world around us (God).

So then, God could have implanted us spirits at a particular time in human history and the Bible can still be %100 true even given evolution.

make sense?


IMO, certain early chapters of Genesis have to be purely symbolic if Genesis is to be squared with evolution.  I don't mind taking them symbolically, because the Bible is full of symbolism, but I agree with those who teach that the Bible accounts often have a dual nature, being both symbolic and literal simultaneously, like object lessons.  In this sense, they are myths that are true.
One person with God is a majority.
~ Billy Graham