In short, the original sin means that all human beings are sinners because Adam and Eve had disobeyed God and had eaten from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We have inherited a fallen nature from Adam and Eve which prevents us from living pure lives. The opinions are divided about how deprived our nature is. From total depravation to only a partial depravation, all Christian theologians except Pelagius agreed that we need the grace of God in order to be saved from eternal death. In the history of Christianity, the opinions differed. Augustine of Hippo was one of the first theologians dealing with original sin:
“In Augustine’s view (termed “Realism”), all of humanity was really present in Adam when he sinned, and therefore all have sinned. Original sin, according to Augustine, consists of the guilt of Adam which all humans inherit. As sinners, humans are utterly depraved in nature, lack the freedom to do good, and cannot respond to the will of God without divine grace.”
For John Cassian, who was another important theologian, man needs God because he isn’t able to reach salvation in his nature:
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“Cassian did not accept the idea of total depravity, on which Martin Luther was to insist. He taught that human nature is fallen or depraved, but not totally. Augustine Casiday states that, at the same time, Cassian “baldly asserts that God’s grace, not human free will, is responsible for ‘everything which pertains to salvation’ – even faith.”
All these ideas start from the book of Genesis in which Adam and Eve were disobedient to God. Those theologians maintain that there is something wrong with human nature, something which cannot be fixed by human effort alone but only by God’s intervention. This is a conception which has persisted through the Reformation:
“Martin Luther (1483–1546) asserted that humans inherit Adamic guilt and are in a state of sin from the moment of conception. The second article in Lutheranism’s Augsburg Confession presents its doctrine of original sin in summary form: It is also taught among us that since the fall of Adam all men who are born according to the course of nature are conceived and born in sin. That is, all men are full of evil lust and inclinations from their mothers’ wombs and are unable by nature to have true fear of God and true faith in God. Moreover, this inborn sickness and hereditary sin is truly sin and condemns to the eternal wrath of God all those who are not born again through Baptism and the Holy Spirit.”
All human beings regardless of what religious faith they profess or in lack of any religious faith, are condemned to eternal hell because according to the book of Genesis all are the offspring of Adam and Eve, who disobeyed God by eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. As a matter of fact, humankind isn’t the conveyor of Adam and Eve’s sins because these are mythological, not real personages. Something would be wrong if Buddhists or Hindus would have to suffer a punishment for something in which they don’t believe and which is only a mythological narrative.
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There aren’t any reasons to believe that the followers of other religions than Christianity would have to suffer any punishments from God for their beliefs as far as Adam and Eve are only legendary personages. No one inherited any sins from people who never existed on Earth as real human beings.
If all religions are based on mythological narratives there isn’t one religion superior to another which can make better promises for salvation.
John Calvin also referred to the original sin:
“Original sin, therefore, seems to be a hereditary depravity and corruption of our nature, diffused into all parts of the soul, which first makes us liable to God’s wrath, then also brings forth in us those works which Scripture calls “works of the flesh” (Gal 5:19). And that is properly what Paul often calls sin. The works that come forth from it – such as adulteries, fornications, thefts, hatreds, murders, carousings – he accordingly calls “fruits of sin” (Gal 5:19–21), although they are also commonly called “sins” in Scripture, and even by Paul himself.”
If the book of Genesis isn’t an accurate description of what happened at the beginning of human history and Adam and Eve are not real but fictitious personages, there isn’t such a thing as the original sin. If the human races evolved during a long period of time from other less evolved biological beings, human nature isn’t the result of Adam and Eve’s disobedience to God but it is the product of natural evolution. As a matter of fact, human nature is similar to that of many animals but amended by culture and education. If there isn’t such thing as the original sin human beings are able to better themselves and to rise to a higher spiritual standard through their efforts. At the same time the Kingdom of God is a spiritual realm in which one can be received by God if one accepts His offer of eternal life.
According to the Bible death had entered into the world because Adam and Even didn’t obey God’s commandment not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
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“12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death came through sin, and so death spread to all because all have sinned— 13 sin was indeed in the world before the law, but sin is not reckoned when there is no law. 14 Yet death exercised dominion from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sins were not like the transgression of Adam, who is a type of the one who was to come.” (Romans 5; 12-14 NRSV)
If Adam and Eve never disobeyed God because they never existed they also weren’t punished by God with death for their alleged disobedience. Death didn’t come into creation based on a human attitude but it was always in the natural world, life and death being intertwined.
If God punishes all sin with death we need Jesus to redeem us from death because He suffered the punishment in our place, but we aren’t guilty of an original sin. Everyone answers before God for his or her misconduct but not for what the mythological personages Adam and Eve would have done.
Adam and Eve were punished by God with death and we also are deemed to deserve death for our disobedience which is sin. This is the logic of the Bible. What if Adam and Eve weren’t punished for their disobedience with death considering that they couldn’t have disobeyed Him because they weren’t real? If Adam and Eve are only imaginary personages the image of how God would have dealt with human beings is very different than what the Bible says.
Nevertheless, if the Decalogue includes the principle of the creation in six days, which is fiction, it is problematic to know the laws according to which our misbehaviour can be deemed sin. The Decalogue doesn’t express the truth; the world wasn’t created in six days hence the ten commands are not inspired by God. Those commands have, nevertheless, a great moral value, being the expression of necessary conditions for life in any society. They are not unique, for example, researchers have discovered a collection of laws which was authored previous to the Mosaic Law and which is known as the Code of Hammurabi. Some provisions in the Code of Hammurabi originating from Babylon are very similar with the prescriptions found in the Mosaic Law. (see also: gotquestions.org/Moses-Hammurabi-code.html)
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At the same time, there is a universal justice and according to it all human beings have to respect others’ rights.
In the O.T. there were degrees of guilt measuring human behaviour but even so almost always a ransom of blood had to be paid.
“22 Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” (Hebrew 9; 22 NRSV)
The punishment for any kind of sin is death, of the animal in the O.T. and of Jesus who died in our place in the N.T. There isn’t any sin which doesn’t deserve to be punished by death according to the Bible and this correction would have started with the mythological personages Adam and Eve and their alleged sins.
“A matter of the will more than of the hand, sin is an act of rebellion, revolution, and anarchy against God’s righteous government. As such it is an affront to the holiness of God. The measure of God’s wrath against sin is the measure of His holiness. And the measure of the penalty—death—is the measure of the enormity of the offence.”
Are there different degrees of sin? It is true that some sins were seen as being graver than others in the O.T. but at the same time all sins are punished by death by God if the sinner is not redeemed. The problem is that it is impossible to atone for sins through his or her good deeds and everyone needs Christ as an expiatory sacrifice in order to atone for sins. How could I redeem my original sin inherited from Adam and Eve if it was such a sin? No matter what I do, I cannot redeem the original sin and only Christ can do that for me. If the doctrine of original sin was right, every person needs Christ’s redemptive sacrifice for him or her, no matter how moral his or her life is, but the doctrine is false if we take in consideration the fictitious character of Adam and Eve. We need Christ for our personal spiritual improvement, not for what Adam and Eve would have done.
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The problem is extremely important because it doesn’t matter how pure in character someone would be, due to Adam and Eve’s sins he or she cannot be saved by God if he or she doesn’t become a Christian believer. Why necessarily a Christian? The answer is that only Christ can save someone from the original sin made by Adam and Eve, according to the Bible. The story of Adam and Eve prevents Christians admitting that other religious people have an equal claim to salvation as they have. Without Christ who is the second Adam none can be forgiven of the original sin. This is an incorrect doctrine based on the fictitious story of Adam and Eve.
Some sins are worse than others but all sins are punished by eternal death if they aren’t redeemed. The following quotation explains this principle:
“In regard to eternal consequences, big sins and little sins are the same. In the eyes of a Holy God, even the smallest sin is worthy of an infinite and eternal punishment. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” This is talking about physical and spiritual death. Isaiah 59:2 says, “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.”
Death had entered into the world through Adam and Eve, according to the book of Genesis. If death didn’t enter into the world through Adam and Eve because they aren’t real personages, that means that death isn’t a punishment from God but a natural thing. Even if death isn’t a punishment for human sin but a natural thing, we still need the power of God to liberate us from death. There is a condition for that, and that is the spiritual regeneration. Redemption without regeneration doesn’t bring anyone into heaven. Jesus’ death on the cross and the new birth in Christ are two doctrines which complement each other.
We aren’t forgiven for our sins unless our sins are paid for by Jesus, and in order not to sin again we need to be born again. A sin for which someone is punished isn’t a forgiven but a chastised sin. The human sins aren’t just forgiven by a forgiving God if Jesus died on the cross for them; all our sins are punished in Him.
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It doesn’t matter who was punished for our sins, if Jesus took our sins on Himself this means that sins cannot just be forgiven. God doesn’t forgive sins, He only expiates them through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.
If our sins would be forgiven by God no punishment would be attached to them and Christ wouldn’t have needed to die for them. God never forgives anything unless someone is punished for the mistake. This is the lesson of the Bible; God’s justice requires punishment in order to be fulfilled. God is motivated by justice and whoever doesn’t accept Jesus as his or her Saviour, he or she is punished with eternal death.
In order to live forever one needs to rise to very high moral standards and be able to live without sin as Jesus did. The obedience to God is considered to be the most important Christian value and that message comes directly from the book of Genesis. The O.T. and the N.T. are both focused primarily on this value. The following biblical text underlines the importance of obedience to God:
“22 And Samuel said, ‘Has the LORD as great delight in burnt-offerings and sacrifices, as in obedience to the voice of the LORD? Surely, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is no less a sin than divination, and stubbornness is like iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has also rejected you from being king.’ “(1 Samuel 15; 22-23 NRSV)
People cannot be blamed if they don’t believe in the narratives of creation from the book of Genesis and their lack of trust in them cannot be considered sin because those stories are unbelievable. Nevertheless, people who believe in God in spite of the inconsistencies contained by the book of Genesis on the basis of their personal experience with Him, and I am one of them, have to consider the requirements of God for their salvation such as they are expressed in the life and teachings of Jesus.
The unbelievers and the sinners will not die because they are unbelievers and sinners, but they will die because all human beings are mortal by nature.
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The exception to the rule of human mortality will be made only in connection with people who freely choose to believe in God in spite of the incongruence specific to the book of Genesis, or of other texts of the Bible, and that on the basis of their personal experience with God, and on what they can find still reliable in the Bible.
If humankind had come from evolution and not through Adam and Eve we can say that God didn’t create human beings directly. God could have created them indirectly by influencing the way in which nature has evolved but they could also have appeared through the natural evolution of nature without His influence. There is an innate impulse in nature to transform lower forms of existence into more complicated forms and this natural dynamic cannot be denied.
God could have assured the necessary conditions for the development of biological life and of human beings but we don’t have any reason to believe that without His intervention the life on Earth wouldn’t have existed as we know it. If there is life in the cosmos only where God created it then the Bible doesn’t help us to know if there are other planets hosting life in the universe. Probably, biological life and even intelligent life appears where it finds the necessary conditions for its existence with or without an act of God.
The book of Genesis doesn’t say how life really would have appeared on our planet but only presents a mythological description which is contradictory and against the data of sciences. For example, the creation of plants on Earth before the creation of stars, as the book of Genesis states, is one of the most obvious absurdities that someone can hear. We all are created from matter created in the stars, plants included; hence plants couldn’t have existed on the third day of creation, before the creation of stars. It is without doubt that plants couldn’t have been created before the creation of stars and before the apparition of supernova which produced the elements found in those plants.
The stories of creation from the book of Genesis aren’t revelations coming from God because they cannot explain credibly how the universe and life on Earth came into existence. In order to find answers to fundamental questions related to the origin of the universe and humankind we have to study nature because the study of the Bible doesn’t help us in this regard. The study of nature doesn’t directly point toward God’s existence because nature contains in it all necessary ingredients for the existence of life, but also doesn’t exclude the existence of a higher Reality.
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The so-called theory of fine tuning is a rational one. Such a theory maintains that there are too many coincidences allowing life to develop on Earth. The gathering of so many conditions at the same time cannot be coincidental; it must by a Designer who set everything in place for life to appear on Earth. As a matter of fact, we don’t know how many universes are in place in the entire cosmos and what the probability for life to happen is. The theory of intelligent design contains an interesting possibility but there are also arguments against it.
Human nature cannot be diminished in any way and humankind was met by God in the human nature. In the so-called depravity and corruption of human nature humankind invented so many religions and by this we can see that human beings have an innate spiritual dimension, hence human nature is open to spirituality. How could human beings aspire to spirituality by itself in every corner of the earth if human nature is really corrupted? The Buddhist monks don’t see themselves as being born again from God but, nevertheless, they sometimes reach high levels of spirituality. The basis of our spirituality is in our nature and to condemn human nature using as an argument the alleged original sin of two fictitious personages, is also absurd. Neither Martin Luther nor John Calvin inherited a corrupt nature from Adam and Eve because the alleged two first human beings never existed on Earth.
Human nature is linked with human biology and in order to detach it more from biological bonds and see existence in another perspective, we need God’s nature which isn’t determined by biological causality, being spiritual. According to the Christian teachings we can be born again from God in this way receiving a full spiritual nature. A similar detachment from human nature is also taught by Buddhism but the new birth cannot be found in its teachings as such.
God is Spirit and therefore He communicates with us in our inner spirits, giving us personal revelations. (John 4; 24) God the Father speaks to human beings from inside their consciousness rather than in an exterior way. None has seen God and He is love. (1 John 4; 12)
Did the prophets see God or not? They declared that they saw the glory of God. Take, for example, what Ezekiel saw in connection with God.
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The images that people have seen in the O.T. when they believed they saw the glory of God aren’t specific to a spiritual Reality but to a technological one, hence cannot be God the Father. God as an external reality to humankind, as an extra-terrestrial civilization and God as the spiritual “substance” of our souls, the spiritual “field” to whom every human being can be connected if he or she wishes, are two very different realities.
If Jesus died on the cross He didn’t do it because human beings need to be forgiven for the original sin because there isn’t such a thing. A redemptory mission of Jesus on behalf of humankind isn’t excluded but only for personal sins of every individual believer. For any human being, in order to understand sin a new consciousness of good and evil is needed, and that is given to us by Christ.
The inclination to sin of the human nature, the so-called concupiscence has nothing to do with Adam and Eve because the latter don’t have anything to do with reality. The inclination to sin is nothing else but natural instincts which allow human beings to survive in our world. We live in a competitive world and many adaptations are needed which permit the realisations of the ends of nature. We have strong instincts of survival and our nature isn’t based on idealistic principles. We can, nevertheless, deny our innate instincts and believe in superior principles, and even consider them more important than life but that doesn’t have anything to do with the reality of Adam and Eve. We can believe in Adam and Eve even if they never existed but our belief doesn’t make them more real.
If Adam and Eve are missing from the picture there isn’t anything left to condemn human nature and to make human beings feel guilty. This is the reason why so many religious people need Adam and Eve. Without them we have no reason to feel ashamed that we are human beings and that our nature isn’t perfect. This attitude of human dignity shadows the need for religions and particularly for religious institutions. We are what we should be based on our natural evolution and the reasons for the aspiration to be better can be found in our culture and in our beliefs. There isn’t any guilt in what we are and there isn’t any fault in our nature, which is the source of our improvement. Christ wasn’t ashamed to be a human being and if He was an improved human being it is because Father dwelt in Him. God wants to live in every one of us because we are the temples of the Holy Spirit.
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Moreover, if Adam and Eve didn’t exist, Christ couldn’t have come to Earth, taking the human nature of Adam before the Fall, a non-sinful nature. When Christ came to Earth He necessarily was a human being like us, having a sinful nature but He had the power not to sin and to resist all temptations. All inclinations toward sin were in Christ as they are in us. The presence of the Father dwelling in Christ was the motive for which Jesus didn’t sin while He lived on Earth. This presence is offered to us also and any human being in whom the Father is present can be a sinless person.
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