Re: Social problems and evolution

Charles Cairns (
Tue, 3 Mar 1998 22:33:02 -0500

Hi Glenn,

You wrote re evolution and sin nature:

>But while I accept evolution, I do it in a way that allows me to agree with
>Russ Maatman. I believe that neither our humanity, i.e., the image of God,
>nor our sin nature arises from evolution. If our sin nature is merely an
>extention of animal behavior, then I would have trouble calling it sin. I
>would also have trouble understanding why we humans, behaving as animals,
>are held accountable, when animals, behaving as an animal, are not.

An analogy might offer one possible interpretation: Children are not
accountable for childish behavior; however, adults are. I view human
evolution in the same way, and think of God as a watchful but distant
parent, waiting for man to mature to a point where he can be responsible for
his behavior and God can formally introduce himself. Our sin nature is,
IMHO, a relic of our origins, just as childishness is a relic of our
childhood. (I am not implying an ID approach, only suggesting that our
evolution was closely monitored.)

We have a number of customs that share some kinship with this idea, from
physical coming-of-age ceremonies to a spiritual counterpart that many
Christians call the "age of accountability." Could not evolving man have
reached an age of accountability as well? When or where that was is a
theological question, but I think it's possible. It's also possible an age
of accountability is a thing or a time that any sentient being would
encounter under the proper conditions. Hence Neandertals, "human" or not,
may have been accountable in the same way we are. Or beings from outer
space, for that matter.

I see no need, then, for a real Adam, or to distinguish between "adam" and
"Adam," however eloquent and satisfactory that might be. The simpler answer
is the one that textual critics have given for some years, that duplicate
accounts of creation and other events in the Pentateuch represent a variety
of oral traditions that were probably based, at least in part, on pagan
sources, were eventually recorded and redacted into a cohesive whole. Many
Christians spend a great deal of effort reconciling one passage with
another, when the disparity was likely due to the affects of time and
frequent retellings, as well as political motivations.