RE: Original sin (was Re: Human origins and doctrine ...)

From: Adrian Teo (
Date: Mon Feb 25 2002 - 12:47:02 EST

  • Next message: Adrian Teo: "RE: Human origins and doctrine"

    Hello George,

    > -----Original Message-----
    > From: george murphy []
    > Sent: Saturday, February 23, 2002 6:07 AM
    > To: John W Burgeson
    > Cc:;
    > Subject: Original sin (was Re: Human origins and doctrine ...)

    > The eastern tradition, represented by Irenaeus, sees
    > humanity as
    > having been created without sin but in an immature & childlike state.
    > Humanity was intended to grow, to develop toward a final
    > state of righteous
    > maturity in union with God. The first sin then was not so
    > much a matter of
    > an abrupt "fall" but of getting off the proper road.

    Side issue: I may be mistaken, but Irenaeus, as far as I can tell, has
    always been listed as a western/Latin father. He was Bishop of Lyons,

    [more stuff deleted]
    > But we can't simply think of the first humans as moral or
    > intellectual blank slates who could just
    > as well have avoided sin as sinned. What we know of
    > evolution suggests that
    > the first humans (however we choose to define them) would
    > have inherited a
    > heavy genetic &/or behavioral load inclining them toward
    > behaviors that we
    > would consider sinful - aggression, sexual promiscuity,
    > theft, &c. These
    > behaviors would not have been sin in their ancestors who were
    > not moral
    > agents, but would have been sinful in moral agents. & with
    > those inherited
    > tendencies it's very hard to see how those first moral agents
    > could have
    > avoided sin.

    Yes, which brings up the question of how these creatures could have evolved
    from amoral organisms to moral agents. A purely evolutionary account seems
    unsatisfactory at this point, given our current state of knowledge.

    > We can still say that sin is not part of what
    > constitutes proper
    > human nature, but in the course of real evolutionary history
    > sin could not be
    > avoided. Sin is not "necessary" but it was "inevitable."
    > In brief, I think an eastern metaphor of "taking the
    > wrong road"
    > (with the consequence of all humanity getting "lost in the
    > woods") is better
    > than the western metaphor of "the fall," especially if we are
    > concerned to
    > make theological sense of human evolution.

    It seems that a further distinction need to be made in what you refer to as
    the western view. Reformed theology and Catholic theology are quite
    different on this issue, and the Catholic view is, IMO, (a little) closer to
    the Eastern view.



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