Re: [asa] Theological Perspectives Without a Literal Adam

From: George Murphy <>
Date: Wed Aug 22 2007 - 21:32:08 EDT

Moorad -

2 things. 1st, a matter of terminology - the phrase "sin nature" should be
avoided. The human nature created by God is not replaced by something else
because of sin. (If Gregory is listening in, I am using the phrase "human
nature" in a traditional sense for simplicity.) We are still creatures of
God and by nature good even as sinners. (In fact Augustine says even that
that the devil is in essence a good creature of God.)

2d, I don't think one can make the jump from "People behave in ways that are
injurious to other people and to society as a whole" to "People from birth
do not have true fear of God and true faith in God." Social & nehavioral
sciences can help us to understand sin when placed in a theological context
but we can't get theological conclusions from science alone.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Alexanian, Moorad" <>
To: "George Murphy" <>; <>
Sent: Wednesday, August 22, 2007 7:56 PM
Subject: RE: [asa] Theological Perspectives Without a Literal Adam


I believe determining the sin nature of man from data that is usually
accumulated by sociology; psychology & c would be akin to inferring design
from observations of the working of Nature. What additional kind of
knowledge, other than that provided by the experimental sciences, would one
have to appeal to to reach such conclusions? Whatever that kind of knowledge
it is, it would simultaneously lead to the existence of sin as well as



From: on behalf of George Murphy
Sent: Wed 8/22/2007 7:27 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] Theological Perspectives Without a Literal Adam

Bundling a couple of responses to (1) Merv (snipped) & (2) Moorad below:

(1) A distinction should be made between faith in God and theology, the
attempt to think through and explicate that faith. A person can have
genuine faith in the God revealed in Christ independently of what he/she
thinks or doesn't think about evolution. But a theology of creation which
contradicts what science tells us about the world at important points is
badly defective & may undercut any attempts to communicate the Christian
message. Cf. Aquinas: "It is, therefore, evident that the opinion is false
of those who asserted that it made no difference to the truth of the faith
what anyone holds about creatures, so long as one thinks rightly about God,
as Augustine tells us in his book On the Origin of the Soul. For error
concerning creatures, by subjecting them to causes other than God, spills
over into false opinion about God and takes men's minds away from Him, to
whom faith seeks to lead them.

(2) Sin is a theological concept having to do fundamentally with a person's
relationship with God. While sociology, psychology &c can tell us about
anti-social behavior, mental pathologies &c that are associated with sin,
they cannot talk about these things as sin. Scientific theories certainly
cannot tell us that people either are or are not sinners.

Because of this, the type of statement that has often been made, that
original sin is the most empirically confirmed Christian doctrine, is
misleading. Our experience of the world does tell us that people have a
strong tendency to behave in the ways that the doctrine suggests that they
will, but it is only revelation that tells us that such behavior is


----- Original Message -----
From: Merv <>
To: David Opderbeck <> ;
Sent: Wednesday, August 22, 2007 12:07 AM
Subject: Re: [asa] Theological Perspectives Without a Literal Adam

In the latter case, the answer to George's question is that evolution or
one's quest to find and build answers in that construct is totally
irrelevant to the world of faith in God. (Or at least it would be if it
weren't for the warfare folks promoting science to the level of theology,
thereby demeaning theology.) If one's preoccupation with science (of any
kind) becomes an obsession displacing their passion and love for God, then
it is idolatry (and always would have been from long before evolutionary
theory). In that case science has strayed out of its subset into wider
faith domain that contains it, and it becomes a matter of faith to deal with

Thanks for this very interesting post. Therefore, we are born sinners
justifies the coming of Christ and His redemptive power via His death and
resurrection. Surely, then scientists cannot answer the question of why we
are sinners since it is a theological rather than scientific question.
However, are there scientific theories that would contradict the sin nature
of man and are not these scientific theories more than mere science?


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Received on Wed Aug 22 21:33:43 2007

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