RE: [asa] (introducing... sin) "Evolutionary Creation" book comments

From: wjp <>
Date: Fri Oct 02 2009 - 18:07:59 EDT

It seems to me that the import of original sin is to point to our sin
natures. That is, that we are in bondage to sin and cannot but sin.

Were it not for this essential bondage, we would would not need a Savior
so great as God Himself.

When we became aware of sin misses the point. We may not know (cf. Paul)
were it not for revelation at all.

To discuss this issue at all we need some idea of what sin is.
It is, I think, more than a moral sensibility.
Sin is a theological notion.
Negatively, sin is something like being in opposition to the god-ness of God.
Positively, to not sin is to embrace God's Will and Sovereignty.

We say that Rover does not sin. Why is that?
Because he lacks a concept of God?
If so, then the possibility of sin enters the world when first we are
capable of a concept of God.
That is, when someone was created in the image of God.

If we say there was no honeymoon period, then sin entered at the
creation of this individual(s). If there was a honeymoon period,
there was a fall. But is it the Fall of Scripture?

A lot of this depends upon whether you believe, as I think Scripture
teaches, that we have a sin nature, i.e., fallen man is by nature
sinful and an enemy of God.

If you abide by some naturalistic understanding of the origin of
sin (as I've defined it), and you accept a sin nature, then man,
it seems, does not alter his nature by a act (e.g., disobedience
in the Garden). Hence, man had to have been created with a
sinful nature, and there was no Fall, wherein man's nature changed.

Otherwise, it may be possible to say that Adam had a sin nature,
but it was not manifest until the Fall and he was driven from the
Garden. In this case too, Adam was created with a sin nature.

We don't say that a dog has a sin nature. So if man evolved,
there had to be a time when manlike creatures were more like dogs.
Perhaps there was a time when manlike creatures were capable of
sin, that is, they had a sin nature, but did not manifest it because
the notion of God had not be revealed to them. When God was revealed
to them, they fell, but they already had a sin nature.

The classic Christian story is that Adam's nature was changed (as creation
itself) with the Fall. An evolutionary story might have difficulty
adopting such a view.

Perhaps a different story could be adopted by speaking of original sin
being an imputation by God on us of Adam's sin, or simply our ancestor's

In any case, the role of original sin is to place us as beggar's
desperately needing God's Deliverance.


On Fri, 2 Oct 2009 10:24:28 -0700, "Dehler, Bernie" <> wrote:
> "Now if someone wants to hypothesize an evolutionary pathway for the
> 'origin of sin' they'll be doing something quite amazing. Maybe that is
> what someone out there has done or is about to offer, to take their shot?
> Somewhere, at some time folks, we do need an X to mark the spot!"
> You can't mark the spot where sin was recognized by humans because it was
> recognized gradually through emergence.
> It is the same way in each of our lives... from birth, knowing nothing, to
> gradually learning as we get older (then eventually losing it all as we go
> senile in old age, if we live long enough). It is like trying to
> pin-point "the age of accountability" for a human... there is no specific
> age or moment. Just like evolution... step by step, precept upon precept.
> ...Bernie
> ________________________________
> From: [] On
> Behalf Of Gregory Arago
> Sent: Friday, October 02, 2009 10:02 AM
> To: Don Nield; Murray Hogg; Denis O. Lamoureux; Ted Davis; Bill Powers;
> Dick Fischer; Nucacids;
> Cc: ASA
> Subject: Re: [asa] (introducing... sin) "Evolutionary Creation" book
> comments
> Don Nield wrote:
> "Adam and Eve play two representative roles. They represent us and they
> represent the first hominids who had the capacity for free choice and
> self-consciousness. With this capacity, they became aware of God's
> requirements, but more often than not rejected them. The "Fall" refers to
> the sinful acts of these ancestors creating a form of spiritual and moral
> darkness along with an accompanying bondage to sin. Original sin refers
> to: (1) the sinful choices of these hominids, (2) the continuing sinful
> choices of the succeeding generations including ourselves, and (3) the
> resulting bondage to sin and spiritual darkness that is inherited from our
> ancestors and generated by our own choices. This inheritance acts at its
> own ("spiritual") level and cannot be reduced to some sort of cultural or
> genetic inheritance, though it is deeply intertwined with these other
> levels."
> If you'll forgive me for jumping in after silence, I still don't see how
> 'Adam' and 'Eve' in 'representative roles' solves the problem of the
> 'origin' of sin any more when it is pushed back to calling them 'first
> hominids.' Something extra-natural must have convi(n)c(t)ed these
> particular 'first' hominids of their decision to 'Fall' and they must have
> somehow known what they did was sinful (i.e. the law written on their
> hearts). Whether or not there was a natural-physical garden from which
> they were expelled by the word of God for their act(s), is another story
> (and the volumes of artwork done on this are wonderful testaments to the
> Christian Tradition, which should not be treated as fairytales or as mere
> 'ancient science' or 'ancient history' - i.e. the primitive or backward
> and wrong argument). But the power of choice to sin (or not) is supreme,
> and it is God-given, selah.
> As the character Neo said in The Matrix: "The Problem is Choice!" And the
> act of choice itself breaks the continuity of the past and the future: the
> decision itself and the act, the confirmation, the condemnation, the
> confession, the repentance, the act of forgiveness, the...none of these
> things makes sense in a philosophy of flow and flux; 'evolution.' It is
> not that 'modern science has shown us' but rather than pre-modern, modern
> *and* post-modern or current philosophy convinces us of the power of the
> moment (G.K. Chesterton speaks about this, of the cross-roads so
> masterfully in his "Orthodoxy"). The problem again with the continuity,
> uniformitarian, anti-intervention, pro-hiddenness model is that it doesn't
> leave room for the very things that define/symbolise us most intimately as
> human beings, the supra-natural things that we are born with, though none
> of us can say exactly when they became part of our human constitution
> (womb to tomb), as part of a higher covenant, which happened ceremoniously
> before we were born.
> Perhaps this is why Denis said: "I can't "explain the details." That's the
> nature of a MYSTERY."
> It is like in Romans 7, where I do what I do not want to do. Isn't it a
> mystery still today? This could fit closely with Mike Gene's theory of
> nudging, if we are given many signs (i.e. nudged) that we are not supposed
> to do something, yet for some reason we ignore them or don't hear them or
> see them or feel them and still do it. The signs are only (reducible to
> being) 'naturalistic' if one 'despiritualises' the universe in which we
> live. And none of us here believes in a despiritualised universe, though
> our language sometimes betrays us without our knowing it. There doesn't
> seem any good reason to do that, except if one has made a commitment to
> natural-physical scientific methodology above theological or philosophical
> knowledge.
> Queue the Gregory repeat: e.g. Denis could instead speak about 'the
> character of MYSTERY' which contrasts with a naturalistic reading of
> reality. Though I know what he meant - 'the nature of' just means, 'how it
> is', all it would take is a mere massage of his language to influence the
> message. We do live in a universe with Personal knowledge (i.e. not
> Eistein's religion), and the Creator is not just something 'super' (but
> also awesome and majesticand full of Grace) and certainly is not just
> 'supernatural!' The Character of the MYSTERY is divine and providential
> (and the theologians can sing about this more wonderfully than most
> others, even if they are well taught in reading natural-physical
> scientific hymn sheets).
> I wonder then when Don's language starts to sound 'too naturalistic,' that
> is, if you'll allow for this possibility to happen (and not to be taken in
> accusative form to you, Don in Kiwi land! :). Denis, too, I must say I
> sometimes cringe at the sharpness of your language: "Adam was a scientific
> fact." Why does it have to be put this way? There was no 'science' in
> Augustine's day, at least in the way we understand this word now. Adam was
> considered 'historical' in Augustine's day and it is certainly still
> possible to accept as a responsible position and even as an historically
> supported position (e.g. Dick Fischer) within Orthodox Christendom today
> and to say that "Adam is an historical fact".
> As a Christian one won't find all that many Jews or Muslims offering to
> debate against this position (but the camp-odds shift when it comes to
> 'liberal theologians,' meant un-politikly) . Whereas the 'symbolic
> language of Adam' sympathisers (whose voices are certainly being
> represented here in this discussion) have to deal with the issue of 'there
> must have been a FIRST,' present in Plato and Aristotle and consistent up
> to the moment in philosophy. Bill speaks indeed of conceptual and
> empirical classes: there is nothing heterodox in saying that 'the first
> hominid Homo' can and should be called 'Adam,' which means 'man.' In other
> words, the first human, the first man, simply *is* best called ADAM;
> historical, real, flesh and blood (+), decision-making, who in his (and
> her) power to choose, chose wrongly, against the law, who sinned, in real
> time, back then, not now. We are humans after Adam, we are of the Adamic
> 'class.' Some people here seem to be using the conceptual class against
> the empirical class. In Adam they/we are one. And then we all know what
> comes next.
> Re-interpreting Augustine's view of sin is one thing, claiming the first
> hominid(s)/Adam and Eve were 'symbolic' or 'representative' *rather than
> real* (i.e. actually saying they were un-real!) is something quite
> different. Modern science has little power against this 'greater reality'
> (which partly explains why there are still so many YECs especially in the
> USA) and in such an instance must admit it has gone beyond its respective
> domain to pronounce upon such a thing!
> Let me then repeat what I wrote here a year or so ago, with respect to the
> way we communicate the Creation story, our Story, of human beings, nature
> and God. It carries such a different tone, meaning, style, mode of
> expression, though certainly the Message was intended to be the same, when
> one reads T.S. Eliot in contrast to Arthur Peacocke, both of whom re-wrote
> Genesis, one in the language of poetry, the other in the language of
> science. I wonder if there needs to be more celebration of the MYSTERY
> that Denis speaks of by celebrating the wonder of Creation, and of the
> Fall, and of the Redemption? Peacocke's language sounds over-scientific
> (though I wouldn't call it 'scientistic,' especially now in recent days
> enjoying his "Evolution: A Disguised Friend of Faith?" and finding many
> nuggets therein), when it could have been more mythical and personal. I
> felt such a cold-neutral-dry reaction to reading his Genesis, in
> comparison to T.S. Eliot's, which provoked wonder and awe. Has anyone here
> felt (or reasoned) the same way?
> But then again, what we are all after here is the truth of natural history
> too, the events that actually happened, whether or not they can haae
> empirical explanations. Because something happened, after all! Yet we use
> different language from the Buddhist or the Hindu or the pre-Christian
> Native Indian to discuss it.
> "the doctrine of original sin needs to be freed from the ancient science
> and reformulated." - Denis Lamoureux
> "we can no more believe that this is the entail of a single disastrous
> natural act" - Niehbur (via Polkinghorne and Ted)
> It may be that 'ancient science' was wrong about 'original sin,' even to
> address it at all, being that it was not just a natural or historical
> topic, but also a spiritual one. Of course, science was much more
> spiritual or inspired in those days too. But the notion that a 'single
> disastrous natural event' can't be believed in anymore is misleading.
> First, the act under consideration was 'more than natural' (and you all
> know that I like such language very much), though it also involved the
> physical aspect of 'human nature.' Second, that is like saying that all
> single acts of choice today can't be believed because they demonstrate the
> same vertical truth that was demonstrated on 'the first sin.' All of the
> fuzzy (actually, let me just be more direct and call it flawed) logic
> coming from evolutionary philosophy (and which is sometimes intertwined
> with evolutionary theology) diminishes the power of choice that was
> demonstrated in that 'one moment' on that 'one day,' it dehumanises us
> from the completeness of the unique human package, it reduces the vertical
> to the horizontal.
> Logically, one may go back in hominid history to a 'pre-sin' day, but then
> the question begs to know whether the first sinner was the first human
> (Adam)/hominid, or whether there was a time gap when a human was a human
> but not under the law of sin. Now it is the TEs/ECs who are on the spot to
> resist their 'flow and flux' approach to posit a definitive, inescapable
> *moment* because that is what the 'introduction of sin' calls for,
> everyday. Can it be another way?
> Now if someone wants to hypothesize an evolutionary pathway for the
> 'origin of sin' they'll be doing something quite amazing. Maybe that is
> what someone out there has done or is about to offer, to take their shot?
> Somewhere, at some time folks, we do need an X to mark the spot!
> Gregory
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Received on Fri Oct 2 18:08:48 2009

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