Re: humans irreducibly complex?
Tue, 25 May 1999 00:54:41 EDT

In a message dated 5/24/99 5:03:41 PM Mountain Daylight Time,

> Moreover, if I got a gene that increases my propensity to do sin
> (e.g. drug addiction), am I going to be judged by the same standards as
> people who do not have this gene?

My personal understanding (and I stress the word personal) of the Augustinian
view of original sin (which is the view that predominates in modern
Christianity) is that sin is not a set of proscribed actions, but a state of
being. This view argues that all are condemned because of the act of Adam,
regardless of how they themselves act. Thus a man who leads a pure life but
who refuses to become a Christian is still condemned because he has inherited
sin nature as part of being human. This view would probably argue then that
genetics is irrelevent; if you are not a Christian you stand condemned in
your sin even if you resist your genetic predisposition, but if you are a
Christian you will not be condemned simply because you fall victim to a
genetic defect.

An alternative view, that preceeded Augustine, says that sin is a matter of
arrogance and selfishness, of the desire to follow one's own heart than to
follow God. Such a view would also disregard genetics, under the assumption
that one cannot be held responsible for behavior that is directed by genetic
defects any more than one can be held responsible for the color of their
skin. Drug addiction would be sin only if you endulged in it willingly, as a
form of perverted pleasure or to escape reality; if it came about against
your will then it would not be sin.

complex to be blamed on any single one factor. A genetic predisposition is
no certainty that you will become a drug fiend; lack of same is no guarantee
that you will not. Therefore, I cannot see God judging you on the basis of a
gene that at best plays only a minor role in whether you become an addict or

And since addiction is a disease, I wouldn't even call it sin, so I wouldn't
worry in any event.

Kevin L. O'Brien