A.Suarez's Treatment on a Pope's Formulation for Original Sin's Transmission!

(Antoine Suarez) #763

Therefore “Adam and Eve” were Image Bearers.

And according to Genesis 2 and 3 they were aware of what is good and what is bad, and therefore accountable.

To this discussion Genesis 5:1-3 is crucial.

Putting together Genesis 1:26-27; 2:15-17, 3, 5:1-3, 6:1-4, 9:5-6 we are led to the following account:

In a first moment God makes two things:

  • Defines humanity by declaring that he makes human-kind in his own image and his own likeness.

  • Gives to some human Image Bearers “knowledge of good and bad”, who thereby become accountable.

Thereafter, till the Flood, God creates new accountable Image Bearers in two ways:

  • As offspring of the primeval Image Bearers.

  • Directly, like he created the first accountable Image Bearer “Adam”: These are the “sons of God” in Genesis 6:2-4, who became accountable when marrying into the lineage of Adamite humans.

Nonetheless at the time of the Flood there are millions of Image Bearers who are NOT accountable all over the earth.

Genesis 9:5-6 is the moment when God completes the creation of humanity by making all Image Bearers accountable. Hence, the universal “taboo on murder”.

Two final points:

  • “Genetic or Genealogical Adam” is a strong symbol aiming to highlight the fraternity of all humans. Nonetheless in the light of Evolution we understand today that we are human because we are Image Bearers and share a body like the body of the Son of God, and NOT because we are genealogically descended from Adam&Eve. This is also the meaning of the “rainbow” in Genesis 9:13-16 (see a similar parable in the last Urbi et Orbi Address by Pope Francis).

  • It is fitting to assume that the first accountable Image Bearers (“Adam and Eve”) were created in a state of grace comparable to that we receive through baptism.

(Antoine Suarez) #764

Albert, I feel very much like you.

Me too I admire Dawkins’ mental abilities. He has helped me to understand what evolution is all about:

  • We cannot establish at which time humanity begins by biological means alone.

  • We should not live by Darwinian principles.

How can someone who acknowledges these principles deny the existence of God?

I think the reason for this denial is a misleading view of God that overlooks He is “one’s loving Creator”, as you very well say.

Dawkins rejects to be loved by God, and therefore is not ready to love God either.

He overlooks that this amounts to remain alone and without name forever, that is, to condemn oneself to be none.

(Antoine Suarez) #765

Augustine’s position is often misunderstood. What he advocates is actually that we are conceived with tendencies to pride, lust and greed (“triple concupiscence”) and to overcome them we need the Grace of Jesus Christ. The ordinary way to get this Grace is through Baptism.

Augustine’s “concupiscence” is nothing other than what we call today selfish evolutionary mechanisms or Darwinian principles.

So it seems to me that Augustine’s position amounts to what most people in this blog endorse.

Notice that Augustine’s position does not mean that “we are conceived in sin” in the sense that “if infants die without baptism they go to hell”. It should rather be understood in the context of his confutation of Pelagianism: Augustine highlights that Christ’s Grace is necessary for salvation, humans cannot earn salvation by their efforts alone. And if Christ’s Grace means help to overcome selfish tendencies in us and develop a virtuous life, it seems fitting to give this help to infants as well, the same way as a mother gives her baby her breast milk.

I am glad to see that the Baptist church you joined takes Baptism seriously, following Jesus Commission:

Mark 16: 15-16
15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

And deciding to join this church and be baptized at the age of 33 you seem to take Baptism seriously as well :slightly_smiling_face:!

(George Brooks) #766

I think the orthodox church would say that infant baptism has no affect on an infant’s selfish tendencies.

(Antoine Suarez) #767

I quote from this Orthodox Christian resource:

Why not wait for the baby to grow and believe in Christ and ask for baptism? If we were to follow this line of reasoning, we wouldn’t inoculate the baby against diphtheria until he grows up and asks for it! But we know better. Baptising infants before they know what is going on is an expression of God’s great love for us. It shows that God loves us and accepts us before we can ever know and love Him. It shows that we are wanted and loved by God from the very moment of our birth. Nothing shows the nature of God’s grace more than infant baptism. The Orthodox Church does not belittle personal faith in an adult who seeks baptism, but instead insists that the whole emphasis of baptism is not on what the baby does or the parents or the godparents, but on what God does. The fact that we are Christians is not due to any act on our part; it is due to the act of God in Christ through the Holy Spirit.

In accord with this, I think that Christian life means struggle to overcome selfish tendencies in us, according to Jesus’ Beatitudes in his teaching on the mount (Matthew 5-7).

God created the world by means of Darwinian selfish mechanisms under higher-level ecological regulation.

By contrast, God calls humanity to regulate Darwinian tendencies by living according to the Golden Rule. The Grace of God we receive in Baptism help us to achieve this provided we do not freely reject it.

So Richard Dawkins’ statement: “We should not live by Darwinian principles”, is mere Christianity after all!

And his other statement: “One of the reasons for learning about Darwinian evolution is as an object lesson in how not to set up our values and social lives”, in fact means that evolution is a new and strong proof of God’s existence.

(George Brooks) #768


If you can perceive the meta-message of this text… it is essentially saying:

Nothing encapsulates the love and optimism for the future better than baptizing an infant - - BECAUSE it does nothing for the child, other than puts the infant in the embrace of Christianity’s heart and soul.

At the very least, this serves as the anti-Augustinian sermon!

(Antoine Suarez) #769

I agree. However, to put “the infant in the embrace of Christianity’s heart and soul” means for the infant to receive the help of Christ’s grace to live according to the Beatitudes. And this means to do a lot for the child! Indeed, it means to help him/her to overcome selfish Darwinian tendencies to pride, lust and greed (triple concupiscence).

This is clearly confirmed by the first part of my quotation:

Why not wait for the baby to grow and believe in Christ and ask for baptism? If we were to follow this line of reasoning, we wouldn’t inoculate the baby against diphtheria until he grows up and asks for it! But we know better. Baptising infants before they know what is going on is an expression of God’s great love for us. It shows that God loves us and accepts us before we can ever know and love Him. It shows that we are wanted and loved by God from the very moment of our birth. Nothing shows the nature of God’s grace more than infant baptism.

In any case this does not look like an

In summary, we see once again how evolution fits well to Christianity:

God creates the animal world by means of selfish Darwinian principles under control of higher-level ecological regulation.

By making humanity in His Image, God calls us to live according to the rule of love (as you rightly point out) and to this aim gives us the necessary help (grace) to resist against concupiscence.

(George Brooks) #770


Virtually any mystical paragraph in English can receive color and flavor by virtue of Roman Catholic Writings.

But that does not make the mystical paragraph into genuine Catholicism.

Say whatever you like.

But most Eastern Orthodox theologies are VIGOROUSLY opposed to Original Sin.

Some are so opposed to it, even illogical contentions are aggregated and enlisted in anti-Roman apologetics that are so extreme they can even make ME blush.

You and several others have attempted to personally reconcile centuries of Eastern Orthodox views as really “just a different flavor of what Augustine meant.”

No. Full stop. That is not correct.

Other than some Russian orthodox writings that do appear to bend towarfs Rome, most of the other branches appear to be of one mind:

That Augustine was wrong about Original sin… but not wrong that all will sin and come short of the glory of Jesus.

(Antoine Suarez) #771

It seems to me that an important result of this thread we are reaching can be summarized in the three following points:

  1. God creates the animal species by means of two main ingredients:
  • Darwinian principles.

  • Ecological regulation,
    (which leads in particular to the disappearance of all the intermediate varieties between anatomically modern humans and chimps.)

  1. God then calls humans to live according to the “Ecology of Love” (magnificently explained by Jesus in the Beatitudes).
    This requires God’s help (grace) to master the selfish evolutionary mechanisms.

  2. God ordinarily provides this help by means of the Baptism Jesus Christ commissioned us to do (Mark 16: 15-16).

(George Brooks) #772


Point 3 is the shakier one.

Before there was Baptism… would the answer have been "by prayer "? Or maybe “by personal appearance” or “angels”?

But from the time of the N.T., baptism has certainly been an ESCALATOR, rather than a door.

Clearly not being baptized doesnt prevent resurrection.

Jesus soeaks if The Kingdom like it is a 501©(3) membership association. You can belong to The Kingdom no matter where you are physically located. And membership has its privileges.

Ive often thought baptism was for entry into the Earthly “kingdom”… rather than for entry into Heaven, if you follow what i mean.

(Albert Leo) #773

The quotation above is basically true, and yet [IMHO] it fails to focus on the most important guiding principle: For each of us the "conduit" for receiving God’s Grace is provided by some other human being–most often parent(s) or god-parent(s), dedicated teacher(s)–even tho the ultimate source (we Christians believe) is Christ, who chose to take on human form. I would wager that a 2-week old baptised infant, if raised from then on by totally materialistic parents in a materialistic society, would not reflect having been the recipient of God’s Grace at the outset of life. In other words, the grace conferred in infant baptism is directed (almost) entirely to the parents and Godparents, who accept the responsibility of teaching the developing child that our Creator is a God of Love. I am sure you will agree that baptism is NOT some magic ritual that, without further effort, confers the grace to lead a holy, productive life.
Al Leo

(Antoine Suarez) #774

I basically agree: You point out here several interesting aspects.

In my view a good approach to understand the interplay of divine grace and human effort is the nice episode where Jesus heals a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years (Mark 5:25-34). She had to struggle hard forward through the crowd till coming up behind Jesus to touch his cloak. Immediately after she touched his clothes “her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.” At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”.

Baptism can be considered like the way Jesus institutes to perpetuate his presence among us: Being baptized is like touching Jesus clothes. The “power going out from him” gives us strength to overcome the bad selfish tendencies in us, like it stopped the bleeding of the woman in the episode referred to.

Regarding the “parents and godparents, who accept the responsibility of teaching the developing child that our Creator is a God of Love”, I would like to refer to another nice episode where a Canaanite Woman asks Jesus to heal her daughter (Matthew 15:21-28): She insists with enormous perseverance till reaching that Jesus grants her request. Similarly, parents and godparents may play a decisive role for keeping their children on the path of faith. In this respect the mother of Augustine of Hippo is paramount.

So I come again to my Eastern Orthodox Christian resource:

So as we “inoculate the baby against diphtheria” without waiting “until he grows and asks for it”, so it is appropriate baptizing infants.

“Nothing shows the nature of God’s grace more than infant baptism.”

Indeed, it is amazing how a so simple ritual like Baptism highlights the essentials of salvation: Grace, human effort, and responsibility of the Christian community.

(George Brooks) #775


The whole quote should be considered:

“Baptising infants before they know what is going on is an expression of God’s great love for us. It shows that God loves us and accepts us before we can ever know and love Him. It shows that we are wanted and loved by God from the very moment of our birth. Nothing shows the nature of God’s grace more than infant baptism.”

You might say, without even being old enough to make choices, God considers infants to be worthy of Baptism!

(Albert Leo) #776

Antoine, in my career as a medicinal chemist (69 yr member of ACS) I’ve had innumerable discussions with agnostic colleagues as to the possible conflict between accepting Christian dogma (mainly involving miracles) and adhering to scientific principles. I just wish that I had more of your educational background to guide me, for then I might have made ‘my case’ more effectively. I can point out several portions of your latest posts that they would construe as magic (or poor logic) rather than miracles from God

This is an inappropriate comparison, unless you believe that infants are conceived in actual original sin–not just the potential for sin. In the case of vaccination, one can demonstrate the presence of actual bacteria in the infant’s environment, and vaccination confers a boost in it’s natural immunity to fight infection on an immediate and long lasting basis. Granted, the infant is also exposed to a ‘sinful environment’ at birth, but until it reaches the age of reason (and use of conscience) it cannot actually sin. From birth onward the responsibility for forming an effective conscience falls upon the parents, godparents, and dedicated teachers, because we cannot depend on any ‘natural immunity’ to sin. On the contrary, our evolutionary roots causes a newborn human to lean towards sin.

I cannot help but wonder if the quotation from Mark has not been embellished in translation. Without saying that the event did NOT happen, is it heresy to believe that recounting the event as a magical transmission of power when Jesus’ cloak was touched just made it more memorable to the audience of that era? If that is so, it does have just the opposite effect with today’s scientists.

We are in agreement on the decisive role played by parents and godparents. To me, this argues for them being the targets for the grace conferred in infant baptism. I have greatly admired Augustine’s long-suffering, forgiving mother–especially after Augustine seemed so anxious to promote the message in Psalm 55:5 that :"in sin did my mother conceive me"
Al Leo

(Antoine Suarez) #777

I think I follow what you mean.

In this context the teaching of St. Paul about “Baptism and the body of Christ” is crucial:

12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many… 27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it . (1 Cor 12:12-14,27).

Through the Baptism we become “part of the body of Christ”. The way Paul speaks show that he is not speaking allegorically but referring to a profound supernatural reality.

Indeed, when you come into heaven, your whole human being will there, not only your spiritual part. This means that your fleshly human nature will be divinized. This divinization begins with Baptism and grows with the help of Grace during our earthly life, till we become capable in heaven of seeing Christ as he is, and thereby will be like him (1 John 3:2): our human flesh will be transformed into Christ’s flesh forever.

I would like to insist once again: Christianity is basically theology of Christ’s body. And this theology is the very content of the Genesis’ word “God’s Image”: By declaring He makes mankind in His Image, God is revealing the type of body He prepares for his Son, and announcing the Incarnation.

Baptism does not only give you a ticket to become member of a nice association, it means much more: the beginning of the divinization of your flesh.

(George Brooks) #778


Hey, wow! You are starting to sound Eastern Orthodox !!!

But let me ask you this: do you think baptism makes a difference because it changes the baptized? … or because it changes how people TREAT the baptized?

Here’s an Experiment of The Mind:

Imagine 1,000 orphan babies.
Each one is found on a street corner, at night, by a priest of God in good standing.
Each Priest takes up the baby to bring him to the authorities, but 500 of these priests happens to have a portable baptizing field kit in his SUV.

So 500 of the priests baptizes the baby in the holy space of the SUV before heading to a nearby hospital or police station. The other 500 priests, with 500 babies, proceed directly to a nearby hospital or police station.

But amazingly, all 1,000 priests (500 with a baptizing field kit and 500 without), through no fault of their own, gets caught in a multiple vehicle crash of humungous proportions!

But each accident has a miraculous dimension to it: while all 1,000 priests are killed instantly, the windshields of all 1,000 holy SUVs are all knocked out of their frames just in time for all 1,000 orphans to fly out the fronts of the vehicles, landing safely and softly onto the back of a pickup truck making a large delivery of pillows!

At this point, I should be careful to explain that while the priest was a Christian priest, the street corner is in a provincial capital of mainland China! All 500 of the baptized infants and all 500 of the non-baptized infants are adopted by childless farm couples visiting the provincial capital only to be told that they were rejected for consideration for adopting a child from one of China’s best run orphanages!

So, 1000 married Chinese couples, up to now childless, retrieve the baby (now smiling) and quickly proceed to the bus station where they will return to their home village and raise the child to adulthood.


With 500 baptized babies and 500 non-baptized babies, we have enough of a sample size to be able to detect significant differences in even the most subtle of differences in outcome.

A) Will there be a statistical difference in how the baptized children grow up and mature compared to the children that were not baptized?

B) If you expect there will be a difference, are you saying the difference will be detectable in the “here and now”, while they are living their mortal existence on the Earth?

C) If after further reflecting you think the differences will only be detectable once the child matures, dies and experiences a resurrection?

I look forward to your thoughts on the matter!

Let me give you MY OWN answer: I think baptism is for being admitted to the Kingdom of God before entering the afterlife… and that the primary benefit is to the receiver if he knows he has been baptized.

If the baptized is too young to know he or she has been baptized, and there are no surviving witnesses to the baptism who would be able to let others know about the baptism, then there is no effect anywhere.

This is my view as a Unitarian Universalist; I suspect that most Eastern Orthodox Christians would not agree with my position. And I know that virtually anyone who accepts the reality of Original Sin would disagree even more so!

Thanks for helping me with research!!!

(Antoine Suarez) #779

I fully agree with this, and think you are stating basically what Augustine states:

By promoting the message in Psalm 51:5 that:"in sin did my mother conceive me", he does NOT mean “a sin the infant is guilty for because he/her did it”, but the state where the triple concupiscence (pride, lust, greed) overwhelms the spiritual power of will. And this “concupiscence” is nothing other than the selfish “evolutionary roots” you refer to, which “cause a newborn human to lean towards sin” (as you rightly state).

Proof of this is that Augustine does NOT at all support the view that infants who die unbaptized go to hell.

Baptism makes the infant to part of Christ’s body, that is: Capable in principle of divinizing his/her body by means of Christ’s help (Grace), the help of the Christian community (“Christ’s body”), and one’s own effort.

To the extent that “the evolutionary roots” are genetically transmitted, the “state of original sin” can be said to be inherited.

This said, I agree that the comparison with “vaccination against diphtheria” (in the quotation from a Christian Eastern Orthodox resource I referred to) may be misunderstood and should be taken cum grano salis.

For me the most important point in this discussion is the following:

God creates the animal kingdom by means of selfish evolutionary mechanisms (Dawkins’ “selfish gene”) submitted to higher level holistic ecological regulation. This regulation determines the “survival of the fittest” and produces the sharp gap we observe today between the different living forms, especially between humans and great apes, by means of elimination of intermediate varieties: Species originate by means of “natural deletion” rather than “natural selection”.

By contrast God creates humanity in “His Image” and gives to the first accountable Image Bearers “original Grace” to regulate the selfish “evolutionary roots” by means of the Ecology of Love. This state of “original Grace” went lost with the first sin and since then humans are conceived with overwhelming "evolutionary roots”, as you suggest. Baptism restore in principle the state of “original Grace”.

In conclusion: Your view regarding the “state of original sin” is basically the same as that of Augustine, Richard Dawkins, mine, and most of those posting in this thread.

Different views may arise depending on whether or not one acknowledges that the primeval accountable humans (“Adam and Eve”) were created by God in the “state of original Grace” (i.e.: the same state one gets after Baptism).

Augustine and I infer that God create “Adam and Eve” capable of mastering “selfish evolutionary roots” by means of the “Ecology of Love”, similarly as He created the animal world by integrating “selfish genetic mechanisms” into the “eco-system”.

As for you, you often insist in the concept of “original Blessing”. Is this not another name for “original Grace”?

Thanks in advance for your answer.

(Albert Leo) #780

Antoine, to an ‘outsider’ it might seem that my failure to totally accept your view of Adam & Eve and “original Grace” is merely an insignificant difference in the timing of events. But I see it as very significant, because it leads to a different conclusion of how Sin entered the Good World that God created. In stating that “God created Adam & Eve capable ( not potentially capable) of mastering selfish evolutionary roots…”, this implies that they FELL from a more perfect condition that was God’s original intention. Traditionally, this Fall from Grace can be attributed to Pride, the sin that the angel, Lucifer, was guilty of before the earth was created.

Of course I have no way to prove that this scenario is NOT the closest we can get to the truth. But is it not simpler to believe that humankind was given a Gift that no other animal on earth enjoyed: a Mind and Conscience and freedom to act (hopefully) in accordance with God’s Will (being co-creators with Him); or, regrettably contrary and thus Sin. This sees Humankind’s role in the continuous, unbroken journey of the Universe from of Alpha to Omega, rather than some “start/stop” process to correct for the creator’s miscalculation, or a heavenly battle between good and bad angels. [Not your view, I realize, but that of a number of contributors to this Forum.)
Al Leo

(Antoine Suarez) #781

I totally agree (and I think Augustine too) that humankind was given the Gift you refer to.

Now, at a certain moment some humans endowed with such a Gift sinned while others acted in accordance with God’s Will.

What happened then?

This is the question!

(George Brooks) #782


It’s been more than a week since I invited you to answer my survey question …

but now I wonder if there is much of a point to my question… I just read that Pope Benedict, back in 2007, eliminated LIMBO (!) for unbaptized babies!!!

"The decision was taken after Benedict XVI was presented with Vatican studies that said there were “serious” grounds that such souls could go to heaven, rather than exist between heaven and hell as they have done for almost 800 years."

"The decision was announced at the weekend and posted on the Catholic News Service website."

Father Paul McPartlan, a British priest and a member of the commission, said: "We cannot say we know with certainty what will happen to unbaptised children but we have good grounds to hope that God in his mercy and love looks after these children and brings them to salvation."