A theological-biological explanation of “the original sin’s transmission”

That’s your assumption. To use it in an argument is circular reasoning.

I don’t think I am falling into “circular reasoning”. I try to clarify:

In my argument I discuss the following assumption

A&E: all human beings are descended through sexual reproduction from a single couple “Adam and Eve”.

First of all, I would like to stress that A&E is NOT my assumption.

What I state is that this Assumption A&E amounts to state that that the genome of each human being derives from the genome of the couple “Adam and Eve” by DNA replication. Therefore, I call the model based on A&E the “genetic Adam and Eve”.

Suppose now that one endorses “the genetic A&E” model in order to explain the transmission of the fallen state resulting from the first human sin (also called “the state of original sin”) from generation to generation.

(Again, I want to clarify, that this is not my motivation).

“The genetic A&E” model clearly implies that the transmission of “the state of original sin” happens concomitantly to the DNA replication, and therefore it is somewhat encoded in the transmitted human DNA.

And this amount to state that the conditions of “illness, death, and selfish tendencies” are encoded in the genome of A&E and after their sin become transmitted by DNA replication to their descendants.

Now, science tells us that “illness, death, and selfish tendencies” are basic mechanisms of evolution and, in particular, are encoded in the Homo sapiens DNA.

From this it follows that:

if there is transmission of “the state of original sin” from “the single couple A&E” after the first sin, then there is transmission of “the state of original sin” from any other Homo sapiens couple after the first sin.

This is what I want to stress.

Certainly, for my part I claim that there is transmission of “the state of original sin” from any Homo sapiens couple after the first sin, but I do NOT endorse “the genetic A&E” model.

But you don’t need this assumption:

In order to reach this position:

While selfishness may indeed be in our DNA, that doesn’t mean that transmission of sin is entirely. Indeed from the scripture’s concepts of soul and spirit transmission of sin cannot be entirely a matter of DNA, it must also be spiritual.

Have you read this? –

Yes! This is basically what my theological-biological explanation of the “original sin’s transmission” states.

However, I would like to stress that what is transmitted is not “sin” in the sense of a personal guilty, but “the state of original sin”, it is the state of being submitted to illness, death and concupiscence (inclination to sin).

This state becomes transmitted because:

  • After the first sin human beings are created by God lacking the “original grace”.

  • In absence of “original grace”, the selfishness encoded in the Homo sapiens DNA becomes “concupiscence”.

So my explanation involves both a theological (or “spiritual”) aspect and a biological one (“matter of DNA”).

Furthermore, it does NOT require a single couple of ancestors “Adam and Eve” (“the genetic A&E”): On the one hand, the same selfishness that would be encoded in the DNA of “Adam and Eve” and induce “the inclination to sin” after the first sin, is encoded in the DNA of any other Homo sapiens couple. And on the other hand, the “lack of original grace” depends only on the fact of the first sin, and not on the fact that we are all descended from “Adam and Eve”.

In summary, the transmission of “the state of original sin” does NOT require that all human beings are genetically descended from a single couple of ancestors: The flaws transmitted by the DNA of “Adam and Eve” that would give rise to “the state of original sin” after the first sin, are also transmitted by the DNA of any other Homo sapiens couple.

I don’t see where you have anything spiritual there. The only spiritual aspect seems to be the idea that God removed original grace. That reduces sin to DNA because there’s nothing spiritual in humans involved.
You’re reducing humans to one-dimensional constructs run on/by DNA.

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My view is the following:

Humans are spirits acting in space and time through steering the body’s development and behavior from outside the space-time.

Nonetheless many of our physiological parameters are determined by evolutionary mechanisms encoded in our DNA, in particular such inducing aging, death, urges for eating and mating.

In the state of “original grace”, humans were endowed with the capability to master such mechanisms, very much the same as Lazarus’ spirit was empowered to reverse the decay of his body.

In absence of “original grace” these mechanisms “pollute” our spiritual soul and induce the contradictory urge to search temporal contentment, despising eternal joy. Thereby they become propensity “to act selfishly, no matter the cost to others”, and inclination to reach happiness by oneself without God’s grace, that is, inclination to sin, NOT sin.

In this view, “the state of original sin” affects the whole of human nature, as a deficiency in the spiritual soul with relation to its unity with the flesh: Since the soul is created with the aim of building a human body, the “pollution” of the soul happens at the very moment of each soul’s creation (i.e. the conception of each human person).

In summary, the inclination to sin (“the state of original sin”) is NOT a genetic illness, but it becomes transmitted like a genetic illness.

(Bold in the quote by me)

Pack behavior is an important evolutionary mechanism ensuring cooperation, and as such is complementary to “the survival of the fittest”, determined by “the selfish gene”.

Pack behavior is characteristic of the pre-Neolithic hunter-gatherer’s groups with typical sizes of around 150 individuals.

For living together in big cities (with more than 5,000 individuals) the essential requirement was “being able to expand the concept of who is in our pack”, as you rightly claim.

But what does it mean “to expand the concept of who is in your pack”?
You claim:

(Bold in the quote by me)

The very fact that you introduce here the term “expansion of the pack” confirms that you are not using “pack” as the standard for assigning rights: “Expansion” means to expand towards equating “pack” with “humankind”, and therefore the standard you are using is the belonging to humankind, and not to a particular pack (i.e.: a sub-ensemble of humankind)

Evolution “has to do with changing that” in the sense that led to the sharp distinction between humans and animals we have today, and thereby laid the groundwork for “expanding the pack” i.e.: for assigning rights to people beyond the pack range.

This “expansion” (Evolutionary Psychology suggests) was triggered in the Neolithic, because of the “invention mechanisms” that allowed people to live together in cramped conditions without killing each other. These “mechanisms” are not “technological” advances but rather cognitive and institutional ones (contracts, laws, juries, trials) that emerge from internal commitments to moral rules supposed coming from some High God. In the Neolithic did happen the transition from “immersive” (animistic) forms of religiosity (characteristic of hunter-gatherers) to “doctrinal religions”. And in this sense: “The Neolithic changed everything” (Robin Dunbar).

The universal revelation referred to in Genesis 9:3,5-6, can very well be considered the moral archetype rooted in the collective unconscious of humanity that induces this transition.

However, you object:

Indeed: If we have Genesis 9:3,5-6 written in our hearts, why does the tendency persist “to regard humans not of our pack as legitimate targets for slaughter”?

It is important to note that this tendency does not mean that we cannot distinguish humans from non-humans but rather that we deny the human rights to living people who undeniably exhibit human body, anatomically clearly distinct from a non-human body. This is the reason why racism and crimes against humanity are condemned.

Well, at the end of the day your objection is an argument in favor of my explanation:

The “pack behavior” in humans “no matter the cost to other packs” is part of the “inclination to sin” we are submitted to after the first human sin.

After the first sin, and in absence of “original grace”, the inclination to “pack behavior” becomes transmitted with the genome and emerges again and again to transgress the moral archetype of Genesis 9:3,5-6 written in our hearts. And this state of things will last till humankind becomes the body of Christ and enters eternal life.

Notwithstanding this state of things, I dare to stress once again: The fact that humanity can live in big cities no matter the culture and all over the planet, blatantly demonstrates that our reticence in killing other humans is quite strong and works in general pretty well.

Nope. Originally human groups were small enough that everyone in the group knew everyone else. Expansion of that allowed groups to reach perhaps a thousand individuals, not all of mankind. Worship of the same gods allowed the definition of one’s pack to expand further; notably early fertile crescent city-states each had their own deities.
Conquest of other human groups tended to result in slavery of the conquered because the conquered weren’t seen as fully human. When kings were regarded as divine, that could change; when conquered people accepted the new king – and the gods associated with him – then they could be regarded as part of the group, i.e. of the larger pack.
We still haven’t reached the point of regarding all other humans as part of our pack, as evidenced by reactions of people to the war in Ukraine, among other situations; the enemy is regarded as less than human – calling Russian soldiers, and by extension all Russians, “orcs” is a loaded metaphor that allows people who might claim to regard all humans as part of their ‘pack’ to in practice treat others as less than human. And in the U.S. the various slang terms for ethnic groups such as Mexicans, Arabs, and others serve the same function.

That there is still racism shows that many – probably most – humans haven’t accepted the entire race as part of their pack. Anatomy was never the defining aspect of pack, and still isn’t; skin color and language and customs and more are sufficient to not include others. It isn’t that we recognize people outside our packs as human but then deny that, it’s that we never extended the classification of “human” to those in the first place.

I don’t think we do have Genesis 9:3, 5-6 “written on our hearts”; I’m not even confident that all Christians do.

Knor, I think you give here a fitting answer to the following comment by St. Roymond:

Regarding this other claim:

The question is whether or not you endorse the view that this is the way things should be?

Do you advocate that humans are allowed to use skin color as “defining aspect of the pack”, and “regard humans not of our pack as legitimate targets for slaughter”?

If NO. How do you vindicate this NO?

In the following I would like to compare two statements,
one by @knor, and another by @St.Roymond:

(Bold in the quotes by me)

In my view these two statements are claiming the same after all:

The very fact that people "might claim to regard all humans as part of their ‘pack’ “ confirms that we all carry Genesis 9:3,5-6 written in our hearts, in agreement with Romans 2:14-16.

The strong tendency we all also carry in us “to in practice treat others as less than humans” reveals that we all are in a “fallen state” where the selfish instincts ruling evolution pollute our spiritual soul and easily control our behavior. As a consequence, “the conscience may grow numb or become twisted because of the feedback we get from our environment”, and humans may be deluded to in practice treat those of a sub-ensemble of humanity as “less than humans”.

So far, both statements support my theological-biological explanation.


On the one hand , the selfish instincts that trigger “the fallen state”, we inherit them with the genome at the moment of our conception. On the other hand, these selfish instincts are certainly encoded in the first sinner’s DNA, and therefore become transmitted by DNA replication to all genetic descendants of the first sinner, together with illness and death.

Nonetheless these selfish instincts, illness, and death are encoded not only in the DNA of the first sinner, but also in the DNA of all his Homo sapiens contemporaries. And this means that “the fallen state” (“state of original sin”) becomes transmitted by biological reproduction to all the genetic descendants of the sapiens contemporaries of the first sinner, the same way as it becomes transmitted to the genetic descendants of the first sinner.

This seems to me a significant result of our discussion!

Attributing an attribute of a subset to the entire set is not valid. Meanwhile noting that at least one subset does not have that attribute shows that the entire set cannot be said to have that attribute.

Consider a different set: That there is a subset of the set of all English-speaking humans who are millionaires does not mean that all English-speakers are millionaires; all that is needed to disprove such a claim is to show that there is at least one subset of English-speakers whose net worth is less than one million dollars.

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I fully agree to this formal logical rule. Nonetheless you are missing my point.

The question is:

Should we attribute to the entire set of humankind the status of being made by God in the image of God?

My answer is YES.

I would be thankful to know yours.

That’s changing the question, which was whether we all carry Genesis 9:3,5-6 written in our hearts. Your argument for that was a matter of attributing to the entire set an attribute of one subset.

I gave some illustrations of people who evidently lack that attribute in a post that was deleted for using a word quoted from racist folks I’ve known, regarding a requirement to kill someone not of white skin in order to belong to certain white supremacist organizations. My point was that they are a subset of the set of all humans and therefore sufficient to negate the proposition that everyone in the set has Genesis 9 written on their hearts.

My claim is the following:

The entire set of humankind has the attribute of being made by God in the image of God, and this means that each human being is ordered by God to eternal life and called to live respecting the others, according to the commandment of Genesis 9:3,5-6.

This is what St. Paul claims in Romans 2:14-15:

Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.

What you gave is some illustrations of people who evidently transgress the commandment of Genesis 9:5-6. This does NOT negate at all the proposition that these people have Genesis 9:5-6 written on their hearts.

What is more, the very fact that we consider such people morally accountable for killing “someone not of white skin”, means to assume that such people should be aware that what they are doing is a crime, and this amount to assume that “the requirements of the law are written on their hearts.”

Once again:

The entire set of humankind has the law of Genesis 9:3,5-6, written on their hearts, but also carries encoded in the genome tendencies to act selfish “no matter the cost to others”.

There are subsets of criminals who freely decide to follow these selfish tendencies and break the law: Such people are accountable toward God and humanity for their crimes.

The fact that humankind has achieved to live in big cities, implementing systems for assigning rights and punishing crimes, upholds the assumption that humankind generally acts according to Genesis 9:3,5-6.

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Your words inspired me to comment as they point to an investigative avenue that I believe deserves further exploration. When discussing the meaning of Genesis, people often become entangled by exegesis of chapters one and two. Whether one takes the stance that its meaning is literal and thus disproves modern scientific understanding of existence or if one attempts to harmonize the narrative to contemporary scientific discovery, it seems at this present epoch that the result will ultimately be a dialectical dead end. What matters much more (to me, at least) is the phenomenological implications presented in chapter three onward. I have bolded a portion of your statement that I believe carries immeasurable weight. As mankind was created perfect in God’s image, then the corruption that led to the fall and to our inherent concupiscence could only have come from without. This leaves us with questions that have haunted us for millennia – can the source of our corruption be materially identified and even defeated? Is our tendency toward sin truly inherited genetically? Perhaps our scientific endeavors are better suited to purposefully answering these questions than they are to bolstering our convictions regarding the age of the universe.

As the rhetorical bomb thrower that I occasionally tend to be, I present the following without further comment (for now):

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Yes, these are two crucial questions!

It seems to me that what you call “our corruption” refers to the fact that we are submitted to illness, death, and the “tendency toward sin”; in other words, we are in the so called “state of original sin”.

According to my explanation, this state is a blend of two sort of ingredients:

  1. Evolutionary mechanisms (like genetic deficiencies, death, selfish instincts) that are inherited genetically.

  2. The lack of “the original grace”, i.e.: the capability of overpowering such mechanisms. This lack is not encoded in the genome, but results from the fact that God does not bestow such a capability to the human beings coming into existence after the first human sin.

This explanation entails the following remarkable consequences:

The descendants of the first human sinner inherit genetically from him (as a Homo sapiens individual) the evolutionary mechanisms, that is, the Ingredient 1 of “our state of corruption”.

The descendants of other contemporaries of the first sinner, inherit genetically from these ancestors (Homo sapiens individuals as well) exactly the same Ingredient 1 that inherit the descendants of the first sinner from their ancestor the first sinner.

As far as Ingredient 1 of “our state of corruption” is genetically inherited, it can be said that “the state of original sin” is genetically inherited, but this does not require that the genome of all human beings derives from the genome of the first sinner by DNA replication.

It is in principle impossible to defeat materially “the source of our corruption”, as we will never be able to stop “the decay of creation” (the increasing of entropy in the universe), and in particular reverse death by material means.

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I have some further interesting comment on this question.

But it would be helpful to know possible objections you may have to what I have already answered in my previous post:

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Antoine, I would love to hear any and all viewpoints on this matter. I haven’t yet replied to your previous post, as my focus has been on other obligations this month. I have no objections to your answers, but I feel that I’m obligated to explain myself a bit better so we don’t end up talking past one another. I will do so as time allows.

Many thanks Michael for your interest.

On the one hand, the state we share on earth undoubtedly involves “our corruption” and “our tendency toward sin”, as you very well point out in your post of Nov 21.

On the other hand , it is obvious that we are NOT in hell, and, what is more, we acknowledge that we can reach eternal life thanks the redemption by Jesus Christ (the incarnate Son of God).

From this it follows that God ardently wants us to be eternally happy: If God bounds everyone on earth to “the corrupted state” we presently are, it is because thereby God may have mercy on us all (see Romans 11:32). And this means that this state is convenient for our salvation, after all!

Do you agree to this conclusion? Thanks in advance for your answer.

Thanks, Antoine. As to whether I am in agreement, well…it depends. If I am interpreting your second point correctly, your assertion is that God deliberately induced our fallen state simply to save us from it. This strikes me as incongruent with God’s unyielding love for His creation. I don’t believe that our fall was an intentional result of God’s plan. This would be akin to smashing a vase to pieces to simply glue it back together afterward. In fact, I suspect our fall and subsequent degraded state to be the result of a miscalculation made during the process of creation. Is it blasphemous to suggest that God may have made a mistake that went undetected until after creation had already been established and that his instruction to Adam was a tacit admission of such in the form of a warning? God does not say to Adam, “If you eat from the tree, I will kill you.” He says, “If you eat from the tree, you will die.”