Does God Set us Up to Fail?

Imagine this: we know of one million different people from many different generations, using different vehicles have all driven on this same road. Furthermore, we also know that each and every one of them has crashed and died without exception. Is it the drivers who are at fault, or is there something wrong with the road?

To use another analogy from the perspective of a teacher. If year after year, class after class, every single student under their charge fails their course, at what point do we have to start questioning the efficacy, competence and objectivity of the instructor.

The mantra that we are all sinners and all deserve death is pretty standard fare in Christianity. It is by grace that we are saved and somehow Jesus’ death on the cross played a role in this. I am aware of different models of the atonement but this one is pretty standard I think. Somehow Jesus’ sacrifice bridges the gap between God and man. This can range from mere solidarity to Jesus literally taking on sin in some ontological fashion but I digress. Keeping with the road example, I think situation is even more dire for God as theologians believe every future person who drives on that road will also crash and die and also, every person who ever lived and drove on that road that we don’t know about also crashed and died. All people are sinners, past, present and future. Now this is not some attempt on my part to find a sinless human, another Jesus, if you will, but if we assume by default that all seven plus billion people on the planet are sinners deserving death and all those yet born will also be sinners and the tens to billions of people who lived before us were also sinners, is this game not rigged? Is God not setting us up to fail?

The standard response is usually original sin and that we are stewing in our own juices. I cannot take seriously that all the evil and death in the world, and that somehow every human who ever lived and will live is somehow guilty and broken because a woman, who didn’t understand good and evil, was convinced to eat a piece of fruit by a talking snake in a magical garden. Are there any serious and good understandings of original sin not predicated on a literal Adam and Eve? How does one make sense of the fallen nature of man? I understand my own sin alienates me from God but its this communal, collective depravity of man I am struggling with. Is it just a brute fact and one of the “we see now in part” ideas or is there a good answer I haven’t seen. Any thoughts?


Four thousand years to deconstruct. There is another way. Turn the telescope around.

Can you please elaborate a bit?

I do reject the original sin.Everyone is guilty according to their deeds.Babies are born sinless

However thei consequences(of the original sin) are still here unfortunately

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What are the consequences? And re: sinless babies. So its quite conceivable there have been a few people not in need of repentance and salvation from God?

Karl Barth on Romans 1-2 "Who are the ungodly and the unrighteous whom God has given up? Can every single man, all humanity, be meant? Must it be assumed that we all stand before the barrier and that, unless we are aware of our positions, we must remain barred up and our lives but vanity and darkness? Or may not some perhaps, even though they be few, be able to avoid this situation? May not the wrath of God be just one possibility, peculiar to a certain type of men and women and characteristic of certain periods in history? Are there in the army of light no heroes who have broken through and escaped from the darkness? Is there not marching side by side with ungodliness and unrighteousness, a veritable righteousness of men? . . . Or must we take it that the circle is closed and that no one has eluded the inevitability of cause and effect, of downfall and apostasy, which is the mark of men as men and of the world as the world? "

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babies are not in need of repentance but are in need of salvation.How can a baby be sinfull ?How can that little huamn beign bear something that has sin in it?I dont believe it .Of course along its life its gonna sin so nobodys sinless.But saying that the baby is sinfull as any man its like saying unbaptyzing babies go to Hell.

Well i would say evil nature. Look arround .Its all corrupted.I would say death as well(spiritual death) because i assume that since we both believe in Evolution we believe that death was already there before the original sin

I hope that helps,Of course i dont know everything but this is my understanding on this topic.

Like nearly all of us, you’re trying to make a story that stopped evolving in the very main 1900 years ago, after about the same period of evolution, and then another evolving story started from that. Stories about stories. We need to make up a better one. As rationally and faithfully as we can. And we can. We do.

[I like the Barth, but he’s done better. Much better. There is no wrath in God. It’s just transference from the id. He’ll deconstruct that from us.]

We generally require a far far lower percentage to tell us that something is wrong. But it does not automatically follow that what is responsible is the road, or the instructor. I am reminded of the story of a breath-taking Mormon temple built in D.C. that was causing accidents because it was distracting so many of the drivers. There are places where the percentage of success for teachers is terribly low and it is clearly the social conditions and not the teachers which are the problem.

And I don’t think it is really about deserving… Does a person who steps off a building deserve to be splattered on the ground below? Does the child who plays in the street deserve to be run over by a car? Logical consequences to be sure – but these are simply the harsh realities of life and deserving has little to do with it.

It is not a game and it is not a product of design at all. The presumption of your two analogies is that the road and instruction are something which the drivers and students have no responsibility in. But our lives are not something we can pass all responsibility on to a some supernatural being. We build the roads and we organize the public education system.

So don’t. I don’t. Just means you need to make a little more effort in seeing something of value in that story.

Sure. There are also serious and good understandings of original sin which are predicated on a real Adam and Eve, since this does not require believing in talking animals, magical fruit, or golems of dust and bone created by necromancy. The solution I favor is in that category.

Me? By rejecting the notion. What I believe in is the existence of self-destructive habits. Those are after all something we can actually see.

There are certainly some bad habits that get in the way of a beneficial relationship with God. If, for example, you have a habit of blaming everything but yourself for all of your problems then God just becomes another thing to blame things on… kind of like you are doing in your two analogies above.

So… you haven’t observed anything of this nature? If not, then your luck amazes me.

So… you are not aware of all the ways in which mankind has been teetering on the brink of self destruction? Nuclear warfare… chemical warfare… biological warfare… overpopulation and the exhaustion of natural resources… looming deadly epidemics and increasing resistance of microbes to our antibiotics… global warming… increasing rates of crime… and I think others could add considerably to this list of examples.

But then… perhaps I just don’t understand your question.

You are correct that it does not automatically follow that the road is bad but my post never said it did and I think that is thoroughly disingenuous as a response. Theres been what, 50-100 billion anatomically modern humans? If we posit them all as moral failures in need of Christ’s redemption tin order to know God, I am claiming that by all practical considerations the game looks rigged. Surely one or two would have gotten it right if it truly is an issue of free will? Or is God just mad at people for not being God? I am not arguing its a logical necessity. I am not interested in that game. Also, “terribly low” is not even remotely the same as 0 out of 50,000,000,000 so that point is moot.

My analogies did not presume that at all. The road is this life and world we are born into. We had no control over that. Only what we do once we are here. Also, the drivers are on the road itself in the analogy. Are they all really bad drivers, and I mean ALL, all 50,000,000,000 people just chose to use their free will to reject God and are condemned without Jesus’s sacrifical death? Not a single one of them, but God incarnate, was a good driver? That strains belief beyond credibility.

I am not blaming anything on God. Your accusation is unfounded. I blame all my own failures and moral shortcomings on myself and presume other’s are responsible for their own sins. I am posing a theological issue that seems to run contrary to common Christian thought that all men need redemption. I am asking how come not a single one out of 50,000,000,000 has succeeded? Do we actually believe this? Those odds seem to clearly imply we are playing with a rigged deck. You can claim it is not logically proven but I don’t care about that apologetical smoke and mirrors. I’d take those odds as evidence of anything. I am asking for a better theological answer. Not trying to claim God made me a sinner that’s why I sin.

You must not understand my question… I don’t equate using fossil fuels with some fallen nature of man. I equate it with my desire for bright lights and hot showers. I like electricity as does everyone else. Science is a double edged sword. For all the biological and chemical warfare, how many millions of lives has biology and chemistry saved? How much energy does nuclear power give us? How is “over-population”, making babies, doing what we are programmed by evolution to do, a sort of common collective depravity inherent to man’s nature? We are definitely talking apples and oranges on this last point. There are times when I look at the world and sigh, I admit its generically fallen, but only due to the free will actions of its inhabitant. There is, however, nothing necessitating me to the view that all men have sinned and all men deserve to die. Since you seem to desire logical necessity, chew on that for a bit and let me know what you come up with.


Saying that one doesnt need redeption is i think contradictory to the faith.If one can achieve salvation himself alone then there would be no need of God

I agree its contrary to the faith. That is why I am asking the question and trying to see if anyone has any insight on the “fallen nature” of man or the predicament we are in.

I would qualify your statement that there would be need no need for God- ----- to redeem and justify a small subset of the population He blessed with life if they manage to live a righteous life of their own volition. Reminds me of the scientists who claim they could make life from dirt and told God they didn’t need him anymore. When he told them to prove it they started to pick up a handful or dirt and God said, “No, no, no, you have to use your own dirt.”

Please note I am not arguing this position as my own personal view. It is not my view. But I like the hard questions. I still am not sure why I should believe all people need redemption. I understand this is scriptural and because all people sin is a good answer. But that brings me to my point about us being set up to fail. It is hard to imagine no one gets it right.

Are we maybe supposed to fail so we claw our way back to to God? Just speculating here.


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Hmmm maybe this holds true.But rather id argue that it isnt God who wants us to fail but the adversary .The Devil .Good question

It has to do with why God created us. He created us to increase his joy. There is/was familial joy within the Godhead, but there is more parental joy in a larger loving family. His love and joy are not increased if the children are automatons, but they are if the children are willingly responding in love.

He did not set us up to fail, but he knew that we would, naturally loving ourselves (through original sin or not) more than him. It is not accidental then that his justice, mercy, grace and love are exalted through the sacrifice of Jesus, because he saw that coming, so to speak (as much as we can use any tensed verb with respect to God, since he is independent of time), and for which we praise our loving Father all the more.

Also highly of note is Jesus’ motivation, and it speaks to the point:

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who •for the joy set before him• endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2

That joy is us (remarkably!) if we have been adopted into his family.

Romans 3:23 since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

Well of course it is rigged. But the question is by who? According to the Bible that is down to Adam and Eve.

Romans 5:12 Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned— 13 sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sins were not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.

To be sure it is human nature to live mostly by habit. And its also human nature that we imitate those around us. It is unfortunate that those we imitate set such a bad example going all the way back to Adam and Eve. We can only imagine what it might have been like if things began differently.

Why do you think God is mad at people? Jesus said when you see me you see the Father. Is that what you see in Jesus? That He was mad at all the people. If He was mad at anything is was only the twisting of religion and God to the purpose of greed and power.

Within only a few generations of Adam and Eve, all mankind was only thinking evil continually making the whole earth into a living hell. Perhaps God was mad at those hurting and killing those weaker than they. But the only thing the Bible actually says is that He was sorry He had made man at all, and He wasn’t going to stand by and do nothing. I wouldn’t have either.

The presumption is built into the analogies you are using. Road are designed to get you from one place to another safely as possible. Life is not like that and so by using this analogy you are imposing such a presumption. Games are designed to balance the chances of winning in order to make the experience enjoyable. Life is not like that either.

We know from evolution that there simply is no life without a whole lot of suffering and death. It is how life develops and it is how we learn and grow. So the question we might ask is how in the world can it be moral to create life at all? As I see it there is only one way this is possible, and that is when the love you are offering is greater than all that death and suffering.

No. We believe one has succeeded. And His success was also rigged. But like I said before, this is not a game, so your outrage at things being rigged is misplaced. But another problem is your black and white treatment of this. Just because all have sinned doesn’t mean they are all the same.

Well sure. I am too. I have never bought any theological packages. But a huge part of it is also one of finding the right question. It doesn’t help when you stubbornly ignore every question but one.

Puzzling where in the world this “logical necessity” stuff came from… I traced it back to the following.

Clearly you didn’t understand my response since I don’t understand all the blather about “logical necessity,” which has nothing to do with what I said. You keep talking about a game that is rigged as if someone is setting things up for you to fail. But life is not a game made by someone for you to have a good chance at winning, any more than it is a road designed by someone for your safety, or a class designed by an instructor for you to get a fair grade. I cannot even imagine where you are getting this massive delusion that life ought to be fair.

I do think God did everything He did with the best of intentions. I do think that things could have turned out differently. And I do think God is doing all which is possible to improve the situation. But I really don’t understand why you think fairness has anything to do with it – AND yes this fairness stuff is coming from YOU with your repeated talk of things being rigged.

Oh… and I think your whole question with those analogies is all rigged… so there!

I have no idea why you are quoting Romans 3:23 or 5:12. My questions are generally assuming the former (why are the wages for everyone who ever lived actually death?) and as for the latter, I already told you I do not accept any details of the garden story as factual. In a discussion with me, that’s about as useful as a quote from Jack and the Beanstalk.

Your argument is also 100% biased towards your theological inclination. You call humans creatures of habit and that we mirror sin. I could easily counter one baseless assertion with another, we are creatures of habit and we mirror the good behavior of our ancestors. You are claiming the children of Adam and Even learned sinful behaviors from watching their parents? First off, we are discussing a myth like its real history, second, as far as I know, only one sin is narrated. There is no evidence they continued to go on sinning in life. Maybe they realized the error of their ways and lived in fear and trembling to the end of their days. Though I suspect children imitating their parents is a good way to view sin as generically passing on from generation to generation. But if you are going the learned behavior route, I would not hold people accountable for behaviors they learned until they had adequate exposure to other behaviors and a chance to grow and change them. Also, if Romans is correct, we have God’s invisible law on our hearts to overcome this learning.

1st paragraph: You quote Romans 3 and 5 to me but forget all the verses outlining God’s wrath and judgment against sinners? That is obviously what I was referring to. 2nd Paragraph: Also, you are making HUGE assumptions in claiming “Within only a few generations of Adam and Eve, all mankind was only thinking evil continually making the whole earth into a living hell.” You have absolutely ZERO valid evidence for that. Before you quote a story in Genesis in response, please remember, I said VALID evidence. Genesis 1-11 is clear myth and much of the rest of it after may or may not have happened the way it was written. Again, you are reading your theological baggage, which I don’t accept, into my question. I laid my ground rules. Don’t appeal to a mythological narrative to explain the fallen nature of man to me.

No. My analogies are straightforward. If sinning is a genuine choice of a person with volition, if every person who ever lived chooses a sinful life style, clearly the cards are rigged. I am not sure why you can’t understand what I mean by this phrase. You keep going on about it not being a game but that is completely irrelevant and not what I am suggesting. I take life very seriously. If everyone chooses a life worthy of death, I can only conclude our choice is not really legitimate. To choose the opposite doesn’t seem to be real or practical. It literally, LITERALLY, never happens. To give you another analogy to deconstruct:

You go into a casino and black shows up 50,000,000,000 times in a row on a roulette wheel. Clearly you will question the integrity of the roulette wheel. I am suggesting that there must be something deeper to this “all men have sinned” doctrine. Do you have anything to add to it that doesn’t involve referencing the garden story? For many that is the way to go, for me it is not.

I am not really talking about the problem of evil.But are you saying being sinners is how we learn to grow? Which would clearly fit well with literally everyone being sinners and God creating the world like that.

I don’t think Jesus’ sinless life was rigged. I think his life was lived legitimately. An omniscient-God-man floating around Galilee and putting up shop on the cross for a few hours, possessing exhaustive knowledge of the world and his omnipotence and station in eternity does nothing for me. The incarnated and fully human Jesus who had fears, daughter, uncertainty about the future, who asked God to take the cup from him, does a lot–it does everything and means everything. God truly lowering himself to our level testifies to his love and desire for all to become saved.

And yes, I do not view all sins as the same but nonetheless, it says we all deserve death. I’m not being stubbornly black or white. I’m only pointing out what the text actually says.

I never said life had to be fair. I know it is not fair. But are you conceding the point then? Life is unfairly rigged to lead us to sin? Its okay. If that is what God wanted that is what he wanted. I am not sure what you are even saying at this point. The only massive delusion is you thinking I said life ought to be fair.

My analogies are extremely obvious. You might not like their implications but I would like a better answer than the garden story. If 50,000,000,000 all fail at a task and you axiomatically assumes the next 100,000,000,000 will also fail (assuming humans make it that long), I can only assume the task is not possible to complete. It is like asking a human to jump to the moon. Limitations of creation itself prohibit that athletic feat just as creation itself seems to lead to all people sinning.

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I agree God created us for His Joy/His Glory but I see an issue in your post that maybe you can elaborate on. You said: “He did not set us up to fail, but he knew that we would, naturally loving ourselves”

If we are designed to naturally love ourselves and this is leading us to fail, how is this not a a part of our design? If we do anything “naturally” that means it must come from God’s created order right? If we are designed to naturally love ourselves more than God we are designed to sin. This means we are set up to fail. I know that carries negative connotations and seems like a bad thing, but does it have to be?


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I’ve got a one page chapter from a book entitled “Catastrophe Theory” ,Vladimir Igorevich Arnold, Department of Mathematics,University of Moscow
Springer-Verlag (1984)

Chapter 27, "Chapter 7. Singularities of Stability Boundaries and the Principle of the Fragility of Good Things

We consider an equilibrium state of a system depending on several parameters and assume that (in some domain of variation of the parameters) this equilibrium state does not bifurcate.

We shall describe a system by a point in the parameter space, by a point corresponding to the parameter value on the parameter axis (on the plane for two parameters, the parameter space for three and so on).

We consider a division of the parameter space into two parts depending on whether the equilibrium state is stable or not. Thus we obtain on the plane (in the space) of parameters
the stability domain (consisting of those values of the parameters for which the equilibrium is stable), the instability domain and dividing them the stability boundary.

We observe that in all cases the stability domain projects an acute angled wedge into the instability domain. Thus for systems near the sharp part of the boundary a small perturbation
is more likely to send the system into the unstable region than into the stable region. This is a manifestation of a general principle stating that good things (e.g. stability) are more fragile than bad things.

It seems that in good situations a number of requirements must hold simultaneously while to call a situation bad any one failure suffices. …

As the number of parameters increase, the number of types of singularities of the stability boundaries of generic stable families rapidly grows. It was shown by L. V. Levantovski that the number of singularity types (not reducible to each other by smooth changes of parameters) remains finite for arbitrarily large numbers of parameters and the fragility of good things principle is also retained.

IMO, the upshot of the technical version is that, given an evolutionary system containing a domain of stability and a domain of instability, the domain of stability projects a wedge into the instability domain. A perturbation of that wedge doesn’t turn the domain of instability into a domain of stability; instead the domain of instability moves into the domain of stability, manifesting the Principle that good things (i.e. stability) are more fragile than bad things. It takes a lot of things, happening at the same time, to make a good situation, but it only takes one bad thing to call the situation bad.

IMO, Genesis is a story about a time when God’s creation good and stable, and then one tiny little event occurred that started a tsunami of instability that rapidly spread into and throughout the domain of stability, messing everything up for everybody thereafter.

Yes, I maybe should have said it differently. According to Genesis 3, we had outside influence nudging us with a false testimony, a lie, that we had a choice to either accept or reject. The same choice is very much a current issue today, what testimonies to accept or reject.

To confirm that it is in fact rigged just as you say.

And what about the words of Paul in Romans? Are they factual?

The word “myth” obviously means something very different to you than it does to me. For you it may mean a total fantasy having nothing to do with reality like Jack and the Beanstalk. But for me the word “myth” simply refers to story passed down by oral tradition from a time when there was no specialized activities like history, law, science, philosophy, entertainment, and religion – so these purposes get all mixed together. I think it very likely that such people did exist even if everything in the story is not meant to be taken in a completely literal way only.

By the way, do you call God a myth too?

You are lying. I stated the simple scientific fact that we are creatures of habit and we learn by imitating others – that includes both the good and the bad. Why did you change that?

But the law of gravity doesn’t care, which is why I said it is not about deserving. That is an example of the different questions we are asking in order to get a better answer. You ask if it is rigged and I ask whether deserving really has anything to do with it. From what I see in the laws of nature, the answer is that deserving has nothing to do with it.

Now you are equivocating between wrath at particular people for doing evil and being mad at all people. Shall I give you one of the many many quotes of the Bible where God is quite pleased with people, showing that God is not angry with all people? AND I was responding to a comment you made which was clearly aimed at ALL people.

It is the story the Bible tells. And taking the Bible seriously is the general presumption of an evangelical Christian forum. It is not something I would take for granted anywhere else. Furthermore it is the premise of the question you have been asking from the beginning. Your question seems to be shifting with every post you make, until I can no longer see any meaning in any of your posts at all. What kind of game are you playing at?

I also think it was lived legitimately as 100% human which for me means without either omniscience or omnipotence. But He is also 100% God which means there could never be any separation from God – that just isn’t logically possible. And this is the sense in which it was rigged.

Yes, I believe that too. But I also believe that Jesus and the Father were/are one, just as Jesus said. So I don’t think He asked God to take the cup (which I believe was a reference to the cup of Socrates) from Him out selfish interest. I think it was because He had a real hope for a better outcome. You see I don’t think it is God who required that sacrifice but the perversity of mankind. It is WE who refuse to change until the innocent suffer from from our bad habits (which includes murdering the prophets).

Of course not. :roll_eyes: People only say a game was rigged because they admire the game.

Yes. I said so at the beginning of my last point. But not rigged by God.

But it is not what God wanted. I think that is made perfectly clear in that myth called the Bible, in this case Genesis 6, where God said He was sorry that He had made mankind.

I am not sure you can axiomatically take Gen 1-11 as historical on evangelical forums anymore. Each story has to be qualified and mined for meaning as many will call them “true myths.” That means their details did not happen and once we disregard the historical details, interpretations are legion.

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