Dr. Collins, how did we become sinners deserving of Gods wrath?

Dr. Francis Collins,
I just came across some youtube’s on you! I do have some questions I’d like to respectfully ask (and you can view me as the student in the back of the class with the raised eyebrow :), I think you’ve had a few of those), and thank you for your patience, but here are some questions if I may ask:

So, presuming that monkeys and gorillas and hominids do not deserve God’s eternal punishment since they were not Born sinners (or are they born sinners deserving of eternal punishment?)…

…so then, if we evolved, then how did we ourselves, as humans, become beings that are born deserving God’s eternal wrath, since, well, we were born sinners?

…How did we become sinners that deserve God’s wrath, which is why the Lord Jesus became a Man, the God-Man, to die in our place…if we evolved?
Thank you, Dr. Collins, I’ll await your forthcoming answer…

What makes you think Francis thinks we do?

“Thinks we do?”, as in born sinners, or born from apes, or first humans born ~ 100 miles, or…can you be more explicit with your question what Dr. Collins believes or does not believe? Thanks!
But since you responded, what do you believe?

Hello, Charles.

Dr. Collins might make rare appearances around here, but generally he doesn’t hang around these forums - almost like he’s been preoccupied with a few other things the last year or so.

But others here who’ve read his and other books and know their way around mainstream science and orthodox theologies would be happy to reply and engage with you if you wish.

For my own two cents, I won’t pretend to be giving anything like a “complete” answer. But at least a short initial reaction of mine here would be that it doesn’t appear much of a mystery to me how I became a sinner. As others before have noted, our sinfulness is one of the few doctrines that is empirically nailed down and personally observed more than just about anything else. As a human, I have a rebellious nature - and like to follow my own way. And it appears I’m not alone. Hence all of us being “Adam” in the important theological sense of that identity; and in parallel sense we are also offered a new spiritual (i.e. not merely biological) identity in Christ.

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Hello Mervin,
So yeah, I have considered that Dr. Collins is a busy person. But he was the subject of a debate, that debate being, what did Dr. Collins believe when he came to faith in Christ?

Or…should we place Dr. Collins on a pedestal just like Ravi Zacharias in that no one should dare, ever, ever ask Zacharias any questions on what he believed? (not that Dr. Collins and Ravi Zacharias are of the same substrate or belief, that’s not what I’m saying)…

“Well, Dr. Collins is a wonderful guy who plays the guitar.” Well, that’s great, but what does he believe? What do these other “Evolution Creationists” believe? (hope they’ll be willing to answer in lieu of Dr. Collins).
No doubt Dr. Collins is indeed a wonderful fellow. From what is known to the public. But…again…what does he and others of the same camp believe? How did we Become sinners?

Yeah, all that you attribute to him. I certainly don’t believe in the wrath of God for one moment. Belief doesn’t even come in to it. God is known through, in, as, by Jesus and how that knowledge is affected by rationality.

Actually, I don’t know if that is what he believes. I’d like to know however.

But do you yourself believe there was a Jesus? Which one?
Do you believe it is possible that Jesus lied?

Sooooo, why are you asking him as if you did? Or are you asking him whether he’s stopped beating his dog?

I certainly believe Jesus. The Jesus who was God incarnate.

I’m pretty sure Dr. Collins has no interest in being up on pedestals.

Have you read his book: “Language of God”?
You could probably learn a lot about what he believes right there. It’s been a while since I did, but I seem to recall he would have covered most of this ground in there somewhere. You sound skeptical about his integrity - but I’d encourage you to see for yourself what he says.

It seems a lot more likely your wishes will be fulfilled here on that last part!


I’m asking because I’d like to know what he believes.

And, so, because of the way I worded my questions, Dr. Collins could say, “Yes, I believe we’re born sinners based on the Bible verses: ___ ____ ____ ___,” or he could say, “No, I do not believe we’re born sinners, based on Bible verses: ___ ____ ___ ___ .” I don’t know if he’ll ever answer. Again, I’d like to know if he’d be willing to graciously answer.

Curious interpretation to my questions, however, I don’t recall asking anything about anyone beating their dog.

He’s a very busy man. It’s the form of the question, all of your questions. What do you say? What’s your interpretation?

Glad Dr. Collins isn’t interested on being atop a pedestal!
Although however, us human beings have a tendency to do these kinds of things,
demonstrated with the principle, “Ahhh, so, lets not ask him that question, he might get offended and others might get offended…”

But on the matter of his integrity, no, there is a difference asking what he believes and questioning his integrity. I’m unable to question his integrity since I don’t know him. Seems like a nice fellow.

His method of biblical interpretation is outside of Christianity, however.

My point is, is that there were issues with what Ravi Zacharias believed, and people refused to deal with it. People were afraid of Zacharias. Why?

But if you’d read his book, could you give a quick synopsis concerning his conversion story?
Thanks ahead of time

I always assume for others what I would want them to assume for me. He doesn’t seem the kind of guy who could possibly be offended even if you asked him has he stopped beating his dog. He certainly has no less integrity than you or I.

What is his extra-Christian method of biblical interpretation? And what is the Christian method?

He’s not a wolf in sheep’s clothing like Ravi Zacharias.

Here’s his answer. So good he gave it twice


Fair enough. And he is a nice fellow (as most who hang here might commonly think since this site was started by him.)

I’m not sure he would even claim to belong to any certain “school of interpretation” though I imagine you probably mean his willingness to not insist on the Genesis creation narratives being read literally the way many creationists today (including you?) might take them. If that’s the main source of your skepticism toward how he understands the bible, then there will be plenty of threads and people around here with whom you could engage on those questions.

It also sounds like you are really keen to compare Collins with Ravi Zacharias. I don’t think anybody around here is itching to defend Mr. Zacharias at this point. (Not after all that’s come out by now.) But that’s a separate subject that probably isn’t appropriate for this venue. And no, just because history is unfortunately full of formerly pedestalized hypocrites doesn’t mean that everyone is all guilty of the same things. [though we are all guilty of sin of one kind or another.] I’m not aware of anyone around here being afraid of Dr. Collins.

Again - my reading isn’t fresh, so others may need to step in here with more detail or even corrections. But he [Collins] spent his young adult life as a fairly strident atheist, but had his beliefs in that regard shaken up while he was working (or doing his ‘residency’ or something like that) at a hospital. A dying patient had just shared with him her Christian beliefs, and then she asked him what he believed; he realized he had no good answer to give her. So that set him on a quest to find a good answer to her questions. A major part of his journey was in finding the literature of C.S. Lewis who (It might have been “Mere Christianity”) had a major impact on Collins. Lewis’ thoughts really resonated with Collins who then gave his life to Christ as a result of Lewis’ insights and ways of responding to scripture.

And much of the book is also devoted to showing how our quest for truth and understanding of creation through science and mathematics really enhance and complement our Christian faith, far from being in enmity with it. And of course Collins sees evolutionary biology solidly in that realm of amazing and wonderful science that Christians need not be afraid of. That’s my general synopsis from what I remember.

[Here is a 30 minute youtube video where Collins talks about his own conversion experience.]

Just curious, do you believe newborns, pre-borns and young children who die suffer God’s wrath, and eternal conscience torment? My denomination tends to talk about the ‘age of accountability’ though that is concept absent in scripture, and discounts infant baptism, another biblically dubious attempt to fill that hole in our soteriology.
Truthfully, I do not know, but trust God to be good and just.

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The Bible tells us when we became sinners.

The first ones to become sinners was Adam and Eve, or whatever name the humans went by that God reached out too.

Romans 5:12-13
New American Standard Bible
12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all mankind, because all sinned— 13 for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not counted against anyone when there is no law.

So sin has always been here. But until there was a line drawn in the sand by God, there was no accountability to it. So the neanderthals that were here before sapiens committed sins. They had a flesh like us and they had to choose to do what they want, or choose to do what was good by their conscience. But there was no accountability to sin for them because god did not yet reach out them, and if he did, it’s in a way lost to us. Eventually sapiens were here and God called a couple out to a special promised land. Something we see God doing again and again. Repeatedly throughout scripture God called out to various people and blessed them snd told them of a promised land and a promised king.

There mortals, though they could die physically, they could not die spiritually. There was no second death for them at this time. He gave them a few laws. They disobeyed the laws and committed sin that they were held accountable to.

Becsuse God had reached out to them, and continued to reach out to humanity such as with a Cain and so on, the laws begin to spread and mankind repeatedly and consistently chose to pursue their flesh. So sin spread to all mankind and as the laws kept coming through Noah, Mosses and eventually even laws passed by the apostles and God eventually send how holy power, which is the Holy Spirit into the world writing the laws on all hearts. As humanity rejects the fruit of the spirit, and chooses the fruit of the flesh, the are held accountable to their conscience and to God.

But only Christians are given eternal life. The lost are not given eternal life, not even to be tormented. We are all brought back once. Those whose names are in the book of life receive eternal life. Those who are not dies a second time.

After all the metaphors of hell and the lake of fire are both interpreted as the second death, which is just that. Dying a second and final time while the saved continue with eternal life.

We also just produced this animated video of his testimony that he narrates.

And no, Francis is our founder, but is not affiliated with us currently due to his position. (He is not a staff or board member). Correspondence from the BioLogos community (like emails or private messages) is not communicated to him.

I do have faith that his overall perspectives can be found in his book. And the Common Questions on the BioLogos website were created as the top questions he was always asked. (This is how BioLogos began, he received so many emails that he basically wanted to develop an FAQ for people.)


@ChuckM I don’t know his particular views but I feel strongly the notion of “original sin” that is somehow transmissible to all people should be dropped. The story Paul is referencing is clearly mythological. If the magic fruit, idyllic garden and omni-God not knowing where Adam is don’t give that away, maybe the talking snake, the fact that they didn’t even know good and evil yet, the snake literally being cursed and punishment not fitting the crime should.

A person who sins requires forgiveness and God’s grace. That is the end of the issue for me. Being born a sinner isn’t even an intelligible concept to me. Sin is an action committed freely, a non-conformity of a person’s will with God’s. If anything, being born in the imago dei makes humans good. No need to obsess over Paul’s parallel from the start of humanity to the cross as if he was systematically teaching the doctrine of original sin here. The Cross is the culmination of Israel’s history. I get it Paul.



Well said! We need this more
Thanks @Vinnie

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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