Evolution and the Historical Fall: What Does Genesis 3 Tell Us about the Origin of Evil?

(George Brooks) #41


Is that a typo in the middle of your last sentence? Please confirm. Thanks!

(Charles Keller) #42

yup. darned spell checker

Augustine did the best that he could

(Edward T Babinski) #43

Dr. Middleton wrote, “It is also plausible to think that it was not long before these humans began to go against the new revelations of conscience, and thus sin was introduced into the world.”

“New revelations of conscience?”

Instead of introducing “new revelations” how about spending a bit more time examining “moral” decision making in light of what we know about decision making in general? It is a complex process. Decisions can be based on multiple factors, and not necessarily “new revelations.” In fact the word “morality” might represent an enormous generalization that humans now take for granted, and that theologians take for granted as “revelatory.” But are morality/ethics “revelatory,” or enormous generalizations based on multiple factors such as shared wishes as to how we would like to see others act toward us, and we extend such wishes to everyone else for obvious reasons, but such wishes appear to be based on our evolution as a large-brained mammalian species socially connected (compare how elephants, apes and dolphins act as large-brained mammalian species that are socially connected–they have their complex societies and conflicts just as humans do). Another factor going into the mix of what we later came to call “morality/ethics” includes behavior patterns our parents drummed into us as children (“don’t do that, do this” “that’s not yours” “play nice, don’t get hurt” etc.), and factors involving the use of foresight among other rational considerations, and factors involving shared recognition of pain that may be either physical or psychological along with the difficulty of ignoring the evidence that others feel similarly. For more on moral decision making as a sub-set of decision making in general see https://edward-t-babinski.blogspot.com/2014/03/the-moral-question.html

In short, the attempt to explain the existence of “conscience” as due to “revelation” isn’t really needed in order to explain how humans came upon the grand idea of treating each other better rather than worse. Allegedly “revelatory” laws were spread by tribal/national rulers in the ancient world who claimed such laws were sent down from on high to provide harmony. But it was humans who recognized via their daily interactions with each other the benefits of harmony and obeying certain rules for the good of family, tribe or nation.

And speaking of what part a creator, designer or tinkerer may have played in the rise of the human species, and what blame may be placed on humans for acting “sinfully,” consider that the evolutionary process this creator used to bring about humans doesn’t seem geared toward eliminating aggression, not at all, so the chances of humans acting “sinfully” probably can’t be blamed on humans alone. In fact, the more one accepts what scientists have come to learn about the biological world and its lengthy history, the more one recognizes that neither humans nor any of the species that preceded them were overly “tame” species, and our species evolved quick reflexes for defense and counter attack, bio-physiological behaviors in our bones and even in our brains that one can even see occurring even in purely intellectual discussions. So who or what exactly is responsible for “sin?” A creator, designer, tinkerer, whatever the case, bears some of the blame. We are far from being a purely rational species, gaining knowledge and learning to recognize what makes sense, what doesn’t, requires effort, nobody is born intelligent or rational, we are each limited linguistically, culturally, educationally, hence many tensions naturally arise. So should all the blame be placed on humanity and its “sinfulness?” On difficult questions that arise at the intersection of Christianity and evolution (as admitted by Christians) see https://edward-t-babinski.blogspot.com/2017/08/christians-admit-that-difficult.html

(George Brooks) #44


Absolutely! And how do we know this?

Because natural evil of humongous proportion is inflicted on innocent non-human life by God, and the Bible documents this as so!

It’s one thing to blame a murdering hurricane on Original Sin. . . but it’s pretty much out of the question when it is God doing the smiting of innocents when it is completely unnecessary:

Incomplete Catalog of Natural Evil Unleased by Yahweh

[1] God skins animals to cloth Adam and Eve before they go on their first Day Trip.

[2] God drowns millions of non-human animals in a massive flood.

[3] God sends the Destroyer to kill the first born of all the non-human animals in Egypt; but compared to the big flood, maybe this wasn’t so bad?

[4] Don’t even start with me about a herd of pigs in the New Testament.

(Doug Webber) #45

The first 11 chapters of Genesis are symbolic, and has precursors found in ancient Mesopotomian myths. Although the tablets of these myths were discovered in the 19th century, Emanuel Swedenborg wrote about this in the 18 century. See Is Genesis Historical? A Revelation from Heaven

(George Brooks) #46


@Reggie_O_Donoghue also made a very good case for these old and popular stories being “Hebrew-ized” in order to swallow up other local traditions, while at the same time, removing elements that the Priestly scribes would find objectionable. What are described as deities in these stories have been down-graded.

For example, in Jonah, the fish represents a God of the underworld. In the Bible, the fish is just a fish… working at the bidding of Yahweh!

(RiderOnTheClouds) #47

I don’t recall saying this

(George Brooks) #48


I think you were more concerned with the idea that the Priestly scribes were presenting “pagan” elements negatively…

… and I was more concerned about the almost inevitable desire of a dominant priestly tradition to borrow and co-opt the legends and stories of other cultures, to speed assimilating other views into the one sponsored by the priests.

Do these points ring a bell?

If you mean you never said anything about Jonah, that is probably correct. I brought in the Jonah story as an example of how a priestly “interest group” can change another group’s story to reflect their preferences.


Everyone is free to believe what they like, but some of the ideas expressed in this thread - eg, attributing evil to God - are far outside of Christian doctrine and the belief statements of BioLogos.

Within the framework of biblical theology, I don’t think we can so easily dismiss the fall as a vague moral drift of humanity as a whole, nor separate it so easily from physical death. Paul’s whole argument in 1 Cor 15 is about Christ’s physical resurrection from the dead as the source of Christians’ confidence that we will likewise be physically raised. It is in that context that he says:

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. (1 Cor 15:20-23)

When Paul says “by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead”, he’s very clearly saying that by one single, literal, historical man, Jesus, the physical resurrection of the dead has been brought for those who trust Christ, such that their bodily resurrection follows and results from his. The whole narrative of the chapter confirms that physical death and resurrection of believers is in view; he starts out talking about Christ’s physical burial and resurrection, and moves eventually to saying that believers will be given imperishable bodies in place of mortal ones.

And Paul says that the resurrection comes through Jesus in the same way that death came through Adam. If the sin of a single, literal, historical Adam did not cause physical death for humans, doesn’t that make nonsense of Paul’s argument?

Those of you who believe that 1 Corinthians is inerrant Scripture, how do you understand this passage?

Update: This post mentions a possible answer I find interesting: Adam’s sin has effects that go both forward and back in time, just as Christ’s atonement does: https://biologos.org/blogs/archive/evolutionary-creationism-and-atonement-theology-part-1-why-we-need-a-histor

This suggestion has several interesting implications:

  • It makes the parallel between Christ and Adam even stronger than it is in YEC theology
  • It allows one to affirm that physical death is the evil result of The Fall – that creation groans (Rom 8:22) with good reason, that Jesus wept by Lazarus’ tomb because his death was not solely a natural and good process, but an enemy that Jesus came to destroy (1 Cor 15:26). Even at an emotional level, it allows one to affirm that when we see creatures suffering and dying in the natural world, that it is right to feel a measure of sadness.
  • It allows one to still anticipate a new heavens and earth in which death has been destroyed and is no more

In this view, one could see physical death as a part of God’s plan, yet as a consequence of sin - similar to how Christians see the spiritual death of unbelievers. In both cases, God hates death, but in both cases, it fits within his larger, good plan.

(Shawn T Murphy) #50

We do not find the origin of evil in Genesis at all. As in Genesis 1:6-8 says, in the beginning existed evil outside of Heaven, those waters below the firmament.

And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.

The founders of science recognized the ruler of the waters below Heaven as Poseidon - the ruler of the bitter sea of fallen angels. To find the origin of evil, you have to back before the God cast the angels into the bitter sea. This happened when Lucifer became the adversary and rose up as the dragon in Revelations 11 & 12. It was before the battle of Armageddon that evil took root in Heaven and had to be purged.

The second fall in Genesis 3 was the failed attempt for the fallen Elders - Adam and Eve - to regain their virtues. They we two of the ten elders that sided with the dragon (Rev 12:3).

(Doug Webber) #51

Yes they would do that. In Akkadian “Babylon” means “the gate of God” but in Hebrew it is turned into a word meaning confusion. Was not aware of Jonah’s fish being related to a god of the underworld. I consider Jonah as historically true but is prophetic as well - the sea representing the underworld. There is an actual case of a whaling fisherman that fell overboard and was swallowed whole by a whale. They captured the whale and recovered it, and after disemboweling the whale they recovered the fisherman. But at that point he was almost insane from utter fear.

(Christy Hemphill) #52

Perhaps you could explain why you think physical, not spiritual death is what Paul had in view in that passage. Doesn’t the fact that humans still die physically post-Christ make Paul’s argument nonsense if he is talking about Adam’s sin causing physical death?

(Randy) #53

can you cite this, Mr Webber? Just wanted to be careful. thanks.
there are some urban myths out there (the second is for fun apparently)

(George Brooks) #54


This is highly unlikely.

The largest throat diameter of ANY whale is somewhere around the size of a basketball.

When i read anecdotal fiction like your whale story… i am the one who is driven almost insane.

If i dumped you into a vat of stomach acid, even assuming there is any a available oxygen, how long do you think you would survive?

(Phil) #55

GIt is interesting how we have a variety of sayings like “swallowed by the sea” “spit out by the sea” “being in the belly of the beast” that may refer to Jonah. Or perhaps Jonah personified idioms in use as that time.

(Doug Webber) #56

Here is one, this time of a diver who was half eaten by a shark and managed to survive, remarkably: Man ‘swallowed’ by great white says it was like being trapped in a cave

As for the possibility, yes it can happen, but the main issue is the lack of air: Could a Whale Accidentally Swallow You? It Is Possible

(George Brooks) #57


The first article refers to a professional diver who had his upper body in the mouth of a Great White. Being a professional diver, he had a mask and an oxygen tank, the latter apparently is what kept him from being chewed to pieces. And the cave he refers to would be a cave filled with water, no? He was a professional diver. And even if the attack happened on the surface, so that there could be air in this “so-called” cave, are you suggesting that Jonah was NOT swallowed, and was kept alive by being kept in the open mouth of the fish, swimming for 3 days along the surface?

These texts would argue otherwise:
Jon 2:5

The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head.

Jon 2:6

I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever: yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O LORD my God.

As for the possibility of a Sperm Whale… while you have found a source that thinks a human has the same compressed diameter as a giant squid, it is quite adamant that nobody is going to survive a Sperm Whale’s gut for 3 days:

"In reality, this is unlikely. Sperm whales have four stomach chambers, like a cow, full of digestive enzymes. Plus, there’s no air inside a stomach. The Naked Scientist addressed this question as well, saying:

"If there is any gas inside a whale, it’s probably methane, and that’s not going to help you out very much. We do know that whales can be flatulent, so there is some gas. They do have gassy pockets, but it’s not air, not good to breath. Certainly, no air inside a fish, so I think that’s really what’s going to get you in the end. So I’m afraid no."

The largest whale in the ocean is the Blue Whale: “Despite the size of its mouth, the dimensions of its throat are such that a blue whale cannot swallow an object wider than a beach ball.”

But I did find an article from the 1800’s about a sperm whale that had been able to swallow a buoy with a 2 foot diameter. So I will concede the “swallowing”, if you will concede the “dying”.

(Shawn T Murphy) #58

I will continue with my Poseidon analogy from above. You see in the depiction of Poseidon the fish at his feet. Jonah was three days in the belly of the whale or under the reign of Poseidon before he came onto land. The enlightened greeks had the same analogy for Aphrodite’s emergence from the bitter sea.

Both Jonah and Aphrodite (Aholah) had overcome Satan’s reign and started fighting for God.

(David Carman) #59

Interesting ideas.
I think Jordan Peterson has a great take on the Adam and Eve fall from grace story.

Maybe start at about 30mins if you don’t like rambling.

(Shawn T Murphy) #60

Thank you David, I am not a fan of JP and not willing to spend 2 1/2 watching this. What are the salient points he makes that justifies listening to him?

People have stirred through Genesis 1 for centuries and found nothing new since the 3rd century. The original title of the work that I started 24 years ago was called “The Path of the Truth”. The premise is that God has been sending His prophets since the beginning of humanity to teach His children, and regardless what the adversary does to His prophets and their work, He keeps trying.

By focusing on the Bible only, you are studying the ashes that the adversary was unable to destroy. In my opinion, only by studying the entire body of inspired works, are we able to understand God, the adversary and evil. How else can you know your enemy without studying his tactics (works)?

Malachi (445-425 BC) was the last prophet of the old testament, who came after the Jews returned from the city of the devil and rewrote the OT, tainted with their experiences there.

For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts. But ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the Lord of hosts. Therefore have I also made you contemptible and base before all the people, according as ye have not kept my ways, but have been partial in the law. Malachi 2:7-9

A minority of scholars have postulated that Socrates was the next prophet that God sent to His children. Until the 6th century AD, Christianity was in harmony with the teachings of Socrates - the father of logic. The works of Plato capture the various beliefs of the Greeks, both enlightened (Socrates) and pagan. For me, these works give the best insight into the source of evil and its favorite tool - rhetoric.

The adversary is referred to in Genesis as the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Socrates gave us tools to peel back the rhetoric of the adversary and to expose his illogical lies. This wisdom that Socrates brought to early Christian was lost, and I hope that it can found once again.