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.