Evolution, Sin, and Human Responsibility


#1

As far as I’m concerned when God said that His creation was “very good”, it didn’t mean perfect, but rather that it functioned properly.

Considering that early humans were brutal toward one another, could it not be considered sinful due to the ability to think not being available yet?

What effect would the Fall of Man be if death and extinction already exist?


(Roger A. Sawtelle) #2

On what basis do you say that early humans were brutal towards each other?


(George Brooks) #3

In my profile page, I include this obscure piece of trivia, rarely appreciated in its fullest:

“God created humanity which was already flawed by mortality. The idea that humans were once perfect is a bit of sacrilege - - how could man be perfect without being Gods? The phrase “The Fall” was coined by a Greek church father named Methodius of Olympus - - sometime in the 300’s CE.”

There was no “Fall” until Methodius of Olympus wrote centuries after the New Testament (let alone after Genesis was written).

The Eastern Church takes a totally different spin:

“Eastern Orthodoxy rejects the idea that the guilt of original sin is passed down through generations. It bases its teaching in part on Ezekiel 18:20 that says a son is not guilty of the sins of his father. The Church teaches that, in addition to their conscience and tendency to do good, men and women are born with a tendency to sin due to the fallen condition of the world.”

"It follows Maximus the Confessor and others in characterising the change in human nature as the introduction of a “deliberative will” (θέλημα γνωμικόν) in opposition to the “natural will” (θέλημα φυσικόν) created by God which tends toward the good. Thus, according to St Paul in his epistle to the Romans, non-Christians can still act according to their conscience "

“Orthodoxy believes that, while everyone bears the consequences of the first sin (that is, death), only Adam and Eve are guilty of that sin. Adam’s sin isn’t comprehended only as disobedience to God’s commandment, but as a change in man’s hierarchy of values from theocentricism to anthropocentrism, driven by the object of his lust, outside of God, in this case the tree which was seen to be “good for food”, and something “to be desired” (see also theosis, seeking union with God)”

If we want to extend the logic of the Eastern church’s “deliberate will” argument, we can connect it to the first moment all humanity experiences as they grow from infancy to an age of moral responsibility: All Humans (who are mentally competent) go from an innocent state where they are not expected to have Moral Judgment (and hence Moral Responsibility) … to the first moment where they behave in such a way as to reveal the common trait of humanity - - the imperfection of their moral sense!

This is inevitable because of the flesh nature of humanity, yes?

And then there is the even more momentous historical event ,… when a troop of animal hominids, in the judgment of the Lord and Great Creator … suddenly judges them to be capable of Moral Agency… of Moral Responsibility (again, not in the innocent years of infancy … but at some point in their maturation).

This had to be a wondrous day for humanity … when enough neural synapses had been enabled in the hominid brain that, in God’s eyes!, established us as a morally responsible life form - - truly Human!

Evolution matches this First Sin scenario rather well… and I don’t think we have to be embarrassed about that!


(Albert Leo) #4

You are entirely right, George: we need not be embarrassed by replacing Original Sin with Original Blessing. As you say, "This had to be a wondrous day for humanity." However, I do NOT think that many in the BioLogos community will accept this as the way that evolution should be harmonized with Christian Faith. And Roman Catholic dogma is every bit as entrenched as evangelical belief that each of us enters this world as an enemy of God because of the Sin of our first parents which we all inherit.

Although in general agreement, I can quibble with a few of your statements in the above post: [quote=“gbrooks9, post:3, topic:5822”]
when a troop of animal hominids, in the judgment of the Lord and Great Creator suddenly judges them to be capable of Moral Agency.

I believe the word, "suddenly", should be given some flexibility. It might not have been just with one couple, Adam & Eve (although that is still a theoretical possibility.) Current archeological evidence points to the fact that our Homo sapiens ancestors took a Great Leap Forward about 40K years ago. However, the best evidence is that the symbolic consciousness that distinguishes humans from animals does NOT depend on the number of brain cells per se, but instead on how they are integrated (programmed) into billions of neural circuits that reflect the experiences of an individual’s life. There is at least one example of a modern human, well integrated into modern society, who operates on fewer brain cells than an Australopithecus afarensis living 3 millions years ago.


#5

Well, I don’t seriously believe that conflict with separate tribes was no different than a baseball game.

(Unlike what Bill Jemas would like to believe)


(Albert Leo) #6

[quote=“Snamibog1987, post:5, topic:5822”]
On what basis do you say that early humans were brutal towards each other?

Well, I don’t seriously believe that conflict with separate tribes was no different than a baseball game.

(Unlike what Bill Jemas would like to believe)
[/quote] @Relates @Snamibog1987
Tattersall, in “Masters of the Planet” (p, 172) cites evidence of a Neanderthal massacre at the 50K yr. old El Sidron site in Spain. There is clear evidence of cannibalism at this site as well as at the Gran Dolina site, where it seems to be occasioned by habit rather than by necessity; in other words, it was not “survival cannibalism”. One should keep in mind that the evidence at these archeological sites is subject to more than one interpretation.
Al Leo


(George Brooks) #7

@Relates,

Wha? Do you think War and episodes of genocide only existed after the Sumerians?


(Mike Carney ) #8

Brutal is from long ago and yesterday. To win you must be brutal and deceptive. That is the lesson of evolution. Also lust is critical to passing on the species. Evolution is the source of “Original sin”. It is in our instincts. Compassion also falls from evolution. I am not clear how. But lower animals have compassion. Ask a dog owner or a horse owner.
It is a gradual think. Chardin had some thing to say about it


(system) #9

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