Thanks George for this timely clarification.
To avoid possible misinterpretations I would like to insist that the stage of “Original Sin” is actually nothing other than “to be in need of Redemption”, or more precisely “to be in need of Jesus Christ’s Grace to reach Salvation”.
The primeval human persons (say “Adam and Eve”) before the Fall were not in “need of Redemption”, that is, they were not in “stage of Original Sin”. After transgressing God’s law they caste themselves into the same stage as fallen angels.
God could very well have decided to act according to (Matthew 25:41), that is, remove those sinners from the face of the earth, send them “into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels”, and create new humans on earth in stage of innocence. New sinners had been removed from the earth again and again, and this way the earth could have gone on being populated by “holy people” till the end of times.
Nonetheless God preferred to have mercy of human sinners of all times. To this aim He agreed that the first sinners and all sinners thereafter remain in the earth, to the sake of moving them to repent, without violating their free will, through the Grace of Jesus Christ. This way the earth should be a home for “sinners in need of Redemption”.
But having decided this, God had a problem: Familiar with [Biologos, What we Believe, 10.], He knew that humans were to be created as spiritual beings; but in which stage should He create the new human persons to be generated till the end of times? Should He create them like He created Adam and Eve, that is, “not-being in need of Redemption”? After some reflection God saw that this would not be convenient at all: Having on earth two different groups of people, one of people “being in need of Redemption” (sinners) and another of people “not-being in need of Redemption” would be counterproductive for His work of Redemption. For understanding the reasons “why God excluded” the coexistence of these two groups, further studies are surely needed, but “that God excluded” this possibility, this we know because He inspired Paul to write Romans 11:32. In conclusion, after the first sin God decided to create any new human person in the stage of “being in need of Redemption” (also called stage of “Original sin”).
The statement “God provides the original sin” could be misinterpreted in the sense that “God induces some damage in the new persons or ‘souls’ he creates”. I prefer to say “God creates the new persons (or new spiritual souls) as being in need of Redemption”. Thereby one makes clear that although this stage is worse than the stage in which Adam and Eve were created, it is a positive and encouraging situation after all, precisely because it makes Redemption possible for all sinners till the end of times, who otherwise had been “damned to eternal fire”. In fact the time itself is already an ingredient of God’s Redemption plan: the fallen angels could not be redeemed because their decision happened at once. Because of the “stage of Original sin” (that is, the prospect of Redemption) Adam’s sin can even be called "felix culpa”.
This sheds also an interesting light on evolution:
The same way that God could have decided to remove the sinners from the world, He had also the power to keep the earth as a Paradise. He could have avoid a lot about evolution that’s not so pretty, like many painful forms of natural selection, illnesses, death, extinction; and instead of creating “through such a tortuous and suffering-filled process”, he could have created [following Jerry Coyne’s suggestion] “just poofing everything into being at once, as Genesis says.” This way the earth would always have been populated by “godly” people living in the “perfect” Paradise. The “perfect pre-fall world” of YECs could very well have been the “perfect post-fall world” as well.
But having decided to redeem the sinners, God had to conceive a world which is appropriate for sinners to live. Such is the evolutionary world, where on the one hand “we can clearly see God’s eternal power and divine nature”, but on the other hand we also experience some unpleasant things like illness, pain, death, catastrophes, moral evil, etc. And why can these unpleasant world’s properties be good for our Redemption? This again deserves further study, but it seems obvious to me that such properties lead us to realize that “we are not like God”, and this way help us not to fall into the temptation angels and “Adam and Eve” fell.
Paradoxically the “perfect pre-fall world” YECs invoke would have been the consequence of “God’s Judgement” with immediate condemnation of sinners after the Fall. The “imperfect” evolutionary world which we live in is rather the result of God’s mercy in preview of the Fall.
This leads straightforwardly to my theory about the Flood:
2 Peter 2:5, and 1 Peter 3:20 insist that “a few people, eight in all, were saved through water”. Reading this verse in the perspective of “Salvation for the whole humanity” as established in the Council of Jerusalem (49 AD) I interpret this pericope as referring to the population who was “in need of Salvation”, that is the 100,000 living in Sumer around Noah. By contrast the 14,000,000 humans living outside Mesopotamia were not responsible to God’s law and capable of sinning: they were neither in the stage of “Adam and Eve” before the Fall nor in “need of salvation”, and thus are not relevant for what the inspired author is interested to transmit us.
As George very well remarks, after the Flood God endowed these 14,000,000 living beings spread all over the world with sense of law and they became capable of sinning against God’s law; and as argued before, these new human persons were created by God in the stage of “need of Redemption” (in George’s wording: God gave the 14,000,000 Homo sapiens outside Mesopotamia “a new kind of soul” and new persons became generated “in the stage of Original Sin”).
Bill_II objects to my interpretation of Peter’s Letters:
Accordingly, Bill_II seems to endorse an alternative account along this line:
If one reads 1 Peter 3:20 appropriately “applying Eastern way of thinking”, then “a few people, eight in all” should be interpreted as meaning: “14,000,000 people who lived outside Mesopotamia spread all over the world, shared sense of law, and were in need of Redemption.”
Independently of the fact that it is baffling how an inspired author, even using huge “Eastern imagination”, can describe a population of 14,000,000 by “a few people, eight in all”, the two accounts can be tested against each other: According to my account vestiges revealing sense of law can appear in the world outside Mesopotamia only after the Flood, while according to Bill_II’s account they should appear long before the Flood.
In any case I would be thankful if participants to this debate express their opinion about these two alternative interpretations of 1 Peter 3:20.