Problem of evil and original sin

in traditional Christianity, all evil in the world and death appeared due to the original sin of Adam and Eve. but if Adam and Eve are mythical characters or prototypes of all mankind and there was no original sin, then how to explain so much evil in the world? we know that humans appeared as a result of evolution, and evolution is a huge amount of suffering and death, a lot of extinct species. did a loving God create a world full of death and catastrophe? Does theology have an answer to these questions? Thank you!

Hi Alex . Satan was created before them so i would say sin entered the world when Satan rebelled and became the adversary of God. At least thats my interpetation

2 Likes

What is abuntantly clear to me is that mankind is prone to all kinds of wrongdoing and some of us are much more ensconced in evil than others. Many people lead very moral lives. They fail, but everyone does. They will not spend time in jail.

OTOH, GOD is holy and does not tolerate any kind of sin. God in the person of hs son, bled and died to present those who would believe in him blamesless, covered by his blood, bridging the gap. It is a mystery.

I am all for adjusting Christian teachings to fit the findings of science. That is only reasonable. But I see no reason to let this be an excuse for a theological free for all, replacing Christianity with another religion entirely. So yes, the homo sapiens species came about by evolution, and we find support for this in the Bible which describes an earth already filled with people at the time of Adam’s family. But I see nothing to say that two people Adam and Eve did not exist who believed God had spoken to them. That is not inconsistent with the findings of science at all.

Evil yes, physical death no. The latter would be Satanic, for what else shall we call a teaching which makes God the liar and the serpent the source of truth?

The Christian explanation of evil is the story of Genesis, rather than non-canonical texts and pagan religions speaking of a war in heaven or among gods. The Genesis story is that God gifted two homo-sapiens, Adam and Eve, with the greater life of the human mind, warning them that certain actions would cause them to die on that same day. But when A&E failed to follow God’s advice they did not physically die, so either God is a liar and the snake the source of truth, or it was a different kind of death which came from the fall. And indeed all the Bible speaks of two kinds of life and death, such as when Jesus said in Luke 9:60 “let the dead bury their own dead.”

I certainly believe in a God who chose love and freedom over power and control and that is why He created life, of which death and suffering is an unavoidable part. God could have just created a dream world (like any kid down the block frankly) where He would be in absolute control and everything would happen according to His desire alone. But God was seeking an authentic relationship with others than Himself and that required an existence founded on rules which operated automatically according to fixed principles as the basis for the self-organizing process of life. Because life is not some magical stuff you can inject into inanimate objects or material in order to make them alive. God’s breath is simply the derivation of the word “inspiration” which can bring the mind to life with new ideas.

There are a great many theologies with many different possible answers to these questions. I have given you mine above.

3 Likes

Only better theology we make up. Nature comes first. It doesn’t need God. Thanks be to the power of the Jesus story we can entertain the possibility of God. What kind of God. In the light of eternal nature. That He grounds from eternity. See the loop back there? The iteration doesn’t start with God. It starts with nature. As you did. Nature and Jesus tell us everything we need to know about God. In that order.

I personally don’t believe in original sin. I don’t see it anywhere in the Bible. Original Sin is a doctrine that includes the belief that we are all born guilty of sin, even if we have never committed a sin. It treats sin as this curse handed down generation to generation and it included the belief that unbaptized infants went to hell or purgatory. But scripturally speaking, we are not held responsible for the sins of Adam and Eve. We are only guilty of our sins.

One aspect of OS that I do believe in is the “sin nature”. For me the sun nature is essentially just out animal instincts. Now the instincts themselves are not evil. But they can be misused. Take lust. It’s natural for our species to want to procreate for multiple reasons and it’s natural for our species to enjoy sex. None of that in itself is evil. But the sun nature aspect of it is that without training ourselves in righteousness we may misuse those wants for sin. Such as viewing others as just sexual object. Or take anger. Anger is natural. Being angry is not a sin. But the Bible does say don’t sin in your anger.

So for me the sin nature is simply us choosing to react in unrighteous manner. Same as fruit of the spirit is us choosing to react in righteousness to the same pressures.

The other thing to consider is that it says the same acts called sin has always existed. Which makes sense because even animals feel many of the same emotions they just have not evolved to the point of emotional intelligence and cognitive processes that we have and have entered into a covenant with Yahweh.

These verses I believe are often not handled correctly.

Romans 5:12-14
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. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the violation committed by Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.

The first thing I want to point out is that here it says that sin spread because of Adam. But did not Eve sin first? Didn’t sin technically enter the world because of Eve? If Adam never followed through, would not it still have existed because of Eve? The very fact they draw attention to Adam showcases it’s not a literal understanding of “ the fall”. It’s being used to express an idea and it’s not being used to actually explain the origins of sin.

The second thing is that it says sin and death has always existed. It says that when we had the law the law is what made sin possible. What does that mean? To understand it we need to know what is sin. Sin is simply disobeying God. So until God drew a line in the sand there was no sin. Until God said don’t eat of this tree, there was no law prohibiting it. So prior to God drawing a line in the sand sun already existed we just was not held accountable to it.

Another important detail is to look at what’s being hyperlinked here. It’s the story of genesis 3. We have good reasons. To believe from contextual analysis that genesis 3 was part of the first few chapters of the early biblical mythology. Again, just like a parable the job of Genesis was not to convey a historical and autobiographical narrative full of scientific statements. It’s job was to convey a story. To teach some morals and theological concepts.

Something often over looked though gaining more attention as conditional immortality continues to climb evangelicalism and other systems. If Adam and Eve was literally these immortal beings then why would a tree that sustains immortality exist there. After they sinned they were prohibited from eating from it. If they were already immortal the tree served no function.

So there are two fairly decent interpretations of OS and the fall.

  1. Is that they were real people who was used as characters in a biblical tale. Much like how Abraham was used as a character in the fictional horror series “ A. Lincoln Vampire Slayed. Historical fictions are nothing new. So the in this tale we find out that God called a couple to a promised land ( again common biblical theme) and have them some laws which they broke causing sin to exist.

  2. The tale is completely mythological and all the points I stated still stands.

So evil is in this world because our species have free will and often use what’s natural as what was called good for unrighteous as we commit sins.

thanks for the answer. Did I understand you correctly that humans were originally created mortals? free will explains the evil that comes from people. but what about natural evil: predators, diseases, natural disasters, earthquakes?

Humans have always been mortals. You don’t read anywhere in the Bible where they are immortal without God. Only God
Is immortal. All of those things have always existed.

Ever noticed how in the beginning it says “1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 And the earth was a formless and desolate emptiness, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters. 3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.”

One of the things that should stick out is that it opens up with God hovering over the waters. It never says when these water were created by the way. They were already here.it describes earth as this watery , formless, desolate and dark place. He never calls it good. Then he creates light and calls it good. It’s opening up in the creation myth with the concept that God brought goodness into creation. So the world was all darkness and a giant ocean basically.

Then compare that to what it says in revelation 21:1 “ Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.“

Have you ever wondered why it says there is no sea in revelation or why genesis opens up with the world just a giant dark ocean? It’s not because there was literally anything going on. It’s all part of a story. In the Bible the ocean represents chaos. Genesis and revelation are both highly symbolic. When we read it what often happens is that we emphasize an overly literalistic interpretation. Some people read revelation literal. A story of giant ocean monsters, a vampiric woman and angelic horsemen and so on but most of us read it and understand that it’s a end time mythology just like genesis opens up with a creation mythology. The goal of genesis was not to teach us something literal about waters but in their culture it represented chaos. Chaos has always been here. Sin has always been here. What God wanted to express is that through him be brought a way to eternal life.

Back to genesis and as previously mentioned we see a continuous pattern of God calling someone and guiding them to a promise land. He called Abraham and Sarah and guided them towards a promise land. He called Moses and had him take his people to a promise land. He called prophets to guide people after exiles again and again to a promise land. He called Jesus and had him teach a way to the ponies land. Within the myth we see something similar. God took Adam to a promised land the garden. In the story it says that Adam and Eve had kids snd it mentions at first only two. Cain snd Abel. Cain spears Abel killing him and then Cain is banished away from the lands of eden. He’s scared about those who will want to harm him outside of Eden. So he’s marked. While out there though he finds a wife and enough people and they build a city. Even within the story there is good reason to believe that it’s painting a picture where there is humanity living outside of Eden and these other people scare Cain. The story never implies there were all his brothers and sisters from Eve that already left Eden. That’s why when Seth is born Eve rejoices and says God replaced Abel. If she had tons of kids at this point she would not have felt Abel was being replaced.

Another concerning death is this. It says on the day Adam ate of the fruit he would die. Yet Adam ate and continued to live for hundreds of years. So it seems to not be physical death he was threatened with. So what died that day? Sin was born. Sin brings death. Sin brings a wall between you and God. It causes God to forsaken you. Even Jesus cried out about being forsaken from taking on sin. The death is thst sin can cause you to have no relationship with God. The relationship can die. The access to eternal life can die.

A podcast you may enjoy is “ The Bible Project “ Tim and Jon. They answer many of these questions far better than I can.

2 Likes

One thing to remember is that although the Bible contains all kinds of genres the point is to tell a story. The Bible is a story pointing towards Jesus Christ. In Genesis 1 it mentions a future messiah who will destroy Satan. The tree of life is a foreshadowing of Jesus and his eternal life. The animal sacrifices are a foreshadowing of Jesus Christ. Even Abel being killed by Cain foreshadows the death of Jesis Christ. The Bible has bits of history in it and the Bible has laws in it but those things are not the point of the story. It’s just part of it. We read the Bible not to create science or history but to read a story about Jesus and learn theology and goodness. It teaches us what God wants from us and how he’s leading us all towards the promise land of restoration. So it’s not here to teach us about how people came here, or how tornadoes occur and so on.

1 Like

Using Luke 9:60 to bolster an interpretation of Genesis is a big stretch. I think your argument on the text not presenting God as a liar is a better one but I don’t think its ultimately conclusive or good exegesis. I initially thought it was physical death as that seemed to make most sense in context to me but your argument about God not being a liar pushed me in the other direction but I am still waffling on this issue. I think it is poor exegesis because we are just letting contemporary thought on God skew the issue. Sure there are places which say that God does not lie (Numbers 23:19, 1 Sam 15:29, Tit 1:2, Heb 6:18). Many Church fathers and contemporary Christians think it is utterly impossible for God to tell a falsehood. It seems to me this philosophical reasoning is clouding our interpretation of death in Genesis as the Old Testament does seemingly portray God as lying and/or engaging in deception in multiple instances:

With Moses and the Pharaoh Exodus 3:16-22

In Deuteronomistic History (usually in battle): 2 Sam 17:14, 1 Kgs 22:19-23, 2 Kgs 6:15-20, 7:6-7

Purpose to offer sacrifice or anoint a new king? Is Saul the victim of divine deception? (1 Sam 16:1-5.

John Anderson in Jacob and the Divine Tricker wrote the following (pg 20):

“Esther Hamori has recently argued for the presence of a much more robust tradition in the Hebrew Bible associated with the ‘spirit of falsehood’. She isolates a complex of eight texts–five of which directly refer to the tradition (1 kgs 22:19-23; 1 Sam 16:14-23; 18:10-12; 19:9-10; Judg 9:23-24; 2 kgs 19:7; Isa 19:13-14) and three of which evoke the tradition or display knowledge of its existence (Isa 29:9-10; Job 4:12-21; Hose 4:12-5:4)–that depict the ‘spirit of falsehood’ as coming from YHWH, often in the form of a deceiving messenger from the heavenly court. Out of this aggregate of texts, seven of the eight see the spirit of falsehood as originating from God. Hamori has deftly shown that the biblical tradition equating the deity with falsehood and deception is more widespread than many interpreters have recognized.”

I grabbed Harmoni’s article from the Catholic Biblical Quarterly (2010) and it states that all eight instances show God bringing “destructive justice through deception to those who are already in the wrong.”

Divine deception can have altruistic motives and may fit it into Divine Justice. So this doesn’t necessarily change Genesis on not presenting God as a liar to Adam but I think this should caution our exegesis and realize it is a bit anachronistic to assume physical death is not meant because it creates a deception on God’s part. Much of the OT does not have a problem with God using deception to serve his purposes if he so desires.

But this is a mythological narrative to boot anyways (or mostly in your eyes). The two creation narratives are largely structured and retold from other similar narratives in the region which show gods "complicit in deception and trickery.’ (ibid) This could simply be a remnant of older creation stories in the region or of ancient polytheistic views. Certainly the God in the second creation story is not as advanced as the one in the first creation story. In the latter he comes to realize none of the animals are a suitable helper for Adam and puts him to sleep to make Eve. He has to ask Adam where he is in the garden when he is hiding. I understand Christians like to interpret this as God seeing if Adam would lie since they they interpret everything as inerrant encyclopedic knowledge and God’s omnipotence and omniscience forces this. I don’t think that does justice to the genre of the creation story and its actual historical setting though. The primitive deity in the second creation story could certainly be from and author/era where divine trickery was still prevalent and common. Or also a deity that changed his mind. I just downloaded Barr’s Is God a liar: “Suppose my child is naughty and I (in the days when this was not yet a criminal act) said ‘Darling, if you do not stop this I will have to spank you’, and the child continues his or her bad behaviour, and I still do not spank him (her), but perhaps deprive him of his ice-cream until next weekend, does that mean that I am a liar? By Moberly’s argument, apparently, yes. I solemnly indicated that this punishment would be inflicted, and the wrong behaviour continued, and I did not inflict the punishment as specified. I am a liar. Similarly, God in Genesis, if we follow Moberly’s reaction to the reference in my book, was a liar. It is easy to show that the category of lie should be applied to future- tense utterances only with much care and qualification.” pg 7-8

Barr: “An utterance that is untrue, then, is not necessarily a lie. It is possible, however, that some will make an exception where it is God who speaks. Seen in this way, God by his nature is perfect in every detail; he is omniscient, knowing everything, including the future in its entirety.” The problem is this account stems from thousands of years ago by an individual with a more primitive conception of God. It should not be read from the modern, philosophical omni-perspective. Only when doing that do we have a problem of God “lying.”

I am starting to lean back in the direction of physical death but can go either way. At any rate, this would just be one drop in a larger cup of all the statements science shows Genesis gets wrong if we view it as factual history. I think the meaning we glean from the second creation story is much much deeper than what we see on the surface.

Vinnie

What I have never understood is why not start them out in the promise land, or in heaven for that matter. I would assume that heaven is a place devoid of evil, but I could be wrong. If there is no evil in heaven, then why not start humans there instead of having us start out on Earth where there is evil? If God can create heaven so that there is no evil, then why not do the same for Earth?

1 Like

That brings to mind a response to YECs who want the world to have been at first perfect, and I’m sure you have seen it before.

1 Like

Because there has to be a natural maggot for there to be a transcendent butterfly.

1 Like

Why? An all powerful deity could start with a butterfly, right?

It isn’t understandable to me. I don’t see why there would need to be an imperfect Earth for those things to happen. Why couldn’t we experience familial love in heaven?

What of all the babies that die? Do they go straight to heaven without experiencing any of the things you talk about on an imperfect Earth?

If there had been no death or sin, there would have been no need for redemption…

 
We would not have known this, either, if God had merely created a utopia:

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.
 
1 John 3:16

Why is that a problem? Seems like a lot of problems would have been avoided from the very start if people started out in heaven.

Why would we need to know about dying in a place where people live forever? Also, I was under the impression that Jesus is still alive.

If He could, He would. He can’t. Or He doesn’t exist. Only love is all powerful, all conquering. Well, if God.

That is sort of a red herring and not directly to the question, but I suspect so, not that I can claim to know. But one thing I can claim to know and that is that God is just and fair, if you will excuse the redundancy. (He is, whether you excuse the redundancy or not. :slightly_smiling_face:)

You are not seeing that if everything was ‘perfect’ from the start, we would not know about his justice, mercy and grace, nor the depth of Jesus’ love.
 

He is risen indeed.

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

This is a place for gracious dialogue about science and faith. Please read our FAQ/Guidelines before posting.