Another Way to Think About It

April 12, 2007, 9:00 am; posted by
Filed under Articles, Steve  | 7 Comments

What if you consider original sin and evolution as synonymous?

The Genesis account tells us God created plants and animals of all types, then human beings, whom he ordered to “be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it.” The “crafty” serpent enticed Eve to disobey God’s commands, promising: “Your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” At its heart, this is a twisted desire for self-improvement — removed from God’s manifest presence, man instead attempted to become like Him. And in addition to this knowledge and power, Adam and Eve were cursed by God in the areas of (among other things) reproduction, relationships, food provision, and lifespan.

Evolutionary biology suggests that the ultimate goal of every organism is to propagate itself — to gain safety and comfort, but more than anything, to ensure its genetic code is replicated as often as possible before it dies. But there is no indication that death existed before the fall; the restoration of communion with God is indicated in the Bible in vignettes where lions and lambs lie down together in safety, where neither tears nor death have any place.

“Where do wars and fights come from among you?,” James asked. “Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war.”

I agree with many of the observations of evolutionary biology, and here I extend them, to argue that the immediate and continuing outcome of the fall of mankind, as told in Genesis, is functionally equivalent to the predicted results of evolution. Desires for pleasure that war within us: lust, murder, envy, greed. Faced with limited resources to share and limited opportunities to reproduce, newly enlightened man was foisted into a constant race to improve and compete — and there we have both the blessing and the curse of the “knowledge of good and evil,” for the very nature that pushes us to improve also tragically destines we will forever fall short of our goal.

And in the meantime it gives us a world where greed, overconsumption, pride and promiscuity often seem to be the ‘right’ strategies. The crafty ones.

This is probably why prophetic visions of heaven speak of eternal joy and satisfaction, rather than the tortured “chasing of the wind” that pervades life on earth. “They shall not build and another inhabit. . . they shall not labor in vain.”

The renewal of eternal communion with God will eliminate the desire for every counterfeit.


7 Comments to “Another Way to Think About It”

  1. Marcus on April 12th, 2007 2:37 pm

    I hope you do not mind my long comments… few like to actively engage the issues you bring up.

    My initial reaction is to say that adaptation (which in my mind approximates your use of the term “evolution”) is not sinful… but then I begin to doubt myself. Principles of adaptation are found not only in biology but also in sociology and linguistics. It is in the nature of both language and culture to shift with the times. That statement, however, begs the question of original purpose. Linguistic variety, after all, was portrayed in Scripture as a punishment–the result of the pride of the Babel project.

    While I ponder your question and its implications, now is as good a place as any to tip my hand. When it comes to evolution, I’ve mentioned that I remain agnostic. For my money, God COULD have created a system wherein all life has a common ancestor. I only add the caveat that something intimate and likely supernatural occurred in the specific creation of man–whether that creation was from sand or from an ape, it was still creation of a unique creature from a simpler substance.

    This COULD have happened. As has been pointed out by you (and acknowledged by me), there is no direct proof of this “one common ancestor” macroevolution model. Until more data is available, I am inclined to believe that creation evolved from a (small) set number of prototype creatures. This would go far to reconcile my belief with both micro-evolution and the typical reading of Genesis.

    I differ, however, in that I am inclined to think that man and ape evolved from the same root but that man was privileged and set apart–symbolized by God breathing life into Adam. Equating this “breathing” with some kind of supernatural enlightenment of a proto-man is appealing to me and I hold it as one of many possibilities. In the meantime I can only wait for scientific discoveries and/or anthropological artifacts to be found which could shed light on Abiogenesis and Genesis respectively.

  2. Steve on April 13th, 2007 1:07 am

    I certainly don’t mind the comments — I’m quite happy to have feedback and discussion! And I’ll get back to comment on your post sometime in the next few days as well.

    I think there are beneficial and non-beneficial aspects to the change after the fall. Competition and adaptation can be healthy or wrongful, but either way they were a result of the fall. So I don’t know if I’d call adaptation sinful per se, but it seems to be sin’s result.

    Supernatural enlightenment in the breath of God, an interesting thought. And of course we are always learning more from the discoveries of the past.

    Tom, are you out there? Any thoughts on this? Is it any clearer than when I first babbled it at you Thursday night in the kitchen?

  3. Job Tate on April 13th, 2007 3:30 pm

    I think it’s a brain tickle to entertain the notion that apes were the rough draft and man the great American novel, but if we are to believe Scripture we are to believe that we were made in His image. Either physically or emotionally, this does not lend itself to an idea of a prototype meets finished product.

    Also, creationism has a vast, comprehensive and critically sound curriculum that, granted, has never found the mainstream traction that Darwin’s theories have enjoyed. But you’ll find this is true of a lot of things…The Office stalwartly ranks lower than American Idol in the nielsens but it’d be hard to argue that AI is the higher quality program.

    Sometimes low-brow and feeble is more easily digested than the complex and strong. Evolution might appear more scientifically daunting; harder to grasp thus lending it some sort of academic cache. But it does so only after attempting to sidestep God, the more daunting, slippery notion to grab onto for most people.

    Basically, people can thrust evolution (micro or macro) upon God and His creation and find a marriage of sorts in their own understanding. But you must agree that evolution can, and is desgined to in theory and in teaching, to be able to stand alone without Him.

    That smells very human to me.

  4. dsweetgoober on April 15th, 2007 10:22 am

    So if original sin initiated the evolutionary process the atonement through Jesus Christ (upon our submission to the Gospel) halted evolution?

  5. Steve on April 15th, 2007 4:53 pm

    I wouldn’t say that. The systems of this world continue as they have, and you could even argue that he redeemed our desire for self-improvement by providing the way for us to be united with God.

  6. dsweetgoober on April 15th, 2007 5:17 pm

    So do you believe that Evolution (big E, the theory) is a fact or just evolution (little e, the existence of adaptation and variation within a species)? Do you believe that it is neccessary to reconcile Darwins Theory with creation? Are you aware of the Hovind Theory of creation?

  7. Steve on April 15th, 2007 5:44 pm

    Little e: microevolution. I’m not convinced of the evidence for macroevolution, one species to another.

    I don’t know if you saw this post, but we discussed some of these same issues there first.

    I wasn’t aware of Hovind until I just looked him up, and….he sure is different.

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