The Doctrine of Original Sin

AdamEveEat

One of the core tenets of Christianity is the doctrine of “original sin” and mankind’s depravity.  While some more liberal interpretations of the Genesis accounts claim these accounts are allegorical there are many questions that arise from analysis of the accounts when you remove presuppositions most Christians have been taught regarding this doctrine.

In its simplest essence non-believers are told of their “need for a savior” because they are by nature born condemned sinners who need God’s grace to re-establish a relationship. Faith can yield the necessary salvation and wash away the sinful depravity of the soul so they can have eternal life and avoid damnation to eternal torment in hell. While there are differing views in Christendom regarding soteriology or “how one receives salvation” and deep divides with believers between the doctrine of election or doctrine of free will, there is a core acceptance of the doctrine of original sin and depravity of mankind that we are inherently born in to.

Looking to the scriptures we see in summary that God is walking in the garden of Eden and calling out for Adam.  When God finds Adam after calling out and asking where he is (BTW-How could he not know where Adam was?) and then finds out the woman was deceived by the serpent.  Adam has been manipulated and eaten from the tree of Good and Evil after the woman had given it to him. God then passes a judgment on the serpent and both Adam and the woman.

You may notice I have not referred to “the woman” as Eve yet because she has not been given a name yet.  It is odd to me that Adam named the animals and birds of the field but did not give a name to the woman yet.  Some might say she was named “woman” but that would be a ridiculous claim because Adam wasn’t referred to as “the man” and in the scriptures when the serpent is talking it says he is talking “to the woman”.  What does align is how women were “less than men” throughout the old testaments and new testaments.  This is not to get off on an equality of male/female focus but worth noting she is not named till after being judged with the pain of pregnancy and child birth.

Genesis 3:16-20

16To the woman He said:

“I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception;

In pain you shall bring forth children;

Your desire shall be for your husband,

And he shall rule over you.”

Now the woman is no longer a “helper” but more of a servant to be ruled over by Adam and her sorrow and pain she will bring forth children.  This judgment seems to be severe for just “eating a fruit” or for those who would like to say it was “really about disobeying God” we will address that shortly.  But nonetheless the woman is punished as a result of her action.

17Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’:

“Cursed is the ground for your sake;

In toil you shall eat of it

All the days of your life.

18Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you,

And you shall eat the herb of the field.

19In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread

Till you return to the ground,

For out of it you were taken;

For dust you are,

And to dust you shall return.”

Now looking at Adam’s judgment things won’t be easy for him any longer either.  He will be forced to work the ground and toil all his life and then will die and return to dust instead of living in this eternal garden.  This was his punishment for eating from the tree or “disobeying God” as some would have it but the greater punishment is dealt out to majority of mankind who would now be born in to depravity and destined for hell.  However, the Jews did not believe in hell therefore it is not surprising it is not in the Old Testament.  Nonetheless “punishment or judgment” if you would have it, is dealt out to Adam as well.

 

Now is a great time to go ahead and name the woman because she is now under the judgment of pain of conception and childbirth.

20And Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.

 

Picture your child, you set them in a room with all kinds of snacks and food and toys and close the doors and tell them they can play anything in the room.  They can snack on anything in the room except the plate of freshly baked chocolate brownies on the shiny table in the center of the room.  Would you be surprised if the child chose to eat the brownie?  Would you punish them in this life and with eternal punishment in the next life?

The point here is the premise of original sin stands on the scriptural claims that the woman who did not have the knowledge of good and evil was deceived by a serpent (not Satan or Lucifer as the story is taught in Christianity) and this sets in motion original sin and damnation for most of the world’s population. We hear constantly we live in a fallen world.  Natural disasters, death and disease are all a result of this original sin of disobedience against God.  Animals that have no blemish must be sacrificed to quench the wrath of God until God ultimately decides to sacrifice his son to quench that cup of wrath.

We are also told that one day if we just have faith in the Christ and the claims of the bible that we can be free from sin and live in an eternal heaven that is perfect and full of happiness and no more tears.  In other words paradise lost will be paradise restored.  Christ will be able to be the mediator and the bridge between God and humanity so we can have eternal life and relationship with him.  This is the solution Christianity presents to us after Adam and Eve’s fall.

But what happens next is very strange…….

Gen 3:22-24

22Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”

23therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken.

24So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.

We are told God has a plan and knows the past present and future.  God loves and wants relationship with us.  He wants us to have eternal life and relationship with us.  Therefore would God not seek a solution at this moment in time to bridge the relationship with man and avoid all the evil a fallen world would represent to billions of lives?

Well.. not yet, now God is now worried that the man Adam now has the knowledge of good and evil may also eat from the tree of life and live forever.  Does this mean God was worried Adam could escape the judgment of death and returning to dust as God had sentenced him to feigning his justice?  Apparently, God was worried so much he assigned a angel armed with a flaming sword in place to keep them away from the tree of life.

Does this mean that “in theory” Adam could have found immortality just by eating from the tree of life?  Does this mean he could have gained immortality while yet still being the first “sinner” in existence?  Could this eternal life he would have gained been passed down to the lineage of mankind just as the depravity we are all born in to according to Christian doctrine does?  The bigger question is why couldn’t God have just wiped the slate clean for Adam and Eve by simply forgiving them without a requirement of a blood sacrifice to quench his wrath?

We are constantly told to forgive others even by Jesus himself who tells us to forgive “seventy times seven” Matthew 18:21?  I know the apologetic would say God is so holy that his wrath could not be satisfied with just forgiveness.  If God knew he would have to put an angel to keep Adam out of the garden why just not put the tree of Good and Evil in the garden in the first place?  Why put the tree of life in the garden in the first place?  Why not just forgive the beings he created who did not know good from evil in the first place before eating of the fruit?

I could keep asking a lot of questions now that I have the freedom as an agnostic and skeptic.  The path of deconversion has given me more intellectual freedom to do so.  This doctrine is the essence of Christianity, that we are less than, that we are evil by nature, and desperately need a savior or will suffer infinite torture for finite crimes.  I grew up always feeling unworthy of happiness and believed I could be happy if I found God’s plan and “will” for my life.  The bar was set so high from the doctrine of original sin.  But when I really look at the scriptures through logic and reason and without the “presupposed doctrines” I was raised to believe I realize there are a lot of problems posed in this story.  These accounts sound strange for a reason, they were written to tell a story and give reason for men to fear.  That’s why we have the Doctrine of Original sin and that is the primary method used to scare people in to a belief system and is used to keep people trapped in fear. As a newly deconverted skeptic I don’t carry this fear any longer. I am free and happy living “The Deconverted Life”!