Evolution and Original Sin: How Calvin’s TULIP Falls Apart

Genesis 2-3 tells the story of Adam and Eve with a focus on their ‘fall’ from innocence by the disobedience of eating the forbidden fruit. We discussed last time why we should not take this story as an historical narrative; but rather that it seems to be an excellent reflection on the human condition.

However, there are many who insist that the story is historical, that Adam and Eve actually lived and were our first parents, and that the details of the story are true. They further claim that Adam’s act of disobedience caused all of humanity to be born with ‘Original Sin’, which means that every baby is born sinful and depraved.

The Genesis Eden Story and Original Sin

Adam and Eve

Adam, Eve, and the Forbidden Fruit

The Eden story tells how God instructed Adam to not eat of the Tree of Knowledge. Genesis 2 reads:

The Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

However, a serpent tempted Eve to eat the fruit God had forbidden. She then caused Adam to eat the fruit as well.

Chapter 3:

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

Because of that God told Eve she now would have pain in childbirth, and to Adam he said that from now on providing food for his family would become very difficult and laborious; both of these statements reflect on our human condition. However, you will notice that there is no mention that, in addition, all their progeny will be born with original sin; it is not there.

I contend that the concept of original sin is not valid, and I am not at all alone in this. In fact, Adam and Eve never existed, and even the story about them does not suggest that humans are born with ‘original sin’ from Adam. However, without original sin other aspects of some theologies are in deep trouble!

John Calvin’s Emphasis on Original Sin

The idea of original sin does not come from the Eden story but from remarks Paul made in Romans 5:

If, by the trespass of the one man [Adam], death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!…

For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.

During the Reformation John Calvin put great emphasis on original sin; it was essential to his construct of how salvation works. English speakers capture his main points in the TULIP:

  • Total Depravity: everyone is born sinful and depraved
  • Unconditional Election: God arbitrarily chose some be saved
  • Limited Atonement: Atonement applies ONLY to those God elected
  • Irresistible Grace: those God elected cannot resist salvation
  • Perseverance of the Saints: the elected will persevere to the end

To soften the appearance of arbitrariness and unfairness some Calvinists suggest that this simply communicates God’s sovereignty; but I think the entire construct is severely mistaken. But the point is that Calvin’s concept requires that Adam be an historical figure, the ancestor to all of us, and the source of original sin.

Without original sin, Calvin’s construct falls apart like a house of cards; and without an historical Adam there is no original sin. In addition, Calvin’s theory of salvation, Penal Substitutionary Atonement, also falls if there is no Adam and no original sin.

Evolution – The Real Source of ‘Sin’

Sin—what is sin? Legalists often define sin as transgressing God’s many rules, but others see sin as our tendency to hurt other people—and even ourselves. Sometimes this sin against other people is very clear and severe, such as in murder, rape, and theft; but it also includes taking advantage of people, manipulating them, and causing psychological damage. We hurt each other in all sorts of ways.

Why do we do this? Why do we treat each other so badly? I suggest that we are not alone in this; if we look at the animal world it is easy to see the constant hostility and violence. This is driven by the need for food, survival, and the protection of family and territory; and those who succeed embody survival traits like self-centeredness, preservation, and favoring one’s group over others. In evolution, those who survive tend to pass their survival traits to their descendants, so the animal world is a very dangerous place; rarely do animals in the wild die of old age.

Well, it is nice to think we are far above the animals—and we are; we have developed a large measure of empathy, compassion, and care for others. But our human history and current experience still includes a lot of violence and oppression due to our perceived need for survival and security and to our self-centered survival traits of power, greed, and violence. We acquired these traits by evolution.

Because of evolution are we then nothing more than animals? No!; this is not the case. We are more than animals in very significant ways, and the creation story itself suggests this very point. We will talk about that next time.

Articles in this series: Evolution and Fundamentalism

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48 Responses to Evolution and Original Sin: How Calvin’s TULIP Falls Apart

  1. Thomas Harp says:

    In a mild defense of Calvin, I note that Augustine really accentuated the doctrine of original sin. More to the point, I suggest that Calvin is actually advocating the same position as this writer. Note that Calvin’s discussion of predestination is located, NOT in the first book of the Institutes, which is his dostrine of God. Instead note that it is located in his third book of the Institutes where he primarily focuses on our human perception or experience of God. Thus Calvin is not saying predestination is the way God works, but it is the way we perceive God working, since it is obvious and inexplicable that some believe and some do not. Nevertheless, I am in agreement with the writer that the doctrine of original sin is not helpful.

    Liked by 2 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Thomas, I agree that it was Augustine, not Calvin, that first popularized original sin; but I wanted to focus on the larger picture of Calvin’s theological construct on salvation. Many people consider themselves to be Calvinists but not many call themselves Augustinians.

      You state: “Calvin is not saying predestination is the way God works, but it is the way we perceive God working, since it is obvious and inexplicable that some believe and some do not.” This might be the case, I don’t know, but all the Calvinists I have met or read seem to accept predestination as a fact.

      However, I am very interested in your suggestion that “Calvin is actually advocating the same position as this writer” (presumably me). I have difficulty seeing Calvin’s position being similar to mine. Can you clarify? I would really like to see the point(s) of contact.

      Thanks for the contribution.

      Like

      • Thomas Harp says:

        I need to do some homework to honor your request; but I will do that and get back to you. Let me just say that I consider T.U.L.I.P. to be a distortion of Calvin’s thought based on what I’ve read. It comes from the Canons of Dort which was a Calvinist response to the Arminian controversy.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thomas Harp says:

          I think Calvin would agree with you that the Adam and Eve narrative is not an historical narrative; but rather it seems to be an excellent reflection on the human condition. Why do I think that? Because I think Calvin pondered and accentuated not the human condition, but God’s gracious response to it.

          Calvin took the Bible seriously. I can’t say whether or not Calvin understood the narrative to be historical or metaphorical. However, I really think that is a modernist distinction. I think we can take a story seriously without believing for a moment that it is historical. I agree with John Dominic Crossan, “My point… is not that those ancient people told literal stories and we are now smart enough to take them symbolically, but that they told them symbolically and we are now dumb enough to take them literally.”

          Taking the story seriously means reflecting on the human condition that we know is in some inexplicable way flawed (sinful). It is not to say that sin is passed along from parent to child, but to acknowledge that we humans know that something is inherently wrong with us, with our parents, with our neighbors, with us. In your post you ask why we treat each other so badly. You go on to say, “This is driven by the need for food, survival, and protection of family and territory,” etc. I agree. What you have described, if you use religious language, is the result of sin. Self-centeredness, favoring one’s group over others, etc., are for lack of a better way of saying it, secular descriptions of sinful behavior that result from our serving lesser gods than God.

          Yet God loves us! That’s at the root of Calvin’s theology. Calvin was not interested in demeaning humans. He acknowledged the human condition and marveled at God’s graciousness towards us, though we did not deserve God’s grace. It’s really that simple.
          I disagree that he sought to develop a construct of how salvation works. As I said, Calvin took the Bible seriously. Substitutionary atonement is biblical. It is not the only biblical theory of atonement. There are at least three others. But Calvin did focus on that one.
          Shirley Guthrie, in his book, “Christian Doctrine,” wrote: “In the seventeenth century the sense of joyous excitement of a new discovery of the gospel gave way to bitter arguments… It now seemed necessary not simply to confess the new insights of the Reformation but to define them very precisely and defend them against other views.” (P. 33) I think if you read Calvin you will find in his work that sense of joyous excitement of new discovery of the gospel. It was those who came after him that stripped the joy away and substituted for that joy the bitter arguments among various traditions.

          In the Institutes 2.16.3 Calvin writes: “All of us… have in ourselves something deserving of God’s hatred… But because the Lord wills not to lose what is his in us, out of his own kindness he still finds something to love… Thus he is moved by pure and freely given love of us to receive us into grace.” I hear in that not condemnation of humans, but an overwhelming sense of how greatly God loves us.

          Regarding atonement itself, Calvin again focuses on God’s love. Quoting Augustine in Institutes 2.16.4, he writes, “God’s love, is incomprehensible and unchangeable. For it was not after we were reconciled to him through the blood of his Son that he began to love us. Rather he has loved us before the world was created, that we also might be his sons along with his only-begotten Son-before we became anything at all. The fact that we were reconciled through Christ’s death must not be understood as if his Son reconciled us to him that he might now begin to love those whom he had hated. Rather, we have already been reconciled to him who loves us, with whom we were enemies on account of sin…Therefore, he loved us even when we practiced enmity toward him and committed wickedness.”

          Calvin took human sinfulness seriously, yes. But his primary focus was on God’s love and amazing grace. It is that focus on God’s love that I believe characterizes Calvin’s theology.

          Liked by 1 person

          • sheila0405 says:

            This notion of total depravity just by being human, & we deserve punishment for being human is revolting to me. This irresistible grace simultaneous with being predestined for Hell is a monstrous doctrine. There is no freedom or peace. Until the end of time, you can’t even ever be sure you’re truly redeemed. Calvinism & the Reformed churches who claim his name are houses of wickedness towards others.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Thomas Harp says:

            While I agree with you that the doctrine of total human depravity is harmful, based on your reply to my previous post, I’m not sure I did a very good job of explaining what I understand of Calvin’s theology. First, we must distinguish Calvin from Calvinists who have seriously distorted his teaching by taking much out of context. Calvin’s understanding of depravity arose from his consideration of God’s goodness. Quite frankly human goodness can’t measure up when compared to God’s goodness. That in no way suggests there is no good in us, despite some of the prayers written by his followers. It’s just that even our best intentions can sometimes go bad. Again, that does not mean we can’t do good works, but it does mean we need to be humble about our own goodness. When we got too full of ourselves, too confident of our own goodness, we can do much harm. Despite that, Calvin insisted that God loves us and is gracious toward us. His emphasis was not on God’s anger or judgment, although he surely didn’t ignore that. His emphasis was always on God’s goodness and God’s amazing love for us.
            I do not consider myself an expert on Calvin. I know there are many who have studied his works more than I. I have, however, been amazed that in reading his works I found him to be a much more humane and loving person that I had been led to believe.

            Liked by 1 person

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Thomas: “I think Calvin would agree with you that the Adam and Eve narrative is not an historical narrative.” This is a surprising statement. I am not a deep student of Calvin, but I would never have suspected this from what I do know of him.

            And thanks for sharing Crossan’s statement; I really like that: “My point… is not that those ancient people told literal stories and we are now smart enough to take them symbolically, but that they told them symbolically and we are now dumb enough to take them literally.” I think that is right on target.

            Your defense of Calvin’s theology is interesting. I am not enough of a Calvin scholar to refute your detail, but it doesn’t seem to reflect the understanding of other Calvinists I have read or spoken with. Are you saying that the TULIP does not represent Calvin’s thought?

            Like

          • Thomas Harp says:

            T.U.L.I.P. falls more under the label, Hyper Calvinism. It arose in response to the Arminian controversy. The roots of T.U.L.I.P. are present in Calvin’s writings, yes. However, I believe it takes Calvin’s thought to an extreme that he would not agree with. Part of the problem, I believe, arises out of the failure of his followers to consider the context of Calvin’s writing on Predestination. As I mentioned earlier, Calvin did NOT write about Predestination in Book 1 of the Institutes which is his doctrine of God. He addressed it in Book 3 where he focuses on human perception of how a god works. Thus because of that context Calvin is not actually saying God predestines humans; he is saying that’s the way we perceive God at work. Just as Paul was troubled by the fact that not all Israel believed Jesus is the Messiah, Calvin sought to explain the fact that not all humans embraced the love of God we receive in Christ. Predestination was his way of explaining that. Yet, he humbly acknowledged that we could never penetrate the mystery of God. “It is not right for man unrestrainedly to search out things that the Lord has willed to be hid in himself.” Further, he wrote, “Let us not be ashamed to be ignorant of something in this matter, wherein there is a certain learned ignorance. Rather, let us willingly refrain from inquiring into a kind of knowledge, the ardent desire for which is both foolish and dangerous, nay even deadly.” (3.21.2)
            I actually disagree with Calvin on Predestination. I think he and others stopped reading too soon. If you take Romans 8:29-30 seriously, predestination has to do with the Spirit working through everything that happens to us, good and bad, to make us over into the image of Christ. It’s not about who gets saved and who doesn’t. It’s about the presence of God’s spirit in our everyday life, creating and recreating us into more Christlike persons. The fact that I don’t see Christ staring at me in the mirror each morning is testimony to just how much more growing I have to do.

            Liked by 1 person

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Sheila, I feel very much as you do. I think Calvin’s understanding of sin and salvation is horrid and ungodly.

            Like

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Thomas, you have certainly given me a lot of new information about Calvin. It doesn’t change my point in the article, however. If you are correct about Calvin, then what I should have discussed was problems with the theology of current-day Calvinism rather than Calvin himself. In fact, until I do more research on it that’s what I will do in future articles and conversations.

            Did you read Calvin’s entire Institutes?

            Like

          • Thomas Harp says:

            Yes, as part of my Doctor of Ministry program at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary I read the Institutes as well as some of his commentaries, sermons and letters. I think you are correct in addressing contemporary Calvinism. I am quite disturbed by what I hear and see of it. I think it is much more extreme than Calvin, himself.

            Liked by 1 person

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Thomas, I am impressed! That is a lot of reading!

            Like

  2. Call me Dave says:

    I have heard it said that humans are no more debased from having come from lower animals than the wine Jesus created at Cana was debased for having once been water.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Bill Burnette says:

    I’ve always had a problem with the concept of original sin, because to me it seems that would mean God created human beings to fail… so then to blame them for this propensity for failure would seem to me to be very un-god-like. As you mentioned, there has to be some propensity for self-preservation or we could not survive. So I’ve come to believe that evil, as it is manifest in the way human beings mistreat other human beings, is basically unbridled selfishness, along with a total lack of empathy; e.g. the pedophile has a sexual attraction to children, and seeks to satisfy that need due to their selfish interests with no regard for how it will affect the child.

    Liked by 2 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Bill, I have very similar problems with original sins to what you mentioned–and let me say: you expressed them very well. I also really like your thoughts on unbridled selfishness plus lack of empathy. I see it around me all the time. I think you are right on target.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. ANTHONY PAUL says:

    Your discussion on the nature of “sin” brings to mind a story I once heard about former president Calvin Coolidge… “Silent Cal” as he was called because of his sparse use of words. It happened on one particular Sunday morning as he was coming home from Sunday Services:

    A reporter asks: “What was today’s sermon about, Mr. President?”
    Coolidge answers: “Sin.”

    Reporter: “What did the preacher have to say about it?”
    Coolidge: “He’s against it.”

    And with that, the interview was over.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. ANTHONY PAUL says:

    It’s a very huge intellectual leap from denying the historical nature of the myth of The Garden of Eden to saying that man is not a fallen creature… some say, “sinful creature” others talk about “original sin”…. it all sounds about the same to me. Like all myths, the story of Adam and Eve is telling us all something about the nature of the relationship between God and man especially our loss of innocence after “the fall”. I do not believe that God created man as sinful — that reflects the innocence part of the story. That also addresses the point made by many that He may have created us to fail. That would only be believable if not for the matter of free will. God gave Adam a choice… and the man and his mate both chose to leave God’s protective umbrella whereby they would gain greater knowledge (of good and evil)…. they were setting out on their own without the comforts of the safety which comes from certainty and protection. In other words they chose Freedom above happiness; this is the age old existentialist view found throughout literature. We are Adam and Eve insofar as we all have to make the same choices every moment of every single day — choices for good or for evil because now we have come to know both.

    To say that the actions of both Adam and Eve in eating of the poisoned fruit did not lead to the spiritual death of all who followed is to deny the very essence of the story itself. By its very nature, a myth has to have universal applications or else it fails to stir the senses. If we eliminate the aspects of “fallenness” from the story it becomes something other than what it has been understood to mean and that destroys any further possibilities for meaningful discussion.

    Bottom line: because of the myth of Adam, is man capable of “good”? Definitely!! Is man capable of “evil”? Absolutely!! We can choose to draw closer to The Source of Creation in the former case or see ourselves as the center of creation in the latter. “The fault lies not in our stars… but in ourselves that we are [human].”

    Liked by 2 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      “By its very nature, a myth has to have universal applications or else it fails to stir the senses.” Anthony, I totally agree. This aspect of the story reflects on our human experience of alienation as well as our difficulties in life. I think we can all relate to that.

      I also agree that mankind is prone to bad, even evil, behaviors toward other people. There is no getting around that; simple observation establishes it. Did we at some point become the way we are? Was there a time when we were pure and perfect instead (like Adam is said to have been)? Of course not; we were born with these inclinations so, in a sense, we do have ‘original sin’–but it is not because of Adam’s fall from purity but because of the genetic and behavioral process of our survival-oriented evolution.

      “To say that the actions of both Adam and Eve in eating of the poisoned fruit did not lead to the spiritual death of all who followed is to deny the very essence of the story itself.” I agree that the Eden story acknowledges death as a factor of our human condition, and it does so by positing an imagined contrasting time when death was NOT part of our condition–something we all yearn for.

      I believe ‘sin’, our tendency to hurt others, arises from aspects of our evolution that helped us to survive to this point; but I also think our evolution has introduced a greater measure of empathy and compassion among humans. So I can affirm your answer: “Is man capable of “good”? Definitely!!” And that, I think, is what we all need to work on developing.

      Liked by 2 people

      • ANTHONY PAUL says:

        Tim, I believe that any differences we might have are purely semantic in nature and not substantial. However, I don’t believe that Adam was ever created as a perfect human being… I don’t equate innocence with perfection, even in children. Once we factor in freedom of choice I believe that by definition man is capable of going bad at any time. God could have created a perfect human but that would be the same as saying He created a perfect robot or piece of machinery.

        At the end of six days of creation, God declared everything to be “good”, He did not say any of it was “perfect”. Interestingly (though a bit off topic, however) I recently read an article discussing this very issue as regards Biblical inerrancy… The writer, opposed to inerrancy, noted that evangelicals often refer to 2 Timothy 3:16 where we are told that “…all Scripture is God-inspired…” or God-breathed and therefore must be perfect and without error. The writer then asks the question, “Do you know what else was God-inspired? The answer is Adam… where God breathed into him the breath of life.” He then goes on to show that no where does it say that Adam was ever created perfect. You can see the implications of what he is saying… I won’t belabor the point… I only mention it because it is often a very big part of what we talk about here at JW/OB.

        Liked by 3 people

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Anthony, this is good stuff. I particularly liked: “God could have created a perfect human but that would be the same as saying He created a perfect robot or piece of machinery.”

          I don’t equate innocence with perfection either. We are all (hopefully) continuing to improve in our treatment of people with empathy, compassion, and care as we contemplate God’s love for us and grow from Jesus’ teaching and example. All of us can improve, but I don’t think any of us will ever become perfect.

          Like

  6. consultgtf says:

    Thanks, If one mans sins bought death! but because of other MAN, we are saved? what is average age of death, now and before 2000 years?

    Like

  7. Bill Burnette says:

    Certainly the propensity for good and evil is in mankind, and it is up to us through our free will to choose. I just think it has always been- it’s how we were created from the start. The idea of being “fallen” seems to indicate mankind was originally only “good”- like he could walk perfectly well, but then he fell, so from then on he could not walk as well. Humans have always had the possibility of falling when walking- depending on how much attention we paid to our path….

    Liked by 3 people

  8. pvcann says:

    Absoloutely agree. For me its a negative and on my darker days I call it boat anchor theology.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. michaeleeast says:

    Very interesting!
    The facts of life are not the result of punishment.
    God does not punish us.
    They are merely our response to the laws of nature.
    And I would suggest that the root of evil is fear.
    The world is abundant – it produces enough for everyone.
    But some hoard out of fear.
    So others starve.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. newtonfinn says:

    Back when I was in college (in what seems like another world), the great theologian Abraham Heschel delivered a series of lectures in which he made the provocative statement that the best way to contemplate God is to focus on the mystery of time. I’ve been time-obsessed ever since, reading about the subject from both philosophical and scientific perspectives. If, as some in both camps suggest, time has no more objective existence than does space (both being merely subjective and relative modes of perception), then much of our customary thinking about God, creation, sin, free will, salvation, etc, are more deeply metaphorical than we surmise. When Kierkegaard said that “God does not exist; He is eternal,” or that “God does not think; He creates,” he anticipated the modern understanding that the entire universe (or universes)–including past, present, and future–exists simultaneously as one indivisible NOW, sort of like a CD with many songs. We experience our lives sequentially, find ourselves existing and moving forward within one song on the CD, but all songs are there, always, playing harmoniously in the mind of God. While he shies away from theism, Dr. Robert Lanza’s work on Biocentrism provides an accessible door to this kind of metaphysical exploration that attempts to transcend linear thinking, which may lead not only to wrong answers but to wrong questions (the kind with which Calvin tormented himself in coming up with TULIP). Predestination, with its components of original sin and election, strikes me as a crude concept, the result of a misguided attempt to apply linear logic to higher things. Right now, perhaps, for God if not for us, Eve is handing that apple to Adam, a tribe of slaves is fleeing Egypt, Jesus is dying and rising, Christendom is spreading and declining, the New Jerusalem is dawning, and the lion is sleeping peacefully with the lamb.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Newton, I agree that linear thinking (as well as spatial thinking) are big limitations on our understanding of reality. How to transcend that I don’t know–but I think we need to be careful in putting too much confidence in such matters.

      Like

      • newtonfinn says:

        I would go further and say we should put NO confidence in metaphysical speculation, whether scientific or philosophical. Jesus took the world as he experienced it, and so should we. How can one base one’s faith on a metaphysical model that might change tomorrow? But I do think it’s important–and liberating–to realize that time and space are merely the modes in which we experience, not components of some objective physical edifice underlying the universe. The failure to recognize this leads to the kind of dead-end linear thinking exemplified by Calvin’s TULIP. Schweitzer said it suffices to know that what we experience are manifestations of the mysterious will to exist, which meets us in nature as awesome creative/destructive force and in our hearts as the God of love. Once we understand that, Schweitzer suggests, “we can let time and space go to the devil” and concentrate on following Jesus .

        Liked by 2 people

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Newton, yeah that sounds about right. I think metaphysical speculation is fun and mind expanding, but I would put no confidence in the results of the speculation nor let it affect what I believe to be true.

          Liked by 1 person

  11. fiddlrts says:

    To me, the metaphoric fall, in light of evolution, seems to be connected with the whole idea of “knowledge of good and evil.” To a mere animal, of course, there is no “good” or “evil,” but rather instinct. The lack of the ability to reason, think, or understand beyond ones’ immediate experience precludes moral responsibility.

    To humans, on the other hand, with the knowledge that good and evil are possible, we have the responsibility to choose good and reject evil. (And, as you put it, it has never been about arbitrary rules, but about harming others. After all, the immediate result of the fall was the first murder, followed by increasing violence and selfishness until the Flood. Which God stated was necessary because of man’s violence and injustice toward other humans.

    So, in the evolutionary sense, we somehow evolved to where we could choose good or evil, but we evolved before we were capable of consistently choosing good. And thus, we war against our animal instincts – our tendency to sin against others. Just my way of understanding it.

    But this is why I haven’t been able to remain in the Evangelical tradition. The theology of the fall is all about violation of seemingly arbitrary rules – and practice follows belief. If empathy and the Law of Love have nothing to do with sin anymore (and in practice, they don’t seem to for Evangelicals these days), then faith becomes increasingly about enforcing arbitrary rules on others.

    Liked by 2 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Fiddlrts, I really like your statement: “To a mere animal, of course, there is no “good” or “evil,” but rather instinct. The lack of the ability to reason, think, or understand beyond ones’ immediate experience precludes moral responsibility. To humans, on the other hand, with the knowledge that good and evil are possible, we have the responsibility to choose good and reject evil.”

      I think it is right on target.

      Like

  12. sheila0405 says:

    I agree; I also think the doctrine of total human depravity is harmful.

    Liked by 1 person

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  19. kertsen says:

    If by original sin you mean we have a moral nature then it is an accurate estimate of everyone since we cannot always obey our moral duties but seek pleasure and enjoyment. Calvin was so religiously obsessed that anything short of heavenly perfection was depravity. Most people of common sense know human nature is flawed and the state of the world is all the evidence laid before us.
    Once we take the crazy concept of an ever loving God out of the equation the problem dissolves ; we need to strive for improvement not perfection . We need to check the effect of our actions on other people and on the world in general .

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Well said, Kertsen! I think Calvin was mistaken about ‘original sin’; but I really like your statement: “Most people of common sense know human nature is flawed and the state of the world is all the evidence laid before us…we need to strive for improvement not perfection. We need to check the effect of our actions on other people and on the world in general.”

      Very well said!

      Like

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