Rationalizing Original Sin
There are a number of problems with the Adam & Eve story in Genesis. In the story, Adam & Eve eat the fruit from the tree and that kicks off the fall of man. Because they sinned, all their descendants(the entire human race) inherit a sort of corrupted humanity. Without further action, all humans would be damned to hell because of the sins of Adam & Eve. But with Jesus’ sacrifice, the sins are all wiped away and people can be cleansed of their original sin.
So, say you take this story literally. According to our current genetic evidence, there’s no point in human history where our population ever got lower than 10,000 people. We evolved together as a population from an early form of ape. So that’s a problem. You can’t take the story literally and accept the scientific evidence at the same time. This was actually talked about briefly on NPR this morning. I recommend it:
There are a number of other problems from a science perspective, too. God creates light before he creates the sun, birds and whales before reptiles and insects, and flowering plants before any animals. That’s not the order science tells us things happened.
Not to mention, Science tells us there were many animals who lived only during different periods in our Earth’s history. The biblical account has all animals being created at one time. That’s totally different from the evolutionary account. Were there dinosaurs in the Garden of Eden? If so, why don’t we see human fossils in the same rock layers with dinosaur fossils?
Ok, fine, why not just take the Genesis account figuratively? It’s just a nice story to read. One problem: What about original sin? If Adam & Eve was just a story, then why did Jesus sacrifice himself? We wouldn’t have original sin without them. Did he die for nothing? Do we then not need to be saved? As you can see, taking this story figuratively totally messes up one of the core foundations of Christianity.
Another point: Why did God have to send Jesus to Earth to cleanse man’s sin? He’s all-powerful, couldn’t he have just forgiven us? It doesn’t make sense. And how can one man take on the responsibility for another’s mistake? If I murder someone, can my friend go to jail for me? I wouldn’t exactly consider that justice.
In fact, I think the entire idea of getting saved from original sin undermines personal responsibility. I think people should own up to their own problems. You know the classic problem. Murderers and child molesters get into heaven because they were saved before they died, but really good people are in hell because they weren’t saved. Not exactly what I’d call justice. It doesn’t even make sense as a moral system.
(Image taken from The Thinking Atheist)