Dissecting Original Sin

I was brought up on the catechism of the Roman Catholic church. I attended parochial schools where I was instructed in religious studies from grade one into my freshman year at a Jesuit university.

One of the teachings I absorbed as doctrine is this: every human is born bearing the stain of "Original Sin", which sin was defined as Adam's disobedience to God's command. Later in life, after being saved and born again, I encountered the same thinking in the many Protestant churches I attended.

I did not comprehend firstly, why all of humankind was cursed because of the choice made by one person, and secondly, why a sacrifice of blood was required to expiate sins and transgressions.

I understand that "The Law" was not codified until given to Moses. However, the existence of the law prior to Moses is evident in the judgment condemnation of Cain for slaying his brother Abel. In the passage [Genesis 4:2-15] recounting the event, Cain fears he will be killed by others, so obviously, there were other people on earth who would kill Cain. The other people are a matter of considerable interest in that, (1) they are said to exist, and (2) they would have a knowledge of Cain's action and consider executing him to be the appropriate recompense. But I digress; Original Sin is not "The Law" although the law must have existed. Without a law, there can be no transgression thereof.

Original Sin is something else.

We assume our various English language translations faithfully reveal the original scriptures, and assuming the original scriptures are true.

(Genesis 2:15-17 New King James Version. 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.- text online at biblegateway.com ) Other versions read essentially the same.

"Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die."

This passage reveals that God did three things:
(1) put the man in the garden,
(2) commanded him to not eat of the particular tree, and
(3) gave the man the REASON WHY he should not eat of the tree, explaining the consequences.

I find it important that God did not prevent the man from eating of the tree. By the way, it matters not whether the tree was literal or figurative ... the results are the same.

We know that Eve was created next and she had a confrontation with the serpent as revealed in Genesis 3:1-4 New International Version.

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?"

The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,

but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.' "

"You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."

It turns out that what the serpent said was part truth and part lie. They did in fact have their eyes opened to the knowledge of good and evil. That part was true. They also died. That part of the serpent's claim was false. In the translations I've examined, the serpent is portrayed as a crafty animal, not as a manifestation of Satan, Lucifer or other name associated with the being we call the Devil.

After eating the fruit they were confronted by God in one of His manifestations and the woman blamed the serpent, the man blamed the woman and by inference he blamed God. God blamed them all and cursed them in various ways. He expelled them from the good life in the garden and blocked their return.

Genesis 3:22 New International Version
And the LORD God said, "The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever."

This makes me wonder whether disease and pestilence were already abroad on the planet with Adam and Eve enjoying protection by eating from the Tree of Life ? Or, did disease and pestilence arrive following their expulsion ? No matter.

Our fore parents' return to the garden was blocked to prevent them having both eternal life and the knowledge of good and evil. We may assume from the texts that prior to eating forbidden fruit they had ready access to the fruit of the tree of eternal life. They were allowed to eat from every tree in the garden, including the tree of life, prohibited solely from eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

For His [Their] own reasons, God did not permit eternal beings to possess the knowledge of good and evil. It is the Creator's prerogative to establish any rules It so desires and to perform any and all acts of any description with regard to what It has created, including destroying it.

[As a being made in God's image, I am empowered to create and destroy any artifact or product of my mind. I personally conclude that all power and knowledge, by definition, rests in God, therefore He has nothing to lose or gain by always speaking truth. Humans lie to avoid or gain something. God has no such motivation. ]

The Essence of Original Sin

From what we have seen, I deduce that the first sin was not as commonly held, one of disobedience by eating the fruit. No. The first sin occurred when the woman BELIEVED the serpent's lie rather than the word of God who said, "... for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die."

The history of the Chosen People Israel is replete with instances of failures resulting from unbelief. Unbelief is the root, heart and soul of the human condition. It is as prevalent today as it was in the garden.

This passage from the Book of Ezra 15:4 Revised Standard Version, says it all "For every unbeliever shall die in his unbelief."

Two passages from the Book of John, quoting Jesus, sum up the issue.

John 3:14-19 New King James Version 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

John 5:24
"Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.

Original Sin = Unbelief

How does one repent of such sin ? Simply by believing.

I believe that when God told Adam he would surely die, He referred not only to physical death of the body but also of the spirit being God put in the man's body when He formed him from the earth. It is not unreasonable to think that in the next stage of life without my body, I will have full access to the Tree of Life (in the spiritual sense), will live forever, and will have no knowledge of evil. I invite you to be there enjoying that eternal life. The price of admission is small. You have only to BELIEVE.

September 2007

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