Tuesday , July 23 2019
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The Garden of Eden and Original Sin

Summary:
Here are two standard critiques of Christianity: Why does a good God allow evil?The doctrine of “original sin” is monstrous–how can the actions of Adam and Eve possibly affect the “nature” of their descendants?The other day an idea popped into my head (I would say God gave it to me but I realize opinions may vary) that seems to solve both problems in a very elegant and satisfying way. First, let’s review what actually happened in the Garden (Genesis 1: 15): 15 Then the Lord God took [d]the man and put him in the garden of Eden to [e]tend and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of

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Here are two standard critiques of Christianity:

  1. Why does a good God allow evil?
  2. The doctrine of “original sin” is monstrous–how can the actions of Adam and Eve possibly affect the “nature” of their descendants?

The other day an idea popped into my head (I would say God gave it to me but I realize opinions may vary) that seems to solve both problems in a very elegant and satisfying way.

First, let’s review what actually happened in the Garden (Genesis 1: 15):

15 Then the Lord God took [d]the man and put him in the garden of Eden to [e]tend and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 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[f] shall surely die.”

Now in the Garden, life was bliss. There was no suffering. Adam and Eve had childlike innocence.

But they wanted to possess the knowledge of good and evil. So they ate of the fruit that bestowed it.

Now–and here’s the part that just occurred to me the other day, even though it’s pretty obvious–suppose that in order for a human to truly understand evil, you have to experience it? And I don’t just mean you have to suffer at the hands of evil, but you have to be in its grip?

Then everything else would follow. God allows evil in the world, and indeed the fundamental nature of humans born since that fateful decision has been in bondage to sin (but still with the remnant of the divine origin).

God would have preferred that this didn’t happen. He explicitly warned them, “If you seek that knowledge, it will kill you.” But they disobeyed Him, they chose the knowledge of good and evil, and so He gave it to them.

Even so, God designed the structure of the universe such that DESPITE their disobedience, He could still achieve humanity’s salvation. So now humans definitely understand evil, but they also have been rescued from it by Jesus.

What’s wrong with this explanation? I realize it seems pretty basic but it almost knocked me over when it first occurred to me.

Robert Murphy
Christian, Austrian economist, and libertarian theorist. Research Prof at Texas Tech and author of *Choice*. Paul Krugman's worst nightmare.

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