Many Christians no longer believe, or do not take as literally, the story in the book of Genesis of Adam & Eve and the first sin, the original sin that caused human kind to lose favor in God’s eyes. And yet without this story the whole foundation of Christianity and the necessity of having Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior would crumble and fall.
I once had a woman I loved and respected say something that totally threw me, back when I was a Christian. I was trying to tell her about the point of accepting Jesus into her heart, that only by doing this would her sins be forgiven. Evelyn said back to me “I’ve never sinned.”
It wasn’t until I became an atheist that I was able to grasp what she meant. “Sin,” is a religious concept. A notion that was invented to make religion and saviors necessary, and us dependent on them in order to get right again with a super-being in the sky so we can go to heaven.
Before the invention of sin it was called something else–right and wrong. You did things that infringed upon the rights of others, most of the time those things were wrong and your actions were frowned upon. Negative consequences usually happened if you were caught. You were punished, shunned, imprisoned, isolated, beaten, or killed. Then laws were invented as a guide to help us know what was right and what was wrong, though to most of us these things were obvious. Most people know it when they’re doing something wrong. Do something wrong and there are consequences, even if just the guilty feeling we get inside when we know we’ve hurt or wronged someone.. So we might go to that person and ask their forgiveness, to help ourselves feel better. Or do something extra nice to someone as a way to make things right.
With the invention of sin, however, came the notion that we are punished further even beyond our deaths (mixing fear of the unknown with a natural process like death and turning it into something to live in terror of) for whatever wrongful actions we commit during our life–and, that we are born already guilty of something. The sins not only of our parents but their parents and their parents and their parents, all the way back to Adam and Eve.
But here’s the rub. Isn’t God supposed to forgive sins? When we ask him to forgive us, doesn’t that wipe the slate clean? So then, if my parents were sinners and repented and asked for forgiveness, why am I then born into sin (according to Christianity), carrying the burden of my parent’s sins? Or for that matter, if Adam and Eve, after receiving their terrible punishment, repented before their deaths and asked for forgiveness, by the burning of say, an ox and sacrifice of 1000 bushels of their best crops, why weren’t they forgiven if God forgives sins? Why did we all have to inherit their sin? Or even if they didn’t repent, if their children or grandchildren or great grandchildren repented and asked for forgiveness, why then did we still nevertheless, inherit these sins that were supposedly forgiven, all the way back to Adam and Eve?
Or ok, let’s just say no one was forgiven of their sins until after Jesus came along. Well then, if that’s the case, then the slate was wiped clean–that old sin committed by Adam and Eve, the moment the first ancestor of mine asked for forgiveness after accepting the Lord. That means I did not inherit that original sin. And if my parents before me asked for forgiveness before I was born, I did not inherit any sins from them either. I was born sinless. A pure and innocent creature and what nature made me to be. Either that or really God does not forgive, and each new generation has to ask again for those same old sins to be forgiven, in addition to any new ones they commit.
Why would any just or fair or loving God punish me for the sins committed by, say, my grandfather? Does that sound fair? Or why would any loving God punish me for the sins of the first man and woman, which, hey, I didn’t have any control of what they did so why should I be born carrying any blame for what they did?
I cannot respect a God who would put blame on people’s heads for sins their parents or grandparents or great great great great grandparents committed.
Is it fair, for example, when black Americans hate white Americans just because our not- so-distant white ancestors believed that slavery was ordained by God (because the bible says so) and were using that as justification for putting shackles on their people, their ancestors taken against their will from Africa? I didn’t and don’t own anyone. I don’t approve of or agree with slavery. I find the whole idea of one race thinking itself superior to another reprehensible. Yet, still some black people might not like me or feel comfortable around me because of a way of thinking accepted by society back from my great-grandfather’s generation. How is this fair to me? And how is it any more fair if the one blaming me for something I didn’t do and would never wish to do–is a perfect and “loving” God? I don’t think it’s any more fair. That’s not my definition of what fairness is.
This is why I don’t agree with the notion of original sin, or the notion of sin at all. I think we are responsible only for the actions we ourselves make during our lives, and depending on what actions we decide to do, be they right or wrong, determines what consequences we must face. During this life, which I believe is all there is.
I also think that if there is a God, and we are his creation, why is it that he holds no responsibility for making flawed creations? Obviously Lucifer was flawed because he fell, and became Satan. We were made flawed because Satan was able to tempt us, implying we were made with some weakness in our character. A weakness that God had to have known about while he created us, and before he put us in the garden knowing perfectly well his “enemy” was hiding there.
If you build a boat deliberately with a hole in it, put it on a lake, leave it alone for awhile and then come back to find it had sunk, would you be disappointed and sad and angry with the boat? Would you yell and scream and curse the boat for sinking? Punish it? Break it into pieces and burn them? So why does it make sense for God to punish his creation for the very flaws he, our creator, gave us?