The impossibility of "original sin"

We’re all familiar with the story of “original sin” the first sin which stains the souls of every child from birth. But the entire story is not only ridiculous, it’s logically impossible.

The story goes that Adam and Eve sinned the first sin when they ate the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. As the story goes God told Adam and Even that they could not eat from the tree. He warned them that they would surely die if they did. They did it anyway, disobeying God and, thus, the original sin was committed. It’s all pretty straight forward, cut and dried. Until, that is, you look at what else was going on back then.

Remember, Adam and Eve were naked in the garden, and to look upon nudity was also a sin. But they didn’t realize that they were naked until they ate the fruit, thus gaining the knowledge of good and evil, so even though they saw each other naked, which was a sin, it was not a sin for them because they didn’t know what a sin was and, thus, could not sin.

And right there is the dilemma. If they had to eat the fruit before they could gain the knowledge, and had to have the knowledge before they could commit a sin then how could eating the fruit have, itself, been a sin? My JW friend answered that by saying, “Because God told them it was.” But no, he didn’t. He said not to eat it. He said that they would die if they did. He never said that it was a sin. But there was certainly no reason to doubt the word of God. Or was there?

You see, God, being tired after a long work week, wanted a night out on the town. But he could not leave his beloved creation alone in perfection because if he did that nothing bad could possibly happen to screw up his perfect plan. So he had to find a babysitter. Gabriel was out. He was the designated driver. Michael couldn’t do it. It wasn’t a party without Michael. And either one of those in charge would have just made perfection more perfect anyway. So God finally settled on Satan to watch his beloved creation. What could possibly go wrong?

God is no more out of the driveway when Satan starts lying to God’s new creation. He tells them that the fruit is good and that they will not die. Given that God had just said the opposite one would be forgiven for assuming that Adam and Eve (or was it Steve? I forget) might have some misgivings about this information. But remember, they had not yet eaten the fruit, so they did not know what a sin was. This means that they did not know what a lie was. They simply did not have the tools to understand that Satan was lying to them because, without that knowledge, they would have had no concept of deception. So how would they have perceived what Satan was telling them? Given the understanding at their disposal they could have only possibly perceived it as “new information”. God said A and A was true. But then Satan said B. Not understanding the concept of a lie, B was also true. Both things were true, yet they conflicted. So the newest information is true right now while the older information was true at the time.

So the concept of original sin is twice impossible. Not that any of you here ever doubted that, and most sane Christians take Genesis as little more than a nice story anyway. But for Bible literalists it’s just one more thing they have to avoid thinking about too much. Remember, as a Bible literalist, if you disprove one tiny detail then it’s all wrong, which is the source of their warped understanding of how science works and the reason they believe that if they can find a tiny flaw with the theory of evolution the entire theory must be thrown out and replaced with “God did it”.

Well, there you go. I never considered all that before. We were lied to before we knew what a lie was, and thus committed a sin before we knew what sin was, and then we were cursed by God (who lied to us 1st, since Adam and Eve did not die as God said they would).

It was a virtual set-up. A set up when we had no ability to detect deceit.

Oh my. It just occurred to me that God may be a Republican. He sure lies like one.

Technically God didn’t lie. Man was immortal before eating the fruit. God never said they would drop dead on the spot, just that they would die, and they did eventually die, which they would not have had they not eaten the fruit. There was a sermon about that long ago and I can find no flaw in that logic.

Once they ate the fruit God should have put that tree all over the damned world. The different Christian factions can’t even agree whether or not spanking it is a sin, much less any more serious issues.

I take your point Johnny Cohran. Ok, good to know that son-of-a-who-knows-what (aka 'God") is not a liar.

I meant to say “Johnny Cochran” not “Johnny Cohran”. It was a pretty good quip, I thought, til I realized I mis-typed it.

We’re all familiar with the story of “original sin” the first sin which stains the souls of every child from birth. But the entire story is not only ridiculous, it’s logically impossible.
Well, god is supposed to be beyond logic.

in that case, perhaps god was created in your image

I in no way attempted to use logic on God here. I applied logic to the story of original sin, as it was explained to me, not to God. It was simple cause and effect logic applied to the story. You must eat the fruit before you have the knowledge. Eating the fruit is the cause, gaining the knowledge is the effect. You must have the knowledge before you are capable of sin. Having the knowledge is the cause, the ability to sin is the effect. And, of course, you can’t do a thing before you have the ability to do that thing. You can’t go to lunch at noon before noon or you won’t be going to lunch “at noon”.

It seems pretty straight forward, but it’s actually a tiny bit complex. We are actually talking not just about cause and effect, but cause and effect with a prerequisite. Action “a” causes effect “s”. Taking some action which is forbidden (a) causes sin (s). That’s cause and effect. Pretty cut and dried. But then you have the problem of how Adam and Eve looked upon each other naked and it wasn’t a sin. Okay, we can get around that by saying it takes TWO things to commit a sin. Besides the action “a” we also need the knowledge “k”. So now it’s action with knowledge “ak” causes sin “s”.

But then we have to go back to eating the fruit. Action “a” (eating the fruit) causes knowledge “k” AND sin “s”, even though we just established that “a” alone cannot cause “s”, it MUST require “ak” or all the little babies would go straight to Hell.

This was a logical analysis of the logic Christians give for original sin. They change the rules whenever convenient and this is a classic example of that. In this case you can’t sin without knowledge…EXCEPT they totally sinned to get the knowledge. And God is beyond our definitions…EXCEPT for this property of his which I am defining. The sentence “Well, god is supposed to be beyond logic.”, ironically, defines what God is supposed to be to show why he is beyond defining. It is essentially saying, “I am defining the property of God that YOU cannot define his properties!” It’s petty, though I know it is unintentional.

But IF you have some explanation for original sin and why nudity wasn’t a sin before eating the fruit, well, this logic doesn’t apply to your version. The version I am familiar with, that totally didn’t happen. The explanations given don’t make sense because Christians have to carve out a narrow exception to their own rules for themselves, as they do all the time. Nothing can come from nothing! Except for God, of course, because he’s all powerful. All magic is evil! Except for God’s, of course, because he’s all good. God is beyond our understanding! Except when it’s convenient for me to understand him, of course, because I have the one truth. They continually make these absolute rules which they demand cannot be broken AND THEN carve out narrow little examples for themselves any time those absolutes become inconvenient for them. If that’s not your version of original sin then this doesn’t apply to you.

Here’s an interesting contrast between the dogma of Western Christianity (Roman Catholic & Protestantism) and Eastern Christianity (Orthodox).


In Western Christianity, Adam and Eve committed a horrible sin in the Garden of Eden, by eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil…even though they could not comprehend good and evil until after they had eaten from the tree. Yet God became so enraged at their misbehavior that he not only made life hard and painful, made eternal hell the “default” destination of every human who would ever live from then on.

In Eastern Christianity, the story of Adam & Eve in the garden is a metaphor about the pain of the loss of innocence. When we humans (either individually, or humankind as a whole) attains a certain level of emotional and spiritual maturation, we realize that life is hard and painful, and we comprehend that one day we will die. Ignorance is bliss, but awareness is painful. We realize we are naked and vulnerable. “Original sin” is not a punishment all of us are born with; it’s the agony that is simply a consequence of being human.

While I have heard the terms “Roman Catholic” and “Orthodox” many times I never really knew the difference. The numerous archaic magic rituals in Catholicism are, to be frank, creepy as hell to me. I have been to one Catholic funeral and one Catholic wedding and the first time the preacher said something and then everyone around be gave a reprogrammed response my mind jumped straight to some Exorcist shit right there. I was that creeped out by it. And then they have the kneeling pads that flip down in front of all the pews because you have to learn what is essentially the “dance steps” (well, if you’re white it counts as “dancing”, I guess) to be a Catholic. The entirety of everything Catholic I have ever seen or learned is just the creepiest thing to me. Even so, the body part in the altar really tops it off. And Catholics use so many strange words and symbols that I just never really bothered to look into it. So thanks for that simple explanation.

Personally, I think the explanation you gave for Orthodox (Eastern Christianity) is simplistically beautiful. And you may have missed it, but the difference in these two fits in perfectly with this conversation. Eastern Christianity is from the “old world” where civilization was established and life was as comfortable for people as the times allowed. Western Christianity, however, certainly would have taken root and begun forming these differences in the early days of settlers bringing their religion over. In those times life was quite a bit less comfortable. The “new world” had to be built from the ground up. Life was much harder. Hell, the journey, alone, must have had a high death rate. Just like the angry desert God of the Old Testament written when life was hard for a nomadic people vs the much friendlier God of the New Testament written when life was much easier for a settled people God “evolved” to match the environment of the time. There are new Christian religions being formed all the time and I would bet you that most of them offer a very cuddly God indeed as we live more comfortably than any people in history right now.


Personally, I think the explanation you gave for Orthodox (Eastern Christianity) is simplistically beautiful

I’m not 100% sure I understand the rest, but … here is my super-simplistic History of Christianity diagram I made in my phone last year for discussions like these.


So…I added Augustine for you. He is really the one who solidified the Western concept of Original Sin. That happened before the theological split between Eastern & Western theology in 1054 AD. (and LONG before settlers came to the US, if that’s what you meant.) But because of geographical distance, the Eastern church was already developing differently.

At a VERY basic level, Eastern Orthodoxy is more mystical, and Christ is saving humanity from spiritual sickness… and Western Christianity is more legal/penal, and Christ is saving humanity from everlasting punishment.

However, it isn’t accurate to say the Orthodox are more “liberal.” It is more complex than that. And from the outside, the difference isn’t evident. If you didn’t like the ritual stuff in Catholicism, Orthodoxy is 10x more so, LOL! (But I am fine with that. It is some of the Protestant stuff, tongues & being slain, that freak ME out.)

Original Sin and Substitutionary Atonement are two doctrines that I hate, and they essentially define Western Christianity. But they did not catch on in Eastern Christianity to the degree they did in the west. Most Americans have no idea of this.

In modern times, with transportation and communication, there has been a lot more “mixing,” especially since Western culture is so dominant worldwide. The average parishioner, and even some clergy, sound much like each other.

But I think world history would have been very different had the Eastern Church dominated, and stayed unpolluted, and those two doctrines never adopted.

As far as the more modern, liberal churches, there was a time in 1700s & 1800s America where there was massive growth in this direction: Quakers, Unitarians, Spiritualism, etc.

But, with SCIENCE came Fundamentalism in response, and Biblical literalism – so 1800s and 1900s, new Christian churches were more CONSERVATIVE.

The programmed responses freak me out because I see them as very cult-like. The speaking in tongues thing isn’t “freaky”, it’s sad. I’m embarrassed for people I see doing it because they have fooled themselves so completely that they’re out there babbling like an idiot and thinking it makes them special. I find that more pathetic than freaky.

“The rest of it” that you are not sure if you understood was a commentary on some earlier chatter where I may not have been clear. Essentially I was saying that the harder your life, the “meaner” your Christian God. OT nomads had it hard, their God was vengeful. NT people had it much easier, their God was correspondingly much nicer. Eastern Christian foundations were from a “civil” place for the time period, their God is compassionate. Western Christian religions, those in America, anyway, have their foundations with the first settlers, who had to literally build a world out of the mud, their God is much harsher, much stricter. With some notable exceptions a particular version of God tends to be as “hard” as the lives of his worshipers at the time of the religion’s founding. Thus, new versions of the Christian God would be much friendlier, reflecting the much easier lives of people today.

There are, of course, exceptions. Some Christian religions are born out of hate or anger and, accordingly, their version of God reflects that hatred and anger. He will be invariably vengeful and, as luck would have it, would direct his wrath at exactly the people the religion’s founders are angry with or hate.

Essentially it’s a commentary on a phenomena we’ve all seen, any given person’s version of God always tends to have the same likes and dislikes as the person, and with the same intensity. I don’t like homosexuality? Hey! Neither does my God! I think it’s okay to have two wives? Wouldn’t you know it, so does God! I’m angry at liberals? Well, God says they’re going to Hell for their evil work of giving health care to poor people! I think we should all just get along? Well, of course God says the same thing right here in the Bible! So, essentially, hard life, hard God. Easy life, laid back God. Kind of the “backbone” of what makes the religious beliefs evolve.


Okay, I got it now.

Yeah, it’s super coincidental that everyone’s god(s) agree with them. If you hate gays, your god does too. If you are a socialist, your god is too. Hmmm.

We create god in our image.

If I had a god, it would like Dutch Chocolate Ice Cream.

I do have a god. Well, a demigod, anyway. His name is Ozzy. He’s not all knowing, or all powerful, or immortal or anything, but his voice is definitely supernatural.


What can I do to appease Ozzy?

He has no demands of us. He only gives.

DUDE! You just gave me the most amazing idea I think I’ve ever had! I probably won’t do it because it’s years of work, but how cool would it be to look up quotes from all of Ozzy’s interviews, his television show and his press releases to compile an “Ozzy Bible” to tell people how to live? I could totally start a thing! And how cool would it be if my holy book had the verse “Don’t be a wanker”?

I can already tell. You are going to be a fanatic in your new religion.

My Bible would call people wankers! It will actually have the word “wankers” in it! How is that not the coolest holy book ever?