Whatever Became of Sin? The Theory of Devolution


Whatever Became of Sin? The Theory of Devolution

Michelangelo’s breathtaking painting in the Sustine Chapel.

via Whatever Became of Sin? The Theory of Devolution.

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” and when He was done “it was very good.” It wasn’t much longer and Adam, our late great grandfather, sinned – a prideful rebellion against God – and humanity began its steady spiral downward.

Or did it? Maybe we’ve been lied to and the story needs rewriting.

In the beginning there was the expanse. In the middle of the expanse, for no apparent reason and for no apparent explanation there happened a bang. A very big BANG. Over 1,000,000,000s of years, by pure chance, the nothing, which had now become something, became alive. A few more 1,000,000,000s of years later and the alive became furry and even later grew arms and legs, had children, named them Jack and Jill and moved to the suburbs.

There was no law, or rule, or standard with which to measure Jack and Jill’s goodness, or badness, yet the daddy furball, with arms and legs, knew there was something amiss with Jack and Jill, something broken, but what was it?

The Theory of Devolution

Mr Furball reckoned we’re just highly developed Amoebae and as such we have an ‘animal within’. Our ‘moral consciousness’ is a fortunate side effect of evolutionary progress. We needed to co-exist in social contexts in order to survive and so the need for ‘social order’ gradually developed. ‘Sin’, if it can even be called that, is a result of an individual stepping outside the ‘social order’. It happens when an individual’s primal ‘animal within’ bubbles to the surface; and who can blame us, we’re really just furballs in suits. The cure then, to any ‘social disorder’, is merely more evolutionary progress. Another 1,000,000,000 years or so and we’ll be perfect.

The Philosophy of Denial

Mr Furball gave it a little more thought. After a while he realized he was nothing more than flesh and bones and so he denied that sin was ever part of Jack and Jill in the first place. When they were born they were blank slates just waiting to be written on. That they were now bent out of shape wasn’t their fault, it was as a result of the ‘social context’ that they found themselves in. Our personalities and our problems are learnt from our environment. The cure then, to any ‘social disorder’, is merely more education. Jack and Jill need face time with a shrink and in no time they’ll be just dandy.

The Doctrine of Depravity

But furball got it wrong. Sin isn’t an ‘animal instinct’ it’s a ‘willful choice’; it’s not a ‘social context’ it’s a ‘depraved condition’ and no amount of time or education is ever going to fix us.

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” and when He was done “it was very good.” It wasn’t much longer and Adam, our late great grandfather, sinned – a prideful rebellion against God – and humanity began its steady spiral downward.

Our sin is a very real very evident condition that presents itself in every man who has ever lived. It is what separates us from God, because He is holy; and it’s inevitably why He damns us, because He is just.

Karl Menninger, who wrote the book ‘Whatever Became of Sin?’ in 1973 penned, “The very word, ‘sin,’ which seems to have disappeared, was once a proud word. It was once a strong word, an ominous and serious word. But the word went away. It has almost disappeared – the word, along with the notion. Why? Doesn’t anyone sin anymore? Doesn’t anyone believe in sin?”

“While you may ignore the ravages of sin in your life, sin mocks you, the devolved theorist and denying thinker alike. While sin is vile venom, a cure has been provided: the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

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One thought on “Whatever Became of Sin? The Theory of Devolution

  1. Well, it’s probably pointless discussing sin with a Calvinist, although I share your concern at the demise of the concept of sin in our society. But I’m inclined to think that that has quite a lot to do with a revolt against a false idea of sin in western Christianity.

    I am somewhat puzzled, though, at your insistence on sin as a wilfull choice, totally separate from environmental and other factors. Far be it from me to deny free will, but nevertheless our wills have become sick, as have our environments (and I mean that in the broadest possible sense). Have you read St Athanasius’ On the Incarnation? He speaks about the corruption that has affected our nature. Sin is not so much about angering God and being damned as a result; it is rather that we have become sick because we have lost our connection to God, because the Image of God in us is becoming corrupted.

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