All posts by Emery

The problem with sin nature

adamandeveThe fall of Adam and Eve is essential for Christianity, for without the Fall, humanity would not have acquired a sin nature, and without this sin nature there would be no need for redemption through Christ. Therefore support for this idea of an acquired sin nature (and its separability through redemption) is essential for Christianity to get off the ground. Here’s a table to help organize things:

Pre-Fall (no sin nature) Eve Post-Fall (sin nature) Eve
Free will Free will
Limited knowledge Limited knowledge
Doubt Doubt
Ego Ego
Desire Desire
Curiosity Curiosity
Cognition Cognition
Risk calculation Risk calculation

This table shows the characteristics of pre and post-Fall human nature, using Eve as an example. From Genesis 3 we see that Eve had free will. We learn she wasn’t omniscient, and that she had the capacity to doubt. She had an ego, for she wanted things for herself. She had a desire for pleasurable experiences, a curiosity about the results of her actions, and the ability to take a risk after weighing the pros and cons. All these things Eve could do before she ate the forbidden fruit.

A solution needs a problem

For Christianity to work, we humans cannot currently exist as God designed us to be. Instead there must be something broken, something to fix, a problem to be addressed in our nature. The Christian attempt at creating this problem is to posit a sin nature that we became poisoned with after Adam and Eve disobeyed God, a condition for which Christianity proposes a fix. If this is true, we should see a marked difference when we compare Eve’s post-fall nature to her pre-fall nature. But what is that difference? What aspects of Eve’s nature can be put into one column that cannot be put into the other?

I challenge someone to find a change in Eve after the Fall, that is not merely due to the acquisition of knowledge and experience. How does her nature change? If it doesn’t, then Christianity doesn’t get off the ground. All of the good and bad aspects of human nature we have today would have been present at creation, and any attempt to separate them would be as misguided as trying to separate fire’s ability to cook food from its ability to burn fingers.

Sin nature is a fallacy. What we have, and what we have always had, is a single, human nature, for better or worse. No amount of self-loathing from those that have abandoned the fight for their better selves can change the fact that our transformation must be effected by our own efforts. Christianity may provide an attractive solution for some, but a solution to a non-existent problem helps no one.