What is it?
It is unfair. It is misogynistic. It is anti-sex. It is too pessimistic. It is not literally true. It is contradicted by evolution.
Answer: According to the UK’s BBC Religion and Ethics website, it is Original Sin.
In an article entitled “Problems with original sin” the author claims: “Science shows that the Biblical creation story is not literally true, and demonstrates that Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden are myths and not historical figures. This destroys the idea of original sin as being caused by the misbehaviour of the first man and woman, and the idea of inheriting guilt or punishment for that misbehaviour. Most modern theologians don’t think this a good reason to abandon the doctrine of the fall. They believe that although the story is not historically true, it does contain important truths about the state of humanity. The doctrine of original sin is based on the idea that God created a perfect world, and that humanity damaged it and themselves by disobeying him. Evolution, on the other hand, suggests that life in the world is steadily changing and becoming more diverse. Scientists do not tend to think of this as a moral good or evil, but in a sense evolution sees life on earth as moving closer to ‘perfection’ – becoming better adapted to its environment.”
To reinforce the last point the article quotes Bishop Shelby Spong: “The biblical story of the perfect and finished creation from which human beings fell into sin is pre-Darwinian mythology and post-Darwinian nonsense.” (Bishop John Shelby Spong, A Call for a New Reformation, 1998) The article concludes with: “A more modern idea is to give an ethical spin to the evolutionary idea and suggest that humanity should not be concerned about a past fall from grace, but concentrate on becoming more ethical beings and thus bringing about a better world.”
Editorial Comment: This BBC author points out what many Christians try to ignore – evolutionary theory is inherently opposed to the Gospel of salvation in Christ. If evolution is true, there was no real Adam, no original sin, and death is just a normal part of life. If this is true then, even if Jesus did rise from the dead, his resurrection was somehow just an extraordinary event that does not directly affect other humans.
Christianity however, is the one religion where the historical facts matter. Salvation in Christ is actually and factually based on what God has done for us, not how we might find God by our own efforts. If the description of what God has done in Creation, Judgement and Salvation is not historically true, then we have no hope for the future. Jesus did not just come to earth to show us how to live. He came to give us life by taking the penalty for sin and death, and rising from the dead to give new life to all those who put their faith in Him. The Apostle Paul explains it this way: “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (I Corinthians 15:21-23) (Ref. theology, history, beliefs)