AiG and original sin
Claims that the biblical concept of "Original Sin" is to blame for all the ills of the world are common among young Earth creationists (YECs). The BBC in London has posted an article Problems with original sin on its web site. Answers in Genesis (AiG) have taken the BBC to task, see Original Sin at the BBC, claiming that the BBC article is "written as if it were a statement of fact, [and] contains a number of factual errors, ... much in the way of personal opinion, dressed up as fact". This sounds very much like YECs approach to science. Myth dressed up as fact and containing many, many factual errors.
Andrew Stear explains why he thinks literal interpretations of the Bible are impossible and approaches the concept of original sin in a philosophical way by claiming that it's really an analogy for homo sapiens' getting of wisdom.
Extensive reading of the Bible has me convinced that most people have forgotten or never knew that the Bible was written and compiled by philosophers and story tellers. Somewhere along the way changes have been made to the wording of the original texts. One example is the "Great Fish" being changed to the "Whale". That may seem insignificant to some but it is actually very important, when trying to interpret the Bible, that the original wording used by the authors of the texts be interpreted rather than the amended versions.
The "Great Fish" in itself is ambiguous, changing it to "Whale" still maintains its ambiguousness. As most would be aware there are a number of different species of whale all with different feeding and social habits. One of the bizarre things that killer whales do for example is to catch young seals. They torment them and seemingly deliberately cause great stress to the other seals on the shore. I've never heard of a blue or humpback whale indulging in this sort of behaviour.
What I am trying to say is that the term "Great Fish" could have originally been used to describe any sea creature. Whale sharks are big but they are not whales. They have gills like a fish, see All About Sharks. Who gave anybody the right to replace the "Great Fish" with a whale.
Once a change in the text has occurred at any level literal interpretation is impossible!
OK, back to the original topic, Original Sin. The fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil is an easy concept to grasp. Regardless of whether you're a believer or not, human intellectual ability must have at some stage developed to the point where people could decide between right and wrong. An animal may act according to its primal instincts but can't consciously make decisions about whether a particular act is morally right or not. Perhaps some of the higher mammals have this ability but they certainly can't write it down for future generations to reflect on.
Humans on the other hand (there are some exclusions of course, due to mental illness or other factors) can and do make decisions about moral and ethical matters as part of their daily lives. Some even think their own standards are the pinnacle of human morality and should therefore be applied to all of us. The fact that many others disagree with them should show them that they haven't struck any absolutes.
The story of Adam and Eve (may they rest in peace) and their episode with an apple and a tree is a philosophical description of our getting of wisdom, the evolution from non-thinker to thinker, see human personality and emotions).
18 October 2005