I believe that an evolutionary gloss on many aspects of the Bible, this case being the Genesis story, can universalize the story and make it very meaningful to not only the Christian, but for people of other traditions and no religion at all.
So let's get one thing straight from the start:
The Fall and Original Sin are both trivialized when we interpret the events in the Genesis account as historically factual.
Now, the goal here is to get you to understand that Original Sin (our unwanted, unchosen, sinful nature) is, itself, literally true and supported by scientific facts.
Let's face it. People way back in the day didn't know anything about frontal lobes and Pegasus galaxies...they interpreted scientific facts the best way they understood them, in a symbolic way.
They knew for example that a plant needs sunlight to grow, but they did not know of the beauty and complexity that is photosynthesis.
So here we go.
The Bible says that the fruit that God forbade humans to eat was fruit from the Tree of knowledge/good and evil.
This is a stunning example of the unique symbolism I just mentioned...
...the description of the process through which our ancestors evolved the frontal lobes
- - - the cushion of our human ability to sort among and override competing impulses and drives. Our frontal lobes undeniably made possible conscious
awareness of good and evil and the fact that we make choices all the time.
Thus, from an evolutionary persepctive, we all can find enormous value in the concept of Original Sin and in the story of the Fall, because the reality is that even the most innocent little baby carries the seeds of original sin in its brainstem and limbic system.
Unchecked, we all can and will fal. Thatnkfully, most of us feel guilty and ashamed when we fall, because we know that such actions are wrong...we are completely aware of good and evil.
Now, here's the thing. We don't have to be ashamed of our inherited proclivities, but we MUST know that they are not ideally suited for the demands of living an honorable life in this crazy world of complex social relations, and technologies that provide temptation in ways no animal, human or otherwise, ever had to deal with.
We must acknowledge that our most troublesome inherited proclivities are natural, indeed, instictual. Appreciating this fact does not mean we have to do their bidding, but it does help us accept that the yearning, the feelings themselves need not be judged as shameful...let's face it, we all want to have sex with as many woman as possible deep down, most of us are evolved enough to not have this desire bother us...and thus we don't have to be in denial about the existence of such proclivities.
Our deepest and most difficult to control urges are those whose territory resides within the fortress of our ancient cerebellum and brainstem.
When those drives take over, we are no longer in control...the "assassin" is.
The assassin destroys our lives against our will.
We all know this sense, that something not-us tempts and even controls us, by various names;
Satan, the devil...Freud called it the Id (German = It)
This part of our brain, the part we inherited from our animal ancestors, truly has its own agenda: sex, survival, sustenance.
Evolution found ways to make sexual fulfillment extraordinarily pleasurable in order to ensure procreation.
But let's face it...the penis in particular doesn't remember the "in order to"
part of the deal lol.
And we are not alone.
We now have evidence that in the natural world, nonprocreative sexual acts, homosexual or otherwise, are common among social animals.
It is only for the human, the "moral animal," immersed in a sea of civilization with ethical codes of conduct and spoken commitments....it is only for us that the choices around sexual expression can become problematic.
understanding the unwanted drives within us as having served our ancestors for millions of years is far more empowering than imagining that we are the way we are because of inner demons, or because the worlds first man and woman ate a forbidden apple a few thousand years ago...is it not?
Even so...demonic possesion
is a very real, but symbolic way, of speaking about someone who is compelled to act in a harmful way. Demonic temptaion
in this sense is anything that would have us disregard the well-being of the larger groups that we all are apart of. (Ie families, communities, world)...and the smaller groups for which we are personally responsible. (Ie our bodies, minds, principles)
Its so awesome.
By way of evolution, God, the Supreme Wholeness of Reality, has revealed to us through public revelation (science!!)
how and why our brain evolved...why men and women can seem utterly alien to one another, why public figures so regulary "fall" to sex scandals, and why all of us sometimes fail to make the right choices and to honor our commitments.
"There must be something wrong with me...why do I feel these urges and have these weird feelings?"
Relax...we're all that way
In this way, using an evolutionary way of thinking, the mythic story of the Fall of Adam and Eve carries a very strong meaning:
To be human is to be burdened by our unchosen, "sinful" nature.
This is a true for Hindus and Atheists, as it is for Christians and Muslims and Buddhists.
So as the story of Adam and Eve teaches us, and as evolution confirms, our flaws are not, at base, our fault. We didn't choose them. We all to some extent inherited this "original sinful nature."
Due to our progress in the areas of science, we can understand this. We can be encouraged to move beyond denial or condemnation and simply accept that there are powerful drives within all of us that we did not choose.
Once we accept these facts, we can move to forgiving ourselves and others for past transgressions, which will in turn give us new life and courage to look head on at our current situation, and from that vantage point, embark on realistic paths for bettering our lives and blessing our world.
Science is awesome, and it is of God.
The science of evolution, especially the evolution of our brain, simply provides a more realistic and universally relevant picture of the human condition than was ever possible when the Hebrew people of old acquired their creation story.
Finally gents, here is my goal for the next couple threads I post.
Atheists often ask for evidence, and they are not wrong for doing so...why place faith in something just because other people place faith in it? We all need evidence...heck, most of the disciples needed evidence for their belief, and they got it. Human beings needing evidence to believe in something is nothing new...and here is the thing...God doesn't expect us to have faith without evidence. He has provided it.
So to keep insisting that ancient biblical texts are accurate records of an invisible Father, is to keep turning away millions from the very real truths that are in scripture.
The goal is to look at scripture from a scientific persepctive...in doing this we can finally begin to see that the Bible accurately reveals how the authors and editors understood themselves, their world, and the nature of ultimate Reality two thousand or so years ago....
We understand things a lot different nowadays don't we?
Those understandings, of our ancestors, include many powerful insights we can use today in 2011, woven in much that is of historical and symbolic significance...and even some stuff that we rightly find offensive. It is up to us to ascertain life serving meanings in the guidance given to us by the Whole over time, no matter what the vehicles of delivery...
Whole = past, present, future, me, you, God, everyone that ever lived, every song ever wrote, every book ever read, every speech given, every toostey roll pop licked, every final fantasy played, every bulding leapt from, every pebble turned...you get the idea.
Finally, I will end with this...
Evolution...is not meaningless blind chance.
lesson taken from notes on a course given by Mr Michael Dowd