[extropy-chat] Original Sin was Bioethics Essay

Damien Broderick thespike at satx.rr.com
Tue May 24 20:13:23 UTC 2005

>On May 23, 2005, at 11:17 PM, The Avantguardian wrote:
>>BUT the
>>whole point of the xtian doctrine, as opposed to the
>>ancient Judean tradition, was that the sacrifice of
>>Jesus on the cross erased all our sins including the
>>original one. Thus to a xtian, knowledge is no longer
>>a sin. Did they even read their own book?

If they read their own book, they'd know that Jesus explicitly forecast and 
promised that the end of the world would occur within the lifetime of some 
of the disciples. Unless a few of them are hanging around in hiding 
somewhere, this was a fairly flagrant mistake. So of course xians don't 
*read* their own book, they fiddle around with its words until the text 
means the opposite of anything that could have been intended.

That said, while the assertion that "the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross 
erased all our sins including the original one" might appear to be 
supported by some verses of the New Testament, it is in flat contradiction 
to the allegedly authoritative teachings of the sizable Catholic and 
Anglican confessions:


< The sin of Adam has injured the human race at least in the sense that it 
has introduced death -- "Wherefore as by one man sin entered into this 
world and by sin death; and so death passed upon all men". Here there is 
question of physical death. first, the literal meaning of the word ought to 
be presumed unless there be some reason to the contrary. Second, there is 
an allusion in this verse to a passage in the Book of Wisdom in which, as 
may be seen from the context, there is question of physical death. Wis., 
ii, 24: "But by the envy of the devil death came into the world". Cf. Gen., 
ii, 17; iii, 3, 19; and another parallel passage in St. Paul himself, I 
Cor., xv, 21: "For by a man came death and by a man the resurrection of the 
dead". Here there can be question only of physical death, since it is 
opposed tocorporal resurrection, which is the subject of the whole chapter.
    *Adam by his fault transmitted to us not only death but also sin, "for 
as by the disobedience of one man many [i.e., all men] were made sinners" 
(Rom., v, 19). How then could the Pelagians, and at a later period Zwingli, 
say that St. Paul speaks only of the transmission of physical death? If 
according to them we must read death where the Apostle wrote sin, we should 
also read that the disobedience of Adam has made us mortal where the 
Apostle writes that it has made us sinners. But the word sinner has never 
meant mortal, nor has sin ever meant death. Also in verse 12, which 
corresponds to verse 19, we see that by one man two things have been 
brought on all men, sin and death, the one being the consequence of the 
other and therefore not identical with it.
    * Since Adam transmits death to his children by way of generation when 
he begets them mortal, it is by generation also that he transmits to them 
sin, for the Apostle presents these two effects as produced at the same 
time and by the same causality.  [blah mad hermeneutic blah] >

It's worth reading this entire entry, both for the window it opens upon the 
thought processes of certain traditional theologians and for the discussion 
of the role of death as an inherited feudal consequence of Adam's sin.

< The Creator, whose gifts were not due to the human race, had the right to 
bestow them on such conditions as He wished and to make their conservation 
depend on the fidelity of the head of the family. A prince can confer a 
hereditary dignity on condition that the recipient remains loyal, and that, 
in case of his rebelling, this dignity shall be taken from him and, in 
consequence, from his descendants. It is not, however, intelligible that 
the prince, on account of a fault committed by a father, should order the 
hands and feet of all the descendants of the guilty man to be cut off 
immediately after their birth. This comparison represents the doctrine of 
Luther [ boo! hiss!! ] which we in no way defend. >

No democratic Bill of Rights for Catholics, support your local Prince. 
Unless advocates of drastic life extension are aware of this kind of long, 
agonized theological discussion, we will blunder about missing the point 
and giving offence unintentionally.

I discuss some of these issues -- and in places give offence intentionally, 
when I can't stand it any more -- in my new book FEROCIOUS MINDS: Polymathy 
and the new Enlightenment (shameless plug):

(trade paperback) Wildside/Borgo, 2005
ISBN: 0-8095-4474-1
Price: $17.95

Damien Broderick

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