Listen to “Evolution, Sin, and Redemption.”
One of the Evolution and Christian Faith grants was awarded to Calvin College for Loren Haarsma’s project: “Theology of Original Sin in Various Human Origins Scenarios.” The goal of the project is to systematically map out multiple views on how sin entered the world. All of these views still affirm historical, creedal Christianity as well as the conclusions of modern science.
On May 2, 2014, Loren spoke on his work at the Christian Perspectives in Science seminar series at Calvin. His lecture was titled, “Evolution, Sin and Redemption: Multiple ways to harmonize human evolution and original sin.”
As archeology and genetics help us learn more about human origins and evolution, the issues which generate the greatest theological concern, usually cluster around the historicity of Adam and Eve and original sin. In the last few decades, Christian scholars have proposed several competing scenarios for harmonizing the doctrine of original sin with recent discoveries about human origins. These scenarios share a central theological core affirming God’s goodness and justice, sin as a rebellion of God’s revealed will, and the centrality of atonement through Christ. These scenarios disagree in their proposed answers to some long-standing theological questions such as: How intellectually and morally advanced were the first humans who sinned? Was a state of fully developed moral righteousness a state that humans might have grown into through obedience over time, or was it an actual state that some humans lived in? Does sinful disobedience require an explicit command to have been violated, or does violating the promptings of conscience count as well? Was human sin unavoidable? Did human disobedience damage human nature all in a single disobedient act (or pair of acts), or was it through accumulation of many disobedient acts over a longer period of time? How is humanity’s sinful nature passed to each generation? In this seminar we’ll discuss these different scenarios for human origins and original sin, and examine the competing theological challenges facing each.