Sin Nature? Request For Clarity

The notion of a “sin nature” is, by the admission of most theologians, rather critical to the coherency of Christianity. This is how it’s normally presented. Adam did not have a sin nature. Yet he sinned. As his genetic descendants, we now have a sin nature. It seems this sin nature is somehow different to Adam’s nature before he sinned.

“The result of one trespass was condemnation for all men.”
(Romans 5:18)

Quite clearly the consequences are different. Adam would have lived forever had he not sinned it is claimed. Yet we are condemned to die due to our sinfulness it seems. Yet this says nothing about the sin nature itself.

“Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.”
(Psalm 51:5)

I’d like to ask for clarification on the concept of a sin nature. Here are a few questions.

  1. Is the sinful newborn (Psalm 51:5) deserving of hellfire?
  2. If Adam did not have a sin nature, then how was he able to sin?
    If your answer to this is simply “free will”, then what is the difference between “free will” and a “sin nature”?
  3. Suppose we were created without a sin nature like Adam. Would we be less prone to sin?
  4. Why did God map our sin nature to genetics (passed on from Adam) rather than just giving everyone free will as he did with Adam?
  5. If our sin nature was not our choice, why are we condemned for living according to our nature?

Please give feedback in the comment box below.
Thanks for your responses.

-phil

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70 thoughts on “Sin Nature? Request For Clarity

  1. James says:

    God allowed evil to enter the world as part of the risk He took in giving humanity free will. i.e. He loved mankind so much that He wanted to give us the chance to grow and mature and choose Him and the good life for ourselves, rather than being set on auto-pilot. All of which I’m sure you’re all familiar with. I think it’s a nice idea – the end goal being that God gets a family of children who have developed hearts and wisdom like His, and turned away from evil.

    Obviously there are questions as to whether it was fair of Him to allow us to stuff things up so badly when a little more guidance might have spared us a lot of pain, and might have made His ‘family’ rather bigger. But I guess I’m basically willing to give Him the benefit of the doubt on that one, and assume He knew what He was doing, and has some kind of plan to tie up the loose ends. We’ll see.

    My real conundrum, though, is about the actual story in Genesis 2-3 – and please note I don’t wish to open the debate on the literal/metaphorical nature of this story, which I think I pretty much know all your various opinions about. Rather, I’m going to assume that, either way, the story has an emblematic status which somehow applies to theology.

    My question is, if God wanted us to develop maturity and discernment, doesn’t it seem slightly backward that the tree they were forbidden to touch was said to offer that very thing – the knowledge of good and evil? God says ‘if you eat from it you will surely die’. Which is true of course – when they figure out they can try things their own way they pretty much immediately start stuffing things up and killing each other and things. The serpent says of it “You will not surely die, for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” And perhaps that’s true too – there’s no certainty they’ll die; there’s a slim chance they’ll get it right themselves and not ruin everything. In any case the serpent is just trying to incite them to rebellion – don’t listen to everything Mr Big says; don’t submit to being His slave. Do what you want.

    Some possible solutions to the puzzle:

    1) My argument is wrong: God didn’t want us to develop maturity etc.; He wanted us to get everything right, and for the world to stay perfect, and therefore when He said He didn’t want them to eat the fruit, He meant it.

    >>Question: so why put it there? To give them the choice? But if they’re better off without the choice, isn’t that kinda stupid?

    2) God knew all along that they’d take the fruit, and put it there intentionally, so that they’d take it and learn some important lessons – painful though it would be for all concerned – which would ultimately be to their/humanity’s betterment.

    >>Question: so why does He forbid them to touch it?

    >>Question: is it even plausible to say we’re somehow better off in a post-fall world? Is that kind of sick and sadistic? Or is that like saying it’s sadistic of a parent to take the training wheels off their kid’s bike, knowing they’ll fall off the first time, but will eventually acquire a new skill?

    3) Perhaps it wasn’t so much that He was forbidding them, but just that He had to warn them, in all fairness, that it would be a path of suffering, even though it would ultimately be the best.

    >>But in that case, why not just say ‘kids, you have the following two options – you decide’? Instead, He says ‘you must not take option 2’.

    4) Perhaps in their auto-pilot state they’re not able to make decisions like that anyway, so He has to trick them, and maybe overstate the case a little just to make it more interesting.

    >>Hm, oh dear, interesting questions arise as to the nature of God. Though potentially it could be seen as a parallel to a parent who tells his kid not to cross the road on her own, not because he never wants her to cross the road, but because she’s not ready yet, and in this stage of her development what she needs is set rules that will keep her safe. So, uh, we’re currently in the state of having disobeyed, strayed onto the road, been hit by a bus, and are now very slowly recovering, and very slowly figuring out how to conduct ourselves better in future – possibly mixed with a good deal of angst directed towards our dad who should have protected us better.

    • Riker says:

      James, just a quick note that may help your dilemma. Could your original premise be in error? Look further into what is meant by “knowledge of good and evil”. What I have discovered so far is that it is not knowledge itself that was forbidden – it was the act of deciding for oneself what is good and evil rather than trusting that God knew what is good and evil.

      • Riker, your suggestion makes sense. If people have not the ability to assess right and wrongs on their own, then there is no dissent they can legitimately offer a god who promotes genocide, rape and slavery; quite the trump card. If what is right is everything that your god says is right, then human reason goes out the door. It’s a pretty good mental enslavement strategy if you can convince people that they have no moral sense. What is right is what god says is right; no rationality allowed. It’ll work for Allah, Jehovah and Thor.

  2. Hi James,

    Thanks for your comments. However, if you could address my questions more directly, it would be much appreciated. I can’t find anything in your comments that would answer my questions. It seems to me that your commentary is premature until my 5 questions have been answered coherently. If you can address each of the five questions individually with a rigorous argument, that would be great.

    Thanks, Phil

  3. Mike Antonelli says:

    Regarding question # 1. ( I assume this question implies everyone is born with so called original sin )

    The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that “the great mercy of God who desires that all should be saved, and Jesus’ tenderness toward children which caused him to say ‘let the children come to me, do not hinder them’, allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who die without baptism.”

    But death is he great mystery, so no one knows factually .

    Historically , only adults were baptized so there has been a lot of debate about hot to reconcile Jesus’ words in John “no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.” with the reality of modern days.

    More than one Pope has denounced the idea of an unbaptized baby who dies going to hell.

    I don”t know what other Christian style religions have as dogma or belief .

    • Thanks for your comments, Mike.

      It also seems odd that infants who don’t have a clue that they are sinners and deserve hell and are baptized and therefore saved from hell are all unaware of the spiritual drama transpiring over their souls.

      And it would have been nice if there had been some kind of hermeneutic standard god had supplied along with his holy text so that doctrine would not have needed to evolve to accommodate the truths uncovered by secularism that always seem just a step ahead of the Bible on issues such as slavery and rape and science.

  4. Steven Spagnolo says:

    Consider a stillborn baby. I think either way there is an obvious injustice.

    Since the death is presumably not suicide, it’s a consequence of an order instated by god (perhaps a punishment for the sins of another, fate, whatever..). However you cut it, it’s surely independent of the baby who never executed worldly free will.

    If the baby does go to hell, it seems unfair for the reasons stated previously. The baby never lived long enough to act, let alone commit sin. Nor was it given an opportunity to repent any prenatal blasphemies. Yet is condemned to hell. It was denied the opportunity to get into heaven that we were granted, but on what possible reasonable basis?

    If the baby doesn’t go to hell, it must go to heaven. This is unfair for everyone else. Why does the baby get comped into heaven? On what basis did God discriminate given that the baby never lived to prove faith or anything else to god? Once again there is no reasonable basis for this inconsistent judgment.

    This only leaves the possibility that god applies reasoning beyond our comprehension when it comes to the decision for a soul to go to heaven or hell. At that point though how can you believe anything stipulated given that there are operators unbeknown to us at play. Anything you logically deduce from the doctrine may or may not coincide with god’s reasoning. Your god left you tiptoeing through an ideological minefield blindfolded, but occasionally took the righteous action of either blessing or condemning fetuses.

    • Thanks for your provocative, but cogent comments, Steve.

      If anyone wishes to respond to Steve’s argument, that would be welcomed.

    • Riker says:

      This is one of the mistakes that result from divorcing Christianity from its Hebrew roots. Thorough study of the law and history of Israel will show you that the “age of reason” is 20 years. Those under this age were exempt, for example, of the curse to wander in the desert and die and be forbidden to enter The Promised Land of Canaan. I believe it is shown that anyone who dies under the age of 20 is not judged. But of course, I trust God to be the most fair and righteous judge, whatever the Truth may be.

      • Riker, that’s quite the absurdity.

        You have the difference between going to heaven and hell an arbitrary age.

        Justice, if it is to have any meaning, maps an proportionate amount of punishment to an appropriate amount of guilt.

        Do “children” under 20 sin? If so, there are “wages’ to that sin, and if those “wages” are to be just, the degree of those wages will map to the degree of the sin.

        What you have is only 2 very discrete and polarized destinies to accommodate a continuum of degrees of sinfulness among sinners, with justice nowhere in sight.

        You’re trying to apply discrete destinies of consequence to non-discrete degrees of sinfulness. Can Jehovah do math?

        Is a Jehovah who presumably knows every nuance of the minds of humans constrained by the human artifact of a threshold of 20 years for culpability?

        Rather absurd, don’t you think?

  5. Steven Spagnolo says:

    I want some clarification on all knowing versus supreme being issue.

    If god created everything and is all knowing then it seems to contradict the notion of free will, since everything is causally linked to the set of his creations or at least has an outcome known to him. Everything must be inseparably bound to god’s universal truth and not a truth of beings truly independent of him. If we have free will, then he isn’t all knowing or all creating since the universal outcome hinges on our decisions which he has no control over by an definition.

    Let’s assume we have no such liberties. It seems odd that an omnipotent, all knowing being would not define the initial state to be the final state since they’re all just part of his resolute expression. What is the value to god in having this machinery of coupled transitions unfold in a way entirely predictable to it. There must be some worth or an omnipotent god wouldn’t do it. However, each intermediate state defines the former and past state from beginning to end within the algebra of god. So logically (to god) they’re just relabellings of a single fundamental truth that is defined by and exists within him. All our fates predetermined, irrespective of any delusional sense of independence god chose to instill within you. Aside from the absurdity of it all, it this seems to contradict any religious doctrine defining god (defined by god) in the first place, since notions of judgment and forgiveness are presented, which only make sense in the context of independent control.

    If we assume god isn’t (by human definitions) nonsensical or a liar, and that we are consequently equipped with some degree of liberty then he cannot be all knowing. In this case we could conceive of a super set of god plus the outcome of the universe which is greater being than god and thus he is thus not all encompassing, and thus not the supreme being.

  6. John Canterbury says:

    This is an interesting subject. What I think you have a problem with is the whole Roman Catholic/Augustinian/Calvinistic interpretations of the idea of “Original Sin,” an idea and concept which is totally not consonant with Scripture or ancient Christian tradition. I’m going to post you a link to check out, I think you might find hearing the Eastern Orthodox perspective here, a view which is usually either not heard or ignored. We don’t generally attempt proselytizing people, but I see that you’re interested in these matters and so I will send you this: http://www.orthodoxpress.org/parish/river_of_fire.htm

    Also, you might get something out of what we teach about the Bible as well, this is FYI and not some hackneyed attempt at conversion, I just think an inquiring mind like yours deserves to have multiple perspectives to consider: http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/inquirers/tca_solascriptura.aspx

    I came across your own link while surfing You Tube looking for info about Japan. It must be very enriching and interesting to live in such a culture!

  7. Bill Marsan says:

    Answers:

    #1 Babies and Children have always been Classified by the Bible as “innocent” having done neither good nor bad—-and there is no clear biblical basis of being born with a sin nature—the doctrine has sprung from assumptions made over figurative verses and a misunderstanding of the clear Word of God. Babies, being innocent, immediately go to be with the Lord—Only this is Just and fair and right-

    #2 Adam did not have a sin nature and neither are we born with a sin nature—-The above verse that you use to say we came under condemnation (which I assume you think is the sin nature) has another portion of scripture attached to it and that is by one man all were made righteous—to properly interprete you must put the same force or weight to both portions—so if as you indicated all were made with a sin nature —then when Jesus came all would have been made righteous. The fact is neither conclusion is correct—more on this if you wish later ….So the correct answer is Adam was able to sin because he had free-will —-lucifer also had free-will but no sin nature—a perfect environment—no temptor—perfect knowledge of God and yet still sinned—yes the answer is free-will—-a sin nature is not required to sin… I need not address the difference between free-will and sin nature because the sin nature does not exist. Psalm 51:5 says in the king james –…..In sin my mother concieved me…” This could be that she was sinning when he was conceived–Psalm 51 also says that hyssop cleanses sin and that God breaks our bones when we sin —if you want to take it literal—but it was not meant that way—it was meant figuratively….These verses do not prove a passed down sinful nature.

    #3 God decided to make free-will being (the purpose we can discuss later) so it appears He gave the Angels this free-will —-eternal beings with the eternal God—No temptor —no desires of the Flesh—-And yet still chose to sin and were cast down.
    Then it appears God made Man—-of flesh—-with desires to bring about His purposes—-desire for food so we would survive—-desire for sex because God wanted many free-will beings—desire for knowledge so we would want to learn about Him—and placed man in a very good environment —–there was now a temptor roaming—-and a tree from which one could eat against God’s command—notice that Satan came to eve as he does to all of us and appeals to the good appetites of the Flesh and asks us to take them beyond God-given limits—“see the fruit–it is Good and will make you wise(knowledge)”. because eve sinned and Adam chose to follow after—We are now born into a wicked environment as well. Every indication is that we are up against even greater odds then the former but not because God made us that way……And not one of us will be able to say to God on that day “But you made me deficient” or “I didn’t have all that I needed to make the right choices” God makes sure you have the information and the tools to do what He has asked….Or He would not be able to judge……

    #4 Where is the proof that this is genetic? Is sin a substance? Is it in the Blood? The Bible makes very clear that sin is a choice not a substance—-It also makes clear that I am not accountable for anyone’s choices but my own—-A choice cannot be passed on—If you look at what Adam did pass on to us you will not find a sinful nature stated anywhere…..death yes….decay yes…sweat and work —yes but not a sinful nature…

    There is no sinful nature that we are born with—-can we aquire one? yes —–once we come of age that we know right from wrong and choose wrong (sin) we definately can cultivate a wicked sinful nature under the wrath of God —unless we repent and turn away from such we will be lost forever—–so God is Just —He makes us innocent —-gives us the ability to make right choices—-sends us the proper information through people and the word—is working diligently to keep our attention on Him—manipulates circumstances —-All to make sure that I have everything I need to make the right choices—-in order to sin we must walk all over God’s Grace and provision in our life…..Is He Fair? Beyond fair…

  8. Bill Marsan says:

    Steve said: If we assume god isn’t (by human definitions) nonsensical or a liar, and that we are consequently equipped with some degree of liberty then he cannot be all knowing. In this case we could conceive of a super set of god plus the outcome of the universe which is greater being than god and thus he is thus not all encompassing, and thus not the supreme being.

    The Bible clearly states that God does not know the future free-will acts of men—as stated above for men to truly be free it must not be pre-determined. And if we are a student of the Word we would understand that God does not automatically know what is in our hearts but must test us to find out what is within our hearts—and so He does.

    Deu 8:2 And you shall remember that the LORD your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.

    Steve reaches the wrong conclusion though when he concludes that God cannot be God if he does not know everything—–God set it up this way—there is no other way to set up free-will—So in a sense God chose to limit Himself in order to bring about his purposes—-And His purpose in ALL this is to share the beautiful fellowship of the Godhead (Holy Spirit, Jesus and the father) with us—-but this relationship has to be voluntarily chosen or you cannot experience it—So God made free-will beings…

    • Thanks for your comments, Bill.

      Just to clarify, you believe in neither the omniscience of god nor the notion of an innate sin nature given at birth, is this correct?

      And could you also indicate, by your own estimate, what percentage of christians believe as you do on these matters.

      Thanks, Phil

  9. Bill Marsan says:

    I do believe that God is omniscience in that He knows all that is knowable—-but the future free-will acts of Free-will beings are unknowable—-this is very clear from the Bible.

    The Bible does not support the idea of a sin nature at birth

    A small percentage to be sure —-In fact many would cast me a HERETIC for casting off their pet doctrines—very sad—-most are just believing what they are taught and not thinking through the consequences of these ideas or doctrines or comparing these doctrines to the Bible.

    Because of these doctrines God is being maligned—they make Him out to be a tyrant —for sure —thus the many comments I see posted on your site—If you truly wish to know God read His word and find out who and what He says He is.

    • So, Bill, you then believe that, since humans do not have a sin nature, that is is possible for a human to live a full life without sinning, right?

      If we do not have a sin nature, it just seems very odd that all, or nearly all, default to it. It would be like saying spiders don’t have a predatory nature, would it not?

      What does it mean to say we don’t have the nature to do something that we all do?

  10. sam says:

    I believe we need here a common definition for SIN so you can the discussion further.

    The spider parallel doesn’t work for me because I don’t consider the human being in the same category with non-humans.

    • Sam, analogies work when the elements on both sides correspond on the point in question, and fail if they do not correspond to the point in question.
      Spiders have 8 legs and humans 2, but that does not relate to the point in question.
      Humans have higher cognitive capabilities than spiders, but neither does that relate to the point in question.
      The point in question is the way highly predictable behavior is abstracted to become part of the “nature” of a thing.
      For this reason, we abstract the highly predictable way that spiders hunt and capture prey into what we call a predatory nature.
      We abstract the highly predictable way that hurricanes disassemble building into what we call a destructive nature.
      It is, in every other case where a highly predictable behavior is assigned to an entity, acceptable to assign that behavior to the nature of the entity.

      Now, what can we say about the highly predictable way that humans sin?

  11. Bill Marsan says:

    Sin according to the Bible is:

    Jam 4:17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth [it] not, to him it is
    sin.
    1Jo 3:4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the
    transgression of the law.

    Sin is a choice to break God’s moral law—willfully and knowingly

    When we look at the Bible for this Sin nature doctrine it is not there—-I have already pointed out that Lucifer was created with a free-will—-no tempter—no sin nature—eternal being in heaven –and yet still decided he wanted to be like God—-Sinned and was cast down. This is proof that a sin nature is NOT required to sin—simply being able to choose an opposing choice is enough—-

    Also we see that Adam and Eve did not have a sin nature and yet they sinned—again it is proof that a sin nature is not required to sin—-

    A sin nature is not required to be tempted either—Jesus did not have a sin nature and yet the Bible says He was tempted IN EVERY WAY like as we are—-the only way this could be is if Jesus had the very same nature as us—–it could not be that we have a sin nature and Jesus did not —-this would give Him an advantage and The Bible could not say He was tempted in every way JUST LIKE US—and yet without sin. Jesus came to prove that it could be done—and did it…..The simple fact is we are born innocent without a sin nature as well….

    The problem we run into is Knowing it is a sin when we first do it—-most often we do not know God’s law when we first indulge in sin—it may well be that our parents even taught us to do the thing that offends God—-God is faithful to work in our lives to bring us to knowledge of Himself—at that point if we receive it —it is like our eyes are opened and we realize that we have sinned—at this point we become accountable for making it right with God and with others–And the only way to be cleansed of sin is faith in Jesus Christ and His work on the Cross—-

    The analogy to the Spider is (as Sam pointed out) comparing apples to oranges—-God created insects to be governed by instinct and they are very predictable and will always act the same way—Not so with man who is governed by reason and consequences—-not all of us indulge the same degree in sin—some may have only a minor offense—–others have totally ruined their lives and the lives of those around them—It doesn’t seem to have rhyme nor reason either–wealthy, poor, abused, loved etc…—some in the best of circumstances have become exceedingly wicked–and then some in the worst of circumstances —turn out very beautiful—-And vise versa—If we were all created with the same sin nature and instinctively sinned similar to the spiders instinct we would all indulge the same way and to the same degree—And the final point is we would not even be ABLE to change if we wanted to—-yet we see many ungodly people get sick and tired of the consequences of sin and STOP doing it—This to me is proof that God has given men the ABILITY to do right—How much more can we live sin-free once we have come to the knowledge of God and His commands (which are given to bless the whole including us) and have repented of our sins and are now a temple of the Holy Spirit—who leads us into all truth—

    God does say that ALL have sinned (made wrong choices) and fall short of the Glory of God

    He does not say we are born with a sin nature and fall short of the Glory of God

    He does not say we all sin to the same degree

    He does not say that we will sin the whole time we are here

    Jesus did tell two people to go and sin no more

    Just because all have sinned is not proof that we are made with a fault or a bent to sinning—we must look at how God says He made us—-if God made us with a bad nature then He could not justly judge us—God all the way through the Bible shows us that He made man able to do what he asks—He has repeatedly been dissappointed and even angry by man’s refusal to do what is right and loving—this could not be if He did not create us with all the tools we need to do what He asks–by the way, that is what He is doing —-asking us —pleading with us—persuading us to listen to His counsel and do it—It will bless those around us and will also bless us and will surely bless Him as well—He will not force anyone to surrender their will and life to Him

    read what God told Cain when He was contemplating killing Able—–

    Gen 4:6 Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen?
    Gen 4:7 “If you do well, will not {your countenance} be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.”

    God will not make us choose right—we must master it—-

    • Bill says “Just because all have sinned is not proof that we are made with a fault or a bent to sinning…”

      If it was merely 3 out of 5 humans, I might be tempted to agree. It isn’t. It’s every last soul that has sinned according to the bible. And the bible makes this claim prior to the birth of billions with the expectation that they also will sin. It is not as if god looks at a newborn soul and says, I have no idea what the likelihood is of this soul sinning in the future. The bible assumes that the new soul will sin. And it goes beyond this to say that “all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” in the eyes of god (Isa 64:6). There is no positive side to human conduct according to the bible.

      “Just because all have sinned is not proof that we are made with a fault or a bent to sinning…”

      I must confess that this statement seems more absurd every time I read it. Every one of billions of souls have sinned without exception, and you want to claim that this is not evidence for a propensity to sin. I admire your passion to be consistent in following through on the implications of your belief in the justice of god, and I agree that were god to be just, we would not have a bent towards sinning. However, your assertion that we have no propensity to sin spoken in the face of the billions of data points all corroborating the notion that we do indeed have a sin nature is quite absurd.

  12. Bill Marsan says:

    Another thought as well:

    We have just been looking at the Negative—let’s look at the positive for a moment

    Look if you will at all the loving and good things people do—even those that reject God

    By what nature do they do the positive — constructive things?

    Is not a nature all encompassing? It is either one or the other–not both

    In fact if you look at the actual sin nature doctrine it says that we are born sinners and can do nothing but wickedness until God decides to choose us to be saved….

    Is it wickedness when a child picks a flower to give to mommy—or gives a scribbly crayon picture to daddy—-or comforts brother or sister when they get hurt????

    Is everything man does wicked???

  13. Bill Marsan says:

    The Bible clearly shows that it does not take a sin nature to sin—-there are other factors that contribute to our sin but not a sin nature and not to the degree that we are unable to do that which is right—as I shared I believe the evidence shows that we sin before we come to the full knowledge of what God wants and why—when it is revealed to us we then need to make those things right……Rom 7 puts it this way..

    Rom 7:9 For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.

    Also God has this to say about nature:

    Rom 2:14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:

    Here the Bible clearly says that there are those, by nature, doing what is required by the law—-this is contrary to the sin nature doctrine

    He also calls homosexuality unnatural in Romans chapter 1 —if indeed we have a sin nature then all sin would be natural

    Isa 64 has been greatly abused —-this is the prophet mourning the present condition of Isreal–

    The Bible says this about righteousness:

    Gen 7:1 And the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation.

    Psa 1:6 For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.
    Psa 34:15 The eyes of the LORD [are] upon the righteous, and his ears [are open] unto their cry.
    Eze 18:20 The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.

    There are many many more verses where God has declared that there are indeed righteous people—choosing that which is right…….perfect in heart.

    This “righteousness as filthy rags” doctrine like the sin nature doctrine has comforted many in their sins and will ultimately send them directly to Hell……let us study the Word to find out what HE says using the whole counsel of God not just select verses.

    1Jo 3:7 Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.

    The sin nature doctrine also states that we will have such a nature until we die—thus we will sin —even as christians—-until we die.

    The Bible says:
    2Pe 1:4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

    So even if you believe in a sin nature at birth—-it ends when we make things right with God and He makes us partakers of His divine nature—-Either way He has offered a way out if we will take it….

  14. Bill Marsan says:

    to further clarify:

    I said: “Just because all have sinned is not proof that we are made with a fault or a bent to sinning…”

    the Key word here is made—–I would not disagree that being born into a wicked world often with sinful parents and friends—along with the temptations presented to us by the temptor to take good God-given desires beyond their god-given limits –along with our limited initial knowledge of God—-Is a very strong catalyst to sin—even to the point of being easier to sin then to live righteously—-but God is very clear He did not make us with an inability to do as He asks—-such as the sin nature doctrine declares.

    Concerning “filthy rags”

    The condition of Isreal at the time was one of trying to serve both God and other gods—they were offering sacrifices and going through the motions of doing as God required but set up idols and worshiped them as well—-in this state God says He would not accept the righteous acts that they were doing —-it is as Filthy rags—of no account—-it did them no good since on the other hand they were not removing sin from their lives—-it is still the same today.

    • Hi Bill,
      You’re belief system seems to require that you say things such as the following:
      “Just because all have sinned is not proof that we are made with a fault or a bent to sinning…”
      You want god to be just, and therefore humans cannot have a sin nature. Yet every human sins.
      The absurdities that arise from attempts to reconcile attributes humans want god to have with reality are what disallow rational belief in the bible.

      (You failed to mention Lot as among those that god and Peter called “righteous” in Genesis 19 and 2 Peter 2:7-9, the same Lot who, in his “righteousness”, offered his daughters up, without consulting them or their husbands it seems, to satiate the sexual urges of Sodomites while falsely claiming they were virgins. Just another absurdity I’d like to point out.)

    • Bill said…

      I said: “Just because all have sinned is not proof that we are made with a fault or a bent to sinning…”

      the Key word here is made—–I would not disagree that being born into a wicked world often with sinful parents and friends—along with the temptations presented to us by the temptor to take good God-given desires beyond their god-given limits –along with our limited initial knowledge of God—-Is a very strong catalyst to sin—even to the point of being easier to sin then to live righteously—-but God is very clear He did not make us with an inability to do as He asks—-such as the sin nature doctrine declares.

      God has (according to christians), without our consent, chosen our composition and our environment.
      Claims that we are also given power to defeat the desire to sin should be accompanied with evidence that a good percentage of humans are sinless.
      Or is the freewill that god gave us biased in favor of sin? Why would there not be 50% sinners, and 50% sinless? Or do you not believe that one sin is sufficient to warrant the flames of hell?

      Some muslims bury alleged adulteresses up to their waists or chests in the ground before stoning them, so as to give them a “fair” chance to escape the circle of stoners. Your god seems almost as fair.

  15. Bill Marsan says:

    It seems to me that rather then clarification you only wish to mock the way that God has done all that He has done—He has given you life —-given you the chance to enter into wonderful fellowship with Him—sent you a messenger to clarify the things of God and yet you mock Him and His plan as if you are wiser than God —this attitude is surely from your father the devil—-You do not have to stay in that family —–God offers sooooo much more —–The Bible is clear that in comparison most will reject Him for wide is the road that leads to destruction and narrow the path to life everlasting—-Isn’t it wonderful that God has given you the choice to decide how you live and what you believe —you most certainly would not be comfortable in the fellowship of the godly—so you do not have to—-you cannot however choose the consequences of the choices you make —One day you will know and understand how wrong you are—and you will bow trembling to be judged by the great God who now invites you to fellowship with Him.

    • Readers should note that, unless you intend to provide coherent arguments for your beliefs, you may want to take your bald assertions elsewhere. This site is not a pulpit. I have a very strong commitment to logical arguments, and I have no problem conceding points that have been properly demonstrated. I do not, however, have much tolerance for incoherence and absurdities. Note Bill’s last comment; no argument but merely affirmations of the existence of interdependent entities that are wholly dependent on an immaterial realm he has not even come close to establishing. Bald assertions and fear-mongering of any sort will be ridiculed on this site.

  16. sam says:

    Phil,
    I said in my last comment that we need to clarify what sin actually is. I still can\’t tell what your understanding of the nature of sin is.
    Given the fact that you don\’t believe in God, at least not in the largely accepted fashion, your questions could be seen as an attempt to mock the believers. Not that I am offended. I\’ m only trying to clarify for myself what exactly is that you expect to get from the answers to your initial questions.
    On another level I don\’t think anyone could ever give a perfect rational explanation to anything related to religion. These matters can be discussed using the reason up to a certain level. Beyond that level you are only playing games with your other side of your brain.

    • Good point, Sam.
      I\’m leaving the definition of sin up to the people who believe in it. Provided that the definition does not lead to an absurdity or an incoherent notion of divine justice, I will admit sin as a logical possibility. However, if any definition of sin leads to absurdities, I am claiming that we can dismiss the notion without further examination. I must confess that I have yet to see a definition of sin that did not lead to subsequent absurdities in the notion of divine justice or questions about a consistent hermeneutic standard from which the definition of sin is extracted, but I will not say such a definition does not exists.

      Based on your comments, I’m not sure if you have read the account of my deconversion. It might add context to my current agnosticism.

  17. sam says:

    Phil,
    I would like to ask for your permission to translate parts of this discussion together with your 5 questions for my blog’s visitors. I am curious to hear other opinions on these matters.
    I understand if you don’t agree and I apology for the incovenience.

  18. jc says:

    is the sinful newborn deserving of hellfire? no. re: hell is not a place. that is a greek mythological idea that the catholic and evangelical church absurdly used to create fear. more people fear hell than they do god… totally odd to me. hell is simply separation from god. if it exists, it’s somewhere the person who does not believe in god will be use to. i see nothing in the bible that suggests otherwise.

    If adam did not have a sin nature, then how was he able to sin? adam had a nature that desired to be god; he took what was good and allowed it to become more important than god. he sought to replace god. question is really, did god give him the ability to not sin?

    If your answer to this is simply “free will”, then what is the difference between “free will” and a “sin nature”? it makes no difference to me. the point is that he sinned.

    Suppose we were created without a sin nature like Adam. Would we be less prone to sin? yes. but that is not the case. we have a sinful nature. history has show that for us with evil and oppressive dictators.

    Why did God map our sin nature to genetics rather than just giving everyone free will as he did with Adam? Have no idea and never will know.

    If our sin nature was not our choice, why are we condemned for living according to our nature? you’re not condemned for sinning. the entire human race is imperfect. you’re condemned according to christianity for rejecting the deity or christ who saves.

  19. jc says:

    is the sinful newborn deserving of hellfire? sorry. i did not clearly answer the question. the answer is no. re: a baby cannot cognitively decide.

  20. Bill Marsan says:

    It has been suggested that if we find ourselves in a situation that makes it harder to choose right than wrong then God cannot be just—-

    It is universally accepted that true love is found in adversity—–it is easy to love when all is going your way however will that love endure the hard times and hard choices—it is easy for a millionare to have friends but take away his money and you will find his true friends.

    to truly test character it must entail hard choices —-and that my friends is the NATURE of things

    • The suggestion was that the notion of a sin nature as traditionally defined is incoherent, and therefore any notion of god attached to that sin nature is also incoherent and logically impossible.
      Let’s not get our suggestions confused. And, Bill, the continued unsubstantiated bald assertions are not contributing to your position, and are instead reinforcing the caricature of credulous, yet arrogant christians.

  21. Bill Marsan says:

    so then how would you define “wrong” and what is your basis for right and wrong???

    • so then how would you define “wrong” and what is your basis for right and wrong???

      There are no moral rights or wrongs.
      There are only emotions. Humans attempt to take those emotions and map some definitional structure they call morality onto them in an attempt to alleviate moral uncertainty, but morality is only as certain and objective as the underlying emotions.
      There are only right and wrongs when considering a particular goal such as “It is wrong to drop out of high school if you want to become a doctor.”

  22. Bill Marsan says:

    also it seems you are arguing both sides —on the one hand you say that a sin nature as traditionally defined is incoherent and then on the other you are arguing that there must be a sin nature because all sin—please explain how your view is consistant and coherent

    • also it seems you are arguing both sides —on the one hand you say that a sin nature as traditionally defined is incoherent and then on the other you are arguing that there must be a sin nature because all sin—please explain how your view is consistant and coherent

      If there is “sin” as traditionally defined, there is a “sin nature” as shown by an assessment of human behavior.
      If there is a “sin nature” as shown by an assessment of human behavior, then god the god who has defined “sin” is not just.
      If a god who has defined “sin” is not just, he cannot be god.
      If a god who has defined “sin” cannot exist as god, then neither can “sin” as he has defined it exist.

      The structure is valid, and we’ve already discussed the premises.

      Note that I’ve only introduced “sin” in a conditional to demonstrate its incoherence. It is a result of this incoherence that I don’t believe in “sin”.

  23. Bill Marsan says:

    So why do we have courts and judges—-this is universal so it seems you are at odds with the way things are.

    • Bill said “So why do we have courts and judges—-this is universal so it seems you are at odds with the way things are.”

      Where there are conflicting interests arising from conflicting emotions, you’ll need courts and judges to arbitrate. The decisions are always an attempt to apply the prevalent common emotions of a community. This is why the migration of the ever-changing laws of a society seem to map onto the ever-changing emotional disposition towards a particular issue. Because the emotions are truly the only foundation for such laws. Slavery, property rights, torture, and animal rights are just a few examples.

  24. Bill Marsan says:

    Phil — what is your understanding of the traditional definition of sin?

    • Bill said…

      Phil — what is your understanding of the traditional definition of sin?

      The one in which sin is disobedience to the wishes of a god that can be clearly detected through nature (Romans 1), and, as a consequence, renders every sinner of a single sin deserving of eternal damnation.

  25. agnusstick says:

    In my opinion, SIN has a very personal definition. Moreover, it can change according to special moments or periods of our life, time of day, or even special evaluations of similar situations. Ultimately, we are stuck with SIN if we are not God Himself. At the opposite end of the spectrum, there cannot be any SIN at all. Believe it or not, both occurences can be seen in the same individual, at different times.
    SIN is not mere disobedience, sometimes it can be painful uncompliance to God’s standards — if one accepts God and His standards of holiness. If not, SIN is a nonsense to the individual, but it is debatable how God sees this situation.
    Calvinists believe in predestination — so it is God only who can bring a man to faith, and consequently to perceive SIN. Arminians think that men must accept willingly and ask for the grace of having faith, otherwise the grace can be resisted by free will. In the first case, God is responsible for men not seeing SIN in their lives. In the second case, man is somehow responsible — because we can still imagine that an allmighty God can impose His grace on us inspite of our free will. So, it either case it seems that God has a lot to account for if we SIN against Him — He created us as we are, and He is not forcing enough grace upon us. Yet the whole trick is, in my opinion, that what God really wants from us is to love Him as He is, and as low as He made us.

    • Agnusstick wrote…

      In my opinion, SIN has a very personal definition.

      That’s the beauty of the bible; if you can’t make sense of it, you can simply impose on it what you want it to read.
      That’s much easier than coming up with a consistent standard of hermeneutics to find out what it really says. We can FEEL what it says. And if the christian next to us disagrees we can start our own denomination that supports our emotions. It’s not like there is a holy spirit providing any consensus on the matter.

  26. agnusstick says:

    Just a remark: Romans 5:18 and Psalm 51:5 do express quite different views on sin. If we take Adam’s personal original sin for granted as the root of all evil within ourselves we might keel on the wrong shore (and I don’t think that’s what Paul really intended to say). Psalm 51 is closer to the painful ungodlyness lament, rather than to specific and concrete sins’.
    I also think that taking Genesis literally, on this matter as on others, is a wrong approach.

  27. agnusstick says:

    Even mathematics needs some hermeneutics (except maybe geometry…). Is there something wrong in tying religion with emotions?
    Back to definitions, the Bible has a very special sparse definition of sin, which leads us to think that there is no limit in finding sin in every bit of our life. But, very Bible-specific also, we can simply crush sin in case we act or feel according to God’s will. Consequently, we sometimes sin even if we don’t break the Law, but we can also break the Law without sinning. So the definition of sin, actually crowned by the Gospel, means not to know God. Of course, we cannot be condemned because we don’t know Him, as we never do this even if we try. Yet the Bible says that knowing God is possible — by loving Him, maybe?
    I think every christian actually have their own denomination (partly because nobody can truly agree with everything a denomination proclaims).

    • If religion claims to reflect truth, then, yes, there is something wrong with tying it to emotions as emotions have a very poor track record in assisting the searcher to access objective truth.

      You at least appear to agree with my suggestion that there is no unity of doctrine among believers, something that is quite odd given the claim that christians all possess the same holy spirit of truth.

  28. agnusstick says:

    A claim similar to that of infallibility of this or that Church or religious leader…
    Objective truth? I fully agree with Protagoras and his postmodernist heirs. What is objective truth? Something that produces very subjective reflections into the minds and souls that contemplate it, something that exists independently of these reflections, be they utterly right, completely wrong, or more or less close to “reality”. If the reality is tangible, we still have a lot of problems, but if it’s spiritual things go crazy. Spiritual in our case would be either a being we call God, either the ultimate cause that decided about how this Universe should be and where it should go to. If there is no such ultimate cause, men normally hurt — I think that is a fact, no matter the faith or lack thereof.

    • Agnusstick, could you restate your last comment. I could not identify your point. Are you saying we cannot approximate objective truth? And you interject the word “spiritual” suddenly into your paragraph for no apparent reason. Could you tighten up your argument?

  29. agnusstick says:

    Well, I’m not a philosopher, sorry for the weak argument. I’m saying that we humans have some trouble approximating objective truth, when it comes to extreme, border or limit areas like infinitesimal or cosmic. For instance, in the infinitesimal domain we risk and actually alter what we are trying to observe, while in the cosmic domain we only have inference without any experimental capabilities. The truth can refer not only to tangible objects, but also to spiritual or ideal ones (like in pure maths, where theories can be developed even without a yet tangible reality to apply it upon). Religion is such a domain where objective truth can be accepted to exist, but we shouldn’t relate it to a tangible, experimental or measurable reality. When we say that Jesus is God, this can be seen as an objective truth that is perceived in various ways by the believers. For nonbelievers it can never be an objective truth, as it cannot be seized and proven — of course, until the Judgment Day perhaps. In such a framework of thought, I see objective truth as something that has value only for each subject that perceives it in a very personal way — thus the reference to Protagoras. An objective truth that no one knows has no value per se. The value of such a truth exists only by subjectivation, and its value is actually increased by each new individual perspective. I tend to go for a kind of relativism like Joseph Margolis’.

    • It is inappropriate to apply the words “truth” and “objective” to possible entities for which there is no evidence, and no way to test for their existence, or even for their falsification.

  30. agnusstick says:

    “For nonbelievers [God] can never be an objective truth, as it cannot be seized and proven — of course, until the Judgment Day perhaps.”
    ”It is inappropriate to apply the words “truth” and “objective” to possible entities for which there is no evidence, and no way to test for their existence, or even for their falsification.”
    So, we agree… But why asking questions on the nature of sin, in your case? If you know that the whole story is irrational, then why study the minds of irrational people? I can concede that this is a very interesting study, but all you can find out is how far the irrationality can go, and how rational you still (wells) are.
    Your phrase above must apply also to philosophy, not only to religion. So, what is the difference between a philosopher and a believer? I think the difference is given by the degree by which their lives are affected by what they “think” and “believe”. An atheist also believes a lot of things, without verifying each of them personally — but this is not an argument pro faith, it is just a remark on the attitude of believing only things that pertain to a certain rational sphere. If you cannot agree that ration can also apply to other things than tangible, computational, or experimental, then what’s the point to think about irrationality — if you’re not a psychiatrist? I agree that, in certain amounts escaping individual uniqueness, religious irrationality is somehow repeatable, algorithmically obtainable and (socially) experimental. But assuming faith is mental illness is definitely exagerated in most cases. Also, how can we explain cases of failed religious education, going through atheistic period and then arriving at strong faith? Normally the bad education should drive one far away from faith. If it’s over the point of no return…

    • 1. You seem to be using the phrase “objective” in a very non-conventional way. If you wish to be understood, you’ll have to use the same definitions that most of your audience does.
      2. Religionists believe in square triangles, while philosophers claim these are not possible. Religion and philosophy are quite different in that in religion, anything that “the scriptures” state must be accepted as true even if we don’t understand the incoherency of the notion due to the fact that god’s ways are not our ways. In philosophy, every notion asserted by a book or human is subject to rejection if incoherent.
      3. I make it clear that I am not an atheist as atheism is commonly defined by christians. I strongly assert that the square triangular abrahamic god of the bible is a false notion, but there remains the (slight?) possibility of other forms of deity.

  31. agnusstick says:

    I must object to point 2. If we oversimplify Riemann’s geometry is crazy, and maybe also Einstein’s work using it.
    As long as I try to make myself understood, I am usually allowed to choose my words. For some, God is an objective truth, even more than the “facts” of ration-driven life. Quotes are coming from relativism – I tend to have a condescendent view of the disquotational truth.

    • To say that god is an objective truth to “some” is absurd since the “some” are subjective evaluators who are not allowing the “truth” of god to be vetted objectively outside of their emotional experience.

      The rest of your last comment I do not understand. If there is anyone else out there who can make sense of agnusstick’s comments and detect a coherent argument, feel free to have a go at it.

      Based on experience, I’d say that agnusstick does not really want to make his thoughts accessible to criticism, and hence the less-than-rigorous arguments.

  32. agnusstick says:

    Dear Sir,
    It’s a pitty to fall down to man’s most beloved habit of mastering reality by tagging and labelling. If I offended you in any way, I apologize — thinking you’re an atheist (due to not having enough time to read your relevant posts, which was infortunate) is not quite an offence in my view, since I was born an atheist, and remained so for quite some time.
    Your assessment regarding my dodging the criticism is simply wrong. Tagging in this case means that you assume that every individual having faith must have big rational and intellectual flaws — anyway, at least refusing critical analysis by ration. This is very wrong in my case, I can demonstrate at all times, if I feel appropriate, the rational absurdity of faith. But this leaves me still in balance, because having faith really means believing inspite of anything rational, and even inspite of a lot of irrational fears. Rigorous arguments are not my speciality, and my arguments usually bring me a lot of animosity from other believers. But what I see is that I can understand, accept and even enhance anti-faith arguments, but fail to induce a different attitude to those who refuse some forms of irrational faith.
    If you don’t think that the emotional “spheres” of any kind can support the notion of objective truth, I cannot help you at all. For me, objective truth is anything that causes and makes the things to be, manifest, and transform as they do, in any area.
    I don’t know which part of my previous comment you didn’t understand. As for disquotational truth, “Snow is white” becomes disquotational truth only if snow is really white. And I’m quite sure that a lot of philosophers admitted god’s existence (and some, even God’s). Maybe this disqualifies them as philosophers and degrades them into theologists, I won’t argue about that.
    To end this (part of the) conversation, I shall answer to your questions, from my point of view.

    There couldn’t be a sinful nature before or without a Law, norm, or just a simple demand coming from God. As soon as God’s will was expressed, everybody and everything got a sinful nature. Why? Well, simply because God wanted everybody and everything to become something different or else, to depart from what or who they were created. And that brought failure to satisfy, poor performance, fatigue, lack of focus, reluctance, opposition or plain rebellion into the world (the list is larger, of course). We can concede to name this infinitely extended list as “sin”. Now, things are even worse, because even if we humans really want and love to obey our God, we simply can’t — that’s our nature, that’s how we were created by Him. We need His help to comply, and still if we get it by grace, we are the same losers, our nature is beautyfied but not changed, we are still sinful but temporary in a sin-potentially-suspended state (but with everlasting sin-potential-perfectly-intact).
    Why has God chosen this way? We can only guess, provided we refrain from falling into the sin against the Holy Spirit — God’s way and will must be to our greater good, and to the Universe’s also.
    Coming to the questions, and sticking to the logic of the above:
    -The newborn doesn’t deserve anything, but God really knows what it would have done if it lived past the age of understanding, so it shouldn’t be a surprise to see newborns in Heaven or Hell!!!
    -The free will is included in the sinful nature, and Adam was created with a sinless nature which became sinful when God issued a rule for the men to break.
    -We are exactly as Adam in nature, but a lot more clever and educated, so we can commit sin in terrifically more ways and flavors. It’s just that the world offers a lot more distraction to us, keeping us better from focusing on God.
    -We don’t know what exactly had Adam in his genes (nor Eve for that matter), but even God couldn’t pour every handicap on their body, so the offspring must bear with this and pretend to be Adam (or Eve) in a revised edition (or Evadam, or Adameve…). I don’t know if I got you well with the mapping, if you meant genetical-coded extra sinfulness, or just transmission of Eden sin through genes (I reject the latter).
    -We are condemned for not loving God enough as to desire to comply with His will. We are condemned for losing the battle with our sinful nature (which is hapenning anyway, but at least we must show some intent).

    • You don’t offend me, but I’m a bit impatient with paragraphs of assertions with no coherent arguments backing those assertions. If everyone merely gives their beliefs without including the argument behind those beliefs stated in a clear and concise way, then there can be no dialog.

      I appreciate you admitting that even other christians are a bit impatient with your arguments. It takes practice to keep your arguments consistent, coherent and cogent, but the result is well worth it. I sense that you have a lot to say, but have difficulty saying it in a way that others can grasp.

      I may be a bit too impatient as I think I note that English is not your first language. Is this the case? If so, I definitely apologize, and would like to encourage you to, in the future, state the reasons for your beliefs in a rigorous way that can be effectively assessed. Your last comments were a bit long, but I do think I’m beginning to grasp your basic arguments. Thanks for your contributions.

  33. agnusstick says:

    Indeed, I’m not thinking in English. But this is not the main reason of impatience coming from some christians, but rather my ideas, which they understand and reject — I’m rather an agnostic theist knowing that God exists, but thinking it’s impossible to grasp His will precisely, and making everything a matter of personal choice (like in gambling, but with life or death stakes). In the religious field, coherent arguments are close to become apologetics, an art which I’m really not fond of, because it forces a little bit the rational “tools” to apply to things which are irrational in nature. One can apply reason to faith only in a very special way, in my opinion, and that from inside the faith, and using mainly intuition, induction and specific symbol processing, and some logic — but using premises that are rationally false. All this is not coherent, consistent and cogent…

  34. agnusstick says:

    The Bible is not coherent, consistent and logic. Does this mean that God does not exist? If ration as we know it is the only valid epistemologic tool at hand, then chances are high to have no God at all, or that He is holy in a way that makes Him inferior to us. Can we assume that the way humans think (and this is unfortunately also a matter of history, not only of genetics) has alternatives that we missed somewhere in our race’s past, or may be offered to just the chosen ones? This is impossible to demonstrate or transmit from person to person — the main obstacle is the language, among other things.
    Are emotions combined with symbolic reason a valid way of thinking? Rational people disagree to this suggestion. By symbolic reason I try to express a framework of manipulating essences, abstractions and suggestions of truth. These abstractions are not rational, because the way that make them be includes emotions, intuition and maybe other ways of assessing reality that our brain uses, and of which we are not very aware yet. (For an example of what I mean, see http://www.gladwell.com/blink/index.html) Pure ration is not to be excluded at all in this mix, because it also makes our memory store emotions and complex symbols.
    Did I succeed to make myself vaguely understood?

  35. agnusstick says:

    Sorry for the “ration” above (though it is archaic for “reason”) — it’s because I think in a latin-origin language..

    • Agnusstick said…

      The Bible is not coherent, consistent and logic. Does this mean that God does not exist?

      God cannot logically exist if you cite incoherence, inconsistency and illogic as reasons for your disbelief in Santa, Thor, the Easter Bunny, Spider Man or any one of the infinite possible fanciful entities…

      …but if logic plays no role in your assessment, the number of possible entities to believe in is infinite.

      Most of us are not waiting with baited breath for evidence of Santa to someday arrive. We can dismiss the notion of Santa immediately due to the incoherencies within the narrative of Santa and his North Pole Factory.

  36. agnusstick says:

    #62. Sorry, I can’t follow you.
    Is it “in case of in-xyz, disbelief is the normal reaction, but nonexistence is proven also”?
    I would say as follows:
    If a report about something is incoherent, inconsistent and illogic, does it prove that the thing is not existing? In my opinion, no.
    Does it prove that the reporters are not competent to describe the thing, or that the thing is too variant to support a definition, consequently the thing must be nonexistent or we should replace it by many other things with proper definitions? I would say yes to both assertions. However “we should replace” is noncompelling, and nonexistence is not yet proven in my opinion. By the way, it is very difficult to prove that a certain thing does not exist, particularly if the thing’s definition is unclear. These are the points that allow me to make an option, to place the bets, even if I have no proof. I choose to believe that God exists, and support the consequences. It is my option, it is not a fact that I can impose to anybody else, because I cannot prove it even to myself.

  37. agnusstick says:

    Because there is no Santa in the Bible… (ha, ha, ha). When I was a child, I believed in Santa, but the nature of his story and epiphany is such, that one must discard Santa at a certain point in life. This cannot be compared to God, I’m afraid. If I would believe NOW in Santa, I would probably need a form of medical assistance. God was not proven inexistent to me by now, so I still believe in Him, and I love to, as I would have loved to believe in Santa. Why do some of us need to believe? I’m afraid we are too many to be considered malformed.

  38. MBT says:

    I came across your blog while looking for something else. I get the impression that your purpose is to argue rather than consider, but in case I am misjudging your motives, I will seek to answer your questions.
    In asking your questions, you have assumed the ‘truth’, or biblical accuracy of the definitions you have given above, and within the context of that assumption, your questions will necessarily elicit an incorrect or incomplete response. The concept of man’s sin nature is a doctrine of Calvinism. While Calvinism has profoundly affected Christian profession for many years, Calvinism is not Christianity, nor is Christianity Calvinism. Many Calvinist doctrines are unbiblical, and are only supported by taking passages out of context, denying conflicting passages altogether, and perverting the meaning of words and concepts from their historical and / or normal meaning.
    Calvin’s teaching of man’s sin nature is that upon sinning, Adam’s perfect nature was changed, so that he and all his progeny would forever have an inherently wicked quality, completely incapable and completely disinclined to any good thought or action, and therefore by nature disposed to reject and rebel against God, with neither the desire nor the ability to seek Him, love Him, or consider obeying Him. This theological concept is false; the Bible teaches no such change in the nature of man at any time, nor does it teach man’s “total depravity” as described by Calvinism.
    Rather Scripture demonstrates clearly that we share the same nature as Adam, which nature permitted him as it does us to choose between right and wrong, to choose to seek God and obey Him or otherwise. Men sin because their natural tendency is to prefer to fulfill their own desires above any other goal, and most men live according to that preference most often. All men do so sometimes.
    Psalm 51:5 properly reads:
    Shapen: 2342 chuwl or chiyl – pro. To twist or whirl – to dance, writhe (in pain, esp childbirth) , fig: to wait, to pervert, bear, bring forth, calve, dance, drive away, fall grievously with pain, fear, form great, grieve, …be much pained, res, shake, shapen, …travail, tremble, trust, wait carefully, be wounded….”
    “I was brought forth (born) in iniquity; in sin did my mother conceive me.”
    Psalm 51 is David’s expression of repentance and shame over his sin with Bathsheba – adultery and the murder of her husband to hide David’s sin. David’s poetic reference to his complete sinfulness before God was not intended by David as a theological statement regarding the condition or ‘nature’ of humanity at birth, but David’s expression of his having been affected by or associated with sin from the beginning of his life. His mother was sinful when he was born, even from his very conception he was exposed to sin, as his mother was ‘sinful’. He made no plea of “I’ve been good up till now, God; I only did these two big sins, but otherwise I’ve been a good guy; a man after your own heart, remember?” but rather expressed himself as completely guilty before God. Please do not rebut this explanation by asking if therefore David was not speaking ‘truth’, so therefore why would we assert the truth of his words in other contexts?
    1. Many Calvinists do claim that if a baby dies, it will go to hell. However, a newborn baby is not ‘sinful’, and is not ‘deserving’ of hellfire, despite Calvinist doctrine An infant has no cognitive awareness, no capacity to assess and decide, and therefore qualifies as one who ‘cannot know’. Christ declares that those who do not know are not guilty of sin. I will refer you to an on-line article that discusses this more fully: http://www.truth-and-grace.com/Man%27s%20Sin%20Nature.html . The article also addresses your second and third questions, but the short answer to each shall follow.
    2. The Calvinist teaching on ‘sin nature’ is false. Adam as a physical being with a body and spirit, or ‘mind’, capable of observation, consideration, analysis, comparison, and decision. His ability to weigh and decide coupled with his natural desires, made him available to sin, rather than making him inherently sinful. His relationship with God and his experience of God provided him the empirical point of reference to condition his decisions. God did advise Adam’s decisions but He did not force Adam’s decisions.
    3. Our nature is identical to Adam’s. We are as capable of choosing to follow our urges as Adam was. Any time we choose to follow those urges in opposition to God’s righteous standards, or to the detriment of someone else, we are choosing. How prone we will be to sin will be conditioned by how inclined we are towards God, and to some degree the gentleness of our personality.
    4, God did not ‘map our sin nature to genetics’, although I have read some Calvinist writings that say so. Genetics have nothing whatever to do with sin.
    5. This is a valid question against Calvinist doctrine, but as indicated above, it implies a false teaching. No one is condemned for living according to our nature. We are condemned for doing what is wrong. The root of sin is the rejection of God as God. When we disbelieve Him, or pretend He does not exist, we are guilty already (John 3:18; John 16:8-9) Ultimately, all sinful actions are the result of failing to believe that God is, Who God is, or what God has said.
    Now, the Bible says that men who reject God do not want to know God. It is not that God has failed to provide sufficient “evidence” of His existence, but that those men prefer to deny the God they know is ‘real’ so they can pursue their own desires and ideas. It is possible to exhaust yourself looking for ways to twist the Scriptures to argue against some aspect of God in an attempt to justify your rejection of His existence or His role in your life. I suggest to you and your various readers to put your energy to better use; find and study a translational version of the Bible to find out what it says rather than what any particular theological system teaches. You have immersed yourself in people’s objections; spend the next year or two studying authoritative resources that show you the responses to your packaged objections to what the Bible says. You will not find ‘perfection’ in those resources, nor answers to every question you might be able to pose, but since in your unbelief you lack perfect knowledge and understanding, you will be no farther behind. Human beings don’t have ‘all’ the answers; finite minds can never possess infinite knowledge. The tone of your questions indicates a desire to argue rather than a desire to know – you have assumed you ‘know’ because you are set in your ideas. I suggest you cultivate a desire to know rather than argue – you think the discussion is important enough to create a blog to debate; I maintain that it is important enough to invest the time in an honest effort to learn rather than a self-serving desire to ‘stump’ Christians.
    If you have an honest question, ask someone who has the knowledge and understanding to respond. Whether you believe it or not, you will ultimately answer to the God you prefer to avoid. I urge you to change your attitude and pursue the truth while you are able. There is no more critically important thing you will do in your life.

  39. Hi MBT,

    Thanks for posting.

    I guess I should let you know how long I was open-minded about the incoherencies in the bible. From age 7 to 33 I was a strong believer, and accepted the concept that some things that seem incoherent in the bible are just beyond our intellectual grasp. (http://philstilwell.com/deconversion)

    I no longer accept incoherencies based on that reason, and feel rather ashamed that I once did. I used to find it an inappropriate expectation of god to have my belief system make sense without an infusion of faith. I no longer consider faith to be an appropriate shoe horn for beliefs.

    It appears you do.

    I’m hoping you are not so set in your own ideas that you cannot consider the experience from someone who has spent a considerable amount of time and energy on both sides. And while during much of the 3+ year process of my deconversion, I honestly thought that I might find a pastor from among all those I consulted with that they might have a reason-based response, I’m now rather tired of all the varied twisted hermeneutic sandwiches oozing with the undisciplined fatty faith that are handed to me with a straight face. The one thing you and the Calvinists certainly share is the absence of a coherent standard of hermeneutics that would prevent all of you from ad hoc interpretations of the vague bible passages you both need to shore up with contortions. I’ve asked time and time again for years on end for this mythical standard that presumably you’ve used to establish your position. It seems to be as mythical as the book it claims to elucidate. I’m so weary of asking.

    Why not join me in an honest search for truth! You may find the integrity in setting aside all assumptions quite refreshing!

    Cheers, Phil

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