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Sin is the Answer

Murdering God necessitated a total and immediate reimagining of the world; not just the geological and biological world, but especially the moral, psychological, and metaphysical world. If there is no God, then we must account for where everything came from. Where does space and matter come from? Where do plants and animals come from? Where did we come from? And those are just the easy questions. Where does Right and Wrong come from? What is Right and Wrong? What is Meaning? What is Purpose? Where are we going? These are hard questions to answer even when God does exist, but erase him from the equation and they sprout thickets of thorns very quickly. The crowning achievement of the imagination of Man is the answer he has devised to all these questions: Evolution. This magical, senseless, pointless, random pseudo-process that accounts for everything that is anything and even some things that are nothing. Galaxies, stars, planets, life, good, evil, marriage, art… everything is a result of Evolution. 

Some Christians reject evolution outright because they believe it is antithetical to God, the Bible, and Creation. That is not necessarily the case. Not even full-throated evolution is antithetical to faith. Granted, it might be antagonistic to certain Christian interpretations of the Bible, but Christians are just as capable of being wrong as non-Christians, so a schism between ‘Science’ and a particular Biblical interpretation is not objective proof that the science is wrong. For some, this observation will be so offensive that they are ready to tune out any further discussion. That is likely because they don’t believe that their interpretation actually is an interpretation. They probably believe it is the plain, simple truth gleaned from a literal reading of the text. It might not do them any good, but I would be remiss not to point out that a “literal reading of the text” (as it is commonly called) isn’t actually possible. Reading the Biblical text (or any text, for that matter) involves many, many layers of interpretation; just as writing any text requires many, many layers of interpretation. This reality is a stumbling stone for those who cling to a spartan worldview. I should point out that it is likewise much abused by those who wish to blur truth into a subjective bokeh.

How can Evolution and God not be diametrically opposed? This is a question that could benefit from a much more in-depth examination than I currently have time to undertake, however, allow me to draw your attention to one example. If we take the creation account of Genesis “literally” we are still left with some very big questions. Principally: What physical process did God use to create man? We know that there was an intersection between the Divine will and the natural process. That much is “literally” clear in the text, because it says that “God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.” So there is an intersection between the eternal and time/space/matter; between his Word and the Forming; between God and Dirt. So if you were standing there when it happened, what would you have seen? Obviously you would not have seen God, his will, or his word. But you would have seen the dust and the nostrils. So at some point the eternal and spiritual became temporal and carnal, and at that point Creation became Process; Miracle became Nature; God became Science. Once we are dealing with dust and nostrils, we are no longer in the realm of the supernatural, we are, quite literally, completely down to earth and a natural process. That process which even the most literal Bible believer must accept to be true, corresponds to what Science attributes to evolution. Evolution does not and cannot account for one instant before the start of that process and God is not needed to account for any developments that resulted naturally from that process. That point of intersection is the boundary between Creation and Nature. It is possible that the actual point of intersection happened sooner in the Creation account, or that there were multiple intersection points; this is just the clearest example that such an intersection exists and that even the most literalist Christian acknowledges it. This does not mean that the evolutionary model is accurate. However, whatever problems that model has, the accusation that it inherently contradicts the Scripture is not one of them. 

There are many problems with the evolutionary model. So many that I can’t take it seriously, nor do I understand how so many intelligent people do. A key problem with it is that it is actually a massive hodgepodge of very loosely connected hypotheses all sold as a single scientific theory. It would be like packaging Hubris, Seriousness, and Falling all under the scientific theory of ‘Gravity’. The bedrock of evolutionary theory is the observation that environmental pressures ‘select’ for adaptability and suitability. For example, if a species of bird exhibits different types of beaks, and one beak is more suitable for the current environment because it  is longer, stronger, or duller then that bird is more likely to survive and reproduce than the birds that don’t have that advantage. Over time, these environmental pressures can effectively breed that feature into that species just as conscious breeding has produced dogs with desired physical or emotional traits. This is both intuitive and unremarkable. Only the most simple-minded Christian actually believes that God made every single animal exactly as we know them today. However, the shell game that naturalists play is to hide under that term a plethora of far less obvious ideas, such as one species evolving into another, or a species evolving a characteristic that it didn’t previously have. Even more glaring is packaging psychological and sociological developments into the black box of Evolution. 

The result of this packaging is that Evolution is presented as the answer to all behavior. For example: Why do men rape women? The answer that a naturalist provides is that it is an evolutionary behavior. We are biologically ‘wired’ to procreate by any and all means possible. Any member of the species that was not so ‘wired’ has eliminated itself from the gene pool because its lack of reproductive determination is self-defeating. This does not mean that evolutionists believe that rape is good or acceptable, rather they acknowledge that life is runoff of the evolutionary slaughterhouse. It is this cold, brutal, unavoidable reality that makes teaching the brass tacks of evolution morally challenging in primary and even secondary education. This is exacerbated by the undeniable fact that evolution has no morality, at least not any that civilized human beings recognize as such. The ‘morality’ of evolution is preservation of the species, and that is “red in tooth and claw”. Selflessness, love, and gentleness are only better if they result in preserving those that exhibit them, otherwise they are not only unvirtuous, they are decidedly immoral. And there is no way to predetermine if any proposed virtue is Good or Evil until long after nature has run its unpredictable course. In Evolution, the ends don’t really justify the means. In Evolution, there is no difference between ends and means. The ends are just the means observed at a different scale of time.

Creatures can guess and theorize as to which behaviors are Good and which are Evil, but the only absolute distinction that is possible is whether they contribute to that Creature’s own survival or to its own demise, and consequently to that of its species. (I say “Creatures” because evolutionarily speaking, “Human beings”—or the Biblical “Man”—is as insignificantly distinct a category as “Electric Mixer” would be to “Wire Whisk”. Sure, it is more advanced, but ultimately it is merely an incremental complication over the other; and which is better can only be determined by the circumstances and the eventual result of the uncertainties of the future. How long does it take to clean and maintain it? Will there be electricity tomorrow?) Is rape Good? Is murder Good? Is theft Good? Evolutionary theory can only offer the uncertain future as the eventual answer. If only rapists, murderers, and thiefs propagate themselves into that future, then the answer must be “Yes”. By what evolutionary standard can we answer anything but “Yes”? Any answer we give is an evolutionary consequence of the “morality” that propagated itself into our present. Perhaps a “better” morality lost out. We can postulate that those ‘virtues’ will not result in long term survival, but we can’t be sure, and even if we could, it doesn’t change the fact that we are determining Right and Wrong based on the natural consequence, and this is a categorical dissonance. What we are calling “Right” and “Wrong” really should be properly called “Is” and “Is Not”, as they correspond to historical outcomes not moral judgments. “Right” and “Wrong” correspond to what Ought to be, regardless of what Is and Is Not. If everyone was a thief, would it still be “Wrong”? It couldn’t be Wrong if Wrong really means it Is Not, for we have already established that it plainly Is. 

So, why do men rape women? The answer that the Bible provides is “Sin”. And the Biblical doctrine of Sin is extremely sophisticated. Far more sophisticated than the average sermon on Sin would lead us to conclude. And light years more sophisticated than the sophistry of Evolution. While many of the Biblical authors contributed to developing the doctrine of Sin, no one more brilliantly and profoundly than the Apostle Paul. (Although Jesus actually far outpaced even Paul, he just did it backwards: By developing the doctrine of true righteousness.) In his epistle to the Romans, Paul presents a survey of Sin that fully accounts for the scope of human history, both past and future. In Paul’s doctrine, Sin is not just something that we “do” or the way in which we do something. Sin is personified as a separate entity, with its own agenda and dimension. It is characterized as a kingdom, a state, a domain, a sphere of influence; a “reign”. Sin is not evaluated by how it helps or hinders the sinner, and therefore sinning isn’t primarily a matter of “doing” something wrong, but of allying oneself with a belligerent State. And the repentance of sin is the renunciation of that allegiance, as symbolized by the metaphor of “Being born again of incorruptible seed”. A byproduct of this understanding is that the sins that born again believers commit as actions or attitudes are deemed to be the “motions of sins”; that is to say, the habits or vestiges of Sin. While these motions are serious and have serious side-effects on our physical and emotional life, they are not spiritually lethal. It is Sin itself that is lethal; and the antidote to that lethality was never such a crass elixir as “be good… or at least don’t be bad”. 

The antidote that Paul prescribes and Jesus administers is both much better than that humanistic snake oil and at the same time far worse. It is much better because it actually works, and it works every time. It addresses the underlying condition, not just the symptoms. The humanistic therapeutic is like prescribing “Don’t cough!” to someone dying of tuberculosis. Jesus pinpoints the root of the malady and surgically removes it, with prejudice. So on that note, it is much, much better. But it is also far, far worse. Paul’s exploratory diagnosis reveals that the problem is our life and the panacea is our death. Sin loses all its claim on you if you are dead. It can’t kill you if you are dead. Do you see! What a lovely, hideous solution. The wages of sin is death. The salvation of Jesus is death. One syllable Christianity is wont to teach that Jesus died so you wouldn’t have to; that he took your place in death so that you can take his place in life. That is untrue. There is no escaping death. You either die in Sin or you die in Christ. Jesus did not die so you wouldn’t have to, he ran to the front of the line and led those who trust in him straight into death. He died with you so that you could die in him, so you could live with him and he could live in you.

Sin is the answer that Evolution is flailing around for in the dark. But Jesus is the answer that every sinner is grasping for. Jesus answered Sin by kicking down the door of its stronghold, binding its strongman, and plundering its treasury. You just need to ask the right question.

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