Friday, November 2, 2007

Original Sin and Divine Predestination

The doctrine of ‘original sin’ provides an explanation that is incoherent when considered as a philosophical proposition given its inherent contradictions. If God is both all powerful and all knowing therefore it must be the case that God was the ‘original sinner’, for God created Adam with the capacity to sin and furthermore God knew that Adam was going to sin, and far from doing something to prevent Adam’s sin, God nevertheless created Adam with the foreknowledge that in the manner of Adam’s creation was found the origins of the inevitable fall.

If this was not true, then it must the case that God was not all knowing and not all powerful. Condemning Adam for being a sinner would make about as much sense as condemning an Aardvark for being Aardvark, or condemning and Ant Eater for eating ants. Ant Eaters eat ants and sinners such as Adam sin for the simple reason that it is the created nature of Ant Eaters to eat ants just as it was the created nature of Adam to sin. Therefore it cannot be true that God cannot tolerate sin, for we can see in the world around us that God certainly created one hell of a lot sin, and did so knowingly and with foreknowledge.

The argument found in the book of Romans states that God is All Powerful and that God is also All Knowing and that therefore it was indeed God who created all the evil in the world so as to ‘demonstrate wrathfulness’ in order to ‘demonstrate justice’. All the world is therefore a stage, just as Shakespeare summarized this theological perspective in one of his plays. We are all just clay pots on the potters wheel.

An ant eater is created to eat ants. Good people are created to do good while evil people are created evil, such as Pharaoh, who was created to do evil by God so that God’s power could be demonstrated to everyone by taking down Pharaoh. It was an all powerful God who was in ‘complete control’ who deliberately placed Pharaoh upon the throne as part of that divine plan to ‘demonstrate justice’ by knocking down Pharaoh. It was all planned ahead of time, just as all the evil in the world was planned out ahead of time by God who is the only ‘original sinner’ if we assume, as is the case in the book of Romans, that God is all powerful. If this is not true, then it must be the case that evil people can somehow thwart the will of God, proving to everyone the lack of power possessed by God. Since the book of Romans is a very right wing document, this perspective is rejected, and instead evil becomes ‘the divine will of God.’

One pot is created good and another pot is created evil. This does not depend on human choices or human will but rather upon the divine will of God who is in perfect control. Before people were born and had done anything good or evil God said ‘Jacob I loved and Esau I hated.’ Therefore there is no salvation based upon works or good deeds, but all is merely dependant upon the grace of God, so that it does not rely upon human effort or human will power, but rather upon the arbitrary choice of God. This is known as the doctrine of ‘divine predestination’ and one thing that can be said in favor of this doctrine found in the Book of Romans is that as a theology it is more consistent than conventional Christian doctrine that plucks quotes out of context in the book of Romans, while ignoring the actual theological world view that informs the book – the doctrine of predestination, which is required if God is to be both All Powerful and All Knowing and yet we would still find evil in the world.