Michael Dowd has found an intriguing way to understand Original Sin and the Fall in evolutionary terms. Our brains have different regions that seem to correspond to a developmental sequence from the parts in the bottom that we share with the reptiles, through a section like that of lower mammals, to the large region like the higher mammals, and finally the lobes in the front that are distinctively human. As brain scientists have studied these different parts of the brain, they perform different functions. They also promote different, sometimes competing impulses. We have inherited a propensity to do things that gratify our simplest urges for pleasure and survival that conflict with our more complex understanding of what is good and right. This inheritance, Dowd argues, is how we can understand Original Sin.
Seeing our conflicting sinful urges in this way, as an emergent result of our psychological and physical evolution, does not make them less sinful. But it does, Dowd argues, help us defuse the emotions around them. Calmness is the face of strong desires can help us not give in to them.