Friday, February 08, 2008

Thank God for Evolution, Part 3

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.


ratpick said...

so why is it so hard to believe that God created everything in 6 days that Genesis lays out clearly. If you can't believe the beginning how can you believe anything else?

Virginia said...

I'm sorry, which account of Creation in Genesis should we believe? There are two. The accounts conflict on how Adam and Eve came into existence. In one God makes them both together. In the other, he makes Eve from Adam's rib. One of them specifies that God took six days to make everything. The other does not identify a time frame.

Why is it so hard to read Biblical stories as non-literal narratives that reflect the culture and theology of the time at which they were written?

For those interested, this is a great response to Creationism, written by a believer: