Recently, I joined in a discussion about the relationship between original sin and evolution. I happened to like my answer :), so here’s an outtake of the salient parts of the conversation.

The doctrine of Original Sin and evolution are by far most likely the hardest ideas to reconcile in Christian theology. Evolutionary theory refutes the notion that Original Sin brought discord, death and chaos into an initially perfect creation of harmony and equilibrium…

How do we reconcile evolution and Original Sin? Or perhaps, if one accepts evolution as the underlying creative and formative process, how do we explain sin?

There is nothing to reconcile as the processes which you characterize as “discord” and “chaos” are simply the way the universe is. Death is a necessary part of biology–without it, we would not be able to live, much less grow and develop as individuals and as a species.

Sin factors into the equation in that humans have rebelled against God, choosing hatred and violence to peace, mercy, and knowledge of God. In this state of dissolution, the “way the universe is” takes on an extremely negative tone because our sinfulness makes our mortality extremely poignant. In order to further justify ourselves, we pass off the reality of our sinfulness onto completely conjectural notions of a meta strain of sin plaguing everything in the universe. In other words, we fashion “sin” into a distant, looming answer to all of our existential pangs in order to stave off its overwhelming immanence.

But the fact that we are not willing to come to grips with the incredibly personal responsibility for our own hatred and violence is absolutely no reason to cast a shadow on creation. What God created was “good”, and it still is–it is humans who are broken and corrupted and need to be reconciled to the Creator.