Another graduate of the clergy project tells her story.
I did not believe.
When people learn this about me, I am frequently asked, “what happened?”
Central to the explanation is the destructive cruelty, and certain falsity, of the doctrine of Original Sin.
The first thing is that many Christians have a VERY negative view of the human condition. They typically think that as human beings we are deeply flawed or incapable of making reasonable and rational decisions. The doctrine of original sin, proposed in the fourth century of the Common Era by Saint Augustine is partly to blame. Augustine (who was African) had many personal struggles with his humanity, including a tremendous guilt for his sexual practices, and, consequently, he concluded that the human condition was “depraved” or corrupt from birth. As the Church continued to institutionalize, first as the Catholic Church, it also continued to incorporate Augustine’s theory of original sin into the systematic development of Christian theology. All over the world this theory dominates Christian thinking and practices to the extent that many contemporary Christians, both Catholic and Protestant, demonstrate that they believe like Augustine: that it is impossible for us as humans to be good or moral without supernatural help.
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Since childhood I never agreed with the doctrine of original sin, and resisting this dogma in my adulthood was one of the primary reasons that I decided to emancipate myself from religion and the belief in God. By the summer of 2003, I had experienced such a profound shift in consciousness that I began to dismantle even more than a rejection of the Jesus-salvation narrative that I learned first as a member of the Catholic faith. Together, my education, my experience, and my withdrawal from the UMC helped me to begin a process where I peeled back more and more layers of Christian dogma and religious thinking.
Good for her. There is no educated dispute whatever that there was no Adam and Eve, and therefore there was no Fall, there is no such thing as Original Sin, and Jesus does not save us from it. Case closed. Christianity has no more on offer than a not-very-good set of ethical teachings.
Notice something: To reject the Christian narrative is not quite the same thing as to reject the existence of theism’s god or gods; all that may safely be said about that is there is no very good evidence for it.
Note, too, something I have often remarked here: Original Sin entered Christian thought via St. Augustine, centuries after the crucifixion. Jesus never heard of Original Sin. Not any of the Apostles ever heard of Original Sin. It is no more than an expression of St. Augustine’s own self-loathing, and it is the source of centuries of misery and — power, for those who wield it against the insecure. No more destructive idea has ever appeared on the earth.