Summary Against Modern Thought: Objections To Original Sin

Summary Against Modern Thought: Objections To Original Sin

Previous post.

Objections to the idea of original sin. Be sure to review. This week our good saint only lays out the counter-arguments. The rebuttals are next week.


1 There are, of course, certain things which appear to be adversaries of this truth.

2 For the sin of one man is not imputed as fault to others. So Ezekiel (18:7.0) says: “the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father.” And the reason for this is that we are neither praised nor blamed except for the things which are in ourselves. But these are the things to which we are committed by will. Therefore, the sin of the first man is not imputed to the entire human race.

3 But let one answer that when one sinned, “all sinned in him,” as the Apostle seems to say and so the sin of one is not imputed to another, but the sin is his own. Yet even this, it seems, cannot stand. For those born of Adam were, when Adam sinned, not yet in him actually, but only in his power, as in their first origin. But to sin, since it is to act, is proportionate only to one who actually exists. Therefore, we did not all sin in Adam.

4 But let it be said that we sinned in Adam as though originally the sin comes from him to us along with the nature. Even this seems impossible. For an accident, since it does not pass from one subject to another, cannot be passed on unless the subject is passed on. But the subject of sin is the rational soul, which is not passed on to us from our first parent, but is created by God in each and one by one, as was shown in Book II. Therefore, it is not by origin that the sin of Adam flowed on to us.

Notes This is an objection which is appealing to most of us now, embedded as we are in scientism. We’ll see how it resolves next week. See also #7.

5 Further, if the sin of our first parent flows into others because they take their origin from him, then, since Christ took His origin from our first parent, He, also, it seems, was subject to original sin. And this is foreign to the faith.

6 Moreover, what follows on a thing from its natural origin is natural to that thing. But what is natural to a thing is not a sin in it, thus, the lack of vision is not a sin in a mole. Therefore, sin could not flow into others by reason of their origin from the first man.

7 But let it now be said that the sin flows from the first parent into his descendants by way of origin, not inasmuch as the origin is natural, but inasmuch as the origin is vitiated; this also, it seems, cannot stand. For a failure in nature’s work takes place only through the failure of some natural principle, due to some corruption in the seed, for example, monstrous births in animals are caused. But one cannot grant the corruption of a natural principle in human seed. It seems, then, that a sin does not flow from the first parent into his descendants by a vitiated origin.

8 Once again; the sins of nature, appearing among its works by the corruption of a principle, take place neither always nor frequently except in a few cases. Therefore, if by a vitiated origin sin flows from the first parent into his descendants, it will not flow into all, but into some few.

9 And if, furthermore, due to a vitiated origin, a failure appears in the offspring, that failure ought to be of the same genus as the vice which is in the origin, for effects are conformed to their causes. The origin, of course, of human generation, since it is a perfection of the generative power, which shares reason not at all, can have no vice in it which belongs to the genus of fault. For only in those acts can there be virtue or vice, which are subject to reason in some fashion. And so one does not call it a man’s fault if, due to a vitiated origin, he is born a leper or blind. Therefore, there is no way for a blameworthy failure to come down from the first parent to his descendant by origin.

10 Yet again; nature’s good is not taken away by sin. Wherefore, even in the demons natural goods remain, as Dionysius says. But generation is an act of nature. Therefore, the sin of the first man could not vitiate the origin of human generation so that the sin of the first man should flow into his descendants.

Notes The good of existence, at least!

11 Man, moreover, generates one like himself in species. In things, then, which have no bearing on the generation of the species, the son need not be made like his parents. But sin cannot bear on the essentials of the species, for sin is not among the things of nature; rather, it is a corruption of the natural order. There is, then, no necessity that from a first man sinning other sinners be born.

12 There is more. Sons are more likened to their proximate than to their remote parents. But at times it happens that the proximate parents are without sin and even in the act of generation no sin takes place. It is not, therefore, by the sin of the first parent that all are born sinners.

13 And again, if the sin of the first man flowed into others, and—on the other hand—the good is more powerful in acting than the evil (as was shown above), then by so much the more was the satisfaction of Adam, and his justice, transferred through him to others.

14 If the sin of the first man, moreover, was by origin propagated to his descendants, by an equal reason the sins of other parents pass down to their descendants. And in this way the later would always be more burdened with sins than the earlier generations. Especially must this follow if, in fact, the sin passes on from the parent to the offspring, and the satisfaction cannot pass on.


  1. Hagfish Bagpipe

    Looks like a pretty good case against Original Sin.

    And yet next week, you say, the good Doctor is going to rebut the whole enchilada.

    But perhaps the following week he will incinerate the rebuttal with a single tweet.

    And the week after that reconstitute the enchilada with extra hot sauce.

    And then change it into a chimichanga.

    The workings of the Doctor are a marvel to behold.

  2. Blitz Kreig

    Now therefore, set your house in order, and reprove your people; comfort the lowly among them, and instruct those that are wise.[e] And now renounce the life that is corruptible, 14 and put away from you mortal thoughts; cast away from you the burdens of humankind, and *divest yourself now of your weak nature;* 15 lay to one side the thoughts that are most grievous to you, and hurry to escape from these times. 16 For evils worse than those that you have now seen happen shall take place hereafter. 17 For the weaker the world becomes through old age, the more shall evils be increased upon its inhabitants. 18 Truth shall go farther away, and falsehood shall come near. For the eagle[f] that you saw in the vision is already hurrying to come.”
    2 Esdras 14

    The fall gave us a weak nature, which we will cast away in the blink of an eye at the catching away.

  3. Barry Malcolm

    Was Jesus an historical entity at all? I think not. An amalgam of ancient pagan and other religious beliefs and myths. The Virgin birth (really?), resurrection (really?) , The Creation story corresponds to ancient myths about Gods who were responsible for the first 6 days as it relates to the Genesis timeline. See the Ancient Assyrian religions, Egyptian myths of Horus also, for starters. An ALL LOVING GOD would not allow innocent unsinful BABIES to die in fires, accidents or otherwise. To believe otherwise is total delusion.

  4. Oldavid

    I’d like to try and refute Tom’s objections (not each individually) but I fear that I could waste a great deal of time and effort only to find next week that he did it much more thoroughly.

    I am always astonished at the number and complexity of “objections” that he comes up with; usually many more than I could if I retained my faculties for another 100 years.

  5. Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque

    Was Jesus an historical entity at all?

    Out of numerous possible responses, here is one – Why did the Roman Senate, after reading the reports from Pontius Pilate about Jesus and His Crucifixion and Resurrection, debate whether of not He should be included in the Pantheon?

    AD 150 Justin Martyr, addressing his Defence of Christianity to the Emperor Antoninius Pius, referred him to Pilate’s report, which Justin supposed must be preserved in the imperial archives. ‘But the words, “They pierced my hands and my feet,” ‘ he says, ‘are a description of the nails that were fixed in His hands and His feet on the cross; and after He was crucified, those who crucified Him cast lots for His garments, and divided them among themselves; and that these things were so, you may learn from the “Acts” which were recorded under Pontius Pilate… ‘That He performed these miracles you may easily be satisfied from the “Acts” of Pontius Pilate.”

    Tertullian,… ‘Tiberius, in whose time the Christian name first made its appearance in the world, laid before the Senate tidings from Syria Palestina which had revealed to him the truth of the divinity there manifested, and supported the motion by his own vote to begin with. The Senate rejected it because it had not itself given its approval. Caesar held to his own opinion and threatened danger to the accusers of the Christians.”

  6. Oldavid

    Was Jesus an historical entity at all?

    There’s no need at all to go floundering around trying to nit-pick interpretations of old (Apostolic) documents to try to refute the notion that God’s knowledge of Himself (Logos) presented Himself to us as the fully human Son of the fully human Mother.

    That poor, wretched, suffering Mother has been presented to the World on many occasions to say no more than what she said at the wedding feast of Cana: “Do whatever He tells you”.

    There are untold astonishing evidences of Her admonition to “Do whatever He tells you” in incorrupt bodies and parts of bodies all over the World.

    But incorrupt bodies are only a little indication of the Truth and Virtue that will endure ’till the end of time. There are hundreds of them now; some on public display.

    Obviously, I challenge the “Naturalists and Darwinists” to come up with an explanation of these phenomenon (easily seen all over the World) that does not include supernatural influences.

    But we have the bother of Original Sin! I will contend that these bods (inexplicably preserved) heroically repudiated the limitations of their fallen nature (here is where I would challenge Tom’s “objections” above) and strove to be as the nature God intended.

    I’m old and ugly, but I’m not going to say “yes” when I mean “no” just so that I can get “good” publicity.

  7. swordfishtrombone

    Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque,

    It looks like you’re quoting F.F. Bruce’s “The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?”, but you’ve left out parts which weaken your (already weak) claims. Allow me to put them back in:

    We should especially like to know if Pilate sent home to Rome any report of the trial and execution of Jesus, and, if so, what it contained. But it is not certain that he must have done so; and if he did, it has disappeared beyond trace.

    Certainly some ancient writers believed that Pilate did send in such a report, but there is no evidence that any of them had any real knowledge of it.

    [Your Justin Martyr and Tertullian quotes]

    It would no doubt be pleasant if we could believe this story of Tertullian, which he manifestly believed to be true but a story so inherently improbable and inconsistent with what we know of Tiberius, related nearly 170 years after the event, does not commend itself to a historian’s judgment.

    As evidence, this is roughly equivalent to someone in about 100 years time claiming that there must have been CIA documents proving the existence of reverse-engineered alien technology at Area 51, but not actually able to produce said documents. Not exactly convincing.

  8. Barry

    Sworldfishtrombone, how rude of you to point out some logic and historical facts, mb not exactly, totally accurate but close enough. Your scholarship is appreciated. Kuhn and Massey wrote excellent criticisms of the biblical texts. The Pagan Christ by Tom Harpur is a very good read, he seems like an honest religious person. The Original Sinner babies that die “inexplicably” by an omnipresent, omniscient loving god can’t be helped though.

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