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.