Original sin is the doctrine that humanity is cursed because Adam and Eve believed Satan and not God in the Garden of Eden, and ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil which according to believers was the very first sin.
Doctrine differs between different Christian sects, but in general, Fundamentalist and Evangelical sects believe that without baptism to cleanse the soul of original sin, a person cannot go to heaven. This has led to moral debate as to whether a just god would allow an unbaptized infant to be condemned to hell for having the temerity to die without being baptized.
The Set Up
According to the bible, when talking about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, God had told Adam and Eve:
- "in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die."
But Satan (or rather the serpent) had said:
- "in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil."
Naturally they ate the apple, and the surprising thing is that it was Satan who actually told the truth - because they did not die, but they did obtain knowledge of good and evil.
It is interesting that very little mention is made of this curious fact that God lied and Satan told the truth. Presumably most people don't notice it.
It is also interesting that, although Adam and Eve did not have "knowledge of good and evil", they were punished for not doing "good" - a nasty trick indeed!
Also, it never says that the fruit is an apple. It just says that's it's a fruit, which means it can be any plant's ovaries. The apple was used because it's a yummy fruit.
The Divine Cursing
In a fit of spite at being found out God became really upset and cursed everything and everyone. He also cursed all their unborn descendants in perpetuity.
First he cursed all the world's snakes - which was perhaps a bit unfair as it was only a tool of Satan, and it's a but rough to curse all snakes in all perpetuity because one of them was once possessed by Satan. Anyway, he said: (New International version from now on.)
Because you have done this, Cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life." And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.
This curse sort of works because, by and large, people don't like snakes much. On the other hand many people study snakes and keep them as pets, and snakes rarely attack people, unless the people attack first. So that didn't work out 100% for the almighty.
Then he cursed all of the world's future unborn women and made them subordinate to men. Religious men everywhere salivated.
To the woman he said, “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”
Another curse where the omnipotent one could have done better. We have found pain killers which largely eliminate pain given during birth. And also now men and women are equals in many countries, and they can choose not to become pregnant. Many fundies would like women to continue to be subservient to men, and one can't help wondering it they would like to stop them having painkillers as well. After all, it's the will of the almighty.
In some senses Adam (note not "The man") got away with things relatively easily as, unlike the woman and the serpent, he got no permanent biological punishment. Perhaps because he was successful in pinning the blame on the woman. Instead God cursed the ground itself:
To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”
Yet again sinful mankind has gotten around the curse. It didn't take long for humanity to outwit the omniscient one and invent shoes, fertilisers, towns, the division of labour and all the rest of civilisation. All of which means means that the nearest many westerners get to "painful toil" is carrying the groceries to the car from the mall.
- [How can you tell the difference between Christianity and an abusive relationship partner?]]
- How can you tell the difference between Christianity and a scam?
- If Man Obeyed God What would have happened if man hadn't done original sin.
Adapted from RationalWiki