Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Existential Crisis

originally written before the birth of Eve.. updated today, but i think it still serves... read and comment please!

the definition: Existential Crisis: a perceived sense of harsh confrontation experienced when a human confronts questions of existence and a change in one’s subjective perception their relation to their world.

the history: When i came into seminary i largely held a Palagian view of humanity.. mainly that had capacity to do good through reason and logic. when confronted with the truth, a person would adjust and change accordingly.

the opposite view of this is Augustine, who's view christianity has largely adopted, which is: argued that fallen man still has a free will (liberium arbitrium) but has lost his moral liberty (libertas). The state of original sin leaves us in the wretched condition of being unable to refrain from sinning. We still are able to choose what we desire, but our desires remain chained by our evil impulses.

Pelagius argued that Augustine's doctrine that humans went to hell for doing what they could not avoid (sin) was tantamount to the Manichean belief in fatalism and predestination, and took away all of mankind's free will. Pelagius and his followers saw remnants of this fatalistic belief in Augustine's teachings on the Fall of Adam, which was not a settled doctrine at the time the Augustinian/Pelagian dispute began. Their view that mankind can avoid sinning, and that we can freely choose to obey God's commandments.

the problem:: recent events have shown me that people are happy to be stuck in their situation... some people won't choose to get out of the situtation when the evidence is presented to them as they are comfortable with the pain. sort of like "the devil i know is better than the one i don't" sort of deal. this is highly frustrating. my high view of humanity has taken a large hit.. reason and logic won't always win the day.

it was pointed out to me by two great friends that i'm largely thinking of this because i'm bringing a child into the world. i'm pondering what sort of world this is. what is the core nature of humanity?

where I'm at now: I think a balance needs to be struck. Humans are limited and sin is a very real and universal state of humankind. I can see why one would believe the doctrine of original sin but I feel that this invites too many illogical support systems that need to happen. First a semi-literal interpretation of scripture is needed and belief in a shalomic state of being was intended. There had to have been a “garden” in which to fall from. This is inconsistent with science and serves no purpose. All it does is try to fit God into a human notion of good.

However, I’m not as confident as Pelagius was in human freedom and capacity to do good. I think humans do good when it serves their self-interests or interests of their group. This is not inherently sinful as Augustine would have insisted, but it does need some work. We need to see how we are connected to everything! We are entangled in relationships with other humans as well as our environment and animals that exist in that ecosystem. We are quantum entangled on a molecular level as well.

Quantum entanglement is a possible property of a quantum mechanical state of a system of two or more objects in which the quantum states of the constituting objects are linked together so that one object can no longer be adequately described without full mention of its counterpart — even though the individual objects may be spatially separated. This interconnection leads to non-classical correlations between observable physical properties of remote systems, often referred to as nonlocal correlations.

In short, we need to take our biological response for self and group-preservation and widen it to incorporate those who do not look or act like us.

Can Original Sin serve today? I don’t see how it can; there are too many additions one must add onto this doctrine to make it scientifically viable. It simply doesn’t fit with biology or physics. It makes for a good story and a great logical set up for the need for Jesus in a closed model, but once science enters into the picture, the story falls apart.

more research must be done... but i cannot hold that Eve is just as sinful as me... i mean doesn't my experience count for nothing?! i got 27 years on the kid! she's no more sinful than a snowflake. she will be living in a world where it's easy to learn this behavior.... so what i guess it boils down to is Freedom is a Pain in the Ass.


Anonymous said...

This is very interesting, and I will just basically be thinking out loud here in my comments...

If there is not something such as original sin, then what was Christ's death all about? I have come to think that it was more of an act of love, an act to show us how far God would go for us. But, if there is no original sin, is his death not about atonement at all? Is it all about love?

Then, if that is true, what to make of the first part of Genesis? Is it all a myth to provide an explanation much as Greek and Roman mythology would be?

I agree with you that we often try to read scripture in a way that fits God into our human experience which necessitates belief in some seemingly strange things such as all of humanity's state goodness or badness being based on a decision over an apple brought about by a talking snake. When you believe something like that, as I reluctantly have all my life until I gained the courage to examine it honestly beginning about 3 years ago, and you try to plug science into it, something has to give, and it shouldn't have to be that way. When our "right" interpretations of scripture don't match up with what we discover to be true by good science, we ought to be as willing to challenge our interpretation of scripture as we are to challenge the results of our science. The error probably lies in both.

I'm not sure what I think about this, but I also don't think that I have to be. If it was so important to God that I think certain things about God in a right fashion, then God would have made that very clear. The only thing that is clear from scripture and creation is that God wants to relate to his creation. God wants to be in relationship with us. Creation, as you have pointed out, is all about quantum level interconnectedness. How obvious can it be that God is a God of relationship?

We get so caught up in sin and sinless and who's saved and who's not and which hoops have to be jumped through to be in or out, and it all seems like a bunch of goofiness to me much of the time. It actually seems more like a system set up by power hungry religious elite to control the masses more than anything else. All God wants, it seems to me, is for us to listen to God in our lives. To look for God in the world. To live with love and grace because those are the things that foster relationships. The rest seems a bit overboard to me.

Tit for Tat said...

Religion and the world. Trying to fit a square where a circle should be. Or maybe its a Triangle. Ah sheit, you know what I mean. ;)

Luke said...

hey doug... i'll try to cover your questions...

"If there is not something such as original sin, then what was Christ's death all about?"

this doctrine and model presents a nice closed view of atonement. Adam falls, Christ reinstates. but it doesn't fit with science. what Jesus does show is exactly as you put it.. the limit God will go for us as well as how screwed up our view is. it shows how grace atones without deference to human notions of fairness.

"Then, if that is true, what to make of the first part of Genesis?"

our actions have unintended consquences. or think of it like the Matrix's construct program. Adam and Eve didn't have parents, how were they to know how to function in the world? answer: Temporary Garden of Eden. Eve or Adam were to eat the fruit of the tree of wisdom when they had obtained the nessicary training. just so happens that Eve was first because women are smarter than men (another truth this story shows ;-))

this is what i make of that story...

"To live with love and grace because those are the things that foster relationships."

hell yeah!!!! i'm with you here dawg!