There is no greater threat to practicing true Christianity than the doctrine of original sin (also known as the doctrine of total hereditary depravity). Briefly, this is the teaching that all people born inherit the sinful state into which Adam and Eve passed due to their sin within the Garden of Eden. As a result of being born in sin, all humans are depraved and have a corrupted nature. There are only two possible ways that one can say one inherits depravity from Adam. Either the spiritual soul is depraved at birth as a consequence of heredity, or the physical body is depraved at birth. I will argue in this article that it is false to say that either is the case, and therefore that the doctrine must be false.
Can one who affirms this doctrine say that it is the newly created human soul (a spiritual entity) that is plagued with the problem of sin? There are only four possible ways that they could say this occurs. 1) That God creates the soul in a sinful state upon conception thereby forcing Adam’s sinful state upon man, 2) That the soul inherits sin from Adam through heredity, 3) That the soul develops a condition of sin by being in proximity to another sinful soul or 4) That the soul is corrupted by coming into contact with a sinful body. I submit to you that they cannot affirm any of these things for the following reasons. 1) God directly creates the soul of man (Ecclesiastes 12:7; Isaiah 42:5; Zechariah 12:1; Hebrews 12:9). Can God create anything that is inherently sinful? Of course not (Psalm 5:4; Habakkuk 1:13) in fact, God can only create that which is good and perfect (James 1:17). Therefore, the soul cannot be created evil. 2) It is ridiculous to say that the soul can inherit, through heredity, sinfulness from Adam. The soul is an autonomous spiritual thing created by God and would not be subject to anything that would come physically as a result of being descended from Adam. In other words, we do not inherit part of Adam’s soul, but his physical body-his DNA. The question of whether sin is contained within the physical body will be examined in the next section. 3) Perhaps, the soul of the child is affected by the soul of the mother during the pregnancy process? So that in essence, one sinful soul by its proximity can deprave another soul that has not already been depraved. However, we read in the scriptures that the soul is autonomous; it independently corrupts itself through sin. James writes, “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (James 1:14,15). The autonomy of the soul is affirmed in many other passages of scripture (Ezekiel 18:4, 20 Deuteronomy 24:16, Jeremiah 31:30; and Galatians 6:7). 4) The body cannot corrupt the soul merely because the soul is placed within it. Jesus says that sin does not originate from outside the soul, but from within (Mark 7:14-23). There is no possible way that those who affirm the doctrine of total hereditary depravity can say that the newly created human soul is plagued with the problem of sin and be scriptural.
This leaves the proponents of this doctrine with only the possibility of the physical body plagued with the problem of original sin, i.e. those who affirm the doctrine of original sin MUST, in fact, believe that it is the physical body of man that is inherently depraved. However, it is impossible that sin could be transferred through genetic material. What genetic marker are we going to point to and say, “Aha! There is the sin gene?” Genetic material can only produce physical qualities. Sin is not a physical quality. Sin is a spiritual quality; it cannot be physically passed from one human to another as a disease or as one’s eye color can be passed from one human to another. Who can look at another person’s body and point out something and say, “There, that part of your body is sin”? To even suggest such would be the height of folly. Sin (a spiritual choice) corrupts the soul (a spiritual entity) and separates man from God (a spiritual relationship). Sin itself, is not physical, but spiritual in nature (Isaiah 59:2). Sinful acts may be physical, but the sin itself is a spiritual choice made in the mind (Mark 7:14-23) and as such, is not subject to physical traits or attributes such as would be found in genetics.
Below I have summarized the argument and put it into a more logical form.
1. If a person is born inherently depraved, then that depravity must either be the result of depravity of the spiritual soul at birth or depravity of the physical body at birth. (There are no other alternatives.)
1.1 If the spiritual soul is inherently depraved at birth, then it must be that way either by 1) creation, 2) heredity, 3) proximity to another soul, or 4) corruption from the physical body. (There are no other alternatives.)
1.1.1 It is not the case that the soul is created depraved.
1.1.2 It is not the case that the soul can hereditarily inherit depravity.
1.1.3 It is not the case that the soul can be corrupted by proximity.
1.1.4 It is not that case that the physical body (intrinsically) can corrupt the soul.
1.2 Therefore, It is not the case that the spiritual soul can be inherently depraved at birth. (This negates the first half of the proposition in line 1.)
1.3 If the physical body is inherently depraved at birth, then it must be that way either by 1) receiving depravity from the mother’s DNA or 2) receiving depravity from the father’s DNA.
1.3.1 It is not the case that depravity is received through the mother’s DNA.
1.3.2 It is not the case that depravity is received through the father’s DNA.
1.4 It is not the case that the physical body could be inherently depraved at birth.
2. Therefore, it is not the case that a person is born inherently depraved.
As was mentioned earlier in this article, the doctrine of original sin lies at the heart of almost every false doctrine in the “Christian” religious world today. The Bible does NOT teach this false doctrine. Reason will not support this false doctrine. Genetic science will not prove this false doctrine. God will not tolerate this false doctrine! It and its implications must be abandoned.