What are we to think of the Fall and Original Sin? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
I’m almost done reading this book in the entirety. This is another book that I have to say that each page is better than the next. Zuersher follows in the great tradition of atheists writing books where they do not do sufficient research on a topic and stick to only their side for information.
Chapter two is about the Fall. After giving the account of what happens in a paragraph, Zuersher switches to the problems with it. First off, he says that there is no reason to believe the story is historically accurate. Well, I’m glad we got that out of the way! Just imagine all the time we could have wasted reading Old Testament scholarship. You could actually read such scholars who believe in a historical Adam and Eve and find out why they could but, nah, it’s easier to just make the assertion. Color me unconvinced.
Zuersher’s biggest difficulties are moral difficulties with the story. The first for him is why would a creator withhold knowledge of good and evil from humans? Isn’t this the basis of morality? Unfortuantely, Zuersher doesn’t recognzie that this is a Hebrew merism. This would be like saying North and South, East and West, Heaven and Earth. One lists two contrasting things in order to show all things in between them. This is not about knowledge so much as it is about wisdom.
There also is no problem with humans having wisdom. The question was “On whose terms were they going to have that wisdom?” The act of violating the covenant is a way of trying to usurp the giver and take His place.
So why place this tree in the garden? Zuersher says all manner of animals would eat this fruit. Would they gain the knowledge but humans wouldn’t? Of course, this assumes that the covenant was the same for animals and such a fruit would act the same way. No doubt, this is what he thinks since Zuersher refers to this as a magical fruit. (It’s really cute how atheists use the term magic over and over as if sticking that label on something automatically denigrates it. It’s like the word “magic” is magical for them.)
Zuersher also says that if the story is accurate, since Adam and Eve did not have knowledge of good and evil, they would not know that eating the fruit was wrong. This again is Zuersher not understanding the merism. Adam and Eve would have had basic knowledge of right and wrong.
He then asks why they were endowed with a nature incapable of meeting His standards. Who says they were? Adam and Eve did not have the fruit forced down their throats. They willingly chose. Zuersher strikes me as someone who says something like “There’s something I don’t understand about this” or “I wouldn’t have done it this way” and then concludes the whole thing is false. Unfortunately, in any worldview, there are going to be areas that are not fully understood and questions. One has to look at the major themes at the center. Raising a question alone is not a defeater.
We move on to original sin. Now I have no hard line on this one. Normally when people present Adam and Eve as a problem for Jesus, it doesn’t mean a thing to me. We’re told that if there was no Adam and Eve, there was no original sin and then Jesus didn’t have to die for sin. I just tell people to turn on the evening news. Even if original sin is false, there’s still plenty of sin to die for.
Zuersher says it is indispensable, but I would just say sin is what is necessary, and I don’t think anyone would deny in some sense what Christians call sin. It would be the rare soul around us who says no human being ever does anything that is morally wrong. Again, turn on the evening news or even better, look in the mirror and try to tell yourself you’re a perfect person.
Zuersher also says the Old Testament God doesn’t know about original sin. After all, he flooded the world, but Noah was a sinner too and would still have sin. What we could say the flood is God hitting a reset button at a certain point He thought sin had got so bad.
Zuersher also thinks a convincing argument is that God thinks humans are capable of living morally since He gives them the Law. How this is a problem is a mystery. It is not as if the doctrine means that no human being is capable of doing good things.
He thinks that when Jesus came, there was a problem. Why would the divine Son die? Then original sin had to be made up. Of course, this is fascinating since one would think that would be the big emphasis in the New Testament, but the emphasis is more on the Kingdom of God.
He also goes on to say the only real evidence of original sin is human nature itself. Even if I grant that, that would seem to be sufficient. Chesterton said years ago that if you see boys skinning a cat for fun, then you can either deny original sin or you can deny the objectivity of good and evil. Of course, he also added that some modern theologians have considered it a rational objection to deny the cat.
In conclusion here, I find Zuersher’s arguments unconvincing and again, he interacts with no serious theologians writing today on the topic. Zuersher is another person who seems to think “I have an opinion on the matter. Who needs to read contrary thought?” If one does not read the contrary, it’s no wonder what side they will wind up on.