Skeptics Seize on Improper Biblical Interpretation
Answers in Genesis is a faith-based Christian apologetics organization located in Petersburg, Kentucky. It is one of the largest creation organizations in the world. In many ways, we at Apologetics Press love and appreciate the stand that AIG makes against false theories like Darwinian Evolution and the Big Bang. In fact, much of their scientific research and writing is superb. We at A.P. have referenced many of their articles and books in our materials. Their stand for a young Earth and a literal reading of the book of Genesis is laudable.
Unfortunately, however, sometimes their biblical interpretations are incorrect, and the incorrect conclusions that they draw can be detrimental to authentic, biblical faith. For instance, on the back cover of their monthly newsletter AnswersUpdate, they ran an article titled “When Does Life Begin?” In the brief article, they correctly noted that both science and the Bible plainly show that human life begins at conception. But then they stated: “The only effective way to change minds about abortion is to accept the fact that in the beginning God created, and also to heed the Creator’s words in Psalm 51: ‘In sin did my mother conceive me.’ Indeed, we’re sinful humans right from conception” (2009, 16[ll]:24, emp. added). According to AIG, human babies come into the world bearing the guilt of sin.
The idea that human babies are born sinful is wrong. Due to the influential nature of John Calvin and his teachings, many people have taught that sin is “passed” from one generation to the next, starting with Adam. Many religious people believe that children “inherit” original sins through their parents. Yet, the Bible pointedly and explicitly teaches that such is not the case. In Ezekiel 18:20, the Bible says: “The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son.” In Exodus 32, Moses pleaded with God to forgive the sins of the Israelites when he said: “‘Yet now, if You will forgive their sin—but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written.’ And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book’” (32:32-33). The Bible is plain in its teaching that babies do not inherit sin through their parents or of their great ancestor Adam (see Butt, 2004). The passage that AIG used as a proof text, Psalm 51, has been dealt with in detail and shown to have nothing to do with “original sin” (e.g., Jackson, 2000).
Not only is the concept of “original sin” unscriptural, it also poses a major problem for the Christian apologist who attempts to defend the biblical concept of God. If babies really are born with sin, then, if they die without obeying the Gospel (2 Thessalonians 1:7-8), they will be lost. Seeing the force of such logic, the skeptic has a heyday with the concept of “original sin” by portraying God as a tyrant Who sends innocent babies to hell simply because their ancestors sinned. Self-avowed atheist Richard Della Valle used this line of reasoning to attack God:
This article will deal with the Christian belief that every human being since the God-created Adam is under the curse of Adam commonly known as “Original Sin” and in need of redemption…. Adam sinned by eating some sort of fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Because of that hideous act, all of mankind became condemned to a place called Hell. Now why in all fairness should there be such a policy? (n.d.)
The Bible simply does not teach the false concept that humans are sinful “right from conception.” It is unfortunate that an organization like AIG, that has so much good material, has given the skeptical community more ammunition to fight against the God of the Bible. Let us all make sure that we heed the words of the apostle Paul to “test all things” and “hold fast” only to that which is “good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21), rejecting false ideas like “original sin.”
Butt, Kyle (2004), “Do Children Inherit the Sin of Their Parents?” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2543.
Della Valle, Richard (no date), “Original Sin,” [On-line], URL: http://www.theskepticalreview.com/RDVOriginalSin1.html.
Jackson, Wayne (2000), “‘Original Sin’ and a Misapplied Passage,” [On-line], URL: http://www.christiancourier.com/archives/originalSin.htm.
“When Does Life Begin?” (2009), AnswersUpdate, 16:24, November.