Sin And The Human Brain

I once heard a comment that goes against common understanding—sin distorts Mankind’s thinking.

Most people agree that nobody’s perfect, but by this they mean, nobody lives a morally upright life all the time; nobody avoids making mistakes. The one thing that most people do NOT mean is that their thinking is flawed.

Rather, I suspect most people believe mankind’s ability to reason has become sharper over time, that we are out from under superstition and have honed deductive reasoning, can study evidence and make inferences more accurately than those who first lived on earth.

But why should that be true? If we believe the Bible, we know a few things about the earth before and after sin progressively took hold (some of these things became evident after the flood).

    1. Before — animals were not carnivorous (Gen. 1:30).

    After — even Man became carnivorous.

    2. Before — animals were at peace with each other and with Man.

    After — “The fear of you and the terror of you will be on every beast of the earth and on every bird of the sky; with everything that creeps on the ground, and all the fish of the sea, into your hand they are given” (Gen. 9:2).

    3. Before — the ground yielded fruit abundantly.

    After — the ground was cursed and needed to be cultivated by the sweat of Man’s brow.

    4. Before — Man was destined to life.

    After — Man was destined to death.

    5. Before — Man apparently had the capacity to communicate with the animals.

    After — animals only communicated with Man when God opened their mouths (see Balaam’s donkey).

    6. Before — an “expanse” divided waters, some above, some below—apparently creating another layer of our atmosphere and providing protection from the molten lava at the earth’s core.

    After — the “floodgates of the sky” opened and “the fountains of the great deep burst open.”

    7. Before — Man lived for centuries.

    After — once the atmospheric protection was removed, his life span became much shorter.

    8. Before — Man communed in person with God.

    After — Man hid from God.

    9. Before — Adam and Eve were a perfect fit, naked and unashamed.

    After — they hurled accusations at one another.

    10. Before — Man spoke a common language.

    After — God confused Men’s language and scattered them.

I could go on, but I think I’ve said enough for the purpose of this post. To sum up, sin changed the world, the heavens, the way Mankind relates to creation, to God, to others. Why would we think Man alone is untouched by the effects of sin? We know his life span was affected, so why not other aspects of his life, such as his ability to comprehend the supernatural or to reason clearly?

I don’t think it’s a stretch to believe that Mankind, with all the knowledge available to us, understands less about the world today than Adam did. Oh, sure, we know facts (and many of those prove to be incorrect at some later date), but we are reasoning ourselves away from God, not to Him.

It was Man’s observation, reasoning, and conclusions—well, woman’s, actually—that started the Fall in the first place: “When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.” (emphasis mine)

God had said … but she saw, and she went with her own observations and her own conclusions. In that respect, things haven’t changed so much over time.

This article originally appeared here in August 2012.

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Published in: on April 30, 2015 at 6:08 pm  Comments (11)  
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11 Comments

  1. Wow Becky…never thought about Adam understanding his world better than we do. Never fails that I come to your blog and at some point go…Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, cool.

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  2. That was well said. I love those sayings, “you do not know what you think you know” and “do not believe your lying eyes.” In the modern Western world, we’ve become so convinced we know it all, I suspect we actually know even less than we did a few decades ago. Wisdom actually requires a bit of humility and humility seems to have gone out of fashion.

    To add to your Adam story, he also got to name all the animals. He must have been incredibly smart with a great imagination and a fabulous memory. There’s a lot of animals. After the fall he names Eve too, “because she was the mother of all living.”

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    • I’m with you, IB, re. the modern Western world. For example, we have talked ourselves into things like believing the Bible is a myth when for centuries it was understood to be the inerrant word of God.

      Love the observation of Adam. I hadn’t thought about what it would take for him to have named the animals and to remember which ones he named what. I can’t even keep track of my characters in my novel series without referring back to the list of them!

      Becky

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  3. Hang on… I was assured by several sophisticated believers that all of this Genesis business was purely metaphorical. Why haven’t you and your readers gotten with the program yet?

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    • Well, tildeb, I don’t know about “sophisticated believers,” but there’s quite a group of us—Scripture refers to us as a royal priesthood, a people for God’s own possession, and a number of other such phrases—who understand the Bible to be true. Meaning, the parts that are poetic should be understood as poetic, the parts meant to be historical should be understood as historical, and so on.

      For instance, the Bible gives us every reason to believe that the account of Adam and Eve should be understood as historical. One detail alone illustrates this point: In the book of Luke, Adam is included in the genealogy of Jesus. A number of the New Testament writers refer to Adam and Eve in such a way that it’s clear they understood them to be actual people who lived and did what the Genesis account said they did.

      So why haven’t we “gotten with the program”? I don’t think that’s likely to happen. If someone you trust says to you, I had this great-uncle who did X and Y, I suspect you would believe the account to be true because it came from your trusted friend or spouse or family member. The source provides you with what you need to believe the account you yourself haven’t researched or observed. Trusting the Biblical account is sort of like that.

      In addition, for anyone interested, we have lots of evidence showing that the Biblical record is historically reliable. And we further have spiritual evidence that it is true.

      Becky

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      • If scripture describes you as such, then why don’t these sophisticated believers who call themselves ‘Christians’ recognize your position of authority?

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        • It’s not my position of authority. The Bible says any believer is in this royal priesthood. It also says we are sons and daughters, we’re a body (with Jesus Christ as the head), branches of a vine, and any number of other pictures that show our relationship to one another and to God. Perhaps those who think the Bible is myth think this unity of believers is also a fabrication. But I couldn’t say for sure what they think.

          Becky

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          • Yes, yes, yes… but they are certain that Genesis is to be understood metaphorically and not historically. They assure me that your certainty is misplaced… even though all of you as Christians belong to this hypothetical Royal Priesthood. You can’t both be right and so one of you has misplaced his or certainty, don’t you think?

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  4. Amen!!!

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  5. There is a certain ugly undertone to this piece: the suggestion, however subtle, that reasoning, or trying to make sense of some situation, is bad. I say that this is ‘ugly’ because it discourages critical thought, while encouraging blind allegiance to dogma. Intellectual laziness is not a virtue.

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