I will explore how evolution impacts the Christian notion of The Fall of man, and, ultimately, the atonement. Various theories of atonement in the Christian tradition generally assume universal and individual sinfulness in humanity. In some cases, this sinfulness is thought to be the result of a distinct moment of rebellion against God, and is transmitted to all of the descendants of Adam. Here, atonement involves Christ’s sacrifice as the means liberate humanity from the bondage of our sinful nature. Evolution collides with these traditional models. Instead of a creation originally void of death and later corrupted by sin, evolution suggests that the very development of all life is attributed to a process driven by death and struggle for survival. By contradicting traditional views of The Fall, evolution has a secondary effect on the nature of the atonement: by asserting that humans are derived from previous species, rather than an individual special creation, evolution casts a shadow on the traditional mechanism used to explain how humanity became morally aware and responsible and calls into question what is meant by being created in the image and likeness of God. Despite these apparent contradictions, many have proposed models that attempt to reconcile evolution and theology. This paper will explore several of these proposals and will end by asserting that humans possess a unique, God-given capacity to discern morality, and therefore have a unique need for the atoning work of Christ.
"Moral Awareness, Original Sin and the Atonement,"
Dialogue & Nexus: Vol. 3
, Article 10.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.acu.edu/dialogue/vol3/iss1/10