When Did Sin Begin?

Human Evolution and the Doctrine of Original Sin

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The topic of evolution and human origins is hotly debated in Christian academic and church circles. If God used evolution to create humanity, when did sin enter the picture, and how did it spread from a few individuals to all of us?

Physicist Loren Haarsma shows that it is possible both to affirm what science tells us about human evolution and to maintain belief in original sin. Haarsma has studied, written, and spoken on science and faith for decades. In this volume, he argues that there are several possible ways of harmonizing the science of human evolution and the doctrine of original sin, taking seriously both what the Bible teaches and what we learn from studying the natural world.

When Did Sin Begin? outlines the history of the doctrine of original sin, summarizes the scientific evidence for human evolution, and describes several approaches for bringing the two together in harmony. Without privileging one over the others, Haarsma presents a range of scenarios for how sin might have entered humanity's story and examines the strengths and challenges of each. Professors and students in courses discussing science and religion and theology, church study groups and adult education classes, and laypeople struggling to reconcile evolutionary science and the doctrine of original sin will all value this work.

Introduction: Theology and Science in Harmony and Counterpoint
1. Scripture, Science, and the Holy Spirit
2. Creation, Evolution, and Divine Action
3. Suffering and Death before Humans
4. Human Evolution
5. The Soul, the Imago Dei, and Special Divine Action
6. Adam and Eve in Scripture
7. The Doctrine of Original Sin through Church History
8. What Is Sin?
9. What Changed When Sin Began?
10. Whose Fault Is It?
11. Difficult Questions for Each Scenario
Conclusion: God's Answer Is Still Christ

The Author

  1. Loren Haarsma

    Loren Haarsma

    Loren Haarsma (PhD, Harvard University) is associate professor of physics at Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He is a fellow of the American Scientific Affiliation and and a member of the BioLogos Voices network of scholars. Haarsma has studied,...

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