Academic journal article Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith

Morality, Not Mortality: The Inception of Death in the Book of Romans

Academic journal article Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith

Morality, Not Mortality: The Inception of Death in the Book of Romans

Article excerpt

In discussions at the intersection of evolutionary science and theology, one key topic has been the extent to which scripture can be squared with the current scientific consensus about evolution. Arguably, the biblical text that is most problematic to fit with evolution is the book of Romans, where Paul has often been understood to describe the inception of human mortality, the corruption of creation, and the infection of humanity with sinfulness and guilt through the "original sin" of Adam. (1) If humans came to exist on Earth through an evolutionary process in which innumerable generations of organisms lived and died, and to which death is, in fact, intrinsic, (2) then in what meaningful way can mortal corruption have its inception with Adam?

To cite a key verse of interest, Romans 5:12 says, "Just as sin came into the world through one person, and death through sin, so death spread to all people." The context clearly indicates that the "one person" is Adam (cf. Rom. 5:12-14). (3) This and other pertinent elements of Romans not only articulate the "plight" that concerns Paul throughout much of the text, but are also integral to Paul's framing of Christ as the "solution" to this plight. …

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