The Inheritance Aspect of Original Sin



My issue, as probably been repeated on here before, is with the idea of how unfair original sin seems.

I’m perfectly fine with the whole idea until we get to the fact that we inherit both spiritual and somehow physical damage when we had absolutely no say in what Adam and Eve did.

Although my objection would be how rude it seems of God, my quarrel with it this time is this:

The idea seems highly Illogical in the context that it’s very primitive. The idea of “family honor” to me has always come across as a pre-enlightenment, old fashion, unfair idea.

Nowadays, we are typically smarter than to judge people by the actions of others when we have our own individual undependability.

So basically my question is; despite our moving away from the idea of inherited consequence, why the heck would the Church still hold on to it in this particular context?

Note: I am Catholic, but i think a lot like how atheists tend to, so respond to me as if your were responding to a skeptic of the faith.



If you are skeptical of the whole thing then nothing I say will convince you. However, part of being Catholic is knowing you have a soul given to you by God, and a physical body. Church teaching is clear: God gave Adam and Eve one simple command. They, by freely disobeying, brought sin and death into the world.

“Now, it is in no way apparent how such an opinion can be reconciled that which the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the teaching authority of the Church proposed with regard to original sin which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam in which through generation is passed onto all and is in everyone as his own” (Humani Generis 37).

The story of the creation and fall of man is a true one, even if not written entirely according to modern literary techniques. The Catechism states, “The account of the fall in Genesis 3 uses figurative language, but affirms a primeval event, a deed that took place at the beginning of the history of man. Revelation gives us the certainty of faith that the whole of human history is marked by the original fault freely committed by our first parents” (CCC 390)."

Pope Leo I

“And because of the transgression of the first man, the whole stock of the human race was tainted; no one can be set free from the state of the old Adam save through Christ’s sacrament of baptism, in which there are no distinctions between the reborn, as the apostle [Paul] says, ‘For as many of you as were baptized in Christ did put on Christ; there is neither Jew nor Greek . . . ‘ [Gal. 3:27–28]” (Letters 15:10[11] [A.D. 445])."



First of all, I would say that it is very dangerous to think we are capable of passing value judgments on the Almighty. Christian revelation wasn’t designed to tell us everything but only to lift the curtain into the reality of God. Original Sin is part of that limited revelation.

All that to say, I think you are trying to conceptualize Original Sin too much in what I would call a “genetic sense.” The creation story is symbolic but contains real prehistoric truth. The story might seem very primitive and in a lot of ways it is, but it conveys big truths that theologians have been struggling to understand for thousands of years. It shows that God is all good and powerful, that man is different than all other creation, and that man’s “fallen nature” is the result of man’s own actions. Original Sin means that man, at first, was in perfect union with God. He was the height of God’s creation. Everything led to him, and through free will, he forfeited it by using his free will to turn away from God. In Catholicism, free will is so important. Jesus redeemed all but not all will be saved because we have the choice to accept God or reject him, just as our first parents did.

I highly recommend that you pick up C.S. Lewis’s great work, The Problem of Pain. Lewis was a highly intellectual convert to Christianity from Atheism. As part of the book, he attempts to show why Original Sin is important in our Christian understanding of the world and pain. It’s a deep book. Lewis was in the Oxford School of Anglicanism. So, his understanding is pretty much Catholic on the subject. Hope that is helpful.



We all come from the same source and are going back to that source. We are all one! “the body of Christ”. One anyone does something in society…it has a ripple effect.

We were a pure race in the beginning and when the first sin was committed, it caused that ripple effect.

Another way to look at it. Everything in the physical realm points to realities in the spiritual realm. The idea that husband and wife image God in the world by their lifegiving union, all of creation speaks of who God is, … Think of how we “inherit” from our parents through genetics - that who you are is passed to your children… going further…this happens with your attitudes, perceptions, etc etc…they pick up on it. We have a huge impact on our children. The same is true in the spiritual realm.


I thank you guys very much.

I would agree that I am overthinking the doctrine and that this is just one of those places where it’s stuck as a mystery.

I guess it has bugged me so much because i look at things from a primarily individualistic viewpoint and dismiss the importance of family and unity.

peace to all of you,



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