The Diseased Imaginings of a Tainted Mind
Random question. Would a clone suffer from “Original Sin” Also, byextension, would it have a soul? – A Question I was asked by a friend. My Answer is below.Random question. Would a clone suffer from “Original Sin” Also, byextension, would it have a soul?
An interesting question. One I quess that by the time I’ve answered this, your going to wish you hadn’t asked.
First, we need to define “Original Sin”. To do that, I’m going to make a few assumptions. The first is that your talking about the popular understanding of “Original Sin”. This is the one that is taken primarily from the thought of St. Augustine. This is taking to assume that Original Sin begins with what is known as the “fall”narrative in Genesis 2:8-3:28, and talks about Eve being convinced by a snake to eat a piece of fruit from the tree. This brings about the loss of intimacy with God (they are thrown out of the Garden), and they are made to toil and suffer, and of course, death enters the world. St. Augustine explored this and found that it was through intercourse that the Man passed the “stain” of Original Sin onto his offspring. St. Augustine believed that sexual desire was “bad”,like many Christians of his time, but his influence is one that Christianity has struggled to throw off.
..whenever it comes to the actual process of generation, the very embrace which is lawful and honourable cannot be effected without the ardour of lust….[This lust] is the daughter of sin, as it were;and whenever it yields assent to the commission of shameful deeds, it becomes also the mother of many sins.Now from this concupiscence whatever comes into being by natural birth is bound by original sin…Augustine, De bono coniugali(source :http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/christianity/beliefs/originalsin_1.shtml)
The 39 articles of the Anglican Church speak also to the nature of Sin,namely articles IX-X. Article IX is the one that comes from this idea that comes to us almost directly from St. Augustine.
Original Sin standeth not in the following of Adam, (as the Pelagians to vainly talk), but it is the fault and corruption of the nature of every man, that naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam; whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and of his own nature inclined to evil,so that the flesh lusteth always contrary to the Spirit; and therefore in every person born into this world, it deserveth God’s wrath and damnation. And this infection of nature doth remain, yea,in them that are regenerated;which some do expound the wisdom, some sensuality, some the affection, some the desire of the flesh, is not subject to the law of God. And, although there is no condemnation for them that belive and are baptized, yet the Apostle doth confess, that concupiscence and lust hath of itself the nature of sin. (source:The Thirty Nine Articles of the Church of England, E. J. Bicknell, Edited by H.J.Carpenter, Longmans: London, 1963, p171)
It should be said at this point that the scriptural narrative of the Bible never really gives us the impression that many years of Christian Theology have added to it. The Old Testament does refer to the fall as being the way in which death has entered into the world (BAUER Encyclopedia of Theology, Johannes B. Bauer, Seed And Ward, London, p 620), for example in Sir 25:24 we find “From a woman sin had its beginning,and because of her we all die”. However, the idea that sin of the first parents is transmitted to the children as is outlined in original sin is nowhere found in the Old Testament (ibid p621). The Old Testament does speak of the universality of Sin, but it does seem that the writers here are speaking simply of human kinds propensity to sin, rather than some flaw that is transmitted to them. There are passages that do seem to suggest that Sin is somehow innate, for example in Genesis 8:21 “And when the Lord smelt the pleasing odour, the Lord said in his heart, ‘I will never again curse the ground because of humankind, for the inclination of the human heart is evil from youth; nor will I ever again destroy every living creature as I have done.“ This comes as part of God’s speech after the great flood in the story of Noah. Similar examples of such ideas can be found in Job 14:4, and Ps 51:5. However, this should bethought of as a humans natural tendency to sin; it is not something that is inherited, and is not connected with the fall of the first parents (ibid p621). I could go on here and muddy the waters still further by exploring the Extra-Canonical material (that is, the books that did not make it into the Bible) as they were part of the cultural milueux of the first century, but I think that they will be too much of a segue, except perhaps to mention the book of Enoch. I do so only because the book of Enoch is quoted by Jesus in the Gospels, and the book of Enoch has the entire idea of a fall happening so that death might come to Adam (Enoch 30:17) .
In the New Testament,there are only very few alusions to the fall, and here the theology has moved forward a little. No-longer is it the woman who is at fault for bringing Sin into the world as we see in Ecclesiasties (though arguably, taken in context, the verse is part of a larger complaint about “evil women” who gossip and generally cause trouble for the men they are with, and as such using it as has been done in the past,and here, to demonstrate that it was through Eve that death entered the world is likely false), but it is the fault of the final form of the adversary, the Devil. The Devil himself had to go through many stages of revision before he was theologically in the place he appears in the New Testament (and even then he only appears briefly). The description of the Devil as a murderer from the beginning in Jn8:44 could refer to the tradition that he brought death into the world in his guise as the snake that tricked Eve. St. Paul, however,does appear to teach in unambiguous terms of the doctrine of death as an inherited penalty, thus you have in 1 Corinthians 15:21ff: “For as by a man came death, by a man as come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christi shall all be made alive”. This is where the notion of the “Second Adam” comes from. Christ is cast in the mould of a Second Adam to fix the problem that the first created. However, exegesis (that is, reading out of,or understanding) St. Paul is problematic. Apart from Romans, we don’t really have a sustained treaties on what he really thought about specific subjects, and mostly he was answering questions where we are missing part, or all of the context to which he was writing.When looking at the verse in the original Greek, it is not as ambiguous as most English Bibles would have us believe, and and it does not represent an unambiguous instance of the idea of Adam’s sin being transmitted to all (ibid p623-634). St. Paul does, however, use parallelism “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man’s obedience many will be made righteous”(Rom 5:19), yet here again he uses the word “many” rather than“all”, though there are scholars that see the many as meaning“all”. What St. Paul is speaking of is something far more mysterious than the mere mechanical action of St. Augustine and that we see in the Articles. It is that same mystery that it is through belief in Christ that people are saved from this inherent sinfulness.It is sinfulness which, prior to any personal sin on their part, is present in all men since Adam’s fall, and through that fall “we were by nature children of wrath like the rest of mankind” (Eph3:3).
There is a modern form of construction of Original Sin, which formulates the “inheritated” portion in a way that is sociateal. It is impossible for someone growing up to not, in some way, to pick up their parents “sins”. The most obvious example of this can be seen in cases of abuse, where a child who is abused by their parents (often, if they do not receive counselling) go on to become abusive in some way themselves. Society creates structures which are themselves abusive and sinful. Business which abuse it’s workers, and those workers, even when they themselves rise through the ranks of the business simply repeat the cycle of abuse. This idea is explored in part in Alistair Mcfadyen’s Bound to Sin (Bound to Sin, Alistair McFadyen, Cambridge University Press, 1990). Though it should be noted that Alistair Mcfadyen does base his understanding on a more traditional understanding of Original Sin that produces these structures as a by-product.
Of course, by now you will have noticed that the doctrine of Original Sin is absurd. On the one hand Christians hold to the notion of Free Will, and at the same time insist that they are bound by some ancient evil that they will do evil. (Reinhold Neibuhr, Gifford Lectures in The Christian Theology Reader (ed: Alistair McGrath), p475). While Neibuhr despite his criticism goes on to attempt to rescue the notion of Original Sin, pointing to the inevitable dichotomy of human nature, and it’s obvious tendency to do evil, his criticism still stands.
However, there is a final look at what precisely the Original Sin is. The Original Sin is disobedience of God, a turning away from Him, for whatever reason. It has long been accepted, since before the first century BC that Genesis was not a literal historic book, but containing historic-myths. The rise of Biblical Litteralism is a fairly modern invention, seemingly to have begun in the late 1800’s. If we look closely at the story in Gen 3, the punishment comes for disobedience,and is compounded by hiding what they had done by hiding from God. It is God that goes looking for the Adam and Eve in the Garden (Gen3:9), and it is this process that is repeated throughout the history of relationship with God. Humans wander away from God, and God sends someone to call them back. It is possible then to label the original sin as “turning away from God”, or “incredible disobedience of God”.
Original Sin was formulated as a way of describing the way that people found the world. They couldn’t understand, as St. Paul would much later articulate, why the “spirit was wiling but the flesh was weak”.Why it was that they wanted to do good things, but often found themselves doing bad things. It’s why people find themselves doing things that they know are bad, but find themselves totally incapable of stopping. It could be argued without too much effort that Genesis(almost in it’s entirity) is a collection of Just-So stories to explain the world the way that the Isrelites found the world. One ofthe things that set them appart is that they start with a God that is in intimately involved with the human condition. At the end of the Gen 3, it is God that makes them clothing of fur, and spends time getting them ready for the world beyond the Garden. Though God is forced through their disobedience to make them leave, he still cares.Dogma explains this with the idea that the entire world is based on the premise that the entire existence is based on the idea that God’s Word is infallible. I’m not so sure on that point, but to expand on that is another essay.
To the second part of the question, about the soul, this comes down to which part is the soul, and where does the soul come from. It is of course of vital importance in modern debates about the morality of beginning of life and end of life issues. As with the rest of this discussion, our beginning point is Genesis. While not the oldest book in the Old Testament, it mythologises the understanding of creation, and how that happened in relation to God. The important line for this discussion then happens in the second chapter of genesis (Gen 2:7)“..then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.”
Now, the important word(s) here is God breathed. It is something that because very important to theology. The word ruach, meaning breath or wind in Hebrew. Here it comes directly from God, but it ispossible that it can come from heaven, as it does in the vision inEzekiel 37:9 to bring life to the dry bones. Man lives until Godwithdraws his breath of life (eg. Job 27:3ff, Ps 104:29f Eccles3:18-21). The breath of life is only lent to people for the short length of time they are on earth, and people cannot dispose of it as they will ( Wis 15:8, Lk 12:20). This idea is in harmony with the idea of the ruah in people, both according to the sense and intellect (Bauer, p872). This makes this idea the perfect candidate for what we would call the soul. The soul as we understand it comes predominantly from Greek ideas that permeated ideas of the afterlife from thinkers like Plato and Aristotle. Plato gave us the idea of a soul that sat in the body, a fully-formed soul with intact intellect,perfect and complete, and Aristotle put forward the notion of a soul that grew up out of the body as part of it, but not pre-existing before there was a body. John Macquarrie maintains that imagining asoul “inhabiting” the body is “superfluous and confusing”(John Macquarrie, Principles of Christian Theology (Study Edition),SCM Press: London, 1971, p65). The problem that he sees is the notion of the soul as a “substance”, something that St. Thomas Aquinas spends a lot of time trying to define in his commentary on De Anima .Macquarrie sees the soul as something that is given as a potential self-hood, rather than a complete person as Plato would have envisaged. It could then be argued that this soul is the “spark of life”.
The traditional understanding of the soul would be one that is gifted by God. Many conceptions and understandings of what consist of a soul stop when it steps beyond the biological. It is assumed, for example,that computers could not gain a soul. That is an anthropomorphisation too far. However, for those of us that have grown up in a world where the notion of Androids are a distinct possibility, it must be explored that all things are indeed possible with God. What would, in cases of things that do not “breath” definite examples of a“soul” would probably things like a demonstrative examples of“compassion” and “love”, but those are probably for a completely different answer. When it comes to a clone, as we know with dolly, it is entirely possible that the close will have that spark of life, and God does not seem to have very much against Dolly,other than shortening her life-span, following what scientists seem to understand as the notion that her DNA was in some way “worn out”because she only lived for as long as one would expect a sheep to live assuming she had started living at the same time as the donor had. It appears that the rules that are laid down are there for a reason, and as such it seems that clones for that very reason might be problematic (it would be unfair, for example to clone someone who is 30, knowing that their clone would grow up, and age rapidly as though they (the clone) was 30.).
So,let us with that background now turn to the actual answer which should now be fairly simple. A Clone will indeed suffer from Original Sin. No matter how you shake it, or indeed, which version of original sin you wish to chose. As they will be made from DNA, they don’t escape the old “handed down” idea, because when those that are proponents of that idea discovered DNA jumped up and down and said“see, we were right”. If you look at the other examples of Original Sin, it would seem that while the clone would have an option to try not to sin, turning away from God is something that people just have a tendency to do, however you want to encapsulate that.People have days when they are just gits to each other. As to whether or not it has a soul, from my perspective, if it has the spark of life, then it has a soul. As it is a biological entity, we don’t need to argue too much about what defines the spark of life, if it’s breathing and showing intelligence then it’s showing the spark of life.
I hope that help answers your question.