1) In your answer of my previous question, you said that Original Sin is unbiblical. But doesn’t the Bible say that all humans inherit the evil tendencies/desires ever since Adam and Eve disobeyed God for the first time? 2) In the book of Joshua, it is mentioned that God stopped the sun from moving around the earth, but isn’t it proven and obvious that all planets including earth revolve around the sun? Also, there are verses in the Bible which say that the moon lost its light (how can moon have its own light when the sun gives it light?) and that the earth has four corners (athiests use this fact to justify that the Bible says that the earth is flat). Some experts in the Bible say we should not take some things written in the Bible literally. Is that correct?


I know of no scripture which says “all humans inherit evil tendencies from Adam.”  However, the Bible does seem to describe something along these lines. In the New Testament our inherent tendency toward sin is called “the flesh.”  Sometimes it is described as our “sinful nature.”  Literally, the word used means flesh/meat (sarx in Greek).  I am not sure I would completely agree with the statement that we inherit the tendency to do evil from Adam, but something like this does seem supportable from scripture.

However, what is NOT supportable from scripture is the false doctrine of “Original Sin.”  This doctrine, first given clear voice by Augustine, and strongly supported during the Reformation by Ulrich Zwingli and John Calvin, is that all human beings inherit, not only the tendency to sin, but actual guilt for the sin of Adam.  This is how Augustine explained the need for infant baptism. It is how Roman Catholics and Lutherans today still justify the need for unbiblical infant baptism.  It is how Zwingli explained his doctrine of total depravity.  According to Calvinism, which is accepted by most evangelical Christians, we are born with Original Sin and are totally depraved–completely unable, on our own, to respond to God’s grace.  This is proved wrong by literally hundreds of Bible passages.  For example, Ezekiel 18–the entire chapter–tells us that the father does not inherit the sin of the son, and neither does the son inherit the sin of the father.  “The soul that sins is the one that will die.”  It is blasphemous to propose that we will be held responsible before God for the sin of anyone else–including Adam.  Original sin is a reprehensible false doctrine.

To say that we have a propensity to do something is not the same as saying that we have actually done it.  Even worse, I suppose, would be to hold someone responsible for another person’s sin, when they never even met that person, yet this is what is believed by Calvinists with their doctrine of Original Sin.  Little babies are innocent.  If they die before the “age of accountability” they will not be lost.  Jesus said that “their angels in heaven always see my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 18:10)

As for Joshua 10:13-14, it does say “The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day.  It definitely does NOT say that the sun goes around the earth. “There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the Lord listened to a man.”  This is a difficult passage.  It may literally mean that God miraculously slowed the rotation of the earth for a time, or it may be a figure of speech.  In other words it may be a colorful way of saying something like, “the day seemed to stretch on forever.”  I am not positive whether there was a miraculous temporary change of the earth’s spinning or merely a miraculous victory for God’s people that made them feel as if the day had stretched on like no other day before it.

Either way, to claim a biblical error because it describes the sun going down would be to demand that we who use the English language should not longer talk about sunsets.  We say the word sunset and we describe the sun rising in the East, when all of us know that this is not literally true–that it is actually the earth spinning that creates the appearance of motion. Here the biblical writer is just using the common description of the sun setting.  He is not making a cosmological statement, but simply using common language.  Otherwise we would have to stop any conversation about the setting sun to correct the person for his or her false understanding of astronomy.

I know of no biblical passage which says that the moon lost its light, but there are many apocalyptic passages which use symbolic imagery in the Bible.  This is a well-known genre of Jewish literature.  In Acts 2:19-20 we have an example of Peter telling us that the events at Pentecost are a fulfillment of the prophecy in Joel 2:30-31.  Clearly, the darkening of the sun and the moon turning to blood are to be taken symbolically, as is the case with all apocalyptic literature.  It is debatable or possibly even unlikely that Joshua 10:13-14 is to be taken figuratively, but there is no doubt that Acts 2:19-20 and Joel 10:13-14 should be taken as a symbolic representation of spiritual events happening–of the coming of the Kingdom of God.  So, completely symbolic descriptions such as the sun darkening are in a different category from Joshua 10:13-14 and should be interpreted differently.

As for the four corners of the earth, we still use this expression today.  A star-crossed lover tells his beloved that he will search the four corners of the earth to find her and to express his love for her.  We do not bother to correct the obvious geographic blunder.  The Bible does not say that the earth is square or that it is flat–ever!!!  In fact it says that the earth is round (Isaiah 40:22).  If a skeptic wants to use such a figure of speech as an argument against the inspiration of the bible, he or she is being disingenuous and will eventually be proved a hypocrite when they use one of these phrases themselves without explaining “I am, of course, only speaking metaphorically.”  This is a very weak argument against the reliability and inspiration of the Bible.

Obviously, the Bible writers use metaphor quite often.  God reaches down to save us.  God’s hand saves David.  The grain offering is a pleasing aroma.  All of these are obviously to be taken metaphorically.  There are hundreds and hundreds of examples of this.  Bible critics will selectively choose ones which can be used to “prove” biblical error, but we should take such criticisms for what they are worth–which is not much.

John Oakes

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