FAQ: If disease & death are a result of Original Sin, then how come they affect organisms that cannot sin & predate the Fall?
Properly speaking, it is human suffering and death which are a result of the Fall, not disease and death in the purely material creation. Clearly, if God gave humans and animals the plants for food (Gen 1:29-30), then He envisaged that plants would die before the Fall. And presuming that we are not fundamentalists, carnivores, created before the Fall, would have eaten other animals—what else did God create a tiger’s teeth and claws for? We make a mistake if we attempt to equate animal suffering and death with human suffering and death. Because we have spiritual souls, and therefore have true self-consciousness, whereas the animals do not, the two realities are not properly comparable. In fact, it is one of the results of original sin that we are not fully aware of our souls or the dignity that they confer on us. Thus we can be tempted to treat humans as mere animals, e.g. though slavery or abortion, and to sentimentalise animals as if they were human. It is because we have immortal souls that, apart from sin, we would have been immortal in body as well. Everything else in the material creation exists for a time, fulfils the purpose it was created for, and then passes away; and this is part of the goodness of creation.
May/ June 2019
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