Evaluating Original Sin against scientific discoveries

· Christianity, Religion
Authors

‘The Christian resolve to find the world evil and ugly, has made the world evil and ugly.’  Friedrich Nietzsche

If we take out the dogma of Trinity and Original Sin in Christianity then the three Abrahamic faiths become very similar to each other.

The dogma of Trinity and Original Sin are not only bad religion but also bad history. The word Trinity is not even mentioned in the New Testament. It is stated in 1890 edition of Encyclopedia Britannica, “The Trinitarians and the Unitarians continued to confront each other, the latter at the beginning of the third century still forming the large majority.” In The Encyclopedia Americana we read, “Unitarianism as a theological movement began much earlier in history; indeed it antedated Trinitarianism by many decades. Christianity derived from Judaism and Judaism was strictly Unitarian [believing that God is one person]. The Road which led from Jerusalem to the Council of Nicea was scarcely a straight one. Fourth century Trinitarianism did not reflect accurately early Christian teaching regarding the nature of God; it was, on the contrary, a deviation from this teaching.”

The Messiah, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani, the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community said:

“The examples of human actions and their results are all too pervasive in the laws of nature, but we see no example for the Christian concept of atonement. For example, there is hunger and it is relieved by eating, likewise, there is thirst and it is quenched by drinking water. So, we learn that by eating food or drinking water hunger and thirst are taken care of. But, it does not happen that Thomas is hungry and John eats food and hunger of Thomas is relieved. Were there any such examples in the laws of nature then perhaps we could find an excuse for atonement. So, when there is no metaphor or allegory for atonement in the laws of nature and as humans recognize truth by observing metaphors, we find no reason to believe in the Christian concept of atonement. Likewise, we find no metaphor for this in man made laws. It has never been known that Robert commits murder and Mark is hanged for it. In summary, Christian atonement is a strange principle that does not have any metaphor, whatsoever, to demonstrate its reasonability.”

If there was evidence that Jesus ate food and the disciples were satiated then there would be reason to believe in atonement, in lack of such evidence, it is time to give up this futile idea.

Whereas Pope John Paul II had the wisdom to accept the theory of evolution, the Christians have not had the wisdom and courage to give up the false doctrine of ‘Original Sin;’ that among many other prerequisites also requires human history of less than 6000 years. This article reviews the biological and geological data that has shattered the dogma of Original Sin.

Malcolm Muggeridge once said, “only dead fish swim with the current!” My dear Christian brothers and sisters, time to wake up and show that you are alive and well!


The concept of Original Sin is completely incompatible with the fundamental laws of biology including the principles of gene inheritance and the facts supporting the theory of evolution.

Review the article in the Religion and Science section of the Summer 2008 volume of Muslim Sunrise by me, on this subject:

THE “FALL OF MAN” AND ANTHROPOLOGY

By Andrew Dickson White (1832-1918)

Andrew Dickson White

The Church has somehow survived the fierce blows from the development of science especially the theory of evolution.  The fundamental doctrine of ‘Original Sin’ lost all its philosophical footing with the scientific revolution as evidence piled in the fields of geology, archaeology and biology.  The Church, however, has been able to successfully ignore the evidence or push it under the rug and away from the consciousness of the masses.  The dogmas of Christianity seem to have survived the blows of Darwinian evolution.  But they cannot survive the evolution of printing press into internet and websites, as that allows for the skeletons and demons to revisit centuries later and often!

Here, I reproduce a chapter of a book by Andrew Dickson White detailing the geological and biological evidence against the doctrine of the fall of man or Original Sin.  He was the founding President of Cornell University and published his book A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom, in 1896:

The New Testament contradicts itself in regards to the concept and teaching of atonemet.  Prof.  Bart Ehrman eloquently demonstrates the contradiction between the letters of Paul and Acts.  The book of Acts was authored by the same writer who wrote the Gospel according to Luke. Ehrman writes:
“The idea of atonement is that something needs to be done in order to deal with sins. A sacrifice has to be made that can compensate for the fact that someone has transgressed the divine law. The sacrifice satisfies the just demands of God, whose law has been broken and who requires a penalty. In Paul’s view, Jesus’ death brought about an atonement: it was a sacrifice made for the sake of others so that they would not have to pay for their sins them¬selves. This atonement purchased a right standing before God.
The idea of forgiveness is that someone lets you off the hook for something that you’ve done wrong, without any requirement of payment. If you forgive a debt, it means you don’t make the other person pay. That’s quite different from accepting the payment of your debt from someone else (which would be the basic idea of atonement). In Paul’s own way of looking at salvation, Christ had to be sacrificed to pay the debt of others; in Luke’s way of looking at it, God forgives the debt without requiring a sacrifice.
Why then, for Luke, did Jesus have to die, if not as a sacrifice for sins? When you read through the speeches in Acts the answer becomes quite clear. It doesn’t matter whether you look at Paul’s speeches or Peter’s, since, if you’ll recall, all these speeches sound pretty much alike (they were, after all, written by Luke). Jesus was wrongly put to death. This was a gross miscarriage of justice. When people realize what they (or their compatriots) did to Jesus, they are overcome by guilt, which leads them to repent and ask for forgiveness. And God forgives them.
Thus Jesus’ death, for Luke, is not an atonement for sins; it is an occasion for repentance. It is the repentance that leads to the forgiveness of sins, and thus a restored relationship with God (see, for example, Peter’s first speech in Acts 2:37-39). This is fundamentally different from a doctrine of atonement such as you find in Paul.”[1]
This Google Knol and its comments and the links provided in there, together become an encyclpopedic refutation of the dogma of Original Sin.  Read on and in the words of Sir Francis Bacon, “Read not to contradict … but to weigh and consider.”
If you are ready for a bumpy ride, let me present an excoriating excerpt from the writing of one of the Founding Fathers of our beloved USA, Thomas Paine, as he hits the nail squarely on the head:

From the time I was capable of conceiving an idea, and acting upon it by reflection, I either doubted the truth of the Christian system, or thought it to be a strange affair; I scarcely knew which it was: but I well remember, when about seven or eight years of age, hearing a sermon read by a relation of mine, who was a great devotee of the church, upon the subject of what is called Redemption by the death of the Son of God. After the sermon was ended, I went into the garden, and as I was going down the garden steps (for I perfectly recollect the spot) I revolted at the recollection of what I had heard, and thought to myself that it was making God Almighty act like a passionate man, that killed his son, when he could not revenge himself any other way; and as I was sure a man would be hanged that did such a thing, I could not see for what purpose they preached such sermons. This was not one of those kind of thoughts that had anything in it of childish levity; it was to me a serious reflection, arising from the idea I had that God was too good to do such an action, and also too almighty to be under any necessity of doing it. I believe in the same manner to this moment; and I moreover believe, that any system of religion that has anything in it that shocks the mind of a child, cannot be a true system.  (Thomas Paine)

For the reference of the above quote see myarticles about Thomas Paine.[2]

References

  1. Bart D. Ehrman. Peter, Paul and Mary Magdalene: The Followers of Jesus in History and Legend. Oxford University Press, 2006. Page 143-144.
  2. http://knol.google.com/k/zia-shah/age-of-reason-by-thomas-paine-in-the/1qhnnhcumbuyp/323#

26 Comments

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  1. Zia H. Shah

    Christian vicarious atonement has no foundation in the Old Testament
    Read the first 29 verses of Ezekiel 18 (New International Version):

    The word of the LORD came to me: “What do you people mean by quoting this proverb about the land of Israel:
    “‘The parents eat sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge’?

    “As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, you will no longer quote this proverb in Israel. For everyone belongs to me, the parent as well as the child—both alike belong to me. The one who sins is the one who will die.

    “Suppose there is a righteous man
    who does what is just and right.
    He does not eat at the mountain shrines
    or look to the idols of Israel.
    He does not defile his neighbor’s wife
    or have sexual relations with a woman during her period.
    He does not oppress anyone,
    but returns what he took in pledge for a loan.
    He does not commit robbery
    but gives his food to the hungry
    and provides clothing for the naked.
    He does not lend to them at interest
    or take a profit from them.
    He withholds his hand from doing wrong
    and judges fairly between two parties.
    He follows my decrees
    and faithfully keeps my laws.
    That man is righteous;
    he will surely live,
    declares the Sovereign LORD.

    “Suppose he has a violent son, who sheds blood or does any of these other things (though the father has done none of them):

    “He eats at the mountain shrines.
    He defiles his neighbor’s wife.
    He oppresses the poor and needy.
    He commits robbery.
    He does not return what he took in pledge.
    He looks to the idols.
    He does detestable things.
    He lends at interest and takes a profit.

    Will such a man live? He will not! Because he has done all these detestable things, he is to be put to death; his blood will be on his own head.

    “But suppose this son has a son who sees all the sins his father commits, and though he sees them, he does not do such things:

    “He does not eat at the mountain shrines
    or look to the idols of Israel.
    He does not defile his neighbor’s wife.
    He does not oppress anyone
    or require a pledge for a loan.
    He does not commit robbery
    but gives his food to the hungry
    and provides clothing for the naked.
    He withholds his hand from mistreating the poor
    and takes no interest or profit from them.
    He keeps my laws and follows my decrees.

    He will not die for his father’s sin; he will surely live. But his father will die for his own sin, because he practiced extortion, robbed his brother and did what was wrong among his people.

    “Yet you ask, ‘Why does the son not share the guilt of his father?’ Since the son has done what is just and right and has been careful to keep all my decrees, he will surely live. The one who sins is the one who will die. The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child. The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them.

    “But if a wicked person turns away from all the sins they have committed and keeps all my decrees and does what is just and right, that person will surely live; they will not die. None of the offenses they have committed will be remembered against them. Because of the righteous things they have done, they will live. Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?

    “But if a righteous person turns from their righteousness and commits sin and does the same detestable things the wicked person does, will they live? None of the righteous things that person has done will be remembered. Because of the unfaithfulness they are guilty of and because of the sins they have committed, they will die.

    “Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ Hear, you Israelites: Is my way unjust? Is it not your ways that are unjust? If a righteous person turns from their righteousness and commits sin, they will die for it; because of the sin they have committed they will die. But if a wicked person turns away from the wickedness they have committed and does what is just and right, they will save their life. Because they consider all the offenses they have committed and turn away from them, that person will surely live; they will not die. Yet the Israelites say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ Are my ways unjust, people of Israel? Is it not your ways that are unjust? (Ezekiel 18:1-29)

    For a dramatic presentation of the details watch the following debate of Ahmed Dedat against Bishop General Wakefield in Toronto:

  2. Zia H. Shah

    Salvation and the parable of the sheep and the goats
    Please read this detailed and famous parable and see for yourself, how salvation depends on kindness to your neighbors and other humans and not by belief in any form of Christology:

    When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

    “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

    “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

    “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

    “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

    “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

    “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

    “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.

    (Matthew 25:31-46)

  3. Zia H. Shah

    Breaking the Cross: Epoch making refutation of dogma of Christianity by the Messiah, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani
    By Ataul Mujeeb Rashid

    The author is the Senior Missionary, for Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in UK. He has written a very detailed and beautiful book exposing the dogma of Christianity. He has collected excerpts from the writings of Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, who is the Promised Messiah, to refute Christianity. Rashid has written this book in Urdu and it would be very worthwhile if someone translates it into English for the benefit of those who do not know Urdu. Here is the link to read a more than a hundred page chapter in refutation of Trinity in Urdu:

    http://www.alislam.org/urdu/pdf/KasreSaleeb.pdf#page=127

    For the chapter on atonement go to:

    http://www.alislam.org/urdu/pdf/KasreSaleeb.pdf#page=241

  4. Zia H. Shah

    Neanderthal DNA Lives On in Modern Humans — After all Adam and Eve are not the forefathers of each one of us
    A decade after scientists first cracked the human genome, researchers announced in the May 7 issue of Science that they have done the same for Neanderthals, the species of hominid that existed from roughly 400,000 to 30,000 years ago, when their closest relatives, early modern humans, may have driven them to extinction.

    Led by ancient-DNA expert Svante Pääbo of Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, scientists reconstructed about 60% of the Neanderthal genome by analyzing tiny chains of ancient DNA extracted from bone fragments of three female Neanderthals excavated in the late 1970s and early ’80s from a cave in Croatia. The bones are 38,000 to 44,000 years old.

    The genetic information turned up some intriguing findings, indicating, for instance, that at some point after early modern humans migrated out of Africa, they mingled and mated with Neanderthals, possibly in the Middle East or North Africa as much as 80,000 years ago. If that is the case, it occurred significantly earlier than scientists who support the interbreeding hypothesis would have expected.

    Comparisons with DNA from modern humans show that some Neanderthal DNA has survived to the present. Moreover, by analyzing ancient DNA alongside modern samples, the team was able to identify a handful of genetic changes that evolved in modern humans sometime after their ancestors and Neanderthals diverged, 440,000 to 270,000 years ago.

    http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1987568,00.html?xid=newsletter-weekly

  5. Zia H. Shah

    There is no metaphor for atonement in the laws of nature
    Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani, the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community said:

    The examples of human actions and their results are all too pervasive in the laws of nature, but we see no example for the Christian concept of atonement. For example, there is hunger and it is relieved by eating, likewise, there is thirst and it is quenched by drinking water. So, we learn that by eating food or drinking water hunger and thirst are taken care of. But, it does not happen that Thomas is hungry and John eats food and hunger of Thomas is relieved. Were there any such examples in the laws of nature then perhaps we could find an excuse for atonement. So, when there is no metaphor or allegory for atonement in the laws of nature and as humans recognize truth by observing metaphors, we find no reason to believe in the Christian concept of atonement. Likewise, we find no metaphor for this in man made laws. It has never been known that Robert commits murder and Mark is hanged for it. In summary, Christian atonement is a strange principle that does not have any metaphor, whatsoever, to demonstrate its reasonability.

    To read additional details in Urdu go to Malfoozat Volume I/V page 111-114:

    http://alislam.org/urdu/library/87.html

    If there was evidence that Jesus ate food and the disciples were satiated then there would be reason to believe in atonement, in lack of such evidence, it is time to give up this futile idea.

  6. Zia H. Shah

    The futility of the Christian concept of atonement or redemption
    The last 20 minutes of April 17, 1997 Q/A session by Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad in the program Liqamaal Arab are devoted to this issue. In a manner of speaking, it is a summary or introduction of his book ‘Christianity a journey from fact to Fiction.’ To hear his comments in English and then translation in Arabic go to the link and then pick up the appropriate date:

    http://media.alislam.org/programsbytype.aspx?progtype=lq

  7. Zia H. Shah

    The word Limbo does not exist in the Bible
    I just searched in online Bible to confirm my suspicion. The website I used was:

    http://www.biblegateway.com/

    If every one inherited the Original sin then so did the children! Limbo, in my view has exposed the dogma of ‘Original sin.’ Are unbaptized children sinful? Do they go to hell, heaven or to Limbo? That is the question that has haunted the Church for centuries, I would think that this dilemma led to the invention of Limbo, in the first place. Church can neither accept nor let go of the idea of Limbo, as highlighted by news items below. Hence ‘Limbo is in limbo!’ But this can help the truth seekers understand the dogma of the ‘Original sin.’

    Islamic view is simple and clear that every one of us is born innocent.

    Review my knol about Limbo:

    http://knol.google.com/k/zia-shah/limbo-a-christian-doctrine/1qhnnhcumbuyp/126#

  8. Zia H. Shah

    Original sin as defined in Encyclopedia Britannica
    According to Encyclopedia Britannica:

    “Original sin in Christian doctrine, the condition or state of sin into which each human being is born; also, the origin (i.e., the cause, or source) of this state. Traditionally, the origin has been ascribed to the sin of the first man, Adam, who disobeyed God in eating the forbidden fruit (of knowledge of good and evil) and, in consequence, transmitted his sin and guilt by heredity to his descendants.
    The doctrine has its basis in the Bible. Although the human condition (suffering, death, and a universal tendency toward sin) is accounted for by the story of the Fall of Adam in the early chapters of the book of Genesis, the Hebrew Scriptures say nothing about the transmission of hereditary sin to the entire human race. In the Gospels also there are no more than allusions to the notion of the Fall of Man and universal sin. The main scriptural affirmation of the doctrine is found in the writings of St. Paul and particularly in Romans 5:12–19, a difficult passage in which Paul establishes a parallelism between Adam and Christ, stating that whereas sin and death entered the world through Adam, grace and eternal life have come in greater abundance through Christ.
    The doctrine is the prerequisite for the Christian understanding of the meaning of Jesus’ crucifixion and atonement. Despite its importance for understanding Jesus’ sacrifice, the doctrine of original sin has been minimized since the European Enlightenment.”

    “original sin.” Encyclopædia Britannica. 2010. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 07 Feb. 2010 .

    But the key questions are:
    1. Was the Prophet Adam the first man?
    2. Is there a biologic or genetic mechanism for sin to be transferred from parent to offspring?
    3. Is there a mechanism, whereby this inheritable genetic defect can be corrected by Jesus’ death on the cross?
    The reason why ‘Original Sin,’ has been minimized since the European Enlightenment, is the writers like Andrew Dickson White (1832-1918).

  9. Zia H. Shah

    Semi-Pelagianism: Another evidence against the dogma of Original Sin
    According to Encyclopedia Britannica:

    “Semi-Pelagianism in 17th-century theological terminology, the doctrine of an anti-Augustinian movement that flourished from about 429 to about 529 in southern France. The surviving evidences of the original movement are limited, but it is clear that the fathers of semi-Pelagianism were monks who stressed the need of ascetic practices and who were highly respected leaders in the church. The writings of three of these monks had positive influence on the history of the movement. They were John Cassian, who had lived in the East and who founded two monasteries in Massilia (Marseille); Vincent, a monk of the celebrated Abbey of Lérins; and Faustus, bishop of Riez, a former monk and abbot at Lérins, who at the request of Provence bishops wrote De gratia (“Concerning Grace”), in which semi-Pelagianism was given its final form and one more naturalistic than that provided by Cassian.

    Unlike the Pelagians, who denied original sin and believed in perfect human free will, the semi-Pelagians believed in the universality of original sin as a corruptive force in man. They also believed that without God’s grace this corruptive force could not be overcome, and they therefore admitted the necessity of grace for Christian life and action. They also insisted on the necessity of Baptism, even for infants. But contrary to Augustine, they taught that the innate corruption of man was not so great that the initiative toward Christian commitment was beyond the powers of man’s native will.

    This commitment was called by John Cassian initium fidei (“beginning of faith”) and by Faustus of Riez credulitatis affectus (“feeling of credulity”). According to this view, man by his unaided will could desire to accept the gospel of salvation, but he could not be actually converted without divine help. In later semi-Pelagianism, divine help was conceived not as an internal empowering graciously infused by God into man but as purely external preaching or the biblical communication of the gospel, of the divine promises, and of the divine threats. The strong point for all semi-Pelagians was the justice of God: God would not be just if man were not natively empowered to make at least the first step toward salvation. If salvation depended initially and unilaterally only on God’s free election of the saved, those not chosen could complain that they were doomed by the mere fact of being born.

    The result of semi-Pelagianism, however, was the denial of the necessity of God’s unmerited, supernatural, gracious empowering of man’s will for saving action. It contradicted St. Paul and St. Augustine, and the latter was by papal declaration the approved Catholic doctor in the question of grace and thus beyond attack.

    In its early stages, semi-Pelagianism was opposed in Gaul by two polemicists, Prosper of Aquitaine and an otherwise unknown Hilary. After Faustus’ death (c. 490), semi-Pelagianism was still highly respected, but the doctrine declined in the 6th century, primarily through the action of Caesarius of Arles. At the instigation of Pope Felix IV (526–530), Caesarius condemned semi-Pelagianism at the second Council of Orange (529). The condemnation was approved by Pope Boniface II, Felix’s successor. From that point on, semi-Pelagianism was recognized as a heresy in the Roman Catholic church.”

    “semi-Pelagianism.” Encyclopædia Britannica. 2010. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 06 Feb. 2010 .

  10. Zia H. Shah

    Pelagianism was similar to Islam
    According to Encyclopedia Britannica:

    “Pelagianism a 5th-century Christian heresy taught by Pelagius and his followers that stressed the essential goodness of human nature and the freedom of the human will. Pelagius was concerned about the slack moral standards among Christians, and he hoped to improve their conduct by his teachings. Rejecting the arguments of those who claimed that they sinned because of human weakness, he insisted that God made human beings free to choose between good and evil and that sin is a voluntary act committed by a person against God’s law. Celestius, a disciple of Pelagius, denied the church’s doctrine of original sin and the necessity of infant Baptism.

    Pelagianism was opposed by Augustine, bishop of Hippo, who asserted that human beings could not attain righteousness by their own efforts and were totally dependent upon the grace of God. Condemned by two councils of African bishops in 416, and again at Carthage in 418, Pelagius and Celestius were finally excommunicated in 418; Pelagius’ later fate is unknown.

    The controversy, however, was not over. Julian of Eclanum continued to assert the Pelagian view and engaged Augustine in literary polemic until the latter’s death in 430. Julian himself was finally condemned, with the rest of the Pelagian party, at the Council of Ephesus in 431. Another heresy, known as Semi-Pelagianism, flourished in southern Gaul until it was finally condemned at the second Council of Orange in 529.”

    “Pelagianism.” Encyclopædia Britannica. 2010. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 06 Feb. 2010 .

  11. Zia H. Shah

    Pelagius: Who should have been declared a saint
    Pelagius who aught to have been declared a saint rather than a heretic, defended the true Christianity against the dogma of Original Sin, that found its advocate in Augustine. According to Encyclopedia Britannica:

    “Pelagius was a monk and theologian whose heterodox theological system known as Pelagianism emphasized the primacy of human effort in spiritual salvation.

    Coming to Rome c. 380, Pelagius, though not a priest, became a highly regarded spiritual director for both clergy and laymen. The rigorous asceticism of his adherents acted as a reproach to the spiritual sloth of many Roman Christians, whose moral standards greatly distressed him. He blamed Rome’s moral laxity on the doctrine of divine grace that he heard a bishop cite from the Confessions of Saint Augustine, who in his prayer for continence beseeched God to grant whatever grace the divine will determined. Pelagius attacked this teaching on the grounds that it imperilled the entire moral law and soon gained a considerable following at Rome. Henceforth his closest collaborator was a lawyer named Celestius.

    After the fall of Rome to the Visigoth chieftain Alaric in 410, Pelagius and Celestius went to Africa. There they encountered the hostile criticism of Augustine, who published several denunciatory letters concerning their doctrine, particularly Pelagius’ insistence on man’s basically good moral nature and on man’s own responsibility for voluntarily choosing Christian asceticism for his spiritual advancement.

    Pelagius left for Palestine c. 412. There, although accused of heresy at the synod of Jerusalem in 415, he succeeded in clearing himself and avoiding censure. In response to further attacks from Augustine and the Latin biblical scholar Jerome, Pelagius wrote De libero arbitrio (“On Free Will”) in 416, which resulted in the condemnation of his teaching by two African councils. In 417 Pope Innocent I endorsed the condemnations and excommunicated Pelagius and Celestius. Innocent’s successor, Zosimus, at first pronounced him innocent on the basis of Pelagius’ Libellus fidei (‘Brief Statement of Faith’), but after renewed investigation at the council of Carthage in 418, Zosimus confirmed the council’s nine canons condemning Pelagius. Nothing more is known of Pelagius after this date.’

    “Pelagius.” Encyclopædia Britannica. 2010. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 06 Feb. 2010 .

  12. Zia H. Shah

    Pelagius: Who should have been declared a saint Part II
    In this comment let me quote Wikipedia. A good study of history should reveal to any insightful researcher that the position of orthodox Christianity about atonement was no different from that of Islam. It was the political success of Augustine that introduced the dogma of Original sin in Christianity:

    Pelagius (ca. AD 354 – ca. AD 420/440) was an ascetic who denied the doctrine of original sin as developed by Augustine of Hippo, and was declared a heretic by the Council of Carthage. His interpretation of a doctrine of free will became known as Pelagianism. He was well educated, fluent in both Greek and Latin, and learned in theology. He spent time as an ascetic, focusing on practical asceticism, which his teachings clearly reflect. He was certainly well known in Rome, both for the harsh asceticism of his public life as well as the power and persuasiveness of his speech. His reputation in Rome earned him praise early in his career even from such pillars of the Church as Augustine, who referred to him as a “saintly man.” However, he was later accused of lying about his own teachings in order to avoid public condemnation. Most of his later life was spent defending himself against other theologians and the Catholic Church. Due to his status as a heretic little of his work has come down to the present day except in the quotes of his opponents.

    An objective view of Pelagius and his effect is difficult. His name has been maligned and used as an epithet for centuries by both Protestants and Catholics, and he has had few defenders. The Roman Catholic church denounced his ideas and yet the Reformation accused Catholics of adhering to his beliefs and condemned both Pelagius and the Catholic Church. Meanwhile, the Eastern Orthodox Church is silent. Regardless, Pelagius stands, both in reality and in icon, as a radical dissenter from the traditional view of original sin and the means of salvation. Analysis of his work is limited by the fact that Pelagius’ life and teachings can only be understood through the works of his opposition as only their writings survive.

    Pelagius’ guilt in the eyes of the Church, however, was undecided. Pelagius wrote a letter and statement of belief showing himself to be orthodox and sent them to Innocent I. In these he articulated his beliefs so as not to contradict what the synods condemned. Zosimus had become Pope by the time the letter reached Rome in 417. Zosimus was duly impressed and declared him innocent.

    St. Augustine, shocked that Pelagius and Celestius were not denounced as heretics, called the Council of Carthage in 418 and stated nine beliefs of the Church that Pelagianism denied:

    1. Death came from sin, not man’s physical nature.
    2. Infants must be baptized to be cleansed from original sin.
    3. Justifying grace covers past sins and helps avoid future sins.
    4. The grace of Christ imparts strength and will to act out God’s commandments.
    5. No good works can come without God’s grace.
    6. We confess we are sinners because it is true, not from humility.
    7. The saints ask for forgiveness for their own sins.
    8. The saints also confess to be sinners because they are.
    9. Children dying without baptism are excluded from both the Kingdom of heaven and eternal life.

    Every one of these was accepted as a universal belief of the Church and all Pelagians were banished from Italy.

  13. Zia H. Shah

    Celestius: Who should have been declared a saint
    According to Encyclopedia Britannica:

    Celestius one of the first and probably the most outstanding of the disciples of the British theologian Pelagius (q.v.).

    Like Pelagius, Celestius was practicing law in Rome when they met. In reaction to contemporary immorality, they turned from temporal to religious pursuits, and their reforming views found much support at Rome.

    When the Goths menaced Rome about 409, the two men went first to Sicily and then, about 410, to North Africa, where Celestius remained after Pelagius left for Palestine in 411. During a visit to Carthage, Paulinus, a deacon of Milan, accused Celestius of denying the existence of original sin and the remission of sins by baptism. Celestius was condemned at the Council of Carthage (412), presided over by Bishop St. Aurelius, who excommunicated him. He left for Ephesus (near modern Selçuk, Turkey).

    Celestius’ propaganda and Pelagius’ writings succeeded in making many converts, and a reaction against them grew with a powerful opposition that included St. Jerome, the great Latin biblical scholar, and Bishop St. Augustine of Hippo. The condemnation of Celestius and Pelagius was repeated at the Council of Diospolis (modern Lod, Israel) in 415 and at two African councils in 416. Although they were excommunicated in 417 by Pope St. Innocent I, the succeeding pope, St. Zosimus, was to prove sympathetic.

    Celestius visited Zosimus, whom he impressed and who, after receiving a profession of faith from Pelagius, accused the African bishops in 417 of having acted precipitately. Violent outbreaks by the Pelagians in Rome caused the Western Roman emperor Flavius Honorius to condemn Pelagianism and exile Celestius from Italy. Meanwhile, Celestius, who had been commanded to appear before the pope, ignored the summons and fled from Rome. Thereupon, Zosimus excommunicated him and condemned Pelagianism. The Council of Ephesus (431) also condemned him.

    http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9022010/Celestius

  14. rey

    “If we take out the dogma of Trinity and Original Sin in Christianity then the three Abrahamic faiths become very similar to each other.”

    I don’t agree. Each one is too exclusivity. Christianity would still teach that unless you believe in Jesus as the Messiah you will burn for all eternity in hell. Islam would still treat ever non-Arab like crap and (orthodox) Judaism would still treat converts pretty crappy. The kumbaya idea of united the three religions is a pipedream.

    And there are certain features of Islam that disgust me. Like having to wash your feet before or after you pray and the whole bowing on the ground while praying thing and the prayer mat — what stupidity. And its clearly a leftover from Meccan idolatry. The idol worshipers bowed towards a statue of an idol. Mohammed removed the idol, but the bowing motion was retained. But God is not in front of us, but above us! So why be a moron and bow to whatever is in front of you? You are bowing to the mulla or whatever you call him, not God.

    True religion should not even have ceremonies that it imposes. It should only be moral rules. Thou shalt not kill is good. Thou must pray five times a day is bad. Thou shalt not commit adultery is good. Thou shalt attend worship services or burn in hell is bad. And so on. God obviously only cares how we treat one another.

  15. Zia H. Shah

    Hi!

    If Christianity gives up dogma of Original Sin and Trinity then it will become similar to Jewish or the Muslim paradigm that God sends prophets to guide mankind to morality and spirituality.

    Ahmadiyya Muslim Community believes that no one will burn in eternal hell as the Gracious God will not inflict infinite punishment for finite crimes. Proportionate punishment for crime, as we say in the Western world, is my understanding of the day of Judgment. No one will be judged for things which were beyond his or her human capacity. Actually there are verses in the Holy Quran reassuring everyone of salvation, provided some pre-conditions are met:

    Surely, the Believers, and the Jews, and the Christians and the Sabians — whichever party from among these truly believes in Allah and the Last Day and does good deeds — shall have their reward with their Lord, and no fear shall come upon them, nor shall they grieve. (Al Quran 2:63)

    And:

    Surely, those who have believed, and the Jews, and the Sabians, and the Christians — whoso believes in Allah and the Last Day and does good deeds, on them shall come no fear, nor shall they grieve. (Al Quran 5:70)

    Prostrations are to generate an emotion of humility, in front of the Gracious and Merciful Creator. Our actions have effect on our emotions, like if you begin to whistle then it is likely to lift your mood.

  16. rey

    There are similar verses even in Paul. Romans 2:6-11 “[God] will render to every man according to his deeds: to them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: but unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; but glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: for there is no respect of persons with God.”

    This assures salvation to everyone who lives a good life, even if they don’t believe in Jesus–faith in particular dogmas is of no importance in these verses. But they are quickly contradicted but what follows, as I’m sure are the similar verses in the Koran. This is why all religions are false. They all recognize the truth of justification by morality, only to turn around and contradict it!

    • Rafiq A. Tschannen

      We see this reaction often in (ex-) Christians. They study Christianity, find contradictions, and then want to distance themselves from all religions. We Muslims need to prove that there are no such contradictions in the Holy Quran.

  17. Zia H. Shah

    Sola Gracia in the Protestant tradition is at odds with justification by morality.

    In Islam there is no such contradiction. We will be judged by our actions and intentions. However, the Grace is like the final push, some grace marks for reasonable students, who have worked hard, done well on the examination, but barely missed the threshold. A few grace marks as we understand in our daily life.

    The Holy Quran is literal word of God, it is well preserved over the centuries and there are no contradictions in it. It says:

    “Will they not, then, meditate upon the Qur’an? Had it been from anyone other than Allah, they would surely have found therein much disagreement.” (Al Quran 4:83)

    The Bible on the other hand is combination of word of God, words of Jesus, a lot of words of St. Paul and others in history. Contradictions are built in!

  18. rey

    “We see this reaction often in (ex-) Christians. They study Christianity, find contradictions, and then want to distance themselves from all religions. We Muslims need to prove that there are no such contradictions in the Holy Quran.”

    Sorry to burst your bubble, but the Koran inherits problems from the Bible. The virgin birth of Jesus, for example. One of the contradictions that Christians notice on their way out is that Matthew says Jesus was born of a virgin in order to fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14. But if you read Isaiah 7 and 8 in context, the child born of a virgin is meant as a sign of when the two rival kings to Ahaz will be defeated–meaning the prophecy must be fulfilled in Ahaz’ time, not hundreds of years later. In chapter 8 Isaiah says that God himself proclaimed a child born in that time, Mahershalalhashbaz, as the fulfillment of this prophecy. Knowing this, it is obvious that the virgin birth of Jesus is a fiction invented to fit a misinterpretation of the prophecy by a person who didn’t read the prophecy right. And since the Koran explicitly states Jesus was born of a virgin, it is no inspired document, but was written by a common man who was fooled by Matthew!!!! Moahammed bought into Matthew’s misuse of Isaiah 7!

    Sura 3.47 “She said: My Lord! when shall there be a son (born) to I me, and man has not touched me? He said: Even so, Allah creates what He pleases; when He has decreed a matter, He only says to it, Be, and it is.”

    I’ve never read the whole Koran so I can’t just go busting out the contradictions but I do know from what I have read in it that Mohammed got Jesus’ mother Mary and Miriam the sister of Moses confused and made Jesus into Moses’ nephew. I know also that in the Koran Allah swears by the Koran, swears by Mohammed’s life, swears by all this is seen and unseen — yet the Hadiths say that Mohammed taught that anyone who swears by anything other than Allah has committed shirk and made whatever he swore by an associate with Allah. And the style of it, “Oh you people of the book” this and “Oh you people of the book that” is just too childish for me to take seriously. There are plenty enough places where Mohammed clearly was duped by a misuse of the Old Testament that we find in the New Testament, or where he was confused as to what the Bible meant, or where the Hadiths contradict the Koran. Do we really need to go and find all the internal inconsistencies to prove that the Koran even contradicts itself? The mere fact of Mohammed buying into the virgin birth sham is enough to disqualify it from being “literal word of God”.

    [3.64] “Say: O followers of the Book! come to an equitable proposition between us and you that we shall not serve any but Allah and (that) we shall not associate aught with Him, and (that) some of us shall not take others for lords besides Allah; but if they turn back, then say: Bear witness that we are Muslims.”

    Every time I read Mohammed telling us what to say, I want to puke. And every time he says “O followers of the Book” or “O ye people of the book” I can’t help but laugh at the pedantic, rhetorical style of the Koran.

    • Rafiq A. Tschannen

      Not often I say this: but if someone has to ‘puke’ he better abstain from that food.

  19. Zia H. Shah

    The Bible, The Quran and Science: Is the Quran copied from the Bible?

    Rey your comment suggests that you have not read the Holy Quran, yet you are quick in leveling criticism against it. You allege that it has picked up the mistakes of the Bible. No, it did not pick up the dogma of Trinity, divinity of Jesus, Original Sin, labor pains a result of Original Sin, Celibacy, Priesthood, ambivalence about alcohol, Sola Gracia, eternal hell, violence in the Bible, to name only a few!

    Christian apologists had obfuscated the issue for the Christian masses, when information and knowledge was limited, by false propaganda against the Quran. However, in this day and age their accusations against the Holy Quran will only backfire!

    I just moved one of my articles on this issue from Google-knol to here. I hope it is helpful for you and other open minded readers:

    http://www.themuslimtimes.org/2011/12/islam-2/the-bible-the-quran-and-science-is-the-quran-copied-from-the-bible

  20. Zia H. Shah

    Different Gospels are self contradictory
    As we compare and contrast the Bible and the Holy Quran, let me share with you an excerpt from Robert Wright from his book ‘the Evolution of God’ that is particularly insightful in understanding the different books of the New Testament:

    “Hard evidence about the ‘historical Jesus’ is scanty. The Bible’s gospel accounts of Jesus’s life and words-the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – were written sometime between 65 and 100 CE, thirty-five to seventy years after his death. By that time, their raw material, stories then circulating about Jesus in oral or written form, had no doubt been shaped by the psychological and rhetorical needs of his followers. (The letters of Paul – New Testament books such as Philippians and Romans – were written earlier, beginning around twenty years after Jesus’s death. Unfortunately, they say almost nothing about Jesus’s life and very little about his words.)

    The book of Mark is generally considered the most factually reliable of the four gospels. It was written around 70 CE, roughly four decades after the Crucifixion. That’s a long lag, but it offers less time for the accrual of dubious information than the roughly five decades available for Matthew and Luke or the six or seven decades for John. What’s more, during Mark’s composition there would have been people sixty or seventy years old who as young adults had personally witnessed the doings and sayings of Jesus and knew his biographical details – and whose recollections may have constrained the author’s inventiveness. This population would shrink during the decade or more before other gospels took shape, expanding creative freedom.

    Certainly as we move through the gospels in the order of their composition, we can see the accumulation of more and more dubious information. Mark doesn’t give us anything like ‘the plain unvarnished truth,’ but his story is plainly less varnished than are later accounts. (The actual name and identity of the author of Mark, as with the other gospels, is unknown, but in all cases, for convenience, I’ll call the authors by the names of their books.)

    Consider the problem of Jesus being from a humble village, Nazareth. The Hebrew Bible had said that the Messiah would be a descendant of King David and, like David, would be born in Bethlehem. Mark never addresses the question of how ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ could have been born in Bethlehem. But by the time Matthew and Luke were written, an answer had emerged – two answers, even. Luke says Jesus’s parents went to Bethlehem for a census and returned to Nazareth after his birth. In Matthew’s version, Jesus’s parents just seem to live in Bethlehem. How then would Jesus wind up in Nazareth? Through an elaborate side story that has the family fleeing to Egypt under duress and then, upon leaving Egypt, deeming a return to Bethlehem dangerous, and settling in ‘a town called Nazareth.’ This contradiction between Luke and Matthew suggests that in this case, Mark, the earliest gospel, is the place to find the awkward truth: Jesus of Nazareth was Jesus of Nazareth. (Mathew 2:23) John (1:46-49) solves the Nazareth problem in yet another way.

    Indeed, by the time of John there has been a general change in the tenor of Jesus’s miracles. In Mark, Jesus didn’t do miracles ostentatiously, and sometimes he even took pains to perform them in private. (An answer to critics who .noted that few people other than Jesus’s followers claimed witness to his miracles?) In John, Jesus turns miracles into spectacles. Before raising Lazarus from the dead-something Jesus does in no other gospel-he says Lazarus’s illness was ‘for God’s glory, so that the son of God may be glorified through it.’ Moreover, the miracles are now explicitly symbolic. When Jesus heals a blind man, he says, ‘I am the light of the world.’ (Mark 5:37, Luke 8:51, John 11:4 & 9:5)

    A fairly immodest claim – but John’s Jesus is not a modest man. In no previous gospel does Jesus equate himself with God. But in John he says, ‘The Father and I are one.’ (John 10:30) Christian legend and theology have by this point had sixty or seventy years to evolve, and they are less obedient than ever to memories of the real, human Jesus.

    All of this suggests that if we are going to try to make a stab at reconstructing the ‘historical Jesus,’ even in broadest outlines, Mark, the earliest gospel, is the place to start. There, more than in any other account of Jesus’s life and sayings, the number of plainly awkward and barely varnished facts suggests at least some degree of factualness.”

    (Robert Wright. The Evolution of God. Little Brown and Company, 2009. Pages 249-254.)

    So, when we consider the allegation of the Christian apologists that the Quran is borrowed from the Bible, in the above light, truth becomes glaringly obvious. It would have been hard to copy from the self contradicting Bible. What to copy and what not to!

  21. rey

    “So, when we consider the allegation of the Christian apologists that the Quran is borrowed from the Bible, in the above light, truth becomes glaringly obvious. It would have been hard to copy from the self contradicting Bible. What to copy and what not to!”

    The gospels being contradictory does not preclude Mohammed from copying off of them. Because obviously, Mohammed had two ways open to him from the gospels with respect to Jesus’ birth. He could ignore it altogether as Mark did, or he could pretend that Jesus was born of a virgin as Matthew did. He chose to follow Matthew’s lead, and by doing so, ended up putting in the Koran a piece of folklore that was created by a misinterpretation of Isaiah 7. Thus, Mohammed is found both to have copied information from the gospel, and to have been ignorant enough to copy wrong information. It proves beyond all doubt that Mohammed was not inspired.

    But the ignorant and never ending attempt to defend a religious text as absolutely perfect will have you jumping through hoops to defend everything he wrote, for the truth is of no consequence to you…only the defense of the text you have received by tradition. You dictum as with all religious defenders of a ‘perfect’ text is basically “I know my text is perfect because I received it by tradition. And I know yours is wrong because I didn’t receive it by tradition.” But the rational person says, “I received the Bible by tradition, yet I know both the Bible and the Koran have errors and even lies in them” or “I received the Koran by tradition, yet I know both the Koran and the Bible have errors and even lies in them” — because a rational person is not enslaved to a text to the point where he considers it PIETY to lie in defense of a text.

  22. Zia H. Shah

    I have shortened your comment, but allowed it. Here, in this post, if you would limit to issues pertaining to Original Sin and take your criticism of the Holy Quran and the Holy Prophet to the relevant posts. So, this post does not become your thesis on Islamophobia and we can have some systematic communication.

    For the Holy Quran many an orientalists have testified that its text is exactly as given to the world by the Prophet Muhammad. As regards the Bible, only blind followers can stress it to be literal or even purely inspired word of God, in this age of information.

    Most Western critics immediately jump to assign every weakness they have known about the Bible to the Holy Quran, without knowledge, purely on an ideological assumption!

  23. Amtul Q Farhat

    @ rey

    I am wondering who is trying to defend what? It seems that Bible is nothing but truth and all truth, ideal, perfect as long as it is not refuted. If you see it being refuted then Qur’an is wrong, a lie, …..

    There is no comparison between the two books. Original Bible is a non existent Scripture and Qur’an is what it was since its revelation.
    Bible has so many versions and Qur’an has just one the original. How can they be compared.

    Dr Zia is right to ask you to talk on the real issues: Original Sin and Atonement etc.

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