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Original blessings

The Genesis of the Bible is an account of creation: God created the heavens, the earth and everything on it in five days, and man on the sixth day, then rested on the seventh day. The first man was Adam. The Lord said, “It is not good that man shall be alone. I will make him a helper fit for him.” (Genesis 2:18-25) And so He created Eve from Adam’s rib.

Adam and Eve lived in the Garden of Eden, a paradise where they had dominion over the animals and plants of every kind. They were created in the image of God, were immortals, and free of sin. But God imposed a condition to test their loyalty. They could eat any fruit in the garden except the apple. A serpent urged them to go against God’s will. “But Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.”  (Timothy 2:16)

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As punishment, God said to Eve, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” (Genesis  3:16) And to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, you shall not eat of it, cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life.” (Genesis 3:17) Henceforth, humankind was destined to suffer and die.

This is the story of the fall, where we inherited original sin. It sounds very much like one of Andersen’s fairy tales meant to entertain children. But unlike fairy tales, this is serious business for it influences millions of believers.

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The doctrine of original sin was largely devised by Saint Augustine in the fourth century. He said original sin was the result of concupiscence, a lust for the sexual act beyond what was necessary for procreation. Because of this transgression, the sexual act of succeeding generations carried with it the sin of Adam, and so to be freed of the curse, a redeemer had to make the supreme sacrifice by suffering and dying for all of humankind.

The source of sin and suffering had to be fathomed and explained for if God was perfect, He could not have included these imperfections in His creation. Everything wrong in the entire world and the human race was attributed to the sin of Adam—death, famine, disease, war, natural calamity, all sources of pain and agony.

If the story of original sin would somehow be negated, everything in the Roman Catholic religion would crumble, for the story of Adam and Eve is the very foundation of Catholicism. No Adam and Eve, no paradise, no original sin, no redeemer, no resurrection, no immaculate conception—no Church.

The existence of the universe predates the appearance of humans by billions of years. Death and suffering were already prevalent from the beginning of time. They say that even the subatomic particles were suffering in a sense because these were unstable and were constantly seeking attachments to acquire a personality. Imperfections and sin appear to be part of God’s design for evolution to flourish and reach its peak because in the survival of the fittest, the gentle and timid seldom win the war.

Let us pause and imagine the beginning of the universe, a spectacular, colossal explosion that expanded, creating time and space, strings connecting and jostling for a place in the cosmos, the appearance of stars and galaxies in all their colorful splendor. Imagine God at work fashioning the seas and all creatures therein, the mountains and trees, and all forms of life. Awesome? This is the original blessing, the radiance, goodness and splendor of all creation. The beauty of it is creation does not stop here but goes on through all of eternity, constantly redesigning itself in a complexification for more grace, elegance and goodness.

Today, the human intellect has evolved way beyond what it was thousands of years ago. Theories and doctrines visualized centuries ago were worked out by exceedingly less developed minds. It is understandable that beliefs could have ensued from wrong assumptions considering what the brain was incapable of at the time. Concepts like a flat world or the earth as the center of the solar system have given way to new paradigms.

There is a great deal of nobility in admitting an error. As fishers of men, the Church can still catch the coming generations which it is in danger of losing if it persists in the way it is conducting itself. Initially, its representatives should simplify their lifestyles, shed the extravagant trappings, and live the way the majority of humanity lives. The Church’s immense wealth can be translated into improving the lot of the billions of hungry, homeless, uneducated masses of our world.

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In its evangelization, the Church should put more emphasis on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, not on his agony and death. It should listen to and have a friendly dialogue with the laity, for this is a time when people seek answers to questions arising from a more developed awareness. It should stop threatening those who desire a more relevant theology with excommunication or hell; this no longer intimidates. Love, compassion and generosity must not merely be preached but lived, a model to be imitated and so become a way of life for everyone.

I am in no way preaching reforms to a powerful institution like the Catholic Church. These are mere suggestions from one of many who are experiencing a spiritual upheaval. I believe I have an obligation to air my piece, insignificant though I am.

Scientists say the cosmos is made of strings, not particles. In my fantasy, I see the Cosmic Christ strumming on the strings of a gigantic harp, playing the beautiful symphony of the Universe.

Carmelita Roxas Natividad describes herself as a retired mother and active grandmother who likes to write, garden, and bake, in that order.

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TAGS: Bible, Carmelita Roxas Natividad, column, genesis
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