One answer to this previous question asks,

One of the problems I have with theistic evolution is: when did this alleged evolutinary animal/ape/man become accountable for his sins? [sic]

It would seem that this is a fundamental problem with TE - it denies the legitimacy of Adam's Fall as being representative for the entire human race (as Paul explains in Romans 5).

How does TE understand\explain awareness of and responsibility for sin?

  • 2
    Unfortunately, I don't know enough to speak for most TE'ers, so I won't give this as an answer, but I personally believe that Adam and Eve were the first ones to have human souls. Aug 17, 2012 at 20:30
  • It seems your question, as currently written, presumes belief in the inheritance of Original Sin. That in itself may be an unreliable presumption, but the root of the question here is definitely interesting.
    – Iszi
    Aug 17, 2012 at 20:59
  • I think the question is a red herring. When does any of us become aware of and accountable for our sin? Can you look back on your own life and point to a single moment of accountability?
    – kurosch
    Aug 17, 2012 at 22:25
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    For in depth articles and dicussions of this and other TE questions see the excellent Biologos website
    – Justsalt
    Aug 21, 2012 at 17:03
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    @kurosch perhaps you should ask instead if you have ever sinned without first being taught that it was a sin, yet you still felt guilty or at least funny about it? I do not have single moment I remember where I sinned and did not know about it AND felt no guilt.
    – user3961
    Mar 13, 2013 at 9:18

1 Answer 1


First, a disclaimer: Theistic evolution (TE) is neither a theological system nor an alternative to mainstream evolutionary science. TE is an awkward label applied to people who accept evolutionary theory and also believe in God. Those who claim this label are not a unified group. The following is my own understanding, which is still evolving.

The early chapters of Genesis, taken as historical narrative, are impossible to reconcile with mainstream evolutionary biology. To accept evolution as fact is to deny Adam and Eve as history.

On the other hand, the typology of Adam and Eve does not change if they are not historical figures. If the story of Adam and Eve is allegory, then it is an allegory explaining the beginnings of God's relationship with created beings.

Put into a framework of hominid evolution, Adam and Eve represent the first beings capable of living in relationship with God. This is represented by God's breathing the "breath of life" (Genesis 2:7) into them.

The eating of the forbidden fruit that "opened their eyes" (Genesis 3:7) is a poetic reference to the awakening that transformed amoral hominids into moral agents, capable of distinguishing right from wrong.

And I don't think it's much of a stretch to suggest that this moral awakening grew directly out of an experience (or multiple experiences) of realizing the consequences of wrong actions. That's one of the lessons of Adam and Eve: actions have consequences.

So, no TE does not necessarily deny Adam's fall as being representative of the entire human race. In fact, from a TE perspective we could say Adam's fall is nothing other than representative of the entire human race.

And in answer to the question in the title, the "alleged evolutinary animal/ape/man" became accountable for his sins when he first became aware that he was acting against the will of God.

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    One glitch here is that it becomes essential to define "moral choices". For example, it might be pretty easy to show many primates making what could easily be classed "moral choices" (example 1 | example 2 | example 3) - does that make them human? Aug 17, 2012 at 22:41
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    Excellent answer, except the last line. We're human even before we can make moral choices (and for some people that's their entire life).
    – kurosch
    Aug 17, 2012 at 23:24
  • @MarcGravell, kurosch: Good points. I may need to reconsider my conclusion. Aug 17, 2012 at 23:42
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    If they were amoral hominids, then eating the fruit could not have been a sin for which they were accountable - they must have been moral agents before eating the fruit. Furthermore, Genesis teaches we were made in the image of God before we ate the fruit, so the consequences of eating it cannot be to be transformed into being which image God.
    – user32
    Aug 20, 2012 at 22:14
  • @SoftwareMonkey: Good points. I can see that I still have a lot of work to do on this answer. Aug 21, 2012 at 15:33

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