Thursday, August 6, 2020


The term dialogue stems from the Greek διάλογος (dialogos, conversation); its roots are διά (dia: through) and λόγος (logos: speech, reason). The first extant author who uses the term is Plato, in whose works it is closely associated with the art of dialectic. Latin took over the word as dialogus.

A wonderful conversation between Jonathan Pageau and John Vervaeke.  They cover much ground, especially regarding the recent events of the reaction to the virus and the tremendous uprising of protests and riots.  I will point to what I found as highlights.  Feel free, however, to listen to the entire discussion.

Vervaeke begins by walking through his thought process while reflecting on the situation of George Floyd, the riots, racism, the riots, etc.  He comes to understand that he is once again being traumatized in the same way he was traumatized as a child in his fundamentalist church – by a puritanical form of Protestantism.  Regarding the current accusation of racism and white guilt:

7:04: “I am being told that I have an original sin, not because of any act I have committed, but because of how I was born; there is an aspect of this that is unforgiveable; whatever I do to try an overcome this makes it that much worse; I need to be contrite until some external, obscure authority pronounces me saved.”

17:06: Vervaeke asks Pageau if the version of original sin that he was brought up with – whether or not it is the right version – is what’s at play in this movement right now.  Pageau’s answer touches on the dangers of bringing this idea of original sin into biology; this has been done before, and it doesn’t end well. 

The only way out for those who are deemed guilty of today’s original sin is to self-flagellate or to scapegoat – find someone guiltier than me and yell at them (and worse).  It seems to me that even this isn’t sufficient, as it does not bring forgiveness.

22:35: Pageau offers his “alternative” way of understanding original sin.  I won’t do justice to his answer by summarizing it.  If this is of interest, take a listen.

39:10: Vervaeke has an interesting observation.  There is an exclusive focus on one virtue in this race guilt, justice (in a very truncated view of justice), at the exclusion of all of the other virtues – both the Cardinal and Theological.  “We should at least be talking about the other virtues, all seven.”  Talking about justice without talking about wisdom is oxymoronic and very dangerous.

Pageau then relates this demand for justice to another complicated term – equality.  The problem is, there is no such thing as equality.  The desire for equality is a desire for power.

46:29: Pageau discusses the focus of Christianity on the poor.  The focus is on those who have, to give; it is not for those who don’t have to take.  Why can’t they just take it?  It is a self-defeating pattern, because there is always someone with less than you.  From Pageau:

I don’t excuse the peasants for killing the king, but it is still, kind of, the king’s fault.  He didn’t take care of the peasants.

53:15: listen to the next four or five minutes from this point.  If these few minutes are of interest, just listen to the rest of the discussion.  I will just touch on highlights:

Our current events are akin to the French and Russian Revolutions; the new atheists who made fun of Jordan Peterson talking about this just need to look around: it is happening right now; a meaningful discussion of the shortcomings of reason: there is an aspect of reality that cannot be accounted for.

We call murder immoral, yet we don’t create an eradication strategy for it.  It would result in a totalitarian state.  Which is exactly what is happening with covid…and, also, the current discussion of racism.  To eradicate these will require a totalitarian state (yet, as with murder, none of these will ever be eradicated).

Covid has awakened in us the desire to eradicate; this opportunistically flowed right into the discussion of racism: the desire to eradicate thoughts and feelings.  We know where that road leads.  We will find scapegoats and have public beatings.  Pageau then brings up René Girard and a quote from him from around 2007.  Girard saw this coming, something about bringing up the machine of antichrist: infinite victimhood looking for infinite scapegoat. 

We are facing the same problem now that we faced during the twentieth century.  Pageau warns: when the Nazis came to power in Germany, they were faced with a communist revolution.  The pendulum doesn’t just swing one way.

Most Americans are more distressed of the opposite party than they are of a foreign threat.  What does that mean?


The burning of the forest (as is occurring right now) includes the seeds for the next growth.  Unfortunately, there is destruction.  And we have kids.


  1. There is no version of original sin that works. Original sin isn't found in scripture though I can see how people could take certain passages (and have) and infer it. but to do so, they have to ignore the rest of the scriptures.

    I agree totally that it is a terrible, shame-producing and evil doctrine. This compounded by another terrible doctrine - that we are individually pre-destined to either receive salvation or be condemned. We have no real choice over that, God decided who he would save and who he wouldn't and we're just 'along for the ride.'

    The old testament doesn't teach original sin at all. But there were people who nonetheless viewed the world through a lens of partiality, something Paul wrote was a human distortion of view, not the way God looked at the world. ("For there is no partiality with God." - Rom 2:11).

    We see that even Jesus' disciples and apostles were influenced a bit by partiality.

    "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind."

    This question sums up perfectly the absurdity of original sin. What could man, when he was an unborn baby do to sin against God? If he was born blind, then he was also blind in the womb. Did he sin during conception or was Augustine correct and his sin was transferred to him through the father's semen?

    Well Jesus puts their question to rest.

    "Neither this man or his parents sinned..."

    There is no such thing as a person who is born evil. We're all born essentially neutral and when we grow up we decide for ourselves how we will conduct our lives. This has a lot to do with how we are raised, though we are still responsible for our decisions no matter what.

    Original sin is essentially slander against God.

    1. Demidog, if you have not done so, listen to the conversation beginning at the 22:30 mark, for about 5 minutes. I agree with the view as presented by Pageau.

      I won't say more now, but if you listen to it and choose to engage further, I would welcome this.

  2. I get his point of view but it presupposes that Adam was first made immortal. So the "death" in view, is physical death. Our current condition says the bearded, younger man, is that we die and that this physical death is what Adam brought us.

    But the death that occurred when Adam sinned was not physical death. It was the death of Adam's relationship with God.

    The tree of life would have been superfluous had Adam been created immortal. And, though God told him that his death would happen "on that day", he continued to live. So this was not physical death. John in his first letter refers to the relationship between sin and death as fellowship. When we sin, we die, or lose our fellowship with God.

    To further enforce this, read chapter two of Genesis and note that God removed the tree of life from the earth, the fruit of which provided the only source of immortality. Physical immortality which is apparent that Adam never possessed.

    The tree of life we find is a picture of Christ, the only source of eternal life. That tree appears in Genisis and again in revelation. And Paul tells us that when the new heavans and earth are created after the last day, the saints will be given new, phisical bodies.

    Paul in Romans explains that Adam sinned first and introduced sin and that it spread, "because every man sinned." Thats the how and why and it does not speak to inherent birth flaws, but a man's personal choice to disobey God's commands.

    Later in chapter 7 makes it plain that the death he is talking about isn't physical.

    "For I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died."

    But he's writing a letter to the Romans! How could he have died?

    Because he died in his relationship to God, not in his body. Note also that he says that he was alive before then, "without the law."

    Paul was not so old that he was born before the law of Moses was delivered. What he's talking about is his childhood before he understood the law.

    We are not in fact born in sin, dead to God, but alive to God. It is when we make informed, cognitive decisions to disobey that our relationship to God dies and thus we are dead to God, many of us believing we still live.

    This is my understanding from study. And my conclusions I think are pretty reasonable according to the text.

    You might have a different view. Ezekiel 18 makes it pretty clear that none of us are charged with another person's sin. If we are not charged with our father's sin, we certainly aren't charged with Adam's sin.

    1. Thank you, Demidog.

      Two thoughts: if I remember from the video discussion, the point was made that had Adam not sinned, God would have given to him fruit from the tree of eternal life. I am not sure on what basis this is believed, and in any case it is somewhat secondary to my thoughts on the video discussion of Original Sin.

      So, on Original Sin: Pageau did not make the point that we inherit Adam's sin. His point was that we learn from fallen beings: our parents, etc. This lineage, of course, can be traced back to Adam.

      We learn from fallen beings - we can only be fallen as well - fall short of the mark.

      Now, we have been given one example of a being not fallen - Jesus Christ. As much as we might desire it, we cannot perfectly imitate Him - His life on earth.

      At least this is how I took it. Whatever might be our condition at the moment of conception, thereafter we are conditioned by fallen beings in a fallen world. It seems a reasonable concept to me - I think it is in our nature to "learn" (actively and passively, consciously and subconsciously, nature and nurture) in this way.

      Yet, I also think about this: Raise an animal from birth, with no parents, siblings, or other animals of its type (or any other type) to learn from. Yet, it grows and acts like its kind. How does it know how to do this?

      Are humans different? In addition to physical actions (which I am sure a human can learn without role models), as we also have reason, rationality, free will - will that human also not sin? Even without a fallen being as a role model? I think the answer must be yes.

    2. more thing and this is pretty controversial. I personally think that besides Jesus arriving to die for us, he came to set an example. Now that's not the controversial part.

      The controversial part is this: it might be possible to be sinless. Now, with God's help we know this is true because John tells us that if we sin he is faithful to forgive us.

      But Paul tells us about Jesus: (Hebrews 4:15) "For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin."

      So, Jesus was fully man and fully God, and yet, how would it be possible for him to obey perfectly?

      I think he came to show us that it was indeed possible for a man to obey perfectly. Hence: "follow me", not "try your best to follow me but you are flawed and so don't really believe it's possible."

      I don't think he "cheated" to avoid temptation. I think he came to bring us the knowledge of how we as "flawed" men could. He obviously set a pattern that we are to follow and he expected us to follow it, though, there is a plan to keep us pure when we stumble.

      I think that the narrative that a man is incapable of following is itself flawed. In fact, I think that part of the original sin doctrine is to keep us from thinking its possible.

      Paul actually gives us a hint that this is the way we should think about this when he writes:

      "No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it."

      Now this "way out." It could be talking about forgiveness, but it also, and more likely is talking about a means to overcome temptation.

      Jesus, if he was fully man, and there is such a thing, was born with every frailty, including 'original sin' or as some put it 'sin nature', and suffered every temptation we did. So can we also over come? I think we can, though I would never claim I have so far done that. I don't think though that it is unrealistic to try.

    3. "The controversial part is this: it might be possible to be sinless."

      It isn't controversial; it is impossible. We have the weight of evidence and also about a zillion Bible passages that demonstrate the impossibility of this.

  3. We're pretty much in agreement. One thing you pointed out in the original post was how the two men agreed that believing original sin is something biological was the most dangerous conclusion to make because it can lead to other dangerous ideas.

    Yet, that is exactly the conclusion that Augustine came to. Concupiscence is the biological transmission of "sin" to one's offspring. And, Augustine proposed, that moment of transmission when a person is enjoying the ultimate pleasure, is when the event takes place. Because apparently there's something really wrong with enjoying the way God created us. In fact, the Catholic church proposed, as a result of Augustine's strange biological theory, that this was exactly why the immaculate conception was necessary. Sin passes from man to child through sexual relations. Thus it was not only required that Mary be impregnated by the Holy Spirit but that she herself had to have been conceived immaculately so that Jesus could not possibly be born of anyone who had been tainted by sin.

    But, sin is not biological, it is the result of a decision.
    It is the result of deciding that our will is more important than God's. Sin is simply put, disobedience to God. And Paul simply puts it that way as does God.

    As to the tree of life, God specifically told Adam he was allowed to eat of it. I think it's interesting that Adam didn't eat of that fruit when he had the opportunity. He may already have had a certain "nature" that prevented him from doing something that would have benefited him. There must also be a lesson in that somewhere that I'm still trying to wrap my mind around it.

    One thing I get from the creation story is that the serpent was able to sow the idea that God had not given them everything they needed. He had withheld something and it was only by partaking of that which was withheld that Adam and Eve would finally be complete.

    I think that is the very source of all wrong thinking outside of the Church (and sometimes inside too). The idea that God isn't enough, clouds our judgement. We have a better idea and those things that God doesn't want us to do are some of life's pleasures. He's just trying to subjugate us. He doesn't really want us to be happy and whole. So we fornicate and try and cancel our enemies because this is what serves our own pleasure.

    The "word of faith" movement to me is born of this covetousness. God didn't give me enough and its because I'm not praying correctly. There's something inherently wrong with me if God isn't showering me with wealth and earthly pleasures. So, if I just treat his past promises as to me personally, always, I can just repeat them in the correct fashion and "make" God keep those promises. And if it doesn't work, my preacher can just tell me I don't have enough faith. Because see! I pray like that all the time and look at my Gulfstream and my Ferrari! I made God give me those things because I had faith!

    Wow. Crazy. Trump and the Clintons apparently have more faith than I do!

    1. "But, sin is not biological, it is the result of a decision."

      No. It is a result of our humanity.

    2. You say that sin is a result of our humanity. Jesus was a human. Thus sin cannot be a flaw of humanness. It is defined in scripture as nothing more or less than disobedience. To say it is an inherent flaw in us means that flaw existed in Christ.

      Sin is a flaw alright but its a flaw that we chose. Jesus was made a man to show us it was possible for a man not to sin. Otherwise, his work and example is unattainable and unfair. And Paul was in error for saying he was tempted just as we are, and John was in error when he said he came in the flesh. If humanity causes sin, then either Jesus wasn't really human, or he had some removal of that part of humanity which still hangs around our neck like the proverbial albatross. This means then that any command asking us to keep to the law of the gospel is unjust. Wer'e made to disobey. And God, knowing this, still finds fault?

    3. The nature of Christ is a complicated subject, one that was the subject of the earliest church councils and one too complicated for you and I to debate.

      Humans cannot avoid sin. The Bible is so completely clear on this that it is ridiculous for you to argue otherwise, unless you are ignoring the Bible.

      It is OK with me if you are ignoring the Bible when making your argument. Just say so.

  4. I'm actually quoting the Bible in support of my argument. The Bible says that Jesus suffered all the temptations common to man. It also states unequivocally that sin is disobedience to God, not an esoteric or ethereal property of man. Sin is a choice. Jesus proved that it is possible for a man to obey perfectly. All of the doctrines arguing against that are not derived from scripture but human supposition.

    1. There are those who can find a verse to defend anything. Unitarians have Scripture to support their views, just as Trinitarians do.

      I will see your single verse and raise you about 100 verses (not that I think every verse in the links below matches this point perfectly, but I am done bothering with this conversation):

  5. What would be the point of directing people not to sin if that command was impossible?

    Here's what we know from the scripture:

    God holds us accountable for sin and He says that people can and do keep his statutes:

    "19 “Yet you say, ‘Why should the son not bear the guilt of the father?’ Because the son has done what is lawful and right, and has kept all My statutes and observed them, he shall surely live. 20 The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself."

    The doctrine of original sin is utterly smashed in that scripture alone, but it isn't the only scripture that refutes that doctrine.

    If it is impossible for a man to keep God's commands, then every place in scripture where such commands are given, the commands are fundamentally unfair and unjust.

    A man kept the law of Moses perfectly. I'm not suggesting that any other man has done it, but a man did do it and also commanded us to keep the new covenant. It may be that no man can perfectly keep it. But this is not because he is inherently incapable of it. He's not flawed in his essential makeup but in his thinking. And he can turn from flawed thinking and obey. If he can't then God himself was and is lying to us about that.

    1. Demidog,

      You make a strong argument and it would be easy to accept what you are saying, except for one thing.

      If men could simply "choose" to obey God in everything and live sinless lives, then there is no need for the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. The entire base of Christianity would be made void if people could simply "choose" to be sinless. Have we believed a lie? Why would God lie to us about this?

      What good is the sacrifice, the shedding of blood for the remission of sins, the resurrection to prove power over death, the ascension to the throne, the putting down of evil, etc., if none of that was necessary? Why would Christ put himself through that agony if all he had to do was teach people to be sinless, like himself?

      "What would be the point of directing people not to sin if that command was impossible?"

      Hasn't Christianity always taught that the reason for this is to show Man that he cannot save himself? Doesn't Scripture teach that the reason is so that Jesus Christ will be exalted above all else? Do you really believe that God would be satisfied if we all became Spock, completely and totally in control of ourselves in every way, thereby negating any effort, pain, or loss on His part?

      "All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away." (Isaiah 64:6)

      "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23)

      "Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes." (Ephesians 1:4)

      This attribute, holy and blameless, is not intrinsic to man's nature. It is imputed to us because of the sacrifice of Christ, Who was holy and blameless. It has nothing to do with our own choice, efforts, or decisions. It is solely His, for His own glory, so that His Name is exalted far above all others.

      What you are preaching may be logical and rational, but it is not Christianity. Be careful. The worst thing imaginable that anyone could hear would be the words, "Depart from me...I never knew you."

  6. "If men could simply "choose" to obey God in everything and live sinless lives, then there is no need for the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. The entire base of Christianity would be made void if people could simply "choose" to be sinless. Have we believed a lie? Why would God lie to us about this?"

    You make an assertion but you make no connection between it and the logical conclusion you claim I must draw from it. The possibility of being sinless, has no relation with the possibility of choosing it. It is man’s own will and choice which causes him to sin, not some inherent flaw. Sin occurs when we obey our own will rather than God’s.

    ""All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away." (Isaiah 64:6)

    This passage is directed to the people Isaiah was complaining about, the people who during his lifetime were not obeying God and who claimed that the righteous things they did, countered the unrighteous things they did. It can be generally applied but it isn’t intended nor should it be applied to all of mankind as a definition of the human condition.

    Then again, we know that Jesus called Abel Righteous and included all of the prophets who came later. Elizabeth and Zaccharias were said to be blameless under the law. Paul called himself blameless under the law. What turned him into a sinner was his murder of Christians. Something he chose to do, believing that he was working for God.

    Of course, saying that a person was righteous doesn't mean they didn't sin. What it indicates is that if they did, they offered the sacrifices under the law that took away sin.

    The way that a person became "holy and blameless" under the old and new covenant was to take part in the sacrifices. Under the old covenant, that meant to bring an animal to the temple. Under the new covenant it was/is repentance, baptism and prayer. Both covenants require repentance, a turning away from sin and the result of a choice. The Greek word for repent, means essentially to change one's mind. Clearly, the command assumes that a man has that capability. That he was formed with a mind capable of that sort of change. I think God knows what sort of creatures we are since he created us and gave us the sort of mind that can choose him.

    "This attribute, holy and blameless, is not intrinsic to man's nature. It is imputed to us because of the sacrifice of Christ"

    Not in absence of our obedience it isn't (neither also in the absence of sacrifice). Man does not have a "nature" which causes him to sin, he has a mind and a will which rejects God's commands and relies upon his own understanding instead of God's.

    "28 Then Jesus said to them, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things. " (Jn 8)

    Jesus, a man, born with all of the flaws that are said to be human, complied to our Father's will by choice. He was sent to be our example, our pattern and our savior. He came here to not only show us how to live, but to show us that what he asked of us was not unfair and not impossible even while providing us a means of escape judgment when we fail.