Broken Children

Broken Children July 4, 2013

The next time someone gives you the old line about how belief in evolution leads to bad behavior – “If you teach kids that they’re animals, they’ll behave like animals” – introduce them to pastor Steve McCoy and remind them that there are worse things than being an animal:

Via Stuff Christian Culture Likes

Reformed Christianity just doesn’t seem to handle children well. There’s no concept of innocence. In the words of John Calvin, little children are frequently “little serpents full of poison, malice and disdain.” So I suppose teaching them that they deserve Hell from the very beginning makes sense.

I’ve read thoughts on “brokenness” from a number of Christians. Even some liberal Christians seem to like this language of human brokenness.

I guess it gets to the common feeling among people that they somehow don’t measure up. We all have regrets and memories of times when we’ve caused harm. Frequently our less pleasant emotions swamp our more social emotions.

But the language is a problem. “Broken” implies that we were once whole. “Fallen” implies we were once above where we are. When was that? What was it like?

Darwin may or may not have killed God, but he did a number on Adam and Eve. Even without that, I’m a modern reader and I can’t accept that a story about person named “mankind” and a woman named “life” is anything but a mythic reflection on human origins. And there’s nothing in the text that implies that Adam and Eve were somehow flawless, merely innocent or ignorant.

So Genesis is out as a way of understanding brokenness. The idea of a golden age is a common romantic trope and should be viewed with suspicion anyway.

One of the things that I like about atheism is that you just chuck the whole notion of “brokenness”. We are as we are. “Fallenness” becomes “human nature,” a reminder that the descendants of apes from the African savanna are not going to be naturally suited for civilization. It’s a shame that we so rarely live up to our ideals, but the fact that we even have ideals is pretty impressive.

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