Thursday 23 December 2021

Why was Jesus born into this world of sin? Why is anyone?

A candidate for The Big Question is: why does this 'world of sin' exist at all? 

I am here using sin as in the Fourth Gospel to mean, mainly, death; and therefore to encompass the idea that this is a world of inevitable death; thus of ubiquitous change - decay, degeneration, sickness, pain... 

Why did God create such a manifestly-imperfect world as this one? A world dominated by death? 

The only satisfying answer is that this world is necessary. By necessary, I mean necessary to God's plans for creation

In other words, this world of sin is needed for the fulfilment of God's creative plans. 

Needed, yes - but obviously not as an end-point - because this changing world is intrinsically Not an end point. Here, the end of every-thing is death...

But as a necessary step towards God's goal. This world is a means towards an end. 

And God's goal with creation is to raise Men up to his level - to enable Men (who are already sons and daughters of God) to choose to become fully divine; which means fully capable of creation. 

God therefore needed both to make it possible for Men to become fully divine (i.e. to create Heaven); and also to enable Men to choose this possibility (i.e. to exercise agency, or free will). 

What is the necessary step that 'this world of sin' enables? 

Well, the one thing shared by all the diversity of Men of all human eras and situations is - A Body

In other words, the primary fact of Man's experience is incarnation: getting a body

And the body we get is a mortal body, a body that will die. 

Therefore, we may infer that this is the primary purpose of this world is to provide all men with a mortal body: thus the purpose is the totality of mortal incarnation - necessarily including death.*  

Jesus was born into this world of sin for the same reason as the rest of Men - he shared our fate: he was born to get a body - mortal body - and therefore to die. 

The difference was that when Jesus's mortal body had died; he was (him-self) then resurrected with an immortal body. 

Since Christians regard Jesus as the example we wish to follow; we implicitly accept that the best immortality is an incarnated immortality - that it is better to have an immortal body; than it would be to be immortal but without a body.

For Christians therefore; eternal incarnation is better (i.e. higher, more in accordance with God's plan) than eternal life as a spirit.  

So this world of sin is a necessary step in God's plan of creation because it provides us with a mortal body; and by Jesus's birth and death in this world - he made eternal incarnation possible (which is, for God, the best possible kind of eternal life.

Incarnation and death is the only experience shared by all Men - including those who die in the womb, and those who die as babies or children. But if getting a body that was the only purpose of this mortal world, then we would not live such varied lives - and some people would not live for so many decades...

So there must be a secondary purpose to this world, and it must be a purpose that explains why each Man's experience of mortal life is unique. 

In a nutshell; this secondary purpose to this mortal world is quantitative, rather than the qualitative fact of 'getting a body'. 

'Living' our own unique life is about what is best for us, rather than what is absolutely necessary for all Men. 

Our various experiences are in order that each of us, each specifically, has the best chance to learn those particular lessons we personally most need for the best possible eternal resurrected life. 

At Christmas we celebrate the birth of Jesus into this world of sin which all Men share with him. 

We celebrate Jesus getting a mortal body, and commencing a mortal life that would inevitably terminate in death. 

It was what happened next, after his death, that was the primary work of Jesus, by which he changed reality forever.  

*This clear understanding seems first to have been attained by the Mormon prophet: Joseph Smith.


Jack said...

Personally I don't doubt that if humanity was truly spiritually pure, we'd be immortal. Furthermore, our spiritual purity would influence the plants and animals and they too would enjoy some form of immortality, freedom from death. I deny that animals killing and eating each other is part of the natural order of creation. That certainly isn't how Genesis portrays it, which says God gave us the fruits & herbs to eat before the fall. I remember reading somewhere about an ancient Chinese saying that the earth (the ground, the soil) is cursed; that the crops don't grow as they ought to. I think this is an effect of the fall and man's sin. If we all became saints, true saints, the impact on nature would be tremendous beyond our imagination. There are already accounts of saints having miraculous effects on animals, but that's only a brief glimpse. There are two reasons why animals (and humans) prey on each other: hunger & fear. In humanity's case, that is not just physical hunger but also hunger for power and wealth and status. Hunger & fear are predicated on death and survival from death, the so-called "scarcity" of nature (which isn't really natural). Death enters the world and suddenly we turn on each other, putting ourselves first, oppressing the weak, lording it over others, etc. If we were saints, the earth would be transformed again into paradise and the fruit would be so nutritious that we'd only have to wake up in the morning, walk up to a nearby tree, pick one fruit and that would satisfy us for the whole day. The reason meat-eating came to earth (besides the ritual and psychological element of it, the desire for sacrifice and domination etc.) was that the fruits no longer sustained us to our full strength. Lions and the like found they'd gain an upper hand eating other beasts than eating only the fruits & herbs. After generations of this, beasts became more savage. But this is not an irreversible process. The damage can be undone. All of this death and suffering is a reflection of the spiritual evil in the world, the power of Satan and those who serve him. The reason death exists is because the majority of us want it to exist; or, at least, we DON'T want the conditions that would overcome and defeat death. Look at that idea of paradise I just mentioned where one fruit can satisfy our hunger for the day, and fruit is super-abundant : what reason or opportunity would there be for lordship, superiority, excess wealth, class snobbery, ambition, etc., in a world like that? There wouldn't be a reason for us to fight and oppress and look down upon and sneer at each other anymore. Most people (especially those with any money or power) don't want that; so death remains. Death and scarcity are just a reflection of the miserableness of our spirits. An economy with not quite "enough to go around" delights us because it sets up the "ladder" where we can see the homeless down there at the bottom and us up here "better off". We love that more than life itself.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Jack - Well, I am assuming that God is Good and our Father and Creator - therefore the 'basic design' of this earth derives from God and is sustained by God... And this earth is intrinsically entropic; such that mortality is universal, everything decays eventually etc - and this is what 'sin' means, essentially.

I therefore think we Need a fundamental (not superficial - e.g. to do with people's supposed 'wants') explanation of why this earth is 'entropic'.

This is related to what Jesus was saving us From; and why it was that Jesus was needed to save us from it, and why by being born as a Man and dying - rather than The Father saving us himself without need for such a strange sequence of events as the life of Jesus.

If Jesus is not essential, and God could have done it all; then it would seem that there is no reason for Christianity.

So I think Christians (specifically) 'need' to understand why this world is 'entropic' (death-dominated) in order to explain why Jesus was necessary to save us from death, and why nothing else but Jesus would suffice.