What if science could demonstrate that original sin is something we inherit from our families either through the genes or our upbringing or both? And if science could show us how we inherit a predisposition toward sin, might science also show us how to heal the soul and harvest fruits of the Spirit? For instance, could the laboratory produce a drug that would do the work of the Holy Spirit?
I will answer these last questions in the affirmative, but in the process I will try to clarify what Christian theology means by original sin and inherited sin. Under the hypothesis of genetic determinism or genetic influence, questions are being asked about biological factors in human behavior. This becomes especially relevant to theology when the behavior in question is either sinful or virtuous.
Ted Peters is professor of systematic theology at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary and the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, editor of Dialog and coeditor of Theology and Science.