Thoughts on Original Sin by Tatha Wiley (2002) 4M

The Council of Trent’s variation makes sense because – after the loss of the Paleolithic Lebenswelt – humans can only experience disorientation and alienation in the Lebenswelt of unconstrained complexity.  By definition, “we know no what we do” because we do not even realize that we are creating symbolic orders – “languages” – all the time, without constraint.  We cannot predict the consequences of the social constructions that arise from these “languages”.

So we must rely on Sanctifying Grace – particularly the orientation that comes from the Revelation of God that is the Bible – plus the inspiration that comes from the Sacraments as Living Expressions of that Revealed God – in order to transform our actions to be in accord with His Will.  Yet, these actions are not prescribed.  We are free to create.  We are encouraged to create.

In sum, we need an orientation in order to properly (and generatively) mould our intellects and wills.


Thoughts on Original Sin by Tatha Wiley (2002) 4K

The Protestant Reformation bears a striking resemblance to the Tower of Babel.  A single monstrously diverse Church had grown like the Wind in between the Earth (the traditions of Monasticism, the Guilds, Feudalism among others) and the Sky (the ancient Druid, Jewish and Roman (and later Greek) fantasies, legends and ideals).  Then, the Edifice that it had built, or tried to build, began to be undermined by a confounding of the “languages of theology”.   Then all hell broke loose.

Two formalisms of Original Sin emerged, which I present as nested:

The Council of Trent reaffirmed Anselm and Aquinas:

Loss of Sanctifying Grace(acts of disobedience and injustice(human faculties “of nature”)

The Tradition of Luther proposed a variation:

Need to be Born Again(acts of unbelief(flawed faculties “of nature”)


Thoughts on Original Sin by Tatha Wiley (2002) 4J

Once “acts of unbelief” fills the slot of actuality, then it becomes clear that the human faculties “of nature” are flawed.  The intellect and will have been so occluded by the Fall that they cannot see through the fog.  (Translation: Those bishops selling indulgences in order to build a fancier Renaissance Style Cathedral than the other dioceses did not have the smarts or the love-of-Christ to see through their own charade: See “Tower of Babel” above).

Once “acts of unbelief” fills the slot of actuality, it also becomes clear that whatever puts these acts into context has to be powerful and capable of acting as a crutch for a mechanically flawed intellect and will.  Otherwise, we are fated to follow our acts of unbelief to our own destruction.

What was required of God to save humanity?

Today we call it: “Being born again.”

With Martin Luther, the Sacrament of Baptism took on a whole new role.


Thoughts on Original Sin by Tatha Wiley (2002) 4I

Enter Martin Luther (d 1545).

Recall, the Scholastic picture of the Fall after Jesus was:

Saved Humanity(acts of obedience and justice(human faculties “of nature”)

And the Fall before Jesus was:

Fallen Humanity(a. o. disobedience and injustice(human faculties “of nature”)

It appears to me that Martin Luther changed the formula by replacing “acts of disobedience and injustice” with “acts of unbelief”.

The existential evidence of unbelief in the early 1500s must have been palpable.  For example, if it were not for the Reformation, the standardization of selling indulgences plus advantages of the newly invented printing press could have produced the world’s first fiat currency.

How much is that apple?  Five days off in purgatory.  What, last week it was three.

Luther’s case would have been irrefutable if the currency were in indulgences, complete with phrases like “In God We Trust”.  Savor the irony of that.


Thoughts on Original Sin by Tatha Wiley (2002) 4H

Two accounts in Genesis 1-11 directly speak to the difference in the Lebenswelts of hand-speech and speech-alone talk.  One is the Table of Nations.  The other is the Tower of Babel.

In the Table of Nations, the orientation of the nations is situational.  It is based on the accident of descent.  All these diverse nations have a common source, Noah.  In this Table, one experiences the “local” as “universal”.

In the Tower of Babel, the orientation of the people came from the faculties of the spirit.  They decided to build a tower because they judged that they could reach the Heavens (and thereby invade that esoteric realm).  Their judgment ordered their intellects and wills. Their language helped them to experience their differences as “common”.

Once their language was confounded, they experienced their differences as alienating.  The “local” became simply “local”.  The “universal” was experienced as alienating.

Did God confound their language?  Maybe.  But the idea that “speech-alone constructs a symbolic order that can ‘lift off’ in the creation of its own referentiality” offers a complementary explanation.  The ideology used to construct the Tower altered the language itself.

In terms of nestedness:

The oneness of the people and the language made the situation possible

The situation was the act of building the Tower of Babel (no doubt, a ziggurat)

Religious ideology called for building the Tower

But, the Lebenswelt could not support the edifice.  Ideology compensated by changing the meaning of words – making them more esoteric so that complaints were always misinterpreted as a signal to continue building – until the base – the potential to be one people – that was taken for granted in the world of hand-speech talk – crumbled.

The Tower of Babel may well be the Story of What Happened to Enlil.

Sow the wind and reap the storm.


Thoughts on Original Sin by Tatha Wiley (2002) 4G

Let me now consider this “privation of sanctifying grace” proposed by Anselm and Aquinas as the retribution for the Original Transgression.

“Sanctifying grace” orients the spiritual faculties.  Without it, the spiritual faculties are disoriented.

The withdrawal of a primordial “orientation” at the time of the Fall artistically resonates with the loss of the Paleolithic Lebenswelt with the adoption of speech-alone talk (presented in An Archaeology of the Fall).

In the hand talk world, there was no question of orientation because the tradition – the Lebenswelt – of the group (village, tribe, whatever one wants to call it) was holistic.  Every aspect of the hand-talk culture oriented the individual.  Parts indicated the whole.  Hand-talkers could not articulate the precepts of Freedom and Justice, but they lived them nevertheless.  They lived them within their tradition.

Differences between groups were “explained” by traditions within the group.  Differences among individuals within groups were “explained” by traditions within the group.  The logic of difference practiced within the group may have enhanced boundaries and distinctions, but it always unified the group.  “Differences” were experienced as common. The “particular” was the “universal”.  The “local” was the “universal”.

Hand-talk traditions were both flexible and inflexible.  Cultural evolution proceeded in a fashion consistent with Stephen Gould’s Doctrine of Punctuated Equilibrium.  Change would occur when referentiality itself changed.  The tribe came across a new type of food, a new way of eating, a new way of accomplishing goals, and so forth.  Their words changed.  Their tradition changed.  Cultural traditions were always under selection pressure in regards to reproductive success.

Then, prior to the emergence of civilization, our ancestor’s Lebenswelt changed.  Once the hand- component of hand-speech talk was dropped, unconstrained complexity was potentiated.  The “local” became “local” as opposed to “universal”.  The “universal” was left to incorporate groups belonging to increasingly distinct labor and social specializations.  Each group spoke its own “language” within the umbrella of the society’s “language”.  From those languages, the participants produced diverse social constructions.

Speech-alone talking societies faced a problem: Do we hold onto the old ways of experiencing orientation consistent with the familiar ways of referentiality – or – adopt new ways of experiencing orientation consistent with the social construction?

The benefits of unconstrained complexity were obvious.  The loss of orientation was hidden.

No doubt the shamans of old resisted trends to unconstrained complexity.  In a sense, they were the first prophets.  But they could not stop the trends when conditions favored increasingly unconstrained complexity. Eventually, differences were no longer experienced as “common”.  They became alienating.  Someone had to establish order or everything would spin out of control.


Thoughts on Original Sin by Tatha Wiley (2002) 4E

A stunning change occurred between Augustine and Anselm.  The Stoic and Platonic model of the (immaterial) soul falling into the (material) body by way of (spiritual – fateful) descent had been forgotten.  Now, the potential for human action consists of faculties, powers and capacities that are “of nature”.

Yet, the Stoic and Platonic model remained – like an apparition – in fantasy, legend and ideal.  St. Thomas felt its presence through both Augustine and Aristotle.  He proposed a narrative theme of humans coming from and returning to God.

At the same time, St. Thomas used Aristotle to further Anselm’s model.  Consider human purposes or “ends”.  Human faculties “of nature” are designed to achieve finite ends.  Human faculties “of spirit” are designed to achieve transcendent ends.  Our daily struggles are in-between, situating our faculties “of nature” and being contextualized by our faculties “of spirit”.  Without supernatural gifts, we can never properly achieve transcendent ends.  We fall into sin, where finite ends are substituted for infinite ends.

The Fall of Adam and Eve corresponds to a withdrawal of supernatural gifts – “sanctifying grace” – and the sacrifice of Jesus corresponds to a re-establishment of a proper relation between God and humans.

The divine presence was not lost with the Fall.  Sanctifying grace – the ability to order our spiritual faculties to proper transcendent ends – was lost.


Thoughts on Original Sin by Tatha Wiley (2002) 4D

Excuse the dramatic flourishes.  Let us first consider Anselm’s answer in terms of nestedness:

Thirdness: Jesus the Messiah re-establishes the Original Justice (through the Sacraments of the Church) that once oriented Adam and Eve (and, by extension, all humanity).

Secondness: There are two social constructions; those built by humans who turn away from God and those built by those who obey God.  The former creates injustice.  The latter keep justice.

Firstness: The intellect and will are the highest material faculties.  But, the orientation of these material faculties can only come through the spiritual faculties.

In short, Anselm pictured the Fall after Jesus as:

Saved Humanity(acts of obedience and justice(human faculties “of nature”)

And the Fall before Jesus:

Fallen Humanity(a. o. disobedience and injustice(human faculties “of nature”)