Sunday, August 22, 2010

Original Sin vs. Imago Dei II: Universal Dissonance

Original Sin is the idea that because Adam and Eve sinned, mankind is forever doomed to being inherently evil and redeemed only through an Act of God (or through believing in the Act of God, depending on where you are on the Free Will/predestination spectrum).  While this paradigm may make you delight in the greatness of God, it presupposes that you were in your original state unacceptable to God.  I find that presupposition to be deeply damaging.

During my heathen years I developed a personal cosmology that starts with God as the sentient, eternal, creative, sustaining, resonance/harmonic/vibration, the OM of the yogis, the Word, I AM. My cosmology is in my own mind a nexus of the realms of subatomic and astronomic science with philosophy and spirituality through the ages.  But my Big Idea is, to oversimplify, that this sound (the “Word”) that is God.  All created matter is a harmonic of that sound.  For various reasons, such as entropy, cumulative effects of short-sighted actions during former eras, evolutionary accommodations that are no longer necessary, any individual subset of matter (in this discussion, a person) can become mistuned.

The worse the mistunement (the more we are "separated from God"), the greater propensity for consequences of dissonance: selfish thought, destructive behavior, susceptibility to physical illness.  Physically, we can carry the mistunements of our ancestors in our DNA (perhaps as a kind of retrovirus that develops from suppressing the consequences of their dissonance?) and that acts as a predisposition to various manifestations of dissonance in our own lives—familial disease, inherited “personality quirks”.  

I think the Fall of Adam, Original Sin and the Sins of the Father doctrines are metaphors for this Universal Dissonance.  Grace is the possibility by which this dissonance is brought back into the right harmonic that is God.  This is "the moment of salvation". But because the predisposition for dissonance is hardwired into our matter (the theory of entropy), our souls have a tendency not to stay in harmony.  Wanting to stay in the harmonic, actively doing stuff that keeps us there (do justice, love mercy, walk humbly) increases the pattern that keeps us in harmony.  That is the "working out of our salvation".

A visual metaphor is a guitar: it is created at the factory to resonate at certain frequencies.  When it is strung the first time, it needs to be fine-tuned to the proper frequency.  But over time, through no fault of its own, the instrument will become dissonant and need retuning.  No one imagines it is a “bad” guitar, or that the guitar is “desperately wicked” or “depraved” for needing tuning.  There is no call for the guitar to “repent” from its dissonance and be “saved”. 

There are actions a guitarist can take to help the guitar stay in tune better—not throw it around, expose it to musical vibrations (store it near speakers)—but there is no moral judgment of either the instrument or the owner when the guitar needs constant tuning. 


  1. Oh my, that's fabulous. I've often thought of sin as having the wrong vibration... needing to raise my energy... etc., but the whole music/mistunement thing is very cool.

    And yet, it's still very much the same thing being said, with a different vocabulary/perspective. Interesting.

    The thing I DON'T get -at all- is how Jesus' death changed our vibrations... but that is a whole other topic. I believe that Jesus was the Christ spirit -God incarnate- but I don't yet/maybe never will, believe in penal substitution.

  2. Michelle,

    I tend to think even the crucifixion/resurrection story (whether historically accurate or not) is a myth whose purpose is to point to God and that it is the seeking God that is the transformative action that changes the resonance rather than the the act of Jesus' death by itself.