Previous Page  5 / 25 Next Page
Show Menu
Previous Page 5 / 25 Next Page
Page Background


Born Bad:

The Catholic Truth About Original Sin

from a Thomistic Perspective


According to James Boyce, Westerners have typically

“believed that they were ‘born bad’ because they had inher-

ited the sin of the first humans.” In his recent book

Born Bad:

Original Sin and the Making of the Western World

, Boyce

argues that Christianity in the West “stood alone [among

the religions] in seeing the eating of the forbidden fruit in

the Garden of Eden as the original sin—not only the first

sin in human history, but also one that subsequently became

innate to the human condition.”


Boyce is probably right

that, whether or not they are Christians, many people do

seem to believe that they were born bad. What lies behind

this situation, however, is not an authentic Catholic doc-

trine of original sin, but a deeply flawed understanding of

this doctrine—in some cases spawned within Christianity

itself—according to which human beings are born with an

essentially corrupted human nature along with an innate

inclination to evil.

This misunderstanding is seriously in need of correc-

tion. “[O]f all the religious teachings I know,” writes the

Evangelical author Alan Jacobs in his book on the cultural

impact of the doctrine, “none—not even the belief that

some people are eternally damned—generates as much

hostility as the Christian doctrine we call ‘original sin.’”


Not only hostility, but loss of faith and separation from

the Church are among some other consequences of this


1 Boyce, 3

2 Jacobs, VIII