So much of the literature written by or about the Desert Fathers focuses on how to recover from the devastating impact of the Fall or Adam’s original sin.
This should not be too surprising. Early Christian monks and apologists had to come up with some explanation as to why there is so much suffering in the world.
After all, there had to be some explanation to reconcile teachings of a loving and merciful and all powerful God could create a world with so much violent injustice, explanation, suffering, sickness, calamity and death.
The Fall is the explanation as to how evil, sin, suffering and death entered into the human experience.
But in light of current knowledge of humans developing over 3 million years from lower primate forms, it seems there was no fall. There was no time on earth was peaceful and stable and perfect. The advent of sickness, injustice, cruelty and death did not happen because of Adam and Eve’s disobedience of God’s commandment in the Garden of Eden.
It is hard to over-estimate how significant an impact our current knowledge of human origins has on the foundation teachings of Christianity.
Without the teaching of Original Sin and the Fall and Adam and Eve, there is no viable explanation that reconciles the teachings of divine love with the reality of human suffering.
One response is to conclude there is no God or at least there is no God that looks over and protects us.
Another is to conclude God does or at least may exist, but the nature of this divine life is much different from what we have been taught.
How can we reconcile the images of divine love and mercy with the reality of terrible suffering in the world?