Steve Hays in his “I’m glad you asked” blog series deals with common objections to the Christian faith. Here’s his response to those who attack original sin.
I suppose most folks have an intuitive resistance to original sin. It seems unfair. Yet what, exactly, is it that prompts this instinctive reaction? There is a difference between being blamed for doing some I didn’t do, and being blamed for something I didn’t do. The former is unjust because it is untrue. But the latter is subtler. When men rankle under the dogma of original sin, I doubt that they draw this distinction.
Certainly, there are many cases in which I’m blameworthy for something I didn’t do—precisely because it was something I was supposed to have done. And there are cases in which I’m blameworthy, or share the blame, for something done by another. A father is largely responsible for the behavior of a young child.
The reprobate and unregenerate cannot believe the Gospel in much the same way as a bad man cannot stand to be in the same room as a good man. The mere presence of a good man makes him feel unclean. Having you ever noticed, in this regard, how the most indignant men are the most evil men? They fly into a rage at the slightest breath of criticism, whereas a saint is characteristically contrite.
The ubiquitous appeal of art, drama and literature is prized on our capacity for imaginative identification with another. We project ourselves into the situation of the character—even to the point of moral complicity (e.g. voyeurism). Hence, the idea of our vicarious solidarity with Adam, so far from being counterintuitive, is more in the nature of a cultural universal.
It is amusing to see how quickly folks will forfeit their grandiose claims on freewill. A liberal preacher goes to the movies Saturday night. There, in the darkened movie theater, his attention is glued to a patch of dancing light. He sees everything through the lens of the cameraman. His perspective is skewed by the director’s viewpoint. He identifies with a sympathetic character. He relates to his sticky situation. He resonates with the pathos of a powerful actor. His moods mirror the color scheme. His emotions are massaged by the sound track. His feelings synchronize with the moviegoer behind him, beside him, and ahead of him. Having marinated himself in polite mob psychology and vicarious virtual reality for two or three hours, he mounts the pulpit Sunday morning to denounce the dogma of original sin as a tyrannical infringement on our impregnable freedom.”