Previously, I discussed the idea that we can now definitively show that there was no single couple from which all of humanity descended, and discussed a few points made by ProfMTH, namely that Paul references Adam in same way he references Jesus. To me, this seemed a clear and inescapable contradiction to a foundational principle of Christianity, since Paul is obviously wrong in referencing Adam. Now this assertion faced a lot of criticism, and most of it coming from atheists, who do not believe this runs contrary to the belief of most of Christendom. The criticism generally falls into three categories:
1. Most people do not take a literalist viewpoint of the Bible.
2. The doctrine of Original Sin is not universally accepted in Christianity, and without that there is no major issue.
3. Not everyone considers Paul an actual authority, or at least not major authority.
Differentiating between hard line fundamentalists and moderate\liberal Christians is certainly important, as the first criticism reminds us. If you were to shout at an Orthodox Father the absurdity of a literal talking snake, that should rightfully invoke a look of confusion on behalf of said Orthodox Father, or at least an obvious rolling of the eyes. They'd agree with you and perhaps wonder why you bother pointing out the obvious. However, the beliefs of that Orthodox Father or any modern church doctrine is not the issue here, not directly. What is the issue, is what Paul believed. Going over the relevant quote, Paul has this to say in 1 Corinthians 15:21-22:
"For since by one man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive."
So what is the non-literal, moderate interpretation of this verse? Paul seems to be giving us a direct analogy. Adam is to Death as Jesus is to Life. We can change what Paul means by Death, but we cannot change the context of that word without changing the meaning of Life. That's how an analogy works. If I say Grass is to Green as Sky is to Blue, it may be acceptable (albeit awkward) to say that Green in fact is referring to the softness of the grass, since green is a soft color. While you could go this route, you can't say that blue is still referring to the literal color, and not how hard it is. How anyone could re-interpret Paul's analogy to say the Apostle really meant something other than a literal singular man that was the cause of some sort of major theological ill, I do not see. Even if a church wishes to post up a quote from the latest science textbook as their official position on the origins of the universe and mankind, this does not save them from Paul's apparent mistake.
Which brings us to the second issue at hand, whether or not removing Original Sin actually solves the problem. Plenty of churches don't follow that particular doctrine after all, so should they not get a pass on the Adam issue?
This point begs the question though, and that question is, "What is Paul referring to", or more directly, "What was the purpose of the resurrection?" Whether it is Original Sin, or a sinful nature, or merely the separation of man and God, it isn't Christianity if you don't have some meaning and purpose behind Jesus's crucifixion and resurrection. It is this purpose for which Paul is concerning himself with, and it is clear that he lays the need for Jesus's intervention squarely on one man's shoulders. If any doctrine considers Paul a quotable authority on things Jesus has no weighed in on, they at least need to reconcile this contradiction, and so far a non-literal interpretation and removal of Original Sin does not do that.
The third point I listed would like to remind us all that it is CHRISTianity after all, not PAULineinty. Christ is the necessity, and Paul should be taken with a grain of salt at best, and utterly discounted at worst. This certainly reconciles the contradiction, if a religion doesn't include Paul, no mistake Paul made can ever reflect poorly on said religion. It's an attractive option in many ways. It's always seemed strange that the majority of the New Testament would wind up NOT being the story of Jesus, or even the words of one his disciples. While there are people that do follow this tenet, I believe it is in the far minority. They can get a pass, but any Christian religion that includes the letters of Paul in their New Testament does not reap that same reward. Orthodoxy included, it is not enough to simply put the primary focus on Jesus; if Paul was wrong in 1st Corinthians, then that means he can be wrong about anything else he said, particularly if it is not backed up by the gospel. If he is to be spoken of in the same way one would refer to the other early church fathers such as St. Clement or Origen, that is one thing, but instead he has a special position as the source of the majority of the New Testament.
My reasoning here is that being a moderate or liberal Christian who believes in evolution and denies the existence of Original Sin still is subject to the problem of there not being an Adam and Eve. This is an error serious enough to give special consideration to, a rare gem that isn't based in literal interpretations and hits home in the halls of higher theology, something in fact rooted in the very foundation of what it means to be a Christians: the role of Jesus's crucifixition. As it has been pointed out, most recently by Paula Kirby on the Washington Post, No Adam and Eve: no fall. No fall: no need for redemption. No need for redemption: no need for a redeemer. No need for a redeemer: no need for the crucifixion or the resurrection, and no need to believe in that redeemer in order to gain eternal life.