In Christianity, the doctrine of “Original Sin” holds that human nature is morally corrupted. It is thought that the first man, Adam, transgressed God in the garden of Eden by eating the forbidden fruit and thus left a hereditary stain of sin on the entire human race. This original moment of sin is known as the “fall of man” or the “fall from grace”.
It is thought that Jesus was crucified for our sins, and hence emancipated us.
How about a more esoteric meaning?
The Fall from Grace
The fall from grace and our subsequent tendency to commit sin, is a direct result of our evolutionary development of a higher cortical centre. The brain generally consists of the brainstem and cortex. The brainstem is responsible for all involuntary workings :- heart rate, breathing, sweating, proprioception etc. Associated areas include the hypothalamus, pituitary gland and reticular activation centre. We, in our ordinary consciousness are not aware of these happenings, and we do not generally have a choice in their workings.
The neocortex by comparison, is the most recently evolved part of our brains. It is responsible for higher functions, namely:- language, perception, memories, the capacity to evaluate information, decision-making etc. Its the biological substrate for human cognitive capacity and is arguably the part of the brain that distinguishes us from other species. This development gave rise to conscious thought, or choice.
Choice provides the faculty for humans to make both good and bad decisions. It is our tendency to err, or worked in reverse, ‘to err is human’. The neocortex has allowed humanity to invent the wheel, microwaves, language, satellites, develop loving relationships, produce art, write, follow religion, architecture, and medicine – the list goes on.
The blessings of conscious choice and action also carry their pitfalls. Humanity has given rise to war, poverty, preventable disease, mistrust, guilt, betrayal and the rest.
Some would argue this capacity is a fall from grace. Others could argue this is actually a rise to grace.
Jesus, the Saviour
Whilst Jesus was being crucified he underwent extreme pain. In those moments of suffering he uttered, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). A man (or women) who can completely forgive those that cause him extreme suffering is truly enlightened. Put another way, he was able to subdue his cerebral cortex, thereby his personal preferences, in order to face reality with such grace.
In that sense he did indeed save humanity. He provided a tool for subduing one’s own neocortex and connecting back with nature. This is what J.Krishnamurti popularised as Choiceless Awareness – ability to see things as they are, free from our personal preferences.