Sin: Making Sense Out of Nonsense | OnFaith

49

Love the sinner, hate the sin? That doesn’t work for atheists. But even we can make sense of sin.

First, the nonsense: original sin.

Much of the Christian world believes that a talking snake convinced Adam and Eve to eat a piece of fruit forbidden by God, who then became so angry that he condemned all humankind to be born with what Christians call “original sin.” But then came the “good news”: God’s sinless son, Jesus, who is also God, paid a brief visit to earth to redeem us for that sin committed by Adam and Eve. So God sacrificed himself to himself to save us from himself, and when we die we will be rewarded or punished for eternity based on whether or not we believe this unbelievable story.

But rather than just make fun of such fables, I also think it’s important to read the Bible and try to understand why it has so deeply influenced our culture. Even non-religious people can find meaningful messages in “holy” books. In a previous piece, I gave a few moral lessons from the Bible, including the snake fable. My take was that Adam and Eve were correct to follow the snake’s advice to eat forbidden fruit in order to gain knowledge, because ignorance is not bliss and blind obedience is not a supreme virtue.

The concept of sin has evolved beyond the so-called “original” one. In Orthodox Judaism, the religion in which I was raised, I was taught that sin is violating any of the 613 Commandments found in the Hebrew Bible. Some seem reasonable (don’t murder, steal, or lie), some seem silly (don’t mix wool and cotton; don’t eat meat with milk), and some impossible (offering animal sacrifices at a Temple in Jerusalem that no longer exists). But at least we had a choice about whether to sin, rather than having been born with it.

My wife, Sharon, who grew up Catholic and is now an atheist, recalls how frightened she was as a child when she was required to go into a shadowy booth with a man hidden behind a screen and told to confess her sins. In order to comply with the pressure, even when she had no sins to confess, she made them up, like saying she had lied to her mother when she hadn’t. At the time, young Sharon failed to see the irony of committing the sin of lying to a Father (priest) about lying to her mother. Sharon’s early life was filled with warnings and worries about sin in all its many Catholic categories, including mortal, venial, and occasions of sin, which threatened to send her to hell, or at least purgatory after death.

Sin is sometimes described as an offense against God or as violating an individual’s relationship with God. By these definitions, I‘m pleased to say that this atheist is sinless. There is no such thing as sin for atheists, if sin is about doing something that displeases an imaginary figure. However, sins can be whatever religious figures say they are. Eating meat on Friday used to be a sin for Catholics, but no longer is.
 

Written By: Herb Silverman
continue to source article at faithstreet.com

49 COMMENTS

  1. Jim’s formula for “Sin”: As the timeframe for considering the consequences of a particular action shrinks from years down to days down to seconds the likelihood of doing something wrong goes up.

    The two examples I like to use to illustrate this are donuts and adultery. When you only consider the short-term consequences of partaking in either of these delights, the odds of doing so go up. However, when you start to look at the longer-term consequences of these acts, you start to realize that maybe — just maybe — they may not be worth it.

    It’s not a perfect formula and the idea needs to be fleshed out a little more, but I think it’s a good starting point for understanding what religious people would call sin.

    • In reply to #2 by OnTheEdge:

      Jim’s formula for “Sin”: As the timeframe for considering the consequences of a particular action shrinks from years down to days down to seconds the likelihood of doing something wrong goes up.

      The two examples I like to use to illustrate this are donuts and adultery.

      You can eat a donut in seconds ? Or is the adultery you can do in seconds ? Either way – wow!

      Michael

  2. Sin is just a made up concept to keep worshippers under control. It is also a clever way of getting them into church to confess, where of course they will part with money.

    There we have the two main purposes of organised religion; power and money. And the best at both? Yes, you guessed, Catholics. There was a time you could reduce your time in Purgatory by giving the Catholic Church money. The bigger the donation, the less time spent.

  3. I was raised Catholic and felt guilty about actions that I didn’t even do. If I was part of a group which was questioned to find a wrongdoer, I would feel responsible if no one claimed fault. Certainly it must have been me since no one else said that they did it.

    Prior to my deconversion, I was a member of a New Thought church. Sin did not exist, nor did original sin. Bad behavior was considered to be a result of not knowing better – unskilled behavior. Despite the woo, I must applaud them for having what I consider to be some of the best “moral” teachings. Even today, I find much of what I was taught is relevant and practical. (…and knowing a more facts in a secular context even more so.) At times, I wish other churches could adopt their views though the religion was proudly “cherry picked.” Even their approach to LGBT individuals is decades more advanced than the average population. Initially, I missed leaving the church. I finally figured out their nontraditional view of God and Truth was highly flawed and staying would be disingenuous.

    As for me, I hope atheists will look for ways to love and work with well-intentioned people — including people who believe in original sin. We can respect individuals without respecting their strange theologies.

    I agree and also wish that believers would not be so defensive about atheists. I used to think my town was really liberal and I starting to realize that I have been wearing rose colored glasses.

    • In reply to #7 by rjohn19:

      As the lord apparently appreciates sacrifices, I gave this a lot of thought and I’ve decided that for Lent, I’m giving up my New Year’s resolutions.

      You should try my new year’s resolution: ‘This year I won’t make any unrealistic promises to my self that I have neither the will power nor any real intention to keep.’

      • In reply to #9 by headswapboy:

        In reply to #7 by rjohn19:

        As the lord apparently appreciates sacrifices, I gave this a lot of thought and I’ve decided that for Lent, I’m giving up my New Year’s resolutions.

        You should try my new year’s resolution: ‘This year I won’t make any unrealistic promises to my self that I have neither the will power nor any real intention to keep.’

        Save your resolutions for when you are able to deal with them. New Year is an artificial, meaningless point in space. I don’t celebrate every time the wheel on my car makes a revolution, why go crazy just because the planet has?

  4. Sin is a wonderous invention, it allows the RCC to demonise every member of its flock simply by telling them they have sinned whatever their sin was, even if it was farting and not apologising. The premise of sin means that the RCC hierarchy have full control over the thoughts and emotions of every single member of this wretched church.

  5. I wish Herb could expand his thoughts into another book! I, for one, would read it!

    Lent, the period of denial, is a symptom of a greater problem. For many religious minds, Life itself, especially the cause of Life: sex, is as a kind of pathogen — something that needs to be sanitized, cleansed, treated, denied, fussed over, feared, atoned, prayed for, even apologized for. Hence all their rituals of denial, their thou shalt nots, their fear-mongering, their (metaphorical) hair-shirts. At its worst, religion is a manifestation of an omi-compulsive-disorder — a fear of everything.

  6. The concept of sin has evolved beyond the so-called “original” one. In Orthodox Judaism, the religion in which I was raised, I was taught that sin is violating any of the 613 Commandments found in the Hebrew Bible. Some seem reasonable (don’t murder, steal, or lie), some seem silly (don’t mix wool and cotton; don’t eat meat with milk), and some impossible (offering animal sacrifices at a Temple in Jerusalem that no longer exists). But at least we had a choice about whether to sin, rather than having been born with it.

    Has anyone ever tried to interpret these laws in an historical context? As Herb says, there’s logic behind the don’t murder, steal or lie stuff; but is the rest of it just arbitrary, or was there a practical reason four thousand years ago for not eating shellfish? There was no refrigeration back then, and many of us even to this day know to our cost the risk involved in necking a dodgy oyster.

    There may have been some internal logic to not dunking your lamb kebab in a glass of fresh milk. Cow/goat/camelboobjuice also only has a short shelf-life before it’s dangerous if consumed.

    Was the boll weevil indigenous to [find out and insert here the name of the desert region the Israelites wandered through for 40 years and 40 nights before submitting this comment, kid, or you're going to look pretty stupid] at that time, making mixing cotton and wool problematic; or did Moses get ripped off by some shepherding community and it left him with an ax to grind?

    Actually, looking at the list of the 613 mitzvot, many if not most of the commandments in the Dietary Laws section could be interpreted as having to do with not eating stuff that back then would have made you poorly or killed you. All the ‘unclean’ references may just correlate to ‘off’ in our vernacular. We tell our own kids when very young not to eat stuff that smells funny. If God was really omniscient He might have said “These dietary rules only apply until about the 1940s or thereabout, and not at all in cold countries.”

    …Eating meat on Friday used to be a sin for Catholics, but no longer is.

    It seems weird to me that the Catholic church gets to change its mind like this. I don’t know when the RCC decided that consuming meat on a Friday was no longer verboten, nor do I care to look it up. Let’s say it was in 1995. Now, was everyone who was sent to Hell prior to this date for committing this sin released when it was vacated or do they remain there, getting pitchfork-bummed on a day to day basis? And if they were let out, what does the Almighty have to say about it? Does your man even get a look in or is it like the purgatory business for unbaptized children when He wasn’t even consulted? Sucks to be omnipotent.

    My secular definition of sin, which could serve as a workable guideline for both theists and atheists, is hurting people, animals, and the environment. Those uncomfortable with the s-word can still be comfortable with a guideline.

    Does eating animals count as hurting them? If so I think I might be going to atheist Hell. I’ve behaved dreadfully to plenty of people in my time too. I’m an obsessive recycler; perhaps that negates the other two things. Oh my science, I need to confess and right now. Herb, it’s been… well, 31 years since my… last… look, basically I’ve never confessed, okay? You can’t have the idea of sin without the corresponding concept of forgiveness, and that requires an agent, a confessor figure. It also explains why atheist churches are so creepy.

    A larger challenge for me this time of year is to come up with a secular version of Lent.

    I wouldn’t necessarily object to a secular version of Passover. It might be because a close friend’s firstborn son is a little bastard and makes me reluctant to go visit her. Oh, that’s an evil thought, isn’t it. Does anyone have Herb’s email address?

    • In reply to #12 by Katy Cordeth:

      It seems weird to me that the Catholic church gets to change its mind like this. I don’t know when the RCC decided that consuming meat on a Friday was no longer verboten, nor do I care to look it up.

      Maybe November 18, 1966 looking here

      Now, was everyone who was sent to Hell prior to this date for committing this sin released when it was vacated or do they remain there, getting pitchfork-bummed on a day to day basis?

      Not released. The point is the sin was disobeying the Church not eating the meat. I don’t know about the pitchforks. If you spend time over at Strange Notions you will discover that the Catholic view seems now to be becoming that Hell is a state of separation from God which is apparently pitchfork free.

      Michael

    • In reply to #12 by Katy Cordeth:

      Actually, looking at the list of the 613 mitzvot, many if not most of the commandments in the Dietary Laws section could be interpreted as having to do with not eating stuff that back then would have made you poorly or or even killed you. All the ‘unclean’ references may just correlate to ‘off’ in our vernacular. We tell our own kids when very young not to eat stuff that smells funny. If God was really omniscient He might have said “These dietary rules only apply until about the 1940s or thereabout, and not at all in cold countries.”

      There is a species of Trichinella that resists freezing (T. native) which causes human disease in arctic and subarctic regions.

      • Hey veggiemanuk,
        I did research on Vibrio parahaemolyticus when in grad school. I was fascinated because here is a living thing that can live in salt water (on the shells of shellfish) get caught, dredged to to surface, thrown in ice in the hull of a boat, frozen, shipped around the world, placed in boiling water…… And still make people sick!!!

        So, salt, freeze, boil …. still alive!!!! I looked at it’s membrane components and became convinced that this thing called o-polysaccharide afforded the bacteria it’s “superpowers”. After three years of research and experiment… I was wrong!!!! But, well, I proved SOMETHING (that smart people can be idiots too….) HAHAHAHAHA

        In reply to #26 by veggiemanuk:

        In reply to #12 by Katy Cordeth:

        Actually, looking at the list of the 613 mitzvot, many if not most of the commandments in the Dietary Laws section could be interpreted as having to do with not eating stuff that back then would have made you poorly or or even killed you. All the ‘unclean’ reference…

    • In reply to #12 by Katy Cordeth:

      Actually, looking at the list of the 613 mitzvot, many if not most of the commandments in the Dietary Laws section could be interpreted as having to do with not eating stuff that back then would have made you poorly or killed you. All the ‘unclean’ references may just correlate to ‘off’ in our vernacular. We tell our own kids when very young not to eat stuff that smells funny. If God was really omniscient He might have said “These dietary rules only apply until about the 1940s or thereabout, and not at all in cold countries.”>

      I’m sure the original prohibitions acquired sin status because they were not advisable at the time. I can understand the pork would have been very iffy as there are modern day counterparts kept as toilet pigs in some less developed countries. These pigs are housed underneath the dwelling and eat the human excrement as it drops through the toilet upstairs. I can envisage a similar practice in biblical times.

      But…..we have moved on! Pigs, shrimp etc are now safe to eat ( most of the time) so it’s okay to revise the thinking and alter such ridiculous rituals, is it not?

  7. I think secular people should avoid the word sin at all cost. Why? Because sin suggests something is just wrong and always will be wrong, end of discussion. I think this is a very primitive view of morality. From my perspective there’s no such thing as wrong just because it’s wrong. From a rational point of view it’s crucial that we can put forth a rational argument why something is wrong, and to challenge prejudice and the common yuk factor.

    • In reply to #13 by Nunbeliever:

      I think secular people should avoid the word sin at all cost.

      I dislike Herb’s recoining of “sin” for secular use because it hides the victim.

      I like to talk of Harms, because it cuts to the chase of “the harmed” and it enters the real world where multiple harms are in play at any time, and actions are judged more or less culpable by the net harm that arises from them.

      The RCC is the past master of maximising harms by never (Ha!) sinning. Sacrificing an ailing mother and foetus so as not to terminate the foetus. Encouraging the transmission of AIDS by discouraging condom use. (Ratzi seemed to preside over a slight improvement in this “primitive” morality, flirting briefly with the quintessentially moral process of a moral calculus. This was on the AIDS and condom issue, but that glimpse of a genuine humanity seems to have been cloaked before it became a running thread, unraveling everything.)

  8. I remember making up “sins” so as to be able to confess them. Of course, if I’d really done something wrong (which was often the case) there was no way I was confessing it to some priest! And there was always pressure to go to confession regularly – the concept that I and my fellows might not have anything to confess was clearly not considered a possibility. We were breathing, therefore we must be sinners. Pretty much sums up the RC faith.

    • In reply to #14 by paulmcuk:

      I remember making up “sins” so as to be able to confess them. Of course, if I’d really done something wrong (which was often the case) there was no way I was confessing it to some priest! And there was always pressure to go to confession regularly – the concept that I and my fellows might not have a…

      I also recall saying that I lied when I didn’t do anything wrong. It’s hard to figure out wrongdoings when your that little. I admitted to peeing in the sink during my first confession. I did it just because I could – as the result of some other little kid’s joking comment. I think I was five or six at the time. I felt so guilty being an experimental child. The anxiety of waiting to tell this priest was way too much for me since I have had to deal with anxiety issues my whole life. The whole preparation for Confession caused me much stress and anxiety. I seriously think I suffered from PTSD for years afterwards. Confession was held in the cry room which doubled as a small classroom for the little ones, tripled as library which then quadrupled as the confessional. There was an entire school down the hall, but I was lucky enough to suffer my indoctrination in one room. For several years, I could not figure out why I was so afraid of that room. I tried to recall what horrible event must have happened to me in the room, but I couldn’t remember any – I had an excellent memory. I knew I wasn’t raped or beaten. Just walking by it made me feel creepy. This room was also used as one of my first CCD classrooms. My guess is that some of the lies that they told me were upsetting and I did not have the intellect to figure them out rationally, instead they shelved in my head for years. I was like that; if I couldn’t figure something out, I held onto it until I would find resolution. I was contemplating why snow was white before I was able to fully speak. It took me many years to find an answer…on my own.

      When I was a teen, I admitted to masturbating and being involved in arguments with others. “These are very serious serious sins” the priest told me. I felt ashamed having to tell this anonymous man who wouldn’t even know me on the street about my natural curiosities. I felt relieved afterward..that generalized anxiety disorder kicked in again. Today, I realize how idiotic the whole procedure actually is. “I murdered someone.” Thirty Hail Mary’s and 100 Our Father’s… “I’m a pedophile.” 200 Hail Mary’s and 200 Our Father’s. Discussing ways to improve your behavior was not part of the conversation.

      There is also an absurd hierarchy of wrongness that gets special focus. Notice how sex and drug use tops the list. Why is this? Is it because most of us don’t murder or rape that the petty “sins” get special attention. Where is the sin for guilting a child to the point that it prevents them from fully expressing who they are? There are plenty of well intentioned parents who go overboard telling a child that certain sins are “horrendous” while ignoring their own discriminating, noninclusive ways. They truly hate the sin and feel superior to “the sinner.” Pointing the finger is a way of not tending to one’s own garden. I recall two teen sisters who were brainwashed by their overly zealous Catholic mother. They complained about kids who “partied.” Yet they were distant, self-righteous, excluding, negative, cruel to others who did not live up to their “standards.” They really stayed by themselves and accompanied their mother to her old lady events – dressed like old ladies. Sometimes “mean girls” are sugar-coated, self righteous zealots – how does the church overlook this “sin” which causes far more damage than smoking a joint? …and what about the mother who drilled her views into her younger children? Surely, she set them up for a limiting life which lacked love, compassion, and self-development. Sure they were taught to abstain from plenty of activities, but is the activity worse than how the people are treated in response? I don’t think so. We simply need to look to the graveyard of the LGBT community to see how sugar-coated evil can destroy a group.

  9. I interpret the myth of the Garden of Eden as symbolism for when humans reached a certain level of consciousness. The story also tells of Adam and Eve being “ashamed of their nakedness” after acquiring knowledge, whereas before they weren’t. What other creature hides its reproductive organs by artificial means? Anyone want to guess what the “snake” represented? BTW, I think the Bible uses the word “serpent” rather than snake. Not a big difference depending on how you look at it.

    • In reply to #15 by Artsnwords:

      I interpret the myth of the Garden of Eden as symbolism for when humans reached a certain level of consciousness. The story also tells of Adam and Eve being “ashamed of their nakedness” after acquiring knowledge, whereas before they weren’t. What other creature hides its reproductive organs by artificial means? Anyone want to guess what the “snake” represented? BTW, I think the Bible uses the word “serpent” rather than snake. Not a big difference depending on how you look at it.

      That’s the line of reasoning I had been given back in the days when I would have taken notice of such things. That is to say, the term original sin meant the sin associated with conception. So, unless we were the product of an immaculate conception,we were all the result of those nasty bodily functions! Ugh!
      Terms like eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge, the serpent and Eve’s ways as a temptress were all a metaphors for you know what!

  10. Let’s get this right, God told Adam and Eve not to eat from the tree of knowledge. Before they ate the apple they didn’t know right from wrong, so how could they have known it was wrong to defy God? Therefore no original sin took place. Am I being too logical here?

    • In reply to #16 by SteveHorn:

      Let’s get this right, God told Adam and Eve not to eat from the tree of knowledge. Before they ate the apple they didn’t know right from wrong, so how could they have known it was wrong to defy God? Therefore no original sin took place. Am I being too logical here?

      Nice point, Steve. Epicurus, who asked whether something was good because god said so or whether god (was believed to have) said something was good because it was so, would be proud of you. And, yes, you are being far too logical to be a true believer in superstition.

  11. In order to comply with the pressure, even when she had no sins to confess, she made them up

    yep we’ve all been there, can’t be absolved without confessions.

    I’ve only recently learned that children going to confessions is a recent (early 20th century) practice. made a lot of things clear to me, for example I too invented sins, I also had no concept of what a sin was, priests expect mothers to explain this to children, mothers tell their children it’s when you’ve been naughty, not tidied your room, argued with your brother etc. (so for me a sin was an offence against a slightly unhinged mother, my first step towards atheism was an argument about being allowed to eat marmite on good friday).

    I discovered the recent change to doctorine listening to a radio 4 interview with and a psychologist pointing out how damaging this has been for generations of children, effectively being made to feel guilty for being children. If there was one thing I’d suggest to improve catholicism would be to overturn the decree by pope pius X and demand confsion only starts after confirmation, although I think we’d soon see confirmation rates drop

    either way its a win win

  12. Sin tax should be a forgotten word. Taxing sin is discrimination based on opinion. I would never use the bible to teach my children anything. I tell them like it is, not like it isn’t, regardless of how good an example it may be; that’s just lazy and it lend credence to the bible.

  13. I always found it suspicious that the act of forbidding related to something found on the Tree of Knowledge. Does that sound like it is coming from someone with your best interests at heart ? It just doesn’t come across well. And an apple, of all things ! Perhaps it was poisonous, like the one in Snow White. Are there any other references to poisonous apples in literature ? I am not clear on the results that would obtain to someone who ate this forbidden apple back then. It did not say anything about upset tummies, or going blind, of any disease we could all relate to…..just that it was ‘bad’, and that it related to “Knowledge”. Hmmm. Knowledge = bad.

    if it had been the Hedge of Nasty-tasting Plants, or the River of Unpleasant Smells, that might catch my interest……

  14. We can rationalize all we like about the origins of different sins. The reality though is that in most cases when religious people use this term it’s with regard to acts that really can’t be explained as bad in other ways. Yes, killing people is a sin. Stealing is a sin. But, these are things that we all know are wrong and bring harm to others. That’s why religious people rarely mean these kinds of obvious sins when talking about sins. No, they mean certain sexual acts or other things that would be regarded as quite irrelevant or mundane unless you are religious. This is why the whole concept is so ridiculous. Like I said in my former comment, if you accept the term sin you pretty much throw any rational arguments out the window. If someone believes that homosexuality is a sin it does not matter if you point out that homosexual behavior does not hurt anyone in the true meaning of the word. A sin is a sin because it violates some religious principle. Whether this principle has anything to do with preventing real harm is not relevant to the people who believe in these principles.

  15. Billy Graham’s spacious house stands on a beautiful mountainside in Montreat, North Carolina, unequaled in splendor in the eastern half of the United States. When the Watts revolt was sparked off in August 1965 many people were asking themselves what caused the blacks to riot. Billy Graham, forcefully denouncing the rioters in language that he had never used to denounce segregationists, announced that he knew the cause of the riot – it was original sin in the hearts of the rioters. If original sin caused violence in Watts, why was there no violence in the mountains of North Carolina at the same time? Was there a greater concentration of original sin in Watts? The major trouble with so general a hypothesis as original sin is that it becomes public property , so to speak, for anyone to pick up and use as a weapon against his opponents.

    • In reply to #30 by Bob Springsteen:

      Billy Graham’s spacious house stands on a beautiful mountainside in Montreat, North Carolina, unequaled in splendor in the eastern half of the United States. When the Watts revolt was sparked off in August 1965 many people were asking themselves what caused the blacks to riot. Billy Graham, forcefully denouncing the rioters in language that he had never used to denounce segregationists, announced that he knew the cause of the riot – it was original sin in the hearts of the rioters. If original sin caused violence in Watts, why was there no violence in the mountains of North Carolina at the same time? Was there a greater concentration of original sin in Watts? The major trouble with so general a hypothesis as original sin is that it becomes public property , so to speak, for anyone to pick up and use as a weapon against his opponents.

      Original sin is ok but I prefer new and improved sin. Twice the evil in half the time and it leaves no trace of guilt.

  16. I absolutely love sin and temptation! I do not mean that I love to sin…. I love the topic. it is especially rewarding when speaking to a religious bigot because they never fucking see this one coming!

    I ask about sin. I ask about temptation to commit sin. Then I ask if homosexuality is a sin. Are humans tempted to sin?

    Then I add, is it a sin because YOU are tempted to it? See, i am heterosexual, and am not tempted to commit gay acts. So, sir you are tempted to perform fellatio???

    Their eyes get bulgy and red and steam comes out of their ears and there is a distinct sulfur smell as they condemn me to hell in their minds!!!! Try it!

  17. The doctrine of “Sin” came about when dear old Eve ate the forbidden fruit. That according to Christians happen about 6000 years ago. The the “sky daddy” decided to make his son human and send him down to earth to forgive humans for their “sins”. Since then, each christian is awaiting the second coming……and it is any time soon apparently. I am in a state of wonderment …why the hell doesn’t the almighty sky daddy do something about “sin”. Ahhh…..because no church would have any control over you..that is why ! This hell and damnation is rather stupid if you are a doubter.

  18. Having been brought up RC I was made aware of the difference between ‘venial’ sins (made wee black marks on your soul, its ok if you die with them) and mortal sins (blackened your soul and if you die with one you’re f’d). However, it quickly dawned that these ‘rules’ were made by fellow humans who also sinned i.e. made mistakes. Besides, don’t eat meat on certain days but fish/eggs/nuts etc were fine – same amino acids???? Some ‘sins’ are recognisably ‘bad’ (re several comments) e.g. killing others (sanctioned by governments or not!), theft, violence, assault etc. Even relationships like incest are logically ‘bad’ for the species. Where sins & teachers/priests got mixed there developed huge guilt trips & fears. The irony is the recent cases of ‘sinning’ by clergy.

  19. Jehovah instructs man to go forth and multiply (Genesis 9:7), and then his so-called son comes along and ends all the fun by claiming that men who lust after women are guilty of sin (Matthew 5:28). Do you want to know what causes sexual thoughts?……..Having a dick.

  20. Jehovah instructs man to go forth and multiply (Genesis 9:7), and then his so-called son comes along and ends all the fun by claiming that men who lust after women are guilty of sin (Matthew 5:28). Do you want to know what causes sexual thoughts?……..Having a dick.

  21. So God sacrificed himself to himself to save us from himself, and when we die we will be rewarded or punished for eternity based on whether or not we believe this unbelievable story.

    Herb, you are forgetting he impregnated his own mother with himself to do so. Takes incest to a whole new level.

  22. Richard has famously said, “The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.” For me, keeping this in mind, says that sin is simply those actions which are detrimental to the human condition. It has no meaning outside of our species.

  23. One can almost imagine the Catholic priests fresh from abusing children listening to the confessions of those who have been abused.

    I wonder how many of those priests who, in the anonymity and protection of their man-cave confessional, have leered and perhaps even masturbated at the details given by those impressionable people who have been deceived and indoctrinated by the disaster that is the Catholic Church, whose representative priests and nuns have betrayed hundreds of thousands of their believers and followers by inflicting abuse, sexual, physical, psychological, instilling fear, self-doubt in so many beautiful children, adults and parents?

    A pox on the Catholic Church, which should be closed down and dismantled for all time, with other religions following suit.

  24. “But rather than just make fun of such fables, I also think it’s important to read the Bible and try to understand why it has so deeply influenced our culture. Even non-religious people can find meaningful messages in “holy” books.”

    I feel this gives a false importance to the bible and other holy books. One could equally say that even the religious can find meaningful messages in the books of Stephen King, Arthur C Clarke, Enid Blyton etc.

  25. Yes. Guilt is the most favorable lever. As I recall as a former catholic, there were three types of sin: original, venial, and mortal sin.

    • Original = Adam and Eve’s screw-up for being created by an anal gamester.
    • Venial = Minor offenses against the law of god- Will put you in Purgatory for an eon or two, depending.
    • Mortal = Major offenses against the law of god- You’ll burn forever.

    However, if you confess either or both of the last two types of sin and do your penance, god will forgive you, at least until you screw up again and have to repeat the cleansing process. In the end it’s really a bit like Russian Roulette- the trick is to be able to be in a “state of grace” when you die, ’cause you never know when god’s gonna take you. What a mind job to put on a young person, especially what Hell is like as described by the nuns and priests. I think it was John Bradshaw who, during one of his talks said something like, “they (the catholic teacher) would hold up a picture of a diseased lung in front of the class and say, ‘this is what your soul looks like under mortal sin!’. Do you think I’m ‘gonna do an “angry” after that?”

    It took years for me to shake off the idea of eternal punishment. I recall the look on my therapist’s face when I said to her (years after I had “fallen away”) that I was still worried about going to hell. Even after telling me that it just wasn’t so, I found it hard to believe her, simply because of my thorough indoctrination. Whoever conceived of the Baltimore Catechism could have done well with an afternoon or two of electroshock therapy.

  26. failed to see the irony of committing the sin of lying

    “Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. One final confession: everything I have just told you is a lie. What’s the penance for sinning about sinning?”

    Multi-level sinning – very meta-!

  27. No matter what you believe about sin or “wrong decisions,” if you prefer that term, this author makes no viable or credible points in debunking the idea of it, as original sin, or as a personal issue. The author’s very first point is addressing original sin. He calls it “nonsense” and describes the story of Adam and Eve as a foolish tale, trying to eradicate the idea of sin beginning at the start of time altogether. He briefly summarizes the beginning of Genesis and puts it in the most ridiculous light possible in order to make the case that the idea of original sin is foolish. There are many things wrong with this claim. The author summarizes the story of creation falsely, and does not address the actuality and possibility within it. He simply demolishes the notion of sin by demolishing the notion of creation and the God of the Bible. This is not possible or right. He does not give the Bible any historical or reasonable chance, and states that it may have good morals, choosing to take from it some stories and debunk others. In actuality, sin is in the world, and without hurtful or painful actions such as murder or robbery entering at any time, the world would be a pain and stress free life, which is not the case. Sin is present, and denying the God of the Bible does not release anyone from that reality.
    The author also tries to make the idea of sin seem wrong by explaining it as a pressure-filled system for Catholics. He makes it personal, and addresses an issue regarding his wife. He discusses how she grew up Catholic, and was involved in the repentance to the Priest concept. He talks about how she was engrained to be so fearful, that she made things up to tell the priest in order to participate in confession even if she could not recall committing any sins. What is wrong with this point is very clear. The author minimizes the idea of sin into confession, a very small aspect of it. He takes away all other ideas involved, such as relationship, or earthly conflict to make the idea of sin seem unreasonable and negative. He separates sin from negative decision-making, and boils it down to one person’s story in order to make it seem wrong. In doing this, the author also attempts to dissuade readers from the idea of sin by making it seem like a bad, unnecessary concept. This is no way to make an argument. Because something is undesirable, that does not mean it does not exist.
    Another brief point that the author attempts to make is that if the story of Adam and Eve is true, then he believes they should indeed have eaten the apple, for ignorance is not bliss. He states “My take was that Adam and Eve were correct to follow the snake’s advice to eat forbidden fruit in order to gain knowledge because ignorance is not bliss and blind obedience is not a supreme virtue. First of all, according to the author’s perception of the Bible not being true, and this story being a fable, it is entirely unnecessary for the author to take a position on a story he does not believe in. Secondly, the author seems to be incredibly ignorant by taking a stance after summarizing the story into one sentence. Because he does not have a clear understanding of the story, he is coming to a conclusion without the proper facts. If the story were to be true, as he states, then you would have to encompass the entire story. If the story is true, then Adam and Eve making the wrong decision changed the entire world, and allowed sin to enter. The story is way beyond being ignorant and if God is real, then obeying Him is in fact the best thing. The author obviously does not believe in God, however he opens himself up to this criticism by taking an uneducated stance on a Biblical story, if it happens to be true.
    The last main point the author makes, which seems to be the end goal, is to state that atheists are sinless because sin is sometimes defined as violating a relationship with God, and there is no God. He states, “Sin is sometimes described as an offence against God or as violating an individual relationship with God. By these definitions, I’m pleased to say that this atheist is sinless.” First of all, this end statement can be immediately refuted. By using the word “sometimes,” the author loses all credibility in his statement. Some people, and Christians, would acknowledge sin as an offense against another person, or oneself. He, however, does not address this. He does not give a Biblical reference for his “sometimes” definition of sin, and therefor makes no point. If he is going to point to the Bible, he could find a verse such as Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God,” and therefor no atheists from anyone’s perspective would be eliminated from the problem of sin. By ending the article with the idea that he is sinless, he is both giving this statement with no evidence or reason, but more importantly, stating that there is sin, for sin would have to be real in order for him to be sinless.

  28. So you promised not to make any unrealistic promises.
    Did you succeed, or was it an unrealistic promise ?

    I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist :-)

    In reply to #7 by rjohn19:

    You should try my new year’s resolution: ‘This year I won’t make any unrealistic promises to my self that I have neither t…

Leave a Reply