My Problem with Your God 4 – Sin

Sin is a very peculiar notion when you really examine it. Sin is often considered to be the infraction, or breaking, of moral code of the Abrahamic faiths. This is not entirely correct, because, as we have seen in previous chapters, faith is not a precondition for, or guarantor of, good moral conduct, and also because sin is not really about morality. Sin, in the religions descendant from the would-be filicide, is the denial of the god-head or the commandments ascribed to it; to ‘sin’ is to break the ‘law of God’. Sin was not conceived as a moral concept but a legal term. Almost all established religions see their adherents as being legally bound to believing in their peculiar brand of fantasy, and to break their rules is to be sinful. So, everyone in the world lives in sin, according to the doctrines of someone else, and has done for thousands of years, not because they are immoral, but because they do not accept the rules of a given, opposing, religious organisation. So only those who believe can be without sin, but everyone lives in sin according to someone else. But then the Christian faith masterfully tricks its own adherents into making them sinful too, providing a reason for, and perpetuating the necessity of, its own existence. The unfaithful live in sin, the faithful are born into sin, and the Church alone can absolve sin. It has managed to screw over its own believers and make them thankful for it. Which is, you must admit, a wicked stroke of genius.

Where did sin come from? Apparently, from eating a fruit.Adam and Eve The fable of the Garden of Eden is, aside from never having actually happened, a strange and exceptionally unfair event. Adam and Eve were told not to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge by God. As I understand it, Adam and Eve were complete innocents; they had no knowledge of Good or Evil, Right or Wrong, and would therefore have no concept of punishment. God gives them one rule not to break, doesn’t tell them why, or what the consequences would be if they did break it. This God character made Man, or so I’m told. I’ve noticed that humans tend to be very curious, and their children are even more so, which is an important point to make considering Adam and Eve’s unique purity of personality. God tells these curious creatures to do anything they want except for one thing, and he doesn’t even put up a sign, or a fence, around the forbidden tree. I mean, that fruit was begging to plucked, and God seems to have stacked the odds in favour of this happening. Maybe if he had explained, if he’d shown them how awful the outside world was they might not have eaten the fruit. And sure, you could blame the snake, but God, in his infinite wisdom, made that too, right? Either the entire situation is all part of God’s sick and twisted plan, or whoever made this story up either never heard of ‘plot-holes’, or had a pretty gullible audience. Later this God fellow wrote down some rules for a tiny minority of the people he populated the world with. He wrote them on two stone tablets, according to Moses who was alone at the top of a mountain with no-one else around, who then smashed them, but these were conveniently replaced later by God, not unlike the tale of a certain Joseph Smith… Anyway… Breaking these rules was ‘sinful’. Christianity later put a unique twist on this whole ‘sin’ thing, possibly because Jesus died on the cross, as some kind of ultimate blood-sacrifice to a vengeful God. The carpenter died for the sins of all mankind, but only the faithful can take advantage of this delightful gift, because if you don’t believe you get to go to hell instead. So, the burden of a Christian is not really the guilt of sin, but the guilt of letting somebody else suffer for it, and the fact that you let this wood-cutting saviour down every day by being weak, and by committing the sins he saved you from. And if you atone for your sins you get to go to Disneyland. Or Heaven. I’m not entirely sure which; while they are both magical places of fantasy, one is an exclusive resort for a small minority of people, an illusory island of ephemeral dreams which the huddled masses of a cold, harsh world aspire to visit, and the other is Disneyland. Either way, everyone else gets to burn and suffer in Hell for all time. For all time. Wouldn’t that make Heaven suck? What if you got to go, but someone you knew or loved didn’t. Or even people you didn’t know? Burning for all eternity, while you eat ice-cream with the angles. Unless you didn’t have a conscience, or any sense of ethics, which would make you a soulless bastard, in which case you wouldn’t be in Heaven anyway. Is part of the deal that you forget about everyone else, or are you to be so content in Heaven that you don’t care? Or was it designed to appeal to sadists who want people to be tortured for eternity? Heaven must be a very lonely place, or full of lobotomised saints. Yes, this is a perfectly reasonable doctrine to believe in. Absolutely. One hundred and ten per cent.

So if Jesus died for the sins of Man, aren’t Christians, or even all humanity, off the hook for all the sins they have or will commit? And since Jesus was a Jew, and his big idea was, basically, “forgiveness; for anyone, all the time, any time”, and when he was dying on the cross he asked God to forgive his crucifiers, wouldn’t he forgive all the Jews and Gentiles who didn’t believe in his Revelation and allow them into Heaven too? And speaking of the New Revelation, why do Christians even bother with the Old Testament as much as they do, surely they should focus on the teachings of their so-called ‘Saviour’? Why do they cling to Ten Commandments when he distilled them into two? Better marketing? Was it maybe because most Christians for the first few hundred years of the existence of the new faith were actually still Jews, members of a radical new cult, a new law within an ancient faith? Christians didn’t really have any good framework for sin until Augustine in the fifth century, but his writings could prove whatever you wanted depending on how you read it, so the Church had to wait for the theological master that was Thomas Aquinas in the thirteenth century to clarify matters. The Catholic idea of sin, and that of its descendants, is not really based on the teachings of its superhero, but on the notions of a monk writing in an age of failed crusades and terrible setbacks for his faith. It was also the age of the genesis of the Renaissance, the very first steps were being taken towards a new paradigm.

Sins are a set of proscriptions devised by religions, the rules of the club. The privileged position Christianity in the history of the Western World has allowed for these rules to be misconstrued with morality, and immorality with sin. It might be both immoral and sinful to be a glutton when so many of the planet’s children go hungry, but it is only sinful to be gay, it is not immoral. It is immoral to kill people based on their faith, but strangely, not sinful; it is even seen as holy by some. Many faiths have denounced as sinful eating certain foods, drinking specific beverages, wearing stylish clothes, and even not growing your hair a certain way. Yes, that is right, the all-loving, all-knowing, all-merciful God, who made everyone in his image, will condemn you to Hell if you eat pork, and wear short skirts (especially if you are a man), but will love you more if you have a beard or curls. This makes perfect sense. An all-loving God damned you to be born in sin, damned you to live in sin, and if you don’t stop being sinful, and, well let’s face it, being human, you will go to Hell to be punished, because you broke a set of rules set down by an omnipotent God. Surely he would have known in advance that someone would commit these sins, and that maybe, since it is a loving and compassionate deity, try to stop them? Does he want people to go to hell? Did he fix the game in advance so his pawns can’t help but lose? And why make a world where it was so easy to sin in the first place? How do the faithful not look at the world, and wonder about what they have been taught? They make claims that God is testing their faith. Surely he’d know how faithful you were, what with him being omnipotent and stuff? Is faith the greatest mass hysteria ever? You can’t pick and choose what your delusion did and didn’t do; either the spirit in the sky is all-powerful and created everything, or it didn’t. If the former is true, what kind of perverse fantasy is that? It must have created sin too, and so, in some fashion, must know what it is to sin. To know ‘sin’ one must have sinned. Is God a sinner? A voyeur watching every decadent breath humans make, ever gleeful at each sexual desire which condemns another soul to Hell? Can God go to Hell? Of course he can; something that doesn’t exist can go anywhere that also doesn’t exist. God is Hell, an answer based on ignorance, designed to instill and propagate ignorance.

If we return to the fable of the Garden, we find an instrumental piece ofAdam and Eve Expelled evidence as to why religions are so determined to be powerful and dogmatic. The tree the fruit comes from is the Tree of Knowledge. What was this knowledge they were not allowed to know? Good and Evil. What a weird thing not to tell your creations about. Adam could have been going around the garden beating bunnies to a mushy pulp, and pissing on ants, while Eve ran with scissors and played with matches (luckily they hadn’t invented sex yet, or Adam might have done worse things). Without any concept of Good or Evil any, and every, deed or thought is legitimate. Had God asked Adam to commit genocide before the fruit debacle he may well have happily complied, and slaughtered anyone who he laid eyes on.  But that is the kind of blind obedience that God (and all religion) wants, just ask Abraham, or better yet, Isaac. God wanted a docile servant, a gardener – “And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it,” Genesis 2:15. And he forbade his gardener to Know, because in knowing stuff the gardener might want a better life, he might want to be rewarded for his labours. Maybe Eve was the first Marxist, throwing off the shackles of God’s imperialist tyranny in favour of the down-trodden worker. Two things which religions hate; socialism and knowledge. People working together for the greater good without any need or desire for the babblings of a closeted, self-proclaimed elite, and information that is not controlled or diluted by that same self-aggrandising fetid swamp of intellectual abortion. Knowing is a sin, this is what we learn from the Bible. Religion would have us be ignorant slaves of God, happy with whatever the great sky-god gives us. What an abhorrent ideology. Of course most believers will say that they don’t believe in this part of their religion, just like how they think that homosexuals are not actually sinful. But they support their religion, most implicitly by simply ticking boxes, not speaking out, allowing the madness to continue. The Catholic Church, among many other religions, condemns homosexuality, among many, many other perfectly reasonable and normal things. Others deny evolution. Others think that blowing yourself, and innocents, up is a fabulous idea. These are all symptoms of the same delusion. Sin plays a large role in all faiths, it is what motivates them. Their adherents seek redemption, some through prayer, others through explosives.

What is sacred? Human life, its dignity and freedom, and the pursuit of knowledge for the improvement of human life. What, then, is sin? Impeding individual freedom and education, proscribing forms of healthcare and scientific advancement, and wilfully ignoring justice for the benefit of an institution too big to fail, with far too much invested in the promise of an afterlife. Religion is, then, the greatest single sin humanity has ever committed. The faithful must repent, and change their ways, and we must forgive them so we can all move on to better things. They must leave the delusion and join the real world. Our dogma is truth, innovation and reason, not lies, tradition and blind faith. We believe in the responsibility of Man, not in the will of a fantasy. We must purge the world of this sin, and its immoral perpetuators, and consign religion to a brief, and cautionary, chapter in the history of humanity.

Ceterum autem censeo, religionem esse delendam

4 responses to “My Problem with Your God 4 – Sin

  1. Very interesting and well thought out.

  2. Sin is simply put…. pride!
    Pride’s origin is ‘selfishness’ or ‘egotism’, as “ego” is king and lord over itself… which makes for disregarding others and of course the invisible power of Love itself, which egotists may have forgotten from their early years, or never knew at all, due to loveless upbringing, perhaps. (See Aangirfan for that)
    Thus sadly ‘egotism’ rages blindly against the “mystical” Love they never knew while they intensely detest it, as to them Love is not spiritual but a “holy have to”, having never experienced it. And so it cramps their style, which makes them hate it and/or fight it. In short, sin is simply put… pride. And we all know what pride is.
    Wishing you love and peace!

    • Thank you for your comment.

      The origin of ‘pride’, ‘proud’ is in fact found in the late Old English prud, prute, which is probably derived from Old French prud, the oblique case of adjective prouz ‘brave, valiant’ (11thC), which is itself taken from Late Latin prode ‘advantageous, profitable’ (c.200), which, in turn, developed from Latin prodesse ‘be useful, advantageous’. This term clearly does not hold negative connotations.

      When we look at the Bible (in Latin) we find that what is translated as ‘pride’ is in fact superbia (take, for example, Proverbs 16:18, Leviticus 26:19, and many more), which is ‘arrogance’, ‘hubris’, or ‘haughtiness’, but you can see why ‘pride’ was also thrown into the mix. The English language has changed so much over time, ambiguity and confusion have crept in. ‘Pride’ has been a positive idea for far longer than it has been a negative one.

      But even so, is pride such a bad thing? Can one not be proud of one’s achievements, or, indeed, in the efforts of another? Can a parent not be lovingly proud of their child, can one not be proud of their partner for excelling? Cannot pride be born of love and affection?

      Now, to look at the other element: sin. ‘Sin’ comes to us from the Old English synn ‘wrongdoing, misdeed’, from Proto-Germanic *sundjo which may mean ‘true’, from PIE *es-ont-, present participle of root *es- “to be”. The idea here would appear a notion of ‘to be truly the one at fault’. There are some interesting implications on the Germanic origins of this word, when one considers its use in a Christian context, but we’ll leave that aside.

      Selfishness and egotism, I agree, may not be the best things in the world, and they may indeed lead to sin (whatever way you choose to define it), but, on the other hand, them have driven, to a considerable degree, the advancement of the species, but so too has selfless humility. Humans have evolved and developed into glorious paradoxes.

      In any case, let’s look at your argument:
      1. Sin is pride
      2. Pride is sin

      Well, that isn’t very helpful, we can play that game in many ways.
      1. Love is hate.
      2. Hate is love.

      It’s a meaningless construction. One could love another, but that love may be unwanted, or unwarranted, making it an attack of sorts, which is a bad thing, a hateful thing, making that love hate. Or, perhaps one could hate something so much that one’s life becomes defined by that hate, such that one could not exist without it, and it becomes a love of a sort. Who knows? It doesn’t really matter. But you do offer some digression, so let’s examine that next:

      1. Pride comes from selfishness/egotism
      2. Selfishness/egotism come from a lack of love (I googled ‘Aangirfan’ and was provided a series of links to what looks to be a blog about paedophiles, so I have no idea why you suggested that, I was not going to click to find out…)
      3. Selfishness/egotism hate and attack love because they don’t understand it (and, presumably, this is sinful)

      Does pride come from selfishness/egotism? I have felt pride in my family and friends, which, to me, doesn’t seem all that egotistical or selfish. But, sure, I have felt pride in my own work, because I achieved something constructive as a result of effort and will. It may indeed have been to my benefit, but it may also have been to the benefit of others. Take charity work, for example: if I take pride in helping others, is this selfish? A puzzle indeed…

      As for selfishness/egotism coming from a lack of love, I am not so sure, I think it comes from an over-abundance of it. Some parents can instil excessive levels of self-confidence and arrogance in their children, hell, even nations can become selfish and egotistical due to over-exuberant success and a bizarre sense of destined superiority, but that is a whole other debate.

      The last point, is, by this point, irrelevant. But let’s have a go anyway, shall we? Why would selfishness attack love? Presumably it would just want all of it, not hate it. And egotism would assume that it simply deserves it. Pride doesn’t necessarily imply hatred, nor do egotism or selfishness. In any event, the entire argument is circular, and it presupposes, as you say, “mystical” Love. Maybe there is no “mystical” Love for selfishness and egotism to rage against, making their efforts all the more futile, maybe there is only Love, human compassion and affection born of understanding and empathy. Why weigh it down with mysticism?

      Ultimately, I do not see how any of this arrives at either sin or pride, but I shall not deny you your subjectivity.

      Your initial statement, however, leads me to wonder, what about the other six sins? Gluttony, lust, avarice, despair, wrath, vainglory, and sloth?

      You final statement I will echo, for any rational human will always advocate for love and peace, there isn’t enough of it in the world; I hope you live in peace and find love.

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