A Christian Tries Explaining the Concept of Sin

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(via The Atheist Pig)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Justin Miyundees

    ‘Zactly!  

    I had a pastor and head deacon come to my house to recruit my family into the flock when we moved to rural Georgia.  In our discussion they told me they were very sorry but billions of Hindus, Muslims, Zoroastrians, Buddhists, et cetera were all going to hell.  Moreover since they themselves were saved, I queried, “so there’s NOTHING you can do from the moment you were ‘saved’ that would result in your damnation.”

    I’ll never forget his response.  “There’s nothing I’m more thankful for than exactly that,” so yes… you understand correctly.

    Well, the interview ended with us agreeing to disagree and I got suspicious glares from “the flock” for the rest of our residence in that little bitty backward town – my guffaw when they told me about the rest of the world being damned but them probably didn’t help.

    • tzaphiquel

      I’m pretty sure that’s the mechanism by which these brainwashings are spread… tell everyone that no other path will “save” you, but this one is guaranteed to, and the sheep will follow, bleating.

      • Marc

        It’s the perfect crime.

  • Johnpmccready

    Let’s hear it for CIRCULAR “REASONING”! We get to “sin”, but are “forgiven” for it, so we get to “sin” some more! 

    • Stev84

       If people don’t sin, Jesus died for nothing

    • Blacksheep

      It’s not circular reasoning, it’s that God loves us and forgives us even when we sin. 

      • Stev84

        Except if you don’t accept his tyrannical rule. Then he loves you so much that he will torture you for eternity

        • Blacksheep

          Nothing tyrannical if all things are forgiven.

          • Stev84

            All things except not worshiping him. A murderer can be forgiven and go to heaven but unbelievers go to hell no matter how good their actions are. That’s immoral

            • Blacksheep

              Whether it’s moral or immoral is not the issue, the issue is whether or not it’s true.

              • JJ

                Sure it is.  An immoral act by the center of morality in the universe causes the whole deck of cards to fall… 

                • Blacksheep

                  In that case it has morality that defies our understanding, since the deck is still standing.

                • Guelph

                   HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

      • Glasofruix

        So, why should we care then?

      • http://twitter.com/silo_mowbray Silo Mowbray

        That sounds awesome…provided he’s not just your imaginary friend.

  • Tainda

    That’s my biggest problem with Christians and the whole concept of “Jesus died for our sins”  I don’t do anything I need to be forgiven for.  It’s no wonder they’re a bunch of hateful hypocrites

    • Stev84

      Even if someone did something that needs forgiveness, that can only become from the offended party. Torturing and murdering another person to absolve yourself (or even supporting that act) is deeply immoral.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/David-Tiffany/100001926356049 David Tiffany

      God says that the person who says they are without sin is a liar and makes God out to be a liar.  http://atheistlegitimacy.blogspot.com/

      • Heepsprow

        God can’t lie because God does not exist. People lying in the name(s) of their god(s), now that happens all the time.

        • DeviousSoybeans

          Hey Heepsprow, did you check out the link? David doesn’t believe in atheists. Isn’t that precious? 

          • Heepsprow

            Yes, I checked out that site some time ago when David appeared here spewing his theist nonsense.

          • Glasofruix

            His only proof seems to be some bible verses, how can a sane person believe in that crap?

      • The Other Weirdo

         God hasn’t said anything to anybody since after Moses. Humans got too sophisticated and need more convincing lies. “And God said, say unto Israel…” just didn’t cut it anymore after a certain point of time. Anytime you say that God said something you’re repeating misinformation and disinformation.

        • Eddiesmith1133

          I’m a Black American  Atheist writer who will  be  publishing  a  serious commentary next  year on the  subject of the belief in god .   How any black educated person can believe in that malarkey is beyond me – especially after realizing the  details of the  Slave Trade .   I’d like to share an excerpt  which comes from a  page  of my future pulication  –         THE  THINGS A  RATIONAL  THINKER  CAN  SEE  ARE  MORE  THAN  JUST  SHOCKING .  HOW’S  THIS   FOR  A  BEAUTIFUL  LITTLE  PHRASE —- FOR  GOD  SO  LOVED  THE WORLD THAT   HE DIDN’ T   LET   LUCIFER’S   INSUBORDINATION   INTERFERE   WITH  HIS  LOVE FOR  ALL  MANKIND  AND  MORE  THAN  PROVED  HIS  LOVE  TO  THE  WORLD  BY GIVING ALL   HELL  TO  THE   DEVIL   AND   THE   DEVIL  ONLY  —  AND  BY  LETTING   EVERYONE  ON   EARTH   LIVE  AND   LET  LIVE  A   HAPPY  LIFE   WHICH   WOULD  BE  FOLLOWED  BY A  GLORIOUS  EVERLASTING  BLISS  FOR  EACH  AND  EVERYONE  OF US .  WITH A PHRASE LIKE THIS , THERE WOULD BE NO  DOUBT  THAT  THERE   IS  TRULY  A  LOVING GOD,  AND  NOT   JUST  ANOTHER   SILLY  DOCTRINE  TO BE SWALLOWED  LIKE  WATER  .   HAVE   YOU  EVER  THOUGHT  ABOUT  WHY  A  LOVING  GOD WOULD  CONNECT  SEX  WITH  HAVING  A  BABY ?  THAT’S ANOTHER   FULL   PROOF  BIT   OF  FACT   THAT  ANY   RATIONAL   HUMAN  BEING WOULD   ABSOLUTELY   KNOW   HAS  TO  COME  FROM   AN  AT  RANDOM  LIFE –  EVOLUTION  — AND  CERTAINLY  NOT  FROM  A SUPERIOR  BEING  .   BABIES  SHOULD   HAVE   TO  BE   EARNED , BUT  ALL  THAT’S  REQUIRED  IS   A   LITTLE    FOREPLAY    AND    THEN    SOME   SILLY   FOOLING   AROUND .   JUST  GET  DRUNK   WITH   THE   OPPOSITE   SEX ,  STARE   INTO  EACH   OTHERS   EYES ,  AND  ALL  IT TAKES  IS  A  LITTLE  HANKY   PANKY   AND  –  VOILA !    IN  NINE MONTHS YOU CAN  HAVE  A   HUMAN    LIFE    THAT   YOU   CAN    MISTREAT    AND   ABUSE  !    OH ,   THAT’ S  NEVER  HAPPENED ?   THE   QUESTION   IS   HOW   MANY   TIMES !   YOU  SEE ,  THE  MOST  LOVING  PERSON ,   ACCORDING   TO   WHAT   HE   STANDS   FOR  ,   SHOULD   BE    GOD .   BUT   THE  WHOLE   WORLD’S    HISTORY   HAS   BEEN  WRITTEN  IN  BLOOD  AND  THAT’S   NOT   AT  ALL  ROMANTIC ,  QUITE  TO  THE  CONTRARY .    NO  ONE   SHOULD  BE  ABLE  TO  HAVE   A  CHILD   THAT   THEY   CAN’T  TAKE  CARE  OF  ,   OR  WILL  END  UP  ABUSING  ,   BUT   HOW   MANY   ABUSE  CASES  ARE THERE EACH  YEAR  —  RIGHT  HERE  IN  THIS  ONE  NATION  UNDER  GOD  ?   MORE THAN YOU CAN COUNT  MY  FRIEND –  AND  WITH  MORE  THAN  EIGHTY  PER CENT  OF  THE  POPULATION  CLAIMING  TO  BE  CRISTIANS –   THEN  NINE  OUT  OF  TEN  TIMES ,  IT’S  A  MISERABLE  CHRISTIAN  WHO’S  DOING  THE  DAMAGE  .     IT’S SAID , WHICH   IS  ONE  OF  THE  BIGGEST  LIES  ON  EARTH ,  THAT  GOD  TAKES  CARE  OF BABIES   AND   FOOLS  !   IF  YOU  CALL YOURSELF  A  TRUTHFUL  PERSON ,  WOULDN’T  YOU  THINK   THAT  OLD  MR.  PERFECT , UP  THERE  IN  HEAVEN ,  IS  SLACKING  ON  THE  JOB  ?   THERE’S NO MORE  OF  A  GOD ,  THAN  THERE IS MONEY GROWING ON TREES .    WHAT A SHAME  TO  WASTE  YOUR  LIFE  BELIEVING  IN  SUCH  RUBBISH !      

          • Eddiesmith1133

            Sorry to mispell the word PUBLICATION  —  BUT PLEASE CONCENTRATE ON THE MESSAGE  HERE  -  THANKS

            • http://twitter.com/InMyUnbelief TCC

              I think a misspelling is the last thing you need to worry about in that ALLCAPS abomination of a rant.

              • Blacksheep

                TCC, any idea why “guest” had his comments removed? I’m curious about censorship on this site, if anyone knows the rules, please let me know.

          • Blacksheep

            As far as paths to go down in this life, i have seen MANY more happy and stable homes that are Christian than not. (I don’t mean the 90% that check the Christian box in a census that you are referring to, I mean actively believing / practicing Christians who go to church as a family, etc.)

            You also make an especially strong point about how EASY it is to have a baby. Could that be because our society has gotten to the point that everything is shallow and easy? What if sax is supposed to be sacred and profound, and not the drunken grope that you describe? And your conclusion is that child abuse id proof that there’s no God? Child abuse just proves that people are idiots whether there’s a God or not.

            As far as misery and bloodshed on earth go, Christians, atheists, and everyone in between share equal blame. (Unless you have a study to show that states that banned religion have figured out a utopian formula – you can start with Cambodia, then go on to North Korea)

      • Tainda

        I don’t lie either.  Weird how that works eh?

        I don’t believe in your god or your so called sin.  I live my life by something called common sense.  

        In your beliefs I am a sinner and and I’m damned proud of it.  I wouldn’t want to live in a world where any kind of pleasure is wrong.  

        • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke, orphan

          i was wondering if anyone was going to bring that up.

          believers: what is “sin,” exactly? that’s a big part of why we don’t believe you; you can’t all agree on what it is even when you supposedly worship the same god(s) and read the same ‘holy’ books. it makes you look silly.

          but i do recognize a concept behind the word “sin.” it is to “do evil.” you might ask why a staunch atheist like me uses the words “sin” and “evil” but i have no problem with perfectly secular definitions of the words. as in, “there is ‘to hurt someone’ vs “there is to sin against someone’” the latter implying intent. also, there is “wrong” and then there is “evil,” again, the latter implying intent and malice. this is how i use these words. i invite believers to join me, while at the same time letting go of their convoluted, inconsistently understood and applied, ridiculously outmoded codesfound in the believers’ faiths and texts.

          • Tainda

            I agree with you.  I definitely know there is evil out there. I can prove it in the people that harm children or open fire in a movie theater.

            • Coyotenose

               Thing is, they believe in “Evil” and “Sin” as mystical concepts. They aren’t. They exist only in actions. Evil and Sin are descriptions, not explanations.

          • Blacksheep

            You described sin and evil pretty much the way we do - 

            to do evil, to do wrong, hurt someone, do bad things with malice and intent…

            I suppose that the word might elevates the deed to something bad done against God as opposed to things done against another person. 

            It’s also just an easy collective word to describe things that go against what’s right – which to a Christian would mean against the way God intended.

            A bigger difference is that an act that you and I both consider to be wrong (let’s say stealing) is, to a Christian, intrinsically wrong based on God’s will, while you might think it’s wrong because it’s bad for society, etc. (Not trying to put words in your mouth).

            • Coyotenose

               The problem is that “Sin” includes numerous things that are not harmful to anyone, and against which not even a coherent subjective argument can be mounted.

              We’d take theists a little more seriously if they could actually say why homosexuality is sinful… or working on the Sabbath (which is SATURDAY-, by the way) or wearing blended fabrics…  But as it turns out, no such arguments exist. It’s nothing but a Just-So story: God said so in a book full of fallacies and obviously composed by people with no special knowledge, therefore JESUS.

        • Jean1

          Sin is mostly fun.  Lust, gluttony, sloth?  These are things almost all Americans enjoy and chase.  I see nothing wrong about that.  These are normal human drives that harm no one.

          And avarice, envy, wrath and pride?  Not positive things, but so human.  And really not terribly bad unless taken to extreme.

          • amycas

            Also, free-market capatalism is based on avarice, gluttony, envy, pride, greed and lust. What are we supposed to do? Get rid of all of those and be like those commie Russians?/sarcasm

          • Tainda

            Lust is my favorite!

      • amycas

        If sin is defined as “an act against god,” then I am without sin because there is no evidence that a god exists. So how could I act against it? I reject your notion of “sin” and replace it with ethics.

    • Blacksheep

      The Bible is very clear that it’s wrong to judge others, be hateful, and to be a hypocrite. (Jesus especially disliked hypocrites). 
      Christians that behave that way (who I have no doubt you have met) are in the wrong, period.

      • Tainda

        Oh I have many friends that I love dearly who believe in a god (let’s say Christian for the sake of arguments).  We just don’t talk about religion very often.  The majority  of people I have met are the hateful hypocrites I mentioned above.  

        I live in Missouri.  I am surrounded and see it every day and experience the judging I get from others.  According to your beliefs, these people will still be rewarded for judging just because they believe in Jesus.  

        • Blacksheep

          They will definitely not be rewarded for the judging, in fact the rub for them is that the Bible says that you can judge a tree by the fruit it bears. In other words, you could technically call their faith into question if they behave in ways that oppose the Bible.

          • matt

            Except you can just repent and be washed clean of all that.

            • Blacksheep

              Thank God! 

              My point though was that if a “Christian” is actually being hateful and judgemental, it would be really simple to remind them that they should examine their faith since the bible says that this is not Christian behavior.

              Really I was just trying to give Tainda a soundbite she could use with annoying Christians.

              • Tainda

                But I think they should examine their faith in general because it’s a tad (or more) ridiculous.

                I usually walk away from them.  It doesn’t hurt my feelings any more because I realize they are a waste of my air and not worth the time it takes to explain anything

                • Blacksheep

                  many of us do examine our faith all of the time, and in fact find the no-faith perspective equally ridiculous. 

          • Glasofruix

            And you know that, how? Aren’t there some mysterious ways we’re not supposed to be aware of?

            • Blacksheep

              I didn’t say “I know…” I said, “The Bible says…”

              • Glasofruix

                Well, if it comes from a fairy tale book it must be true then… or not.

              • Stev84

                 You say that like it’s a good thing

          • Coyotenose

             Google “No True Scotsman”.

            • Blacksheep

              I know, I know. 

              That’s a favorite Friendly Atheist “Thing” along with: Flying into a violent rage at the mere mention of Pascal’s Wager, accusing people who disagree with them of being a troll, Occam’s razor, argumentum ad populum, and the flying spaghetti monster.

              • amycas

                 Well seeing as how people keep using “no true scotsman,” Pascal’s Wager, and argumentum ad populum even after we’ve explained a dozen times why those things are not good arguments then I think we can all agree that we’re justified in being frustrated. Maybe you and your fellow Christians should put together a website or something to remind each other not to use logical fallacies.

                Also, Occam’s Razor is an oft forgotten tool that some need reminding of. Then of course, the flying spaghetti monster is just for fun. I’ve only seen a few people called a troll, and not just for disagreement (there’s a whole hell of a lot of disagreement among the regulars here).

  • Ken

    See, your first problem is trying to use your reasoning mind in dealing with the supernatural.  Yous second problem is believing you are even allowed to use your reasoning mind in dealing with the supernatural.  Besides that, just drink the Kool-Aid and be saved forever.

  • Tom

    I suppose a sizable proportion of these people would respond with shock and disgust at the notion of abusing a complete lack of supernatural punishment to be assholes – this inherent morality in the absence of any fear of god’s punishment for immorality would, ironically, make them superb atheists.

  • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

    “License to sin”. I like that. And it’s precisely what makes Christianity the most dangerous religion, bar none. The notion that you can be forgiven for hurting someone by anybody other than your victim is grossly immoral.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/David-Tiffany/100001926356049 David Tiffany

    Adam rebelled against God and so became spiritually seperated from God.  Thus, the whole human race has been spiritually seperated from God.  We are sinners by our very nature (we miss the mark, we are not what God created us for.)  Jesus came to pay the penalty for our sin and to take our sin out of the way so that we could again be spiritually united with God and have eternal life (with the God of life).  He takes away the person’s old nature that is in rebellion against God and gives that person a new nature that is not in rebellion against God.  Though that person will still sin, they will learn to walk in the newness of life God has given to him/her.  http://atheistlegitimacy.blogspot.com/

    • newavocation

      Yes, but when does the part about the collection plate come in? Lots of bridges being built to nowhere.

    • phantomreader42

       Every word of that is made-up bullshit with no connection whatsoever to reality.  Just like every god ever imagined.

    • Mctrollerson

      I must say your blog is hilarious sir. You say, “We are sinners by our very nature (we miss the mark, we are not what God created us for.)” 
       I love that you blatantly ignore the fact that God created us and therefore obviously wanted us to sin. It’s good to see that you are so oblivious to your own delusional thinking. Thanks for the laugh.

      • Some guy

        The Christians maintain that we’re created by God, but that our nature became distorted through the original sin which we inherited by our ancestors and which has predisposed us to concupiscence.  That is, our natural inclinations are no longer subject to our reason the way they were before the fall.  This predisposition to act against our own good, each other, and God, cannot be attributed to God, but is considered to be our own fault.. Which simply means that David Tiffany has made a poor word choice..   justsoyaknow.. :)

        • The Other Weirdo

           Uh, excuse me, but how does that work, exactly? Before the fall, our natural inclinations were kept in check by our reason(which means God made us like this from the very beginning and only gave us a very thin shield to defend ourselves with against temptation). Now, after the fall, our reason no longer keeps our natural inclinations in check, and that’s still our fault? Despite the Flood, despite the Torture Porn aka Crucifixion, we always return to our natural state, which hasn’t changed since before the fall.

          Is that what you’re saying?

          • Some guy

            Almost. Christianity does not say that the flood, nor the crucifixion restores us to our natural state before the fall, rather, it says that our relationship with God has been restored.  The inclination to act against God’s will, and the failure of our reason to always overcome our temptations remains. However, when the transgressions occur due to this remaining concupiscence, Christianity maintains that because of Christ’s self-sacrificing act on the cross, forgiveness is available for one who is repentant and willing to continue to fight his/her inordinate desires in order to grow more fully into the likeness of Christ.  This is done by frequent reception of the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, and Reconciliation. 

            • Glasofruix

              Oh man, that sounds like bullshit on steroids.

        • Coyotenose

           Of course, that leads to all sorts of other nonsense, like the immorality of a god who sets up billions to fail and suffer in revenge for one childlike person acting like a child according said god’s own design.

          And yes, religionists, it was spiteful revenge. Your story is that of a parent throwing a newborn off a cliff when it cries because it annoys him, after neglecting it first so it would cry.  Suck it up.

        • Glasofruix

          Isn’t skyfairy supposed to know everything, even the future? So it supposedly created us knowingly.

        • http://twitter.com/InMyUnbelief TCC

          Can I just say how much I love the word “concupiscence”? Such an excellent word, ’tis.

        • Guelph

           If our natural inclinations were subject to reason before the fall, how’d we fall in the first place? Also, are you seriously arguing that Adam and Eve and the garden of Eden happened? You know that’s genetically impossible, right?

      • Marc

        I love that you blatantly ignore that the existence of any god, let alone the Christian one, has not been proven to exist. I also love that you assume that your god ” obviously” wanted is to sin, as if it was fact. How about some facts?

      • digitalatheist

        Sadly, theists have the ability to convince themselves that the following is not true or doen’t have any bearing on the matter:

        a) their god/magician is alledgedly omniscient… was, is, and forever shall know everything that can be known.
        b) their god/magician created Humans
        c) Humans fell short of what the god/magician wanted so therefore Humans must be punished AND blamed for their short-falls
        d) being omniscient, the god/magician knew before he created Humans that they were going to fall short and he was going to punish them for doing the very thing(s) the god/magician knew they were going to do… BEFORE HE CREATED THEM!

        The “god” of the Abrahamic mythos is a sociopath. In the mythos, Humans aredamned just by being created. The creator knew ahead of time what was going to happen when he created Humans. He then punishes and blames Humans for being exactly how he created them. Humans were damned by the god/magician to be punished and tortured forever, before the god/magician even waved his hand. How sick is that?

    • Octoberfurst

       First of all, Adam never existed. He is a myth. Second, we are not “Sinners by nature”  We’re human beings. We do both good and evil.  Third, how does the death of an innocent man absolve everyone of all the bad they have ever done and why does only believing in him (Jesus) qualify you for that get out of jail free card?  Fourth, if being “born-again” gives us a “new nature” and oneness with God why do we still “sin?” That doesn’t make any sense.  Fifth, stop drinking the Kool Aid and learn to use your critical thinking skills.

      • Some guy

        Octoberfurst, Adam is part of a mythical story in the book of Genesis, but that’s not to say that there wasn’t a first human male.  Second, Christian’s don’t maintain (officially, even if some get it wrong) that people are sinners by nature. Rather, the Christian view is that sin is unnatural and flows from our concupiscence due to original sin. The natural way of being human, was when our natural desires were subject entirely to our reason. Sin corrupted the way our reason could control our desires, which is why, for example, people are prone to commit, among other things, sins such as adultery, even when their reason tells them that it will lead to divorce and unstable homes for their children etc.. David has made a poor word choice by using ‘nature’ here.  Third, the death of an innocent man wouldn’t absolve anyone of the bad that they have done, but Jesus isn’t just a man in the eyes of Christians, rather he is God incarnate. Or more precisely, the second person of the Holy Trinity (the Son, the Word, the Logos), made flesh.  In becoming flesh, and taking on the sin of the world, he is thought to have restored the relationship of humanity to God – a relationship which was severed by the first human beings.  Also, in the mainstream Christian view, Jesus’ death doesn’t absolve people from all the bad they’ve done, but rather restores the possibility of a filial relationship with God.  A Christian participates in the sonship of God, by becoming a member of the mystical body of Christ through baptism.  Forgiveness is there for one who is in Christ, but temporal punishment due to sin is still owed and this is the reason that Catholics believe in purgatory. Protestants, however, tend to believe that justification by faith, and the release from any temporal punishment are one and the same thing. I think the answer to your fourth question has already been addressed, that is, concupiscence remains, even though the relationship between humanity and God has been restored “in Christ.”  Cheers. 

        • Blacksheep

          Better than my response…

        • Glasofruix

           “but that’s not to say that there wasn’t a first human male. ”

          Like, one? You aware how silly that sounds?

          • Some guy

            Yes, I am. But so did the Big Bang before it was proven by Georges LeMaitre. So what?  Lots of things sound silly.. :)  Actually the best things do.. :)

            • Glasofruix

              Have you ever heard of evolution and natural selection? Humans didn’t just pop in the existence. And big-bang is not “everything from nothing” if you plan to go that way.

              • Some guy

                Of course I have heard of (and I believe in) evolution and natural selection, but that’s not to say that there wasn’t a first homo sapien. And I wasn’t going anywhere with the big bang, and no, of course I don’t think its an “everything from nothing” idea.  Obviously. What did I say that would bring you to think that?

                • Glasofruix

                  I was anticipating…

                  No, there wasn’t a “first” homo sapiens, that’s not how evolution works.

        • http://twitter.com/InMyUnbelief TCC

          Some guy, the way you have described the redemptive act of Christ is pretty much in contrast to the penal substitution theory, which is what is being criticized (the notion that Christ atones for sins he did not commit through his crucifixion). That’s not to say that you’re wrong, just that your response doesn’t actually address the criticism.

          • Some guy

            You’re probably right, but there are many atonement theories and the comic portrayed doesn’t actually represent any of them. The fact that there may be one, specific, and bizarre denomination of Christianity with which it is consistent is fully possible though. There may even be several. Nonetheless, it is (obviously) not the common Christian view; that is, that Christians’ beliefs support their capacity to go around sinning indiscriminately, and yet they’ve failed to realize it. I mean really.  :)  

        • amycas

          Actually no, there was no “first human male.” Learn something about evolution and population genetics and then come back to play Devil’s Advocate. If the Christians can’t even explain their own religion correctly, why should I care?

          • Some guy

             I’m aware of theories of polygenesis, and also aware of theories around mitochondrial eve and, though much later, y-chromosonal adam etc.. Though I don’t think that’s really the issue. I was simply trying to clarify what Christians think.  If there was no first human (and there still may have been – consider, for example, how weird the universe having a beginning sounded during the period when the steady state theory of the universe persisted? And how shocked the world was when Georges LeMaitre came up with the Big Bang theory!) then it is Christianity that has work to do in order to show how the belief in original sin can be consistent with what we know scientifically.  Admittedly, this is an area that has theologians who wish to maintain the doctrine of original sin, scrambling, but scientists too still working to figure out the details.

            Nonetheless, Christians can and have, explained their own religion clearly and correctly for two thousand years.  If you want to ensure that you’re debating or having a discussion with the real thing, you should consult official church writings rather than the personal opinions of various Christians and Christian groups.  Why should you care?  Well, you shouldn’t unless you’re genuinely interested in arriving at truth, in which case you should care a great deal.  I have a great love for atheist philosophy, but if I only ever read Dawkins, and held him to be representative of atheism’s intellectual tradition, I never would have read really good atheist thought, like that of Bertrand Russell, Camus, Spinoza, Nietzsche and Sartre – surely these guys are more representative of atheism than our fellow atheists who comment on these blogs..  But if you’re not interested in what Christianity actually says and you would rather argue with yourself over what you think it says, then that’s your own prerogative. 

            • Glasofruix

              Where’s that colored text when you need it?

          • Blacksheep

            Unless God created one. 
            I actually find it fascinating that scientists have traced all of humanity back to Africa, with aditional evidence pointing to a single woman, a”Mitochondrial Eve” that we all descended from.

        • Octoberfurst

           I think you are making some great leaps of logic. You say that Adam was “mythical” but yet you also say that there was probably a first human male. Was that “Adam”?  And if so did “Adam” eat from the tree of knowledge?  If not, how did “sin” enter the world?  You say that Christians don’t believe we have a sinful nature. But when I was growing up that was what we were taught. In fact every Christian I knew believed that we were born with a sin nature.  And I had never heard from any minister that originally our “natural desires” were kept in check by our ability to reason. I have no idea where you are getting this.
            Your claim that Jesus–being perfect–paid the penalty for our sins. So if I understand this correctly by spending a couple hours on the cross he eradicated the penalty for all the sins that ever was and every shall be. The sins of the mass murderer, the sins of the serial pedophile–all of it. All you have to do is accept him as your savior. But yet, according to Christian theology if I were to die without accepting Jesus as my savior my penalty would be to burn for all eternity.  In other words Jesus paid the penalty for the ENTIRE world by spending a few hours in agony but I would have to suffer for eternity to pay for MY sins. How does that make any sense to you?  And while we are at it why is God so bloodthirsty that someone needs to DIE to appease him?  He could just as easily just forgive people. But for some reason he has to send himself–after all Jesus and the father are one–to die a horrible death to appease himself so he can forgive the sins of humans.  Again, how does that make any sense to you?

      • Blacksheep

        1. We as Christians believe that Adam did exist, and that he’s not a myth.
        2. And just as you said, we believe that we are humans, and that we do both good and evil. We do both of these things “by nature” – i have never met anyone who does only good.3. We believe that the death of an innocent man absolves everyone of all the bad they have ever done ONLY because that man was God incarnate, and that when we acknowledge him as savior we become one with him. And since we are one with him, the concept is that his punishment is our own. 4. Nobody stops sinning, but the evidence of having a “New Nature” often takes the form of feeling conscious of sin, of having it suddenly become stressful to keep sinning. I’ve known people who, after becoming a Christian, realize that the only way for them to have peace of mind is to stop doing things in their lives that they were previously were OK with. (Cheating on taxes, having an affair, selfishness, etc). 

        An interesting twist is that the more I consider that salvation has nothing to do with my behavior, the more it changes my behavior. Being forced to be good in order to earn salvation would result in worse behavior. Human nature is such that only total acceptance results in a changed heart. That’s why the idea of a “get out of jail free” card, as silly as you make it sound, is really just an expression of love.

        5. We use critical thinking skills along with observing changed lives and the day-to-day attitude and spirit of Christians that we encounter. Most of us have decided that although there is much we don’t know, the path of faith looks and feels better to us than the alternative. 

        • icecreamassassin

          “the path of faith looks and feels better to us than the alternative”

          Could you (or anyone else) perhaps spell out what that alternative is?  Because the alternative *I* think of is evidence-based thinking.  You don’t seem like you’re opposed to that though, so I’m confused.

          • Blacksheep

            Not trying to be evasive…

            No, definitely not opposed to evidence based thinking. 

            Maybe a more accurate response would be that I love evidence based thinking, I happen to love science, but alongside that I personally have found that faith is what gives me peace of mind and what feels like a healthier disposition in most areas of my life.

            So it’s not evidence based thinking OR faith, for me it’s both.

            • amycas

              How do you know when to use faith and when to use evidence-based thinking? I used to try to use both so I could stay a Christian (believe me, I really really wanted to believe), but the cognitive dissonance was too great. I couldn’t rationally justify using faith in some instances and evidence-based thinking in other instances. Can you explain how you do this?

              • Blacksheep

                it’s hard to explain without a specific example, but I can try. Take creation, for example. I love science, and I have a fairly good grasp of it. I understand the idea of how scientists say the earth began, and in fact they may be right about the processes that took place. But the idea that an intelligent creator was behind it feels true to me when I look at the detail, complexity, and beauty, and weigh that against the likelihood that it all came about  literally by accident.
                I don’t think I ever use just faith in some instances and just evidence based thinking in others, my mind requires both.
                Another area where my faith comes in is when I see evil and human suffering. I know that there are practical reasons that humans suffer, but i have always felt that the depth of despair that some people encounter in this world is on a level that an animal could never experience, and I don’t think it’s just because our brains are bigger. I think it’s because we’re different – we are made to be close to God, but we’re living in a broken, messed up world that makes that hard sometimes.  I can only understand human suffering by looking at it through the lens of science and faith, together. (trying to do short answers, sorry).

                when it comes to the biggest question of all, proving that God exists, I can’t do that with faith or science, I can only follow my heart. 

        • matt

           1.How many other religions did you research before choosing Christianity and why do you think it holds more weight than any of the previous godly myths before it (many of which Christianity most likely borrowed)?

          2. Why do you think it’s plausible that the omnipotent creator of reality would birth him(her)self into mankind just to make a sacrifice to him(her)self all over some freaking “sins” he could easily just forgiven, since he is god and all. 

          3.  Why did he need to come down twice?  Did the creator of the universe forget to mention a few things?

          4.  None of this strikes you as a bit strange?

          • Coyotenose

             *all of which Christianity provably borrowed.

            • Blacksheep

              Christians believe that one God created the first people, who moved through time and also various religions leading up to today’s faiths. There’s no borrowing, just a world of people responding to God in the most authentic way they can. It makes sense that there would be lots of similarity. 

              • Glasofruix

                Every existing religion thinks that way, why YOURS is the only true one? Also, why your skyfairy waited so long before it manifested itself through a hallucination?

          • Blacksheep

            1. I was raised in a Christian home so I have an affinity for it, but in my 20′s I seriously questioned the validity of the faith. Starting thenI have done much study of other religions, and in fact I have an affinity for eastern religions especially after spending time in India. But I embraced Christianity for one main reason: It makes the most sense to me and it brings me a sense of peace when I enter into it. 
            It makes the most “sense” to me because I believe that God is loving, and a loving God would not make people do good deeds for salvation, it would be freely given. Islam feels like too much of a human take on God, with rituals and steps that are necessary for salvation. And eastern religions paint a picture of salvation that looks impossible to attain. (I know that I am seriously over-simplifying here).

            But really it’s how a faith affects you and others day to day that becomes the reason you embrace it.

            2. It is indeed beautiful and mysterious, and I agree that it does not seem plausible, but after a lifetime of considering it I believe that it’s true. 

            3. By twice do you mean 2000 years ago and again someday?

            4. It indeed strikes me as strange, but so do many other things.

            • http://twitter.com/InMyUnbelief TCC

              That sounds basically like, “It makes me feel good.” Which is fine, but I doubt that you would be so accepting if someone else told you that Islam or Buddhism made them feel at peace (of which I’m sure there are many individuals). Usually, we determine the veracity of claims by objective criteria, not purely subjective criteria, so you shouldn’t be surprised when you don’t convince anyone.

              • Blacksheep

                I’m very accepting in general, TCC. And when I’m not, I don’t feel good about myself afterwards, so I try not to do it again.
                Also, I’m neither surprised nor am I trying to convince anyone. I’m trying to honestly answer questions that people ask of me.

                • amycas

                  I really do appreciate your honesty here. Usually when a Christian tries to answer these questions they comment for ages before finally giving us an honest answer.

                  I don’t think TCC meant “accepting” as in tolerant of their views and their right to their beliefs. I think TCC meant “accepting” as in believing that “because it makes me feel good” is a good enough reason to believe their religion is true, especially when it contradicts your religious teachings and if you believe the wrong one you could go to hell (or whatever the negative consequences are for your soul in the other religion). So the question is, with the stakes so, supposedly, high, how do you know you’re right and they are wrong?

                • http://twitter.com/InMyUnbelief TCC

                  amycas has it exactly right. What I’m saying is that you wouldn’t accept that answer from someone else if what felt right to them outright contradicted what feels right to you. That’s why we generally rely on external measures for claims like this.

                • Blacksheep

                  Don’t you guys ever take actions based on a combination of facts and gut feel? I’m sure you do what you feel is right, even if others disagree. It’s not your job to weigh what every other human thinks and then settle in to the quiet middle… nobody is asking anybody to accept what does not “feel right” to them.

        • Glasofruix

           
          5. So you’re all fo the “that book says so” option instead of science and reason because it’s too difficult for you?

          • Blacksheep

            It’s certainly not instead of science and reason. I can’t  imagine separating the three – science, reason and faith.

            • Glasofruix

              Any smart person would disagree with you, as faith is basically believeing in something without proof or wanting something to be true very very hard.

              • Blacksheep

                There are much more elegant definitions of faith. Is your definition of love “chemical reactions that trigger feelings that are pleasurable”? 

        • amycas

           “1. We as Christians believe that Adam did exist, and that he’s not a myth.”

          It all falls apart right there. We know that you don’t think Adam is a myth. The problem is there’s no evidence that Adam ever existed. The human race is not descendent from one pair, so there could not have been an Adam or Eve. So, why do you believe that Adam existed?

          • Stev84

            Because the Bible says so. It can all be reduced to that.

          • Stev84

            Because the Bible says so. It can all be reduced to that.

          • Blacksheep

            If one believes in God, then many things like that are possible. If there is no God, I completely agree with you.

            • Bball246165

              If I believe in Twilight, then vampires are real.

    • The Other Weirdo

       That’s pretty arrogant of you, isn’t it? What I mean is, how do you know the mind of the Almighty? What gives you the right to speak for It and to tell us in no uncertain terms that you know for a fact what God did or did not make us for?

      As a whole, the human race is better than your God. And we deserve better than your God. Assuming It exists. Which It doesn’t.

    • amycas

      So because of something that some ancestor (for whom we have no evidence of his existence) did, all of humanity deserves to be tortured in hell forever. There’s nothing this god could do about it, short of torturing and murdering its, supposed, only son (and of course resurrecting him). Even then, nobody can be “spiritually united” with this god unless we believe all of this, even though there’s no evidence for it and it lacks any logical sense. Couldn’t an omnipotent god just create us with spiritual unity already built in? Apparently Adam was created that way, so why couldn’t god have just created the rest of us that way. Jesus didn’t pay the penalty for my sin, because I hadn’t been born yet. Jesus paid the penalty for the bullshit mess that your supposed god couldn’t sort out. 

      • Azel

        Given the absolutely lousy setups God inflicts to people with spiritual unity built in (Eve, Adam; Lucifer & even Jesus) I’d rather not. He ie a vindictive bastard, so having unity with him means dealing with him more than I would like to.

    • Guelph

       “He takes away the person’s old nature that is in rebellion against God
      and gives that person a new nature that is not in rebellion against God.”    Does that sound like mind control to anyone else? If God makes you change your mind, you’re not really exercising free will.

  • http://cousinavi.wordpress.com cousinavi

    So, at least in the narrow regard of not being posthumously punished for my sins, Christianity and atheism are exactly the same.
    Of course, until we shuffle off this mortal coil, at least I won’t be guilty of that particular stripe of hypocrisy.

  • Some guy

    Things like this comment make me groan, because clearly this is not the Christian view of sin. Because, among other things, the word “Christian” means numerous different things. But as Catholicism is still the ‘flagship’ of Christianity in the world, it is its view that ought to be considered most representative.  As such, Christians maintain that human beings have concupiscence, which resulted from the original sin inherited from the ancestors of all humankind, and which separated God from humankind.   God, through the incarnation (including the life, death and resurrection of Christ – the incarnated second person of the Trinity), restored the relationship between God and humankind, but humankind is still left with the predisposition to act selfishly (concupiscence), and while justified by God, that is, in a restored relationship again, is still owed the temporal punishment due to personal sin, which in the Catholic view is paid for through purgation after death.  Now, its fair to take issue with it, but at least take issue with the real thing.  Even if one examines the predominant Protestant views, sinning willfully, and counting on God’s mercy by taking Jesus’ sacrifice for granted is obviously inconsistent with their feelings towards Christ.  Failing to be genuinely contrite will still , in most Protestant denominations ‘ views, get a person a one way ticket to the other place.  Not to mention the fact that Paul speaks against the misunderstanding of the atonement depicted in this cartoon (as a license towards libertinism), in his first letter to the Corinthians.  It’s one thing to take exception to the Christian view of sin, but as atheists, we should at least engage with the real thing. 

    • Some guy

      err.. “things like this *comic.”

    • icecreamassassin

      Take a step back and have a listen to what all the Christian leaders and followers in the world are saying as to what Christianity is all rethink your use of the word ‘clearly’.  I think there are a lot of atheists that would like to engage the real thing, but so far the ‘real thing’ has a pretty damn aloof definition.

      • Blacksheep

        Better definitions would not help much, since in the end we’d be arguing the existence of God vs the lack of a God.

        Big difference between not “Liking” Christianity and not believing in the idea of God in general.  

        • amycas

          I can not like Christian theology and also not believe in the existence of god. I can also believe in the existence of god and not like Christian theology. I can also like Christian theology and not believe in any god. I don’t see how they are mutually exclusive, and as long as there are thousands of different Christian denominations, then there is no “clear” Christian doctrine (even among Catholics).

      • Some guy

        Not at all.. I recommend that you do what I do and study official church documents from the Holy See, as Roman Catholicism is still the largest Christian denomination and the most representative.  Those documents can be called a lot of things, but ‘aloof’ isn’t one. Nor would it be a good word to describe the work of Thomas Aquinas, and much modern Christianity is still Thomistic in how it presents itself.. Just a thought.. :)

        • icecreamassassin

          But I’m talking about Christianity *as a whole*.  And *as a whole* it is a gobbly mess of inconsistency.  Yes, I can study the doctrines of the Roman Catholic church and read the works of Thomas Aquinas, but then I can read the works of John Shelby Spong, listen to the hateful rantings of the Westboro nut-house, watch the 700 club, and have a 3 week conversation with an Episcopalian theological scholar, and they’ll tell me a lot of different, contradicting, incompatible, sometimes nonsensical, not-based-on-physical evidence things and end up with an aloof mess.  No, the works of Aquinas, taken on it’s own, are hardly aloof, but when taken in the context of the entirety of Christianity it is a corner piece in a circular puzzle, just every other claim to what it means to be a ‘true’ Christian.

    • Coyotenose

      The major religion in the U.S. and the drive towards all this theocratic nonsense is Protestantism in all its crazy forms.

      The thing is, their beliefs have logical consequences. That they add later elaborations that result in contradiction doesn’t make their claims less illogical.

    • amycas

       If you have a problem with Christianity being misrepresented then you need to have a gathering of all of the Christian world leaders (another Council of Nicea?) and determine what is correct Christian doctrine and what is the wrong Christian doctrine. Until that happens, I have no reason to say this or any interpretation of scripture is the “christian” interpretation. As long as there are 80,000 denominations, all with different interpretations, then there is no way that anybody could misrepresent the “Correct Christian Doctrine.” You guys start agreeing on what you believe and then get back to us, k?

    • Kgoodbuddy

       But wasn’t the whole concept of ‘original sin’ invented to answer the question of why we needed Jesus to die in the first place, rather than fulfilling the traditional prophecies of messiah—–becoming a living ruler and ushering in a thousand years of peace?  Yeah, THAT didn’t happen.

  • The Other Weirdo

    But why was any of it even necessary? God perpetrates  the largest and most successful act of genocide–the obliteration of all life on ArrakisEarth–because humans were too sinful and allowed one family to repopulate the world because they were so righteous. That didn’t work out so good, did it? I mean even if you don’t think about the genocide part. First thing that family did was get roaring drunk and then start cursing people for covering up a naked drunk, thereby immediately (re)instituting slavery with which God seemed a-okay with.

    • Tainda

      The spice must flow

  • http://www.molestedcatholics.com/ John A Brown

     God’s law for lepers: Get two
    birds. Kill one. Dip the live bird in the blood of the dead one.
    Sprinkle the blood on the leper seven times, and then let the
    blood-soaked bird fly off. Next find a lamb and kill it. Wipe some of
    its blood on the patient’s right ear,
    thumb, and big toe. Sprinkle seven times with oil and wipe some of the
    oil on his right ear, thumb and big toe. Repeat. Finally kill a couple
    doves and offer one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt
    offering. 14:2-52

  • http://religiouscomics.net/ Jeff P

    Operationally, the theology of Christianity works like the following:

    1. Posit heaven and hell.
    2. If one believes in heaven and hell, of course one would want to go to heaven   
    3. Make up a theology that all people are destined to go to hell
    4. Posit a mercyful God
    5. Enhance the theology that God will offer you a “get out of hell” card but that you have to join the Christian club to get it (by believing in Christ).  This notion is good for club membership.
    6. Then dress these basic steps up with all sorts of flowery language, touchy feely stuff, and all the specific details of Christianity.

    The specific details of Christianity are only a cultural accident.  If history would have been a little different, the details of Christian theology in step 6 would also be very different.

    • Glasofruix

      4. Um, in the old testament skyfairy was a vengeful prick THEN when they saw that it didn’t attract enough sheeps to the flock xtians wrote the new testament starring hippie jebus.

    • Yoav

       7. Tell your members that said merciful god want them to prove how much they love him by giving you 10% of their stuff.
      8. Get filthy rich.

  • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

    For someone who was never taught all this “sin” nonsense, it’s utterly perplexing. I know they undergo childhood indoctrination, but do most Christians really feel, deep down, that they are “sinners?” What on earth are they doing that makes them feel so guilty all the time?  It seems to me that they are told they must feel bad because anything short of perfection is unacceptable. And they appear to feel guilty for the smallest things. Normal people would apologize if they hurt someone else and then move on, but a lot of Christians seem to torture themselves over imaginary offenses, including thoughtcrime. It all seems incredibly unhealthy to me.

  • Gerry

    Yes, with some Catholic background. I never understood this silly concept especially when one can be forgiven for telling some guy behind a curtain you “sins” and saying some silly chants…all better now. 

    Amazing how we (humans) cling to ridiculous rituals that were developed when the populace were illiterate and magic made perfect sense.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=625429396 Andrew Kilian

    Like!

  • Alex

    That’s pretty much what I’m getting out of those “Christians are not perfect — just forgiven” bumper stickers. In other words, neener-neener, we’re not perfect, but still better than you, godless sodomites.

  • Agnostic

    My thinking is that if the Christian is a true believer of jesus then he would start acting more and more like Jesus who is supposed to be perfect and so fall into sin less and less. Professing that one is a Christian does not make him a true Christian. Even an agnostic like me know such things. Does the author not know or just being intellectually dishonest?


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