Today at work, got a teeny bit of intellectual discourse (shop talk doesn't count!) with my born-again cube neighbor (the one who equates "atheists" with "murderers" etc.)

She mentioned something about a child doing something sinful. I said, "I just can't see that......a baby being born a sinner. I mean, sure, kids are horrible at times, but that's not sin."

She said something about of course it is, when they're caught doing something wrong or bad. "I don't believe in 'sin,'" I told her. She was incredulous. "We're all born with the ability to sin," she said.

"When you catch a baby with chocolate all over her face, but she denies getting into the candy, she's learning. She is taught that there are consequences to disobedience and doing the wrong thing. She's testing her independence. A kid doesn't set out to commit evil."

"Kids aren't evil," she said. "Well, what IS sin then? Isn't it evil?" I asked. She didn't answer.

"Thing is, we're ALL like that. Are we all born bad? Some acts are worse than others," I said.

"So you think it's like a scale?" she asked, and I said definitely, a sliding scale, and I thought about Sam Harris' book The Moral Landscape.

"Well, what if a kid killed your cat?" she asked as she turned away from me, toward her computer. "THAT would be bad," I said, "That kid has problems!"

What I should have said, was that killing isn't a sin- it's in the bible and god has no problem whatsoever with killing animals (or even humans for that matter.) And are all meat eaters automatically "sinners"?

Anyway. She's not exactly a good one to have discussions with, because she usually blurts out something so nonsensical it's as if she's hitting the "smokescreen" button to make a quick getaway when she's feeling challenged.

So how do christians define "sin," exactly? It's not just the Ten Commandments. Is it all 614 of the Suggestions and Abominations? How is killing a sin if god was always expecting and commanding and DOING it??  

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Hi Christine.......I have always  found  it difficult  to  discuss religion with someone  who  is a Theist....Unless you are  ready  for  a knock out  drag down debate.....It may  be  better  to say  nothing....It is so frustrating.. ...You want  to just shake them  silly  and  tell them to Think Rationally........

My impression is that "sin" is an offense against their god, a violation of one of his commandments or whatever.  With that as definition, there is no reason for atheists to acknowledge the existence of sin, since there is no god to transgress against.

That said, there still is wrongdoing of various degrees and severity, some of which require the attention of police and the justice system to correct, and some that may require nothing more than a "Sorry, guy, can I pay for that?"  Considering the graduated correction scale which humankind as sorted out for itself, compared to the one that Yahweh created, for which too many "sins" had to be corrected with death, I'll take our flawed yet modifiable system over the god-jerk's absolutist system every day of the week.

I whole heartedly  agree    Loren.....Well said ...

She did say that a transgression is still wrong even if you apologize or make up for it. Her belief is that there is no such thing as "making up for" anything. "If you say something bad to somebody, it's still out there, the damage is done."

"Sure, you don't forget what happened, but sometimes people do things impulsively and you (and they) have to understand WHY." I had told her once about a time my husband got extremely angry at me for something minor, and I was blown away by his overreaction.

"That time my husband got really mad, I never forgot, but it's not a habit of his, and I asked him to think about what may have triggered an overreaction. He never did it before or since, so it's not a problem."

As for the sliding scale, take the whole "Thou shalt not kill." It's pretty vague. The bible encourages plenty of killing of humans. People eat animals that somebody else killed, but how can a carnivore support a sinful industry? Any one of us would kill under the "right" (ugh) circumstances. If we were being attacked, if a loved one were being attacked, etc.

If god tells a religious person to kill, they'd do it. But there are many things not covered in the Commandments. Are those things okay? Can I streak down the block? Doesn't say I *can't.* Can I test my air raid siren every Sunday morning around 6:30am?

And slavery. Bible's fine with it; no commandments against it; god gives detailed instructions how to go about it. If it weren't for reason and humanity, slavery would still be legal.

It's a wonderful thing to be free of sin, and how funny that those who are "saved" are the ones riddled with it. LOL!! :-p

Even with all of that, there remain the "sins" which are completely foolish ... like wearing clothes from two different threads or eating shellfish or pork.  Pork in ignorance of trichinosis is understandable, but two different threads?!?

And then there are the ones that target women, like the bit about a woman being raped in the city and not crying out.  Anyone guess that maybe she had a hand over her mouth so she COULDN'T scream?  And right next to that, the one about being raped and having to Marry Your Rapist.  THAT one is so far beyond unconscionable, you'd need to measure it in light-years.

The bible was written by men ... men who wanted to establish a power base and make it as close to inviolable as possible, a system which put them in power and everyone else in what they perceived as "their place," most especially including women.  And of course, these laws come from GOD so they are beyond question.  You're not supposed to pay any attention to that man behind the curtain.

Sorry, too late.

What Loren said. No one can say it better than Loren!

No one I know of Mindy.

I agree. Expecting someone to embrace the word "sin" is like expecting a Christian to embrace the word "Allah". It is religiously affiliated, and it's 'meaning' can vary wildly depending on which religion is defining it. An atheist, agnostic, pantheist, or deist has zero responsibility to acknowledge this word. We use real world terminology like 'laws', 'rules', 'legal', or 'illegal'. Beyond that, there is an enormous trove of adjectives in the English language to describe the actions of man. 'Sinful' and 'evil' are included in that trove, but those words don't have exclusively religious affiliations any more.

Sin in the Garden was disobedience by eating the forbidden fruit, so I conclude that mankind was not supposed to have knowledge? At any rate, this disobedience against god (who also provided the tree by the way) is passed on to all of the decendants of Adam and Eve. Human bodies start to be limited by "the curse" put upon them and mankind can now die, with this disobedience passed on to everybody like it was genetic or DNA or something. In that sense "sin" is passed on to this child you are talking about, although the child himself did nothing.

Along about the 2nd century Irenaeus developed a doctrine of "original sin" and others soon followed with the idea. Church people won't leave this idea alone. My entire church life was filled with those that knew it was all "sexual" some way. (Did Eve have sex with the snake?) Surely every preacher that said "you are concieved in sin" was actually talking about something sexual.

See how far we have gotten away from the Genesis account now and how it didn't even start to take hold until sometime after 200 AD.

All through the buybull you find talk of what "sin" was and is, but it was that egotistical liar, Saul of Tarsus, who defined it for christians of the time. Sin was always "missing the mark" if you compare it to an archery event in which you are trying to get top prize. We were said to always be striving towards perfection but never able to acheive it. In like manner sin is compared to "running a race" in hopes of getting a prize, or the top prize. We just keep trying to find (or be in) the perfection of god or Jesus, but we cannot do it.

With that being said, you find that this whole "sin" business is something you can never get away from, get out of, or do away with. The church has you by the balls on this one unless you wake up and realize that god and the bible are imaginary. Even so, perhaps because we all know we got here through procreation, so many today want to say we are all sinners because somehow "sin" was "sexual" and got passed on to us all! Here we go again.

I've covered the basics without scripture quoting and modern apologetics, but I'm sure we have enough denominations today to give you many other answers on sin. I used to say we had 300 plus christian denominations in America. Sunday night AronRa (L. Aron Nelson) said there were over 1000 of them. He does a lot of research and I believe him.

Michael, 45909. And they would all like your prayers.

And your money!

Lol, Loren. That's a given.

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