What is the point of “sin?”

11 03 2008

From the SMH:

As the seven ancient wonders of the world were matched by seven modern wonders, the seven deadly sins have been given a modern version for a globalised world, announced by a Vatican official yesterday.Polluting, genetic engineering, obscene riches, taking drugs, abortion, pedophilia and causing social injustice join the original seven deadly sins defined by Pope Gregory the Great in the sixth century: pride, envy, gluttony, greed, lust, wrath and sloth.

Gianfranco Girotti, head of the Apostolic Penitentiary, responsible for absolving Catholics from their sins, named the new mortal sins in an interview with the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, yesterday.

He did not spell out details but said the original seven deadly sins had an individualistic dimension, while the new seven had a social resonance and showed worshippers that their vices affected other people.

“New sins have appeared on the horizon of humanity as a corollary of the unstoppable process of globalisation,” he said.

God was offended not only by stealing, blaspheming or coveting your neighbour’s wife but by ruining the environment, conducting immoral scientific experiments and genetic manipulation.

Traditional Catholic doctrine divides sins into mortal and venial (lesser) and holds that mortal sins, if unrepented, lead to eternal damnation. The Catholic catechism says “mortal sin destroys charity in the heart of man by a grave violation of God’s law”, while venial sin allows charity to subsist but offends and wounds it.

So, in other words, the concept of “sin” is at bottom just one big argumentum ad baculum. Don’t actually try to put any thought whatsoever into why you should do x and avoid doing y. Just blindly obey out of fear of making Magic Man angry and being condemned to spending eternity in Teh Fiery Hot Bad Place with Teh Other Magic Man. How utterly vacuous.

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17 responses

11 03 2008
THR

Some of the 7 virtues (4, to be exact) had their origins in Greek philosophy. The original concept of the seven ‘deadly’ sins did have a kind of logic to it, if in a somewhat warped form. Pride is a more serius offence to god than lust, for instance, as the latter is a kind of ‘defect of the flesh’, whilst the former is a kind of spiritual rebellion. And hey, we wouldn’t have La Commedia without all this wacky Catholic stuff.

11 03 2008
Bruce

Wow. The Vatican has declared Catholics to be at Kohlberg’s lowest level of moral reasoning?

And I love “obscene riches”. I’m gathering that they haven’t looked around Vatican City too much…

Genetic engineering? Why don’t they add blood transfusions, autopsies and a bunch of other arbitrary crap?

I think it’s time for Catholics to roll their leaders because clearly the average Catholic in the street is a heck of a lot smarter (at least morally) than the average high ranking Catholic priest (with exceptions for the Father Bobs of the clergy).

12 03 2008
Sean the Blogonaut

Oh the irony.

12 03 2008
AV

The Vatican has declared Catholics to be at Kohlberg’s lowest level of moral reasoning?

You’ve nailed it right there, Bruce. When you strip away the obscurantist theo-babble, the message is simple: appease Sky-Daddy or else. Hardly a sound or mature basis for ethics, methinks.

12 03 2008
isaiah30v8

Imagining that they are able to decide what is right or wrong, good or evil IS the original sin.

see this you tube video for an explanation:

v=0ORGSPK6NHI

Jesus Christ came to make it more simple.

Treat every one the way you would like to be treated.

Using this rule not just the extremists but also those who even just deviate slightly would be easily recognised.

Keep it simple.

12 03 2008
isaiah30v8

Here’s the youtube video:

12 03 2008
Sumedh

HAHA!

13 03 2008
AV

Imagining that they are able to decide what is right or wrong, good or evil IS the original sin.

see this you tube video for an explanation:

v=0ORGSPK6NHI

Instead of spamming my comments with your YouTube, which people may or may not have the time to view in any case, why don’t you state the explanation here?

Jesus Christ came to make it more simple.

Treat every one the way you would like to be treated.

Actually, the ethic of reciprocity had been around for hundreds of years before Jesus came on the scene.

But here’s a question for you. If, as most Christians believe, Jesus = God incarnate, and if this God is the same God who sent a flood to wipe out most of humanity, who condemned women to painful pregnancies, who sent two she-bears to rip some young boys to pieces for laughing at Elisha, who killed fifty thousand men for looking into the ark of Jehovah, who killed all the first born of Egypt, who commands his followers to commit genocide and mass murder . . . if this is the same God, then how seriously does he take his own Golden Rule? Or does it not apply to him?

13 03 2008
Sean the Blogonaut

Oh come on AV, that isn’t fair, you know the bible better than him:)

13 03 2008
Bruce

That’d almost be the point wouldn’t it? Do unto others, so please don’t interrupt my crucifixion thanks. I’ve earned it.

13 03 2008
isaiah30v8

“Actually, the ethic of reciprocity had been around for hundreds of years before Jesus came on the scene.”

Yes, Moses was inspired by God to include it in the Mosaic law thousands of years before Jesus came.

13 03 2008
isaiah30v8

“killed fifty thousand men for looking into the ark of Jehovah”

couldn’t find this one in the bible.

Sure you are not confusing it with some Indiana Jones movie

13 03 2008
isaiah30v8

But here’s a question for you. If, as most Christians believe, Jesus = God incarnate, and if this God is the same God who sent a flood to wipe out most of humanity, who condemned women to painful pregnancies, who sent two she-bears to rip some young boys to pieces for laughing at Elisha, who killed fifty thousand men for looking into the ark of Jehovah, who killed all the first born of Egypt, who commands his followers to commit genocide and mass murder . . . if this is the same God, then how seriously does he take his own Golden Rule? Or does it not apply to him?

I don’t believe that Jesus is God incarnate. I believe that Jesus is God’s created (begotten) son.

God made it very clear that disobeying him would lead to consequences.

After all, the reason we die is because Eve ate fruit from a tree she was told not to. She was convinced by Satan that there would not be a consequence.

He lied.

The rest of the bible shows how there is either a blessing for obeying or a malediction for disobeying God.

Watch the video.

It answers the question raised by the blogger much faster than spoonfeeding through the comments.

13 03 2008
AV

Watch the video.

It answers the question raised by the blogger much faster than spoonfeeding through the comments.

Erm, no. This is a discussion. I’m doing you the courtesy of allowing the link to your video to stand, even though I’m not prepared to take your word for it that your video is on topic. If you’re unwilling to demonstrate how it is in on topic, I’ll happily remove the link, and I won’t allow it to be posted again.

Yes, Moses was inspired by God to include it in the Mosaic law thousands of years before Jesus came.

And Confucius and the Greeks came up with it independently. There is as much evidence that they were inspired by a deity as there is that Moses was–that is, zero evidence–but that is irrelevant.

couldn’t find this one in the bible.

Sure you are not confusing it with some Indiana Jones movie

“And he smote of the men of Beth-shemesh, because they had looked into the ark of Jehovah, he smote of the people seventy men, `and’ fifty thousand men; and the people mourned, because Jehovah had smitten the people with a great slaughter. And the men of Beth-shemesh said, Who is able to stand before Jehovah, this holy God? and to whom shall he go up from us? (1Samuel 6:19-20 ASV)”

I don’t believe that Jesus is God incarnate. I believe that Jesus is God’s created (begotten) son.

So is God exempt from the Golden Rule, or isn’t he?

God made it very clear that disobeying him would lead to consequences. [. . .] The rest of the bible shows how there is either a blessing for obeying or a malediction for disobeying God.

Thankyou for making my point for me re: the vacuousness of the whole concept of “sin.” As I pointed out above, it all boils down to “Obey Sky-Daddy or else.”

After all, the reason we die is because Eve ate fruit from a tree she was told not to. She was convinced by Satan that there would not be a consequence.

He lied.

I see. And God put the fruit there in the first place. Then he meted out a manifestly disproportionate punishment to Eve for eating it. Then he goes ahead and metes out a punishment that is even more nonsequitous and unjust: visiting death upon her descendants, an entire species, for a “crime” they didn’t commit (Eve did). This God you worship is a sadist. And it is not difficult to imagine the countless pogroms inspired by this psychology.

14 03 2008
Sean the Blogonaut

So Isaiah,

Not a believer in the triune god? God the father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit? The three that are one?

20 03 2008
angryxtian

Sin is hte absense of God.

22 03 2008
AV

(Breaks hiatus)

Um . . . sin is a theological concept, and is therefore dependent upon the notion that God exists. If God is absent, then so is sin.

Sorry.

(Resumes hiatus)

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