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Did God Create Sin?

Updated on October 19, 2011
Scottmonster profile image

Scott is a graduate student and historian who is interested in politics, social movements, education, and religion

Bertrand Russell

The Paradox of Sin

There are logical difficulties in the notion of sin. We are told that sin consists in disobedience to God's commands, but we are also told that God is omnipotent. If he is, nothing contrary to His will can occur; therefore when the sinner disobeys His commands, He must have intended this to happen. - Bertrand Russell

We want to hold ourselves and others responsible, but we recognize that our intuitions often support the judgment that a particular individual has "diminished responsibility" because of his or her infirmities, or because of particularly dire circumstances during upbringing or at the time of action. We also find it plausible to judge that nonhuman animals, infants, and those who are severely handicapped mentally are not responsible at all. But since we are all more or less imperfect, will there be anyone left to be responsible after we have excused all those with good excuses? -Daniel Dennett

Although Plato, Confucius, and many other philosophers wrote about ethical living long before any monotheistic God came to Earth, people seem to still believe that the source of morality on Earth only arrived about 2000 years ago. Before this time, a person acted virtuously because virtue was in itself a positive end. Since monotheism has taken over, virtuous acts are performed to please the deity with the ulterior motive of Heaven. Religion has adulterated true virtue by offering supernatural causation as explanation of positive acts. What really bothers me about religion is the way in which the religious claim credit for their god anytime something positive is done, while denying responsibility anytime something negative happens. A plane crashes, hundreds of people die, one person lives, and what happens? People say, "what a miracle! Thank God, there's a survivor." Nevermind, all the death, those people must not have prayed hard enough, lets instead celebrate the mercy of God.

The presence of sin in the world raises many interesting questions with regard to the nature of God. Does it make sense to say that violence and misery are the products of human nature, if in fact, God is responsible for creating human nature in the first place? Is evil under the control of God or does it reside within its own sphere of influence? Judging sin is a very difficult thing to do. Some people thing that a girl who has been raped has committed a crime. Some people think condoms are worse than AIDS. Some people think Adam and Eve, and all of us by extension, are to be blamed for being created faulty. The fundamental question to consider when thinking about sin, is whether or not God is omnipotent. By definition, if God is omnipotent then God is in control of all things, at all times, under all circumstances, no exceptions, ever.This would mean that all things from the material universe, to the reaches of our own imagination, were caused by God.

Benedict De Spinoza, one of the Seventeenth Century's greatest philosophers, was of this opinion. Spinoza reasoned that all things have a cause and all things have attributes; everything came from something that likewise came from something earlier, etc. However, since something cannot be created out of nothing, there has to be a first cause. Something which is the cause of cause; something which exists purely because existence is apart of its own essence with no external stimuli. Spinoza called this God. He reasoned that God must possess infinite attributes because anything which exists in the universe must have a cause which ultimately reduces back to God. Thomas Aquinas likewise believed God to be omnipotent, although he reasoned the explanation of sin to be quite different. Aquinas actually argued that sin's existence was explained by God's ability to create something good out of something bad. God tolerates evil and sin because he retains the power to create positives out of anything,

The most popular defense of God, in terms of misery and sin, is the free will argument. The free will argument goes like this, God controls all things, but has granted humanity the ability to control its own destiny. So when a person commits a crime its no one's fault but their own. This explanation is highly problematic, because in a universe governed by an omnipotent ruler, all things are the product of the Deity's will. It doesn't make sense to say nuclear war is the fault of human nature, given the fact that God chose to make certain rocks radioactive. Free will is likewise a non-factor in the deaths of millions of people around the world who fall to illnesses and diseases. Omnipotence means germs, viruses, diseases, and cancers are all part of the plan, and possibly the punishment.

On the other hand, it is possible that God is not omnipotent, and that evil posses some sphere of influence over the natural world, This view point would certainly make the Book of Revelation make more sense, given its prediction that God will defeat Satan, but then Have to release him after 1,000 years. In a certain sense, I think this is what people want to believe. It's simply too confusing to try and rationalize why an omnipotent and merciful God does nothing to protect its own creations. The easier explanation, is to say that all things which are good belong to the realm of God, and all things that are bad are the faults of humans or demons, etc. Thoughts? Leave a comment.

Taking the Blame

Does the Free Will argument absolve God of responsibility for sin?

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    • profile image

      A for Athiest 

      5 years ago

      I like the paradox of a virtuous omniscient god....

      A virtuous omniscient god creates each human with a choice between damnation or salvation already knowing each human that will choose damnation before creating them.

    • Scottmonster profile imageAUTHOR

      Scott Vehstedt 

      7 years ago from Washington, D.C.

      Bertrand Russell isn't old. The Bible is old. I think there is a difference between sin and crime.

      crimes are defined by society. They're punished to deter others.

      sins are crimes defined by God (not saying I agree with it, but that's how I was using the word)

      that are not necessarily harmful to anyone. For instance some things which are sins (to millions, if not everyone), but not crimes

      1. worshiping an idol

      2. using birth control

      3. getting divorced

      4. masturbating

      5. having pre-marital sex

      Spinoza agreed, there are no crimes of morality. He argued that murders, and rapes, were not moral crimes given the omnipotent power of God. I certainly agree people have no right to pass their own morality off on others, but that doesn't stop them from doing it.

      my point was that it is nonsensical to judge "sin" in others, given the fact that the nature of sin is paradoxical.

    • d.william profile image


      7 years ago from Somewhere in the south

      Interesting article. Good food for thought.

      The most profound truth is in the statement that "personal opinions are all that anyone can offer". There is no proof of God's existence now, or anytime in the past. People can believe what they want to believe to make some sense out of their own existences, if they have that need.

      To quote old texts as proof is truly oxymoronic (if there is such a word). There are "sins" in this world, but they are man made offenses against mankind itself, and rightly so. Example: Murder is a 'sin' and against the laws of man. And these man made 'sins' may include anything that imposes real injury onto another human being - nothing more, nothing less.

      Designating "sins" of what man constitutes as 'morality' is only in the minds of those who want to control the behavior or others. Therefore, there are actually NO sins of morality at all, except in the minds of those who want them to be - but they only apply to themselves not to others.

    • cheaptrick profile image


      7 years ago from the bridge of sighs

      Your point about evil being outside the power of God is resolved if you take a look at dualism in a Christian sense.Yes there were dualistic Christians who wrote wonderful books,gospels,and letters at the same time proto orthodox Christianity wrote their works.Please check out the Gnostic Christians and their dualist view of the God of transcendent light versus the Demiurge who created this imperfect world in his delusion of omnipotence.Unfortunately the proto orthodox did their best to wipe out any differing groups when Constantine made them the official religion of his empire.The Gnostic's have been refreshed by the discovery of the Nag Hammadi scrolls in 1945 which are finally being translated into English and have enjoyed a growing popularity lately.The Gnostic Christians believed the mind and revelational knowledge[Gnostic is Greek for knowledge]was found within ones self[no clergy required].

      Today's Christianity is an off shoot of the corrupt Universal church of the proto orthodox.

      Sorry for the long post but It irritates me to see these fundamentalists criticise such a fine writer who's trying to make a valid point.Voted up,good job


    • HOOWANTSTONO profile image


      7 years ago

      At the beginnings of Man, life was far different than today, it was called Paradise. But within that Paradise there also lived a thing called "Choice" . Man had not participated in making a choice to that point, because of his perfect condition, where nothing died or was corrupted. Till one day he chose to make the "choice". That choice itself took on the lack of "Perfection" in making that choice perfection became "Corrupt" and that corruption broke down everything even the living conditions and that is where we are today. We work, breathe, eat, exist, in corruption of every area, and that is called "Sin". There is no way for man to get back to his original perfection no matter what he "Man" does. Thats where God comes in, and becomes that "Corruption" for all man kind. Namely Jesus Christ God as Man. When Jesus died corruption was defeated and overcome, and as a man we need to step into that piece of reality, which is called the Gospel, and that can only be done here on this earth while we live. I dont need to go further with this.


    • Scottmonster profile imageAUTHOR

      Scott Vehstedt 

      7 years ago from Washington, D.C.

      Its pretty gutsy to think Bertrand Russell wrote out of limited thinking! I appreciate your opinion, yet I think your treatment of omnipotence is off the mark. You begin with talk of unlimited power and finish with clearly defined limits. If anything is outside of god's power than God does not have unlimited power, and if God does have unlimited power than nothing is outside of his control.

      Personal opinions are all anyone can offer.

    • The Rising Glory profile image

      The Rising Glory 

      7 years ago from California

      Your quote from Bertrand Russell is an opinion expressed out of limited thinking. By definition means unlimited power. If I have unlimited power then I also have the power to create something to operate within it's own will. If I were to do this then the expression of the will that I created is outside of my power.

      Secondly, most people (I'm sure you are referring to Christians) do not believe that morality came to the earth 2,000 years ago. The roots of morality stem back to the Ten Commandments, which is back to the days of Moses.

      I found your thesis more along the lines of personal thought (opinions) rather then logical or fact based.


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