- Religion and Philosophy
Original Sin - Guilt by Association
Perhaps one of the most damningly immoral aspects of most Christian beliefs is the existence of the doctrine of Original sin. Most people are familiar with the idea and with the story of Adam and Eve that Original Sin is extrapolated from. The basic concept is that Adam and Eve's sin in the Garden, which involved eating from a magical tree, would then spread to any offspring Adam and Eve had. In some versions this infection of Original Sin into creation stems from God's cursing of his creation and of Adam and Eve immediately prior to their banishment from the Garden.
In this hub I will touch upon my objections to Original Sin and on the supposed “Salvation” from it offered by Jesus.
The God Who Knew Too Little
One of the qualities often ascribed to the Christian God is that of omniscience, or knowing everything. In most versions of this quality this includes not only all information in the past and present but also knowing the future. This means that rather than sit down and weight pro and cons on consequences that God would KNOW what would happen as a result of any decision he – or anyone else – might make.
Often times Christians will interject the caveat of Free Will in order to block out God's omniscience by claiming that God cannot see or predict what decisions we humans will make with our God given free will. This negates entirely the premise of omniscience as any gap in knowledge necessarily disqualifies such a claim. So God either knows all and all is predetermined, or God's knowledge is at least in part limited.
A problem arises, however, when the Bible tells stories which suggest that God cannot predict the future of his own decisions. The story of Original Sin in Eden is one of the strongest examples of this in the entirety of Biblical canon. God makes the decision to create two beings who are void of the “knowledge of good and evil”, he seems to specifically deny them this quality for a reason. He then proceeds to inform them of a tree he's planted in the Garden that will grant them the ability to know right from wrong, he does not want them to eat from this tree.
Obviously denying them the ability to tell right from wrong does not prevent them from doing something wrong, or sinning. God apparently does not foresee the negative impact of his decision to deny them this ability or his decision to plant the tree to begin with. He also doesn't foresee the issue with creating snakes that can talk, or be possessed by Lucifer depending on your interpretation. Surely God's decision to plant the tree that he doesn't want them to eat from in the Garden where he has them living out their lives can ONLY lead to BAD things. The best result God can hope for is that Adam and Eve, with no moral compasses whatsoever, will decide to obey that command for their ENTIRE lives, which Genesis seems to suggest lasted centuries and which many Christians claim would have lasted for eternity (the idea that there was “no death before the Fall”).
God CANNOT realistically expect perfection from beings that he has created with the necessarily imperfect ability of free will. What do I mean? Free will, in order to be fully free, MUST contain the ability to make one's own decisions and those include decisions that are not morally good. In creating Free Will God creates the potential for sin and thus is creating an imperfect system. So God must know that this plan will backfire, yet he still acts out-raged when Adam and Eve cave into temptation. He's granted them the ability to cave into it, granted them no capability to realize that giving in would be morally wrong and then decided to be SURPRISED and UPSET when his incompetence blows up in his face.
And the Generation After that, and so on
After the initial backfire of God's plan God makes what can only be seen in hindsight as a terrible error on his part. Instead of finding a way to wipe Adam and Eve's slate clean, to forgive them and start all over, God instead allows Original Sin to go forward and spread from Father to Son. The sins of the Father now get slapped onto the son from birth allowing the entire world to be worthy of condemnation to Hell. This is the belief that I was instilled with as a child, that we all deserved Hell, that we were all filthy sinners, and that it was Adam and Eve's fault.
In truth though it was God's fault. If Adam and Eve are his children and they do something wrong it is up to God to correct them, to set them on the right moral path, and to see that they are raised up correctly. Instead God, who is meant to be the ultimate Father figure, imparts no wisdom to Adam and Eve, he curses them and banishes them from the Garden. Imagine you are a parent, are you going to kick your kid out of the house when they make the first mistake? Yet God is meant to be long-suffering and merciful, more so than any human parent could ever be.
Surely God should be able to see the error of letting the infection of Original Sin spread and put the whole world in danger of Hell. Indeed God, being omniscient, should know that not only are people in danger of Hell, many of those in his beloved creation are DESTINED to go there IF Original sin is left in place. Why God does not act immediately to correct his blunder is only further evidence of this character's fictious-ness. We're not dealing with depictions of an actual infallible deity, we're dealing with a fictional deity claimed to be infallible by the incompetent mythologists that wrote about him him.
When God does get around to imparting wisdom, this is what we get:
Jesus Christ, you cannot be serious
Christians reminded of verses from the Old Testament showing God's barbarism and stupidity will typically resort to bringing up Jesus. Jesus changed all those Old Testament laws (even though he didn't) and forgave the world's sins by dying for them. It's the same trick I used to do when I was a Christian, focus on the loving and merciful aspects of Christianity and the Bible and downplay any reasons to doubt or question.
The most powerful way to do this is to tell people that Jesus was thinking of them on the cross and that whole time he was having the shit kicked out of him. It's a powerful idea, that one man's blood and sweat and tears and the whole time he was doing it for a bunch of ungrateful pricks who wanted to just wanted to drink, gamble and fuck all the time. This stirs up feelings of guilt and sets up a “you're either with Jesus or you're against him” mentality and preys on emotional vulnerability.
This is your guilt by association, you are a filthy wretched sinner worthy of being burned in a lake of fire for not bearing proper “fruit” for God. All because of Adam, all because you're a human being. Christianity tears you down as a person and then inserts the “But God loves you, you filthy bastard”.
So Jesus Christ is God's plan for redemption for the human creation that has gone astray eh? You can't be serious. Jesus Christ came and went 2000 years ago supposedly, yet does the world look remotely redeemed? Sure we've made some progress as a society but that progress has, more often then not, been in direct contradiction to religious ideas. Slavery, for example, is condoned openly by God in the Bible, we abolished that a few hundred years ago. In that war, the Civil War, hundreds of thousands gave up their lives to put to rest a barbaric and dehumanizing practice that the Bible openly approves of. You want to talk about sacrifices to make the world a better place?
But Jesus was just here to save souls right? Not to actually make the world a better place? Would making the world a better place not have helped save souls? Yet look at what became of Christianity, wars, genocide, prejudice, suppression of science and only now hundreds of years later do we see folks out there feeding the poor and the homeless. Jesus, if he existed, accomplished the opposite of his goal and, according to the book of Revelations, plenty of human souls will still be cast into Hell. God should have been able to see all of this, and predict it, but he remains just as silent and indistinguishable from the imaginary as the rest of the gods out there.