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The ghastly doctrine of original sin

If there is one Christian doctrine that I think is deeply pernicious, it is that of original sin. For those unfamiliar with it, it essentially says that the first sin was committed by Adam and Eve when they disobeyed god and ate fruit from the tree of knowledge. This act resulted in them being banished from the Garden of Eden and became the ultimate cause of all the suffering in the world today. Thanks, Adam and Eve!

This doctrine enables believers to avoid the awkward question of why god allows innocent babies to suffer. The answer is that babies are not as innocent as they look because they carry with them original sin. It is also why Christian fundamentalists are so determined to believe in the historicity of Adam and Eve because without them, there would be no reason for Jesus to die to redeem people from that sin. (I know the whole thing makes no sense but stay with me here.)

We see the damaging consequences of this belief that sin is the cause of suffering this story from Bob Jones University (as fundamentalist an institution as you can get) where five women who were raped or sexually assaulted were told that it likely happened because they had somehow sinned in some way. So rather than try and seek justice for them, the school personnel essentially told the women to forgive the person who abused them and to think about what ‘root sin’ they committed that caused the assualt and not do it again. A more blatant case of ‘blaming the victim’ is hard to imagine.

Of course, this also conveniently allowed the school to sweep the problem under the rug and not take any action that might make the news.

Comments

  1. busterggi says

    Seems to me that if there was an original sin it was committed by whoever put Adam & Eve in a garden with a couple of trees they were supposed to ignore and then allowed the ignorant pair to be suckered in by his appointed evil-doer.

    Good thing i don’t believe in that.

  2. dean says

    whoever put Adam & Eve in a garden with a couple of trees they were supposed to ignore

    Not only that, but the promised penalty for eating from one of them was certain death

    but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.

    which was a promised punishment by something (death) of which they had no knowledge.

  3. astrosmash says

    Maybe this recent campaign of sexual-misconduct investigations at universities could use compliance with standards as a condition of accreditation. That doesn’t seem like too extreme a step

  4. says

    This doctrine enables believers to avoid the awkward question of why god allows innocent babies to suffer.

    No it doesn’t. Would you like to try Strawmen for $2000?

    You do realize (well, apparently not) that there is a long, long history of Christians both a) affirming the doctrine of original sin and b) struggling mightily to find a theodicy and make progress on the “problem of suffering.” They would not, it should be clear, spend such tremendous effort on the latter if the former provided a trivial escape. The doctrine of original sin explains why infants, like adults, need a savior. It does not, by a long shot, sweep the problem of suffering babies under the rug. Your claim is in the “not even wrong” category.

  5. sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d says

    Seems to me that if there was an original sin it was committed by whoever put Adam & Eve in a garden with a couple of trees they were supposed to ignore and then allowed the ignorant pair to be suckered in by his appointed evil-doer.

    …and who knew and planned exactly what would happen right from the start.

  6. says

    So: it clearly points out the evils of entrapment AND the inefficacy of the death penalty as a deterrent!

    So there is some good in the story…

  7. lorn says

    I don’t see original sin as any more outrageous than any other religious construct. Hinduism claims that all suffering is deserved and earns you credit in the next life. I’m pretty sure that Islam has some notion as to why people suffer and why it is all deserved and entirely just and correct.

    Every religion seems to have some internal twisted logic that puts a smiley face over obviously unjust and undeserved suffering. A way of claiming, going all Martha, “It’s a good thing”.

    Religion has always been a study in apologetic for reality. So we can all justify doing a Mister Rogers and love reality the way it is. Be happy. Everything is under control. Everything is in its place. It is all to the good. God has placed every one of us in our place and we are instructed to accept our fate and get on with life.

    This is a pretty handy philosophical tactic if you don’t want anything to change because you happen to like your lot in life. Having cited Martha Stewart and Fred Rogers I end with wisdom of Mel Brooks:

    “It is good to be king”.

  8. Francisco Bacopa says

    I think that everyone should read the Garden of Eden bit in Genesis. Almost everything you have heard about this story isn’t in the story. For instance, do you know why God cast Adam and Eve out of the garden? They were cast out because god was AFRAID of them. Adam and Eve would have grown as powerful as God if they were allowed to continue eating the fruit of the tree of life.

    As for the deal at Bob Jones, I am not too shocked by this. Patriarchal culture doesn’t really see men as fully competent moral agents, so when something goes wrong for a woman, she must be partly to blame or perhaps almost completely to blame.

  9. jonP says

    Christianity is victim blaming all the way down, and with original sin, god’s the villain. We still presumably have original sin, so the jesus thing wasn’t even all that effective (neither were the flood, the genocides, the threats of eternal hell…).

    We have a god that creates a world with people. The people don’t do anything, so he needs to give them knowledge. They won’t take it on their own, so he needs a talking snake to tempt them. Now they need to be punished! Forever! All their descendants too (because justice?)! Everything gets out of control, so he needs to flood everything to start over (because uncreation is impossible?). Didn’t work. Maybe if he sends his only begotten son to die for the sins of humanity, then everyone will be saved (Maybe I just don’t understand the story correctly, because how does this concept make sense to anyone?).

    Anyway, god is perfect and all-loving. Evil, and suffering, and everything bad are all the fault of those dirty, sinful humans, created by god (in his image, or something). I think there is something about demons and a powerful, temptuous, fallen-angel heal character that are partially responsible, but it’s mostly the human’s fault; otherwise, there is no real need for christianity.

  10. MNb says

    Frankly I find the idea that Jesus died on the cross to pay for my wrongdoings even more appalling. I want to be responsible for them myself. Confessing and repenting is a cheap cop out, as this Bob Jones story will confirm.

  11. says

    Christianity is victim blaming all the way down

    Except where it’s blaming children for their parents’ mistakes, or random people for the mistakes of others.
    Christianity is a highly immoral set of beliefs, if you step back and look at them.

  12. Al Dente says

    heddle @4

    You do realize (well, apparently not) that there is a long, long history of Christians both a) affirming the doctrine of original sin and b) struggling mightily to find a theodicy and make progress on the “problem of suffering.”

    And failing miserably in their mighty struggle. According to Christian propaganda their god is omnipotent and omnibenevolent (and various other omnis as needed to support the superstitions). So their god could stop all suffering but can’t, which means he isn’t omnipotent or god doesn’t care if people suffer so omnibenevolence goes away. Since heddle is a Calvinist, he probably believes his god doesn’t care. In the more extreme forms of Calvinism god hates his creation.

    Original sin is pernicious in one other way. Supposedly a couple of people “sinned” thousands of years ago. Why is anyone else responsible for their sins? If my father or grandfather commit a crime before I’m born then I don’t get punished if they’re found guilty at a trial. This shows yet again how Christianity is anti-human.

  13. doublereed says

    Growing up Jewish, original sin always confused me. It’s one of those ideas that’s obviously stupid and bad. It’s the strongest reason imo that Christianity hates humans with so much ferocity that it shouldn’t ever be considered if you believe in optimism and human achievement. But also, it’s not a Jewish thing. It’s some weird thing the Christians tacked onto the Adam and Eve story for some reason.

  14. steve oberski says

    Hey heddle, what sort of progress have you made on the “problem of suffering.”

    Other than inflicting it on others that is.

  15. says

    It’s the strongest reason imo that Christianity hates humans with so much ferocity

    Now that is a good example of rational thought and critical thinking.

    Hey heddle, what sort of progress have you made on the “problem of suffering.”

    Other than inflicting it on others that is.

    Wow that’s very clever.

    According to Christian propaganda their god is omnipotent and omnibenevolent

    Um, no he isn’t omnibenevolent. There is no place in the bible that describes god as omnibenevolent. Just ask the “ites” in Joshua’s path during the conquest. Not to mention that the bible teaches that some are sent to hell and eternal torment. Not a very benevolent action on god’s part, wouldn’t you agree? There is probably nothing easier to demonstrate from scripture than a refutation of god’s omnibenevolence. You do know what the prefix omni means, right? And without the strawman of omnibenevolence to defend, the age-old “conundrum” you tried to use as a gotcha simply dissolves into the aether.

  16. steve oberski says

    Hey heddle, don’t get all butt hurt, just answer the question.

    Enlighten us troglodytes on the exciting progress you claim to have made on the “problem of suffering.”

    Just one little thing, how hard can that be ?

  17. says

    Enlighten us troglodytes on the exciting progress you claim to have made on the “problem of suffering.”

    Oh I’ve solved it, but I don’t want to publish until the data analysis is complete. Kinda like we are careful about announcing the discovery of new particles.

    don’t get all butt hurt,

    Hey, isn’t “butt hurt” on the list of forbidden insults in Pharynguloidism? I’m pretty sure it is something-ist. Careful, PZ and his lidless eye is always watching. You don’t want to have to undergo re-education.

  18. says

    Suffering (mostly) and death (certainly) are inevitable so humans, being story telling animals, we come up with any number of ways to explain it.
    The problem is the real phenomenon of sado-masochism. I was raised Roman Catholic and was taught that suffering was God’s gift. The religious mystics feel the most intense pleasure in both giving and receiving that gift and so, since god is a product of the imagination, they see god as feeling the same thing.

  19. steve oberski says

    Oh heddle, you are so cute when you are being coy.

    What a tease you are, thousands of years of recorded human suffering, you have the answer and you are sitting on it.

    That must make you feel very, very special, just like you are the centre of a universe created just with you in mind. How typically xtian.

  20. colnago80 says

    Re Kevin Alexander @ #18

    Now, now, you know that the blogs resident physics professor and math department chairman will trot out his no true Scotsman shtick.

  21. doublereed says

    Heddle, it’s literally two days ago that Mano posted framework statements for debate on the proposition “God Does Not Exist” where his opponent claims that God is omnibenevolent:

    Which of these three properties do you assign to god: Omnipotence (can violate the laws of science at will), omnibenevolence (all good), and omniscience (knows the past, present, future and what is in all people’s minds)?
    All of the above. I would only add that an omnipotent being would not have to “violate” laws of science in order to intervene within them.

    That’s not a strawman at all. People believe that. That’s from two days ago.

    And if you do think God is somewhat evil, then why the fuck would you worship him? I’m sorry, but without omnibenevolence the whole constantly worshipping and praising just seems awfully stupid.

    I couldn’t but lol at your claim that you solved the problem of suffering. That shit is hilarious. You’re adorable.

  22. says

    That’s not a strawman at all. People believe that.

    I didn’t say people didn’t believe it (another strawman) I said it is trivially wrong–at least if you base your Christian theology on the bible which, I’ll repeat– never makes a claim that god is omnibenevolent and, quite the opposite, provides beacoup examples in which his actions are not at all benevolent. Only the universalists can make a reasonable claim that their god is omnibenevolent.

    By the way the “evil” is not the absence of benevolence–so now you are making false dilemmas.

    I couldn’t but lol at your claim that you solved the problem of suffering.

    If you don’t see my claim in #17 for what it is, do not pass go and do not collect $200.

  23. steve oberski says

    Hey heddle, I think the folks here see your claim for exactly what it is.

    Here’s hoping that you do your physics better than your theology. Presumably you can’t get away with the sort of bullshit there that you indulge in here.

    Tell me heddle, are you really sick enough to think that infants are contaminated by some sin committed by mythical progenitors at the behest of a talking snake ?

    And do other fools of your ilk actually let you near their children ? *

    I mean, how fucked up is that ?

    * For those not in the know, our friend heddle apparently indoctrinates local children in his demented belief system in a socially sanctioned type of child abuse known as “Sunday School”. Isn’t that sweet ?

  24. John Morales says

    Heddle @15, your response is evasive:

    According to Christian propaganda their god is omnipotent and omnibenevolent

    Um, no he isn’t omnibenevolent.

    I note you carefully don’t deny that much of Christian propaganda claims precisely that, by offering your personal opinion about the Christian deity.

  25. says

    I note you carefully don’t deny that much of Christian propaganda claims precisely that, by offering your personal opinion about the Christian deity.

    I note that you carefully ignore the fact that the OP to which I responded did not base its claim on “Christian propaganda” but rather on the author’s personal opinion of Christian doctrine.

  26. says

    For those not in the know, our friend heddle apparently indoctrinates local children in his demented belief system in a socially sanctioned type of child abuse known as “Sunday School”. Isn’t that sweet

    Actually I don’t, I teach adult Sunday School (and adult undergrad and grad physics students) . But certainly you nailed how we teach children!!! See rule 6.

  27. doublereed says

    Go on, then. Tell me the purpose of original sin besides getting people to hate themselves so that they will pathetically ask God to forgive them for nothing.

  28. doublereed says

    And why are you saying that God’s omnibenevolence is trivially wrong when Christianity itself is trivially wrong.

  29. John Morales says

    heddle @27, @26 I quoted you quoting Al Dente and apparently responding to that which you quoted, so I am surprised to be informed that your retort immediately following the quotation was intended to refer to the OP rather than to what you quoted.

    (I note that some sects deny omnipotence for the purposes of theodicy, but in yours it appears that it’s omnibenevolence that is denied)

  30. says

    dr,

    Go on, then. Tell me the purpose of original sin besides getting people to hate themselves so that they will pathetically ask God to forgive them for nothing.

    Clearly you have us figured out. A blistering intellectual attack such as this… how could I possibly respond? Uncle. Although the people I know did seem to miss the memo about hating themselves. I’m guessing we hate ourselves but are too weak-minded to see it or acknowledge it? But you–you can see it in us? Is that about right?

    JM,

    so I am surprised to be informed that your retort immediately following the quotation was intended to refer to the OP rather than to what you quoted.

    So I am not surprised by the common are-you-still-beating-your-wife tactic of “I notice you didn’t deny [something]” (which you employed as an “argument” in #26). Even though I never denied that some Christians argue that God is omnibenevolent and, in fact, prior to your comment I tacitly acknowledged it. (see #24)

  31. John Morales says

    heddle @32, your defensiveness is misplaced; mine was hardly a loaded insinuation, and it was based on your evasiveness when apparently denying Al Dente’s claim.

    BTW, I did see #24, wherein you also tacitly acknowledge your god is not their [the universalists] god — and since you’re ostensibly monotheistic, that entails you must consider their god is a false one.

    (There are numerous mutually-exclusive versions of Christianity, no?)

  32. steve oberski says

    Hey heddle, all right then, perhaps your neighbours aren’t stupid enough to let you near their children. My wrong. My condolences to your adult undergrad and grad physics students.

    I’d still really, really like to hear about the progress have you made on the “problem of suffering.”

    Think of it as a press release. Perhaps you could give us some details on the “data analysis”.

    Maybe some hints on your “data sources”.

    This would give others a chance to replicate your results.

    You know, the same way things happen in the “discovery of new particles”.

  33. doublereed says

    Heddle, why don’t you just explain? Like your response was sarcasm but no substance. By all means, educate.

    Yes, I think the whole shtick of Christianity is getting people to feel awful about being human so that they think they need God. What’s your point here? Do you agree? I literally have no idea what your position actually is.

  34. says

    JM,

    that entails you must consider their god is a false one.

    It is not a reasonable way to ask the question. Because it gets into an impossible area of distinguishing worshiping god but having an inaccurate picture of him (which we all do) from worshiping a different god. I can only leave it that the god described in the bible is not a universalist–it is too easy to demonstrate that the bible teaches that some are lost. If you want to couch that as my saying they worship a false god, vice being inaccurate–well that’s your privilege.

    (There are numerous mutually-exclusive versions of Christianity, no?)

    There are mutually exclusive Christian doctrines, yes. Is that what you mean? But if you mean that it necessarily implies the canard that those holding to one doctrine assume they have “the one true faith” and others are going to hell then you are wrong. In my own church in would be hard to find any two people who do not hold some incompatible doctrines.

  35. says

    I’d still really, really like to hear about the progress have you made on the “problem of suffering.”

    Oh brother. Is it not clear to you that what I wrote in #17, the entire comment, was to mock you?

    Yes, I think the whole shtick of Christianity is getting people to feel awful about being human so that they think they need God. What’s your point here? Do you agree?

    No.

  36. doublereed says

    And Christians acknowledge their self-hatred all the time. It’s not hidden at all. “I’m a sinner! I’m not worthy! Forgive me for my sins!” etc. I think it’s rather odd that you’re saying Christians aren’t self-hating. It’s a major part of worship.

  37. doublereed says

    No what? You don’t agree?

    Jesus heddle respond! Are you just being contrarian? I don’t get it. You’re weird.

  38. says

    dr #38

    Sure. That’s a solid proof by definition: I am a sinner == I hate myself, all Christians are self-loathing. QED.

  39. doublereed says

    Uhm. Yes. People who are okay with who they are don’t go on and on about their sinfulness. QED. Pretty obvious. I’m glad you agree?

  40. doublereed says

    Like seriously I’ve been to plenty of Christian services by multiple denominations. It’s ALL about how horrible and bad us humans are so we need God. It’s horrible and hateful. Who thinks that about their fellow man? Sheesh.

  41. doublereed says

    I’ve written a one-act play entitled “heddle”

    “WAAAAAAAA!!! The mean atheists don’t like my twisted weird religious ideas! They just don’t understaaaaaaand them! And I don’t want to explain them because they’re such obviously bullshit that even I know they’re stupid! WAAAA!!! Why can’t they understaaaaaand me when I don’t tell them anything??? WAAAAAA!!!!”

    *bows*

    Thank you.

  42. steve oberski says

    Hey heddle, you made a very specific claim about xtians struggling mightily to find a theodicy and make progress on the “problem of suffering.” .

    Were you mocking us then as well ?

    I can certainly understand, given your redoubtable humility, that you might not want to take credit for such progress personally, but perhaps you could, in a gentle, non-mocking way, as is your wont, give us a heads up on the progress to date.

  43. says

    but perhaps you could, in a gentle, non-mocking way, as is your wont, give us a heads up on the progress to date.

    I know of no progess. IMO a satisfactory theodicy remains the great unsolved problem in Christian theology. I don’t think any progress has been made on it. Ever.

  44. steve oberski says

    Hey heddle, Jonathan Swift was an essayist and political commentator, not a playwright.

    But perhaps you are mocking us once again.

  45. steve oberski says

    Hey heddle, do you think any progress will ever be made or is it just wanking ?

  46. says

    Hey heddle, Jonathan Swift was an essayist and political commentator, not a playwright.

    But perhaps you are mocking us once again.

    Not “us”, just you, given that you don’t seem to get that he is known primarily as one of world’s great satirists. Or at least you missed the boat that I was commenting on satirical ability, not on genre. I mean, really–that should have been clear.

  47. says

    Hey heddle, you have confused parody with satire.

    Oh, OK, mea culpa. You are correct. You have won an important victory.

  48. steve oberski says

    But hey heddle, enough about you and me, as fascinating as that may be.

    Let’s get back to the “problem of suffering” and your mighty struggles on said problem.

    Given that no progress has been made, after what even you must admit is a very long time, do you think that it’s time for xtians to close shop on the “problem” and admit that the problem never actually existed except in the minds of delusional sociopaths ?

  49. says

    do you think that it’s time for xtians to close shop on the “problem” and admit that the problem never actually existed except in the minds of delusional sociopaths ?

    Let me think about that, since you asked in such an elegant manner, carefully and admirably avoiding revealing your presuppositions, not begging the question at all, I would have to answer…
    no.

  50. doublereed says

    I’m glad heddle liked my play. It took a lot of work and I thank my parents for giving me the courage to pursue what I love.

    So I guess heddle’s just a troll or something because he/she obviously won’t engage in any meaningful way. What a strange person…

  51. steve oberski says

    Hey heddle, how long do you think xtians should work on the “problem of suffering” before they give it up as intractable ?

    @doublereed, it’s baby jebus you should be thanking for your formidable literary talents.

    Hey heddle, most of my questions are of a rhetorical nature, I don’t actually expect a meaningful answer from you, and so far you have not disappointed.

    @doublereed heddle is actually Dr. David Heddle , Associate Professor at CNU, B.S., M.S., Ph.D, Carnegie Mellon and teaches in Physics and Computer Science. While I find his ideas disgusting he is probably one of the smarter (certainly smarter than me) people to comment on this blog. I find it especially ironic that he would lecture our blog host and fellow physics researcher on the fine points of xtian theodicy. It’s like a Melanesian Cargo Cult adherent explaining the workings of his empty husk of a TV set.

  52. doublereed says

    @55

    What, Associate Professors can’t be trolls online now?

    He’s not lecturing anyone on anything. Seriously, his last point was comment #4 where he claimed “The doctrine of original sin explains why infants, like adults, need a savior.” Savior from what, I’m not sure, because he hasn’t clarified (even after I asked him multiple times), so I’m just going to assume it has to do with human’s innate evilness and disgustingness so we should all praise God. Pretty much my whole point.

    He hasn’t said anything substantive since comment #4. He’s just been nitpicking and being caustic. Like a troll.

  53. says

    He hasn’t said anything substantive since comment #4. He’s just been nitpicking and being caustic. Like a troll.

    Let’s examine your desire for a serious discussion:

    I couldn’t but lol at your claim that you solved the problem of suffering. That shit is hilarious. You’re adorable.

    Go on, then. Tell me the purpose of original sin besides getting people to hate themselves so that they will pathetically ask God to forgive them for nothing.

    And why are you saying that God’s omnibenevolence is trivially wrong when Christianity itself is trivially wrong.

    It’s ALL about how horrible and bad us humans are so we need God. It’s horrible and hateful. Who thinks that about their fellow man? Sheesh.

    I’ve written a one-act play entitled “heddle”

    These are representative of your comments. I’m the troll? Pot. Kettle. Black. I don’t accept that you get to ask questions in a smart-ass manner and then expect a serious reply.

  54. steve oberski says

    @doublereed

    I don’t disagree with your assessment of heddle as troll, but he’s not your typical knuckle-dragging bible babbler.

    Certainly a moral and ethical cretin and I think very uncomfortable in the belief system he’s adopted given that his most substantive arguments, as you have pointed out, are a) you make baby jebus cry; and b) you’re not smart enough to understand what I’m saying.

    I’ve yet to see heddle answer any question, no matter how phrased, in a substantive manner, and given the subject material that is hardly surprising.

    Not to mention a very limited set of canned replies, expect to see his no true xtian argument soon, with examples from the church he attends, where apparently all members exemplify his one true brand of xtianity.

    Much like the ideal gas, the point, the infinite plane, the perfectly compressible gas and the infinitely elastic material, none of heddle’s true xtians have actually ever been observed in nature.

    About all they are good for is describing what a theoretical xtian, which is apparently an xtian that shares the same delusions as heddle, might do in a given circumstance, but only if there was an observer – which there will never be.

  55. says

    I’ve yet to see heddle answer any question, no matter how phrased, in a substantive manner, and given the subject material that is hardly surprising.

    Really? Myabe you outht to look at #36 where John Morales asked some questions in a quasi-non-smartass way and I tried to answer them. Of course I’m guessing when you say “I’ve yet to see heddle answer any question, no matter how phrased, in a substantive manner” I susect that what you really means is “I have yet to see heddle simply cave and admit that his religion is full of moneky poo in spite of the fact that our arguments are such reasoned and compelling slam-dunks.”

  56. doublereed says

    heddle, this:

    Go on, then. Tell me the purpose of original sin besides getting people to hate themselves so that they will pathetically ask God to forgive them for nothing.

    is not a smartass question. It’s totally legit. I honestly have no idea what your position is, because you haven’t given it. I have no idea what the purpose of original sin is other than self-hatred. I’m not a Christian and have never been a Christian. By all means, enlighten me.

  57. says

    is not a smartass question. It’s totally legit. is not a smartass question. It’s totally legit.

    It is not a legit question because you embedded your own answer into the question. But OK, here goes:

    I don’t know how to answer that question. Do you mean from an anthropological perspective or from a Christian theological perspective? As to the former, by which you might ascribe a purpose (to control/intimidate the masses, or something like that) I have nothing to say. As for the latter there is no “purpose” for original sin in Christian theology. It is a condition that just is. (A badly named one–both “Original Sin” as it is commonly called and “Total Depravity” as Calvinists call it are bad names– moral inability is a less sexy but more accurate name, IMO). In Christian theology Original Sin doesn’t have a purpose, it’s a problem in need of a solution–i.e., mankind needs a savior/redeemer.

  58. doublereed says

    I mean from a personal perspective. Why would anyone want to believe in original sin? As I said, Judaism has the story of Adam and Eve without the weird idea of “original sin.”

    And no, I didn’t embed my own answer. I’m telling you what I believe, because I’m trying to have an honest discussion. That involves being direct about what I believe, rather than being wishy-washy and never giving me a straight answer. So yes, I’m going to say that Christianity is trivially false and incoherent, I’m going to say that I don’t like the human-hating aspects of Christianity. Because that’s my position and I’m being forthright about it.

    You can still engage with someone on the actual points and have a substantive discussion even though we have different opinions.

  59. doublereed says

    As a humanist I care about how the doctrine affects people. So when I speak about purpose I mean “what purpose does it serve the individual? How does this affect the Christians who follow this?” That kind of thing.

  60. Nick Gotts says

    heddle,

    In Christian theology Original Sin doesn’t have a purpose, it’s a problem in need of a solution–i.e., mankind needs a savior/redeemer.

    But according to your theology, if I understand correctly, God is omnipotent, and everything that happens or exists does so by his will. So it surely follows that everything has a purpose, God’s purpose.

    I know of no progess. IMO a satisfactory theodicy remains the great unsolved problem in Christian theology. I don’t think any progress has been made on it. Ever.

    Given that – and it is certainly to your credit that you are honest enough to admit it – wouldn’t a rational person decide that this gaping flaw in their belief system indicated that said belief system is, in all likelihood, simply false? If not, why not?

  61. colnago80 says

    Re steve oberski @ #58

    It’s a lot of fun to watch ole Heddle bob and weave over the question as to whether the sun actually physically stood still in the sky for a day as claimed in the Book of Joshua.

  62. says

    As I said, Judaism has the story of Adam and Eve without the weird idea of “original sin.”,

    I am not an expert on Judaism, but certainly the OT is the primary source of scripture to support the doctrine. For example Ps. 51:5 states

    Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. (Ps. 51:5, NIV)

    which I think makes the doctrine clear: it is not (as some believe) that you are held accountable for Adam’s sin, as if you did it (which would make god unjust). No, it is far worse. It is the idea that even in the womb you are in a fallen state that renders you unacceptable in the eyes of god.

    How does this affect the Christians who follow this?

    I can only speak for myself. When I became a Christian in my 30’s I hated the doctrine. But then I came to love it–for the ramifications are that not matter how good we live we are not acceptable–we cannot save ourselves–we cannot please god at all. Therefore god has to do it all as an act of grace. That relieves the enormous pressure that I first felt when I thought that I had to earn a spot in heaven. It can’t be earned–because (according to this doctrine) we, prior to regeneration, are morally incapable of doing anything meritorious. It is a liberating doctrine that has (in my experience) exactly the opposite effect of increasing self-loathing. If you really want to hate yourself, put yourself in a situation where you think you have to be sinless or nearly sinless or even 50.0001 % sinless to be saved and see how much you hate yourself when you fail.

  63. says

    It’s a lot of fun to watch ole Heddle bob and weave over the question as to whether the sun actually physically stood still in the sky for a day as claimed in the Book of Joshua.

    It is debatable whether that is more fun than watching you advocate using nuclear weapons on Iran

  64. says

    Nick Gotts,

    But according to your theology, if I understand correctly, God is omnipotent, and everything that happens or exists does so by his will. So it surely follows that everything has a purpose, God’s purpose.

    Fair enough–it is more accurate to say that from a human perspective I can discern no purpose. I might assume that God had a purpose for the fall, but I do not know what it might be.

    wouldn’t a rational person decide that this gaping flaw in their belief system indicated that said belief system is, in all likelihood, simply false? If not, why not?

    Well some do claim to abandon the faith over “the problem of evil.” But I can only say that I do not find the lack of a solution troubling enough to cause angst. To me it is simply a lack of data. The bible begins with sin and evil already in the world, and never describes where it came from. The most you can say on the subject (from the bible) is that it teaches that a) god is not the author of sin and b) evil is not out of god’s purview (in the bible Satan is depicted as having to ask god’s permission to act)–that is, Christianity is not a religion of Dualism. Cosmic good vs. evil is the mother of all anti-symmetric battles as far as Christianity is concerned. (In fact the battle such as it was is over, and the good guys won.) Everything that has been done to try to solve the problem has relied heavily on nebulous philosophical reasoning, theories of free-will, etc., and not on scriptural support. (And then there is Dembski’s weird quantum sin traveled back in time theodicy–in a class by itself.) It is the bible’s silence on the question that for me indicates there will never be a satisfactory answer.

  65. doublereed says

    But then I came to love it–for the ramifications are that not matter how good we live we are not acceptable–we cannot save ourselves–we cannot please god at all. Therefore god has to do it all as an act of grace. That relieves the enormous pressure that I first felt when I thought that I had to earn a spot in heaven. It can’t be earned–because (according to this doctrine) we, prior to regeneration, are morally incapable of doing anything meritorious. It is a liberating doctrine that has (in my experience) exactly the opposite effect of increasing self-loathing.

    As far as I can see, you took the self-loathing to its extreme to the point where it’s a completely amoral doctrine. Like “yea, we’re all sinful, so whatever happens happens it’s all up to God anyway.”

    Like wtf do you mean we can’t do anything meritorious???? How can you possibly claim that’s not self-loathing??? That’s way more self-loathing than even I thought!

    What just happened???

  66. says

    Like wtf do you mean we can’t do anything meritorious???? How can you possibly claim that’s not self-loathing???

    There are many things I can’t do. I do not hate myself for my inability. Original sin (to me) means that we are born with the moral inability to please god. I would no more hate myself for that than for the fact that I was born with the athletic inability to hit a curve ball (ending my organized baseball career at age 13) and the intellectual inability to be a great scientist. But I might easily hate myself if I did have the ability to (please god, hit a curve ball, be great scientist) and I blew it.

    Please don’t make me tell my church that we all hate ourselves. It would make the next pot-luck a real downer.

    Off to the gym with my son.

  67. Mano Singham says

    steve @56,

    Please respect people’s desire to use pseudonyms and use only those and their comments under that name in these threads.

  68. doublereed says

    So by “moral inability to please god” you basically mean that we can’t be good and meritorious, right? Because that’s what we’re talking about, right? No matter what you do, even if it’s totally badass, helps hundreds of people, make a great work of art, raise your son with kindness and discipline, etc. etc. all of that gets you nothing because you’re so dirty and filthy because of original sin???? Holy crap, man.

    That’s some serious hatred of humanity with a side of depressing fatalism into the mix. Wow. That’s horrible.

  69. doublereed says

    Maybe this is why you refused to actually give your position before. Because your position is far more horrible and hateful than I expected. Yikes…

  70. steve oberski says

    @Mano SIngham @71

    Of course I will respect the rules of your blog and I apologize for “outing” heddle.

    I will point out however that the link associated with his posting user name (http://heb712.blogspot.com/) does fairly unambiguously identify him and is not indicative of a wish for anonymity.

  71. colnago80 says

    Re Mano Singham @ #71

    Prof. Heddle makes no secret of the fact that his first name is David and that he is an associate professor of physics and chairman of the math department at Christopher Newport University He has publicly provided this information in comments on Ed Brayton’s blog.

    Re steve oberski @ #34

    I seriously doubt that Prof. Heddle brings up his religious beliefs in his classes, which would be of doubtful legality as Christopher Newport Un. is a public institution, being part of the Un. of Virginia. Just for your information, my PhD thesis adviser is a born again Christian with rather more conservative religious and political views then those of Prof. Heddle and to my knowledge, never discussed those views in his classes. They’re just not relevant to the subject matter. At the time I knew him, he rejected the Theory of Evolution but that was in a private conversation. Incidentally, for what it might be worth, Prof. Heddle gets a 4.3 at the Rate my Professor web site, which ain’t chopped liver.

  72. Mano Singham says

    @steve,

    Sorry, I missed that. As blog host, I have some information about people that is not generally known and thus I tend to be doubly cautious about using only stuff that people actually say in their comments. But as you point out, any information that the poster provides on their own, like on a link to their own website, is fair game.

  73. steve oberski says

    @colnago80

    I didn’t mean to imply that heddle forced his religious views on students in a classroom setting and I don’t think that he does.

    I did interpret an earlier comment of his to mean that he did instruct some of his adult students on a voluntary basis in Sunday School but upon re-reading I think that was not a correct reading on my part.

    But to a certain extent his religious views must have some effect on all his actions. And his beliefs are so very, very loathsome.

  74. doublereed says

    I thought original sin was just that people are horrible and evil and need to better their nature to be acceptable to God. But heddle is saying that we’re so horrible and evil that we can never be acceptable God.

    Am I crazy? This is what heddle is saying right? Like I thought I was being pretty direct and harsh in my comments before, but apparently I didn’t go far enough. Is this a usual interpretation of original sin?

  75. says

    But heddle is saying that we’re so horrible and evil that we can never be acceptable God.

    Well, not unless you are regenerated (born again) by a sovereign act of god’s grace, That’s Reformed Protestantism (Calvinism, if you will) 101.

  76. Nick Gotts says

    But I can only say that I do not find the lack of a solution troubling enough to cause angst. To me it is simply a lack of data. – heddle

    I wasn’t asking about your emotional reaction, but how you rationally justify accepting a theology that has such a gaping flaw. According to your theology, everything that happens is God’s will, therefore sin and evil and suffering are God’s will, so to say that “God is not the author of sin”, as you say the Bible says, is absurd. To say that it’s God’s will but he’s not the author of it is just nonsense.

    It is the bible’s silence on the question that for me indicates there will never be a satisfactory answer.

    So how can you rationally justify taking the Bible as the final authority on the nature of the human condition, when it completely fails to answer such a fundamental question?

  77. doublereed says

    Well, not unless you are regenerated (born again) by a sovereign act of god’s grace, That’s Reformed Protestantism (Calvinism, if you will) 101.

    I have absolutely no idea what that means. You mean like a ritual or something? Or does somebody just go “been regenerated, halleluyah!” at some point during their lives? What does a ‘sovereign act of god’s grace’ mean? Like, in practical terms?

  78. busterggi says

    Heddle actually did post the explaination of why Christianity needs the doctrine of ‘original sin’ a few posts up. To quote, “In Christian theology Original Sin doesn’t have a purpose, it’s a problem in need of a solution–i.e., mankind needs a savior/redeemer.”

    In short, its an excuse that Christians developed for why their religion should exist. Without ‘original sin’ no redeemer is need, hence no Jesus need existed – and no Christian authority based on Jesus is about to admit that. So even though the whole Adam & Eve story is obviously a fairy tale it must be believed to justify the existance of the Christian church’s power structures.

  79. Nick Gotts says

    So even though the whole Adam & Eve story is obviously a fairy tale it must be believed

    Quite a lot of Christians (I believe heddle is one) do recognise that there were no such people, but still hang on to the idea of “original sin”, with a variety of waffly pseudo-explanations of what the term means without the story that was originally claimed to justify it. Heddle prefers to rename it “moral inability to please God”, and at least is honest enough to admit he can’t explain why an omnipotent being should have chosen to make people who were bound to disappoint him. A difficult childhood, perhaps, with parents who were continually showing they were disappointed in him? As part of a piece of performance art? Just to give him an excuse to torture them? Given that the infallible guide to the meaning of life, the universe and everything doesn’t say, we can only speculate.

  80. steve oberski says

    It is debatable whether that is more fun than watching you advocate using nuclear weapons on Iran

    Hey heddle, your concern for modern day Iran is quote touching, but somewhat confusing, given your defence of the slaughter of the very same people by the old testament “chosen people” at the behest of your imaginary friend.

  81. steve oberski says

    @doublereed What does a ‘sovereign act of god’s grace’ mean? Like, in practical terms?

    As far as I can understand this, it means that no act that you or I perform will have any effect on whether heddle’s capricious imaginary friend will grant us salvation. From our point of view it’s entirely random as to whether we are “saved”.

    God preordained, for his own glory and the display of His attributes of mercy and justice, a part of the human race, without any merit of their own, to eternal salvation, and another part, in just punishment of their sin, to eternal damnation.

    John Calvin

  82. colnago80 says

    Re Heddle @ #37

    Just for the information of the good professor, I have revised my recommendations relative to the prevention of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons which I assume that even Heddle thinks might not be a bad idea, and have so stated in a comment over at Kaveh’s blog on this network . After some research on the subject, it is now my view that bunker buster bombs would be sufficient to get the job done, provided that the attack is carried out by US forces. If it is left to Israel to get the job done, I am afraid that nuclear weapons would have to be used as they have no capability of delivering bunker buster bombs with their available aircraft. They would be forced to use nuclear tipped cruise missiles fired from their Dolphin class submarines. stationed in the Persian Gulf.

  83. doublereed says

    @85 steve

    Even more vicious and human-hating than I thought. It baffles me to see heddle claim that Christians secretly hate themselves when they’re so blatant about it. Apparently christians (at least the followers of Calvin) think we all deserve eternal hell and suffering.

    At think this is a great time to point out what heddle said in #32:

    Although the people I know did seem to miss the memo about hating themselves. I’m guessing we hate ourselves but are too weak-minded to see it or acknowledge it? But you–you can see it in us? Is that about right?

    Yea, apparently Christians don’t hate themselves! See! Even though they constantly talk about how horrible they are and have a philosophy that says we deserve to burn in hell for just being human! But they don’t hate themselves! Of course not. That’s silly. They just think we’re all wretched horrible creatures.

    Amazing. Just amazing.

  84. Crimson Clupeidae says

    [God] isn’t omnibenevolent. There is no place in the bible that describes god as omnibenevolent. Just ask the “ites” in Joshua’s path during the conquest. Not to mention that the bible teaches that some are sent to hell and eternal torment. Not a very benevolent action on god’s part, wouldn’t you agree? There is probably nothing easier to demonstrate from scripture than a refutation of god’s omnibenevolence. You do know what the prefix omni means, right? And without the strawman of omnibenevolence to defend, the age-old “conundrum” you tried to use as a gotcha simply dissolves into the aether.

    Although we could probably play biblical quote bingo and find multiple passages that suggest that god is omnibenevolent, let’s skip that and focus on this statement:

    There is probably nothing easier to demonstrate from scripture than a refutation of god’s omnibenevolence.

    There is nothing ‘easy’ to demonstrate about anything from scripture. Depending on the context, just about everything (not quite everything….) is disupted elsewhere.

    For instance: how many gods are there? The bible names at least half a dozen (and calls them gods).

    Mano’s post about original sin is not a strawman, nor is the idea of god (Yahweh?) being omnibenevolent. It’s a common belief, amongst believers. It’s not an ‘atheist strawman’ of religious belief at all. Whether heddle thinks it’s mistaken or not is another story, but that’s why there’s something like 30k+ different ‘versions’ of xinanity (intentional (mis)spelling).

  85. says

    dr,

    Yea, apparently Christians don’t hate themselves! See! Even though they constantly talk about how horrible they are and have a philosophy that says we deserve to burn in hell for just being human! But they don’t hate themselves! Of course not. That’s silly. They just think we’re all wretched horrible creatures.

    I see your point. That fact that we neither feel as if we hate ourselves, nor that we hate one another, nor that we hate atheists (whom we do not even think or talk about that often, truth be told), etc. is trumped by your analysis that doesn’t even rise to the level of psycho-babble. Your are certain we hate ourselves, therefore we hate ourselves. Got it.

    cc,

    There is nothing ‘easy’ to demonstrate about anything from scripture. Depending on the context, just about everything (not quite everything….) is disupted elsewhere.

    “Easy to demonstrate” does not mean everyone will agree (duh)–in any “soft” field, theology, philosophy, etc. “Easy to demonstrate” (this really shouldn’t require explanation) means something like I could in fact debate the point with someone who claims that the bible teaches of God’s omnibenevolence and easily win on points with unbiased reasonable judges. It means I can make a compelling case, even in the face of counter-arguments. And I can. Anyone arguing for god’s omnibeneolence can easily be pushed into a corner where they have make ridiculous claims about how it is actually benevolent of god to send people to eternal torment.

    Mano’s post about original sin is not a strawman,

    Yes it is. It was a caricature of Christians that we sweep the problem of suffering under the rug and just say “it was the fall.” The belies the fact that for two millenia Christians have tried to tackle the problem of suffering and the problem of evil. It would have been defensible if not accurate to have said, instead, that “Christians have no good answer for the problem of suffering.”

    nor is the idea of god (Yahweh?) being omnibenevolent

    It is when it is used in a tiresome variant of “God cannot be omnipotent and omnibenevolent” (gee, never heard that one!) without an acknowledgement that while, yes, there are many Christians who say “god is benevolent” there are many who do not. You gyus (not me) are playing the “No True Christian” gambit. For you, a “True Christian” is one who holds to the doctrines we want to attack. It is not sporting for me to point out that you are using strawmen.

    Whether heddle thinks it’s mistaken or not is another story, but that’s why there’s something like 30k+ different ‘versions’ of xinanity

    Give atheism some time! There are atheists, dictionary atheists, gnu atheists, A+ atheists, slyme atheists, libertarian atheiets, sjw atheiests, feminists atheists, mra atheists, scientific atheists, pseudo-scientific atheists, etc. Pretty much at each others’ throats. You guys have this “unity” thing all figured out!

  86. doublereed says

    I see your point. That fact that we neither feel as if we hate ourselves, nor that we hate one another, nor that we hate atheists (whom we do not even think or talk about that often, truth be told), etc. is trumped by your analysis that doesn’t even rise to the level of psycho-babble. Your are certain we hate ourselves, therefore we hate ourselves. Got it.

    It’s literally a fundamental part of your philosophy, which you fully and completely admit. You have no argument, which is why you aren’t presenting one.

    All you’re saying is “Look, just because Christianity says that humans are evil, wretched creatures doesn’t mean Christianity hates humanity!” Literal nonsense. Straight-up cognitive dissonance. You might as well say that the blue sky is pink and that kangaroos are sometimes geese.

    At this point you may as well just admit that Christianity is an anti-human religion, but that’s okay because humans really are that terrible and evil. It would save you a lot of time. Therefore Christians do hate themselves and the dissonance is resolved. But what you’re doing here is just silly.

  87. says

    Straight-up cognitive dissonance. You might as well say that the blue sky is pink and that kangaroos are sometimes geese.

    Nope. Doesn’t follow. You need to brush up on logic, and on the definition of cognitive dissonance. To wit: it is when I feel tension between two positions that I hold–not when you think I should feel tension. I don’t feel any tension among my positions. Therefore no cognitive dissonance.

    You got nothing beyond declaring that we are self-loathing because–I don’t know–you think we should be. It is as dumb as when Christians make blanket statements as to how they are certain that atheists find no meaning in their lives. You are making exactly the same mistake. You really should stop–it makes you look bad.

  88. John Morales says

    heddle @89:

    It [Mano's characterisation of the doctrine of Original Sin*] was a caricature of Christians that we sweep the problem of suffering under the rug and just say “it was the fall.” The belies the fact that for two millenia Christians have tried to tackle the problem of suffering and the problem of evil. It would have been defensible if not accurate to have said, instead, that “Christians have no good answer for the problem of suffering.”

    The reality of suffering is only a problem if (as Christians do) one imagines that the world was a designed creation by a creator with a fundamentally benevolent intent; otherwise, it’s an expected consequence of the natural world.

    * Whether it’s considered literally (as by most Christian denominations) or allegorically (as by you).

    Sorry, but there is no denying that the Babble justifies suffering as the result of disobedience to God by people who did not know right from wrong when they disobeyed; that is, suffering is punishment for failing to blindly obey a diktat.

  89. doublereed says

    Wow, heddle. Do you seriously not see the contradiction? I could try to draw a picture. But if you’re really going to feign ignorance like this then it makes me want to explain further.

    This is the line:

    Look, just because Christianity says that humans are evil, wretched creatures doesn’t mean Christianity hates humanity!

    Now, if I said that Jews are evil, wretched creatures would you consider that Anti-Semitic? If I said that gays are evil, wretched creatures, would you consider that homophobic? If I said that Christians were evil, wretched creatures then would you say that that is Anti-Christian?

    So why, when you say it about humanity in general, is that not anti-human? And if you have an anti-human philosophy while being human, that would be self-loathing. You see, I don’t have the philosophy that humans are worthless, terrible beings. That’s not part of what I think about the world. I think humans are a lot of fun. Some of my best friends are human.

    Are you really this dense? Do I need to make a picture in MS Paint? Because I will absolutely do so if you’re still confused, or if you still do not recognize the contradiction. This isn’t complicated stuff.

  90. says

    Now, if I said that Jews are evil, wretched creatures would you consider that Anti-Semitic?

    Maybe baby steps will help you and see why your analogy is an epic FAIL.

    Reformed Christian theology (and any that affirms original sin) argues that humans are wretched creatures in the eyes of a holy god. It is by that yardstick we are wretched, not by comparing us to one another.

    This is perhaps best demonstrated in the book of Isaiah 6:5 when Isaiah encounters (a vision of) god:

    “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”

    Isaiah felt his wretchedness not in comparison to other humans–but he felt it to a debilitating degree in the presence of god.

    Your anti-semitic analogy is an epic FAIL because anti-semites believe that Jews are wretched relative to other peoples. Likewise for you homophobic and anti-Christian analogies. Do you think you can grasp the distinction? It’s not very subtle.

    I don’t know how to dumb this down any further. You are projecting on to us feelings of self-loathing which we do not have–because it fits your neat little pigeon-holed view. (And, amazingly, you actually think your “observation” is somehow clever.) Again, it is exactly the same mistake some Christians use when they attribute to atheists feelings and attributes that they simply “must have” because, well they must.

  91. doublereed says

    Reformed Christian theology (and any that affirms original sin) argues that humans are wretched creatures in the eyes of a holy god. It is by that yardstick we are wretched, not by comparing us to one another.

    No, nothing is comparative. It is absolute. We are wretched or not wretched, because everything is “in the eyes of a holy god.” You can say that it’s comparative, but I don’t think Christians actually make such subtle distinctions at all. In fact the distinction doesn’t even make sense. How can humans be wretched in comparison to each other? What the fuck does that even mean?

    You’re still saying that humans are wretched. I don’t say that. I would never say that. That’s horrible.

    What part of this don’t you understand? I don’t think humans are wretched by ANY yardstick. I like humans! Are you processing that? Do you understand why I think this is horrible?

    Just because you say “We’re so horrible and wretched which makes you, O God, so much better than us so let’s praise you lots and lots” does not mean you aren’t degrading yourself as a human being. You’re just degrading yourself to make God look even more wonderful. That’s still anti-human. That’s still self-loathing.

    I don’t know how to dumb this down any further. You are projecting on to us feelings of self-loathing which we do not have–because it fits your neat little pigeon-holed view. (And, amazingly, you actually think your “observation” is somehow clever.) Again, it is exactly the same mistake some Christians use when they attribute to atheists feelings and attributes that they simply “must have” because, well they must.

    Okay, you have to argue with me, not the person you have in your head. I have not demonstrated this in any way. You just made an argument saying that it’s comparative and not absolute, but then you ruined it by this nonsense. I have carefully explained why I think Christian philosophy is an anti-human philosophy (regardless of whether you think my explanation is accurate), so why are you pretending I have never done this? Don’t be weird.

    When the fuck did I say by observation is clever? I find it shocking and stunning that Christians themselves don’t recognize it. There’s nothing clever about it at all. It’s obvious. Once you see it, you find it in every sermon. It’s all about how either we’re so terrible that God is wonderful, or that we can’t be good without God working through us, as if we need God to do that.

  92. says

    That’s still self-loathing.

    Uncle. I give up. If you are happy with your fantasy that we are self-loathing then you are welcome to it. You can hang out with your intellectual counterparts who say “atheists have no meaning in their lives.”

  93. doublereed says

    I have not once talked about “feelings of self-loathing” btw. I have talked about how Christians revel in degrading themselves as ‘sinners’ and how they aren’t “worthy” and how they deserve horrible things to happen to them.

    You have offered nothing in response other than “Pffff! That doesn’t mean we hate ourselves! STUPID!” or “Well I don’t FEEL like we hate ourselves!” which are not arguments. Feelings are not arguments.

    What you’re supposed to do is talk about how Christianity lifts up humanity and makes people feel better about themselves, or makes us embrace each other and our shared humanity. Or something. That would be an argument. But for some reason you aren’t doing that. Instead, you’re just being childish.

  94. doublereed says

    Uncle. I give up. If you are happy with your fantasy that we are self-loathing then you are welcome to it. You can hang out with your intellectual counterparts who say “atheists have no meaning in their lives.”

    I think you’re taking the idea of a “self-loathing philosophy” far too personally. Look, I understand that Christianity is part of your identity, but you have to try looking at it from the outside once in a while. I’m on the outside, and have always been on the outside. I am perfectly willing to listen to your explanations.

    The difference is that one is a understanding the other person’s philosophy and recognizing the consequences, and the other is simply not recognizing the others’ philosophy (and using nonsense language like “meaning”). I simply think you’ve never considered Christian philosophy like this before and it’s jarring. But this is what I see when I see it, and I don’t understand why you don’t agree.

  95. busterggi says

    heddle: “Reformed Christian theology (and any that affirms original sin) argues that humans are wretched creatures in the eyes of a holy god. It is by that yardstick we are wretched, not by comparing us to one another.”

    Ah, so its only the god that loves us all that finds us wretched and hates us.

    Thank you for clearing that up with your sophisticated theology.

  96. says

    dr,

    I have not once talked about “feelings of self-loathing” btw

    Of course not. My bad. I see now that you must mean the unfasifiable claim that we hate ourselves but we don’t know it or feel it. But we must be self-loathing nonetheless–you say so. Sorry, I did infer that you were talking about self-loathing and that natually, I’d be aware of it (I’d feel it) if I hated myself or if I hate my fellow humans. Mea culpa.

    I misunderstood #13

    It’s the strongest reason imo that Christianity hates humans with so much ferocity

    and #29:

    Tell me the purpose of original sin besides getting people to hate themselves

    and #35

    he whole shtick of Christianity is getting people to feel awful about being human

    and #38

    And Christians acknowledge their self-hatred all the time.

    and #69

    As far as I can see, you took the self-loathing to its extreme to the point

    and #90

    Therefore Christians do hate themselves

    And, imagine this, all this expertise on our self-hatred and cognitive dissonance from someone who admits in #60:

    I’m not a Christian and have never been a Christian.

    Now, to be sure, never having never been a Christian you can still intelligently argue that we are hypocrites, that our religion is at odds with science, that it is not self-consistent, that is has been harmful, etc. That is certainly reasonable. But to hitch your wagon to a claim that we hate ourselves (while both doubling down and denying it)–the mind reels about your confidence in you preternatural ability to see inside our heads.

    I can make the same kind of ridiculous argument:

    “Um, deep down inside atheists know there is a god. They either lie about it or suppress it. Yep, they know there is a god and they hate him.”

    So prove to me that you don’t really believe in god and I’ll prove to you that I am not self-loathing.

  97. says

    busterggi

    Ah, so its only the god that loves us all that finds us wretched and hates us.

    Oh boy yeah. That is exactly what I wrote. That certainly follows. Yes indeed, using Pharynguloidal logic you can flawlessly derive from my claim that god is not omnibenevolent the inevitable conclusion that “god loves us all”. Except for Esau. What’s up with that?

    I simply think you’ve never considered Christian philosophy like this before and it’s jarring.

    Really, you think that? You think you have exposed me to a new criticism of Christianity that is rattling my cage? Is that what you actually think?

  98. doublereed says

    @heddle

    Okay. You have literally said that you think that you are wretched and deserve horrible things to happen to you. And yet you don’t hate yourself. What the fuck am I supposed to say to that?

    I was trying to be accommodating to Christians who say that they feel they don’t hate themselves. But I maybe you’re right, and I guess I just have to say that you do. If you’re going to use that against me like you just did, then fine, I won’t give you that. You’re just straight up self-hating, and you’re acting ridiculous and juvenile by saying that you don’t. Like a goddamn child throwing a tantrum.

    Really, you think that? You think you have exposed me to a new criticism of Christianity that is rattling my cage? Is that what you actually think?

    Yes. Am I incorrect?

  99. doublereed says

    Yes indeed, using Pharynguloidal logic you can flawlessly derive from my claim that god is not omnibenevolent the inevitable conclusion that “god loves us all”.

    That was not in response to your rejection of omnibenevolence. It was in response to “Reformed Christian theology (and any that affirms original sin) argues that humans are wretched creatures in the eyes of a holy god. It is by that yardstick we are wretched, not by comparing us to one another.”

    Please pay attention.

  100. says

    You’re just straight up self-hating, and you’re acting ridiculous and juvenile by saying that you don’t. Like a goddamn child throwing a tantrum.

    Uh huh. Because denying what someone says about what you think (no, you don’t really think what you think you think, you think what I, doublereed, say you think) is throwing a tantrum. Sure it is. Instead I’m obligated to prove to you that I don’t think tthe way I claim to think. If not, I am throwing a tantrum. By the same token you are obligated to prove to me that you do not really, deep in your heart, believe in god. Because if you don’t prove it then you are throwing a tantrum.

    Yes. Am I incorrect?

    Your challenge to Christianity is “you hate everyone, including yourselves, even though you might not know it.” Although you make a serious challenge for the title of Greatest Christian Critic Evah, I have to say that Bertrand Russell’s legacy is probably safe. But you’re probably just a tweak away. Keep trying!

  101. doublereed says

    But you’re admitting that everything I’m saying is totally true! As far as I can see, you agree with me about everything, you’re just being like “Yea but nya nya nya nya nya” or something. I don’t even understand what you disagree with me on.

    Your challenge to Christianity is “you hate everyone, including yourselves, even though you might not know it.”

    Why do you keep doing this? No it isn’t. I’m saying you DO know it. You keep saying it and repeating that you think everyone is horrible. Over and over again. Why the fuck are you pretending you don’t?

    FFS, you just said you think humans are wretched. You clearly know it. You clearly think it about everyone, including yourself. What more is there to say???

    Although you make a serious challenge for the title of Greatest Christian Critic Evah, I have to say that Bertrand Russell’s legacy is probably safe. But you’re probably just a tweak away. Keep trying!

    It’s just a perspective you’ve never heard before. I don’t understand your snark. Have you heard this argument before or not?

    Why are you being so weird?

  102. says

    doublereed,

    It’s just a perspective you’ve never heard before. I don’t understand your snark. Have you heard this argument before or not?

    My goodness. You actually do entertain the possibility that your insight is at least somewhat novel. Gee, I have never heard arguments along the lines of “Christians are hateful.” That caught me totally by surprise. My jaw is still on the floor.

    FFS, you just said you think humans are wretched. You clearly know it. You clearly think it about everyone, including yourself. What more is there to say???

    FFS no I didn’t. I did baby steps for you and you still missed it: I sad that humans are wretched relative to a holy god. Then you “declare” that that means when I look at another human I see wretchedness. But I don’t. I see a spectrum that varies from people who are very admirable, kind, generous, charitable and loving down to people who are selfish and hateful.

    You are saying that “no heddle, you do not see anyone as ‘kind, generous, charitable and loving’ because on the doublreedian absolute scale, if you acknowledge the human race is wretched relative to a holy god then, by doublereedian metrics, you are mathematically required to admit that you also find them wretched in your eyes.” In spite of the fact that I don’t. You simply declare–(Am I lying or deceiving myself, which is it?) that I do find them wretched.

    Somehow you have to learn the lesson (I’m not optimistic) that there is no such thing as “proof because doublereed says it must be so.”

    Oh, and why won’t you prove to me that you don’t believe in god? I am using Doublereedian Axiomatic Apologetics to declare that you do believe in god, even if you say you don’t.

  103. doublereed says

    My goodness. You actually do entertain the possibility that your insight is at least somewhat novel. Gee, I have never heard arguments along the lines of “Christians are hateful.” That caught me totally by surprise. My jaw is still on the floor.

    Well gosh, sorry for asking a question. Why are you so damn evasive about EVERYTHING. Jesus fucking christ. And clearly my argument is not just “Christians are hateful.” I don’t really understand why you simplify my argument so strangely.

    Do you think Christianity is an anti-human philosophy or not? (Maybe you’d rather than just say yes or no, rather than give sarcastic evasion for another four fucking posts).

    FFS no I didn’t. I did baby steps for you and you still missed it: I sad that humans are wretched relative to a holy god. Then you “declare” that that means when I look at another human I see wretchedness. But I don’t. I see a spectrum that varies from people who are very admirable, kind, generous, charitable and loving down to people who are selfish and hateful.

    First point: this is the first time in this entire thread you have said anything positive about humans. Why has it taken this long?

    Second point: Do you see wretchedness? Sure, you may see admirable, kind, charitable, loving people, but do you also see wretchedness? Because yes you have completely implied that when you see yourself and others you absolutely see wretchedness. So do you? I don’t know why I should care whether it’s comparative to God or not.

    If not, please explain further. I do not understand.

  104. doublereed says

    Let me look at what you wrote personally about the doctrine of original sin:

    I can only speak for myself. When I became a Christian in my 30′s I hated the doctrine. But then I came to love it–for the ramifications are that not matter how good we live we are not acceptable–we cannot save ourselves–we cannot please god at all. Therefore god has to do it all as an act of grace. That relieves the enormous pressure that I first felt when I thought that I had to earn a spot in heaven. It can’t be earned–because (according to this doctrine) we, prior to regeneration, are morally incapable of doing anything meritorious.

    See, it sounds to me like you do see yourself as wretched. In fact that seems to be a very important part of how you see yourself. How is this assessment incorrect?

  105. busterggi says

    heddle:, “my claim that god is not omnibenevolent”

    So why should I choose to worship a being that my well hate me no matter how much good I do and had determined to torture me for eternity before I was born?

    And tell, sweet heddle, me why you do worship that being knowing it may hate you for no reason other than it chose to and will condemn you for eternity?

  106. says

    You do realize (well, apparently not) that there is a long, long history of Christians both a) affirming the doctrine of original sin and b) struggling mightily to find a theodicy and make progress on the “problem of suffering.”

    Yeah, we realize that. We also realize that all that “struggle” has won us absolutely ZERO useful insights into human nature or the best response to human imperfections. A pointless struggle to pretend your stupid backward beliefs have anything decent to offer in the real world.

  107. says

    My own opinion is that the concept of “original sin” works best, not as a doctrine, but merely as a metaphor or analogy for human nature: we have a “higher nature,” which seeks wisdom, enlightenment, communion with the Divine, whatever; but we also have the “animal nature” because we evolved from animals, and that nature hinders our higher pursuits because we still have animal needs (food, shelter, companionship, reproduction, order, etc.) that compromise our freedom to engage in higher pursuits. Interpreted as metaphor, “original sin” merely says that humans are not fully able to achieve full communion with the Divine, and need help from “above” as it were to complete the journey. This is something a theist can acknowledge without having to believe that babies are tainted with sin or we all deserve to go to Hell from the moment we’re born, or whatever.

    It’s still a shitty analogy or metaphor, but it’s still better as metaphor than as a doctrine. The best way to talk about human nature, of course, is still to scrap the crappy old folktales and metaphors, and talk about the thing directly.

  108. says

    RB,

    Yeah, we realize that.

    There you go again with you the “we”, like when you don’t like what Ed writes and tell him that if he really believes that he is not as smart as “we” think. Are you ever going to stand on your own?

    A pointless struggle to pretend your stupid backward beliefs have anything decent to offer in the real world.

    Which in this discussion I never actually claimed. At issue from the OP was whether Christians sweep the problem of suffering under the rug, or (as I claimed) have a history of trying (but perhaps failing) to make progress. As usual you trolled, attempted a derail, and completely missed the boat.

  109. says

    I sad that humans are wretched relative to a holy god.

    Well, yeah, once you imagine a perfect supreme being, we’re all wretched relative to the perfect being that exists in your daydreams.

    Then you “declare” that that means when I look at another human I see wretchedness. But I don’t. I see a spectrum that varies from people who are very admirable, kind, generous, charitable and loving down to people who are selfish and hateful.

    If we’re all wretched relative to your holy god, than that “spectrum” you speak of is meaningless.

  110. says

    At issue from the OP was whether Christians sweep the problem of suffering under the rug, or (as I claimed) have a history of trying (but perhaps failing) to make progress.

    And your meaningless abstractions (and hypocritical diversionary tone-trolling) are a pretty strong indicator that, yes, doctrinaire Christians do indeed sweep the problem of suffering under the rug, at least when they’re blathering about doctrine.

    When they shut the fuck up about their idiotic doctrines and abstractions, and actually get to work, like Jesus himself did, that’s another matter.

  111. John Morales says

    Surely Heddle isn’t suggesting that the comparative wretchedness of humans in comparison to God is what is meant by “original sin”!

    (Must just seem like it to me)

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