1. Akira MacKenzie says

    The first thing is that many Christians have a VERY negative view of the human condition. They typically think that as human beings we are deeply flawed or incapable of making reasonable and rational decisions.

    Oh, Christian self-loathing it can get even more abominable than that!

    During one of my temp-agency employment periods, I was assigned to help out (i.e. answering phones, delivering inter-office mail, cleaning CPR dummies) at the Milwaukee branch of the American Red Cross. One day, they were holding an anti-poverty conference and representatives of various public and private welfare agencies including… sigh… many local church groups.

    I was answering phones at the front desk that day, and in the waiting room there was a conversation between several of the attendees. I wasn’t really paying attention, but I perked up when I heard one of the guest ministers say (and I’m paraphrasing):

    “I think the black race owe whites so much, and has so ever since Ham was cursed by God for disrespecting his father, Noah. And I think that all the black man has suffered is directly linked to that event”

    WHAT! Did I just hear that? Here, at an anti-poverty conference in Wisconsin where many of the attendees are black and trying to help Milwaukee’s predominately African American poor? The “Curse of Ham” has been used by racists for centuries to give divine justification for the idea that blacks were “inferior” to whites as well as to slavery and segregation. This was the LAST place I’d thought I’d hear it. To make matters worse, the pastor in question was himself African-American!

    I was blown away, but I didn’t say anything; no sense jeopardizing my pay check if I challenged him. However, with friends like that, who needs the Klan?

  2. says

    Of course they have to sell original sin or else you’re not in the market for their brand of salvation. Say you’ve been going about your life, being a decent but probably flawed person, but you haven’t screwed anyone or done anything really bad, you probably aren’t thinking you need any redemption from a hard-to-believe story. But, OTOH, once you buy the idea that no matter what you’ve done with your life you’re evil and wicked and have sinned and will go to hell, then you’re panting for their redemption story. Never count out how good religion is at working up a good sales pitch.

  3. stonyground says

    Comment #2 made me think of Dan Barker commenting that Original sin is like them cutting you so that they can sell you a bandage. I suspect that Original Sin is also responsible for the idea that atheists must be evil. To people programmed to believe that without their religion they would be evil that must make logical sense.

  4. anuran says

    #4 stonyground…
    It’s not just Christians. It’s not about Original Sin. Believers in other religions think think anyone outside their club is evil and depraved.

  5. DLC says

    Well, there’s the original sin thing, and the “what happens when we die ?” thing. Ken Ham and Kirk & Ray love the “what happens when we die?” question. it makes them happy to dream of people who think we just cease to be actually roasting in hell, tortured for all eternity for being rational. Me, I do not rejoice at the idea of anyone dying, not even Ken, Kirk and Ray. But it gives me a chuckle to think, that when the time comes, they will be just as non-existent as I will when my own end comes.

  6. says

    Original sin: ah, this brings back memories. There’s nothing like being six years old, and feeling thoroughly guilty and ashamed for existing — and by extension, for being born. The whole idea that living and breathing made one criminally burdensome on the cosmos, and that we all should reasonably burn in Hell for all eternity, seemed like such a screw deal, and yet somehow so real. I’m grateful to end that tradition with my generation, and to let my kids grow up without having that thought in the back of their minds.

  7. madknitter says

    scotlyn @ #6

    I believe the Catholics believe that original sin is present from the moment of conception. I wonder if that is one reason the RCC doesn’t like IVF, since there is no sexual intercourse by which to transmit the original sin. Does that mean that babies conceived by IVF are sinless?

  8. leonpeyre says

    It’s well said and well reasoned; she’s obviously a very thoughtful writer. She should be invited to speak at atheist conferences!