SIN! What a loaded word; and so many meanings! In this post, I am going to explore the only sin that matters, since all other sins stem from this root–the foundational sin. Genesis 3: Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden (the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil), neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” What was so important about this tree? “But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’”
You will BE LIKE GOD. That is the root, the foundation, the ultimate sin from which all other sins grow. You say “but I don’t want to be like God.” Who in your life defines good and evil? Do you? By what authority do you decide? If that authority is your own reason or logic, your own beliefs, do you question where those beliefs come from? Are you aware of what sources have influenced you? From various internet sources, I present below brief descriptions of how the major religions conceptualize sin, and what to do about it. Read carefully, because I have a quiz waiting for you at the end!
JUDAISM: Judaism teaches that human beings are not basically sinful. We come into the world neither carrying the burden of sin committed by our ancestors nor tainted by it. Rather, sin, chet, is the result of our human inclinations, the yetzer, which must be properly channeled. Chet literally means something that goes astray. It is a term used in archery to indicate that the arrow has missed its target. This concept of sin suggests a straying from the correct ways, from what is good and straight. Can humans be absolved of their failure and rid themselves of their guilt? Yes. In rabbinic Judaism, these ideas evolved into the concept of the two attributes of God, the attribute of justice and the attribute of mercy, the latter being the dominant mode of God’s activity. The attribute of mercy means that God gives respite to the sinner, not meting out His full punishment at once, but granting the sinner the opportunity to repent and thus be rid of the power of the evil inclination.
ISLAM: Muslim theologians explain man’s nature at birth as fitrah: state of intrinsic goodness. Like Adam, people are born pure and sinless. They are Muslims by birth, and salvation is intact, but they must do all in their power to maintain this status. Everyone is “accountable for what he himself inscribes upon the unblemished Tabula Rasa or tablet of his nature.”
HINDUISM: There is no concept of original sin in Hinduism. It is an aspect of a duality, its opposite being virtue or dharma. According to Hinduism, as in Christianity sin may arise from disobedience to God’s eternal law (Dharma). True, it is difficult to follow the laws of God, but it is an obligation for humans. Their mistakes can be forgiven if they uphold Dharma as a service to God. Further, the sins which they accumulate during their lives upon earth can be removed, neutralized or cleansed through austere self-effort and devotion to God.
BUDDHISM: Buddhists do not regard man as sinful by nature of ‘in rebellion against god’. Every human being is a person of great worth who has within himself a vast store of good as well as evil habits. The good in a person is always waiting for a suitable opportunity to flower and to ripen. Remember the saying, ‘There is so much that is good in the worst of us and so much that is bad in the best of us.’ Buddhism teaches that everyone is responsible for his own good and bad deeds, and that each individual can mould his own destiny. Man’s sorrow is of his own making and is not handed down by a family curse or an original sin of a mythical primeval ancestor. Buddhists do not accept the belief that this world is merely a place of trial and testing. This world can be made a place where we can attain the highest perfection. And perfection is synonymous with happiness.
SECULAR HUMANISM: Humanism is an ethical process through which we all can move, above and beyond the divisive particulars, heroic personalities, dogmatic creeds, and ritual customs of past religions or their mere negation. Leading Secular Humanist psychologists begin with the assumption that a personal God is a myth and that we are simply products of spontaneous generation and billions of years of evolution.
Because Secular Humanists deny the existence of the supernatural—including the mind, soul, and personality in any meaningful sense—they are left with the study of strictly material things: the brain, environmental stimuli, and tangible human responses to those stimuli. Monism is the belief that there is only one basic and fundamental reality, that all existence is this one reality. Psychological monism is the belief that the mind is part of the material body. Obviously, there is no concept of sin.
- What do these religions other than Christianity hold in common (hint, what is underlined)?
- Since they all insist that human beings can perfect themselves, where is the evidence? What does the evidence of history, or your own experiences, or observing untrained or unsocialized humans, actually show?
- Since all culture and laws are the outworking of the dominant religion of a nation, which of these religions has produced a nation of individual freedom and opportunity?
- How do the most vocal practitioners of each religion actually treat people of other religions (or each other, for that matter)? For a subset of this question: Based on how many they kill….Do Muslims hate Jews, Christians or Hindus the most? Do Hindus hate Muslims or Christians the most? Do Buddhists hate Muslims or Christians the most? Do secular humanists (and their favorite political system–Communism) hate Christians or Jews the most?
- What’s your scorecard say for mankind being able to perfect itself?
Since it should be patently obvious that any philosophy that says that mankind can perfect itself is bullshit, my next post will examine the truth.