Happy Thor’s Day
My loss of faith really started here. I can actually go back to a message I was preaching on sin and salvation through Christ and the fact this quote from Dan Barker from Losing Faith in Faith ( a book I still want to read) was rolling around in my head. I was trying to think of something that would make his assertion wrong. I got up preached the message and sat down. I can site this moment as the time my crisis of faith began. I realized he was right.
I realized there is no proof that sin rationally exists. I only believed that because that was what I was told by a preacher and read it in the Bible. Unless the Bible was truly inspired, then I had no natural or logical proof that there was this thing called sin, a sinful nature or my actions were righteous or sinful. God Himself had never come down and told me I was a sinner, that was men either in the form of preachers or the men who wrote the Bible. Over time, I began to realize that sin has the same problem as the inspiration of the Bible – the Bible asserts it but never proves it.
Going back to my pulpit moment, I sat there thinking and my faith started to unravel. I sat there thinking: “I make a living by telling people they are sinners so they will feel guilty, then they accept the ‘gospel’ and feel better. Out of gratitude they throw money in the basket and pay me. WTF.” It was a bad moment for me and one that led to my eventual downfall over two years later.
If you are a believer you take the existence of sin as purely a matter of faith. Basically, if you believe that sin exists, you do it for the same reasons you believe the Bible is inspired. You have faith it is true – you hope and believe it is true, but you do not have a proof or a rational argument to say it is true. The Bible writers assume sin is real and a problem. They never prove it, and the believer is left to take that sin exists as a reality and that God has solved it. You believe all that without rational evidence. It is purely a matter of faith.
I now think that sin is a man-made concept. It probably originally. like so many things might have had a good intention. To keep people from making bad decisions given the cultural context. I mean sex without birth control and modern medicine can lead to deadly diseases and unwanted pregnancies. So you tell people not to have sex except with people they are committed to and get married to so the child will be legitimate. The practical side of this is the lessened risk of STDs and unwanted pregnancies. It is a wise course of action.
When just showing the wisdom of this to others doesn’t work, you throw in the wrath of God to bring about a more forceful form of persuasion – tell them it’s a sin against God and He will bring down his wrath on the one who sins. This is where you make up the concept that sexual sin is an affront to God and he will send you to hell if you don’t repent of it and stop doing it. It is ultimately a fear tactic that uses guilt to prevent certain behaviors.
The dark side of this gets worse though as people genuinely think they’re taking the side of God when the punish sinners. The real problem with sin is that some people think they have risen above the concept of it. They feel qualified to judge others using their religious beliefs. It gets worse because the said concept can be held by people in power who wish to impose their views on people to create a ‘righteous society’. To force others to follow your moral code of some behaviors being sin and thus outlawed. The problem is the difficulty using reason to prove something is a sin. It’s not self-evident.
I don’t believe in sin as a theological concept anymore. I think in large part it is a bad one because all it does is produce guilt and then in a guilt-ridden state people can be manipulated. I haven’t looked at this fully but I have a theory a large part of religious people have a poor self-concept and that is because they have a large amount of guilt associated with their ‘sins’. This leads them to think they are bad or even evil people and the cycle of self-destruction begins. You spend a lot of time putting on masks at that point to protect yourself from the social wrath of being a sinner while at the same time being wracked with guilt because you can’t seem to escape your sin. If it sounds like I have been there – yep. I would say a lot of my initial causes of depression came from this struggle.
My theology about mankind has certainly changed since I discarded man as a sinner. I don’t think of myself as a sinner but simply a human being. I am not all-powerful, all-knowing or all-present; so I am going to make mistakes and there is really nothing I can do about it. I have needs that are normal. Wants that are normal. I have my reason and wisdom to guide me. I am not perfect and I make mistakes and have errors in judgment, but that doesn’t mean I am a sinner, just human. To me, life is no longer about overcoming sin and removing it from my life. Rather, it is about discovering the virtue in me and causing it to grow. And there is a virtue in who I am as a human being if I look for it and develop it. It about growing into the best human being I can be.
This is why spiritually speaking I spend more time meditating on the Nine Noble Virtues as a way to learn where I need to grow. I am not trying to get rid of sin out of my life, praying that God is gracious, etc. I have come to see some things as normal and human, not sinful. My goal now is to build character, not remove sin because I think sin is a made up imaginary concept. I meditate on the good things, not the bad things. I grow the good in me, rather than trying to deny my humanity by calling it sinful. I find it makes me much happier and far more at ease in this world.
After concluding that the Bible is a human book with no proof of inspiration and the sin is a concept made up by the writers of the Bible. There are only two things left on my four objections to Christianity. The first is the other imaginary thing the Bible creates which is the solution to sin being Salvation in Christ and finally, the god of the Bible seems to have very suspect standards of justice.
You will have to hang on a while though as next week I will talk about how I can as a Deist, Humanist Pagan celebrate Thanksgiving. The week after that I will talk about Why I am a Humanist. Then I will get to my third theological objection to Christianity on the first Thursday of December. The remaining schedule for Odin’s Eye for the year looks like this:
November 22 – Why I Celebrate Thanksgiving (as a Deist, Humanist Pagan).
November 29 – Why I Am a Humanist
December 6 – Objections to Christianity – Part 3 – Salvation through Christ – An Imaginary Man Made Solution.
December 13 – Why I Am A Pagan
December 21 – Yule
December 28 – Objections to Christianity – Part 4 – The Justice of the God (Hell)
Then it will be on to the New Year.
The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard, and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.