Happy Thor’s Day
August 2019 Revision Notes:
It has been almost a year since I wrote these originally starting in November of 2018. When I got to the rotation in Odin’s Eye the last time where I was going to deal with these objections again, I saw no need for revision but rather simply laid it out there that no one had responded to them to that date and moved on into the rest of the Rotation for Odin’s Eye.
This time though I feel that I need to spend four weeks of Odin’s Eye doing some revisions that will either clarify my position, add some other thoughts or edit for other issues. Such edits will be marked by italics. When archived, they will appear under the original post on this Page: My Four Theological Objections to Christianity
Mostly though this is a cut and paste with some revisions. As the series goes on there will be more revisions as I can see the need for things to change a bit in the other three objections. In part two, I felt the need to add a few paragraphs for hopefully a clearer explanation.
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.
Now I want to emphasize that this does not disprove sin’s existence, but it puts on the same plane as believing in a lot of things that we believe exist but have no proof of. The issue then is should we order our lives on faith in the idea that man is sinful, or go based on our own observations of human nature and conclude that if anything we can have faith in the fact that all human beings are human.
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. Yes, I am saying that religion, particularly the Christian notion of sin, may have has a great deal of influence in causing my depressive issues.
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’s about growing into the best human being I can be.
Note: Unlike the atheist, I have not discarded the idea of a spiritual side to mankind at all, but rather I am saying that sin is not something I believe is real about it. Humanity is more complicated than he is all bad or all good.
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.
One good example of this is my changing attitudes about sex and sexual desire. I feel sexual desire is normal in humanity and it is normal to feel a sexual desire toward a lot of different people. Lust is made up to me unless you are using the term to describe passionate sexual desire which is neither good nor bad. What might be a factor in sexual desires is wisdom and reason saying that not all sexual interaction is beneficial. Some of it could be detrimental. The real issue is that sex in and of itself is not sinful in any form. Enjoy, but be smart and wise.
In my case, sexual fidelity is part of my marriage because that is the oath I swore as a Chrisitan that I still honor. If it wasn’t, having sex with another woman would not necessarily be a violation of fidelity as there is no sin to it, but one might challenge my wisdom. Like it or not people get jealous and envious and that can lead to relationship issues. There are also cultural expectations to consider which do have an effect on how a person is perceived. This is not about sin anymore is the point, but rather what effects it might have on relationships and troth issues may or may not be affected depending on the specific nature of oaths of fidelity.
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.
The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard, and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.