This idea can have logic and great value even for an atheist.
Not that long ago I offered for some angry people to kick my head in, to prove a point about how men should treat women (i.e. don't bully them). (I guess they didn't have the heart to do it.)
Among the many interpretations which can be placed on the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus, we can say this:
Jesus went to his death willingly - in that he knew it was going to happen, and didn't run away, when he could have done - in order to prove and illustrate a point. That point was his life's work (well, the last 3 years'). One of his main lessons was that we can all be given the chance for our sins to be forgiven, provided we earn it and do the necessary real work involved. Provided we go to our Crucifixion willingly. If he can get himself crucified, we should be up to saying sorry and putting things right when we have to. We should be humble enough to suffer for what we have done. We should be humble enough to let something go instead of escalating to some kind of blood feud.
He also forgave the people who were crucifying him.
By dramatically illustrating the idea that God can forgive our sins, will always give us a second chance to make good: life became possible, life became good, life became fruitful. Instead of nasty, brutish and short. Hence the Resurrection.
@Dave - I know it sounds like that, and you would think it's a contradiction in terms, but this is a useful and valid concept for an atheist right up until the point where we say YAHWEH. It just depends on making a careful definition.
You've still not explained how it is useful, save perhaps for those atheists who still really wish they believed and want to keep the religion thing going.
It's about as useful and valid a concept as the tooth fairy or fairies.
I actually met a tooth fairy once, he was a gay dentist --
Oh, come on, it's funny and you know it is!
"what is the hardest sin to forgive, but that in which we struggle to forgive ourselves."
and in others too. I find that the attitude which people have towards others is the same as that which they have towards themselves. This kind of street knowledge really needs to be codified and put to good use.
I think Simon may just have found a soul-mate in Barry, the admitted theist - no insult intended for you, Barry (though I can certainly see why you might think so - I see it as one-sided).
Shouldn't you toddle off to Christian Mingle, Simon? There are far more of your kind over there.
@Belle - I think the best thing to do is to stick to what Jesus said. This is a difficulty with the bible - it's so all over the place.
The concept of spirituality is not that complicated, but it is dreadfully abstract in its simple form, and human life just isn't like that. From that simple set of ideas flows an entire ... what exactly? I don't know what to call it. Religion, way of life, salvation.
The Garden of Eden can be seen as a part of this concept, if we wish. I haven't found any other interpretation which makes sense. Instead of "the fruit of the tree of knowledge" we can say "the ego and its delusion of beliefs, opinions and ideas which we mistake for reality, and its delusion of separateness, which together lead us to behave mistakenly and selfishly". Thereby getting ourselves kicked out of an innocent paradise. It's very possible that the authors of the Garden of Eden story were instinctively groping after this concept, which is at the heart of every religion.
Let me rephrase that for yhou Paynton, just to infuse it with a little accuracy: "@Belle - I think the best thing to do is to stick to what an anonymous author, writing 30-100 years after the alleged event, who was never there, basing his story entirely on hearsay and his imagination, said that Yeshua said."
There, much better.
RE: "the original sin was that Adam and Eve disobeyed God, wanting to become like him"
"The devil is a fallen angel."
Interestingly, "the devil" was given an exit interview for the same reason, he wanted to be like old what's his face - you'd think a supreme being would be better adjusted, psychologically.
I don't think the Garden of Eden metaphor describes sin at all. Sin is an act, but the GoE describes a state of being: either ego attachment (eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge; trying to be God; getting banished; being weighed down with earthly realities and suffering) or ego detachment (gambolling around in paradise like a little lamb) - Nirvana, enlightenment.
I think the link between ego attachment and sin is very abstract. The ego is the command and control centre of consciousness, partly subconscious, whose job it is to navigate you through the world and keep you safe and on an even keel.
As far as I can see, sin always falls into the category of "selfish bullying". The reasons for it are as much subconscious as conscious. It can be caused by weakness at one end of the spectrum and deliberate evil at the other end of the spectrum. It's caused when somebody can't handle reality - usually, their own weakness, smallness or other bad feelings - and they cause someone else to suffer for it, perhaps in an attempt to make themselves feel better. It can be said that it's the ego doing this - trying to make the person feel good again in whatever way it can - just doing its ego job after all. This is why the ego has to be transcended or trained - in its immature, undeveloped form, it only wants to look out for No. 1, not the wider situation.
Sounds to me like you've just told us your life story --
I feel sorry for you.
Again, that's why if we rely on the ego exclusively, then this crap never ends. It's just a dumb computer at the end of the day, not terribly clever at all in its own right, even though it thinks it has all the answers. We have to find another source of wisdom, whose ends the ego can then properly carry out as in subservience to a greater master.
"then this crap never ends." - i.e. the person can never be satisfied. Just look at how a troll has to go on repeating the same empty rubbish over and over again, or how people get addicted to wealth or achievement or pleasure, even.