I realise that I have already discussed this in the forum are of the site, but I wanted to post something in a blog form giving my full thoughts on the issue

So the topic I want to address in this blog is the Christian concept of “We are all born sinners” (otherwise known as Original Sin). As a non-Christian I personally do not believe we are all born sinners . But as the title suggests I believe we are all born innocent until proven guilty. 

But what is sin? From a Christian perspective you may get some various different answers whenever you ask this simple question to a Christian “What is a sin?”. Most Christians will tell you that it is a violation of “God’s Law”. And what is God’s law, Gods law in terms of the bible is what is deemed to be morally acceptable. 

So with that understanding when one says that “We are all born sinners”, they are actually saying that we are all born immoral. Lets think about that for a moment and what such a claim is entailing. These people believe that from the moment you are born you are automatically an immoral person. Despite having not perfumed not even one immoral act. This sort of belief is potentially very psychologically damaging. In has cause many Christians to go through life literally feeling guilty for simply being born. Because quite simply put the very simple act that they were born at all, is a sin. It is a sin to be born. The Christian religion and its scripture is actually preaching and teaching; that all human beings are born defective. 

But outside of the structure of belief there is no concept of sin as such. When someone performs a bad act its either deemed as illegal, or unethical etc. And understanding that religion requires indoctrination before one accepts or believes in it; it is therefore impossible to be born a sinner. Sinning is performing a bad deed against the Christian God’s law. Infants don’t automatically believe in this God from birth and therefore cannot be held responsible for breaking the laws of a religion they have not sworn any allegiance to. It would be like accusing all the Christians of haram for breaching Islamic beliefs. 

The only argument I have seen against this charge that Original Sin is a vast oxymoron is quite simply “It just means we are not born perfect”. Unfortunately such an argument is a contradiction of what many Christians accept to be sin and notably inconsistent wight he concept and belief of sin. Most Christians agree that sin, does not simply mean “imperfect”, it means to break God’s law, disobey God, perform an immoral act in the eyes of God. In short, a sin is performing a bad deed. It has nothing to do with perfection and I’m certainly not implying that anyone is born perfect either. This argument from perfection is a very weak argument indeed and holds no relevance to what sin really means by any understanding of the word. 

I fully reject any notion that we are all born defective or wilfully bad. I believe that we are all born innocent until proven guilty. We are born naive, innocent, unaware of the world we are entering; and have committed no crime. It is unjustified to deem the simple matter of being born as a crime. As the good old saying goes:

“it is the innocence of a child”

Views: 753

Comment by Dr. Bob on July 9, 2014 at 8:35pm
I like that @Joe. It's witty, though it does beg the question of what you have against cross-dressers.

@Keith, I agree with most of your analysis, but I'm afraid you've created a straw man of sorts. What you describe and argue against doesn't really correspond to the Christian notion of original sin. We would not disagree with you that a baby is born innocent. Indeed the arguments against abortion turn on the heinous nature of terminating the life of an innocent.

The notion of original sin is more along the lines that humanity is "fallen", and therefore in need of God's redeeming grace, collectively and individually. Perhaps like a mild inherited disease in need of compassionate treatment, to borrow a poor analogy from John Paul II.

"We are all born sinners," though, is generally used more colloquially. Like "he's a born pianist" means that the person has a natural talent for the piano or "he's a born crook" means the person has shown criminal tendencies for much of his life. That doesn't refer to original sin so much as refer to our common tendency to yield to temptation.

The Apple thing, though, is just nuts. Who would cause all that grief for a stupid apple? Now, if it were a warm chocolate chip cookie....mmmmmmm.... Snake here I come!
Comment by Strega on July 9, 2014 at 9:42pm
It wasn't an apple though, was it? It was fruit from the forbidden tree, but it wasn't actually an apple specifically. The apple concept came along when artworks were commissioned to depict the story.
Comment by Physeter on July 9, 2014 at 11:25pm

@Strega - Presumably the dress isn't a "dress" either.

@keith: What's odd to me is that it wasn't til I honestly started to think about athiesm that I realized the Christian teaching on sin is just bizarre. And harmful. I never once noticed that as a Christian. And yes, it is harmful. Like you say, I assumed that every thought in my mind was suspect, ever impulse I had was untrustworthy, every dream, desire or goal was worthless unless God gave it his stamp of approval. And God's voice is so very hard to hear...so how do you find direction?

Christians build their whole religion upon guilt. Whenever I go back to my home church, all I hear about is how we're sinners, and some new an novel way we need to confess sin. It's like the leaders don't know how to preach about anything else, so all they can do is think of new ways we are sinning so we can repent. You have to repent for not praying enough. Or not praying in the right way. Or for thinking you could coerce god to do something. Or for not doing enough good works. Or for caring too much about good works. Creative pastors will find the possibilities are endless.

More to your point, my mother seems to think the proof of original sin is in how very young children act up. They fight, they hit, they don't share, they don't work together. They have to be taught all those things.

Comment by Brian Daurelle on July 10, 2014 at 12:22am

I think that even the word 'innocent' has no place in this discussion. We humans are just born as we are; all concepts of morality, justice and fairness are 'instincts' imparted by evolution or socialized frameworks built on the scaffolding provided by these instincts. Between nature and nurture, there's hardly any room left to blame a person for their own 'instinctive' moral or ethical worldview. 

A more rational system of morality that I strive to put in to practice is based on a simple recognition of other people as human beings similar to myself.  This is basic and obvious; it makes intuitive sense to try to make other people's lives better in the ways you know or wish your own to be bettered. It also entails a trade-off when judging others' actions; one's level of moral culpability is inversely correlated with one's capacity to think about and relate to other people.  The widespread replacement of this secular system of morality is why we have seen, for example, a societal shift from deeming Autistic people simply rude, anti-social and mean to considering them victims of something beyond their control and judging them accordingly.  Recognition of the fact that an autistic person's capacity to judge and respond to other people's emotional states is impaired or non-existent necessarily excuses them from moral culpability for not observing social niceties like making eye contact or pretending to be interested in your trivial business. Recognition of this trade-off is also why we excuse the behavior of animals rather than condemning it in terms applicable to humans, and why we tolerate the antics of young children (decreasingly so with age, as they develop a 'theory of mind' and thus become sensitive to the state of other people). 

All said, it seems to me that the world is pretty well-adjusted to a basic form of secular morality, except for a few regressive fringe areas where people have determined that people are somehow responsible for things that were forced on them by accident of birth, i.e. homosexuality, gender identity variance, anti-social disorders, depression, and ADHD, although each of these groups of people have made significant strides towards acceptance and understanding in many parts of the world. I can safely say I don't know any religious people who practice what they preach when it comes to original sin, despite being surrounded by people who outwardly resemble the proverbial Jonses with whom one strives to keep up. Even the most gut-wrenchingly self-righteous of these people would never judge a severely mentally disabled person by their normal standards, despite professing a belief in everyone-created-equal-in-the-image-of-god etc. This seems like a no-brainer, but there is increasing acceptance among the religious of things like addiction, sexual 'deviancy', anti-authoritarian sentiment and other traditional anathemas of mainstream Christianity.  Whether this is an indication that religions and the religious are changing, or that people are becoming increasingly secular in general is hard to say, but I think it's pretty obvious that the nails are almost fully in the coffin for that most despicable doctrine, original sin. 

Comment by Dr. Bob on July 10, 2014 at 10:50am

It wasn't an apple though, was it? It was fruit from the forbidden tree, but it wasn't actually an apple specifically.

I think that's right, @Strega.  In fact someone once told me that the forbidden fruit in Islam is depicted as a banana, not an apple.  Don't know if that's true or not.

I still think the stupid snake should have gone with a chocolate chip cookie.

Comment by Strega on July 10, 2014 at 12:40pm
A naked Eve tempted by a banana? Well that's a phallic schoolboy joke just waiting to happen!
Comment by Erock68la on July 10, 2014 at 3:02pm

Sometimes a banana is just a banana.

Comment by Strega on July 11, 2014 at 9:19pm
@Erock68la. A banana may be a banana, but it isn't actually a fruit. Technically, and by botanical classification, it's an herb.
Comment by Erock68la on July 12, 2014 at 12:00am
Is that why you can smoke the peel?
Comment by Joshua D. on July 12, 2014 at 12:14am
It's not so much that we are "born sinners" in the sense you (and most evangelicals) describe, it's the federal headship of Adam.

Adams sin is attributed to us before we are born. That's the fall.

In the same way Adams sin was attributed to us the federal headship of Jesus results in his righteousness being attributed to us.


You need to be a member of Think Atheist to add comments!

Join Think Atheist

© 2020   Created by Rebel.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service