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4 years ago  ::  Jan 26, 2010 - 3:01PM #1
Confusedman
Posts: 102

Hello, Christians and also hello to those of you who aren't Christians yet lurk about this section anyway.


I have a question but first I must explain myself.  There was a time when I understood the bible to be inerrant.  Literally, historically true in it's entirety.  After some studying and questioning I am no longer capable of holding onto such a view.  And to be honest, at the moment I don't consider myself to be a Christian though there are the moments when i do.  I'm in a sort of flippy-floppy uncertain stage currently. 


Now, I used to believe that Jesus died for our sins so that we could be redeemed.  And that we are sinful creatures because we inherit original sin through our lineage all the way back to Adam and Eve(who I believed to be the actual first two human beings) because they literally ingested some fruit when they were explicitly instructed not to do so by no less than the supreme creator of our most wonderful universe.


Now, in the moments when i do consider myself a Christian I wonder where then does original sin come from since I  understand that Adam and Eve never existed and we did in fact evolve through natural selection.


So I ask you.  Do you believe in the doctrine of original sin?  If you do but you don't take the genesis account as literally and historically true then how do you explain this original sin?  What is your understanding of such?


I also don't have too much experience with the less fundamentalist and evangelical brands of Christianity besides the time I checked out a UU church.  Do you believe that Jesus did die for our sins so that we could be redeemed into heaven?  Or do you have some other understanding of Jesus and his purpose?


I am most thankful toward anyone willing to answer my questions.  If you don't feel that you have sufficient answers then attempts are still appreciated.


I look forward to interesting and informative conversation.

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4 years ago  ::  Jan 26, 2010 - 3:46PM #2
Intotheblue
Posts: 265

Hello! I used to believe sort of the Catholic version (as I had converted to Catholicism and remained until a couple months ago). I believed in original sin and actual sin. Original sin was basically the tendency toward sin, which we all have from birth. Actual sin is the choice not to resist that tendency or temptation; it's the action.


Now I have a different perspective. I follow (and did before my Catholicism, sorta forgot about it during that time, and now have returned to it) the philosophical way of Taoism (there's a religion too, but I absolutely do not believe in it). In the philosophy, there is no Sin. Ideas like Sin, Good, Evil, Holy, etc are seen as human concepts, not objective truths. We are not 'fallen' or 'bad' or anything like that - and thus we don't need saving, redeeming, cleansing, and so on. But people, especially in certain cultures, often look at things in terms of black-and-white.


This is helpful with some things - like if something would make you sick if you ate it, you would say it's "bad," and people would understand what you mean, so it definitely serves a purpose. But when you start applying judgments like that to a person - not just their actions but their very nature - that's very different. I believe the real question is about balance. If something is out of balance, problems arise. If we don't understand that, or we don't know what's out of balance (or don't want to know), it's easier to just say "they're evil." We place judgments and terms on things we don't like - and if those things are feelings or thoughts we have, we think it means we're "bad" too. We feel guilty, inadequate, so we create a story to explain it, and come up with a way to "fix" it. Notice getting "born again" or baptised and all that doesn't actually stop you from "sinning"? But it makes us feel better. It's human nature, when we think something's wrong, we feel the need to fix it. That's fine if you're talking about a broken bicycle, but like I said, once you apply it to people, it's another matter entirely.


At the same time, we say we were made "in the image of God." Personally I think this is primarily a reflection on our need to believe our deity is just like us, except "better." All the things we don't like about ourselves, he's free of - and all the things we like about ourselves, or want to have more of, he has. But it also implies we have some of that too. We're not pure good, or pure evil, we have a bit of both. But we want to get rid of half of that, to be like this unachievable idealistic picture we've painted. That's like getting rid of all of yin, because we prefer yang. Well it's fine to prefer one over the other, I guess, but to try (futilely) to completely eliminate the other one, we're setting things way off balance, going to extremes. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying go out and kill people. That would be an extreme too. But at the same time, making saints out of people, struggling to be perfect, hating and rejecting anything we deem "sinful," is going to an extreme too. Instead, recognize things for what they are, without placing "good and evil" judgments on it, try to understand it, and if it seems out of balance, try to bring yourself back into balance. No need to hate parts of yourself, fight against it, try to suppress or eliminate it, pray to be saved from it, and so forth.


So as for Jesus' purpose, I think he was trying to teach a point. He was the finger pointing at the moon, and instead of looking at the moon, people stare at the finger. They worship him, and forget what he taught us. I don't agree with everything the Bible claims he said (I say it that way because, as you now know, the Bible is fallible), but lots of people who loudly proclaim that you'll burn in torment forever if you don't worship Jesus, don't follow his teachings, and in fact they often condemn people who do (the whole "faith, not works" thing). I think it's more important to consider his lessons: charity, compassion, non-judgment, love, forgiveness, peace, and all. The "salvation" part is a non-issue for me.


I know many people disagree, but that's just my view. :)

Namaste.

.~*~.~*~.~*~.~*~.~*~.~*~.~*~.~*~.~*~.~*~.~*~.~*~.~*~.~*~.~*~

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

"Be the change you wish to see in the world."

"It is not our differences that divide us, but our inability to accept and celebrate those differences."
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4 years ago  ::  Jan 26, 2010 - 4:39PM #3
Confusedman
Posts: 102

Hello, intothe blue.


Taoism.  I've not done much studying on that yet.  It's on my list though.  I am addicted to studying religions and philosopies.


I do agree that good and evil, sin, etc. are human concepts.  And as with many other human concepts they are a way of understanding our world and organizing it into easy to comprehend bits. 


My personal view of good and evil is this.  Things in our world produce effects.  There ar effects that cause joy and happiness, and make human existence better, more fun, more bearable,etc.  There are also effects that cause sadness, anger, pain, etc.


One should keep this in mind when determining their actions.  Try to make the choice that has more good than evil effects.  And when making these decisions it is best that one consider others people as well.  All things cause good and evil.  For example.  Taking psychotropic drugs may alter the mind and cause happiness.  But this will cause ill effects as well.  Marital unfaithfulness may be fun as well.  But it also causes guilt, an unhappy spouse, a ruined marriage and a plethora of other problems. 


I believe people should work toward bettering themselves, and eliminating the "evil" in themselves and the world around them.  But not to the point of going rabid insane.  History teaches us that good intentions if not applied in a calm, logical manner can cause more suffering than good.


I do believe there is mention in the Bible of Jesus condemning those who reject him and stating that he is the only way to heaven, etc.  Though it is debatable whether or not he actually said this since he had no part in writing the Bible that presents him as saying such.


As you stated, his lessons such as charity, compassion, forgiveness, and so forth are more important.  These are the teachings I intend to hold onto despite my apostacy.(Though I'm not always as good at following these teachings as I'd like.)  I still confess my "sins" as well.  Even though I'm not certain of God's existence and his ability to hear me.  This is partially out of habit since I had been a Christian for so long.  Partially because I think it wise to acknowledge when I've done something wrong rather than shove it out of my mind and ignore my problem.

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4 years ago  ::  Jan 26, 2010 - 7:16PM #4
Bob_Bennett
Posts: 916

Hi,


 


My beliefs come from the modern teachings of Jesus as found in ACIM.  Therein, Jesus states that there is no sin, since we are living within a dream, an illusion.  But we did make an original mistake that led to the belief that we had separated from God, and thereafter lived in great fear and guilt for making the judgment that living in duality would be more fun than hanging out in heaven.


The crucifixion of Jesus was not a redeeming act.  He did not die for our sins, but on account of a sinful world which could not abide a perfect man living in their midst.  Others will say that he was executed for sedition.  However, Jesus could have prevented it but was told in the Garden of Gethsemene by God, to go thru with it (the crucifixion) perhaps as a useful fiction, to help the world release some of its guilt.  As an ascended Master, Jesus did not suffer.


Jesus was the first man to complete his part in the Atonement process.  It is now up to the rest of us to accept that this happened, by forgiving everything.


Don't expect to understand this unless you have taken A Course In Miracles.


 

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4 years ago  ::  Jan 27, 2010 - 1:43PM #5
Confusedman
Posts: 102

Jan 26, 2010 -- 7:16PM, Bob_Bennett wrote:


Hi,


 


My beliefs come from the modern teachings of Jesus as found in ACIM.  Therein, Jesus states that there is no sin, since we are living within a dream, an illusion.  But we did make an original mistake that led to the belief that we had separated from God, and thereafter lived in great fear and guilt for making the judgment that living in duality would be more fun than hanging out in heaven.


The crucifixion of Jesus was not a redeeming act.  He did not die for our sins, but on account of a sinful world which could not abide a perfect man living in their midst.  Others will say that he was executed for sedition.  However, Jesus could have prevented it but was told in the Garden of Gethsemene by God, to go thru with it (the crucifixion) perhaps as a useful fiction, to help the world release some of its guilt.  As an ascended Master, Jesus did not suffer.


Jesus was the first man to complete his part in the Atonement process.  It is now up to the rest of us to accept that this happened, by forgiving everything.


Don't expect to understand this unless you have taken A Course In Miracles.


 




These ACIM teachings and ideas concerning Jesus are quite foreign to me.  Well I have heard of the view that we are living in a dream but never in association with Jesus.  I am used to a more Biblical view of Jesus.


I have just now conducted a google search of ACIM.  Something about the author being inspired to write the book by the voice of Jesus.  My curiosity demands more research into this.


I am uncertain of Jesus.  I do believe he most likely existed as a real person.  The accuracy of the Bible in portraying Jesus however, I am not sure of.


What is the nature of this "original mistake"?


Thanks for your time.

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4 years ago  ::  Jan 27, 2010 - 1:59PM #6
shawnf
Posts: 73

Hi Confused,


I have given some thought to the Lost Eden/Original Sin story myself, and come up with a reinterpretation that makes sense to me.  It requires you to get past the idea that the story is literally true, and instead to think in the metaphorical terms that we typically use when analyzing mythology for deeper meaning.


To start, the forbidden fruit was from the Tree of Knowledge.  It gave Adam and Eve the ability to judge good and evil. (Genesis 3)  This ability to judge implies the ability to think abstractly, or to separate the self from one's consideration of the outside world.  We might call this "objectivity."  It is a (apparently) uniquely human ability.  We can think about behavior abstractly -- not exclusively in terms of our own action at a given moment and the specific motivations behind it, but in terms of a given action in general -- and that allows us to make judgements about those actions.  Since this seems to be a uniquely human ability, the Eden story gives an explanation of why it exists in people but not other animals. 


So why does this lead to the idea of Original Sin?  Is it sinful simply to judge one's actions?  Well, sort of.   Creation is a manifestation of God.  And when you judge the world or an action in it, you are separating yourself from the world, because in order to objectively view a system you have to take a perspective that is outside that system.    Sin is defined as separation from God, so therefore in separating yourself from the world around you (to judge it) you are separating yourself from God, and thereby sinning.


(Now these are the Christianity boards, so I'm sure I'll get people refuting this idea!)


The point is that if you consider yourself one with all of Creation (you are all one in Christ -- Galatians 3:28), then you cannot bring yourself to take actions that harm anyone else.  Sin can only occur if you think of yourself as separate from those around you.  You can feel greed, for example, and want to have more for yourself by keeping it from everyone else. You can kill someone else to get something you want or believe in. 


So sin becomes possible only when you have the ability to consider yourself as separate from everything around you.  When you consider the world as separate from you, then you can judge good (things I want more of) from evil (things I want less of).  This gets back to the Taoism group that Intotheblue mentioned earlier in this forum.  The taoist perspective is that there is no absolute good or evil, but rather that they exist only in relation to one another.  The Tao doesn't favor one or the other, but just is.

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4 years ago  ::  Jan 27, 2010 - 5:04PM #7
Bob_Bennett
Posts: 916

Hello Confused man,


 


The Original Mistake (in lieu of calling it a sin) can be thought of in several different ways.  That we as the Son of God engaged in -


1.  Entertaining thoughts that God was not thinking.


2.  Made a judgment that duality was a preferable experience to remaining in heaven as Christ.


3.  That we killed God in order to believe that we were our own creator.


 


The result was massive guilt and fear that God was going to come after us to exact retribution for having sinned.   So, we made the universe and "excaped" to Earth to hide.  See the parable of the Prodigal Son at Luke 15:11-  Also see Gen. 3:9-10.


 


ACIM points out that we put our mind to sleep in order to dream about the results or consequences of our thoughts, and never awakened. i.e. we are still asleep and dreaming. See Gen. 2:21 and then note that nowhere is it recorded that we ever were awakened.


 


 


 

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4 years ago  ::  Jan 27, 2010 - 9:15PM #8
Iwantamotto
Posts: 7,769

I no longer believe in original sin.  Genesis makes A&E out to be more idiotic than rebellious/evil.  I have a hard time swallowing how God supposedly made a "good" world and then humans screwed it up by being evil.  That shouldn't be, as God had already announced He was cool with us.  Since I don't believe A&E are literal people (at best, the beginning of a particular group of people), I don't swallow Paul's insistence that Jesus saved us from A&E's sin.  That sounds great until you realize they're not literal people, which hurts his argument.  I believe Jesus' main gist was to teach us to feel more spiritually aware.  I believe that Jesus' execution was rationalized into martyrdom and then something cosmic.


I don't believe we are prone to Original Sin, but something more akin to Original Stupidity. :)

Knock and the door shall open.  It's not my fault if you don't like the decor.
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4 years ago  ::  Jan 28, 2010 - 12:42PM #9
Confusedman
Posts: 102

Jan 27, 2010 -- 1:59PM, shawnf wrote:


The point is that if you consider yourself one with all of Creation (you are all one in Christ -- Galatians 3:28), then you cannot bring yourself to take actions that harm anyone else.  Sin can only occur if you think of yourself as separate from those around you.  You can feel greed, for example, and want to have more for yourself by keeping it from everyone else. You can kill someone else to get something you want or believe in. 


So sin becomes possible only when you have the ability to consider yourself as separate from everything around you.  When you consider the world as separate from you, then you can judge good (things I want more of) from evil (things I want less of).  This gets back to the Taoism group that Intotheblue mentioned earlier in this forum.  The taoist perspective is that there is no absolute good or evil, but rather that they exist only in relation to one another.  The Tao doesn't favor one or the other, but just is.




I do like your interpretation.  It is the only explanation I've come across so far that seems satisfactory to me.  The other answers are nice as well.  They just don't make as much sense to me or my way of thinking.  and none of these replies I've receive so far are quite what I expected.


I especially your explanation of sin.  When one views themselves seperately from the rest of existence they elevate their own importance, wants, etc. at the expense of others(and sometimes themselves as well).


Some of the other parts I'm not so sure of.  And I wonder if humans are truly the only creatures capable of abstract though.  I know that certain primates can be taught sign language.  If an ape has the necessary brain function for communication then they might be able to think abstractly as well. 


Research time!

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4 years ago  ::  Jan 28, 2010 - 12:48PM #10
Confusedman
Posts: 102

Jan 27, 2010 -- 5:04PM, Bob_Bennett wrote:


Hello Confused man,


 


The Original Mistake (in lieu of calling it a sin) can be thought of in several different ways.  That we as the Son of God engaged in -


1.  Entertaining thoughts that God was not thinking.


2.  Made a judgment that duality was a preferable experience to remaining in heaven as Christ.


3.  That we killed God in order to believe that we were our own creator.


 


The result was massive guilt and fear that God was going to come after us to exact retribution for having sinned.   So, we made the universe and "excaped" to Earth to hide.  See the parable of the Prodigal Son at Luke 15:11-  Also see Gen. 3:9-10.


 


ACIM points out that we put our mind to sleep in order to dream about the results or consequences of our thoughts, and never awakened. i.e. we are still asleep and dreaming. See Gen. 2:21 and then note that nowhere is it recorded that we ever were awakened.


 


 


 




Interesting.  Reminds me of certain gnostic ideas involving the demiurge.  Except instead of being imprisoned in our imperfect, mortal world by an evil deity we have imprisoned ourselves.

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