The following is the first draft of my book’s chapter on Original Sin, which is given a thorough critique. I’ve since changed some elements, but I thought this would be valuable to know what to expect when reading my book. Unfortunately, the line spacing doesn’t come out properly when posting it on a blog, so please try to ignore the messiness. If you have any detailed analysis or criticisms then please share them. My book will be critiquing religion broadly in the first part, then going into specific criticisms pertaining to the major world religions in the second part, and then the third part will be detailing some historic and contemporary consequences as a result of religious faith.
I am criticizing them on the basis of human psychology and philosophy, the potential failings of faith axioms based on logical fallacies, and my own personal perspective on religious faiths themselves. The following is a detailed examination on the failings of Original Sin as a moral compass, please let me know what you think in the comments below.
Chapter 6: Original Sin, the failure of all Abrahamic morality
If you truly believe in morality, then you should honestly consider Original Sin to be the ultimate mockery and subversion of morality. Cloaked under the veneer of religious piety and goodness, this belief allows for all forms of savagery: genocide, war rape, child rape, torture, mass bombing campaigns, and every other horrific atrocity to be viewed as an inevitable part of the human experience. Humans who observe such occurrences from the outset through television or through the internet use such anecdotes as a justification that violence is an inevitable and inescapable part of humanity. Thus, people use such events as “proof” to believe that our biology is evil and that evil is merely a fact of life because we observe stories of street violence, rapes, wars, and genocide on social media. People may believe that without religious morals that they will go into sprees of murder, rape, and other forms of violence. They might be led to believe that sinfulness and the capacity for absolute evil is just waiting to be acted upon but strictly controlled through the guidance of an absolute good from religious teachings. Original sin teaches them to believe humans are imperfect and so falter into sinfulness. As a consequence, we observe atrocities around the world through the lens of apathy or indifference while believing the victims are in heaven for our own comfort. Yet, on any given day, it is impossible to know why each specific tragedy happened unless we individually fact-check them; it is easier to simply believe that all people have some evil in them since it gives a quick and coherent worldview of such events. Yet, if the perpetrator was raised as a Christian, Muslim, or Jew – or was taught Abrahamic value of sinfulness in the Muslim or Christian schools that help to teach children such values around the world – then what stops them from believing that their actions were simply inevitable because of their humanity? In fact, why wouldn’t the perpetrator just perceive their acts as an unavoidable aspect of being human after committing such atrocities? The human body would be like a cage where carnal pleasure was misunderstood to be evil intent and thus acts of rape and murder would be viewed by the perpetrators as simply a product of their humanity. Relying strongly upon the religious precept of sinfulness would mean that you must believe that you are capable of child murder, child rape, the torture of children, and you are likely to believe that these are aspects of humanity that can never be changed because murder, rape, and torture are intrinsically part of human nature. It is unalterable and all humans; you, your spouse, your children, your friends, your caretakers, and every human on the planet is simply born with a deep malice that predisposes them for crimes such as murder, rape, torture, and genocide. God created conditions that allowed everyone to be capable of these horrors. Thus, the belief in original sin provides a convenient excuse to ignore morality because acts of evil are somehow intrinsically part of human nature. The following is an examination and repudiation of this self-harming belief system.
Sin is an Entity Theory
Sin is an entity theory; it is a concept about ourselves that we believe to be intrinsically part of our behavior. That is dangerous and it has consequences for how we act towards others. Sin is an unsubstantiated entity theory. It has no scientific and psychological basis to be considered true about our species. The apologists for sin primarily use tragic events or horrible human actions to argue in favor of sin being an objective truth about human existence. However, utilizing tragic events to prove the objectivity of sinfulness anchors too much focus upon events that aren’t the norm of the majority of the human species. Moreover, any terrible deed conducted by people who grew up within Abrahamic cultures or Abrahamic communities could justify their violence through the belief in sinfulness. Sinfulness could become circular reasoning because the perpetrators believe that an intrinsic part of their humanity, the concept of sinfulness, allows them to conduct horrific crimes and the observers of terrible crimes use those specific events as proof of sinfulness.
That may seem silly, but it is psychologically true that what we believe about ourselves and what we believe that we’re capable of has consequences on the actions that we choose to pursue. A mundane example is a society’s attitude towards mathematics. If you believe that you’re just not good at math after struggling with the subject during your schooling, then you will be disinclined to pursue the subject matter and may believe yourself to be incapable of learning the advanced mathematical topics. This is actually a self-delusion and results in a self-fulfilling prophecy, people who believe that they’re “not a math person” or “not good at math” have overemphasized the difficulty and closed off a possible academic future for themselves as a result. These people can improve their math skills by emphasizing efficacy and incremental effort in attaining math skills from their studies but they sincerely believe that they are incapable of achieving mastery in mathematics because of an intrinsic flaw. The belief has a lifelong consequence on their future and they don’t realize it.
Now, consider the concept of sin and what the concept of sin encourages people to intrinsically believe about themselves and the actions that they’re capable of committing. Do you see the problem?
Sinful Thoughts or Intrusive Thoughts?
A principal reason for the belief in sinfulness may derive from the concept of sinful thoughts. Certain personal thoughts and beliefs are categorically labeled evil to even think about and such a distinction leads to constant self-blame and weariness with ourselves for having the “evil” thoughts. The belief that being good means you must have good thoughts isn’t healthy or rational because it’s a misunderstanding of how thoughts actually function. Believing that being good means that you must only have “good” thoughts is mental self-torture because you would constantly need to try to “expunge” the “evil thoughts” from your mind. Under the distinction between good and evil thoughts, violent thoughts aren’t what good people should have. It may not seem normal to you to have thoughts of throwing people down a flight of stairs, jumping out of a moving car, shouting something blasphemous during religious ceremonies, or other deplorable activities. These offensive thoughts would instill people with unease or anxiety because people may worry why such thoughts even entered their mind. We would be looking for some deep “cause” for why these thoughts were circulating in our minds. It may seem reasonable to view these thoughts as sinful and believe that you must constantly fight against such thoughts to maintain purity and moral goodness. These terrible thoughts become a “proof” of sinfulness because people don’t know why they have them and fear that there is something evil or criminal within them that are the cause. Many people begin to avoid situations that trigger violent thoughts and feel too ashamed to speak of them with loved ones.
There is an important element in this subject matter that most people don’t seem to be aware of: violent or blasphemous thoughts aren’t a reflection of you or your inner desires. Unless these thoughts make you feel pleasure or happiness, they aren’t what you would want to do to your loved ones or others. Assuming you have such unsettling thoughts, which you do because every human being has them, your feelings of unease and anxiety are your personal reflections on any violent or blasphemous thoughts that you may have. You are not crazy and it doesn’t mean that you have the capacity of inflicting violence upon others. The thoughts themselves are just ideas that you gain from your environment or your imagination; ironically, monitoring your thoughts to make sure the bad thoughts will go away will only cause them to become more frequent thus increasing the unease and anxiety. Prayer sessions could become a self-fulfilling prophecy in which the frequency of attempts to remove the bad thoughts from your mind could increase the frequency of the thoughts returning. This is because our minds need to check on the unsettling image when we try to monitor our progress of not thinking about the bad thoughts. Psychological studies have shown that trying to ban ourselves from thinking certain thoughts will only increase the frequency of the thoughts occurring in our mind. They were never a reflection of you as a person or what you may think you’re capable of committing upon others. They’re just thoughts that come to your mind. The increased fear and anxiety from the violent ideas or images probably comes from our honest dread of harming our own loved ones because we don’t understand why these thoughts are occurring. The increased frequency and misunderstanding can lead to self-hate, a deep fear of ourselves, self-blame, shame, and depression because of an overemphasis on trying to understand some deeper meaning behind why we have these bad thoughts and fear of what others will think of us. Rest assured, it is entirely normal to have these thoughts. They’re labeled intrusive thoughts by modern psychology, they’re not a sign of mental illness (unless you feel pleasure from the idea of committing them, which is probably the opposite of what you feel), and everyone has them. They’re not a reflection of you and they’re not a desire of what you secretly want to do to others. They’re thoughts that come and go in your mind; similar to thinking about breakfast or thinking about another route to work. Having intrusive thoughts isn’t a reflection of how good or evil you are as a person.
What are more important are your feelings towards these thoughts than the thoughts themselves. It is also possible to obsessively think about such intrusive thoughts but that isn’t a reflection of you, it just means that you have an obsessive compulsive disorder regarding your thoughts. That doesn’t mean you’re crazy; it means that you have an OCD regarding your thoughts and it’s possible that it developed because human behavior is habit forming. What people believe to be “normal” is really just people going through various forms of mild psychological issues every day through the habits that they form. It only truly becomes an issue when habitual behavior becomes excessive or it is a behavior that is objectively self-harming such as smoking or physically harming one’s body. If you have had anxiety because you misunderstood what intrusive thoughts meant, then please learn to relax. Let them come and go, and recognize they’re not a deep personal reflection of you as a human being.
Sin is Nihilism
The belief in sinfulness is the belief in ubiquitous nihilism. I am not referring to nihilism that is defined by lack of belief in a God or Gods. Nihilism as defined by the belief that existence is senseless and useless, a belief that destroys all forms of objective morality from the basis that humanity is insufficient to ever create everlasting objective morality, that all forms of human progress are arrogant and useless in the end, and the implicit belief that all human constructions of morality will lead to total failure because humanity isn’t intelligent enough to know God’s will. The argument by the pious in favor of objective moral values implodes under the belief in sinfulness; it’s a complete self-contradiction that Abrahamic believers seem to have cognitive dissonance towards. Human progress itself is seen as futile and self-depreciating despite people having modern conveniences like cars, surgeries, cell phones, the internet, and educational institutions. The nihilism is disguised as morally necessary to make people concede to religious doctrines; all human expression, all human inventions, and all forms of human happiness are to be under constant suspicion because humans are always prone to sinfulness everywhere. If you truly believe in sinfulness then you must always feel regret for the crime of your existence to God, you must always feel regret for failing to curtail your biological desires of reproduction because you find others attractive and God judges that to be sinful, you must feel regret for the mutual act of lovemaking if it isn’t specifically under the terms of marriage that God defined as the only acceptable form, you must feel ashamed of lovemaking because it’s a sinful act regardless of if it’s under marriage because God deemed sex to be sinful, and people who don’t make these concessions are arrogant because they insult God by not believing in Him. There are obvious detriments to this belief that create a harmful standard: you may believe that everyone around you is predisposed to acting evil because they’re born sinful, you may believe that anyone who doesn’t go through these concessions for the one true God is immoral, you may view the failure to uphold the moral code as a form of humility in accepting that you’re an imperfect human being compared to the perfect creator deity, and yet you may not see the circular reasoning in believing that your failure is a humility but that others who fail, who aren’t part of your in-group of Abrahamic religions, are perceived as evil by the precepts of your religious faith. People outside of your religious faith are automatically assumed to be more evil because they don’t seek redemption and forgiveness from God like you and your community. People who commit atrocities but have the same religious faith as you are assumed to have either misinterpreted the faith, used reasoning that is completely different from the tenants of your faith, or are imperfect human beings who are sinful. In the case of non-violent offenses such as adultery, the people of the same religious faith as you are simply assumed to have been an imperfect human being and their failure is seen as an admittance of humility. A non-believer or person of another religious faith is perceived to be conducting similar behavior out of evil or self-delusion in believing a false religion that led them astray because they lack your exact religious faith. Yet, no matter what they do, they’re viewed as repulsive because they refuse to accept the one true God as the irrefutable truth, they don’t seek redemption for their sinfulness as you probably do, and they should be awaiting the end of the world as prescribed in all the Abrahamic holy books. No matter what, your view of them is antagonistic to a certain degree because that is what the belief in sinfulness requires you to believe. You aren’t allowed to perceive outsiders as anything but less significant than your in-group under the belief system of sinfulness.
If the argument seems extreme, you should consider that many religious believers within Judaism, Islam, and Christianity still believe and advocate these positions when acting as missionaries in foreign countries and many Christians and Muslims are conducting forced conversions. Even in a first world country like the United States, there are over 50 million people who believe in this interpretation of their religion and proudly believe in the literal truth of their religious books. However, even if you don’t agree with the extremist version of sinfulness, through open interpretation you may believe in degrees of sinfulness and you may still believe the teaching of sinfulness has worthwhile merits for instilling moral values. Yet, does it truly have moral value? If anything, sin is a belief that promotes the destruction of all morality under a fatalistic concept that morality will be destroyed because of human nature. There is a pernicious presumption that humans will always harm each other because it is human to destroy each other with no regard for the wellbeing of other humans. It allows for a circular reasoning that makes humanity synonymous with rampant destruction, rampant brutality, and rampant cruelty upon our own species and everything else in the world. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy that uses sin as a justification for violence: when we justify bombing campaigns that slaughter foreign civilians, when we see people riot in our streets, and when we act out of anger upon others. These acts are justified by sinfulness from both observers and perpetrators through a rash generalization that all humans are capable of horrors because of innate human imperfection. Sinfulness is a self-fulfilling prophecy because it’s also a coping mechanism to understand violence: when we see news of sectarian wars in foreign countries, when we learn of cruel criminal behavior conducted upon children by pedophiles and rapists reported in the news, gang rapes in third world countries, beheadings, genocide, child slavery, and indoctrinated child soldiers. Sinfulness means it is all unalterable because that is the expected outcome of human nature. It is always the expected standard of human interaction within our own communities and outside of it to view wars, bombings, genocide, the torture of children, and less offensive wrongdoings to be common occurrences because of an innate faultiness in humanity. We just expect people to fail in keeping up with the tenants of their faith and the failure of keeping with the tenants is just a form of humility for our group and evil for the outside group. We give violence a total pass because horrific atrocities are an expected norm of sinfulness; violent events in the news serve as anecdotal “proof” of sinfulness.
These attitudes and expectations of sinfulness in humanity are dangerous. It creates apathy towards horrific atrocities, indifference towards our own country bombing civilians in a foreign country, and presumes evil intent from the victims before they have actually done anything against us. There is an insidious and disgusting implication that the innocent victims killed would kill us because it’s the due course of human nature so we need to harm them before they can hurt us – a pathological form of self-delusion and circular reasoning to justify mass murder. Consider this: if sinfulness is true, then humanity is simply expecting failures and catastrophes to be the norm throughout the world because of an unalterable and intrinsic defect within human nature. If all forms of good actions eventually lead to failure, then why should any wealthy person donate to charity? If they sincerely believe everything will eventually fall apart, then why bother doing anything to help other people? They would be predisposed to believe that their charity will fail, they would be inclined to believe that their own success would eventually turn to ruin, and that everything in life is just waiting to fall into ruination because of an intrinsic and unalterable aspect of their humanity. In terms of nation-states, we should just expect a nuclear catastrophe to occur and to wipe out the human race because sinfulness means that we’re predisposed to evil actions and that we will falter in keeping to the tenants of the faith because of our intrinsic defectiveness. For all the so-called goodness of the Abrahamic traditions, each of them believe that the world will end and that the world ending is the expected outcome of human actions; such a belief justifies nuclear catastrophe as the conclusion of our species. Islam and Christianity convert non-believers for the explicit purpose of awaiting the end of the world. Pointing the theological basis for conversion usually causes embarrassment, denial, and attempts to avert the inquiry but it remains the theological underpinnings of the Abrahamic traditions. They can be verified in the holy books and the reason it’s embarrassing to discuss in public is because of how untenable the belief is and how delusional people appear when voicing their beliefs.
Sin is Misanthropy
Sin is sanctified hatred for the human race. Two of western culture’s most noteworthy philosophers, Immanuel Kant and Friedrich Nietzsche, pointed out that if you believe there is an innate defectiveness with humanity that causes evil actions then you are more predisposed to committing evil actions because you may feel it is the unavoidable norm of your humanity. If evil is ingrained within you, if it is an unalterable part of human habit and you perceive your failures with humility, you might be justifying your wrongful acts by using sin as a coping mechanism instead of accepting responsibility. Moreover, you may emphasize events when people hurt your feelings or disappoint you because you expect negative actions to be a natural consequence of your daily interactions with other human beings. You may perceive your own love for your friends and family as a constant struggle because you have implicitly overemphasized the idea that evil actions are natural occurrences within humanity as a result of sinfulness. As such, you may have a biased focus on their negative actions and less focus on their positive qualities. Humans already have a negativity bias ingrained within our psychology to defend from life-threatening danger and the belief in sinfulness may increase the emphasis on negative events in our lives.
Is sinfulness healthy to believe in? Please consider the following: if you have a child, do you truly consider your own child to be born sinful? Do you truly believe that, in some deep level of our humanity, that your child will go murdering, raping, and torturing other people? Do you believe that, within you, there is a sinful part that will cause you to murder, rape, and torture your own family, friends, and strangers? As stated before, having thoughts of such actions doesn’t mean that you want to do them; thoughts just come and go in your mind and that is normal. It should be considered an utterly absurd belief about our loved ones but the ubiquitous concept of sinfulness in all forms of human interaction may cause such negative beliefs about our behavior and the behavior of our loved ones. As a result, you may be predisposed to despise or see evil in your own children’s actions when they act out and may find it easier to discipline them with force. You may see forgiveness and passiveness as a constant struggle while harboring the expectation that everyone else in the world and you yourself will always partake in evil actions during moments of weakness. This is a pernicious view of other human beings; sin has the constant expectation of disappointment, failure, and evil as the only truism of life itself. How can such a belief be either healthy or rational for your mental health?
Sinfulness, in combination with the binary ideology of good and evil, makes it easier to convince us to hate others. The belief that all humans are sinful would fundamentally promote the dehumanization, otherness, and disgust for people perceived as out-groups. When the news media gives you anecdotal examples of violence from the out-group, you’ll more likely to feel disgust, anger, and superiority toward the out-group because you would be inclined to believe that your society has proudly kept their sinful impulses in check compared to the out-group. The repeated exposure to negative events from the specific out-group would make people more inclined to judge the out-group more strictly and harshly than usual through pattern recognition and grouping people by race, religion, social class, or country as the same. From anecdotal events quickly mentioned in the news media, people’s minds would be framing a coherent and negative view of the out-group. This type of thinking is self-centered and delusional because it frames a binary worldview in which we compare doing our menial tasks everyday as a success and proof of our superiority over the perceived out-group. Sinfulness helps ignore the actual conditions that caused horrible events: famine, oppressive governments, mass poverty, certain first world countries selling weapons to governments that sell to terrorist groups (terrorist groups throughout Africa, the Middle East, and South America get weapons manufactured from Western countries), unsafe working conditions, and the political reality that first world countries need third world countries to stay in poverty to keep manufacturing cheap commodities. Crimes such as rape and murder are misconstrued to be the values that foreign cultures or that peoples perceived as out-groups somehow ubiquitously enjoy without thinking deeply about the other societies diverse peoples, crime-ridden areas, and other social conditions.
An example would be the rape crimes in the US, while it’s true that Native American women living within reservations had no legal right to sue their rapists until 2012 thanks to federal laws that circumvented their rights and that violent rapes upon Native American women were so terrible that mothers had to teach their children what to expect when an American citizen raped them because they had no legal rights to send the child rapists to jail, it is untrue that these conditions are normal for the average US citizen. Although there are cases in poor counties of South Carolina in which the police don’t arrest men who beat and rape their wives, because of the counties strong Christian convictions that men are in charge of the household, and that very little legal action has been undertaken even in situations where men chased after and murdered their ex-spouses or ex-girlfriends; it is untrue that these situations are a reflection of US culture and US citizens. The same should be noted for rape crimes in India, despite being more common, the United Nations has found that in terms of per capita crime rates, the rape crimes in India are actually far lower than what would normally be expected for one of the largest population sizes in the world. Mass poverty, lack of adequate police protection (police exist only to protect the wealthy in India), lack of police training in forensics, communalism, lack of judicial institutions to handle legal proceedings, lack of education, discrimination against women, and extremely sluggish court system create conditions of enmity, despair, hatred, and violence. Wealthy and middle class Indians would probably perceive the violence as happening in poverty zones and would desire to keep such violence out of their communities. It is a widespread issue but it isn’t socially different from views of crime-ridden areas such as Camden, New Jersey in the United States or the apathy towards Native American rape victims in US courts. Awful people, opportunists, and deplorable social conditions create these situations and the mass protest movements that follow to create legal changes show that they are not tolerated in any culture or democratic nation-state. Yet, sinfulness and the availability heuristic give us an automatic and negative generalization of US culture and India’s culture without learning more deeply about each country’s social issues and the contexts in which these crimes occur.
The belief in sinfulness is intrinsically dangerous to us and others. If we accept that sinfulness is ubiquitous part of life, if we accept that we can pick and choose the teachings of the Abrahamic holy books, and that we should view our failure with humility because we’re only human; we create mental conditioning that allows us to kill others who are different from us. That may seem ridiculous, but the belief in sinfulness itself presupposes that we’re capable of murder, rape, and torture deep within ourselves. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that those three beliefs, combined and inculcated for warfare, could create social conditioning that sent people to kill others who are different from them. The belief that they’re more prone to acting evil, our suspicion toward their behavior, and patronizing superiority towards people deemed different from us makes it easier to dehumanize them. The dehumanization campaign of perceiving foreigners within the connotations of evildoers would make it easier for those with simplistic moral sensibilities to kill foreigners. The overlap of sinfulness and good versus evil makes violence easier to conduct for people who believe in these concepts. Sinfulness along with good and evil explicitly ignores and obfuscates attempts at understanding different people. Perhaps more dangerously, it explicitly obstructs us from viewing their opinions and lives as meaningful like we do for people within our in-group of friends, family, and community. Wars occur, not just because of racist and other types of discriminatory caricatures of opposing sides, but also because people ignore and demonize other people’s culture, lives, and human rights. We view their lives as less important than the emotional issues of ourselves and our in-group. Absolute good and absolute evil are concepts that would create a catalyst for egregious human rights crimes. For the foreigners, reciprocity and the desire for justice for the fallen victims soon create conditions of enmity and more warfare because people will seek justice for any civilians wrongfully killed through our bombings or war campaigns. Religious extremism and justice for innocent civilians killed blend together to create prolonged warfare against us because we don’t recognize their lives as meaningful or having equal value to our in-group. Religious extremism and sometimes increased terrorist activity occur as a consequence of war-torn people seeking meaning for the horrible deaths of their loved ones.
Yet, when we observe violence in their communities (usually because of increased religious extremism as a way to cope with the loss of their loved ones and the West’s attempts at creating violence between two groups to distract from the West’s own interests in taking natural resources as per the realist theory of international relations), it makes it easier to have patronizing attitudes in support of our own society under the veneer of humility. We celebrate ourselves as having calmed our sinfulness and view outsiders as being ignorant, crazed, or believe in a radical version of a false faith. We ignore the fact that Western governments sell weapons to many of the terrorist groups including African war lords, al Qaeda, and ISIS. We ignore the fact Western governments place extreme political leaders in power who close off hospitals, schools, political participation, and jobs from a specific subset of their own community in their countries; political realities that the Western nation-states believes to be for their own self-interest only to deal with worsening problems in the future that jeopardize the safety of Western civilians and national interests.
Sin and the World
Sin can overlap with fatalism, jingoism, racism, xenophobia, Otherness, and any other form of human belief and human interaction. It’s probably why rationality is predicated upon the concept of doing evil upon others because that is what original sin makes people believe about themselves, about other human beings, and about morality itself. Sin preaches physical and mental fatigue against our own humanity as a form of eternal goodness, teaches that every great human creation is utterly meaningless, and that the most important part of life is awaiting the coming of a Messiah, or the coming of Jesus, or the coming of Jesus and Mohammed together to bring about mass world genocide and global annihilation so the true believers move on to the perfect world. Sin has had an enormous impact and history upon politics, philosophy, psychology, human biology, and people’s conceptions of human interaction. It has utterly poisoned and caused misapplications on all of these subject matters such as the denunciation of sex taught throughout the world by Christian missionaries. When combined with different forms of in-group/out-group dynamics, sin promotes the worst human atrocities. Sin is an extremist concept because it makes people believe that they’re only capable of abject evil from their own human desires. Thus, sin is the most egregious form of mental self-torture.
Among the specific contentions to particular religions, I’ve added accounts and numerical figures of the true scope of the genocidal results of the belief in sin intermixed with politics. The belief in sin, above all, seems to be the true cause for economic destruction, political folly, and human genocide. It overlays every human act with the idea that we inevitably have an impulse to do evil upon others. Expunging the belief in sin and the theories of political realism in international relations would mean less human violence, a less dangerous world, and less mental self-torture for humanity.
The arguments about how freedom from the idea of sin will only lead to massive violence, mass rapes, and death seems to be a form of self-delusion. The veneration of sin is often patronizing because Abrahamic believers truly think that some sacred warning from God would be destroyed and that acts of savagery would happen without them. An important issue to highlight: it was the belief in original sin itself that taught them to believe that humans are rampantly destructive; historically, the other parts of the world were peaceful under Buddha, Mahavira, Confucius, Lao Tzu, and these teachings didn’t require the stubborn notion that God needed to ordain them. Were there problems within the ancient East? Of course, but such acts weren’t full of savagery, mass death, and tribal wars that the West was thoroughly engaged with itself for a large part of its ancient history and particularly during the Crusades. Original sin teaches deep cynicism towards human desires and that maintaining such resentment, cynicism, and suspicion is morally good. It’s a mischaracterization to state the West became more peaceful during the 1800s, because they brought brutal acts of colonial oppression upon the rest of the world and then subjected themselves to World War twice. Would all of that have occurred without the deep theological belief in original sin being the driving force of mass conversions and human actions? Would radical Islam be able to justify violence against the West today without the belief in original sin?
Sin, Psychology, and International Relations
The belief in sinfulness creates a destructive system of reciprocity that is justified as rational and intelligent in politics. In Political Science, the Realist Theory of International Relations, the prevailing theory of Western politics since ancient Greece, operates under the assumption that strong nation-states must weaken other nation-states for its own self-interest. It assumes self-interest to mean harming other nation-states with the underlying assumption that harming other human civilizations is rational. Bombing campaigns, counterfeit money operations, embargos, sanctions, and human genocide are presumed to be rational and the Realist theory is the only international relations theory that is “neutral” to events such as the Holocaust. This assumption that harming others is rational is unfounded and discredited in modern psychology through the reciprocity principle. The Realist theory of international relations conceptualization that harming other civilizations and human genocide were rational actions came from the Melian dialogue of Thucydides in which he argued the genocide of Melos by Athens was due to human nature. Political scientists and philosophers since then have only expounded upon the Realist theory of international relations because of the belief in original sin and the belief that rational actions are synonymous with evil. Strong nation-states usually harm other nation-states, national leaders lie to their public about the supposedly humane actions – especially in foreign wars – for the sake of keeping a positive image of their country so that the citizens serve as apologists by ignoring the atrocities, and the citizens only care to celebrate the positives of their country. Many citizens choose to ignore the negative actions conducted upon foreigners in another country who have been dehumanized by their news media. This creates circular reasoning that international events will always lead to tragedy and it is all uncontrollable when in truth, it is because politicians genuinely believe that harming foreign nation-states is an intelligent course of action for maximizing their nation’s power.
The reciprocity principle has shown that individuals and groups will react positively to positive actions and negatively towards negative actions; this is because of the belief in equality. We want to repay kind actions for people who do nice things for us, out of our desire for equality. We feel it’s fair to do destructive actions upon people who commit a crime or harm us because of our desire for equality. As a result, the psychological and scientifically verified belief in reciprocity creates a state of perpetual warfare in which entire countries who believe in sinfulness go into endless warfare by minimizing the violent atrocities conducted upon the out-group in our press and venerating the goodness of the in-group to fight the generalized cartoon caricature of evil depicted as the out-group. By ignoring the atrocities that we commit, they ignore the atrocities that they commit upon us, and each group feels that it is justified in creating future harm. Worse than that, prolonged violence makes people and entire countries more extreme, thus sinfulness is used to justify our violence upon others by generalizing the entire out-group as the same instead of understanding different political groups, their racial diversity, socioeconomic differences, and the general plurality of their civilization. War itself creates psychological issues that result in heavy stress, a plethora of mental trauma, and outbursts of violence related to trauma for soldiers and civilians. It is a perpetual state of negative reciprocity and it is morally reprehensible when we’re told that committing to wars that have massive bombing campaigns is somehow “humanitarian” intervention. Wars of humanitarian intervention are very few and often cause deaths of civilians regardless of good intentions.
When the United States was hit by the attacks on the twin towers on September 11th, 2001, one of the most critical arguments was that there was something deeply nefarious about Muslim people and Islamic culture to conduct such violence. Suspicion and psychological pattern recognition between Muslim extremists and Muslim Americans began to be seen by a significant portion of the US public. The paranoia that Muslim Americans were prone to harming US society or potentially hiding terrorists became a popular fear for the US public. The US government never issued the real reasons why terrorism happens and stoked the paranoia by insisting that terrorists hated US freedoms. Various States of the US began to impose anti-Sharia laws under the mistaken belief that Islam was trying to force Westerners into conversion through violence. Violence upon Muslim minorities and Sikhs increased and was ignored by the US media. Incidentally, the US drone strikes upon seven Middle Eastern countries that resulted in thousands of civilian deaths created a surge of Islamic extremism, an increase in terrorist recruitment against the US, and the persecution and mass killings of Christians within their countries under the critical belief that Christians had some deeply nefarious aspect of their culture because the supposed greatest Christian country in the world was relentlessly bombing them and were utterly indifferent to civilian deaths – including children. Bomb droppings upon homes, hospitals, schools, and other areas are even more difficult to discern for uneducated people in third world countries and thus pattern recognition of a Christian nation and the Christian peoples within their own communities occurred. The fanciful ideas that removing the externalized “evil” people will somehow remove the foreign bombing campaigns are simply more violent methods than the West’s laws imposed upon minority groups. It’s just as important to understand that the West conducted the same type of violence within its history upon Catholics, Protestants, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Jews, and racial minorities (such as Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans, and the Irish) under the belief that they were somehow evil and that the good people needed to defend their culture from an evil incursion. The difference in responses seems to be based upon the difference in education level; college education generally helps people understand that there is more so-called “out-groups” than generalizing them through rash codifications but violence against minorities always happen to “cleanse” the in-group community of “evil” from the out-group.
The persecution is an inevitable part of perceiving our in-group in danger of annihilation, seeing every member of a perceived out-group as suspicious and potential perpetrators, and championing the innate goodness to do away with the corrupting evil influence can lead to draconian laws; the belief in sin is used as a coping mechanism whenever draconian laws lead to the deaths of innocents. During wars, when civic institutions functioning as social support mechanisms deteriorate then religious extremism becomes rampant, people begin to have rash judgments, and form scapegoats for why horrible events are happening. Persecutions inevitably follow because of the belief in good and evil in conjunction with sinfulness. A desire for self-preservation of the in-group supersedes rational discourse because the threat seems so imposing and there is no explanation for why it is happening so they find fanciful causes during times of desperation.
In regards to violence in third world countries that the wealthier nations see on the news: it is easy to believe an entire country is responsible for mass violence and gang rapes while more difficult to believe the credible facts of the lack of police power, lack of hospitals, lack of jobs, and overall mass poverty leading people to desperation and extremism as being the true cause. Another deeply important, but ignored, facet is that the majority of jobs in third world countries have no safety regulations such as in first world countries. People of the third world can die of poisoning from inhaling noxious gases, be forced to work well over twelve hours a day for something as miniscule as twenty cents an hour, and can be in danger of factory explosions that kill thousands of workers whenever they occur; such fear and paranoia would obviously frighten people about working and cause chronic stress when on the job. It isn’t simply a matter of laziness and being unwilling to modernize when there are honest questions people in third world countries have to ask themselves about their own welfare before taking a job. Safety at a job is a privilege that first world countries take for granted. Sadly, even if reform is made, corporations just shut down plants to move to other third world countries to rinse and repeat this process; thus mass poverty increases when trying to institute honest reforms and another third world country is savagely abused through corporate indifference for their wellbeing for the sake of keeping product prices low. Religious extremism always follows as a crutch when institutions fail people because religion becomes all that people in poverty can rely upon. Yet, the belief in sinfulness and oversimplified understandings of entire countries make people believe that everyone in the world will always have “evil” because everyone is inherently sinful. It disconnects the real issues with pernicious perceptions that all people in other countries are more evil because they lack a specific religious faith and then we first-world denizens content ourselves with the belief that sinfulness will happen regardless of our help; to ignore the billions who suffer under extreme poverty, who are scorned for being uneducated, and who never had a choice in the matter because they had no social support mechanism like the first world countries. Yet, we always want cheap products and ignore all of the factory explosions in third world countries which occur as a consequence of low product prices. If that statement has struck a negative chord, it shouldn’t. Perhaps it is past the time that we concern ourselves with hurt feelings when our purchasing power determines the lives of human beings who were born less fortunate than us.