Sunday, 18 September 2011

Looking at sin.

Fyi announcement: I'd like to introduce a new feature to this little blog whereby I tag things I mean to follow up later as a 'boomerang' and then get back to them when I have whatever I was lacking at the time I originally posted - e.g. in this post I'm musing about sin don't have very many statistics or studies on sinful activities on hand; so I going to tag this post boomerang, and when I have whatever it was I was lacking, I'll come back and post a followup! Neat, huh?

When you get down to it, we all know that sin is 'bad' (or 'wrong', or 'evil' - the choice of word can change subtly what you're talking about, but that's for some other time. Here/now I'm using them as if they all have the same function, more or less). We may disagree on the particulars--which acts are/are not 'sin'--but on the whole almost no one thinks that sin is 'good' [although, for argument's sake it should be pointed out that there are two groups who do think that sin (or at least, some sin) is 'good': those persons who are using 'good' with reference to sensation and perception (i.e. they mean that it {the sin} either feels good, or can be viewed as favourable from a particular {and often limited} perspective), and those warped individuals who consider sin as something of a moral obligation (it gets complicated. As said, I'll cover it another time and in the meanwhile, try to remember that 'good & evil', 'good & bad' and 'right & wrong' aren't all necessarily synonymous - which is why people pay philosophers to make it go away and stop making their heads hurt)].


Anywho. Sin. It's bad. Little argument there. But why? Is it bad because 'sin' is the label our ethical systems apply to things that are 'not good', or because in 'sinning' one preforms an inherently harmful act? Those blessed to receive a classical education will recognise this as a variation on Euthyphro's Dilemma (those robbed of such an education please click here for a nice breakdown of the dilemma by the folks over at Stand to Reason. NB: if you've not come across them before then I highly recommend their blog) where I have substituted goodness for sin. This post is me airing my desire to determine (or to make moves towards determining) whether 'sinfulness' [as defined by the Word - I am, after all, Christian; and anyway I can't think of (off hand) another ethical system that escapes the dilemma] actually has an 'inherently harmful' effect that can be measured. I think it does. My hypothesis is based on the theory that a true religion, in representing the world, should afford no cause for disagreement between it and any observation of said world (i.e. there should be no disparity between religion and science--between faith and reason--when looking at the world. If there is then one, the other or both of them need checking/fine tuning. I'll explain it sometime...).

The point of the exercise would be to A) provide a counter-example for those who feel that "sin is strictly about 'morality' and doesn't have a practical impact on daily existence" (you know who you are); and, B) provide further ammunition against the idea that faith and reason (religion and science) don't mix. I'll get back when I have some hard evidence.


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