Most of us have heard a religious person say “you just want to sin” as an explanation for our disbelief. Do I want to sin? Abso-fuckin-lutely! But that’s not the reason why I’m an atheist. I’m heading to Las Vegas – Sin City itself – for nearly a week of food, cheap booze, and gambling. While planning the trip, the concept of sin has been on my mind. What is it exactly? And what do Christians mean when they accuse us of wanting a free pass?
What the hell is sin?
When we think of the word sin, some obviously bad things come to mind: murder, theft, lying, etc. But is this really the biblical view of sin? A case could be made that certain actions are strictly forbidden while others fit into a sort of gray area. However, when the bible speaks of sin it all falls into one overarching category: DISOBEDIENCE.
Christians seem to value free will, but the Bible paints a different picture. God wants total control. He wants control over our thoughts and our actions. This is why you’ll find detailed instructions on topics ranging from how to go to the bathroom, clean yourself, build a tent, treat your neighbors, punish your slaves, and the micro-managing mania goes on and on. Whenever God loses control he throws a temper tantrum (sometimes in the form of global genocide). Anytime someone does something God doesn’t like, that’s sin.
The control mechanism is introduced into the bible from the very beginning with the idea of original sin. Eve’s sin wasn’t just eating some fruit, it was disobeying God by eating fruit he said was off-limits. Instead of being reasonable and punishing Adam and Eve alone for their infraction, God chose to curse the entire human race. According to the fable, every child is born with the stain of original sin and therefore in need of forgiveness. Even the best, kindest, most moral people are doomed to burn in hell without God’s forgiveness under the Christian worldview. We’re all damned from birth.
I’m not a perfect person. I often make mistakes that affect other people. When my actions harm or offend someone else I choose to make amends with that person. We’re all human and have the potential of screwing things up. We all have to swallow our pride, bite the bullet, and do our best to earn forgiveness for some things that we do.
It makes sense to apologize to the offended (human) party. It does NOT make sense to seek the forgiveness of some divine being. Even if a god did exist, how does my “sin” against another human being affect him in any way at all?
I’ll make a confession here to illustrate my point. When I was a teenager I was really into Star Wars (yes, I’m a geek) and I collected all the action figures, spaceships, and memorabilia. It wasn’t a cheap hobby. Because I was perpetually broke I funded my hobby by stealing cash from my parents. They had a stash in a coffee can and I would skim a $20 bill here and there. It went on for months and added up to a lot of money during that time. At some point, my mom counted the money and I was busted.
Now imagine if I completely bypassed my parents and asked an invisible man in the sky to forgive me for my theft. How would that get me one step closer to fixing the actual problem? How would that repay my parents or repair our damaged relationship? It wouldn’t. I screwed up big time and had to make amends with the people I hurt. Asking God for forgiveness doesn’t make any sense. I didn’t steal from him. But this is exactly what many religious people do. They pray, feel better about themselves, and move on like nothing ever happened.
How does divine forgiveness work anyway? Easy! God so loved the world that he demanded buckets of blood as gruesome payment before dispensing forgiveness. I find it interesting, and nauseating, that God could only forgive people if they killed something. It took centuries of animal sacrifices to keep the Jews in the clear. The Christians decided one big sacrifice would be an improvement. The god-man
Hercules Jesus had to be murdered to make sure they could masturbate without facing hell. Every Sunday morning churches sing happy songs about being ‘washed in the blood of the lamb’, without a thought as to how terrifyingly disgusting that is. God loves blood. It’s a fetish. Not for me, but I won’t judge.
Sin. Repent. Repeat.
Christians love to accuse atheists of “just wanting to sin”, but let’s look at the facts. If atheists secretly believed in God, but ignored his existence because we want to drink, gamble and have sex then we’d have to be brain-damaged. If we knew God existed, but did our own thing anyway, then we’d be knowingly dooming ourselves to hell. I might want to rob a bank, but choosing not to believe in cops isn’t going to keep me from facing them as I stroll away.
Christians, on the other hand, get a free pass. A few magic words and it’s like their sins never happened. They can go out and sin all they want (they’re fond of the term ‘backsliding’) and then pray to God for forgiveness. They can start over again with a blank slate.
The Ultimate Sin
According to the bible, there’s only one unforgivable sin: blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.
“But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven;
they are guilty of an eternal sin.”
You would think the bible would be more specific about what this actually means. The one unforgivable sin strikes me as an important thing. But no, we don’t get any explanation. God condemns you in mysterious ways. As a result, this verse has been interpreted in a thousand different ways by a thousand different denominations.
My dad, a Southern Baptist pastor, spoke about this verse last week. His understanding is that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is unbelief. If you don’t believe in God then you cannot be forgiven. People who deny God’s existence are reprobates who deserve the fires of hell. The god of the bible, who provides no evidence of his existence whatsoever, cannot forgive you for using the brain he supposedly gave you. Seems reasonable.
Religious people have a hard time understanding how we can reject their rule book. They think following the bible makes them moral. Without a divine law-giver, they assume we’re all amoral anarchists running amok. If we choose not to worship at the feet of their god, then the only explanation is that we just want to sin.
Sorry Christians, but the idea that we’re denying God’s existence to avoid the consequences of disobedience is laughably ridiculous. However if “just wanting to sin” means we refuse to bow to the will of a non-existent dictator, then yes, you caught us.