Sin: Making Sense Out of Nonsense

Love the sinner, hate the sin? That doesn’t work for atheists. But even we can make sense of sin.

First, the nonsense: original sin.

Much of the Christian world believes that a talking snake convinced Adam and Eve to eat a piece of fruit forbidden by God, who then became so angry that he condemned all humankind to be born with what Christians call “original sin.” But then came the “good news”: God’s sinless son, Jesus, who is also God, paid a brief visit to earth to redeem us for that sin committed by Adam and Eve. So God sacrificed himself to himself to save us from himself, and when we die we will be rewarded or punished for eternity based on whether or not we believe this unbelievable story.

But rather than just make fun of such fables, I also think it’s important to read the Bible and try to understand why it has so deeply influenced our culture. Even non-religious people can find meaningful messages in “holy” books. In a previous piece, I gave a few moral lessons from the Bible, including the snake fable. My take was that Adam and Eve were correct to follow the snake’s advice to eat forbidden fruit in order to gain knowledge, because ignorance is not bliss and blind obedience is not a supreme virtue.

The concept of sin has evolved beyond the so-called “original” one. In Orthodox Judaism, the religion in which I was raised, I was taught that sin is violating any of the 613 Commandments found in the Hebrew Bible. Some seem reasonable (don’t murder, steal, or lie), some seem silly (don’t mix wool and cotton; don’t eat meat with milk), and some impossible (offering animal sacrifices at a Temple in Jerusalem that no longer exists). But at least we had a choice about whether to sin, rather than having been born with it.

My wife, Sharon, who grew up Catholic and is now an atheist, recalls how frightened she was as a child when she was required to go into a shadowy booth with a man hidden behind a screen and told to confess her sins. In order to comply with the pressure, even when she had no sins to confess, she made them up, like saying she had lied to her mother when she hadn’t. At the time, young Sharon failed to see the irony of committing the sin of lying to a Father (priest) about lying to her mother. Sharon’s early life was filled with warnings and worries about sin in all its many Catholic categories, including mortal, venial, and occasions of sin, which threatened to send her to hell, or at least purgatory after death.

Sin is sometimes described as an offense against God or as violating an individual’s relationship with God. By these definitions, I‘m pleased to say that this atheist is sinless. There is no such thing as sin for atheists, if sin is about doing something that displeases an imaginary figure. However, sins can be whatever religious figures say they are. Eating meat on Friday used to be a sin for Catholics, but no longer is.

My secular definition of sin, which could serve as a workable guideline for both theists and atheists, is hurting people, animals, and the environment. Those uncomfortable with the s-word can still be comfortable with a guideline.

A larger challenge for me this time of year is to come up with a secular version of Lent.

Several years ago, I asked a Catholic friend what he was giving up for Lent. He said that Catholics don’t just give things up; they take on positive actions, too. That sounded reasonable, but when I asked what positive thing he would be doing, he smiled sheepishly and said, “I’m giving up smoking for Lent.” (When Lent ended, he resumed smoking.)

I also have an Orthodox Jewish friend who was a chain smoker six days a week, but abstained on Saturday because it was a sin to ignite a fire. Interestingly, both my Catholic and Orthodox Jewish friends had a greatly diminished desire to smoke when they had a religious incentive to refrain.

As an atheist, during Lent I can’t forget that some people are fasting or denying themselves harmless pleasures because of atonement for Adam’s original sin, while others might be actively engaged in positive actions that I admire. If, for example, a group of Christians decides to help homeless people during Lent, I’d be pleased to see atheists join the project because it’s the right thing to do. Incentives to break bad habits and form good habits might be stronger for some during a special time of year, but that could lead to theists and atheists working together more frequently at any time of year.

Christians often say that they “love the sinner but hate the sin.” Based on some of their actions, usually pertaining to the LGBT community, I suspect that some Christians hate both. As for me, I hope atheists will look for ways to love and work with well-intentioned people — including people who believe in original sin. We can respect individuals without respecting their strange theologies.

Herb Silverman
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  • http://www.csarealestate.com/ ChucktownCharlie

    Politics is how powerful people control knowledge. Religion is how powerful people control the lack of knowledge. Religion can at times under the right stewardship give us a framework for good. This is more often displayed in positive religious childhood lessons and experiences. As one matures in the church one discovers that the framework we have been given as children is easily twisted to support the prejudices of the people who have come to power in the church over time.

    My own experience as a former practicing LGBT Christian led me to the belief that there was far more of twisting and manipulation going in the adult religious world than the furtherance of the common good. Over time I have been able to shed much of this manipulation from my own life, isolate it and disarm it…at least as it affected me personally. The good lessons remain, but I have much more clarity in my life now where the manipulation is concerned. The “scales have fallen from my eyes” and as an adult I see religion for all that it is…good and bad…and I have opted out. I choose to practice the good lessons and have “faith” that if I am doing all that I can do in that vein that some good will come of it. For me that is enough. I no longer need the answers to all the questions of life. I realize that life is what happens when you do your best and let the chips fall where they may. It’s always going to be a mixed bag.

    I LOVE your secular definition of sin! It’s really hard to manipulate that.

  • http://skepticink.com/dangeroustalk Dangerous Talk

    Religious believes give up negative habits and take up positive habits during Lent. For a humanist, every day be Lent. We strive to do that everyday; not for God, but for our fellow human beings.

  • RichardSRussell

    Years ago, I finally hit upon the ultimate bad habit to give up for Lent: religion.
    Never looked back.

  • Deborah Kaplan

    It is always thought provoking and worthwhile to read Herb Silverman’s columns. Also – – – it’s no sin to be entertained by his thoughts!

  • Ed Buckner

    Herb Silverman speaks here, as he usually does, for many other atheists such as me. His thoughtful approach, firmly rejecting the supernatural, nonsensical bits while respecting those who don’t, reflects a balanced, intelligent approach not always found among my other irreligious or religious colleagues and friends. Thanks, Herb.

    • Jan Polissar

      I guess it must be Herb’s training as a mathematician that organize his remarks in a precise logical argument that must give believers heart-burn. He also makes it all so clear that one does not need to be a believer to lead a good and respectful life.

  • Sujittrachat

    I think Herb has a point when he’s trying to emphasize us being humane to each other, in this case both theists and atheists working together on some humanitarian days. For theists, God exists, and he is supervising, guiding, directing. For atheists, it’s the humanity and the community that count. Virtually and practically, it turns out the same, why arguing? The problem of the world is that we keep bickering on some subjective points.

  • pennyroyal

    The original meaning of the word ‘sin’ is different from today’s meaning. It comes from archery and means to aim and shoot an arrow and to miss the mark, the equivalent of a mistake, something we all do, not something that is irredeemable and so shameful one can never escape this consequences. One error marks one for life.
    I found my ‘salvation’ in Big Bird who sings, “Everyone makes mistakes so why can’t you??!!!” Not the end of the world, we all err, why make a huge deal about it?

  • Rational Conclusions

    “South Carolina’s most famous atheist has announced that he will no longer write for On Faith, a religion blog started by the Washington Post. ” January 9, 2014. Hmmm, why changed his mind? Donations started to dry up? Hmmm?

    • Rational Conclusions

      ……..charlestoncitypaper.com/TheBattery/archives/2014/01/09/famed-sc-atheist-herb-silverman-leaving-washington-posts-on-faith-blog

    • Herb Silverman

      Herb

      • Rational Conclusions

        Wishy-washy or writing to fill the coffers of your “non-profit” with donations from your readers? Hmmm !!!

        • Rational Conclusions

          From IRS Form 990 …. .guidestar.org, Herb’s “non-profits” paid out $288,000+ and $179,000 + in salaries in 2012. $100,000+ went to an accountant. So where did the other $367,000 + go????

    • Herb Silverman

      I contributed regularly to On Faith when it was affiliated with the Washington Post. It is now affiliated with Faith Street, which is more supportive of religion. I wasn’t sure how often they would want me to write for them, and am pleased that they invited me to write a piece about sin and Lent. I’ve never been paid of write for On Faith.

  • Tom

    I’d never thought how Adam and Eve were right to eat the apple. You’re absolutely correct. Funny how otherwise-weird concepts get through to my brain unchallenged. A great and thought-provoking article.

  • Dianne Leonard

    I also grew up Catholic. Plus my parents added two precepts: Never cross a picket line, and Never tell a lie. When I was about 9 I started lying to the priest in confession because I had nothing to confess. I was bothered by this and told my mom. She said, “Oh, everybody does that.” Huh. Then a couple of years later came the big revelation for me: I was lying to them, but they were even more lying to me! Atheist at age 11, I never looked back. I consider the catholic church to be the most dishonest, most corrupt organization in the world–and considering its competition, that’s saying something. Oh, didn’t you know? Ex-Catholics always joke about giving up stuff for Lent. Nobody I’ve talked with considers this or original sin to be serious. Really.

  • David Manhart

    Christianity is a huge gimmick. Convince someone they are broken, from birth, and say you can cure them (well not cure, but provide treatment for life). Just give them money.

    • ZEPHANIAH54321

      And lets wait till the winds come along and test your roots. Life and death is set before all and what ever they choose will be granted. And when trees don’t bend they risk being broken.

      • David Manhart

        Nice words.. Too bad they are completely irrelevant to my accurate assertion. Now, how about quoting “Candle in the Wind”? It is also just as relevant.

  • ZEPHANIAH54321

    What’s been seen going on in the church or churches is one of the biggest and most deceitful and fraudulent scams that’s probably ever been seen before.

    The Bible actually calls it treacherous deceit. A cover up, to pillage, deal deceitfully.

    Do a word search at blue letter bible on the internet. (treacherous) (Glutton) Keep filling the belly and get blown down. Matt 7:24, LK 6:46

    And the only reason it went on as long as it did is because of the people’s generosity, And food intoxication. Either make the tree good and it’s fruit good, or make it corrupt and it’s fruit will be corrupt. Matt 12:33 LK 6:33

    As the leader, so the people? There own lifestyle and tongue tells on them. SIRACH 1;25-30 How do you get hypocrisy to reveal itself? FILL their bellies and you fuel their tongues. The tongue of hypocrisy is its own worst enemy, eventually it betrays him. PS 64;7-8 SIRACH 23;8

    And if what I’ve said is false then only the ignorant would believe it. Put the word Into practice or you’ll only learn lessons of your folly.PRO16;22 Fill the people with meat and drink, itch quenched, they think, they have only fueled there loose tongue, to reveal thoughts secret counsels and hearts secret desires.

    The church that belittles and makes light of the Law will eventually fall. ECCLESIASTICUS 19:20 How hard is it to make a decent effort? Sounds like the church needs to straighten up before it’s found corrupt. Would your contribution to society be to feed hypocrisy? It’s like kindling a fire.

    What sin would be greater then hindering the people from entering heaven. How dangerous and wicked is it to use THE HOLY BIBLE to deceive your neighbor to get ahead in life? What is a viper? What is a deceiver? MATT 23:15 What is a pisstacrite? An angry bunch who got caught.

    Which one goes thru life both ways to get ahead ?Which would be the embodiment of deceit?

    Could you discern a call from Heaven? How do you know when to answer the phone? Are you done polluting and plundering yourself, what about the little ones ?

    What value has any church put on the HOLY BIBLE? The good seed. HOW many other books has it encouraged you to read? I’ve seen a lot that have put very little faith in THE HOLY BIBLE. And I’ve already heard how many other books it’s tried to sell you that confirms that. PSALMS 124: 7

    The reason I say that is, some churches take advantage of the people’s desire to worship THE LORD JESUS, and their hopes of salvation.

    But to them THE LORD JESUS, the HOLY BIBLE and salvation are tools used to lure you to a church. Then the bait and switch takes place . When seeking the GOD of compassion, we need a heart of humility !

    And the next time you hear a sermon on radio or TV ask yourself a question. What does he know that he’s keeping from others. And here’s a little study for the religious, what is the meaning of the word sarcophagi, sarcophagus , whitewashed ( eaters of flesh ) Matt 23: 27 That’s something some Churches did not want you to know.

    The Old Testament sacrifices were symbolic of what all would be called to do. Have you ever noticed that when some churches try to make light of or belittle the Law it runs to the letters of Paul ? And you probably never thought about why did you ?

    No one who hates the Law is Wise. Would you like to know what you’re not being told ? Especially if you attend church. Read a blog. type blog, youneed toread, type as 2 words critical. Some people have missed the message of the cross and the washing of the feet.

    And if you can grasp that then you know why. Have you ever heard the church speak about a rapture? Paul thought he would be alive when it was to take place. But he died waiting for it. Hopefully you won’t.

    The church has said that a true prophet must be 100% accurate 100% of the time. Seems that was something else Paul and the church missed ? OR did they ? Paul also spoke about a lot of unpredictable afflictions. Now what would be the significance of all the healings that took place on the Sabbath IN THE Gospel’s?

    Suffering is a call to repent not the results of repentance. Paul’s suffering was the results of his own disobedience. Click on user name for more. Would you like to know what the churches haven’t told you ?

    One of their most popular sayings seems to be, you are saved by Grace not works. Are you saying that you’re to wicked to ever do any good ? Think about how that sounds.
    It’s Better to listen to silent covert warnings or you could wait for the mindful and physical ones. And here’s something to be mindful of. The physical ones usually heal it’s the mindful ones that you can’t do anything about.

    Some have reached for a pill to avoid the mindful ones. But that usually seals their fate unless they find healing. You probably know many who didn’t find that. And now you realize how important a name is.

    If you avoid the name, who brings the healing.

    And something to keep in mind ! When seeking the GOD of compassion JESUS we need to have a heart of humility. And everyone thoughtful and loves life holds him in AWE.

    Or you’re living a life that’s unpredictable. More about that later.

    AND check out, Open Your White Umbrella ORG | The White Umbrella Campaign

    And before giving a thumbs up or down you may want to wait for the next comment.
    Or Click on user name and read it before I post it.

  • ZEPHANIAH54321

    A lack of self control concerning food and drink goes Hand in Hand with a lack of self control concerning all areas of life.

    What is the reason for sicknesses, are you spiritually or morally unsound or corrupt? TV ?
    What about being mentally or emotionally unsound or disordered? TV ?

    The more you eat the more You REVEAL, about self, and a weakness. Fill their bellies and you fuel their tongues.

    Your conscience is the audience of your thoughts and thanks to your tongue others are. The tongue can reveal knowledge or the very cause of ignorance.

    And that lead to cultivating some thoughts that lead me to see, The busy tongue is the guard against Wisdom, and by holding your tongue you cause the mind to investigate. ISAIAH 30: 15

    Bless the people with discernment and what remains in the Dark ?

    Do you really know what discernment is ? Pay attention to discernment she is your silent teacher and reveler of understanding what others cannot put into words. Reveal your WISDOM and hold your tongue.

    With a tongue I can keep the simple from patting me on the back. And that same tongue can keep the wise at a distance. A life of ignorance the tongue confirms. When you take time to listen you reveal an eagerness to learn. HOSEA 4 : 6

    Your soul yearns for knowledge. But the flesh gets in the way and fills the belly. There’s something else that you need to understand. THE MORE YOU FEED YOUR FLESH, the more your flesh in return is going to demand satisfaction.

    Anyone who lacks self control has already proved that to be true. And it’s revealed in other ways. With some it’s more food and when that fails to satisfy it can lead to chasing the humbled dollar or sex, sports, drinking, TV. internet, CELL PHONE and so on.

    And when all that fails to satisfy, and it will , some get presumptuous and ambitious and start looking for recognition (POPULARITY) The dangerous one, because it reveals a yielding to the others, a yielding to the demands of the flesh. Namely food. Give thanks for the Grace that helps you to over come those demands.

    Your eyes and ears are the door to your soul, and what you put in your mouth can destroy both. WISDOM 6;12 Be careful of what you feed them. PRO 20 : 13 Do you know what it is that causes people to relinquish exercising their own powers of investigating? Food a busy tongue and a busy life.

    Now, what are the thoughts today ? How do you feel today? What did you eat yesterday?

    The thoughts of the mind, the tongue reveals, both are the results of yesterdays appetites. A little stormy? SIRACH 39:28 Put your meats on trial and see if they turn and try the Mind ? Food for thought.

    It’s Better to listen to silent covert warnings or you could wait for the mindful and physical ones. And here’s something to be mindful of. The physical ones usually heal it’s the mindful ones that you can’t do anything about.

    Some have reached for a pill to avoid the mindful ones. But that usually seals their fate unless they find healing. You probably know many who didn’t find that. And now you realize how important a name is.

    If you avoid the name, who brings the healing. A moderate diet ensures sound sleep, and a clear and sober mind will lead you to temperance. SIRACH 31 :20

    You could also start with silent prayers, with the mind, three words, help me JESUS or help us JESUS, PLEASE.

    Your moral state has a big influence upon your physical condition. A warring mind or a peaceful one.

    Watch the appetites. And I’ve also seen that some of the bitter foods in life do the most good. And to hungry souls even the bitter taste sweet. PRO 27:7

    Self control and self discipline reveal a desire to learn and to be lead further. Have you ever wondered why kids behave the way they do?

  • bm

    Nonsense? Great definition of religion.

  • Patrick7Gormley

    Sin means a crime against the law of God. As a law isn’t a law at all unless it says the sinner must be punished unless he repents, belief in sin is vindictive. It is accusing you of crime without proof that there is a God to sin against or without proof that he even made a law.

  • TTWSYFAMDGAHJMJ

    IN REPLY TO HS: “SO GOD SACRIFICED HIMSELF TO HIMSELF TO SAVE US FROM HIMSELF,

    ANS: When Adam sinned, God promised He would send a Redeemer to redeem man so that man may be saved from eternal damnation the fate that was given to Satan who was not redeemed because of His pride ((Isaiah 14:12-15.) Besides exercising this authority over those who were called “his angels”, Satan has extended his empire over the minds of evil men (Ephesians 2:1-2).

    God didn’t die as a sacrifice to Himself but as a mediator. Thus, “God our Savior, Who willed that all men may be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator of God and men, the man Christ Jesus: Who gave himself a redemption for all, a testimony in due times.”

    “Christ’s mediatorship, therefore, occupies the central position in the economy of salvation: all human souls are both for time and eternity dependent on Christ Jesus for their whole supernatural life. “Who [God the Father] hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of the Son of his love, In whom we have redemption through his blood, the remission of sins”

    “No, God did not die to sacrifice Himself to Himself to save us from Himself. God sent His Son to redeem man for man’s sin against God. God made man perfect and endowed man with a free will as God did for the Angels, so that both may choose to love God or reject Him. Satan, created as a seal of resemblance, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty, (Ezekiel 28:12-15),” and his minions went to Hell.

    “With the growing wickedness of the world and the spreading of paganism and false religions and magic rites, the rule of Satan was extended and strengthened till his power was broken by the victory of Christ, who for this reason said, on the eve of His Passion: “Now is the judgment of the world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out” (John 12:31).”

    • Tom from North Carolina

      You don’t really believe in Genesis literally, do you?
      You think the earth is 6,000 years old and our entire 7 billion strong planet was populated by 2 humans?

  • TTWSYFAMDGAHJMJ

    IN REPLY TO HS: “THE SERPENT”

    Genesis 3:1-5

    The serpent–The fall of man was effected by the seductions of a serpent. That it was a real serpent is evident from the plain and artless style of the history and from the many allusions made to it in the New Testament.

    But the material serpent was the instrument or tool of a higher agent, Satan or the devil, to whom the sacred writers apply from this incident the reproachful name of “the dragon, that old serpent” [ Revelation 20:2 ]. Though Moses makes no mention of this wicked spirit–giving only the history of the visible world–yet in the fuller discoveries of the Gospel, it is distinctly intimated that Satan was the author of the plot ( John 8:44 ,2 Corinthians 11:3 , 1 John 3:8 , 1 Timothy 2:14 , Revelation 20:2 ).

    “More subtile–Serpents are proverbial for wisdom ( Matthew 10:16 ). But these reptiles were at first, probably, far superior in beauty as well as in sagacity to what they are in their present state.

    “He said–There being in the pure bosoms of the first pair no principle of evil to work upon, a solicitation to sin could come only from “without,” as in the analogous case of Jesus Christ ( Matthew 4:3 ); and as the tempter could not assume the human form, there being only Adam and Eve in the world, the agency of an inferior creature had to be employed.

    “The dragon-serpent [BOCHART] seemed the fittest for the vile purpose; and the devil was allowed by Him who permitted the trial, to bring articulate sounds from its mouth.

    “Unto the woman–the object of attack, from his knowledge of her frailty, of her having been but a short time in the world, her limited experience of the animal tribes, and, above all, her being alone, unfortified by the presence and counsels of her husband. Though sinless and holy, she was a free agent, liable to be tempted and seduced.”

    IN REPLY TO HS: “

  • TTWSYFAMDGAHJMJ

    IN REPLY TO HS: “FIRST, THE NONSENSE: ORIGINAL SIN.”

    Without God nothing is possible (Mark 10:27), , but Original Sin separated us from God.“Original sin is the privation of Sanctifying grace in consequence of the sin of Adam. It has introduced death — ‘Wherefore as by one man sin entered into this world and by sin death; and so death passed upon all men’.Sanctifying grace therefore enters into the moral order as a permanent tendency which exists even when the subject who possesses it does not act; it is a turning towards God. Without this grace man cannot be saved.

    “The privation of this grace would be a stain, a moral deformity, a turning away from God, aversion, and this character is not found in any other effect of the fault of Adam. THIS PRIVATION, THEREFORE, IS THE HEREDITARY STAIN.

    “Adam’s sin, therefore, is the sole cause of death for the entire human race. It is, therefore, his disobedience only that could have merited and brought death into the world (Romans 5:13, 14).

    “One man has transmitted to the whole human race not only the death of the body, which is the punishment of sin, but even sin itself, which is the death of the soul, namely, the privation of Sanctifying grace, the principle of supernatural life. Since original sin is “the death of the soul”, it is the privation of sanctifying grace.

    Sanctifying grace is called Justice; after the fall, man suffers his own privation of justice which is restored by Baptism.

    The affect of Original Sin on man are the following. 1. Physical Evils: 2. Suffering & Death, 3. Concupiscence–the rebellion of the lower appetite caused by the absence of Sanctifying grace.

    Moral goodness consists in this, that our action is according to the moral law, but grace is deification, a perfect conformity with God who is the first rule of all morality.De Tocqueville wrote, “Liberty cannot be established without morality, or morality without faith.” Aquinas wrote, ““With Faith, no proof is necessary; without Faith no proof is possible.”

  • TTWSYFAMDGAHJMJ

    IN REPLY TO HS: “SIN IS SOMETIMES DESCRIBED AS AN OFFENSE AGAINST GOD OR ONE’S INDIVIDUAL’S RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD. BY THESE DEFINITIONS, I‘M PLEASED TO SAY THAT THIS ATHEIST IS SINLESS.

    ANS: By sin it is understood to mean a moral evil. So what is meant by Moral Evil? Evil is defined by St. Thomas Aquinas (De malo, 2:2) as a privation of form or order or due measure.

    In the Physical Order a thing is good in proportion as it possesses being. God alone is essentially Being, i.e. Pure Actuality, and He alone is essentially and perfectly good. Everything else possesses but a limited being, and, in so far as it possesses being, it is good. When it has its due proportion of form and order and measure, it is, in its own order and degree, good.

    Evil is a deficiency in perfection, hence it cannot exist in God who is by nature Perfect. “Evil is found only in finite beings which are subject to the privation of form or order or measure due them, and, through the opposition they encounter, are liable to an increase or decrease of the perfection they have. According to the nature of the perfection which it limits, evil is metaphysical, physical, or moral.
    Physical evil deprives the subject from a natural good, and is averse to its well being.”

    “Moral evil is found only in intelligent beings; it deprives them of some moral good. It may be defined as a privation of conformity to right reason and to the law of God. Since the morality of a human act consists in its agreement or non-agreement with right reason and the eternal law. An act is good or evil in the moral order in respect to its agreement or non-agreement. When the intelligent creature, knowing God and His law, deliberately refuses to obey, moral evil results.”

  • TTWSYFAMDGAHJMJ

    SINS CAN BE WHATEVER RELIGIOUS FIGURES SAY THEY ARE.

    ANS: Sin is the violation of God’s laws, not man’s. “There are a great many kinds of sins. The Letter to the Galatians contrasts the works of the flesh with the fruit of the Spirit: “Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the Kingdom of God.”

    “Sins can be distinguished according to their objects, as can every human act; or according to the virtues they oppose, by excess or defect; or according to the commandments they violate. They can also be classed according to whether they concern God, neighbor, or oneself; they can be divided into spiritual and carnal sins, or again as sins in thought, word, deed, or omission.

    “The root of sin is in the heart of man, in his free will, according to the teaching of the Lord: “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a man.”

    “Unintentional ignorance can diminish or even remove the immutability of a grave offense. But no one is deemed to be ignorant of the principles of the moral law, which are written in the conscience of every man.

    “The promptings of feelings and passions can also diminish the voluntary and free character of the offense, as can external pressures or pathological disorders. Sin committed through malice, by deliberate choice of evil, is the gravest.

    “Mortal sin results in the loss of charity and the privation of sanctifying grace. If it is not redeemed by repentance and God’s forgiveness, it causes exclusion from Christ’s kingdom and the eternal death of hell, for our freedom has the power to make choices for ever, with no turning back.”

  • TTWSYFAMDGAHJMJ

    IN REPLY TO: “SO GOD SACRIFICED HIMSELF TO HIMSELF TO SAVE US FROM HIMSELF, AND WHEN WE DIE WE WILL BE REWARDED OR PUNISHED FOR ETERNITY BASED ON WHETHER OR NOT WE BELIEVE THIS UNBELIEVABLE STORY.

    ANS: In John 18: 37 Pilate, a Pagan, asked Jesus, “Why are you here?” Jesus answered, “For this was I born, and for this came I into the world; that I should give testimony to the truth. Every one that is of the truth hears my voice. 38 Pilate said to him: What is truth?”

    Neither does the Atheist know what Truth is. God did not sacrifice Himself to save us from Himself, but that man may be joined to Him in everlasting happiness, the purpose of every human life. Original Sin forfeited that end, and Jesus restored it, viz. He opened the Gates of Heaven. (John 14:2).

    Moreover, man was made to love and be loved. Consequently, man was God’s beloved. ““Greater love than this can no man have, that a man lay down his life for his friends:” (John 15:13). There was proved the love of Christ towards us, in that He died for us: how is the love of the Father towards us proved? In that He “sent His only Son” to die for us: so also the apostle Paul says: “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how has He not with Him also freely given us all things”(Romans 8:32)?

    “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 This man came for a witness, to give testimony of the light that all men might believe through him. He was not the light, but was to give testimony of the light. That was the true light, which enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world.

    He was in the world: and the world was made by him: and the world knew him not. He came unto his own: and his own received him not. But as many as received him, he gave them power to be made the sons of God, to them that believe in his name. Who are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

  • TTWSYFAMDGAHJMJ

    IN REPLY TO HS: “BUT RATHER THAN JUST MAKE FUN OF SUCH FABLES.”

    ANS: Correction, Scripture under the auspices of Catholicism is no a fable; it’s been vindicated by its fruits, and Secularism has been discredited by the fruits it bears. God is not the fable; the fable is that God doesn’t exist and the Scripture is myth in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

    Winston Churchill quipped, “Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened. That’s what Atheists do; they ignore the proven facts and resort to their predisposed proclivities.

    C. S. Lewis wrote, “A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.” Of course, in doing so the Atheist impugns his own integrity by eliminating any rational sustenance for man’s inalienable rights.

    Galileo added, “I do not feel obliged to believe that same God who endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect had intended for us to forgo their use. ”The word fable referenced to Scripture is indicative of a senseless machination created by the mindless thoughts of a closed mind, a mind closed to Reason, to History, to Reality, and to just plain Commons Sense. The Founding Fathers noted that God and our inalienable Rights were self evident, viz. from Common Sense.

    An Atheist neither proves that God doesn’t exist by refuting the plethora of proofs that show He does exist. Nor can he even assume that God is a possibility. G. K. Chesterton once debated the renowned Atheist lawyer Clarence Darrow on the existence of God. The debated was reenacted by EWTN and is on YouTube. Darrow was completely frustrated because he was all bluster and without substance.

    Peter Huff explains why Darrow was so flabbergasted. “The atheist can appeal to nothing absolute, nothing objectively true for all people, it is just mere opinion enforced by might. The Christian appeals to a standard outside himself/herself in which truth and qualitative values can be made sense of.’

    Truly, the nonsense is to be an Atheist.

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    IN REPLY TO HS: “CHRISTIANS OFTEN SAY THAT THEY “LOVE THE SINNER BUT HATE THE SIN.” BASED ON SOME OF THEIR ACTIONS, USUALLY PERTAINING TO THE LGBT COMMUNITY.”

    ANS: To engage in Homosexuality is a crime against the Natural Law. To seek such an engagement in Gay Marriage is an undermining of Marriage and the sacred union of the Family. Moreover, homosexual adoptions, fomented by the Culture of Death Dem Party, are a crime against justice due to the nature of the child. The Natural Law deems that children by nature have a mother and father, not two fathers or two mothers.

    It is the duty of the State to protect and enhance Traditional Marriage and to reject all obstacles that destabilize and undermine Marriage and family such as Gay Unions which disorder the Society..

    The Catholic Church abhors sin but loves the Sinner (Mark 2:17). Her compassion is inherent in its belief that every person has dignity and self worth irrespective of Religion, Race, Gender, or Orientation. Even Criminals enjoy this accreditation. Criminals do not lose their human dignity, only their freedom.

    This Catholic belief is manifested in the CC’s defense of the unborn against Abortion, and most explicitly for Gays in the World renowned DREAM (Drug Resources Enhancement against Aids) Program that treats the victims of AIDS, HIV, and STDs and extends to the victims’ families. Some 70% of DREAM’s employees are volunteers including other HIV patients.

    The DREAM Program was initiated by the Catholic Church, as was Her initiative for Rachel’s Vineyard, the healing of post abortion trauma in women who had abortions. Further, the Pontifical Academy in its war against Abortion initiated the Natural Family Planning programs that are more efficacious than the Culture of Death solutions of Contraceptives and Abortion.

    However, the CC cacophonously remonstrates voraciously against the vice of Lust a capitol sin inherent in Gay Sex.

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    TO HS” “WHY GOD CAME INTO THE WORLD”
    “Those who are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world hears them. We are of God: he that knows God hears us; he that is not of God hears not us. From this know we the spirit of truth, and [the spirit] of error. Let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loves is born of God, and knows God. He that loves not knows not God; for God is love.

    “In this was manifested the love of God in us, that God sent His only-begotten Son into this world, that we may live through Him. Herein is love, not that we loved, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the Atoner for our sins. Dearly beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.

    “Jesus had no need to come but because of charity: as indeed the charity we are commending is that which the Lord Himself commends in the Gospel, ‘Greater love than this can no man have, that a man lay down his life for his friends.’ (John 15:13). How was it possible for the Son of God to lay down His life for us without putting on flesh in which He might die? Whosoever therefore violates charity, let him say what he will with his tongue, his life denies that Christ has come in the flesh; and this is an antichrist, wherever he may be, wherever he has come in.”

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    , The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that with the first sin man “chose himself over and against God, against the requirements of his creaturely status and therefore against his own good” (n. 398).

    Once the fundamental relationship is spoilt, the other relational poles are also jeopardized or destroyed: sin ruins relationships, thus it ruins everything, because we are relational. Now, if the relationship structure is disordered from the outset, every human being comes into a world marked by this relational distortion, comes into a world disturbed by sin, by which he or she is marked personally; the initial sin tarnishes and wounds human nature (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 404-406).

    And by himself, on his own, man is unable to extricate himself from this situation, on his own he cannot redeem himself; only the Creator himself can right relationships. Only if he from who we distanced ourselves comes to us and lovingly holds out his hand can proper relationships be restored.

    This happens through Jesus Christ, who goes in exactly the opposite direction to Adam, as is described by the hymn in the second chapter of St Paul’s Letter to the Philippians (2:5-11): whereas Adam did not acknowledge his creatural being and wanted to put himself in God’s place, Jesus, the Son of God, was in a perfect filial relationship with the Father, he emptied himself and became the servant, he took the path of love, humbling himself even to death on a cross, to set right our relations with God. The Cross of Christ thus became the new tree of life.

    Living out our Catholic Faith means recognizing God’s greatness and accepting our smallness, our condition as creatures, letting the Lord fill us with His love and thus develop our true greatness. Evil, with its load of sorrows and sufferings, is a mystery illuminated by the light of Faith which gives us the certainty that we can be freed from it: the certainty that it is good to be a human being.”

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    IN REPLY TO HS: “BELIEF DOES NOT MAKE YOU A GOOD PERSON; LACK OF BELIEF DOES NOT MAKE US BAD…

    ANS: Aquinas wrote, “With Faith no proof is necessary; with out Faith no proof is possible. “Unless you believe, you will not understand (cf. Is 7:9). If you do not understand, how can you believe? That is the dilemma of an Atheist.

    “The pagan world, which hungered for light, had seen the growth of the cult of the sun god, Sol Invictus, invoked each day at sunrise. Yet though the sun was born anew each morning, it was clearly incapable of casting its light on all of human existence. The sun does not illumine all reality; its rays cannot penetrate to the shadow of death, the place where men’s eyes are closed to its light.

    Read in this light, the text (Is 7: 9) leads to one conclusion: we need knowledge, we need truth, because without these we cannot stand firm, we cannot move forward. Faith without truth does not save; it does not provide a sure footing. It remains a beautiful story, the projection of our deep yearning for happiness, something capable of satisfying us to the extent that we are willing to deceive ourselves. Either that, or it is reduced to a lofty sentiment which brings consolation and cheer, yet remains prey to the vagaries of our spirit and the changing seasons, incapable of sustaining a steady journey through life.

    Jesus said it is not enough to have faith in Him; we also must obey His commandments. “Why do you call Me `Lord, Lord,’ but do not do the things I command?” (Luke 6:46), and in James 2:14
    “What shall it profit, my brethren, if a man says he hath faith, but hath not works? Shall faith be able to save him”

    1 Corinthians 2:12 “Now, we have received not the spirit of this world, but the Spirit that is of God: that we may know the things that are given us from God.” James 2:26 “For even as the body without the spirit is dead: so also faith without works is dead.”

    Hebrews 11:6 “But without faith it is impossible to please God. For he that cometh to God must believe that He is: and is a Rewarder to them that seek Him.”