No. Like @ragingloli said, sin is a notion that is wrapped up in the existence of a god. Since I don’t believe in any gods, I do not believe in sin. But like @elbanditoroso said, actions can be bad without being sins.
Sin is sort of like a gateway drug in a philosophical sense.
If you believe in sin, it implies you you believe in an external (not-personal) value system. Which in turn suggests that you have decide to outsource your beliefs and not necessarily develop them internally.
The leads to the question of who or what or where these external beliefs came from. Are they from parents? Religion? If religion, from a benign religion or something like Jim Jones at Jonestown or Fred Phelps at Westboro?
How do you know that the creators of the value system that taught you about sin are not sinful themselves?
Do we all have the same sins? Does someone get punished and someone else get a free pass for doing the same sins?
@SavoirFaire I don’t think all Christians view sin the same way. Also, many religions have their own version of the Christian sin concept. My view of sin here is how it’s frequently defined by Christian Spiritualists.
Sin to me is about moral right and wrong… where law leaves off, sin covers that. I believe in sin that way, but I don’t believe in a spiritual judge that will condemn us to hell to pay for sin. I think we just need to look inside of ourselves and deal with our own sins in healthy ways.
How do you answer a question such as do you believe in sin without defining what sin is? Not everybody’s definition of sin will be the same. The definition I’ve given I’d answer the question with a yes, because to me sin is any act that causes harm to one’s self or another.
@Paradox25“How do you answer a question such as do you believe in sin without defining what sin is?”
It depends on what your view is. You’ll notice that I didn’t need a complete definition because it was sufficient to understand that sin requires there to be a god. Since there is no god, there is no sin. That sin requires a god relies on part of the definition, but does not require that one present the definition in its entirety. In any case, you didn’t actually answer the question. As such, your answer appeared to be a complaint about previous responses.
“Not everybody’s definition of sin will be the same.”
Perhaps not exactly the same, but they better fall under certain parameters. There’s only so far we can stretch the language, after all, until it stops being useful or communicative.
“The definition I’ve given I’d answer the question with a yes”
Well, at least you’ve finally answered the question.
“because to me sin is any act that causes harm to one’s self or another.”
Except that is precisely the case of stretching the language too far. Sin requires a god, by definition. Harm does not. Therefore, sin necessarily must be more than something that merely causes harm to oneself or another. This isn’t even a philosophical point. It’s just basic grammar.
When people fuck up in such a way that it affects others or the world in general, I sometimes use the word “sin” as a synonym for that, as in “That’s a fucking sin against mankind,” or society, or people in general. I hold no mystical or religious attachment to the word. The only place I’ve ever been misunderstood when I do this is here on this site. People here, on both side of the atheist/believer argument, are waaaay too sensitive to these types of things. But that’s their problem.
I don’t believe in sin. There are harmful behaviors, but no sins.
@Espiritus_Corvus I’ve looked at a bunch of dictionaries, and they all agree with @ragingloli, @elbanditoroso, and @SavoirFaire. It’s a religious word, even if it’s sometimes used non-literally. Also, one of the topics for this question is “religion.” So it looks like the religious usage is intended.
@Espiritus_Corvus I don’t think I’m being oversensitive. I answered given my interpretation of the question. If you want to say, “I think there are sins, but I don’t mean anything religious by it,” I’m not going to stop you. And if you use the word in a colloquial manner, I would understand what you meant.
That said, I don’t think the fact that you sometimes use the word “sin” necessarily means you believe there are sins. I sometimes use the word “god,” but I don’t believe there is a god. In any case, my concern is clarity. Even if colloquial usages of a word are acceptable, it’s worth understanding when they might cause confusion. This question might be one of those instances, though maybe not so long as one is clear about what they mean.
Yes, I believe there is a thing called sin. A useful introduction is a book by Cornelius Plantinga. ”...Plantinga gives you a fresh look at the ancient doctrine of sin to help you better recognize and deal with it. Discover how sin corrupts what is good, the relationship to folly and addiction…”
@SavoirFaire I never even read you answer. Didn’t even know you were here. By sensitive, i meant the whole site in general, not just this thread. Got your radar ramped up kind of high, don’t you think?
Hey, @Patton, WTF are you on about? Calling me a fuckhead? Damn, did I hurt your widdle feewings with an honest answer to this question? Jesus, did you bring your fainting couch with you? You feel nice a safe behind a computer screen, don’t you?
Funny, I don’t even see anyone disagreeing with anyone, just being disagreeable and talking at each other. It’s clear that @SavoirFaire doesn’t believe in a god, and I’m good with that. It’s clear that @Paradox25, believes there is a God, and I’m fine with that.
The question is, “Do you believe in sin?” There are 3 possible answers: @SavoirFaire’ no, @Paradox25‘s yes, and @Jonesn4burgersin a way. There are no wrong answers. There’s no reason the answers and answerers can’t live in peace.
We already know that no one here is going to change anyone here’s mind.
Well, @rockfan, knowing the ‘best friend’ background for your question, I’ll tell you that I’m agnostic, and I have had this discussion with Christian friends. Amenably.
You first need to gauge your friend’s faith, or at least give them a heads up. “How strong is your faith? I’m not of a faith, and I don’t feel drawn to believing, and yet I’d like to try to understand your beliefs. I’d like to understand you better, but I don’t want make you think I’m trying to shake your faith by disbelieving.” Of course that’s more stilted than you would be with a best friend.
If they bristle, then drop it as decorously as possible. If you get a lopsided grin and a “Hey, man, ask me anything you like!” you’re in business. Doing a little homework on your friend’s religion (on-line) beforehand is a good idea. Shows you’re serious and you care.
Tread lightly. Religion, politics and money are the foes of friendship.
@Espiritus_Corvus My response doesn’t assume that you’ve read my answer. It simply points out that there can be a reason to discuss the definition that isn’t motivated by oversensitivity. It also attempted to clarify my previous answer in a way that could accommodate what you had said (while still noting the value of clarity). So if anyone has their radar ramped up high, it would seem to be you (and @Patton, it seems).
@rockfan Fluther can debate anything, no matter how clear you make it.
@ibstubro I think the other matters are pretty clear if you just read the responses. First and foremost, there was a discussion as to whether or not, or to what degree, sin is a religious concept (which might affect one’s interpretation of the question, and therefore one’s answer to it). That seems relevant, and in no way requires one to think that “yes,” “no,” or “sort of” is an inappropriate answer. And given that Fluther is a place for discussions (and poll questions are not typically allowed), it seems for the best that the question was able to generate some dialogue.
You shouldn’t have to believe in an omnipresent God to understand the concept of sin. A description I read many years ago captures the idea of sin being a state of moral uncleanliness. I think it was an American author of mysteries who summed up the idea beautifully. He described a career thief – his specialty was burglary – who had enormous charm and many talents, but, for people who knew him, had a streak of the most extraordinary cruelty. The idea conveyed in the passage was of a person whose only concern was the satisfaction of his appetites. In a previous thread, a flutherite introduced me to a new word, “scofflaw.” The word means “a persistent offender” – and is almost synonymous with another expression “sinner.”
@bea2345 You don’t have to believe in God to understand the concept of sin. You need to believe in God to believe in the reality of sin (when understood in its literal, religious sense rather than a loose, colloquial sense in which it is synonymous with moral wrongness more generally). In addition, it is perhaps worth noting that “uncleanliness,” as a moral notion, is also of religious origin. Many ancient religions thought of good and bad in terms of purity and taint, and this idea continues on in some religions that exist today (such as Judaism and Shinto).
@SavoirFaire I’m aware that the concept of sin is wrapped around some sort of divine law. Each religion has their own name for the term sin as well as a result of this.
I’m not entirely sure if I believe in a god per se, but rather a different version of what’s termed as naturalism. I’m answering the question based on my own definition of sin, because I suspect we all have what’s termed as a spirit (though I prefer to call this an etheric copy), and that our mind isn’t solely a brain function. I’d always figured that if anything really exists, or any phenomena is real, no matter how bizarre it seems to us, that this would be a natural way the universe operates. No magic or miracles required.
My definition of sin is based on the above, and since I think it’s likely most religions have gotten at least some things right, that it’s very possible that sin has been misinterpreted as the result of rudimentary and biased minds in an ancient time. According to both secular afterlife research, and that of many Spiritualists, what’s termed as ‘sin’ isn’t really a transgression against some supreme entity, but rather a spiritual vibration affecting each spirit’s condition upon entering the afterlife dimensions. Sin lowers one’s spiritual vibrations,and as a result this affects each spirit’s living conditions in realms where mind literally creates its environment since these are more the less thought realms.
I don’t want to get too deep here, and obviously we don’t agree with each other on anything I’ve written here, but it’s the basis of my answer for whether I believe in sin or not, and then attempting to explain why I do. First I had to describe my definition of sin in order to do this.
@ibstubro I don’t take too much seriously on here. I expect many of the reactions I get since it appears I have much less in common with most of the progressives on here than even many of the conservatives do, despite the fact that I classify myself as a progressive. I never expected to be popular on here, but I do like to learn why people think the way they do, and this is true for people of all political stripes, philosophical stances and religions.
@ibstubro I expect the reactions I get because my views are different on a site that leans in a certain direction on many key issues. I’m not the only one whose answers have been thoroughly analyzed on here.
@Paradox25 I don’t think the substance of your views has much to do with the responses you’ve had on this thread. You just weren’t answering the question directly, so it was hard to tell what point you were trying to make. As @ibstubro said, this is an opinion question. Your actual views can’t be wrong – but as an observer, I found it hard to understand what you were saying. As such, you’re seeing challenges to the language you used, not to your actual beliefs.
@ibstubro And none of that answers the question, as has already been said elsewhere. Though perhaps you weren’t posting this to say that he had. I’m not entirely sure what the purpose of your post was.
“The OP” usually refers to “the original poster”, i.e. the person who asked the question.
@dappled leaves There’s usually more choices on most issues than choice A or choice B. According to many people it’s either the Christian God, or no god at all.
You’ve found it difficult to comprehend my post because you likely either believe that one of the religions are correct, or there’s no god at all. I gave an updated version of the definition of sin according to many nonreligious afterlife books that I’ve read, namely the monsignor Hugh Benson books.
If people can’t comprehend this there is not too much more I can do then. What I’m trying to describe is quite difficult to word, especially if one has not read the amount of spiritual books I have. That was my definition of sin, and I had based my yes answer off of that definition. I don’t buy religiously-based objective morality for the most part. Anything that puts one on a path away from love, service to others and compassion is how I define sin, because that’s how it’s defined in most of the spiritual books I’ve read.
@ibstubro Nobody has tried to squelch anyone else’s opinion. In pointing out that @Paradox25‘s answer did not make sense in context, I was challenging him to clarify his view—not to abandon it. This led to his longer explanation, and thus to your learning about why he holds his particular view. Given that you say you like it when this sort of thing happens, then, it’s unclear to me what you might be complaining about.
@Paradox25 You didn’t get the responses you got because your views are different. You got them because you explained yourself poorly. So thank you for clarifying, but please know that we’re all aware that there are a variety of options. Many of us hold non-standard views as well, after all.