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wundayatta's avatar

Would the sins perpetrated by various religions happen whether or not they believed in a God?

Asked by wundayatta (58525points) October 14th, 2012

So a lot of people argue that God tells them the truth. He or She tells them what to believe. However, I’m wondering whether it matters if they believe in God or not. Would they behave the same way if they didn’t have a God? Would they believe the same things if they didn’t have a God?

Please name the sin perpetrated in God’s name and say why you think it would or would not happen if there were no God.

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11 Answers

submariner's avatar

Religion makes larger communities possible. This raises the stakes of conflict: instead of small bands and tribes killing each other, we have city states, feudal states, and nation states killing each other. But the benefits of these larger communities far outweigh the costs, and holding them together through shared values and a sense of legitimacy is better than holding them together through force and fear.

It is clear that human beings have no difficulty coming up with motivations to commit atrocities without any help from religion. What religion has done over the centuries is give some people reasons not to commit atrocities to at least some other people. All the major world religions have tried to get people to see other human beings as “us” and not “them”, but they have only achieved partial success, partly because, despite the content of religious teachings, in practice religious membership provides an easy demarcation between “us” and “them”.

Shippy's avatar

Not for me no, I have rather strong moral codes and internal beliefs that motivate me. It is aside from God.

Coloma's avatar

“Sin” simply means to ” miss the mark” and everyone misses the mark multiple times in their life journey. Big sins, little sins, everyones a sinner of some sort at some time, “God” has nothing to with human error. I am not religious but I am of integrity, to the best of my ability in my present evolutionary state.

josie's avatar

See @Coloma
The best answer on the thread
The question assumes a mystical definition of Sin.
Human beings, being fallible, occasionally fuck up. It is not a flaw in the nature of the species. It is the nature of the beast. Live with it.

wundayatta's avatar

No. “Sin” just means bad things, like killing people. It’s not mystical at all. Please don’t get hung up on it. Sometimes people do bad things in the name of their God. I’m wondering if they would do the same stuff if they didn’t have a God.

Shippy's avatar

I think @Coloma is assuming every day sin, not that I know what types of sins there are really. But things like serial killers or repetitive misdoing on a larger scale, I would surmise is classified as sin. To swear at my neighbor etc., is to miss a mark. Sorry to analyze your answer Coloma loll. But it said a lot to me. I also by the way think very little of sin in relation to God. I think more about his love and grace.

Coloma's avatar


True that. Big dif. between being a glutton for cheesecake and killing. lol

Shippy's avatar

@Coloma Ah! but cheesecake is heaven! Ugh we talking about food again loll.

Berserker's avatar

I don’t think I understand this question too much. Are you asking if, commuting sin as a non believer, it’s still sin, or if people who are believers would still act as they do, if the idea of gods and religions didn’t exist? For the latter, my guess is that religion and gods are born of the ideas of men, so we’d probably still act as we do now, only the behaviors, justifications and beliefs would be attributed to whatever system we’d have in place of known religions. Because I think it’s highly unlikely, given human evolution and societal structuring that we could ever NOT have some systems.

But is a sin still a sin of the person doesn’t know it’s a sin? Well, according to The Bible, not believing is a sin, isn’t it? (correction appreciated) Might depend on the religion and its belief. It can pretty much go two ways only.
Say vampires exist, and say I believe in God, and I love Him. I’ll use a cross against the vampire, and my faith will protect me against the vampire. But an atheist using the cross won’t be blessed by God, so the cross won’t do anything.

OR; just having a tool that represents the power of God is good enough no matter who wields it. It works by default, no matter what your beliefs are because the tool is imbued with the power of God. So either you sin and you know it’s a sin, or you sin and you don’t KNOW it’s a sin, or, seeing as you don’t know, your ignorance protects you until you learn, or die…in which case, I wonder what happens then…limbo? Purgatory?

TLDR; with or without religion, I don’t think mankind’s behaviors would change much at all. that is, if I understood anything about this question

Pandora's avatar

I would have to pick the sin of subjugating women. Some religions make women to be evil doers and subjugate them in the name of religion. But it is something that would happen with or without religion. In history past and present. Women are tortured, killed, enslaved, and pimped out, raped and harassed just because they were born women. There were cultures who saw having too many girls as a curse or burden. Daughters were traded for pigs and cows. So no matter what. Those sins will continue and always would’ve existed even if there was no religion.

wundayatta's avatar

That’s exactly the kind of thing I wanted to know about, @Pandora.

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