T Nation

God and Sin and all that.


I see many threads on this board where atheist or agnostics bristle at the concept of sin or particularly Original Sin. I had opportunity to write the following story for a different occasion a few months ago. It is not profound or deep or life changing. I simply share it for the purpose of presenting another perspective.

A few hours ago I was going through the normal nightly routine of getting the kids ready for bed. I have a daughter (10) and a son (7). No matter how many times we do this, if an outsider were to observe us on any given night they would swear that they were witnessing the first time. The kids always seem shocked that they would have to take baths and put on clean pajamas. "Did you brush your teeth?" is always confronted with a blank stare, as though I am suddenly speaking gibberish.
My wife and I do our best to try to read to them before bed. As of late, I am experimenting with reading more advanced, inspirational type books with my daughter. My son is there, but at age seven he rarely retains interest in anything past the first page. The last few nights I have been reading The Cause Within You, by Matthew Barnett. I am amazed at how well they have both have taken to it. I do have to censor a bit and I pause often to make sure they understand a given word or story and to see if they have questions. They understand well more than we give them credit for and their questions often force me to consider things from a new and different perspective.
Finishing, I began tucking them in and asked my daughter to start the bedtime prayer. Instead of the normal "Now I lay me...â?? for some reason she chose the Lord's Prayer. I kissed them both, told my son to put away the Nintendo DS, and headed toward the door. Something stopped me as I was turning off the light and I returned to the bedside.
I asked them both if they knew what "trespass" meant. "Sin", was the answer from both. They were also able to give me age appropriate examples of what sin might mean as well. I decided I would take it a step further and explain the origins of the word.
In its original classical Greek form the word used was hamartia and it meant "to miss the mark." When translated in the King James version the Old English archery term sin was used. When an archer would shoot at a target and miss, he was said to have sinned. The further off target, the greater the sin.
My daughterâ??s eyes came alive and I could see the wheels turning. "Then does sin mean that we didn't do our best?" she asked. "No," I told her. "It simply means that we did not do God's best. God is perfect in all He is and all He does. We are never perfect. That is why the Bible says that "all have sinned and fell short of the glory of God." Even though we can never be perfect, we should always do our very best for God."
My daughter took just a moment to digest all of this. The most beautiful smile came to her face and she said, "Then we should always take our best shot." I smiled and told her that she was absolutely right. I kissed her forehead, tucked her in again and headed down stairs.
My wife and I talked for a bit and then she quickly dozed off. I tried to do the same, but I kept coming back to what my daughter had said. I began to realize that there was a depth to her comment that I failed to pick up on at the time. She said that we should always take our best shot. Said more simply, she was saying that we should always take a shot. In other words, take action. Do something.
I began to examine what it would mean to do the opposite of her suggestion. In other words, if one were determined to avoid sin at all cost could he or she do so by attempting to do nothing at all. No shot, not sin. If you don't try you can't fail.
It was then that I realized that I may have stumbled upon the biggest sin of them all. The furthest one could ever miss a target is to have never taken the shot at all. Infinite miss, infinite sin. Perhaps the closest we ever come to the glory of God is when we are taking action to the best of our ability, when we are giving our best to the task at hand.

Too often we tend to overly complicate things. We try to "pick the fly shit out of the pepper." We get bogged down in the minutia.

In the end, God asks us to do a few very simple things...

Love Him,
Love each other,
and to strive to constantly and consciously behave and think in a Christ like manor.

Don't over think it.


Not one iota of the law shall pass until all is fulfilled.


Nice miss.
When you get through with your scholarly review and dissection of the word of God are you going to have any time left to take care of those widows and orphans that He seemed to think were pretty important?


Oh, you mean the one's I give my 10% to every paycheck I get, the one's I spend about 20 hours a month fundraising for, the one's I work at a food bank for, the one's I bring supplies to on the weekends at the woman's shelter, the one's I became a Knight of Columbus for? I think I might have a few minutes left for them at the end of the month.


A lot of people don't think God asked for those things. A lot of people think that other, more primitive people wrote down in books that God asked for those things. Then other people found the books full of obviously fantastical but undeniably comforting stories that helped them cope with the realities of a short and often bitter life.

Then smarter people came along and beat the living shit out of what was in the books. I mean absolutely destroyed it. The predictions the book made turned out to be full of shit. The cosmology set out in the books turned out to be full of shit. The chronology set out in the books turned out to be full of shit. Every story in the books was found to be either complete bullshit or full of the kind of ridiculous stories one might encounter in a shitty paperback fantasy novel tucked into a forgotten corner of a bookstore.

That, to many, is the story of religion. But I do agree that we should love each other and behave in a Christ-like manner.


You do realize that religion, spirituality, and specifically Christianity is a very big subject. I notice how you choose to take the simplest interpretations and go on to paint all believers with the same brush.

One of the beautiful aspects of the Bible is that people of all levels of education, experience, maturity, etc. can read it and, if they truly want, get what they need at the place where they are.
Most of the teachings of Jesus were done through allegory. However, when one chooses to accept that the 7 days of creation were not meant to be taken literally once they are in a place to understand this, both fundamentalist and jackasses such as yourself call foul.

It is unfortunate that those "smarter" people that you refer to cannot understand that there are layers of meaning.

"Beat the living shit out of what was in those books." Really. Oh you so funny.


If I may ask (and lets be honest whos gonna stop me :stuck_out_tongue: ), but what in Genesis gives the inclination that we are to take it metaphorically/symbolically?


You want, expect, and probably deserve a better answer than I am prepared to give right now.
I think children and young adults are meant to take it as it is written. After all, if the story and started our with a deep discourse in M theory or string theory at the time no one would have gotten it. Personally, I think the apple represents something more along the line of third person awareness. Adam (Me), Adam and Eve (We), Adam and Eve and all those others that were obviously out there in order to provide daughters for wives of Cain and Able (all of us). Once we had this level of third person perspective we were required to take all parties into consideration when we took action. We were no longer innocent of the possible ramifications of our actions. We took a step closer to be god like.
Stated again, I am not sure that you could tell that story and the message it contained in any other way considering the time and the knowledge/experience of those it was aimed at.


I agree with your little girl.

Adding to what you said about "taking a shot, do something":

Sins of omission.

Worst in my opinion because they are the very antithesis of love; it is essentially sloth.
"I can't and I won't be bothered to even try to take a shot at life so I am just going to avoid it ( and thus avoid the pain and the shame and the humiliation of making mistakes and being a failure.).

It is a huge cop out.


Well the book of genesis starts with two different and contradicting creation stories. (ie 6 day creation vs Adam and Eve)

Contradiction #1)
-In the 6 day creation story, man and women are both created last on the 6th day.
-In the adam and eve story, adam is created first (after the plants but before the birds/livestock)- he then goes on to name all the birds and livestock as God creates them. Only after no suitable helper is found does God create eve (woman).

Contradiction #2)
-In the 6th day creation story, Man and Woman are created in the image of God.
-In the adam and eve story, adam is created in the image of god, and eve is created in the image of adam.

These contradiction are no big deal if your realize the author(s) are trying to tell us something about God, and something about humanity/sin/etc.. - and they are phrasing it in the cosmological understanding of their day. If your trying to take it as a scientific story, then it leads one to wonder why God couldn't even be bothered to get the details the same in both stories.

A metaphoric/symbolic interpretation works, a literal/actual one just raises more questions.

There are similar contradictions in the new testament - the most notable of which is the crucification dates of Jesus. In the gospel of John Jesus is crucified on the day of the preparation for the passover meal (ie Thursday) (John 19:14...), and in the other gospels he is crucified after the passover meal (ie Friday) (ex. Mark 14:12).

here is a chart laid out of some contradictions in the NT resurrection story alone = http://www.outreachjudaism.org/crucifix.html

This contradictions in the bible are not troublesome to a someone who believes the message/story is the inspired part, but the exact events/dates/times/words are left to fallible human memory. (the most logical explanation is that each book is told from a different perspective, and none of the books places the author of the book at all of the events mentioned in the book, so the authors are merely retelling the story as they remember it, and as other people related it to them.)

And thats not even getting into the geographical errors in mark (google it).