Friday, April 14, 2006

The Immortal Sins

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One major common thing in all religious beliefs is the idea of sin. Simply, any thought, word, or act considered wrong, harmful to oneself or to others, or which alienates self from others and especially from God, can be called a sin.

The concept of Seven Deadly Sins (Capital Sins) used in early Christian teachings to protect believers from basic human deeds which considered as sin. The history of these sins goes back at least to Pope St. Gregory the Great, 6th-century A.D. Although The Seven Deadly Sins never occur as a formal list in Bible, some says that they can all be found in Matthew's Gospel. Italian poet Dante Alighieri also mentioned these sins in his famous epic poems Inferno, Purgatorio, Paradiso (aka The Divine Comedy). In Purgatorio Dante encounters these sins through the seven terraces of Purgatory with the higher levels closer to Paradise and the lower ones closer to Hell, starting from first terrace pride, second envy, third wrath and so on. These famous seven deadly sins are as follows:
  1. Lust
  2. Gluttony
  3. Greed
  4. Sloth
  5. Wrath
  6. Envy
  7. Pride

In Jewish tradition we see The Ten Commandments (aka Decalogue) as a kind of guidance to protect believers from committing sins. The Ten Commandments (Aseret ha-Dvarîm in Hebrew) are a listing of some of the most important behavioral rules which appears in three places in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament). Although there are different version of these commandments and the very first stone which these commandments were written was broken by Moses, basically they are as follows:

  1. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me.
  2. You shall not make for yourself a graven image. You shall not bow down to them or serve them.
  3. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
  4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
  5. Honor your father and your mother.
  6. You shall not kill.
  7. You shall not commit adultery.
  8. You shall not steal.
  9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
  10. You shall not covet.

The Islamic belief is also familiar with the concept of great sins described as kebairs or fisq. Fisq has the meaning of going out of some place, to leave. Basically it means to disobey to Allah’s commands, to deviate from the right path. Any of the disobedience of someone against Allah can easily be described as fisq”, can be both a mistake of a believer and a crime of someone who have no faith and rebel against Allah. According to this, the acts which are “fisq” can be considered in two groups: In the first group there are evil behaviors committed in relation to Allah and Prophet Mohammed and the second group is about not to perform the requirements of commands and prohibitions. Although there isn't any certain list mentioned in Quran, basically these great sins in Islam are as follows:

  1. Denial of Allah and being polytheist.
  2. Denial of Allah’s verses.
  3. Hypocrisy.
  4. To forget of Allah
  5. Not to judge with the rules Allah revealed.
  6. To prefer another thing instead of Jihad.
  7. Attribute partner to Allah, worship to other idols, soothsaying, fortune telling, magic, eating the prohibited meats.
  8. Mockery, giving others bad nickname, evil words.
  9. False testimony and spread lie messages.
  10. Being conceited with wealth.
  11. Being unfaithful against promises.
  12. Evil deed of the people of Lot.
  13. Some attitudes and behaviours of children of Israel.

Sin is also mentioned in Buddhism and has a broader meaning. Basically Buddhism illustrates this concept around the idea of breaking any of Five Root Disciplines, Panchasila (Five Virtues). The laity undertake to follow these precepts at the same time as they become Buddhists, taking refuge in the Triple Gem: In the Buddha (teacher), in the Dharma (teaching) and thirdly in the Sangha (spiritual community). Like all aspects of Buddhist teaching, the Pancasila are regarded as logically rather than supernaturally derived and are to be undertaken voluntarily rather than as "commandments" from a supernatural or mundane authority. They are as follows:

  1. I undertake the precept to refrain from destroying living creatures.
  2. I undertake the precept to refrain from taking that which is not given.
  3. I undertake the precept to refrain from sexual misconduct.
  4. I undertake the precept to refrain from incorrect speech.
  5. I undertake the precept to refrain from intoxicants which lead to carelessness.

Well, as far I know I broke all the Five Root Disciplines in Buddhism. I can try the others and change my attitude but I'm not sure about the 3rd part, I would like to fail on that one. And as an agnostic accepting no God, Allah, Yahweh, Jesus or else, in any of these beliefs I am a great sinner. In The Seven Deadly Sins I would work hard but in Purgatory I would stuck on the terrace of Sloth for sure. In The Ten Commandenments, I broke the first rule already. Same in Islam, denying Allah and being polytheist. This being polytheist is tricky in Islam, naturally it means if you accept more than one God or image of God (like in Hinduism) but also if you have a belief like Holy Trinity in Christianity, it can be considered as polytheist. But it is more than that. Because I think with my logic, mind and reasoning and find no proves to believe in any God or deity, I replace the belief in Allah with my reason. I have another God before Allah which is my reason that leads me to believe its non-existence. Also that I didn't use my reason wisely to see the proves of its existence is another big sin.

If I think all of these, I guess this life is funny. At the end it looks like a match, me against God. Who is gonna win? Even if God is a loving God, you have to win his love. Not like a lottery but like, you have to show your love to him. And you have to believe in him first to love him. Unless you love something that you don't believe in but that's stupid! And I don't think God needs stupid believers, there are already many walking around. Does God need believers? Wait.. Do I need God in the first place? No, wait.. What is the difference between me and God if I commit a sin and he punishs me?.. Anyway, to answer all, I guess Khayyam said more wisely than me:

O Thou, who didst with Pitfall and with Gin
Beset the Road I was to wander in,
Thou wilt not with Predestination round
Enmesh me, and impute my Fall to Sin?

***

What! out of senseless Nothing to provoke
A conscious Something to resent the yoke
Of unpermitted Pleasure, under pain,
Of Everlasting Penalties, if broke!

***

But if in vain, down on the stubborn floor
Of Earth, and up to Heav'n's unopening Door,
You gaze TODAY, while You are you -how then
TOMORROW, You when shall be You no more?

***

And if the Wine you drink, the Lip you press,
End in the Nothing all Things end in -Yes-
Then fancy while Thou art, Thou art but what
Thou shalt be -Nothing- Thou shalt not be less.

***

YESTERDAY This Day's madness did prepare;
TOMORROW's Silence, Triumph, or Despair:
Drink! for you know not whence you came, nor why:
Drink! for you know not why you go, nor where.


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5 Noises:

At Sunday, April 16, 2006 4:18:00 PM, Anonymous :) said...

for me there`s quite a difference between calling it "sin" or "rules/ guidance for a better living".
b.t.w., in former east germany the pioneers (at school) had to follow ten rules as well; that absolutely wasn`t religious or about sin ....
as far as i remember the first rule was to love ones parents. and there was another rule, saying, that one should wash his body regularly. don`t remember the other 8 rules .... and i never heard about any kind of "punishment" if you didn`t follow. it was just a "Question of honour" actually.

 
At Sunday, April 16, 2006 6:26:00 PM, Blogger . nothing . said...

Thanks for the comment. You are right, of course there is a difference between rules and sin. But from the religious point of view those rules, like "The Ten Commandenments", are related to the things which you shouldn't do, so they are sins like "You shall not kill". If you turn the commandenment other way around, it means "to kill" is a sin. Same as "You shall have no other Gods before me" means that if you believe other Gods than Yahvew or not believe in him is a sin. If you say something about a deed such as "don't do it", it becomes a rule and in an organized structure like a religion, those deeds are strongly related to sins.

Well, this is what I think; actually the human existence in this universe and society is a complex system. The rules are made to bring an order in the society and those are related to the deeds which have negative outcomes, the deeds which will disturb the flow of the system (which is/has an organized, complex structure). And there will be a sanction related to those deeds' outcome. The hierachical position of this organized structure in the system (school, work, government or.. a religion) will define the sanction's properties.

I think it's pretty interesting that school's 10 rules and the "Question of honour" thing!.. If you consider that school is a small example of a system like religion, "Question of honour" is a promised heaven! When you follow the rules and finish your school succesively, as a perfect student (a follower of God), you'll get your diploma and an "honour" (i.e. you'll get your place in heaven and come closer to God). What will be the outcome if you don't follow the rules?.. Maybe there is no certain punishment (it depends where the school is. If it was in a third world country you'll get the stick of the teacher on your butt!), but if you don't follow the rules you'll get a bad honour and maybe you have to repeat classes, you'll not even finish the school. Even if you finish the school you won't get a job (like you'll burn in hell!)...

Well, what if the perfect student follows the orders and finishes the school with good honour but don't get a job!.. I guess hell's doors open to everyone, even if you are a good believer in God ;-)

I guess he would be a pretty sick God to send his followers to hell, well what the fuck, "God works in a mysterious way!".. Or maybe he doesn't work at all. According to Old Testament he took 7th day off after he created everything, maybe he is still taking days off :-)

Of course there is another alternative like: There is no God.

 
At Sunday, April 16, 2006 6:41:00 PM, Blogger . nothing . said...

PS: I just remembered now, if someone reads this maybe will make a comment like "But you are talking about a system. Who created that complex system? God of course and therefore you have to follow God's rules etc.."

Well, that's one of the oldest (and the weakest) arguments about God. What not many people realize or don't understand is that there is no necessity of an ultimate, powerful creator for existence of such a system.

I personally believe that the arguments about God's existence don't prove anything, neither his existence nor his non-existence.

"What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence" - Ludwig Wittgenstein

 
At Monday, April 17, 2006 11:31:00 PM, Anonymous :| said...

"There is no God."

"no God" is a "no God" is a "no God".
The more you speak about it ....
- - -

"What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence."

believe starts beyond rationality.

[when my grandma was dying, in her last hours, she asked me if I believe in god. she knew that I was raised as a total atheist. so, should I lie to her for not taking the last hope for a life-after; or should I tell her that no-thing is waiting ...?]

 
At Wednesday, April 19, 2006 12:51:00 AM, Blogger . nothing . said...

> "believe starts beyond rationality."

Exactly.. I used to think when I was a kid that my rationality leads me to believe in God, my reason and beliefs in God go hand in hand and therefore I believe.

And then something on the way happened and I realized that actually the social, traditional and educational -and biological!- factors led me to believe that way. The older and rational I become, the further and irrational God become to me.

Strange thing was, most of the religions were preaching that we can discover God with our reason, even if it wasn't so, we shoudn't have doubts and believe in him. That was for me the most irrational part -there are more irrational parts but nevermind.

It is still problem for my mother that I don't believe anymore, although she doesn't say anything but she still hopes that when I become older I will turn to God again. And I am sure that she will ask me the same question on her last hours as your grandma.

I still don't know what I'd say, but probably I would lie to make her happy in her last breath. If I was able to make her clear on that last moment that there is nothing waiting for her afterwards, I'd tell her. What's the difference anyway, if she feels happy at that moment to hear something --whatever it is--, why not?..

When my dad died I didn't have a chance to speak with him and I even participated in the religious ceremonies of the funeral. I didn't think about afterlife or anything, only thing I knew was that I wouldn't see him anymore, he was gone for good, that counts. I did it just because it was a kind of last farewell as he would like it. It was his belief which made him happy, "what's the big deal" I thought. It didn't change my thoughts, it didn't hurt my mom and definitly it didn't hurt my dad, so...

I think people take God too seriously, and I am not quite sure if there is any God who would like that?

 

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