Few Religionist traditions are more patently offensive than the myth of Original Sin and its dogmatic progeny, the myth of fallen humanity. What is our Original Sin? What is our great, intractable failing? What was our deep vileness that was so abhorrent that a SINGLE human's action would be sufficient to condemn our entire species for all eternity?

Our inherent quest for knowledge. Our curiosity. Our desire to understand. God creates us with an inherent longing for knowledge and understanding and then damns our ENTIRE species because ONE human had the temerity to act on what God instilled within him? That is deranged.

Words cannot describe the despicable inversion this insipid myth works. Our inherent desire to understand, our curiosity, our unquenchable thirst to know is our single greatest asset. It is our most beautiful attribute. It is what makes us truly human and separates us from every single other organism that has ever swam, wriggled, crawled or walked across this planet. We are the creature that asks why. No other creature on this planet has ever looked up at the sky and asked why or how. No other creature on this planet has ever attempted to understand itself or its environment.

Our inherent desire to understand is our most powerful evolutionary adaptation. Understanding it is what allowed us to tame fire, to hunt, to anticipate the seasons, to grow crops, to form societies, to form tribes and nations. Understanding and knowledge are what drive technology, what enables expansion and it is understanding that drives our most basic emotional desires. Understanding is the ultimate human achievement. It is what humans aspire to in all things whether we recognize it or not. From the first moments of human consciousness, it is the quest for understanding that has propelled us forward as both individuals and as a species.

Understanding is so powerful because it is through understanding and through attempting to understand that we appreciate the beauty, utility and power of the world and people around us. It is understanding that undergirds our emotional response to the amazing and often mystifying world around us. Through understanding that we can grow to love this world and one another. Understanding breeds excitement, it breeds joy, it breeds excitement, appreciation, and contentment. If you ever doubt this proposition, simply watch a child, or new lovers. Witness the way in which both are suffused with the joy and excitement of a multitude of new understandings and are filled with life because of it. For what is love other than our feeble, flawed and often unsuccessful attempts to understand the mind and heart of another? What is hate other than our failure or inability to understand the minds and hearts of others or our disappointment that what we thought we understood was an illusion?

The myth of Original Sin is so pernicious and vile because it takes our greatest and most beautiful asset, our desire to understand, and inverts it as our fatal flaw. It debases and denigrates our most precious attribute and uses that to foist onto us the myth of humanity as a fallen, debased, despicable creature. This inversion is unspeakably awful in that it warps and twists the single greatest factor in our advancement and progress as a species and turns it into a weapon against us. We are fallen, wretched, unworthy NOT because of what we do, but because of what we are, because of our inherent desire to understand.

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Comment by James M. Martin on October 24, 2010 at 9:57am
Thanks to our Australian friend, Vangelis, I happened upon this discussion and was surprised by what Jung called a synchronicity (coincident endowed with special, often spiritual meaning): I had just that morning been thinking about the utter absurdity of the concept of original sin. I was standing in a supermarket line in Puerto Escondido when a small child began to cry. It was because his helium-filled balloon had just popped. He was inconsolable (his mom gave him something else to take his mind off the balloon but he went on crying). He almost made me cry. This child was incapable of anyone's definition of sin.

In this smug enjoyment of sadistic dogma, children are indoctrinated from an early age that they are tainted by the vaginal secretions of a primal woman having a conversation and symbolic sexual dalliance with a talking snake. Of all elements of Judeo-Christian dogma, this silly nonsense is criminal in its effect on a developing youthful mind. It teaches that a person is "no good," though Shakespeare was right when he had Hamlet say, "Nothing's right nor wrong but thinking makes it so." Although I quarrel with their naive and simple ideas of karma and reincarnation (more mythic dogma in themselves), I much prefer their version of sin: error.
Comment by Vangelis Stamatopoulos on October 24, 2010 at 6:14am
Thankfully, Charles Darwin put this myth to rest. It is surprising, however, that it took so long for the human race to become sufficiently scientifically proficient to debunk such a weird myth such as original sin. Still, it's gone now and I feel better for it!



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