By John Fraysse
The Jewish/Christian Sacrificial system and the concept of "Original Sin" seem to go hand-in-hand and are threaded throughout the Bible and most Christian doctrines. Yet, they have never made any sense to me. The more I thought about these two cardinal precepts, the more it appeared that there was something “Rotten in Jerusalem!” In fact, I think it is extremely likely that the entire Sacrificial System of the Bible was corrupt from the very beginning. I don't think that the “God of Evolution”, or the “Creator God” , if any god exists, would ever require Sacrifice, simply because it doesn't make sense. What does the God of the Universe need with our sacrifice? It would be far more effective and instructive to place the knowledge of this same God in the hearts of the self-aware humans He started down their evolutionary path 100’s of millions of years ago (Romans 1:19?). Here is my case:
The Biblical authors and the people they describe (Jews and Muslims) had the “opportunity and motive” to adopt the sacrificial systems of other cultures which had gods (evil ones) that demanded appeasement. They also could have assimilated much of the surrounding folk legends and embellished them, as needed, to justify their uniqueness and destiny as a nation. The many “moral fairy tales” we find in the Bible, when tainted with these “corruptions”, also exacted a strong measure of CONTROL over the huddled masses.
Ever notice how “man-like” the biblical god appears to be? Who would obey a god that loved its creation unconditionally and only wanted those things that would make them “better” as a species? Those who aspired to “rule absolutely” needed CONTROL, so what better way to do this than to characterize god as an All-Seeing, All-Powerful, but very temperamental deity that, if not appeased, would destroy the disobedient, curse their descendants and/or allow their national enemies to over run them? The idea of running a nation “God’s Way” brought control over minds, wealth and, potentially, the eternal destiny of every subject - perfect for rulers colluding with the priesthood!
But then god appeared evil and in danger of not eliciting the requisite level of deference, so, in a “twist” worthy of Greek Theater, the Bible writers decided to introduce the ”tragic flaw” of “Original Sin”. This cleverly allows god to be “justified” in his anger, placing the culpability of the same squarely on the shoulders of his hapless subjects – US!
But let’s review the “Original Sin” episode and try to place it in perspective. Say, I'm “god” and have made two new children, Adam (the guy) and Eve (the girl) and I'm “pleased as punch” with these two. So, I place them in a beautiful environment that I have made for them to enjoy and husband. In the middle of my glorious creation, I place a very tempting but “evil thing” which I tell them not to mess with or something “bad” (death), which they do not understand, will happen to them. I also don't tell them that I, God, their Loving Father, will be the one to punish them. I then go away and leave my innocent kids alone with an “evil being” that I know to be a lair, murderer and molester of the innocent – the very personification of evil! Further, I don't even tell my kids about the “bad guy” in their midst or his devious plans to “tempt and destroy” them, even though I know this is what he fully plans to do! Now, when I come back, I, God, am very wrathful because I find that my kids have been deceived by the “evil one”, and disobeyed me, so I decide it is “just and fitting” to punish and curse my kids and all of their decedents forever as a result of THEIR BEHAVIOR!? Are you kidding? What about MY behavior? Any court in America would convict me of child abuse or reckless endangerment under these same circumstances! I would never knowingly do this to my kids! Why is god’s love and concern for his children seemingly less than my lousy human compassion?
Nevertheless, the deed was done and the die had been cast. God “said it and did it”, so it must be right! Henceforth, there is “something wrong” with us humans, that is, both “Original Sin” and “Contemporary Sin” and god can now righteously demand sacrifice, worship and praise or so the story goes. Surely this myth, metaphor, parable or whatever can NOT be from the heart of an All-Good and Loving God! Pardon me, but I want to throw up!
I have no problems admitting or proving myself and others to be imperfect. I have an obvious need to seek forgiveness and to give it when wrongs are committed and suffered. I even understand and seek to attain the high principle of “loving my enemies” but surely there was a better way to communicate the need for unconditional love and forgiveness in my life than the patently strange and immoral doctrines of Original Sin and Ritual Sacrifice!
Volumes have been written trying to explain and justify these ideas. When this happens the processes being “justified” tend to fail Occam’s Razor (http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/OCCAMRAZ.html) a pillar principle of all scientific investigation. So the simplest explanation for Original Sin and Sacrifice is simply this… “they are not, and never were, true!”
Some may argue that this same logic can be applied to all of Orthodox Christianity.
Online Reading List
- An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish by Bertrand Russell (1943)
- Bible Teaching and Religious Practice by Mark Twain
- God is Imaginary
- Is there an Artificial God? by Douglas Adams (1998)
- Skeptics Annotated Bible
- The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine (1795)
- Which Way? by Robert Ingersoll (1884).
- Why I Am Not A Christian by Bertrand Russell (1927)