Philosophy, Film, Politics, Etc.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Original Sin

Context: A woman calling herself "Mom" has made the following claim: Original Sin can only be understood from the heart, not the head. And understood it must be, she says, or else . . . well, I'm not sure how she would have me end that sentence. But apparently it's very important I understand Original Sin with my heart. The problem is, I can't get it past those darn censors in my head. Here's what I wrote:

God thinks I deserve to be punished for being born, but God is punishing Himself instead. Since God created me, God is responsible for my birth. It seems only right that God would punish Himself.

If God punishes Himself, it is because He wants to. He makes the rules, and he could give Himself a break. He could decide that nobody needs to be punished for sin. But He doesn't. He punishes Himself. That's His choice. God wants to suffer.

But let's consider this suffering. God punishes Himself by killing His son. Though that's not quite right. More specifically, God punishes Himself by letting His son be born--because once Jesus was born, he had to die. Jesus was at least part human, according to this story. And everybody dies.

Now, God created people to die. Does God suffer every time a person dies? Or did He only suffer when Jesus died?

If He only suffered when Jesus died . . . well, does that mean He loved Jesus more than me?

Maybe God suffers every time anybody dies. But God created everybody to die. So God did not specifically punish Himself by creating Jesus and letting Jesus die. God punishes Himself by letting every person be born. Jesus' life and death were not special, from God's perspective. Jesus' death was not a special sort of self-punishment for God. It was self-punishment as usual. (That is, unless God loves Jesus more than He loves me.)

Now, let's consider God's plan here. God says somebody has to be punished because people are born into sin. So He created a son, which apparently means Jason doesn't have to suffer. Yet, Jason suffers. Everybody suffers. So God's plan doesn't seem to be working so well.

This is the story, as I understand it: God has created people in His own image, and God has decided to punish Himself (by killing His son, who was the only person whose death meant anything to God, apparently), because people do X, Y, and Z. This punishment is supposed to save people from suffering, but people still suffer every day. So God's plan didn't work.

And why did God decide that, if people do X, Y, and Z, then somebody has to suffer? Why did God put these rules into play in the first place?

Was it a test? God wanted to see if people would do X, Y, and Z. So it was a bet, and God lost. He punished Himself for losing his bet. Now everybody on earth has to suffer, because God couldn't even figure out a way to get us off the hook. He tried by killing His son, but that didn't work.

I'm supposed to put all my faith in such a God, when so far all He's shown is incompetence?

Any intelligent being can make up games and decide to punish himself if such and such happens. And I'm in no position to judge. I've had plenty of failures of my own, so who's to expect God to be perfect?

The question is, why should I think this is anything but a weird story about a masochistic super-being who makes up arbitrary rules which lead him to punish himself and his own creation?

Why should I think this story has any meaning for my life?

I suppose your answer is: because it's God! It's True!

But that's no answer. I'm sure it speaks to your heart, but it doesn't seem the sort of thing minds are meant for.