Sins are just man-made agreements! Do you agree?

Discuss the April 2021 Philosophy Book of the Month, Wilderness Cry: A Scientific and Philosophical Approach to Understanding God and the Universe by Dr. Hilary L Hunt M.D.
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jeminah28
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Re: Sins are just man-made agreements! Do you agree?

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In the view of man, yes! Humans have laws to follow, which are mostly based on sin. If there's no sin, there's no such law to follow.
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Re: Sins are just man-made agreements! Do you agree?

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I don't believe all sins are man-made. A given example is murdering your fellow human being, that is, our conscious ability over other animals comes with certain knowledge against certain sins that are intrinsic.
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Re: Sins are just man-made agreements! Do you agree?

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Agent Smyth wrote: March 25th, 2023, 4:12 am Sins are immoral deeds. As per legend, they're surefire way to book a seat on the plane to hell. No denied boardings ever in the history of Air Satan. Enjoy the flight.
Your perspective aligns with the notion that what constitutes a 'sin' is largely determined by cultural, societal, and historical contexts. Different societies and religions across the world have varied definitions of sin, which suggests that these moral judgments are not universal truths but rather human constructs.

The humorous reference to "Air Satan" in the response underscores how religious narratives have shaped our understanding of sin and morality. These narratives often serve to guide behavior and establish societal norms, but they also highlight the human origin of these concepts. The mythological and religious frameworks around sin and its consequences (like the concept of hell) are reflections of human attempts to understand and navigate the complexities of moral behavior.

Furthermore, the evolution of what is considered a sin over time and across cultures supports the idea that these are not fixed moral absolutes. Practices once deemed sinful in certain societies are now accepted or even celebrated, indicating a shift in moral perceptions.

I would like to hear your opinion on, are there any universal moral truths, or is morality always a product of its cultural and historical context?
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Re: Sins are just man-made agreements! Do you agree?

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lec_nemanja wrote: March 25th, 2023, 6:13 am Sins are not just mere man-made laws, but rather man-made laws based on exceptional and centuries-old experience and the widest possible consensus.
Your viewpoint opens up a nuanced discussion on the nature of moral laws and their origins.

Firstly, the idea that sins are based on long-standing human experiences suggests that these moral codes have been shaped by collective wisdom accumulated over time. This aspect raises intriguing questions about the evolution of moral standards. While historical experience provides a basis for these laws, one could argue that this doesn't necessarily make them any less 'man-made.' Moral codes reflect the values, understandings, and conditions of the societies that create them. Therefore, even when grounded in historical experience, these laws can still be seen as human constructs, subject to change as societal values evolve. It would be interesting to explore how these moral codes have adapted over time in response to changing social and cultural landscapes.

Secondly, the notion of sins being founded on the 'widest possible consensus' brings to the forefront the concept of moral relativism versus moral universalism. The idea that widespread consensus underpins what is considered a sin could be interpreted as supporting moral universalism. However, one could counter this by suggesting that even widespread agreement among a population does not necessarily equate to an objective moral truth. Instead, it might reflect a collective agreement or understanding that is specific to a particular time and place, and therefore, is still a product of human construction.

In your opinion, how do historical and cultural changes impact our current understanding of what constitutes a 'sin'? And how do these changes influence our approach to moral and ethical decision-making today?
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Re: Sins are just man-made agreements! Do you agree?

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Leontiskos wrote: March 25th, 2023, 7:52 pm
Sushan wrote: March 25th, 2023, 4:05 amIn a secular context, the concept of sin could be replaced with the idea of moral failure...
Yes, we can replace one concept with another, and one might replace sin with moral failure. This would be a good way to get around the strange rhetoric and fallacies of equivocation that so mar your OP.
Leontiskos wrote: January 31st, 2022, 7:23 pmIf the author thinks that sin is a law, or that sin is the breaking of a man-made law, then he is just redefining words willy-nilly in an entirely unphilosophical and unhelpful way. Neither St. Matthew, Mephistopheles, nor Bill Maher would be tempted to affirm that sin is a law or that sin is the breaking of a man-made law.
Your critique of redefining 'sin' as 'moral failure' really opens up an important aspect of philosophical clarity. When we shift our language from a term steeped in religious connotations like 'sin' to a more secular 'moral failure,' we're not just changing labels. This shift might reflect an evolving understanding of morality itself, adapting to a changing cultural and ethical landscape. Does this redefinition alter our perception of moral transgressions, or is it a reflection of a deeper change in societal values and ethics?

Furthermore, your reference to diverse figures like St. Matthew and Mephistopheles highlights the rich tapestry of interpretations surrounding the concept of sin across different cultures and historical periods. This diversity underscores the idea that our understanding of what constitutes moral wrongdoing is deeply influenced by the societal and cultural context. It invites us to consider how these varied interpretations have contributed to shaping our current moral framework.

I'm interested in how you view the impact of these changing interpretations on our moral thinking. Do you see them as indicative of a fundamental evolution in our understanding of morality, or are they more surface-level changes in terminology that don't necessarily reflect deeper shifts in ethical thinking?
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Re: Sins are just man-made agreements! Do you agree?

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Good_Egg wrote: March 27th, 2023, 3:57 am In common usage, breaking a man-made law is a crime (notwithstanding the technical difference between criminal and civil offences). And breaking the moral law is a sin. So one way of expressing the idea of sin is to call it a "crime against morality"

I'm told the original meaning of "sin" related to an arrow falling short of the target. By extension, it refers to moral shortcomings.

Atheists who have a moral code can still sin, by acts which fall short of their own ethical standards.

It is those who deny that the concept of "moral" is meaningful who find the word "sin" meaningless.
The historical and linguistic origin of 'sin' as an arrow falling short of its target provides a fascinating insight into how the concept has evolved. This origin story suggests that sin originally described a deviation from an intended goal or standard, rather than a transgression against a divine law. This evolution in the understanding of sin supports the notion that it is a concept shaped by societal and cultural interpretations. As language and society have evolved, so too has the meaning of sin, further suggesting that it is a construct reflecting the values and norms of a given culture or time period.

Regarding atheists and moral standards, the idea that atheists can 'sin' against their own ethical standards highlights the subjective nature of morality. In a world where definitions of morality can vary dramatically among different cultures, societies, and individuals, the concept of sin as an absolute moral transgression becomes less tenable. This relativity suggests that what one group or individual considers a sin may not be viewed the same way by another.

As per your view, how do we reconcile the diverse interpretations of what constitutes a moral transgression in a globalized world? And how does this understanding impact our approach to ethical decision-making and judgment?
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Re: Sins are just man-made agreements! Do you agree?

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Sin is basically going against the laid down rules. So it is safe to say that sins are agreements but limiting it to man-made only is where I may disagree.
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Re: Sins are just man-made agreements! Do you agree?

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The concept of 'sin' is extremely complex because it is about errors and mistakes. How such errors tie in with actual consequences is important, but the concept of 'sin' is also often regarded with intention and ideas of duty. So, it is partly about tangible effects in life and about aspects of human motivation. This may be where it gets so complicated. I am left wondering about the conundrum of effects of one's actions, the intentions of action and the possible gulf between the two, in the understanding of 'sin' or errors.
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Re: Sins are just man-made agreements! Do you agree?

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Stoppelmann wrote: March 27th, 2023, 5:40 am
Sushan wrote: April 3rd, 2021, 3:08 pm The author argues that we, humans, are not superior than any other animals. We too have basic needs like sex, food and shelter like them. But we have made agreements and laws among us making polygamy, killing others for foods, etc, sins. So the point that the author is trying to prove is that sins are not defined by divine laws, but only by mere agreements among humans. Do you agree with this point of view? Are sins merely man-made laws?
This depends on what sins we are talking about, because wiki says, “In a religious context, sin is a transgression against divine law. Each culture has its own interpretation of what it means to commit a sin. While sins are generally considered actions, any word, or act considered immoral, selfish, shameful, harmful, or alienating might be termed "sinful".” I think that we often forget that spiritual traditions collect wisdom from a long period of time, which are originally observations which then become laws. So, is it a mere agreement, or the way it is?

In Hinduism, Dharma is often considered to be a divine concept like the Torah in Judaism, as it is believed to be established by the gods themselves for the benefit of humanity. Dharma is seen as the fundamental order of the universe, and it is believed to provide a framework for individuals to live a meaningful and purposeful life. In Hindu mythology, it is said that even the gods themselves follow the path of Dharma, and that those who live according to Dharma will be blessed by the gods and attain spiritual liberation. Additionally, many Hindu texts, such as the Bhagavad Gita, emphasize the importance of following one's Dharma as a means of achieving spiritual growth and fulfilling one's duty in life. Therefore, the concept of sin is here not based on a list of specific actions that are deemed inherently wrong, but rather on the idea of karma, which is the law of cause and effect. According to this law, every action has consequences, and individuals are responsible for the consequences of their actions. Therefore, whether opposition to Dharma is considered a sin or not would depend on the specific actions taken and their consequences.

In Buddhism, Dharma refers to the teachings of the Buddha, which are seen as a path to liberation from suffering. The Dharma is considered to be the observable ultimate truth about the nature of reality and the way things are. The Buddha's teachings emphasize the Four Noble Truths, which outline the nature of suffering and the path to liberation, as well as the Noble Eightfold Path, which provides a framework for living in accordance with the Dharma. So, not following Dharma in this sense, would be seen as the voluntary entanglement in the wheel of suffering. Buddhists also share the concept of karma.

So, although divine law or dharma may have a special place for believers, in practise it is seen as a practical and ethical framework for living, based on the special circumstances of the group and the fundamental principle of the universe, and living in accordance within that guidance is believed to lead to spiritual growth and fulfilment. Sin is then a “missing the mark” as the Greek word suggests, or a failing to fulfil the potential laid out in the law or dharma at hand.

Among the desert fathers, what came to be known as the seven deadly sins were originally known as problematic thoughts or desires which arise when people meditate or spend long periods of time in solitude. In that community, it was accepted that they arise and it was spoken about. It is when, instead of speaking of these difficulties as a means of therapy, people are bludgeoned into obedience and condemned if they fall into such habits, that sin becomes what it has been said to be today.
Thank you for your insight. While I can agree with you to some extent, I have different thoughts regarding some of the points.

In Hinduism, Dharma indeed represents the moral order of the universe and a code for living that aligns with this order. However, it's crucial to note that Dharma is not solely about fulfilling one's potential but also about adhering to duties and responsibilities specific to one's stage in life and social position. This multifaceted nature of Dharma extends beyond just individual actions to encompass societal roles and duties. In Buddhism, while Dharma does refer to the Buddha's teachings, it's more than just a path to liberation from suffering. It's a guide to ethical living, mindfulness, and developing insights into the nature of reality. The Buddhist interpretation of Dharma is deeply interconnected with the concepts of impermanence and interconnectedness of all beings, shaping a unique ethical framework.

The notion of Karma in both Hinduism and Buddhism does revolve around the law of cause and effect. However, it's a common misconception that Karma is a simple, direct cause-effect relationship. In both religions, Karma is a complex mechanism that includes not only actions but also intentions behind those actions. It's about how actions in this life and past lives shape one's future, not just in terms of external circumstances but also in one's character and disposition. This nuanced understanding of Karma as a moral law of the universe highlights the depth and complexity of these religious teachings.

In light of these points, it would be interesting to further explore how the original teachings of Dharma and Karma in Hinduism and Buddhism are often simplified or misunderstood in popular interpretations.

The evolution from understanding the seven deadly sins as problematic thoughts to being interpreted as strict moral codes in certain religious contexts illustrates how religious teachings can transform over time. This transformation often occurs when spiritual guidelines meant for introspection and self-improvement are institutionalized, potentially leading to more rigid interpretations. It raises the question of how religious teachings are adapted and sometimes altered when moving from their original context to broader religious practices.

How do you think the institutionalization of religious teachings, like the concept of sin, has impacted their original intent and meaning?
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Re: Sins are just man-made agreements! Do you agree?

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AgentSmith wrote: April 7th, 2023, 4:31 am I met an alien once, no, not that kinda alien, an alien as in ET. I didn't know what to do, I froze!! I hadn't been to Belize back then. Yes, I'm under medication. :mrgreen:

Sins can't be understood unless we can explain why we eat so many bananas (2 million short tons, +/- a few hundred thousand in the eat-a-banana-year AD).
It's not every day one gets to meet an ET – I hope your encounter was more 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind' and less 'War of the Worlds'! I haven’t had the pleasure myself, but I imagine freezing is a perfectly reasonable response. (Just for fun, and no disrespect intended) :lol:

Now, onto the intriguing banana conundrum you've presented. The consumption of bananas, while seemingly unrelated to the topic of sins and morality, actually opens up an interesting avenue for philosophical exploration. It brings to light how everyday actions, like our dietary choices, can be woven into the fabric of moral and ethical discussions. Why do we consume so many bananas? Is it just a matter of taste and nutritional choice, or is there a deeper cultural or economic implication at play? This example highlights how even the most mundane of human behaviors can be subject to moral scrutiny and cultural interpretation.

Your playful reference to bananas raises broader questions about the nature of human behavior and morality. It suggests that what we often consider as 'sinful' or 'moral' might be deeply influenced by societal norms and cultural practices, which can vary significantly across different communities.

I'm curious to hear more about your views. How do you see everyday behaviors like dietary choices relating to broader moral and ethical standards? Do you think that these standards are influenced more by cultural practices than by any inherent moral truths?
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Re: Sins are just man-made agreements! Do you agree?

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jeminah28 wrote: April 8th, 2023, 9:49 am In the view of man, yes! Humans have laws to follow, which are mostly based on sin. If there's no sin, there's no such law to follow.

The assertion that laws are mostly based on sin aligns with the historical interplay between religious morality and legal frameworks. This is evident in the way many legal systems have evolved. For instance, the influence of the Ten Commandments in Judeo-Christian traditions on Western legal systems is well-documented. Harvard Law School's historical analysis, for instance, shows how these religious moral codes have informed the development of legal principles in Western societies. This suggests that while contemporary laws may have secularized, their moral underpinnings are rooted in religious concepts of sin.

The idea that both sin and laws are human constructs resonates with the argument that moral and legal standards are subject to human interpretation and societal evolution. Legal philosopher H.L.A. Hart in "The Concept of Law" argues that laws are systems of social rules, reflecting the collective agreement and social practices of a given society.

While it's true that laws have been influenced by the concept of sin, I disagree with the idea that without sin, there would be no law to follow. Modern legal systems, while historically influenced by moral doctrines, have evolved to address a wide range of societal needs beyond just moral regulation. For example, traffic laws and intellectual property rights are more about managing practical aspects of societal functioning rather than moral guidance. This indicates that while sin and moral transgressions were foundational in the genesis of laws, the scope of legal systems has expanded far beyond just preventing or punishing 'sinful' behavior.

How do you view the evolution of legal systems in relation to their moral origins? Do you think contemporary laws are moving away from these moral roots, or do they still largely reflect them?
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Re: Sins are just man-made agreements! Do you agree?

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Nganyi Humphrey wrote: April 9th, 2023, 6:08 am I don't believe all sins are man-made. A given example is murdering your fellow human being, that is, our conscious ability over other animals comes with certain knowledge against certain sins that are intrinsic.
If some sins are intrinsic, it implies the existence of universal moral truths that transcend cultural and societal boundaries. This concept aligns with natural law theory, which posits that certain ethical principles are inherent in human nature. However, this view becomes complicated when we consider contexts like warfare. In war, actions that would typically be deemed immoral, such as killing, are not only permitted but often seen as necessary or heroic. This stark contrast challenges the notion of intrinsic sins and suggests that moral standards can be context-dependent. How do we reconcile the idea of universal moral truths with the reality that societal contexts like war can redefine these truths?

The role of human consciousness in moral understanding is a pivotal aspect of this discussion. It brings into focus the debate between innate moral intuition and socially constructed morality. If our moral understanding is inherent, it suggests a kind of moral realism, where certain ethical truths are universally recognized. However, if our moral compass is shaped predominantly by cultural and social influences, then moral relativism comes into play, where ethical standards vary across different societies.

The comparison between human and animal behavior in the context of basic needs and morality brings up the question of what truly differentiates humans in terms of ethical reasoning. While animals act primarily on instinct and survival needs, humans have developed elaborate moral and legal systems. This complexity in human morality could be seen as contradicting the idea that humans are not fundamentally different from other animals in terms of needs and behaviors. However, it also highlights the unique capacity of humans to reflect on and rationalize their actions, creating systems of ethics and laws that govern behavior beyond basic survival instincts. How does this advanced moral and ethical reasoning align with the view that humans are not superior to other animals?
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Re: Sins are just man-made agreements! Do you agree?

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Sushan wrote: April 3rd, 2021, 3:08 pm The author argues that we, humans, are not superior than any other animals. We too have basic needs like sex, food and shelter like them. But we have made agreements and laws among us making polygamy, killing others for foods, etc, sins. So the point that the author is trying to prove is that sins are not defined by divine laws, but only by mere agreements among humans. Do you agsree with this point of view? Are sins merely man-made laws?
Sushan,

Sins are the stuff of judgment and dependent entirely upon the belief in a supernatural being. This supernatural being of your choice, then bestowing upon us the free will of our actions. These are both absurd, simplistic, and convenient. Sin would be legitimate if it involves violating the laws of the morality of a given society/culture. These violators are then seen as criminals or monsters, who violate the definition of humanity. Only life can create meaning, so what we do to our fellows, mutual selves, we do to ourselves. Free will is nonsense when one considers the complexities involved. For healthy individuals context defines, for people born of ill health, responsibility lies with nature, and the understanding of the individuals peers. The day we give up the concept of being in violation of some supernatural power with a bad disposition, we will make an evolutionary step toward sanity.
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Re: Sins are just man-made agreements! Do you agree?

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Sushan wrote: December 26th, 2023, 6:32 pm How do you think the institutionalization of religious teachings, like the concept of sin, has impacted their original intent and meaning?
The institutionalisation of religious teachings, including concepts like sin, has both positively and negatively impacted their original intent and meaning. One helpful effect was that institutionalisation often leads to the standardisation and codification of religious doctrines, which can help maintain consistency and clarity in teachings, preventing misinterpretations. However, this can also lead to oversimplification or rigid interpretations, potentially distorting the nuanced meanings of religious concepts like sin. In the same way, institutionalisation can create a sense of identity and unity among believers, which can be a source of strength and support. However, it has also led to dogmatism and intolerance toward differing interpretations or beliefs, hindering open dialogue and understanding.

Religious institutions can positively influence societal norms and values, promoting altruism, compassion, and justice. Conversely, institutionalisation can lead to the exploitation of religious teachings for political or social control, manipulating beliefs to serve specific agendas. Similarly, institutionalisation provides a framework for moral guidance, giving individuals a set of principles to follow, which can contribute to social order and ethical behaviour. However, overemphasis on specific rules or sins often leads to legalism, where the focus shifts from spiritual growth to adhering strictly to a set of rules, potentially missing the deeper spiritual intention.

Religious institutions can provide a centralised authority for guidance and support, fostering a sense of community and helping to maintain order. At the same time, institutionalisation can lead to power struggles and corruption, and we have witnessed how religious leaders sometimes misuse authority for personal gain, potentially distorting the original intent of religious teachings. Institutions are also better positioned to adapt religious teachings to different cultures, making them more accessible and relatable to diverse populations. However, cultural adaptation has also diluted original meanings when teachings are altered to fit societal norms, potentially losing some of their depth and original intent.

In summary, while institutions can play a crucial role in preserving and disseminating religious teachings, they also carry the risk of misinterpretation, power dynamics, and cultural distortion that may alter the original intent and meaning of those teachings.
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Re: Sins are just man-made agreements! Do you agree?

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Sarah-433 wrote: December 26th, 2023, 7:49 am Sin is basically going against the laid down rules. So it is safe to say that sins are agreements but limiting it to man-made only is where I may disagree.
The concept of sin as fundamentally going against laid-down rules prompts a deeper exploration into the nature of these rules. This perspective aligns with the idea that sins are violations of established norms, but it raises the question of the origin and nature of these norms. Are they moral guidelines evolved from societal and cultural practices, or do they stem from a more innate understanding of right and wrong? In various societies, rules that define sin have been shaped by a combination of cultural, religious, and philosophical influences. This multifaceted origin suggests that the understanding of what constitutes a sin is not static but evolves with societal changes.

The disagreement with limiting sins to man-made agreements opens the door to considering the possibility of divine or higher moral orders influencing what is considered sinful. This viewpoint raises a fundamental question about the source of moral authority. If sins are not merely man-made agreements, does this imply a belief in a universal moral order, possibly of divine origin, that dictates what is considered sinful? This question taps into the age-old philosophical debate between moral relativism and moral absolutism. While moral relativism posits that moral judgments are products of societal and cultural contexts, moral absolutism suggests the existence of objective moral truths.

In your opinion, how do we reconcile the diverse and often conflicting interpretations of sin across different cultures and religions with the idea of a universal moral order? And to what extent do you think our understanding of sins is influenced by our cultural and societal backgrounds, as opposed to a divine or natural moral law?
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