Thursday, November 1, 2012


"This story of the redemption will not stand examination. That man should redeem himself from the sin of eating an apple, by committing a murder on Jesus Christ, is the strangest system of religion ever set up."
--Thomas Paine (Founding Father of the United States)

I have mentioned "Original Sin" and the idea of sins carrying on to any subsequent generations in a few posts now. Lately, I have been thinking about this in the context of Mormonism, and what I was taught while growing up in the Church.

Officially, the Church does not accept the traditional doctrine of "Original Sin" and various leaders have explained why this concept is immoral. In fact, the rejection of this bit of dogma is even included in the "Articles of Faith" (part of the Mormon canon):

"2 We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression."

While it is true that Mormon's believe that in the Final Judgement at the end of the world people will be judged according to their actions alone, this says nothing of god issuing punishments to all mankind for Adam's transgressions in this life. This seems to give licence to doctrines like the "Fall of Mankind" or the "Fall of Adam" which is the idea that all of mankind is punished for Adam's partaking of the tree of knowledge of good and evil by falling from the grace and literal presence of god.

(Some Mormons believe that the Earth used to be located near the infamous planet Kolob and was subsequently moved away after the debacle in the Garden of Eden, but as far as I'm aware, this is conjecture and not official Church doctrine).

In principle it seems that Mormons only have a problem with the eternal consequences of "Original Sin", as this is the primary moral difference between it and the "Fall of Adam". This is reinforced when you consider the fact that the Book of Mormon contains many passages where god curses, albeit only temporally, entire groups of people for the actions of their ancestors. Temporal punishment is less amoral than eternal punishment, but it is still not moral in any meaningful sense. It is merely the lesser of two amoral propositions.

Here are just a few examples of such cursings: Curse of the Lamanites ("skin of blackness"); anyone "mixing their seed" with the Lamanites (inter-racial marriage); Nephites who would not repent of their adultery (and possibly polygamy--no, that can't be right...); the Tower of Babel (origin of multiple languages around the world--except, of course, the Chinese who had been reading and writing in their own language for centuries before this story allegedly took place); anyone who does not give money to the Church (convenient, isn't it?). You get the idea.

Ultimately, that the Mormon church does not accept "Original Sin" seems to be yet another case of more modern religions negating outdated doctrines of older religions. A little common sense shows that "Original Sin" is not a just doctrine, which could be one reason Christianity has had to fight so hard to remain relevant. And I'm not just talking about the scripture wars and dogmatic changes of the last century, but for the last two thousand years.

At face value, Christianity is not as moral as it would have you believe ("Original Sin", eternal punishments for finite crimes, rewarding gullibility over reason and rationality). This, I think, is one reason why the Inquisition occurred--without forcing people to accept doctrines like "Original Sin" by threat of death, who would believe it to be morally justifiable? And without the Inquisition I find it very hard to believe that Christianity would have survived this long.


Here is the Atheist Experience discussing "Original Sin" and Adam and Eve:

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