Friday, October 06, 2006

Original Sin

Original sin, for those who don’t know about it, is the theological concept of an original transgression against God by Man at the time of the Fall, which constitutes an inheritance of sinfulness for all subsequent generations of humanity. This view was first proposed by the Christian theologian Augustine of Hippo in the 4th or 5th Century, who, sufficed to say, didn’t think highly of humanity, and, effectively, considered us all condemned to Hell if we didn’t undergo baptism (which ritually “washed” away our sins). Of course, the notion of original sin means that we are born into the world as sinful, even when we have not consciously made any transgression, simply because we are human (or, theologically, because of our ancestors’ mistakes). Augustine did distinguish between this involuntary sinfulness and the voluntary acts committed in one’s life, but, at the end of the day, if a baby was to die in birth or a few weeks after birth, without having undergone baptism, they were destined for the fiery pits where there will be gnashing of teeth.

So, what do I think about this concept? Well, I totally reject the notion of original sin itself, as I, firstly, do not think that God would punish us for the transgressions of our ancestors (or, indeed, punish us at all – that concept of tyrannical fatherhood is not what I ascribe to God).

Secondly I do not necessarily accept that Adam and Eve actually transgressed against God, since I would put a large question mark over the events in Genesis, for why would an all-knowing, all-loving God set up such a scenario for Mankind (it is, effectively, a trap, which doesn’t look good for a supposedly good God)?

Thirdly, I revert back more to the original meaning of sin, which is, as stated before, “to miss the mark” – i.e. to fall short of your intent, which allows you to, like an archer, reload, aim, and try again (reincarnation, anyone?) – I reject the notion of damnation and “dirtiness” associated with the concept of sin as we see it today.

Fourthly, and following on from the last, since everyone has a spark of the Pleroma in them, all are saved, and therefore “sin” is merely ignorance of that which can redeem us.

Fifthly, the only concept of original sin I can accept is a subversion of the typical formula by suggesting that the Demiurge himself committed the sin against the Original (see my poem below), who is the Pleroma (or Monad), and Man fell from grace (the Pleroma) by Ignorance, was barred from Eden by a jealous, wrathful, and vengeful god for his acquiring of Knowledge, and by Knowledge (that is, gnosis) is ultimately freed and redeemed.

Sufficed to say, none of the above points really click with the Augustinian concept of “original sin”.

For anyone interested in Gnostic songs, check out Tori Amos’ Original Sinsuality (the lyrics of which you can find here), which explores this topic a little. Also check out all of Tori’s work, especially the album From The Choirgirl Hotel, which I feel is her best work (possible because it is the most alternative).

And finally I will leave off by linking to a poem I wrote in reference to “original sin” a while back, which can be found here.

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