May 14, 2008

They could remake Se7en. Or not…

Seven new mortal sins have been announced.

  • Environmental pollution
  • Genetic manipulation
  • Accumulating excessive wealth
  • Inflicting poverty
  • Drug trafficking and consumption
  • Morally debatable experiments
  • Violation of fundamental rights of human nature

Right, let's take each of these in turn. I'd like to remind readers at this point that, while I will endeavour to deal with the objective inaccuracies and contradictions that follow, my personal dislike of organised religion, and my own Christianity will undoubtedly come into play. Just FYI.

Environmental pollution - somewhat excessive, perhaps? If you're a literal believer of the bible, this is the same God who almost wiped out all life on the planet with a flood. How damaging is that to the environment? Not to mention pillars of salt, burning bushes and the like (one of those is a joke :P). Even if you're not, it seems a disproportionate punishment. So by extension, if you ever dropped a piece of litter which you didn't confess to, you're going straight to hell... Pardon the scepticism...

Genetic manipulation -  so using the intelligence God gave us (or allowed us to develop) to lessen the pain and suffering experienced around the world by those unfortunate enough to have been born with various defects is enough to be sent to hell? Unless you're one of those who believes God inflicts such things as punishments or whatever on people (a view I can't even begin to justify unless you're a moron), then surely lessening someone's suffering is only the logical outcome of the love we are all supposed to show one another?

Accumulating excessive wealth - what counts as excessive? Who defines it, the church? One of the richest organisations in the world is going to dictate how much money other people are allowed to have before they get sent to hell? Hypocritical much? Some of the richest men in the world are the biggest philanthropists, like Bill Gates. Surely what you do with your money is just as important as how much of it you have. I know there's the parable of the poor woman and the rich philistine, but I don't think that can really be applied in todays world, and it is a parable anyway. If it is supposed to be followed like that (giving everything you have, no matter how much or little it is), then we're all fucked.

Inflicting poverty - surely this is the corrollary of the above. Regardless, while the sentiment is somewhat commendable, it is lethally vague. If someone offers to buy something for me, and I accept, or offers to sell me something, and I refuse, then surely I am making them poorer. Since poverty is a relative measure, have I not inflicted poverty on them? Would this not totally undermine charity?

Drug trafficking and consumption - oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. The Catholic Church (CC), in trying to modernise, has shown itself to be even more stuck in the past. Unless by drugs they mean to include alcohol (which would include the wine at communion) and tobacco, it shows a woefully poor understanding of the scope of drugs, and the realities of addiction. Drugs in moderation are not evil. As for trafficking, only insofar as it is breaking the law, and the practices it is involved with and funds. So why single out one illegal act over any other?

Morally debatable experiments - sorry, what? Any intelligent person can debate the morals of any experiment. Animal rights activists will debate the morals of any experiment using animals, yet without these, countless antibiotics, treatments, vaccines and the like might not exist. By this, the CC just mean "experiments our ridiculous Draconian institution doesn't approve of", i.e. anything they falsely view as 'playing God', a phrase that should surely be banned, such is the rank stupidity of those who generally use it as the be-all and end-all of argumentation.

Violation of fundamental rights of human nature - which are? Hell, people don't even agree on the current universal declaration of human rights: I find issue with articles 5, 13, 16, 21, 25, and 26. That's one fifth of the current set of human rights. Is the CC giving its much delayed backing to the declaration? Or is it trying to bolster its own set? Regardless, without clarification, the statement is vapid and meaningless.


Then again this passage pretty much tells you all you need to know:

He also named abortion and paedophilia as two of the greatest sins of our times. The archbishop brushed off cases of sexual violence against minors committed by priests as "exaggerations by the mass media aimed at discrediting the Church".   

- 5 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. paedophilia – pot/kettle.

    But I’m intrigued: ” personal dislike of organised religion, and my own Christianity will undoubtedly come into play…”

    How do you not come into conflict daily with both of those views?

    14 May 2008, 23:15

  2. Well, because I define Christianity as the belief that Jesus was the son of God, and the desire to be like him. For me, religion is fundamentally a personal relationship between you and God, and no one (except God) has the right to tell you how to conduct that relationship. So I don’t put any stock in the idea of spiritual authorities on earth, be it the Pope or your local priest. Not to mention how easily and frequently organised religion has historically and is currenlty being used as a form of mass social manipulation. When people follow dogma rather than thinking and feeling for themselves, they’ve missed the point. The film Dogma is an excellent explanation of many of my views – if you haven’t seen it, you should.

    14 May 2008, 23:44

  3. Fear not. I own a legitimate copy of Dogma and view it at least annually.
    I must admit that’s something I don’t understand about Christians (as I’ve only heard of the phenomena in that particular religion) where people are able to define their own belief system, as it were.
    You must have a starting point for your belief, and I shall assume that’s the Bible. But there are lessons and teachings in there and I reckon some of them tell you how to worship. Correct me if I’m wrong, but there must be something telling you about a relationship with God?
    Otherwise how do you know you’re not just talking to yourself?

    15 May 2008, 00:22

  4. Well, I view the Bible with a heavy degree of scepticism (though I have argued about this with my best mate Sam a lot). I do not take it as literal, and I do not take all of it as figurative. There are large parts I do not believe were written as they ought to have been – God can transmit meaning to man, but man, being fallible, is apt to err in his own communications, not to mention those coming afterwards who revised and selectively edited for whatever purpose. When I read the Bible, I have a sort of spirit-o-meter – if a passage feels right to me, if something within me locks to it, then I believe it. Which is not to say it’s a pick and mix religion – there are passages I feel to be true which I do not like, and find myself generally unable to live by. But just because I don’t like them doesn’t mean I disbelieve them. Similarly, there are a few passages I would like to be true, but which I do not believe (except perhaps as allegory). The Old Testament, for example, is massively flawed, contradictory and displays a severe lack of comprehension of God as a perfect being. God, being atemporal, cannot change (as he is all things at once), yet he clearly changes between the Old and the New Testament. Vengeful, spiteful, fickle God who orders genocide, punishes wilfully and shows little compassion, remorse or forgiveness, or the peaceful, benevolent Lord who offers his son as a sacrifice. If I have to choose one of those, it’s really no contest, especially given that far more of the events in the New Testament are historically corroborated.

    Thus, those parts of the Bible which I do believe, I take as divinely inspired, such that the message is undiluted. hence, it is God telling you how he would like you to conduct your relationship with him, which, as I said before, is the only really relevant party with something to say.

    15 May 2008, 00:41

  5. Mate

    Just curious – what is wrong with those human rights?

    30 May 2008, 08:35

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