Special thanks to today’s guest joke-writer: Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Discussion (50)¬

  1. Poor Richard says:

    I’ve never understood what’s original about sin.

  2. Scott says:

    original sin = because Adam sinned, creation has over it the curse of that sin until christ’s second return.


  3. Eric Meyer says:

    Then you aren’t being sufficiently creative, Richard.

  4. Toast in the machine says:

    …a dangerous taste for unreality…‘ – nice.

    It’s interesting that our species so readily cleaves to the concept of there being two types of ‘wrong’ – ie actually wrong because it harms another person, or another creature capable of suffering, and special wrong because it breaks an arbitrary rule dictated by an undetectable overseer. I guess it serves an evolutionary purpose – that doesn’t make it right, of course.

  5. Don says:


    Ask the man who’s got religion, he’ll
    Tell you if your sin’s original…


  6. Maggs says:

    Hmmm, was this ‘…belief in unlimited economic growth…’ the new God? How strange that so soon it should have been found to be unrealistic, I bet it said ‘Thou shalt have no other gods but me.’

  7. Maggs says:

    Thanks for the Tom Lehrer link Don.

  8. nina says:

    original sin is the best ever scam – it ensures even the most blameless, kindest person is still a sinner – which makes you wonder why Mary being a virgin gave her a pass – perhaps original sin skips a generation?

    sort of like the suicide is a sin, so you have to stay alive and donating money to the church – no quick death and into heaven

  9. Daoloth says:

    Nina: I believe the claim is that Mary’s conception was immaculate (not Jesus’ conception, as is sometimes assumed) thus she was free from sin. Says a lot about the church and its view of earthly pleasures.
    I have met sweet lovely idiots who have told me with a straight face that they are capable of all the evils of the world but for the love of Jesus. My only question to them is why, if they believe this, they are not running away from me. Jesus hates me.

  10. Sean says:

    Eddie Izzard’s example of a truly original sin was ‘poking a badger with a spoon’…

  11. dyl says:

    Mary benefited not only form her virginity but also from the “immaculate conception” Which was her’s not jebus’ . so she , born sinless, was the pristine vessel into which the good lord could spooj.

  12. dyl says:

    BTW, nearly all christians get that one wrong so it’s a good one to know for a “i know your stupid religion better than you do” moment.

  13. Stephen Turner says:

    That would explain why the Immaculate Conception is celebrated so close to Xmas then (it’s Dec 8th, a widely observed holiday in Catholic places).

    I’m going to regret asking this, but about Jesus’ conception:- what is the official Christian position? (Oo-er missus.)

  14. Dídac says:

    Well, the doctrine of original sin has been very abused by different schools of Christianity. If Adam sinned, and his original sin has been transfered to his offspring, then “traducianism” (the idea of souls transfered from father to offspring) may be true, although most Christian writers defend nowaday “soul creation ex novo’. If original sin is, as Catholicism teaches nowadays, a deeply ingrained characteristic of the human soul, then how can be defended that the human soul is free. In Voltaire’s Candide, Pangloss is hanged by the Portuguese Inquisition when he defends that Original Sin is good, because without Original Sin there were no reason for Jesus or Christianity. Freedom and individuality are hardly compatible with original sin. Moreover, Catholicism assumes original sin is erased through baptism. Some Baptists, however, extend the original sin from humans to all the world (Fall of Man is converted in Fall of the World) and this line of reasoning drives them to a form of “dystheism”.

  15. JohnnieCanuck says:

    Must have been a relief for T. rex when Adam took the bite of the apple. Those coconuts would have been pretty hard to manage what with his small forearms and the hard shells.

    Recent studies have shown that juvenile T. rex bulked up at an incredible rate so there must have been huge groves of coconut trees available just for them in the Garden.

    Kind of made for a raw deal for all the animals that didn’t get to be the top of a food chain. What did they do to deserve suddenly becoming something’s menu item, anyway?

  16. Dick M says:

    Stephen Turner, the official Christian position is the “Missionary Position”.

  17. spoing says:

    @johnnie canuck – remember there were talking snakes in the garden too. Presumably all classes of reptile could talk? Must have been a hell of a place. Talking vegetarian T-Rexes. I presume they ate celery rather than coconuts given the forearm limitations. Or perhaps the forearms were a punishment from the almighty prankster in the sky for their original sin.

  18. Rey Fox says:

    There’s no such thing as an original sin. Thus spake Elvis of Costello.

  19. Blondie says:

    “Bless me father, for I have sinned. I’ve poked a badger with a spoon.”
    “Now that’s a truly original sin!”

  20. Poor Richard says:

    I’ve tried my damnedest to come up with something original; it looks like they’ve all been taken. Badgering a Witness might be a good place to start.

    By the way, just in time for XMAS, I have a large batch of original, recent, authentically autographed photographs of Jesus for sale. Due to the sensitive nature of this material, you can buy yours only at my front door, $100, cash only.
    If you wish to have yours autographed TO you by name, add $50. He IS a busy guy.

  21. spoing says:

    @Poor Richard … you’re a fraud! I got my autographed Jesus pic from E-bay last year for only 20 bucks!

  22. Daoloth says:

    re originaity of sins:
    “When given a choice between 2 evils- I always pick the one I haven’t tried yet” (Taluleh Bankhead, I think)

  23. Stephen Turner says:

    Poor Richard: you must be a very saintly man to have been able to get hold of those. We are not worthy.

    Do you have any advice on how we should lead our private lives?

  24. John Moore says:

    Let me get this straight, Mary was the only human being born without original sin? If not then she is truely “merely” human and in no way part of the Holy Family i.e. holy three and she…..

  25. azurefrog says:

    Uh oh! I never bought into unlimited economic growth, so I guess I’m free from original sin, too… I sure hope I’ve got enough regular sin of my own to keep the god-spooj away. 😛

  26. Poor Richard says:

    Stephen: you have no private life. The recording angels even at this moment are taking it all in–digitally, these days– for the file.

    Azurefrog: What sin is “regular”? I’m so confused by this whole thing. By the way, is the azure frog one of the poisonous ones? It’s all Woman’s fault, you know.

  27. John Moore says:

    @azurefrog (god-spooj) Isn’t that what snow is? The coming of the lord so to speak…..Ewwww no more snow angles for me…..

  28. Didac,

    I’m no theologian, but I believe that Catholics also believe in the Fall of the World with the Fall of Man, a belief you ascribe to “Some Baptists” only.

    Also, Catholics believe that the guilt of original sin is erased by Baptism, not all of the effects are. Concupiscence is an effect of original sin and is still present in the Baptised, for example. Another effect of orginal sin that Baptism doesn’t cure is death, although it does offer the possibility of resurrection, which addresses death.

  29. Stonyground says:

    To me the point about original sin is that it is so obvious that it is a scam. How obviously a scam does it have to be before believers work out that it is obviously a scam. It is also quite funny that the Catholic Church went along with this for about eighteen hundred years before some sharp theologian pointed out that jesus the “had to be sinless in order to be sacrificed” would have to carry original sin as well. So as a solution they just pulled the immaculate conception out of their arses.

  30. Dídac says:

    Well, Jordan, I’m no theologian also. But you are right that there are no profound differences in the Fall of Man doctrine between major currents of Christianity.

    As for the catholic Fall of Man (http://www.vatican.va/archive/catechism/p1s2c1p7.htm), it says that “Harmony with creation is broken: visible creation has become alien and hostile to man”. However, it is not exactly the same as attribute carnivorous animals such T. rex to the Fall of Man.

  31. Headbhang says:

    All hail the spoing-master!

  32. Stonyground,

    The belief in the sinlessness of Mary goes way back in Catholic thought. It was just formally declared as an infallable doctrine in the 19th century.

    Here’re some articles:


    You should be able to find a lot of background into this doctrine in those (and numerous other) articles to demonstrate that this doctrine was not pulled out of thin air or anywhere else.

    I found these articles with 5 minutes and Google. Seems like if anything was pulled from an orifice it was your posting.

  33. Rosemarie says:

    Question: was Mo born with or without OS. Does anybody know and does anybody care?

  34. JohnnieCanuck says:

    Rosemarie, I think it would depend who you ask. A Christian would say yes because they only recognise him as a mere mortal no different from any other, though clearly unsaved. Muslims and Hindus have no need of OS. The doctrine is a construct of Christian leaders in the 2nd century as part of their sorting out of the various heresies.

    Ask the barmaid or most any atheist and you know the answer you’ll get, already.

  35. Stephen Turner says:

    @Rosemarie: he was born without OS, but when he was forty the Angel Gabriel came along and installed Ubuntu Muslim Edition. This brought his peripherals to life.


  36. Stonyground says:

    OK Mr. Henderson, mea-culpa the Immaculate conception idea is rather older than I thought it was. Thank you for the links they were most informative. You are aware though that all this stuff is just made up right?

  37. Isn’t the archbish a trip? Check out his latest, author- all about how reason isn’t that pesky secular thing that teaches us to manipulate the world for our own use, no, it’s learning to be in harmony with

    you get the idea.

  38. KevinC says:

    If God could give Mary a mulligan on the whole “original sin” thing, why not just give *everybody* the same mulligan and save himself the whole “sacrifice himself to himself to appease himself from being mad at everybody forever because some guy ate a fruit” thing? Oh yeah. Scam.

  39. Stonyground,

    No, I don’t believe it’s all just made up.


    God could do it any way that pleased him, but those alternatives don’t please him. I don’t know the heart of God very well, but I do ask for insight from time to time. I’m hopeful to understand it better in the future.

  40. Toast in the machine says:

    God could do it any way that pleased him, but those alternatives don’t please him.

    So the big g has free will to choose, but whatever choice he makes is the most moral one?

    Sounds like a free pass allowing religionists to have their cake and eat it. Or a return to Plato’s old chestnut – is it good because god does it that way, or does god do it that way because it is good?

    Or is he in fact ‘just made up’?

  41. Stonyground says:

    Mr. Henderson, it is all made up, honestly, really it is. The notion that the Bible is inspired by divine revelation is made up. The Bible is basically a huge collection of old scrolls translated and bound into a book, any claim that it is any more than this is made up. It contains a mixture of history and fiction that is mixed together in such a haphazard way that no one will ever know which parts are which. Catholic dogma is a huge inverted pyramid of made up stuff balanced precariously on the top of this book. There may or may not be some kind of supreme mind that designed the universe but the gods in the Bible are made up.

  42. Stonyground,

    Well, you were so reliable on your assertion on the origin of the Immaculate Conception Doctrine, I’d be crazy not to believe you over 2000 years of consistent Catholic Tradition and the many millions of faithful who have testified to the faith.

    Next you’ll be telling me the Eucharist is NOT the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ.


    On what standard are we to judge whether God’s choices aren’t the most moral? Just whatever you pick? Is the morality you choose ‘just made up’?

  43. Stonyground says:

    Jordan Henderson,

    The Eucharist is a ritual borrowed from pre-Christian religions and if you truly believe that it IS the body, blood soul and divinity of Jesus Christ then you are truly beyond help.

    I am beginning to suspect that you might be a wind up and that I may be in the embarrassing position of having fallen hook, line and sinker.

  44. Stonyground,

    Did you learn the truth about the Eucharist here:


    Do you believe everything you read in Jack Chick tracts?

    If something resembling the Eucharist is found in pre-Christian religions, that wouldn’t prove it was borrowed. There are resemblances with the Seder meal. There may be other rituals that also resemble the Eucharist and that might just indicate a foreshadowing given to men to prepare us for the Eucharist.

    You suspect that I’m playing a joke on you because I appear to believe in a key doctrine held by the largest Christian denomination in the world? You really ought to get out more and meet different people. The people you hang out with tell you ridiculous things like the Doctrine of Immaculate Conception was invented in the 19th Century and that the Eucharist was borrowed from pre-Christian religions.

  45. Toast in the machine says:

    So you assume from the outset that god exists and makes choices, and that his choices are right because… they’re god’s choices! Brilliant!

    Obviously, morality is a set of evolved behaviours and beliefs. Religion is a standardised set of beliefs, some pertaining to moral questions, others simply rules and rituals, still others masquerading as moral. When a particular religion evolved, it’s fair to assume that most of its rules had some practical purpose – hating homosexuals, for instance, would be a useful attitude if an important objective of your tribe was expansion. That of course to thinking people nowadays seems rampantly immoral, but because it was historically ascribed to the infallible deity, to some or many of his followers even now, when such an attitude has no practical value and its inherent immorality is plainly visible, it is heresy to consider it for what it is – primitive and backwards.

  46. Obviously, morality is a set of evolved behaviours and beliefs.

    Obviously? Produce scientific proof of this, please. I suspect you are a proponent of Science. By Scientific proof, I mean, adhering to the Scientific Method. You know, devise some experiments, run them, etc.

    If you can’t or refuse, then I’m likely to suspect that your “morality” is just some set of beliefs that serve you at the moment. Anything you don’t like you’ll deign it to be “primitive and backwards” and throw it out.

  47. Toast in the machine says:

    a proponent of Science[sic]’ – Lol, as they say.

    You’re ‘likely to suspect’ whatever you need to, to maintain your irrational belief system, and we both know it makes no difference what I or anyone else who disagrees with you says, nothing’s going to change your mind. Nevertheless, as you’re now pretending to be in a position from which you might choose to accept either a theistic explanation, or a rational one, I’d ask you to give that position sincere consideration: Is morality prescribed by an all-powerful deity, or is it evolved?

    The evidence it was prescribed by an all-powerful deity – say, the christian god – is that there is a book (the bible in your case) which contains various injunctions and prohibitions, and that some people believe that that book was transcribed by people influenced by or reporting the word of god.

    The evidence it is evolved is both inductive and deductive. We can reason backwards from widely or universally accepted moral positions (eg, don’t kill people*), to what the likely causes of such positions would be (we wouldn’t like it if other people killed us and other people seem to be similar enough to us that it’s reasonable to believe they have similar views on the subject; also, a society in which people can freely kill others is likely to be unstable and unproductive). And we can observe behaviour in other species, and in our own species from pre-christian times which is in accordance with this.

    *except in tribe/state/etc-sanctioned circumstances

    Without a time-machine, it’s not possible to witness the evolution of morality as it happened, but we can observe it in other species and via historical evidence, and deduce logically why and how it came into practice, just as we do with the physical evolution of species. Obviously, it takes a massively backwards and primitive mindset to reject the evidence for the evolution of species – I’m sure you don’t have a problem with that. The evolution of behaviours and cultural practices happened in much the same way.

    The problems with the theistic explanation are, well, manifold, but here are some:

    Most people don’t believe the bible is the word of god.
    Many of the injunctions and requirements in the bible are simply rules and nothing to do with morality.
    All of the injunctions in the bible which are to do with morality were practiced prior to the writing of the bible.
    Societies which more strictly implement biblical teachings have no less crime than secular ones, indeed, considerably more in many cases.
    It’s a circular argument to begin with, as it is predicated on the assumption that god exists and that the bible is his word.
    There are others, but that will do for now.

    And I would ask you to consider Plato’s point, I mentioned earlier: does god arbitrarily choose what is considered moral, in which case he could invert any or all of his rules at any moment, or does he have no say in it, in which case why do we need the middle-man and where do the rules really come from?

    I would also suggest you look up the word ‘deign’ in a dictionary.

  48. Teralek says:

    I kind of agree with this one. Not only in religion but also in other areas like economy, humans delude them selfs only too often.


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