Sin, Genes, Sugars and Alcohol

This is a datum to support my assertion that Biological Bases for Behaviors are incorrectly interpreted as "Sin".

Genetic Variation Linked To Preference Sugary Food
It has long been recognized that Addiction to sugary foods are a predictor of alcoholism(1,3,4). Ethanol (alcohol that you can drink) is made from sugars and starch(6). Now a mechanism to account for the craving for sugar has been identified in the GLUT2 gene(2). While many "sins" can be attributed to poor choices, some sins that start with an inexplicable desire cannot. Various addictions are sustained by a "craving" that has yet to be explained in medical terms. It has traditionally been attributed to poor self-control or a lack of desire to behave properly.

While Cbsessive Compulsive Disorder does not fall into the substance abuse class of Sin, it does have the characteristic of lack of control for a desired behavior. Criminologists have theories on the lack of control for behavior and have identified that the desire for self control is separate from the capacity for self-control(5). One may desire not to steal, but one may be compelled to steal anyway.

While christians are quick to point out that God gave us free will to choose to obey his commands, they say that God won't influence us to follow his commands because it will "turn us into robots". However I have yet to see a christian explain why God doesn't have a problem building the DESIRE into us which, using thier principle, should make us a "robot" to sin. Since we have these desires built into us that cause some of us to do things that we wish we could stop, it refutes the concept of sin. Being a slave to sin, as I understand it, is a Calvinistic doctrine where predestination is a tenet. In my view, as I understand it, in this respect the Calvinistic view is the most logically consistant, however barbaric.


1. Does a Sweet Tooth Mean Alcoholism?
2. Genetic Variation Linked To Preference Sugary Food
3. Specificity of ethanol like effects elicited by serotonergic and noradrenergic mechanisms.
4. "Specificity of Ethanol..." Translated for the layman
5. Self-Restraint: A Study on the Capacity and Desire for Self-Control
6. From Cereal Corn To Alcohol

49 comments:

goprairie said...

one does not seem to have choice in sexual orientation and a homesexual relationship can be caring and committed and fit all the standards of a loving marrieage. but they still call it a sin based on a part of the bible. that is a part of the bible where they pick some verses to follow, like this one to hate gays, and others to ignore. some follow the ones about not letting women teach and others ignore them. all ignore the ones about not mixing fibers in clothing. seems like a lot of room for interpretation in the realm of 'sin' and a lot of picking and choosing based on . . . what?

the agnostic rationalist said...

When I click on 'read more' nothing happens. I would like to read the rest of the post. :)

Looney said...

Translation: if I take a dump in my neighbor's living room, it is OK. Nature made me do it. The logic of modernist artificial pseudo-morality is wonderful.

Anonymous said...

Hi TAR,
I tried it with IE, Firefox and Safari, and all work for me. I suggest closing out your browser, maybe even rebooting, it even seems to have worked for looney.

Anonymous said...

looney,
its no wonder you don't understand logic if you can't comprehend the article.

Scott said...

Looney,

People exhibit behavior. This article is noting how specific genetic makeups in groups of people can have a strong influence on specific behaviors.

Nowhere in the article did it say that this behavior was "appropriate" or "non-appropriate."

Instead, it gives us insight as to how our motivations are influenced by biological factors.

As an analogy, imagine the scale in your bathroom subtracted 30 pounds from anything it weighted. Would it not be good to know the scale is 30 pounds lighter so you can compensate for it's discrepancy or would you just prefer to remain ignorant?

Would the knowledge of this bias somehow imply that it's OK to be 30 pounds over weight? Of course not.

To further this analogy, imagine one of God's requirements was not to be overweight, but he gave us scales that read 30 pounds lighter. How exactly would this make sense? How could God judge us for being overweight? Yet this is essentially what we're finding when it comes to "sinful" behavior and biological influences.

Anonymous said...

Scott,
I should follow your example.
However, I'm pretty sure that that looney intended this as an intentional misrepresentation of my position in an attempt to discredit it out of hand.

A straw man.
in my accounting, the most common rebuttal used because it allows them to say something against it without addressing any of its premises or claims. Allows them to get away with an attack that lacks substance. It works superficially and on those with a bias against. It was a drive-by regurgitation.

Looney said...

Sorry that I am glancing at this in between jobs and gave you a too short response.

I have no problem with the idea that certain people are genetically pre-disposed towards certain addictions. Christianity teaches us that we inherited our sin nature - that is tendencies - from Adam. A little genetic tweaking here and there from one generation to another and none of this is the least bit surprising from a Christian theological perspective.

Certainly if I start with the viewpoint that man created God, then a requirement of absolute moral guidelines is nuts, as indeed just about everything else would be nuts. God, however, is free to make his standards.

Anonymous said...

Hi Looney,
thanks for responding.
from Adam.
There was no Adam, if there was, show me where he fits in history.

Looney said...

Lee, my argument was that Christianity (and Judaism) already know about predispositions to sin. It was factored in more than 2,000 years ago. As in Titus 1:12-13 -

"Even one of their own prophets has said 'Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.' This testimony is true. Therefore, rebuke them sharply so that they will be sound in the faith."

In other words, a genetic predisposition towards certain sins deserves a greater criticism of the sin, not a lesser one.

Anonymous said...

Since I'm a recent de-convert, I'm not quite sure how to tackle the topic/question of (inherent) sin - as it affects humanity and the environment - if I should be asked by my friends when they learn of my deconversion in the future. (I'm sure they'll have a ton of questions to throw at me.)

My thoughts on the matter is that something -conscience? - is already "built" inside us so that we know how to behave ethically and morally. However, when persons choose not to exercise their conscience, you'll see evidence of man's inhumanity to man and the environment, etc. These are then described as sinful acts. Well, those are just my thoughts and pretty much what I would give as an explanation. I'm not sure how valid this kind of response is, since I'm still trying to work everything out without a Christian world view.

I'd appreciate any thoughts/explanations on this matter for my own understanding and so that I can articulate clearly to those who I'm sure will draw me into a debate when they learn of my present world view.

Thanks.

Evan said...

Looney, your screen name could not be more apt, and I congratulate you for picking it. No statement could more deserve the epithet than the following one you put forth as if you mean it:

In other words, a genetic predisposition towards certain sins deserves a greater criticism of the sin, not a lesser one.

Really?

Are you saying that child born with Lesch-Nyhan syndrome is MORE culpable than a normal child who is spits at people, bites them and swears?

Really?

Are you saying that someone with Huntington's disease who becomes sexually flirtatious and promiscuous in their midlife due to their disease is MORE culpable than someone who doesn't have this disease?

You think like a monster. And anyone who thinks the way you do is also thinking like a monster.

Looney said...

Evan, I have worked with many children over the years and lived in different countries. Western nations have a miserable track record on handling children, which is usually due to pediatrics experts trying to make general rules which are driven primarily by the most extreme cases. Thus, we achieve a lowest common denominator education in the US.

My observation from working in high tech is that would be in big trouble if little countries like Taiwan and Singapore didn't do an infinitely better job raising kids and filling our need for Ph.D's. The computer you are typing on owes its existence to those monster parents who raised their kids according to a different value system - the one you have condemned.

goprairie said...

Lady -the best way i think is to look at it as instinct and look at other animals and how they behave towards each other and other species and for what reasons. for the most part, reptiles or insects who are not social will attack anything entering its territory where it protects its food source. it makes exceptions to mate, but when its eggs hatch, it sees the tiny things as potential food. the species makes up for that by quantity. in mammals, there is recognition of own kind - to various degrees depending on how social the species is - observe a primate family - they do not harm each other, they do not kill each other, but they will often steal from other nearby 'tribes' - they will kill another species to protect territory but often try harder to scare own species groups away instead of attacking - so there seems to be a hiererchy that we share - and that hierarchy is for perservation of family, social group, species, then environment - the hierarchy is roughly self (for if you don't protect and nurture yourself first you can't do anything for anyone on down the hierarchy), ones young, others in ones family, young of the tribe, other tribe members, young of the species, others of your own species, other mammals, other animals, plants that are used by us, other plants, the environment - so one can kill an animal to save a human, one can kill plants to feed an animals, but one would not kill a human to feed animals - and we use means to get what we want in an hierarchy based on efficincy - from just asking to bartering to threatening to physical fighting to killing in a hiererchical order to get our way - we don't jump straight to killiing because it is not efficient. if you look at behaviors and ask what the benefit to the species during evolution for the species to have that behavior, you usually figure it out pretty close. and remember the goal of evolution is to not just reporduce but to get the young to reproductive age - so a lot of what we do 'ethically' relates to being in the social group that helps raise the young - if all the mother is doing is guarding the young, she cannot find food or shelter but if there is a social group, she can watch her young and another while the other mother attends to those needs, or a grandparent can watch the young while the more fit mother gathers food - so you see different sorts of 'ethics' (instincts) in social animals and solitary-living animals for that reason. we are social mammals, social primates. chimps live a pretty ethical life without benefit of bible or christian teaching, don't they?

the agnostic rationalist said...

Thanks, I did get it to work and I liked this post a lot.

This is just my personal opinion, but I see all of human behavior through the filter of genetics, biology and psychology. I do not believe in the concept of sin, only ethics and morality.

I find it hard to believe that with all that we know about the brain, the functioning of hormones and how powerful they are, genetics, ect. that people still cling to the beliefs that they do about certain behaviors being displeasing to a god. It absolutely makes no sense. Why would this supposed god have someone born genetically predisposed to certain behaviors and then condemn them for said behaviors? Answer is, he wouldn't because this god is simply, in my opinion, a culmination of myth and primitive thought patterns to explain what wasn't known in the ancient world.

That does not mean that if one is predisposed to alcoholism, for example, that I think they have no personal responsibility to keep themselves from becoming an alcoholic. I simply think that it would be better if their reasons for not becoming an alcoholic were that they felt a sense of responsibility to themselves, their family and a strong social responsibility to be as healthy and capable as they could be, not some nebulous duty to a god to refrain from pickling themselves for fear of a hell.

Jason said...

Of course we're "robots" to sin. This concept is discussed and explained in detail in Scripture. As Looney said, "Christianity (and Judaism) already know about predispositions to sin. It was factored in more than 2,000 years ago."

God doesn't have a problem with this predisposition and neither do we since sins can be forgiven.

Evan said...

Looney do you even pay attention to arguments made against your position, or are you just too looney?

Someone with Lesch Nyhan syndrome doesn't need better parenting. Someone with Lesch Nyhan syndrome needs hypoxanthine-guanine phosphoribosyltransferase. You can parent them all you want, they're still going to bite, spit and curse at you. But give them some hypoxanthine-guanine phosphoribosyltransferase and their behavior will probably significantly improve.

Is that so hard to understand for you, that there are behaviors that simply cannot be altered without changing the internal neural milieu of the person?

The fact is that there are multiple examples of compelled behavior syndromes, including epilepsy, OCD, Tourette's syndrome, Huntington's disease, Parkinson's disease, ALS and many others.

Do you feel a Tourette's sufferer could be better if he would just accept Jesus as his savior?

Really?

goprairie said...

"that people still cling to the beliefs that they do"
What makes us 'smart' also makes us 'stupid'.
In this PBS show "Ape Genius",
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/apegenius/program.html ,
they show the difference between a chimp society where things are just picked up by observation and one like ours where things are taught. They made a box with complicated steps to get food to see if the chimps could pick up the series of steps and they could. Chimps saw a process and a result and could repeat the process to get the result. As could human children. However, here it gets interesting. When they show the box as clear and it becomes obvious that the steps have nothing to do with getting the food out, the chimps reason it out and just go straight for the food, skipping the pointless steps. But . . . human children who should be smarter and should see the same thing faster KEEP FOLLOWING THE STEPS. They do what they were first taught. Our instinct to teach and be taught that has evolved has the benefit of allowing us to accumulate culture. The chmps make a tool and toss it aside and do not deliberately teach others. If others see it and repeat it, and some do, it stays in use, but more often, each new generation stumbles upon their own tools and shortcuts. Humans teach, and aggressively deliberately teach, what they know, so we get it faster and can build on it and teach that. That is the upside that lets us accumulate great knowledge and great inventions. The downside is that we depend on what is taught so strongly that sometimes we miss the mistakes in it and cling to it beyond its usefulness. How many inventions cling to features of previous versions when a total redo would be better? Like they keyboard you are sitting at? Keyboards of different designs have been proven to be faster once learned, but we will not give this up. It slows us down. At one time, it made sense, but it does nto any more. So religion taught to our parents by their parents and taught to us is hard to give up. Especially when it has value judgement given to it of right and wrong, 'heathens' and 'pagans' and 'godless' are such culturally strongly negative words it is hard to give up christianity for those labels no matter how logical it is. Like the keyboard, we are saddled with a system that no longer serves us. How long before enough people buck what they are taught that we will have a critical mass of atheists to that we are not judged so harshly?

Looney said...

Evan, I have been in schools for children who have many of those disorders and know public school teachers who manage them. Certainly we must make some accommodation for medical factors. We don't, however, allow children to abuse other children due to their disorder, nor do we condone the behavior. I doubt that my Buddhist or Hindu neighbors would disagree with me on these points.

Concepts of morality and sin simply aren't to be thrown out the window because some intellectual has found a red herring.

mikespeir said...

I definitely have sweet tooth, but I'm certainly not an alcoholic! (Ahem) 'Course, that's probably because I've never had a drink in my life.

Seriously, though, your greater point is one I harp on a lot. My second wife had a schizoaffective disorder. As a Christian it always troubled me how that we were supposed to be "holy" when she couldn't approach even normality without the help of powerful psychoactive drugs, something unavailable to "sinners" of ages past.

the agnostic rationalist said...

GoPrairie,

I've seen so many PBS shows, but not that one, thanks for the heads up, I'm going to see if I can find it somewhere.

I just want more for my fellow human beings than all of this fiddling around in the dark being spooked over 'gods', 'demons', 'sin', and the like.

Evan said...

Looney, really. You are a looney.

You do understand my point, don't you?

My point is that there are definitely some behaviors that people regard as sins that are the result of genetic disorders -- or "medical conditions" in your parlance.

There's not a school on the planet that can have a Lesch Nyhan student controlled solely with behavioral modification. The child needs medication and experimental therapies to help correct the enzyme deficiency.

So is it your position that this child is MORE responsible when he is a potty mouth than a child who has no disorder? You really boggle the mind.

Trou said...

"My observation from working in high tech is that would be in big trouble if little countries like Taiwan and Singapore didn't do an infinitely better job raising kids and filling our need for Ph.D's. The computer you are typing on owes its existence to those monster parents who raised their kids according to a different value system - the one you have condemned."

Hey Looney,
What has this to do with Evan's statements or even for your argument? These Asians aren't Christians for the most part and so it doesn't support your argument. Culture as shared behavior has nothing to do with syndromes or genetic deficiencies which are biological. I didn't read where Evan condemned Buddhist child rearing. Why don't you quit babbling or stop and try to understand the argument before you proceed any further.

Scott said...

Jason: Of course we're "robots" to sin. This concept is discussed and explained in detail in Scripture.

So, if your child misbehaves once, the best parenting solution is to genetically modify them in such a way that not only they become misbehaving robots, but their children and their children's children, etc, become misbehaving robots as well?

You should give Dr Phil a call. I'm sure he'd love to have you on his show.

M. Tully said...

“I have no problem with the idea that certain people are genetically pre-disposed towards certain addictions. Christianity teaches us that we inherited our sin nature - that is tendencies - from Adam.”

Looney,

I deny your premise and ask for evidence!

You produce “Adam’s” DNA, and we can we talk about genetic predispositions. Without such evidence, I just have to say your pulling stuff out of your behind.

Or to put it more formally, “Counselor, you are stating as fact, that which has not been entered into evidence.”

M. Tully said...

looney,

You wrote, “The computer you are typing on owes its existence to those monster parents who raised their kids according to a different value system - the one you have condemned.”

Actually, I owe the existence of the computer I am writing on to a man named Alan Turing. He broke the enigma code, saved Europe from Nazi oppression and committed suicide following an arrest for the “horrible” crime of homosexuality.

If you work in “high tech” and want to appreciate it, maybe you should study it’s history.

Looney said...

I will sign out after this. It was nice talking with y'all.

My overall impression is that this blog is so anxious to debunk Christianity that you have debunked all of reason and sanity at the same time. Ooops, I forgot: You are reason and sanity's exclusive representative! Like I said, it is probably best that I leave this place for somewhere else where the communication is a bit easier.

Scott said...

We don't, however, allow children to abuse other children due to their disorder, nor do we condone the behavior. I doubt that my Buddhist or Hindu neighbors would disagree with me on these points.

Again, where did anyone say this? It appears that you've regressed to your "drive by" attempt to misrepresent Lee's point.

No where is this behavior condoned. We're simply noting how problematic it is for God to give us a scale that is 30 pounds too light, yet say it's a "sin" to be overweight.

"Even one of their own prophets has said 'Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.' This testimony is true. Therefore, rebuke them sharply so that they will be sound in the faith."

FIrst off, this is a blatant, sweeping generalization. Second, if, for the sake of argument, it was true, this in no way proves some kind of divine revelation regarding genetic influences on human behavior.

For example, the association of violence with soccer (football hooliganism) is unique to Europe. Does this mean Europeans are genetically disposed to violence at sporting events while Americans are not? Clearly, this is a cultural phenomenon based in part on nationalism.

Jason said...

Evan said: So, if your child misbehaves once, the best parenting solution is to genetically modify them in such a way that not only they become misbehaving robots, but their children and their children's children, etc, become misbehaving robots as well?

What does this have to do with sin?

Anonymous said...

Hi Lady,
Goprairie went above and beyond what I could have said, but I do know of some interesting links and books to show you.

google
moral philosophy
"harvard moral sense test"
marc hauser "moral minds"
evolutionary psychology

that should get you started.

key points about morality
- morality spans categories of religions so it cannot be confined to one, breaking the "no morality without god" prinicple
- cherry picking the good moral stuff out of the bible demonstrates a morality separate from the bible
- "moral" behavior is exhibited by other species as goprairie pointed out.

as far as key points regarding sin and bio. bases. behavior.
at the bottom of the article are 'labels'
click on the articles label "behavior" and you will get a list of most or all of the articles we've written about behavior which usually contains links to data that supports the argument.

Anonymous said...

And to the rest of you non-believers,
thanks for getting my back, you do an awesome job.

goprairie said...

You only need to go to an adult ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) site blog and read about the horrible experiences some of these people had as children. Thier 'disorder' was treated as a behavioral issue and they were punished for it. I figured out I was ADD at the ripe old age of 47 when I friend recognized some symptoms. I was lucky in a small rural school where no teacher knew enough to recognize it for what it was but just cut me lots of slack and nurtured the stuff I was good at and let the rest go. But others in many areas of life accused me of being lazy or lacking willpower for not sticking to tasks I did not like enough to finish, labeled me disorganized, willful, rebellious, dramatic, and on. The good side was my ability to hyper-focus on projects that interested me and excelling in those areas earned me some slack in other areas on most jobs and most relationships. But when I dignosed my self and learned I was of the special type for which caffeine is as effective as ritalin or adderol, and I was able to moderate they symptoms and become somewhat more 'normal' and have some of my fears and stresses and panic attacks reduced, my life got better. No amount of working harder at it or trying to be a better person was ever going to work, because it is a brain chemical thing. My biggest reason for not believing in intelligent design: The human brain, my own being a pretty 'typical' example. Take basic imperfections in brain chemistry and tie that in with weird stuff we are taught about what is right and wrong that is totally different from right and wrong in another culture or time, and it is pretty easy to see there are no absolutes.

Inqoinf said...

This is related to what goprairie said. My best friend is gay and has been his whole life. While watching "Saved by the Bell" when we were kids I had a crush on Kelly and he had a crush on Zack. We were like 10 years old. His family is normal and they are even faithful Church goers. A basic understanding of the bodies chemical activity explains a lot that the Bible can not. A good example is the high divorce rate. Humans are not designed for long term relationships, they are designed for survival. Google Oxytocin and Vassopressin.

Ron in Houston said...

Lee

Your post and the subsequent comments raises an interesting issue, i.e. the extent that a lot of people almost seem to have a fear or loathing of the concept of determinism.

Anonymous said...

@ Goprairie: Hey thanks. Appreciate it.

@ Lee: Thanks for the links. Really appreciate it, since I'm a layperson when it comes to these topics, and am still learning all the different terms and theories, so to speak. :)

goprairie said...

Lady - a bit more of my opinions - Julian Jaynes in the 70s wrote a book where he introduced the concept of the bicameral mind - that during human evolution of the two lobes of the brain, for a time, before the lobes were integrated, people actually heard input from the less dominant side as external voices to the dominant side - while that total theory was mocked and rejected, it is being looked at again recently as maybe part of the story - maybe some people heard it as voices or maybe we all still subtly detect it as another presence. if you read about the human brain, you will find that parts usually do not go away, but new parts are added in layers - we still retain a reptile brain that is in charge of sex and predator prey issues and the mammal brain the deals with family nurturing and the beginnings of social behavior. Input from the senses is sent to more than one brian layer and even more than one place in the human brain left and right lobes. These inputs are procesed in different ways and at different speeds by each part of the brain. Read about blindsight. Peripheral vision is first processed by the reptilian brain in black and white and then the human brain takes over and gives it color. We have complex brains working in parallel on inputs but at slightly different speeds. So when we are outside at night, the reptilian brain is in high gear alert for predators and it is processing things faster than the human brain, so perhaps our human brain perceives that subtle difference as a separate entity, someone 'out there', probably a negative force if we are afraid, or maybe a protective force if we are comfortable, and when we are in beautiful nature or a cathedral or in the presense of pipe organs, perhaps the reptilian brain is overwhelmed with the inputs and processing them again just ahead of the human brain, so we perceive that as a separate entity, a good benevolent force. So perhaps all supernatural experiences can be explained by that slight time delay in things being processed by different parts of the brain. If we knew that and understood it, it might insulate us from attributing it to supernatural sources and help us understand it is all just our own brains slightly out of sync.

Scott said...

Jason: What does this have to do with sin?

What does "God" have to do with the universe and everything in it?

Jason said...

Scott,

As I said, I agree, we're robots to sin. However, I don't know what your response has to do with this.

Shygetz said...

Jason, last I heard God detests all sin. Yet you say He (and we) have no problem setting up the world so that some people are "robots to sin"?

Truly, He is mysterious.

Whatever your response, remember that by your theology, He CHOSE to set things up this way. He could have gotten to whatever end He wanted without making people "robots to sin", yet He didn't. He chose to make some people compulsively sin. To what possible end?

Scott said...

As I said, I agree, we're robots to sin. However, I don't know what your response has to do with this.

Jason,

My comment is contingent on God's properties and the causal role he played in the existence of universe and everything in it.

And, the last time I checked, theists have been know to express a particular view on this issue, which I'm guessing you share.

However, I don't want to put words in your mouth, so I'll repeat the question.

What does "God" have to do with the universe and everything in it?

Rich said...

Hi Lee,
You say that having built in desires to make us robots to sin refutes the concept of sin. I don't agree with that conclusion. Rather i would say that if God gives us built in sinful desires with no way out, that refutes the concept that God is just and merciful. I'm thinking of sin in terms of doing something contrary to the will of God. So to have a list of the will of God, commandments for example, disobeying those commandments constitutes sin. So then lets move to accountability. Can you commit a sin that you are not accountable for?
Can you take the name of God in vain, for example, and not be held accountable? I would say yes. Because the act is still sin, as it is contrary to God's will. Accountability is a messy road but I believe this is where the answer to a good majority of the cases you bring up is found. I ran out of time to elaborate right now but i will come back soon.

Anonymous said...

Hi Rich,
then you agree that we don't have as much free will as we think we do?

If we are influenced to the negative but christians assert that we are not influenced to the positive because that would negate our free will, then our free will must negated to a degree because of our demonstrable built in algorithms to 'sin'.

Rich said...

Hi Lee,
then you agree that we don't have as much free will as we think we do?

That or we don't understand free will very good. I do think we can be influenced by God to do the right thing, wasn't Saul/Paul among others? Which brings up another point. If God were to appear in front of you and tell you to do something, do you still have the free will intact and can refuse to obey? If yes then that would mean that influencing us in no way negates free will, whether it be for the positive or the negative. If no then we really don't have free will at all, or at best only limited free will, which is an oxymoron;)

If we are influenced to the negative but christians assert that we are not influenced to the positive because that would negate our free will, then our free will must negated to a degree because of our demonstrable built in algorithms to 'sin'.

Right, why is it that it negates free will if we are influenced to do good, but not the other way? I've always understood it something like this. We are free to choose to follow god or free to choose not to follow God. I've always called it free agency, not that it should matter much, it's just a label.

While many "sins" can be attributed to poor choices, some sins that start with an inexplicable desire cannot.

I would agree with this and add that those sins that are from poor choices are ones we are held accountable. Because we had the agency to choose between doing or not doing "x". For your second part here that begins with an inexplicable desire I would think it would depend on each situation. If you have the gene that predisposes you to be an alcoholic, and assuming that drinking is a sin, then do you have choices that will enable you to overcome this "sinful" desire? Does having that gene mean that you will uncontrollably be drawn to alcohol, or that if you begin to drink you will more likely become an alcoholic because of the gene? I think it is the latter in this case.
So if it is God's will that you don't consume alcohol, is it then a sin if you drink? I would say yes. But then what about those that have an inexplicable uncontrollable desire to drink? Is it still a "sin" to consume alcohol? I would also say yes, however are you accountable to God because it is impossible for you to control? That's where my answer would be no.
So like I said before, messy. (I would usually say that was a mouthful, but since I am typing does that make it a handful?)

So now that is a little better insight as to why I don't think you are refuting the concept of sin here. If sin is doing something contrary to god's will, then those things will always be sin, technically. That's a label put on the act. So doesn't that technically mean that the act will always carry the label of sin? I just think you are into the realm of accountability for actions, which to me falls better under the labels of justice and mercy. I have a hard time believing that God will hold someone accountable for a sin that is beyond their physical ability to control.

Anonymous said...

Hi Rich,
That or we don't understand free will very good.
amen brother.

If God were to appear in front of you and tell you to do something, do you still have the free will intact and can refuse to obey?
I would still have the choice but the "no" choice would be irrelevant wouldn't it? Everyone would go to heaven because no sane person would say no, and anyone insane is supposedly saved by grace. Its a win-win situation that god is negligent in taking advantage of.

why is it that it negates free will if we are influenced to do good, but not the other way?
thats only part of what I was talking about. The rest is the sermon on the mount business which is, if you lust in your hard on (fruedian slip) occasion you have committed adultery. And "matt5:22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother[b]will be subject to judgment." Thats a tall order. How do I get over being angry? How do I avoid it? I don't choose to be angry it just happens. Its a result of my perception of stimulus that I process using the stored up information in my head using an algorithm that i have no control over.
The typical argument, doesn't seem to be yours though, is that god won't influence us because it interferes with our free will. Our postitions that we don't understand free will as much as we think we do, pretty much puts us in agreement for the most part.

So if it is God's will that you don't consume alcohol, is it then a sin if you drink? I would say yes. But then what about those that have an inexplicable uncontrollable desire to drink? Is it still a "sin" to consume alcohol? I would also say yes, however are you accountable to God because it is impossible for you to control? That's where my answer would be no.
See this is why sin is refuted. Because you don't know if its gods will for you not to drink until you do it. That is stupid. That is a poor design and a disaster waiting to happen.
As long as this type of inequity cannot be negated, then 'sin' is faulty principle.

I say sin is refuted because there are biological bases for behavior that we are not even aware of and it introduces the problem of the heap about 'where does sin start and end'. To say that judgement for sin is about choosing to follow gods commandments is not to understand the myriad influences going on in your mind.

There is no sin that warrants being punished for anywhere from 1000 years to infinity especially when it wouldn't even be an issue if Jesus were to pop up in front of us one day and say 'make my day'.

Inqoinf said...

There is no clear cut good and evil. The Bible specifically abhors lying but there are times when we know that lying can be good. Killing a tyrannical dictator is seen as a good act and people rejoice in the streets after the deed is done, never to feel sorry for the guy. The choices we make are influenced by how the results will be accepted in society and not by what some book says. We choose to do right or wrong, preferring those words over "good and evil," not because some god gave us free will but because we are naturally free to do whatever we want to do. Keep in mind that we do not have to do the right thing, but most people do because they fear prison or the social ramifications. This is exactly they way we would expect the world to work if there is no God because without a God we are free to make the rules and this is exactly what we have done.

Rich said...

hi lee,
I would still have the choice but the "no" choice would be irrelevant wouldn't it? Everyone would go to heaven because no sane person would say no

Absolutely! Which is why God's existence is a matter of faith. If we are to be tested, and no sane person would refuse to follow God if we could see him, then the only true test is to faithfully follow his comandments without being in His presence. This is our purpose for being here. That is a side track and I want to stay on topic about biological behavior an sin.

Rich said...

Had to get off my Ipaq.

Your opening statement, This is a datum to support my assertion that Biological Bases for Behaviors are incorrectly interpreted as "Sin". says to me that instead of cursing because you have tourettes being labeled as sin, is should have some other label, or be interpreted to not be sin because it is uncontrollable. What I am trying to suggest is that it can still be labeled as a sin, but the person afflicted with tourettes isn't accountable for that sin. Sin, like I identified before, is a label put on behavior that is contrary to God's commandments. We put such labels on behavior, crime for example. So in our society, if someone who is mentally disabled steals something, did they still commit a crime? Theft is a crime, but we are willing to say that person is unable to understand what they have done so we don't punish them for the crime, but they still committed a crime. I know it's picky, but I think it is relevant. If we were to send this retarded person to jail because of his crime, could you imagine the outrage? Why then is it any more outrageous to think that God, who is suppose to be the epitome of justice and mercy, would condemn that same person for the "sin" of stealing?

I still think that sin, as being defined as breaking a commandment of God, stands firm, but that the condemning someone because of an uncontrollable biological problem would refute God being just and/or merciful.

The typical argument, doesn't seem to be yours though, is that god won't influence us because it interferes with our free will. Our postitions that we don't understand free will as much as we think we do, pretty much puts us in agreement for the most part.

Yes, I do believe we can be influenced, because simple influence doesn't interfere with free will, it might make it harder to go contrary to the influence but your free will is there. Even with God right in front of you, you agree we still haven't lost our free will, just nearly impossible to say no, I mean I wouldn't say no either, just let me change my soiled clothes first.

Because you don't know if its gods will for you not to drink until you do it. That is stupid. That is a poor design and a disaster waiting to happen.

So now we hit sin in innocence. "So lets wipe that under the carpet, because you didn't know the law. But now you do so don't repeat the offense." This could be said to you by the officer that pulled you over to let you off with a warning as much as it could have be said to you by Christ himself. To me it's only poor design if there is no way to include some way to not punish someone for their innocence of the law. Commandments are meant to govern mankind. It is a sin to break a commandment. But there are soooo many factors involved that we could endlessly converse about. To me it's a total package deal. When you add the judgment into the equation to deal with every occurrence of sin and begin to look at all the factors involved in making a fair judgment, it kindof makes your noodle bake just thinking about it. I think in the end we are in agreement about this with maybe a few petty differences.qazi

Anonymous said...

Hi Rich,
Okay, I'll go with "sin is breaking gods commandments".
regarding tourettes, then how is cursing, up to taking gods name in vain, a sin? Is it a sin to say f*** every other word?

no rich,
"So lets wipe that under the carpet, because you didn't know the law. But now you do so don't repeat the offense."
isn't the issue, the issue is having genetic markers that are predictors for alcoholism, or aggressiveness (violence) or being emotionally stunted (psychopathy) to the point that you take advantage of people because you don't have the empathy to realize that it hurts people or that you are sexually attracted to the same sex.

lets say you don't have any genetice markers for alcoholism, none in your family ever, or lets even say that you are of asian descent and have the gene that makes you 'allergic' to alchohol.
Lets say bob has the genetice makeup that predicts that he is 200% more likely to become alcholoic than the average person.

Now drinking in moderation is not a sin is it?
Yet drinking in moderation affects us differently. It will have no affect on you or it may make you uncomfortable, yet it would suck bob right in.

This is what I am talking about. So now go ahead and say that bobs not responsible for his alcoholism, or that bob is responsible to keep it under control. The point is that he has a huge biological disadvantage that he doesn't know about till he's hooked. Alocolism is usually only recognized when it starts becoming a problem. By the time it becomes a problem, it is a problem. Thats why its a problem. ;-)

Alcoholism is the most obvious, but there are other chemical influences and environmental influences (lights set off seizures) that influence us or cause us to behave a certain way. I've seen stats that show that 20% of death row inmates are bi-polar or have some mental problem, but some of them get executed anyway. But thats another argument in ethics.

What general principle makes it allright for heterosexuals to enjoy a loving relationship and all the perks that go with that but not homosexuals?

Lets say your sunday school teacher plays that game in church. Anyone wearing blue must stand up all through the service even though there are plenty of chairs. And lets just say that every 'worship day' (whatever that is) the rule changes so that you never know ahead of time if you are going to be breaking a rule. Or lets just say that I tell you ahead that if you wear sandals you cannot sit down. It doesn't affect you but it does affect your daughter. You don't believe it because it is implausible but, sure enough, thats the rule when you get there. Is this reasonable? Can this be justified by any generally accepted principle?

And what general principle makes it okay to punish me eternally for not being convinced of something?
Can this principle be applied anywhere else in life?

If my friend brings a sign home from Iraq that says "Danger unexploded odinance stay back 50 feet" that he found in the supply tent, and he puts on on my kitchen door, Should I never open my kitchen door? Chances are I will open my kitchen door. Am I at fault for being stupid, by opening my kitchen door when it is clearly marked that there is exploded ordinance and I should stay away?

there is a plausibility factor, and a belief factor that is being ignored in the 'going to hell for not believing in god'. It is a fallacy because it ignores qualifiers. Can't think of the name right now but I'll dig into my reference and see, and maybe write an article on it.

You my friend are doomed to live your life over and over until you start following the Vedas. All other religions are derived by false prophets. Hinduism is the only true religion because it was first. (just kidding, but hopefully you see my point).

Rich said...

Hi Lee,

Okay, I'll go with "sin is breaking gods commandments".

Good but then you also need the qualifier of knowing what those commandments are before you are able to willfully commit sin. I see you have a new post up that probably deals more with that topic so I might switch over there for more of that discussion.

Since this is trying to deal more with genetics markers I will focus on that more.

For me, I am expected to not consume alcohol, in the form of beer, wine, etcetera. For the purpose of medicine, it's different. You might wonder why, but drinking for the purpose of getting drunk is much different then drinking nyquil for a cold. Part of what constitutes a crime depends on the laws set up by a society. Some things considered a crime in the USA may not be a crime in Italy, and vice a versa. So the term sin only really deals with laws set to govern those who wish to be part of the society that God has set up, true? Each religion has its own set of commandments, some are the same but there are several differences. Any one could be potentially right, and they all could be wrong. That being said, we can't really nail down here specifically what are the list of "sins" and what things aren't "sin". But since you brought up somethings that have these genetic markers I think it warrants exploration into the whole concept.

So you bring up an interesting example of someone with said genetic marker for alcoholism. Lets just posit that one of Gods commandments is to not consume alcohol. So me, with no genetic marker, may have no real problem keeping this commandment. Although I could take up drinking even though I don't have the marker, which would be knowingly breaking the commandment, presuming first that I know this to be a commandment. Bob also knows its a commandment, and has the genetic marker that once he consumes alcohol, he's stuck. So my question is this, can Bob choose to never touch alcohol and avoid the problem without the genetic marker even coming in to play? That's only one of several different examples that I can think of, but it is one that I could say would constitute sin, because Bob knew beforehand that he shouldn't drink, and then only found this genetic problem because he drank anyway.
Now it's going to be much more difficult, maybe even impossible, for Bob to stop drinking then it will be for me. But both of us would have been better off never touching the stuff.

Here's a tidbit for you on taking the lord's name in vain. I could be wrong, but isn't a preacher, minister, bishop, cardinal, rabbi, ect.., acting in the place, or name of God in their capacities? I think yes. so if they are acting for God as though they have the right from god to do so, but really don't have His OK, isn't that also taking the name of God in vain? Ouch! Maybe dropping the Fbomb every other wor isn't sin, but certainly using the words God or Christ incorrectly is sin?

What general principle makes it allright for heterosexuals to enjoy a loving relationship and all the perks that go with that but not homosexuals?

As far as our society goes it may not matter to enough people so that homosexuals will be able to have an equal place with heterosexuals. If, though, it is a commandment of God, and that is your desire to follow his commandments, then it does constitute sin. This one is always a hot topic and it may open a can of worms, but remember the "ifs". While I understand that there is a genetic marker, at least I am pretty sure there is, for homosexuality, I thought that environment and other outside factors are still considered to be more responsible for homosexuality than genes alone. I am always open to new information, but that was the most recent thing I read.

there is a plausibility factor, and a belief factor that is being ignored in the 'going to hell for not believing in god'. It is a fallacy because it ignores qualifiers. Can't think of the name right now but I'll dig into my reference and see, and maybe write an article on it.

Here's another place where we will find plenty of common ground. There are just too many factors involved in life to send someone to hell so easily. besides the traditional heaven/hell doctrine being wrong. (If the homosexuality thing doesn't ignite someone, that one might;})


You my friend are doomed to live your life over and over until you start following the Vedas. All other religions are derived by false prophets. Hinduism is the only true religion because it was first. (just kidding, but hopefully you see my point).

Yes I do get your point :}