Sunday, September 14, 2008

The idea of Sin – Part One

The word sin is essentially related to religion. We have some idea of what it is but there may be slight differences in its understanding. Sin connotes some kind of “wrong”, something negative, and something that will be “punished by God”. Sin and salvation. Dosa and pahala. Two opposities.

The way to avoid sin in religion it seems is to replace it with salvation. Salvation “cleanses” you of sin. Again, the mode of “cleansing” may differ from beliefs to beliefs.

Some religions teaches that we are born ‘sinful’. What does it really mean? If we are not taught this, we may never know. In fact there are equally many who cannot accept this proposition. They look at the innocent baby who has not learned any words and think : “ she is so pure!”. And indeed it appears that adults infuse most of the good things and the bad things in children. What children see, children do.

The idea of being born sinful has driven some people away to atheism. On the other hand, this very idea has also attracted some others to religion through the “acceptance of a saviour” to attain salvation.

Some other religions divide most actions into sin and salvation. They also calibrate varying degrees of sin and salvation. It is almost like a point system. Such a system probably has served some useful function in society as it does instill a sense of link with a mysterious, invisible force who is ever watchful of your every step, the vast universe notwithstanding. It instills fear in those who need the fear factor. It instills recognition in those that need to feel recognized. So, you orchestrate your behaviour according to your psychological need.

But there are some others where this "notion of religious sin and salvation" does not attract them at all. It seems to such people that it interferes with their understanding of being subservient to God. To these minds, at best, it appears childish and at worst, it sounds like bribery. To these minds, "service to God" must be unconditional.

These sins and salvation need not relate to day to day activities or what may be considered normal human behaviour. These sins or salvation more often relate to what a particular religion says is the mode of behaviour, rituals and so on. If you perform certain rituals, you attain salvation. If you abstain, you are sinful. The sense of sin and salvation has a profound impact on some humans that it can become a basis of aggressive behaviours or even legislation. Ironically, the aggressive behavior or the legislation of what is sinful and what is not is founded on “good intentions”. It is phrased in the thinking that “you need to be saved”.

In other words, what is considered sinful in one religion may be salvation in another. Probably these contradictory positions can never be rationalized nor reconciled because religion is largely in the realm of belief and emotions. Differences in rituals between different religions seem to have become their respective trademarks. However, it can make a difference between sin and salvation.

What do you think?


Anonymous said...

Humans, God, The "freedom" to choose?

Did God planned to give humans the ability of making their own decisions?

But if so why would God want to punish us after giving us the ability to make their own free choice?

The example of God to Adam: You are free to eat all the apples from all the apple trees in this orchard except from this particular tree.

Why? Why? Why? Hey is God sadistic maybe? like to see people yearn for things, but cant have? Is God really like that?

So why put the tree there?

But maybe it was not his intention to punish us unendingly until "the day of reckoning" if we do not make the "choices" he wants us to make?

If that it so, why give us the ability for decision making in the first place? True or not brader? Its like hey man go make that decision but after that i will send a lightning bolt up where anwar went.

Its like you tell the kid to get you a rag from the kitchen to wipe the floor. The kid ask you which rag, and you reply anything also can. When the kid comes back with a rag and you say aiyoh why you bring this one, stupid? You sure there are no others ah? Why this colour, why why why? Dont you think you just confused the kid, by asking him to decide something and than screwing him after that?

He probably think i aint going to decide or make any more decisions and just everything you say to the letter!

So are we really "free" to do what we want if we know that we'll be made to suffer unbearably in hell if we do not do exactly what God wants? If so what sort of fucking "free choice" is that?

Does religion advocate that God is a vengeful God? But who made up all these? Natural laws? And anyway, if we agree that it was God that put together all these laws in place, then why will God give us power/choices/options/freedom but then to overcome them?

If it was God's plan for us to be affected by all these "rules and regulations"/"terms and conditions"/"laws and by laws" and then penance by not abiding to it, then why create the possibility that we could deter from it?

And on top of this, he tempts us, day and night, to break those very laws that he had laid down. what a bastard i say. ridiculous?

Maybe this is not what God had in mind at all? Maybe we live in an insane world, causing us to act insanely that was and still is procured by man?

A world that is filled with judgement and condemnation. MAybe others have judged us perhaps our peers/parents/teachers/siblings/friends/co workers? And from their judgements we judge ourselves?

And now when we want God to judge us and maybe God's judgement or lack of, we cannot understand? This is not what religion is all about.

Maybe God may not/ will not act like us, or what religions have us to believe? maybe religions are just fakes for political reasons?

If so, what has been taught by religion that we have come to understand is a complete opposite paradigm?

And since we think that God will not judge us we have become lost?

Were we not told by religion that we were and still are a bunch of sinners, born sinners? Is that possible? Could we have sin before birth? Maybe live on this earth is suppose to be hell, and we have sinned in our previous live and was sent here to suffer? If so wouldnt creation be the ultimate sin? Aiyoh i got headache already.

If so, after birth from our original sin, it goes down hill all the way till death unless we find salvation? IS God suppose to give us that salvation?

But did we inherite original sin from adam and eve? If so i guess the theory of genetics vs environment is out? probably gone to hell.

Maybe we are in hell and thats why we always look up towards the heavens hoping some day we will be there.....


Anonymous said...

When we discuss religion in English, the language of the discussion (be it a forum like this, translations of the Quran etc) are undoubtedly unfluenced by the English language concepts of religion.

Since the English have been Biblical Christians for a long time, their language, especially pertaining to religious issues has been almost irreparably influenced by Biblical ideas.

The word sin, religion, salvation etc are Biblical. The same concepts may not apply to other 'religions'.

Taoism does not consider itself a religion. Yet millions are Taoists. The Arabic Quran does not understand words like sin, religion and salvation. The word 'dhanb' is translated as 'sin'. But it actually means 'wrong'.

Is a sin a wrong? Is a wrong a sin?
If you lust after women or men is it a sin (needing salvation) or is it a wrong (perhaps needing correction)? If it is not a sin, can it still be wrong? If it is not wrong, can it still be a sin?

Is salvation also correction? Does correction also mean salvation?

I think this will only lead to hairsplitting arguments. Why so? Because we are trying to use terminology (sin, salvation, religion, etc) which do not exist in reality.

Let me invent a new term : Dohala. It is a corruption and fusion of dosa and pahala, which are themselves of Hindu origin (I think). Bear with me. With a few hundred years of usage, 'dohala' will become accepted too. Volumes can then be written too.

What does 'dohala' mean? It is a fusion of dosa and pahala. Whatever dosa and pahala mean, just fuse them together.

The Quran talks about a people who argued about things that were forbidden or not. As a punishment, the fat on the back of a cow was made forbidden while the fat on the stomach was not (or vice versa). As a result they had a whale of a time engaging in hair splitting arguments about where the back of the cow ended and where the stomach part began. In other words they wasted much time.

Khinzir literally means 'rotten meat'. Haram means 'sanctioned'. It does not mean 'forbidden'. Rotten meat along with running blood and animal corpses (bangkai) are sanctioned. We cannot eat them.

Anonymous said...


take a look at your time stamp, i think it is not set to malaysian standard time.


jahamy said...


thank you. Now, the time stamp should be correct, I hope!

jahamy said...


You made an important point in the usage of language and words. Words can guide us and yet mislead us at the same time. Your example of "dohala" makes the point. I used to tell my friends that in an inquiry, the content of the question and the manner the question is phrased itself may be more important than the answer. Most often, the answer is in the question. Equally, most often the question itself is faulty. Eg. Is God so powerful that he can create a stone that he cannot lift? Such questions apart from sounding clever does not assist in advancing understanding.

Secondly, you wrote "Is a sin a wrong? Is a wrong a sin?" Good question. Using the words as they are normally used, it would appear that wrong is not equal to sin and vice versa. What is ordinarily considered wrong if done, in the religious sense is sinful if not done. In fact there are various exceptions in law that allow for religious practices which otherwise will offend the provisions of the law. Egs. law of obscenity, self infliction of pain and mutilation, etc.

Anonymous said...

Jahamy thank you for your reply.
Dribking alchohol is NOT wrong by law or by many yardsicks. But it is considered a 'sin' (I am using this word only for the sake of this argument.

So there can be things that are sinful, but which may not be wrong. No woman likes her husband to marry another wife. Among rational women it is a wrong. The millions of marriages wrecked by polygamy bear testimony to this wrong. But it is not a 'sin' by the ulama.

So according to logic (aka Islam) can there be two classes ie wrongs and sins? I dont think so.

Something is either right or wrong, good or bad.

Where does the idea of sin come from? To answer this, we must understand that to right a wrong, you can call the plumber, call for General Elections, repaint the house, apologise to someone etc.

But to right a sin, you call the priest.

This is what the priest tells us. Hence obviously the priest created the idea of sin too.

Sin is a control mechanism.

jahamy said...


I really wish you can find in your heart to use your name or a nickname so that readers can follow the chronology of the discussion! maybe Dohala??

Looking at the logic of our discussion so far, would it be logical to conclude that the idea of "sin" is an artificial construct for purely religious purposes? Artificial in the sense that it does not consider relationship with reality as an important element of its definition. As you correctly pointed out, sin appears to be a controlled item. In some religions, sin can be "cleansed" by an act completely unrelated to the actual act of wrong doing. Or some priests are able to "remove" sins at a price or on a religious declaration of some sort.

Take moral right and wrong for example. Where you take so-called universal morals, it is fairly consistent eg, don't steal, respect etc. Of course there are varying understandings due to cultural differences, experience, etc. But to correct a moral wrong, you actually have to take positive, corrective steps. Not a mere "cleansing" process by some unrelated ritual.

Again consider "scientific" laws of cause and effect - you reap what you sow. Another kind of "right and wrong" in terms of the positive or negative consequences.

Wen you think about all these, you will begin to realize the amount of baggage that most of us carry in our minds that we allow unconsciously to affect our bahviour and world view ..unless you consciously flush them out, as I hope what we are doing now.


Anonymous said...

Bro Jahamy,

Dohala sounds fine.

Imagine if everyone uses the same Anon. We wont know who is who and we will not be able to appreciate the different views that we have.

Perhaps that is why God said in the Quran, 'I have created you in different tongues and colours so that you may know one another..'

Imagine if the 6 billion people in this world were all named Abu this, Ibnu that, Abdul this and Mohammed that.

Not only would it be boring but we would not have the mix and the diversity to replenish our intelligence. It would cause mental in breeding.


Anonymous said...

is there right or wrong?

boils down to a matter of opinion i guess. when the massess or majority expresses that something in their opinion is not desirable, its deemed to be wrong.

like for muslims, its wrong (also sinful) in malaysia to fornicate if not married.

but take a 30 minute car ride and cross the border to thailand or singapore, they can fornicate freely and not found to be wrong. (but probably still sinful)

well, matter of opinion la..


jahamy said...


Putting aside the issue of 'for muslims", is fornication "wrong"? I suppose by that phrase, you must mean a MAN having sex with someone he is not married to. You surely did not include women? Would the answer be the same whether the person is married or not? Would it also make a difference if the fornication is with a prostitute a opposed to girlfriend?

Possible to arrive at a "universal wrong or right" in this case?

Anonymous said...


seems to me that the concept of right and wrong (not pertaining to muslims) are more of a community acceptable standards of the agreed massess.

if you think about it that is no right or wrong, but, rules and regulations, may it be organised or not that applies to society. that again, the rules and regulations were enacted by man either through a voting system or by dictatorship. so if single people living in a community will need to accept the "rights and wrongs" of the system that has been erected.

if you live in an island by yourself, there is no concept of right and wrong there, even if you kill somebody, well there isnt anybody to kill in the first place. the right and wrong here dont exist but the natural laws of mother nature of what goes up will come down will apply, most of the time.

boils down to the right and wrong is a community acceptable or non acceptable standard. was the standard derived from God? or so man think. or maybe the standard from God was manipulated by man in the scriptures, bible, quran? thats another story all together...


jabar said...


You are correct - most, if not all of what people consider or have been taught as "right" or "wrong" are something that has come about because of community living - and some of them become state laws while others remain as moral laws.

In the sense of community living, we are able to identify "universal rights and wrongs" which are common to all communities. eg you shall not steal, etc. When you start doing this, you will realise that most them are common sense derived and essential for a community to survive peacefully and grow. Otherwise it is not possible for a community to live peacefully.

These "universal values", if I may call it that generally does not pose problems for inter -human relationships. On the other hand, however, "religious rights and wrongs" do cause problems for inter, and intra human relationships, including even problems for the self itself eg guilt, internal conflicts between faith and reason, etc.

The kind of "rights and wrongs" are of course the laws of state which has been recognized may be either oppressive or just.

Now lets take up your interesting example - robinson crusoe , the man alone on the island. Is there any "right and wrong" for him? I would say yes.

The kind of "right and wrong" he is subjected to, is what would, in the first instance be described by the natural law of cause and effect ie "natural survival" (not the social concept of "survival of the fittest", which is a mutant concept that unconsciously encourages selfishness and greed, etc). What benefits his natural survival is right and what opposes it is wrong. eg. not drinking water is wrong, abusing his body is wrong, etc.

Lets go a step further. He kills animals to eat. AT the very basic level, this appears right. But man has a conscience element. Robinson's conscience may prevent him from killing 4 lions just to eat a lion leg! Conscience is personal to the holder.

But I believe where it is unadulterated by artificial education (like what modern societies today are subjected to), most people's conscience may be almost the same. Of course, the levels vary according to individuals due to a host of reasons.

The point I am making is: ideas of "right and wrong" have become so complex (when it is actually simple) because human society have made themselves complex.... until we cannot see the trees from the woods and even the simplest of concept appear to confuse us!

I am also not surprised because our entire education system have been geared towards a capitalistic, consumptive and materialistic goal. Hence the basic skills of thinking has been lost or waylaid. This is why, for example, you can the most "brilliant successful billionaire entrepreneur or a clever medical doctor to "believe and accept" that the world is a triangle in the name of God and religion! While they may be trained in business and medicine, they have lost the ability to reflect and think.

Think about it.

Anonymous said...


i am now studying animals, as they have no hidden agendas in their way of life:

1st rule is survival for them.
2nd rule is what comes natural to them which they were made to do, either be the hunter or be hunted, vegetarian.

if they were made by God and how they behave is natural to their species, then i do not think that i need to give any explanation to anybody for my actions, even killing for ones on survival is acceptable, and maybe be killed is not acceptable?

there is no right or wrong but the natural process of life


jahaberdeen said...


Study animals is good. We will learn remarkable things. For eg, we will learn that animas are instinctive, seldom "mutate" like humans often do from thier nature.

There are fish that eat fishes, and some vegetarian. So too with animals. Some eat meat and some eat grass. But have you ever noticed a lion eating? It only eats how much it needs for that momemt and leaves the rest of its prey peacefully for other animals to eat. It does not store up like human beings do.
Look at the bees and the ants. Disciplined, each know their place in society. Ever heard of a worker bee that wants to unseat the Queen.

So, to keep repeating the evoluionist's theory of survival of the fittest is misleading.

Generally, the behaviour of the animals, plants, are consistent and very rarely do you see variations. So, what accountability do you want from them? But humans...different story.

Study ants and bees and you may be amazed how they try to cure the "sick" and injured among them. If it was a case of survival of the fittest, they would do what humans do to unwanted animals - "put them to sleep". Hardly do you encounter a lion kiling another lion for no reason but humans do that all the time.

Humans.They have to look inside. Understand thier nature. To emulate another species unthinkingly may not be prudent.

But you have given me an idea for an due course...when time permits!

just a thought..:)

Anonymous said...

mr friend,

you are ofcourse right, right and right, or should i say correct.

animals do not have accountability, that is interesting, so why do humans need accountability? well as long as they are not harming anyone else.

it could be because of the pursuit of power may be the sole cause?

when you are "acting out of character" to achieve something with an agenda, everything is confused. natural laws are thrown out. up is down, down is up, night is day, day is night. illusions are created, conspiracies and so forth. such as politics. of course this is a way simplistic of looking at it, but i am a simple person. it could be that all religions were derived as a huge conspiracy theory for man to have power over other man? and what better excuse or fear to inject into man to follow what other man want them to do but God?

brings me back to the animal kingdom where things operate in an unconditional way, but the natural laws apply and there will be a natural balance achieved

well until humans set foot on this earth and destroyed everything they ever laid their hands on.


Anonymous said...

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Mr. Jambunathan, a well versed Christian who had preached the religion for more than 50 years as a priest will speak on the subject matter. In his talk he shall share with you the facts, his experiences and thoughts on his religion.

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Time: 2.30 pm

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Anonymous said...