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Sin is a religious term for the violation of a religious rule. These sometimes overlap with moral and ethical rules. For example the 6th commandment, "Thy Shall Not Kill," is generally considered a moral rule; however, Deuteronomy 14:21 Bible-icon.png states, "Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother's milk" has no modern ethical or moral ramifications. Often times the suggested punishment for sin is itself immoral. For example, Leviticus 20:13 Bible-icon.png suggests a punishment of death for homosexual acts. Various punishments exist for planting different crops in the same field, wearing cloth of multiple fibers, and eating shellfish, among others, which are sins but have nothing to do with morality.

This covers evil deeds committed by conscious beings, as well as some acts (thoughts, etc.) that would otherwise seem ethical in a non-religious context.

Unlike the humanist concept of evil, sin is defined entirely in terms of doing things which a god specifically prohibits.


Since atheists do not believe in God, it is meaningless to accuse an atheist of being a sinner (or to threaten them with the purported consequences of being a sinner). Humanistic atheists recognize the concept of right and wrong actions in terms of their impact on other people, but the idea of sin is basically irrelevant without appealing to a deity.

The declarations of sins by God invariably travels through some medium, such as a book or a pastor. This inevitably makes the concept of sin subjective and completely disconnected from human and animal suffering. Even if one ignores this problem, sin is then subjective to the whims of a deity who may say that killing is wrong or that killing is required as punishment for picking up sticks[1]. The Euthyphro dilemma suggests that this subjectivity means that sin is disconnected from morality.

Since the concept of what is a sin and what isn't changes with the religion (and even with the denomination), sin is an example of the religion inventing a problem and then selling a solution.

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History of Christianity   Overview of early Christianity · Overview of middle Christianity · Overview of modern Christianity
Christianity and politics   Dominionism · America as a Christian nation · Australia as a Christian nation · Separation of church and state · Christianity invented secularism · Blue laws · Notable Christian political parties
Christianity and science   Creation science · Intelligent design · Quantum mysticism · Christianity invented science
Christianity and medicine   Christian Science · Jehovah's Witnesses · Abortion · Contraception · Notable cases of medical negligence due to Christian beliefs
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