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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Stephen contemplates sin, angels and reptillian instinct!

I hold a special respect for the Archangels, Raphael, Michael, Gabriel and Uriel. I often seek their images in the icons and stain glass windows of various spiritual locations that I visit. I find they provide a good point of reference for meditation and prayer.

The rabinical folk of old (and many from more recent) times also understood the realm of the angels and archangels; and knowing this I am sure Jesus was also schooled in the bigger angelic picture. Knowledge that seems lost in the modern church; at least to those in the pews.

But there are always the opposites (as C.G. Jung would remind us). Along with angels comes the demons. It is to this area that I would like to draw on your thoughts.

If one suspends any belief in God or an after-life for a moment and considers what it might be that stops total anarchy in this world, one at some point considers the role of conscience. Continuing with the suspension of belief and returning to reptilian times, conscience would appear to be a fairly unevolved aspect of existance back then. It would appear that conscience evolved along with a more upright posture and less body hair. And as we evolved at a cognitive level, so to it would appear did the conscience (well for many at least).

I often consider what it is that stops people in a reptilian moment taking drastic or obscene actions in the face of a stressor, other than the fear of consequences from the police and the courts. Some people seem to have longer reptilian moments; thankfully they are lesser in number (natural selection?). In considering my own motivations I don't not take drastic or obscene actions beacuse of fear of consequences. Like most of us, it just doesn't cross our minds 99% of the time - it is not how we are. Instead we all just suffer from stress; or we throw the occasional expletive and in extreme cases, a rotten tomato.

I think it is reasonable to suggest that most of us have come a long way since Abraham and that bunch of savages whose natural disposition was to sin at the level of the obscene.

The legalistic behaviouralists might consider that we have evolved a habit strength of not taking drastic or obscene actions, but the underlying capacity to be evil still exists. Because one has the capacity to sin (or in a more reptilian space, to do evil) one is therefore never without sin. I think a sin, therefore I am. But this is in the state of suspended belief - so now we return to our position of faith.

And now I can pose my question:

If we have evolved a cognition of conscience that does not automatically lead to acts of evil, and we continue to evolve, does the state of "sin" still eventually cease to exist?

I do have a little trouble accepting that I am guilty of the sins of my ancestors. Perhaps this is because on the earthly plane I am not convicted in the courts of being guilty of my ancestors crimes. And clearly I did not commit them. The Catholic use of sin as an instrument of control over the masses itself seems obscene.

I'm sure we all look forward to the day when we can honestly say we have dealt with the last 1% (a stretch target). But if/when we reach it, will sin still exist? Is this not the goal Jesus demonstrated? When he says "no-one comes to the Father except through me", might this be refering to the pathway he showed us as much as the ecclesiastical legalities?


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