After reading Belliotti’s chapter 7 on the sins in Dante’s Deadly Sins : Moral Philosophy in Hell– it helped me realize that it was Dante himself that sold the narrative of a firey, punishing hell to the church and common parlance. There is ample evidence that this view was influenced by Zoroastrianism and greek mythology, it might be better understood as a cultural reference rather than a theological one. If I were to say that “my addiction is slicing away at my resolve like Freddie Kreuger!” we would all understand the reference- though none of us would take it seriously, much less literally. (though we might rightfully question the clumsy prose)
We’re all familiar with Jesus and Socrates. But why aren’t any of us enamored with modern Christians or philosophers who are supposedly walking the same line? Why are so many of us confused about the simple idea of sin as we can see on the evening news and online articles like “Bless Me Father”- Catholic Sin Explained “ on popular websites like the Daily Beast? Jesus, Socrates, and Nadeau all ask similar questions and present parallel alternatives to consider…
What if God doesn’t hate sin because it offends Him, but because it hurts us? Belliotti gives a small nod to this idea on page 218 when discussing Soctates: “Sin betrays the self, the community, and the divine… sin is it’s own punishment.”
If there was no devil and no hell, then the idea of sin gets a major re positioning in our hierarchy of fear, which means the solutions to the problem become less important and powerful influences. For those that rely on those structures for power or wealth, these may be threatening ideas, indeed.
Ideas even worthy of murdering influential, wise men who simply pointed out the inconsistencies in the system and offered an alternative way.