The unforgivable curse…I mean sin

Recently, the final Harry Potter movie came out in theaters. Loved it, by the way. I was a fan of the books and quite enjoyed that the darker tones in the literature were continued on the screen. (And I’m glad I avoided seeing the screen actually get darker by viewing the film normally, not in unnecessary 3D. )

It only applies if you kill spiders...

As good literature, and good films, have a habit of doing, it started making me think. Within the Harry Potter universe of magic and the supernatural, there are three unforgivable curses. They are called this because using any of them and getting caught will earn you a life-sentence in jail. (It appears that even the fictional, magical British are against the death penalty.)

Saving you the pseudo-Latin names of the spells, these curses amount to mind control, torture and murder.

Seems reasonable enough. And even within the mostly black-and-white reality of these novels, there are understandable allowances for certain situations.  Harry, for example, must use the mind-control spell at one point in his mission to defeat the dark and evil Lord Voldemort.

But as I was saying, the film made me start thinking about religious topics that I find myself involved in online. And one of those topics happens to be strangely similar to Potter’s unforgivable curses. That would be the unforgivable sin in Christianity.

This is a sin that is so horrible that it means, no matter what, you are being sent to Hell to roast for all eternity. (No doubt alongside heathen wizards like Harry and his friends.)

Now, if you’ve never heard of the unforgivable sin, what would you think it would be?



Child abuse?

You’d be wrong. In fact, the unforgivable sin is, in actuality…not believing.

Amen, I say to you, all sins and all blasphemies that people utter will be forgiven them. But whoever blasphemes against the holy Spirit will never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an everlasting sin.” Mark 3:28-29

Now to be fair, the sin isn’t actually just not believing. It’s not believing and then dying. If you do that, well, then, you’re screwed. Do not pass GO. Do not collect $200. See Lucifer about a room, the ice machine is at the end of the hall.

Well, maybe not that last part.

Does anyone else have a problem with that?

Two issues immediately come to my mind. I will allow, hypothetically for the rest of this post, that a god does exist, and that this is his unforgivable sin.

Issue the first: why is my time up when I’m dead?

Ignore the fact that this royally screws over anyone who dies at a young age. Let’s say you live to the exceptionally old age of 99.

According to most Christian doctrine, you get to live forever. Never mind where you do it, you get eternal life whether it’s playing a harp or getting a pitchfork in the thigh.

If that’s the case…isn’t death an arbitrary line at which to say “if you don’t believe in me before then, you go to Hell”? 99 years is a drop in the bucket compared to eternity. And once dead, finding myself in an afterlife and finally given actual evidence of the existence of a deity, why can’t I ask for forgiveness then?

It comes off as ridiculously petty and immature. “Do what I want in 5 seconds or you get nothing!”

Issue the second: non-belief and blasphemy…that’s really the worst thing?

Not rape. Not mass murder. Not child abuse. Not mass rape and mass child abuse. Not genocide.

Not believing. That’s what ticks this deity off.


And I’m supposed to respect, love and worship this being…why, exactly?

I'll take The Boy Who Lived over Baby Jesus any day.


Posted on July 26, 2011, in Atheism, Books, Entertainment, Movies, Theism and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Harry Potter certainly encompasses far better values than Jesus and the Bible.

    Harry treats the slave house elves as equals and freed Dobby – the bible endorses slavery

    Hogwarts is a school where you learn – religion teaches you to obey and not question

    the three unforgiveable curses are definately better than the 10 commandment,s, which are largely concerned with bling worship of authority from god on down to parents, with no ability to determine the worthiness of the subject of said worship

    Harry didn’t lay down and just die – he stood up and fought – he fought to live, to stay in the world and make it better – dying is the easy way out – and leaves the work for eeryone else.

  2. I like your post because as you state there are several problems with that sin.

    One, it just doesn’t hold water in terms of justice and fairness.

    Two, there are a number if believers that I know that base their beliefs on having been SAVED, GUARANTEED, SANCTIFIED AND BORN ANEW. Yet they are several marks below being good people. They think they bought a ticket by being born again. In essence it a utilitarian move, “Hmm, sounds like a good bet, I’ll bite”

    Three, what about all the people that have never heard of God and/or the right God. Sorry for them, they should have went looking.




    Seven…..Well you get what I mean.

    Actually in dealing with Christians(and other religions) in this matter(and many others), they only hear what they want to hear. They never acknowledge a scenario in which you’re RIGHT, of that something could be TRUE. Because of this they go into what I call “punt, fumble, and out of bounds” and just immediately put up the defense that says “Sorry, I don’t care what you say. I’m sorry did I give you the illusion that what you said matters to me, well it doesn’t.”

    It doesn’t fit what the majority says,…..or it doesn’t fit what the authority says, so it’s irrelevant. Again as I stated in the other excellent post by you guys at R&R it’s all about WHO said it and WHO are you?

    I’m always amazed when Religious people say “Well, you’re going to go to hell for that.” I respond is that what you believe, “oh no, I would never send anyone to hell, God decides that. I’m perfectly exonerated.” In many ways that are admitting to their own flawed version of God. “Well, God has a hard job. I’m glad it’s not me.”


  3. I think you misunderstand what “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit” means. Possibly a larger additional problem is that it’s not exactly possible to start from the assumptions of your current worldview and evaluate Christianity (or any other alternative worldview) based on them; you have to evaluate Christianity (or anything else) on its own terms, starting from its assumptions, and see whether it makes more sense (is more rational according to its own internal logic) than the alternatives.

    Sure, it’s intuitive to think that cutting off choice at death leaves us artificially little freedom—as you say, one lifetime is a very small fraction of forever—but I think the truth is almost the opposite: The fact that there’s a cut-off point is the only thing that gives us any true freedom to make a choice that matters. If you could keep changing your mind forever, then none of those choices would have any lasting meaning.

    But probably it’s not worth arguing about that point, because we’re starting from different assumptions, which may mean that we’re bound to talk past each other until we give up.

  4. It’s easy… god isn’t real. Shhh… Don’t want the Christians to find out.

    All joking aside, it’s pretty obvious to most atheists what’s going on here. All you need to do is flip to your favorite Christian program on Sunday and just watch ANY preacher. Televangelists have almost become a thing of the past due to recent year’s criticicisms. But it’s only pushed the cults under ground. They’ve found other ways to get your hard earned money.

    It’s all about human greed. At the end of the day, it ALL boils down to humanly desires. Christianity, and any other religion for that matter, was created as a way to control the masses. It’s evidenced throughout history and proven at every stop.

    Here we have a man, “The people must bow to me because I am so grand. But how? If only I could figure out how to scare the hell out of them to bow at my feet. I’ve got it! I will create… well, a creator. And if they do not listen to me, he will smite them for all eternity. And I will use all the most recent disasters to prove my case of his existence. This plan is Awesome!”

    In a nutshell, it’s all about man controlling other men. That’s all it boils down to. And most are accepting enough to blindly follow. All the while coughing up tons of cash and physical investments.

  5. This is a ridiculous question for an even more ridiculous notion: Born Again Christians

    Let’s say you’ve spent your entire life cheating, womanizing, stealing, etc, etc. Then, as you got older and started to wisen up, you decide to “settle down.” You might even become your daughter’s softball coach. But you’re contemplating death. After all, it’s just around the corner. But there’s that little whisper in your ear, “You’re going to hell.” But that doesn’t sound like a good time.

    And since you’ve pretty much done all the partying your gonna do anyways, what’s it hurt to buy a little bit of supernatural insurance in the form of being born again? You see it all the time. You hear that so-and-so down the street is now going to church, doesn’t drink anymore and maybe he doesn’t beat his wife as much anymore. You get the picture.

    So god is okay with this? Let me ask you (Christians) a question. If YOU were God, would you want someone doing good because it’s the right thing to do; or do you want someone doing good so that they don’t get into trouble? Who would you trust more? Think about that for a moment.

  6. “But probably it’s not worth arguing about that point, because we’re starting from different assumptions”

    That’s not the problem.

    The issue is that you start with an assumption, and I strive to have as few assumptions as possible and base my beliefs on the evidence.

  7. Right, but it’s not possible to start from no assumptions; given that, starting with “as few assumptions as possible”, as a matter of degree, doesn’t escape the problem.

    Evidence only means something when you interpret it according to the assumptions you already have—say, the assumption that reason and logic are valid, the assumption that your senses or your experiences are trustworthy as real evidence, the assumption that life is good, the assumption that human suffering is bad. (Don’t misunderstand me—I’m not saying that I disagree with any of those propositions; I’m just pointing out that they are assumptions, prior to considering any evidence.)

    I’m not telling you you should believe any differently from what you currently believe. I’m telling you that if you want to know whether to accept or reject Christianity, you first have to understand it on its own terms.

    I’m also telling you that there’s no such thing as a neutral starting point. Any beliefs other than Christianity have to be judged the same way: by understanding them on their own terms and seeing whether they make more or less sense, on their own assumptions, than the alternatives do on theirs.

  8. Notascientist, if you’re going to state something as fact, at least get the fact right…there is only one unforgiveable sin. And you didn’t get it.

    Let me present you a scenario…You have found this thing that gives your life meaning…a book, an author, a quotation, or a drug. Conversely, you have found something that is the most vile, detrimental thing in the world-to you. Do you try to help your friends and acquaintances by letting people know about it?

    Well, Christians have found both. You’re absolutely welcome not to believe. And yet, just as we must live with you, you must live with us. And there’s many, many more of us than there are of you.

  9. “Notascientist, if you’re going to state something as fact, at least get the fact right…there is only one unforgiveable sin. And you didn’t get it.”

    I understand there’s only one. There are three unforgivable curses, however.

    What did I get wrong?

    “Do you try to help your friends and acquaintances by letting people know about it?”

    Certainly. Which is why I don’t necessarily hate or disparage evangelists. Unless they lie or are annoying. I think they’re wrong, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t trying to be good people.

    “And there’s many, many more of us than there are of you.”

    Well, that sounds vaguely like a threat. Thanks.

  10. I just picture the Michael Jackson music video for “Beat It.” This gang versus that gang.

  11. Right is right for me and me alone. I have a monopoly on what’s right, for me. As human beings, we tend to share many similarities in the “right” department. By nature. However, and this is where Christianity fails miserably: Human beings, just like all things, evolve over time. We are constantly changing. We are a rather dynamic species, and pretty resilient because of it. As freethinkers, we understand that very fact. We adjust. We don’t remain stale as a result.

    But put aside evolving on a grand scale for a moment and focus on this topic. We can take the same principals and apply it to something as benign as meeting a new friend. As an intelligent human being, I can discern how best to make this a lasting relationship. Or I can simply choose to ensure we never meet for lunch again. I can greet him. I can snub him. I can shake his hand. I can turn up my nose. I can pay close attention to his needs. Or I can simply banter on about my own greatness. Etc, etc, etc.

    I make conscious decisions about EVERYTHING in my life. I aspire to lift up those around me. I alternately surround myself with those that lift me as well. And I attempt to bridge the gap with those who have yet to meet me on those terms. I forgive very easily. I am a very giving person. I don’t expect much from those around me other than respect in return. I believe the best in everyone until given evidence I should expect otherwise.

    These are things that ALL humans have to varying degrees. It’s not a trait uniquely reserved for Christians. You can go and visit primitive tribes and see humility for evidence of this. You’ll find love and family and all the other beautiful things about life. And not a bible for thousands of miles around. Imagine that.

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