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Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Deadliest Sin

If you've ever really thought about the seven deadly sins, you've probably concluded that they are nothing more than a description of basic (if not base) human nature:


Each of these traits in fact has a strong evolutionary benefit. Had we not evolved these predispositions we would almost certainly have been outmaneuvered and outbred by those who had.

My original intent with this post was merely to point this out and say that there is really only one unforgivable sin: hypocrisy. Anyone who inveighs against these sins, or any others, and simultaneously indulges in them himself is a hypocrite, and ipso facto despicable. (I've never known anyone who was a hypocrite who wasn't generally despicable, and I've never known anyone who was despicable who wasn't a hypocrite. Sociopaths are always hypocrites.)

But then, while reading about the seven deadly sins in Wikipedia, I stumbled across a list of sins which was much more compelling, and which was much more evocative of the sociopathic 3% of the population rather than the merely human 100%. This list was from, of all places, the Book of Proverbs, 6:16-24:

A proud look.
A lying tongue.
Hands that shed innocent blood.
A heart that devises wicked plots.
Feet that are swift to run into mischief.
A deceitful witness that uttereth lies.
Him that soweth discord among brethren.

This is a wonderful description of sociopathy. Perhaps "a proud look" is something we all indulge in occasionally, but sociopaths are those most likely to wear one constantly. And while the second and sixth qualities are redundant, dishonesty is foremost among the sociopathic traits. Certainly "hands that shed innocent blood" is a good description of a serial killer, or anyone else with no regard for others' lives. And sowing discord among others is a sociopathic specialty.

To be honest, I've never really read the Bible. As addicted to the internet as I am, I probably never will, at least in its entirety. But this excerpt does make me more inclined to do a little skimming.

Maybe next time I'm in a motel without my computer.


Anonymous said...

Good list. I actually thought it looked like a list of the characteristics you need to be a politician. The hands..blood is probably unfair to most, but some are a little too quick to want to go to war.
PS Good to read that your internet addiction has lead to some bible study ;)

John Craig said...

Thank you Guy. Good point about politicians.

I guess I probably shouldn't claim I intend to read the Bible, as that will make me a hypocrite if I don't.

Anonymous said...

Good post,
With all the crap that is currently happening throughout the world it was refreshing to read your writing today....

Mad Dog

John Craig said...

Thank you Tom.

One thing we can count on is for that crap to never stop, so the Book of Proverbs will always be timely.