16 July 2011

Sin and Skinning a Cat

"...masters of science are much impressed with the need of beginning all inquiry with a fact. The ancient masters of religion were quite equally impressed with that necessity. They began with the fact of sin—a fact as practical as potatoes. Whether or no man could be washed in miraculous waters, there was no doubt at any rate that he [needed] washing. But ... [now we] not [only] deny the highly disputable water, but... the indisputable dirt. [Certain people dispute] original sin, which is the only part of Christian theology which can really be proved. [And other people claim] sinlessness, which they cannot see even in their dreams...they essentially deny human sin, which they can see in the street.
The strongest saints and the strongest sceptics alike took positive evil as the starting-point of their argument.
If it be true (as it certainly is) that a man can feel exquisite happiness in skinning a cat, then the religious philosopher can only draw one of two deductions.
He must either deny the existence of God, as all atheists do; or he must deny the present union between God and man, as all Christians do.
The new theologians [who deny the sin] think it a highly rationalistic solution to deny the cat."

G K Chesterton, "Orthodoxy"