Original Sin or Original Self-Centeredness?

This is a wonderful post about the origins of narcissism and its antidote, empathy, written by one of my new favorite bloggers.

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Jesus Without Baggage

Many Christians believe humanity is so broken, and nature so violent, because of Adam’s disobedience in the garden. They say the world was originally perfect but Adam ruined everything. Furthermore, all Adam’s descendants are born with ‘original sin’ and alienated from God because of Adam.

Other believers cannot accept this explanation of our brokenness. Yes, the world is very imperfect and often harsh. Yes, we are subject to the human condition of pain, suffering, conflict, alienation, and death, but none of this is caused by Adam’s alleged sin.

Recently, I shared that the story of Eden is not an historical account but a marvelous reflection on our human condition. In the following article I determined that ‘original sin’ does not exist.

But if our problems are not caused by original sin from Adam, then how can we account for them?

What Do We Mean by Sin?

First, I think…

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It isn’t all about me.


What I’m learning is that everything isn’t always about me.

I used to always assume people were obsessing in a negative way about me and would interpret, say, a neutral expression or a lukewarm greeting as “that person must be upset with me/hate me/is mad at me/disapproves of me” etc. Sometimes I have to make a conscious effort not to let my mind go in this direction if someone acts in a way other than thrilled to see me. Sometimes they’re just having a bad day, are angry at someone else, or angry in general, or are generally just an asshole to everyone. Sometimes it’s nothing at all other than my choosing to perceive a neutral expression or body language as something negative. It takes a lot of practice to get out of that habit of paranoia and hypervigilance and I always have to remind myself to stop taking every little thing personally and think outside myself instead. I think this is a prerequisite to being able to empathize–being mindful that someone else might have a problem that has nothing to do with me.