Here are two long videos on the seven deadly sins. The seven deadly sins are wrath, pride, envy, avarice, gluttony, lust, and sloth. You may wonder why I would make videos on sin if I’m not a Christian. The fact of the matter is that evil, vice, and moral failing exist no matter whether Christians are around to call it sin. And sin is as good a word as any to describe it. Some Christians may imagine sin as disobedience to God. In this theological sense, there may be no such thing as sin. But sin does exist in a more mundane sense. People hurt each other, give into temptations, wreck their lives, and more. We don’t need to believe in God to recognize sin or to understand what is wrong with it. All we have to do is look at how it harms people.
That said, not everything mentioned in the Bible as sinful is actually sinful. The Bible is not an authority on sin. Many people may get their understanding of sin from the Bible, but it is by no means the last word on sin. To understand what is truly sin and what is not, we need to conduct a moral investigation of alleged sins and decide, based on moral reasons, whether these count as sins. The seven deadly sins do not come from the Bible, but they do come from Christian tradition. It is important to understand that knowledge of them did not come as divine revelation, not even purportedly. Our list of the seven deadly sins comes from Catholic clergy who observed the ways people sin and came up with a list they believed cut people off from salvation. That’s why they are called deadly. From an atheist perspective, this sense of deadly may not be too helpful. But we might understand deadly sins as sins that cut us off from our humanity or from fellowship with other people.
I find value in the concept of the seven deadly sins. They are not a bunch of arbitrary rules like are found in some parts of the Bible. They come from observations of how people have wrecked their lives or hurt other people. Whether or not Christian salvation is at stake, it is important to avoid the seven deadly sins just for the sake of living lives that are more fulfilling to ourselves and more beneficial to those around us.
One objection to this list of deadly sins is that they are all okay in moderation. Anton LaVey makes this objection in The Satanic Bible. My response is that this objection is based on a misunderstanding of what the seven deadly sins are. I understand them to be vices in an Aristotelian sense. Aristotle understood a virtue to be a mean between two vices, one being an excess and one being a deficiency. I understand each of the deadly sins to be an excess or deficiency of some kind, and it is the extremity of the excess or deficiency that makes it sinful. For example, sexual attraction, which we sometimes call lust, is not a sin. It is a normal human passion nearly everyone normally feels from time to time. But with respect to this passion, there is an excess, a mean, and a deficiency. The sin of lust is an excess of sexual attraction. When a person lets himself be controlled by lust, he can demean his own humanity, ignore that of others, and hurt people in the pursuit of sexual pleasure. I have given a more detailed analysis of how each of the seven deadly sins are vices in my second video. The first video gives an overview of the sins with illustrative examples.