The seven deadly sins

I looked up the seven deadly sins the other day, and was saddened to discover that, over the centuries, emotions have made up a significant portion of the list.

Now, “deadly” sins are cardinal sins. You don’t just die if you commit these. Committing a deadly sin puts you in danger of eternal damnation, and each of the sins was traditionally paired with a specific punishment in hell. For being prideful, for example, you could expect to be broken on the wheel, for feeling envious, you could expect to be put in freezing water, and for feeling angry, you could expect to be dismembered alive.

Besides the emotions of pride, envy, and anger, the list has also included the emotion of despair. The fact that emotions made it onto the list at all explains a lot. I have often wondered how emotions came to be so suspect–how feeling, acting, and relying on them came to be taboo. But I can see now how being threatened with eternal damnation for feeling an emotion could motivate you to suppress it.

  1. Genetic Modification
  2. Experimenting on Humans
  3. Polluting the Environment
  4. Causing Social Injustice
  5. Causing Poverty
  6. Becoming Obscenely Wealthy
  7. Taking Drugs
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