In The God Delusion, author Richard Dawkins asks: “If God wanted to forgive our sins, why not just forgive them, without having himself tortured and executed in payment … ?”
The answer depends on three things: What is sin? Why does God oppose it? How can God justly forgive it?
Note: Dawkins begins with the axiom2 that God does not exist. We shall begin with the axiom that God does exist and the Bible is His written Word.
1. What is sin?
When God created Adam and Eve, He made human beings who were not only dependent on Him for existence and life, but who He intended to enjoy a relationship with Him of sharing in His life and love. Sin, in essence, is the desire of mankind to be free from this dependence on God, and indeed from any relationship with God at all.
When Satan tempted Eve to disobey God, the ‘bait’ he used was the assertion “you will be like God”. Thus, when Adam and Eve ate the fruit that God had forbidden them, they were defying God, repudiating His authority over them, and elevating their own wills above God’s will.
Sin does not primarily refer to isolated acts (sins), for they are only the outworking of human self-will. It refers primarily to the rebellion of men and women against God, which may range all the way from careless indifference to the hell-bent hostility of which Dawkins’ posturing is an extreme example. Since sin is defined by this opposition to God and his standards, if God doesn’t exist, then the concept of sin becomes meaningless.