The job of sin was (and is) to justify the religion. Viable alternatives would ruin the whole thing.
I’m not sure that I completely agree. I am certainly not a biblical scholar. Nor am I as familiar with the Christian scriptures as many folks here on this forum. But I have to admit that I am a bit enamored of the books of Moses.
I mean, the books of Moses represent an astonishingly complex and sophisticated attempt to create a system of social norms. And to build a community. A nation. It is really pretty huge
Here we have a newly formed nation, which has developed currency, property and inheritance (along paternal lines), a justice system, and a bunch of social norms, or laws, kind of randomly grouped together, mixed in with a bunch of stories.
There is so much about the ways you are expected to treat your family members, your neighbors, your extended community, strangers, prisoners of war. These books are very specific about what you need to do if your livestock eat your neighbor’s crops, or what your obligations to travelers are, who the decision makers are, etc. And then it sets out all of the traditions and rituals and rites of passage that set this community, this nation, apart from everyone else. Furthermore, it makes it really clear who the enemies are, (those damned Canaanites), how to ensure positive population growth, (by not spilling that seed by yourself or with a man) and how to ensure that all women of child-bearing age are paired off with a man, in an era in which there was probably a shortage of men who died in wars.
I think that these books provide us with FASCINATING insight into this society.
The ancient Israelites spent a lot of time thinking about and engaging in sacrifices, apparently. And there were SO MANY things that they could do wrong. I mean, sacrificing something with blemishes, is a big no no, and you are not supposed to burn your sons or daughters as offerings, but if you do it really right, and burn the proper flesh, god really delights. But idols REALLY piss god off, and should be avoided at all costs.
Of course, most of the sins and abominations and wicked acts and whatnot are really silly taken out of the context of the society. And there are SO MANY OF THEM. I mean, there are rules about food and clothing and lots about sacrifice and quite a few about concubines, and all of that stuff is mixed in with “false witness” and honestly and humility and things that most of us might feel have relevance today.
But I do agree that this whole sin thing has gotten completely out of hand. Every generation of Christians and Muslims (and to a lesser degree Jews) has picked out a handful of these random laws, and persecuted or ostracized or downright assassinated folks who didn’t conform.
In the 17th century, lots of Christians were really, really concerned about witchcraft. Lots of folks, (mostly women) were killed in the name of fighting sin. Before that, it has been heresy that blasphemy that got Christians all riled up. The Spanish Inquisition developed torture techniques that are still studied today, in hopes of finding someone who heard someone say something they shouldn’t have said. Not that long ago, Christians in the US were fighting racial integration in schools and restaurants and bus station bathrooms, and especially arguing how inter-racial marriage was offensive to god. Today, a subset of the Christian community is freaking out about gay marriages and abortions.
I suspect that in a few generations, a subset of Christians and Muslims will be pissed off about the prevalence of robots in society, or even more pissed off about the fact that the first intelligent alien species we encounter is not willing to accept the Jesus story or the Mohammad story, and therefore should be conquered.
Trends come and go. Sin morphs into something else as time goes by. Which isn't to say that the whole concept of sin is not used to perpetuate a religion. I'm just not sure it was the original intent.