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Reflections on Ethics 53
The New Deadly Sins

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A little over a year ago, the BBC's Heaven and Earth Show commissioned a poll on what the British felt about the seven deadly sins.

The deadly sins, also known as capital sins or cardinal sins have been part of Catholic teachings since at least the fifth century. They are, in order of decreasing severity as determined by Pope Gregory the Great:

Pride, Envy, Anger, Sloth, Greed, Gluttony, and Lust.

The BBC asked people what single sin they would add to the list if they were given a choice. The seven proposed additions in order of preference were: Cruelty, Hypocrisy, Selfishness, Wastefulness, Dishonesty, Bigotry, and Adultery.

Then respondents were asked to pick which was the worst sin out of the fourteen choices, seven old and seven new.

This resulted in a new suggested list of seven deadly sins:

Now - if we consider the original list - I would suggest that the prime impact of the seven deadly sins is on the person committing the sin. These sins hurt the sinner more than someone else.

But, if we look at what those surveyed thought, most respondents saw the worst sin as one in which the prime impact was on another person.

This seems to me to be a far more sensible approach to morality. When we consider what is right and wrong, what is important is the impact on the other person.