The Urantia Book
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A Synopsis of Paper 89: Sin, Sacrifice, and Atonement

Primitive people believed that spirits enjoyed human misery, and that staying in favor with the gods depended on either doing or avoiding specific things. This belief led to the birth of taboos. Later, religion made taboos into sins; confession, renunciation, and sacrifices developed. People bargained for the favor of God by fasting, chastity, voluntary poverty, and self‑torture.

Early sacrifices included plucking hair, knocking out teeth, cutting off fingers and other mutilations. People offered sacrifices to the gods as thanksgiving and for the redemption of debts. Later, the idea of sacrificial substitution evolved into the atonement concept-an insurance policy against the displeasure of deity.

Cannibalism at one time was nearly universal, serving social, economic, religious, and military purposes. The Sangik races were cannibalistic; the pure-line Andonites, Nodites and Adamites were not. The Dalamatia taboo against cannibalism spread throughout the world, and cannibalism fell greatly out of common practice once human sacrifice made human flesh the food of the gods. Human sacrifice endured various modifications, including animal sacrifice, enforced exile, temple prostitution, temple virgins, bloodletting, physical mutilation, circumcision, castration, piercing, tattooing, and scarring. Moses tried to put an end to human sacrifice among the Hebrews by inventing a system of ransoms to priests as a substitute.

The practices of ransom, redemption, and covenants have evolved into the modern-day sacraments. Early prayers were crude bartering agreements with the spirit world, but they demonstrated human progress in that people had evolved to the point that they dared to make deals with God.

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