I came across the following point in an article by Kenan Malik, where he charts the development of Christianity. A lot of ideas from Christianity (which in turn come from blends of paganism) filter through into our general discourse. This is an obvious statement, yet it is of course difficult to imagine an alternative.
I particularly enjoyed the following part:
The story of Adam and Eve was initially, then, a fable about the attainment of free will and the embrace of moral responsibility. It became a tale about the corruption of free will and the constraints on moral responsibility. It was in this transformation in the meaning of the Adam and Eve’s transgression that Christianity has perhaps secured its greatest influence, a bleak description of human nature that came to dominate Western ethical thinking as Christianity became the crucible in which that thinking took place. Not till the Enlightenment was the bleakness of that vision of human nature truly challenged.
Erich Fromm wrote deeply about the darkness of human nature that Christianity leads to. I often wondered about the negative effect that teaching young children about ‘original sin’ leads to. I suspect it is tremendously dis-empowering.