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Old 05-19-2020, 09:27 AM
OldOlds is offline
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Does "Repent" require a belief in god or a religious context?

From an IRL debate. Looking up the definition, it doesn't explicitly seem to state one must repent TO a god, but at the same time, all the examples are religious in nature. And I don't believe I've ever heard the word used without at least a religious implication

Is there a factual answer to this?

I'm thinking "Repent" does require a religious context simply from the overwhelming use in that way. But I am open to being disabused.
Old 05-19-2020, 09:40 AM
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"Repent" just means "turn back", without any inherent religious implications at all. An atheist career criminal who decided to become an atheist law-abiding citizen could be fairly described as having repented.
Old 05-19-2020, 06:59 PM
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It's mostly used in a religious context, but there's nothing inherently religious in the concept. The OED defines it as "To review one's actions and feel contrition or regret for something one has done or omitted to do".
Old 05-19-2020, 07:59 PM
Melbourne is offline
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Here's legal (non-religious) contexts for repentance:

They are both Australian. The USA may use words differently.
Old 05-19-2020, 08:04 PM
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To me, repent means recognizing that ones previous actions were morally wrong and striving to do better in the future. Atheists have morals and feel guilty about what they did just like everyone else. No god required.
Old 05-19-2020, 08:15 PM
Aspidistra is offline
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A fairly well-known non-religious use of the word is the saying "Marry in haste, repent at leisure". There, 'repent' is being used purely in the sense of 'regret - realise that you made the wrong decision'
Old 05-19-2020, 08:36 PM
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Not sure if “repent” has an Indo European root etymologically. Repent translates roughly into “pashchatap” in Sanskrit or Hindi.

It is the act/feeling of empathizing with the person(s) who may have been hurt by your thoughts or actions. There is no religion involved with this word.
Old 05-19-2020, 09:10 PM
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Etymologically speaking, the word comes from the Latin paenitere, to repent. Where that word comes from is not entirely clear, but it's thought to be related to Latin paene, meaning almost, not quite there. (We get the suffix pen- from this root, as in peninsula, not quite an island; penultimate, next to last.) Semantically, the suggested explanation is that repentance is the realisation that you have missed your mark; you have not achieved what you could have; you have fallen short.
Old 05-19-2020, 09:22 PM
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I've seen it commonly used in the context of people found guilty of a crime being given a longer or shorter sentence based partly on whether the judge thought they were truly repentant. The question wasn't whether the defendant thought they'd committed a religious sin, but whether they recognized and were sorry for the injury that they'd done to other people.


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