Is redemption possible without religion?

I’m an atheist, but was recently wondering about the concept of redemption. Many religions claim that we can be redeemed for our “sins”. While I do not accept the concept of sin as such, I wonder can we atheists truly be redeemed for our past actions?

Sure we can forgive ourselves, but the memory of the actions is still there. Is some form of external forgiveness essential to being redeemed? Can we only be forgiven by someone else, whether it be “god”, a priest or the victim of our actions?

This is an easy one.

The only “sins” that matter are those that involve real people here on earth, and they are the only ones who decide if you are forgiven or not.

Anything else is pointless philosophical hand-waving.

redemption != forgetting. And yes, it is possible to atone for previous misdeeds without direct forgiveness, IMO, but harder, because atonement involves acknowledgement of wrongdoing, and often a reason for people not directly asking for forgiveness from those they wrong, is a refusal to acknowledge their actions.

I think you need two things for *true * non-religious redemption - forgiveness of the person you harmed, and forgiveness of yourself. The latter is often the harder for good people. Restitution sometimes helps. Ideally, this restitution would be paid to the person wronged, and may be connected to gaining forgiveness from them. Even if direct restitution is impossible (the wronged person has died or refuses all contact with the person seeking redemption), restitution in like kind (a donation of time or money to a charity related to the offense or a favorite of the offended, for example) often helps a person to forgive themselves.

I’m not sure I understand what the OP means by “redemption”; saying that “forgiveness is not enough because the misdeeds are not forgotten” doesn’t match my own concept of redemption. As WhyNot says, forgiveness of and by all parts involved (including yourself) is perfectly well possible without religion.

The concept of redemption I was taught in a religious context did not involve the negation / dissolution / rewriting of the bad that has happened; it involves turning a new page. The bad stuff is forgiven, but not forgotten. Remembering where you went wrong is important to avoid making the same wrong turn, after all. Restitution was also not always needed; it could be, when it helped the healing process (the will to produce restitution had to be present as part of repentance), but it was not a goal, it was part of the path.

If the memory still causes anger/pain, forgiveness isn’t complete.

OK. In (mainstream) Christian thinking, you are not redeemed by your own efforts, but by the grace of God. Can God redeemd someone who is not a Christian? From a Christian perspective, sure; God can do anything. From an atheist perspective, I think the question is meaningless. If an atheist uses the word “redemption” (other than in reference to Christian beliefs, of course) he necessarily means something other than what Christians mean.

So, to the OP, is redemption possible without religion? Well, there are values of “redemption” for which they certainly can. But I think the OP needs to say what he means by redemption.

Minus any great arbiter or the justice system, the only definition of redemption is your own. If you honestly think that no matter what you do, you can’t make up for something bad that you did, then you’re screwed until you change your mind on that. If, on the other hand, you honestly think you can make up for doing something bad by dropping a penny in the charity box at the check out counter at the super market, well then well redemption is only a gallon of milk away.

As a sane as reasonable person, I suspect that most misdeeds will fall somewhere between those two bookends.

Sort of yes, but that choice is not up to you, but it involves self discovery, who you really are and what the longing of your heart is. The sins you commit hurt your own heart, and cause you to lose touch with it, walling it off as a defense against pain.

One day you will want to get back in touch with those aspects of your heart and you seek the true longing of your heart which is seeking Love (which is God), and Love will take you on a journey, which may avoid religion, but will get you a direct personal relationship with God.

The thing about religions is that, for all the trouble they cause, they have answers to who we are and about God who Loves us as His children. So it’s a tool God uses to learn about His Love, and a tool the devil uses to control people. Later in the journey the damage of Satan is removed and just God’s Love remains, at this point there is no religion anymore for that person.

You also have divine spirits coming to people directly, some may have been atheists, and starting a immediate relationship, again bypassing religion. Normally these people will define themselves as ‘spiritual but not religious’. But again it was not the choice of the atheist but the divine.

There also has to be a breaking away from what we have been taught is ‘real’, this can come by a spiritual visit, or a questioning of authorities and creating your own reality.

Sure, it’s possible. How else would you get your nickel back after you drink the soda?

like I said, pointless philosophical hand waving. All of the above is simply asserted without evidence and makes no sense outside of the structures of a religious doctrine.

Redemption is a common theme in literature and entertainment, where it may or may not have religious overtones. See, e.g., the TVTropes pages on Redemption Quest, Redemption Equals Death, Redemption Earns Life.

It might be said that redemption isn’t possible without religion in its broadest sense, since it involves things like the state of one’s soul, right and wrong, meaning, and why/whether the things a person does ultimately matter, which are religious questions.

Even if there was a God, he’d have no right to forgive for shit you’d done t somebody else. The only forgiveness that matters is from those youve directly wrong. You don’t have a right to forgive yourself either, by the way. That’s obvious nonsense, and I don’t know where anyone ever got the idea that it means anything.

In a lot of ways, the word “redmption” is based in religious assumptions to begin with, but if you want t be a better person, just be a better person. You can’t change your past, but neither can a sky god.

Just because the word ‘redemption’ exists doesn’t mean there’s a phenemenon that must correspond to it.

If you don’t believe in the diety and you don’t believe in the diety’s idea of what “sin” is, then from what on earth would you feel the need to be redeemed? :confused:
It’s kind of like saying, “Oh, I’m an atheist.” And then someone says, “So, you worship Satan, then?” Um no. Satan is basically a Christian creation. The bad guy was created at the same time the good guy was created. Because we don’t need the good guy if we don’t have a bad guy!

Upon preview: I’m using the word “redemption” from a Christian perspective, meaning that “to be redeemed” means to be “saved eternally.” It actually sounds like you are talking about forgiveness, which has fuck all to do with redemption.

I think people can still turn over a new leaf even with religon, though I imagine its trickier

I think redemption requires both to be forgiven, and self-belief that you DESERVE to be forgiven. That’s why the Christian notion of redemption is so bizarre. Ok, so someone else died for my transgressions, and I’m supposed to feel GOOD about that??? What the #@#%#@? Now I feel bad because I’ve done something wrong AND because someone else copped the punishment for it.

The person you harmed has to forgive you. That’s it.

It’s impossible, because it is meaningless. With atheism* goiod and evil are meaningless words. You cannot do good to anyone, nor evil. There may be under some atheist systems, right and wrong, but that is a very different concept oriented purely towards utilitarian ends. Now, I do know some atheists who claim to have the former, but then, they’re also the ones who ignore the implications of their beliefs whenever it is convenient. Including a great many on this board.

That said, the other implication is that you don’t need to. You can’t do evil, either. So why would you need redemption. Redemption explicitly involves leaving behind a bad life to embrace a new, better life, and in that even having your past evil removed from your being. That entire concept fails to apply to an atheist.

Whether you can “turn over a new leaf” is irrelevant. You cannoyt be “better” or “worse” except by establishing an personal and arbitrary system of value in an atheist system.

*Mechanistic, not the tiny batch of spiritual pantheistic atheists around.

Without religion, redemption isn’t required. If you harm someone and feel guilty about it, all you need to do is get yourself to forgive yourself. That may require you to do something for the person you harmed, or it may require nothing at all… up to you.

smilign bandit –

Instead of a “personal and arbitrary system of value,” couldn’t the repentant atheist subscribe to and apply the value system of the society he lives in, working from a purely sociological point of view which does not need the hypothesis that these values were imposed by a “higher power” than the people themselves?