Totally irrespective of religion and particularly Christianity, please explain to me the Atheistic process of forgiveness of other people say for instance if someone treats you wrong how do you at some time later (a few minutes or a few decades) come to terms with that person? Please do not discuss God or Christian sin etc. I am only concerned with forgiveness or coming to terms between two people. If forgiveness and “coming to terms” are not the same thing, please explain the difference.

Posted: June 18th 2010


My personal opinion is that forgiveness is overrated.

I do think that it may be important in many cases to be able to accept that something has happened and get over any anger to be able to move on and decide what to do rationally.

Some may label that as forgiveness, but it doesn’t really change how I feel about what was done or the people that did it.

My father had an affair when I was just starting college. It hurt my mother tremendously, and caused me both emotional and financial pain. I got over it, but I didn’t really forgive him, at least in the “forget what happened” sense.

Or, to put it another way, I think you need to deal with things so that they don’t affect the way that you want to live, and that’s totally for you to decide.

I really don’t care what the transgressor thinks. They don’t get a “get out of jail free” card from me just because they want one.

Posted: June 24th 2010

See all questions answered by Eric_PK

Blaise www

I personally feel that this question is based upon a misunderstanding of what forgiveness is, and what it is for.

Consider this. If someone has wronged you, and doesn’t care about your feelings at all, how does your vengefulness, grief, or forgiveness affect them in any way? The answer, of course, is that it doesn’t. Therefore, the emotional effect your forgiveness can have on another’s life will vary from small to none, at best (unless you’re the judge, of course, but that’s not really the same thing).

Forgiveness has almost nothing to do with the forgiven, and everything to do with the forgiver. Holding on to your grudge, grief, vengefulness, or any other kind of pain does you no good, and in fact severely impacts your quality of life. Forgiving is letting go of those negative emotions and moving on with a mind that is free of the pain and distraction they cause.

Releasing that baggage can’t help but improve your relations with everyone in your life, your “wronger” included.

Posted: June 19th 2010

See all questions answered by Blaise

SmartLX www

Again with the capital A. There’s no need for it.

Anyway, if one feels wronged by a person, the natural urge is to do three things:

  1. Seek compensation from the person.
  2. Take revenge on the person.
  3. Nurse ill feelings toward the person.

Forgiveness as I see it is a decision to do none of these.

One may reach this decision for one or several of a number of reasons, for example:

  • The person shows genuine contrition.
  • The person voluntarily attempts to make up for the wrongdoing.
  • The person performs benevolent acts independent of the wrongdoing.
  • One loves or has great affection for the person.
  • The act of taking revenge, or seeking compensation, or merely nursing ill feelings, proves or appears to be too detrimental to be worthwhile.

If one’s ultimate goal is either to look after one’s interests and/or those of one’s loved ones, or to cause better behaviour in the wrongdoer, or all of these, then the above are valid reasons to forgive someone.

Secular enough for you?

Posted: June 19th 2010

See all questions answered by SmartLX


I am mystified personally by the emphasis that society in general places on the importance of forgiveness.

The importance of any awful event is to accept it and its consequences, the best way that is possible. For example, if my husband was brutally murdered, my focus would not be on forgiving the murderer, in fact, the thought or need would never surface to court forgiveness! I would not want to hurt or take revenge on the murderer. I would however assist the police in every way I can to bring the murderer to justice so she would not hurt anyone else. After that, the murderer would no longer exist for me, just like she did not before she murdered my husband.

I would continue to focus on healing in the sense of learning how to live without my husband, which may involve professional help, but it would certainly involve friends and family. Since I never associated the event with one person, that is, the murderer, but to the reality that my husband was in the wrong place at the wrong time (it could have happened to anyone, including me, and yet I am not angry or needing to forgive the murderers of strangers), my mental and emotional energies are free to do their work to enable me to continue to live a full life without obsessing on the person who set this terrible event in motion. The memories of my life with my wonderful husband would merit such efforts.

Self-forgiveness is similar, where I would accept that I would have done everything possible to have saved his life if I could, and I couldn’t, so I would not focus on myself to forgive either.

I regard forgiveness as this artificial set up that is an integral part of the blame game. My husband’s murderer may have intended to kill my husband, but she did not (most likely) intend to make my life miserable so there is no reason for me to focus on anybody else but myself to restore my life to a good state.

If the event was less traumatic, let’s say, a friend (or a family member) lied to me, well then, I would have to decide whether or not I would want to continue the friendship (or the familial relationship). In some cases, I would simply tell that person that lying is unacceptable, and I am no longer interested in being their friend (or relating to them in a familial way). They blew it (if in the future, they would approach me and say they have changed, or whatever, I would reconsider, using new information at hand). In the meantime, I would go out and find another friend (and perhaps dig up some long lost relative)!

In other cases, such as with deeply loved ones, I would strive to understand why they lied and work on encouraging a state of trust and confidence in each other, perhaps seeking professional help to accomplish these goals.

Forgiveness is not required, while coming to term is equivalent to accepting the reality no matter how awful (with the help of friends, family, and professionals) and moving on. Learning how to deal with reality is an on-going, skill-learning process.

Superb question, by the way!

Posted: June 19th 2010

See all questions answered by logicel


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