The Collins Dictionary defines “redemption” as the act of redeeming something or of being redeemed by something. In a religious setting, it's used to mean the redemption of sins.
But what if you are not religious but still crave redemption for sins committed?
Dr. Alex Lickerman in a January 2011 blog wrote: “We must fully recognize that we've done wrong; fully accept responsibility for having done it; determine never to do it again; apologize to those we've done it to (if appropriate); and resolve to aim at improving ourselves in the general direction of good.”
Inspiring words, but how to achieve this nirvana? Where to start on the road to salvation?
Religious people, be they Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, and many others, claim that redemption is (only) possible through religious thought, deed, faith, and prayer.
But again I ask, if you are are not religious, what happens? Is there no redemption, no universal forgiveness? Am I to float in a void until I pass from this world?
Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari has inferred that religion is “fake news”, simply a collection of stories. It’s a notion that other historians have pointed to. Simon Sebag Montefiore touches on the point in his book, Jerusalem: A Biography.
I could be cynical at this point and ask why President Trump, a man who claims to be able to spot “fake news” at 1,000 paces, has not come out and questioned religion as “fake news”. The answer is of course that his popular base is built on a foundation of hard-right Christians, whose continued support he requires.
But enough of Trump.
Is the Bible, both old and new testaments merely a collection of stories written by various men (third parties) many years, sometimes decades or even hundreds of years after a supposed event.
American cyber-security expert and author, Daniel Miessler wrote, as an opening paragraph to a December 17, 2019 blog posting “The similarities between the stories and characters in the Bible and those from previous mythologies are both undeniable and well-documented. This would be obvious if it weren’t for early indoctrination of these beliefs into children, which usually makes them unassailable as adults.”
In his second paragraph he shows the “extraordinary similarities with regard to two of the most important Biblical narratives: the Genesis story and the character of Jesus Christ”
The full post can be read here: https://danielmiessler.com/blog/the-bible-is-fiction-a-collection-of-evidence/
Religious belief is all about faith, hence religion is referred to as a Faith. As a believer you are required to have faith in your beliefs?
I have written many times of how I am in awe of people of faith, adheres that, possibly while questioning their faith, nevertheless continue overall to believe.
The best guess estimation points to some 4,300 current world religions, this according to an independent, non-religiously, affiliated organization that monitors the number and size of the world religions. (Research estimates that over the Millenniums, some 10,000 religions have been practiced or are still practiced.) Sidestepping the issue of what constitutes a religious adherent divides religions into Churches, Denominations, Congregation, Religion bodies, Faith groups, Tribes, Cultures, and movements, and more.
So is religion, any religion, “fake news” a scam? Were religions created by man because man needed something to cling to, something to blame for the bad that happens and to praise for the good things in life?
The phrase “religion is the opium of the people” comes to mind.
So, if we accept the notion that religion is “fake news”, a series of stories to enable man to believe in something, a concept to cling to, how does a non-religious person, me, for example, seek and obtain “redemption”? Is redemption an achievable goal?
Let's start with the question “Why do we seek redemption?” Why do we bring back painful memories to the surface? Why do we have such a strong urge to scratch the scab of sin, does it help us in our drive to feel forgiven, to seek redemption?
And what constitutes a “sin”?
Wikipedia cites sin as in a religious context as “an act of transgression against divine law.”
Again according to Wikipedia, “the seven deadly sins, also known as the capital vices, or cardinal sins, is a grouping and classification of vices within Christian teachings, although it does not appear explicitly in the Bible. Behaviors or habits are classified under this category if they directly give birth to other immoralities. According to the standard list, they are pride, greed, wrath, envy, lust, gluttony, and sloth, which are also contrary to the seven heavenly virtues. These sins are often thought to be abuses or excessive versions of one's natural faculties or passions (for example, gluttony abuses one's desire to eat, to consume).”
John F. MacArthur, in a December 1, 2006 Editorial in a “Decision” blog - https://decisionmagazine.com/what-is-sin/ - defines sin as “Sin is any lack of conformity to the moral character of God or the law of God. We sin by thinking evil, speaking evil, acting evil, or omitting good”.
Does this definition apply to an agnostic and atheist?
Do we sue the term “sin” as a catch-all to encompass a wide range of immorality?
Let’s take “lying” for example. According to countless sources, lying is a sin, its termed as being deceitful. (For politicians of all colors and creeds, it’s an art form, although many term it “spin”.)
What about us mere mortals, many of us, maybe most of us every day tell a “white lie” or two. A “white lie” is defined as a “harmless fib or a small untruth, often done to spare someone's feelings or for some other diplomatic reason. An example of a white lie is when you tell your mom her pie is good even when it tastes terrible.” I challenge anyone with hand on their heart to admit to not telling a “white lie” in the past 24 hours. Whether we admit it or not, we all tell “white lies”, its human nature to do so.
Where is the line, when does a “white lie” become a “gray lie” and then a “black lie” and then a “red lie”?
The Changing Minds website defines the four types of lie: white, gray, black and red and offers a summary to each - http://changingminds.org/explanations/behaviors/lying/four_lies.htm
OK, so we openly and sincerely put our hands up and admit that we have sinned, whether according to the Bible’s definition or any other accepted standard, and we seek redemption, forgiveness for our wrongdoing. What is the next step?
We know that physical bathing washes away dirt; when we are spiritually bathed, our sins are washed away from us and we are forgiven. Great news for a person of faith, but what if you have no faith, you are not a believer?
There are several steps available; first and foremost an admission of guilt. I have done wrong, I have sinned – whether in the biblical sense or measured against today’s social norms. As with addictions of any kind, this is the all-important critical step. The step of Acceptance. We have done wrong.
Next, an approach to the offended party and apologizes made for the wrongdoing and reconciliation sought. This is, of course, reliant on the offended party being open to the idea of accepting an admission of guilt and forgiveness of past deeds. Easier said than done, particularly when the deed or deeds are multiple and longstanding.
And of course the desire to make amends, to seek meaning, fulfillment in life, again either in the biblical sense or measured against today's social norms.
On the Quora website, a contribution from a gentleman by the name of Abby Jaludi caught my eye. Mr. Jaludi is, according to his details on Quora a truck driver at Kanas headquartered YRC Freight.
I’ve not been able to qualify what Mr. Jaludi’s background is, what did strike me about his thoughts on “the meaning of life” is how simple and yet sincere his thoughts are – see https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-meaning-of-life-66
Take for example the second paragraph of his May 27, 2015, post on the meaning of life. “The meaning of life for me is to leave the world feeling content with myself and what I’ve done while here. It does not mean I have to accomplish any great feats. For me, that means to leave this world, no matter when that happens, with no regrets, no guilt and no shame for what I’ve done while here.”
Abby Jaludi concludes the post with “ultimately, a person should not ask others what the meaning of life is, but should look within, for therein lies your purpose.”
To my mind at least, I feel I have the rudimentary road map to lead me forward. Signpost and junctions are are still need to be added, but I have a basic direction to aim for. I understand the essence of sin, I have a better insight to the meaning of life, and while I am no nearer redemption, I am perhaps more at ease with my future and the acceptance that redemption is within me, and I alone can achieve my goal of salvation.