Author Topic: Guilt  (Read 652 times)

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Offline Tero

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Guilt
« on: March 17, 2012, 07:43:36 PM »
How do you personally experience guilt now? Compared to whatever you were before. Most of us are atheists, but many had some church background.

As a nonreligious person, there was never much guilt in a broader sense, for what I have and others do not have. On a personal level, I have found it easiest to live the straight and narrow. It is not fun to ask forgiveness, and I do not have God to ask. I would have to ask the actual person.

For many people, religious, guilt and salvation are the top two items. Not sure how seriously they view eternal life etc.

Since I completely cut off religion, I have only afterwards come to realize the guilt part. In my mind all the other "what ifs" were much bigger than guilt, but I suppose it was always there.

If I was gay etc. I would have dumped religion long before, but did keep a thins string to it for many years. When my parents had died, it slowly disappeared completely. They were not particularly religious and never made demands on me beyond the age of 16.

Offline Nick

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Re: Guilt
« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2012, 08:00:15 PM »
Catholics were experts at the guilt thing.  Still are.  It took time for me but guilt is gone.  I still try to live a good life and help others.  It makes me feel good.  If I screw up on something, thats a life lesson.  Still upset with myself for being in the damn trap as long as I was.  "Bless me father for I have sinned"...what a line of shit.
Yo, put that in your pipe and smoke it.  Quit ragging on my Lord.

Tide goes in, tide goes out !!!

Offline Tero

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Re: Guilt
« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2012, 09:43:57 PM »
Not so much at home but at Finnish grade school we were taught to not have shameful thoughts. Then every kid hit puberty abd felt shameful.

As far as other people go, only your actions count. The kids feel the shame the most, as they have not become hypocrites.

There was some good from the school days, if they had just stuck to the helpful deeds.

Offline joebbowers

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Re: Guilt
« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2012, 10:33:01 PM »
I'm not sure I understand the question. What guilt? What did I do?
"Do you see a problem with insisting that the normal ways in which you determine fact from fiction is something you have to turn off in order to maintain the belief in God?" - JeffPT

Offline Nick

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Re: Guilt
« Reply #4 on: March 18, 2012, 07:38:43 AM »
I'm not sure I understand the question. What guilt? What did I do?
You must have done something.  You have 15 "bad boy" points.  Now feel guilty. :)
Yo, put that in your pipe and smoke it.  Quit ragging on my Lord.

Tide goes in, tide goes out !!!

Offline Tero

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Re: Guilt
« Reply #5 on: March 18, 2012, 09:19:12 AM »
I'm not sure I understand the question. What guilt? What did I do?
It's in the Bible. It is normal thoughts which are labeled so called "sinful" in the ancient book written by hypocrites.

Offline BobC

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Re: Guilt
« Reply #6 on: March 18, 2012, 10:00:31 AM »
Guilt, IMO, is a necessary feeling i.e. that you are accountable / responsible for your actions and want to rectify any wrongs you may have caused, if at all possible. The prospect of feeling guilty after bad behaviour / bad deeds (hopefully this is after you think about how others may be affected first) can even serve as an effective deterrent against behaviour which may illicit it.

Healthy, normal guilt is a feeling we get when we realize our actions have caused suffering, harm etc to others and our conscience (hopefully) motivates us to right a wrong we may have committed. Sometimes there is nothing we can do to undo the damage we cause eg reversing over the neighbour's toddler and killing them. Anyone of sound mind, religious or not, would of course be equally ridden with guilt, and rightly so. I refer back to my first paragraph, avoidance of such guilt sometimes means making sure we don't do shit that's going to lead to such feelings.

As long as guilt doesn't become pathological, then it is a necessary, healthy part of life. The negative connotations attached to guilt are mostly associated with the disproportionate, pathological, neurotic guilt which is often associated with religion, even used as a 'motivator' by the religious and their leaders in a very negative way.

Take stress for example, which has gotten a heap of bad press. A certain amount of stress is necessary for us to function optimally, or even at all. When it becomes distress, is where we need to become concerned, as that is when we cease to function optimally and things fall to bits.

I view guilt in a very similar way to the way I view stress. I don't feel that deciding to ditch religion reduced my guilt in any way. In fact, my refusal to feel the type and degree of guilt often expected of the religious is probably what led me to realize that religion is not for me.

Offline JeffPT

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Re: Guilt
« Reply #7 on: March 18, 2012, 11:23:44 AM »
Take stress for example, which has gotten a heap of bad press. A certain amount of stress is necessary for us to function optimally, or even at all. When it becomes distress, is where we need to become concerned, as that is when we cease to function optimally and things fall to bits.


I've often thought of this when I think of millionaires and how awful they claim their life is and that money doesn't buy happiness.  Could it be that happiness is contingent not just on having everything we need or want, but also upon the struggle to get it? 

Good post BobC.  Welcome to the forum. 
Whenever events that are purported to occur in our best interest are as numerous as the events that will just as soon kill us, then intent is hard, if not impossible to assert. NDT

Offline stuffin

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Re: Guilt
« Reply #8 on: March 18, 2012, 09:35:32 PM »
If I feel guilt over something I did or said, does that mean I have morals?

If I don't believe in a god, how could I have morals?

This place is confusing me....   ;)
When you do things right, people won't be sure you've done anything at all.

Offline Tero

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Re: Guilt
« Reply #9 on: March 18, 2012, 10:21:34 PM »
Morals are what various cultures believe are the proper acts towards others. Religions are adjusted to those.

You are just reflecting culture.

Offline joebbowers

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Re: Guilt
« Reply #10 on: March 19, 2012, 12:13:14 AM »
I'm sorry but I still don't get it. I guess I just don't harm enough people to need guilt.
"Do you see a problem with insisting that the normal ways in which you determine fact from fiction is something you have to turn off in order to maintain the belief in God?" - JeffPT

Offline bosey926

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Re: Guilt
« Reply #11 on: March 19, 2012, 02:10:07 AM »
How do you personally experience guilt now? Compared to whatever you were before. Most of us are atheists, but many had some church background.
<snipped>
     I experience guilt now like any other rational and sane adult would; by having the functioning of my brain's frontal lobe tell me that an action, any action, is deemed usually either 'proper' or 'improper' by the majority of the our culture, and then determining so for myself on a case by case basis. 
     Although, if you're speaking solely in reference to things forced on to children by religious institutions, such as heaven or hell, sexual sin and so on, then my answer is that I never really experienced a massive amount of it.  I was raised Presbyterian so most of the Sunday school 'teachings' I remember were regarding predestination, but when your under ten years old you can't comprehend these things. 
     By the time I was coming upon puberty I had begun to question god's existence with the many uncensored questions of a young mind.  Especially with mine having epilepsy and the common stupid answer of "God always has His reasons for everything; including the sick." 
     So my answer is no, I do not experience a large difference in terms of guilt from what I can remember as a child and between what I do today as an adult. 

Offline flapdoodle64

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Re: Guilt
« Reply #12 on: March 19, 2012, 11:31:46 AM »
My father and his father were both Lutheran preachers and my brothers and I were compelled to go to church every Sunday as youths.  Around age 23 I realized I was an agnostic, and now I identify with the atheist label, meaning that I lack belief in any deity. 

I am nearly 48 years old now and I long ago left behind most of the absurd thoughts and beliefs of religious thought, except that a huge cloud of guilt still follows my every move.  I believe a certain amount of guilt is probably a good thing, in that it serves as an incentive to avoid harming others. 

Yet the kind of guilt inspired by theism, by the idea that sinful thoughts are as bad as sinful actions, and by the cruel lie of moral perfection embodied by the fictional Jesus presented in the Gospels, marketed by the church, and beaten into the heads of children, is excessive and unhealthy. 

You read the Gospels, even if they were true, there is precious little space to chronical the life of a 33 year old man.  For all we know, Jesus could have been a total dickhead most of the time, and the Gospel writers just left those things out. 

Offline Tero

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Re: Guilt
« Reply #13 on: March 19, 2012, 10:30:37 PM »
I do not know if we had a historical Jesus topic here, but what is ascribed to Jesus does not help. He would have one give all one's property away. To avoid guilt.

Offline atheola

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Re: Guilt
« Reply #14 on: March 20, 2012, 12:50:28 AM »
Sonofabitch!
For once I wrote out a nice long eloquent reply and just as I was ready to send it my thumb hit the dammed back button on this crappy $49 phone.. >:(
Now I feel guilty.. I have no reason to feel guilty other than the fact I was tempted to shove the phone in our cats ass (who is in heat and driving me up a wall)...but I didn't, the cat's fine and I'm trying to retype all this on the same crappy $49 phone... (take a breath)
So...anyway...as I was saying even though nobody heard it you have to define the type of guilt you're talking about first.

There is buybull guilt.. Forgive me..I sinned.. I saw a bra and panty ads on page 28c of the newspaper!
That nonsense I think, with the exception of Olly can live without.

Then there's the kind of guilt that usually involves handcuffs, a guy with a badge and VERY uncomfortable living arrangements. Sometimes you go right home and sometimes you get new neighbors with lots of homemade tattoos.

Finally there's the everyday, run of the mill guilt.. Did you really flip off that 93 year old lady crossing the street escorted by a girl scout troop? You might have "accidentally" eaten a grape in the grocery store without paying full price!
Or...you may have inadvertently screwed you best friends wife or husband, but it slipped your mind till the photos of you on leathet underwear show up in the mail

It might be something real simple like blowing your nose and a glob comes out, but the phone rings so you absent midedly
leave it on your significant others pillow.

Hey, we ALL do things we regret and sometimes we get drunk and just think we did things we regret, but aren't quite sure if we did or not till someone discreetly reminds us that yes, indeed we got naked and took a bath in our own puke at the bosses house.. well WE didn't do that anyway.
Stupid things happen sometimes..maybe you locked your keys in the car on the rain 100 miles from nowhere and you just spent your last dollar wooing your date.... hey..shit happens and you feel guilty and 99.99% of it is for naught. Most of our guilt is imagined nonsense linked to our paranoia gene, but some is real and it keeps us on our toes most of the time.
I've learned over the years that most guilt is useless worrying about nothing. Most people don't even notice our transgressions unless we bother to tell them then they go all drama queen. If it's something really heavy then get it out in the open as soon as you can unless it's something you don't want ANYONE to know about EVER.. like maybe the fact it was YOU who stabbed grandma 73 times in the chest for beer money 17 years ago..keep that to yourself.. this is not a confessional..



You better believe it's not butter or you'll burn in hell forever and EVER!
Get on your knees right now and thank GOD for not being real!

Offline Tero

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Re: Guilt
« Reply #15 on: March 20, 2012, 06:39:17 AM »
Nice variety of guilt there.

The silliest solution to guilt is the listed jail. The victim of the crime gains nothing and the criminal is not improved when he comes out. I have no solution for that.

Offline Quesi

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Re: Guilt
« Reply #16 on: March 20, 2012, 07:09:47 AM »
I feel guilt all the time, and I was raised in a secular household.

I am acutely aware of my privilege, in comparison to a large percentage of humanity.  I have never been hungry.  I take for granted the fact that light will come on with the turn of a switch, and clean water will flow with the turn of a faucet.  I have an excellent education, and leisure time to read and relax and travel.   I have a career that I love, and a considerable amount of freedom. 

I’ve done nothing to earn these privileges.  And I feel strongly that I have an obligation to put these privileges to good use.  I do, much of the time.  But sometimes I’m tired.  Sometimes I’m selfish.  Sometimes I’m lazy. 

Yesterday, right after work, an elderly woman stopped me on the street and asked me for fare to get on the subway.  I usually stop and listen to people’s stories.  I had a metrocard I could have given her, if that is what she really needed.  But I was in a hurry.  Bottle of wine in hand, I was having dinner with a friend and my 5 year old and her 6 year old, and we only had an hour and a half to enjoy together before the girl’s bedtime rituals started, and I was greedy about my leisure time. 

I feel guilty.  My leisure time was more important to me than whatever crisis the woman was facing.

Sometimes I don’t wash and recycle cans.  I hide them in the bottom of the garbage.  That is lazy and selfish.  And I feel guilty when I do it. 

I believe in mass transit.  I have no reason to own a car.  I walk to work.  I live near 5 NYC subway lines, and almost a dozen bus lines.  But sometimes I take a taxi instead of walking 12 blocks.  The money that I spend on taxis in a year could change someone’s life.  Exercise is good for me, and cars aren’t good for the environment.  But I get lazy sometimes.  And then I feel guilty.

You know, my parents raised me to be accountable to myself for my actions.  They taught me to assess my own value systems, and to live up to the standards that I set for myself.  And I have.  It would be easier to have a set of external rules to follow, I suppose.  And it would be LOTS easier to just tell a clergy member that I was sorry when I broke a rule, and then get forgiven.  But I’m accountable only to myself.  And I have high standards to live up to, and no one to blame but myself when I fall short. 

Offline Tero

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Re: Guilt
« Reply #17 on: March 20, 2012, 07:34:54 AM »
Good speech.

Yes, me too, I often feel guilty of being a good consumer. I can make a pledge to be frugal and green in retirement. In 5 years.

Offline atheola

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Re: Guilt
« Reply #18 on: March 20, 2012, 06:08:21 PM »
Hmm.. I've been not so successful in my financial goals and to some extent feel guilty for being a dismal failure in that respect. As the character Tevia (sp) from Fiddler on the Roof said: There's no shame to being poor, but it's no great honor either.
You better believe it's not butter or you'll burn in hell forever and EVER!
Get on your knees right now and thank GOD for not being real!