This blog intends to provide some balance in the religious debate by providing a counterpoint to Billy Graham's religious advice. On his website http://www.billygraham.org/ he responds to readers' questions by quoting from the bible. I am attempting to respond to those same queries by resorting to reason and rationality.

I must acknowledge a debt here to Jeff Hope who started in this vein but who has unfortunately taken a hiatus. His blog is http://atheistsanswer.wordpress.com/. Jeff has inspired me to continue.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Guilt Trip

QUESTION: Today's comes from JK...
"I think people's guilty feelings are just a psychological hang-up. We feel guilt because we don't do what others expect of us. But if we'd quit worrying about that, our guilt feelings would go away. I don't buy what you preachers say about our need for forgiveness."

You are correct when you say that we feel guilty because we don't do what others expect of us, but there are other factors that come into play. Our feelings of guilt come from our consciences which are shaped by a number of influences. Firstly, there is our upbringing where principles are instilled into us by our parents and teachers. There is a direct correlation between what they teach us and our consciences. Second, there is society in general which shapes our understanding of living together. There is a direct correlation between what society teaches and our principles. Thirdly there are the laws of the country which are very definite in what is permitted. There is a direct correlation between these laws and our actions. And finally, there are our own thought processes whereby, as we mature, we realise truths about the world from our own life experiences. There is a direct correlation between what we learn from ourselves and our mistakes, and how we treat others.
However, there is no correlation between anyone's god and our consciences. There is no link here, in fact there is not even any semblence of consensus about what form god takes, much less what principles he tries to distill in us. This regular but futile attempt to give god credit for our behavioural principles is completely unfounded.
So by all means quit worrying because worrying is just a destructive emotion. However, your conscience will remain, and the more you listen to it the more harmonious your life will be.


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