I find the very concept of “God’s forgiveness” utterly repulsive. Let’s assume for the moment that a god exists. Let’s also assume that you have the correct god. We all do bad things, occasionally. Sometimes these bad things hurt others. The people from whom we should seek forgiveness are those we’ve hurt. Why does this god have the authority or ability to forgive you?
If you had a debt, let’s say you owed a credit card company thousands of dollars. Then you came to me, and I forgave the debt. Could you then go to the credit card company and say, “Chris says I don’t owe you any money”? No. The debt is between the credit card company and you. Just like if you stab someone, it’s between the person you’ve stabbed and yourself. Your god doesn’t belong in the interaction.
You see, theists often use this as a way of getting out of actually making amends. All you have to do is pray super hard, and tell yourself that God has forgiven you, and now you don’t have to worry about it. If you’re a member of a branch of Christianity that has the sacrament of confession, the priest will act as God’s messenger, and make you do a penance. Like giving money to the ones you’ve hurt? Nope. Ten Hail Mary’s ought to do it. If you’re not a member of one of these branches, you probably have a “personal relationship” with God. This is the best, because then YOU get to decide that God has forgiven you. Nice, isn’t it? Your imagination forgives the crimes.
Another problem I have is that depending on which version of Christianity you hold, no crime is too harsh for forgiveness. Accept, of course, disbelief, the “one unforgivable sin”. So you could rape and murder as many people as you want, but as long as you ask God for forgiveness, and accept Jesus as your lord and savior before you die, you can go to heaven. Advocates of this view are the same people who claim that morality comes from God, so atheists are incapable of being good people.
A larger problem is the idea that humans, by our very nature, require God’s forgiveness. It started out with the literal interpretation of the Bible. According to the story, Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge. This displeased God so much, that he imprinted the soul of every human thereafter with the stain of original sin. Anyone who died with the stain of sin on their souls could not enter heaven. Then Jesus came, and his death cleansed original sin, so that humans could once again go to heaven.
First, Adam and Eve probably never existed. Thus, there was no need for Jesus to die. Second, punishing someone for the crimes of their parents is immoral. Third, the existence of souls has never been shown. I mean, what a dumb plan, for a god to devise. Create people who he knew would fail. Punish them for failing. Later, drown them for failing. Then after they failed some more, murder his own son. As apposed to… oh I don’t know… FORGIVING THEM FOR FAILING LIKE HE KNEW THEY WOULD. Finally, the biggest problem is that it tells people that they are broken by default. That they are worthless without God. That they constantly need to rebuke themselves for not living up to the standards that they have been told an all powerful sky wizard wants of them.
This is the deity who’s forgiveness you seek? An evil dictator that would rather torture and murder his son for your sins? Even if that were the case, what right does he have to forgive crimes that weren’t against him? What gives him the right to forgive someone who steals from me? Sure that person gets the proverbial weight lifted off of their shoulders, but I’ve still been robbed. Plus, they get to go to heaven, and I don’t, simply because I don’t believe in that god? How is this moral?
If the argument is that God created everything, and thus has the power over everything then HE should be asking OUR forgiveness for all the stuff HE’s done or allowed to happen. God should be begging our forgiveness for natural disasters, diseases, all those dictators he allows to live, the pedophile priests, etc. You can’t give God the credit for all the good, without holding Him responsible for the bad. Either He’s responsible for it all, or not responsible for any of it.