12 June 2014

The Problem With Faith


I'm not a big person of faith, and for the past few years I have become far less gullible than before. But then again I believe in such things as love, and that belief that all people are good. Personally, I just think of myself as a skeptic who treats everything with a grain of salt.

When asked about my religion, I introduce myself as a Buddhist, just so I don't have to explain my views every single time. But to describe my beliefs in a single religion is inaccurate. I have a moral code and everything, but it just doesn't fall neatly into any one religion or category. It just seems as if people are too  quick to label others into any one category. But I don't see the point of going to church or mass if you don't truly believe in God. I don't believe that performing some ritual will guarantee me some place in heaven.

I don't have a real problem with being thrown in any group by people that I don't know, I just only accept ideas that I have thought through myself. I enjoy the freedom that not having a religion provides, and the ideal that my life is my own.

Which is why I found it so shocking that the issue of abortion is still such a huge issue. I myself was part of an abortion conflict a couple of weeks ago that happened on my campus. There were huge billboards comparing women who got abortions to genocide and the Nazis. This was absolutely ridiculous, and many other people thought so too. For some religious people, the term FAITH (all capitals) serves as an excuse to not accept people who are different then they and therefore spread hate.

This is not to say that all religious people are this way, not at all. It seems to me as if there is a lot of finger-pointing going on whenever religion, specifically Christianity, is brought up. Things have gotten so bad that now whenever someone so much as says, "Well, the Bible said..." I literally block them out. There is a passage that the sociologist Randy David carefully points out in his essay which says that we "are quick to accept the conditions of our lives as though they were unchangeable givens, waiting for a providential God to supply what we lack."

This point is true and extraordinarily tragic. There seems to be a dependence on behavior, that some thing out there will fix everything out there for us if we go to church every Sunday, or pray to this somebody, or celebrate a certain day every year, or chant with beads, is nothing but praying that an illusion is more than that.

But then again, I can't blame some people for this, as much as I don't understand. There has been more than a fair share of tragedies that have been thrown at us the last couple of months or even years (various shootings: UCSB, Aurora, Sandy Hook), and there are a lot of people who have a need to understand that there is a purpose or meaning to all of this madness. And for some people, there is God or other divinities, and they believe that this will help them understand.

Maybe it can be thought of as a loss that I do not share this belief, that I don't believe that there is something better on the mystical "other side". And to me, it doesn't matter whether or not I believe. What I do believe in is living in the here and now, not waiting to die and hope for something better.

I flipped back in an essay that I wrote a couple of months ago which summarizes my thoughts:

"I've always known that I was insignificant to the world but significant to a few people. Rather: even though I may not matter to thousands of people like celebrities are and may never become famous, I am important to the few lives that I have and will touch in my lifetime. Therefore, I can say that I have power to a certain extent.

Some people believe that they are unimportant to the world in general, and therefore drown themselves in alcohol or drugs. There are people who do have a lot of power, be it in money, armies, or fame. There are also others, like me, who enjoy making some sort of difference in the world."

15 comments:

  1. You are close, very close to seeing things as they really are, you can't know everything but you can see how things work. Be careful, people have been punished for thousands of years by tribal leaders, medicine men, religions, governments... for thinking.

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  2. When it comes to religious faith I have no strong feelings one way or the other. I have as many problems with atheists as I do theists; shoving their faith down other peoples throats. Or lack of faith thereof. I personally have my own morals and plan to stick by them.

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  3. I had a hard time explaining to my now husband why I said I believed in God, but am not Christian. I don't follow one religion either. I have my beliefs, but I acknowledge that that they're just beliefs. I don't *know* anything for sure.

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  4. The debate about religion and faith will always be a constant battle between the minds and hearts of the masses. Before I made the decision to submit my strength and will to the Creator, I was an alcoholic for over a decade. I literally wasted my life away and almost dwindled down to absolutely nothing.
    But when death came knocking on my door and almost stole my life away, something happened. It wasn't hitting rock bottom that opened a new door. It was a belief that my life mattered and I was significant not just to those few people who mattered the most, but also to myself and God, my Creator. My life wasn't mine to forsake so I faltered to the submission of giving away my heart to the right entity rather than the wrong.
    Whether or not people truly believe in God, I think when they find something to live for, they become one with themselves. They learn how to make their mark on this world therefore leaving it behind after they pass on to the next life. And since my father was murdered and I experience his energy around me from time to time, I know there is something more after we die. What really matters is what we choose do with our energy, here, to help it continue to live even after our death.

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  5. Yeah I've seen some pretty ridiculous stuff very similar to that on the campus where I go to school. If its not them sometimes it is people will huge signs with terrible things written on them. I don't shove any of my beliefs in anyone's face as much as that.

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  6. I love this post. Thank you. I don't believe in an after-life which means that my behaviour NOW is what matters. This is the only life I am going to get, and it is up to me to make the most of it.
    Religion is too often used as justification for bad and cruel behaviour. I am not comfortable with it - or with people who push it down my throat. Believe if you can and if it helps you, but it is not for me.

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  7. I'm not strongly religious, but I believe in something and don't like explaining my beliefs to people. It makes me uncomfortable talking about religion. I always notice the people who inquire about it or make a big deal about it, at least to me, are trying to cause a problem.

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  8. I respect you immensely for writing this post. Your words are very valid and true and no one should have a say on what you believe or judge you about what you choose to believe. I have found that some people just want to put us in a box and label us and that is bull-crap. I hope you keep doing what feels right to you, because you are amazing.

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  9. I'm with you on the "no religion" thing, that is I don't have one. Unless you count a love of music?? I definitely bask in the glory of the musical 'gods' every day with my music listening. :)

    Anyway, I try to live and let live where possible, but when other people's rights are trampled upon, or when others actively try to infringe upon those rights, that's when I get annoyed.

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  10. Faith may be a beautiful thing, faith in love, the potential goodness of humanity, kindness, joy, art! Faith used as dogma and twisted out of context to fuel hate is something else. I say boo to that sort of faith!

    Take care
    x

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  11. The problem I have with organized religion in general is that I tend to be a private person. I'm an introvert and I don't express my feelings easily. In church, you're expected to speak up all the time and be vocal--if not, people tend to ask questions about why you're so quiet. I just feel my faith is between me and God, not me and everyone else!

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  12. I think religion sometimes acts as a divider. We're all humans, walking this path together, and we should respect each other.

    I like your thoughts in your last paragraph!

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  13. This is a brave and thoughtful post. Like you, my faith and beliefs are made up from ideas from many different places and religions, and it's not easy to choose just one that sums everything up. And like you, the biases that people display - and excuse! - based on religion make me want to tear my hair out.

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  14. I like to keep my beliefs private. I don't understand why others need to jam their beliefs down our throats. And women must have access to decent healthcare. They've really gotten in the way. I don't recall learning in Sunday school that Jesus was so hateful or selfish. Maybe I was sick that day. lol

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