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Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Why are you religious, or why not?

Asked by Hawaii_Jake (25804 points ) August 28th, 2012

What does religion do for you? Why believe? What’s the benefit?

…Or…

Why do you not practice religion? What do you derive from your stance?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

29 Answers

ninja_man's avatar

I am not. I tried to be, for a while, but I found that intellectual dishonesty did not suit me.

I have examined many religions, but have found none so far which did not contain underlying issues that (in my mind) negated the certitude with which their followers presented them.

Nullo's avatar

I was raised Christian. I continue to be Christian because of what I’ve experienced, and who (and Who) I’ve met.

zenvelo's avatar

I consider myself more spiritual than religious, but ritual and tradition carry much reassurance for people. And it carries weight with me. So I use much of the rites and tradition of the Catholic Church as a vehicle for my spiritual connection to a higher power. I do not agree with much of the Church’s opinions on temporal issues.

ucme's avatar

Being a confirmed fence sitting agnostic, i’ll continue to “hedge my bets.”

KNOWITALL's avatar

I believe in the Holy Trinity. I do not believe in organized religion because it’s too much like a business here in the US. Old people sending all their checks to Jack Van Impe or Jim Baker, it’s a shame.

The benefit to belief is that it keeps me on the right path (most of the time) and gives you a sense of belonging because so many others believe as you do.

ragingloli's avatar

I am not because there is no reason to, and no evidence whatsoever for any religious claims to be true.

wonderingwhy's avatar

It has nothing to offer that I want, that I can’t find on my own, without all the mysticism. What do I derive from that? A self-dependant life.

thorninmud's avatar

For the one or two of you out there who may not already know, I’m Zen Buddhist. In fact, I’m a priest. So, in spite of the fact that many don’t consider Zen to be a religion, strictly speaking, I obviously treat it as one. That’s not obligatory; many practice a secularized, Zen-like discipline, and that’s perfectly fine. On an individual level, the practice doesn’t require the institution.

I’ve chosen to become involved in the institution out of gratitude more than anything else. It’s because of the institution of Zen that the practice has made it down to our day, from its origins 2500 years ago. The institution has been the trellis supporting the vine of the practice. All Zen practitioners eventually must come to realize that the trellis isn’t the vine, that the institutional trappings are not the essence, that there’s nothing precious about the institution. It has built-in ways of keeping practitioners from being overly enamored of all the trappings.

My support of the institution is a way of doing what my forebears in the practice did for me: making sure that the practice carries forward, so it will be there for questioners like me down the road.

gailcalled's avatar

Having been brought up as a reformed Jew whose family paid only lip service to what happens in Synagogue, I dropped all that as a young adult.

After a tragedy in the family, I was looking for succor, support, meaning and something tangible so I rejoined a Synagogue.

I enjoyed the community but still had the same issues with the services, the formalized traditions, and the use of Hebrew.

After a few years, I stopped going again because the night driving in bad weather trumped whatever solice I was receiving and whatever contributions I was making.

I found Quaker Meeting for Worship, as practiced in the NE, was the most satisfying codified spiritual experience I have had.

Sunny2's avatar

I’ve been a skeptic about religion since I was 6 years old and a Catholic friend told me that Jesus was in a box on the altar in church. I knew He wouldn’t fit. I believe in many of the teachings of Jesus, because they make sense to me, but I distrust dogma.
I tried living by what the church I was singing in said; that is, that God will lead you on your pre-ordained path in life, if you prayed. I let myself get into situations which, in retrospect, I didn’t agree with and it caused me a lot of personal heartache. I started making my own decisions and led the life I approved of after that.
The only time I’ve even wished I believed in heaven, was at the funeral of a 6 year old.

syz's avatar

As a kid, I recognized the hypocrisy of my mom making me go to church even though she didn’t.

As a kid, I recognized the hypocrisy of a church that talked about “God’s love” but excluded blacks and members of other denominations.

As a kid, I read the Bible and found incredible contradictions and a decided lack of logic, as well as a complete lack of acknowledgment that human error (and intentional alterations) had changed a book that was supposed to be the “literal word of God”.

As a slightly older kid, I learned about the history of our species and how many wars and atrocities were (and are) performed in the name of religion.

As a slightly older kid, I learned about basic, fundamental science that contradicted religious teachings, and I learned that many religious practitioners and leaders live in intentional ignorance and denial because they can’t tolerate the threat that scientific fact represents to them.

As an adult, I witnessed religion used as a tool and a crutch for bigotry and hate and exclusion and judgment. I witnessed the selective promotion of ideals that reinforced personal prejudices and a complete disregard for others.

As an adult, I witnessed various religions that, by their creed, resulted in women that couldn’t work outside of the home, or wear pants, or cut their hair, or show their skin, or drive, or that were stoned to death for being raped.

As far as I can tell, every religion thinks that theirs is the only true religion, and none of them have any sort of proof or evidence that elevates their own over every other.

So, no, I am not religious.

Sunny2's avatar

@syz Excellent response. Thank you

SuperMouse's avatar

I am religious. I believe in God. I am a practicing Bahá’í because I believe that Bahá‘u’lláh is the earthly manifestation of God for our time.

I was raised in a very religious (Catholic) household but fell away from any kind of religion in my early teens. After years and years of searching I believed two things 1) nothing + nothing = nothing. Even if I believe in the big bang, primordial stew, evolution, and modern science (which I do), something had to put all of that into motion. For me that something is God. 2) It is incredibly arrogant of anyone to think their way is the only way to God. The arrogance of believing the only way to get to heaven is to accept Jesus Christ as your lord and savior was just too much for me to swallow. I searched and searched until I found a faith that made sense to me.

flutherother's avatar

I was raised a Christian and I am one still but I very rarely go to church because I find God outside the church and most Christians find Him inside.

augustlan's avatar

I was raised a Christian, became a deist. I dislike organized religion intensely and gave it up in my very early teens. I just didn’t see the point of all of these religions claiming to be the only right one, or dictating how I was supposed to interact with their god. Religions are man-made, and so, fallible. So even though I was a deist, I wasn’t religious. I went back and forth between being a deist and an agnostic (several times). These days, I’m an atheist. I just see no evidence that a god exists. All of our religions and versions of god seem like modern day mythology to me.

JLeslie's avatar

My family isn’t religious so when I learned some things about religion the parts that require a leap of faith sounded too unlikely to be true I guess. God and religion was never mentioned in my family except for during Passover we read the story of Passover that has God and religious references in it.

Blackberry's avatar

None of it makes sense.

Paradox25's avatar

I’ve never seen a reason to become religious. Why would I root for a God who would have us become born against our freewill, to only go to hell by default unless we accept the gift of some savior? What confuses me even more is that if it is so adamant to our future what we believe, then why did all of these alleged religious scenerios occur at a time when they realistically could not be recorded and confirmed? Also, if there is an omnipotent God then why did He resort to evolution over the course of billions of years? These were the types of questions that I’d asked myself before I was even 10.

I do believe that there is some type of creative intelligent force whose power far surpasses anything we could ever imagine, but trying to determine whether there is a God or not is rather futile to me. Personally I prefer to to obtain my ‘beliefs’ from all of the empirical evidence and data that I’ve acquired over the years from many secular researchers who’ve investigated matters concerning life after death, spirituality and the paranormal. It is like I’ve said before, most religions likely have some truth to them, but no single religion or book has the entire truth.

digitalimpression's avatar

I wouldn’t say I’m religious.. but I do believe certain things.
I believe certain things because: they are logical to me, because I have seen people’s lives change due to certain beliefs, because my own life has changed, and because some things have happened in my life that I can’t explain with conventional wisdom.

If you’re familiar of the story of Gideon and the dew… that’s me.

serenade's avatar

I grew up a pretty fervent Catholic and stayed that way until college, when depression kicked in and Catholic dogma stopped making sense in my life. My previous fervor included a belief that Catholicism is an all or nothing proposition, and when push came to shove, I had to let it go.

I missed dearly the social ritual, and the transition away from Catholicism was really difficult, and it took a few years to not feel so crappy about it. Sometime in there I read Huston Smith’s tome, and I gave Buddhism a try, but all other religious choices felt arbitrary. At the time, my understanding of choices was probably more influence by making the “right” choice and not the “wrong” choice, so that’s pretty much a recipe for failure for someone who is trying to escape dogma.

Today, I feel a good bit of maturity with respect to the issue of choosing a practice and understanding the reason for doing so. I feel more tangibly a universal connection of sorts and what a difference peace and love in your heart makes in the world vs. embarking on some sort of conventional religious crusade. I’m a beginner with a of this, though, and I feel something of a persistent longing to make this understanding more prescient in my life. In yoga, while you are straining through demanding poses, an instructor might tell you to soften your face. I aspire to “soften my face” most of my waking day. But ,I’ve got a ways to go with that.

Michael_Huntington's avatar

Never was religious and I never (and still haven’t) found a reason to be religious. I grew up without religion. I remember reading the bible and immediately thinking to myself that it was bunk because there were no references to dinosaurs.

I do incorporate some teachings of Buddhism in my life (things like death is final, be kind to others, etc), but I don’t meditate often. My room doesn’t smell like incense either.

gondwanalon's avatar

There are over 20 major religions in the world. Which one is the right one that will lead me to heaven? Yea I don’t know either. That’s why I’m not religious. Amen.

6rant6's avatar

When I was twelve, I got the news that babies who never learned about Jesus for one reason or another couldn’t get into heaven. I found that inconsolable with the promise of a loving god.

I gave it up Christianity completely at a time when I counted among my close friends: protestants, Catholics, Coptics, Jews, Budhists, and Muslims. Many of them were immigrants whose families were fighting each one another back home. It struck me as ludicrous that anyone, knowing the tragedies that religious fervor wrought on innocent lives could assert that religion was on the whole “benign.”

The older I get, the more strident I am in opposing religion for the consequences it causes, despite participant’s claims of good intentions and differentiation from the hordes. I see too many example of unwarranted and socially backward preference for believers and denigration of non-believers to excuse religious fervor as anything other than delusional.

Symbeline's avatar

Because none of it makes any sense to me, outside of it being a product of man’s nature. At least from what I can understand. I mean there are too many different kinds of religions all over the world for me to think that gods couldn’t possibly be a human thing. Therefore, it seems impossible to believe the claims, let alone worship anything.

King_Pariah's avatar

I was because I was raised that way.

I’m not because it simply is not who I am.

AshLeigh's avatar

I feel like it should be so simple, because it feels so simple. But I’ve never been able to put it into words.
It’s not about a religion. It’s something much more compassing than that. I want to say it’s about feeling like I can be loved, unconditionally. I want to say it’s about a relationship. But it’s still not that black and white.
I understand why people believe, and I understand why people don’t believe. I feel like a schmuck when people ask me questions, because I honestly don’t have answers for them. It’s not something I can say, or write. It’s just what I feel drawn to, and where I feel I belong.
I’ve done so many things, looking for comfort, and it was right there, all along.

Keep_on_running's avatar

It’s too illogical for my brain.

rooeytoo's avatar

of all these answers I am really in complete agreement with both @zenvelo and @ucme. What they said pretty much sums it up for me. If I knew where to find a latin mass I would probably go just for the comfort of the ritual and I always liked the smell of the inside of a small chapel, the incense I guess.

Shippy's avatar

I am not very good at religion, simply because I do not believe if I shake my hand twice, twitch my head to the left, I will have a better life. Spiritual laws are more interesting to me. Plus seem to weave a common thread through most belief systems. So I think some people choose a particular belief because it makes sense to them, others choose religion because ritual makes them feel safer. I am pretty lost at this stage because I am finding even spiritual laws are failing.

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