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jcs007's avatar

What strengths do you think you can attribute to your belief in a religion?

Asked by jcs007 (1754 points ) August 5th, 2008

Is it discipline? Resilience? Determination? What are the best things we get out of believing in something?

I’d like to know how you think you’re better because of what you believe, whether you are Catholic, Protestant, Lutheran, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, or any other religion that you may be. Please, no negative things. I’ve heard enough of how religion makes people weaker.

And if you’re Atheist, I’m looking at you, too. Believing in nothing is still something to me, and I’m curious to learn how a belief in nothing makes you stronger.

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22 Answers

lefteh's avatar

Hmm…
The way you phrased the portion toward atheists is interesting to me. It brings up the debate that took place in a thread a couple of days ago concerning weak and strong atheist. I, for example, am a weak atheist. This means that I do not believe in nothing, as you stated above. I simply don’t believe in anything.

TheHaight's avatar

I don’t think I’m better because of what I believe. I’m catholic and think of any religion as the same level as mine and am welcoming to them all. I think your question just sounds a bit negative to me (mainly the part were you said “I’d like to know how you think you’re better because of what you believe”.)

To answer one of your questions; the best thing I get out of my religion is that feeling you get were you have faith in something that you are sure and happy about. And i’m sure any person of any religion would agree with that,... Just feeling like you belong.

jcs007's avatar

I’m sorry for poorly phrasing my question. I really didn’t mean for it to come off that way. In no way was I trying to offend anybody.

Can a moderator give me a chance to edit it please?

delirium's avatar

I disprove of the atheist phrasing (you’re talking about strong atheism, which very very very few people are), so i’m answering it from a secular humanist perspective. The ten commandments of secular humanism. The first time I came across those, I started crying, because i’d never ever been able to lay my personal beliefs out on the table in such a concise way before. I’m not a writer, I never will be. But it was a relief to realize that I don’t have to define it myself. I couldn’t define it better.

Randy's avatar

Religion is a topic that we can discuss untill we are blue in the face and will never be able to agree. What’s the point here? Can’t everyone just believe how they want and be left alone? My beliefs aren’t any better than anybody else’s beliefs. They all have something interesting to bring to the table. I think a more proper question is why can’t people just let others believe how they want?

lovelyy's avatar

Agreed with TheHaight.

Vincentt's avatar

I think when jcs said “how religion makes you better” he meant “how religion makes you better than you’d have been if you weren’t religious” as opposed to “how religion makes you better than other people”. At least that’s how I interpreted it.

Anyway, I’m not bound to a specific religion, but I do feel there’s more. It encourages me to think about life, the universe and everything, leading to a higher morality (though sometimes I think my principles are a bit too strong).

Randy's avatar

There is no such thing as no religion. Even not having one means you’ve chosen one. Therefore, you can’t be worse without religion because you can’t be without religion.

Hobbes's avatar

From Wikipedia: “A religion is a set of beliefs and practices, often centered upon specific supernatural and moral claims about reality, the cosmos, and human nature, and often codified as prayer, ritual, or religious law.”

Atheism is not a religion. Don’t try to redefine it as one.

drhat77's avatar

to answer jcs’ actual question:
i see the practice of religion as an “exercise” of my ethical “muscle” – i take a slightly harder road on a daily basis as a matter of ritual so when i need to take the harder road as an ethical choice, it is easier for me, because i practice it everyday – i have worked out my “ethical muscle”

mzgator's avatar

Personally,my faith makes me a better person. I try to be a good person, wife,and mother. I try not to be judgemental of others. I try to help others if I can. I don’t do this because I fear going to hell. My faith makes me happy and contented in my life. It is a part of what makes me ME.

susanc's avatar

Big kudos to vincentt for clarifying the perfectly obvious intent of jcs’s question. Good lord, people. So defensive!!! wow.

Now for me: I was exposed to Xianity early. It lodged in my tiny brain that there would always be Somebody Benevolent who would listen and care. I know this is a mythology, but it’s hardwired, and it’s given me courage when I thought I might fall apart. If I’m driven to say, “help me!”, I feel like I get some help, therefore I do get some.

I also say “thank you” a fair amount without knowing exactly who or what the addressee is. Make me stronger? hmm. I guess by giving me a coherent response to beauty, power and order in the universe. Gratitude makes me want to continue to be part of this life, and maybe to contribute to its character. I feel I am part of a collective, so what I do matters.

This is intuitive stuff, not thought-driven. I’ve always liked the humanist manifesto posted by delerium (above). I see it as a set of excellent rules for governance, particular to our times and political development. If that’s religion, it’s okay with me. The contrast between that and what I just wrote shows me how disparate we can be within the Big Collective.

breedmitch's avatar

Right now I’m worshiping susanc. :)

jcs007's avatar

@Vincentt: Thank you, thank you, thank you, for clarifying for me! That was exactly what I meant! Man, I was starting to feel really guilty about this question…

jasonjackson's avatar

As an atheist, I think that knowing that there is no afterlife – knowing that the 70-odd years I can reasonably hope for of this life is all there is for me – makes me much more inclined to value this time than I would if I believed there was an eternal afterlife, reincarnation, etc.

I see this life as the precious everything-I’ll-ever-have, not as a tiny throw-away prelude to an eternity elsewhere.

So I work hard to maximize my brief time here. I seek joy each day, rather than deferring it for “someday”. I try to improve the lives of those around me whenever possible, and leave behind a world that is, if possible, better than what I found.. or at least, no worse. I do my best to think hard about what doing good in this world really means, rather than just following a simple set of guidelines and calling it “good enough”.

I know that death is tremendously scary and sad for most people – it freaks me out too – and I think that’s probably the real reason religion has always had such power in human thinking.. but having accepted that death is the end of me, not a new beginning in some magical elsewhere, it’s what makes each moment of life so precious. This life is all there is – don’t waste it!

susanc's avatar

With all due respect, I think that’s just plain silly. Why can’t we appreciate what we have without
insisting it’s all we’ll ever get?
Not that I have any special belief in an afterlife either. I don’t.

jasonjackson's avatar

@susanc: Eh, I wouldn’t say I “insist” that this life is all we get. Given all the available evidence, it’s what I believe to be true, although I’d certainly prefer for there to be more life after death.

The question was what strengths I can attribute to my spiritual beliefs; my appreciation for what this life is and has to offer is certainly heavily influenced by and grounded in my assessment that there isn’t an afterlife. I consider that appreciation a personal strength. So I mentioned it. :)

But I’m glad to hear you’ve found a way to appreciate your life in your own way. Whatever works for you. :)

AtSeDaEsEpPoAoSnA's avatar

I think everyone has a way of feeling or learning with knowledgable material that is presented in this world that we know of. I have met god haters, fairly deep christian, and even someone with such a clear head of self(she was from japan). I have always enjoyed watching native cultures jump around and sream, or even dance. No Mass, or Five Pillars, no scripture being read, just pure feeling and disorganization. Its easy to argue semantics about life because no one really and TRULY knows, I’m just trying to say alot of belief is fueled by feeling, thats all. I dig the link delirium.

AtSeDaEsEpPoAoSnA's avatar

Totally got away from the question. I think my strength is from coming frm both sides of the fence, it makes me more flexibilty and understanding, and in turn I feel like get more feeling and perception out of people. It helps me learn more aout where they come from.

susanc's avatar

@jasonjackson: and you have far better manners than I have. Well said.

thegodfather's avatar

I’m a Mormon and I feel that I have an improved capacity to love others because of the teachings contained in the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants. Honestly, I find gripping examples of not the judgment of God, but the perfect ability of Christ to save his children. And as I put those teachings into practice, frankly, I feel an increased level of concern and compassion for my fellow brothers and sisters in this world. I also feel a more determined hope about living well and being happy when life is challenging.

eupatorium's avatar

It’s sad that alot of people took this question negatively—I don’t believe it was intended that way. I find that firm faith in a religion, whichever it may be, can add a peace to life in a way that nothing else can. Belief gives you hope, optimism, and a greater capacity to accept strife, because a believer’s life is not limited to the immediate. Belief gives me something to hold on to even when I feel completely alone. Personally, I find great comfort in putting trust in God when I have reached my limits.

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