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froovyjosie's avatar

What are YOUR views on religion?

Asked by froovyjosie (117points) May 13th, 2011

I’m writing an unbiased article exploring the reasons why religion is part of our society and I’d like to hear your experiences and views. Has religion helped you in any way? If you are atheist, what made you not believe in deities? Please do not discriminate or leave hateful comments, I am interested in views and opinions, not debate. Please also be aware that I may use some of your answers in full or in part in my article. Thanks everyone!

P.S I’m still figuring out my own beliefs so this might also be helpful to me personally!

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37 Answers

KateTheGreat's avatar

I believe that religion is a crutch. I feel as though it was made to control people and keep them within an acceptable moral code. I do believe that it is good for keeping some people in line, but I choose to not partake in any religion.

Seelix's avatar

I’m atheist. I just think the idea of an all-knowing, all-capable being having created everything to be implausible. I’m a skeptic at heart, so that’s where my views come from, I guess. I went to catholic school until grade 8 but didn’t make my confirmation (I did all the stuff before that, though). So I guess it was around the age of 13 or so that I stopped blindly believing.

I feel that all organized religions are inherently hate-mongers of some kind or another.

ucme's avatar

Hi, fence sitting agnostic here…..ouch, another splinter in my bum :¬(

wundayatta's avatar

Religion is a way of organizing people in a community. It uses many tools to bind people together and give them the sense they are all together. It provides a unifying symbol. I often provides education and other services. It has provided defense (people would hide in churches when the village was being looted). It teaches people a common set of rules for behavior in that community. It provides access to “spiritual” feelings. Sometimes it is the nation.

Religion is so many things that Professors have written a gazillion books about it. Not all religions have the same attributes. Some have dogma and others don’t. Some have deities and others don’t. Some have armies and others don’t.

Just about anything has a religious component. You really can’t define the animal in any way that all will agree on. Personally, I see religion as a social phenomenon that provides some or all of the services I mentioned to its adherents.

Scooby's avatar

I have no need for it, I’m quite independently minded & prefer to stay this way…. :-/

Blackberry's avatar

It’s a really fucked up meme lol.

philosopher's avatar

I respect everyones right to believe in any religion they choose.
I am an Agnostic.
I would like to live in a world like John Lennon spoke of in his song Imagine.
I believe that religion has though out time caused many Wars.
If God exist I believe that he,she, it would be more concerned with how we treat each other than how we worship God.
Many religionists people I have known go to their place of worship frequently. Despite that in life they are cruel, mean and abusive to everyone. I think God would strongly disapprove of them. People like this are hypocritical and reinforce by belief that God does not exist.
They Preach and attempt to Dictate to others as if they personally spoke for God. Logically no human should attempt to speak for God.
I pray daily and hope God exist. I have a difficult life and wish I believed.
I can not accept any form of fascism or a religion that thinks God only loves those who follow their ways. I see this as illogical. A God would love all decent humans of every, color. creed and kind.

Cruiser's avatar

I completely embrace the moralistic views in many of the teaching, writing and especially the sermons of religion…but the absolutes espoused by religions that their version of their God is the one and only correct view is where I started to really second guess what religion was all about. Then science and sheer common sense made me lose interest in theist religions especially the Catholic version where only Jesus Christ can save you and then only if you believe in him. I mean how can millions of Bhuddists, Muslims, etc. be so wrong in their own beliefs of their Gods??

everephebe's avatar

It is an outdated answer system, that confuses far too many people.

Joker94's avatar

Religion explains to me who created the universe and how, I guess. I don’t take everything written in the Bible word for word, but I believe that there’s a lot of themes and ideologies in there that can help people. Some of my morals are probably taken from the good book, but I think it only stands to reaffirm morals that I have already.

I guess what I’m saying is, even if there weren’t a hell to burn in for being a general jackass, I wouldn’t want to be one anyways. As far as organized religion goes, I think it offers me a way to talk with other people about my faith, as well as issues we have with it. However, I think the way some people choose to practice their faith has ruined the view of organized religion.

Were it not for people like the Westboro Baptist Church, ranting televangelists, and other religious extremists groups, I feel like people might have a more reasonable view of it. We’re not all trying to shove Jesus down people’s throats, y’know? I dunno, just my initial thoughts on it…

crisw's avatar

I am an atheist.

Has religion helped you in any way?

No, not really, except in the vaguest sense of various religions providing some good art and literature and the like.

If you are atheist, what made you not believe in deities?

It all started when I was about six and wouldn’t stay still in church, so my mom let me read one book- an illustrated book of Bible stories. I was an animal and science-obsessed kid, and I knew it just wasn’t possible that all those animals fit in the ark.

As a teen, I read books like Bertrand Russell’s Why I Am Not a Christian. I also found it impossible to reconcile the enormous amount of animal suffering that goes on in the world with any sane interpretation of Christianity. That was the tipping point for me.

In college, many discussions with like-minded friends solidified my stance. I also read many books of apologetics, none of which explained away any of the problems that I found with Christianity in particular.

I operate on evidence, and I see no evidence that gods of any kind exist.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

I consider myself an agnostic atheist. Despite growing up in a very Christan environment (church, school, summer work at a church camp, living in the US Bible Belt), it never really made sense. It wasn’t until I started meeting people with different beliefs and were willing to talk about them, that I started questioning my own. And then, a few years ago, Julia Sweeney’s Letting Go of God was on television, and the light bulb went on while watching it. I had doubts about Christianity and always have.

So why agnostic? The logical side of me wants proof. Yet who am I to disbelieve those that say that they do without investigating it for myself. And who am I to discredit those that have a belief or faith based upon little more than a book or word of mouth? Until more time is spent on studying all religions, it feels like I should not hold a stake in calling myself an atheist.

What bothers me is when someone attempts to discredit those who subscribe to a particular religion or none at all by forcing their own beliefs on another. How often does that work? If one were to offer an education on their beliefs, I’d be willing to listen. Just don’t be disappointed if it doesn’t sway my opinion.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

If it helps some people have more positive in lives and dealings with others then I’m all for it. What I dislike about religion is fanaticism and/or using the religion to shirk on human responsibility and accountability while mortal.

Aster's avatar

If it makes sense, it isn’t God. If you can explain it , it isn’t God. Believing in God is a wonderful, comforting crutch; I’ll keep it. But to be asked to define and explain? Can’t do it.
Hey; you guys have plenty of time to change your minds . No biggie. (;

Harold's avatar

I am a Christian, and of course that is where my views come from. Firstly, I can see many reasons why people reject religion. Many terrible things are done its name, be it Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, or whatever. It has always been this way, from what I can ascertain.

However, I firmly believe that if you can find a set of teachings that do not promote hatred and narrow-mindedness, religion has a lot to offer. From across the Pacific, I see a lot of hatred and bigotry in a lot of American Christianity. I can fully understand why a lot of thinking people from the US reject it, based on the actions of its adherents. Thankfully here in Australia, we are generally more moderate.

My beliefs have helped me through some difficult times, and I know I would be a far worse person than I am were it not for God. I have had direct answers to prayer in my life, and although I cannot explain why some prayers seem to not be answered, nothing can persuade me that miracles have not happened for me. I have also seen others transformed by accepting it.

I simply cannot accept that man, and all of the universe, is a random accident. It is far more logical that we were created by one more intelligent than all of us put together. I simply do not trust the “science” that would have us believe otherwise.

@Pied Pfeffer has written an excellent response above. I wish everyone on both sides of the argument would take his/her attitude. Believe what makes sense to you, but don’t try and make yourself look better by ridiculing the other side.

thorninmud's avatar

I’m Buddhist. I’ll restrict my comments to my own experiences with Buddhism and leave aside my views about religion in general

There are plenty of people who argue about whether Buddhism qualifies as a religion at all (because it lacks a God figure). This question comes up even more frequently regarding the Zen sect. But I don’t have any qualms about seeing Zen as a religion. It has a rich ceremonial and liturgical tradition, a canon of scripture, temples, iconography, an ordination, and a small handful of loosely-held points of doctrine.

Fundamentally though, it’s a meditative practice, and as such it can be practiced outside of any of the institutional trappings I just mentioned above. But it has to be recognized that the practice has survived through the centuries until our day thanks to the institution. The institution that grew up around Zen practice has not always been healthy, nor a perfect custodian of the practice, but without the communal and systematic effort to maintain the rigor of the practice, it would have been lost or eviscerated long ago.

As Zen makes its way westward, there is a tendency ignore Zen’s institutional accretions and reduce it to a New Age self-improvement program. I understand that the institutional trappings are often off-putting to Westerners. At first blush they don’t get the point, and cite the many sayings from Zen worthies who caution against getting entangled in ideas about the preciousness of any of the trappings. And that is certainly a valid concern.

Here’s the way I look at it: The ultimate purpose of the Zen institution is not to more thoroughly embroil people in the institution. In contrast to many other religious institutions, it actively works to make its participants see the institution as nothing special. Its concern is the guardianship and perpetuation of the practice. To that end, it uses tradition and ritual to connect modern practitioners to the long line of past practitioners. This solemnifies the practice, gives one a sense of participating in an endeavor that transcends time. This keeps one from practicing in a casual, off-handed manner.

The practice itself is, arguably, not religious. It’s just an effort to see things as they are, beyond whatever concepts and ideas we may have. Nothing supernatural, or even any outside influence, is involved in that endeavor. It’s just a concerted application of one’s own attention that does the job. The religion is just there to support and nurture this effort, and bring together people who are engaged in the same work.

SavoirFaire's avatar

“It is very important not to mistake hemlock for parsley, but to believe or not believe in God is not important at all.”
—Denis Diderot

I am an apatheist. I don’t care all that much about my own religion, and I care even less about everyone else’s. Nor do I consider the question of God’s existence particularly meaningful, as nothing about the way I live my life hinges on an answer to that question. I have views about the likelihood of God existing, but I find that too many concepts of God are built on self-sealing fallacies and so impossible to refute (even if arguments for such entities should not convince any reasonable person).

dxs's avatar

I am Catholic, and I believe religion gives hope to some people. Instead of dying, we are united with God forever or born again or whatnot. I just feel that there should be more to just dying and decomposing and making your atoms part of something else. There are some things, many things, that I really do not like/struggle to believe in Catholicism. One, for example, is transubstantiation hope I spelled that right haha. That is beleving that through the priests prayers, and the intercession of saints, bread and wine are turned into the actual flesh and blood of Jesus. Most other (if not all) types of Christianity do not believe in transubstantiation, but merely a symbol of Jesus, let alone even partaking in this celebration in whole. Overall though, at least I know I have some sort of hope in the end.

Aster's avatar

@dxs I can’t imagine ever believing in transubstantiation either but I don’t think I’d give up Catholicism because of it. Catholicism is too interesting and grand to toss aside. no; I’m not Catholic but I think I’d enjoy it.

Blondesjon's avatar

Religion exists because folks are terrified of death and dying. This is why religion is such a great tool for controlling a population’s behavior. It promises the individual a loophole in the whole “not existing anymore” clause that is Death’s contract.

When you are gone you are gone. Live your life well and when you go may you be at peace and surrounded by those you love.

It’s another one of Life’s Very Simple To Understand Facts that is also Very Hard To Accept.

Coloma's avatar

Religion is a wholly man made construct.

It has taken and distorted and manipulated some very sound and profound and sagey wisdom form a very enlightend human being ( Jesus) and convoluted his teachings into a monstrosity of falsehoods, half truths and outright lies.

It is not the teachings of Jesus that are suspect, it is the perversions of the individual religions that have warped the beauty of this very wise persons words.

( Aside from the immaculate conception, the ressurection, and other obviously trumped up stories )

Organized religion has one objective, control.

What better way to control the masses than to preach terrifying doctrines meant to oppress and control?

True ‘spirituality’ is not even on the same page, in the same book, let alone in the same library as fundamentalism.

snowberry's avatar

I can’t say that any “religion” has. My mother used to maintain that all religion was a crutch. She spent her life trying to shorten it because she had a terminal disease, and she was in excruciating pain on a daily basis. I can assure you that’s a terrible way to live, and a horrible way for a child to grow up, for such a lifestyle offers no hope whatsoever. (Yes, life was tough for me as a child.)

Many who practice Christianity will tell you that there is a distinct difference between a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and the practice of any particular religion or denomination.

I can tell you that I do have a personal relationship with my Savior Jesus Christ. He restored my life when I was about to take it, gave me hope when I had none, and he continues to comfort me and gives me guidance every day.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

I am an atheist. I think religion is not necessary, although some people find it an important part of their lives, and I would not want to take it away from them.

Religion has a long, bloody history, but I do not blame religion itself for those events. Rather, they were caused by people who had cause to carry out those events, and for whom religion was a convenient excuse. Consider present day Islamic extremism. As soon as they shout “Allah Akbar”, anyone who disagrees with their course of action is immediately seen as opposing the greatness of Allah. However the cause for their violence in the first place has nothing at all to do with their religious beliefs.

I do not hold any beliefs of a religious nature because I personally find them unbelievable. Secular, philosophically rational morality has a far better track record than religious morality, and doing something because it is right is a better reason than doing it to please a deity or to gain a reward. Scientific discoveries have deprived deities of their magical role in making nature work or forming the universe, so they are no longer needed there either.

“Has religion helped you in any way?”
I grew up under a religious paradigm, although I was also taught to think laterally and critically. The process of losing my religion was a painful one, but it gave me far greater confidence and calmed my mind. The realisation that I could be good in my own right, without answering to a god, was simultaneously empowering and calming. So while religion hasn’t directly helped me in any way, the struggle of losing it has, and I feel I am now a better person for it.

“If you are atheist, what made you not believe in deities?”
It was a long process, but the tipping point was when I realised that the existence or non-existence of gods would not change how I lived my life. I realised that if a god exists, I don’t have to agree with them, since a god may yet be immoral. Derived morality is superior to dictated morality. The story of Abraham and Isaac particularly spoke to me – one of the most revered men in religious history agreed to kill his son, purely because God told him to. Evidently he didn’t have any morality beyond what the voices told him.

So if the existence of gods is irrelevant to my life, the universe (and particularly humans) could not have been designed by a god – for what god would design a world in which they themselves are a passing curiosity? This idea, along with my mounting uneasiness with religion over several years beforehand, led me to suppose that in fact gods do not exist, except as a human construct.

I do not have anything against religion at this time. While I personally find it disagreeable, and I cannot enter the religious sphere any more without the greatest discomfort, I realise that for some people it performs a necessary role in their life. For a long time I wished other people could feel the release I did when I lost my religion, but now I know that every person is different, and different beliefs suit different people. Sometimes the truth (whatever that may be) isn’t as relevant as simply doing the right thing by people.

_zen_'s avatar

I separate one’s belief in someone/something and religion. Religion, to me, is something that shouldn’t be – like in Lennon’s song. It’s the cause of wars, it’s confusing and sometimes people will disagree so much, they will still fight although they have since forgotten the question.

Tradition can be nice.

Belief in a higher power seems natural to me – yes, everything can be explained scientifically, but frankly, I’m not smart enough to understand all the explanations – so how can I know they are true?

There is so much beauty and wonder in the world, even if there is no interventionist god/God – perhaps there once was one – an ET, or just a T. Who knows? Show me a ghost and then I’ll believe – until then, like with a deity, I choose to not not believe.

OpryLeigh's avatar

If a person uses religion to enrich their own life but not damage or control the lives of others then I have full respect for that person (it doesn’t matter whether or not I believe if religion can enrich a persons life because that person obviously feels it does). For example, my grandmother goes to church once a week, has a Bible at the ready for quiet times when she feels the need for some reassurance and tries to be a kind, compassionate person at all times. Her faith in God is very imortant to her and, she feels it has helped her deal with some very hard times (the loss of her husband for example). She is the only person in my family that I would call religious (others, like myself, believe in God but do not go to church or read the Bible etc). She doesn’t ram her faith down other peoples throats.

On the other hand, there are those that feel the need to convert everyone to their religion/faith and, at best, this is merely annoying (the chap that yells at you in the street to let God into your heart or you will burn in hell for all eternity) and at worst it is life destroying (terrorist attacks). I lose all respect for people and their faith when they control or destrot the lives of others.

Religion can be used for good (like in my Grandmothers case) or it can be used for evil.

markylit's avatar

I am not religious but i believe in the god. Above all, i believe in the goodness that surrounds the soul. I am just a believer in everything good. Do no harm. I respect people and whatever their belief is. But i stay away from fanatics.

mattbrowne's avatar

“There are some forms of religion that are bad, just as there’s bad cooking or bad art or bad sex, you have bad religion too. Every fundamentalist movement I’ve studied in Judaism, Christianity and Islam is convinced at some gut, visceral level that secular liberal society wants to wipe out religion.”—Karen Armstrong

lloydbird's avatar

Religion is favored by the hard of thinking, the fearfully compliant, the intellectually lazy, or the plain ignorant. It is the scale that accretes around the ‘uncleaned toilet bowl’ of Philosophy.

Oh…., and by well-meaning (but wrong) nice people.

Uberwench's avatar

Atheist. I was raised without religion, and I’ve never had any reason to join one. I think Stephen Roberts said it very well: “I contend we are both atheists, I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.” There’s a real absurdity to watching people express absolute certainty regarding something that is more or less geographically/culturally determined. If you’re absolutely sure about Christianity, you probably would have been just as sure about Islam or Hinduism. You’re just that kind of person. Adults tell children all kinds of lies (think Santa Claus). Religion is just the one we keep believing.

And no, religion has never helped me in any way. Religions people have tried to kill me for having sex with other girls, though. I came out as bisexual at a relatively young age in the Southern United States. I received death threats in my locker, one kid told me always wanted to shoot “a dyke” for Jesus while holding his rifle in his hands, and one guy tried to rape me while holding a cross in one hand and his cock in the other saying “this will help set you right.” Some people will bleat that these experiences are not typical—but they are extremely common nonetheless.

Harold's avatar

@Uberwench – I am very sorry to hear your experiences, and these are exactly the type of extremes that it appears US Christianity is famous for. As I said above, it is no wonder that many thinking US citizens reject it.

You make some valid points, and certainly fallacies like Santa Claus ARE lies. You do generalise a bit about “You’re just that kind of person”, though. There is a couple from Iran who walked in off the street to my church one day recently- they are secular muslims, ie brought up that way only because their parents had no choice. They have been welcomed in, and are about to join us. Not by indoctrination, but by choice. We have had a homosexual couple as well, who recently moved away. They were loved and welcomed into our congregation.

I am not trying to convert you- I just want you to know we’re not all as bad as the Christians you grew up around.

Uberwench's avatar

@Harold How is a person who is prone to holding absolute beliefs not the kind of person prone to absolute beliefs? Anyway, from the OP: “I am interested in views and opinions, not debate.” Please take your self-congratulatory apologetics elsewhere.

snowberry's avatar

Seems to me someone asked this question a while back and I answered it already. But I’m not seeing my comment above. If it’s a glitch, and I’m the only one who can’t see my answer, please pardon me. Anyway…

A few words to clarify: There are people who call themselves Christians and act that way on Sundays and the other 6 days they do whatever they want. But the Bible says such a person is “double minded and unstable in all he does.” I’m not that kind of “Christian”. To me it’s not about religion or membership in some church; it’s about a relationship with my creator.

My earliest memories are wanting to commit suicide. By the time I was 19, I said, “God, if you’re real, you’d better show up. If I pray this sinner’s prayer they keep telling me about and you don’t, I’m killing myself.” I remember being scared because although I wanted to die, I didn’t want to hurt, and I was afraid I’d mess up the job. Anyway, I prayed that prayer, and God took away my desire to kill myself, but I still dealt with depression and many other issues. A few years later I remember telling God that all I wanted in life was not just peace, but joy too. I can tell you that God has given me both in abundance, and all that baggage left long ago.

froovyjosie's avatar

wow everyone, thankyou so much for all your contributions! It’s wonderful to see all different points of view, this is exactly what I was looking for. Thankyou all so much! :D

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jesienne's avatar

As far as I know, Buddhism is the only religion that don’t force any ideas on you. Buddha never says something like “I’m the only God, you have to obey me.” And that’s the exact reason I believe it’s a true religion, while others don’t.

snowberry's avatar

I’ll also put in that I don’t try to change anyone’s mind, but if someone does choose to have a conversation with me about religion, morals, spirituality, or whatever, I’ll tell ‘em where I stand. I’m not bashful. It’s one thing to try to change people- I hate that because it’s manipulative. It’s another to simply live my life, help others where I can, and pray for everyone.

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