General Question

tj27's avatar

How do you pick a religion?

Asked by tj27 (40points) March 2nd, 2008

This question is not for those who are satisfied with picking a religion for circumstantial reasons (e.g. you were raised as a Muslim, the Methodist pastor is a nice guy, the Baptist church is the closest to my house, my friends are Mormon, my fiancee insists that I convert to Catholicism, Buddhism is trendy, I want to express solidarity with the persecuted Zoroastrians living in the highlands of Bogswoggle Province, etc.)

Let’s say you are picking a religion because you find the theology generally appealing, but you don’t agree with the need to observe the symbolic rituals involved. Regardless of whether you would end up observing the rituals, you clearly don’t accept the entirety of that religion’s dogma. If so, shouldn’t you simply assimilate the philosophy that you agree with and leave it at that?

If you accept a religion because it helps you feel spiritual or be a good person, shouldn’t you only follow the religion insofar as it helps you reach those objectives? Symbolic rituals may or may not help you feel more spiritual.

You can only accept the entire theology and dogma of a religion if you believe it is all true. To decide if a religion is true, you would need to have a good rationale to support the notion that that particular theology is entirely true.

Basically, my question is this: What is your rationale for believing your religion in particular represents the truth?

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16 Answers

Spargett's avatar

It just seems like such a farce how you can just “pick” one of the many religions that are all the “one”.

I would start by going through Wikipedia’s list of all of the thousands of divine word of God.

I honestly don’t understand how anyone chooses one as the absolute truth without learning everything about all of them. That’d be like only seeing and driving one car in your life and swearing that you know without a shred of doubt that this is the absolute, hands down, one and only, best car in the world. It seems highly conceded and ignorant.

tj27's avatar

There are lots of people who believe that their religion is the true one. I’d like to at least get an idea of why those people think that.

tj27's avatar

“Bart, we’re here to convert you back to the one true faith – the Western Branch of American Reform Presbylutheranism.” - The Simpsons

squirbel's avatar

Not every religion has symbolic rituals.

tj27's avatar

Granted. Still, you cannot accept the entirety of a religion/theology unless you have reason to believe it is correct.

tj27's avatar

There are plenty of intelligent people who believe that their religion is the true faith. If you are one of those people, please enlighten the collective about what prompted that conclusion.

squirbel's avatar

Is this a conversation with yourself?

tj27's avatar

I hope not. Sorry for the multiple posts.

DorkmanScott's avatar

When one is being intellectually honest, there IS no reason to choose one religion over another. I imagine that the original poster knew this and was asking the question more for the reader than himself. The Muslims reject Christianity on the very same grounds that Christians reject Islam, and if either faction were to look at those grounds, the grounds by which they’d rejected all religions beside their own, they’d realize that they would also have to reject their own.

It’s because of this very question that I was force to renounce my Christian faith, and am now a (rather militant) atheist.

tj27's avatar

Actually, I’m not an atheist. I think that the requirements of causality and the logical impossibility of an infinite past necessitate the existence of an atemporal Creator.

I just think that you ought not to accept a belief system without justification. I find it interesting how different people explain their beliefs.

westsouthwest's avatar

I found an essay by a Rabbi Dr. David Gottlieb who tries to logically justify the truth of Judaism:

squirbel's avatar

I am a Christian.

Let us begin by using logic. Our thinking processes work best when we divide and compare, breaking ideas down to their most basic parts.

Humans fall into two primary categories: those who think for themselves (non-sheep), and those who allow others to think for them (sheep). There are more sheep in this world than there are non-sheep. Every belief system recruits sheep to fill its ranks.

Just as there are sheep in Christianity (fill in the blank with a random belief system), who go to church each week, pray and read their Bibles—basically living as they are taught, there are sheep in the atheistic community as well. The atheistic sheep are those who call themselves atheist without knowing why they are, except that they do not believe in G-d. They listen to those who have thought before them and blindly accept macro-evolution because science must be infallible. You cannot deny that these sheep exist. Because of this, I would argue that atheism is a crutch just as much as Christianity for the other sheep. A crutch is essentially “not thinking for oneself”.

Just because there are sheep in this world is not the fault of the belief system. Lay the blame and the problem at the feet of the true transgressor—the individual who does not think for himself. I have reached the conclusion that belief systems are needed to keep the sheep organized. There is no way you can get every human being to think for himself. You have observed this world as much as I have; you know I speak an undenible truth.

So what if there are so many belief systems. There are many cultures as well. Many languages. Many colors. Many ideas. Humans have been on a never-ending search for the “Truth”. Something deep within us yearns to know what is correct to believe in. As we have gone from generation to generation we have passed on what we believe the answers are in our belief systems; and in each generation a thinker arises and turns the tide a little (or a lot), and modifies that belief system.

Some believe that because there are so many belief systems, each claiming to be the right one, they are all foolish and liars; they must all be wrong. These persons believe in nothing but their own reason. Others approach by looking at all belief systems, and derive the commonalities. “How are they the same? Where do they all intersect?” These persons find something to believe in.

I am 25. When I was very little (0–6), I lived in a Catholic household. Soon after I was adopted into a Protestant Christian home (6–18). At age 7 I took great interest in other cultures. I read every mythology/legend/fable I could get my hands on. I started noticing common threads in each in each culture’s stories of yore, and soon realized the simplicity of belief systems. You only had to answer 3 questions: “Where did we come from”, “Why are we here?”, “What happens when we die?”. I had this cocky notion that if I had the charisma and motivation to do so, I could create my own religion. I would only need to find sheep, and persuade enough self-thinkers. But there is a greater purpose to belief systems.

You might find it strange that I believe in G-d. No one ever told me I had to. I always have, ever since the first thoughts I can remember. It is an irrational, yet unwavering faith. But I will never deny His existence, I will never insult or defame Him. I cannot prove anything to you, but nothing will ever happen for me to denounce Him. I see religion as human’s creation for sheep. It leads them in the right direction. Every religion places sheep on the road to finding G-d. That is the common thread.

Each religion believes it is the right road. So what.

DorkmanScott's avatar

“They listen to those who have thought before them and blindly accept macro-evolution because science must be infallible. You cannot deny that these sheep exist.”

Actually, I can.

The difference between evolution and the faith you espouse is that there is significant evidence for evolution, both on a macro and micro scale. There is no evidence for any faith-based religion besides the often self-contradictory holy books that espouse them.

“Each religion believes it is the right road. So what.”

They can’t all be right, and the point is that not a single one of them has anything that makes them inherently MORE right than another. You have chosen Christianity, but by your own admission the choice is “irrational” and essentially arbitrary.

thegodfather's avatar

One word: integrity. Whatever you choose, you are making a choice. Being atheist, you choose atheism; being Christian, you choose Christianity; being nothing, you choose to be irreligious. The most important part of any religion or non-religion, in my estimation, is integrity. We all know what it’s like to explain away our decisions, when we know the truth. For example, I may explain away why it’s just for me to steal from someone else, but deep down in my soul, I can’t fool myself; I know I did something inherently wrong.

So when searching for religion, I would say the most important element is integrity. Be true to yourself, don’t lie to yourself or rule out a belief system because of preconceived notions. Experience a few religions and be as true as you can to what feels best for you. Don’t judge a religion based on a few individuals, really experience the religion (every group has its bad apples, religion or political group or whatever). When making your choice, choose with integrity to yourself, because in the end, if you align with a belief system because of any other reason, it will dry up and won’t be worth much. I’ve seen people join churches because of social popularity or for entertainment, and I have to say that it never lasts long for them, and doesn’t really make life better. But those that align with a church because honestly they believe it’s right for them, those are the ones that get something from a religious lifestyle.

squirbel's avatar

@thegodfather: I agree :)

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