This article can also be found at Degree180.
It’s a controversial opinion, so I’ll begin with a preface:
I don’t hate religious people and I’m not here to tell you that you shouldn’t be religious or that you have to become a bleeding-heart atheist.
Let’s start at the beginning: I was raised in a Christian family. I was baptized as a baby and my parents took me to church every Sunday for about 14 years. I went to Sunday School with the other kids in my age group, and as I got older I sat in on the regular service with all of the grownups. To arrive at the obvious point: I am no stranger to religion.
But even as a kid, I hated every second of it.
I’ll admit, I was a terrible Christian. I couldn’t quote a single Bible verse, I loathed sitting in church services, and I could barely even recite well-known biblical stories that I learned about over and over. I was forced by my parents to go through confirmation classes at age 13 and as you may have guessed, I hated every second of that too. We had weekly homework of memorizing different facts and Bible verses that I never took seriously. Even at a young age I was skeptical of what they were saying in the sermons.
But my issues with religion go further than just being bored in church services or not wanting to do my confirmation homework.
Frankly, religion doesn’t really make a lot of sense in this day and age. It perhaps made sense in a time when people didn’t have a way to logically explain a lot of natural phenomena, but now that science has progressed and provided for many explanations, religion no longer serves in that regard.
Many will make the argument that religion serves as a motive for people to be compassionate human beings, and I’ve even heard the argument that atheists don’t possess the moral compass of their religious counterparts – but that too is wrought in untruth. In a psychology study performed on babies at Yale University, researchers asked this same question: are humans inherently good or bad? They found from the study that we have “A basic instinct to prefer friendly intentions over malicious ones,” indicating that humans do indeed naturally lean toward being morally good without the persuasion of society (or religion). We don’t need religion to tell us to be morally good, and quite frankly if you need it to know that murder is wrong, you’ve got some bigger problems on your hands.
There’s no way to prove the existence of a god – or Heaven or Hell for that matter. It’s difficult for me to believe in a concept that has literally no scientific evidence to support it. That being said, if the human race ever gets to the point where we can prove the existence of any of these things, I’ll fall over backwards and admit that I was completely wrong. But for the time being, I find it quite difficult to worship or believe in an entity of which I have no proof of existence.
Now let’s talk about the Bible. My issues with the Bible stem from the fact that there are approximately a thousand different ways that any one person could interpret it, which makes it very difficult for Christianity (or any religion that follows ancient texts) to remain consistent. Every Christian follows different aspects of the Bible; some people choose not to drink alcohol, some don’t support gay marriage or some choose not to get tattoos. Contrarily, many choose to partake in all of those things, so where should the line be drawn? Why is one action acceptable but another is not?
Perhaps the most interesting and perplexing factoid about religion to me is that out of the immense number of religions and sects of each religion in the world, each one believes that it is the correct way of thinking. How the Hell (no pun intended) is a person to know which religion is the right way of thinking? This is another philosophically puzzling topic that probably deserves its own essay.
I’ll end with this: if religion gives you some meaning in your life and makes you a happier person, then by all means, practice it. I personally know that I don’t need religion in my life to be happy or feel compassion.
Live and let live.