- Religion and Philosophy
Losing My Religion: How a Person can Reject Their Traditions
In the Beginning
I came from a religious background. There are several generation of preachers in my family line and the majority of my family range from partially to very devout Christian. I had formerly been in the very devout section and was proud of it. However, I am not anymore and I think this contributes to the lack of loyalty to institutional religions today.
When I first became Christian, it had been through a lot of prodding from my mother. She was afraid for me because me life experiences up until that point had been shall we say, less than beneficial for me. I eventually converted because I had been looking for family, a safe place where I belonged and that at the same time felt destined for something. It wasn’t just sit around the same people every Sunday.
Religion provides that safe place for a lot of people. Human nature wants to belong to something, anything. We are pack creatures and isolation is the only real hell that we know, stuck with ourselves in our own minds. A religious society not only provides that comfort but also certainty. Without certainty most people would go out of their minds at the randomness of things, even for those who have no religion. Their certainty is their jobs or their friends and family, or technology as it were. Certainty is what roots us down in the midst of the current.
I based many of my decisions in my twenties around what I believed God was directing me to go, but as time went on, I eventually had a falling out with Christianity and organized religion as a whole. The first reason was because I was starting to see what was supposed to be ‘God’ speaking, was usually other people and the problem with that is people aren’t perfect. Our imperfections, prejudices, and we want out of life or what we want it to be like often tainted any kind of pure truthiness that I was looking for.
The second reason was that while the first reason was be forgivable, denying that those imperfections were there and still claiming some hold on ultimate truth was not! I often encountered that when push came to shove on hard questions and issues, and when personal preferences were exposed the ‘love and peace of God’ often fell to the wayside in exchange for a very upset and angry person. Yet they would still claim to be speaking truth, all the while ignoring hard facts that were occurring right in front of them.
And the final reason was that the type of Christianity I was brought into doctrinally taught loyalty to God above everything else, in order to do what was truly right. What was often the case was that ‘God’ usually turned out to be your church, or friends, or family. In the end, I saw nothing different from what they did and what I would encounter outside of a church building
This falls in line with other peoples’ experiences with religion. In 2012, authors, David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons published the ground breaking book, Un-Christian: What a New Generation really Thinks About Christianity. The book for the first time asked what other people, non-Christian and Christian alike, thought about the religion and it was extremely sobering. Many pointed out the experiences I described above, of being told one thing and seeing another, but having what you saw being dismissed. Other disillusioned people brought in objections of Christians being too political and controlling or just prejudiced.
All this points out a chronic problem that all religions have in the 21st century; admission of failings. We’re only just seeing this starting to be recognized today; the Catholic Church confronting the systemic problem of child molestations by priests, and Muslim extremists killing and torturing others who will not consent to their interpretation of Islam, under the guise of following God.
People who are not affiliated with any specific religion see these actions and the lack of any divine hand in stopping them, and their bullshit sensor goes off. Our society as a whole is used to having things sold to us as the latest and greatest thing ever, with it half the time turning out to be a dud. I’ve seen hundreds of people call in about wanting the newest iphone and then call back later because of how easily it broke. Religion now falls into this market of yet another would be seller.
What would you describe your experience with religion as?
The Remaining Light in the Darkness
Back on a personal note though, these negative experiences did not cause me to believe that God was make believe. There were things that I had seen and experienced that did not fall within the realm of normal or scientific, and I consider myself a man of science. While the traditions and writings of past believers’ interpretations of these things were fraught with error and bias, some of it still happened.
So this was where I feel into the ‘spiritual’ category; believing that God, Jesus, or some divine force exists but refusing to assign a system and tradition to it. USA Today.com published a statistic in 2010 that said of the Millennial generation, 72% said they were more spiritual, while not belonging to any specific religious affiliation. Many people from traditional religious circles laugh at these, accusing them of ‘just wanting to have a God they can control instead of letting God be in control’. They can’t seem to wrap their heads around the idea that their concept of ‘God being in control’ may not be the right one either.
To be fair, we as humans do like to have control or think that we have it. And at times, science can become as dogmatic as any religion. The behaviors of scientist who follow this path to defend theories and reject any challengers regardless of evidence, tend to resemble any fundamentalist I’ve come across or read up on. However, it is ironic that in order to keep their faith, many people are losing their religion.