Do people choose a religion or does a religion choose them?
If you're raised in Israel chances are you'll be Jewish. If you grow up in Saudi Arabia, good chance you'll be Muslim and if you grow up in Rome you have a good chance of being Catholic. Yet, people leave their religions and choose other ones quite often. I know Catholics who became Jews, Christians who became Muslims and more. Some stay in their religion for their life time. So, do people choose a religion or does it choose them?
In my opinion humans don't have an inherent need for a religious experience, so they have to be heavily exposed to one in order to adopt it. "Believing" in general is a useful function in our survival arsenal, helping us to avoid figuring the same conclusions over and over, but they are also a subject to change.
All normal people question their beliefs, as they outgrow them being faced with new evidence and learning experiences in life. With religious belief it's different, since one of its basic tenets is that they are NOT to become a subject to change.
Over time, and with the strong factor of repetitious ritualistic affirmation, religious belief becomes hypnotically ingrained into the personality makeup, and at that stage we could say that "religion chose them", by flooding their belief system.
Beliefs work unconsciously directing our thoughts, attitudes, emotions, and actions, and in that sense they "have" us for their instruments.
I don't think that people ever consciously choose what religious teaching to believe in---without a help from the outside.
From the standpoint of the science of hypnotism and conditioning, most of the folks are quite suggestible to start with, making good subjects for hypnotic manipulation. That's basically how one becomes a hot-headed republican or democrat, refusing to ever question the true objective value of their belief. They too are the "victims" of outside indoctrination.
It's interesting that every hypnotized person always rationalizes their irrational actions suggested by the hypnotist. If you give them a suggestion that it's very hot in the room, they will start taking some clothes off. When later, after trance asked why they did that, they won't say "Because I couldn't resist the suggestion" ---but "Don't you think it's quite hot today?"
And so it is with every strong believer---they rationalize, finding "proofs" for their beliefs all around. Whether religious or political or racial---beliefs have to be triggered from a familial or cultural environment, so, my final answer would be:
religion chooses them.
Very insightful! You made your argument very well. I would have to say your conclusion would be a bit different if you felt there actually was a spiritual world. So, when we pass from this earth, do you believe that is the end of us? Is there more?
Readmikenow---I make a strong distinction between spiritual and religious. With spiritual, we look for answers in our own essence through meditation, relaxation and contemplation---and I am in it. Religion seeks answers from outside, god, church.
If every strong believer - whether religious, political or racial - rationalizes, finding “proofs” for their beliefs all around, does that mean also that strong believers in secularism, agnosticism and atheism, do the same?
That is a tough question. The answer is it can be both depending on family both immediate & extended and culture. I think initially religion chooses the person. That is considering life is a journey beginning with childhood. The examples given are testament to influences of family both immediate & extended and culture. Yet, today most of those societies do have other religions within them. For instance, Christianity exists in Muslim countries like Iraq and Iran.
So, we may ask when is the child first faced with choosing a religion. The age of reasoning in Catholicism is seven. That is when a child can freely choose the holy sacrament of communion. At that point with that example the choice is between religion and rejection. I don't think a child is exposed or informed enough about other religions at that point, although there may be questioning if exposed such as at school. Perhaps seeds are planted. We may see that more here in the U.S. where religion is diverse. Yet, with research we also see religion is in decline. So, we may wonder about belief in God rather than the belief systems of religion.
I think we may see adults choosing another religion or even a religion when they begin questioning their own spiritual values. That may affect their belief system centered on a religion. That may lead a person to change denominations/sects. For example, Tiantai and Tendai Buddhist sects, Shiites and Sunni sects, and Catholicism and protestant denominations. We even see people changing within protestant denominations like Baptist to Methodist.
I think this is a very interesting question and worth the time to ponder. Possibly write an article. I am even questioning myself with my life journey as I ponder and give my two cents.
Everything we do is our choice, my friend. All the others are just excuses. So sooner or later we choose the way we live and so our religion.
I would say that is true in a free country. My Muslim friend was raised in Pakistan. He told me it was dangerous to not be a Muslim where he lived. He was lucky as a relative sponsored him into the US to work in his business. Others not so lucky.
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