Why You Don’t Need Religion
After 34 years, a lot of thinking, some reading and some experimenting, I can comfortably say I am not represented by any religion and I don’t need to either.
Almost. If there is a part that still holds some convincing arguments is that belonging to a religion means belonging to a community. A community with all its positive connective aspects is not easy to be found. But even that fades when it comes to the bigger picture. And there is always a bigger picture.
We turn to god (it’s a generic god) for a fix.
Generally speaking, we find god when we have a problem or we witness a phenomenon that we are too afraid or ill-equipped to deal with. May it be good or bad, at the origin of most people’s belief is a need. You will say “sure, but how about those saints, buddhas, dalai lamas, those highly spiritual beings?”. Good question. I believe those beings are superior to most of us, indeed, but not in the way you might think. They have become so aware of their inner self, of the surrounding, of the universe, and simply are just in another league than most of us. But they remain beings. Humans. Given their brain structure looks probably much different than yours and mine.
Going back. The fix god gives us. Why do we need it?
Here are the reasons some of us turn to a form of deity/spirit/etc:
Like most of my generation, I was born and baptized christian orthodox and faith was pretty much jammed into my brain. Volens nolens. Growing up I started to ask questions. When faced with it, devoted orthodox faces ntz-ed me off. People still do that, now that I have decided to get married, but -not- in church. “This is how we do it”, they say. Well, that is not good enough for me.
What has christianity offered me that makes it so utterly special when compared to … let’s say … buddhism. Nothing! Absolutely nothing. More than that, first of all, it has forbidden me to do lots of things. Instead of teaching me why to be good, it taught me what would happen if I am not. Well, this is plain ridiculous and it equates with physical punishment of kids so they learn stuff. It was a very common practice a few decades ago in Romania. Pupils were beaten in school.
I myself was at the receiving end of a slap on the back from my Romanian language professor in 7th grade. He was around 50s, mind you. And it hurt.
For me the tradition argument is dead. I have come too far from it. This is a reality. This is globalisation. It’s surely not the case for everybody.
This is (still) a highly used motivator. Depictions of hell don’t look/sound nice and it took me a long while to get over them. How did I do it? Easy. Depression. I was in the bucket for a while, living in Germany, my life in shambles (that’s what I thought at the moment), a voice in the back of my head telling me how much of a screw-up I am. And by “voice” I mean my ex-boyfriend.
At that particular moment, I realised that is what the antechamber of hell must look/feel/smell like. And, what else, that particular situation was my own doing and, therefore, my undoing. So yes, hell does exist, but it’s of our own making. And unmaking, I might add.
I believe that, with proper training, our mind can do great things.
Comfort — explanations for inexplicable things
We turn to god for comfort. Have we lost someone dear? Have we witnessed something rather out of the ordinary? Are we sick? Are we alone?
God seems to be a shortcut for everything we are too scared, too sad, too incapable, too stupid to explain. Well, that is plain lazy.
I do not deny there might be a subtle presence out there, a force that unites us all, that background radiation to the universe we all are, but I think this entity is not some rich benefactor and we are not beggars. We can’t or shouldn’t base our answers or our quest for that force/principle/entity. It just doesn’t feel logic or ethical or even decent. It’s too low hanging.
If there is anything that both believers and non-believers can agree on is that nothing in life comes without sacrifice. Call it compensation law, call it fate, call it karma or universal balance, it just dictates that we must struggle a little before we get our answers (or anything for that matter) and cannot just expect god to be it.
Aaaa, my favourite. There are no atheists in foxholes, they say. When life is hard, it’s easy to refer to a higher power. And by “easy” I literally mean it. It makes grammatical sense; it’s easier to say something like “Please, God, help me get better.” than to say “I really wish with all my being to get better.”
Since the beginning of time, people formed hierarchies. Harari says that a cohesive group can contain up to 200 individuals with no hierarchy whatsoever. It’s scientifically documented, alright? In order to survive, people had to form groups. For those to live, hierarchies have been put in place. Somebody is in charge, everybody else obeys. I suspect it was a little while later that religion struck humans. There must have been an inspired John, and most probably, he came up with the idea of a supernatural entity who’d crash and burn even the mightiest, most versed Bens in the tribe. And then everybody else obeyed John. Because he knew god.
So you see, we are made to refer to a higher authority. We like that, it makes us feel secure. Not to mention, it absolves us of all responsibility of hard decisions. That is why we prefer to say “Please, God, help me get better.” instead of “I really wish with all my being to get better.”
Following these things, it took me some time to be able to say this out loud. I don’t belong to any religion and no religion owns me.
However, if I would be forced to choose a belief system, that would be humanitarianism. Why? Doing good, as general or personal different religions interpret that, seems to be incorporated in all belief systems. Doing good with respect to the human and animal regnums seems like the most legit thing all of those crazy believers out there have in common.
Nobody actually needs religion. People are usually strong enough to find their own way through life. They just don’t know they have this strength to do so and they rely on others to tell them.