How I found God, but rejected religion.
I am not religious, nor am I an atheist.
I believe in God, the creator of the universe. I formed this belief while trying to reacquaint with and then run away from another god, that of the Abrahamic religions.
I made a good faith effort to reacquaint myself specifically with the Christian god. I went to a Christian church throughout my childhood, then off and on as an adult. Like many, the COVID-19 and racial justice crises of 2020 caused a good bit of self-reflection. As part of this, I tried to “turn to God” so to speak. And by God, I mean the god with which I was most familiar, the Christian god.
When that only caused more uncertainty, I turned away from the Christian god, and to science and other philosophies.
Unexpectedly, science and a survey of philosophy did not lead me away from God. Rather, they reinforced my belief in God the Creator. A god that designed the natural order, the elements, the physical rules of the universe, the known and the unknown, and then set it all in motion.
After that, it is anyone’s guess as to what God’s role is (or is not) in our daily lives.
Religion exists as a way for man to attempt to answer the unanswerable
There have been many independent and interconnected religions across human history that have come and gone. The oldest active world religion is Hinduism, and it only goes back in some form to about 1750 BCE.
To name a few others, Judaism and Yahwism only go back to the 12th century BCE. Christianity was an offshoot of Judaism in the first century CE. Buddhism is traced to the 6th century BCE. Islam to the 7th century CE.
For context, recorded human history goes back to 3400 BCE, and archeological human history goes as far back as 200,000 BCE.
The Cherrypicking of Matthew 19
A chapter that deserves to be analyzed as a whole, rather than picked out piece by piece.
Religion is a social-cultural construct
Religion builds rituals, customs and traditions, morals, ethics and philosophy to bind a nation of people and to link their humanity to something supernatural or spiritual. The link to the supernatural or spiritual comes from an attempt to explain that which cannot be explained by the science of the time in which the religion is constructed and practiced.
Death and the afterlife, for example. One cannot explain what happens to a human soul when the body dies. One cannot even prove the existence of a soul. If there is a soul, does it depart the body to another realm? Is the soul held accountable for earthly actions, or do all souls go the same route? If the latter, is there any motivation to live a moral and ethical life?
Or take the matter of creation. Our current theories of the big bang and biological evolution are relatively recent. Even if we stretch the start of our current knowledge and theories back to the scientific revolution of the 16th century, we are still covering only 479 years of human history. To put it another way, modern scientific thought nominally covers about 8.6% of recorded human history and two-tenths of a percent of known human history. Of course, Darwinian theory only dates back to the 19th century, and our modern theories surrounding the big bang only back to the early 20th century.
And even while these are still theories, and thus not 100% provable, their general acceptance of the foundation of our existence is even more recent, only covering a few generations.
Religion attempts to assuage the fear and uncertainty that comes with such unknowns, especially those surrounding the afterlife and creation.
Yes, customs, traditions, morals, ethics, and philosophy are integral to society. Many religions have contributed greatly to human ethics and philosophy, and are still referenced and useful today. However, none of these things are exclusive to religion, and in many cases, religions developed their own aspects from non-religious philosophies.
No You Don’t Have Freedom From Religion in The United States
But you do have freedom from government endorsement or involvement in religion.
Religion’s fatal flaw
However, religion’s fatal flaw is mentioned in the first paragraph of the previous section: no active religion can logically reconcile with the fact that it simply did not exist for the majority of human history. At different points in time, different groups of humans developed each of them.
Those who follow a modern religion may argue that the modern religion developed due to some divine revelation. But again, such revelations cannot be proven and must be taken on faith. It is just as likely that the revelation was made up by those who claim to have experienced it. Indeed, for one religion to be the true religion of “God,” all of the other revelations would have to be made up. But no one religion can prove that it is divine, while the others are made up. Each one is taken on faith by its adherents. Therefore it is entirely probable that all of them were made up.
Further, in most cases, the recorder of the revelation did not even witness it. Rather, they put it to writing much later and elaborated on it based on mythology, tradition, and other non-firsthand accounts. And in all cases, the account of the revelation has been translated and retranslated by many imperfect translators many times.
Finally, to suppose that there was one true divine revelation at some point in the last 3772 years of the current active religions also leaves out two major groups of people: the billions of humans who lived and died before that point; and those who lived during the time of the true religion but were never exposed to it. Either they got a pass based on their merits; were punished anyway; or perhaps their souls ceased to exist.
The point is, there are simply too many flaws and logical inconsistencies for me when it comes to choosing a religion. But I cannot discount the existence of God the creator. Because of the flaws and inconsistencies with religions, I think it is appropriate to assume that God the creator transcends man-made religions.
However, because I cannot prove this, I also cannot offer proof that any religion, atheism, or agnosticism is incorrect. At the end of the day, if religion makes you a better person, I support that. If you have faith in your religion, great. I respect your faith. But I expect you to have the same respect for someone who does not have the same faith as you and expect them to have the same respect for you — as long as no one is harming the other, and justifying such harm with their faith.
This is the essence of freedom of religion: none of us can prove our faith is true, so we respect the faith of all. If we could prove it, everyone would fall in line and there would be no need for faith.
Think of it this way, even if you are religious:
- Man is imperfect (every religion acknowledges this).
- Imperfect men created and spread religions throughout the world.
- Therefore, religions are imperfect.
- To believe in something that cannot be proven requires faith.
- Faith is not a certainty, because we do not need to have faith in something that is certain.
- Therefore, no faith can claim with any certainty to be the one true faith, and all faiths should be respected as long as no harm is done in the name of the faith.