Sunday, 12 August 2012

Why I am not religious

I used to go to church when I was growing up. It was a way to have a social life while still being a bit of a geek, a community to feel part of, and a place to meet with friends through a youth group. I sort of believed the things they said in church, but I never stopped doubting. I always wasn't sure.

I did a religious gap year, and on my gap year I wasn't very well taken care of. I was the only one my age in the church, was living with an 81 year old woman while I was 18 at the time, and had to get myself to different places all over Manchester. I made friends with a boy, not at church but someone who used to be religious. He questioned me about my beliefs a lot and I started thinking about why I believe the things I believe, and what happens if I don't.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I stopped believing in God. I called out for a sign, but didn't get one, and that was that. There not being a God made more sense to me than there being one. The way I thought of it was, if I had pet gerbils, and they were in their cage and started fighting, I would bloody well put my hand in and stop them from killing each other. Sod 'free will', I would do what I could to protect them and stop suffering. I think if there was a God, he would stop suffering too. The free will argument just doesn't wash with me. Neither does the idea that if you don't believe, you are condemned to eternal suffering. It just doesn't seem fair or right to me, therefore it must be wrong.

I feel awkward when I talk to religious friends. I can't explain the way I think now because it directly undermines what they believe. There is no debate with someone who is religious, because there answer is always "because the bible says..." or "I leave it to God..". These things mean nothing to me. I've also heard all the arguments, "It's about a relationship with Jesus", whereas I think it's more about hyping yourself into a state where your senses are overwhelmed.

Anyway, I started to discover there are a lot of intelligent people that share my views about religion and who I look up to. Ricky Gervais is one. Tim Minchin is another. It was also a relief to not have to try and 'convert' others all the time. These people challenge the idea that if you are not religious you have nothing to live for, or no reason to be nice to others. People shouldn't just not kill each other, or feel there life is pointless just because there is no reward at the end of their life. They should not kill each other because it's wrong and causes pain to others. And there is even more reason do good and take care of each other because there is no afterlife. It makes me sick thinking of these young people who have thrown their lives away because they believe in a reward afterwards.

I thought I would share a song with you that I really enjoyed. Well, less of a song and more of a poem. I warn you, if you are religious, or 'new age', you probably won't enjoy it. But I enjoyed it. It makes sense, it's funny, and I think it has truth in it.

It might make people feel better to believe in an afterlife, but to me, that's not a good enough reason to believe. Just because it's easier doesn't make it true. I don't think people live on somewhere, just as animals don't. It would be nice to think that my Dad was out there somewhere watching over me, but he's not.

It's the hatred and destruction done in the name of religion that angers me the most. All this hurt for something that I don't believe to be true but that has been constructed out of a fear of death. Of course, there are good things from religion, such as beautiful buildings, or acts of kindness, but to me, there doesn't need to be religion to have these and these are even more extraordinary when not done out of potential rewards in heaven. At the moment I'm in Barcelona, wandering around, enjoying the beautiful cathedrals and churches. I can't deny they're lovely, but not because of God, because of people and the amazing talents we have.

I know this is a bit of a heavy post, but I think it's important to keep up the religious debate. It's a massive part of people's lives, not just religious, but non-religious and needs talking about.

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