I have gone through many phases in my life in regards to religion. Growing up I was raised Christian and went to church on a semi-regular basis. But even at a very young age, I questioned the church, its practices, and religion itself. I was even confirmed, though confused as to what my true motives were for going through with it. It felt like something I “had to do” rather than something I felt I wanted to do.
Then I entered this phase of completely denouncing the church and Christianity. I identified as atheist as I began to doubt the idea of a higher power altogether. Not many of my friends were religious, my parents didn’t enforce going to church, and learning about science and history made me believe that religion was just a social construction.
Social Construction: is a theory of knowledge in sociology and communication theory that examines the development of jointly constructed understandings of the world that form the basis for shared assumptions about reality.
Basically, it describes something that formed from shared thoughts and opinions within the human race and therefore not based on anything concrete.
So, I criticized and even vilified religion. It seemed like this big hoax that enabled one group of people to control others; and they had been doing it for centuries. Anytime religion was brought up or people I knew would talk about how they were religious, I would completely tune it out. I felt so confident in my beliefs that I didn’t even take the time to understand others’ (a recurring theme I stumble upon, especially in regards to this year’s presidential election).
But, something I’ve discussed in most of my articles is the importance of an open mind. While I did go through this phase, and it even showed through in the beginning of this school year, college brings a lot of different perspectives into one environment so you become accustomed to opening your mind. Especially since moving farther down south, I hear more and more opinions that don’t resemble my own, coming from Massachusetts. This is how I first began to think of the entire notion of religion in a new light.
Religion has always fascinated me, especially as I began to align myself with the nonreligious sector. I could never wrap my head around how people had so much faith in something that was scientifically impossible and completely unseen. I would learn about molecules and evolution or world history and I understood how religious ideologies could form, but never how they could be true.
Then, after speaking to people who proudly believed in different religions, I began to understand. I started to think about how much we really don’t know about the universe. I always wanted to believe that there was magic in the world and anyone who is religious gets that privilege every day. There is also such a sense of comfort in believing that you aren’t the only one making decisions or choosing paths; there is some all-knowing being that is guiding us. And, there has to be a reason why nearly every religion seems to connect on some of the most foundational principles. It’s not a stretch to believe that at one time, everyone agreed and therefore knew it from a source. Now, after being able to wrap my head around religion as abstractly as possible, everything else made more sense. I can’t necessarily say I agree with everything the church or the Quran preaches, but I don’t denounce religion as a whole. It seems less plausible for me to denounce something I don’t know much about than to denounce religion, itself.
Who knows, maybe I will even take a course in religion next fall.