Undecided about religion
Hello, my name is Stephanie. I am a sophomore in college, days shy of my 20th birthday. I found your website via StumbleUpon, and I wanted to write to you because I have really begun to have some conflict with my religion. I wasn’t really “raised” anything in articular, since religion was never present in my home. However, I did grow up in the Bible Belt of middle Georgia, and Christianity is big part of social life down here, so i did semi-frequent church services with my friends. I have always believed in God, but other hand that, I’ve never really been sure what to think. But I do know hat I don’t think our society has it right. I think that people are too concerned with religion to even try to think about what being a good person entails, and as a result, we have a serious lack of truly OOD people in this world.Now I say that this is a struggle for me for a couple of reasons. 1.) I would really like to know where my particular beliefs fit into the “religious” mold, and find people I can converse with about them without hearing that I’m going to Hell or a flat-out “there is no God”, and the discussion ending there. In short, I know what I believe (although I’m still coming into it in its entirety. College is about “discovering” yourself, after all, and this is a big part of it for me. 2.) My boyfriend of 7 months was raised a Presbyterian, and holds strongly to the beliefs that, after meeting his parents (particularly his mother) I am 98% sure are not completely his own and instead those of the people who raised him. This has caused some friction between us. He has a hard time thinking that I can consider myself a moral person who believes in God if I don’t see things his way, and I resent that.The point of this letter is to see if you have any advice you can give me. After reading some of your blog, you seemed to me a very intelligent, articulate person who can actually think clearly about things like this, and that is something I have been seeking out. Any words of wisdom or opinions about anything I’ve said will be read with an open mind and a lot of enthusiasm.Thank you for your patience!
I am very flattered that you chose to write to me about this. I am certainly happy to offer what help I can.
It’s hard to get into too many details because I’m not sure what particular points of religious philosophy you are concerned with, but I can offer you some general advice.
- Religion (or the lack thereof) is important, but morality is even more important. I think you should concentrate on developing a consistent, rigorous morality just as much as you should concentrate on finding your religious comfort zone. As you say, not enough people really think about morality, and that’s a serious problem in the world today.
- There’s nothing wrong with not knowing how you feel about religion for the time being. You are undergoing a period of discovery and that is an intellectually honest opinion.
- Since you are on a mission of discovery, go ahead and ask your boyfriend to explain to you why he finds religion compelling. What is his biggest reason for being religious? See if you find this reason compelling, and if you don’t think about why you don’t.
- Ask others whom you feel comfortable with about any religious topics you are unsure about. If a person is confidet in their philosophy, they should not be afraid of answering questions. On the other hand, if they are not confident, then perhaps they can join you n searching for answers.
- Try my “2Q” method of testing philosophical ideas. When you are considering a bit of philosophical reasoning, assume for the moment that you agree with it and ask yourself “Does this philosophy contradict itself?” and “Would I condemn another person for reasoning as I do?” If the answer to either of these items is “yes,” then the philosophy is wrong.
I’m hoping that will do for a start. Please feel free to write to me if you have specific items you would like to discuss. I guarantee that I will not try to push you toward atheism. I am more interested in intellectual rigor than I am in “stamping out” religion.