Why I Will Not Be Attending A Church Simply To “Become A Better Person”
Here is a conversation between myself and a religious acquaintance:
Me: “ "Without religion we would have no morals"
Yes because without religion we could never piece together the idea that we should not stone people for picking up sticks on the Sabbath or that murdering someone is wrong.
If I hear this one more time… ”
Person X : ”In the extreme case you are correct - people should know that it is not okay to kill someone. Sometimes even so-called religion IS the problem. Take for example all the wars that have been started throughout the ages because of religion or the killings that are going on in the middle-east because of religion. However with sex and drugs so rampant in our society and with a large portion of the population thinking those things are okay I think that a more appropriate saying would be “Through increasing faith we can be better.” I believe that faith in a supreme being or a higher power or life after death gives people strength to be better - an example of this is the Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step program. They don’t push religion, they work to “believe that a power greater than themselves could restore us to sanity” and they “make a decision to turn their will and their lives over to the care of God as they understand him.” This makes recovering alcoholics better and able to overcome addiction.”
My response : I can see that argument for sure. I just look at it logically and almost even scientifically. For example, why do I not smoke crack cocaine? Is it because it is illegal? No. Is it because it is hard for me to find? No. Is it because many people view it as religiously or morally questionable? No. I do not smoke crack cocaine because I do not want the negative physical and psychological effects, and because I do not to ruin my life. It is the same thing with casual sex, I do not engage in it because I like not getting sick or getting a girl pregnant, the emotional complexities, etc etc etc. You mention that sex and drugs are rampant in our society which I agree with (we can argue the morality of that all day but as we come from different sides I think we will never reconcile there). That being said, the underlying problem with a lot of things in society (those things included) is rampant narcissism, ignorance, lack of personal responsibility, and lack of empathy. Those are what I see as the real underlying problems, and those are things that I think people can gain with or without religion. If religion helps someone stop being a narcissist, that is great. However, I also think it is not necessary to be religious to avoid being a narcissist, for example. I would even argue that in a lot of ways the morals many religions teach today (love, tolerance, etc) are derived from secular and humanistic reasoning of how to treat people. An example of that is to look at how the Jewish faith has changed, as have many Christian faiths and other faiths from harsh punishments (stoning, cutting off of hands) to what they are today. Religion at its core is not a tool to make men better, it is a way to reach God or salvation (assuming you believe it). Becoming a better person is a kind of a secondary product, not the primary goal.”
Religion without the religious or supernatural belief is nothing special. Think about it, if you take away the supernatural from religion what do you have besides someone advocating certain actions and methods of living?
No, I do not hate religion. Yes, I am agnostic, and yes, I am tired of being told to attend a church even though I may not believe it simply to “become a better person”.
Feel free to challenge this, add insight, or comments in general.