Friday, July 08, 2005

You Want Religious Thoughts, You Got It!

Here it is: Kimberly's philosophy behind religion. People have asked where I stand, so I’m going to be as open and honest as I’ve ever been!

This entry is probably the most open I’ve ever been on my blog. Not only am I being very open with my thoughts, I’m also touching on a very controversial, and even a touchy subject with some folks: religion. However, it can be one of the most interesting topics to discuss if all parties involved are willing to be open with one another and try to see things from different perspectives.

Having said this, here is the introduction to what you’re about to read…

This was an email response I recently sent to a friend who had asked me where I stand with religion. The friend had explained how they “found Jesus” during a rough time they were going through about 6 years ago when they found themselves struggling with partying—basically drinking. Here is the majority of the email I sent the person in response to their questioning:

As for me, maybe I’ve just never had that “awakening” moment where I felt I “needed” something. I can’t say I’ve ever gotten involved in drinking. About the extent of my drinking history is having a couple drinks here or there with some friends. And though I tasted alcohol in high school, I can count those times on one hand. They were very limited and didn’t include more than normally a sip here and there. In college would be where I suppose my only drinking history exists, and even there, it has never been more than a buzz from maybe 2 to 3 drinks. I’m not much for drinking; I’ve never taken a shot (nor had the desire) and I don’t like the taste of beer, so I suppose this all limits my drinking, which is personally fine with me.

Though I don’t want to come off as tooting my own horn, I can say I’ve led a pretty “good” life style in that I haven’t gotten into any “trouble” or “bad situations.” I say that not to boast, but to better explain where I’m coming from in order to answer your questions.

I’ve talked religion with many of my friends and in the past. I actually enjoy having religious discussions with my friends. They can intrigue me and I love a good deep thinking session.

Personally, my stance on religion is that I can’t convince myself to believe it. Yes, there is the whole idea of “well you must just have faith,” but I suppose being a strong thinker, I tend to question the whole scenario and all.

More and more I view religion as man’s greatest effort at therapy, for lack of better terms. Let me explain…

It seems religion revolves around trying to answer all the “big questions” man has always wanted the answers to. Where did mankind come from, what happens after we die, etc. Without these answers, the human race feels a void, a weakness, it hinders man’s sense of being. Let’s face it, we want answers to everything.

Then there is where a lot of the “therapy” comes into play. Mankind seems to use religion as something to turn to when they are “down.” Even in your explanation of when you turned to Jesus or began seeking him in efforts to help you, you explained how you seemed to have reached the bottom…you needed “hope” or something to turn to because you were “down.” Religion seems like a form of reinforcement for mankind to “feel like they have purpose” or to give mankind “something to wake up each morning for” or a reason to “be good,” etc.

I do not look down upon religious individuals. In actuality, I have great respect for many of them in the fact that I think it makes them “better people” and some people’s dedication to it intrigues me. However, even that plays into the therapy idea…therapy is suppose to do just that: make people better. So, does that mean, if religion is in fact a great plan for therapy developed MANY years ago that it has been successful, I’d have to say yes. In a sense, it is almost like it could be a survival technique…

Maybe way back when it seemed as if mankind might not make it if men were slowly dying because of lack of hope or purpose or motivation in life. So maybe that was when these wise men all got together and came up with the idea of religion and in a sense “wrote the Bible.”

Well, maybe that last one seems far fetched, but it could still be a theory.

I suppose through this all you can see how I question most of religion. Overall I can’t convince myself to believe it.

I think in too many cases the situations that bring people to religion aren’t convincing enough for me. To me, most people are religious either because they were brought up that way (which in a sense to me just means that’s all they’ve known), or they end up seeking religion based on a event they encountered in life which made them either feel helpless, without hope, lacking purpose, or needing a sense of motivation.

I suppose for me I’ve just never encountered that time where I’ve felt I needed to seek religion. As for being raised in the church, as I was, and I usually loved attending church growing up, though for the “wrong” reasons--for social purposes (which brings me to another point of how religion was viewed as a great idea for therapy—it brings people together. We are social creatures and being with one another is a form of therapy in itself). But back to what I was saying…yes, growing up in the church I can say I was “brought up that way,” though I stepped out in efforts to make sure that wasn’t just “all I’ve ever known” and since then I’ve begun questioning and haven’t been able to convince myself that that is what I believe in.

So that’s me. You asked, so I hope I somewhat let you know where I stand on the whole issue. If it doesn’t seem to make sense or you have more specific questions for me, let me know. I’ll try to explain it differently.


So that’s that. That’s basically my thoughts on religion poured out. Never yet have I been this open about my beliefs on the issue, however, I feel comfortable enough in my friendships with people that I don’t think this newly added knowledge on me will affect our friendships in a negative sense.

Overall, I’m highly aware that my thoughts on religion revolve around my area of interest in life, psychology. I suppose, some of this has to do with the idea that we as individuals are able to explain things the best in terms of what we know best, as for me, I’ve had several years of formal education in this area, so it’s my forte I suppose you could say! ;)

But something I want to point out rather quickly is this: for those that know much about psychology history, or even just psychologists/therapists today, have you ever noticed how many of them lack religious beliefs or claim to be atheists? I even had a professor at ACU once say how hard it is to find psychology professors who are from the Church of Christ to teach at the university. Maybe psychology makes us question too much! ;)

Finally, I realize that I have MANY strongly-religious friends and acquaintances who read this blog, and it is from y’all who I expect to hear responses. I can tell you this much, I expect most of the responses to be revolving around the idea of “faith,” which is normally the responses I get from folks when I have touched on my religious beliefs in the past with friends. HA! So bring it on. I’m excited to hear how y’all will respond to these thoughts!

Take care, folks!


Jennifer said...

I know you're expecting a comment from me. I just had a really great one all typed out. It was very long, and quite impressive. It was also crap.

Here's a quick overview: I agreed and argued many points. We have had similar lives. I identified with your lack of "need" for religion. (Which as I've told you lately, I believe is not so much religion as being like Christ.) Who needs Jesus when you're doing so well on your own? Also, the fact that you're a thinker doesn't necessarily have anything to do with it. Of course we have our Nietzsches, but we also have our C.S. Lewises. There are many great "religious" thinkers. Perhaps they struggle with it more, but a lack of faith can't just be written off to intelligence.

I will say that I've heard all of your ideas before. I won't try to convince you. You've heard everything I could possibly tell you. All I know is that the Lord is good, and he has blessed my life tremendously. I owe everything to him, and I'm sorry that I never give him all that he deserves or treat him how I should be treating him. I'm a sinner, and that's why I need him.

You said that you respect religious people because it makes us "better people." Since you were raised in a Christian home, went to a Christian school, and have many Christian friends, I can only assume that you are mostly talking about Christianity when you refer to religion. If you hear anything I say, hear this: Religion does not make a Christian a better person. If anything, it makes a worse person. Jesus Christ is who makes us better people, because he died to take away that sin that makes us bad in the first place. Jesus wasn't about religion. Jesus was about setting us free from ugly sin and the pain it causes us.

And of course, I still love you. In fact, I think I now love you even more for your honesty! (Finally!) I've been waiting for this for awhile now. Thank you for sharing.

**Believe it or not, this IS the short version.

Holly said...

This just loosely fits in with the thing about Psychologists but...

Actually, some of the most influential scientists of the past were among the strongest believers in God's existence: Galileo, Einstein, Copernicus, Kepler, Newton, Pasteur, Boyle, Faraday, Mendel, etc. And certainly those men questioned things, too. Anyway, I might comment to this post later when I'm not so sleepy.

Katey said...

Kim, the one thing that I TOTALLY agree with on your blog is that faith is only yours when you feel like you need to search for it. For some people that happens when they are at the bottom, sometimes it doesn't happen that way though and to me, those are some of the more interesting stories. If you want to hear mine, call me and we'll talk. If you are not in a searching mood, no one can think less of you. But, I hope you leave yourself open enough that if or when that searching mood comes upon you, you go with it. Love you!

Anonymous said...


I don't think any of us are totally convinced of the Christian religion. Really, we are humans and have doubts as to if this is real or not. I still question my religion and beliefs. More so this year than any year. My bible teacher at ACU once told me that Dr. Makin (an old ACU bible teacher) questioned if there was a God or not on his death bed. This coming from a man who was baptized and labeled himself a Christian most of his life. I don't think that any of us can say we are totally convinced of God. I have never seen him.

From a biological perspective I do think that was have a biological tendency from the way our brains are wired to need religious fullfillment (HOPE) just as we need food and sexual fullfillment. Otherwise, we would never turn to religion for reinforcement. It does have some basis for the way we act and do things.

While I can never be convinced (this is the self sinnered part of me coming out) I will believe. There is no harm in me believeing and if this Christian thing does turn out to be "real" than I have nothing to loose. If it does not turn out to be "real" I have nothing to loose. And if this is the only thing in my life that I have to keep me from doing "bad" things than I will believe because deep inside I want to do good things.

These are just some thoughts from my perspective. I love your posting and the way you challenge us all in your thinking.

FeedingYourMind said...

Anonymous: I've GREATLY appreciated the comments I've gotten on this post, but yours has really gotten me thinking (not to take anything away from the other comments, maybe it is just when you don't know who posted it is harder to say, "oh that is just so and so saying it, I've always known they are a die-hard Bible-folk" or something like that...whatever the case I want to comment on a couple of your points...

I think not being able to be completely convinced of Christianity and God and that such would be what has kept me away. I think that is why agnostism is so flat out states that it is people who aren't convinced of God's existence one way or another. They aren't saying he doesn't exist for sure (atheism) nor do they say he does exist for sure (Christianity). They flat out admit their uncertainity and have no shame in admitting it. Maybe if Christianity had more preachers who got up from the pulpit and admitted to that uncertainity more would come forward; however that might just push others away...seeing the "preacher"--the man who is suppose to be all believing and TOTALLY for God up there admitting to uncertainity...hmmm.

Second, the whole "what do i have to lose" philosophy has always bothered me. I've heard that one a lot. The whole: "If you go out on a limb and take the chance and believe in a God and it ends up there isn't a God what have you lost, but if choose not to believe in God and it ends up there is one, you've lost that chance and will be forever punished for it eternally." Okay...that notion I view as the first half as "in vain." Kinda like you are doing it for the wrong reasons. If you're doing it with the mentality of that, what do you have to lose, then to me you aren't doing it for the right reasons, so should it turn out there IS a God then you've done it for the wrong reasons and God will still punish you. That's just my thoughts. What do I know, but that is how I see it. I feel that if I can't be convinced that this is the real thing...that I honestly believe with all my heart that Jesus is the son of God, then it is all in vain and not for the "right" reasons, then it isn't going to "count" in a sense with God.

[I honestly don't know if what I just wrote come off making sense or not...HA! Sorry!]

Finally, the one that I wanted to comment on the most, was the ending part about "And if this is the only thing in my life that I have to keep me from doing "bad" things than I will believe because deep inside I want to do good things." Is religion the only thing that can motivate a person to be a good person? If it is then I'm at a complete lose for words as to why I have strove to be a good person the past few years, without having a religious basis to cling too.

Granted I know that isn't what you were saying, since you said, "if" this is the only thing to keep me from doing bad. In that sense it sounds as if you were just stating that SHOULD it be the only thing.

But I can tell you this, I think there are all kinds of ideas (and i suppose things too) that one can believe in that will motivate them to be a good person.

Whether man was truly born good or bad, I don't know. But I can say this, I think we are all capable of being whichever we want and should it be religion that motivates an individual on to good, then so be it!

Life is good if we want it to be!

Thank you so much for your comment! It really made me think! I love it!