a conversation: why do you believe in god?
Why do(n't) you believe in God?"It sounds right. To think we're all part of something bigger. Humans want to believe that there's a reason we exist. That we were created for a purpose. I am here for a reason – for this reason. What – did I choose to believe? In a way, I did choose. I grew up in a Christian family but the older I got ... none of it sat right with me, the way the Church taught things. I became more distrustful of religion. And I learned we can't characterise God."
"When I was little I believed in God. But now it doesn't make sense for me. There's no proof. What else? What do you mean? That's just it. There's no evidence."
"I grew up in a very religious family. As I got older I saw what it did for those who did believe. It gave people answers to problems that they struggled with. I thought if I believed in God - there's no harm it in if I'm wrong. But a lot of the Bible isn't straightforward. Taking it from face value is stupid – it wouldn't make sense. And I think it is a choice. Think about faith – it's through faith that you choose, despite any other reason that might seem to prove you wrong."
I asked people I know in real life whether they believed in God. These are some of their replies.
It's unsettling when someone asks you about your religion. Well, unsettling at best, insulting at worst. It's uncomfortable because it's personal, because we believe and yet never really have the chance to explore why.
If you were one of the people I asked, would you have answered differently? We owe our beliefs to specific circumstances or choices but none of these can adequately explain why we are believers or disbelievers. A baby to a highly religious family can grow to question everything. Yes, they were probably exposed to atheism and agnosticism at some point. But what explains how fast they convert, or the chances of them returning to their religious roots? I don't think the answer is isolated events.
I don't believe in God. A long time ago, I mentioned that I didn't believe because of my church. But that's not quite right anymore.
There's only one thing that I think really answers my lack thereof. I don't believe because I learned to doubt very much and trust very little. How much of this was encoded into my DNA and how much I learned growing up is beyond me – but I do know all of it counts.
I am a natural doubter. Somewhere along the line I learned to habitual doubt the information I'm given, to doubt intent. On the other hand, my friend might've learned something very different. Faith can pay off. Faith brings great rewards. My friend knows how to adapt without knowing all the facts. She learned to listen to the voice inside her head that asked what if?.
Personal foundations matter – matter more than a religious family or a particularly horrible church. I think if I was a blank slate, the amount of Christian exposure I've experienced would've converted me to heaven and beyond. But we aren't blank slates. We're tainted with life lessons and the burden of our mistakes and our natures. And the result is always more complicated than it seems.