I want to hear from people that do not profess to be Christians. I want to hear from people that claim the name of Christ, but do not participate in any church. I want to hear from those that are interested in “spirituality,” but not in “religion.”
I want to start a conversation. I am interested in reaching out to people that are non-religious, and this is one small step in that direction. I am hoping to fill the comments section of this post with thoughtful answers. I know that there are people that do not believe. I know that there are people that have been harmed by the Church, that have been harmed by bad pastors, that have been harmed by people that claim to be Christian. I want to hear from them.
So please, tell me what you think of Religion. Tell me what you think of Christianity. Tell me what you think of the Church.
If I get answers posted on my facebook profile, I am going to copy and paste them here. I am going to resist responding directly to any comments. Please be respectful. Please also be honest.
5 responses to “Why not Church?”
Asking the question of actual people is better than reading a book on the subject, but the book on the subject is pretty good. Have you read unChristian?
“So please, tell me what you think of Religion. Tell me what you think of Christianity. Tell me what you think of the Church.”
Occasionally useful but generally unnecessary.
i think it’s great that you want to hear from agnostics and atheists. i personally believe in god (most of the time) and feel as though i should believe that jesus is god’s son/the savior but just don’t. i don’t identify with “agnostic” because i don’t feel like i need a title for what i am. i’m just me and i believe in god and that’s it. i grew up and was baptized/confirmed missouri-synod lutheran (which i think is bogus because even in 8th grade you’re not at the maturity level to really understand what’s going on, especially if you only have the opinion and position of the church you’re being baptized/confirmed in), but most recently i tried out a non-denominational church and still felt like it wasn’t right. you just can’t change my mind by telling me THIS IS THE TRUTH. i have to feel it. and i just don’t feel it. however, i want to feel it and i’m not sure why. oh, some would say that’s a “whispering in the ear” or a seed being planted, but i don’t know. i think it’s my upbringing in the back of my head. it’s just too man-made for me. working at bromenn has really opened up my eyes a lot about the differences in theology and how even pastors can question their beliefs and not take their beliefs serious ALL the time. that experience for me has made the idea that god is close to humanity more understandable and the idea that jesus is human more understandable. no person or experience has made me doubt christianity. for me, it comes within myself. anyway, that’s me. i’m open for more discussion if you’d like.
Once in awhile I would go to church with my friends and it was always a very uncomfortable experience. I would always ask them why they wanted to go to a place each week where they tell you everything you’re doing is wrong (plus it was boring). They would say going to church is better than going to hell. So I just thought it was all pretty silly. When you aren’t brought up on religion it’s hard to hear all the stories and believe they are real. To me it was like grown adults that still believe in Santa, and it was all just a little bizarre to me.
I thought about going to church as I grew older, but then I had trouble figuring out which to choose. I over analyze everything, so it was like buying a new car. I was thinking “what if I go to hell anyway because I guessed wrong and picked the wrong religion”. So I ended up a Unitarian, which pretty much covers all the bases. I still don’t go to church, though… I’m not a morning person and I have a short attention span.
Throughout most of biology, the meaning of life is generally regarded as thus: “make babies before you’re eaten or stepped on.” We humans share this simple urge, along with viruses, sea turtles, monkeys and politicians. However, in a grand show of cosmic comic relief, humans developed consciousness in order to forget this basic point. This is apparently a side effect of our enhanced cranial capacity, and several million generations of lesser creatures appear to have learned from our evolutionary mistake, eschewing cranial capacity for truly useful adaptations, like prehensile tails and camouflage.
As a result, we have these amazing brains that search for reason. Reason feels good, lights up our little neural pathways. We are a species of great explanation.
However, I don’t believe that makes us important, except to ourselves. To me, the quest for justifying our consciousness (and awareness of our mortality) is all ancillary to the basic biological game: make babies.
In that light, I believe that God and religion are crucial to humans, not as individuals, but as a species. We’re wired for both community and certainty, and at some point, our self interest yields to collective preservation – the more of us there are and the tighter we knit our communities, the more of humans we can create. Some studies have begun to examine whether the capacity for faith itself is a heritable trait. Given the historical treatment of apostates, it’s not too great a stretch to imagine that a bit of natural selection may have resulted in a more faithful populace on the whole.
I’m no great student of religion, but my understanding is that the major religions share many basic similarities, notably explaining creation, reconciling our awareness of death and setting forth a code of conduct. The most successful religions, the ones that spread to encompass major communities, share the trait of exclusivity (see, e.g. Commandment I, muslim conversion).
Being aware of that, I can’t believe that any of the religions is truly right, at least not in the sense that it’s established and justified by any external divinity. Various human cultures, worshiping different gods (or worshiping God differently – and exclusively) have managed to develop and even thrive, notwithstanding most religions’ assurances that the others will be destroyed.
(Granted, this could still happen. Hell, one might even postulate that the apocalypse will come in the form of mass human extinction resulting from man-made climate changes, or nuclear annihilation.)
So I’m a nonbeliever. I don’t believe that there’s a God, I don’t believe in the body-soul dichotomy, that there’s an afterlife, or that forgiveness can come from any source but the person who has been wronged.
Moreover, I don’t believe that I can choose to believe. I was baptized and attended church for years throughout my childhood. I’ve opened my heart and really looked, tried, even, to find faith in god or a sense of divinity. I think Kierkegaard had a pretty prescient concept of reason and free will in this sense – that faith exists somewhere beyond reason. I mean, one could, citing free will, choose to believe in God, but the mere act of choosing implies reason, which falls short of true faith. I could no more choose to have faith than I could choose to be two inches taller.
I wonder if this sounds all sounds a bit over-rational and nihilistic. Strange though it may seem, it all impresses me as cause for relentless optimism. See, while I don’t believe in god, external divinity, or an afterlife, I believe in good – that human experience works toward determining an objective moral good (which, ask an ethicist, is no easy thing to explain). I believe that with or without god, we’re largely wired to do good, to enjoy fellowship and to seek and give forgiveness – that despite our short term selfish interests, people individually and collectively flow towards a collective (maybe utilitarian) good. I don’t believe that my “reward” lies in death; my reward lies in the potential to find and create happiness each day (results may vary). I try to do good because it feels good, and if there’s one thing in which I have faith, it’s that most people share that impulse, whether or not they tie it to God or divinity.