I've written about a whole host of different topics in the past. I've written about marriage, sexuality, success, the future, and a whole host more, but yet I've never discussed religion, despite it continuing to be a large part of our society. I had a conversation with a friend a while back, in which we talked about lots of big issues, eventually getting into religion, which sparked some more of my thoughts on the subject.
This can be a controversial topic, so let me start by making something very clear: I will always respect the religious views of others as their own, even if I disagree. I would therefore appreciate the same courtesy in return. I have no issues at all with people who believe strongly in their religion, as long as they do not try to force those views on me. I do not want to get into any debates about this. Tolerance is essential to a peaceful co-existence in our society; something that we have sadly not achieved yet, but need to continue working towards.
Now that that's clear, let's dive into it. I was baptised when I was a baby and raised as a Christian. Most of my religious education came from school, as I went to a very small village school, where we said prayers and had visits from the local minister. My parents were raised Christian as well, but never talked about religion much, and the only times we went to church were Christmas Eve and for important ceremonies, like baptisms and weddings. I have a fairly thorough knowledge of Christianity as a result of all this.
However, as I grew older, I was exposed to other religions, to scientific theories, and the wider world in general, and that unquestioning belief I had as a children began to disappear. Anyone who knows me well would tell you that although I love the arts, I am a very rational, logical thinker. Therefore, science is more logical to me than religion. For me, science makes sense, and offers concrete evidence about evolution and the past. So many things in the Bible are so inexplicable that I struggle to believe they could have really happened. This doesn't mean that I wouldn't like to believe though. Our world is full of so many wonderful phenomena, and there are many things that science cannot explain, particularly in relation to human minds and personalities, or coincidences and karma and the like. The universe is such a huge place, and while there may be other life out there somewhere, earth has the only life in our solar system - and did that really arise by pure luck? Do things happen by chance, or for a reason? Who knows. I want to believe that there are larger forces at work out there, but I struggle to commit fully to this. Therefore, I do not call myself a religious person, and I consider myself to be agnostic.
Also, even if I did totally believe in Christianity, I cannot accept every aspect of it. The Bible (and most other religious texts) was written hundreds of years ago, and society has changed. We have moved on, adapted new lifestyles and ways of thinking, and our standards about what is morally reprehensible have changed. Therefore, we cannot blindly accept everything in the Bible as fact, to be followed literally. If that were the case, we would still be stoning people. Many religious teaching are important; not to kill, not to steal, for instance. But things like sex before marriage and homosexuality? These have changed a lot over the years, and I'm not prepared for society to start going backwards again. I also have problems with the institutions of religion; as a literature student, I've become very aware of the corrupt history of churches, and therefore I believe that faith is something individual and personal. We should be able to adapt the aspects of it that we believe in, or that suit us the best - I would tend to refer to this as faith, rather than religion. My faith (though I am agnostic about it) would involve greater, mystical powers at work in the universe, but not the specifics of Christianity.
So these are just a few of my thoughts on the matter. For me, religion is a nice idea in some ways, but very problematic in others. I am prepared to accept the views of others - provided they do not use religion as justification for terrible actions. I am sure my opinion will continue to develop over time, as we are all constantly changing and evolving. And as for how I will raise my own children in the future, I will make them aware of Christianity, as that's what I was brought up with, but leave them entirely free to make their own choice regarding their faith. Most importantly, I will teach them tolerance.