Faith, Philosophy

Religion and I

I’d honestly be lying if I said that writing this doesn’t SCARE me, I’m not entirely sure why though. The thing is if you’ve known me for a while you’ll understand how mad this all sounds coming from me. But at the end of the day, this is my truth. My faith was a big part of who I was and I never hid that, it wasn’t something I forced down anyone’s throats (well I hope not anyway lmao) and my newfound lack of faith isn’t something I’m going to hide either. This isn’t me trying to convince anyone of anything, other than to be open-minded, it’s sort of just a record of my evolution as a person.

Some background: I was Christian for a good 10 ish years, I wasn’t raised that way from birth but I didn’t start going to church till I was like 8 I think. To be honest church at that age was fun, when you’re a kid basically all your friends are from school (well mine were anyway) so having a separate social group from that felt cool.

I think I properly took my faith seriously when I was 14/15, that’s when I’d say that my identity was heavily influenced by Christ. I wasn’t the perfect Christian but I did try, I went to church, read my bible etc. Basically, the stuff that most would constitute makes a Christian a Christian. I really did believe that I believed in God. I know that’s a weird sort of thing to say, but I literally could not imagine life without God. Until now. Now, life without God is my reality.

Also, this isn’t some rash decision I’ve made, I didn’t just wake up one day and be like I AM NOW AN ATHEIST 😡  , I’ve been thinking about it for months. Even calling myself an atheist just feels aggressive, it’s like telling people you’re a vegan or a feminist. They’ll just assume that by you identifying yourself you’re trying to convince them to be like you. Like me saying that I am a feminist, isn’t actually saying that you ought to be one. Although you defo should, but you get my point.

 

I think it’s quickly worth mentioning that for anyone, theist or atheist, being open-minded doesn’t mean that everyone is supposed to end up reaching the same conclusion.

 

How did I come to the conclusion that I’m probably an atheist? (and by probably I mean definitely because I’m just scared to admit it for no rational reason)

Well I’ll start by saying that I’m not saying God absolutely most definitely without a doubt isn’t real, but at this point in my life, I’m more inclined to believe he doesn’t exist. I don’t know what it would take for me to believe in God if I’m being real. If the clouds parted and Jesus came down on a golden escalator from heaven I’d probably think I was going mad. My theory is that if God is real and he is omniscient then he would know what it would take for me to believe in him, and if he is omnipotent then he would know how to make that happen.

I don’t want this to turn into a philosophy/theology short course but there are just so many questions that I think are worth thinking about: If there’s a God then what religion is the right one? And I’m sorry but you people who say that they’re all the right ones are delusional because they all so obviously and fundamentally contradict one another. How can I know that God is real? What would prove his existence? What is the point of religion if you can just have faith? Who is God? Then there’s other stuff like the problem of evil.

I also read The God Delusion by Dawkins and although, from what I know of him as a person, I can’t say I like him but it’s actually a seriously good book. I would recommend it to literally anyone but I have to say it’s not for the fainthearted at all.

Anyway, in light of all of the above and months of contemplation that is how I arrived at atheism or some form of weak agnosticism.

 

How has my life been since I abandoned my faith?

The thing is, no matter what you believe you’ll always have doubts and I think I forgot that. When I was finally honest with myself about my beliefs anything that happened in my favour I was completely spooked by. My train could come as soon as I stepped foot on the platform and I’d be like omg God is that you hun??!!!! I know how utterly dumb this sounds but that is actually who I am. Little coincidences that happened in my life were subconsciously indicators that God existed and he was trying to get my attention. But then I thought, there’s definitely another 18-year-old girl out there somewhere who has never heard of the Christian God in which case anything good that happened to her would simply be good and anything bad would simply be bad. And I realised that I can and probably should be that girl.

Like sure, it would be nice to have an explanation for certain things like ‘why am I here?’ but for me, religion didn’t provide adequate answers. Religion provided explanations for some things, but it still didn’t have answers for things that mattered. I would rather not believe in a God and deal with moderate existential dread and wonder why I’m alive than believe in a God and a belief system that I don’t understand (almost) at all. It’s really forced me to find peace with not understanding certain things and although I could have gotten this peace as a Christian, it wasn’t the same because deep down I knew some things fundamentally didn’t make sense to me.

It’s also forced me to take a good look at myself and figure out what kind of person I want to be. As a Christian it’s pretty easy, the kind of person you want to be is a Christ-like person. The hard part is adhering to the ‘rules’. But when you don’t have that anymore you have to figure that out yourself and it’s hard especially when you’re aware of how inadequate you can be. Why should I listen to myself, knowing that I can really be a dummy? It made me trust myself and find a new sort of confidence.

One thing that I think is super specific to me is navigating guilt (or maybe not). I only realised this recently when I was talking to a good friend of mine that when I was Christian and I did something I wasn’t proud of I would always feel so guilty. And I didn’t feel guilty because I felt like God was looking over my shoulder, I understood that it was in Gods nature to be forgiving. But retrospectively I had always felt that I had let myself down, and I was insecure about that. I think I just thought that I felt guilty because I had let God down but I couldn’t feel bad that I let something I wasn’t sure existed down. I really didn’t want my faith to be based on insecurities that I had. I didn’t want to believe in God because I knew he would love me regardless of how I looked or acted. I don’t think I ever really felt validated by God, but I didn’t feel invalid either. I just wanted to believe in God because he existed and it made sense that he did. But it didn’t. And even if he did exist I wouldn’t know what kind of God that would be.

My friends are so amazing and supportive, regardless of their beliefs and I think that’s why it’s become a lot easier for me to be open about how I feel. No one has ever tried to convince me otherwise, although I’m not opposed to this, but I just appreciate that they have faith in me to know what I think is best for myself. Obviously, it’s sad that I’m not part of the Christian community anymore, but I guess I’m part of a new community.

I will say that I think it’s important to question your faith, and by question your faith I don’t mean asking yourself if God is real when something goes wrong in your life. I mean actually facing the difficult questions and addressing inconsistencies that exist in religious texts (and I don’t mean the dumb Old Testament vs. New Testament debate, I mean that there are quite bold inconsistencies within each of the testaments).

I think I’m only really scared to write this just in case I end up changing my mind but I’ve literally changed my mind so many times it wouldn’t be anything new and then at least I’d have another blog post to write. And like obviously if hell is real and I don’t change my mind then my soul is in trouble.

I want to thank everyone who has helped me understand myself better, provided comfort when I was a mess and those who never judged me for believing whatever I did. You all know who you are.
Just in case anyone still sees the Bible scriptures I have stuck on my wall I’m not taking them off because first of all, it’s an aesthetic and second of all the blu tac has literally ruined the wall and I don’t have anything to cover it up yet. Thank u.

I feel like this year is really just about like the year of just realising stuff and everyone around me, we’re all just realising things.

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Philosophy, Social Media, Sociology

Cancelling Culture

If there’s one thing that anyone with social media this year has been exposed to it’s cancelling culture. I think the essence of “cancelling” makes sense. You notice someone/something is being problematic so you stop supporting them/it. After all, by continuing to support someone who might have said things that are not deemed to be progressive can mean that in a way you’re validating their actions. You’re indirectly saying “I don’t care about the fact that you might have said or done something offensive, I like you that much I’m willing to look past it”. At face value this seems fair enough, after all we’re not all going to be offended by the same thing.

There are several problems with cancelling. First of all, some people might not agree that supporting an individual who behaves offensively means you are validating their actions. For example, if your favourite musician is known to sexually assault women does this mean you support the sexual assault of women? This seems a bit far fetched especially since their musical capability is independent of their ethical beliefs. But what if their music is actually about degrading women? Then the line between their beliefs and talents is blurred. This gets complicated, especially because we need to ask ourselves if the nature of the persons behaviour is representative of the kind of person they are. What I mean by this is if someone makes one racist comment in their lifetime, does this make them racist? If not, then how many racist comments do you have to make to be deemed racist? Do you even have to make a racist comment to be racist?

But let’s assume that supporting a problematic person means you ARE indirectly supporting their actions, then it follows we should not support such a person because we don’t want them to have a platform to express their offensive ideals. How do we go about actually cancelling them? Well from what I’ve seen on twitter, when a group of people decide that they no longer want to support someone, they tweet about how that person is cancelled and then they proceed to totally drag this person. This can take many forms, sometimes it can be kind of light hearted where a bunch of memes are made about you (like we saw with brother nature) or you could end up receiving death threats, having your job taken from you, being kicked out of your school etc. People on social media have the power to really end your life without you dying.

Personally I think that if we truly want to cancel someone, what I mentioned above is totally counterproductive. Cancelling culture is way too loud. If you really want to stop supporting someone, stop supporting them, it’s really simple. I know some people who didn’t even know about brother nature until twitter dragged him. The saying that all publicity is good publicity is kind of valid here, you’re promoting someone by mentioning their name whether you’re praising or cancelling them. Do you really want to give someone you don’t support that kind of attention? Of course here it can be said: How will we ever know about problematic people unless someone brings it to light first? This is a fair point, but it’s not that difficult to dispute: if you read something about someone and believe it be true, unless you feel as though people around you would care, don’t say anything on a social media platform in order to prevent that person from getting too much attention.

It’s also important to address that with cancelling culture social media offers redemption, sort of. This is another issue. Who can forgive and when do we forgive? Should we forgive someone who tweeted racist things when they were 14? Should we forgive them even if we aren’t sure if they are displaying that same behaviour? One thing that’s been talked about in the YouTube beauty community is that some YouTubers have been caught making racist comments a few years ago, but they’ve made their apology videos and now when reviewing make up products they are vocal about shade range. Does this excuse their earlier behaviour? Do people have to earn their forgiveness by displaying the very opposite behaviour of what they depicted a few years ago? As a consumer that’s for you to decide. You might not think that your attention is worth a much as your money, but it can be.

That being said, it depends on who you are. If someone with a platform made racist comments towards Asian people, and you are not Asian then it’s not up to you to forgive anyone. You weren’t the victim of the comment. In order to forgive you have to have been offended. This seems obvious but countless times I have seen the unaffected demographic forgive influencers for their behaviour. You also can’t tell someone whether or not they should forgive, it’s okay to have an opinion but know when to share it

There are so many philosophical questions that can be challenging to think about, but we shouldn’t shy away from them. It may seem like this is a pointless activity but it’s one thing to form an opinion, it is another to understand WHY you believe what you do.

I’ve asked a lot of questions in this blog post, it’s not because I’m sitting on the fence about anything. There are people I do and do not support for particular reasons but the point of this post wasn’t to say who we should and shouldn’t support. It’s to encourage us to consider various lines of thought before we come to such decisions and encourage us to be sensible first and vocal second.

 

Your silence CAN mean just as much, if not more than your vocality.

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