Wednesday, November 26, 2014

What Does Being Religious Mean to Me?


A few days ago,  I read an article about religion that made me reflect about religion and my attitude towards it. The article is entitled "Religious Attitude". In this article, the author says that religious attitude is "nothing more than holding our beliefs - personal or collective, sound or unsound, such as God, free will, humanism, even kindness - as a general truth. That is to say, we are religious as long as we let our beliefs govern our reasoning".


I was particularly interested on the last part of this statement "we are religious as long as we let our beliefs govern our reasoning". In my opinion, this implies that when you are religious, you are actually not "reasoning". According to most dictionaries (e.g., Merriam-Webster), when you are not "reasoning", you are not thinking about something in a logical way and cannot make proper conclusions or inferences. But, is this really true? I am religious and believe that I generally try to use my "reasoning" when analyzing or judging situations.

I have to admit that I have always found interesting the dichotomy that people make between "religion" and "logic". But, is it really necessary to separate the two? Many people assume that when you are religious, you can't be logical. For example, when I tell people that I am a scientist (an ecologist who has to teach about evolution and natural selection) who believes in God...I know that I surprise a few people.

Can someone be religious and still think in a logical way?


A common belief is that science holds the ultimate truth of everything because is based on "logic" or facts that can be proved. But, is this always true?

Personally, I think that we sometimes tend to forget that the whole scientific enterprise is based on certain assumptions that cannot be proved scientifically, but that are actually guaranteed by some religious beliefs, especially coming from Judeo-Christian religions.  For instance, the orderly nature of the external world, the reliability of our cognitive faculties in knowing the world, and the objectivity of the moral values used in science are all based on Judeo-Christian principles or assumptions. Science could not even exist without these philosophical assumptions and yet these assumptions cannot be proved scientifically. But, do we ask ourselves if science exists?

Don't get me wrong, I am a scientist and I do believe in science. In my opinion, science and religion can co-exist, thus a person can be religious and still be able to use logic to make decisions.

A famous physicist, Richard Feyman, once said:


I do not believe that science can disprove the existence of God; I think that is impossible. And if it is impossible, is not a belief in science and in a God -- an ordinary God of religion -- a consistent possibility? 

I believe that what Freyman was trying to say here was that science and religion can co-exist because as scientists we need to recognize the limits of science. The reality is that we don't know everything, and often times what we know is surrounded by uncertainty. Many questions and phenomena remain unanswered or unexplained by science; so, there is always a possibility! 


What does being religious mean to me?


More than being religious, I think that I prefer to see myself as a believer in God. I am not the type of person who goes to the church every weekend. Personally, I believe that we can connect to God anywhere. But, I do have some rituals and special moments that have religious, precisely Catholic, foundations (e.g., sign of the cross, prayer before sleep, etc). Why do I do them? I don't know...I just like to have them as part of my life. 

I don't care, or question what God looks like; or, whether God is a boy or a girl. I don't even care whether other people believe or not on God. I don't see God as a person, but more as a force that we all have inside us. For me, God is a force, a sort of spiritual being that is there for us.

I never ask myself whether God exists or not; the same way that I don't ask myself what dark matter looks like. I believe in God because it brings me peace, and an anchor that keeps me afloat during difficult times. I believe that miracles occur everyday and they are not necessarily big things. Miracles are all those little things and moments that bring a smile to our faces.

Like many people, I have had my doubts regarding God, especially during difficult times when I felt abandoned and lost. But, I know that these moments don't last for ever if you believe in yourself, and in that force or spiritual being that I call God.  I guess, I just have faith. 

I am not certain if my "beliefs" govern my logic, but what I know for sure is that believing in God brings an energy to my life that is irreplaceable. 

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