March 6, 2005

Hearing from the Religious

On this site I often criticize organized religion and “faith” in general for a variety of reasons. I have tried to make the case that not only is religion unnecessary to instill awe and reverence in individuals, but also that it is preferable to establish moral codes without it. Strangely, many people argue that religion is an avenue by which people can delve into the questions of the unknown and the larger mysteries that are supposedly beyond the reach of the secular mind. I say strangely because religion is often used to deny mystery, to provide easy black and white answers to the most difficult questions, and to stifle critical thinking.

But now I would like to hear from those who are religious and ask them a few questions. I’d like to get a rational and respectful dialogue going that can help to bridge the increasing divide between the religious and non-religious in American society. If you are a religious person, or if some of your friends or family members are religious, please ask them if they can take a few minutes and respond to the following questions. Responses can be left in the comments section below (we are currently upgrading the comments section to be able to hold longer responses and this should be enabled by Monday- thanks for your patience) or emailed to (if you send responses to our email address please indicate if you don’t want these answers shared or if you want to remain anonymous). In a future piece I will post and discuss select passages of the responses that we receive.

So here goes. All you religious people out there feel free to answer any or all of the following and add whatever other commentary you want. I look forward to hearing what you have to say.

1. Why is faith important to you? What does it provide that you can’t get from other avenues?

2. What is the purpose of religion?

3. Why are many religious people suspicious of those who don’t believe in religion?

4. Do you allow for the possibility that your religion may not be true?

5. Do you wonder if the religious texts you read may have been created or altered by human beings who had their own agendas?

6. Do you believe that a person who doesn’t follow the rules laid out in your religion is going to suffer in the afterlife? Why? What purpose would that serve?

7. What if there is no heaven or hell? What if what we make of our lives on this planet is all there is?

8. Do you think morality arrived outside of religion is valid? Why or why not?

Thanks a lot everyone. To be continued…….

Jason Scorse