I ended up espousing the polar opposite of the prevailing viewpoint among my generation. Young people today are very likely to identify themselves as “spiritual, but not religious.” I find myself being quite religious, but not the least bit spiritual.
I live by strict moral rules, I have weird dietary habits, I actively try to help people… but I just can’t bring myself to believe there’s anyone watching me and keeping score. I would like to think I act this way because I know that I am part of a community of individuals who rely upon each other.
Which got me thinking… many people complain about “organized religion” and churches while simultaneously claiming there is something greater out there. Is it really the churches that are the problem?
Don’t get me wrong, churches have done bad things, but churches have also done a great many good things. Churches today are particularly devoid of most of the atrocities that could be pinned on them throughout history, limited largely to political intervention that imposes their ideas upon others.
This is a far cry from human sacrifice, crusades, inquisitions, female circumcision, etc. Sure, gay people can’t marry, but we would find it atrocious as a culture if they were stoned to death. Clearly there has been some progress, and hopefully there will be more to come.
Bringing people together as a cohesive group is necessary in order to overcome the obstacles we face in life. Churches are not the only way to do this, though they have proven their ability to do so with great efficiency. I guess I have far more positive things to say about churches than the gods they worship, probably because I find it easier to despise a delusion than it is to despise living, breathing human beings.