There seems to be a noticeable shift in the belief of God and religion throughout the ages in opinion. Today more than ever average people are claiming not to believe in god and the teachings of the Christian bible. This is not going to be a typical research paper. This is actually a confessional for myself to help myself come to a decision I have struggled with most of my life. This will be a hearing where evidence will be examined, cross-examined, weighed out for a decision whether to believe in religion with open arms, or to remain a skeptic agnostic who believes in GOD just not the religion created around him.
In this paper there will be witness accounts on faith and the possibility of the afterlife. On the other end of the scale there will be discrediting information to one of the greatest stories ever told. The question being asked is simple “Do you believe in religion enough to follow the faith wholeheartedly or will this article be the tipping point and lead you on the path to become atheists or possibly another faith?”
When you’re told as a young man not to question GOD some will listen, while others like myself cannot ignore gaping holes in stories taught to us as children. As an African-American I will give you my personal accounts of my experiences in the Christian faith which raises my doubts and suspicions.
I know struggling with religion is not only isolated to African-Americans but American and foreign nationality’s as well. “How powerful is the role of GOD in your life?”
I do not mean to upset those out there who have grown up in the church and are proud GOD fearing Christians. I just want to show the part of the stories that have been veiled either intentionally or extemporaneously. Just hear me out fully and then make your OWN decision after I have made my case.
- Argument Against
- Religious Recalling
- Memories of the church
My first memories of going to church are vague. Just splotches of places and people of whom I have long forgotten about since my early days. I was raised Baptist and while my family was never really routinely committed to church they did know the value of GOD in their lives. We didn’t go to church every Sunday or go to bible study until one of my mom’s friends asked her why my sister or myself were not going to church. I must’ve been in my single digits age range at the time. My mother’s friend Miss Johnson whom my mother also babysat her daughter at the time went to church two to three times a week.
I honestly don’t remember what I was taught in Sunday school or bible study. I just remember it was boring and I couldn’t wait for it to be over. We had class in the basement in a nearby church close to my town. I couldn’t tell you when we stopped going or even the reason why my sister and I never went back (I didn’t ask or cared). While going church was never a priority in my household my mom did emphasize that she was thankful to god for life and for us being healthy. I couldn’t verbalize it at the time in my youth, but I was having my own contention with GOD. When I was four, my father passed away from Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Losing a parent at that age really doesn’t impact you until you’re older and when you realize a foundational part of you is gone. That sense of loss left a bitter taste in my mouth, since I had to watch my mom run a single parent household. Seeing her struggle especially was infuriating. I asked the questions that any reasonable person would ask “Why?” “Why did he have to die?”,”Why do other children have their parents and I don’t?” I think the part that enraged me the most was when I told people my story the common response was; “GOD works in mysterious ways.” I’m sorry I didn’t see the bigger plan in him dying, having my mom struggle to keep the house my father wanted for us only to have to move when she realized she couldn’t afford it on her own, hearing her cry late at night because she felt she couldn’t keep the promise she made to her passing husband and kids.
I really didn’t want to tell anyone how I was feeling, because….well you’re not supposed to question GOD’s plan and definitely not say you HATE him for it. The tables turned when I was accepted into a four year college. I felt through the entire struggle my family and I had I beat the odds and had an opportunity that statistically was diminutive. I remember a calmness coming over my body while standing over my father’s grave with tears in my eyes. I had a mixture of emotions. Some of it was anger, how could he miss out on my graduation, my prom and the other moments that shape a man’s life. My other emotions were happiness that if he is in heaven I made a path for myself that was hopeful. I made my peace with GOD that day but my faith was shaken.
In college I became friends with a man named John who was deeply religious. In the college hallways it wasn’t uncommon to see him reading a bible while his roommate needed the room for “personal business” that usually ended with a young lady walking out with her clothes disheveled. John would ask me prying questions, he was a nice guy but really nosey at times “What is your relationship with GOD?” A question I never thought of. After months of haggling me about coming to church I finally agreed to come to church with him. Sitting in the seats of the church I felt like a two-faced phony. Pretending to read along with the congregation I was deceiving myself in the eyes of GOD in my mind.
I was doing what you would expect a college kid far away from home was doing. I was having sex with girls, heavily drinking on most nights, going out to the bars to meet girls. Going to church for me was something you have to commit to and I had no plans on stopping my lifestyle at the time. I felt going to church means you are done with all things unholy and you were serious about giving your life and being to GOD to serve his divine purpose. Honestly I still wanted more sex, alcohol and partying. I was living unsanctified and had no plans on changing.
I even remember in college I tried to date a girl who was a part of the church choir and she told me that I had to really commit to the church before we could date. Upon hearing her ultimatum I decided that I wasn’t going to compromise my position on going to church to fake it for a girl who genuinely found her place in her religion. We parted ways soon after.
- Preacher’s Missteps
During my high school days I was friends with Jennifer who also grew up in a Baptist household. Both her father and brother were ordained ministers. She didn’t come off as the snobby “I’m saved” so I better than you type, but when religion came up she did emphasize the importance of church in order to live a full life. During her sophomore year she became pregnant. The boy who got her pregnant was far older than her and had no intention of being the father in her child’s life she asked for. When she told her father he refused to speak to her for two weeks and her brother called her a “whore” and disowned her at the time. As her friend it was demoralizing to witness. At one point her father kicked her out of the house and refused to let her back in. I remember asking myself “What kind of man of GOD would disown his own daughter?” The fact that these actions were done by men, who chose to uphold the teachings of Jesus, about unconditional love to me was blasphemous.
- Religion or Spirituality
One question you may want to ask yourself, “Are you a spiritual person or a religious person?” They are not the same before you make that assumption. The most agreed upon definition of spirituality means “an internal process of seeking personal authenticity, genuineness, and wholeness as an aspect of identity development”. It also involves “an increasing openness to exploring a relationship with an intangible and pervasive power or essence or center of value that exists beyond human existence and rational human knowing”.
Religious by definition “generally includes the idea of the existence of a single being, a group of beings, an eternal principle, or transcendental spiritual entity that has created the world that governs it, that controls its destinies, or that intervenes occasionally in the natural course of its history”.
It seems the main difference between the two is that religion uses external forces and beings for which the believer praises and gives faith to. While Spirituality focuses on internal refuge to find a relationship with a pervasive power. Another way you can look at it to simplify things is with religion, man was brought here to rule over the animals and land. All the animals, all the plant life, all the mountains and hills, oceans, seas, fish and everything here on earth was made solely for mankind to use for clothing, food, water and shelter. Spirituality to me means that we are not at the top of the food chain but were part of the interconnectivity of our world’s landscape that our planet is made of.
We are a part of the circle of life and our actions or inactions can balance, counterbalance or imbalance our organic nexus. Once you separate the two you can now make an informed decision if you should take the spiritual path or the religious one.
- Religious Crusades
As long as there has been religion that has been killing, maiming and rape in the name of their faith. The most recognizable use of this recklessness of power happened between the 11th- 13th century. This killing spree between Christians and Muslims was known as the “Holy War” or better known as “the Crusades”. The intent behind the crusades was for Christians to gain access to the holy land in Jerusalem. Since the days of Henry IV Urban II in 1088 initiated a war against the Turks. Around 5 million faithful followers died for their religion within the first 4 crusades and another million is estimated to have died in the fifth crusade as well. The wars were to prove the superiority of their domination over the other.
To me this is nothing but using religion mixed with arrogance. It is horrific atrocities like this that makes it hard for me believe religion is here to help people in their lives and other lives as well. Even today in the same holy land there is still conflict that seems ongoing. While I know GOD does not justify murder, the hierarchy of their religions seems to put a blind eye into the absence of the Ten Commandments in the bloodshed of war for political and geographical gain.
- Rewrites in History
- Adam & Lilith
It is the story of creation, also known as Genesis where we know we come from sand and the animals were created by GOD and man as well. It is also where we first hear of Adam and Eve. We learn that a woman was created when GOD put Adam to sleep and created Eve from his rib. It is this depiction of the story that says women are to be sub servant to man since woman came from a man. “What if I could give you a different account of the story?” There is a Jewish folklore out in the world giving a different account of Genesis.
It not only says a woman did not come from a man but they were created as equal to a man as well. In this story Adam’s first wife was named Lilith and she was created from the sand just like Adam. There is a line in the bible to support this claim. Genesis 1:26-27 “So GOD created mankind in the divine image, male and female GOD created them.” This line gives a different account of the story average Christians grew up learning. In the Adam and Lilith version the couple fought all the time, mostly about sex (typical). Adam wanted to be on top during sexual intercourse, but so did Lilith wanting to be on top and dominant as well.
In the story Lilith decided to leave Adam since they could not agree and she became disgusted with Adam she called out GODS name (YHWH). GOD’s name was not allowed to be uttered or spelled out. When she said GOD’s name according to the story she flew into heaven. God summoned three angels to bring her back into the Garden of Eden. In my research I found this is where the story splits down the road a bit. One version says she mated with the Archangel Samael which made GOD angry and he punished her. The other version says he sent three angels to retrieve Lilith. It is then Lilith made an agreement with the angels in which she swore she would not come back to the Garden of Eden and as punishment she would become a she-demon who kills babies in their crib.
It is Jewish superstition to hang four amulets one hanging on the walls of the new born baby’s room with the inscription “Lilith-abi” Interpretated “Lilith -begone!” which some think is the origin of the word lullaby. Another version of the story (There are several of them!!!) says Lilith becomes a succumbus giving men wet dreams and takes their semen, which is the symbol of life in Judaism.
It just seems odd to me and this is just my opinion that the best way to make a woman obedient that is constantly challenging to a man, you have to discredit their worth and demonize them to make the next generation subservient to man. If Lilith was created equal to Adam and opposed Adam’s will, “wouldn’t that part of the story make Adam look weak?” “How could the ruler of the land and animals and the sea and earth be a true ruler if his wife refused his bidding?” I know I am biased since my way of thinking is tainted since my mother raised me along with my sister. I never thought of a woman as for me to rule over since they came from my rib. Even though Adam & Lilith is not a proven story but a story that causes doubt “Would you agree?”
- The greatest story ever not told
“Could an interpretation from a long lost stone be a key factor in the story of Jesus Christ?”……… Let me back track, about 13 years ago there was a stone found in the banks of the Red Sea. This tablet has 87 lines of Jewish text that date back as early as first century BC. Nicknamed the “Gabriel Stone”, because it features the Archangel Gabriel in the text. In the text it depicts a man named Simon who was portrayed as a Messiah who was killed by the Romans. The part of the story that is making waves is there is a command from Gabriel telling Simon in three days you shall….. Shall what?
Because of erosion on the Stone it is not known for certain what the exact word is next, but most scholars believe the passage goes “In three days you shall rise” Gabriel is commanding Simon to life after his death. If this interpretation is correct and this stone predates Jesus there maybe foul play in the greatest story ever written. If this story is founded in Judaism and Jesus was originally Jewish then surely he must have heard of the story as well or those around him knew of the story (think about it people!!!!).
“Is it possible that this part of the story was added onto Jesus’ life to enhance his divinity in the eyes of his church?” This is not the first time his story has been the focal point of controversy. If you remember back in 2005/2006 a book that was made into a movie stirred up emotions and had us asking ourselves did “Jesus have a bloodline?” The DaVinci Code was the book you couldn’t put down and at the core of the book it came under scrutiny. There were accusations of Jesus having sexual relations with Mary Magdalene, even having children together. Whether you believe what the Da Vinci Code or even the Gabriel Stone may denote. The inconstancies in the greatest story ever told have some gaping holes in them, these alternative narratives while different may still converge into the same understanding we have of Jesus in life and in death.
- GOD or another Way
Is there another way to explain how we got here? One theory on the rise has a community of scientist, scholars and philosophers seeking evidence of design in nature. The theory is called Intelligent Design. This group is looking for incontrovertible evidence that suggest that the apparent design is on purpose or if we are a product of the random variations through natural selection. The group studies and analyzes a system’s components and determines whether the item is a product of natural law, intelligent design or a combination of both. Once the scientists record the information they make comparisons with objects of the same type of informational properties. While this theory is relatively new it stills gives a point of view that holds oscillatory.
- Is it all in my head?
There is a hypothesis that challenges the notion that GOD exists. To be more accurate where he does exists. Neuroscientists are claiming there is a brain disorder that reacts to near death experiences. The reaction is supposed to concern the limbic system, the middle and lower portions of the temporal lobes. This neuroscientist explains that instead of seeing GOD they are actually being confronted with themselves. Support for this hypothesis comes from “The Forty Herz Component” usually used in EEG readouts. This component appears during REM sleep but not during sleep when a person is not dreaming.
These neuroscientists look at it as being “logged in as data” it is also noted that we use the left side of the brain more dominantly; we use this half for language to speak and communicate. On the right side is where the non-linguistic activity happens. It is believed on this side of the brain alone we experience sense of self. In ordinary circumstances the left side of the brain takes charge of most brain activity while the right side is feeding their other half with information.
In special circumstances in some cases in some people the two sides fall off kilter from one another and the left side takes over the left and right side of the brain. It is this hyper-activity that creates “the Visitor Experience” the sense that you are not alone or you are being watched, but when you turn and look no one is there. Also that presence in the room you believe something is there but when you turn to look you find yourself alone. Another instance is when you are at work particularly if you work on art or writing. If you have ever gotten that feeling that the words are writing themselves or that something else is driving the pen or pencil. If what we are experiencing is just unusual brain malfunctions when we see god or anything else, then we are our own savior and healer. “What do you think?” “Do you see yourself as your own GOD?”
- Negro Please!!!!
Now this might sting a little bit, but I have to say this out for everyone. For African Americans there is a particular abusive relationship with Christianity. When the early slaves were brought hear from Africa they had their name changed and also their religion was stripped away from them. Depending on the area of Africa the person lived dictated what religion they originally had when they were in Africa. The religions ranged from Islam to Orishas, Akan, Ifa, Bantu, La Reglas de Congo, Mami Wata are some of the religions Africans had before they were assimilated into the Christian religion.
One question I asked myself when learning about slavery was why didn’t the slaves revolt. There is a passage in the bible that gives insight into this answer. Collisions 3:22 “Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord.”It is one thing to turn against your master and gain your freedom, but what if it meant potentially going to hell for going against the word of GOD. I know there is daunting contradictions on the information I just went over with you. I am also sure there were slaves who chose Christianity as well and were not forced into it, but for the ones who were, to me it is nothing short of identity theft and fraud.
II. Argument For
A. Which one is it?
1. GOD or Religion?
There is a way to praise your GOD without being impacted by your denominations influence and views on subjects regarding spirituality. Agnosticism is the position that the existence and nature of god or gods are unknown or unknowable. Often looked as flip floppers by atheists and theists, most agnostics feel that it’s intellectually indefensible to make a strong assertion one way or another. While atheism believes there is no GOD, agnosticism believes there is not enough evidence to fully confirm or deny. There is a poll according to the Washington Post showing Atheism on the rise within the US. The poll known as “The Global Index of Religiosity and Atheism,” came to the conclusion that the number of people claiming to be “religious” dropped from 73% in 2005 to 60% in 2012.
There is another poll showing that more and more adults under 30 are not claiming any religious affiliations. This statistic increased from 15% to 20% within the last five years. There are now more than 13 million self-described atheists and agnostics, as well as nearly 33 million people who say they have no particular religion. So do not feel alone if you believe in GOD or question GOD because YOU have a few million people who share a similar view. About 19.6% of the population claim to be unaffiliated to any denomination. Why is that? Are they unfulfilled with the messages of their denominations?
Has faith withered within the last few years from scrutiny of religious public figures? In addition to the continuous accusations of popes and young altar boys being molested, I know other figures have come under fire for porn addiction and domestic abuse. I know we are all human and have flaws, but if you’re like me you hold your clergy in higher regard than you would an average person. It is this perverse, obscene lack of regard for the religious positions they hold and people they influence that I seriously consider becoming Agnostic.
2. Power of Prayer
If you have heard of the phrase “There is power in prayer,” then you should also ask yourself, what is that power? James 5:16-18 declares, “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. Elijah is also noted for saying,” GOD most definitely listens to prayers, answers prayers, and moves in response to prayers. Another passage from Matthew 17:20″I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, Move from here to there and it will move”. This may give you some insight into the power of prayer. Time magazine wrote an article on the healing power of prayer in 1998. There was a study done for 20 selected AIDS patients. Practicing healers in a variety of religions from Christians, Buddhists, Jews, Indian shamans were given the first names, blood counts and photographs of the 20 patients with the advanced AIDS virus.
They were not allowed physical contact with the patients or even to be in the same room. For a period of one hour a day, over a ten week period the healers would pray onto the photos of the patients. The results from this experiment showed less new severe new illnesses, fewer doctor visits, less hospitalizations and were generally in better moods than those in the control group. This process has been named “remote healing”, and Dr Elizabeth Targ who is the one who came up with the idea for the study. The Dr was trying to target the therapeutic effects of prayer on AIDS and cancer patients. While some skeptics said that Dr Targ used only the data they had that supported the original thesis, while ignoring anything to the contrary, you are the judge, “Do you believe in power of the prayer”?
3. Follow the faith by doctrine or not
If you follow your faith then I have a question for you. “How closely do you follow your religion?” “Is it by doctrine or do you pick and choose what commandments you follow?” Most people probably follow Commandment number 1. “You must not have any other GOD but me”. The second one “You must not make for yourself an idol”. So if you idolize anyone you are going against the bible. Probably every teenager and 20 something year old has done that. Anybody on twitter is pretty much committing a sin then since you are following someone’s life daily. The third commandment “You must not misuse the name of the Lord your GOD” I can say this one I maybe walking the line with this article I’m doing right now but hey, I already broke commandment number two. Commandment number 4, “Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy”. “Do you work on Saturdays or have projects you do then you may be committing a sin?” Commandment number five “Honor your father and mother” For the moist part I believe no one has a problem with. Commandment number six “You must not murder” again this is not something I believe no one would contest is wrong and would go against their own values and religion.
Commandment number seven “You must not commit adultery”. Well basically this comes down to “How do you define cheating?” Is it strictly the physical act or do you consider emotional, or intellectual cheating an act of adultery as well? Commandment number eight “You must not steal”. No brainer. Commandment number nine “You must not testify falsely against your neighbor”. I don’t lie on my neighbor; I actually don’t even talk to any neighbors. Commandment number ten “You must not covet”. If you have had sex with you neighbor’s wife or husband or their donkey either…..that’s a no no. Also are you going against the seven deadly sins? Lust; Greed; Sloth; Wrath; Pride; Gluttony and Envy. “Are there any sins that you have committed in your life?”
4. What is our purpose?
Probably the greatest and most perplexing question you will ever ask yourself. “What is our purpose?” “Do Doctors find fulfillment in healing others, Do police officers and firefighters find fulfillment in saving lives and fighting crime?” “What about the rest of the populous?” “Do people like me who worked in customer service find fulfillment and that becomes our purpose?” “Does writing this article give me purpose?” By definition purpose; means the reason for which something exists or is done, made, used etc, also an intended or desired result; end; aim; goal. The conundrum is this enigmatic puzzle in that we are ingrained in. “If we knew where our paths end would you try to take a shortcut?”
I think not knowing our intendment is what brings us into the either greatness or maliciousness. Is it the answer we thrive for that continues to drive ourselves? I know people try to live a “good life” just they won’t go to hell when they die not necessarily because they want to live a spiritually enriched life. I honestly have felt a sense of loss in my life and have wanted a compass to get a sense of direction. GOD doesn’t give out Tom-toms though.
B. After Life’s Afterlife
1. Is there a heaven?
Dr. Eben Alexander had an unusual experience that not only he cannot scientifically explain but claims he KNOWS there is a heaven and has proof of it. Dr. Alexander a neurosurgeon and until his experience four years ago he was a skeptic of the afterlife. In 2009 Dr Eben Alexander was placed into a weeklong coma due to an E. coli meningitis infection that was rapidly attacking his brain. Brain scans during this week long period show there was no activity in his entire cortex. It is the cortex where we have thought, memory, understanding and consciousness. Doctors gave him little chance to live and if he did survive he would have irreparable brain damage. It was during this week long coma where he had his experience.
“My first memories from when I was deep inside: I had not language, all my earthly memories were gone,” he said. “I had no body awareness at all. I was a speck of awareness in kind of a dark, murky, environment, in roots or vessels or something. He claims to have been in this environment for YEARS.” “I was rescued by this beautiful, spinning, white light that had a melody.” “The white light transformed into a face of a beautiful woman along with an incredibly beautiful sounding melody which then opened up into a bright valley,” he said. He also describes the valley with blossoming flowers and rich, ultra-real world of indescribable complexity.” Dr. Alexander also says the woman soared with him across time and space with him on a butterfly wing and gave him a message to take back from heaven.
She gave the message but according to Dr. Alexander she gave it without talking to him. She says “You are love; you are cherished; there’s nothing you have to fear; there’s nothing you can do wrong,” he says of his message. The part that gets interesting about this story is that after he comes out of is coma he is shown a picture of his biological sister who he has never met or never known existed before he had his experience. He claims this woman in the picture who he has never met was the same woman he met while he was in a coma and traveling to heaven. According to Dr Alexander who wrote a book about his experience “Proof of Heaven” says with his nonfunctioning brain activity the human brain is not able to dream, show understanding or consciousness. “If he wasn’t able to dream or even have the ability to imagine since all his brain circuitry was inoperable, then what explains his experience?” To give you an idea of how severe his infection was, normal sugar levels around the brain average around 60 – 80 percent and bad meningitis can sometimes bring it down to 20. In the Dr’s case he was down to 1 percent. This lack of brain activity for Dr Alexander gives his experience validity in his view that there is a heaven. Whether you believe his story or not I think the chances of this being a genuine experience is fairly high.
2. Faith –
Faith; by definition is a belief and trust in and loyalty to GOD (1): belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion. The firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2): complete trust. A quote from Martin Luther King Jr. says “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” The best analogy for me about faith is being blindfolded, floating with sound proof headphones while in a sealed air bubble trying to find your way home from space. I know that is a little extreme but I felt this gives you a clearer image of the complexity of the intricacies in this maze we call life.
Is it not a fact that GOD exists. It is not a fact there is a heaven. It is not a fact there is a hell. Facts are absolute and have been proven through tests, examinations and trials. Faith asks the person or persons to believe in something based on nothing but a leap of trust even if the consequence is great. The belief or lack of can define our state of being and determine we have a life of hope or it can bring the skeptic out of people and lead people to a life of doubt.
3. Belief in every day challenges
It has been said that GOD meets us where we are in our lives. In sorrow, in joy, or in pain. In this, I hear the phrase “GOD only gives us what can deal with.” Honestly I always felt that saying was just a nice way of saying “Shut up and take it because it isn’t getting any better.” Many believe I have a pessimistic way of looking at life. I tend to differ, but realize my views can be negative at times. I think my view on life is more reality based than wishful thinking. Upon reflection I know my viewpoints have been reality with a negative undertone. It wasn’t until a conversation I had recently someone told me that they thought I would change my thought process when I had children. It has still yet to change.
I have noticed that I have a tendency to be completely submerged into unrealistic outcomes when I think about making money, working out and exercising and other tasks. For example I entered into one of those publishers’s clearing housing entry programs. The drawing was for $5000 for a week for life. In my head I was already thinking what the money was going to be spent on and also clearing up my financial issues and also putting away a nest egg for my wife and I. The drawing day came and went and yet again nothing happened. I kept telling myself I wasn’t going to win but deep down I was hoping I was going to get the $5000 a week. “Can you have faith in something even with almost certainty it won’t turn out the way you want it?”
4. Where do you rank?
This is just a silly question, but as my fifth grade teacher use to say “There is no stupid question.” So my question is, “Does GOD pick favorites or does he answer prayers in order?” Let me paint a scenario for you, two men, brothers separated at birth. They both grew up into the Christian faith as children. One brother grows up continuing the teachings of the bible and Jesus Christ. He is raised by a loving Aunt and Uncle and they encourage him into becoming a religious missionary and then a pastor in his community. The other brother grows up and lives with his parents where the father drank heavily and verbally and physically abused his mother and himself.
The one brother started using drugs to find escape from his daily life. When he didn’t have money for drugs he stole and even prostituted himself off for money. He has been in and out of juvenile institutions. Now by judging these two characters by what I just told you one has clearly chosen the path for GOD and the other has decided choose a life of crime and thievery. Out of these two brothers who would GOD choose to answer their pray if they were in a moment of great need like a crisis? A non-judgmental GOD would answer the prayers equally in a genuine moment of crisis. To me anyone should be given the right for redemption and fulfilling our agreement to GOD.
C. What are you thankful for?
One question that popped into my head while I was writing this article was about the health benefits of being a religious or spiritual person. “Are there health benefits?” “Are they proven?” It is here your question will receive answers. According to Dan Buettner(AC360 Contributor for CNN) there was a study done by Duke university that showed people who belong to faith-based communities and showed up for services at least four times per week live up 14 years longer than of that people who never attended religious services. It does not matter if you’re Muslim, Christian, Jewish or any other denomination. The reasons for longer longevity are, it works well for stress reduction; it makes people less likely to participate in risky behavior and surrounds us with community.
Some experts according to psychology today say religious Americans have been reported to have more robust immune systems, lower blood pressure, and better recovery times from operations. It is argued that the reason for the longer lives is being entrenched into the fabric of the community and being involved in social groups not the religion itself. This is one argument I feel that religion has the upper hand, community may create the social events and support to its members, but to me religion gives the members a purpose and a code of conduct in a way.
2. Dumbness and Religion
One stigma followers of religion are constantly accused of is being stupid. If you are religious person your intelligence is outmatched by an atheist counterpart based on their IQ. There is some looking to dispel this stereotypical stigma on religious followers. One study suggests that intuitive thinking and inductive reasoning styles most likely lead to increased religious beliefs. Less religious individuals tend to prefer analytical and deductive reasoning. IQ tests only measures mathematical and analytical capabilities. This means the test itself is geared towards those using analytical and deductive reasoning which has been known to be within the same group as those who are non-religious.
In 2004 a study was done by Ellen Paek. She was trying to find the relationship with religiosity and the idea of emotional intelligence (EI). Emotional Intelligence is the ability to identify, assess and control emotions of oneself, of others, and of groups. EI includes four types of abilities: Perceiving emotions, Using emotions, Understanding emotions and managing emotions. The study performed by Paek was used on 148 adult churchgoers. The study found that the individuals’ self-reported religious orientation was positively correlated with their perceiving themselves as having a strong EI. Religious commitment and the numbers of religious group activities were positively associated with perceived EI.
3. Quality of Life
Religious people tend to be happier than non-believers in their lives. In 2010 the American Sociological Review says happiness boost comes not from any particular religious following but from the social joys of being part of religious services. Establishing social networks within your community and faith groups tend to promote happiness. This can also raise self-esteem being a part of a larger culture. They are also better psychologically adjusted than those who are not religious. Anxiety can be soothed as well by religion as well. The pressure of not making a mistake doesn’t have the impact it usually has because those who follow their faith can fall back on their faith to deal with setbacks.
A study was done in 1998 and according to the American Journal of Psychiatry found that older patients who have been hospitalized for physical problems and also suffered from depression recovered better from their mental struggles if religion played a vital part in everyday life. A study in 1998 from the University of California, Los Angeles says those individuals who are regular churchgoers are more likely to get preventive care. 75% of 1517 church members in the study got regular mammograms rather than those who are not church members. 60% of a sample of 510 women who are not religious and do not attend church services were also included in the study.
Lowering blood pressure is also a good reason to attend church. A study done in Norway in 2011 came to a conclusion that attendees of their church had blood pressures of one to two points lower than non-attendees. It also notes a particular correlation between how frequent they go to church as well. If you go once a month you have less than half-point blood pressure when compared to a non-attendee. If you go one to three times a month it showed a one point reduction in blood pressure. According to the researchers churchgoers may get a relaxation boost by singing, praying and performing rituals.
4. My life how I see it
I wrote this article to look for answers for very important questions that matters to me. My struggles with religion have always left an empty spot within me. “Was it the combination of not growing up in a deeply religious household my issue?” “Was it that I blamed GOD for my father’s death and seen it as a horrific act against myself and my family?” “Was I using my hatred of GOD as an excuse to drink and party knowing I was straying away from the church?” An old girlfriend of mine use to hate being around me sometimes, because I was always cursing and saying the word “GODDAMN”.
This offended her being that she was a moderate religious person and says that word was the most disrespectful thing anyone can say. I don’t know if I have done a one-eighty yet but I haven’t said that phrase in about two years. I’m a married man with children. It is this state of where I am in life that keeps me asking myself “Is it time to open up to the church once again?”
You have heard documented evidence that discredits the Christian GOD-fearing world. Information that cannot be proven without a shadow of a doubt, but has raised significant questions and doubt around what is or isn’t real about the Christian faith. “Would Jesus story be any less miraculous if he died on the cross and did not come back to life?”
In my argument about religion I talked about a neuroscientist who says he saw heaven while he was in a coma for a week and has evidence of this world beyond our world. “Is GOD real of is he all in our head?” says some Agnostics who blame our brain for being our own higher power. Honestly to me none of any of the research matters. What does matter is believing in something more than yourself.
“Has this paper made a believer out of me?” This paper was never to definitively prove that GOD and religion are real forces in our world and beyond. This project for me was to set my internal compass. To bring me to a starting point where I can finally choose my path and make a clearer decision based both logical and spiritual evidence. “What is your choice?”………….