Those who identify with a religion and those who don’t are constantly pitted against each other. This controversy, unfortunately, even extends between those who identify with different religions, as well.
According to a September 2013 Trinity College report based on the ARIS 2013 National College Student Survey, when asked to share their worldview, 31.8 percent of college students said they identify as religious, 32.4 percent of students identify as spiritual and 28.2 percent of students identify as secular. The last 7.7 percent of students just didn’t know.
My religious identity
I identify as a Christian, Catholic and monotheistic. I did not make this choice until recently. My mother chose to continue her Catholic faith into her adulthood, thus raising me as a Catholic. I fully acknowledge my right to pave my own path now that I am older and on my own, but I like sticking to what I know and have lived with the past 18 years of my life.
Understanding that my beliefs are backed up by doctrine and 2,000 years of history satisfies the more scientific, fact-based part of my personal belief system. Additionally, many miracles performed by saints and sinners alike have been proven scientifically that they are, in fact, miracles. “Miracles of the Eucharist” by Bob and Penny Lord is one example of this.
Regardless of having science to back up my beliefs, I crave knowing that there is something, someone out there that is bigger than me, larger than anything I know.
I am not perfect in my faith and I do not believe anyone is, regardless if they believe in a god, many gods or none. Do I have doubts? Yes. Do I question parts of the Catholic and Christian faith? Yes. Do I let my questions and doubts steer me away from what I have come to understand? No. I understand where my beliefs lie.
Was I throwing my morals out the window when I briefly mentioned how unnecessary it was for Gov. Sam Brownback to throw an anti-abortion anecdote into his State of the State address in a past opinion article? No, I was not. I was briefly pointing out that it is not necessary for religion to be thrown into areas where it is only meant to target one small group of people and rile them up. I know this because I spent one full year of high school religion class where morals was basically the name of my textbook.
Having a basis of religion provides happiness and the ability for people to have social support and meet like-minded people. It provides us with answers that cannot be proved with science. Why are we here? What does life mean? Religion gives opportunities for personal expansion and growth through finding and knowing oneself through prayer and meditation
Most importantly, religion provides a moral basis; it takes the rights and wrongs we learned as children and has made them the guiding way of life.
For those who do not believe in any gods, I question accountability and morals. It is understandable that you may hold yourself accountable, maybe to your family and loved ones and (in most cases) society. Other than gauging your morals on the rights and wrongs you learned as a child and civil laws, though, how do you hold yourself accountable morally?
The idea that religion cannot exist as a guiding factor in life or that it is unnecessary is absurd. “Religion makes us want to live,” Oliver Thomas said in a Aug. 8, 2010 USA Today article titled, “Why do we need religion?”
I could not have said it better myself. Religion makes me want to live my best life in order to see what happens after I die.
In times of need
Take a look back to any major moments in your life when something was going wrong. Either you muttered the word “God” somewhere during that time or you prayed. You may have even asked God to help you get through hard times in your life in exchange for becoming a better person or some other bargaining chip. Most people have an understanding of the Christian God, which explains why even those who grow up without a direct religion or a major belief system turn to him in times of need.
Let’s not blame insufficient evidence for not believing in a religion or in a god. There are thousands of years of evidence in support of most religions, many miracles that could not have happened through man alone and other affirmations supporting that believing in a god can ultimately make you happier.
I understand that not all religions are good or even moral by Western standards. I’m not here to tell you that you should believe in God or convert to Christianity. I want to, though, help provide insight to why religion plays such a prominent part in so many lives. When given a try, it can truly provide much more than you expect.
Jena Ernsting is a freshman in agricultural communications and journalism.