I won’t attempt to put up any front: I’ve never been a very religious soul. Despite going to church often as a child, I never really felt a sense of identification with religion. In fact, I felt something of a disconnect, perhaps due to the mandatory nature of my attendance. Not only did the ideas behind other worldly faith seem counter intuitive to a boy obsessed with gazing at both Petri dishes and the stars, but it also seemed a bit too fanciful.
Despite my movement away from it, though, I would never say I acted in an outlandish or egregious manner. I respected the beliefs of others, even if they were different from my own. Now, much of the same sentiment is true today, but I feel that I am realizing a certain utility to religion, or more specifically, spirituality in general.
Before I go on, I want to reiterate my intent not to offend believers of any faith or pathway. I have immense respect for those faithful to a religion, and in some ways I am regretful of my strictly scientific outlook on the world. If anything, I’d like to urge you to keep on believing, and here’s why:
Faith Serves as Guidance to Something Greater
Because I spent my childhood in a religious setting, I frequently interacted with those on a spiritual pathway. As I became older, I soon realized the majority of those around me were on such pathways, with focuses on different religions and belief systems. In some fashion or another, it seemed everyone had some guiding principle – something “higher up” that they clung to.
Upon self-reflection, I discovered I too had this – it was just embodied as something my mind perceived as scientific and logical. And that’s when it hit me: faith is not simply a child of religion. Rather, faith is both the product and prerequisite to all beliefs. It is a motivator of guidance and mental balance. Having faith in your beliefs can rescue you from doubt, earn respect from others, and above all, provide you with a model to follow, or at least a rationale for how to live your life.
After rereading the teachings of Jesus Christ, after exploring Eastern religion, after discussing personal spirituality with family, friends, and strangers, I’ve discovered one main undercurrent: each form of faith is in pursuit of better living. Faith in something beyond the self consistently finds itself in the business of helping others, and there is always business to be sought out.
For that, I find myself seeking new forms of faith to read up on, discuss, and pick apart in my mind. I have even come to develop my own set of beliefs, all based on the faith I have in myself, my fellow people, and the universe as a whole.
Often people point out that faith is blind – it is a belief in the unknown. I say this is what dares us to dream and what motivates us to move forward. Find a religion that speaks to you or develop your own set of beliefs. Whatever it is, it is crucial to believe in something, however outrageous it may be.
No one person can know all there is to know, and because of that, you’ve got to have faith.
Originally posted June 20th 2011.