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Religion is a Choice October 27, 2009

Posted by jetson in Personal.
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Religion should always be a choice. Given the current variety of religions in the world today, as well as the many religions that have come and gone throughout history, we know beyond a doubt, that even if one of those religions is the true belief system, it cannot force everyone to believe. People must decide for themselves at some point. Of course, there’s always an exception.

There are also cultures that teach their religious beliefs to their children from birth. Those cultures don’t tolerate non-believers, so in some sense, there really seems to be no choice at all. But history shows that even in the most strict religious cultures, there are infidels. Many of them are punished severely, even killed for their infidelity. So where does choice come in?

From the stories I have heard in my limited exposure and lifetime, religious decisions come at almost any age, and in every culture. Many modern humans are exposed to the myriad cultures, religions, ideologies, and beliefs due to so much immigration between countries around the world. This mixing is a veritable melting pot of views and beliefs that each person is exposed to in some way on almost a daily basis. In the United States, we are taught at an early age to be considerate of the beliefs and customs of different cultures. This has also resulted in what I call a cross-pollination of religions between people of different cultures. In other words, a Muslim can decide to become a Christian.

For many believers, the thought of no religion at all is not really an option. They seem to believe that any religion is better than none, even when that religion competes directly with their own. But one of the choices for many people is to become non-religious, and even atheist. Atheism is on a fast rise in the western world at the moment, and some people believe it is caused by the growing body of scientific knowledge and discovery that appears to replace what religion used to teach without question. Science, to be clear, is not a choice, it is knowledge. One can choose to understand, and even refute the knowledge gained by science, but it is not a belief system.

Many major religions today are competing for followers. They are engaging in nothing short of marketing campaigns, just like major companies who look for new customers! Is this a sign that religion, like businesses, are struggling a little to survive? Maybe it is. Either way, it seems apparent that people do choose their churches, and even the major religion that appeals to them. For some, there seems to be only one choice from the day they are born, for others, the choices of religions are indeed many. And for others still, the choice to follow no religion at all is just as valid, and deserving of the same tolerance afforded to believers of all gods and religions available.

After all, if one chooses not to decide, they still have made a choice! (borrowed from Neil Peart of Rush.)

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