I don't think I'll ever know. I can't imagine not being religious, even if it was a different religion.
I find comfort in my belief in a benevolent creator and an ultimate purpose.
But I have often felt rejected by the community of those people who share my faith and outraged at the glib distortion of our religion's teachings by many of it's practitioners.
And then I feel humbled because I have a lot of room for improvement myself.
“There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.” ~ John Rogers
The question is geared towards you the individual, not a society. State your case.
Without. No conflict of interest about doing whatever the fuck I want. The whole point of religion is to control behavior, which societally speaking is a healthy positive, but personally I'm having none of it.
For myself, I was much less happy and content when I was trying to believe in a higher power (key word is *trying*, because a monotheistic god (at the very least) has never made sense to me on a variety of levels and I'm basically incapable of doing the Faith thing). It was impossible for me to reconcile the actual world and universe around me with religious teachings, and the inconsistencies of so many things drove me batty. None of it made sense and it was starting to eat me alive. So to speak. In essence the 'Worldview'/perception I would have had to have to maintain a belief in god/religion was in total opposition to what I saw/thought/concluded/observed/studied/etc.
Once I went through the process of sorting through my own view of things, which, in essence, is of more of an atheistic bent, I have had much greater happiness and peace than I had EVER had while trying to adhere to and believe in a religion.
But as many others have already said, it greatly depends on the person and his own disposition. It's clear that a great number of people are much happier with their beliefs in a religion/god than they would be without.
Also, the psychological challenges/inconsistencies one with strong faith encounters will be totally different from the challenges one without faith encounters. Both might be equally 'hard' - just by nature different. I also think you'll find profoundly happy people who are at peace while holding to a faith, profoundly happy people who are at peace while being atheistic, profoundly unhappy of both, and everything possible in between and within.
"...On and on and on and on he strode, far out over the sands, singing wildly to the sea, crying to greet the advent of the life that had cried to him." - James Joyce
It's fascinating that this question is addressed to the individual whereas the very meaning of religion (religio) is to rebind - to rebind individuals into a community.
Most of us lead alienated lives where community is only nostalgia.
And yet perversely we insist that religion is an individual choice.
But the reality is that for most in the world religion is assigned to them at birth, and very few people, mainly Protestants, choose their own individual religion.
Yes, individual choice in religion is perversely Protestant. It is a protest against the community, a protest against social justice, a protest against religion itself. Whereas most Christians regard themselves as part of the Body of Christ, a community that cares for the least of us and the most vulnerable.
They say an American is never more American than when they are alone. And of course America is the home of Protestant freedom, even freedom from religion, but most of all, freedom to be alone.
For the rest of us though, religion is the tie that binds.
Church for me was mostly life-enhancing and I was happier when I wasn't so thoroughly doubtful. I never felt controlled or bossed around or diminished in any way by church. I think if you are raised in a particular faith, it determines your actions as a grownup to a bigger degree than you think, because you're either with it or continuously reacting against it. I have a friend who is a staunch wiccan in reaction to her grandfather's being a Church of the Nazarene preacher. When I suggest there are other kinds of Christianity she could partake of, she doesn't recognize them. Which to me means she does believe in her grandfather's church. It's the only one she officially disbelieves in.
Last edited by Tiltyred; 09-01-2010 at 06:50 PM.
Reason: because nevermind