Christmas is, inherently, a religious celebration. I am, however, one of many atheists who still choose to celebrate every December. And across the thousands of Christmas parties that will take place some time soon, religion will probably be a carefully avoided subject.
But, why? Talking about people's beliefs should not cause upset or dispute. If it does, that is surely a mark of the people who are talking and not the subject matter.
I have never been of the view that religion is in anyway stupid or unworthy of credit. But, unfortunately, it was not until I studied GCSE Religious Studies that I was exposed to the sheer breadth of reasons why people may choose to hold any kind of religious belief. And in all seriousness, some arguments are really very convincing. We studied the teleological arguments, the ontological arguments and the cosmological arguments: all of them study the world, and use reason to suggest that a deity must exist.
Other people may believe in a God because they have experienced something that makes them certain that One exists. Some people need to believe in God. And some people believe purely because belief is all they have ever known. There are so many reasons why so many people are religious.
I personally am not religious. This is not so much because of any scientific argument, or even because of the atheist position of my family. I just do not believe in a God. I am sure that a lot of what is described in religious texts did happen, though perhaps not exactly as written. The fact remains, I do not believe in God.
Why? I do not suppose that I have ever needed to. I have never been in a position where desperation has led me to pray, though if I was, perhaps I would do this. The truth is, I do not like the idea of someone else having control over everything that happens around me. If I, or anyone, does something wrong, that is the fault of a person or people. I feel like to have a God would be to simply pass the blame to the unknown.
I understand why people are religious. And I respect them for choosing to believe regardless of what anyone says- their faith is something that I admire. If I was surrounded by death or misfortune everyday, I think that I would probably need a faith. I would need to know that there is a reason for things happening, and that there is a final means of help. Perhaps that is all religion is, and if so, that is okay.
I feel it necessary to pass comment with regards to more extremist approaches to religion. As far as I am concerned, religion is not what drives people to commit horrific acts, whether that is what they declare as their excuse or not. I do not think it right to condone other, innocent members of a religion on this basis.
No, I am not religious. But I am perfectly happy to share a world with people who are.