What is Religion? A Reflection

By Nik Froud

Before I start this piece, I feel I have something of a confession to make.

The project may have come across as a way of expanding Foreword’s readers knowledge and understanding of a variety of religions, as well as to gain an insight into the minds of worshippers of a variety different deities.

In truth I agreed to undertake this task for a more selfish reason – that being to test myself, to see how similar I am to those whom I initially thought would have polar opposite views on a topic we both care a great deal about, for wholly opposing reasons. I wanted to see how similar I, someone who has identified as an atheist since reaching the age of critical thought, was to those whom have likely identified as religious for an equally long period of time by (hopefully) learning about their trains of thought and rationality.

Moreover, I wanted to see how this would differ from religion to religion and how extensive these differences would be. Through furthering my own understanding of something I consider to be an incredibly interesting topic, it would also be great if I helped others in doing the same, by asking questions that one scarcely gets given the chance to ask, in a safe, closed forum.

When I take into account everything I was hoping to gain from this project then, it has to go down as a success. I found myself to be of a remarkably similar thought process to almost all those who took the time to answer the questions. We had all taken the time to think deeply and carefully about this subject and had invested a lot of effort into furthering our understandings of religion.

One of the areas that I had expected to find the main difference was that of rationality. One of the main reasons I chose to identify as an atheist is that I consider it to be rational, far more rational than believing in God. Given this, I was anticipating a gulf in rationality between myself and the responders but I was pleased that this was not the case at all.

Rather than highlight a lack of logical tact held by the religious folk, my questions had somewhat contrarily shown up my previously unfair assessment of the way those who follow religion to be irrational and illogical in their thought processes regarding their chosen deity. I found that almost every answer given was not only valid, but it also made sense to me on a logical level. What is more, many of the answers came across, to me, as being modest in their nature. I found they showed that like me, the responders were also in a state of constant search for truths that had thus far eluded both of us, pooling our similarities once more.

This was not the outcome that I had expected before undertaking this task, but it was the outcome I was hoping for. It has given me an invaluable glimpse into the world of the believer and I have been able to grow my understanding of religion and the religious considerably.

For this, I am very grateful.