The difference between belief and religion

First, let’s get this out of the way: I’m an atheist at my core. There’s stuff stacked on top of my atheism to facilitate esoteric reasoning, but there is always reasoning, according to some sort of logic. Having never been indoctrinated with any religion when I grew up, I have no learned concepts for fear of gods or an afterlife. The concepts are alien to me.

I understand that people believe things. I’m no exception. There are things that seem true to me for which I have no evidence. There are things I can’t explain. The difference between a religious person and me is that I don’t mind admitting that I don’t know. I have perfect solace in not knowing, if I don’t need to know to live a fulfilling live (for which my needs are modest and mundane) then I don’t care to.

What does supposing to know what the meaning of life do for me? Nothing, other than occupying my mind for a bit. I don’t need to have all the answers. But a person trapped into a religion might disagree.

Religion is an insidious thing. Especially organized religion. I get that people develop beliefs to make sense of the world around them. Some beliefs are grounded in fact, and some are not. But beliefs are always individual. This is where religion poisons the well. It strives to make beliefs held by a smaller group the beliefs of a larger one, so few control the beliefs of the many. To control the beliefs of an individual is to control the individual.

Religion doesn’t have to be mystical or esoteric. Examples of this are veganism, PETA, inter-sectional feminism and all related social justice lunacy.

They seek to control the beliefs of their adherents, poisoning their minds and seeding disdain for anything that doesn’t agree with them. For some, individual beliefs are sometimes stronger than the beliefs espoused by the religion, and in some cases, individuals inside a religion try to convince others of those beliefs. When people with authority inside a religion have differing beliefs, and depending on how much of an authority they are, reform happens with varying degrees of success.

It’s processes like these that changes a religion over time, usually with more secular slants, but the opposite is also possible (fundamentalism). But it’s still the few controlling the beliefs of many. And therein lie my problems with organized religion. I don’t care which religion it is. All of them are equal to me, and I regard the ideology of all of them dangerous.

But here comes the twist. I can fight, protest, and mock religion all I like, I can’t touch personal beliefs. Nor would I want to (although I will think of them what I want). I can effort to change them with evidence and reasoning, the final verdict is still in the eye of the beholder.

I don’t have disdain for people and their beliefs. They can believe whatever they like, but it’s the social poison called religion (and in a way, group think) that murks this marketplace of ideas, offering knockoff plastic copies of actual original thought.

More original thought, please. Think for yourself, and don’t be afraid to doubt.

Also published on Medium.