(Closed) Is Being Religious a Choice?

posted 8 years ago in The Lounge
Post # 107
6354 posts
Bee Keeper

I would say not really, but sort of!

It isn’t a choice because I can’t force myself to believe in something I don’t (I’m an atheist btw, so that means Ganesha, Allah, Jesus, God, etc., are all equally not “real” entities to me).

But I was born into a Christian family, and I WAS religious, until I was about 7 years old and it all started to fall apart in my mind.

So I’ve been both religious and not religious. I could have probably stayed religious if I had a personality trait that tended to avoid investigative thought, cognitive dissonance, and hard truths (because I’d prefer there was a God to mete out justice, but I can’t justify beliving in it just because I’d prefer it to be true). In that sense it is a choice.

I have looked into other religions but none of the theistic ones speak to me. The non-theistic ones are more my style but I’m a very, very non-superstitious person so, I just really don’t find any organized religions fit for me. Once again… not a choice, because I’d prefer if there was a religious community that I could be a part of, that believed in something I honestly did believe in too!

Post # 108
887 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2013

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@joya_aspera:  I feel the exact same way! I think it would be really nice if there were a God and a Heaven and all those sorts of things. I just can’t rationalize it in my mind. I hung onto religion until I was about 15, but the more I learned in school and independently, the more it just unravelled… 

Sometimes I really wish that I had religion – so many comforting thoughts to hold onto, and the community aspect seems nice – but I can’t delude myself into thinking I believe something that I don’t believe. For me, it’s not a choice. 

Post # 109
108 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: July 2012

I know this is a couple of weeks old but I really wanted to throw my two cents in. :

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@JoolyBee:  Agreed with most of your views (if I’m understanding one in particular correctly) and the evolutionary psychology of religion theory which it seems like you’re describing is the theory that seems to be most practical and logical to me compared to theories like the VMAT2 gene (“God gene”) in how religion evolved in hominids. And to expand on what you said, it was also used to explain things that they had no other way of explaining such as lightning, thunder, complexities of life such as death, and those types of things. 

I only digress as an atheist and still having a belief system. Technically I identify as a secular humanist, but that’s atheism with some icing on top, lol. I look at science not as a belief system in exchange for religion/faith in a god, but to understand how things are the way they are, not why, what advances in science can be made to understand them further, sometimes in a way to disprove a hypothesis, with specific areas of science I’m interested and involved in, I look at what can be done for improvement of people’s lives with it and go from there. I don’t attempt to replace a god or religion with science. 🙂


As for the question. I don’t believe it’s always a choice for everyone. Despite my thoughts on past evolutionary history, evolution still continues and I often wonder if some people such as myself have missed that evolutionary need. I was raised in a very religious LDS (Mormon) home and I could never make myself have any belief not just in the religion, but in God. It tormented me for years during my childhood and I cried, prayed, read my scriptures, pray for 3-4 hours at a time, crying and then go to bed and cry myself to sleep thinking I was broken because I COULDN’T find any part of me that had faith or believed. I was 8, 9, 10 years old during the time I did this. As I got a little older, I was afraid of my thoughts and I started disconnecting from them so I wouldn’t have any chance of sinful thoughts. By 7th grade, I had panic attacks over my fear of what was going to happen when I died that would hit in the middle of my classes and were so severe I’d end up going home for the rest of the day. I finally realized when I was just starting 8th grade that I didn’t believe in God and I had all of these reasons why that made more sense than belief and faith and I thought about not having belief or faith in God anymore in my bedroom for a while, let it sink in, and once it did I felt relief and no longer in constant fear. It took a while to fully adjust to the idea, but my panic attacks stopped, my need to block my thoughts and repent at every chance went away, I didn’t feel shame, guilt, fear, or paranoia any longer. I finally told my parents when I was 16 and they were really calm about it.

I have tried attending other churches aside from just an LDS church. I’ve tried many times to “find God” and in every church I went to, it never felt good. I felt the same kinds of feelings from my past. I also felt lied to, like it was a production, and finding genuine people would be near impossible. (I mean no offense.) I stuck it out for a long time at a few churches (around a year) and I couldn’t do it anymore.

I’m unable to have any religious belief or faith. I’ve tried and tried my whole life and I just lack the ability.

Post # 110
101 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: April 2013

First off I wanted to clarify that Buddhism is inherently an atheistic philosophy- I consider myself an agnostic Buddhist.  So, faith in God that is found in religions like Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, would not be found in Buddhism.


As to whether faith is a choice or not, I think it is a choice driven by the incredibly powerful desire to preserve the self. I would argue that everyone has faith.  Faith is defined as confidence or trust in a person or thing.  For example:  I have faith that I will wake up in the morning, and that the water will be hot when I get in the shower.  I have faith that when I get into my car and turn the key, it will start up.  While this kind of faith is rather ordinary, it is faith indeed.  Imagine the anxiety of a life without this most basic faith.  I’m not sure that we would have been able to survive without the capacity for the most basic of expectations, but thats just my opinion.  This kind of faith is based on experience and history.  I believe these things, because they have proven to be true time and time again, aside from the occasional dead battery or cold shower.


I would guess that faith in a deity is an extension of the potential for the ordinary faith that we all posses.  I think that faith falls on some sort of continuum of more or less.  I think faith deepens when it is tied to an experience or ritual that offers the believer validation.  The choice is in what we choose to put our faith in, not the faith itself, if this makes sense at all, and I think this choice is based on many different factors as outlined in all of your responses. Really interesting topic!


Post # 112
553 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: July 2013

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@mrsscribbles:  Sorry for the late reply, I’ve been living on reddit in my spare time and haven’t logged in to the bee for a while.

I really enjoyed reading what you had to say, and thank you for sharing your past with me.

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