A millennial dialogue on Religion.
I had a wonderful and intellectually stimulating discussion on religion, specifically Christianity and what I personally believe in, with a friend on Whatsapp and thought it might be good to publish it.
Things discussed might not be factually accurate (or correct) but it’s what we’ve learnt or at least know to be true. If anything said was offensive to anybody we apologize in advance and it is neither mine or Melody’s intention to do so. We are only trying to understand religion and our beliefs better and I just thought other people might find this dialogue useful.
Melody: How have you been?
Tarang: I’m alright!
Tarang: I’ve been contemplating my religious beliefs in the midst of all the bigotry surrounding homosexuality.
Tarang: So there’s that haha.
Tarang: Like, I’ve never been a religious person, by any standards. But I’m finding it increasingly hard to agree with organized religion and Christian doctrines.
Tarang: The only reason I go to church now is to make my dad happy. And the only reason why I’m in my church choir is to sing. That’s one of the few outlets I have to do so.
Melody: Just wondering, even if you disagree with organised religion, do you still believe in the bible?
Tarang: So many people, smart people, just follow their religion blindly. without ever questioning why they do it, or whether they should do it. They’ve been brainwashed into thinking that anyone else who doesn’t practice the same lifestyle as them is condemned to hell.
Tarang: I read the bible, almost every day. But whatever I read, I question. I look into the context from which it was written and try to understand why they wrote that, and whether it applies to our society and my life as an individual.
Tarang: The bible was written in a very sexually and even emotionally repressed society, over the span of years. It was written when oppression towards so many social groups were rampant and ubiquitous. It was edited by politicians who wanted to use it as a tool for their own agenda. So many chapters, so many lines and stories have been omitted and destroyed. The bible we read today isn’t even the original one.
Tarang: And Jesus didn’t even tell anyone to write a bible, or even start a religion. He was a revolutionist who believed in the same God everyone else did but just wanted everyone to chill out and start loving each other while other people were using God’s name and religion as an institution to oppress and exclude. The same thing what people are doing now.
Tarang: I don’t even take what Jesus says without going through that process of questioning.
Tarang: I believe in God, but I don’t believe in all the messed up shit people have been saying on behalf of him(or her idk).
Tarang: I don’t know whether I believe Jesus was the son of God. I’m still trying to figure that out haha.
Melody: Do you still identify as a Christian?
Tarang: It depends on who asks haha. Honestly? It’s complicated, but I’m leaning towards no.
Melody: I see. I sorta get what you mean with struggling with religion and what I identify as.
Melody: Is there a reason for you to lean towards the no? Apart from institutionalised religion and all, do you have another reason to not believe in Jesus/denounce Christianity?
Melody: Is it fair to say “denounce Christianity”? Correct me if I’m wrong.
Melody: I mean, I have friends who still identify as Christian even though they totally disagree with organised religion and the indoctrination.
Melody: That’s why I ask.
Tarang: I believe in what Jesus stood for, and in his convictions to a certain extent. So I do believe in Jesus as a person, a human being, a rebel with a cause. Do I believe in Jesus as the holy son of God? Do I believe that right now he sits on the right hand of the throne in Heaven? No.
I believe in God, the creator of everything (and evolution. I feel those two things can coexist if people didn’t take the bible literally. Do you really think the dude who wrote Genesis was an astronomer? Adam and Eve is a simplistic story for simplistic times.)
I don’t necessarily believe in the Holy Spirit (or Ghost w/e) but I sorta believe there is a force or energy of some sort that goes through us or works in us. But what I’ve learnt in psychology has taught me otherwise. That it’s all just neurochemical reactions and mirror neurons and products of evolution, etc.
I don’t denounce Christianity or any other religion for that matter. They’re all just rivers that flow to the same ocean. The same values I believe and are taught in Christianity, are also taught in Islam, or Hinduism, or Buddhism. My conflict is not with Christianity, it’s with the interpretation of the religion and of all organized religions.
Tarang: If society’s interpretation of Christianity is one that believes that people should follow the bible literally, without question, and believes that Jesus Christ is our one true saviour and son of God, then no I am not a Christian.
Tarang: (fyi I’m still figuring out that last point so don’t hold me to it haha)
Tarang: Like, the whole story of the resurrection is a bit too sketchy for me. While most Christians wholeheartedly believe in it and believe that it is the basis for their entire belief system.
Melody: I see. I think it’s a good thing you’re questioning what you were taught to believe in. You’re right, there are a lot — too many in fact — of smart people who just blindly follows religion.
Melody: And it just baffles me.
Melody: But I get that it can be hard to say that you’re not what you’re brought up to be. It is for me at least.
Melody: I’ve never really identified as a Buddhist, but I did practice what the religion entailed, for as far as my mum told me to at least lol. On paper, I would usually just tick the Buddhist column because that’s simple. With my friends, I tell them I’m agnostic. But I remember when I was filling up my details for Uni, I had to fill up what my religion was. And it took me the longest time to decide whether to tick Buddhist or agnostic. I think I ultimately decided on agnostic, but I don’t know why it was so hard.
Tarang: It is hard. Because like, our parents brought us up a certain way. They wanted us to believe in what they believe in. And personally, in a way I want to, because I love them and want to connect with them. But they brought me up differently from how their parents brought them up. So there’s obviously going to be some disparity.
Melody: I agree about how it’s because that’s how our parents brought is up. But the odd thing is, somewhere last year, I had a conversation with both my parents and it seemed that their belief in Buddhism wasn’t as strong as it used to be. So much so that my mum said that she’s not even sure if she believes in it anymore. And my dad said he believes in it because it’s tradition. And I guess we still do what Buddhists are supposed to do because to my parents it’s tradition. And that blew my mind because I’ve always thought that my parents, especially my mum, were true believers.
Melody: So it begs the question, how much of religion still exists because people think it’s tradition and that’s just hard to break away from, regardless of whether they truly believe
Tarang: Yeah I remember you telling me about that conversation you had with your parents.
That is a crazy, crazy deep question haha. It’s a question psychologists and theologists have been trying to figure out for a while. The whole concept of groupthink comes to mind, especially for radicalism, when entire societies and subcultures believe a certain thing no one questions it, either in fear of being rebuked or because of apathy.
I do know that religions are constantly evolving, and if they don’t evolve, they die out. Christianity evolved out of Judaism. Less than 1% of the world believe in Judaism now while like 33% of the world believes in Christianity (a quick google search got me those numbers). Even now Buddhism is evolving; with the whole surge of radical Buddhism coming up.
Tarang: I don’t know if that answers your question, but that’s what I know haha.
Melody: I don’t remember telling you already. My memory is failing me, sorry 😩
Melody: That’s a hard question to answer, so no worries. But the concept of groupthink makes sense.
Melody: Oh oh. On the topic of Christianity — I followed my friends to church one day and the mass (is it called a mass when it wasn’t a Catholic Church?) was about how one should be less self-reliant and more god reliant. That didn’t sit too well with me, but my friends really related to it lol.
Melody: Do YOU get what that meant? Am I just not seeing something?
Melody: The whole “be less self-reliant” thing.
Melody: I feel like that was code for “Don’t question the bible. Just believe blindly.”
Tarang: Totally. That also goes against our instincts towards self-preservation tbh.
Tarang: Cavemen worshipped fire because they were afraid of it. But once we harnessed that power, we progressed as a species.
Tarang: So no I will not be god-reliant.