Learning Outcome #1 – Artifact 2 “Do We Have a Choice to be Religious”
Journal Entry #1 Randy Otis (section C)
If religion is, as Bloom says, “accidental,” to what extent do we actually have a choice to *not* be religious? That is, is there any real freedom to assent or not in religious belief?
I believe everyone has the choice and or freedom to involve religion in there lives. Bloom explains that religion is “accidental”. There is some truth in this. Many people have what they call religious experiences, or events in there lives that they would justify as religious. Typically these would be accidental “forces of nature”. Religion is what you make of it. Many people base actions and events around them as religious. For example people on there wedding day’s base the weather as religious. “Oh God was really looking out for us today with the nice weather”. Or some may have a life and death experience that could be completely circumstantial but they claim it to be religious. Therefore I would classify most religious experiences as accidental.
Personally I like to live the karma way of life. If you do good things then in turn good things will come to you. I don’t feel I am a religious person, but I tend to feel like religion finds you. If you want to justify certain things you can take the scientific approach and claim things to be circumstantial, or you can base the events on the religion that you believe in. I don’t believe that anyone is born into a religion. Many parents teach there children what they believe but ultimately everyone makes there own decisions once they are at an age where they can figure things out for themselves.
Bloom is saying that people are conditioned to believe that religion is the reason things happen the way they do. If you are brought up into thinking that if you do negative things to people or yourself then you will “go to hell”, then I guess that you would typically carry that set of beliefs “accidentally”, because you have been conditioned to thinking that way. But humans generally figure things out for themselves. People that never sin or do anything harmful still have bad things happen to them. So how would we justify that set of beliefs? This Is why I don’t believe religion is accidental, it is your choice to come up with reasoning on why things happen the way they do.
Journal Entry #2 Randy Otis (section C)
What do you make of the relationship between the individual experience, on the one hand, and the fundamental commonality of the nature of that experience and its meaning, on the other? That is to say, James thinks that religion is fundamentally individual and emotional in character, but he also thinks that the emotions experienced by individuals are more alike than they are different. What would that mean if that were the case? About religion, and about the individuality of religion.
I believe people that are religious tend to follow what others have done before them. They look at the personal benefits of an individual’s religious experience and want to experience that for themselves. Everyone wants to be happy and fulfilled in life and if you believe that religion can do that for you why wouldn’t you follow that. You can look and see that it has had numerous positive effects on people’s life and want that for yourself, therefore following a group. You can have personal meaning to your religion and to your religious experiences, but ultimately you’re learning religion and basing your religion off of what others have done in the past. Religion is taught, you’re not born religious.
I agree with James in saying that people’s experiences are more alike then they are different. Emotions are guided by religion in many ways. If you are sad or upset about something you tend to look to a higher power to help you. Or you look to a support group like friends and family to guide you through your problems. Individuals usually like to know that there is a group to go to if something is wrong, or right. James believes religion is individual and emotional in character, I would agree with him, but where do you base religion off of? I base it off of what has happened in the past and what others have gained or lost from adopting a religious life. You can choose to control your emotions the way you want, but it’s easier to look at the past and compare how you may have dealt with things in the past. If I am dealing with a death in the family I may deal with it by praying or sitting by myself and reflecting on how to make positives out of a grim situation. I’ve learned to do that through advice from others.
Overall I feel that people start out following religion because they see that it is benefiting others and maybe they want to join in and experience that same collective happiness. But the further you think and reflect about your religion the more and more you understand that you create your own destiny. Religion then becomes personal, because you can relate everything happing in your life with your religion or set of personal beliefs.