I Don’t Have a Religion

What Would You Say?

You’re in a conversation about faith, and someone says to you, “You can believe whatever you want, but I’m not religious.” What would you say? When people say they aren’t religious, some mean that they don’t believe in God. For others it means they aren’t part of an organized religious community. But does this mean they aren’t religious? Not necessarily, and here are three reasons why. First, religion is more than belief in God or spirituality. The fact is, everyone lives for something. While religion can be defined as “the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power” it is also defined as “a pursuit or interest to which someone ascribes supreme importance.” Some people live for God, others live for pleasure, career, family, money, their country, the planet, or meaningful experiences. That means that every life is a lived expression of beliefs and goals. Also everyone has a moral framework and a sense of right and wrong that influences how we live, how we treat others, and how we expect others to behave. Though our beliefs may be different, tjeu affect us in similar ways. Which leads to the second point. Everyone has sources of authority, customs, and convictions that are effectively religious. Everyone has a source of authority, written or unwritten, spoken or unspoken that they live from. While Christians, Jews, and Muslims have scriptures they consider holy, Hindus embrace other writings they consider sacred. Even many atheists look to books like one of the Humanist Manifestos or The God Delusion to inform their lives and thinking. Others look to science. And still others see themselves as the highest authority, trusting their intuition, common sense, or “inner voice.” In the same way, most people revere teachers or gurus as well. Maybe it’s Jesus, Moses, the Buddha Mohammad, or Confucius, or maybe it’s “free thinkers” like Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, or Charles Darwin. From these sources of authority, people develop convictions of how things should be. Christians and Jews have the 10 Commandments, but others have their own lists of things that shouldn’t be done. Everyone has beliefs about what’s wrong with the world. Christians call it sin, while others attribute the problems in the world to things like inequality, discrimination, or maybe using the “wrong” pronouns. In the same way, we all have ideas about what’s good as well. Christian virtues include love, sacrifice, chastity, honesty, and courage. For others, the primary virtue is tolerance; celebrating whatever makes someone happy. Finally, everyone looks for salvation. Though not everyone would use that word, everyone wants the wrongs to be made right; to find meaning, hope, and purpose in life. Some find that in Jesus. Others find it in things like politics, fitness, or professional development. In other words, everyone shapes their life around what they believe is most important. Which leads to the third point. Everyone has faith. Theists can’t convince everyone that God exists, and atheists can’t prove that matter is all there is. We all embrace what we think are the “best explanation” for the big questions we all face: Why are we here? Why is anything here? What is right and wrong? What’s wrong with the world and what will fix it? Whatever our answers, we all have some degree of faith that what we believe is true, and what others believe isn’t. That doesn’t mean that all answers are equally valid. Either God exists, or He doesn’t. Either there is meaning and purpose in the universe or there is not. But Christians, Muslims, Jews, atheists, agnostics, secularists, materialists all have some things in common; we all put our faith somewhere and that will determine the course of our lives—for all of us. So, in a sense, we’re all religious. The more interesting question is, “who is right?” So next time someone says “I’m not religious” remember these three things. Religion is more than believing in God or anything spiritual. You may not live for God, but something gets your devotion. Everyone holds to sources of authority, customs, and convictions that are effectively religious. You may not attend church, but something fills the role of scripture, teachers, commands, sin, virtue, and salvation. Everyone has faith. The most important questions in life can’t be proven by science, but they’re still important questions. For what would you say. I’m Joseph Backholm. If you liked this video, hit like and then share your thoughts in the comments. If you’d like to see the next video, hit subscribe and make sure you hit the bell as well to be notified every time a new video is released. If you’d like to help keep these videos free, your tax deductible contribution is greatly appreciated.