From childhood to now I have floated from Christianity, to undeclared, to atheist, agnostic, and humanism. Prior to this class I identified myself as an Agnostic. I defined my belief in the respect that I cannot know whether God exists or not. Following this course I have trouble defining my beliefs in a single term, but rather a hybrid collection of many beliefs. In this paper I will discuss my previous beliefs, how they have changed over, and how this course has had an impact on them.
Before I address my current beliefs I think it would be best to cover my initial beliefs. My parents followed Christianity, so naturally I followed their example. I was an avid follower of Christianity until I was about twelve, which was when I started asking meaningful questions about the religion. These questions followed the line of thinking: why is there suffering, why do innocent children die, why do people starve, etc. Much to my chagrin I never received a meaningful answer besides the casual “It is part of God’s plan.” I drifted from the church only to find it again like so many other people do when faced with imminent danger. I essentially participated in “Pascal’s Wager,” which basically states that the rational person would believe in God because the potential benefits outweigh the risks. However, my final break from Christianity occurred during my final deployment to Iraq.
During my tribulations with Christianity I was introduced to Islam. While among the Iraqi population I learned that Islam was not full of evil hardliners that the media would have most people believe. I saw Muslims that had the morals and faith that matched many church-going Americans. I had taken the time to learn some of the things in Islam from our interpreter and discovered many similarities with the “right” religion. One day a Navy chaplain asked to go on patrol with my squad, in his group prayer he asked that God allow us to “kill some heathens.” In a later patrol I was translating for a teammate using my broken Arabic; he said something that sticks with me to this day “You actually like these Hajis don’t you.” I cannot imagine why I would not like them. Most of the people I interacted with on the street had few differences with people in rural America aside from language and religion. They still desired to have a fruitful life, just as any human would. During my deployments I witnessed the immense suffering caused by war; on both sides. The final blow to my old belief system came with the death of my teammate just days before going home. I decided then that no wise, peaceful creator that has the ability perform miracles could possibly allow such atrocities in the world.
So I decided that with the morals I had already learned from Christianity I could live a “good” life without having to worship a god. It was not until somewhat recently that I realized these “Christian morals” have been around long before Christianity. In Dr. Lien’s class I was introduced to some of...