I call myself an agnostic, but religion has been a huge part of my life. This post shares my subjective experiences, and how they have shaped my opinion and attitudes towards religion.
My mother is a devout Catholic and my father is non-religious. Through my father's passivity and my mother's strong beliefs, a strict religious homelife was cultivated for my three siblings and I. We were brought up with the Vatican's versions of right and wrong, family prayer was daily and going to church was weekly.
Growing up there was a sense that faith and duty were bound together because beliefs themselves weren't questionable. With other siblings, I think this upbringing of certainty and rigidity strengthened their faith, but to me it had the opposite effect. I think due to my passive but rebellious personality, religion was always something to tolerate rather than to enrich. Church was a place not express my own thoughts, but to just be with them.
The first Sunday I moved out of home to go to university, I didn't go to church. That was my first opportunity to make my own decision, and it was made based on control, rather than on religiosity. When living at home I had felt powerless in the weekly situation of being woken at 7am for church. In the teachings of Catholicism, not going to church on Sunday could lead to eternal punishment, but that didn't cross my mind during my new Sunday lie-ins. The biggest unease I felt was the extent I was disappointing one of my parents.
My mother's response was a mixture of disappointment and passive aggression. Whereas my father could cohabitate by being passively non-religious, when home from university I was made to feel I had to be passively religious. It must have been hard feeling powerless to change your son's beliefs when you believe they literally damn him to hell. When I avoided talking about religion, I wasn't the only one sparing my mother's feelings because, although she often reiterated how much God loves me, she too avoided the obvious confrontation.
It's not as if I haven't had enough time in pews to give religion plenty of thought. The only conclusion that makes sense to me is agnosticism. Science cannot disprove deity, because God is not scientific. You can look at religious figures historically, but you can't make a scientific argument for or against their supernaturality. It comes down to faith, which simply some people have, and others don't.
I question why I should believe the one religion I was born into. My main conundrum is between choice and dogma: I now cannot have the latter without exercising the former, and if accepting the latter, I must surrender the former. To submit myself to Catholicism, I'd have to surrender agency, the very same thing I should apparently be using to get into heaven.
But the reality of any personal relationship with a macro institution is vastly more complicated than can be reduced to a logical argument like the one above. What it really comes down to is personal experience and from where one draws meaning. Even within Catholicism's supposed dogma, I have seen people with a variety of beliefs and attitudes. Religion seems to be able to attract people for different, sometimes contradictory, reasons, just how people are deterred from it for different reasons. I don't think it's for me. That's why I wrote this.