A quick disclosure about this post: If you’re a firm believer in God – or in any other religion, it might be a good idea to skip this post. Why I wrote it? Because I think more should start believing in themselves.
I don’t believe in God. I used to when I was younger, mainly because my parents are religious, but now I don’t. It’s that simple. What I do believe is in myself and in the process. In the persistence and the power of showing up every day and working towards what you want to achieve. I don’t believe that there is someone who is the One and that he’s standing a bit high above the stratosphere, watching us all, dictating what’s going to happen. Good and bad things happen. That’s for sure. But that’s not because someone decided that you will succeed or you should fail. Success and failure are part of a sequence of events that can sometimes be traced a couple of days and even years ago.
Let me clarify on the above statement:
Let say that you’re starting a new position in a company. In your resume, you wrote that you know a bit of Dutch but in reality, you don’t know even how to say “Hi” in this language. You probably studied Dutch in school and you decided that it will be cool if you add this to your CV when you wrote it last year. The company that hired you saw that but didn’t ask you about this specific skill on the interview. Probably the guy who questioned you forgot because he was hungover from last night, who knows.
OK, let say you tick all the other boxes and you start the “dream” job – let’s imagine that this will be a job you’ve always wanted. After a few days in the company, the CEO enters your office and asks you to translate a few sentences of text in Dutch thinking that you will do it right away. Once you hear him you start sweating and your mind starts thinking about your workbook when you were in 8th grade. Unfortunately, you don’t remember shit and since the boss is standing right in front of you, you can’t even use Google. The CEO sees what’s the case and he calls the HR personnel. 15 minutes later you’re fired. Probably even the person who was leading the interview is fired from his job. One innocent act from last year is not the reason for two failures.
Do you really think that God has something to do in this situation?
Do you really think that you’re broke, fat, skinny, alone, sad, happy, satisfied, hungry, full, sleepy, tired, sick, because of a higher power?
How Religion Started – Short Story
Since I’m not a believer I can’t really answer this question but I do have my own theory that I would like to share:
Actually, part of my theory overlaps with what Yuval Noah Harari shares in his bestseller Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind.
Humanity was slowly but surely growing as population for years.1 This great variety of minds lead to a natural separation. Different people started to have different beliefs about their origin. About what is causing earthquakes, storms, even the birth of a child. According to the Yuval’s research in the book mentioned above, the maximum “natural” size of a group bounded by a particular leader or purpose is about 150 individuals. Once that threshold is crossed, it causes a glitch. The communication inside the group becomes harder. Eventually, each different group of people starts preaching their own beliefs and this is how different Gods started existing.
At some point, the world was full of various deities that were unique for each of the different crowds. As you can imagine, this caused constant conflicts and battles for land and subscribers for the “right” God.
What’s the main idea?
The core idea of Christianity, because I’m not quite familiar with the other main religions, is to unite people.
I’m actually impressed by the whole concept and the people who actually come up with everything.2 Imagine what kind of people invented to the whole story – I mean the Bible and everything related to it. These people were true masterminds.
Except uniting people, I believe that the guys who come up with this concept also wanted to give a chance to the average person and kind of lower the influence of the pharaohs and the kings who thought they were almighty.
After the main concept was invented, they had to decide how to keep the belief of people alive. The solution: create temples, books, parables, symbols, symbolic acts, regular feasts, which people should obey in order to call themselves Christians.
It was definitely hard in the beginning but after a few generations, things become a lot easier. Now, the idea was transmitted in the family and since the majority of the people in the world believed there is something bigger, you had no other choice.
How We “Meet” Religion
Ok, you’re born and at some point of your life, you’re introduced to this story of a guy who dies and later rises. This guy creates 10 laws that we should obey. There is a book of additional rules that should explain how we should live our lives. Also, and we should praise him every time we enter a church. Ok, so far so good but you see later in life that basically no one is following His commands: People get divorced because of a infidelity; People kill other people; People steel; People tell lies and etc.
Your logical mind connects the dots and at some point, you ask yourself a question that everyone is asking himself whether he admit it or not: “Ok, if there is God. Why the hell he allows people to do such awful things to each other?”
Of course, if you ask a priest he will tell you that God sees everything and that you will get what you deserve at some point in your existence. If you don’t get punished in your physical life, your soul will go to Hell where it will suffer for eternity. We don’t have evidence for what happens after we die so we can only speculate. Personally, I don’t think something happens. I think that our mind dies with our body and that we’re no longer. End of story.
Nowadays, I don’t think that there are a lot of firm believers. Or at least I am left with such an impression. When I visit churches – and I do this because of my fiance or my friends – I see that most of the people are kind of faking it while they are inside the place. So, why then we’re visiting such places and doing rituals that are kind of mandatory?
The Number One Reason People Believe in God
Because they have a really good product positioning. Excuse me for the marketing term but that’s the real deal. Religion and the church practice the best marketing strategies known to humanity. They’re the best in the business when it comes down to word of mouth.
If your mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, grandparents, uncle, aunt, neighbors, your best friend, even your dog goes to church, you kind of adopt this mindset. We’re born and we’re raised with the idea that there is something above us. We see propaganda in the news every day. We say prayers when we sit on the table to eat. We go to church because other people go to church. Everyone around you is so convinced that there is this higher power that you can’t neglect this. You start thinking: “So, everyone around me believes that there is God. So, there must be a God. Otherwise, everyone is crazy and that can’t be true.” But it can. Well, not that everyone is crazy but it’s so hard coded in our DNA that we can not fail to accept religion in our lives at least not in the early stage of our existence.
If we start to rebel against religion while we’re young we’ll most probably receive a hard slap from our parents, along with a punishment. However, while we grow older, we see different things happening and we start questioning the existence of the higher power. This, of course, depends on our surroundings. If you’re exposed to too much “religion” while you’re young, you will either accept it with your whole heart or you’ll repel.
Nevertheless, the media and the buzz around this thing is so loud, that is hard not to have an opinion.
Why I think that Religion is a waste of time
In short: because if you want to be accepted as a religious person, you need to regularly go to church and do stuff that only gives us fake hope.
What happens when you go to church. You can confess to the priest. Pray for something good to happen to you and your family. Light a candle. Ok. All things you can do at home in front of your wife and kids.
But if you’re a believer you not only have to physically go to temples and pray for a good year, but your mind is also occupied by constant thoughts about God. About what’s good and what’s bad according to Him.
The church, as a building, and as a construction, is nothing more than a local hub for spreading the idea. One of the reasons Christianity is making people to be baptized is to measure their influence in this area – to count the members. A baptism means one more member. This means more income to the “cause.”
Years ago there was a better reason for going to church. It was like the weekly gathering of the small town or the village. A perfect place to socialize and talk to your neighbors about life and about your interest.
Nowadays, you don’t need to go to Church to do any of the above. You can get social at any moment of your day. You can simply add a couple of people inside your Facebook and create a group chat or a group conversation.
But that’s not all, religion does something even worse to you:
Why I Think Religion is Bad For You
Religion will tell you to pray for good things to happen to you. If you want food on your table you should pray. If you want to be cured of a disease you should pray. This type of mindset is not practical. You, for example, appeal to The One for a better job. But if that’s the only thing you do nothing will happen. Praying is removing the responsibility from your own actions. You pray for something to happen and when it doesn’t happen you’re like: “Well, it seems that I’m still not worthy. I should pray more.”
The suggested process by Christianity is the following:
Pray > You get what you prayed for.
Of course, this doesn’t work. Even if you get what you wanted, this won’t be because He heard your prayer or because you’re a good Christian, it’s because something happened and it’s surely not a miracle. You probably worked your ass off.
Christianity and other religion brainwash your mind to think that the only thing you need to do in order to achieve something in your life is to ask God to give these things to you. To go to churches, to sit on the bench, to light a candle and hope for better. This sequence is a passive way of existence.
If you really want stuff done, you need to be proactive. You need to do stuff in order to achieve stuff. No one can become a doctor if he sits around and only hopes that someday he will start curing people in the local hospital. One must study for something like this for years. He has to actually show up and do something.
While the spiritual life only asks for prayers in order for stuff to happen, the sequence of getting what you want in the real life looks like this:
You understand what you want > You work hard for it > You achieve it.
No God is involved in the process. Only persistence and faith within ourselves.
How is that all related to Minimalism?
That’s a good question.
The answer: It’s not so tightly related.
For a conscious person who is relatively intelligent, mass religion is not logical and it’s only a burden. Even though a lot of the religious beliefs are inspiring, the sole though to obey rules that are not backed up by hard evidence seems a waste of time to the average human who is confident in his own abilities.
As a tool that will help you find meaning in this world full of noise. Find freedom and remove all the things that are suffocating you, religion can burden your mind, which is the least you will want in life – a worried mind. Not that it’s not OK to believe in Christianity, Islam, or Hinduism, but your belief will bring some undesired thoughts to your mind. For example: I have not confessed this week; Am I a good man according to God? I must pray to get what I want in life, there is no other option.
When you join a religion you’re occupied to a certain level. You invest energy from your mind, body, time, money but the outcome of this investment is zero. Or at least is not measurable. If you feel OK going to churches, please be my guest. But my idea here is tell you that by simply praying and hoping someone else will bring you joy, you’re only wasting your time.
If you’re a responsible being, you don’t need God or religion to know what’s good or what’s bad. You, yourself know these things and you can decide what to do in given situations.
Your focus, determination, belief in yourself and your own capabilities can create more meaning, can help more people and lead to growth than any religious teachings.
The overall idea of religion and God is admirable – to unite mankind towards something bigger. Something bigger than one individual. Still, most of the people are getting this too literally. They pray. They believe that there is someone else who will save them or make them better. Someone who will help them get out of debt or cure themselves of a nasty disease. I get why. People need something that will help them keep them going in hard situations, and since religion is the first thing on the list, they choose it. But they often neglect their own powers and their own abilities to overcome what’s standing in their way.
Instead of praying for a better life. Get up and start working towards that life. Start believing in yourself first, and they consider adopting a belief that there is something greater.
There’s surely is something bigger. But I don’t believe is a figure, I believe is energy.
If at some point in my life I’m exposed to a miracle event that refutes everything I wrote above, I will delete this post, I will write another one praising God, and become the most faithful follower. Till that day, I do believe that you should first believe in yourself and that you shouldn’t waste your time thinking that there is someone else that will save you from your current state of being.