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VOICES | A Religious Atheist


13 May 2016 | By Si Zixin(司子鑫)/ Edited by Prof. Zou Shen(邹申) | SISU

  • A Religious Atheist

    Human civilization will not continue to thrive on our veneration for God, but rather on the very faith that we retain in ourselves.

T

he notion of God’s creation of the world and human has always been sort of a fraud to me, for I’m as good a fan of The Big Bang Theory as I am of the Big Bang Theory. Yet it has allowed me to ponder upon the reason for the existence of religion after my experience in a mosque, for when I stepped into the mosque and then paused for a few minutes of meditation, I could feel not the sense of absurdity I had entertained towards religion, but rather such tranquility, such peace that resonated with the prayers around me and later filled my heart.

Intrigued by this experience, I embarked, in pursuit of some enlightenment that might help me rescue a shred of comfort from the tedious routines of an atheist’s secular life, on the journey of unveiling the mystery of religion. And it was not until I had recognized some core values of religion that I realized how ignorant I was towards many aspects of the faiths that are relevant and consoling to life.

The most genuine virtue of religion I think is the recognition of our vices. I’ve learned from religion that the only way to deal with the devil inherently dwelling within us is to face it head-on, for instance, to let out our natural desire for self-indulgence during Christian Carnival, thus creating a space within us where it can be somehow honored and, meanwhile, properly tamed with regard to the merits that is actually advocated by religion: wisdom, kindness, tenderness, love, sympathy and so on. Only when we accept our dark side is it possible for light to come into our life.

Religion is more essential for it tries to teach how to apply these merits to our life, for instance, to yield wisdom by taking education out of the classroom, engaging us in physical activities--meditation, rituals, and then for us to embark on a spiritual journey where we learn its lessons such as Zen Buddhism’s idea about the importance of friendship and the inevitability of frustration. Such deeds would help with establishing a faith to cross the hurdles later in life: career depression, troubled relationships and all the other tribulations that people experience in a crisis of faithlessness.

Perhaps the defect of religion is, to some extent, its preposterous insistence on the adherents’ total loyalty that is rendered by the existence of God.

While religion has been trying to lead us to a better perception of how the world should be by putting emphasis on its virtues, it is not God that leads to the actual progress towards a better reality. Every breakthrough throughout the course of human history, particularly in the past 200 years, has been indispensable of the development of science and technology, which is propelled by humans ourselves. So there would be a sense of hypocrisy if we still refer to the very existence of a God that is omniscient. And if God is truly what many believe omnipresent, then I’d like to believe the holy truth about God’s existence can well be referred in one line in the movie Eat, Pray, Love: God dwells in you as you. The power of creation is held right within ourselves.

Since God is only a fictional figure, why should it not be possible for us to hold reverence for religious rituals and yet refuse to believe its supernatural deities, or to admire God’s compassion and yet shun his vengeance?

Human civilization will not continue to thrive on our veneration for God, but rather on the very faith that we retain in ourselves. So it would be possible to remain a committed atheist and yet find religion somehow useful. To know how humble we are but constantly take pride in ourselves for what we have already accomplished; to hold our reverence and awe towards the universe for its infinity while still believing in our potential that can be untapped by virtues. This should, perhaps, be the way we make peace `s\vl VE`s\v/span>

This is one of the featured articles by SES Writing Workshop. The author is an undergraduate student of the School of English Studies, Shanghai International Studies University (SISU).

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SISU News Center, Office of Communications and Public Affairs

Tel : +86 (21) 3537 2378

Email : news@shisu.edu.cn

Address :550 Dalian Road (W), Shanghai 200083, China

Further Reading