Last week, I went to an open-air museum with my parents. It`s a museum based on the three religions (Christianity, Judaism, Islam) and their history. This means there are old Arabian villages, reconstructions of buildings from Biblical stories, a Roman town and Egyptian houses, you name it.
It was a fun day. There were people around dressed in old clothing, you could learn some old trades like basket weaving, talk to Romans, or have Roman tea at a restaurant where all the staff walks in (semi-)traditional clothing.
As an atheist myself, I find it hard (though I do try) to understand why people are religious. The entire idea that there is some being out there who would find you, one measly human in 7 billion, amongst all other animals on one measly planet in a huge galaxy, important enough to punish for what you`re doing wrong, or to treat you for what you`re doing right. That an all-knowing and all-powerful being would look at everything one tiny human has done in its short life and decide how it should spend eternity. The idea that a god even exists. It just doesn`t work in my mind.
Don`t get me wrong, if you`re religious I will not try to turn you into an atheist. I admire your ability to believe in something like this and find strength from it. I sure can`t do it myself. But if you`re around me, and you proclaim yourself religious, there will come a day that I ask you about it. And it`s just because I have a ridiculous amount of curiosity for everything around me, a need to try and understand things, including religion.
And I do think it`s important, as a religious person but also as an atheist or agnostic or any other kind of non-believer, to learn about religion and its history nonetheless. Religion plays a huge part in both history and everyday life, and ignoring it because you`re not religious would mean ignoring very important parts of history. So many wars, so many deaths, so many changes, because of religion. Religion has shaped the world we live in, and will continue to do so for a very long time to come. It would be absolutely ignorant to just ignore the role religion has played in the world.
That said, while I think non-believers should learn about religion anyway, so should religious people. Don`t dismiss other people`s religions or non-religions because they`re not yours. We don`t know who`s right and who`s wrong, and doesn`t religion teach you to be kind to everyone regardless?
It`s easy to accuse religious people of not being very tolerant, being over-enthusiastic, and generally only being a “good person” because their religion tells them to instead of it being the good thing to do anyway. It`s easy, as a non-believer, to bash religion, ridicule it, oppose it. I don`t want to go there.
I guess what I`m trying to say (as carefully as I can, religion is a minefield and one wrong step can bring me a lot of trouble), is that even if I don`t believe in anything myself, I have a lot of respect for and curiosity about people who do. I believe that we shouldn`t judge anyone about anything that makes them happy, as long as they`re not hurting anyone.
And there is such a wealth of interesting history that comes with religion, it`s worth learning more about it.
(Photos made, edited and copyrighted by me, please do not use without my written permission. Thanks!)