I very recently finished a class called Psychology of Religion and Spirituality and for the past three months I have been pushed to look beyond what I had believed up to this point in my life. It was an enlightening experience. While my beliefs haven’t changed, the way I look at religion and spirituality definitely has. I don’t believe in anything. I am not an Atheist, I am not anti-religious, it is really just not something I relate to my life. I love to study it, and I love to inquire about why people believe what they do, but I personally haven’t had any experience profound enough to convince me of something divine that I haven’t found an adequate alternative explanation for.
That being said, I was always very skeptical of people who were religious. None of my family are religious so I guess I had a lot of misconceptions. It was almost as if they were another species. I thought they were judgmental, pushy, unrealistic, etc. My class helped me to realize otherwise. I had a great teacher who really helped the students recognize that there are many reasons people believe what they do, and while the quest is unique to each person, most people can be categorized. 30-50% of religious beliefs are based on genetics! Who am I to judge somebody if it could be out of their control to begin with?
What really opened my eyes were my classmates though. They were open, honest, willing to listen, open to debate, and weren’t beyond taking things into consideration that they didn’t know before. These were people from all different beliefs and walks of life and it was very refreshing to me to be able to learn from everyone. I had never been able to talk so openly with people about religion, and I doubt I will be able to again. It was a one of a kind experience and it opened me up to beliefs I would have probably scoffed at before. I am honored to have been in the presence of such smart, thoughtful, eager to learn people and I will definitely be thinking twice before I judge somebody about their religion again.
I don’t think my class changed anybody’s mind, but that wasn’t the intention. We all learned something that was beyond what a book could ever teach and that is respect and tolerance. I think I am much more open now and I will continue on this path of, should I dare call it, enlightenment? I hope that everybody that was a part of this came away from it with the same feelings I did. Thank you Andy for a wonderful experience.