I had an interesting conversation Friday night about religion, and the differences and similarities between them. This was not a planned discussion nor a calm one. There is no middle ground in a conversation like this, as beliefs are just that, and many are not founded in scientific fact and cannot be proven or disproven.
What I found most interesting is how perceptions of other people change as you know more about their belief structure. You begin to understand where others' core values lay, what they strive to and what they hold dear to their heart. You begin to see them as they wish others would, rather than the superficial layer. It's an unalterable fact that everyone has differing views and beliefs structures, and trying to make your own point not only heard, but understood is unnecessary as far as I'm concerned because you will never change or alter someone else's views this way.
When you assign your beliefs to a label, I believe you exclude all other points of view from consideration, and to me this is the same as closing your mind to any other options. To me, a belief structure is something that may fit in to a category or religion, or it may be your opinions, attitude and way of life completely outside a formal religion. I have a very comforting belief structure that does fit into a label, full of love and compassion, that keeps me feeling good about my life, but I don’t close my mind to other ideas. I don't subscribe to extreme theories of religion, nor hardened science that tries to disprove religion. I think that a belief structure has to be very personalized to be believable.
There are no easy ways to discuss religious beliefs. I find this fun and challenging to be honest to have conversations about. I would discuss religious theories and history with anyone, because it is always a fresh view and is thought provoking. It's not a debate of who is right or wrong (to me) because that doesn't teach anything. To me it is a lesson learned, studied, altered and applied if need be. Or it is wonderment or curiousity about someone else's beliefs when you learn something new.
It seems to be such a taboo topic to broach, that I wonder if the reason for the decline in religious values and commitments to churches are somehow influenced by people's inability to share their views. It is a sad turn of events that in a society where we are proud of our multiculturalism and acceptance of others, that we cannot treat religion with this same acceptance.
People should never feel shy or embarrassed to state what they believe and especially in a country such as ours we should be proud to be religiously diverse without repercussions.