Elizabeth D Nunneley
Investigating Religious Belief
29 November 2018
Investigating Religious Belief
It was quite an adventure to investigate religious belief that I wasn’t familiar with. I don’t personally identify as religious or spiritual, though I do have some religious background with both the Mormon and Christian faith. When deciding on who to choose, I chose people I felt comfortable talking to, that had a higher likelihood of having different views on the religious front. The first was Anna Gonzalez, the second was my grandparents Thea and Michael Nunneley, and lastly was my mother, Tonya White. I started off all the conversations generally the same, “would you identify as religious?”; from there on, I had asked questions that both fit my themes for this paper, as well as pure curiosity about their background. The key concepts I chose for this paper were the following: the origin of the universe, death, and spirituality.
Anna says she is very in-between when it comes to say weather she would identify as religious; but she does identify as a Jew. I remember in the conversation, I had asked what the biggest difference between a Christian church and synagogue, her reply was much more in depth than I had expected; structure wise, they are very similar, however, decor is different. In Judaism, unlike Christianity, they don’t hang crosses in their place of worship. Out of curiosity, I had asked ‘why?’ (because in the Christian faith crosses are hung everywhere), she had said that Judaism is structured around the Old Testament, where Jesus never existed, and Christianity is based of the New Testament, where Jesus died on the cross for our sins. Religiously, the fundamental difference between the two is the Judaism firmly believes that there is only one god, however Christianity believes in the holy trinity (God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit). She feels religion to be more of teaching tool for learning good moral and ethics, as well as something that provides community. As for the origin of the universe, she thinks that Adam and Eve is a story, rather than the truth; she is more inclined to believe the big bang theory, but to think about how we became us is a thought to extrastential for her to think about. As for death? Well, in the Jewish religion, there is only heaven, so weather she is religious or not, the afterlife is what is is, but she has found a sense of security in her faith when it comes to the afterlife. At the end of the conversation she said, and I quote, “I guess for the purposes of you paper, you could say that I am Jew- ish”, the comment made might night.
My grandparents came from a united front as far as religious beliefs go, though they did come from different backgrounds. Both don’t identify as religious, but Thea grew up in Finland, and the national religion was Lutheran. My grandpa Michael was deeply religious and was a pastor for the Christian faith for many years, but he now identifies as atheist. As far as the origin of the universe, they rely on the indefinite science of the multiverse concept; the idea that we are not the only universe out there, and another universe created out universe, and that is what we call space. Thea follows the same belief. When asked about spirituality, both have a shared agreement that there is an energy that we can all tap into, though it remains unnamed, (and some call that energy God); they believe that religion is worshipping that energy, and spirituality is tapping into that power. Both my grandparents share a uncommon opinion that death is strongly correlated with reincarnation; more so that our energy always continues to move forward rather than just dying with us; it was referenced a lot in this conversation that ‘energy cannot be created or destroyed’.
My mom, Tonya White, believes that she that religion and spirituality are different and identifies as more spiritual than religious. She thinks that spirituality is more of a relationship with God, and religion is more of the act of worshipping that God. My mom was a firm believer in the idea of choice when it comes to faith, and everyone can choose to believe in what they want; that religious identity is just another way to identify yourself in a crowd: like the clothes you wear. As for the origin of the universe she believes that it’s entirely possible that both evolution and Adam and Eve are likely to be true or connected in some way, but the religious view of death from a Christianity stand-point seems to be skewed. She did state in this conversation that she does believe in both heaven and hell; but if God is love, how could there be a hell? I thought that was an interesting way to look at it.
Generally, I know nothing about religious faith, so learning about it, and taking the time to connect with those people that do have knowledge of any religious faith was eye-opening; Judaism especially. I wasn’t even closely aware that Judaism was built off of only the Old Testament, I also really appreciated the fact that in Judaism there is only heaven. My biggest issue with the Christian faith, (or at least one of the biggest issues), is the fact that God created all men in his image, gave them the power of free will, sacrificed his only son to die for our sins, and even through all of that, people are still cursed to eternal damnation? How does that make sense? Why create people just to go to hell? Anyway, it was something that I appreciated learning. There was a lot that I already knew, but hearing that same perspective or opinion about a particular faith, or sciences of the universe was really reassuring to me, and I loved hearing about that, too.
My mom had mentioned to me briefly that she wasn’t sure if evolution was real — and that blew my mind. I had to really enact the principle of Charity when talking to my mom about her religious faith and views because some of it I really disagreed with. I reminded myself constantly that I am here to learn new perspectives and to complete a paper, and that my opinion was not necessary for productive. That was my biggest struggle through this whole process. I loved learning about different views, and even a different religion. Overall, I think this was a great learning experience.