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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I'm taking a Religious Studies class

Why? Well, why not? As you can see in this blog, the topic is interesting and if I hope to write well on it, I should learn more about it. I see this class as a way of learning about religions in an academic way, instead of the obviously biased way one is educated in a religious school, or the highly critical way in which leading unbelievers portray it. So, wish me luck.

So far I have a couple of assignments to complete. First we have to introduce ourselves in a message board answering the following:

Introduce yourself with your name, major or possible major. Then, what most interests you about the course? What would you most like to learn? What would be most beneficial to learn? What comes to mind when you hear the word "religion?"

The answer was:

Hello. My name is Diego Lecca, I'm a Journalism major. I was raised Catholic but after leaving high school left that faith, in part because of disappointment towards the catholic church. After that I've been asking myself what exactly do I now about it, and what exactly do people know about the beliefs they hold. I would like to learn the core teachings of such beliefs, in an academic way instead of the usual glorification/satanization they are usually explained with, in order to better understand the world events in which they influence.

When talking about a religion I usually picture a set of beliefs with which a person sees and interprets the world, usually based on myth, sustained by tradition and held in very high regard by its followers.

I could have said I was an atheist/agnostic, yes, I could. But then I might have had to deal with the stigma that those labels carry. I did said I left my faith, so anyone could have inferred. But I thought it would be interesting to see the feedback I could get. So far I have had three responses:

I was raised Catholic also, but no long practice as much as I used to, due to the fact when growing up as a kid I was forced to go to church. Even over the years, I feel I have not lost my connection with God. I agree, I am also puzzled on what religious path I should take myself on, continue to practice, or continue to no longer practice.


"based on myth, sustained by tradition and held in very high regard by its followers."

That qoute just rolls of the tongue, I like it. I very much think that is how you can define religion, period. All are ideas that were created by not-yourself, but you hold dearly.


I was also raised in a very strict Catholic household, but find it difficult to practice like my parents. I feel like I've lost my way because I don't have such strong religious beliefs. However, Pascal once said, "Belief is a wise wager. Granted that faith cannot be proved, what harm will come to you if you gamble on its truth and it proves false? If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation, that He exists." I'm not saying it's the right thing to do, but it's something to think about.

I replied to all three of them. To the first one, I admitted I was also forced to go to church, but there were more things that made me go away from it. The second one liked my definition of religion, which I really tried not to say anything that might make me look like Richard Dawkins. There is no need for such badassery at this moment. And finally, the good ole Pascal's Wager. To this one I gave my longest answer, basically explaining that, first, believing in God because of the Pascal's wager is basically believing for fear instead of true belief, making me a liar; and second, that Pascal assumes that the god in which I would believe is true God, instead of the hundreds of thousands of gods that are out there.

Anyway, for this week I have to do some reading on a book I haven't bough yet. I'll do it tomorrow or on Friday. Besides, I had to watch a lecture on something pretty interesting:

The Six Dimensions of Religion:

It’s the language of the course, the method of how to study the information given. Six areas are highlighted.

The idea is that religious is not about one or two things. It’s a mistake to simplify and reduce it. With these six dimension we make sure not to miss anything.

1. Rituals: They are expected actions in a religion. They are expected to do certain things. Ex: Christians eat a holy meal; Buddhists practice meditation; Muslims pray 5 times to the Mecca. The goal is to understand the meanings of such actions.

2. Myth: We are not talking about the popular meaning of “myth”, meaning something that is not true. The direct meaning of myth is something neutral, a story, an account of events, may be true, false or a combination of two. A religion is based on a few core stories, that are sacred, revered by the people. Religions answer difficult question (how did life begin?) with those stories.

3. Doctrine: They are the core beliefs of a religion, the main ideas about truth, about how to know things. They are the most abstract aspects of a religion. Every religion has a set of core ideals, doctrines, and Truth. What is the source of Truth? Where do we look for it? After we know the Truth, where do we get the power to achieve it?

4. Ethics: They are another type of belief, having more to do with lifestyle: “How to conduct life?” “How do I relate to other people?” “How do I use my sexuality?” Every religion has a set of every-day rules, a code of conduct, how to be a good person and not a bad person.

5. Social: It’s relationships between human beings. While ethics relate to what should be ideal, the social dimension studies behavior. How to relate to people inside or outside the religion?

6. Experience: It studies the personal aspect of religion. Here we concentrate on what happens inside the follower. What do they think, feel; do they feel anxiety for doing something wrong, or a big peace. It involves the private elements.

Every religion has these six.

So, according to my class, every religion has these six dimensions. It looks simple, maybe too simple, but it is also helpful when one tries to understand how a belief affects people. I have to learn this in order to take an online test this weekend. So, wish me luck.


  1. Interesante asignación, a mi me gusta ver los temas de religión, por lo general con una lupa de antropólogo o sociólogo (aunque no soy nada de eso).

    Creo que podrías analizar también, el camino a la felicidad. Quizá ver si los ateos pueden ser también felices, dentro de lo extensivo que puede significar el concepto "felicidad". Digo esto porque creo que la finalidad de todo el esfuerzo que hacemos por seguir una religión, o una filosofía, o no seguirlas... o buscar la verdad o evitarla, es tratar de ser felices.

    ¿Puede ser un ateo feliz? ¿cómo demostrárselo a los religiosos?

    No creo que sea muy "digno" hacer una carrera de "quien es mas o menos feliz"... eso irónicamente podría ser muy infeliz, forzando las cosas y tirando el asunto para quien guste de una u otra posición. Mas bien podrías empezar por algo como ver si, en principio, un ateo es feliz o puede alcanzar la felicidad y sentirse bien consigo mismo y con el mundo que lo rodea. (Tendrías que hablar con muchos viejitos ateos, jajaja)

    Jorge A. Baudouin

  2. ¿Viejitos ateos? jaja
    habemos jovenes ateos que no esperaron llegar a la edad proterva para descreer.
    Por otro lado Diego me ha parecido interesante eso de las 6 dimensiones de las religiones. Es una buena manera de reconocerlas asi ellas digan que carecen de algunas pero basicamente cualquier conjunto mas o menos organico de estas sandeces van a caer en los 6 aspectos mencionados.
    Siempre es reconfortate leerte.
    Hector Arias

  3. Creo que a lo que Koky se refiere es que si hay viejitos ateos, estos sabrían decir con más certeza cuanta posibilidad de ser feliz hay. Sin embargo, creo que cada quien puede ser feliz a su manera y a la edad que tiene.

    Lo de las 6 dimensiones es interesante y útil en el sentido de que te da un orden para enfocar lo que quieras opinar sobre esta. Y si uno la va a criticar, ayuda a no simplificarla en extremo, al menos no de buenas a primeras, sino luego de haberse informado sobre el asunto.

    Mañana tengo que hacer un test, a ver que tal me va.


Blasfema libremente

"Que esté permitido a cada uno pensar como quiera; pero que nunca le esté permitido perjudicar por su manera de pensar" Barón D'Holbach
"Let everyone be permitted to think as he pleases; but never let him be permitted to injure others for their manner of thinking" Barón D'Holbach