Belief in a god or other spirits does not require practicing a religion. I emphasize the difference between the two things: a belief in a god and doing some religion. Religion makes the rules for dealing with that god, and in some cases other gods.
If something like a god exists as a spiritual or physical deity, with or without interest in humanity or any of Earth’s flora and fauna, then he, she, or it must exist outside of human contact or detection. If not, we would be able to detect a god and the whole question of existence goes away.
Then, we are left to fight over religion, something we have done for thousands of years. There could be anything out there. But, if no god exists, which seems likely without contact or detection, religion becomes pointless as rules for interacting with something nonexistent, which is silly.
Over the years, gods of one kind or another have been given names. You’d think they’d come with their own names, but they need us to name them. Think about it. Why would they need names anyway? Is it so we can tell them apart? We had to name them.
What ever happened to these gods we named: Baal, Isis, Osiris, Saturn, Furrina, Venus, Odin, Thor, Mars, Jupiter, Diana of Ephesus, Pluto, Nin, Istar, Sin, and Mami, to list only a few of the many who were worshipped and believed-in by millions of people? Admittedly, a few gods got their own planet.
Many people claim to believe in some god (usually it’s Jesus in these times and parts of the Universe) yet choose to practice no religion whatsoever (often because some church or preacher pissed them off). They, along with atheists and many others in between, are called nones because we mark or write none for the question that asks what religion you are.
I’ve never seen the question asked like this—Do you believe in any god or gods? That is unless it’s being asked by someone like employees of Pew Research while conducting a religion survey. Many of us lie about that part and say yes when we don’t believe. Back in the 1950’s if you wanted to file with the Draft Board as a conscientious objector, that was the first question asked.
The question usually asked is of what religion do you consider yourself a member, or something very similar. But that’s no big deal.
A bigger deal, which is much more interesting, is that there are many people participating in and practicing religious rites and rituals of one kind or another (even preachers, priests, and other ministers), but who do not believe any god exists. Some of these closeted atheists should win Academy Awards.
Other atheists are made to feel welcome at places like Unitarian Universalist churches and are comfortably open about their disbelief (I honestly don’t get this, but I’m far from an expert). Most others are faking belief (Baptists, Mormons, Catholics, Muslims, Hindus, you-name-it) as best they can for whatever reason they may have.
I stopped believing in a god before I stopped going to church. In fact, over the years I was on-and-off or hit-and-miss as in I’ll try this religion thing one more time. I think that’s the case for many other people. The sequence often goes like this: belief based on what we are told, doubts from thinking too much, disbelief as doubt grows, hanging in there, and finally leaving the faith/church/cult/whatever.
In my case, during the process of my deconversion (not a fan of that word, but that’s what it’s called), I held a senior leadership position in my large Roman Catholic parish (aka, church). Before I left, I was on the threshold of moving on to a new job in another state. I waited until I moved. Then, I simply did nothing. It was easy, if a bit semi-deceptive.
I thought it was better and easier to let my term expire quietly and move on rather than to go through all the business of resigning early and trying to explain why. As part of the process of finding a replacement for me, future leadership candidates asked me a lot of personal spiritual questions that I dodged or declined to answer. I recall saying, I’m not the person you want to ask that question of. I was lying. I knew the answer, but I avoided embarrassment for us both. They didn’t understand, of course, but it was better than don’t ask me, I no longer believe any of this (expletive).
Three or four years passed before I openly and clearly said that I am atheist. Before that, I knew, or at least thought I was. But saying the words to any other person seemed scary. I was wrong. It was not scary. It was just the opposite. It was a relief and not something I should have been worried about. If friends and family can’t handle the truth about me, that’s on them.
If I lost any friends I’ve not noticed. Certainly, some relationships have changed, but so what? I’m sure there were some believers who added distance between us, but others would privately confess to me that they were also atheist or some form of unbeliever, or that a loved one of theirs was.
Only a few centuries ago, Christians killed fellow Christians, Jews, and Muslims over religious differences. Now many Muslims seem set on killing the same three groups, including fellow Muslims (it’s a religion of peace, don’t ya know?). In some places, Hindus and Buddhists seem to be at it.
They are all united in that they all get their holy tit in the wringer if you’re atheist. The problems and shortcomings of religion, while denied by many, are obvious to most people if it is not their personal religion of choice we are talking about. But do they ever consider how foolish it all is if no god exists? Religion becomes a symbol of mankind’s stupidity over the eons.
Therefore, I don’t spend much time hammering religion. I can, and sometimes I must make my point. But the key question should be do you believe in any god? If so, then religion is rightfully a secondary issue. If not, then religion is immaterial.
What religion am I? It’s immaterial.