Religion as a conversation topic was suggested very early on, in the beginning of Cut The Small Talk movement, when we didn’t know how to approach the topic without it being divisive. However, after almost a year’s experience of tackling potentially touchy topics like affairs, death, and drugs and realising that it is indeed possible to keep the evening relatively thought provoking yet civil, we decided to bring it to life.
Making a point of stating that we’re not interested in debating whose beliefs were more legit than others, at the beginning of the Dinner, we also stressed the focus on discussing how everyone was personally affected by their religions (or not), and how relationships, morality, etc were influenced by them.
Below are some discussion topics and takeaways, feel free to give us your comments!
Religion as Coping Mechanism
- Some people use religion as the answer to big, difficult questions (like the meaning of life, why hardships happen, etc), for accountability and credit (someone or something MUST have created the world as we know it today and therefore helps us understand why things happen), and for moral guidance (someone is listening when I say a prayer; someone is judging, therefore I am guided on what is right and wrong).
- Believing something is higher than us, therefore instills discipline – do people require supervision in the literal and spiritual sense, in order to be useful and productive?
- Judgement / morality : morality involves judgements; using religion for moral judgement is not wrong in its pure sense but maybe it’s time for religion’s interpretation of morality to be updated, since our collective morality has been updated and evolved over generations and eras?
Further, atheists often find the source of their moral compass challenged, is culture the answer?
How Religions affect Relationships
- Old versus new rituals and practices – again, religion needs to be updated according to the times. For example, young Muslims are creating their own versions of guidelines in order to practise their faiths without compromising on the social front while living in a multi-religious city like Singapore.
- Religious parents used to mean children were born into a religion (and it still is today in some parts of the world) – should modern parenthood mean not imposing one’s own beliefs onto our children but instead use logic and rationality to guide them towards their own spirituality and moral guidance?
Learning with religion
Apart from bible study classes and theology certifications, religions can be useful in finding meaning in life without any affiliation to one belief or faction, it seems.
We had a great example from “Kabbalah (which) teaches universal principles that apply to all peoples of all faiths and all religions, regardless of ethnicity or where you come from. The beauty of studying Kabbalah is that you can’t be forced to think in a particular way. There can be no coercion in spirituality.”
Without religion, what else do we have apart from relying on science? History and art may yet provide answers and peace to humankind, and help us understand our interpretations and how we make sense of the world.
Last but not least:
Religions… divide / differentiates between different attitudes towards how we see the world; while sadly in some cases it has spurred communities to have the “us versus them” concept of using beliefs to form alliances, what of agreeing to disagree?
The conversations will continue…
(Written by Amelie Tan)