Report on Religious Field Research
Report on Religious Field Research
1. Discuss any misconceptions you had about the religion you researched.
Before researching on atheism, I held different misconceptions concerning it. These misconceptions resulted from the lack of information I had concerning atheism, and the misunderstood concepts about the religion. There are many different sources of information concerning different religions available in the media, the internet, and other sources. This information is not always correct and factual. I held the misconception of how atheists came to believe that there is no God. I was of the opinion that atheists denounced the existence of God due to religious failure and their idea that God failed them. I thought that God failed them in a way, and that is why they chose to believe that God does not exist.
I also thought that atheists failed to believe in the existence of God because of all the suffering that people experience, irrespective of their goodness. I thought that since many people are of the opinion that God is supposed to bless those who are good and punish the bad ones, and this does not often happen, atheists would take this as their prove that there is no God. I though that they argued on this basis since God would not let terrible things happen to the virtuous and innocent people, and cause the bad ones to prosper. Another misconception was that atheists hate God, and Christians. I thought that people are atheists because they hate God. I also thought that atheists hate Christians because of their belief in God. Atheists are strong concerning their support of the non-existence of God. Atheists do not have any understanding of God.
2. Analyze how your prior understanding about this religion was altered (if at all) through your encounter
Although some people are drawn to atheism because of religious failure, others come to join atheism because of a deep conviction within them that there is no God. Many atheists have not had any religious experience. This means that they did not have any opportunity to experience any disappointment with religion. Many people are atheists because they depend on scientific facts to prove their claims. Therefore, they do not depend on natural occurrences alone to determine their non-existence of God. I came to understand that atheists do not hate God since they do not believe in the existence of God. They, therefore, cannot hate something or someone that they do not believe exists.
Atheists do not hate Christians or people from other religions, although they tend to disagree with their religious beliefs strongly. Some have Christian families and friends, and they do not hate them. They seek to make religious people who believe in God share their perspective by arguing and presenting their logic. Many people try to convince others to follow their religion using their own logic and atheists are not any different. However, my views concerning their hatred on Christian belief was not altered because they do not believe in any of the Christian claims, and they seek ways to dispute what the Christians believe. They tend to present Christian beliefs as myths or stories, and in some cases, they seek to mock these beliefs.
Most of my research revealed that many atheists concentrate on disproving Christian claims, with minimal focus on other religions that claim to believe in a god. Atheists believe that religious people believe a fallacy and that they have a false belief in God. Although atheists do not believe in God, many of them have an idea of God from the perspectives of different religions. They are able to base their beliefs and prove their claims from this perspective.
3. Discuss whether you believe misconceptions about other people’s religion are common and explain why or why not
Misconceptions about other people’s religion are common. This is because people do not, and cannot understand all religions. The lack of understanding or the misunderstanding about religion causes these misconceptions. This happens because people from different religions do not discuss and inform others concerning their religions. Without the necessary information, people will continue to hold these misconceptions, and they will continue to hold inaccurate beliefs concerning religions. Leaders and followers of a religion need to play an active role in ensuring that their communities have all the correct information concerning religion (Mittal, 2005). Leaders and congregants who fail to play an active role in educating those around them concerning their religion risk enhancing prejudiced thoughts concerning religion. People have misconceptions about different religions because do not have an open mind when talking about religion. They are not objective, and they are firm in their religious beliefs. They want to be right, and they avoid any situation that might prove them wrong. Most people have the strong belief that theirs is the right religion. They are quick to dismiss other people’s religion. This makes it hard for them to find out about other religions.
Some people also have misconceptions because of the news and events surrounding that religion (Small, 1997). For instance, many non-Muslims do not understand Islam. They think that Islam promotes violence because of all the violence reported in the media concerning violence in the Middle East, which is the base for Islam. Unfortunately, most of the known terrorists are Muslims, and this enhances this misconception. Other people have misconceptions about religion because of the stereotypical views concerning the religion. People not familiar with Christianity might be of the opinion that Christians are judgmental because of the stereotype concerning the religion. Misconceptions about religions do not only happen among outsiders of a religion, but they can also happen internally. This can stem from new converts to the specific religion. The new converts might be enthusiastic about their religion, and they might find the need to share the information they have learnt with people of other religions. This can create misconception. Many religious beliefs are complex and complicated and even people who have practiced their religion for some time might not have all the information contained in religious texts. There are many scholars in many religions. These scholars have studied religions, and they sometimes have contradicting information concerning religion. This shows that religious misconceptions can occur at any level of someone’s religious experience.
4. Recommend at least one (1) step that could be taken to minimize misconceptions people have about religions not their own
In order for people to minimize their misconceptions about religion, they need to know more about that religion. The only way that people can do this is by seeking more information about the religion. This can happen in different ways. For instance, holding discussion with friends and acquaintances from different religions will give a person the chance to know more about their religion. This will give a person the chance to ask for information concerning the religion. It will give a person the chance to ask for clarification based on previous misconceptions. In addition, one can ask questions concerning the religion, and ensure that he or she understands. One can also seek more information by searching from other sources such as books and credible articles that focus on his or her religion of interest. This will add more depth and clarity concerning the religion.
Atheist: The Atheist Experience. Retrieved from http://www.ustream.tv/channel/The-Atheist-Experience
Mittal, K. R. (2005). Positive mind power. New Delhi, India: Sterling Publishers Pvt. Ltd,
Small, E. K. (1997). Mutual misconceptions: How Christians and Muslims misunderstand each other. Retrieved from www.spotlights.org/images/Misconceptions.pdf