For many, the liberal arts college experience means suffering through courses outside your area of interest to meet the graduation requirements. Although you may be dreading the humanities course requirement, you may enjoy exploring alternative areas of study. Religion courses will push you to think critically, build your belief system and work to understand the diversity of the world around you. Push your comfort zone and consider these reasons why you should take a religion class at college:
1. Learn to Think Critically
Contrary to what you may think, most religion courses are not designed with the intent of converting you to a specific religion. Instead, religion courses seek to educate students about the origin and evolution of belief systems. Completing a religion course will help you to think critically about your own beliefs and the role of religion in our world. Even if you decide by the end of the course that discussing religion isn’t your thing, the critical and logical thinking skills you learn can be applied to other areas of study.
2. Build, Modify or Rebuild Your Belief System
Whether you head into college with a set of foundational beliefs or not, a religion class has the potential to benefit your emotional, spiritual and mental health. If you enter a religion class without defined beliefs, the course material will push you to think for yourself and make decisions to form your beliefs. If you start the class already grounded in your belief system, the class will challenge you to think about your beliefs in ways you never have. You’ll discover new facets of your faith
3. Open Your Mind
Your level of understanding of religions may be vast, but a religion class is still bound to teach you new things. No matter how you feel personally about other religions, the class will challenge you to open your mind to diverse belief systems and cultures. Being educated about religions will help increase your tolerance of differing beliefs. Even if you end the course without drastically changing your original way of thinking, exposing yourself to alternative views will help you see your own belief system through a new lense.
4. Gain a Better Understanding for the People & World Around You
Completing a religion course will provide you insight into the cultural and religious traditions of people around the world. Learning about the origins and history behind religious customs will provide you with a greater understanding and appreciation for differing beliefs. Religions are often tied with political and cultural historical events and government relations, so understanding religion will also help you understand the current global climate.
5. Learn to Debate Civilly
Learning to respectfully debate contrasting viewpoints is a useful skill. Having the ability to logically defend your stance while also acknowledging and appreciating conflicting viewpoints is a valuable skill you’ll need in your future professional and personal life. Spirituality or lack thereof is something that near to the hearts of everyone, so having the ability to civilly discuss religion in diverse groups will prepare you for almost any other debate you may encounter in life.
Although the core curriculum may require you to take courses outside your intended area of study, enrolling in a religion course will help you grow internally and better understand your environment. If you absolutely dread the thought of taking a religion course, that’s fine. Use other core requirements to explore other areas of learning and keep an open mind. You may find that learning outside of your area of your major will completely change your way of thinking for the better.