CHRISTIANS AND ATHEISTS
(SOMETIMES) BEHAVING BADLY
I recently ran across an article from November 2007 called "10 Things Christians and Atheists Can (And Must) Agree On" by David Wong at cracked.com.
Wong seems to be able to see both sides of this issue. Brought up in a Pentecostal church, he says,""I soured on the whole religion thing in my teens, as you can probably imagine, and then came back to it later kind of on my own terms." He says his friends are about equally divided between Christians and non-believers.
He points out how these two factions infuriate each other, Christians by claiming atheists really do believe but are just rebellious and warning atheists of their futures in everlasting hell, and atheists by pointing out how irrational or stupid believers are.
Wong thinks, with a little respect for each other, we can agree on much and need to do so.
While I disagree on some minor points, I do agree in general with most of what Wong says. There are over 400 comments, some from those pointing out flaws in Wong's reasoning, while others who didn't seem to get the message still condemning each other for their beliefs of lack thereof.
I have always tried to respect the beliefs of others. Most of my friends are Christians and I don't go around telling them they are idiots for believing what seems totally irrational to me. They probably wouldn't be my friends if I did. But I have to admit that often I ask myself, "How can this intelligent person believe what makes no sense at all?" I have to remind myself that I was indoctrinated into Christianity and believed it blindly until I was about twelve. Why did I see the inconsistencies and violence in the Bible while they missed it?
Part of the answer is that I was forced to read the Bible cover to cover, several times, whereas most of my friends know few details from the Bible beyond the nice parables in the New Testament. Yet my parents and sibling read the same things I was reading. They remained devoted Christians.
The fact that I even have this blog indicates my frustration at being surrounded by Christians who judge me based on my unbelief, even though they don't know me. I am frustrated by those who think morality comes only from religion, specifically their particular brand of religion. I am frustrated by those who try to bash me over the head with religion. And I am frustrated by religious people who try to interject religion into secular political issues.
I can also see that religious people are threatened by the wave of atheist literature that has been on the best-seller list over the last decade, not only because atheists are brazenly open about their denial of gods, but also that the books are so popular. Since we know most people "preach to the choir" so to speak, most of the books are probably purchased by people who are already non-believers or by those who have serious doubts about religion. If the books are selling so well, there must be millions and millions of atheists out there. Religious people fear a moral decay if others don't have the same basic beliefs as they do.
They need not fear. Most of the people I know, be they Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, atheist, agnostic, or other, have the same or similar core values. Some of the issues on which we disagree (abortion, homosexuality) seem to have been manipulated by politicians or religious leaders to attract attention or to gain or keep power. That doesn't mean there are not people who have strong beliefs on both sides of those issues, but I think our differences have been blown out of proportion by master manipulators who relish widening the gaps between us.
Whether or not you take the time to read Wong's entire article, and I strongly encourage you to do so, I would be interested in your comments --from both believers and non-believers.
(Remember my comment policy: I welcome opposing opinions as long as they are not abusive or preachy. Comments from "Anonymous" have been blocked due to numerous spam-ads received in the past.)