May 23, 2007

Atheists vs. Christians - or atheists AND Christians?

I just read an article on theists vs. atheists and it was not a waste of time. It was a very good look at how the non-believers and believers can get along and why insisting on not getting along isn't a good idea at all.

Over on my other blog I go on about God a lot. I try to write for the atheists and those folks who grew up feeling strangled by religion and so have trouble with the word "God". (Since I found a definition of God that doesn't include a definition of hell, I'm OK with the word and concept.) But I cannot speak about my own spirituality and spiritual process without including God because that's not how I am wired. And apparantly we are wired for such things. Faith or a need for a faith is emerging as something genetic. And for that reason, I am baffled at how atheists get through their day, their life without having a faith, without prayer, without a desire for a connection to something bigger and better than oneself, and at the same time a part of oneself.

I have always had that desire. I attended a number of Bible camps growing up and have always tried to sort out this religion thing. I never could get the deal with Jesus, because the whole dying-on-the-cross thing baffles me. No, don't try to explain. Many have tried before you, and not one has been able to get me to understand why his death changed anything. (Which reminds me of a discussion with a former Christian friend: What is being saved? My answer: Remembering your spirit and being true to it.)

So I had to go find my faith outside the religion offered me (Norway is an Evangelical Lutheran nation). My good fortune is that I grew up with a woman who had a philosophical and investigative spirit and introduced me to things like theosophy and the Rosicrucians. Said woman was married to an atheist. I wish I had asked him more about his lack of faith. But he was one of the most spiritual people I have ever known, because he always managed to give and get respect; even abused animals trusted him automatically. So I know that those Christians who insist on shoving their (negative version of) religion down my throat are missing the point of their own religion, and the derogatory attitude some atheists have towards anybody who believes in (a) God is likewise missing the point of being human. Most people, theists and atheists alike, fall somewhere in the great middle, and get along fine with everyone else, and want to. And that is what the article I linked to above shows.

If you've been defining others in your world as "those people", please go read. There is no "them". There is only us.

6 comments:

The Fez Monkey said...

I wonder if your bafflement regarding atheists stems from some subconscious idea that not believing in god automatically equates with not believing in ethics and not posessing morals. Unfortunately, it's a mis-conception many religious people have about atheists. I'm not claiming you overtly believe that.

It seems that for many believers, morality and ethical behavior can only exist when combined with belief in a deity. The fact is, atheists can and do possess the former without the need for the latter. Spirituality (if it is loosely defined) also exists among atheists. The difference is we simply do not believe that there is some omnipotent being ready to pass judgment on us, nor who rates us on how much we cow-tow to him/her.

Overall, though, I agree with your final assessment regarding "us" and "them."

Ook ook

Keera Ann Fox said...

I wonder if your bafflement regarding atheists stems from some subconscious idea that not believing in god automatically equates with not believing in ethics and not posessing morals.

Not at all. My bafflement has to do with how to find sense in living, and handling things like being emotionally abused. My morals have not been dictated to me by religion (because I didn't have one), but by my family, society and personal experiences.

And you did notice what I said about the atheist in my family, yes? :-)

Paula said...

I'm an atheist and sometimes get freaked out about the idea of death and nothingness, but some of my believer friends do too, so faith doesn't always "cure" that. I go about my life same as most peeps who believe in God: I love my kids, enjoy being part of a family, am kind to animals (well, except for the ones I eat), care about the environment, plan for the future, etc. And I slip up sometimes, same as believers.

Mostly I don't worry about not feeling connected to something bigger than myself because I don't generally feel a need to be connected. If you don't have the desire, you don't usually feel the loss.

As far as the linked article, I pretty much disagree with it. While I have zero respect for assholes waving nasty signs at funerals, I also think public figures are fair game for public criticism, whether they're alive or dead. Of course, there's criticism and there's just being a jerk, and sometimes it's a blurry line between the two.

Keera Ann Fox said...

I don't generally feel a need to be connected. If you don't have the desire, you don't usually feel the loss.

Well, that makes sense. I am definitely of a philosophical bent, God or not, so I think about stuff like that all the time.

As far as the linked article, I pretty much disagree with it. Did you read the whole thing (four pages)?

Paula said...

No. :)

Anonymous said...

I thought it said atheletes vs christians. i know ,irrelevant.