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Am I the only Christian who doesn't hype that Atheists exist in the world?

I regard Atheism as simply a difference of opinion.  I have compiled what I know of the world and have concluded God exists.  These people have taken similar data and concluded He doesn't.  Any different data is based on subjective nature and, as such, will mean different things that can't necessarily be explained in adequate terms to others, or they may reach different conclusions about these experiences than you have that are no less valid.  It's no different than politics and such -- is it really worth not knowing someone just because they have reached a different unprovable conclusion than you have?  After all, NEITHER side has proof that their conclusions are correct, so why hype about it?

My first exposure to this mentality was when I held a job in a department store years ago.  At the time, the band XTC popped up on my radar with the song, "Dear God."  Always on the lookout for something different, I gave the song a listen.  I think the song was shocking to me because, up until then, I had never heard a song that wore Atheism on its sleeve like that.  Once I got used to it, it was an alright song.  Not the greatest, but so what?  I think I was the only one who appreciated the irony that the instrumental break was played with violins, a.k.a. The Devil's Instrument.  A year or two later, they came up with "The Mayor Of Simpleton," I song I still love to this day.  But when I played "Mayor" it at the store one day, the girl who worked in the toy department heard what I'd cued up and stomped away from the stereos, screaming, "I believe in Jesus!  I believe in Jesus!"

When I started playing the Pokemon card game, one woman I worked with at the time asked me if I was sure I wanted to do that, because she had heard Wizards Of The Coast, the makers of the cards, was run by hardcore Atheists.  By now, I'd been exposed to this enough I could think on my feet around them.  I pointed out that I wasn't going to the games for religious instruction, that was what church was for.  I was going to the games to have fun.  I don't know the religious beliefs of the WotC crew, because I never thought it mattered enough to find out.

Now, this goes both ways.  Over at EQ2Flames, the site mod, LFG, made a board specifically for religious discussion of all types.  It was actually quite nice.  People from all religions, from Christian to Atheist to Muslim to Judaism to everyone, talked and interacted and treated each other with respect.  It was like a Rick's Place for religious matters.  Of course, it might have helped that LFG and the forum regulars were so knowledgeable and adept at debate that anyone that tried trolling got their ass handed to them.  How good are they?  Anonymous is afraid to raid them for anything, political, gamewise, you name it.  'Nuff said.  But LFG never explicitly stated what his own personal beliefs were because he was afraid it would taint the board.  Eventually, it came out that he was a born again Christian.  Suddenly, activity by nonChristians on the board dropped noticeably.  Nothing had changed, it was still an open forum for open discussion, LFG didn't insult anybody and wouldn't let anyone else insult anybody, but that one little facet changed the dynamic among those who weren't Christian.  Which means he was right after all.  More's the pity.

Boycotting someone or something on religious grounds is understandable, sometimes necessary, but frequently stupid.  Religious beliefs are a reflection of us, what we think, how we think, what we hope for.  I have no problem boycotting Scientologists.  But for a lot of stuff, religion just doesn't matter.  If I boycotted everyone who didn't believe the way I did, not only would I never know Douglas Adams, I wouldn't know Linux (Torvalds is an Atheist), I wouldn't know Dan Savage...you know, since no one believes exactly the way I do, I wouldn't even know my teacher (there ARE a few differences between us).  I would be completely isolated from some incredible, wonderful people who actually make the time on this spinning ball of ice and rock worthwhile.  I don't want that.

Recently, Stephen Hawking hit the news because he's nearing the end of his life and has dismissed stories of the Afterlife as a "fairy story."  I read that and thought, Why is this considered newsworthy? There are millions of people who believe like he does.  Hell, even Christians think that once in a while.  And is there really anyone who knows who Stephen Hawking is who DIDN'T think he was an Atheist?

However, that didn't stop some people from coming to the defense of Christianity against an attack that never existed.  Leading the charge is Kirk Cameron, the former sitcom star who starred in the awful movie versions of the awful Left Behind books.  Cameron got press for saying Hawkings is wrong.  No real proof, of course (then again, none exists anyway), but everyone was writing about this epic standing up for his beliefs.  Of course, we're not talking St. Thomas Aquinas here, we're talking Kirk Cameron.  I think Cameron challenging your religious beliefs is like a kid shooting spitballs at you -- doesn't hurt, you just look at them and think, "Don't you have anything better to do?"

Richard Dawkins is a very well known Atheist who recently had a health scare.  He said in an interview that there were Christians praying for him to get better.  As he interacted with them, he realized these weren't the usual Christians challenging him and trying to save his soul, they were simply well wishers.  They weren't praying for him so that he'd realize the power of prayer and renounce his Atheism, they were praying for him to get better, and whatever he did, that was up to him.  They wanted him to keep living as he was, not for him to live as they believed.  He said he didn't know how to react to them, because they weren't pushing their beliefs on him, they were aware he didn't think it would do any good, but they did it anyway because they cared about another human being and they hoped that this small gesture would somehow help him.  Dawkins is still an Atheist.  But regardless of his beliefs, he still appreciated this gesture.  And the people doing the praying appreciated him.

There is so much common ground between us.  I don't understand why we have to keep making religion something that keeps us from seeing that.

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
mornblade
May. 22nd, 2011 06:52 pm (UTC)
The Hawking thing is newsworthy because the media A)have a left-wing bias, and B)because controversy is good news, and if by making Hawking's statement public they can nudge some wacko religious group to protest outside his home or some conference he is speaking at, then they will have a more compelling story.

Cameron is a moron. Cameron has no business stating that Hawking (arguably the smartest man currently alive) is wrong unless he (Cameron) can provide at least some proof of said statement. Or at least an above average IQ score.

As for Dawkins, I am so with him on this one. The reason for my "No Prayers" filter is along similar lines, not that I think people are trying to convert me (those people are usually obvious), but because while I appreciate that the person praying for me cares and is hoping that every little bit helps, from my side it looks like a waste of time with nothing accomplished. So I ask people, if you are going to pray for me in the off chance it may make a difference, that's fine, but I don't want to know about it. If it seems to work, keep that to yourself as well and feel comfort in the fact that you are right, and I am wrong.

As for discussing religion, I am all for it. I love the concept of truly comparative religion. I talk about religion to everyone who is willing to discuss it without preaching. I am proud of being Agnostic, as it shows I am at least considering the information I pick up along the way, and I might one day change my mind. I am married to a wonderful woman who happens to be an Atheist, and that will never change (besides, Atheist women are HOT!). But there is no point in changing her, as I love her the way she is.

Now, I know that I am preaching to the choir (teehee) when it comes to SineTimore. He is more than aware of all of this. I just wanted to speak up on behalf of non-Christians who aren't out there trying to grab press. Most of us just want to be left alone about our choice (or lack thereof) in religion, the same as most REAL Christians. Screaming about how God made everything and non-believers will burn in Hell sounds as silly to us as us screaming about how God never existed sounds to them. And at the end of the day, both sides will agree that theft and murder are bad things.
mardeen
May. 24th, 2011 01:53 pm (UTC)
At the risk of being thought unimaginative/redundant, may I say again that I dig the tags.

Read and enjoyed every word of this. Only difference of opinion I might have would be that I do not fault Kirk Cameron for being passionate about his beliefs. The bad acting in bad movie based on bad book...yes.

I tire of polarization in any arena. You (the generic, collective "you")assuming that I am lock-step with any group (political, philosophical, religious)because I share a belief that they are purported to espouse really irritates me. Your post shows that you endeavor to not do that. Bravo.
sinetimore
May. 24th, 2011 09:26 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you notice the tags. I do have fun with them. Other than the general descriptors like "art", I seem to use "Haven't we suffered enough?" the most.

If I may, I think I might have given you the wrong impression about Kirk Cameron. It's not that I don't want Cameron to celebrate his beliefs. My irritation stems from him being relatively silent until Hawking made his pronouncement, and suddenly, Cameron is calling news outlets saying Hawking is wrong. It's the reactionary nature of his comments, not the comments themselves, that got my attention.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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