Sunday, December 16, 2012

Frustrations about Religion and Atheism

So I really have other things that I should be doing right now, but I can't really get this thought out of my head.  I figured if I could put it here, than maybe I could let my brain work through it and then get back to what I'm actually supposed to be doing.

Now, I would really and truly like to make it clear that this is NOT an attack on anyone, or what anyone believes.  This is more of just a question, for everyone.  Please, I am asking you to comment on this.  Tell me that I'm wrong.  I would appreciate that.  I would kinda like some form of reasoning, instead of just a general "your wrong and everything you believe is wrong" but hey, I guess I've opened myself up for that too if you feel so led.

So what I've been trying to figure out, pretty much since this past summer, when I decided not to be a minister, although there were hints of this all last year, is what I really believe.  I was raised in a Christian home and believed these things for all of my life.  However, since I am now old enough to realize that there are significant majorities of people who do not believe this and that I would never believe could be condemned to Hell as I was taught; I kind of needed to re-evaluate some things.  

And I haven't quite defined it exactly.  I do know that I believe in something.  A God, a higher power, whatever you wish to call it, this is a personal choice based upon things that I have seen and what I feel.  And I believe that, in a lot of respects, Christianity is the best way for me express this belief.  But, I refuse to believe that anyone could be condemned for believing otherwise.

I guess I see what people believe as a choice.  And it is a choice that comes down, not to a spectrum of right and wrong, but a choice of how they wish to understand and frame the world.  Which if you think about it, kind of has to differ widely depending on the person.  But what is important with this choice is how you let that choice make you act.

This is the main problem that made me so confused in the first place, and honestly almost made me abandon faith (until I realized that it was a much more widespread problem).  It is something that frustrates me to no end.  What I think that it comes down to is the difference between choosing to believe something in order to be a better person, or believing that your beliefs make you better than other people.

And this problem is on both sides of the issue.  The thought of a "holier than thou" attitude doesn't come out of nowhere.  A lot of people in religion believe that they are better people just because they call themselves Christians, Catholics, Mormons, Jews, Muslims, insert other religious sects here.  And I've seen this in my life.  A lot of churches that I have been to believe that only people of their faith will enter heaven and all others will go to hell.  This creates this superiority that is frustrating.

But it is not just religious people.  In my experience, I have met several atheists that have the belief that anyone who believes in God is stupid.  They ridicule religion and give off the impression that they are smarter because they do not believe in a higher power.

(Yes I am aware that I am stereotyping both groups; I promise I know not everyone is like that)

Maybe you don't believe me.  Let me give you this example, on any given day I can scroll through my newsfeed on Facebook and see two equally offensive pictures on both sides.

So, why is this?  Why do both sides think that it is ok to belittle each other.  To tell each other that they are stupid for believing something?  I don't care which side you are on, I think that you can see that both sides show equal hatred.  One side says that all religious people are murderers and terrorists, while another says all atheists are rapists and pedophiles.  For two sides that claim to be so different, they are using the exact same tools.

I don't want to tell people what to believe.  I barely know what I believe.  I'm just saying that I think both sides need to honestly evaluate some of the tools and attitudes that they are using.  I think a person's belief systems should make their lives better and hopefully make them better people.  Not make them cruel.  


  1. The problem isn't believing in one thing versus another; the problem as I see it is dogmatism. Typically people would claim someone who stands strongly by God or something is a dogmatist, but dogmatism is more than that. It is a radical adherence to YOUR principle and an outright rejection of another principle simply because it is not your principle. This is wrong as I see it, but I do not claim this absolutely since that would be counter-productive. I will tell you my personal system of beliefs right now: I am not a Christian, I am not a Buddhist, a Muslim, Hindu, Jain, Jew, or Atheist. I simply am. I don't follow one specific faith over another because of the point you made; identifying with a group indicates a sense of superiority. So, I am not part of a group. My beliefs are a combination of different religions. I believe in some of the Commandments such as "don't kill people" and "don't cheat on your partner" and I certainly feel the Bible does have some good lessons in moral behavior and whatnot. BUT I do not accept the whole thing because that is myopic and dumb in my opinion. I also believe in certain Buddhist practices like eliminating suffering and meditation occasionally, but I do not believe you could be happy eliminating every one of your attachments. I believe in the Jain principle that nothing you claim about reality could be absolute; to say "there is a God" or "there is no God" is foolish, but if you say, "to me" or "in my opinion" beforehand (thus eliminating absolutism) you're not necessarily at fault. I can tell you a good story about elephants later if you want. Basically, this is MY thought: religion is not evil, but neither is non-religion. I do not identify with a group; I am a person, that is my group. As a human, I have my own beliefs; as a human, you have yours. Atheists calling Christians stupid is, in itself, stupid. It's rude and childish. Christians pegging Atheists as amoral heathens fit to be destroyed are equally at fault. Learn to accept your own thoughts, and get the fuck over yourself, is my thought. No one is right, and no one is wrong.

  2. I agree with you-- as a religious person (Mormon) I've found it too easy to forget about focusing on my own relationship with Christ and instead wondering about the people around me. I have to consciously and constantly guard against judgment, and strive hard to teach my children that God loves all of His children, and that truth is found in many places and many ways of being. I believe in truth, and I live to follow it, but I don't believe that I've found it all. I believe that I'm in no position to make decisions for or judge others, and I too am discouraged over the anger and fear around me and in my community on issues of faith and belief. Good luck to you in your journey-- I hope you find a community of acceptance and truth.