Misconceptions and Misunderstandings: The Perspective of a Peace Keeper

I believe that the reason atheists and theists are unable to get along and agree on simple matters doesn't come from the belief (or non belief) of some higher being, but because of the misconceptions of every religion about one another.  Because of so many stereotypes and misunderstandings in this world, today, it's nearly impossible to learn about a characteristic or fact about somebody and not judge them because of some stereotype one has previously heard.  This doesn't even apply just to religions, it can apply to anything: hair color, job title, anything.


As a person who has experienced both being a theist and an atheist, I have been judged in both directions.  Because of this, I have learned not to judge somebody because of their religious beliefs.  We all have our ups and downs, and occasionally, I still catch myself judging others because of their religion, but I remember how I felt when I first told my parents that I wanted to stop going to church because I didn't want to do something that went against my own personal beliefs, whether it satisfied my friends and family, or not.


What many theists don't understand about atheists is that we are human beings, just as much as they are.  Just because we don't believe in the existence of some higher power, doesn't mean we are intentionally reckless and disobey laws, or skip school and work.  Atheists are just as honest, hard-working people as any theists are.  We aren't going to raise our kids to be bad because there is no god to judge us.  We try to live our lives as honest as possible, and try our hardest to do so.  In school, atheists don't do any worse than theists do.  As a college student, I currently have a 3.2, and I know of many atheists who have 4.0s or have failed.  From observation, theists do no better nor worse regarding school or work performance than atheists do.  Sundays to us, are just another day of the week.  We don't curse everybody who pulls into the church parking lot (although with every religious group, there are many people who take their beliefs to an extreme), and we don't shun people who are dressed in their Sunday best when we see them at Target at 1 pm.  We just try to live our lives just as much as any theist does.


On that note, atheists do a lot of judging, too.  A common belief of atheists is that all theists blindly believe in an existence they can't see, hear, or feel.  Whether this is true or not, isn't this something that everyone does on a daily basis?  How many atheists believe in luck, peace, hope, trust, or love?  It is not possible to see, hear or feel any of these things, yet to some people, they do exist.  Sometimes, believing in something you don't necessarily know exists just feels right.  Some of them know that they might just be wrong, but they trust in this higher power that they aren't.  If believing in something is what makes somebody happy, why should anybody try to take that away from them?


If not believing in something is what make somebody happy, why should anybody force them to believe in anything?


Theists and atheists have a common goal:  to be as happy as possible, to feel comfortable with their beliefs, and to live their life to the fullest of their capabilities.  If this is true, why are we constantly going about trying to "convert" people?  Not necessarily challenging people's beliefs, but literally trying to convert them?


Why not just state your opinion of the matter, and let the person decide for themselves?


NOTE:  I do realize how naive I sound.  Maybe I'm just too hopeful.

Views: 36

Comment by Daniel on May 18, 2011 at 3:51pm
I wrote a blog kind of about this. The way I feel though is that their way of thinking does affect everything for everyone else. Every time some idiot politician makes a decision based on his religious values it fucks things up for the rest of us. Every time a homosexual in Uganda is hanged because an invisible man told them to do so through his magical book or worst yet through E.S.P. our progress takes a thousand steps back. The Ugandan government is currently working on a law that would allow the government to legally KILL anyone found to be a homosexual. This is an atrocity which is being perpetrated by Evangelical Christian groups here in the States with tax free money. We shouldn't appease them and consider them normal. To me it is all bad. There is not a single doubt in my mind that a world without religion and it's crazy purveyors and minions would be a much much better place to live. The religious side is a lot more imposing and invasive than we are. Their way is the only right way and anyone that disagrees is going to be burned eternally by their deity and doesn't deserve to live as far as most of them are concerned. I don't think we should humor their lunacy, anymore than we humor people that are schizophrenic or the like. Religion is only accepted because it's a delusional hallucination shared by billions of people.
Comment by Luka Rek on May 18, 2011 at 8:49pm
I agree with what was said in the comments before me. I have no problem whatsoever if someone holds a particular belief, as long as that belief does not endanger my freedom. Unfortunately, that is exactly what it does. I argue with theists not because I think they don`t need their religion (which I do believe), but because they think I need their religion in order to be a good person and saved from eternal damnation. I mean, how can I honestly talk and hang out with people who think I will (or even deserve to) go to hell? I never judge in the way that I find people more emotionally unstable, intellectually challenged, etc. when I find out they are religious, nor do I propagate my views as being the only right ones (which they are), nor do I condemn people to a gruesome fate unless they change their beliefs to be in accordance with mine
Comment by Ron V on May 18, 2011 at 10:00pm

"Judging" seems to be somewhat different than a belief system which tells you to view others as inferior and/or worthy of death if they don't believe what you believe.  This is exactly what Chritianity and Islam do, however.  However "nice" a Christian or Muslim claims to be, their belief systems ultimately claim that those who are not "saved" or believe in Islam are not worthy of life- whether now or in their mythological afterlife.  Regardless, non-believers, etc. are not worthy of life in the belief systems of Christianity or Islam. 

As I've said before, any ideology (religious, political, or other) that leads one to view others as unworthy of life has consistently, and likely always will, lead to unecessary suffering and human atrocities.  As far as I can tell, atheism simply relates to a belief or non-belief in the existence of a god.  It makes no sytematic claims that theists are not worthy of life.  To me, this is a huge difference.


Comment by Ron V on May 18, 2011 at 10:16pm

"Theists and atheists have a common goal:  to be as happy as possible, to feel comfortable with their beliefs, and to live their life to the fullest of their capabilities.  If this is true, why are we constantly going about trying to "convert" people?"


First of all, Christianity and Islam specifically seek to convert the world to their belief systems.  Although I believe the natural progression is towards atheism (animism, polytheism, monolatry, monotheism, what's next?), I do not try to "convert" others.  But, we are constantly reacting to the claims of the religious- and rightly so- since the logic used to support the existence of their gods is the same logic used to support the existence of the tooth fairy.  And yet the beliefs that stem from this logic impact us and our children profoundly.  Look at the politicians who make decisions related to energy and believe that the Bible refutes global warming- are these people going to make good decisions for the rest of us?

This is why we must challenge these people- not necessarily to convert them, but to prevent them from harming us all.  Nuclear weapons in the hands of the "true believers" will likely not be a very good thing for those of us who aren't "true believers."

Comment by Mo Trauen on May 19, 2011 at 9:06am

While I agree with your sentiments in the abstract, I have been forced to conclude that it is too much to expect any time soon.  Religion is a scam--a crooked business--and intolerance is part of the business model.










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