My mother learns about my thoughts and motives by reading books and watching shows produced by Christians. Instead of asking me, or believing what I tell her, she looks to people who don't know me. I borderline hate her for this. I don't hate her (just resent), but I do hate that she lets strangers inform her about who I am when she's known me my whole life. It's so invalidating.
In general, Christians seem to have a habit of speaking for others and assuming they know the inner life and thoughts of strangers, based solely on knowledge of one thing: they don't believe the same things that Christians do. It is impossible for them, perhaps even heretical, to understand there is another perspective to consider. It seems my mother cannot accept my reasons for not believing there is a god because my reasons are a direct contradiction to the reasons the Bible gives for my unbelief.
So, instead of believing her own flesh-and-blood daughter, and realizing the Bible isn't always true, she tells me, "Well, I think that atheists only say they don't believe in God because they don't want to do what He tells them to do." After making that statement she assures me that I'm not included in that judgment; just those atheists "out there". Right. Not me, just those "other" atheists. Maybe she thinks I'm simply not aware of my own motives and am just a victim of... myself?
My uncle is a Calvinist preacher in Missouri. He has lived 30+ years in the same house and has only changed churches once. Neither church has/had a very diversified group of people; they're all mainly old and white, and most have lived in the same state, or even city, their whole life. As you can imagine, their life experiences are limited to that tiny, insulated bubble. The television is their window into the world at large. I have little, if any, respect for whatever opinions they've formed inside this vacuum... including my uncle's.
Two yeas ago my grandfather passed away, and I spent two weeks in the company of these quaint Missourians. For three Sundays in a row I attended my uncle's services. One of his messages was on Unbelief. Here were the "Points of Unbelief":
There are so many things wrong with these bullet points. First of all, if he had used the word "unbeliever" rather than "unbelief", these bullets might've made more sense, and been grammatically correct. As it stands, he ascribes all these characteristics to "unbelief" that simply don't belong to it... and there's a bit of hypocrisy at play if you apply these characteristics to a lack of belief in unicorns, leprechauns, fairies, etc.
I am quite sure my uncle is guilty of unbelief in such things. Because of his unbelief, is he also guilty of wanting more proof (oh no, not more proof!!!) that fairy tale creatures are real, bullying people to win his point (that they don't exist I presume), rejecting fairy tale creatures without thought, his ego he rejecting fairy tale creatures, and using the old "play" of slandering those who believe fairy tales? Well, probably on some counts, yes. I'm quite sure he rejects fairy tales without thoughts and likely makes fun of people who believe in fairies (I actually know a woman who really does believe in fairies, and it astounds me there are really people who could be victims of this specific slandering). But is it his ego that rejects fairy tales? Does he bully people that believe fairy tales? ~shrugs~
By the way, point one (unbelief always wants more proof) contradicts point three (unbelief rejects the facts without thought). How can someone thoughtlessly demand more proof? Wanting more proof is generally a sign that someone is thinking, and deeply, about something.
But, either way, it is fallacious to apply all these characteristics to unbelief. Unbelief is passive: in and of itself, it does not demand proof, does not bully to win a point (assuming "it" is even engaged in a debate), is not an ego trip (couldn't it also be the result of laziness or lack of self-respect?), and certainly does not use any "play" whatsoever. It just is what it is: unbelief. It does nothing. It is not an action, nor is it even a personality trait. Everyone disbelieves something without exception, even the most gullible and the most meek.
So, all my uncle's points about Unbelief are fallacious, contradictory, and untrue. YET... my mother beside me grunted in approval as my uncle made his case to the congregation. The others in the room nodded their heads in agreement. Yes, Unbelief is a bully! Yes, Unbelief is an ego-trip! Does it occur to anyone listening that they are also guilty of unbelief? Nope. Will any of them ever ask, instead of assume, the reasons someone may not believe? No way. They already know! Sinners. Egotistical bullies!
And what lesson shall we take away from these things? Hell if I know. I just know that I am misrepresented... and I'm going to fight against that. It's just not in me to lay back and accept that the story of "Unbelievers" has already been written. No way. I am not the sum of Unbelief, but of critical thinking, inquiry, curiosity, passion, intelligence, champion of justice, supporter of human and animal rights, compassion, imperfection, and pride.
I reject the story being told about me by those who've never met me.