Are We All Non-believers? – Kally Leidig

“Non-believer”. Until very recently I thought this was just a semi-patronizing, yet endearing term my best friends used to describe me or other atheists. However, over Thanksgiving I decided to inquire about this and it turns out that when they say non-believer, it means everyone who doesn’t believe in the Christian God. In hindsight, this makes a lot of sense, but in my atheist mind, everyone who follows faith was inherently a believer.

This sparked a series of conversations with my friends, whom I would describe as very Christian and pretty liberal. I asked about something I really struggle to comprehend about Christanity: the coexistence of humbleness and thinking there is only one true religion, that others result from false prophecy or works of sin. In my mind there was a pretty large disconnect between being humble and thinking that only your interpretation of the world is right.

I should point out that everyone I talked to expressed great levels of respect and tolerance for people no matter their religion. There also was a reverence for the concept of faith no matter the belief. Also, what I have just said is an extremely brief summary of very long conversations and is void of some very necessary nuances.

Nonetheless, these conversations led me to wonder: when fellows are informing you on what they believe, of course you value and respect it, but do you think it is correct? Are other religions speaking the truth? What is at stake for you to say another religion is true? Or furthermore, is your religion true?

As I type this I am surrounded by Chaunaka decorations, Christmas decor, and one very extensive Pitbull (i.e. Mr. Worldwide) shrine, all of which make me extremely aware that such questions may be divisive or accomplish nothing. Perhaps being respectful and curious is all that is needed. Despite that, I can’t help but be troubled by the idea of “I am right and you are wrong.” The purpose of this blog post wasn’t to highlight conversations that may or may not be representative of a group, but rather to wonder aloud at what the implications could be of learning about others and respecting them, but also disbelieving what they say. 

I often find questions like these are much better posed in person—where you can alter them depending on the person, their responses, or the situation. Nowadays we aren’t getting very much time in-person, so I hope despite the less than optimal medium for these thoughts, they weren’t presented too poorly. I also hope that despite the negative tone of my words everyone can take solace in the fact that we are all united in the fact that some out there would consider you a non-believer.

For your comments, please feel free to respond to the questions I list above, or respond to anything else in my post.

3 thoughts on “Are We All Non-believers? – Kally Leidig”

  1. Hello,

    I think your post is very interesting and brings up a good point of view. As a religious person myself and a Muslim, I wonder what it means to understand other faiths yet follow my own. To me as my faith has taught me there is mutual respect for other people and the diverse view on the world and religion they may hold. Islam personally makes sense for me and that’s why I follow it, and in the same way, I believe others follow what they know and what makes sense to them depending on what experiences they have been through. Ultimately religion is a choice, and I don’t see it as someone’s faith is wrong just because mine makes sense to me.

  2. Hello, Kally! Thanks for your insightful and thought-provoking post. I think what you propose is very interesting, because it goes beyond simply respect – certainly, I can respect other faiths, but do I believe they’re correct? Your question challenges the very foundation of one’s beliefs, and calls a number of values to the test – not necessarily in a bad way! I’ve always been a proponent of the fact that having your faith challenged is just one way to make it stronger, and to make your relationship to it closer through consideration and thinking. At the end of the day, no matter the conclusion one comes to when considering your question, respect, coexistence, and cooperation are what truly matter.

  3. Hi Kally! I think you raised questions that I have quite honestly wondered about since I was old enough to know what religion was. How did my parents know that Sikhi was the “right” religion, how did they know that reincarnation was real and how did they know that the Sikh Gurus did what was told in stories? As a child, my parents were very firm in our Sikh beliefs, but they also promoted respect for other religions. I think this idea and the point that you raised in this post remind me of the telescope analogy that Paul shared this week on Tuesday. In order to understand your own religion and what it stands for, you must learn about other religions that are different than yours. This statement highlights the need for acceptance and respect of various faiths; however, is my being respectful enough? I have always enjoyed learning about other faiths/beliefs/religions, but I often found myself thinking, “this is interesting, but my faith is correct” and this reaction is natural for many; however, now when I learn about other faiths, I check my thoughts and what I think. It takes some re-training of the way you think, but learning to learn instead of comparing a faith to mine to determine its legitimacy has helped me be more respectful towards other faiths. You are right – I still sometimes wonder if any one faith is “correct” or if maybe all of the faiths are “correct.” I find myself gravitating towards the latter. I think it is natural to hold strong convictions about one’s own faith and beliefs but not respecting the conviction of other people towards a different faith is problematic. Ultimately, people must be understand that just as they see their world through a particular faith or lens, other people do as well. Taking the time to reflect on one’s own faith/belief systems and understanding that it is one of many other worldviews could lead to a lot more peace and respect surrounding religion and faith.

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