“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.