Butterfly Cauldron

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Random curious question

I just noticed something -- a lot of the people who read and comment here are atheists. The vast majority of my friends RL are athiests as well. I am not. And yet, we agree on just about everything and have zero problems getting along and respecting each other. So, that struck me as interesting. I was raised with the dogma that athiests and believers could not get along. And yet, clearly, this is not the case. Even when I post about religion, I get responses from non-believers that are thoughtful and respectful of my own faith. So, why do you think this ridiculous notion that atheists and believers must be enemies comes from? I've never felt any disrespect for my beliefs from anyone here. (Of course, this could be because my faith is not exactly conventional and doesn't require me to try to convert anyone.) So . . . what do ya think? What do you believe (or not) and why? Have you had run-ins with religious types that influenced your beliefs? How do you think society responds to people who hold your beliefs? I've posted a lot about my religious upbringing, but I don't know that I posted my 'conversion' stories here yet. So, I'll fix that tonight when I've got more time. Until then...discuss amongst yourselves :)


posted by Zan at 6:55 AM


I keep forgetting you're a believer, because you're so cool. You don't believe you have to live a certain way to avoid punishment from your deities, much less that everyone else has to do exactly the same.

Believers who have nothing else, and don't enjoy life, need to believe it's true for everyone. You can't break the religious rules or you'll go to hell, for instance. Since living by the more ridiculous rules (no premarital sex/no knowledge of sex/no joyful sex) sucks, it won't do to see nonbelievers enjoying their lives. It makes it harder to convince people sinners will go to hell. Pitting believers against nonbelievers like this is only necessary for people who believe their faith is all that's keeping them from raping and killing all day, every day. You have to be disrespectful of other people's beliefs and their ability to think for themselves in order to believe these groups can't get along.

For me, the dealbreaker is any talk of God's plans for me. People can believe what they want, and I may not respect the belief, but I respect their right to believe it. When they cross the line into my mind/life, however, I can't listen.

And I don't mind ideas like "the Goddess is everywhere," general things that actually sound good; I resent more personal intrusions.

7:02 PM  

I find it nuts that anyone believes they can know the Divine's plan for anyone else. I mean, exactly how presumptious can you be? I also find the idea that there's only ONE plan for any person's life. It defeats the purpose of free will, doesn't it? Just like the idea that a God could say "Believe in me or burn forever' is a fair, loving deity who is offering a fair choice.

And the notion that the only reason I'm not out killing people is because I'm scared of punishment? Please. I'm a better person than that. I don't kill people because it's /wrong/. Period.

8:21 PM  

I'd describe myself as agnostic (always, always on the fence, I suppose), but I come from a family tinged with that fundamentalism that I recognise in some of your descriptions of your family. The odd thing about mine is that they all converted later in life, so I was lucky enough to be brought up by parents who were very very much cooler then than they are now ;-) Like Macarena, I am absolutely fine with people believing, or not believing, provided they do not feel the need to have their faith impinge on me. I live in a very (and happily) multicultural community, so I have friends of all different faiths, and of none. And some fence-sitters like me too. Why am I agnostic? I think because I went through a deeply Christian phase at uni, and ultimately found I simply could not believe in such a god. I am inclined to believe that we make up the gods which serve our purposes (or the purposes of those who dominate society). But I can't dismiss deity out of hand either. There, how's that for fudging the issue?

1:09 AM  

My thought as to why you get along fine with atheists is - you're not dogmatic, or evangelical. Therefore we don't feel the need to argue with you, because you don't do the "but Jesus says" thing.
I think the constant intrusion of religion into everyday conversations, the refusal to accept that a given religious belief is not the deciding factor in every situation, is what sets atheists' teeth on edge. So, as long as your religion is simply a personal thing, why should anyone else even think about it?
I took a detour through both Buddhism and Wicca before arriving at my current atheistic state. I still have a great deal of respect for both as philosophies, I just don't believe in the religious part. Does that make sense?

1:25 AM  

You're both making sense to me. Part of the reason I ran from the Southern Baptist Church as fast as I did when I could is because I couldn't stand that religion-must-dominate-everything either. When I would talk to my family about what i was thinking of majoring in it was "Oh, God could use Christian lawyers" or "God needs Christian journalists'. And I was always, 'what? I can't just be a good lawyer? That isn't enough? I have to be a specifically Christian one?" It annoyed me to no end. That's putting people into a cage and that's now that the Divine is about. It's about setting people free and allowing them to explore and find out what they can truely be. And yes, that means some people are going to take dark detours, but that's the price you pay for freedom. And in the end, that's worth it.

6:22 AM  

I like the idea that God needs a lawyer and good press. Is that all about being soldiers for Christ?

Of course people know God's plan - because they think they're right.

4:19 PM  

"...onward Christian Lawyers, marching...." That's pretty funny.

I'm personally a syncretist...I tend to pull in different elements of different world religions into my belief structure. I'm a lapsed Druid. But I'm also a skeptic...just not an atheist. I just find religion and faith to be too interesting to leave alone. I write a good deal about the people I live amongst. They do a good bit of proslytizing and are mostly evangelicals.

When I was younger, this used to annoy me greatly. Now it's just really great dialogue that's going to show up later. I'm going to be working with Pentecostal Church Snakehandlers next. I'm very excited.

Evangelicals and atheists can get along...it's just how much the atheist...or pagan...or Episcopalian is willing to smile and nod at them when they go off on their little rants. You can't change their minds using logic or reason.

8:58 PM  

Apparently, I'm in a commenting mood.

I've spent three quarters of my college career with most my friends believing that I'm an atheist because the face of the non-atheist on my campus is the classic theist, Jesus Freak. And most my closest friends are either atheists or agnostics. My grandfather was telling my sister (who just graduated high school) how she needed to find people who share her values at college. I caught myself before I laughed.

9:07 PM  

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