It has come to my attention lately just how many of my friends, online and off, are Atheists.
Which is awesome, by the way. I respect Atheism as much as I respect my Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Baha’i and Muslim friends. Freedom of religion and tolerance are awesome, awesome things.
But something I’ve come up against lately on Twitter, through either Tweets or RT’ed Tweets, is this perception/assumption/prejudice that implies that those who believe in a God are of a lower intelligence. This “oh poor silly them not knowing the truth” smugness, or “I’m glad you believe in some mystical glowing thing in the sky that helps you sleep at night” attitude.
Personal beliefs are just that: personal. They are something people usually hold close to them, and only the most vocal will debate. I generally keep very quiet on Twitter when it comes to politics and religion, as I often have a differing view to that being expressed, but some of these words hurt, and it’s not as popular it seems to fight, taunt and belittle Atheists on the internet as it is for the religious to be targeted and put down.
Because you know what? Those perceptions people may have of religion just don’t apply to normal, Liberal, modern day Christians and Jews. He who is looniest, shouts the loudest, so of course we hear plenty of vitriol from those who take the Bible literally, hate homosexuality, etc, and generally cause trouble and/or are affiliated with hate groups. In so many circumstances these days, religion is seen to be the bringer of all evil and something to be simply scoffed at.
There is an assumption that:
All religious people are anti-abortion and the rights of women. Er, I’m a woman. A modern, free-thinking, feminist woman. And religious. I can’t speak for all religions, but in Judaism, even the most Ultra-Orthodox of Rabbis would approve of an abortion where the mother’s life was at risk. There’s this fantastic concept of pikuach nefesh: that human life is more important than anything else (which also allows killing in self defense, and all sorts, which is another discussion!).
In more Liberal streams, and amongst many Liberal Christians, life starts when the baby leaves the birth canal, so it’s not an issue. Whether or not you personally agree or would personally have an abortion is an entirely different thing from being pro-choice and would differ from person to person, but that’s the same with anything. Women can make this choice if they wish to, and birth control is not denied.
All religious people hate the gays. Sure. Tell that to my gay Rabbi and his gorgeous Barbadian boyfriend.
All religious people want to convert me. Nope, I’m not allowed. Nor would I wish to, even if it was kosher. There’s this fantastic concept of being a Noachide, or someone who follows the “laws of Noah”. Which basically means, if you’re not a raping, murdering asshole, you’ll be fine, Jewish or not.
It’s all about getting into Heaven or avoiding Hell. Don’t believe in Heaven or Hell, as such. It’s all about being the best person I can be right here and now to benefit myself and others.
And I understand that there has been a shift. That more and more people are Atheist and making their voices heard, and I appreciate and agree with that. Pushing back against religious extremism is important and debate is healthy.
Telling someone they believe in “some fairytale to make [them] feel better about the world” isn’t helpful. You don’t believe in God, and yet internally you tell yourself plenty of things about how and why you believe this world works the way it does, and that makes you feel confident/satisfied, right? Many scientists believe in God and also in science, y’know! These things are not mutually exclusive, just like being gay and being religious. Which is more common than you think.
God, to me, is not some booming dude in white robes up in the clouds with a lovely glowing finger. God works, in a sense, through our own conscience, and I read and discuss issues and concerns with my peers when I need guidance. I don’t think the good and the bad in the world is something created by a superior being, who is pushing us around like pieces on a chessboard, allowing massive natural disasters, good people to die, and bad people to get away with it all. We have free will, whether given to us or naturally evolved, and that is just how things play out. Millions of factors go into a planet/universe/galaxy, and any one event can be caused by a myriad of things. So yes, good things happen to bad people, and good people die before their “time”.
If you truly, honestly believe that I am somehow less of a person than you because I believe in God, walk away now. I don’t think we can be friends.
If you truly, honestly believe that my faith makes me a person of lesser intelligence than you, walk away now. I don’t think we can be friends.
If you truly, honestly believe that a world where being tolerant of and respectful to those of other beliefs is a load of shit, walk away now. I don’t think we can be friends.
Cause I refuse to feel smug or arrogant because I believe differently to you, so why do you act that way around me? And my future kids won’t make your (future) kids feel like shit because they see the world differently.
And what you believe? is not some “truth” that you need to teach us or free me from some kind of brainwashing. It is your truth. I don’t believe because I actively make a choice every day to believe in something. I believe… because I believe. That’s what my faith is.
So stop and think before you offend. Open your mind.
And like Wil says… don’t be a dick.…xxx