According to popular indoctrinated understanding, unless you are a member of a religious organisation or declare your devotion and belief to one of the many gods that abound, you would generally be considered an atheist. A person who chooses to pay homage to a god via one of the many religions is considered to be religious. Sounds simple enough. But in modern society and dependent on your geographic situation, your culture and society, there can be many unwanted consequences for either choice.
If you happen to live in an atheist environment and choose to devote yourself instead to a religion, you can be subject to the disapproval and rejection of your atheist family, friends and society. If you are from a religious background and opt to forego religion in favour of non-belief, again you will encounter resistance, rejection and disapproving condemnation. By nature, most people want to conform, fit in and be accepted by the people in their world and so accept and adapt to what is considered the acceptable, prescribed norm in their environment. In an ideal world, the maxim of ‘Live and Let Live’ would prevail, but in reality, it does not. People have great difficulty in tolerating those who choose ‘differently’ from themselves.
As a result, differing beliefs tend to band together for support and unity. The religious will make themselves known to each other for support and affirmation that their choice is the right one. And many atheists too, seek support and affirmation that their choice is correct. Both groups can be highly intolerant of the other and both groups can and do seek to ‘convert’ the other’s beliefs - sometimes even resorting to extreme force to ensure that their belief dominates totally.
Can we honestly be totally of one mind or the other?
There are those who have no religion and would be categorised as atheists, yet they live lives that essentially embody all the Christian principles of goodness and pure heart. On the other hand, there are many devoutly religious self-proclaimed Christians whose lifestyle and demeanour in reality, is completely devoid of accepted ‘christian’ principles and values.
This N24 forum has been a real education for me about diverse subjects but especially about the true nature of Atheists and Christians.
Prior to stumbling into My N24, I had no strongly developed interest or feelings about either Atheism or Christianity. Both subjects floated somewhere in the dim periphery of my consciousness and the only certainty was that religion was not part of my life. I knew even less about Atheism or Atheists. Normal everyday life interaction with some Christians simply re-affirmed my choice to not participate without much thought applied but I had begun to notice over the last decade or so that the religious seemed to changing somewhat; becoming noticeably ‘different’ for want of a better word and lack of investigation on my part.
Gone were the ‘Christians’ of my youth, people who strived to live in kindly association with those around them, quietly going about their lives causing no waves and not seeking public attention. They lived by decent principles, were humble, law-abiding citizens who did the odd good deed and were generally hardly noticeable.
In their stead emerged a new breed of Christians. These were more affluent, more successful, gregarious and raucous, very sure of themselves and their standing in the society around them. They did Good Deeds which were locally publicised and involved the energies, participation and most of all, the admiration of all people surrounding them. I noticed them but still they were hardly worth more than a moment’s interest for me.
Then suddenly the new wave of Christians arrived: Young, upwardly mobile zealots who were not satisfied with the inner-circle acclaim afforded them for their shine once a week in church, or for their newest fund-raising charity drive achievements.
They needed YOU to know their god’s word and before you knew it, you were confronted by these aggressive people wherever you happened to be. In your home, in other’s homes, on the street or anywhere they could be assured of your captive audience, whether for 2 minutes or 2 hours. You would be subject to their very loud proclamations that whatever you thought you knew about the bible or Christianity or religion – was WRONG. THEY knew the REAL truth and you were going to be taught properly by them no matter your politely murmured reluctance. I heard about demons, demon possession, little devils that hide behind legs of chairs, miraculous healings that any tom, dick or harry can perform provided they attend healing classes. I heard about god’s REAL word, intention, his feelings, thoughts and real meanings along with his real aches and pains. The litany of utterly insane and unbelievable drivel is poured over you at every opportunity.
Being a fairly diplomatic soul, reasonably well brought up to be considerate and polite to others, I endured this treatment for as long as I could which I soon learned to shorten to approximately 2 minutes. Despite innate good manners, I also have a bit of an alligator mouth when provoked and realised that when confronted by rude, obnoxious, pushy, religious people, one has to bite hard and move on, to preserve your mental sanity. Strong terminology also helps. Not very lady-like but a few choice words or expressions is a very effective way to shut down a strident, glassy-eyed, delivery of bible punch.
So today we have a whole new different Christian. Main stream churches of old have been replaced by a plethora of non-denominational churches servicing Christian needs. Compared to the old type of Christian that I knew in my youth, today’s Christian is a babbling, crazed animal and hardly recognizable. The simple tenet of do good, be good, be humble seems to have fallen by the wayside and replaced by a money-making machine peopled by mindless, rabid cretins who have no concept that they do more harm to the notion of Christianity than good. The few good, gentle souls still attached to Christianity are even less apparent than before.
Back to the point of this article: I have never had to question myself about what label would suit my particular brand of thought, but if I was simply some sort of non-religious floater before meeting you on this forum, I now know with certainty that I am a good atheist and not a bad christian.
We Atheists have good morals, live our lives based on good old fashioned ‘christian’ principles of living with decency, but without a ‘religion’. We are independent in thought and lifestyle but we are generally, law-abiding, considerate people who are generous of spirit and have a genuine interest in humanity and all life on earth. We respect and revere the awesomeness of nature and the mighty universe and we emote profoundly and with deep intensity. Atheists are not wishy-washy about their emotions. Perhaps it’s because we live with awareness of the moment?
We believe in no Christian deity yet we do not reject the concept of an unknown force or power beyond our knowledge. We don’t pay homage to past gods and ancient religious scripts. [The kind of god I would believe in would have no need of my money, my puny input, my grovelling adoration or my abject terror of his disapproval.] We Atheists have no need of group affirmation and approval, but we welcome the opportunity to expand our minds and learn from others. We are thinkers who strive for knowledge and truth and we never settle for less. And we are strong, open-minded people who want peace but who will fight for what is right.
For those who don’t understand what an Atheist is: You are witnessing real “Love at Work” in this world by people with high ideals, whose minds will not be bent, bound nor limited or reduced by simple man-made doctrine.