Dear Christians and Atheists
I’m writing this now because I'm tired of logging on to News24 and seeing posts from Christians and Atheists in the feed. I log on to read about my country and my favourite sports – not about you and your conceited denigration of Christians and academic disproval of their beliefs. Nor do I want to read about how Atheists are Satanists and are doomed to an after-life of fire and fear unless they repent and turn from their wicked ways.
I'm aware that my singular opinion will probably have neither reach nor weight – but seeing as such posts somehow get read and entertained, I figured I’d give it a bash. One of my journalism lecturers kept telling me that it is impossible to be completely objective in writing since our writing will always reflect at least a tiny aspect of our own prejudices. Hence, she said, I should rather strive for objectivity. That is what I will be doing for this piece.
I will address the respective demographics in alphabetical order. First up – the Atheists.
PLEASE stop. Stop with your hypotheses. Stop with your thesis-long expressions of how stupid and juvenile Christians (and/or other religious folk) are. Who do you think you are? What power has been vested in you that you feel yourself worthy and relevant to ridicule the thing that thousands of people genuinely believe and hold so dear to them? Religion is an exceptionally personal and sensitive experience for those who practice it. Some people hold their religion dearer to them than their own families – their own flesh and blood. Now you come around on your high horse and spit on them – calling them stupid for believing in something that they can’t see. How can their God be so loving and kind and yet allow of place of torture and tears for those who are naughty?
Faith: (n) Strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof. (Google.)
Faith, the narrow-minded, is how. You’ll tell yourself that you’re not narrow-minded because you are so super clever that you don’t believe in something you can’t see and you’ve read a Charles Darwin book and Christians are stupid and you have a degree and an opinion and can think for yourself and don’t follow the crowd and Christians are stupid.
No-one cares about your degree. I too have paper behind my name and all it means is I've done some assignments and passed a few exams. Big deal in the Atheist realm, me now. I, however, don’t feel that this qualifies me to ridicule and patronise people with a different opinion than me. (I'm sure the academics with notice the irony in that statement. I'm aware of it. Different context. Hold your comments.)
You think rejecting a belief makes you clever – I assure you sirs and madams – it does not. It makes you arrogant and naïve. What makes a person intelligent (I use the term loosely) is the ability to consider a wide range of possibilities in any given context, investigate the flaws with each argument, and then make a decision for themselves regarding which argument to endorse. (And then not writing an essay about it speaking of it like it is absolute truth and forget everyone who disagrees because you’re so clever.) Critical thinking – my friends.
The point I'm trying to make is that religion is very important to people. Some have had it their entire lives. Some have made massive decisions – marriage, jobs, relocation etc – based on what they truly believe to be the guidance of their God.
Mr Academic (synecdoche/metonym) then comes along and scoffs “Ha! Stupid Christian – believing in something you can’t see! All these decisions you’ve made to try lead a righteous life are in vain! Look how much you sin and that in itself proves that you are both a hypocrite and an idiot!”
Don’t do that. Let them have that. Let them believe in God. Let them believe in orange unicorns that disguise themselves as hawkers at robots. Who are you to take their reality away from them? It is not yours to take – it’s 2013.
A friend once told me that “people like me (atheists) were once burnt and tortured.” Fun fact: So were Christians. Take Jesus out the situation and crucifixion was still a real thing. Theologians tell me apostles were flayed alive, clubbed to death and beheaded or stoned. Stop feeling so sorry yourselves Atheists and Christians – at some point in our history it sucked to be both of you.
Is anyone even reading this? Probably not.
Anyway, on to the Christians.
I’d like to open with the following (paraphrased) quote: “Having a religion is like having a penis: it is perfectly OK to have one, but don’t pull it out in public and DEFINITELY don’t throw it in my face.” (Emphasis mine)
Sure, evangelism is an aspect of your faith, but please, evangelise within reason. People don’t like having people knocking on their door asking to discuss Jesus, and people also don’t like reading salvation stories on News24 and other PUBLIC social networks. There are platforms for your inspirational stories – a news site is not one.
As resolute as you are in your faith (respect) – so are Atheists in their belief (or lack of). Your rantings about sinners and proofs and miracles do no good as far as converting a person goes, and in fact all you are doing is perpetuation the stereotype of naïve and narrow-minded Christians mistaking natural occurrences as a divine act. The more you shout and profess – the more silly you appear.
I ask you the same question – what right were you given to actively denounce another person’s belief? The signs for them are there – death, hunger, starvation, horrific crimes, rape, suicide, loss of family member, kidnapping, hijacking, muti-murders, racism, homophobia, etc etc.
Like it or not, they have a pretty solid argument and are entitled to have it. If we’re objectively honest, the idea of believing in an invisible omnipotent being and a book that may have been written years and years ago with numerous discrepancies would appear outrageous to anyone outside of your belief system.
Another friend of mine posted a status vehemently stating how tired she is of filth and blasphemy appearing in her news feed. She wishes to remain “pure” and thus implores all her Facebook friends to delete her if they are not willing to adhere to her requests…
One can imagine the many responses. The one that I’d like to refer to involves a young girl who said something along the lines of “Thanks for respecting my wishes to believe in something other than what you do.”
Case and point.
See this is my problem. Christians who believe that their religious stature elevates them to some sort of divine authoritive state, and now they get to decide who is worthy and who deserves a chamber of fire. Let the God you serve decide who is good and bad – the call is not yours to make. Log and speck? That whole story? Appropriate.
If you don’t like what your Facebook friends are saying – delete it. None of the people on your account will think “Hmm yeah, you’re right. Maybe I will convert to Catholicism. Thanks for sharing your view.” No one. Not one. Stop it. Stop having this “holier-than-thou” (the saying exists for a reason) attitude that you’re responsible for the salvation of all the lost Atheist souls. It doesn’t work and all you do is irritate people more and push them even further away.
I’m tired of typing.
What I want to leave you with is my solitary and whisper-in-the-wind wish: That we could just all get along. Atheists: Please stop calling Christians stupid, and stop trying to get them to stop believing in their religion. They need it. That’s why they have it. It adds value to them. It helps them through tough times. It offers them guidance. It helps them find explanation for certain events. Christians: Stop trying to condemn Atheists, and stop trying to convert them on a news website. They believe what they do for a reason. They’ve seen too many bad things, read too many books, done too much research, thought too much and applied too much logical reasoning. No article you post on news24 will change their logical inclinations.
Invest your creative energy in something that ADDS VALUE and doesn’t seek to destroy another person’s foundation. (Irony acknowledged, again.)
I leave you with the following. No points for guessing the author:
“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” - NM (Emphasis mine.)
Peace and love.