I made the…..mistake? this week of sharing some thoughts on Christianity on a comment thread about atheism/skepticism.
I didn’t post my comments to start an argument, nor did I post them to try and convince anyone of a notion that somehow by me being a Christian that I am superior or more enlightened than someone who claims no association with spirituality or belief in a deity.
I closely follow on social media the guy who started the thread because he is a brilliant writer. His posts stir my soul, and my mind. And I was quite honestly surprised that he posted his thoughts on religion, simply because I’ve not seen him do that before.
It wasn’t long before someone came along with a snarky response to my comments. Though I said nothing and mentioned nothing about politics, that’s where their argument aimed. A less provocative yet still somewhat belittling commenter followed up and proceeded to pick apart something I said.
Both hurt my feelings. Because I do neither. I’m not a smartass about people’s faith or lack thereof, and I also don’t pick apart every statement they make. As I said, I wasn’t trying to convince anyone of anything. Sometimes it’s best to just let someone’s comments be what they are.
I don’t typically get into a pissing match with people about my religion. I don’t really care if people agree with my decision to be a Christian, but nobody likes to be treated like they’re stupid. Because I’m not an idiot. And something as personal as someone’s faith….well, it seems like a below-the belt thing to do to try and be condescending to them about it. But one of the comments implied that I was being condescending with part of what I said, so, apparently before I post any more thoughts in the future, I must be much more careful. The learning curve continues.
I realize that Christianity as a whole gets a bad rep among many groups of people. But as much as I get why people are atheists, and I really do get it, because we’re all wired very differently when it comes to our acceptance of supernatural belief systems, I don’t understand why so many of them take it upon themselves to be hateful about it. Especially when hate is exactly what they don’t like about many who claim Christianity.
What I hear within the atheist community is that they don’t want to be oppressed by religion.
As a Christian, I completely and utterly agree.
The fundamental belief systems of any religion should not dictate how others live their life in a free society.
I might actually believe that I am on the right spiritual path, but that does not give me the right to tell someone else, in a free country, that they must live, work, and raise their children under the same umbrella that I do.
My questions to atheists and skeptics is always, if they don’t believe in an Intelligent Designer, how do they explain their moral code? Where does it come from?
While I’ve gotten some good and interesting answers, the thing is, I haven’t seen any evidence as of yet about why human beings seem to be hardwired with a type of spiritual longing. Why we want so desperately to make sense of things that make no sense (why bad things happen to good people, etc.). Why people who have never known anything about God, religion, etc. have belief systems that so mirror Christianity as though it is somehow part of their genetic makeup.
Maybe, according to the atheist, the people who struggle with those types of questions (because not everyone does) are just ignorant.
I can only know what I know. What I’ve experienced. What has enlightened me on both a physical/mental and spiritual level.
Christians, as a whole, are perceived more and more to be an exclusive bunch. And I can think of nothing further from the message of Christ. A message that longs to include, to lift up, to encourage, and to heal. But that perception is real, and in many cases, sadly more often than not, it’s reality.
I know, from studying Psychology, that our conditioning and genetics work hand in hand to make us who we’re going to be. I take that extremely seriously because I am a mother. I know the gene pool from which my daughter came, and I know how my parenting has conditioned her.
But if that’s all there was, I would think we’d all be able to shape our children into exactly what we want them to be. And my own daughter is evidence that that kind of thinking is ridiculous.
She is a natural skeptic. We have talked about her struggles to accept everything that I believe about Christianity, even though she has been repeatedly exposed to it all of her young life. This is why the atheist/skeptic argument matters to me on a personal level. I care about it otherwise, but when your own child looks at you and says, “I have a hard time believing that.”, it’s hard to accept that it’s not my job to try and convince her. I can only live an example of what I believe true Christ-like behavior means, and hope that is enough for her to see that THAT is actually the only part that really matters. The love part.
I don’t know a single solitary individual that was solely convinced of the existence of God or Jesus or the Holy Spirit by factual evidence.
This is why it’s a difficult and often fruitless conversation for believers and non-believers to have, especially if the mentality of each is not to really try and understand one another and only to convince or “win”. We’re approaching the subject matter from two entirely different perspectives.
I think, for me, having been raised as I was, having the personality I have, faith comes somewhat easily to me. Holding on to that faith in difficult times has been a struggle on occasion. But it remains. Maybe that’s a defense mechanism of my brain. I don’t know. I just know that, at the end of the day, it is my peace. Regardless of what is going on around me, resting in an eternal unchanging nature of a Divine presence is peace to me. And my personal experiences within my religion transcend my human understanding. It is…..unexplainable.
Reading back over this, there are countless places people who are skeptical of Christianity could pick apart my words. In truth, we could all do that to each other all the time.
To be quite honest, I don’t have the energy to live my life like that. If you want to have a discussion, that’s fine. If you want to try and mutually understand one another’s position, that’s great.
Where there is room for improvement on both sides is the need for compassion, and a willingness to listen and reserve judgment.
I can understand how many atheists and skeptics feel oppressed by religion in this country. And by me identifying as a Christian, many of them see me as one of the enemy.
But I do not hold to many of the ideas that are put forth by those who also claim this religion. And I think it’s wrong to be labeled that way.
I think, until we can put aside our own need to be right long enough to try and understand someone else’s perspective, this debate will forever rage on. Often in a heated way.
I’m still learning how to de-condition my own self from the need to be right. To actively listen and see other perspectives with compassion and validity. We all, Christians, and otherwise, have a long way to go.
All I know to do is live my life as authentically as possible. Seek the truth. And love others as Christ loves them, as He loves me.
I wonder sometimes, if more Christians did that, how many skeptics there would be.