I have a vested interest in the social sciences. I’ve found that the surest way to definitively arrive at a solid conclusion is through experimentation and observation. Why do people think the way they do? And what makes people tick? It’s a given that a person’s identity is tied to their beliefs, though it’s not an intellectually objective view for the most part. The first time I publicly admitted doubt in my previous worldview, I was lambasted by those who held the aforementioned worldview. I was immediately struck by the notion that I need to understand what it’s like to live as someone outside the world of Christendom. And I don’t just mean someone with a differing theology. I mean someone who denies the existence of a deity, altogether. So I was consciously asking tough questions via my public venues. I was consciously voicing contradictions and observations about the existence of a creator, attempting to converse with other disbelievers or faith-types who doubt.
I already doubt the existence of God, so I was being honest. I know people often take issue with those who plot schemes pretending to be gay in order to write books about their experience, etc. My experience isn’t going to end with this blog post, I really doubt the existence of a creator and I find nearly everything about Christendom to be despicable, gimmick driven stupidity. Of course, I know that the majority of faith-types mean well and there’s even a massive community of socially conscience, thoughtful faith-types on the margins. Admittedly, I do find that community to be rather dishonest about the intellectual implications of faith in a creator.
I’m very empathetic to atheists, generally more than faith-types. That isn’t to say that I don’t find evangelical atheists irritating and abrasive. I find them to be just as rigid and condescending as their opposites. However, I find their misgivings about faith and religion to be valid, logical and accurate. For instance, there’s no conclusive evidence that healings happen. Yet, disbelief in miraculous healing and divine guidance is ridiculed and demonized. Science cured 12 deadly diseases in the 20TH century alone. I think it makes sense that a chunk of people want to focus on the hope that progress and education bring with them. Science has had its share of blemishes, much like religion. (I’m looking at the Atom Bomb.) Of course, one can argue that these diseases were cured through divine intervention, but that’s a slippery slope. I think atheists have a solid case for their worldview and I think people who caricature and mock them are generally compassionless cowards living in a small world. That sounds harsh but I believe that fear of the unknown and fear of intellectual honesty is a driving force in most closed minded individuals.
It goes without saying that faith-types make up a chunk of the science community, and that faith-types also advocate for education and progress. Unfortunately, in my experiment I was often grilled for promoting a science driven worldview. I was forced to deal with the paranoid, uneducated crazies – void of a healthy appreciation for intellect and self-growth. I haven’t decided if this is just another case of the crazies being louder than the rational, reasonable community. Suffice it to say, in this instance, they outnumbered the reasonable folks. I want to believe that the reasonable crowd react appropriately to tough questions and healthy criticism, while the religious warrior type lash out against ideas and questions that frighten or counter their ideas.
What bothered me most about my observation was how quickly and viciously any kind of doubt I expressed or falsehood I exposed was childishly ridiculed or railed against. Anyone who spends any amount of time on social networking sites knows that people daily express their faith or admiration of their perceived creator, whether it be gratefulness or a declaration of God’s pleasant “plans” for their life. Yet, when I made the most passive or ambiguous post about my lack of belief in a creator or the Christian God/worldview, I was bashed as some sort of persecuting heretic, deserving of reprimand and abuse. All of this happened without provoking through hateful or mean spirited jabs, just honest misgivings and observation. They were just personal observations in my venue, not encroaching on any religious ground – whatsoever.
Suffice it to say that I find the religious communities treatment toward non-believers to be lacking and bothersome. Of course, I feel the same way about evangelical atheists and their lack of compassion and respect. I wonder to myself – what can be done to encourage mutual respect and polite empathetic discourse? What can be done to provoke honest intellectual reflection and what can be done to rid the world of dogma on both ends of the spectrum?