Religion, or the absence of it, has always been a terrifying topic for me to write about – which is exactly why I try my best to avoid it. It’s not only because I have my own qualms about religion, it’s also because I’m 100% positive that writing about it is basically equivalent to picking a fight with someone – a fight that is sure to get ugly really fast and a fight where both parties will lose, although I’m sure neither side will admit to it.
I read blogs, essays and news articles that talk about religion and in every single one of them, there is always a heated debate that always always always gets downright nasty and obscene. When you keep seeing such things, it won’t take long before you realize that you just can’t give an honest opinion about religion without being called a bigot or a spawn of the devil. No matter what you say, you’re always going to upset someone.
So I thought, you know what? Instead of angering one particular group of people, why don’t I just go all in and annoy everyone instead? No, I’m kidding. But then again, not really.
It’s natural for atheists and theists – whether they be Christians, Muslims, Hindus and etc. – to have disagreements and disputes regarding their beliefs. But for some reason, there has always been this massive rivalry going on between atheists and Christians. Atheists love to criticize Christians and Christians love to criticize atheists. Both love to hate on each other so much that they actually make an effort to go out of their way to irritate the other.
Frankly, I think this dispute between the two sides is really *deep nervous breath* immature. There, I said it. Really, if the subject being disagreed upon isn’t a highly sensitive topic like religion, it would seem like atheists and Christians who keep throwing stones at one another are no better than the noisy and annoying pair of siblings who fight and bicker to no end on a long 15-hour flight.
This whole thing is weird to me because, aside from the disparity in the belief of God (or a god), I find that many atheists and Christians have more things in common than they would care to acknowledge.
Here is a humble pie of my beliefs. Now eat it! I’m not implying that people should hide or be ashamed of their personal beliefs. I’m just saying we shouldn’t shove it in other people’s faces and force them to swallow it. There’s a difference between stating your beliefs and shouting them. Many atheists and Christians tend to do the latter. I’ve seen this in blogs and news websites and classrooms. What starts out as an apparent attempt to share one’s belief gradually turns into an exasperating sermon and then eventually becomes a full-blown tirade.
No, I will not just take your comment and shrug it off no matter how indirected it is at me. For some bizarre reason, when Christians read articles or comments written by atheists, they automatically feel like it was made with the sole purpose of insulting them. And vice versa. I can understand if the comment was against the other’s belief, but every other time, it seems a lot like an opinion gets attacked for no other reason than the fact that the person who gave the opinion comes from a different religious standpoint.
Ah, I see that person’s belief is different from mine. I MUST make fun of him. I see this more often among atheists than Christians, but that doesn’t mean Christians aren’t guilty of this either. I happen to like a couple of personalities who are atheists so I sometimes check their Twitter or Instagram accounts, and it really bums me out when I see them post something that ridicules my faith. This person once posted a photo of a man wearing a cross who was seated across from him on a bus and, in the caption, joked that he rode on the wrong bus that day. Being a fan of his, I wondered what he would think had I been on that bus with him.
We shan’t be hypocrites. But alas, we are. And when I say ‘we’, I mean you, me and everybody. One of the most common descriptions atheists give Christians is that they’re hypocrites. And to be honest, they have reason to. Christians are supposed to live according to the Word of God and yet I see a lot of Christians holding placards on the streets saying gay people deserve to die and burn in hell. No, they don’t. We are commanded to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, and last time I checked, telling people they deserve to rot in hell isn’t exactly an act of love. At the same time, atheists can be hypocritical too. Atheists argue that believing in a god isn’t necessary to live a life that is good, moral and ethical. Well, saying that my God is imaginary and pompous, and that I’m stupid for believing in him isn’t something I could characterize as good, moral and ethical. You see, we all have our moments of hypocrisy. We just don’t notice because either we’re too busy pointing our fingers at other people or we’re too self-righteous (which is an even bigger testament to one’s hypocrisy).
So how do I end a post like this that can somehow soothe the wrath I’ve a feeling I’m about to receive? I really don’t know. It’s just that I’ve been carrying these thoughts with me for a good few years and now I finally found the courage to say them.
But basically, what I’m trying to get at here is that atheists and Christians have no reason to hate each other if we do our responsibility as human beings and respect one another. I’m not so naive as to think that we could actually love each other and be best friends forever. What I’m saying is that while we don’t need to agree with other people’s religion, we still need to accept the fact that they have their own beliefs.
Peace can’t only be achieved through love. Peace can also be achieved through tolerance.