Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Proselytizers Embarrass Me, Part II

Remember that little rant I wrote about how for the most part, proselytizers embarrass me? The general idea was that their lack of respect for other people and their right to believe (or not believe) as they choose really gets up my nose.

The same goes for atheist proselytizers.

I mean, come on. So you don't like religion? Don't practice one. Telling people who are spiritually and/or religiously inclined that they shouldn't hold the beliefs that they do just because you don't approve is every bit as arrogant as any Christian proselytizer who tells non-Christians (or Christians from other denominations, for that matter!) that they're going to Hell if they don't convert. By all means, believe that there is no God or afterlife. Just don't try to annoy me, or anyone else who isn't atheistically inclined, into becoming an atheist. It's irritating, conceited and just plain disrespectful.

Mind you, I do disagree with folks like David Clarke (who is quoted in the Tampa Bay Online article) who believe that without belief in God, life has no meaning and real morality is impossible. My own personal experience disproves that. I've known several atheists over the years, and many of them have been among the kindest, most genuine people I've ever known. Morality is indeed very possible without any deity-centred view of the world; sometimes I think that it may even be more genuine than the morality of many believers, because there really is no extrinsic motivation to "be good"—there's no threat of Hell or promise of Heaven after this life is done. I just happen to think that there's plenty of room in this big, weird, messed-up world of ours in which people of various faiths and people with no faith can coexist peacefully. We just need to learn that our own beliefs (and rights) do not trump other people's and learn to act accordingly—i.e., not being a jerk to people with different beliefs and opinions.

Yeah, I'm not holding my breath for that one either.

Still, I've got to hope. That's really kind of what I'm all about, after all. If I—an extremely confused and very surprised Christo-Pagan—can manage to peacefully coexist with people who hold different beliefs from mine (and it would be difficult to come up with anyone who believes in exactly what I do, believe me), then certainly other people can, too. Even hardcore atheists and committed Jews/Buddhists/Pagans/Hindus/Muslims/Sikhs/Christians/Pastafarians etc. can get along as long as there's an attitude of mutual respect—which, by the way, would include thoughtful debate, and not arguments about why Belief X is Ridiculous and Everyone Should Subscribe To Belief Y.

It isn't easy. The egotism that facilitates the attitude that "My Way Is Better Than Your Way, No Matter How Well Your Way Works For You" seems to be awfully seductive. Who doesn't like to believe that they're right, after all? And arguing seems to be as hard-wired into humanity's essence as the tendency to have opposable thumbs. But as annoying as the proselytizers from any group can be, I do hope that someday the various spiritual and non-spiritual groups in the world will stop trying to shout each other down and actually try not to be such arrogant assholes to each other.

In the immortal words of Red Green, "Remember, I'm pulling for you. We're all in this together."

No comments:

Post a Comment