Religious believers vs Atheists : why does there have to be a war?

I was forced to come back to my blog because I was angered by such a cruel comment and article that was posted by a friend on Facebook. For someone who did Philosophy, she really was a heartless person for being so judgemental herself. I am religious, I have feelings, I follow my religion and I believe in God. I am not afraid of saying this, about expressing what I believe. Yes I believe in God, deal with it. Yes I don’t tell the whole world but that’s my choice. Religion has become so controversial and such a touchy subject in our society that the mood darkens when it is mentioned. Don’t try to belittle me and my religion just because you don’t believe. Don’t you dare try to reduce it and make me feel like my religion is nothing but a comfort blanket. You haven’t got a fudging clue about my life, what people go through so how dare people just judge and condemn your religion like they know exactly what they are talking about. NO ONE knows anything about God. I freely admit it- no one in this massive world has a clue so how can you make a statement about people being crazy for believing in God or religion. Just because you don’t know anything about something does not make you irrational. There is a lot about this world that we do not know about but that doesn’t mean I walk down the road shouting “You are wrong because you know nothing!” Aliens could very well exist- how do you know? Scientists are trying to discover if  they do. Where did this idea of God come from? Its been around for thousands of years, but whatever happened to respecting one’s beliefs?

Oh it’s religion let’s skirt around the issue because it becomes an awkward topic of conversation. We are grown adults and people feel the need to hide behind the curtains and not wish to discuss what they think is close minded traditional old garbage. Well hang on a sec if you think that is so, then how is it that you still follow these old traditional teachings? You don’t realise it but religion is in everything whether you like it or not. It’s been around for thousands of years- you can’t just get rid of it. Even Nietzsche recognised this and stated that it would leave a vast void which would be difficult to fill.  How can you refute the claim that religion is useless when it still exists in everything you do- it is ingrained so deeply that you hardly recognise it. I studied philosophy too and at university I encountered not so much trouble at school but still enough that I was ridiculed for being a religious believer. I would always be told “its ok because you’re a nice religious believer but the others are nuts.” What am I to say? Oh thanks you think I am normal. Do you know the shameful part? I was happy with those statements and I agreed. Looking back I should have been angry because I was being compared and judged. Why do I get categorised as normal and others categorised as crazy. I just feel like I made the cut as if I just passed a test. That’s not how it should be. It shouldn’t matter what kind of religious person I am. It shouldn’t matter that I practice and keep religion to myself. It shouldn’t matter if that makes me normal or crazy because I am me and I am religious. I’m not ashamed of that and why should I be?

I digress, so this girl posted this cartoon on her Facebook: and emphasised how much she agreed with this. Some of it is not so bad, but it vexed me because of the assumptions that were made. It masquerades as humour and condemning those with crazy views, but whatever happened to the right to express our own opinions and views? Who says all religious people believe that stem cell research is evil and fruitless? I am Catholic and although I don’t agree with certain aspects of my religion doesn’t mean I am in the same group. I can’t win because I believe that homosexuality is fine. I understand it is tough and seriously how can you force others to hide who they are and pretend to be heterosexual? It’s just not fair asking someone to be who they are not. I believe Jesus loves everyone. I don’t recall God saying it was wrong because no one heard God say that.  In the eyes of religion I am a heretic and not a true Catholic but hey that’s what I believe. I still associate myself with being religious. It’s just a lot more complicated and all religion is complicated.

Don’t think my problem is solely with Atheists- I admit I don’t like it when some religious people parade religion in my face and try to show that they are better and far superior than me because they do more things in the Church. What is this a contest? Oh wow you’re more religious? Guess what I don’t care. Why should I? Religion is personal and for me is about God not some man made principles. I respect the Christian teachings but its about loving God for me. Helping others- supporting others going the extra mile. True you don’t need to be religious to do all those things but sometimes it helps to understand people and compassion a little more during times of struggle when you’re too stubborn to see the good and help those who’ve hurt you. It’s nice to sit with the Priest and discuss where God has gone and why you’re losing your faith. I’m lucky I have a lovely Priest to turn to who does not judge me but listens to me. He doesn’t give me easy answers and doesn’t even pander to the things he knows I would want to hear. He is honest and truthful that it is tough finding God in this world. I respect that.

Anyway this same girl said to me once when I was leaving after a climbing session when I said that I have to go home, she asked “why?” I said “oh because I need to go to Church for Ash Wednesday” and do you know what she said? She said “See how religion ruins your life?” and then she laughed and said goodbye. I stood there so shocked. I wish I said something but I was in too much of a state of shock. I could not believe what I just heard because do we not get choices anymore? Since when did religion ruin my life? because last I checked I made the choice to leave the session- not my religion. I am in control of my choices- if I want to leave and go to Church that’s my business. I am still to this day annoyed I didn’t speak up – who says you can forget so easily? No one says its easy to forget. I am so fed up with people telling me how to live my life and judging me just because I believe in God. It’s MY life, MY choices. Who says you get a say in my life choices? I will do what I want- if I want to go to Church I’ll damn well go. If I want to go out clubbing I will go, if I want to pray I’ll pray. I don’t force you so why are you forcing me to live the way you want. I get it that people get angered by some religious believers who force religion down their throats but people have to understand it is not all religious believers who do that. Why are you disrespecting and getting angry at religion as a whole? Just because you have issues with religion doesn’t mean you should have issues with everyone associated with that religion. Whenever I am in a group and the subject turns to religion, a silence and hush goes round the group when they discover I am Catholic. The sayings “Oh wow we would never have guessed.” or “Oh well you’re one of the normal ones then” get thrown around the group. Am i meant to be impressed and happy with those thoughts? Just because I don’t boast about my religion, preach about it and parade it in other people’s faces, it apparently makes me sane.  You don’t realise you’ve just judged me because I am religious but I bet you’d never have guessed that I like metal. I wear pretty dresses and like to smile and try to be optimistic but I still like metal. I have other sides to my personality, other interests so why do people feel the need to put me in a box? “Oh she looks happy so she must like happy music or pop music.” or “Oh she looks normal so she must not believe in religion because that is irrational.” I don’t get why it surprises people that I have different facets to my life. I dislike people who claim to be Atheist and argue that religion is judgemental while simultaneously managing to become a hypocrite by saying that they don’t judge people or the world. Then please explain to me how you claim not to judge others when you’ve clearly just judged religious believers. I don’t care what you hate and I don’t understand why it even matters?  Some people feel the need to attack the views of others just because they simply do not like it. “I don’t like religion so lets attack this shit”. But that’s not fair. I guess life is not fair but really next time be a little more sensitive. It doesn’t hurt. If you don’t like someone’s view explain that to them and if its not getting through move on. Why waste time trying to argue points just so you feel validated.

Well you’ll be happy to know my rant is over. I respect other people’s beliefs but there comes a point where it crosses the line and that’s where I lose respect. I am a religious believer. Deal with it.

2 thoughts on “Religious believers vs Atheists : why does there have to be a war?

  1. mikevo says:

    While I agree that this cartoon oversimplifies some things it also makes some valid points about what non-theists feel many religions do. Granted, as we progress into a more secular age people from all walks are becoming more accepting of differing views and it is now far more complicated. Posts like this are not very useful, the cartoon I mean, because it doesn’t really try to get at the philosophical issues and just basically is calling religious people delusional bigots and hypocrites.

    But as a philosopher, I can’t ignore what source material and historical figures are looked to for guidance, doctrine, and beliefs. Religious people, Christians, Muslims, whatever, do have to face the fact that there is a history and culture of intolerance that exists among them. There are definitely still very dogmatic theists out there, bigoted and hateful ones. But there are also dogmatic and hateful atheists. So we all have to step back a bit and be willing to say people are going to believe what they want to believe. People believe all sorts of things and it doesn’t necessarily make them crazy, even if something they believe doesn’t seem very reasonable or logical. The general attitude now is just don’t rock my boat with it. The problem is some people are rocking boats with their beliefs and delusions.

    I welcome healthy debate and I try not to tell people they are deluded to believe certain things. But I am one who personally believe that human psychology is an amazingly deceptive thing that can fool individuals into doing, thinking, and accepting just about anything. So i remain an ultimate skeptic on just about everything.

    Saying that religion is in everything and is everywhere is a tad of an overstatement to me and in the philosophical sense is not a useful argument. What do you mean by religion? Furthermore, saying “I’m religious so just get over it” doesn’t seem to spark the healthy dialogue I think you are asking for elsewhere in your post. While atheists make this cartoon they have to deal with radicalized extremists blowing people up and flying planes into buildings. While you can point to a handful of horrendous things that atheists might have done, I think we can all agree that terrible things are done by delusional people. The larger issue beyond religion is delusion and people finding false moral justifications to do horrible things. That, I think a theist or non-theist should be able to come together on and do something about.

    • Hello Mikevo,

      Thank you for your comment. I agree with a few things you have said and I feel I should clairfy some things. It is true the cartoon makes some valid points and I am not so much annoyed at the cartoon- some of it I can definitely understand, like things relating to sex and making people feel guilty is not right, sciencetists stating facts and proving theories (most scientists including Galileo and Charles Darwin were Christians) however parts of it seemed very much to generalise especially since it was more based on extremists and I have to say that extremist religious believers are in a minority. The end especially and the bit about it being a I felt patronised theists in some ways suggesting and generalising that religion is used mainly as a comfort in this cruel but wonderful world. It even adds that if the reader is extremist then they can’t even draw a picture- but who said they cannot do so? No one said you cannot draw pictures. Children draw pictures of God all the time. A lot of people like visualising things and I don’t recall anyone saying you cannot. Granted some philosophers such as Maimonides argue that it is better to negate God and not use attributes because God cannot be drawn or expressed in human words/images because we do not know anything about God and thus to put God into words would be to limit God and reduce God. Thus in Maimonides eyes it is better to negate God.

      Also who says that religion is forced? If you are 25, then you are old enough to understand what you believe, the positives and negatives about something. Anyway again I digress, the point is this is just the tipping point after many comments that people have felt the need to tell me. I don’t understand why it is so difficult to believe in God and am happy to practice a religion. I may not know who I am but that does not mean I gain all my happiness from religion. Many theists have several battles and inner turmoils with religion and God. Religion, people and ideas challenges beliefs and faith but that is fine. Its healthy to have that challenge and really understand why you believe something rather than believing for the sake of something. No what angers me is the constant criticism and ridicule that theists receive just because they practice religion or believe in God. I believe in happiness but saying that to people no one would really have a problem with, but saying I believe in God seems to create a charged atmosphere wherever I go. I don’t understand why it has to be such a damper on conversation or even a problem for the matter. I don’t know why I have to be challenged to prove the existence of God when it’s clear I cannot. Can I just not believe because I want to? No it cannot be accepted. If I have a feeling or I feel I know that God exists, my argument fails because it cannot be proved empirically or I am told I am emotional which is irrational and does not follow reason. Why though does everything have to be analysed? Why cannot it just be accepted that I believe?

      Anyway I agree with you that cartoons like these are to be taken as a joke and a bit of fun which is fine, but yes as you say they do not reach the philosophical or deeper problems. It just goes on assumptions based on extremist behaviour and views. It is a generalisation of the minority of religion but not all religions are like that. People have their own reasons for believing and they also have their own experiences but I do not see why others need to be more superior. I do not care if someone does not believe in God- thats their choice and they came to the conclusions by themselves. I would never force my children to believe in God or go to Church if they did not want to. I would allow them that choice. It’s personal and not everyone is the same.

      Indeed you are right there are still dogmatic and hateful bigots but some people hide behind religion or God and use that as an excuse to propagate their views. It is very easy to use religion as an excuse and use it to disguise true intentions, but again everything and everyone has a reason for doing something and it is that motivation that drives their hate. I agree we do all have to step back and accept that people will believe what they will believe. True it is about rocking boats, but that is the world we live in and it always has been the way- someone will always want to rock the boat and force their beliefs and delusions on others but that is not to say it is restricted to religion. It applies to a lot of other views and can range from political to cultural views. A lot of people associate religion with culture but again these are two very different entities that can go hand in hand together but at the end of the day they are separate and people can confuse them as one.

      I appreciate that you welcome debate- I welcome it too and I think it is great. How boring life would be if we all had the same views, but it is how you go about engaging in debate. I believe it is important to listen, think and understand different views. Its easy to disregard different ideas but as long as you are clear about what you believe in then its ok. And if you’re not clear thats ok too because lifes about discovering and learning. We cannot know everything and its ok to not know so there’s nothing wrong with being in the middle. I just don’t like when people need to feel the need to be superior and make others feel inferior for their views as if it is a point scoring game. It is serious stuff at the end of the day for the person so its important to have a bit of sensitivity and respect even if you cannot agree or understand the reasons. I agree with you to an extent about the human psychology because its very easy for people to change their views, but there is nothing wrong with considering other arguments and changing your views as long as you do not compromise yourself and your principles in the process. I personally am not a sceptic for many reasons which I will not discuss now since that’s a whole different can of worms, but I do believe we are shaped by our experiences which shapes the way we think.

      I see where you are coming from with the statement religion is in everything. Perhaps I did not phrase it carefully but what I meant is religious beliefs are ingrained in everything and is in a way part of our morality. I mean religious teachings to clarify teach us right and wrong, good and bad. (Controversial I know!!) At school, at home people teach others to be kind to others- to treat others with respect, this I believe comes from religion and though its fair to refute this I do believe it is true because teachings can easily be passed down from generations a bit like Chinese whispers but no one remembers where it came from. Religion used to be at the forefront of society and no doubt shaped the lives of many people including future generations. Christian beliefs as well as other religious beliefs have shaped the way we treat others. Pretty much all religions have the same core values and have many similarities. You may argue that you were taught to respect other because it is the right thing to do and therefore it did not come from religion but from common sense. But I ask you who taught you that? Who taught your parents? Who taught them? Where did they receive their values from? Society? Even if you disregard religion you still take the good parts which make sense. The teachings stay with you no matter how much you would like to escape and distance yourself from religion because it is bound to have an impact on you in one way or another. How do you know it didn’t come from religion? Can it be traced? Can it be measured? No not really, but it did have a source of inspiration. If you don’t discipline your child and let them know something is bad then they will do it again because children do not know the difference between right and wrong. They require guidance and need education to grow and learn. It doesn’t have to be religious education. How do you know what’s bad, right or wrong? Because your parents taught you, society dictated it was so.

      The statement “I am religious so get over it” is a way of saying that if you cannot accept that I am religious I cannot help you with that. I don’t see why I need to be criticised for being religious. If someone doesn’t like it I cannot help it. That’s there problem not mine. Why should people take such an interest and feel the need to discredit you? Because it will make you feel superior or better? What does it add? (Not saying you in particular just people) Its my saying to those who cannot accept and do not accept that I am religious and that is the choice I have made. Indeed we can agree that terrible things are done by delusional people. But that does not mean it is always done by religious people. I have agreed with you on some points and I believe that theists and non-theists can indeed agree on a lot. Atheists may not believe in God but why should that stop them from getting along with a theist? The beliefs may be different but that should not stop friendships from developing. Likewise why should me being Asian stop me from becoming friends with an Irish or an African? I do agree with your last statement that it is the larger issue we should focus on, instead of attacking the small things that do not matter.

      Finally I must say apologies for such a long reply! But thank you for your interesting viewpoints and discussions.

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