I know my blog is supposed to be about love, so this post may appear a bit off-topic, but, in my opinion, God and Love are synonymous, so... here goes.
I've been having an ongoing debate with a friend of mine about atheism. I admit, I feel much stronger about this since I recently lost Craig, a man of amazing faith, to ALS. Having such an intimate relationship with a dying man in his final days, I witnessed the beauty of absolute faith. I saw the comfort this faith brought both to him and to all the people around him. I have felt protective about Craig, and anyone who might dare to question his faith, while he was alive. Why would anyone want to take away the very thing that gave him so much strength? And now, after his death, I feel protective of my own heart. I don't want anyone to try and convince me there's not a God... there's not a heaven. Without those beliefs how could I begin to cope with the grief of losing people I've loved?
Today my friend sent me this article: Why Religious People are Scared of Atheists. The article talks about an atheist marching band who marched in a Christmas parade and the comments from those who were offended by that. The author fails to understand why people would be offended by peaceful and polite participation of an atheist group in this parade. Well, I'd like to offer this rebuttal...
First of all, I have to say that personally, I disagree with anyone being disrespectful to a group for what they believe. I think it's wrong for people to insult atheists, just as I think it's wrong for atheists to insult people who believe in God. I understand that both groups try to convince the other of their beliefs, and frankly, I think this only causes a bunch of anger on both sides! Though I understand why people were offended, I disagree with any who wrote insulting or derogatory things about atheists in general. Atheists, like everyone else, deserve respect, and my rebuttal here is not meant to be disrespectful.
But, here's where I think atheism is different from religion. Atheists don't talk about what they believe in... they talk about what they don't believe in. The only point I can see in declaring what you don't believe in is to tell people who do believe in it that they're wrong!
If I try to look at it through an atheists eyes, I'd guess it could be like not believing in Santa Claus. Now... I could go around saying it's OBVIOUS there's no Santa Claus. I mean... flying reindeer? going down chimneys? And how could he possibly visit all houses on a single night?
I know there are lots of kids out there who LOVE Santa Claus, even though I think it's obvious he's not real. Is it appropriate for me to go out of my way to tell kids he's not real? Would I join a "Santa's NOT Real" group, proudly declaring to the world: Get a clue! There is NO SANTA, people!!" Would we want the "Santa's NOT Real" group marching in a Christmas parade?
It doesn't matter if I am 100% sure that Santa is not real... It would be downright mean of me to try and destroy the belief for those who do believe in him. What good would it do for me to attempt to ruin their joy and happiness they get from that belief?
Now... multiply the belief in Santa by about a million, and that's how a lot of people feel about God. Sure... there are plenty of people who don't believe in Him. But what good does it do to actively tell the world you think there is no God? What good does it do to form an "atheist marching band"? A marching band, yes, but why make it an "atheist" marching band? Can't people who believe in God march and sing alongside people who don't? Is there comfort in not believing in something together?
But let's say there is comfort in finding other people who don't believe in God and, so yes, atheist groups form. Is it appropriate for them to march in a Christmas parade? I absolutely say 'no'! A group of people who's common purpose is to declare there is no God, is no more appropriate at a Christmas parade than would be a group of people who declared they didn't believe in Santa.
(By the way, if anyone who believes in Santa is reading this, then, just for the record, this whole thing was just to make a point... I believe in him, too!)