Neither side has proof that the other side is incorrect; it comes down to belief. I believe modern science provides a convincing and simple explanation of extraordinary beliefs; this is more convincing to me than assuming there is some higher power, and then attempting to determine which higher power or powers is the correct one.
At first blush, it might seem surprising how much our beliefs are similar, when we look for the similarities. I think that is the main reason I avoid self-identifying as an atheist except to people I know well. If I say nothing about my beliefs, other people simply assume that I am similar to them, and look for the similarities. But the term “atheist” screams “other” and “untrustworthy” and “smug,” and leads people to look for other ways in which I’m a huge jerk.
I don’t deny that there are many untrustworthy and smug atheists (maybe we should introduce them to the untrustworthy and smug Christians and let them have at it while we go get coffee). I know that I am on occasion preachy and impatient and condescending, but these faults make me similar to everyone else. My faults are not ones that are unique to atheists, but occur in everyone (some more than others). My aspirations are not unique to atheists either, but are ideals for Christians and non-Christians alike.
I may not be trying to be a good Christian, but I am trying to be a good person, which, in the most important ways, amounts to the same thing. So next time you meet an atheist, try to judge him or her on actions rather than labels, and remember that you likely have more in common than different.
Thanks, Brittany, for sharing your perspective, and thanks to all of you for continuing the discussion.
Thank you for this series. It has helped me see the word atheist in a new way. In my life I know more agnostics than atheists, so reading you has helped me to be more understanding in my mind.
Since we are more alike than different, who knows where your journey will intersect ours again 😉
Thanks for stepping out and putting yourself out there, this has been really awesome!
I definitely agree that we can all find similarities in each other, whether we believe in God or not, or whether we follow Protestantism or Catholicism. I believe that the vast majority of us strive to be good people as you mentioned. I had a discussion about this with an atheist friend of mine, and I would never EVER try to say that just because you don’t believe in God that you are a bad person. But do you wonder where that innate desire to be a good person comes from?
I didn’t mean for my last comment to sound “picking” or anything like that. The computer can’t give emotion tied to the words. I’m just curious about this kind of thing. I DO try to understand where other people are coming from. I do have respect for others’ views and try so very hard not to be judgmental. So I hope I didn’t come off that way.
Thank you, Brittany, for a wonderful series. I had never had anyone who called themselves an atheist explain to me thier view of things in the insightful way you have. I wish all the best for you as you travel through life being the good person we are all supposed to be.
Why, Oh dear Sarah, is there NOT a spell check feature in these blog servers? I struggle enough with grammar but when my dyslexic fingers type “thier” instead of “their”, my heart groans….lol
Yes, this has been a very interesting series and I shall in all probability ‘borrow’ some of it when I’m trying to explain myself and my atheism to religious friends 🙂
@ Karen above, who asks: ” But do you wonder where that innate desire to be a good person comes from?” – I can’t answer for Brittany, but my reaction is that a tendency to follow ‘morally good’ courses of action could be a feature that evolution will select for, since it builds safer communities. But as well as that, we’re able to work out, intellectually, that ‘good’ behaviour is ultimately to our overall benefit. It doesn’t have to have a religious carrot or stick attached to it.
Thank you for answering my question Quizzical Observer. My faith is just such a huge part of everything I do, I can’t imagine giving credit to God for everything that I have, including my intellect. I understand where you are coming from, I just can’t let go of the feeling that it starts somewhere and some “thing” starts it. I just don’t understand how things can just come out of thin air. I have a hard time believing that we can create our own intellect. I just don’t understand, scientifically, how in the world that can happen.
And please, again, I question this with the utmost respect for your feelings, thoughts, and actions. I believe everyone is entitled to their opinions and should be allowed to live their life the way they wish. I believe that is the free will He gave us.
Brittany I certainly echo everyone else’s thanks for your insightful contributions. I appreciate your honesty and candor in speaking up in a forum where it is likely that eveyone will be praying (whether publicly or privately) for you to have a conversion. 🙂 It is, unapologetically, what we do.
Still, I admit that I respect your position. I suspect I’d enjoy having that cup of coffee with you.
Brittany, I have had the honor of knowing you all of your life. I know how you how deeply you ponder all the mysteries of life before you choose a directon. I may not always agree with your choice but I love you and respect your decision to choose.
I am thankful that you shared your perspectives here. It gave me an opportunity to see your views with greater clarity than I have in ordinary conversation. Thank you for being my daughter.
Awww, thanks everyone! It’s been really nice to read all of your reactions and get to talk to you 🙂