I feel the need to clear this up, not because there’s anything wrong with being an atheist, but because I often find myself in agreement with atheists over matters of religious freedoms and religious privileges and for this reason many have drawn the assumption that I must be an atheist.
Truth is, I’m not.
I have religious and spiritual beliefs, many of which I know, and acknowledge, are utterly ridiculous in a sense and it would be more than ridiculous of me to expect others, who do not share my experiences, to take them as factual truth.
In other words, I have beliefs but I understand the difference between belief, opinion, knowledge and fact.
This understanding is why I often find myself more in agreement with the atheists than with those who are not, heck I often find myself even agreeing more with the staunch atheist than with someone who shares my beliefs!
What makes me believe these things are personal experiences, which I can’t reproduce for others because they are personal. These experiences could conceivably be explained in other ways, and I’ve attempted to deny my spiritual explanations of them, but taken all together they are just… too much for me to deny. Never the less, these are things I can’t reproduce, can’t prove, can’t truly test.
These are things that I “believe”, not things I “know” nor “facts”. I won’t presume to hold these things up as undeniable truths because they aren’t “facts” as per the definition of the term, and as such I would be completely inconsistent, hypocritical and disingenuine to try and force them to be treated as such.
And that brings me to why I find myself agreeing more often with those that truly disagree with me. Why I agree with the atheist more than with the believer.
Because the atheists seem to understand this difference between faith and knowledge, belief and fact, better than most folks who have faith in their beliefs.
The arguments against religions don’t revolve as much around “you’re wrong to believe” or “you’re wrong to have faith” as they do around “your beliefs and faith should not be treated as truth and knowledge”… because truly, faith and belief aren’t truth and knowledge.
Yes, we can get philosophical. Talk about the subjectivity of truth and the possibility that existence isn’t what we think it is, but if we’re to do that, then that only supports my point, however in a round-about way.
If reality is so malleable, so subjective, that nothing can be said to be anything but belief, then shouldn’t people stop trying to force others to share their personal belief? Isn’t their personal belief simply a reflection of their individual nature and by attempting to force your belief on others you’re trying to rob them of themselves?
Having faith, having beliefs, is not a bad thing.
Not having faith, not having beliefs, is not a bad thing either.
What matters is what you do with this.
But to take something (A) and treating it as something else entirely (B) doesn’t change what it “is” (A).
Taking a table and insisting it’s a car does not mean you can drive it to work.