Christians and Atheists: Peaceful Co-Existence?
I have read several articles on the topic this week. I have engaged in numerous debates with atheists over the years. I have heard the acrimonious invective directed at adherents to both worldviews. Do seemingly irreconcilable worldviews have to be so hostile to one another? Without getting into all of the legalese that comes from the "separation of church and state" argument, let's look at this as neighbors in the same society. Each adherent is free to embrace his particular worldview. Why do I care what that is? In short, I don't. So long as you don't interfere with what I believe and leave me in peace, you can expect no confrontation from me. Ah! But that is the problem, isn't it? Each side truly believes they are NOT left in peace.
I am a theist, so I will approach the question that way. Christianity is very evangelistic, with Christians believing they must share their faith with others, believing the salvation of the soul is at stake. Why is the atheist bothered by that? It doesn't force them to believe it. So what is the motivation for wanting to remove any visible signs of Christianity (crosses in public places, Christmas trees, Christian holidays, etc)? Is it that bothersome? Most atheists have told me, "I don't want you trying to convert me." Fine. But I also find myself asking the atheist this question: are you that weak-minded that the very mention of the Christian faith in your presence is capable of changing your mind? Against your will?
Surely the atheist is confronted daily with points of view they don't agree with. I would submit they don't agree with most of the tenets of any number of world religions, yet I don't see a hostility directed toward those. I don't see advertisements maligning the views of Buddhists or Hindus, or any number of faiths. I don't challenge the right to do it, but I do wonder what the motive is. Personally, I don't spend any time at all trying to convince people that something I don't believe exists doesn't, in fact, exist.
I don't believe 9-11 was an inside job. I don't believe the moon landing was fake. I don't believe in ghosts or aliens. I don't believe in a bunch of things...and I don't spend any energy on trying to convince people of this. Many people I know believe those things. It doesn't hurt me.
And therein lies the crux of the issue. If it doesn't hurt me, why do I care what someone else believes? Why the hostility? Christians and atheists disagree. But why does that mean that cannot live together in peace?
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