I used to foolishly believe that I, as an atheist, and my friends, family, or colleagues who were Christians ultimately wanted the same things. I truly believed that, with the exception of “that one thing” (of course referring to the belief in God here), we were basically the same. After all, just because I don’t believe in God doesn’t necessarily mean that we can’t find common ground on just about everything else, right?

The more I have talked and debated with believers of religion however, I have come to find this not to be the case. On the contrary, the belief about which we differ is, quite simply, the most important and fundamental of all.

To be logically consistent with the Bible, the believer in God must necessarily believe that he is “better” than the non-believer. The believer spends his life trying to convert the non-believer and spread the gospel of Jesus. Why? Because the non-believer must believe, or he will not be allowed into Heaven. It logically follows that there is something wrong with those who do not believe. Their souls are in danger! They must be saved!

In other words, those same friends, family, and colleagues, whether they could or would admit it, must necessarily believe at a fundamental level that they are actually better as a person than I am. I have a real problem with that idea.

Shouldn’t I be overtly concerned about this? Doesn’t this mean that, at some level, I shouldn’t trust my Christian friends? Yes, at some level it does. Why would I want to trust and interact with people who believe that I am in some way defective and need saving? That said, we all live here on the same planet, and if I didn’t trust anyone, I would get very little done in my lifetime. After all, I am surrounded by theists and believers.

My position isn’t that you should stop interacting with all of your Bible-believing friends. It’s been my experience that most Christians are friendly and good enough people. They can generally be trusted with most things. For example, I entrust the care of my children to attend school with teachers and faculty who I know are Christians every day, I trust my Christian family in my home and personal life, and my Christian co-workers every day at my job. However, there is a limit to the trust and benefit of the doubt that I will give to my Christian believing friends, family, and colleagues. It stops when the stakes get too high.

The higher the stakes of the transaction, the more seriously you as an atheist must take into account the fundamental beliefs of the individual with whom you are transacting. Ignoring this can have serious consequences. Whether theist or atheist, you must decide for yourself how important your belief is to your life, and enter into agreements with full knowledge of where you and your partners, whether your spouse, siblings, parents, co-workers, or business partners stand. Marriages, businesses, and friendships have been built and have crumbled due to this lack of consideration.

Original post: http://www.logicalizer.com/always-consider-beliefs/

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Comment by Michael Penn on April 19, 2014 at 10:37am

""You’ve gotta respect everyone’s beliefs." No, you don’t. That’s what gets us in trouble. Look, you have to acknowledge everyone’s beliefs, and then you have to reserve the right to go: "That is fucking stupid. Are you kidding me?" I acknowledge that you believe that, that’s great, but I’m not going to respect it. I have an uncle that believes he saw Sasquatch. We do not believe him, nor do we respect him!"

Patton Oswalt, on people’s beliefs

Comment by Loren Miller on April 19, 2014 at 9:10am

Consider them?  Of course.  Respect them?  Not a chance.


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