The big question — that’s what we disagree on. Is there a God or not? Several of my very close friends whom I love and respect believe that there is no God: no conscious, purposeful Spirit at work in the universe. I could no sooner believe what they believe — or don’t believe — than I could decide to live in a different era.
God is a reality to me. In God I live and move and have my being, as the Bible says. This isn’t a faith passed down from my parents, it is the fruit of my own hard-fought battles with life. It is what I have learned from life and death: we are accompanied.
But that’s not what I want to talk about today. I’m responding to the WordPress Daily Prompt:
“Do you have a good friend or close relative with whom you disagree on a major issue (political, personal, cultural)?
What’s the issue, and how do you make the relationship work?”
How to Make it Work
The issue is God, as I say. So, how do my atheist friends and I make our relationships work? Without having asked them, here’s what I think:
- Respect. Recognizing that none of us has all the answers, which requires at least a modicum of humility.
- Being non-judgmental. Not placing ourselves above each other, even if we can’t help thinking that our belief system is somehow better or superior or wiser or more logical or whatever. Does that make any sense? It’s separating the belief system from the person and honoring our common state of “doing the best we can with what we’ve got.”
- Refusing to play the victim. This entails trusting that “the other” is not judging. Christians can feel judged by a secular, modernistic world where the metaphysical realm is undervalued if not outright mocked. Atheists (obviously) feel judged by certain Christians who tell them they are going to burn in eternal fire if they dare to entertain non-Christian beliefs. My atheist friends avoid mocking me, and I avoid relegating them to hellfire.
- Dare I say unconditional love, or will that sound religious? They love me despite my belief in fairy tales, and I love them despite their inability to recognize a power higher and more loving than the human mind.
- I’d like to say open-mindedness, but that doesn’t fly because atheists are not open-minded about God, and I can’t very well be open to atheism. I understand atheism given our societal paradigms, but I can’t begin to open my mind to it. Some things are opinions, some things are beliefs, and some things are just unequivocally true for an individual. If life’s beating the crap out of me hasn’t made me lose my faith yet, nothing will.
- We laugh a lot. I have a sign over my desk that reads: “Blessed are we who can laugh at ourselves, for we shall never cease to be amused.”
So there ya go, WordPress, that’s how we make our relationships work.
As it happens, I’ve spent this week wrestling with a blog post that’s got me all tangled up in metaphors related to God, atheism, and climate change. I took a break from that blog post, and I ended up writing about the same dang thing!
I can’t help it. Sorry, atheist pals. Thanks for reading anyway.