Atheism vs. Anti-Theism
In my experience with religion and religious people, I’ve learned that there are many different types of belief systems out there, even outside of the realm of Christianity. I’m proud to say that in my circle of friends, I have access to many different belief systems, which generally lead to some pretty good discussions. However, I also realize that within these different belief systems, there are some undesirable people. To me, there are two different types of “non-belief” systems: atheism, and anti-theism.
In my personal definition, atheists are people who choose not to acknowledge the existence of God in their personal lives, but pretty much leave other belief systems alone. Sure, they’re more than happy to get into the philosophical discussion about the existence of God, and where the proof lies, but they also recognize that they will have just as much success changing another person’s religious views as that person will have changing theirs.
Conversely, anti-theists are militant atheists. They are the atheists that are out in the world that choose not to acknowledge the existence of God in their personal lives, and try everything in their power to rid the world of all religion. Often, anti-theists are antagonistic and will resort to ridicule and button-pushing in order to “prove” that religion is for the weak.
In my experience with these two types of people, they are generally good people. They are usually intelligent, and given any other topic, they can hold conversation. Religious beliefs generally have nothing to do with a person’s personality or their interactions with other people, so removing that aspect of a person, they are normal human beings.
However, I’m not a fan of Anti-Theism. I don’t feel it’s my place to impose my beliefs on other people, and I feel that that same courtesy should be extended by everyone onto everyone. However, most anti-theists can’t extend that same courtesy. By simply believing in a higher power, I have apparently proven myself to be an inferior person, and only if I join forces with them and campaign against all religion will I become a worthy human being.
I believe that religious beliefs are a personal decision. If you choose to be a Christian, a Buddhist, or an Atheist, that is your choice, and I can fully respect that. I may not agree with it, and I would love to discuss it further, but as far as my influence on your personal life, I have none. I can’t convince you to join my team, no matter how hard I try. I would love it, but I can’t force you to do anything.
The practice of militant atheism is a confusing and disturbing one to me. There is no high score in religion. There is no prize in the afterlife for the belief system that gathers the most recruits. So there is no point for the antagonism.
My message is one that goes out to all people, regardless of religious identification: respect the beliefs of those around you, and if you do win one over to your side, chalk it up to providing a good example and enough evidence to be convincing, and not whatever clever tactics you employed in your little game.