I was reading a blog earlier today (I’m sorry, I don’t remember which one anymore) that was talking about how Christians witness their faith to non-believers. It got me thinking about the different ways that people have tried to share their faith with me since I became vocal about being an atheist.
One that happened recently was a classmate who notice the atheist button on my backpack. His got this wide-eyed, worried look on his face, then said “Well, you know He still loves you, right?” I rolled my eyes in my mind (I try not to be so rude as to actually roll my eyes at people, but I was sure thinking about it) and responded, “Actually, I don’t think he exists, but thanks.”
Why in the world do people, upon learning of my atheism, proceed to talk to me like it’s a given that a god exists? Do they not know the definition of the word “atheist”? I’m going to need some evidence of a deity’s existence before we start discussing if it’s a “he” and whether or not “he” is loving.
I also get the people who quote bible verses at me. There are 2 problems with that approach: 1) I can quote the bible right back at them, and quite often I actually know it better than the believer. 2) The fact that the Bible says something does not make it true. Harry Potter books say that magic is real, but if someone said to you, “Of course magic is real! “The Goblet of Fire” chapter 8, paragraph 3 says….” you wouldn’t buy it for a second. The Koran says that Allah is real and the Bhagavad Gita says Krishna exists, yet Christians are unconvinced by those texts. Same thing with atheists and Jesus.
There has been only one person in the 5ish years I’ve been a vocal atheist that has made me stop and think “hm, maybe there is something to this Christianity thing.” She was a coworker at my old job, and she was the happiest person I have ever met- always had a smile on her face, glad to be at work, did her job well and without ever complaining, never had a negative thing to say, etc. Sometimes those constantly chipper people can be annoying, but she wasn’t; she would just quietly do her thing and look happy about it.
One day, a couple of us more bitter employees asked her how she did it, and her answer was something along the lines of “I have Jesus in my heart, and that makes me happy.” When people talk about living their lives so as to show the glory of Christ (or whatever that cliche is…), that’s apparently what she was doing, and she did it well. But, she never felt the need to announce her intentions- she waited until we asked.
My “hm, maybe there is something to this Christianity thing” moment didn’t last long, as there was an obnoxious god-botherer in our office as well, and he put me off it again pretty quickly.
I don’t even know quite where I’m going with this. I love learning about religions, and am quite curious about what and why people believe, so it’s not that I want people to completely stop talking about religion around me. But it seems that so many people immediately go on the defensive when they learn that I don’t believe the same way, and it’s hard to have engaging conversation once a believer feels the need to “share” their faith with me.
So, I guess this is just a heads up to any believers of any faith that read this blog- if you want to really show this atheist why I should consider joining your faith, be happy, be friendly, and don’t try to force your religion on others. Trust me, if I’m curious, I’ll ask.
I feel the need to add a little disclaimer. When I say only one person has made me think there is something to Christianity, that doesn’t mean that I hate every other Christian, or don’t enjoy their company. She’s just the only one who was successful in making me contemplate conversion, even if it was just for a second.