Sunday, May 05, 2013

In Reply: Be A Model for Your Beliefs, and Learn From The Beliefs of Others, Too

In reply to a post and discussion titled "atheism and christianity friendships?" on the Nerdfighters ning.

I believe it's important to expose oneself to different beliefs, religious and otherwise. It helps you learn about the world and to question all you think you know and believe, which is generally a good thing, whether the questions ultimately lead you to change or to confirm your beliefs. The key is respect for the people one speaks to or about, and tolerance for difference. Whatever your religious beliefs, there will always be those who are "going to Hell," or "wasting their lives taking cues from an invisible friend who doesn't exist," (depending). And while it's worthwhile to make some effort to save them from the "folly" of their beliefs (or lack of them), there comes a point where you just have to let them be as wrong as they choose to be... And that can be hard, especially for those who take their religious beliefs seriously (and that includes non-believers, too). It's difficult to watch someone you care about go down what you whole-heartedly believe to be a "wrong" path.

I tend to think you can't browbeat or force someone to change their beliefs, and there's little value in getting heated about it. Instead, be a model for your beliefs. Live your values--and sure, talk about them when appropriate--but don't become hostile when someone doesn't believe what you do, even if THEY become hostile toward you or your beliefs. Agree to disagree. Learn from them. Teach them too, if they're open to it, but accept that some otherwise wonderful people are just bound and determined to be wrong about God and faith...and there's nothing you can do about it. I still think it benefits both you and them to be in each other's lives, in spite of how dead wrong they are.

(Personally, I'm another of those Unitarian Universalist types and as such, I believe there are many roads to bliss, and that no Beneficent Force would ever refuse entry to anyone who tried, but got the particular song and dance wrong...but obviously, I may be sadly mistaken.)

Posted Sunday, 5/5/13, 3:00 AM (or thereabouts...)

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