Challenge all atheists: have you completely freed yourself from religion?
Whether you are a Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, or a follower of any other religion, determining your religiosity is easy. All you have to do is look deep inside to assess how determined you are to follow the tenets of your faith, then look around and see if other followers of your religion are all there. as dedicated as you are.
I figured this out for myself before I turned 25. I grew up a Lutheran, converted to Seventh-day Adventism at age 21, and quickly realized that to be the best dog of my faith, I had to become an ordained minister. Keep in mind that I didn’t go all-in to win Heaven’s most jeweled crown. I loved my faith and couldn’t get enough of it. I just determined that being a minister would be the best way to spend more time learning and expressing my beliefs.
I guess that’s true for followers who follow any religion. There is an observable spectrum of engagement that can be easily understood and seen. One can find out how personally engaged they are in their faith just by looking within themselves and then checking out how much their faith has become a part of their thinking and how they express it in their daily lives. They can also “judge” how engaged the other disciples are by observing their actions.
Do you think like an atheist?
I am always skeptical of people who claim they have become atheists a few months after being active and engaged in a religion. Becoming an atheist is a process. We just don’t have a “ha!” Moment and extinguish a belief in God like extinguishing a light bulb. Yes, there comes that time in his or her life when he or she recognizes a clear delineation from the time they clung to a belief in a god, to the time they knew they no longer believed in it.
I am also skeptical of people who claim to be atheists and then suddenly claim to be converted to Christianity (or other religions). Again, there is a process involved in becoming and not becoming an atheist, and this process depends on the extent to which the tenets of a religion have become entangled in a person’s thought processes. For those who have grown up in a church, who have spent decades thinking and living as a faithful disciple, it usually takes years to unlearn and purge oneself of religious beliefs, myths, superstitions, ideas and concepts. , models of behavior and the global vision of the world. My own “aha!” moment took 14 years. It just took me that long to clear my head.
A challenge for atheists
If you claim to be an atheist, can you safely conclude that you have purged your mind of all religious ideas and thought patterns? For example, what is your current opinion on abortion?
We tend to view abortion as a religious issue, a pro-life cause championed by religion and supported by the Bible and other “religious” concepts regarding the sanctity of life. Yet there are many secular arguments defending both the pros and cons of abortion that lie completely outside of systematized religious thought.
The same goes for issues like suicide, euthanasia, climate change, the death penalty, etc. There are “religious” ways of thinking about these questions. There are quite rational and scientific ways of looking at these questions. But there are also good and bad ways of approaching these questions which connect both religious and secular perspectives.
To complicate matters, American culture is saturated with Christian ideals and norms. As I often remember, America is a Christian nation. Virtually all aspects of our culture are dominated by Christian ideologies and theology. Likewise, a country like Afghanistan can be considered an Islamic nation, while a country like Japan is a culture influenced by a variety of ideologies such as Shintoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism.
As Christopher Hitchens said:
“Religion poisons everything. “
“Poison” is perhaps too strong a word to use here. My point is that the influence of religion in any culture makes it harder for atheists to determine whether the thoughts and ideas they express are based on religion or philosophy, whether their ideas are motivated by justifications based on science and rational thought, or whether their ideas are some kind of hybrid; based both on science and supported by religion.
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