At 50+, I find that it's not what people believe that frustrates me but to what degree they impose their beliefs on others. I have two close friends, both religious, that I absolutely value. One is an old friend. In our 30s, her religion WAS an imposition and I was careful to not share my lack of religious belief. But we grew over the years and love one another dearly. I gradually came out of the not-religious closet and she grew to be no longer sanctimonious.
I don't see the problem in religion as being WHAT others believe. (People believe for many reasons.). The problem, to me, is the self-righteousness of many believers AND this holier than thou attitude seems to (I don't have personal experience of this) come right out of church teaching, like it's an integral part of church dogma to be intolerant of others, to impose their thinking on others.
I see this same intolerance in many (not all) atheists. My question is, if you are atheist: is a missionary-like zeal fundamental to being an atheist? (Use of religious terminology intentional lol).
(Also, of lesser importance to me: IS it integral to church dogma to be intolerant of other belief systems?)
Just a little something to chew on as we head into the weekend! TGIF
I don't care that much about other people's beliefs as long as they don't interfere with my life. However, I care very much about humankind and our planet. I don't have any biological offspring, but there are children whose future I care deeply about, and to be honest, I hope I don't live to see the destruction of the species and the earth that seems to be inevitable.
I don't proselytize because I'm not good at it, but if I could do it successfully, I would.
I think others' beliefs are important because the religions that dominate the world are inherently anti-science. People have come to believe that faith is more important than knowledge, and the powerful manipulate them based on that belief. As long as that attitude prevails, we will continue accelerating toward the precipice.
My atheism rarely impacts on my social life even though I live in the hotspot of Northern Ireland .
I don't continuosuly put my athieism at the forefront of my life it is absolutely of no consequence to me. Maybe if I had been religious and had a struggle to give it up it would have been different but theism has never been part of my life . When I first came here I was baffled by people asking my partner three questions - (You only need three to find out if someone is protestant or catholic) - No one was in the least bothered to ask me the three questions because I was English and so didn't count .I don't have a belief so church dogma cannot touch me and I certainly would nt proseletyse atheism what would that give me? I believe in nothing except death and taxes. I might be interested in what other peopel believe as an academic exercise but its very uninteresting to be the negative of that, how would you talk about an unbelief?
I find one reason for this is the very uncertainty a "true believer" (in virtually anything) has to contend with in daily life. Why else would they need to demand a belief of others who could care less?
There are other reasons, of course, but you can't discount the need of affirmation among the insecure.
I have a friend who was a "fundamentalist atheist." When I pointed out to him that he was just as critical towards towards any type of spirituality as being evil as fundamentalist religious people were towards anyone who didn't believe as they did, he didn't get it. He'd post these huge rants on Facebook that sparked very heated debates. Then one day he got it, and suddenly became very humble, and the rants stopped.
Atheist here ... Of course there's no need for "missionary zeal". I think you may be drawing conclusions from a skewed sample. In every day, real life, I am indifferent to religion and don't bring it up unless someone else does, which has happened exactly twice in the past quarter century, and even then, it was a passing exchange. In my online life I come to places specifically designed for the purpose of discussing and debating [a]religion, with other people who voluntarily come for the same reason. And then I have spirited discussions about a topic that interests me and that I care about in this context. No one holds a gun to anyone's head to have these conversations; I am kind but frank and if people want to confuse their beliefs with their personhood -- in general, if they can't stand the heat -- then they can get out of the kitchen. It's astounding how many people confuse simple disagreement with personal attack. Beyond all that -- atheism is nothing more or less than unbelief in any god(s). While it tends to be a knock-on effect of skepticism and critical thinking, atheists are humans too, and sometimes it's not a well-considered position, and not always logically self-consistent. Nothing about being an atheist immunizes you from being an asshat either. Anymore than anything about being a believer immunizes you. Lastly, remember that many atheists are deconverts and may have lingering regrets and personal pain and abreaction to the theism they have come out of, generally at significant personal cost. So you would expect many of them to be crusaders. I don't regard myself as a crusader really but I am keen to help fellow travelers in their journey out of faith. I do that mainly by posting the kind of information that lurkers struggling with these issues will find helpful -- the kind of posts I wish I has encountered more of in my own journey out of faith.
It seems to be mostly a part of the Christian and Muslim religions. They feel they have a responsibiliy to spread the message of "salvation", one reason probably being that there was no universal revelation, just a local one, from a chosen few individuals. Which really doesn't make sense if the message is of such great importance to mankind. You'd think their god would have performed the miracle of a universal revelation. And that there would not still to this day be some pockets of culture oblivious to the existence the Abrahamic religions. And of course some of them hate to see others doing just fine and dandy without subscribing to their agendas or being subject to their restrictions. The Muslims especially seem to be motivated by this sort of intolerance.
It looks like people are more insistant if they are not fully vested into their own believing. Because, once a person embraces their truth, they seem to care less, whether others, see it their way or not. They may even be more tolerant of others different view points.