There are a variety of different faiths in this world that share the opinion that there is only that faith that can save you from condemnation. Of these faiths, a proportion actively try to convert people to their own belief in order to save them from suffering. This tends to be for one of two reasons:
- They believe they are commanded by the laws of their religion to spread the word and change people’s way of thinking.
- They feel genuine empathy for the people around them and wish to save them out of pity for their damnation.
I don’t know about you, but I personally have no qualms about these reasons; they seem perfectly acceptable and respectable reasons to share a belief. In fact, in any other context it would be considered immoral and downright evil not to share the knowledge of something that could save one’s life. Try to remember this next time you feel like someone is “shoving a belief down your throat” – they are doing it to save you.
What is far more difficult to understand is the need for some atheists to convince people with faith that their belief is unfounded and incorrect. Deducing their reasoning is far more difficult, although I shall attempt to devise some possibilities:
- They, rather sadistically, enjoy destroying people’s hope and their faith in something that they have often invested much of their life in.
- They believe that people’s faith are holding them back from their full potential in the world and they would be far better off, more of a credit to humanity, if they were without faith.
- They are jealous of people with faith, people with hope and purpose. They instinctively try and bring those people down to their level.
- They are jealous of people with faith and desperately want someone to provide an intelligent argument for faith so that they may believe alongside them and share in their hope and purpose.
Now, with the exception of option 2, these are all pretty gruesome reasons to preach atheism upon any individual. So let’s briefly explore option 2. In my opinion, the quality of life of a person is far more important than what they are providing for the world. From an atheist point of view, I believe this is also a rational conclusion. I also believe that it is reasonable to conclude that destroying a person’s faith is likely to negatively affect their quality of life, it seems like a very depressing concept to me. So unless someone’s faith causes them to act in a way that radically conflicts with an atheists morals, it seems unfair to me to try and pull apart everything they believe in.
If you’re jealous of someone’s faith, that’s understandable. They have a hope that you don’t, something to trust in when life is hard. But, in that case, you’d do better and feel better to engage in polite conversation about their beliefs and are also far more likely to get an intelligent response. Otherwise, just leave them be. They’re happy how they are, even if they do happen to be deluded. And, in any case, there’s no way of proving if they’re wrong.