“Atheists are different because they do not believe in a god and because of this, I try not to associate with them. I will never agree with them so there is no point in trying to understand their views.” Now,these words might not be spoken out loud very often, but I am willing to bet there are people all around us that think this in the back of their minds. Don’t get me wrong ,I believe everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but closing your mind to other views is a dangerous thing. That is why today I am going to teach you how to gain tolerance of an opposing view point by understanding life through an atheist’s perspective. First, I will discuss how to keep an open mind when conversing with an atheist about opposing views. Next, I will shed some light on three common misconceptions about atheism that might prevent you from being tolerant of the idea. Lastly, I will give you tips on creating and maintaining a friendship with a person of opposing viewpoints.
First, lets talk about keeping an open mind. Obviously not everyone thinks the same way. One person can have completely different philosophies than the next person and the next person and so on and so forth. So lets set things straight right now: having an open mind doesn’t meant that you agree with every thing you hear, it just means that you are willing to say that it is possible. More importantly, it means that you do not just immediately judge someone based solely on their personal beliefs. Deepak Chopra once said, “Instead of thinking outside the box, get rid of the box.” In this situation, we can take that to mean, “You shouldn’t try look past your ignorance, you you should just get RID of your ignorance.” You have to be able to understand that just because someone has a different set of philosophical views, it doesn’t mean you can just brush off whatever they say and not take a second look at their views. The most important thing you should draw from this is that you can not let your own philosophies hinder your ability to understand another person’s view.
This brings us to our next idea: the three common misconceptions of atheism. One of the largest misconceptions, but probably one of the least known, is that since an atheist basically has a belief in nothing, then it is okay to have prejudice against him since its like having a prejudice against nothing. Well, that is completely wrong. Atheists are just as offended as anyone else when they are mocked or ridiculed for their beliefs. The second misconception is that atheists believe humans evolved from monkeys, and if that is true, why do we still have monkeys in the world. This seems to be one reason why some people automatically denounce atheists from possibly being right. Well the truth is, no scientific study has ever said we evolved from monkeys or apes. What the studies actually show is that humans and apes derive from a common ancestor. That ancestor was neither human nor an ape as we are familiar with now. It was an ape-like creature that humans and apes and other species all branched out from and evolved from. So no, we did not evolve from anything you might have seen at a zoo. And the third misconception is that all atheists hate religion and that all atheists think people of religious groups are ignorant or crazy. While yes, there are some atheists who believe that statement to be true,there are many that don’t. Many could care less about what or who you pray to. In fact, you would be surprised about the fair share of atheists you have probably met and never known they didn’t believe in god. You want to know why? It is because religion doesn’t define who you are as a person. It’s not a brand on your forehead. You can’t classify everyone simply by what they do or do not believe in, because not everyone is the same. And not every atheist is trying to convert you.
This brings us to our final point. We will be using what we have learned about keeping an open mind and what we have learned about the misconceptions of atheism to help create and maintain a friendship with an atheist. It is actually much easier than it sounds. The most important thing to remember when conversing with an atheist, or just someone who has different views than you, is that you don’t have to adopt their viewpoints to understand how they think. You just have to keep an open mind and respect their ideas. Neither should you try to force the other person to think like you. If you respect their beliefs then they will respect yours and you both can freely talk about your own ideals. In fact, most atheists are very interested with how certain religions work and would be glad to hear you relay some information for them in a respectful manner. Once you can respect what a person thinks, then you can truly be able to understand exactly why they think that without having any prejudice, which in turn leads to a strong friendship.
Today we learned about how to gain tolerance of an opposing view point by understanding life through an atheist’s perspective. We did this by learning what it takes to keep an open mind, learning about some common misconceptions about atheists, and finally, by reviewing how to create and maintain a relationship with an atheist. So next time you meet an atheist remember this: there is always a different perspective to learn about, but sometimes you just have to get rid of your box.
This blog is in no way intended to be offensive. It is however intended to provide an understanding of the life an atheist might lead and how to be tolerant of other philosophies.