One day while a friend and I were going to buy lunch an unusual conversation was initiated. My friend (Whom I will refer to as Paul.) had decided to become an atheist. At that moment what pressed my mind wasn’t the fact that he chose to renounce his religion (I was at the time grappling with my own beliefs and while I am many things a hypocrite isn’t one of them.) but the factors that led to his decision. We all came from a very religious community where everyone believed in some kind of “god”, so claiming there was none was seen as arrogant and plain old stupid.
Before I could respond to him he put his hand on my head and said, “So your not the only one anymore.”. What he said shocked me because I never told anyone I was an atheist mainly because I wasn’t one and I never saw myself as one. I immediately told I wasn’t an atheist and asked him why he thought I was. The answer I got shocked me even more. He smiled and said ” Your the only guy I know who uses science and facts when he talks about the bible.”. I chuckled and asked him if that was the only reason and surprisingly he said no. He continued saying “You like to research other religions and mythical stuff.”.
At first I laughed but when I went home the implications of his statements finally hit me. In Paul’s mind not just Christianity but all religions were intellectually blind and intolerant. Even though I knew this wasn’t true I couldn’t blame him. Even though Jesus taught his followers not to judge their fellow man and to love all people many of the stewards of the Christian faith do the exact opposite. They openly condemn those who don’t agree with their religious beliefs and scoff at the mere thought of scientific research.
Know in my mind I saw no reason why science and religion couldn’t coexist, heck the disciple Luke was a doctor which meant even though he followed Christ he had a certain scientific way of seeing things that was apart of him. The reason many Christians don’t like science is because they fear it, they believe that science is just another way of denouncing God. At the time I thought science was nothing of the sort, I thought that it was the exact opposite and I still do to this day I (kind of) think the same way, but my thoughts on science and spirituality are for another time.
I asked Paul why he didn’t convert to Catholicism and he basically said that they seemed just confused than he was. I then suggested Buddhism, he said he had considered it but it seemed like to much work and it didn’t match his lifestyle. I then explained and suggested Christian Agnosticism but he said that that basically was like being a bi-curiously atheist christian (that statement baffled me). After going through a number of beliefs and philosophies we decided to call it quits. A week later Paul who was visibly excited told me he no longer was an atheist, he had come to the conclusion that Agnosticism made more sense than any other belief.
I congratulated him and he began explaining what lead him to his decision. After he finished he asked the one question I hoped he wouldn’t, he asked what I believed in. I feared the question because I knew that by answering him I was admitting something to not only him but to myself, that for all my “knowledge” I had absolutely no idea, and to me that was worst than believing in nothing at all.