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The follow FB discussion has not only been the most enjoyable one I’ve had in a long while, but more importantly, has also bridged a perceived existing gap between me and my brother-in-law. No one can be more pleasantly surprised and overwhelmed with satisfaction at the ultimate love and understanding that I feel has come out of this dialogue. Here’s to focusing more on the onenness of the world, rather than attacking each other for our differences.

Brother – When did posts about atheism become synonymous with open mindedness and progressive thinking?

Me – Because by the very nature of being atheist or at least agnostic you’re not subscribing to a singular point of view that is more righteous than another (at least in my experience of meeting fellow atheists/agnostics). My take on it is acceptance and everyone finds their own path.

Brother – I absolutely agree that people need to discover the path to a better life on their own. Eternal progression is a personal thing, there’s no doubt. But make no mistake where I stand. God does exist. He loves each one of us individually and collectively. It’s never about one path being more righteous, it’s about paths that only lead us further from the truth.

Brother – In revising a quote from my favorite movie, the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was not convincing the world he didn’t exist, but convincing the world God does not exist. He does.

Bystander – If atheists don’t believe in God and that he exists, then they shouldn’t be bothered that others do. No one is bashing them with a bible, so their lack of agreement in His existence should be silent.

Me – If atheists should be silent in their belief that there is no god, then, logically, those who believe in god should be just as silent and religion shouldn’t be such a topic for discussion. Just because someone prescribes to a specific belief doesn’t mean they are exempt from the amendment of freedom of speech. Yes, some do bash with a bible. Yes, some are self-righteous about their religion/belief. And I will continue to stand by the belief from personal experience that atheists, agnostics, or simply those who don’t believe in religion are the most accepting and open-minded people that I’ve met. We don’t believe we are right. We believe everyone has the right to believe what they believe, openly without castigation.

Brother – There’s no castigation to be had. My entire original post meant was that atheism is nothing new. People have NOT believed in God for as long as he has existed. However, atheism is embraced recently as this new all-accepting lifestyle. It’s just perplexing. Believe in God or don’t but many treat is as a trendy lifestyle that fits today’s mainstream culture. What would it be worth to an atheist to have the question of God’s existence be solved once and for all? Sadly, most would say nothing and really mean it.

Me – I don’t disagree. And sadly if that elusive metaphysical question were to ever be answered, all I can imagine hearing from non-atheists is “I told you so.” Not an attitude I prefer to prescribe to.

Brother – I prefer there to be an “I told you so” from non-atheists than a “Why didn’t you say something?” from atheists. I believe there are many out there seeking the truth. I can’t answer democrat/republican questions, zone/man-on-man defense questions, or if it’s okay to wear white after Labor Day. But there is God. I don’t want to bash anyone with a bible but maybe a good shake now and again to get people to have a look at what they’re missing… especially when they really need it. It’s not arrogance that makes me say that. It’s just the need we all have for it that too many people try to fill with the wrong things.

Me – The quintessential difference that will forever make us agree to disagree: An atheist says “I don’t believe in god” and a non-atheist says “God exists”. If that’s not arrogance, I don’t know what is.

Me – And yes, I’m sure there are atheists who would say “I told you so.” It proves my point through this whole discussion that there are no absolutes and no one person knows the “answer”. It’s subjective and personal. You believe what you believe, and I’ll do the same. I’m just making the argument that more often than not, it’s the non-atheist that gets on a soap box and yes atheism has become, for some, an open-minded lifestyle.

Brother – But it seems you’re getting caught up in the people involved in the argument rather than the argument itself. The question is what would it mean for YOU to know that God exists? What would you be willing to do? What would you be willing to give up? If there is a God, would it not be important to you to know him? To have a personal relationship with him? Don’t let a few bible bashers ruin a potentially life altering discovery.

Me – My mind was definitely focused on the logic of the discussion. Now that you have asked me directly, I don’t believe the question whether god exists or not WILL ever be answered, at least not in an absolute sense. I believe in spirituality and believing in the power inside ourselves. It doesn’t come from any supreme higher power, labeled “God” or not. If someone were to ever show up, claiming to be so, sure I’d ask him A LOT of questions, but I wouldn’t expect that having a “personal relationship” with him would alter my life any more than any other person has the potential to.

Brother – What you call the “power inside ourselves” I call the divine spark or the light of Christ. Call it what you will, I agree that we all have it and are born with it. As for the personal relationship, that’s just something completely up to the individual. There are plenty of people in history that have had angelic visitations or divine experiences that ended up renouncing their faith. That goes back to our eternal progression being a very personal thing. If the question if God’s existence were ever resolved in absolutes, I have no expectation that 100% of humanity would be instantly converted to Christianity. That would negate our personal freedom.

Bystander #2- “The quintessential difference that will forever make us agree to disagree: An atheist says ‘I don’t believe in god’ and a non-atheist says ‘God exists’. If that’s not arrogance, I don’t know what is.”

Heah, lemme gi’ you some he’p: /typed Southern accent]

arrogance (noun): an attitude of superiority manifested in an overbearing manner or in presumptuous claims or assumptions —Merriam-Webster.com (related to ‘arrogate’ (verb): to claim [take unto oneself] or seize without justification)

A witness’s purpose (generally) is to talk about facts: what happened, what exists, and specifically what the witness personally knows. Witness testimony may be false, or offensive in other ways, but literally cannot be arrogant because it is precisely the witness’s purpose. In contrast, it would be pointless for an atheist to attempt to “witness” that there is no God (an argument from silence); even an atheist who styled himself an “expert witness” would have to state his claims as opinion rather than fact.

You can call his testimony false, but you can’t call it arrogant. Likewise, if you think he’s saying he’s better than you because he’s a Christian, you can call him arrogant for that, but you can’t call him arrogant for testifying.

Well, you *can*, obviously. (This is the intarwebs, after all.) But, as you pointed out, it would mean you don’t know what arrogance is.

Me – I wasn’t describing his testimony as false or arrogant even. My point was what you hit upon – testimonies are opinion not fact; however, I’ll further point out that I was coming from the angle of pure semantics: Some people say “God doesn’t exist” others say “God does exist”. Others say, “I BELIEVE God doesn’t exist” while others say “I BELIEVE God does exist.” In my mind, the way I define and interpret “arrogance”, applies to the first two statements because they PRESUME an absolute condition for all mankind that is impossible to prove.

And I agree. It is unfortunate that my interactions with any person subscribing to a particular religion, usually under the Christian umbrella, take an arrogant stance and try to sway me into their beliefs rather than accepting that I am allowed to believe what I believe. While, in contrast, many, not all, but most atheists/agnostics I’ve met are eager to have an open discussion without any form of attack as in “I’m right, you’re wrong.” Atheist/Non-Atheist, anyone who says that IS egotistic and not open-minded.

Brother – This may be the second thing we have to agree to disagree on (hopefully not forever). Not only do I know there is a God, but I know that you and everyone else searching for truth in this world of falsehoods can know as well. There’s no need for confusion on this matter. There is proof. Personal and irrefutable proof that if it seems like I’m being pushy or arrogant it’s only because I know (atheists hate that word, I know that too) it is the most important and simplest discovery they can make. I’m not touting myself, my family, or anything in my past. Just Him and you. But for all that… I wouldn’t “push” this on anybody because, as I said before, it’s a personal journey and in the end, I wouldn’t want you having that experience because a bunch of crazy Christians (plenty of those in the Mormon church and elsewhere) browbeat you into it.

Me – Who knows what the future holds? I’m glad we can agree to disagree. While I’m skeptical my beliefs on this particular matter will change, I have been through enough peaks and valleys over the last few years to “know” that nothing is constant. I stopped going to church when I was 12 with my family and was pulled to other services with friends and such. No one was more surprised than I, when I recently discovered the value of spirituality – yoga, Buddhism, philosophy, nature. I will probably never believe in organized religion because I believe these create barriers and further segregate the world of people who should spend more time focusing on our commonalities than our differences. It could be that we believe in the same thing but we simply see or communicate it differently.

Brother – In a recent Continuous Process Improvement (lean six sigma black belt mumbo jumbo) event for regionalization of transportation initiatives to promote standardization, I told the specialists who were here on a site visit “If you can just get us to call things by the same name, then maybe you could standardize our processes.” Seems that bit of advice ran deeper than I expected. 🙂

Me – UGH. Now you’re talking in my business language and have identified my number one frustration that surprisingly has not yet lead to my being bald (from pulling my hair out day after day). 😀