On Respecting A God I Don’t Believe In

I’ve long made the argument that if Christians believe in God, they shouldn’t be insulted when I insult God. After all, I’m insulting GOD. Can’t He defend Himself? Why does He need to be protected by their egos? So I’ve insulted God with abandon.

But recently, I’ve been double-guessing that.

As I’ve said before, my primary goal in life is to ensure that people live the happiest, most fulfilled lives they possibly can live. And I’ve had to admit that this happiness and fulfillment comes in different ways to different people. For some people, despite my initial doubts, I’ve had to admit it comes from a belief in a God I don’t believe in.

I mean, the thing is that I don’t think I’m insulting God when I’m insulting God, because I don’t think God exists. I’m insulting an idea, a concept that has brought a lot of pain and hurt in my life and the lives of many I care about. God is also a concept that has been used to control and psychologically annihilate others who do not realize this is the case.

However, I’ve had to reluctantly admit, over the past few years, that this overall negative version of God isn’t the same version everyone believes in. I wish it were that simple, but it’s not. The truth may be that God doesn’t exist, but the truth is not guaranteed to be pleasant, and some people manage to get through their lives with a deeper sense of happiness, I think, if they believe that God does exist — especially in the predominantly Christian culture I live in.

Granted, some people get their sense of happiness and fulfillment from leaving a God who controlled their lives every day, from walking away from this God and repudiating its control over their lives. A major part of me connects to these people, because in many ways I am one of them.

But I hesitate to take happiness away from people.

I mean, there’s no guarantee that the people in my life who believe in God will ever leave God and have the beautiful God-free life I embrace these days. It may very well be that they’ll believe in God all their lives. So do I really want to make their lives miserable by going out of my way to insult them?

That question complicates my stance on God. I’m fine insulting the concept of God where it is a source of pain. But if I insult a God who is a source of happiness, maybe I’m causing some of the pain. And I’d prefer to cause as little pain as possible.

This doesn’t mean I can’t be honest about my stance, but one can be honest without being rude. Because when I’m rude, I might be saying more than, “I don’t care about God” — I may also be saying, “I don’t care about your feelings or emotions.” Which isn’t true.

Sometimes, admittedly, the rudeness comes from my own anger at the concept of God and the havoc it creates around the world. But that anger is not a disregard for the feelings and happiness of individuals; I don’t mean to tell people that their feelings and emotions themselves are worthless. And that, it seems, is where the delicateness of the situation can come in.

It’s something I’m carrying forward in my personal life, so I thought I’d share it with you. I’m starting to be a bit more diplomatic to some individual Christians, without losing my strong criticism of the concept of God in general. My guiding light in both of these things is my ultimate goal, which is to ensure as much happiness and fulfillment in humanity as I can.

What about you, fellow atheists? How do you reconcile your desire to enrich humanity with your attitude towards God in your personal life? No, I’m not just talking about your Internet life — I mean with the people you know who are Christians that you love and care about. Feel free to let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading.

PS: Thank you to the 34 patrons who empower me to share these thoughts. Y’all are awesome!

 

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