Every now and then I get into theological debates with friends or family members. It never really goes anywhere, and I never push things past a certain point (which differs depending on whom I’m talking to), but it’s made me think. Do I really want to convince any of these people that I’m right?
I’ve decided the answer is no. I don’t see that “deconverting” the people in my life would be a good thing. It almost certainly wouldn’t make them any happier, and for many of them convincing them that their religious beliefs are wrong would be devastating. So why argue with them? The truth is that I argue mostly because it’s fun or because I found something someone said annoying. But if I were to give my debates a deeper meaning, they’re an attempt to get these people to acknowledge that I might be right.
Religious people are convinced that they are absolutely right and anyone who disagrees with the tenets of their religion is absolutely wrong. While I have no interest in convincing anyone that they should abandon their religion, I would like to convince them that maybe it isn’t such a sure thing. I’d like them to acknowledge the possibility that their beliefs are mistaken than that there are good reasons why someone would disagree with them.
Once we reach the point where we’re not dealing in absolutes, perhaps we can go one step further and agree that we can each have our own worldview without imposing moral values on those views. Perhaps we can agree to live and let live.
There are some people out there who want atheism to spread, who hope for the day when religious beliefs will have the same status as the belief the world is flat. I’m not interested in convincing people. I don’t care if belief is good or bad for humanity. I don’t care if universal rationalism would make the world a better place. In the big picture, it just doesn’t matter.
I figure I’ll be around for about a century, give or take. While I’m alive I’d just like to be reasonably comfortable and happy and for other people to let me be. (I realize that I’m very fortunate to live in a time and place where I can have both.) Further than that, I don’t care. As long as it doesn’t adversely affect me, if someone wants to believe in an invisible man in the sky, that’s fine with me. Just don’t bother me because I don’t.