My major frustration of the current culture wars – especially in terms of atheism and theism – is that debates are highly polarised. The 'Us vs Them' mentality is a common element. I hope that I can, instead of engaging in verbal combat, aim to understand and to be understood. As an atheist, should I not enter in dialogue with open-minded Christians who will be willing to at least listen to my story? But maybe this implies a cost on my part: in order to initiate meaningful cross-faith dialogue, I must be willing to cast aside misunderstandings I might have regarding the Christian faith.
2. Bitterness and anger
Not all atheists are bitter or angry. But I know I was. I think ex-Christians have the right to feel hurt and disappointed; after all, it's not easy finding out that some of the stuff you were taught is simply not true. But to be bitter and angry for too long is a way of surrendering yourself to that which you are bitter about. As Carl McColman, in his blog, The Website of Unknowing, wrote in this post:
The atheist who is consumed with anger and hatred toward faith is, in a very real sense, in hell. Not a hell of divine punishment so much as a hell of his own making.
I glad to say I have made great strides in dealing with this anger over the last few years. I think that bitterness hinders one's ability to listen to others, and dealing with bitterness is an important step to really letting go.
3. Painting all Christians with one brush
This is one pitfall that I've fallen into all too many times: assuming that all Christians believe the same thing. I am grateful for the many Christian friends, especially those from the emerging conversation, who have challenged this false assumption of mine. Just because I grew up in a conservative Baptist church that taught Young Earth Creationism and emphasised the horror of hell doesn't mean that all other Christians did.
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