In an earlier post, I outlined three areas in which I in particular, and maybe atheists in general, can improve as we interact with theists. I continue with the following:
4. Finding a common cause
Is it possible that atheists and theists can find a common cause to fight for? The only reason why Christians can enjoy church services in countries like South Africa or the United States without being beaten or killed for their beliefs, and the only reason why atheists can live their lives without being stoned or executed for their perceived godlessness, is due to the fact that all of us living in these countries are protected by an important clause written within in our respective constitutions: the freedom of conscience. This clause guarantees that each individual can choose – for themselves – their own religious (or non-religious) beliefs, without fear of persecution.
It might seem odd that I, as an atheist, would go all out to encourage religious freedom in my country. But there are two sides to this coin: what protects the Christian in this case also protects the atheist; freedom of religion also implies freedom from religion. Of course, it is not often easy trying to balance these two sides in society, but freedom of conscience is general principle that should be nurtured – and protected, if need be – by theists and atheists alike.
One of the surprising things that I've learnt since I left Christianity is that religion and spirituality are not the same thing. Religion is a specific worldview concerning itself with the supernatural, and more specifically with a god. Spirituality, on the other hand, is more basic, as it involves struggling with questions related to finding meaning in life, and determining one's place in the greater scheme of things – irrespective of one's worldview.
I've changed my views regarding spirituality, and as I've explained here, although I'm no longer religious, I still acknowledge that I'm a 'spiritual' being, in a sense that I am able to search for my own individual place in this vast and ancient universe. And acknowledging my spirituality enables me to find some common ground with theists.
In the next post, I will cover the last three areas of possible improvement.