Several years ago I had lunch with my friend Keith and some social activist friends of his. The discussion was fascinating involving legalization of marijuana, scientific discoveries in outer space, immigration, and criminal justice reform. As we got up to leave, one of Keith’s friends asked if I wanted to belong to a group of Atheists. I was taken aback so I just said, “Thanks for the invitation, but I believe.” He was taken aback and quickly apologized saying he had just assumed since I had participated in the luncheon discussion I was an “unbeliever.” We said our goodbyes and the man’s name now escapes me, but the brief discussion remains.
Should I have tried to change the man’s mind? I still think not, I think I would be wasting my breath. What was it about my participation in the discussion that made the man assume I was an Atheist? I don’t have an idea. Surely a believer can still marvel at the mystery of the stars and advocate for the lowly. I never had a chance to bring the conversation up again so I will have to wonder. What I do know is being an unbeliever is a choice, just as much as a believer. The difference I think is to believe in something requires some measure of understanding and effort. To disbelieve doesn’t require much of anything at all.
P.S. Forgive my foray into current politics, but the same principle applies. To advocate for something requires some measure of understanding and effort. To be against something doesn’t require much of anything at all.
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