And the answer is… B) Atheism.
Having grown up in a Christian home, the idea of believing in God was not foreign to me. Church on a Sunday was normal, youth groups on a Friday was a thing we did… I mean, where else would you meet girls right? I believe these were all good things. I think they taught me particular morals, opened me up to lots of different types of people growing up and gave an amazing bunch of close friends growing up. I mean hey, it’s where I met my main man of 13 years now and my amazing wife of 4 (just celebrated being together for 10).
Of all the good things it showed me, I think one of the things it also reinforced is that I grew up only knowing things from a Christian point of view and to be honest, a lot of the people I knew then were probably uninformed and arrogant about what they thought.
Looking into philosophy, it was so interesting to look at ancient beliefs and the way in which we have worked out some of life’s mysteries over the years. I think it has been eye-opening to the way in which people think. People are so different and I am only really learning that now.
I realise that I had a fairly sheltered view of world beliefs – of everything really. So I decided to try to look at life through the lens of someone else. Of someone else’s culture, upbringing and life experience. I decided to learn more about different religions and world views over time, starting with atheism. This isn’t to say that I’m going to just blindly agree with anything I read or hear, but I want to understand these views more so that when I meet people who hold them I come across in a way that isn’t me vs them. Louis Theroux is one of my favourite documentarians, the reason being that he comes in to weird and wonderful situations with no judgment. Some of the stuff he sees is horrendous (in my opinion) but he just goes and learns and attempts to ask them questions to make them think. He is a genius. I want to be like that with life. Not assuming I know best, but understanding why people believe what they do.
So, looking into atheism was fascinating. It’s so hard to describe everything I learnt about because I read so many things as well as talking to friends and watching videos. The biggest thing that I disliked about the process was seeing a sense of arrogance from that side of the story. Many people who feel strongly as an atheist seemed to think that anyone else was stupid or brainwashed, that they needed something to believe in because they couldn’t cope. This I found hard, because a lot of the people I know on the other side of the fence are actually some of the cleverest, most logical and content people I have met. Talking to people, there are many reasons why people are atheists too, ranging from logical thought, to scientific understandings about the earth, to not being able to trust a God who would let their child die.
I could go on for ages about this. I could probably write a book on all that I learnt but I think the biggest thing I got from it is that everyone I met was a real life human, with real life problems and feelings and reasons for what they thought. The best part for me wasn’t necessarily talking about un-belief. It was just being with people and hearing stories from their lives. Hearing good things and bad things. At the end of the day, feeling a little more known because of it is only a good thing for both people. The best thing we can do is not assume that we know why people are who they are, and attempt to hear them. If both parties do this, a real conversation can then take place without built-up emotion or frustration or even anger.
I still have lots of questions and I aim to never stop asking, but it feels good to have a better understanding of what’s going on from all sides so that I can understand and learn to like people no matter what they think, as surely that is where it all starts.