This may be the incorrect community to talk about this. However, it is the first community that came to mind. If this question is inappropriate or offensive I will remove it. My question is, as someone who is anti-theist how can I respectfully navigate conversations of faith? For example, I am the only atheist in my workplace. My coworkers (all Christian) in some cases have taken time to pray and ask god for guidance on decisions that may impact major components of our projects. We've frequently had discussions about faith as it guided some of the companies earliest projects and some of our colleagues work for companies that create Christian content. In many cases I feel the need to hesitate on the extent of my beliefs (outlined below) when it is my turn to discuss.
Note: I don't find these discussions of faith offensive as I enjoy when people talk of their own faith. To peer into the mind of someone who's fundamental perspective of life is different allows me re-evaluate my own perspectives. If I must continue to withold certain elements of my beliefs to experience these conversations I gladly will.
Let me get a few things out of the way before I begin:
- I don't hate people who believe in god
- I respect people's right to practice religion
- I don't think I'm better than those who practice religion
As an anti-theist I simply believe that the world would be better without organized religion, that we should actively move towards a secular lifestyle. Even if this secular lifestyle includes the belief of intelligent design, expression through religion (art, music, literature, etc.), or cerimonial tradition. I actively have "faith" that the deconstruction of religion as an institution would make the world better. Perhaps, giving religion a new opportunity to flourish as people begin reassessing what intelligent design could mean to them.
Edit: I now know this is not the term I was looking for.
I was raised in a sort-of Christian household. I was baptised, I had my first communion, went to Catholic school, but never did my confirmation. I understand the traditions and beliefs on a basic level but was never aware of how intense/dogmatic some people can be when it comes to Christianity (or religion in general) until recently. Growing up, even in Christian households there would rarely be praying for food, reading scripture, or much acknowledgement of any sort of higher-power. People did what they did without much of their identity tied to their beliefs. As I started working more internationally, I've met people who would never act outside the laws of their religion and firmly identify as Christian (or Jew, Muslim, Sikh, etc. but this is a Christian forum).
When someone's identity is tied to their religion and they wish to discuss faith (as a rule I don't start conversations of faith) how can I discuss that
I actively wish to discourage that type of thinking? I feel the dogma of religion doesn't need to be so intense or rigid. I don't dislike the person I'm talking to, I don't think they're dumb, I may even admire their courage to believe. I simply wish to respectfully state that one's religion can be more than the institution its become. That one could still learn from the stories but not take the rules at face value.
Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. Psalm 119:18
How could I let someone see my law without them feeling persecuted?
Edit: The more I read your responses, the more clarity I have in what I was originally trying to express and how I can move forward in the future. I should not define myself as an anti-theist but rather continue to define myself as an atheist. Going forward in these conversations I want to make it more clear that I respect and admire religion as a driving cultural force, but not without criticism. In my future conversations that critisism will not be used as a method of persuasion but rather an outside perspective from someone with fundamentally different ideology. It is my hope, that by going into conversations of faith with this mindset, I can respectuflly and calmly start dialogues about someone's intrisic motivations to follow their faith/religion. I hope that one day I can empathize with someone who has the opposite views as myself (just as you have done for me today) and vice-versa.