I can’t seem to come to a full understanding of the psychological makeup of folks who label themselves “atheists”. Maybe you’ve run into such folk and know why I am perplexed, and maybe you’ve never had such an encounter and need me to elaborate.
Atheists, for information-in-passing purposes, are those who do not believe in the existence of a deity, God. What perplexes me is not the fact that they do not believe in God, but rather how hostile they get toward someone who does believe in God, unprovoked.
A year or two ago I found myself witnessing a one-sided heated debate with an atheist friend. I don’t even remember what it was I said that ruffled her feathers, but she branched out from “I don’t believe in God,” to a full-on explanation to support the validity of her disbelief in a greater being. I heard about how evolution has been observed in scientific labs, how science is responsible for everything, how there is no substantial evidence to prove that there is a God. I remained silent and listened to this woman participate in a one-sided debate with herself and simply shrugged at the end and said “I respect your opinion, and thank you for sharing it, but as you know, I do not subscribe to your way of thinking.”
This, for some reason, ruffled her feathers even more and extended the conversation for longer than I would ever want any conversation to last that brings forward differing opinions. Still, at the end, I was still what I was at the beginning: a believer. Never once during that whole conversation did I feel the need to provide reasons or proof that what I believe is really the way things are, and never once did my feathers get ruffled. I was simply listening, accepting her and her beliefs of disbelief, and filed it away under “things about friend X that further define her personality.”
A few days after that encounter, I was sitting with another friend, Y, who is not an atheist, and told her about friend X getting all bent out of shape and going on and on to present a case against the existence of God. Friend Y was as cool as I was and simply said “If she was convinced, she wouldn’t get so bent out of shape.”
I can’t say if friend Y’s statement is one that holds water, but I do know this: I believe in God. I have faith that there is a God, therefore, I never feel the need to defend my belief, because that is what faith is all about. Faith is something even an atheist can have, in which case it would be faith in the idea that there is no God, no explanation required.
The other perplexing trouble I find with atheists is the fact that they think that anyone who believes in God is on a mission to convert them, and so whether the person they’re dealing with is that kind of person or not, they have the same hostile, defensive and offensive response. They begin to dismiss the person, disrespecting what they believe in and totally undermine anything the person says, not listening to a word without scoffing.
In the end, I feel that I have yet to run into a truly open-minded atheist who has faith in what he/she believes, who represents his/her folk in a good light.