After the discussion of the church does good, let’s to follow with the good, non-believers. It seems there would be less to say in this area, than the prior one. I actually had to force myself to move on, as the topic is a bit unending and likewise, unnerving to tackle.
To begin, it is important to define what I view as a non-believer. This has been attempted many times, by both adherents and non-adherents. For discussion purposes, I will simply say that a non-believer is someone that does not believe in, either passively or actively, any religious dogma or believes in any supernatural beings, such as ghost, trolls, elves, demons, giants, fairies, griffins and so forth. Non-believers, also, do not acknowledge make-believe lands, such as Heaven, Hell, Krypton, Atlantis, Xanadu, El Dorado, Shambhala, Santa's North Pole, Nirvana, Shangri-La and so forth.
Anything beyond this , I prefer not to group or include in the definition. Basically, non-believers do not share any one set of world views. There is no dogma for non-believers. As it has been said by many more intelligent people than I, everyone is an atheist about most gods. Atheists and non-believers take it further one more god, than most. One final point, it will be a hard and long search find an atheist that says “categorically” there is no god. The point is that any evidence or proof put forth, falls short of convincing proof of a divine or supernatural. A strong atheist, like me, says there is a logical or reasonable explanation for whatever happens; no appeal to a supernatural is needed.
Now that we know what I mean by non-believer, let's see what good non-believers are. It is not that adherents of other religions are not good. By no means, the view that is common in much of the United States is that atheists cannot be trusted. Since becoming a non-believer in the late 1990's, I have made two observations. First, non-believers, for the most part, are more truthful and honest than believers. I guess I have a somewhat unique perspective, having the last name True. I always felt that it was something to live up to. Most non-believers I have talked to agree with the idea that lying should be avoided, if at all possible.
However, when as a Christian, I would lie, mislead, embellish and so forth, I never worried much about it. I knew that I had the Lord on my side and His great pink eraser in the sky to clean up the missteps. How great it is to know that whatever you do, can be erased with a few whispered words. That is an offer that is hard to refuse. Christian believers, with a smile on their face, can lie to a person without any regret, whatsoever. This is not the case with non-believers. We have one time to get it right. If we wrong someone, we have only that person to deal with, to make it right. That means, we have to deal with them face to face or at least admit to them, through writing. I notice that honesty is a much more common policy with non-believers, based upon personal experience. I have seen some recent polls supporting this view.
When believers surveyed about their personal behavior, they are more likely to say what they “should” say. Non-believers reveal a more realistic view of their morals and honesty. A non-adherent doesn't have a “goal” to reach as far as their personal integrity. They just have to decided what works best in society and for themselves. I have heard and seen this through a variety of sources, dealing with different surveys over the years. In a way, it makes sense that an atheist would be “the least trusted group” in America, because we are more likely to be honest. There may indeed be a commandment that tells the believers not to bare a false witness, but the believers would be hard pressed to have it apply to them in their daily life. Maybe if they were killed for a violation of breaking the truth, then there would be more people willing to adhere to the truth. But, the truth is the enemy of religion and faith.
It is said that, “the truth will set you free” . In religion, the truth will get you in trouble. That is why there is so much secrecy in the upper echelons of churches. Many ministries try to hide their meetings behind councils or boards to advise the ministers or spiritual leaders. Misdirection and subterfuge are the tools of many churches, and works well most.
Many adherents admit that they are not perfect but they are forgiven. The truth of the matter is that they are indeed forgiven. The person doing the forgiving is themselves. So as long as they go “genuflect” then they have received the forgiveness that they think that they deserve. By genuflect I mean any traditional process that one can do that is said to produce a desired effect though it really is vestigial in reality. It shows it self in more as a traditional process instead of a faith based reality when one asks a person to actually help and there is no action on that person part.
I was told one time that you can judge a person by the actions that they take with their life and that their actions speak louder than their words. Based upon this I would have to conclude that most of the faithful do not even know much less believe in the religion that they adhere to. Anyone that says they love God and has hate or ill will toward their fellow man is a liar and doesn't know what the Bible teaches. Even those that hide behind the current phrase about God hating the sin but loving the sinner fail to take into consideration that Jesus was the one that reached out to and spent most of his time with the poor, homeless the outcasts of his society. I am sure that most of the atheist that I have meet had Christians show the love they profess in their lives when they were searching for the truth that most of them would still be adherents Today. By this I say, believers are to blame for most people leaving the faith.
Coming next time: GOD IN CHAOS:
Chapter Six: RELIGION AND POLITICS IN AMERICA part eighteen