Was that really necessary?
I am all for scientific thought. Science is increasingly becoming the way forward for the advancement of humanity as a whole if it hasn’t already and my own religion of Christianity is quickly becoming an antiquated relic that is perpetuated only by the way in which it involves itself in world events. But you know, I also saw a street preacher being harassed by a couple of guys from one of the local universities the other day (area and university will remain nameless in order to protect the reputation of whatever institution I might inadvertedly damage with my non-existent influence. All I can say is that it wasn’t the University of Surrey). In the words of so many people who have come before me, “was that really necessary?”
It reminded me a little of my own time at university and the kind of acquaintances I made. One Christian, like me, and two atheists of varying beliefs. I realise, of course, that atheism is not a unified belief system and everyone has their own opinions and levels of doubt regarding whether or not a god, let alone the Christian God, exists. But due to certain missteps which resulted in them finding out perhaps more than they needed to about my religion, I became the subject of much ridicule over the three years of my degree. Far from swaying me in one direction or the other, I could only ask the same question, “was that really necessary?” I could have asked them to stop of course and as friends, they probably would have obliged but in my immaturity I was stopped by two things. First, I was afraid they would argue that I shouldn’t have special treatment and that it was only fair that they make fun of everyone equally for everything, which I suppose is fair enough. The second was that I didn’t want to lessen their opinion of me, which I somehow thought it would.
In retrospect what I should probably have done is stood my ground and calmly told them to please stop taking the piss at every opportunity. Then cut ties if they continued to take their jokes both too far and in a direction that was uncomfortable for me. But I didn’t and so, like some kind of masochist, I kept crawling back for more. I’ll be honest, it was almost a relief for me when they would move on to talking about relationships and other aspects of guy talk.
It certainly didn’t help that at the time I was also in an IRC channel with people who were as close to militant atheists as I’ve ever encountered. They would come back occasionally and brag about how they had gone to sermons and general panels on what Christianity is and heckled the speakers, among other disruptive behaviour. So once again I had to ask myself that same question that has haunted me throughout my natural life, “was that really necessary?” I mean, you might ask me what kind of supposedly infallible, loving God would drown His own creations in a worldwide flood and I would reply that I don’t know. Perhaps the Christian God is not infallible or loving. That part of Christianity might be wrong. But in return, I would ask you to explain what kind of person would you have to be to derive so much pleasure from tearing down and making a mockery of other peoples’ beliefs when the people you are mocking have done you no harm in the past.
It doesn’t help. Personally, I will go back to believing that God does exist, that evolution can explain the origin of life, that scientific thought is the way of the future, and that I can live as a Christian in a world with increasing contempt for religion in general (I am reminded specifically of the memo leaked from the Home Office regarding the Pope’s visit to the UK). I will live by the Ten Commandments, do penance when I have done wrong, and never make fun of another on the basis of their religious beliefs, be they Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim, Scientologist, or even Atheist. That’s just not what I do. It’s not who I am.